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Heart - Black

Afghan refugee accused of repeatedly raping 11yo in Germany could avoid trial as he was underage

german police
© Global Look Press / Karl-Josef Hildenbrand
An Afghan asylum seeker, who has been accused of repeatedly raping an 11-year-old girl in Germany, could be set free as his lawyer maintains the refugee was younger than 14 at the time of the incident and cannot be tried.

The Afghan teenager, identified only as Mansoor Q, is suspected of raping the German girl on several occasions in April and May 2018, together with other asylum seekers. According to the prosecution, Mansoor and an Iraqi, identified as Ali Bashar, who is also on trial over a separate rape and murder case, first assaulted the victim near a supermarket in Erbenheim, a borough of the west German city Wiesbaden.

It is alleged Mansoor Q. once again attacked and raped the same girl together with Bashar's underage brother in a wooded area in Wiesbaden soon after the first attack. According to the prosecution, the victim was also previously raped by Bashar, 22, in late April 2018, when he locked her in his room in an asylum shelter.

However the Afghan may avoid trial as his lawyer told the court he has evidence his client was under 14 - the age of criminal responsibility in Germany - at the time of the alleged attacks.

Airplane

Lion Air pilots scoured handbook in minutes before crash

Boeing 737 MAX
© Reuters / Joshua Roberts
The pilots of a doomed Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX scrambled through a handbook to understand why the jet was lurching downwards in the final minutes before it hit the water killing all 189 people on board, three people with knowledge of the cockpit voice recorder contents said.

The investigation into the crash last October has taken on new relevance as the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other regulators grounded the model last week after a second deadly accident in Ethiopia.

Investigators examining the Indonesian crash are considering how a computer ordered the plane to dive in response to data from a faulty sensor and whether the pilots had enough training to respond appropriately to the emergency, among other factors.

Comment:

Meanwhile, Russian airlines have suspended the purchases of Boeing 737 MAX jets indefinitely. As reported by RT:
Contracts for the purchase of troubled Boeing 737 MAX aircraft have been suspended indefinitely by a number of Russian airlines, according to Vladimir Afonsky, a member of the State Duma Committee on Transport and Construction.

He told TASS, with a reference to Deputy Transport Minister Aleksandr Yurchik, that these were contracts for the supply of several dozen aircraft to UTair, Ural Airlines, Pobeda Airlines and S7.

The indefinite suspension will last "until the circumstances of this situation [the two recent crashes of the Boeing 737 MAX planes] were ascertained," Afonsky said.

Ural Airlines had ordered 14 MAX aircraft from Boeing, with the first jet expected to arrive in October. Pobeda Airlines (part of the Aeroflot Group) was planning to buy 30 planes. It has not sealed a firm contract yet but had already made an advance payment for the aircraft.
In the US, President Trump appoints Steve Dickson, the former chief of Delta Airlines' flight operations, to run the FAA:
US President Donald Trump has appointed the former head of flight operations for Delta Airlines to run the Federal Aviation Administration, currently under scrutiny for allowing the troubled Boeing 737 MAX 8 to carry passengers.

Steve Dickson, who spent 27 years with Delta before retiring in October as senior vice president of flight ops, is joining the agency in the midst of its most turbulent period in recent history, with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao having requested an audit of its certification of the aircraft, two of which have been involved in horrific crashes over the past five months.

While Dickson's name had reportedly been under consideration since November, Trump allowed the FAA to go without an official head for over a year following the end of Obama-era agency chief Michael Huerta's term. Daniel Elwell, who led the FAA under George W. Bush, has been running the agency in an interim capacity without being confirmed by the Senate.

The man from Delta will be the first FAA head in three decades to have come directly to the job from a senior airline position - something of a pattern for Trump, who has recruited a number of cabinet members from the ranks of corporate America to staff the agencies tasked with regulating their former employers. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, who previously worked for Boeing, is just one such appointment.
See also: Flawed analysis, failed oversight, greed: How Boeing & FAA certified faulty 737 MAX


Bullseye

The left should cheer President Trump in protecting free speech on college campuses

Trump conference free speech
© Jose Luis Magana / Associated Press
President Trump spoke March 2 at Conservative Political Action Conference in Oxon Hill, Md. Trump’s proposed executive order to protect free speech on college campuses follows a growing chorus of complaints from members of Congress and others that the nation’s universities are attempting to silence conservative voices by heckling, disinviting and otherwise discouraging their presence.
Video of a conservative activist being assaulted on the campus of UC Berkeley went viral last month.

Many saw the video. Many heard the smack of fist meeting skin and were transfixed by the pure rage on the face of the assailant. But what bothered me most wasn't the assault itself.

