Society's Child
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Ambulance

Explosion rocks Manhattan - people trapped in collapsed and burning building

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© Scott Westerfeld
As many as 30 people are injured in Manhattan's East Village after an explosion and partial building collapse.

Flames are shooting high into the sky from two buildings as the New York Fire Department attempts to prevent the fire from spreading to other structures.

So far, up to 30 people were hurt in the collapse, law enforcement officials told the New York Post.

The raging fire has been upgraded to a four-alarm call at the mixed-occupancy building that the fire department called "a major building collapse" in a tweet. There are 25 units in the building, according to the New York Times, and 100 firefighters were immediately dispatched to the scene.

At least one person was removed from the area on a stretcher, WABC reported, noting that the building appeared to be a total loss.

The "smoke is overwhelming" at the scene, Allie Yang tweeted. In a follow-up tweet, she said that the fire department is closing of the area around 7th St and 2nd Avenue.


Eye 1

Human rights organization worried about French surveillance that would give state NSA-like powers

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© Reuters / Pascal Rossignol
Leading human rights organizations have expressed alarm at a bill going to the French parliament on Friday that grants expansive new powers to the country's surveillance agencies.

The new law would give French spy agencies the power to hack into computers and spy on anyone linked to a "terrorist" inquiry - without having to obtain a judicial warrant first.

The bill allows the government to authorize all forms of surveillance without having to get the approval of a court first. This increases the risk of abuse and represents a serious threat to the privacy of ordinary citizens, as well as to professionals such as journalists and human rights organizations who rely on confidential sources.

The State Council would decide what measures the intelligence agencies could use and would also allow the prime minister to order the interception of communications outside France.

Comment: You'd think the French would have learned a thing or two from seeing the U.S. descend into a paranoid surveillance state, but apparently not. It remains to be seen how willing the French people are to give their freedoms like Americans have.


Cult

Church puts up sign linking equal rights with Satan

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© Facebook
Tennessee pastor said this week that his church was "not trying to offend anyone" when it put up a sign linking "equal rights" to Satan.

Members of the community expressed outrage over the weekend after photos of marquee outside the Knoxville Baptist Tabernacle Church were circulated online. The sign read, "Remember, Satan was the first to demand equal rights."

"Who was your target audience? Who were you speaking to when you put it up there?" Knoxville resident Rick Staples, asked, according to WBIR. "And when you say you're asking for your equal rights, who's asking for their equal rights and who are you comparing to Satan? That was very strong language."

Andy Henry said that the church was trying to make a statement about gay rights.

"It's clearly a sign that was meant to offend a particular community - the LGBT community. Because of (the church's) lack of foresight, they ended up offending everybody who had ever fought for equality or civil rights in general," Henry observed.

Handcuffs

National Guardsman indicted for child pornography

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© Dakota County Sheriff's Office
A Minnesota National Guardsman allegedly used multiple digital devices and social media accounts to repeatedly seek out teenage girls, engage them in sex chats and solicit them for sexually explicit photographs, the Justice Department said Wednesday.

The Guardsman, Andrew Schiller, 28, was indicted on one count of Production of Child Pornography by the Justice Department last week, the agency said in a statement. The investigation began when the mother of a teenage girl reported that she had found inappropriate comments between her 14-year-old daughter and Schiller on Facebook. Further investigation found Schiller had tried repeatedly to engage in "sexually explicit conduct online," and sometimes succeeded with multiple female minors, including the unidentified 14-year-old girl.

According to the allegations in the indictment, "between September 23 2013 and January 12, 2014, Schiller contacted a 14 year old girl from Minnesota via Skype," and "during repeated communications with the girl" he asked her to send him sexually explicit images of herself. The victim "sent several images...including at least one sexually explicit image." The indictment found Schiller "spent much of his time during his National Guard duty engaged in the sexual solicitation of minors."

Pistol

Attorney and ex-Philadelphia police officer reveals barbaric police state tactics - 'to neutralize, they shoot suspect 10 times'

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© Reuters/Brad Larrison
Fear, anger, hate, and sometimes a lack of proper training drive police officers to fatally shoot criminal suspects - even if they're armed with a screwdriver or a knife, human rights activist and former Philadelphia officer Grigory Krasovsky told RT.

Krasovsky pointed out that there are "problems in approach of police in encounters with African-American suspects" in the wake of the Department of Justice report that focused on police shootings and the reforms that need to be brought to officer training and the way cases are handled.

Based on police officers' primary training, which involves cases of encounters with violent suspects, "you have to respond to the force that's being used against you by the suspect with commensurate force," lawyer and ex-police officer told RT.

However, what happens is that "police officers are disproportionately using lethal force by discharging their firearms against African-American suspects, who perhaps do not present a lethal threat to them."

He added that police shoot suspects who are armed with only a screwdriver or a knife or a stick, which is wrong because "police could have resolved and disabled the suspect without shooting him, in most cases."

But officer training is not the only issue at stake - so is accountability.

"What the last 20 or 30 years have shown is that any time a police officer uses lethal force and shoots or kills a suspect, even if he's wrong, chances are nothing will happen to him, and he will receive what we call "a slap on the wrist," he said.

Comment: Conclusion: The police serve no public interest and are a far greater danger to the general public than criminals. Left unchecked, they will become more bold, more violent and continue unconstrained.


Stock Up

Russian ruble hits 2015 high as oil prices climb

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© RIA Novosti / Ramil Sitdikov
The Russian currency is seemingly making a comeback, improving more than 3.6 percent in 2 days to bring the ruble to a 3-month high. The climb is attributed to a slight increase in oil prices as well as the approaching tax season.

At 5:05pm in Moscow, the ruble had gained 1.8 percent against the dollar at 56.78, and 1.35 percent stronger at 62.24 versus the euro. On Tuesday the ruble gained 2 percent against the dollar, closing at 57.70.The last time that the ruble strengthened to 57 against the dollar was December 30 of last year. In 2015, it has gained 5.2 percent against the dollar.

Russian companies are likely converting foreign currency into rubles to pay corporate taxes, the largest of which fell due on March 25. The next date to watch is March 30, when companies will have to pay corporate profit tax. Another factor driving up the ruble's value is the fact that the peak debt payment deadlines have passed.

Comment: Crude oil is rising in part by the Yemen offensive being conducted.


Sheriff

Multiple rape charges filed against NYPD officer and Christian pastor for assault on 16-year old girl

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© CBS
An officer with the New York Police Department has been charged with multiple counts of rape related to a sexual relationship he's alleged to have maintained with a teen girl more than 20 years his junior.

The cop, 38-year-old Vladimir Sosa, was arrested in the Bronx on Tuesday and charged with three counts of third-degree rape, five counts of sexual misconduct, two counts of third-degree sexual abuse, and other charges, according to The New York Times. He was released on his own recognizance later that evening, the paper reported, but has been suspended without pay.

According to investigators, Sosa had at least three sexual encounters with a girl between April and September of 2014, while she was only 16. In New York State, the age of consent is 17.

The alleged victim, who has not been identified since she is a minor, confessed to her mother about the relationship last month, according to reports. The parent then approached police, who initiated an investigation that led to this week's arraignment.

A local CBS affiliate reported that Sosa resides in the Bronx with his mother in the home where authorities believe he also had sex with the girl.

"He actually was really kind," neighbor Jocelynne Mora told the station. "If I was locked out of my house, I would knock on his door. I would use his phone." Multiple outlets have reported that Sosa worked for a local church.

Comment: Sexual predators often take positions in the community where they have easy access to their victims. The best protection we have for our ourselves and children is to educate ourselves, so they will have a better understanding of how these predators operate and learn how to spot them.

From Predators: Pedophiles, Rapists, and Other Sex Offenders, Who They Are, How They Operate, and How We Can Protect Ourselves and Our Children by Dr. Anna Salter:
"One molester, who himself was a minister, said: 'I considered church people easy to fool ... they have the trust that comes from being Christians ... They tend to be better folks all around. And they seem to want to believe in the good that exists in all people. And because of that, you can easily convince, with or without convincing words.'

In interviewing victims in the growing number of cases involving priests, I have been surprised - although I should not have been - by how deeply religious many of the victims' families were. I have never before grasped that it was the most religious families who were thrilled to have a priest take an interest in their children, who wanted their children to be altar boys, who could not believe that a priest would do anything so wrong.

The growing crisis in the Catholic Church just underlines the fact that offenders can recognize ideal settings for child molesters even if the rest of us can't. In truth, a deeply religious and trusting group of people, plus the requirement of celibacy (an ideal cover for any man who has no sexual interest in adults), plus a hierarchy that doesn't report complaints to the police and simply moves the offender on to new and fresh territory with new potential victims, is the ideal setting for pedophiles."
See also: SOTT Talk Radio: Predators Among Us - Interview With Dr. Anna Salter


Airplane

Germanwings co-pilot deliberately crashed Flight 4U9525 into mountain after locking his captain out of cockpit, says French prosecutor

BREAKING NEWS: Germanwings co-pilot DELIBERATELY crashed Flight 4U9525 into mountain to 'destroy the plane' after locking his captain out of cockpit, reveals French prosecutor
  • Black box voice recorder reveals final chilling moments of Airbus A320
  • Prosecutor: 'Death was instant. You only hear screams in final seconds'
  • Co-pilot was named today as 28-year-old German Andreas Günter Lubitz
  • Prosecutor says he does not believe disaster was terrorism or suicide
© www.dailymail.co.uk
Rescue teams sift through the wreckage of Germanwings plane.
The co-pilot of the doomed Germanwings Airbus A320 locked his captain out of the cockpit before deliberately crashing into a mountain to 'destroy the plane', it was sensationally revealed today.

French prosecutor Brice Robin gave further chilling details of the final ten minutes in the cockpit before the Airbus A320 plunged into the French Alps killing 150 people. Revealing data extracted from the black box voice recorder, he said the co-pilot - named as 28-year-old German Andreas Günter Lubitz - locked his captain out after the senior officer left the cockpit. At that point, Lubitz uses the flight monitoring system to put the plane into a descent - something that can only be done manually.

Mr Robin said: 'The intention was to destroy the plane. Death was instant. The plane hit the mountain at 700km per hour.

'I don't think that the passengers realised what was happening until the last moments because on the recording you only hear the screams in the final seconds'. The captain - named by local media as German father-of-two Patrick S - can then be heard asking for access to which he gets no response. He knocks and asks him to open and then starts banging furiously when he receives no reply.


Comment: It seems there are still many factors still to be determined before there is a final explanation for the crash.


Colosseum

'Heritage terror': ISIS propaganda machine targets people with culture

© www.ibtimes.co.uk
A still from the video showing IS destroying ancient statues in Mosul
Whether they're authentic or not, videos of Islamic State militants destroying ancient artifacts at Iraq's Mosul Museum and elsewhere are "propaganda videos" meant as "heritage terror," an Islamic art professor told RT.

The videos show men with sledgehammers knocking over statues, smashing antiquities and torching ancient writing. But there are questions being raised about the authenticity of the videos, when it's known that the Islamic State (IS, formerly known as ISIS/ISIL) needs money to keep operating its terror campaign - and antiquities could fetch large sums of money on the black market.

Speaking to RT's Manila Chan, Dr. Stephennie Mulder, an associate professor of Islamic Art at the University of Texas at Austin, said the Islamic State's destruction of ancient artifacts in Iraq and Syria is an act of propaganda.

"This is a propaganda video that is intended as an act of heritage terror. [ISIS] know this kind of action will cause alarm in the international community," said Mulder. "It demonstrates their mastery over everything. Their mastery over the past and it has a deep impact on the people of Iraq as well who cherish these objects."

Comment: Mulder is right: this is a propaganda act. ISIS is a well-oiled PR machine, and they have cornered the market on every possible target audience. Women who like kittens and Nutella? Check. Japanese, British, Israelis, Americans? Check. People who think beheading is nasty and wrong? Check. People are disgusted by rape, murder, and children being indoctrinated to be killers? Check. People who feel a strong connection with history and preserving nations' and peoples' national heritage? Check. That's the purpose: to outrage the international community, to create a bogeyman out of ISIS, to justify illegal interventions that align with U.S. geopolitical 'interests'.


Airplane

French prosecutor said Germanwings co-pilot appears to have crashed plane deliberately

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© Reuters / Ina Fassbender
The Germanwings co-pilot seemed to have crashed the plane deliberately, killing 150 people on board. The co-pilot wouldn't let the captain inside the cabin, with the "intension to destroy" the jet, the French prosecutor said at a press conference.

The Germanwings co-pilot was identified as Andreas Lubitz.


Comment: It will be interesting to learn the motive of the co-pilot for his actions.