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Sat, 06 Feb 2016
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Why are Kindergartners being groomed for the military at school?

© Jared Rodriguez / Truthout
Military recruitment efforts, whether societal or sponsored directly by the US military, reach children as young as preschool, priming them to think of war and soldiering as cool and exciting, without any discussion of the trauma and death they bring.
When he got home from Iraq, Hart Viges began sorting through his boyhood toys, looking for some he could pass on to his new baby nephew. He found a stash of G.I. Joes - his old favorites - and the memories came flooding back.

"I thought about giving them to him," he said. But the pressures of a year in a war zone had strengthened Viges' Christian faith, and he told the Army that "if I loved my enemy I couldn't see killing them, for any reason." He left as a conscientious objector. As for the G.I. Joes, "I threw them away instead." Viges had grown up playing dress-up with his father's, grandfather's and uncles' old military uniforms. "What we tell small kids has such a huge effect," he told Truthout. "I didn't want to be the one telling him to dream about the military."


Iran: Researchers request release of jailed chemist

© Fanood~enwiki/Wikimedia Commons
Chemist Mohammad Hossein Rafiee
In early 2014, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's administration was in the middle of intense negotiations with the United States and other nations to limit Iran's nuclear aspirations. Rouhani, considered a moderate reformer, was under attack by his country's hardline conservatives, who opposed a potential deal. Rouhani challenged Iranian intellectuals to come out and publicly support his policies.

"Why is the university silent? Why are the professors silent?" Rouhani said. "What are you afraid of?"

One answer may be that they were afraid of being jailed, suggests Anna Maryam Rafiee, a cultural heritage specialist in Toronto, Canada. Her father, chemist Mohammad Hossein Rafiee, has been stuck in a cell in Iran's notorious Evin Prison since June 2015, after speaking out in favor of the nuclear deal that was announced a month after he was imprisoned.

Now, more than 300 scholars and scientists, including seven Nobel laureates, have signed an open letter calling on Iran to release Rafiee. "Restricting Dr. Rafiee's rights to freedom of expression through arrest and detention, the conditions of his prosecution, and his inhumane conditions in Evin Prison represent violations of both the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which the Islamic Republic of Iran adheres," the 27 January letter says. Numerous organizations, including Amnesty International and the American Chemical Society, are also calling for the release of the chemist, and the U.S. government has said he is a political prisoner.


Germany joins the war on cash

It was just two days ago that Bloomberg implored officials to "bring on a cashless future" in an Op-Ed that calls notes and coins "dirty, dangerous, unwieldy, and expensive."

You probably never thought of your cash that way, but increasingly, authorities and the powers that be seem determined to lay the groundwork for the abolition of what Bloomberg calls "antiquated" physical money.

We've documented the cash ban calls on a number of occasions including, most recently, those that emanated from DNB, Norway's largest bank where executive Trond Bentestuen said that although "there is approximately 50 billion kroner in circulation, the Norges Bank can only account for 40 percent of its use."

Comment: For more see:


Study finds 80% of firearms deaths in developed world happen in US

© Jonathan Ernst / Reuters
Americans are 10 times more likely to be killed by a gun compared to people living in other developed nations around the world. This is according to a new study highlighting the "US has an enormous firearm problem."

The alarming statistics were published in The American Journal of Medicine, as part of a study carried out by researchers from the University of Nevada-Reno and the Harvard School of Public Health. The report was aiming to put America's relationship with firearms into perspective.

However, one thing was immediately clear: "The United States has an enormous firearm problem compared with other high-income countries. Americans are 10 times more likely to die as a result of a firearm compared with residents of these other high-income countries," the study, under taken by Erin Grinshteyn and David Hemenway, stated.

The researchers took data, collected by the World Health Organization in 2010, to compare the US to equally developed countries around the world, such as the UK, Japan and France. The findings proved to be an eye-opener and showed that the US suffers much higher rates of deadly violence, attributable to the considerably higher rate of gun-related murders.

Heart - Black

Former NYPD officer arrested for moonlighting as a pimp

© Jorge Dan / Reuters
A former NYPD officer, who was fired for smoking pot, has been arrested for running a prostitution ring. Eduardo Cornejo was under surveillance by the FBI and local police after an anonymous tip accused him of moonlighting as a pimp.

The New York Police Department opened the investigation into Cornejo in May, after they received an anonymous tip that the 11-year veteran of the force was using his personal car to sell at least one young women's sexual services after work, Courthouse News Service reported. The NYPD brought in the FBI in November "when they determined the nature and scope of the case, and that it involved interstate transport," Stephen P. Davis, the department's chief spokesman, told the New York Times.

