Society's Child


Socialist Brazil presidential candidate Campos killed in 'bad weather' plane crash

© Luiz Fernando Menezes/Fotoarena/Corbis
Smoke billows from a private aircraft which crashed in residential area of Santos, south of São Paulo. Seven people were killed including presidential candidate Eduardo Campos.
Seven confirmed dead on private jet crashing in bad weather in Santos, south of São Paulo, leaving October election in disarray

Brazil's presidential election campaign was thrown into uncertainty on Wednesday when a private jet carrying the socialist party candidate, Eduardo Campos crashed into a residential area near São Paulo.

Campos and the six other crew and passengers were killed in the accident, which occurred in bad weather as the Cessna plane was preparing to land.

The deaths prompted a wave of mourning across the country, which is likely to be followed by speculation about the effect on the presidential vote on 5 October.

Campos, a former Pernambuco governor with a business-friendly reputation, had shaken the political world by choosing environmentalist Marina Silva as his running mate.

Comment: ZeroHedge reports that Campos' beliefs included:
He has pledged to expand social welfare programs introduced by rousseff's predecessor Lula and scaling back government intervention in the economy.

Campos, born Aug. 10,1965, would propose a bill to grant the central bank full independence with fixed terms for its director, establish clear rules to regulate fuel and electricity prices, and seek to negotiate bilateral trade accords without the south american bloc Mercosur.
Also interesting timing given recently Israel apologizes for calling Brazil a 'diplomatic dwarf' over Gaza massacre

Che Guevara

Social media used to illustrate mainstream media bias towards minorities in police shooting of Michael Brown

© AFP Photo / Getty Images / Scott Olson
Police force protestors from the business district into nearby neighborhoods on August 11, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri.
If you were killed, what photo would the media use in their stories? That's the question that the #iftheygunnedmedown hashtag asks on social media as minorities point out media bias in the deaths of African-Americans.

The question comes after the shooting death of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri on Saturday. The unarmed 18-year-old was about to begin college when he was killed by a police officer. But the mainstream media shows a picture of Brown flashing a peace sign, which Yesha Callahan at The Root says has been called a "gang sign" by conservative outlets. She calls this the "Trayvon Martin effect."
If you died, which picture would the media use?#IfTheyGunnedMeDown #MikeBrown

- The Root (@TheRoot) August 11, 2014
"The vicious slaying of Mike Brown by Ferguson, Mo., police has once again shown that the narrative the media paints surrounding black people in America more often than not includes depicting us as violent thugs with gang and drug affiliations," Callahan wrote.

Yes, Steven Salaita was fired, no, it's not defensible

© Abed Rahim Khatib /APA images
A house destroyed by Israel in Rafah, southern Gaza. Steven Salaita was fired for condemning Zionism and the genocide in Gaza.
Via Corey Robin, Inside Higher Ed has an essay by current opponent of academic freedom Cary Nelson giving an extended defense of the firing of Steven Salita, along with a counterpoint from current supporter of academic freedom John K. Wilson. It's a close call which one ultimately makes the stronger case against the firing, and that's not because Wilson fails to do the job. Let's start with the most important way in which Nelson and other supporters of the firing are trying to obfuscate the issue:
I should add that this is not an issue of academic freedom. If Salaita were a faculty member here and he were being sanctioned for his public statements, it would be. But a campus and its faculty members have the right to consider whether, for example, a job candidate's publications, statements to the press, social media presence, public lectures, teaching profile, and so forth suggest he or she will make a positive contribution to the department, student life, and the community as a whole. Here at Illinois, even the department head who would have appointed Salaita agreed in Inside Higher Ed that "any public statement that someone makes is fair game for consideration." Had Salaita already signed a contract, then of course he would have to have received full due process, including a full hearing, before his prospective offer could be withdrawn. But my understanding is that he had not received a contract.

Comment: Steven Salaita loses job at University of Illinois due to criticism of Zionism and Gaza slaughter

Eye 1

Idiocracy in Action: Amtrak employee was paid over $850,000 by DEA for providing confidential information about its passengers that agency could have gotten for free

© AFP Photo / Getty Images / David McNew
A United States senator is asking the US Drug Enforcement Agency to explain how an employee for the Amtrak train line got away with receiving over $850,000 from the DEA by working as a federal informant for nearly 20 years.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote in a letter to the DEA's top administrator last week that reports of an informant working within the ranks of Amtrak from 1995 until earlier this year "raises some serious questions about the DEA's practices and damages its credibility to cooperate with other law enforcement agencies in narcotics investigations."

Grassley wrote to DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart after a recent report published by Amtrak's Office of Inspector General acknowledged that more than three-quarter of a million dollars were spent compensating the informant in exchange for Passenger Name Information, or PNR, details - details, Amtrak acknowledged, which the DEA would have otherwise received free of charge.

"A secretary to a Train and Engine crew regularly provided confidential PNR information to US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents without seeking approval from Amtrak management or the Amtrak Police Department (APD). The employee received $854,460 in payment from DEA for this information from 1995 to the present," reads a section of the audit, published in late June. "APD and DEA participate in a joint drug enforcement task force. The drug task force members can obtain Amtrak PNR information from APD task force members at no cost. The actions of the secretary prevented APD from jointly working with DEA in narcotics trafficking on Amtrak property, thus depriving APD from receiving $854,460 in asset forfeiture funds."
Red Flag

Dumb and Dumber: Pittsburgh airport will let fracking company drill for oil and gas on property

© David McNew / Getty Images / AFP
The floundering Pittsburgh International Airport is expected to soon begin earning nearly a quarter of its annual operating budget by letting a local energy company conduct fracking operations deep under the once booming air traffic hub.

