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1.6 billion people worldwide forced to pay bribes

Bribery
© Thinkstock
A major study has looked at bribery levels across the world and reached a disappointing conclusion: a total of 1.6 billion people worldwide - nearly a quarter of the global population - are forced to pay bribes simply to gain access to everyday public services.

The research, published in a new book by academics from the University of Strathclyde and the University of Birmingham in the UK, found that bribes are paid for healthcare and education, to obtain permits or after being stopped by police.

Scamming the globe

Professor Richard Rose of Strathclyde and Dr. Caryn Peiffer of Birmingham conducted surveys interviewing more than 250,000 people in 119 countries in Africa, Asia, the European Union, former Communist European nations, Latin America and the Anglo-American world. There were significant differences in bribery levels between continents, but also between different countries in the same continent.

Europe has very low rates of bribery, with only 4 percent on average making such payments. By contrast, the average is 22 percent in Latin America and 29 percent in the 30 African countries surveyed.

However, Professor Rose says that: "'Within every continent, there are major differences in the percentage of people annually paying bribes. In Africa, the range is between 63 percent in Sierra Leone and 4 percent in Botswana; in the European Union, which has the goal of upholding the rule of law, there were 29 percent paying a bribe in Lithuania and fewer than 1 percent reporting bribing a British public official."

Large percentages of countries' populations will avoid the problem for long periods simply because they do not have regular contact with public services, however most people will have contact with public services at some stage in their life. Parents of school-age children are most likely to be in contact with education officials, while older people, especially widows, are most likely to need health care, and young men are most likely to have contact with the police.
Palette

Banksy in Gaza: Haunting images among ruins of war

banksy in gaza

Photo from www.banksy.co.uk
The English graffiti artist has taken his politically charged message to the bombed-out neighborhoods of Gaza, where a series of murals amid a backdrop of devastation attempts to give voice to the desperation felt by Palestinians.

The first mural, entitled "Bomb Damage," appears to be inspired by Rodin's famous sculpture "The Thinker." In Banksy's version, however, the viewer is struck with the realization that the only possible thing on the mind of the subject is the utter despair and devastation that surrounds him.

Another piece, which was featured in streetartnews, is done in the artist's trademark stark, stenciled imagery. It shows the silhouettes of children riding an amusement park swing that is circling around one of the looming guard stations that punctuate the length of the West Bank barrier, which, upon completion, will be approximately 700 kilometers (430 miles).

banksy in gaza

Photo from www.banksy.co.uk
The artist also provided his personal thoughts on the situation confronting the people of Gaza:

"Gaza is often described as 'the world's largest open air prison' because no one is allowed to enter or leave. But that seems a bit unfair to prisons - they don't have their electricity and drinking water cut off randomly almost everyday," Banksy said in a spray-painted statement.
Handcuffs

3 Brooklyn men arrested for attempting to join ISIS

Brooklyn men isis
© Sketches by Christine Cornell/From CNN
Three men — identified as Abdurasul Jaraboev, 24; Akhror Saidakhmetov, 19; and Abror Habibov, 30 — were arrested in New York and Florida, according to a complaint unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn, New York. They face charges that include attempting and conspiring to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization, the complaint said.
Two men were arrested yesterday in New York as they prepared to join Islamic State militants in Syria, while a third man was arrested in Florida for helping to fund their efforts, after they boasted of their plans on the Internet, federal investigators said.

The three, all immigrants from central Asia who live in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, plotted to launch attacks in the United States if they were prevented from joining the extremist group, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn.

One of the men repeatedly offered to assassinate President Barack Obama if ordered to do so by the Islamic State group, according to the complaint.

Akhror Saidakhmetov, 19, a citizen of Kazakhstan, was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport as he tried to board a flight to Istanbul on his way to Syria, the FBI said.

In conversations secretly recorded by the FBI, Saidakhmetov said he might try to force the flight to divert "so that the Islamic State would gain a plane," the complaint said.

He also said if he failed to reach Syria, he was prepared to join the military to kill U.S. soldiers, plant a bomb on Coney Island in Brooklyn or shoot FBI agents and New York police, the complaint said.


