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Thu, 11 Feb 2016
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Handcuffs

Arrested federal judge keeps getting $200K salary

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© Associated Press
Mugshot of U.S. District Court Judge Mark Fuller after his arrest on a misdemeanor battery charge in Atlanta on Sunday.
An Alabama federal judge stripped of his caseload following his arrest on domestic violence charges in Atlanta will continue receiving his annual salary of nearly $200,000.

Legal experts say federal judicial rules don't include a provision for withholding the pay of U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller while a disciplinary committee reviews the case.

Sherlock

Slavyansk residents disappeared, town being re-populated with migrants from Western Ukraine

© Reuters/Shamil Zhumatov
Local resident Viktor Shevchenko walks outside a building damaged by a recent shelling in the Ukrainian eastern city of Slaviansk July 1, 2014.
In Slavyansk, occupied by Ukrainian troops, the local residents have practically disappeared. The town is being inundated with migrants speaking in a foreign dialect, who take over the housing of those who left to escape the Ukrainian bombing campaign.

This is reported by one of very few residents of Slavyansk who, trusting Ukrainian official propaganda, made the decision to return to his native city. The picture that he saw is terrifying. He realized that the information about residents of Slavyansk returning home is nothing but a vile lie.

"Please, heed our plea! The people have disappeared from Slavyansk!

"I am a native of Slavyansk, residing here already for twenty-seven years. Or better to say 'I was residing', having left the town three months ago, when it was becoming dangerous to stay. During this time I found refuge with relatives in Odessa. I made a decision to return when all the Ukrainian media started saying that everything in Slavyansk was back to normal, that over sixty percent of residents have come back.

"In the three months of my absence my apartment remained untouched by shells from the junta's bombardment or by its marauding thugs. I had already started to unpack when I heard the sound of my neighbour's doors opening across the hallway. I thought it must have been my neighbour, Sergey Ivanovich, but then I saw a young man unknown to me. To my question about his identity he replied that he was Sergey Ivanovich's son.

"Small problem here - my neighbour's son died in a car accident three years ago - and he happened to be my childhood friend. I decided to pay a visit to my other neighbours and ask who this guy really is, perhaps truly a son about whom I had no idea.

Comment: Every day the situation in East Ukraine sounds more and more like that of Palestine: ethnic cleansing.


Oscar

RT's coverage of Guantanamo hunger strike leads to Emmy nomination

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© AFP Photo / Mark Wilson
The US Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
RT has been nominated for a prestigious International Emmy award for its groundbreaking coverage of the six-month-long mass hunger strike by inmates at Guantanamo Bay.

In its investigation, the channel helped to bring the daily brutality suffered by inmates to millions of viewers across the globe, keeping the scandal in the headlines when many in the mainstream media ignored or downplayed the story. In May 2013, President Barack Obama promised to begin letting go prisoners who were cleared for release in January 2010. However, since that promise made over 440 days ago, only 17 of the 86 have been allowed to leave.
RT's #Gitmo coverage earns network its THIRD Emmy nomination [VIDEO] http://t.co/PfYNPOclUL @ManilaChan

- RT America (@RT_America) August 13, 2014
.@RT_com received #iEmmy nod in 2012 for reporting on #OWS & in 2010 for coverage of Pres. Obama's visit to Russia. http://t.co/2Aq6pFZMnw

- RT Press Office (@RT_PressOffice_) August 13, 2014

Eye 1

Photographs of the Ferguson, Missouri confrontation between police and peaceful protestors reveal unfiltered, uncomfortable truths about American Police State

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© Mario Anzuoni/Reuters; Scott Olson/Getty Images
At left, a riot police officer aims his weapon while demonstrators protest. At right, a protester carries what appears to be a Molotov cocktail.
A photograph is never sufficiently proportional to truth. The truth - the full story, the context of things - is too large and complicated to be encompassed by any single image. So from Ferguson, Mo., where daily protests have erupted after Saturday's police shooting of an unarmed African American teenager, we get only photographic data points.