On Monday, the New York Times reported first that the airport in southwestern Pennsylvania - the second busiest in the Keystone State - cut a deal with Consol Energy that will let the oil and gas company begin drilling next month to extract resources from beneath PIT by way of fracking, or hydraulic fracturing.

Earlier this year in March, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Alleghany County, PA is expected to gain upwards of $500 million during the next two decades by letting Consol drill as many as 60 wells on 8,800 acres of airport property, the likes of which would yield an estimated 280 billion cubic feet to 800 billion cubic feet of natural gas, according to the paper.

Consol will now drill its first well there later this month, the Times reported this week, which will be dug outside of the airport's fence but will nevertheless aim to extract resources buried underneath the facility's terminals and runways by pumping liquid around 6,000 feet below the earth.

"It's like finding money," Alleghany County Executive Rich Fitzgerald told the Times. "Suddenly you've got this valuable asset that nobody knew was there."
Arrow Down

U.S. workers earning 23 percent less after 2008 recession

© Reuters / Mike Stone
Workers in the United States are earning an average of 23 percent less than earnings from jobs that were lost during the economic recession that began in 2008, according to a new report.

The average salary in sectors where jobs were lost - especially manufacturing and construction - during the recession was $61,637, according to the report from the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM). In comparison, job gains in those sectors through the second quarter of 2014 came with average wages of $47,171. The difference comes out to a $93 billion in lower wage income, the USCM found.

"Under a similar analysis conducted by the Conference of Mayors during the 2001-2002 recession, the wage gap was only 12% compared to the current 23%--meaning the wage gap has nearly doubled from one recession to the next," said the Conference of Mayors in a statement.

Aircraft crashes into houses in Brazil, killing presidential candidate and injuring at least 10

brazil map
At least 10 people are reported injured in aircraft crash in southeastern Brazil. The flying vehicle was reportedly carrying presidential candidate Eduardo Campos and came down near a school in a built-up area in the city of Santos.

The aircraft went down in a residential area of the port city of Santos, in Sao Paulo State.

"There are fatalities but we still do not have a number confirmed," Sao Paulo State police told AFP, adding that a fire was hampering access to the area.

Santos firefighters said there were at least 10 people injured, according to online news portal G1.
Alarm Clock

Russell Brand: Robin Williams' divine madness will no longer disrupt the sadness of the world

‘I was aware that this burbling and manic man-child that I watched on the box on my Nan’s front room floor with a Mork action figure struggled with mental illness and addiction.’
I'd been thinking about Robin Williams a bit recently. His manager Larry Bresner told me that when Robin was asked by a German journalist on a press junket why the Germans had a reputation for humourlessness that Williams replied, "Because you killed all the funny people."

Robin Williams was exciting to me because he seemed to be sat upon a geyser of comedy. Like he didn't manufacture it laboriously within but had only to open a valve and it would come bursting through in effervescent jets. He was plugged into the mains of comedy.

I was aware too that this burbling and manic man-child that I watched on the box on my Nan's front room floor with a Mork action figure (I wish I still had that, he came in a plastic egg) struggled with mental illness and addiction. The chaotic clarity that lashed like an electric cable, that razzed and sparked with amoral, puckish wonder was in fact harvested madness. A refinement of an energy that could turn as easily to destruction as creativity.

He spoke candidly about his mental illness and addiction, how he felt often on a precipice of self-destruction, whether through substance misuse or some act of more certain finality. I thought that this articulate acknowledgement amounted to a kind of vaccine against the return of such diseased thinking, which has proven to be hopelessly naive.

When someone gets to 63 I imagined, hoped, I suppose, that maturity would grant an immunity to adolescent notions of suicide but today I read that suicide isn't exclusively a young man's game. Robin Williams at 63 still hadn't come to terms with being Robin Williams.

Graphic details of Robin Williams' death spark furor

robin williams
© Reed Saxon, Associated Press
Robin Williams
The picture painted was gruesome. No detail, it seemed, was spared.

On Monday, Robin Williams' grieving wife asked for privacy. A day later, the Marin County sheriff's office revealed graphic facts about the beloved actor's suicide. Many who watched coverage of the news conference were stunned - and offended - by the level of detail disclosed. Shock turned to anger as the media reported the facts.

Investigators in California said Williams' death was a suicide by hanging. Officials detailed how he was found dead in a bedroom, clothed, slightly suspended in a seated position with a belt around his neck, with one end of it wedged between a closet door frame.

Comment: And what do our readers think?


Interesting timing: Jewish group demands renaming French village called 'Death to Jews'

la mort aux juifs
Street view of a tiny French village that is still bearing a medieval name La Mort aux Juifs or ‘Death to Jews’
Expressing its shock and outrage after discovering that a tiny French village is still bearing a medieval name La Mort aux Juifs or 'Death to Jews', a Jewish group, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, has urged the French interior minister to rename it.

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre's director of international affairs, Shimon Samuels, wrote to the French interior Bernard Cazeneuve, saying he was "shocked to discover the existence of a village in France officially called 'Death to Jews'. It is extremely shocking that this name has slipped under the radar in the 70 years that have passed since France was liberated from Nazism and the (pro-Nazi) Vichy regime."

However, the deputy mayor of the village of Courtemaux, which has jurisdiction over the hamlet La Mort aux Juifs, 100 kilometers to the south of Paris, is not convinced.

"It's ridiculous. This name has always existed. No one has anything against the Jews, of course. It doesn't surprise me that this is coming up again," Marie-Elizabeth Secretand said, as quoted by AFP.