Comment: Check out Behind the Headlines - Weekly Broadcast - 22 February 2015 for further discussion on the rise of these types of incidences.

See also:

Dutch bikers for 'Murica - French Jews for ISIS - Oy vey!

Sick society: Hundreds of French girls leaving each week to join ISIS - Thousands of European terrorists pillaging and plundering Middle East

ISIS Denver Girl Sentenced: Shannon Conley Gets 4-Year Prison Term For Trying To Join Islamic State

Pregnant Austrian teen who ran off to join ISIS says she 'made a mistake'

Swedish girls 'forced' abroad to join Isis

UK female jihadists run ISIS sex-slave brothels

Pistol

Three Washington state police officers execute Mexican man accused of hurling rocks

© Reuters / Jorge Dan Lopez
A Mexican man accused of hurling rocks at cars and police officers was shot at a total of 17 times, Washington state police revealed Wednesday. He was hit by five or six of the shots during a controversial confrontation that spawned protests in the area.

According to Reuters, Kennewick Police Sergeant Ken Lattin confirmed that all three officers responding to the scene fired their weapons at 35-year-old Antonio Zambrano-Montes, an unemployed orchard worker and Mexican national who was reportedly throwing rocks at vehicles at a busy intersection when law enforcement arrived. He had spent the last 10 years in Pasco, Washington, and also had two daughters.

Lattin added that it's unclear whether Zambrano-Montes, whose record indicated drug use in the past, suffered from any physical or mental issues, though investigators are looking into the situation.

"Did he have some sort of injury? Did he have some mental health situations that he was dealing with in the days and hours (before the incident)? Or was he under the influence of drugs? We need to know," Lattin said.

Comment: It's become horrifically routine to see these stories of cops murdering people all across the United States. The American people had a chance to speak out against this madness after the highly publicized murders of Michael Brown and Eric Garner but instead chose to align themselves with the oppressors' conscienceless narratives. Is this really the kind of world you want to live in?

Family

Most Americans are flat broke, unprepared for coming economic collapse - 14 signs

© Theeconomiccollapseblog.com
When the coming economic crisis strikes, more than half the country is going to be financially wiped out within weeks. At this point, more than 60 percent of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and a whopping 24 percent of the country has more credit card debt than emergency savings. One of the primary principles that any of these "financial experts" that you see on television will teach you is to have a cushion to fall back on. At the very least, you never know when unexpected expenses like major car repairs or medical bills will come along. And in the event of a major economic collapse, if you do not have any financial cushion at all you will be a sitting duck. Yes, I know that there are millions upon millions of families out there that are just trying to scrape by from month to month at this point. I hear from people that are deeply struggling in this economy all the time. So I don't blame them for not being able to save lots of money. But if you are in a position to build up an emergency fund, you need to do so. We have been experiencing an extended period of relative economic stability, but it will not last. In fact, the time for getting prepared for the next great economic downturn is rapidly running out, and most Americans are not ready for it at all. The following are 14 signs that most Americans are flat broke and totally unprepared for the coming economic crisis...

#1 According to a survey that was just released, 24 percent of all Americans have more credit card debt than emergency savings.

#2 That same survey discovered that an additional 13 percent of all Americans do not have any credit card debt, but they do not have a single penny of emergency savings either.

#3 At this point, approximately 62 percent of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.

#4 Adults under the age of 35 in the United States currently have a savings rate of negative 2 percent.

#5 More than half of all students in U.S. public schools come from families that are poor enough to qualify for school lunch subsidies.

#6 A study that was conducted last year found that more than one out of every three adults in the United States has an unpaid debt that is "in collections".

Comment: See also:

SOTT Talk Radio #66 - Lessons from collapse of USSR for USA: Interview with Dmitry Orlov

Dmitry Orlov interview: Are Americans prepared for a Soviet style collapse?

Cardboard Box

One in five suicides worldwide linked to unemployment

© Newsfortherevolution.wordpress.com
Previous studies have shown that there is a correlation between unemployment and suicide. However, data on the direct effect of unemployment on suicide was not so readily available. A new study by Dr. Carlos Nordt of Zurich University's Psychiatric Hospital and published on the Lancet Psychiatry web site in February sets out to address this situation.

