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Leaving while they can: US Treasury reports record number of people give up US citizenship and green cards

© Reuters
For the third year in a row the number of people renouncing their citizenship or abandoning green cards has beaten the record set the previous year, US Treasury Department data reveal. The surge is likely the result of stringent US tax policy.

A record-breaking 4,279 individuals decided to call it quits with the US in 2015 in comparison to 3,415 people the previous year, according to a US Treasury report released on Friday.

The list of individuals deciding to expatriate is published on a quarterly basis by the Internal Revenue Service. The latest one contains the names of 1,058 US citizens and permanent residents that gave up their passports in the period from September to December.

Eye 2

Hillary Clinton's very inappropriate laughter is downright scary

...because she could cannibalize a puppy on national television tomorrow and still win the nomination!

Roses

Bashar al-Assad's mother, Syria's former first lady, dies at 86

© Press TV
Anisa Ahmed Makhlouf, the late mother of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Anisa Ahmed Makhlouf, the mother of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has passed away at the age of 86.

Makhlouf, the wife of late Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, died after years of illness at a hospital in the capital Damascus on Saturday.

She was born in the western Syrian city of Latakia and married the former president in 1957.

The country's presidential office issued a statement confirming her death and thanking people for their condolences.

Bashar was Makhlouf's third child out of the five, including Bushra, Basil, Majed and Maher.

Anisa Makhlouf (C), the wife of former Syrian President Hafez al-Assad (top left) are seen in this family photo in the early 1970s along with their children. (Left to right: Bashar, Maher, Majed, Bushra, and Bassel)

Comment: Our condolences to the al-Assad family and to Syria.


Colosseum

Super Bowl 50: Showcasing America's extreme inequality while distracting the people from mass theft and the growing police state

Today, maybe more than any other day on the calendar, the contradictions of U.S. society will be on display. Over 100 million people will gather around television sets to watch Super Bowl 50 with friends and family. The beauty of the community that will be shared, however, will be offset by the display of wealth and inequality.

Super Bowl 50 will be played at the approximately $1.5 billion dollar Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara. In the heart of the wealthy Silicon Valley, the stadium is replete with high tech amenities befitting the region's industry. Luxury boxes are stacked up like a luxury hotel and general seating is much closer to the field than in any other stadium according to Sports Illustrated.

This, of course, comes at a high price that only the very wealthy can afford. Sunday's ticket prices are averaging $5,000 a seat, with some going for as high as $20,000 according to SeatGeek. It is "the most expensive sporting event in history," according to CNN Money. For those unable to shell out the thousands of dollars, they can go to Super Bowl City in San Francisco where the city used $5 million to attract tourists and the city's growing young wealthy population. Super Bowl City goers can also attend one of the various celebrity hosted pre-Super Bowl parties in San Francisco, such DirecTv and Pepsi's Super Thursday Night with Dave Matthews Band for $1200 a ticket. San Francisco, like cities all over the nation, are using public funds to underwrite sporting events that contribute to the gentrification of the city and displace the poor.

Comment: Just more bread and circuses for the masses, to keep us distracted from the growing police state and the continual mass theft by the rich from the people.


People 2

Syria's lost generation, about 4 million

© www.ibtimes.co.uk
The tragedy of childhood in Syria.
Four million Syrian children have no means of getting to a school in safety because of the actions of marauding gangs of terrorists firing at the personnel of the Syrian Arab Army, police, ambulance and fire services. The rest of the world looks on and Russia apart, blames the legitimately elected President of the country, Bashar al-Assad.

The United Nations Organization is trying to coordinate an initiative called No Lost Generation, aiming to prioritize the education of Syria's children before an entire generation has its schooling interrupted, losing important parts of the curriculum. UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and Africa, Peter Salama, states: "The scale of the crisis for children is growing all the time, which is why there are now such fears that Syria is losing a whole generation of its youth".

UNICEF is co-hosting a conference held in London, UK, with a view to getting financing for the initiative from the representatives of over thirty nations who have committed to attend and with a view to solving the problem in the short and medium term. There are around four million Syrian children aged between five and seventeen years who need education assistance, among these being 2.1 million children inside Syria who cannot attend school because of the destabilization caused by gangs of terrorists aided, funded and abetted from outside the country and a further 700,000 children living as refugees in Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Apart from these there are over a million children inside Syria engaged in informal learning activities with volunteers or unofficial schools where the delivery of the curriculum is not open to supervision or any degree of quality control.

Comment: Children, facing terror, uncertainty, seeing their homes, schools, cities crumble around them, as physical victims and as societal victims requires at least a generation to heal...if they make it, if the world regains sanity and if the psychopath warlords vanish from the planet.


Attention

10 things they won't tell you about the Flint poisoned water tragedy, but I will

© Brett Carlsen via Getty Images
News of the poisoned water crisis in Flint has reached a wide audience around the world. The basics are now known: The Republican governor, Rick Snyder, nullified the free elections in Flint, deposed the mayor and city council, then appointed his own man to run the city. To save money, they decided to unhook the people of Flint from their fresh water drinking source, Lake Huron, and instead, make the public drink from the toxic Flint River.

When the governor's office discovered just how toxic the water was, they decided to keep quiet about it and covered up the extent of the damage being done to Flint's residents, most notably the lead affecting the children, causing irreversible and permanent brain damage. Citizen activists uncovered these actions, and the governor now faces growing cries to resign or be arrested.

Comment: See also:
  • Why we need to be concerned about lead exposure



Stormtrooper

Woman with Asperger's who touched millions of lives, gunned down by police

Danielle Jacobs, 24, brought tears to the internet's eyes last year after she posted a video of what she felt like with Asperger's syndrome.

In the video, Jacobs recorded herself during one of her 'meltdowns,' which showed her trying to punch herself, but being comforted by her Rottweiler instead.

"This is what having Asperger's like," she wrote with the video.

Comment:

From My distant cousin Serpico: the man who took a bullet to expose police corruption:

"Today the combination of an excess of deadly force and near-total lack of accountability is more dangerous than ever: Most cops today can pull out their weapons and fire without fear that anything will happen to them, even if they shoot someone wrongfully. All a police officer has to say is that he believes his life was in danger, and he's typically absolved. What do you think that does to their psychology as they patrol the streets—this sense of invulnerability?" -Frank Serpico


Quenelle - Golden

John Pilger speaks passionately (again) on 'Australia Day', aka Invasion Day

© Video Screen shot
John Pilger speaking on Invasion Day 2016
On 26 January 2016, the national holiday in Australia, journalist and activist John Pilger spoke at a rally at Sydney Town Hall on the hidden meaning of 'Survival Day':


Comment: See also:

While white Australians celebrate national holiday, aboriginals mark Invasion Day

John Pilger: Australia's Day for secrets, flags & cowards


Cheeseburger

Man chokes to death trying to swallow whole cheeseburger in one bite

© Robert Galbraith / Reuters
Welshman Darren Bray, 29, choked to death when he tried to swallow a whole cheeseburger in one bite while drinking at a friend's house.

A Cardiff coroner heard how Bray, a father of three, had been out with his friends when he apparently jokingly tried to swallow the whole burger in October 2015.

"Watch this," he told friends before folding and ramming the 99p meal down his throat, according to one witness.

When it became clear Bray was encountering difficulties, his friend Sam Bisgrove tried to intervene.

Comment: See also: McDonald's Japan founder: Burgers will make us 'taller, white and blonde'


Stormtrooper

Vigilantism and racism: Meet Finland's fascist thugs, the 'Soldiers of Odin'

Nazi daggers, SS hats and a hangman's noose: On night patrol with the 'Soldiers of Odin', neo-Nazi led vigilantes vowing to 'keep Europe's women safe from migrant sex attacks'
© Roland Hoskins / Daily Mail
Boss: 'Jani', 27, one of three leaders of the Kemi 'division' of the Soldiers of Odin who works in a paper factory by day, says the group does not follow Nazi ideologies but admits there will be a 'war on the streets, and we are ready to fight'
A gang of vigilantes led by a violent neo-Nazi go on night time 'migrant patrols' on the streets of Finland, with some talking of 'ethnic cleansing' in the wake of the country's mounting immigration crisis.

The self-styled 'Soldiers of Odin' march in a mob, wearing bomber jackets with their logo on the back. They have vowed to take direct action to 'protect their wives, girlfriends and children' after a migrant influx to the liberal Scandinavian country.

The gang - which claims to have cells across Europe - says it mobilised after a rise in migrant-related crime over the past 12 months because the Finnish government has 'screwed everything up'.

MailOnline gained exclusive access to the gang's leadership and visited its secretive headquarters - which was packed with Nazi memorabilia and White Supremacist propaganda.

Comment: Does anyone think that these guys are going to help anything? Or is their way of thinking the bigger problem?

It is very worrying that the police chief, Seppo Kolehmainen, unlike many in the police force, has actually made statements in support of these kinds of groups. Similarly, Jari Lindström, who is the current Minister of Justice and Minister of Labor, has stated that he has not heard that there is a problem with them. This sort of talk gives a positive signal for these kinds of hostile groups and opens the country to accept them little by little. Also, the Finnish media has so far not highlighted the clearly fascist aspects of these groups, which makes one curious as to the cause. Is someone trying to set up a "Maidan"-type of atmosphere in Finland?

Extreme right-wing ideologies have been used to the detriment of Finnish society before and so we need to be vigilant against this sort of thing: Untold history of Finland: Fascist origins, Russophobia and today's anti-Muslim hysteria