A man lights a rag in a bottle and prepares to throw a Molotov cocktail; militarized police sit atop armored vehicles, guns drawn and aimed at protestors who have their hands raised. Both are volatile images, and both confirm aspects of the truth: There are provocateurs among the mostly peaceful protestors, and the police have adopted a terrifyingly aggressive posture in relation to the citizens they supposedly serve.

But these images aren't coming from Egypt or the Gaza Strip or Ukraine. These are our own, homegrown documents of social unrest and they can't, like images from more distant lands, be kept safely at bay.

The manipulation of photography has become so complex and widespread that images from conflict zones often tend to cancel each other out. Propaganda has trickled down from the state to the D.I.Y. level, and it's hard to tell the difference between the two.

The resulting frustration, our inability to be certain of the authenticity of the image and the accuracy of the caption, is in many ways a relief: If we can't be sure whether the bloodied corpse of a dead child was the result of a bomb from Hamas, or the Israeli army, we push it aside, grateful not to have to take a moral position on the conflict. The self-canceling nature of images releases us from the responsibility to think things through.

Briefcase

Argentinian tax officers raid Buenos Aires HSBC headquarters as part of money-laundering probe

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© PressTV
The Argentina headquarters of British bank HSBC has been raided by tax officers after revelations that the multinational institution carried out thousands of illegal transactions at its local branches. HSBC now faces money laundering and tax evasion charges. Its operations in Argentina are also being closely screened.

Yet another huge money laundering scandal hits British multinational banking group HSBC, this time in Argentina. The Federal tax office has uncovered scores of bogus transactions involving illegal assets and has filed a lawsuit against HSBC.

Local political leaders are now criticizing the government for failure to prevent money laundering, which, according to the Financial Action Task Force, is spreading across the country. Argentina's tax authority, AFIP, raided the HSBC Argentina headquarters in downtown Buenos Aires and its main offices across the city, but couldn't find all the documents it needed. The bank claims the documents were destroyed in a fire back in February but officials are investigating the claim. Opposition leaders hope the probe on HSBC is just the first step in a much wider investigation into the operations of the British financial group in Argentina. This is not the first time HSBC comes under a criminal investigation as it has been recently hit by a host of scandals internationally. The huge police raid at its Argentina headquarters is certainly another blow to its now poor reputation. Only in Latin America, the British bank is now facing several lawsuits on money laundering related to drug trafficking in Mexico and Colombia.


Comment: No surprise here. HSBC is one of the main facilitators of criminal behavior world-wide.
  • Criminal behavior: HSBC targets account of Syrian refugees in the UK
  • Drug Money Banking, Terror Dealings Exposed at HSBC
  • Global banks are the financial services wing of the drug cartels

Whether or not anything will come of it is another matter:
  • Gangster Bankers: World-scale money laundering for drugs and terrorism but too big to jail



Heart - Black

Human catastrophe: Doctors start work as U.N. estimates 400,000 Gaza children need psychological care

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© Mohammed Salem/Reuters
Palestinian boy Mohammed Wahdan, whom medics said was wounded in Israeli shelling, receives psychological care at Shifa hospital in Gaza City August 14, 2014.
In a ward at Shifa, Gaza's largest hospital, child therapist Rabeea Hamouda is trying to elicit a response from two small brothers, Omar and Mohammed, aged three and 18 months, hoping for some words or perhaps a smile.

For seven straight minutes the children, peppered with burns and shrapnel wounds sustained in Israeli shelling that hit their home in north Gaza, stare at him blankly, emotionless.

Eventually, as Hamouda gently teases them, pretending to mix up their names and holding out a present while another counselor sings quietly, a smile creeps across Mohammed's face and the older one, Omar, cries out his name.

Pharoah

The origins of hierarchy: How Egyptian pharaohs rose to power

© muslimvillage.com
The rulers of ancient Egypt lived in glorious opulence, decorating themselves with gold and perfumes and taking their treasures with them to the grave.

But how could such a hierarchical, despotic system arise from egalitarian hunter-gatherer societies? The reasons were part technological and part geographical: In a world where agriculture was on the rise and the desert was all-encompassing, the cost of getting out from under the thumb of the pharaoh would have been too high.

