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Galaxy

Professor Stephen Hawking believes we should explore space as 'life insurance' for the human race

Professor Stephen Hawking believes the future of the human race depends on our abilities to explore space.

During a tour of London's Science Museum, the 73-year-old said that landing on the moon gave us new perspectives of life on Earth, and this outlook must develop if we are to survive.

He also said aggression should be weeded out of the human race and replaced by empathy to avoid a major nuclear war ending civilisation as we know it.

Professor Hawking made the comments while escorting an American visitor around the museum as part of a 'Guest of Honour' prize.

Comment: Moving to another planet will not help us learn to overcome the psychopathic nature of society but only bring it along with us.

Star of David

Students allege "travesty of justice" as Ohio university muzzles debate on Israel divestment

After several hours of debate on Tuesday night, the student government at the University of Toledo in Ohio shut down a hearing on a resolution to divest from firms abetting Israel's crimes.

Just before the vote was to take place by the student senate, the university's Student Judicial Council, part of the student government, announced that it had ruled a resolution calling for divestment "unconstitutional" on the grounds that it was "discriminatory" and "one-sided." The ruling allowed no recourse or debate and the entire vote was then scrapped.


Comment: That's democracy for you!


As The Electronic Intifada reported, the university administration had insisted that discussions relating to the resolution be conducted in a secretive manner.

Comment: Any criticism or opposition "of that shitty little country", as French diplomat Daniel Bernard called it, will be met with dirty tricks.

Stormtrooper

Out of control: No charges for cops who broke into innocent man's home while he slept and shot him 16 times


Dustin Theoharis shot 16 times by police.
Dustin Theoharis was asleep in his bed when a Department of Corrections officer, and King County Sherriff's deputy rushed into his house on February 11, 2012. The two cops busted into his bedroom and began to unload their pistols on this unarmed man.

It is estimated that the two officers fired over 20 rounds of which 16 landed in Mr. Theoharis. According to Theoharis's attorney, Erik Heipt, "Theoharis suffered "a broken shoulder, 2 broken arms, broken legs, he had a compression fracture to his spine, damage to his liver and spleen."

To add insult to attempted murder, Theoharis was not the guy the police were after. According to King 5 News Seattle, the King County Sheriff's deputy and Washington Department of Corrections officer who shot him were at the house to arrest a man who'd violated his parole.
Stock Up

Last year's huge coal ash spill in North Carolina may cost Duke Energy $100M or the cost of a permit

toxic ash spill
© thinkprogress.org
Coal ash spill sends toxic waste downstream for 70 miles.
Duke Energy, the largest utility company in the United States, has set aside $100 million in order to settle a federal grand jury investigation into last year's huge coal ash spill in North Carolina.

The electric utility made the announcement in its earnings report on Wednesday, according to the Los Angeles Times. A federal grand jury has been looking into the way Duke Energy manages the disposal and storage of the waste created at its coal-fired power plants ever since the coal ash spill occurred in February 2014.
The spill, which unloaded up to 39,000 tons of coal ash and some 27 million gallons of coal ash slurry into the Dan River, was the third-largest coal ash spill in US history.

Comment: In a SOTT article from last year, estimates of 50,000 to 82,000 tons of coal ash and up to 27M gallons of water were released from the 27-acre storage pond. Danville, Virginia, takes its water from the Dan River only 6 miles downstream of the pond. With 14 coal-fired plants in N. Carolina, Duke dumps its toxic metals into landfills, storage ponds or old mines - all subject to bursting dams and other environmental hazards.


"The company expects a proposed agreement could be reached and filed in the next several days for consideration by the court," Duke Energy said in its earnings report. "If approved, the proposed agreement would resolve the ongoing grand jury investigation of the company's coal ash basin management."
Coal ash is waste left after burning coal that contains arsenic, mercury, lead, and over a dozen other heavy metals, many of which are toxic.
Duke protestors
© www.myfoxcarolinas.com
Protesting Duke's illegal chemical dumping.
While Duke is currently involved in settlement negotiations, it's unclear what charges the grand jury is considering, and US Attorney Thomas Walker has declined to discuss the issue. Even if Duke resolves the issue, it's still facing charges from North Carolina's Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and activist groups for potentially violating state laws by contaminating groundwater.

