Society's Child


Kiev's troops roll through E.Ukraine in 'bid to disrupt voting'

© RIA Novosti / Maks Vetrov
Ukrainian servicemen on the road between Kramatorsk and Slavyansk
A town in the Lugansk region has come under attack by Kiev's APCs, while in the Donetsk region Ukrainian troops have seized four polling stations, self-defense forces claim. This comes as autonomy referendums kick off in the country's southeast.

"Around 15 APCs have come near Novoaydar," Aleksey Chmilenko said. "Our self-defense guards are trying to stop the attack and prevent the vehicles moving farther in the direction of Lugansk."

Novoaydar election commission was reportedly evacuated by self-defense activists, after it had been attacked by National Guard troops.

At the same time, representatives of another Lugansk region self-defense group, based in Krasny Luch, told RT that they have seen APCs in the region, but have not heard any fighting yet.

Reports of sightings of Ukrainian APCs in various towns and villages in Lugansk region have been coming in throughout the day. One report said that as many as 45 APCs and two helicopters were moving from the Kharkov region in the direction of Lugansk.


Odessa massacre 9 days on: Dozens still missing, residents commemorate the dead

© Reuters / Yevgeny Volokin
Local residents gather for an Orthodox ceremony to mourn the deaths of pro-Russian supporters killed last week during street battles between pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian supporters, at a square near a burnt trade union building in the Black Sea port of Odessa May 10, 2014
Residents of Odessa, Ukraine have gathered for a memorial service to commemorate the victims of the May 2 bloodshed who died in a fire in the city's House of Trade Unions which was set ablaze by pro-Kiev radicals.

Several hundred people turned up Saturday on Kulikovo Pole Square in central Odessa - the site of the tragedy that shocked the entire international community. The participants of the memorial service brought flowers, candles and lit icon-lamps.

The square used to house anti-Maidan encampment where protesters were collecting signatures in support of a referendum on the federalization of Ukraine and granting Russian status of a second official language.

On May 2, violent clashes erupted between rallies of anti-government protesters and that of radicals supporting the Maidan-imposed authorities in Kiev. The confrontation lead to the tragedy that left 46 people dead and over 200 injured as nationalists burnt the protesters camp and then set on fire the Trade Unions House with opposition activists trapped inside. According to a witness of the massacre, many of those who managed to escape the flames were then strangled or finished with bats by radicals.


Big Oil plans to drill in the Everglades

© Michaelstone428, Wikimedia Commons
Conservationists are especially worried about one proposed drilling site near the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge has the highest number of endangered Florida panthers in the state.
Plans to drill for oil close to the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge on the western edge of the Everglades have environmentalists worried. A number of companies want to drill and test beneath the Big Cypress National Preserve where prospectors believe significant new oil and gas resources lie buried.

People living near the Florida Panther Wildlife Refuge first learned about these plans when they received a surprise notice in May 2013 advising them about evacuation plans if a gas leak or explosion occurred at the proposed drilling site located less than a mile west of the refuge.

"Initially I was concerned about the one well proposed next to the Florida Panther Refuge. There will be a lot of noise and a gigantic construction site for the well next to the pristine wetlands," says Matthew Schwartz, executive director of the South Florida Wildlands Association that's leading a grassroots effort to protect the Everglades from drilling.

"[Then] I found out the leasing company had about 115,000 acres and includes most public lands in southeast Florida. Other companies want to come in. A giant swath of land will be turned over to drilling companies. So it is not a pleasant scenario for the future," Schwartz said.


Amazon UK boycott urged after retailer pays just £4.2m in taxes, despite selling£4.3bn

© Derek Brown
Amazon warehouse in Marston Gate, near Milton Keynes
Shoppers have been urged to boycott Amazon's British business after it paid just £4.2m in tax last year, despite selling goods worth £4.3bn - more than the UK sales of Argos, Dixons or the non-food arm of Marks & Spencer.

Margaret Hodge, chair of the public accounts committee, said shoppers should find alternatives to the Seattle-headquartered retailer, after consumer action persuaded coffee chain Starbucks to resume UK tax payments last year.

"It is an outrage and Amazon should pay their fair share of tax," said Hodge. "They are making money out of not paying taxes. I no longer use Amazon. We should shop elsewhere. What we demonstrated with Starbucks is the power of the consumer voice."

Amazon's most recent charge brings to just over £10m its contribution to the public purse through corporation tax in a decade. Over the last four years, Amazon has generated £23bn in British sales. It made a tax contribution of £3.2m the previous year.

Amazon is able to pay low tax because when shoppers in Europe buy from any of its local websites, the payment is taken by a subsidiary based in the low tax jurisdiction of Luxembourg. A British shopper's bank statement will show a payment to Amazon EU S.à.r.l. rather than


Japanese women are leaving careers to hunt amid food shortages and earth changes

© Kentaro Sugino
Chiharu Hatakeyama left an office job in the city after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami to become a hunter. She says food and water shortages after the quake made her concerned about survival.
Modern people have largely lost their connection to "the hunt," but with fewer people wanting to become hunters and damage to fields and mountains in Japan increasing due to booming wild boar and deer populations, could "hunter girls" be the next generation to face the beasts of the wild?

