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Bomb

The case that blew the lid off the World Bank's secret courts

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With two historic global trade deals almost complete, here's how Bolivian protesters and global activists exposed the dark side of global trade pacts and paved the way for the battles to come. It's time we end the corporate power play against our basic democracy.
There's an international awakening afoot about a radical expansion of corporate power — one that sits at the center of two historic global trade deals nearing completion.

One focuses the United States toward Europe — that's the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) — and the other toward Asia, in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Both would establish broad new rights for foreign corporations to sue governments for vast sums whenever nations change their public policies in ways that could potentially impact corporate profits.

These cases would not be handled by domestic courts, with their relative transparency, but in special, secretive international tribunals.

Comment: Comment: For more information on Trans-Pacific Partnership read:


Bizarro Earth

Small conscience: Israel evacuates surrogate babies from Nepal, leaves their mothers

© Jack Guez—AFP/Getty Images
An Israeli gay man carries his baby born to a surrogate mother in Nepal as he is cheered by relatives at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv on April 28, 2015, following his repatriation from the quake-hit Himalayan nation.
An Israeli Boeing-747 returned from Nepal to Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport on Tuesday afternoon, and among its 229 passengers were 15 Israeli babies, all born within the past six weeks to surrogate mothers in Nepal.

Some of the babies were with their Israeli parents and others were cared for by Israeli passengers. None of the surrogate mothers were allowed to travel.

The infants' arrival completed the evacuation of 26 surrogate Israeli babies from Nepal, where a devastating earthquake on Saturday killed more than 4,000. The rescue process, coupled with widely published photos of the newborns being cradled by Israeli medics on the Tel Aviv tarmac, has thrust Israel's reliance on Nepalese surrogates into the spotlight, revealing a little known link between Nepal and Israel and starting a debate here about the ethics of international surrogacy.

Comment: Why the selective empathy? Palestinians have been wondering the same thing for generations.


Eye 2

Child psychopath? Teen who stabbed sleeping 9-year-old did it to "see what it was like"

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William Shultz, 18, of Discovery Bay, Calif., (Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff)
In an exclusive jailhouse interview Monday, 18-year-old William Shultz calmly confessed to stabbing to death his best friend's 9-year-old brother while the boy slept, saying he wanted to learn what it was like to kill a human being before the coming end of the world.

In measured tones, Shultz smiled as he described his family's increasing concern over his odd behavior and mental health in the past month, culminating with a brief hospitalization at the county hospital Saturday, before he said a doctor discharged him and sent him in a cab to his mother's Discovery Bay home. An argument with his mother led him to the Almgren residence, where he spent Saturday night before stabbing Jordon Almgren early Sunday morning, the teen said. Jordon's older brother had been his best friend since sixth grade, he said.

"I wanted to see what it was like to take a life before someone tried to take mine," said Shultz, wearing his yellow, jail-issued jumpsuit and a buzz cut.

Shultz was arrested Sunday on suspicion of Jordon's murder, and is being held on $1 million bail in the County Jail in Martinez.

Sheriff's deputies received the stabbing report at about 10 a.m. Sunday at Jordon's house on the 1900 block of Frost Way, but when they arrived, family members had already brought the boy to a medical center. Shultz, who had spent the night at Jordon's home, was identified as the suspect, and a sheriff's spokesman said he attacked the boy overnight for "unknown reasons."

Red Flag

Smoke from forest fires in Chernobyl could spread dangerous radiation far and wide

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Smoke from burning forests in the Chernobyl exclusion zone is capable of spreading contaminants across great distances, even after the fire has been stopped, ecology experts told RT.

The forest fire near the crippled Chernobyl nuclear power plant started on Tuesday and triggered an emergency alert, with police and National Guard mobilized to bring the flames under control.

By Wednesday, the country's Emergency Ministry, as well as the prime minister, who went to the affected area, said the spread of the fire had been stopped and firefighters were containing the remaining flames. Later on Wednesday, Ukrainian TV reported the flames in areas containing radioactive waste have been put out. New hot spots were discovered, but they are outside the exclusion zone.

