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Freight train carrying nuclear waste derails near Paris

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A train convoy of CASTOR containers, which carry radioactive nuclear waste, passes by in Flottemanville
A rail freight wagon carrying nuclear waste derailed at a depot in Drancy, 3 km (2 miles) northeast of Paris on Monday, the mayor of the town said.

There was no leakage of nuclear waste, Jean-Christophe Lagarde said by telephone.

"Today at 1605 (1505 GMT), a freight car transporting radioactive material derailed in Drancy station," said the mayor, who is also a member of parliament for the French centrist UDI party.

About 4,000 freight wagons carrying radioactive or chemical waste pass through the station each year, Lagarde said, calling the incident "intolerable".

France's "Europe Ecologie Les Verts" (EELV) Green party called for an end to the transportation of radioactive waste through urban areas and busy stations following the incident.

Cow

SWAT team raids sustainable community

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At around seven thirty last Friday morning, inhabitants of The Garden of Eden, a small Intentional Community based on Sustainability, were awakened by a SWAT raid conducted by the City of Arlington for suspicion of being a full fledged marijuana growth and trafficking operation. Ultimately only a single arrest was made based on unrelated outstanding traffic violations,a handful of citations were given for city code violations, and zero drug related violations were found.

The entire operation lasted about 10 hours and involved many dozens of city officials, SWAT team, police officers, and code compliance employees, and numerous official vehicles including dozens of police cars and several specialized vehicles that were involved in the "abatement" operation. Witnesses say that there were helicopters and unmanned flying drones circling the property in the days prior to the raid that are presumed to have been a part of the intelligence gathering. The combined expenses for the raid itself and the collection of information leading up to the fruitless raid are estimated in the tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars.

All 8 adults present in the house were initially handcuffed at gunpoint by heavily armed SWAT officers, including the mother of a 22 month old and a two week old baby who was separated from her children during the raid. The majority of police activity on the day of the raid included mowing the grass, the forcible destruction of both wild and cultivated plants like blackberries, lamb's quarters and okra, and the removal of other varied materials from around the premises such as pallets, tires and cardboard that the Community members say they had collected for use in sustainability projects. No marijuana or other drugs were found on site and the inhabitants of the premises were all unarmed.

Target

Utah couple sues online retailer behind $3,500 negative review fine

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A Utah couple filed a $75,000 suit against the online retailer KlearGear.com in response to the company hurting their credit with a $3,500 fine over a negative review nearly five years ago.

CNN reported on Thursday that the advocacy group Public Citizen filed the lawsuit on behalf of John and Jen Palmer, who have been fighting with Klear Gear since the company failed to deliver an order in 2008.

In response, Jen Palmer criticized the company on Ripoff Report, only to be notified last year that they had allegedly broken Klear Gear's "non-disparagement clause," which "prohibits [customers] from taking any action that negatively impacts Kleargear.com, its reputation, products, services, management or employees."

"This is fraud," Jen Palmer said at the time. "They're blackmailing us for telling the truth."

Bizarro Earth

Gay couple banned from dancing to country music together, but hip-hop is okay

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The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas is backing two Texas men who say that they were recently kicked out of a South Texas night club for dancing to country music instead of hip-hop or rap.

Justin Meyer, 21, explained to the Victoria Advocate that management at Cactus Canyon told them on Saturday night that there was a policy against men dancing together to country music.

However, Meyer said that he later discover that the club had no such policy.

"I don't like that we were lied to," he remarked. "The confrontation never would have happened if they hadn't lied about the policy."

Meyer's boyfriend, 30-year-old James Douglas, said that the couple was finishing a dance to the song "Cowboys and Angels" on Saturday night when they were told that they were violating club policy and posed a safety risk.

"Why is it not OK for me to dance with my boyfriend when there are girls here who dance together all the time?" Douglas recalled asking.

Gift 2

Atheist group saves Christmas for Oklahoma family claiming poor treatment by church

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© Shutterstock
An Oklahoma mother said atheists saved Christmas for her family after she was treated poorly by a church charity.

Tiffany Wait said she and her husband went to Bible Baptist Church's Toy Shop on Christmas morning to get gifts for their 7-month-old son but were turned away when she declined to hand over the baby for a volunteer to hold.

"I am poor and would not be able to celebrate Christmas this year without their charity," Wait said. "I went last year and it was a life saver. This year however, I was treated shockingly bad."

She said she didn't want to hand over her baby, who doesn't like strangers, but the volunteer insisted she had to or the family couldn't participate in the giveaway.

"I stood there, fighting back tears and asked, 'You would turn a baby away on Christmas,'" Wait said.

But she said the volunteers refused to make an exception, and Wait said one woman tried to take the child away from her.

Arrow Down

Teen survives 300-foot plunge off of California cliff

© www.nbclosangeles.com

The teen told paramedics after he was saved that he intentionally drove off the cliff.

A teenage driver whose car plunged 300 feet off of an ocean cliff in Southern California was rescued after firefighters waded into the surf to free him from the vehicle..

The 19-year-old driver was hospitalized in critical condition. He told paramedics that he intentionally drove off the cliff in the Bluff Cove area of Palos Verdes Estates about 20 miles south of downtown Los Angeles.

Authorities sent to the scene at around 2 a.m. Friday found waves slamming the car. Los Angeles County firefighters, lifeguards and local police helped in the rescue and the driver was finally pulled free and was flown to a hospital.