One young woman left her office job to hunt and another serves fresh game in her guesthouse. Why did they seek out the hunter's life?

It was mid-March and there was not much time left in the hunting season. In the mountains of Itoshima, Fukuoka Prefecture, a woman took on an 40kg wild boar.

The boar's foreleg was caught in a snare she had set, and it was angry and menacing.

"If you hesitate, it'll get you," she said later.

Carefully approaching her prey, she brought the boar down with a special spear - her fourth, and biggest, kill since becoming a hunter last autumn.


Bearded Austrian drag-queen wins Eurovision Song Contest

Bearded drag act Conchita Wurst, who secured Austria's first Eurovision win in 48 years, received a jubilant welcome home to Vienna on Sunday as she pledged to promote tolerance.

The singer, whose real name is Tom Neuwirth, was greeted at the airport by more than 1,000 fans, some wearing painted beards and singing the winning anthem Rise Like a Phoenix.

The 25-year-old, whose participation in the contest had sparked controversy before the Copenhagen final on Saturday, secured victory with 290 points amid a Twitter storm.

As her victory was announced, Twitter activity spiked at 47,136 tweets per minute, with the Eurovision song contest generating 5,384,678 tweets in total.


What the... ?


Idiocracy! CNN map places Ukraine in Pakistan

The American news giant, CNN, has reshaped the world a bit in their live coverage of events in Ukraine. The eastern part of the European country got pinned miles and miles away from where it actually is - in Pakistan.

CNN was reporting Sunday about independence referendums in Ukraine's eastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk while also using a map to indicate the country's geographical location. Apparently by mistake, the arrow with Ukrainian flag on top was pointing to Pakistan, South Asia.

The error was quickly spotted by sharp-eyed viewers, one of whom snapped the TV screen and published the image on Twitter. Quite predictably, the post has gone viral with hundreds of users retweeting the picture and marking it as "favorite".


American dream is dead for everyone but a happy few

$250 Million homes in Europe, $150 Million homes in the US, and as Bloomberg notes Million-dollar homes in the U.S. are selling at double their historical average while middle-class property demand stumbles, showing that the housing recovery is mirroring America's wealth divide. As CoreLogic notes, "the real estate market is the ultimate reflection of confidence, wealth and income," as purchases costing $1 million or more rose 7.8% in March, while sales of homes costing less than $250k plunged 12%, as "the same factors driving the income stagnation in the middle are driving the income momentum at the top." The luxury markets are indeed on fire as foreign (and domestic) super-wealth floods into real estate but as NewEdge's van Batenburg notes, echoing ur very words, "The American Dream is dead for everybody but the happy few who have enjoyed the tailwinds of the appreciating stock market."
© John Darkow

Bizarro Earth

Fracking well leak spills 1,600 gallons of oil drilling lubricant into an Ohio tributary

© Shutterstock
About 1,600 gallons of oil-based lubricant leaked into an Ohio river tributary this week, after an equipment failure at an oil and gas well.

The rig site is located in southeastern Ohio near the town of Beverly, and is owned by PDC Energy Inc. One of the company's contractors is handling the cleanup, under the supervision of Ohio's Environmental Protection Agency. A spokesperson for PDC told the Associated Press that workers at the site noticed a build up in high pressure in the well, but were unable to contain it thanks to malfunctioning equipment at the well head.

That released the oil based fluid, called "mud," which is used to lubricate the equipment in the well bore during drilling. The mud reached a creek that serves as a tributary to the Muskingum River, and cleanup crews are using containment dams to prevent the fluid from spreading any further.

Both the sheriff and fire departments for Morgan County were called in following the leak, and PDC paid to relocate several nearby residents to ensure no one would be harmed if leaking natural gas led to an explosion. Officials said the spill was contained by Wednesday, though also added it could be harmful to marine life.

The well had been intended for hydraulic fracturing, but the fracking process hadn't yet begun when the leak occurred. PDC Energy has 15 active wells in Ohio and permits for 18 more, but this is the only reported spill the company has in the state. It did suffer a spill of fracking fluid at a Colorado well in February of 2013.

Bad Guys

Mentally unstable man seeks help, police suffocate him in his driveway


Aaron Torres
A man seeking help during a period of mental instability had his life ended shortly thereafter by police officers who sat on him so long in his driveway that he died of asphyxiation. The death was officially ruled a homicide, yet no one was ever charged.

The incident took place the morning of February 20th, 2012. Aaron Torres, 37, called 9-1-1 emergency services himself seeking help. Torres, who happened to be the transportation captain for the TV series "Hawaii Five-O," was suffering from a state of delirium caused by substance abuse.

At 4:27 a.m. a police dispatcher asked him if he needed assistance.

"Yeah,, please," Torres responded. The response would not be as helpful as he may have anticipated.

Honolulu Police soon arrived, and rather than providing the medical assistance he had requested, officers were looking to arrest him.

Torres "was saying there was no reason to arrest him and the officers were indicating they were going to arrest him for something," a family lawsuit alleged.

Aaron's sister Tassa Torres came outside after hearing the early-morning dispute. She witnessed what came next.