Society's Child


The anti-surveillance state: Clothes and gadgets that make you (digitally) invisible

Last spring, designer Adam Harvey hosted a session on hair and makeup techniques for attendees of the 2015 FutureEverything Festival in Manchester, England. Rather than sharing innovative ways to bring out the audience's eyes, Harvey's CV Dazzle Anon introduced a series of styling methods designed with almost the exact opposite aim of traditional beauty tricks: to turn your face into an anti-face - one that cameras, particularly those of the surveillance variety, will not only fail to love, but fail to recognize.

Harvey is one of a growing number of privacy-focused designers and developers "exploring new opportunities that are the result of [heightened] surveillance," and working to establish lines of defense against it. He's spent the past several years experimenting with strategies for putting control over people's privacy back in their own hands, in their pockets and on their faces.

Comment: Another market developing out of fear. Buyer beware though because some of these technologies may not work as advertised.

Brick Wall

Ponerized education system: Large numbers of teachers leaving the profession with few inclined to replace them

© Shutterstock
A large number of teachers leave the profession each year.
A slew of policies and technologies promising to dramatically revolutionize teaching and education over the past decade has not only failed to produce desired results, it has also led to a decline in teacher morale, with large numbers leaving the profession.

A recent report for the Alliance for Excellent Education, a policy and advocacy organization, found that about "13% of the nation's 3.4 million teachers move schools or leave the profession every year."

The question is how did this happen? While the answers to the current problems are long and complex, some of them can be traced back to the road to reform starting in the 1980s when measurable academic standards were set up for students.

As a researcher and author of a 2012 book on education reforms in the US on top of being the father of children who are attending public schools, I have seen how these reforms have led to a situation in which teacher job satisfaction is at an all-time low and university graduates are less inclined to join the profession.

Comment: On top of Common Core and other policies that are stressing both students and teachers, teachers now must contend with an ever increasing police presence, the 'terror threat', and the difficulties posed by having a large majority of their students under stress due to hunger and poverty. It's no wonder that teachers are reporting less enthusiasm for their jobs.


British thugs (AKA soldiers) brutally beat civilians, get away with it

© Flickr/ Jonny
Shocking footage has been released showing two British soldiers - including one Buckingham Palace guard - brutally knocking one man unconscious and repeatedly pummelling another after a night of heavy drinking.

The two soldiers, Shaun Smith and Jason Collins, were caught on camera assaulting the two innocent men in April last year, while they were stationed at Catterick garrison in Northern England.

Today, the pair walked free from court with suspended sentences after the judge said he wanted them to continue their careers in the army.

Comment: This is exactly the type of 'human' the world's militaries need: violent sadists with a lack of impulse control.

The alcohol-fuelled incident shows the soldiers punching one man, leaving him knocked unconscious and lying in the middle of the road, before brutally attacking another innocent victim with a barrage of kicks and punches.

Smith, 25, was caught on security footage kicking one of the victims 18 times, while 21-year-old Collins threw countless punches at him as he tried to escape the beating, with police officials saying it was lucky that the victims didn't suffer brain damage or were killed in the brutal assault.

Despite the damning video footage, the soldiers claimed they feared they were going to be attacked and therefore wanted to "disable" the threat.

Comment: Seriously?! This is just too perfect a microcosm for the Western militarism. Better beat them them to within an inch of their lives, because we have 'solid' intelligence that they're going to attack! Where have we heard that before?


Profiting from barbarity: Hunger, solitary confinement the norm for imprisoned immigrant women and children

© AP / Eric Gay
A Spanish and English welcome sign in a secured entrance area at the Karnes County Residential Center in Karnes City, Texas.
Hundreds of undocumented families who have fled from poverty, violence and organized crime in Central American countries including Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador are locked up in "residential centers" in Karnes County and Dilley, Texas; Berks County, Pa.; and, until recently, Artesia, N.M. The families are imprisoned while awaiting their immigration hearings.

The fact that we have "family detention" centers in the U.S. to imprison whole families, including newborns, ought to frighten the hell out of us. How we treat the most vulnerable among us is a measure of our humanity. By the yardstick that these centers offer us, we are downright barbaric.