"There was basically nowhere else to go," said study author Simon Powers, a postdoctoral researcher in ecology and evolution at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. "That cost of leaving could basically lock individuals into despotism."

From egalitarianism to hierarchy

Ancient Egypt is just one example of a society that transitioned from equality to hierarchy. During the Neolithic Period, often referred to as the Stone Age - which began about 10,000 years ago - agriculture began to replace hunting and gathering as the principal means for obtaining food. At the same time, societies in which everyone had been more or less equal began to schism into classes, with clear leaders emerging. In many cases, these leaders held absolute power.

Many researchers have theorized that agriculture allowed people to hoard food and resources, and that with this power, they could induce others to follow them. But no one had ever convincingly explained how the transition from no leaders to leaders could have occurred, Powers told Live Science. If everyone in hunter-gatherer societies was more or less equal in strength or resources to start, why would they allow an individual to dominate in the first place?

To find out, Powers created a computer model filled with individuals who had their own preferences for egalitarianism or hierarchy. In the model, as in life, the more resources an individual possessed, the more offspring they could have. In the simulations, populations would sometimes gain a voluntary leader - though the next generation down the line could choose to break off from that leader, at a cost of some resources. (Leaders' children did not defect, given that they stood to inherit their parents' wealth.)

The simulations revealed that voluntary leadership arises when leaders give enough benefits to their followers at the outset, Powers said. If leaders give their people an advantage in producing food, the people will follow them, he added.

Comment: The grabs and clutches of modern human systems greatly complicate the dilemma of society versus the individual. We have become a mix-master blend of aspects of a number of cultures increasingly interdependent upon intricate economic structures, overwhelming definition, runaway laws, consumerism and proclivity, societal and peer pressures, false belief systems, corrupted information and deceptive governance. It is not as simple to "just bow out" and walk away. Today's liberation has to come from within. There is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. You are a number with a profile. It will find you.


Magnify

Where are all the hidden weapons? Western media inspect Russia's Ukraine aid trucks and find... food and medical aid

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A Russian convoy to deliver humanitarian aid has reached the Ukrainian border. Some western journalists were given the opportunity to monitor its progress, as well as being allowed to see what they were carrying.

The Ukrainian government had been adamant that this was little more than a 'Trojan Horse' being used to transport Russian military hardware to anti-government troops in the east of the country. Trucks 'inspection' showed they were carrying quite a different load.

The convoy is long - with 270 trucks in all. They are trying to bring much needed supplies to the city of Lugansk, which has been without electricity, gas and water for weeks, following constant shelling from Ukrainian government forces.

Stormtrooper

NYPD threatens mass arrests as thousands of people rally in solidarity with Ferguson

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Thousands of people in New York rallied in solidarity with residents of Ferguson on Thursday, showing support to people across the US who have been victims of police brutality. The NYPD threatened mass arrests if people did not stop blocking traffic.

The New York City Police Department has arrested at least four people during a peaceful rally intended to pay tribute to Michael Brown and others who have suffered from police brutality.

Thousands of protesters left their original rally location at New York's Union Square and descended upon Times Square, ignoring police orders to stay on the sidewalk. As a result, police began cordoning protesters at 42nd Street and 9th Avenue. Demonstrators flooded social media, complaining that officers had kettled them and refused to let them go. No police in riot gear were at the scene, however, nor was any tear gas used as in Ferguson, Missouri, on Wednesday.

Heart - Black

Blood Thirst: 'Finish the job!' Thousands of Israelis rally in support of Gaza offense

© Reuters / Baz Ratner
People hold signs during a rally in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square, to show solidarity with residents of Israel's southern communities, who have been targeted by Palestinian rockets and mortar salvoes, August 14, 2014.
Thousands of people in Tel Aviv rallied to show support for the IDF's military campaign in Gaza, urging the government forces to stop Hamas rocket attacks on Israel once and for all.

An estimated 10,000 Israelis gathered in Rabin Square for first major demonstration since Operation Protective Edge began on July 8, officially to protect Israeli civilians from the barrage of rockets launched from the militant organization on the Gaza strip.