What I couldn't take my eyes off were the people in the background. Standing silently. Hoping someone else would intervene, then stepping aside to let the assailant stroll away from the crime scene. My eyes were set on those grainy faces, not because of what they did, but because of what they didn't do.

Comment:


Laptop

EU competition regulators hit Google with $1.7 billion fine for blocking ads sourced from rivals

Margrethe Vestager EU google
© Emmanuel Dunand/Getty Images
Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition
The European Union on Wednesday ordered Google to pay 1.49 billion euros ($1.69 billion) for stifling competition in the online advertisement sector.

The European Commission said Google had placed exclusivity contracts on website owners, stopping them from including search results from Google's rivals. It said these clauses were replaced in 2009 by premium payments and in the same year, Google had asked publishers to seek permission on how rival ads were displayed.

The EU's competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, said Google had prevented rivals from being able to "compete and innovate fairly" in the online ad market.

Comment: Ars Technica adds:
The particular wing of Google's advertising empire the Commission is concerned with here is "AdSense for Search." Adsense for Search does not refer to the famous ads above Google.com search results but, instead, are ads displayed in "Custom Search" results that can be embedded inside their websites. We have a version of this on Ars - just click the magnifying glass in the top navigation bar and search for something. You won't leave Ars Technica; instead you'll get a customized version of Google Search embedded in arstechnica.com, complete with Google Ads above the results. These are the "Adsense for Search" ads, and they are different from Google.com ads. The European Commission's ruling is all about these "ads for custom search engines."
Google adsense violations
© European Commission
The European Commission provided this helpful graphic of Google's custom search ad practices.
The European Commission reviewed "hundreds" of Google advertising contracts and found a range of behavior from Google's Ad division that it deemed anti-competitive. First, from 2006 to 2009, Google ads had to exclusively be shown on pages with Google custom search engines. You weren't allowed to do something like use Google to crawl your site and then show Yahoo ads above the embedded results.

The Commission noted that Google loosened this requirement in 2009 and replaced it with another practice it found uncompetitive: "Premium Placement" clauses. These clauses said that, while you could show custom search advertisements from a competing ad provider, Google's ads had to go in the top slots, and there were a minimum number of Google ads you needed to serve on your custom search page. Changing the way rival advertisements were displayed also required written approval from Google.

Basically, Google was bundling its ad platform with its custom search engine for websites, and the European Commission ruled that arrangement was anti-competitive toward other ad providers. European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager laid out the Commission's view of the situation, saying, "Google has cemented its dominance in online search adverts and shielded itself from competitive pressure by imposing anti-competitive contractual restrictions on third-party websites. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules. The misconduct lasted over 10 years and denied other companies the possibility to compete on the merits and to innovate - and consumers the benefits of competition."



Cross

Pope refuses convicted French cardinal's resignation

pope francis barbarin
© Vatican/EPA
Pope Francis receives Cardinal Philippe Barbarin in Vatican City on 18 March 2019.
Philippe Barbarin, the French Roman Catholic cardinal convicted this month of failing to report sexual abuse allegations, said on Tuesday that Pope Francis had turned down his offer to resign.

"On Monday morning, I put forward my resignation to the hands of the Holy Father. Invoking the presumption of innocence, he declined to accept this resignation," said Barbarin, the archbishop of Lyon, in a statement.

Barbarin is appealing against the verdict that he failed to report abuse claims.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Vatican's spokesman, Alessandro Gisotti, said the Vatican remained close to sexual abuse victims and the French faithful "who are living in a particularly painful moment".

Barbarin, 68, is the most senior French cleric caught up in the global child sexual abuse scandal that has rocked the Catholic church.

On 7 March a Lyon court ruled that Barbarin, a cardinal since 2003, was guilty of failing to report allegations of abuse of boy scouts committed by a priest, Bernard Preynat, in the 1980s and 1990s. He was given a six-month suspended prison sentence.

Comment: See also:


Robot

Sick of human politicians? 25% of Europeans would prefer AI government

merkel
© Global Look / Daniel Karmann
More than a quarter of Europeans would rather have their countries' important political decisions made by artificial intelligence than their elected and unelected human officials, according to a surprising new survey.

Fully one in four Europeans said they were "somewhat or totally in favor of letting an artificial intelligence make important decisions about the running of their country," a number that climbed to one in three for the Netherlands, UK, and Germany, according to a survey by the Center for the Governance of Change, a tech-focused research group from IE University in Spain. The figures remained constant across education levels, gender, and political affiliation, indicating either Europeans are abnormally welcoming of their new robot overlords - or they're sick of their human ones.