When President Obama took office in 2009, he rightly ended the practice of family detention, which began under President George W. Bush. Hundreds of families were being held at the notorious T. Don Hutto Residential Center, a former state prison in Taylor, Texas. Inside the center, which was privately run by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), conditions were appalling—particularly for children, who made up half the population. The New York Times described the policy change to end family detention as "the Obama administration's clearest departure from its predecessor's immigration enforcement policies."

Families apprehended at the border were once more allowed to stay with relatives in the U.S. while awaiting their court hearings for asylum and other immigration-related requests. Then, five years later, President Obama abruptly decided to resume family detention, a decision made public in an ill-timed announcement by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)—on World Refugee Day in 2014. The change in policy was likely a response to the influx of unaccompanied Central American minors arriving in the U.S. last summer, which caused great controversy in Congress. Now, reported The Times, "Since June of last year, the Obama administration has upended that tradition [of allowing asylum applicants to live with family and friends]. Rather than release the families on bond to await a hearing, officials place virtually all women with children into the new detention facilities." That includes a baby as young as 14 days old.

Comment: The US has participated in the destruction of many Latin American countries, thereby creating the conditions that have caused many to seek refuge from hunger, poverty and violence. And what kind of treatment do they receive for their efforts in attempting to reach the 'land of the free'? More hunger, violence and trauma. Yes, America is certainly 'exceptional', but only in its inhumanity to the poor and vulnerable.


Israel's lies go unchallenged on BBC's flagship current affairs show


BBC's airwaves are always available for Israel's propaganda chief Mark Regev to spin his lies unchallenged.
In March, the BBC's flagship news program Today broadcast an interview with Moshe Yaalon, Israel's defense minister.

Yaalon was given free rein to disseminate lies and propaganda with not a single interruption or challenge from Today presenter, Sarah Montague.

In response, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and many individuals complained to the BBC about the substandard level of interviewing. The replies received from the BBC have revealed the extent to which the organization is prepared to make a fool of itself in order to justify and protect its soft interviews with Israeli spokespeople.

Many had complained that Yaalon was allowed to deny the occupation and the siege on Gaza, and had falsely claimed the Palestinians have "political independence" with Israel not wanting to "govern them whatsoever" — and had done so without any challenging interventions from Montague.

Comment: You would think that the BBC would have, by now, at least attempted to seem fair and impartial towards the Palestinian plight after such events as 'Operation Protective Edge' in which thousands of Gazans were killed, maimed, and left in a horrific humanitarian crises.


Southwest Airlines flight diverted to Denver after pressurization problem

© Reuters/Lucy Nicholson
Southwest Airlines planes are seen in front of the Las Vegas strip, Nevada, United States on April 23, 2015.
A Southwest Airlines flight, traveling from Las Vegas to Milwaukee, was diverted to Denver late Friday, because of a pressurization problem. The latest incident follows Wednesday's emergency landing by a SkyWest Airlines flight, traveling from Chicago to Connecticut, after three passengers fell unconscious due to suspected pressurization problems.

Flight 100, with 175 passengers and six crew members on board, was diverted after flying for about 90 minutes. The passengers were evaluated after the plane landed, without any incident. The Denver Fire Department responded to gate C27 at the Denver International Airport (DIA) to assist the evacuation of the plane. Company officials said only one passenger required medical assistance.

The airline said the flight to Milwaukee will continue and the passengers will be accommodated in another aircraft set to arrive about two hours late.

Comment: Last week it was reported that the SkyWest Airlines flight, traveling from Chicago to Connecticut, Flight 5622, descended rapidly from an altitude of over 28,000 feet to 10,000 feet in a few minutes and had to make an emergency landing at Buffalo Niagara International Airport. However, an investigation into the incident later found that there was no problem in cabin pressure and that the oxygen masks did not release. A passenger Frank Angelo said the plane went into a "nosedive" and the "airplane was shaking."

So what caused this dramatic descent?

Recently a cargo plane, Carson Air Flight 66, crashed in Vancouver's North Shore Mountains following an "uncontrolled descent". According to Transportation Safety Board investigator Bill Yearwood:
"The radar track showed a very steep descent," he said. "The crew did not call, declare an emergency or have any stress, which gives us an idea that whatever happened, happened suddenly. The radar track gives us information on how fast it was descending ... and that is consistent with uncontrolled flight."

