Society's Child


7 killed in New Zealand helicopter crash


Helicopter crashes at New Zealand glacier, killing all seven on board
Four British tourists were among seven people killed in a helicopter crash in one of New Zealand's best-known tourist spots.

The pilot and six passengers were on board the aircraft when it went down at Fox Glacier on the remote west coast of the South Island in what have been described as poor conditions.

Four rescue helicopters were sent to the scene and a paramedic and alpine rescue team were winched down to the scene of the crash and confirmed there were no survivors.

A spokesman for the New Zealand Police said it is thought all six passengers were foreign tourists, while the pilot was a local man.

"It is believed two were Australians," the spokesman said, adding that formal identification will take "some time."


'We kill innocent people': Bataclan survivor says Paris horror made him rethink West's military campaigns

© Christian Hartmann / Reuters
French riot police secure the area near the Bataclan concert hall following a fatal shooting at a restaurant in Paris, France, November 13, 2015.
"This was the Apocalypse." These are the words of Pierre Janaszak, a TV and radio presenter, who spoke to RT after experiencing the massacre at France's Bataclan theater. He says the ordeal has changed his view of the world forever.

Pierre Janaszak, a TV and radio presenter, went to the Bataclan with his sister on that fateful Friday evening. He says he just wanted to make her happy because she is a huge fan of "The Eagles of Death Metal," the US band that was performing in the Paris theater on November 13.

Pierre was on the left side of the balcony in front of the stage - drinking beer and having fun. When he first heard the shooting, about 50 minutes into the gig, he thought it was "part of the show."

Comment: Well, staring at your naval thinking good thoughts won't make the problem go away. People should reconnect with their empathy and quit supporting the psychopaths in power.


Exploiting the situation: Sicilian mafia offers Big Apple protection from 'psychopathic' ISIS

© Brendan McDermid / Reuters
Gambino crime family associate Franco Lupoi is escorted by FBI agents from their Manhattan offices in New York February 11, 2014.
The son of a New York mob boss has given Islamic State a stark warning, saying if they are planning any attacks in New York, they will have to contend with the Sicilian mafia. The notorious crime syndicate say they want to do their bit to protect locals.

Giovanni Gambino, the son of a key figure in the Gambino mob organization, says the mafia is in a much better position than security bodies, such as the FBI or Homeland Security, to give New Yorkers the protection they need.

"They often act too late, or fail to see a complete picture of what's happening due to a lack of 'human intelligence,'" he said in an interview with NBC News, as cited by Reuters, adding that the mafia's knowledge of individual movements and interaction with locals gives it the upper hand, even compared to the latest surveillance technologies.

Comment: Well, the US creates the boogie man and then claims to be protecting you from it whereas the Mafia is actually helping to protect people. Which would you choose?

Red Flag

For real? Turkish coastguard 'filmed' Greek coastguard 'trying to sink' Syrian refugee boat

© Yannis Behrakis / Reuters
A Greek coastguard has been accused of deliberately trying to sink an inflatable refugee boat carrying Syrian refugees crossing the Aegean Sea. A video shows a man seemingly trying to prod the life raft with a pole.

The footage was released by the Turkish Institute of Public Diplomacy and shows a person on board the Greek vessel trying to sink the inflatable dinghy, despite it being packed with 58 refugees.

Comment: This story is hard to believe. Was the Turkish Coastguard doing the filming? If so, why would the Greek Coastguard try to prod the refugee boat under the Turkish glaring search light? Turkey maybe trying to score some points here trying to portray themselves in a good light.


Turkish Airlines flight NYC-Istanbul lands in Canada after bomb threat

© Kayla Hounsell @CTVAtlantic
Turkish Airlines Flight 2 sits on the runway of Halifax Stanfield International Airport.
A Turkish Airlines Airbus A330 jet flying from New York City to Istanbul was sharply diverted mid-air and landed in Halifax, Canada due to a bomb threat. Firefighting crews and police have evacuated the aircraft.

256 passengers and crew have been moved to the terminal building, and "all is going smoothly," the emergency services stated on their Twitter account.

Canadian emergency services and Royal Canadian Mounted Police are responding to the situation, East Hants Fire Service Dispatches reported on Facebook. The fire department earlier tweeted that a bomb threat has been made.

The flight in question is Turkish Airlines TYH2 / TK2. While the nature of the threat has not been confirmed, plane watchers on social media have speculated it may have been made online.

An investigation into the bomb threat is currently taking place, they added.

Comment: See also: 'Terror threat' reported as two Air France flights from US to Paris diverted, forced to land


Largest immigration wave in modern history may be ending: More Mexicans are leaving the US than entering

The 'Great Recession' was evidently so bad for the economy that it stopped the net influx of illegal immigrants from Mexico. For the first time since the 1940s, more Mexicans have been leaving the U.S. to return home than arriving, a reversal that brings down the curtain on the largest immigration wave in modern American history. As WSJ reports, the Pew Research Center figures released Thursday suggest that the surge in legal and illegal Mexican immigration that helped transform America - and remains a contentious issue on the presidential campaign trail - may have peaked for good.

