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Four commercial airplanes struck by green laser while airborne near New York City

© Reuters/Tim Wimborne
The Federal Aviation Administration says that four commercial airplanes were struck by a green laser while in the sky on Thursday evening outside New York City.

No injuries were reported, the FAA said, but federal officials consider illuminating an aircraft to be a serious crime punishable by up to five years in prison and a hefty $250,000 fine.

The four planes—American 185, Shuttle America 4213, Delta 2292 and Delta 2631—were each around 8,000 feet off the ground on Thursday evening when they were hit while traveling over Long Island. The incidents all occurred between 9:30pm and 10:00pm, and at least two of the planes were leaving John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, according to the Associated Press.

A local CBS News affiliate obtained audio from an exchange between air traffic controllers and one of the pilots affected:
"Looks like some lasers coming outside now," the pilot said, adding later that "it is lighting up the inside of the windshield."

A provision tacked on to the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 makes it illegal to aim a laser pointer at an aircraft.

Comment: Laser pointer attacks on airplane pilots have jumped 1100% since 2005

Heart - Black

The criminalization of homelessness

© Spencer Platt / Getty Images / AFP
For the past 25 years, the criminalization of the homeless in the United States has been increasing.

As the National Coalition of Homeless points out, criminalization of homeless refers to laws that prohibit life sustaining activities "sleeping/camping, eating, sitting, and/or asking for money/resources in public spaces" and include criminal penalties if someone violates the ordinances.

This issue, while not dormant, I believe came to light more when Pastor Dwayne Black along with pastor Mark Sims and 90-year-old Arnold Abbott were arrested for feeding the homeless in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 2014.

"We fed about six or seven people when the police approached," Black told The Christian Post. "We actually said a prayer and then gave communion to the homeless. If feeding them is going to get me arrested, let me get arrested for giving them communion. The police stayed off to the side, but then they suddenly made a move forward, and Abbott and I stayed."

Comment: See also:


'Bigger and badder': US volunteers head to fight Islamic State

© RT
A group of US volunteers is headed to the Philippines on a contract to fight groups allied with the Islamic State. One counterinsurgency specialist wonders if their enthusiasm will make up for the lack of logistics, weapons and training.

Those in the group have day jobs and regular lives but feel the need to help people endangered by militants who have pledged loyalty to the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), a group in southern Florida told RT's Maria Finoshina.

Comment: So how is this guy going to make any difference to the US funded IS?


Palestine drops motion to suspend Israel from FIFA

© Reuters/Baz Ratner
Israel's national soccer team players.
Palestine has dropped its motion to suspend Israel from FIFA, Palestinian Football Association president Jibril Rajoub said. A committee was proposed to monitor the situation between the Palestine and Israeli associations, which FIFA approved.

Speaking at the FIFA congress, Rajoub said he was dropping the motion to have Israel suspended from the organization.

"I have decided to drop the suspension," Rajoub said, adding that he instead proposes that free movement be ensured for Palestinian players. He also wants an investigation launched into alleged Israeli racism and a vote on Israeli teams on Palestinian territories.

Comment: Will this help prevent Israeli soldiers from shooting Palestinian soccer players feet?


Shades of 2008: Stocks plunging just as they did before the last financial crisis

Have you heard of the saying "sell in May and go away"? Traditionally, the period from May through October has been a time of weakness for stocks. In fact, on average stocks hit their lowest point of the year on October 27th. And most people don't remember this, but the Dow Jones Industrial Average actually began plunging right at this time of the year just prior to the financial crisis of 2008. Most people do remember the huge stock crash that happened in the fall of that year, but the market actually started to slide in May. Throughout the first four and a half months of 2008, stocks moved up and down in a fairly narrow range, and the Dow closed at a short-term peak of 13,028.16 on May 19th. From there it was all downhill for the rest of the year. So will a similar thing happen in 2015 as we approach the next great financial crisis? Since March 20th, the Dow Jones Transportation Average has already fallen by almost 800 points. So will the Dow Jones Industrial Average soon follow? Well, only time will tell, but the Dow was down 190 points on Tuesday. Signs of trouble are popping up all over the place, and the "smart money" is getting out while the getting is good.