HRC Blue

Gay teens jumped by 20 kids, 'not a hate crime' say police, victims will be charged

Homophobic slurs shouted during a fight at an Atlanta high school that wounded at least one gay student with a screwdriver, will not merit a hate or bias investigation, according to authorities. At least 100 students watched "a fight amongst kids" during an April 20 scuffle outside Carver High School, as described by Atlanta Police Department, despite a 16-year-old victim's claims that the attack was premeditated because of his sexual orientation.

"They don't like us cause we're gay," victim Timothy Jefferson told WXIA—TV, showing off a gash on the right side of his face where one attacker allegedly sliced him with a screwdriver. A parent drove Jefferson and a second victim, 17-year-old Zy'derryo Brown, to the hospital. Brown had a bloody mouth and loose teeth after being kicked in the head, a police report states.

"They beating them f-----s," and "gay a-- n----r" are just some of the profanity-laced insults witnesses say they heard batted around the fight. Both Jefferson and a second victim came out as gay in 2013.

Comment: It seems like the establishment in various parts of the country is unwilling to even fulfill the basic laws on the books when it comes to pursuing and protecting minorities from hate crimes. Oddly enough, they have no problem protecting cops who kill, rape or maim innocents. When the system prosecutes victims and protects criminals you know you live in a pathocracy.


Turkish Airlines plane makes emergency landing in Istanbul after engine fire

© ‏@airlivenet
Turkish Airlines #TK1878 with an engine on fire at Ataturk International Airport

A plane travelling to Milan has made an emergency landing after one of its engines caught fire

A Turkish Airlines plane returning from Milan made an emergency landing in Istanbul on Saturday after one of its engines caught fire.

Footage on NTV television showed smoke and flames coming from plane's right engine as firefighters rushed to meet the Airbus 320 as it touched down.

It was the latest in a string of such incidents in recent weeks that have forced Turkey's national flag-carrier to make emergency landings or divert flights.

"All 97 passengers have been taken to the terminal with no health issues. The reason for the incident will become clear after the investigation," Turkish Airlines spokesman Ali Genc wrote on Twitter.

It was not clear whether the plane had caught fire as it landed or mid-air.

The NTV broadcast conversations between the control tower and the plane revealing that the pilot remained calm throughout the emergency.

© @airlivenet
The Turkish Airlines A320 landed safely at Ataturk Airport

No Entry

Coup in a small town: Missouri cops block newly elected mayor from taking office

© AP
April 23, 2015: Kinloch city attorney James Robinson, left, asks Kinloch Mayor-elect Betty McCray if he can show the impeachment papers to the media at the Kinloch City Hall, in Kinloch, Mo
On April 7th, Betty McCray was elected mayor of the town of Kinloch, just outside of St. Louis, Missouri. However, after she was sworn in earlier this week, she headed toward city hall to start her term, when she was stopped by nearly two dozen police officers in front of the building (I should add that there are over 50 members of the police department for this town of 300 residents). They claimed that she had been suspended and served impeachment papers for voter fraud.

If all you read was the local mainstream news, you'd think this was a cut-and-dried case. It wouldn't be hard to believe either. Political corruption isn't exactly unheard of in America.

But in reality, there are a few holes in this story.

Treasure Chest

Anticipating financial collapse? JP Morgan accumulating largest stockpile of silver in history

Why in the world has JP Morgan accumulated more than 55 million ounces of physical silver? Since early 2012, JP Morgan's stockpile has grown from less than 5 million ounces of physical silver to more than 55 million ounces of physical silver. Clearly, someone over at JP Morgan is convinced that physical silver is a great investment.

But in recent times, the price of silver has actually fallen quite a bit. As I write this, it is sitting at the ridiculously low price of $15.66 an ounce. So up to this point, JP Morgan's investment in silver has definitely not paid off. But it will pay off in a big way if we will soon be entering a time of great financial turmoil.

During a time of crisis, investors tend to flood into physical gold and silver. And as I mentioned just recently, JPMorgan Chase chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon recently stated that "there will be another crisis" in a letter to shareholders...

Comment: The writing is on the wall as it seems the banks aren't the only ones preparing for a financial meltdown: