Society's Child


South Carolina city quietly moving towards privatization of water supply

water privatization south carolina
© Steve Johnson/flickr/cc
Columbia, S.C. is looking at the possibility of privatizing its water and sewage system.
South Carolina's capital city is exploring the possibility of privatizing its water and sewage system, prompting warnings that it could spell higher costs and lack of public control over "our most essential resource."

Reporting for South Carolina's The State, John Monk wrote
A move to solicit written expressions of interest from private companies was approved by council in open session at an early January meeting, Mayor Steve Benjamin said at Tuesday night's council meeting. However, that approval received virtually no publicity.
Renée Maas, Senior Southern Region Organizer with Food & Water Watch, told Common Dreams that the privatization could take different forms, with Columbia leasing or selling its assets, hiring consultants, or privatizing its management system.

Previous efforts to privatize the municipal systems elsewhere have show they can be costly for consumers, Maas said.

Comment: There has been a trend toward privatizing water resources, with mega-banks and billionaires buying up water all over the world. They perceive water as a critical commodity and it is likely they will take full advantage of their 'rights' wherever water becomes scarce. A 2009 analysis of water and sewer utilities by Food and Water Watch found that private companies charge up to 80 percent more for water and 100 percent more for sewer services. Various privatization abuser failures occurred in California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. This is because water corporations are primarily accountable to their stockholders, not to the people they serve.


George Lucas talks future of film with Robert Redford

© Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
George Lucas offered a bleak assessment of the current state of the film business during a panel discussion with Robert Redford at the Sundance Film Festival on Thursday, saying that the movies are "more and more circus without any substance behind it."

However, the Star Wars director hit back at critics who said his role in kicking off the blockbuster film business has watered down cinematic storytelling.

"If you go into Star Wars and see what's going on there, there's a lot more substance than circus," he argued.

In its day, Star Wars represented a major breakthrough in technology, and it's easy to discern a through line from the galaxy far, far away to the comic book movies and special-effects driven productions that dominate today's movie screens. The tools he helped popularize were all in the service of plot, he argued.

"All art is technology," said Lucas. "That's the one thing that separates us from animals."

Comment: The general public is easily amused and desperate not to realize the desperate condition they are in.


Austria: 40 supporters of the One People's Public Trust arrested during meeting

Large-scale police operation: 200 cult-adherents wanted to pronounce their own judgements. Two police officers injured.

Hollenbach, Austria - They separate themselves from society, don't accept any kind of authority or government agency, and even want to make their own laws: Supporters of the cult-like One People's Public Trust assembled last Monday in Hollenbach, Austria. Under the guise of a "summer festival" they wanted to hold some kind of a "court trial", pronounce their own judgements, and even enforce it at the same time.
© Peter Zellinger
An OPPT-adherent in front of a police car at Walknerhof.
But it wouldn't come to that. On Monday morning, 60 police officers raided the Walknerhof farm in Hollenbach. 200 supporters of the alleged cult had settled down in the desolate farm. Members of this cult had been under police surveillance in the days before. In the internet videos are circulating showing supporters engaging in verbal fights with the police officers who only wanted to keep the situation calm. The local town hall had previously declared this assembly as illegal.

New dashcam video shows white Seattle cop arresting 70yo black veteran for walking with golf club

© Reuters/Elaine Thompson
The Seattle Police Department is reviewing the conduct of an officer after she arrested an elderly black man who was using a golf club as a cane. Posting online, the officer also characterized civil unrest in Ferguson, Mo., as "chronic black racism."

Seattle police released dashcam footage of the July encounter on Wednesday.

"You swung that golf club at me when I turned the corner at 11th and Pike," Officer Cynthia Whitlatch said to 70-year-old William Wingate before arresting him.

The alleged club-swinging is not shown in the 20-minute video which starts out with Whitlatch -- who is white -- repeatedly yelling at Wingate to drop the golf club, calling it a "weapon" at one point. Wingate protests that he has been "walking with this golf club for 20 years."

Comment: With outlandish arrests such as these, it will not help the police relieve public tension questioning their actions.


Missouri police-public meeting turns into brawl over Ferguson tensions

© Reuters/Jim Young
A meeting aimed at healing mistrust between the black community and police in St Louis descended into a brawl Wednesday evening, underlining the tension that is still simmering in the area since the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager in August.

Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson shot dead 18-year-old Michael Brown on August 9, sparking months of protests.

Protesters say that the incident is one of many across the state and the country, which show that blacks and other minorities are mistreated by the police.

Comment: Nothing is seriously being done to improve police relations with the public. These tensions will not automatically disappear.


Stand back! Hysterical Seattle police pepper-sprays black teacher in face for walking too closely after leaving MLK rally

© Youtube
A high school teacher and activist sued the city of Seattle after a police officer sprayed chemical irritant directly into his face as he left a peaceful rally on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Jesse Hagopian, who spoke at the event about how black lives matter, was making arrangements by cell phone with his mother to attend his son's second birthday party when he passed a Seattle police officer screaming at passersby.

Video of the Jan. 19 incident shows the officer and some others standing at a police barricade as she orders a small, peaceful crowd - most of whom were walking past the police - to disperse.

Hagopian said officers set up a barricade with their bicycles to prevent protesters from marching, and he said some participants walked through the line - but he did not.

"Stand back, stand back," the officer screams as she holds a canister of pepper spray.

Suddenly, as Hagopian walks past talking on his cell phone, the officer blasts pepper spray - which the video shows hits him and an unidentified woman directly in the face.

Hagopian and the woman immediately duck for cover and the crowd scatters.

"I felt the piercing pain shoot through my eye, my ear drum and my nostril, all over my cheek and face," said Hagopian, whose eye was swollen shut afterward. "I yelled out. My mom was in distress as she heard me yell."

The officer continues to spray the chemical irritant in a sweeping motion toward the crowd, and she again orders the crowd to stand back when some witnesses ask what happened.

Video of the incident was uploaded to YouTube on Wednesday, the same day Hagopian's attorney filed a lawsuit against the city.

A spokesman for the police department said he had not seen the video and was unable to comment.

Comment: Assaulted by a police officer for the crime of walking?! Not a day goes by where you don't hear or read about police officers using excessive force or even murdering people. The police state has happened incrementally - to the surprise of those who thought it would never happen again. As outlined in the article below, history may be repeating itself.

The path to tyranny: The Nazi Gestapo and the US police state


Video surveillance shows cops assault and kill young woman who was seeking help

© Courtesy of Heather Robertson
Kristina Coignard
A 17-year-old girl walked into the Longview, Texas police station. Then, only minutes later, police say they were "forced" to shoot and kill her, Thursday night. Now, the police have released surveillance footage that captured the final moments of Kristiana Coignard's life. Cognard walked into the empty lobby and approached the after-hours assistance phone.

"We don't know how she got here," Longview police officer Kristie Brian said. Coignard was connected to dispatch, via the after-hours phone. Dispatch then sent officers out to confront her. But no one knows exactly what was said then. Police, however, say that she "pulled a weapon" and "threatened" them.

We asked what weapon she brandished.

"I don't know what kind it was, yes she did brandish a weapon," Officer Brian said on Friday.

Comment: For those of you short on time, the key points are:
  • 7:40 Kristina is approached by an officer, grabbed and then forced into a chair.
  • 10:10 She manages to stand up, and is promptly slammed onto the floor.
  • 10:35 The officer gets off her and draws his weapon while she lies on the floor.
  • 10:50 A second officer joins them and she stands up.
  • 11:05 A third officer walks in and she tries to escape, the first officer shoots her point-blank and she goes down.
Contrast that with the video below of a gunman who entered a Dutch TV station demanding airtime. When confronted by police, at the end of the video, he drops the gun and is arrested. Taken alive... imagine that.


Stanford University swimmer arrested, charged with rape of unconscious woman

Brock Allen Turner
A former Stanford University swimmer has been charged with raping an intoxicated, unconscious woman in an on-campus attack that prosecutors say was witnessed by two cyclists who nabbed him in the middle of the night as he tried to run away.

Brock Allen Turner, 19, who voluntarily withdrew from the school Tuesday, faces five felony counts that could put him behind bars for 10 years. He was booked into Santa Clara County Jail on Jan. 18, shortly after the attack, on suspicion of attempted rape and penetration with a foreign object, both felonies. He has been released on $150,000 bail.

Turner is charged with one count of rape of an intoxicated person, one count of rape of an unconscious person, one count of sexual penetration by a foreign object of an intoxicated woman, one count of sexual penetration by a foreign object of an unconscious woman and one count of assault with intent to commit rape, prosecutor Alaleh Kianerci said Tuesday.

He is to be arraigned Monday in Palo Alto. Turner could not be reached Tuesday and his attorney, Mike Armstrong of Palo Alto, declined to comment.

Turner is not permitted to return to campus, the school announced Tuesday evening.

The Stanford Daily, following up a story by a campus newsletter, The Fountain Hopper, reported Tuesday that an unnamed freshman varsity athlete who had been accused of attempted rape was no longer practicing with the team and that he was not living on campus. A university spokeswoman said Tuesday the victim was not a student.

Kianerci declined to reveal details about the victim, describing her only as "a woman attending an on-campus party."

Turner's arrest comes as campus sexual assaults have attained unprecedented levels of national attention, with activists demanding their colleges do more to prevent assaults and punish offenders. Last spring, Stanford students protested the school's handling of a case in which the accused student -- whom police never charged, but who was found by a Stanford review panel to be responsible for sexual assault -- was permitted to complete his senior year.

Comment: Surprisingly, Stanford is demonstrating a willingness to recognize the problem of rape on university campuses.We can't help but wonder if this is damage control from the fall out of the UVA and other scandals. More on university rape culture in the U.S. below:

Magic Wand

Do cold adaptation and love Russia? Now it's your chance to put this love to test: Free land soon up for grabs to every resident in Far East

Putin backs proposal to give one hectare to each citizen or person willing to move to region in a bid to stimulate economy and boost population.
© Okhota i Rybalka
One of the most sparsely population regions in the world, the Russian Far East still has about six million residents, although they are scattered across an enormous land mass.
Ambitious plans to give each resident of the Russian Far East one hectare of land for free have been given the backing of President Vladimir Putin.

The idea was floated by Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Trutnev in a bid to help stimulate the economy of the sparsely populated region and entice more people to move across the country.

A total of 614 million hectares of land are currently owned by the state and would effectively be up for grabs in the Far East under the scheme. It could be used for agricultural purposes, for hunting, or as a base for a timber plant or any other business.
Red Flag

Turning Chris Kyle into a hero shows the U.S. has descended into moral corruption

© AFP Photo
The film American Sniper has sent the US public into raptures over the "heroic life" of its autobiographical subject Chris Kyle - who has been described as America's "greatest warrior" soldier.

Last week, the movie premiered in cinemas to rave reviews, earning its director Clint Eastwood a box office smash-hit. Multiple Oscar awards are nominated.

Critics have quibbled about this or that aspect of the cinematography and storyline. But the prevailing impression is that Kyle - a US Marine marksman - was a tragic hero, a guy who honorably served his country during the American war in Iraq.

The film has even been described by some as an "anti-war" movie because it delves into the mental trauma of veterans and the suffering they endure after conflict.

Lost in the discussion is the central issue, which is the criminal nature of American militarism and its destructive impact on millions of innocent people. American Sniper may express certain misgivings about US foreign wars, owing to the psychological consequences on its military personnel.

But in indulging "heroes" like Chris Kyle, the insidious effect is to glorify American war-making. This reinforces American narcissism about its "exceptionalism" as a nation that is intrinsically good, superior and which has the prerogative to wage wars wherever it deems necessary for its "national interests" regardless of international law or morality.

Over one million Iraqis were killed during American military occupation of that country from 2003-2011. The fraudulent pretext for that war - Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction - has been amply documented and is irrefutable. That makes US involvement in Iraq an epic crime, a war of aggression, or, to put it plainly, a state-sponsored terrorist cataclysm.

Comment: See also: