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Thu, 11 Feb 2016
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Bullseye

How the Chinese handle corruption: Jiantao culture and the Flint water crisis


Yu Yingzeng wife of, Peter Humphrey, confesses on Chinese TV to the couple profiting from personal information about Chinese citizens obtained illegally.
Jiantao is a public punishment primarily inflicted on high-ranking Chinese government officials. Corrupt politicians who have taken bribes, engaged in graft, or otherwise put their self-interest above the Chinese people, get on national Chinese television and apologize for their misdeeds in exchange for a lighter prison sentence or fine.

According to the Wall Street Journal's Andrew Browne, individuals convicted of serious crimes in China are currently giving televised confessions in exchange for leniency. Browne's column describes how individuals like British corporate investigator Peter Humphrey and the owners of fast-food meat supplier OSI have been subjected to harsh, humiliating treatment by the Chinese government. Browne's February 2 column decries this revival of Chinese communist "Jiantao Culture" by President Xi Jinping as totalitarian, and traces its origins to the practices of Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong.

Browne's column contains some obvious hypocrisy. While Browne sees televised confessions as extremely cruel, US society is filled with vengeful correctional procedures that are much worse by any objective measure. The United States has the world's highest prison population by numbers and percentage. Human Rights Watch has released a recent report documenting routine human rights violations across the country.

When one compares the human rights violations of the United States with the "Jiantao Culture" Browne describes in China, an obvious difference is very apparent.

Health

Flint Michigan issues boil water advisory over bacteria fears

© Rebecca Cook / Reuters
The city of Flint, Michigan advised many residents to boil their water, after a water main break stoked fears of bacterial contamination. The city is struggling with a long-running crisis of lead pollution in the municipal water supply.

After a drop in the city's water supply, Flint authorities released an advisory Tuesday, warning residents that "bacterial contamination may have occurred." Corrective measures are currently underway, the city of Flint said in a statement.

While bacteria are common in water supplies and are generally not harmful, city officials are warning residents with water filters to boil tap water for one minute and then let it cool before use. Residents not using filters are asked to flush the water for seven minutes before collecting any to boil, to make sure there is no loose sediment trapped in the water.

Attention

Indian Point tritium leak 80% worse than originally reported

© John Mottern / AFP
Indian Point Nuclear power plant located on the Hudson River in Buchanan, New York
New measurements at the Indian Point nuclear power plant in upstate New York show levels of radioactive tritium 80 percent higher than reported last week. Plant operator insists the spill is not dangerous, as state officials call for a safety probe.

Entergy, which operates the facility 25 miles (40 km) north of New York City, says the increased levels of tritium represent "fluctuations that can be expected as the material migrates."

X

You kidding me? Israeli paliament panel summons foreign media over 'biased' coverage


The CBS News headline, later changed, on the story of the stabbing last week of border policewoman Hadar Cohen.

Angry journalists, who initially boycotted the session, describe subcommittee's claims to be part of a 'witch hunt,' and slam Israel's 'authoritarian' efforts to clamp down on the media.


A subcommittee of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee called in members of the Foreign Press Association on Tuesday to discuss their reporting of terrorism and the occupation in Israel. Along with the invitation to the session, FPA members received a questionnaire relating to the "biased coverage" of some of the media outlets.

Angered by the request to discuss the content of their reports, the organization initially decided to boycott the meeting. However, FPA head Luke Baker eventually relented after a conversation with MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Camp), the head of the Subcommittee for Foreign Policy, Public Relations, and the Political Struggle.

In a conversation with Haaretz in advance of the session, Baker, Reuters' bureau chief, said: "We agreed to come and hear what they had to say, although on the face of it, this looks like an attempt at a witch hunt."

Comment: With the extreme levels of aggression that Israel has been inflicting on Palestinians for so long, it has become ever clearer to many that the situation is untenable and Israel is largely to blame. The labeling of 'anti-semite' and the long reach of AIPAC, Mossad, and the purchasing of newspapers in the West by Israel-firsters, will still only get them so far these days as the tide of world opinion is rapidly changing. So, they are now trying a another tactic: the parliamentary witch hunt, complete with its oh-so-thin veneer of legitimacy and respectability. They're sure getting desperate!


Stormtrooper

FBI surrounds 4 remaining Oregon occupiers with armored vehicles - reports

© Getty Images
The occupied wildlife refuge in Oregon.
The FBI has surrounded the four remaining protesters occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, local media reported.

According to the Oregonian, the FBI has placed armored vehicles around the area where the occupiers are located.

"At this time, the FBI has moved to contain the remaining occupiers by placing agents at barricades both immediately in front of and behind the area where the occupiers are camping."

"Negotiations between the occupiers and the FBI continue. No shots have been fired," the FBI said in the statement.

The FBI stated that the situation began when one of the remaining protesters had ridden an ATV beyond the barricades set up by the occupiers. The individual was spotted by the FBI, but as agents tried to approach the driver, he turned around and sped back to the refuge.

Those remaining at the refuge have been identified as David Fry, Jeff Banta, and Sean and Sandy Anderson, who are husband and wife.

Stormtrooper

Cop assumed elderly man was "faking" heart attack, writes him a $265 ticket

© bcove.me
An Ottawa police officer who had pulled over a senior citizen for speeding told the man he was "bullshitting" when the 65-year-old said he was trying to get to the nearest phone to call an ambulance as soon as possible.