Spoiler alert: it's likely the latter. While the survey uncovered high levels of technological anxiety across all demographics, even the fear of having one's job stolen by robots doesn't hold a candle to Europeans' antipathy for their political masters, who've shown themselves all too willing to throw their constituents under the (self-driving) bus in pursuit of power - whether it's France's Emmanuel Macron attempting to outlaw protest and bar critical media from his press conferences or Theresa May repeatedly serving up unappetizing Brexit deals in a reverse-psychology effort to transmute "Leave" into "Stay."

Bizarro Earth

Youth Strike Movement For Climate Change is an Immensely Deceptive Globalist Propaganda Campaign

youth strike
Recently we have all been asked to celebrate the youthful commitment to 'save the planet' personified by the 'Youth Strike 4 Climate .' Hundreds of thousands of children, across the world, have been involved in various forms of strike action in protest against humankind's heating of the planet through our CO2 emissions. Many were given leave from their lessons to 'demonstrate.' This has been widely welcomed by the political class. Jeremy Corbyn, Caroline Lucas and Nicola Sturgeon were but a few of the leading politicians supporting this 'coordinated day of action.

Particularly delighted was the President of the EU Commission Jean Claude Juncker. He tweeted his support and a committed a quarter of the EU's annual budget for programs to 'mitigate' against man made climate change. That's an annual expenditure of more than €36bn, based upon the EU's 2015 figures. As ever with the EU, it is difficult to know precisely how much of your tax money they spend or where they spend it. They haven't independently audited their budget accounts for more than 20 years, preferring their own 'in house' auditors. Wouldn't we all?

Juncker tweet
While mass absenteeism presented a bit of a problem for schools, who should record a child's absence for any reason other than illness as 'unauthorised,' the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) union were also supportive. Despite some 'official concerns,' clearly there was tacit acceptance of the strike from government education departments around the world.

All of which begs some interesting questions. Whose idea was it that schoolchildren as young as 5 yrs old should get involved in political protest? Who coordinated the 'day of action?' What were they protesting for (or against) and, most importantly, who funded it and why?

Comment: James Corbett also does an excellent job deconstructing these recent developments:


The madness has spread everywhere.

Kids were about to embark on one of these 'protests against nature' (which is what they really are) in Christchurch when the terror attacks there occurred.

In France, kids' 'protests' have been getting way more coverage in the media than the Yellow Vest protests, and there are daily updates even in regional, local newspapers about how one or two teens skipping school are doing in their 'protests to save the planet'...


Heart - Black

Methamphetamine is flooding into the US, DEA official says

meth epidemic
© Newsweek
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that opioid-related deaths are starting to plateau, officials fret a surge in methamphetamine-related deaths could contribute to the next leg up in the American drug overdose crisis.

There were 1,854 meth-related deaths reported in 2010. By 2017, more than 10,300 deaths were linked to meth and or chemically-similar psychostimulants, which is a 550% jump from 2010.
meth deaths
The DEA told the Journal that their drug-tracking system recorded 347,807 law-enforcement meth seizures submitted to labs in 2017, a 118% increase from 2010. The recent inflow of meth into the U.S. has made it more affordable and easily accessible, the agency warns.

Fire

Senegalese man sets Italian school bus on fire with children on board

burning bus
© Vigili del Fuoco
A bus full of school children was set on fire by its driver in the outskirts of Milan on Wednesday in an apparent protest against migrant drownings in the Mediterranean, Italian authorities said.

All the children managed to escape unhurt before the bus was engulfed in flames. Police said the driver was an Italian of Senegalese origin.

"He shouted 'Stop the deaths at sea, I'll carry out a massacre'," spokesman Marco Palmieri quoted the driver as telling police after his arrest.

Beaker

China clones 'Sherlock Holmes of police dogs' to cut time and cost of K9 training

good police doggie
© Global Look Press / Ou Dongqu
Beijing used the skin of a veteran police dog, credited with helping to solve many murders, to create its younger clone. Officials hope that the K9 cloning program will drive down cost and time required for dogs' training.

A three-month-old pup named Kunxun, China's first ever cloned police dog, arrived at a canine-training base in the nation's southwestern Yunnan Province, local media reported. She is a Kunming wolfdog, a breed similar to a German shepherd. Kunming dogs are widely used in China by the military, police, border guards and firefighters.

Kunxun's DNA is 99.9 percent identical to veteran police dog named Huahuangma, whose skin was used as genetic material for the clone, police officials stated. Huahuangma is said to have earned the name 'Sherlock Holmes of police dogs' after helping to crack "dozens" of murder cases. The embryo, created from her DNA, was later implanted into a beagle, which gave birth to Kunxun via cesarean section.