Society's Child


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.

Gold Coins

Russians pay less tax than you - and other reasons to admire the bear

Which is to say; they get to keep more of it
Russia gets a bad press. Literally. In fact Western media coverage of Russia is almost always extremely negative. That would be excusable if it was mostly accurate, but in fact it's usually blatantly wrong. The reality of Russia is far removed from the fiction that we're meant to believe. As investors, understanding the difference is essential. Here are just some of the surprising things about Russia that you probably don't know.

In no particular order...
  1. Russia has a flat rate of tax on personal income of just 13%. This compares with top rates of personal income tax of 45% in Australia, China, Germany and the UK, amongst others. The USA is slightly lower, at 39.6%, but that excludes state and local income taxes which can add a lot (Californians pay over 50% top rate). Chances are you pay more tax than the average Russian.
  2. Contrary to popular belief, the oil and gas sector is not "half" the economy, or some other huge amount that's typically quoted in the media. In fact it's share is just 16%, having fallen sharply over the past 15 years as other sectors have grown much more rapidly (World Bank figures).
  3. It is commonly stated that "over half" of Russian state revenues are derived from the oil and gas business, the theory being that Russia goes bust if the oil price falls. The reality? In 2013 only 27% of revenues were from this source, according to Jon Hellewig at Awara Group (Russia analysts). The largest contributor, at 29%, came from payroll taxes, despite the low flat tax (see above).
  4. Russia doesn't have a stagnant and failing economy. Okay, this year it will have a recession brought about by Western sanctions and the sharp fall in commodity prices. But between 2000 and 2012 the economy grew tenfold, measured in US dollars.
  5. The Russian stock market has been a great place to invest. Since its launch at the end of 1994 the MSCI Russia index is up 516% (in US dollars), compared with a gain of 355% for the MSCI USA index over the same period. This is despite Russian stocks currently trading at incredibly depressed levels, and US stocks trading in bubble territory, yet again (see here for more).


A story of courage through art: Valentina Lisitsa plays concert in Donetsk


Valentina Lisitsa - Hero Pianist
A uplifting concert from a heroic pianist banned from performing in Toronto for her opposition to the war being waged in her country

Amidst all the horror of the Ukrainian conflict, 22nd June 2015 produced a moment of true heroism.

The pianist Valentina Lisitsa — prevented from performing in Toronto because of her opposition to the war being waged in her native Ukraine — performed a concert in Donetsk.

This was a true anti-war concert - commemorating those who fought fascism on the anniversary of the Nazi attack on the USSR (Operation Barbarossa).

Comment: See:


Ex-Baltimore cop pulls back dark curtain on corruption culture

© Reuters/Evan Habeeb
A former Baltimore detective has started tweeting daily examples of police brutality, false arrests, and lying in court, which he said he witnessed over the course of 11 years serving in the Baltimore Police Department (BPD)

Michael A. Wood, Jr. used nine tweets on Wednesday to blow the whistle about things he had "seen & participated in, in policing that is corrupt, intentional or not."

Wood wrote that he will tweet some examples each day "so that we have time for ?s, reflections, and improvement in between."

Comment: Does he have an agenda to get people riled up?


Autopsy report in death of Freddie Gray shows single 'high-energy' injury

© Reuters / Adrees Latif
The Baltimore man who died in police custody in April suffered a single "high-energy injury" that broke his spine, most likely caused by the sudden slowing down of the police van, says the autopsy report obtained by the local press.

Gray had no previous injuries indicating a neck hold or caused by physical restraint by police officers who arrested him on April 12, says the report obtained by the Baltimore Sun on Tuesday. Assistant medical examiner Carol H. Allan concluded that Gray may have gotten to his feet inside the van, and was thrown into a wall during a sudden change in direction.

Though his death fit the medical and legal definition of an accident, Allan ruled it a homicide because the arresting officers failed to follow safety procedures "through acts of omission." The officers shackled Gray's wrists and ankles and loaded him into the van on his belly, rather than belting him into a seat as Baltimore PD guidelines called for.