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UK: Malnutrition figures soar under more austerity - as do food prices, theft, and anger towards government

© Reuters / Suzanne Plunkett
There has been a 19-percent increase in the number of UK citizens hospitalized for malnutrition over the past twelve months, new figures reveal.
Rising levels of food poverty have led to malnutrition becoming more common in the UK, experts say. The public health problem is responsible for a range of ailments surfacing across the country, including rickets.

Britain's Faculty of Public Health has linked the growing trend to people's inability to afford quality food. According to the latest figures, there has been a 19-percent increase in the number of UK citizens hospitalized for malnutrition over the past twelve months.

UK ministers say the government has billions available to tackle issues concerning public health. The coalition recently confirmed that a portion of this funding will be channeled towards local authorities to address public health concerns such as malnutrition.

But against a backdrop of alleged funding to address state-wide manifestations of food poverty, a national crisis is looming.

More goon cops gone wild: 10 shocking examples of police killing innocent people in the war on drugs

© Trinacria Photo
In a democratic republic, the "innocent until proven guilty" concept is supposed to be sacrosanct. Jurors, police officers, judges and prosecuting attorneys - at least in theory - are required to err on the side of caution, and if a guilty person occasionally goes free, so be it. But with the war on drugs, the concept of innocent until proven guilty has fallen by the wayside on countless occasions. The war on drugs is not only fought aggressively, it is fought carelessly and haphazardly, and a long list of innocent victims have been killed or maimed in the process.

Attorney General Eric Holder recently addressed the war on drugs during a speech for the American Bar Association's annual meeting, calling for the United States to seriously reevaluate its harsh policy of mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent, low-level drug offenses. Holder acknowledged that "too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long and for no truly good law enforcement reason," and he pointed out that according to one report, black males convicted in drug cases typically receive sentences that are 20% longer than the sentences imposed on white males for similar offenses. It was refreshing to hear an attorney general make those statements; also encouraging is a recent Rasmussen poll finding that 82% of Americans see the war on drugs as a failure.

Many people from across the political spectrum - from the American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP, the National Urban League and the Rev. Jesse Jackson to right-wing libertarians like Ron Paul, Walter Williams and 2012 Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson - have pointed out that the war on drugs has become much deadlier than the drugs themselves. Innocent civilians have more to fear from botched drug raids and careless police work than they do from drug dealers.

Below are 10 innocent victims who became collateral damage and lost their lives in the war on drugs (there are many, many more).

Comment: Yet more examples of the rise in police killing innocent citizens. It doesn't matter if your black or white, old or young, if your at the wrong place at the wrong time the police will use little discretion and shoot first and then try blame the victim.

Blue Planet

Obama, you are not worthy! Veteran Russian nationalist demands Obama be stripped of Nobel Peace Prize

Russia's Liberal Democratic Party will press for depriving President Barak Obama of the Nobel Peace Prize on the grounds that the US leader is disgracing the award by organizing wars instead of fighting for peace.
© RIA Novosti / Vladimir Fedorenko
Leader of the Liberal Democratic Party Vladimir Zhirinovsky
The statement, posted on the party's website, quotes its leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky as saying that the fact that the Peace Prize was given to Obama in 2009 caused bewilderment from the very beginning - the award went to the man who had occupied his post for less than a year and had not claimed any real achievements.

"Usually the Nobel Peace Prize is handed to people who fought for peace for 20, 30, 40 or 50 years, who did prison time. This man has not moved a finger. And in recent years he has organized wars. Ukraine is in flames, the Mideast is troubled, and there are problems in Afghanistan. Throughout his term in power - not a single peacekeeping operation; we see only death, aggression and refugees. The Peace Prize should be recalled immediately to avoid disgracing of the award!" Zhirinovsky stated.

The nightmare of dealing with authoritarian followers: French pensioner forced to prove he is still living to claim medical refund

Jean-Marie Sevrain
A French pensioner has had to prove he is alive after being denied a refund by a state health insurance firm on the grounds that he was in fact dead. The 68-year-old then had to endure a bureaucratic nightmare to show he was still living.

"I received a letter on July 8 from the Social Security of Independent Professions telling me that the refund was not possible on the grounds of my death on January 4th 2010," Jean-Marie Sevrain told AFP.

The Frenchman had been hoping to be reimbursed to the tune of 23 euros after visiting a doctor to pick up some prescription drugs, to help him fight diabetes. Sevrain said that he had been doing this "every three months for many years."

"When I got the letter, I thought I was dreaming, then my wife and I started laughing," he said. "What is bizarre is that I am supposed to be dead but the letter indicated I had the possibility to appeal," the 68 year-old said.