Comment: How nice. Retroactive pollution amnesty. Well, there is some mighty fine leaky thinking going on here! It would be a travesty to allow the company to "Duke it out" with a slap on the wrist and the cost of a permit. Obviously this does NOTHING to solve the problem, stop the leaks or rectify the ongoing damage to humanity and the environment. It is looking like Duke is part of the good-ol'-boys club after all. Justice? My Ash!

Info

A portrait of Iran's supreme leader where Saddam Hussein's statue once stood in Baghdad

© Liz Sly/ The Washington Post
A billboard depicting the late Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was erected recently on the edge of Baghdad’s Firdaus Square.
Perhaps nothing illuminates more starkly the transformation underway in Iraq than the billboard depicting the late Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini erected recently on the edge of Baghdad's Firdaus Square. The portrait obscures the view of the plinth where a giant statue of Saddam Hussein once stood, until U.S. Marines pulled it down in 2003.

The 2003 event was a profoundly symbolic moment that seemed to capture the swift triumph of American troops over Hussein's crumbling army. It also signaled the start of Iraq's steady drift into the orbit of Iranian influence, a trend that has accelerated dramatically since the surge into northern Iraq by the Islamic State last summer.

Comment: Just goes to show how popular the US is in Iraq.

Ambulance

16 killed in Haitian Carnival electrocution accident

electrocution
© www.dailymail.co.uk
Electric Shock: The moment a performer on top of a float at the Haiti arrival got caught by an overhead power line as the parade passed through the streets of Port-au-Prince in the early hours of the morning
At least 16 people were killed early Tuesday in the Haitian capital after a man on top of a musical group's Carnival float was shocked by high-voltage wires above the street, setting off a panic in which dozens of people were trampled, officials said. The accident occurred as thousands of people filled the streets of downtown Port-au-Prince for the raucous annual celebration.

Video from the scene showed sparks coursing from the wire after a singer from the Haitian hip-hop group Barikad Crew was jolted by the overhead power line as the float passed beneath it. The cable appeared to have shocked several others as well.

Prime Minister Evans Paul said 16 people were confirmed dead and 78 were injured. His statement conflicted with earlier reports on the number of casualties. Nadia Lochard, a coordinator for the Department of Civil Protection, had said at least 20 people were killed.


Comment: Seems like this tragedy could have been prevented or avoided. Odd that a similar tragedy happened in a Carnival parade on the same day in Rio de Janeiro.

Three Brazilian revelers died after being electrocuted early on Tuesday while standing atop a Carnival float that hit a power line, officials said. The Light power company confirmed the deaths that happened during a Carnival celebration in Nova Iguacu, a city of 800,000 people on the northern outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. Firefighters said at least one other person was taken to hospital and three others were aided on the scene. None appear to have life-threatening injuries. Police are investigating the incident. During Brazil's 2011 Carnival, 16 people were killed at a packed street party in Minas Gerais state when a power line fell atop the crowd.

Sheriff

Blue privilege: Cop accused of molesting 3 kids pleads down charges - no jail time

Dale Couch

Officer Dale Couch was accused of molesting three kids and threatening them if they ever spoke up. He's now free to carry out those threats because he was a cop.
A former Manatee County Sheriff's Lieutenant escapes jail time for his sadistic and sickening acts against three children, after pleading to a lesser charge. In May of 2013 Dale Couch was arrested after children told authorities what Couch had done to them. He was charged two counts of lewd and lascivious molestation of a child under age 12 and a third charge of lewd and lascivious molestation against a 12-year-old child.

According to reports, initially, the 12-year-old girl said Couch had inappropriately touched her once.

"She said that while he was over her (in her bed) yelling and cussing at her, he grabbed her breasts with his hands," according to the arrest report.

Then in March, the counselor came forward to report additional allegations. The girl had stated that Couch had also inappropriately touched her private areas on multiple other occasions while she sat on his lap. The 9-year-old victim had reported similar allegations, with a third child also interviewed who reportedly witnessed such instances on multiple occasions.

According to the 12-year-old girl, she did not want to disclose anything because she was terrified that Couch "would do more than he was already doing."

The Harold-Tribune reported that when Couch first heard of the allegations he became so enraged that he punched a door in his home, knocking it completely off the hinges. Both of the victims were present during this display.

Comment: Sickening. The inmates are running the asylum.

Arrow Down

Louisiana student brutally beaten by police then charged for police battery for raising a hand to defend himself

Brady Becker

Brady Becker was beaten almost unconscious by police.
A Louisiana high school student was beaten up so badly by a cop that the local police department took the highly unusual step of telling the teenager's family to please go ahead and file a complaint.

It all happened last Friday night when 17-year-old Brady Becker was with some friends at the mall in the New Orleans suburb of Metairie.

Apparently some words were exchanged with a group of Jefferson Parish Sheriff deputies, and several of the teens took off, but Becker was grabbed by a deputy, thrown to the ground and beaten up.

The whole thing was captured on video and it shows the deputy holding Becker by the throat with one arm and using the other arm to hold the teen down on the ground. Becker's hand went up to defend himself, and the deputy punches him at least four times in the face.

Comment: It sounds encouraging that the department has recommended that the family file a complaint. However, considering how often police officers are acquitted of wrongdoing, even when it is fairly obvious there was little or no provocation for their brutal actions, one wonders if the police department is quite confident that very little will result from such an 'investigation'.

Pistol

New Jersey man faces up to ten years in prison for owning 300-year-old flintlock pistol

Gordon Van Gilder
© NRA News
Gordon Van Gilder.
Millville — A retired schoolteacher is facing felony charges for owning an 18th century relic firearm in the state of New Jersey.

Gordan N. Van Gilder, 72, was pulled over by a Cumberland County Sheriff's Deputy on November 20, 2014 for a minor traffic violation.

"The deputy, Joshua Sheppard, started screaming at us," Mr. Van Gilder recalled to NRA News. "He wanted to search the car."

"You're going to give us your consent, or do I have to get the dog?" Deputy Sheppard allegedly challenged.

"You don't have to get any dogs. Help yourself," Van Gilder recounted saying to the deputy.

When asked, Mr. Van Gilder told the deputy that he had an unloaded, antique pistol wrapped up in a cloth in his glove compartment. The collectible pistol was made in the mid-1700s and would require the manual loading of gunpowder and spherical projectiles in order to actually fire.

His cooperation with the police ended up being his undoing. The Sheriff's Deputy nailed him with felony charges because of the antique.

Mr. Van Gilder elaborated on the situation in his interview with NRA News. "They were trying hard to nail me," he said. "I don't get it."

The Cumberland County Sheriff himself signed off on the arrest, Van Gilder stated. His charging document spelled out his offense:
THE DEFENDANT... DID KNOWINGLY AND/OR PURPOSELY HAVE IN HIS POSSESSION A WEAPON, SPECIFICALLY A "FLINT GUN" WITHOUT HAVING PROPER PAPER WORK ON HIS PERSON AND IMPROPERLY STORED IN A MOTOR VEHICLE; IN VIOLATION OF N.J.C. 2C 39-5B
New Jersey's gun control laws are notoriously draconian. It is one of the few states that enforces gun registration and explicitly does not exempt antique firearms, as many states do. According to the law, there is no legal distinction between a three-century-old piece of history and a modern, operable firearm. All of these — regardless of the presence of a victim or malicious intent — are considered prohibited items without acquiring government permission, and carry grave legal consequences.
Flintlock pistol
© Ammoland
Gordon VanGilder’s 300 year old flintlock pistol.
Grey Alien

Savage borderlands: Former Ukraine officials are regularly lynched, beaten and thrown into dumpsters


Democrazi in Ukraine: Not exactly rainbows and unicorns
European constitutional experts are due to deliver their verdict on a new Ukrainian law. The legislation was introduced to bar members of the former regime from entering government. But as Murad Gazdiev reports some activists have been taking the law into their own hands.

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