The study aims to "enhance knowledge of the specific effect of unemployment on suicide by analysing global public data classified according to world regions."

It concludes that around 45,000 people commit suicide each year because they have become unemployed. It shows that for the year 2008, the beginning of the economic crisis, suicides associated with unemployment were nine times greater than previously thought.

The study covers 63 countries in four regions of the world over the years 2000 to 2011. Researchers used this time period to be able to contrast the period of relative economic stability (2000-2007) with that of economic crisis (2008-2011). The regions were the Americas, including the US and Mexico; northern and Western Europe, including France, Germany and the UK; Southern and Eastern Europe, including Greece, Italy and Romania; and non-American and non-European regions, including Australia, Japan and South Africa.

The study uses data on suicide deaths from the World Health Organisation (WHO) mortality database and economic data from the International Monetary Fund's world economic outlook database.

It notes that, as with previous economic crises, "current data from Europe, the USA and Asia suggest an association between the 2008 economic crisis, rising unemployment rates and increased rates of death by suicide."

The study uses different statistical tools in an attempt to isolate the specific effects of unemployment on suicide rates. Among its findings are that the figures of an increasing unemployment rate lag behind figures of an increase in suicide by six months. Such a time lag points to an increase in stress, insecurity and a deterioration of mental health as workers are earmarked for possible redundancy. The threat of unemployment needs to be included in the suicide figures, explain the authors. The study concludes that "suicide due to unemployment might be severely underestimated if studies focus only (on) the time period of the economic crisis."

Comment: It seems as though the only ones who truly benefit from the current economic food chain are those at the very top of it, the elite 1%. Our world has become such a conscienceless web of exploitation and inequality, people are taking their own lives as a means to deal with it.

See also:

Light Saber

Coalition of police officers heads to D.C. to demand the broken and brutal police system be fixed

NCLEO
© NCLEO
The National Coalition of Law Enforcement Officers for Justice, Reform and Accountability (NCLEO) is a contingent of current and retired law enforcement officers and whistleblowers. NCLEO will be meeting with a congressional delegation that includes civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday to discuss policing reform.

These former officers seek to assist in helping to reform a system that is severely broken and many times entirely devoid of justice. Problems that range from racial profiling and police brutality to the lack transparency in relation to allegations and complaints of misconduct by officers will be addressed.
"Modern policing is in a crisis that could lead to a revolution. We need a paradigm shift to get rid of antiquated policing. The insular culture of law enforcement and mental health issues in cops need to be addressed, as well as ingrained racism," said NCLEO member Alex Salazar, a former LAPD cop turned whistleblower, in an interview with The Free Thought Project.
All too often we see the police, as well as prosecutors, ignore officer misconduct and in effect passively support the status quo of a broken justice system. To the public at large the "us vs. them" mentality held by law enforcement emboldens an anti-police response from the public and only serves to create a greater divide.
TV

Television news and mind control through cognitive dissonance

"When professionals broadcast one absurdity after another, they begin to see the effects are actually strengthening their own position of authority. It's a revelation. It's also a continuation of the tradition of the Trickster archetype. For example, with just a few minor adjustments, Brian Williams can be seen as the sly Reynard the Fox..." (The Underground, Jon Rappoport)
© Ranchodinero.com
From the viewpoint of elite television news, controlling the minds of its audience depends on what's politely called "cognitive dissonance":

As the anchor recites a news story, the viewer sees an obvious hole through which he could drive a truck.

The story makes no sense, yet it's being presented as bland fact. The trusted anchor clearly has no problem with it.

What's the viewer to do? He experiences a contradiction, a "dissonance."

For example, this year's flu vaccine. The US government has admitted the vaccine is geared to a flu virus that isn't circulating in the population. Therefore, even by conventional standards, the vaccine is useless. But the kicker is, the CDC says people should take the vaccine anyway.

The anchor relays all this information—and never seriously questions the situation, never torpedoes the government for recommending the vaccine.

The average viewer feels a tug, a pulse of discomfort, a push-pull. The vaccine story is idiocy (side one), but the trusted anchor accepts it (side two).

Dissonance.