The fire occurred within 30 kilometers of the Chernobyl power plant, inside the exclusion zone which was abandoned and cordoned off almost 30 years ago. In 1986, an explosion and fire in Chernobyl's Reactor 4 caused a release of radioactive particles into the air, which contaminated the surrounding area and caused an increase in radiation levels in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and across Europe. It was the worst ever nuclear disaster in terms of casualties and clean-up costs. The crippled reactor itself was sealed under a sarcophagus of reinforced concrete.

Although the sarcophagus remains untouched by the fire, decades-old contaminants could still be released and travel far and wide, borne aloft by the smoke, nuclear safety expert John H. Large told RT:


V

Baltimore protests: Violent demonstrations or demonstrations against injustice and violence?

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© Reuters/Shannon Stapleton
Demonstrators run by a damaged Baltimore police vehicle during clashes in Baltimore, Maryland April 27, 2015
Successive US governments have tried to refashion the world in America's image. Meanwhile, they've ignored the domestic race issue, which has now exploded again.

I know what the anti-RT brigade in the corporate media are expecting here. They imagine I'll take great satisfaction from current events in Baltimore. No, I don't. There's nothing good about watching a nation or city fragment along ethnic or racial lines.

Just as there's no joy in Ukraine's current predicament, where the State Department stoked festering ethnic tensions and destroyed a country. Nor was there anything positive about the civil war that raged in Ireland's north-east corner when I was growing up a couple of hundred miles south.

Throughout history, countries and empires have waged war. Sadly, it continues today, both overtly and covertly. However, no international conflict ever leaves behind the bitterness that lingers after a Civil War or matches the ferocity of contemporaneous feeling when a tribe splits. In America and Europe, there are still exiled White Russian families who won't talk to those they consider 'Reds' and Irish Catholics in Boston who wouldn't date a Protestant. Of course, it's boneheaded, but it happens.

Chalkboard

"Every Child Achieves Act of 2015," a heartless congressional blunder!

© www.theguardian.com
"Deliverology" Children in the next generation.
A Teacher's Per­spec­tive on the "Every Child Achieves Act of 2015"

The "Every Child Achieves Act" has passed unan­i­mously out of the Health, Edu­ca­tion, Labor, and Pen­sion Com­mit­tee in the Sen­ate. The usual sus­pects are singing its praises while the peo­ple who actu­ally read all 601 pages of the bill are dread­ing its implementation.

This bill is an affront to every­one who loves chil­dren. The teach­ing pro­fes­sion requires love and patience and cre­ativ­ity. Real teach­ing to inspire real learn­ing requires these traits. Con­tin­u­ous com­puter test­ing for com­pli­ance to a pre­scribed out­come does not. In fact, love and cre­ativ­ity will get in the way of imple­ment­ing this one-size-fits-all exper­i­men­tal disaster.

Any­one who loves chil­dren would not want to sub­ject chil­dren to this cre­ativ­ity crush­ing soul suck­ing sys­tem. This bill funds lots of test­ing and lots of inter­ven­tions for "at risk" stu­dents, which appar­ently includes every­one who doesn't ace the Com­mon Core assess­ments - in other words, everyone.

Any­one who thinks this is a good idea that will lead to improved learn­ing for stu­dents clearly knows noth­ing about human nature or any of the proven analy­sis of W.E. Dem­ing. Top down qual­ity con­trol mea­sures that rely on a sys­tem of pun­ish­ments and rewards plac­ing every­one in a com­pet­i­tive atmos­phere do not even work in the busi­ness world for which they were designed.

Comment: Have our children become products to be inspected, stamped, dated and sold to the highest funder? Can we see the pathological handprint here? Let's create robot worker children who esteem to claw their way to the top without an original thought or creative promise. By the book. By the numbers. Can we surmise that any emotional variance will be punished out and any selfish manipulation will bring praise and reward? And, we will wake up one morning and not know or recognize our kids. They will be the manifestation of a cold and heartless system.