Comment: According to Bob Altemeyer, in his book The Authoritarians :
"Authoritarians are highly submissive to established authority, aggressive in the name of that authority, and conventional to the point of insisting everyone should behave as their authorities decide. They are fearful and self-righteous and have a lot of hostility in them that they readily direct toward various outgroups. They are easily incited, easily led, rather un-inclined to think for themselves, largely impervious to facts and reason, and rely instead on social support to maintain their beliefs. They bring strong loyalty to their in-groups, have thick-walled, highly compartmentalized minds, use lots of double standards in their judgments, are surprisingly unprincipled at times, and are often hypocrites. But they are also Teflon-coated when it comes to guilt. They are blind to themselves, ethnocentric and prejudiced, and as close-minded as they are narrow-minded."
Authoritarian followers are like imitation machines. They follow what is pervasive around them. This bizarre story shows how far from common sense, the French bureaucratic system has degenerated, just like those of other Western countries. It is frightening to think of how much power such sick systems have over our lives.

2 + 2 = 4

FBI tracking charter schools

screenshot FED charter schools
FBI investigation of a local charter of many.
There's been a flood of local news stories in recent months about FBI raids on charter schools all over the country. From Pittsburgh to Baton Rouge, from Hartford to Cincinnati to Albuquerque, FBI agents have been busting into schools, carting off documents, and making arrests leading to high-profile indictments.

"The troubled Hartford charter school operator FUSE was dealt another blow Friday when FBI agents served it with subpoenas to a grand jury that is examining the group's operations. When two Courant reporters arrived at FUSE offices on Asylum Hill on Friday morning, minutes after the FBI's visit, they saw a woman feeding sheaves of documents into a shredder." --The Hartford Courant, July 18, 2014

"The FBI has raided an Albuquerque school just months after the state started peering into the school's finances. KRQE News 13 learned federal agents were there because of allegations that someone may have been taking money that was meant for the classroom at the Southwest Secondary Learning Center on Candelaria, near Morris in northwest Albuquerque ..." --KRQE News 13, August 1, 2014

"Wednesday evening's FBI raid on a charter school in East Baton Rouge is the latest item in a list of scandals involving the organization that holds the charter for the Kenilworth Science and Technology School.... Pelican Educational Foundation runs the school and has ties to a family from Turkey. The school receives about $5,000,000 in local, state, and federal tax money.... The FBI raided the school six days after the agency renewed the Baton Rouge school's charter through the year 2019." --The Advocate, January 14, 2014

"The state of Pennsylvania is bringing in the FBI to look into accusations that a Pittsburgh charter school [Urban Pathways Charter School] misspent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on luxuries such as fine-dining and retreats at exclusive resorts and spas." --CBS News, November 12, 2013

"COLUMBUS, OH--A federal grand jury has indicted four people, alleging that they offered and accepted bribes and kickbacks as part of a public corruption conspiracy in their roles as managers and a consultant for Arise! Academy, a charter school in Dayton, Ohio." --FBI Press Release, June 2014

What's going on here?

Charter schools are such a racket, across the nation they are attracting special attention from the FBI, which is working with the Department of Education's inspector general to look into allegations of charter-school fraud.

FBI investigation Gulen
FBI investigates Gulen charter school chain.
One target, covered in an August 12 story in The Atlantic, is the secretive Turkish cleric, Fethullah Gulen, who runs the largest charter-school chain in the United States. The Atlantic felt compelled to note, repeatedly, that it would be xenophobic to single out the Gulen schools and their mysterious Muslim founder for lack of transparency and the misuse of public funds. "It isn't the Gulen movement that makes Gulen charters so secretive," writes The Atlantic's Scott Beauchamp, "it's the charter movement itself."

Kristen Buras, associate professor of education policies at Georgia State University, agrees. "Originally, charter schools were conceived as a way to improve public education," Buras says. "Over time, however, the charter school movement has developed into a money-making venture."

Comment: Charter schools are authorized by educational institutions such as universities, colleges or school districts, and many are operated by management companies. Authorizers are charged with vetting charter operators, but critics of the system say authorizers are not held accountable for operators' failures. Not only should authorizers and operators be held accountable, parents should thoroughly research the institutions in which they place their children and know which authorizers are getting kick-backs at public expense.


South Dallas: Huey P. Newton gun club leads open-carry rally

© Vernon Bryant/Staff Photographer
Members of the Huey P. Newton Gun Club chanted slogans including “black power” and “justice for Michael Brown” during their peaceful protest on Wednesday.
Two dozen protesters - most of them armed - from a gun club named after the founder of the original Black Panther Party peacefully marched through parts of South Dallas on Wednesday.

The open-carry rally was organized by the Huey P. Newton Gun Club to promote self-defense and community policing in response to recent police shootings, both nationally and locally.

Police monitored the black-clad demonstrators, some of whom had rifles slung over their shoulders. As they walked down MLK Boulevard and Malcolm X Boulevard in the blistering heat, many chanted "black power" and "justice for Michael Brown," the black teenager fatally shot by police this month in suburban St. Louis. His death has touched off a string of often-violent protests in that area.
Eye 1

Drone operators in Vancouver could face charges for using drones to spy on people

© Janet S. Carter , AP
A Vancouver resident who saw a camera-mounted drone similar to this one flying outside his Vancouver condo Sunday night filed a complaint with Vancouver police.
Vancouver drone operators who use the flying machines to spy on people could face criminal charges of voyeurism or harassment, according to the Vancouver Police Department.

