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Police Detain Protesters in Moscow, St. Petersburg

Image
© The Associated Press/Dmitry Lovetsky
Police officers detain opposition activists as they try to march after finishing a sanctioned protest meeting against Kremlin policies and vote rigging. in downtown St.Petersburg, Russia, Sunday, March 25, 2012.
Russia - Police in St. Petersburg have detained more than 10 protesters who tried to march down the Russian city's main avenue following an opposition rally.

Several hundred people took part in Sunday's rally in St. Petersburg to express their opposition to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who in May will begin a new six-year term as president.

The demonstrators chanted "Putin is a thief" and "Russia without Putin," two slogans heard at most opposition protests in recent months.

In Moscow, police said they detained about 30 opposition activists near Red Square to prevent them from protesting.

Ekho Moskvy radio cited the opposition Solidarity movement as saying its activists were simply out for a stroll. They were wearing the white ribbons that have become a symbol of the peaceful protest movement.

Boat

Costa Concordia: Five More Bodies Found

Costa Concordia
© Reuters
The operation to remove oil from the ship's tanks is due to end on Friday night
More than two months after the cruise ship Costa Concordia capsized off the Italian coast, a team searching the wreck has found five more bodies.

Italian authorities say they were found outside the ship, in a small space between the wreck and the sea bed.

Altogether 30 bodies have now been found since the vessel ran aground off the island of Giglio on 13 January.

The Costa Concordia was carrying 4,200 passengers and crew when its hull was torn open by rocks.

Civil Protection Agency chief Franco Gabrielli did not give any details on the sex or ages of the latest victims to be found.

Two people remain missing and are presumed dead.

Eight more bodies were found in late February, but forensic authorities are still working on formally identifying them.

A crew member from India and passengers from the US, Italy and Germany are reported to be among those as yet unaccounted for.

Che Guevara

Hundreds of Israelis March in Tel Aviv to Protest War With Iran

Image
© Hadar Cohen
Protest against Israeli strike on Iran, Tel Aviv, March 24, 2012.
Anti-war protest comes amid growing Facebook campaign linking Israelis and Iranians; campaign leaders: We have nothing to do with the protest rally.

Hundreds of Israelis marched in Tel Aviv on Saturday to protest against a possible Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.

The protest came amid a recent Facebook campaign linking Israeli and Iranian citizens in their opposition to war between the two nations. Campaign leaders, however, made it clear on their Facebook page that they had nothing to do with the Tel Aviv protest march.

Last week, graphic designers Ronny Edry and his wife, Michal Tamir, unknowingly began a Facebook phenomenon when they uploaded a poster depicting Edry and his daughter with the words, "Iranians, we will never bomb your country, we [heart] you."

That one image sparked a movement of sorts, with hundreds, if not thousands, of images sent from Israel, Iran, and elsewhere in the world, in support of exposing what participants consider to be the human side of the conflict between Iran and Israel.

Arrow Down

Director James Cameron to Take Record-Setting Plunge

James Cameron
© Agence France-Presse/Karin Zeitvogel
James Cameron, the Oscar-winninng director of Avatar and Titanic, is visits the National Geographic headquarters in 2011.
Titanic director James Cameron could dive as early as this weekend to the deepest place on Earth, further than any other human has on a solo mission, so long as the weather cooperates.

The Canadian filmmaker left the tiny Pacific atoll of Ulithi on Saturday headed for the the Mariana Trench's Challenger Deep, which plummets 6.8 miles (11 kilometers) down in the Pacific Ocean, according to mission partner the National Geographic scientific institution.

His goal is to become the first human to visit the ocean's deepest point in more than 50 years, and to bring back data and specimens.

"If seas remain calm -- a big if -- the team may proceed with Cameron's submersible mission to the trench's Challenger Deep this weekend," a National Geographic News report said.

It said the submersible that Cameron designed, a "vertical torpedo" of sorts, already successfully completed an unpiloted dive on Friday.

The sub is expected to allow the director to spend around six hours on the seafloor during which he plans to collect samples and film his journey with several 3-D, high-definition cameras and an eight-foot-tall (2.4-meter-tall) array of LED lights.

Info

Thousands of Atheists Rally in D.C.

Reason Rally
© iStockphoto

Thousands of atheists, agnostics and other non-believers turned out in the US capital on Saturday to celebrate their rejection of the idea of God and to claim a bigger place in public life.

The Reason Rally, sponsored by 20 atheist, secular and humanist groups, was billed as the biggest-ever "coming-out" party for the fastest-growing religious group in the United States -- those with no religion.

"There are too many people in this country who have been cowed into fear of coming out as atheists, secularists or agnostics," said the event's star, Richard Dawkins, the British scientist and best-selling atheist author.

"We are far more numerous than anybody realizes," he said, prompting a loud cheer from the youthful crowd that defied gray skies and drizzle for an afternoon of speeches, music and satire on the National Mall.