Comment: Cognitive dissonance can be applied to every single action that is taken by so-called powers that be, as well as in our own personal lives. The list of situations are endless. Being aware of what they are can prevent us from falling into the cognitive dissonance trap of believing our own lies.
Whatever the degree of deception, the realization that one has been believing in a lie is a painful experience, not only psychologically but physically as well. Like a punch to the stomach, it can feel like one's breath has been taken away. And because our beliefs about the world are interconnected with other beliefs fixed in our brains, the destruction of one belief can often lead to a cascade of collapse of many others.

When a person is confronted with facts that contradict currently held belief systems, they have one of two choices. The first choice is to go into denial mode by rejecting the facts as being untrue in order to prop up their chosen belief system and continue living as before. The second choice is to accept the new data and try and reconstruct a new internal paradigm or map of reality that accommodates the new information, which may mean putting into question all other beliefs associated with the old model.

The second choice is difficult and takes a great deal of strength in order to let go of one's preconceived ideas and accept the new and factual data. The first choice is easy because it requires no effort, pain, sadness, or reordering of one's life or values. It is also more comfortable, and because humans generally prefer comfort over pain, the first choice is often the default option.

The exact moment when a person becomes aware of facts that go against what is believed to be true, they experience what psychologists call cognitive dissonance; it is that tense, uncomfortable sensation that what one sees is so out of sync with what one already believes to be true, that the mind instantly rejects it, even when the facts are plain and indisputable.

It is in this moment of experiencing cognitive dissonance (you can recognize it by the tension and discomfort that triggers a "knee-jerk" reaction) that the crucial battle for truth over fiction takes place. If a person can muster the awareness and strength of will to not give in and take the comfortable route by immediately dismissing the facts outright, and hold the conflicting information in their minds while consciously experiencing the negative feelings associated with cognitive dissonance, the resulting liberation can be transformational. It has to be experienced to be believed!

The interesting thing about our tendency to stick with old belief systems, even when faced with hard evidence to the contrary, is the neuro-chemical reward factor. Scientific studies have shown that when experiencing cognitive dissonance (the tension and stress produced when presented with facts that undermine one's normal perception of reality), the decision (knee-jerk reaction) to ignore the factual data and sweep any contradictory evidence under the rug causes the brain to release certain chemicals, making us feel happy and safe again.

So, if believing in an illusion makes us feel safe, happy and comfortable, and any contradictory evidence causes us pain, disorientation and sadness, what possible motivation is there to consciously choose to go through the process of disillusionment?

The love and desire for Truth.

The Necessity of Disillusionment


Megaphone

Chicago activist: Local reporters intentionally didn't cover Homan Square "black site"

Chicago reporters failed to cover a police "black site" where suspects were held without access to legal representation because they sided with the authorities, a local activist and criminologist told The Atlantic on Tuesday.

"I think that many crime reporters in Chicago have political views that are right in line with the police," Tracy Siska said. "They tend to agree about the tactics needed by the police. They tend to have by one extent or the other the same racist views of the police — a lot of urban police (not all of them by any stretch, but a lot of them) embody racism."

Siska is the head of the Chicago Justice Project, a non-profit group that works toward improving police transparency in hopes of improving community relations.

As The Guardian reported earlier in the day, local attorneys have called the police warehouse, known as Homan Square, as the equivalent to a CIA-style facility. Siska said that local police accountability activists believe it started operating during former police superintendent Phil Cline's tenure "around 2006 or 2007."

Most of the detainees at the facility, he said, were young men of color who could not afford to hire their own attorneys at the time of their arrest.

Comment: See also: Gulag archipelago: Chicago police are torturing and disappearing Americans at local 'black site' - How many more sites are there across the US?

Camcorder

Donbass under fire: On the roads of war (VIDEO)

donbass under fire
Maxim Fadeyev's latest documentary in his "Donbass Under Fire" series continues to document the destruction brought to the region by Kiev, the impact on real people - their tears, anger and loss - and their fight to defend their land, culture, and freedom. It is not pretty, but empire never is. This is the logical result of Western 'intervention': chaos and death.


See his previous documentaries (those which have been translated into English) below.
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