Sgt. Randy Fincham said the police force has had 13 complaints about drone or unmanned aerial vehicles this year, 10 of them since May. The most recent incident occurred Sunday night in the 600-block of Abbott in the neighbourhood known as Crosstown.

Conner Galway was sitting outside on the patio of the 36th floor at about 8:30 p.m. when he first saw the drone for about an hour. It came back again around 10:30 p.m.

He said it came close enough for him to see something moving underneath the body of the drone that looked like a camera lens.

"I thought it was concerning," he said.

Fincham said in an email that the VPD would become involved if a drone or other high-tech device was used to view or record a person within their own home or apartment, or if the drone caused damage to property or injured someone.

Russia anti-gay? Homophobic extremists sentenced to 5 years in penal colony


Anti-gay extremist Maxim Sergeyevich Martsinkevich.
The leader of the Russian anti-gay vigilante group "Occupy Pedophilia," who is alleged to have lured LGBT youth to abusive encounters through fake social media profiles, was sentenced Friday to five years in a Russian penal colony.

Maxim Sergeyevich Martsinkevich was convicted of inciting and fomenting cases of extremism by posting videos on the "Vkontakte" ( social network that contained racial slurs and extremist opinions on Russia's state of the union, reports Interfax. Videos containing anti-gay statements and abuse were not included in the prosecutor's case against him, however.

Martsinkevich rose to international attention last year when his group began posting videos on and YouTube, documenting violent and homophobic harassment of men and gay youth the group claims were seeking to have sex with boys.

Amid outrage by international Human Rights groups and the prosecutor's office in what was then Sevastopol, Ukraine (which sought to arrest him for crimes against a young male adult citizen of Ukraine) Martsinkevich fled to Cuba in December 2013, but was arrested and extradited for breaking Cuban immigration law in January.

Comment: People have to realize that Russia has to walk a fine line when it comes to homosexuality. Over half the population thinks that gays should be punished by law or medically treated. Two thirds think of it as a moral perversion or that it is not a sexual orientation.

As for Russia's "anti-gay propaganda" law, in the 7 years that the previous, similar, regional laws were in effect, they resulted in only 6 prosecutions and 2 convictions, which were later overturned. After six months of the infamous federal law, there were 3 convictions, 2 of which were for acts of civil disobedience against the law itself. Law enforcement have been very restrained when it comes to interpreting and acting on the law itself. In fact, Russia has signed on with the UN Human Rights Council to fight violence and discrimination against homosexuals themselves, and is accountable for fulfilling their agreement. For more information see Brian M. Heiss's "White Paper".


Photographer in Liberia's Ebola zone encounters the dead

Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer John Moore has covered wars in Libya, Afghanistan, and Iraq, among other places. But when he arrived in Liberia's capital city of Monrovia this month to report on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, he faced dangers of a different order.
© John Moore
A Liberian soldier beats a local resident while enforcing a quarantine in Monrovia's West Point slum on Wednesday.
Liberia has 972 probable, suspected, or confirmed cases of the disease, with 576 dead, more than any other country. Including the countries of Guinea, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone, the death toll from Ebola has reached 1,350, according to the World Health Organization.

Since Moore's arrival in Monrovia, there has been an attack on an isolation center that sent quarantined Ebola patients fleeing. This week, Liberian soldiers quarantined Monrovia's West Point slum in an effort to contain the virus, provoking clashes with neighborhood residents.

Moore spoke to National Geographic about the harrowing scenes he's documented, the personal risks he faces - and the humanity that endures.

Comment: See also Ebola transmission: "Being within 3 feet" or "in same room" can lead to infection.

Black Cat

Same Oklahoma cop previously involved in wrongful death lawsuit accused of sexually assaulting women while on duty

© AP Photo/Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office
This Aug. 21, 2014, photo made available by the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office shows Daniel K. Holtzclaw. The 27-year-old Oklahoma City police officer was arrested Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014 and is being held in lieu of $5 million bond after being accused of committing a series of sexual assaults against at least six women while on duty.
An Oklahoma City police officer named in a wrongful death lawsuit filed earlier this year has been accused of sexually assaulting women while on duty.

Daniel Holtzclaw, a three-year veteran of the Oklahoma City Police Department, was arrested Thursday afternoon outside Gold's Gym on charges of rape, forcible oral sodomy, sexual battery, and indecent exposure and jailed on $5 million bond, reported The Oklahoman.

Investigators said Holtzclaw stopped women while on patrol and threatened to arrest them unless they exposed themselves, allowed him to fondle them, or had sex with him.

Police Chief Bill Citty said the case angered and disturbed him, and he praised detectives for their work on the case.

Comment: Holtzclaw is a former Eastern Michigan University football player. Football is one of many sports where aggression is cultivated, and often translates into aggressive behavior of players off the field. Despite their pathological traits and misbehavior on and off the play field, they get excused again and again. If police departments weren't so ponerized, this man would never have been allowed to remain on active duty after being involved in the wrongful death of Clifton Armstrong.

Rampant sexual abuse by officers ignored by police departments