Jesse Galef of the Secular Student Alliance, a spokesman for the rally, told AFP he conservatively estimated the turnout at 10,000. The National Park Service, which oversees the mall, had issued a permit for 15,000.

Handcuffs

Smashed in the head by police at protest, victim now faces trial

Image
© Graeme Robertson
Alfie Meadows at his home in Brixton following emergency brain surgery in December 2010. He was one of thousands of British students demonstrating again the Tory government's massive increase of student fees for 3rd level education. Alfie learned the hard way that he doesn't really live in a democracy.
Alfie Meadows, who had brain surgery after anti-fees demonstration, claims he was struck by police truncheon

A philosophy student who claimed he suffered head injuries from a police baton during the anti-fees protest in London faces trial on Monday for violent disorder at the demonstration.

Supporters of Alfie Meadows, 21, who underwent emergency surgery for his injuries, have vowed to demonstrate outside Kingston crown court, in Surrey, against what they say is an attempt to silence legitimate protest by pursuing the victim of an assault rather than investigating any police who allegedly carried it out.

Meadows had brain surgery after the anti-fees demonstration in December 2010 when he said he was struck over the head with a police truncheon. He was one of 44 people, including six police officers, treated in hospital after rioting broke out at the demonstration over student fees.

Red Flag

French Mayor Alerts MIVILUDES to New Age COINTELPRO

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Thousands of New Agers descend on mountain they see as haven from December's apocalypse

A mountain looming over a French commune with a population of just 200 is being touted as a modern Noah's Ark when doomsday arrives - supposedly less than nine months from now.

A rapidly increasing stream of New Age believers - or esoterics, as locals call them - have descended in their camper van-loads on the usually picturesque and tranquil Pyrenean village of Bugarach. They believe that when apocalypse strikes on 21 December this year, the aliens waiting in their spacecraft inside Pic de Bugarach will save all the humans near by and beam them off to the next age.

As the cataclysmic date - which, according to eschatological beliefs and predicted astrological alignments, concludes a 5,125-year cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar - nears, the goings-on around the peak have become more bizarre and ritualistic.

For decades, there has been a belief that Pic de Bugarach, which, at 1,230 metres, is the highest in the Corbières mountain range, possesses an eery power. Often called the "upside-down mountain" - geologists think that it exploded after its formation and the top landed the wrong way up - it is thought to have inspired Jules Verne's Journey to the Centre of the Earth and Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Since the 1960s, it has attracted New Agers, who insist that it emits special magnetic waves.

Comment: Here we can see how New Age disinformation works hand in hand with the authoritarians' crackdown on anything 'unusual'. On the one hand organisations like MIVILUDES will be crying wolf about bizarre New Age activities in the lead-up to 21 December. On the other hand COINTELPRO will be driving the New Agers to increasingly hysterical states. Combined, the two hands of the same puppet will create public demand for a government crackdown on the 'end of the world' hysteria, which originates in agents of those same governments.


Bizarro Earth

Californian Muslim Woman Beaten to Death in Hate Crime

The woman later died on March 24th 2012 due to the injuries she sustained.


Pistol

American Troops Stressed to Breaking Point

soldier
© Associated Press
Report cites sustained combat, redeployments

A recent Army health report draws an alarming profile of a fighting force more prone to inexcusable violence amid an "epidemic" of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the mental breakdown attracting speculation as a factor in a massacre of Afghan civilians this month.

Based on an exhaustive study of nearly 500,000 soldiers, reservists and veterans, the report finds that troops are more likely to commit suicide and violent sex offenses, and notes that as many as 236,000 suffered from PTSD since the beginning of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

For military analysts, the reason is the nightmarish experience of sustained combat: Soldiers have been fighting the longest war in U.S. history, with frequent stressful deployments and compressed rest time back home.

"The real issue here, which I've been tracking for a long time, is 10 years of combat," said military analyst Robert Maginnis, a retired Army officer.

"I see these kids who have been in combat year after year after year. It is taking a real toll, not only medical, but being able to sort out their lives. What this kid caved to I think could be an epidemic. It is really long term what we are doing to a generation of volunteers."

Alarm Clock

Gaza baby dies as power cut shuts breathing aid

A nurse tends to a baby inside an incubato
© Reuters/ Ibraheem Abu Mustafa
A nurse tends to a baby inside an incubator in a hospital in Khan Younis in
the southern Gaza Strip March 24, 2012.

Gaza City (Ma'an) -- A seven-month-old baby in Gaza died on Friday evening after medical equipment he was connected to switched off as a result of a power cut, a Hamas-affiliated TV channel said.

Gaza medical spokesman Adham Abu Salmiya confirmed the incident, adding that the infant was born with respiratory problems and doctors had recommended the use of mechanical breathing apparatus to be used at home.

The father of the child had turned on the apparatus before going to sleep but during the night a power cut caused it to switch off, resulting in the infant's death, Hamas' Al-Aqsa TV reported.

The child was the "first victim of the current power crisis in Gaza," Abu Salmiya said, warning that the medical sector in the coastal enclave is in jeopardy.