Airplane

Glitch in iPad software affects dozens of American Airlines flights

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© Reuters / Robert Galbraith
An issue with the software on Apple iPads used by American Airlines pilots affected dozens of flights on Tuesday evening, representatives for the airline say.

"Some flights are experiencing an issue with a software application on pilot iPads," the Texas-based airline explained on Twitter late on Tuesday after passengers began complaining about delays.

"In some cases, the flight has had to return to the gate to access a Wi-Fi connection to fix the issue. We apologize for the inconvenience to our customers. We are working to have them on the way to their destination as soon as possible," Andrea Huguely, a spokesperson for American Airlines, later clarified to the Verge.

The airline didn't give specific numbers, but another spokesperson told the Verge that "a few dozen flights" had been affected by the issue. According to updates posted to Twitter by a husband and wife who had planned to fly from Dallas to Austin, they heard that American's entire fleet of Boeing 737s had been grounded over the issue.
@bjacaruso Some flights are experiencing an issue with a software application on pilot iPads. We'll have info about your departure soon.

— American Airlines (@AmericanAir) April 29, 2015

Dollar

Economic expert: International monetary system needs to be reset

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© Flickr/ Orse
The European Central Bank's 1.1 trillion-euro quantitative easing program has sent bond yields to below zero on securities from Germany to Spain - which is having a negative impact into German bunds.

Germany's government uses bunds to finance its spending. Long term bonds, those with durations of between ten and 30 years are issued the most. Bunds are auctioned off in the primary market and then traded in the secondary market.

According to Jefferies this means that more than 30 percent of all government debt in the Eurozone is trading on a negative interest rate.

That's two trillion euros worth of money that has been borrowed and must be repaid.

"It's an over-indebted global and European economy and that debt is weighing upon the growth function," says Chris Watling from consultancy Longview Economics.

"Productivity it terrible — it's a very sad growth mix for the global and European economy."

USA

Mass incarceration culture in the U.S. a result of authoritaties' stance towards minorities

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© Flickr/ telmo32
The US authorities' discriminatory attitude toward the poor and people of color contributed to the emergence of the current culture of mass incarceration, director of Prison Radio Noelle Hanrahan told Sputnik.

Prison Radio is an independent media content company aimed at challenging unjust police and prosecutorial practices which result in mass incarceration, racism and gender discrimination.

"The way the US deals with poor people and people of color... created this culture of mass incarceration," Hanrahan said, adding that in the last forty years the prison population in the United States increased tenfold to over two million inmates.

"One in forty six people in the US will make prison time, and one in ninety nine is currently incarcerated, and the massive incarceration has corrupted our society," Hanrahan said.

Butterfly

Los Angeles man who built tiny house for homeless woman, launches Tiny House Project LA

A Los Angeles man built a tiny house for a homeless woman who'd previously been sleeping in the dirt down the street from his apartment.

Almost every day, 60-year-old Smokie visited Elvis Summers' apartment to ask if he had any recyclables. The pair soon developed a friendship, and when Summers discovered Smokie's sleeping situation he knew he had to help.

Summers said he became inspired one day after reading an article about a man in Oakland, California, who built tiny houses out of scrap material. The article prompted him to spend some money of his own to build a home for Smokie so she would no longer have to sleep in the dirt. Five days later, Summers presented the home to his friend.


"I had nowhere to really build it, so I just built it in the street outside of my apartment," he said. "The local LAPD cops have been super cool, and have told me they support it - as long as we move it to a different spot every 72 hours."

Comment: It's heartening to hear that their are still people with a conscience and enough creativity to help the homeless, particularly during times when so many cities are actively harassing them and even targeting those who try to help. Projects like these could make a huge difference to millions of lives if they were launched in cities across the world.

Utah is ending homelessness by giving people homes