Cornejo, 33, had at least ten prostitutes working for him, according to court documents. He would drive the prostitutes to motels on Long Island and Staten Island, as well as in New Jersey and the Bronx, often immediately after his shift.

"I believe this pattern of travel activity, which includes numerous afternoon and evening visits to hotels and motels, is consistent with transporting women to engage in prostitution," FBI Special Agent Rocky Van Warden wrote in an affidavit.


US cops sent to Scotland to learn how to stop killing people

© skynews
Scottish cops teaching new methods to US police chiefs.
In all of 2011, British police killed 2 people. In 2012, 1 person. In 2013, a total of 3 bullets left the barrels of British police guns, and no one was killed. In the last two years, a total of 4 people have lost their lives because of British cops, bringing the total number of citizens killed in the UK to 7 in the last 5 years.

On average, police in America kill at a rate 70 times that of its Western neighbors. In just the last week of December, American cops killed more people than the entire country of England killed in the last five years. But if we zoom out just a little further, those numbers become even more shocking. Since 1990, police officers in the United Kingdom have killed exactly 58 people.

In the last two weeks of December, police in America killed 60 citizens — It took English cops 25 years to do what American cops did in just the last two weeks of December. On average, British police kill around two citizens a year. American cops kill more than that every day. Of course, all those killed were not innocent, but many were unarmed, shot while running away, and their deaths recorded on video. And all of them deserved due process.

Below is this eye-opening video of American cops learning to be less violent.

Comment: Shoot first, ask questions later. In police confrontations with civilians, pulling the trigger has become an automatic response. Killing someone should be the last resort, not the first.


Tear gas and Molotov cocktails deployed during one of the largest protests in Greece since 2010

© Alkis Konstantinidis / Reuters
Riot police react to petrol bombs thrown by masked youths in Syntagma Square during a 24-hour general strike against planned pension reforms in Athens, Greece, February 4, 2016.
Tear gas and Molotov cocktails have been deployed during a demonstration in Syntagma Square, Athens, where a general strike is taking place.

Around 50,000 Greeks marched on parliament in Central Athens on Thursday.

Groups of youths then broke away from the crowd and began hurling stones and petrol bombs at police. Officers responded with rounds of teargas and stun grenades, witnesses told Reuters.

Black Cat

Latest subway slashing has NYC transit riders terrified

There's been another slashing on a New York City subway, and terrified riders are calling for protection.

This, as Police Commissioner Bill Bratton insists the subways are safe.

As CBS2's Alice Gainer reported, a 30-year-old man is recovering after being slashed with a knife while on a No. 3 train Monday around 12:40 p.m.

Police said a suspect in the case, 37-year-old Stephen Braithwaite, has been arrested and charged. Police said the victim was standing with a friend on the Pennsylvania Avenue platform when he saw Braithwaite walking back and forth.
The victim told police Braithwaite asked him what he was looking at, challenged him to a fight, threw coffee at him and then slashed him on the chin with a pocket knife once they got on the 3 train.

"Every night I see a different slashing," one woman said. "It does concern me because I have to take it every day. So it's kind of scary," another woman said. "We're living in fear of being slashed on the subway; something needs to happen," Kyle Millionmile, of Inwood, told CBS2's Jessica Schneider.


Telling it like it is: Woman shouts 'it's you who created Daesh!' to Kerry at press conference in Italy

© Nicholas Kamm / Reuters
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) speaks next to Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni during a news conference following a ministerial meeting of the so-called "anti-Islamic State coalition" in Rome, Italy, February 2, 2016.
US Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to Italy was disrupted by a cry of protest at his joint press conference with Italian foreign minister Paolo Gentiloni, when a woman in the audience shouted, "it's you who created Daesh!"

The press conference was coming to an end, when the woman stood up from the public, her head covered up by a black veil.

"It's you who created Daesh!" she shouted at the two ministers, using another name for the terror group Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), reported the Italian state-owned television channel RAI.

The woman was dragged away from the conference by the Carabinieri.


College graduates know next to nothing about their student loans

© Mike Segar / Reuters
Seven out of 10 college graduates are leaving school with student loans to pay back, and a new poll shows that these young people have a startlingly low level of knowledge about what debt they owe and what are their payback terms.

In January, loan refinancing information company LendEDU asked 477 undergraduate and graduate students from three Bay Area campuses ran a study that shows that shows that most American students don't know basic facts about the money they owe and how it can be collected from them.

Only 8 percent of those interviewed surveyed know the current interest rates of their loans, and just 6 percent know how long it will take them to repay their debt.

Comment: See also: America's debt serfdom: Spiraling household debt, mortgages, student loans and credit cards