The chart that I have posted below shows how the Dow Jones Industrial Average performed during 2008. As you can see, stocks began plummeting long before the financial crisis in the fall. From May 19th through early July, the Dow fell by about 2,000 points. Should we expect to see a similar pattern this summer?...

Comment: For more with the author on the upcoming economic collapse, listen to this episode of The Truth Perspective.

Alarm Clock

The Duggars: How fundamentalism's teachings on sexuality create predatory behavior


The Duggar family, most well known for their reality TV show 19 Kids and Counting
So, it's in the news everywhere: A Duggar son groped his sisters while they slept when he was 14. The family essentially hushed it up. And, now that he is buddies with Ted Cruz, it became a juicy news story. (Nothing like a political AND sexual scandal to sell ads...)

And the aftermath is predictable. The Duggars get their show suspended, and the (now adult) kid loses his job. And, there is a brobdingnagian pile of schadenfreude to be found in the tabloids.

I have been saying privately for years that something like this would absolutely come to light regarding the Duggars, so this is no surprise to me at all.

As an attorney, I have handled several cases involving fundamentalist families with sexual issues, and the facts seem very familiar.
I'm not going to get into specifics, because of attorney client privilege. However, there does seem to be a certain amount of commonality in how these go down.

I firmly believe that the beliefs within Christian Fundamentalism strongly contribute to these failings - and indeed make them inevitable.

First, let me note again that I spent a portion of my teens involved in Bill Gothard's organization. My law school education was at his law school, so I know of what I speak. The Duggars are big in the Gothard organization, and promote it through their TV show. So, I know the exact teachings that they follow and promote.

That's why, despite never having seen more than a few minutes of the show at a time, and having no idea which kid was Josh, I was able to make this prediction. All I needed to know was that they followed Gothard's teachings about sex and gender, and I knew that it was more likely than not that a sex scandal would surface sooner or later.

In addition, I have been discussing this with some friends, many of them also ex-Gothardites, and some common issues have arisen, and I decided I probably should address them a bit from the perspective of both a lawyer and a former Fundie.

Because the perpetrator in this case (and in my cases as well) was a minor - age 14 - a boy in the throes of puberty - the issues are not quite as straight forward as they would be in a typical pedophile case.

While I would not defend what this boy did - it was pretty clearly sexual assault - I do understand some of why, and strongly believe that Gothard's teachings contributed to the way he acted out.

Again: I am not minimizing sexual assault, or excusing perps.

What I intend to show is that Fundamentalist teachings on sex tend to lead to young men who would not otherwise be predators act out in predatory ways.


Housing Authority forces workers to wear orange vests so NYPD cops don't shoot them

© The Free Thought Project
In a testament to the "trigger-happy" nature of NYPD cops, the city Housing Authority has ordered all workers fixing elevators in NYC housing projects to wear construction orange vests.

New policies were enacted by the Housing Authority after officers pulled a gun on a maintenance crew and fatally shot an unarmed man in a stairwell in a separate incident.

According to a New York Post report:
"[The elevator workers] were basically told the reason was because of recent incidents where cops had pulled a gun on a caretaker and a supervisor on the roof of a housing project," a source said.

"No one got shot, but they also referred to the cop shooting and were told, 'We're doing this for your protection. Your lives are in jeopardy, and we don't want you to get hurt,' " the source said
Pulling no punches, one Housing Authority supervisor allegedly told his crews that the new policy was due to NYPD cops being "trigger-happy."

In addition to wearing the bright orange vests, workers will now also be required to wear their official identification on a neck lanyard.

"They said that in case a cop stops you, we don't want you reaching around in back pocket That could be another reason for a cop to shoot you," the source told the Post.

According to a Housing Authority spokeswoman, the new policies were simply standard operating procedure regarding safety.