Pew Hispanic found that, according to official numbers, more than 800,000 undocumented workers came to the United States during 2009-2014 while more than 1 million fled the U.S. during the same period. It seems that employment became more difficult after the 2008 economic crisis, while Mexico's economy actually improved.

Comment: Looks like the Mexican immigrants see the writing on the wall that the US economy is not in good shape.

Heart - Black

Fear is toxic to a democracy

© Lee Royal/flickr/cc
Fear is toxic to a democracy. Fear divides. Fear overreacts. Fear discriminates.

It's a lesson we've learned throughout our history, from the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 to the imprisonment of Japanese Americans during World War II to the post-9/11 Patriot Act. And now in the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks, we're relearning that lesson again as some of our leaders put forth proposals that would undermine our commitment to a free, pluralistic, compassionate, and open society.

Currently 31 governors are on record opposing resettling any Syrian refugees in their states. These efforts to subvert federal policy would be unconstitutional. Only the federal government has the authority to determine who is allowed to enter the country -- the states do not. And once immigrants are admitted, the states cannot restrict them from settling wherever they choose.

The governors say they worry that terrorists may hide among those who are fleeing the Islamic State and the Assad regime. This is a good argument for a rigorous and multi-layered screening process -- but we already have one. The current U.S. refugee screening system includes background checks by multiple agencies, biometric tests, medical screenings, and in-person interviews with Department of Homeland Security officials.


BigPharma haul: Flood of new expensive drugs coming to market in U.S. and Europe

Drug companies have brought a host of expensive new medicines to market in the United States and Europe this year, figures show, another bumper haul for an industry often accused of over-charging.

Drug prices are set to be a major issue in the run-up to the U.S. presidential election next year, with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton having pledged to rein in costs in a country that has the world's highest prices.

Comment: The idea that Hillary will act to contain the pharmaceutical industry is laughable, considering that she has received more campaign cash from drug companies than any candidate in either party, even as she declares the industry is one of her biggest enemies.

The busy drug pipeline to the West also illustrates how the vast bulk of research cash is spent on developing money-spinning medicines for rich countries, rather than to tackle tropical diseases that kill millions in the developing world.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has so far approved 37 novel drugs in 2015, more than the 34 that had been cleared by this stage a year ago and just short of 2014's final total of 41, which was an 18-year high.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is also waving through more products, recommending a total of 84 new medicines so far, up from 75 in the first 11 months of 2014, according to data released on Friday. Unlike the FDA, the EMA includes generic drugs in its list.

Comment: With the approval of the TPPA, the profiteering of the pharmaceutical industry at the expense of the public will only get worse. The TPPA will enshrine a billions-over-millions trade-off: billions of dollars in profits will be made by patent-holding pharmaceutical corporations, and millions of people will needlessly suffer and die. TPPA is designed to block the sick and the poor from accessing affordable generic and biosimilar medicines.


Journalist who returned from Islamic State HQ reveals how jihadists can be defeated

© RT
RT spoke to Jurgen Todenhofer, the first Western journalist who was allowed to enter territory controlled by the so-called Islamic State. A year ago, he spent 10 days among the terrorists, also visiting Raqqa, the capital of the self-proclaimed caliphate.

To arrange the journey, Todenhofer held Skype discussions with Islamic State (formerly ISIS/ISIL) for six months before they agreed to his visit.

Finally, the jihadists gave him official guarantee safety. "It was in their interest to fulfill their promises that I would come back alive - and I came back alive," he said.

After spending several days with ISIS militants, having long discussions with them and observing their daily life, the German journalist said: "They don't care if we call them terrorists."

Comment: This report shows one reason why jihadists may carry out terrorist acts in order to draw in Western or Russian boots on the ground.

2 + 2 = 4

Corporal punishment in schools has a significant negative impact on grades that persists for years

Debates on whether the use of physical force to discipline children is ever acceptable have once again been reignited with legislation passed in Ireland in early November to remove the defence of "reasonable chastisement" for corporal punishment.

In new research conducted by the Young Lives study at the University of Oxford using longitudinal data from Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam, we found that children who experienced corporal punishment performed worse in maths, four years later. The research was part of UNICEF's Multi Country Study on the Drivers of Violence Affecting Children.

The use of physical punishment, such as smacking, slapping or hitting with a hand or implement, is contrary to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which has been ratified by all states except the US. Yet only 47 countries have, like Ireland, introduced legislation to protect children from corporal punishment in all settings, including the home and school.

Corporal punishment excites strong points of view. Proponents argue that "mild" or "moderate" forms of corporal punishment are an effective and non-detrimental means of instilling discipline and obedience into children. When talking about my research on corporal punishment I often encounter the response: "I was hit and it never did me any harm". Opponents stress the hypocrisy of laws that do not extend the same protection to children as is afforded to adults.

Comment: Corporal punishment is child abuse. The research is very clear that corporal punishment can result in physical and emotional damage, and that there are always more appropriate ways to correct misbehavior.