Society's Child


Fire in predominantly black church ruled arson by fire officials

Jeanette Dudley, associate pastor at God's Power Church of Christ
A fire inside a church with a primarily African-American congregation in Macon, Georgia has been ruled as arson by fire officials, reported the Telegraph.

Macon-Bibb County fire Sergeant Ben Glea­ton told the newspaper that while the investigation into Tuesday's fire at the God's Power Church of Christ continues, enough evidence had been discovered to rule the blaze had been deliberately set.

The arson ruling came a day after North Carolina authorities said a predominantly black church in Charlotte was purposefully burned, and roughly a week after a white gunman opened fire in an African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina, killing nine people.


Americans are twice as likely to be killed by right-wing terrorists than Muslim jihadists

© Reuters/Darren Hauck
Family members of those killed in a mass shooting at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin attend a candlelight vigil in in Oak Creek, Wisconsin on the one-year anniversary, August 5, 2013
Nearly twice as many Americans have been killed by right-wing extremists since 9/11 as have died at the hands of radical Muslims on US soil, a new report found. There have also been nearly three times as many deadly right-wing attacks as jihadist ones.

In almost a decade-and-a-half, 48 Americans have died in the US in 19 attacks by white supremacists, so-called "sovereign citizens" and other non-Muslim extremists, while 26 have died in seven jihadist attacks on US soil during that same time period, research center New America found as it compiled a new database on deadly attacks in the US since 9/11.

"Since 9/11, our country has been fixated on the threat of jihadi terrorism," said Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, according to the Kansas City Star. "But the horrific tragedy at the Emanuel AME reminds us that the threat of homegrown domestic terrorism is very real."

Last Wednesday, nine African-Americans were shot and killed at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Dylann Storm Roof, who later confessed to the massacre, made racist statements as he killed his victims, survivors told police. A website believed to belong to Roof contained a white supremacist manifesto, as well as photos of him posing with a gun, carrying the Confederate flag and burning an American flag. The Charleston shooting has not been officially labeled as terrorism, however, and Roof has not been charged with any crimes more heinous than murder.


The 'devious defecator' case is a landmark for US genetic-privacy law

Genetic testing, a closer look at the law.
Nature explores the impact of the first US court decision over how employers use genetic information.

A US company is the first to face penalties under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), a law that protects the privacy of genetic information. On 22 June, a federal court jury in Georgia awarded US$2.25 million to two men whose employer tested their DNA, seeking to identify who had repeatedly left faeces in one of its warehouses.

The firm, Atlas Logistics Group Retail Services, a grocery distributor in Atlanta, Georgia, asked employees Jack Lowe and Dennis Reynolds to give cheek swabs in 2012. Atlas sent their DNA to a lab for genetic comparison with the offending faecal matter. The tests showed that Lowe and Reynolds' DNA was not a match.

In 2013, the workers sued Atlas. The case, nicknamed the 'mystery of the devious defecator' by US district court judge Amy Totenberg, is the first brought under GINA to go to trial. Here, Nature explains why the ruling matters.

Comment: The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act bans US employers from using genetic information in hiring, firing, promotion and compensation decisions, and from collecting genetic information from employees. Similarly, the bill prevents health plans and insurers from denying coverage or boosting premium prices based on a person's genetic information, such as whether they have gene variants known to increase disease risk. It also forbids them from requesting or requiring people to take genetic tests. Other countries, including France and Austria, also ban the use of genetic information in such decisions.


At least 27 killed as gunmen attack beach outside 2 tourist hotels in Tunisia

© Screenshot from Google Maps
A beach outside two hotels in central Tunisia have been attacked, with at least 27 dead and panic being reported at the scene. Two gunmen armed with Kalashnikov rifles reportedly penetrated a private area and opened fire.

One of the hotels is the five-star Imperial Marhaba. The Interior Ministry at least 27 people are dead, foreigners among them.

Comment: Absolutely dreadful!


Emirates A380 makes emergency landing in Colombo after smoke in cockpit

© YouTube
Colombo: An Emirates Airbus A380 plane carrying over 500 people from Sydney to Dubai made an emergency landing in the Sri Lankan capital on Friday after pilots detected smoke in the cockpit.

The plane, which landed safely in Colombo, was 320 nautical miles east of Colombo's Bandaranaike International airport when pilots made a distress call, airport's chief air navigation services officer Crishanthi Tissera said.

"The pilots said May Day, May Day and we activated all our emergency services and brought the aircraft to a safe landing," Tissera told reporters.

She said the pilots reported smoke in the cockpit but later the "full emergency" was downgraded to an "urgency".

There was no fire seen as the plane landed 39 minutes after the first distress call. All 471 passengers, including six children and the 30-member crew disembarked safely.

"Emirates flight EK413 from Sydney to Dubai...was diverted to Colombo due to a technical fault," the airline said in a statement without giving details about the nature of the problem.

Comment: Yet another incident of 'smoke in the cockpit'! Other recent reports include: "burning electrical or smoke", "odor of fumes" in cabins and smoke filled cockpits - forcing emergency landings. What is going on 'up in the air'?

See also: Sott Exclusive: Mayhem and Maydays in May skies: Aircraft crashes,accidents, glitches, mishaps and near misses


Royal Navy bomb blasts caused mass whale death - report

© Reuters / Department of Conservation / Handout via Reuters
Scientists have concluded that four bombs detonated underwater by the Royal Navy were responsible for the death of 19 pilot whales, when they became stranded off the north of Scotland in 2011.

A report published on Wednesday by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said the noise from the explosions was likely to have interfered with the whales hearing, which caused them to drift onto the beach and die.

The report explains that four 1,000 pound bombs were exploded during the 24 hours before the mass beaching occurred, which saw 70 pilot whales swim into the shallow waters of Cape Wrath, Europe's largest live bombing range, and become stranded by the tide.

Another 250-pound bomb was later detonated after the crisis had begun.

Locals attempted to herd the whales back into open water, but 39 became beached.

Some 20 were re-floated, but, despite efforts by experts and concerned residents, 19 of the stranded whales died, prompting a government inquiry into the disaster.

The report says: "The magnitude, frequency and proximity of the multiple detonations in the day prior to the stranding, and the single high-order detonation shortly after the beginning of the mass stranding, were plausible sources of significant disturbance to any neighboring marine mammals."


Indiana cop arrested for pepper spraying a baby

Clarksville Police Officer Charles Edelen
A police officer is facing multiple charges following a domestic dispute in which he allegedly pepper sprayed an infant.

Clarksville Police Officer Charles Edelen had a domestic dispute with his wife and the father of her child on Tuesday night in Jeffersonville, Indiana.

A police report states that Edelen threatened the child's father with a gun. Edelen also pepper sprayed the child's father and the child. The medical condition of the father and the infant is not known at this time.

Edelen is now facing charges of aggravated battery, domestic battery, and criminal recklessness. As aggravated battery is a Class B felony under Indiana law, he could face between six and twenty years in prison if convicted.

According to the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, pepper spray has been known to cause immediate, life-threatening injuries when exposed to young children.

Online court records show Edelen posted bond and is now free. A judge told Edelen that he is not permitted to possess any weapons or have contact with his victims, and ordered him to seek mental health treatment.

Cardboard Box

Soaring rents and welfare cuts in England fuel 300% increase in homelessness

© Reuters / Kacper Pempel
England's homelessness crisis has reached its worst levels since 2008, with 65,000 households forced into temporary accommodation, new figures reveal.

The number of families housed in bed and breakfasts has soared by more than 300 percent over the past five years, according to government data.

Campaigners blame high rents and welfare cuts for forcing 100,000 children to live in hostels and other temporary accommodation.

In the first quarter of this year alone, 13,520 households were made homeless across England - an 8-percent increase on the same period in 2014.

Official data published on Wednesday by the Department for Communities and Local Government revealed England's housing crisis is having a disastrous impact on households.

Over the past five years, the number of families living in "other private sector accommodation" - which can include single-room annexes and even caravans - has risen 267 percent to 15,460.

Minorities constitute more than half of those forced into temporary accommodation, with 55 percent coming from black, minority and ethnic (BME) communities.

Comment: This is criminal considering the fact that the fortunes of Britain's mega rich have more than doubled during the past 10 years. Those at the bottom of the economic rung suffer needlessly while the wealthy continue to line their pockets with no concern for the consequences. However, their reign is likely temporary, as extreme income inequality is one of the primary factors that has generally preceded the precipitous fall of civilizations.


Prisons: America's slave empire

© IBWC KC / YouTube
Three prisoners—Melvin Ray, James Pleasant and Robert Earl Council—who led work stoppages in Alabama prisons in January 2014 as part of the Free Alabama Movement have spent the last 18 months in solitary confinement. Authorities, unnerved by the protests that engulfed three prisons in the state, as well as by videos and pictures of abusive conditions smuggled out by the movement, say the men will remain in solitary confinement indefinitely.

The prison strike leaders are denied televisions and reading material. They spend at least three days a week, sometimes longer, without leaving their tiny isolation cells. They eat their meals seated on their steel toilets. They are allowed to shower only once every two days despite temperatures that routinely rise above 90 degrees.

The men have become symbols of a growing resistance movement inside American prisons. The prisoners' work stoppages and refusal to co-operate with authorities in Alabama are modeled on actions that shook the Georgia prison system in December 2010. The strike leaders argue that this is the only mechanism left to the 2.3 million prisoners across America. By refusing to work—a tactic that would force prison authorities to hire compensated labor or to induce the prisoners to return to their jobs by paying a fair wage—the neoslavery that defines the prison system can be broken. Prisoners are currently organizing in Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, Texas, Virginia and Washington.


American Dream denied: Home ownership rates in U.S. hit lowest level in two decades

The economic recession that began with the collapse of the housing market in 2007 officially came to an end in June 2009—more than six years ago. But by most indications, American households are significantly worse off than they were at the depth of the downturn. Despite the drop in the official unemployment rate, household incomes have fallen, wages have stagnated and student loan debt has soared.

A study by Harvard University's Joint Center For Housing Studies released on Wednesday points to another sign of the widespread economic distress affecting broad sections of the US population: the persistent fall in the share of households who are able to achieve the "American Dream" of homeownership.

According to "The State of the Nation's Housing 2015," the share of American households who owned their own home fell to 64.5 percent last year, the lowest level in two decades, based US Census data. This was down from a homeownership rate of over 69 percent in 2004, and was unchanged from the homeownership rate in 1985, three decades ago.

The fall in homeownership was prevalent in all age groups, but younger households were among the most affected. The ownership rate for 35-44 year-olds was down 5.4 percentage points from 1993, and has hit a level not seen since the 1960s. Only slightly more than one-third of households headed by those aged 25-35 owned their own homes.