"The issuance of the safety vests was one action taken to increase safety for elevator personnel through our ongoing 'Safety in Motion' initiative. Although not tied to any particular incident, we hope that this simple action will further protect these hardworking employees and allow them to be easily identified when needed," the spokeswoman said.

Regardless of the Housing Authority's public statements, it's quite clear that new measures are a response to the overall violent demeanor of the NYPD. More specifically, they are in response to the killing of unarmed father of two Akai Gurley in a dimly lit stairwell on November 20, 2014.

When city agencies feel the need to have their employees wear brightly colored vests to be sure they aren't killed by cops while on the job, you may just have a severe policing problem on your hands.


Israeli soldier put in military prison for speaking out against Israeli racism, occupation

This week, during the filming of Deutsche Welle's "The New Arab Debates," Corporal Shachar Berrin, a soldier in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) spoke out about the actions of his fellow officers. During a discussion about the military situation in Israel, Berrin stood up to address the panel about how members of the Israeli military would treat Palestinian people like animals. He also expressed that this is a systematic problem that exists pretty much across the board in the IDF.

During the Q&A section of the debate, Berrin stood up and said:

My name is Shachar Berrin and my question is for Dani Dayan. It was mentioned that Israel is the 11th happiest country in the world. Other organizations and institutions put it at the mid-30s or different statistics, but it doesn't matter. I propose that what makes a country good isn't whether it is happy or not, it's about the ethics and morality of the country.

When soldiers, when we, are conditioned and persuaded on a daily basis to subjugate and humiliate people and consider other human beings as less than human, I think that seeps in, and I think the soldiers, when they go home ... they bring that back with them.

Comment: The young corporal could not be more correct or wise in his assessments. And the Israeli government mouthpiece could not be more blustering, deceitful and obvious in his attempt to refute him.

Taking it a big step further, Breaking the Silence, the organization that is referenced in the TV program, has documented many acts of unwarranted violence and brutality inflicted by the IDF on Palestinians - as stated by the IDF soldiers themselves - who had the will, the courage and the conscience to speak up about it. Here are but two:

Red Flag

Hysteria: Students who released over 72K ladybugs in school prank face criminal charges

© AFP Photo/Sephane Mainsant
Seven Maryland high school students are facing burglary and other charges for allegedly breaking into their high school and releasing thousands of ladybugs as part of a senior prank.

According to the St. Mary's County, Maryland Sheriff's Department, five male suspects wearing masks and hooded sweatshirts forced their way into the Chopticon High School at around 3:40 a.m. on May 20 and released approximately 72,000 ladybugs purchased over the internet. Two male suspects waited outside in a car while the others entered the school.

Four juvenile suspects are being charged with fourth-degree burglary, property destruction under $1,000, and disruption of school activities, the sheriff's office reported. They were released into custody of their parents.

The three other adult suspects will be charged through criminal summons.

Heart - Black

Court unseals photo of corrupt cops who put antlers on black man's head

© Chicago Sun-Times
A shocking photo has emerged of two former police officers posing with a suspect dressed as a hunting trophy. The picture was unsealed by a Chicago judge as one of the officers fired over the incident appealed the decision.

The Chicago Sun-Times published the troubling polaroid on Tuesday, showing Special Operations Section (SOS) officers Timothy McDermott and Jerome Finnigan kneeling over an African-American man with deer antlers strapped to his head. It was taken sometime between 1999 and 2003.

Finnigan was convicted of leading a group of rogue cops in a string of robberies and home invasions, and given a 12-year prison sentence in 2011. Federal prosecutors shared the photo with Chicago police two years later, resulting in a 5-4 police board vote that saw McDermott's fired as opposed to merely suspended. The majority opinion stated that "appearing to treat an African-American man not as a human being but as a hunted animal is disgraceful and shocks the conscience."

Cook County Judge Thomas Allen decided to unseal the photo, although attorneys for both McDermott and the Chicago police requested it remain secret, citing concerns over the privacy of the yet unidentified man posing as the crooked cops' "trophy."