Veragoda Parera and his wife Nalini were driving home after he had completed a routine dialysis treatment on the afternoon of October 15 when he started experiencing chest pains, numbness on the left side of his body and a tingling chin.

The man has had heart problems for over a decade; has suffered a heart attack and undergone open-heart surgery in the past.

The couple got concerned at the symptoms that Veragoda recognized all too well.

His wife suggested that they drive to a nearby gas station because their cell phone battery was dead.

Moments later he realized there was a police car following him - at first he felt relieved that he could explain his symptoms to the officer who would surely be sympathetic.

Instead the cop told him he was doing 105 km/h in a 70 km/h zone.

When Veragoda explained it was a medical emergency Constable Frank Perron refused to believe him and said that he suspected the veteran civilian was feigning the condition.

According to the law, when a person claims they are having a medical issue the officer is required to call paramedics straightaway.

However, Perron took his sweet time before he called for medical assistance.

The Pareras waited at least 10 minutes while the cop prepared a $265 ticket.

During this time Veragoda had to spray nitroglycerin twice under his tongue to get blood pumping back into his heart.

When the officer returned with the ticket, the couple requested him again to call for an ambulance - this time he agreed.

As if the earlier humiliation was not enough, he told Veragoda and his wife, who was so distraught she was crying, that he would arrest the man if he was faking an emergency.

Perron held up handcuffs as he said this.

Attention

Families dealing with brown tap water in Kingwood, Texas

© twitter.com
People across the Kingwood area said they've been seeing dirty water in their sinks and bathtubs for weeks, and in some cases months.

"It looked like a chocolate water fountain," Elizabeth Bustillo, a Kingwood resident who contacted KPRC 2 to look into the problem, said. "I have families in other countries that have cleaner water than we do."

Bustillo has called North Kingwood Forest her home for the last two years, but on Monday she noticed her water's brown color. She said all three of her kids who use the water became sick.

"They were sick last week. It was a mysterious stomach virus. It was the worst that they've ever had," Bustillo said.

Valerie Johnson knows exactly what Bustillo is talking about. She said she doesn't drink the water but she feeds it to her animals.

Comment: Erin Brockovich:
Houston we have a problem...

Texas water quality is often about as bad as it gets... from Midland to Tyler... that use of ammonia in the Drinking Water has all but destroyed the distribution systems. Ammonia is added to sequester the reactions with the organics (dirt) in the water; rather then just cleaning the water properly.

The water systems are routinely switching back and for the from chlorine to chloramine... burning the system out of all of the biofilm, scale, sludge and debris caused by the addition of ammonia. Ammonia is a water distribution causes nitrification... which actually feed the biofilm bacteriological colonies... making for a disgusting mess!!!

Houston... stop polluting Drinking Water with ammonia and clean it properly NOW!!!



Health

Red Crescent convoy bringing aid to Madaya attacked near Damascus

A Red Crescent convoy on a rescue mission to the Syrian town of Madaya northwest of Damascus came under heavy shelling, according to a spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The vehicles were to deliver humanitarian aid to the western town of Madaya and evacuate four people in serious condition on an overnight mission that began Wednesday evening, Rafiulla Qureshi, a spokesperson for ICRC in Damascus, told RT.

Despite the concentrated fire, the coordinators and two doctors managed to survive the attack. The mission had to be put on hold for several hours, but the four people were eventually rescued.

"Yesterday's incident could have been lethal, we were lucky. It was a close call, but nobody was injured," Qureshi said.


Cars bearing the Red Cross or Red Crescent symbols should not be targeted under any circumstances, he stressed.

Handcuffs

FBI arrests nearly every top politician in insanely corrupt Texas town

© Bob Owen/The San Antonio Express-News via AP
FBI agents gather outside the home of Crystal City, Texas Mayor Ricardo Lopez for his arrest on Thursday morning, Feb. 4, 2016
Nearly every top ranking politician in the small Texas town of Crystal City was arrested last week in a massive corruption sweep. The officials were charged with taking bribes from contractors and working behind the scenes in illegal gambling operations.

The town's mayor, city manager, mayor pro tempore, and a number of different councilmen were arrested in the sweep on Thursday, and indicted on several charges.

One of the councilmen is already facing charges for a separate case where he is accused of smuggling Mexican immigrants into the states. After the arrests, there was just one councilman remaining in the entire city who was not in jail.

Pistol

Cops shoot up family's home, nearly killing them all and then handcuff family - offer no explanation

A Florida man and his family are lucky to be alive after his house came under gunfire by police in the early morning hours on Saturday — but it was all a terrifying mistake.

According to the man, who asked to remain anonymous, he awoke around 1 am to pounding on his front door; but when he asked who was on the other side, no one responded.

Afraid his home was about to be burglarized, local ABC affiliate WFTV reported, the man retrieved his gun. A bright light shone through the front door when he returned, and someone outside yelled "gun!"

Then the gunfire started.

Comment: Since the police refused to identify themselves, the man had every right to arm himself as he went to the door. Even if the police believed that domestic violence had occurred, why would they not let the man know they were police? The police should be required to pay for all damage caused to the family's home from their reckless and dangerous actions.