The crash site is on the Palos Verdes Peninsula.

Hiliter

Where the 1.3 million people losing unemployment aid this week live

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© Committee on Ways and Means Demcrats/Labor Department
Darker shading means a larger share of a state’s population will lose emergency jobless benefits Saturday.
A projected 1.3 million people will lose emergency unemployment benefits when they expire Saturday.

Darker shading corresponds to states where a higher share of the population is affected.

Congress offered the extended benefits as unemployment ballooned during the Great Recession and has put off their expiration 11 times since. Renewing the long-term insurance is a top agenda item for the Senate when it convenes Jan. 6, Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said. The body is expected to vote quickly on a three-month extension of the benefits.

Recipients still face, at best, a delay in their checks and, at worst, a permanent end to them. When the aid expires Saturday, the unemployed will only be able to collect a maximum 26 weeks of benefits in most parts of the U.S., down from about twice as much in many states.

The recession may technically be over, but for many the recovery has yet to begin. The plight of the long-term unemployed - a group the benefits are aimed at helping and whose ranks have swelled - has also proven particularly difficult to solve. Studies have shown that they are more likely to suffer mental-health setbacks and are less likely to be hired.

And every state but one - North Dakota - has added more people than jobs since the recession began. Nationally, that deficit between jobs and population growth equates to roughly 9.2 million jobs, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank that produces research focused on low- and middle-income workers. In 33 states, the gap between jobs and population growth is 5 percent or greater.

Arrow Up

Pasadena police use Rose Parade as excuse to search hundreds of vehicles

© Police State USA
California - An annual New Year's tradition, along with the crippling fear of terrorism, is giving police in Pasadena the excuse they need to perform hundreds of warrantless vehicle searches.

Police State USA obtained a tip from a reader notifying of the signs being posted near the route of the upcoming Rose Parade - an annual parade held on New Year's Day in Pasadena. The parade draws crowds of hundreds of thousands of people from all over the country. Hundreds of recreational vehicles gather along the parade route and in nearby parking lots in the week preceding the parade.

The sign in the photograph sent to Police State USA reads:
DEC. 29 THRU JAN. 1

FOR SECURITY PURPOSES ALL VEHICLES PARKED IN THIS AREA ARE SUBJECT TO INSPECTION AND SEARCH BY PASADENA PD. NON-COMPLIANCE MAY RESULT IN CITATION AND TOW AT OWNER'S EXPENSE.
Pasadena Police have been treating the Rose Parade like a terrorist target since 9/11, and have annually employed a program they dub "Parade Watch." A police document from 2002 discusses the program and some of its tactics. Discussing the vehicle searches, Pasadena PD published, "One of the simplest responses would have been to post 'No Parking' signs along the cross streets of the route, however, such a response was inconsistent with the goals and the tradition of the Rose Parade."

Question

World gone mad: Hundreds of teens terrorize Brooklyn mall and shut it down after mob organized on Facebook to watch fight between girls

Hundreds of teens terrorized a Brooklyn mall Thursday during an attack organized on social media, forcing it to close its doors for hours during crucial day after Christmas sales. More than 400 teens swarmed Kings Plaza Mall, in Southern Brooklyn, trashing stores, assaulting shoppers and stealing things after a t-shirt insulting a high school student sparked anger among classmates.

A large group of teen girls reportedly fought each other over the incendiary t-shirt and the violent 'knockout' game also broke out on the mall's top floor - where one teen may have been carrying a gun, cops told the New York Post.


Teens used social media to organize the attack with the goal of putting the mall 'on tilt,' according to Facebook and Twitter posts cited by the Post. The shirt showed a picture of the girl with a derogatory comment about her, the New York Daily News reported.

Mall employees rushed to close their stores as chaos broke out all around them. 'I've been here seven years and I have never seen anything like this before - I'm so scared. I know they will come back,' store clerk Abu Tabel, 31, told the paper.

'I was begging them to stop. There were a lot of kids hundreds of kids... [Security] would chase them out one door and they would come back in another door,' he continued.

People

Terminally ill girl who had 10,000 people sing Christmas carols at her home dies on Christmas Day


Delaney Brown, 8, was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. In her last week she was granted a few wishes including 10,000 people who sang Christmas carols at her house and talking to Taylor Swift.

A terminally ill girl who received support from thousands of Christmas carolers outside her home over the weekend died early on Christmas morning, her family said.
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© Team Laney/Via Facebook
Delaney Brown, 8, was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia in May.
Delaney Brown, 8, of West Reading "passed away quietly with her loving family by her side," family spokesman Christopher Winters said in a statement Wednesday.

On Saturday night, thousands gathered outside her home in eastern Pennsylvania to fulfill her wish for a huge holiday singalong. The crowd cycled through holiday favorites such as "Frosty the Snowman," ''Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer" and "Jingle Bells" and ended with a chorus of "Happy Birthday" to the girl, who turned 8 on Friday, The Reading Eagle reported.
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© Ben Hasty/AP
People fill the 400 block of Chestnut Street, Saturday in West Reading, Pa., where thousands of people came out to sing Christmas carols in front of Brown's home.
Shortly after the caroling began, the family's Facebook page showed a picture of Delaney giving two thumbs up with the text, "I can hear you now!!! Love you!"