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Mon, 26 Aug 2019
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Death toll from IS-claimed wedding attack in Afghanistan rises to 80

Prayer for victims of wedding bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan August 17th 2019
© Reuters
The death toll from a suicide bomb attack on a wedding party in Kabul last week has risen to 80, two senior Afghan officials said on August 21.

The initial death toll after the August 17 explosion was 63, but some of the wounded had died in hospital, said Nasrat Rahimi, an Interior Ministry spokesman.

"Seventeen others have succumbed to their injuries in hospital and over 160 are still being treated either in hospitals or at home," Rahimi said.

The Islamic State (IS) militant group claimed responsibility for the attack on a huge wedding reception at a hotel in western Kabul.

Comment: The school shootings the U.S. has been subjected to even just this year pale in comparison to what Afghanistan has suffered - going on 18 years. If Trump can succeed in ending this war, that alone will be something worth celebrating about his presidency. But we'll just have to wait and see what actually happens. See also:

Light Sabers

Profit before safety? Walmart sues Tesla, claims solar panels caused fires at several stores

solar panels
© Pexels
Retail giant Walmart is suing Elon Musk's electric car maker and energy company Tesla, accusing it of "gross negligence" and blaming Tesla's rooftop solar panels for fires at seven of its stores.

In a lawsuit filed in the New York State Supreme Court, Walmart said that it faced massive losses after the solar panels supplied by Tesla allegedly caught fire at the stores last year. Much of the merchandise was burnt or damaged, the facilities required substantial repairs, and damages totalled millions of dollars, according to Reuters citing the court papers.

The suit claims that Tesla failed to hire qualified workers to install the equipment, and its own inadequate inspections could have threatened the safety of Walmart customers and employees.


Mexico: Judge approves recreational cocaine use in landmark ruling, 'war on drugs has failed'

A Colombian drug dealer prepares cocaine for street sale in Bogota, on September 20, 2013. A Mexican judge has granted two people the right to recreational cocaine use.
A judge in Mexico has approved two people to use cocaine recreationally in what has been described as a historic step toward ending the country's deadly "war on drugs."

In the first ruling of its kind, the district court in Mexico City granted permission for the pair to "possess, transport and use cocaine" — but not sell itfollowing an injunction request by Mexico United Against Crime.

"We have been working for a safer, more just and peaceful Mexico for years, and with this case we insist on the need to stop criminalizing users of drugs other than marijuana and design better public policies that explore all available options, including the regulation," Lisa Sánchez, director of MUAC, said in a statement.

Comment: It is true that the war on drugs has failed and drastic shifts in policy need to be implemented:

Red Flag

American describes his life as 'a living nightmare' ever since manslaughter charge in Anguilla

Scott Hapgood
© Evan Nierman
Scott Hapgood of Connecticut and his family were on vacation in Anguilla in April when they claim a man dressed as a hotel worker tried to rob them in their room.
The New York City banker who was charged in the death of an Anguillan hotel worker in April described his life as "a living nightmare" since he was charged with manslaughter.

Connecticut resident Scott Hapgood, 44, was allegedly with his two daughters in a room at the Malliouhana Resort on April 13 when a man dressed in a hotel uniform knocked on the door "minutes" after the girls "walked back to the hotel room on their own," according to a statement released by the family in May.

The man, identified by Anguilla police as hotel maintenance worker Kenny Mitchel, allegedly stated that he was there to fix a broken sink before he came inside and demanded money from Hapgood, the family said. A scuffle that ensued, which the family said Hapgood was "fighting for his life," was broken up when he was restrained by a security guard, according to the family.

Hapgood was then taken to the hospital, and he later learned that Mitchel had died when he was giving a witness statement at the police station, the family said.


Police detain man who threatened to blow up entire block in East London

london police
© Facebook / Metropolitan Police Service
It took police around three hours to defuse a "critical incident" in a suburban neighborhood in East London after a man barricaded himself inside a flat and threatened to blow up the building.

Residents residing in Earlsdown House in Barking have been told to return to their flats after police managed to detain a male suspect who threatened to burn down an entire block.

Police began clearing the building of residents at around 10.20pm local time after a man barricaded himself on the 7th floor of the 12-story tower block, threatening to "blow the flat up and burn the block down."

The force spent the next few hours negotiating the surrender of the suspect as the fire department and ambulances stood by. By 1:30 am, everything was cleared. "The male has been safely detained by police and is now receiving medical attention," Barking and Dagenham Police said in a tweet, without providing further details.

Eye 1

First they came for the bots: US academics make case for 1984-style silencing of any dissent

fake news
© AFP / Miguel Schincariol
With the "Russian meddling" theory of Trump's victory on life support heading into 2020, US academic researchers have heeded the patriotic call and put forth a new definition of "disinformation" that includes inconvenient truths.

Social media platforms must expand their definitions of "coordinated inauthentic behavior" beyond the usual bots-and-trolls model to include conversations about topics harmful to the state if they hope to curb the spread of disinformation on their platforms, a trio of University of Washington researchers insist in a paper released ahead of the 2019 Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work. To help in this quest, the researchers have redefined "disinformation" to include truths arranged to serve a purpose.
Evaluating disinformation is less about the truth value of one or more pieces of information and more about how those pieces fit together to serve a particular purpose.
Such an Orwellian redefinition would include the lion's share of journalism, especially opinion journalism, and sure enough, the researchers have their knives out for those who become "unwitting agents" in the spread of disinfo by writing based on anonymous tips - otherwise known as "reporting."


Reporter whose research into Savile pedophile network was censored by BBC drops dead of sudden stroke

The investigative journalist left the public broadcaster in 2013 after bosses closed her investigation into Jimmy Savile

liz mackean
© Getty
Former BBC reporter Liz MacKean has died of a stroke - aged 52.

Her 2011 Newsnight report exposing Jimmy Savile's sex abuse was shelved by BBC bosses, sparking a huge row and the resignation of the director general.

The decision to drop the report sparked one of the biggest crises in the corporation's history causing the director general to resign.

MacKean left the broadcaster in 2013 following the row. She felt uncomfortable about the "ongoing coldness" towards her over the scandal and took voluntary redundancy.

Mum-of-two MacKean left the BBC in 2013 to join Channel 4's Dispatches.

BBC director of news James Harding said: "In Northern Ireland, she won the trust of all sides and produced some of the most insightful and hard-hitting reporting of the conflict.

"It was as an investigative reporter that she really shone, shining a light on issues from the dumping of toxic waste off the African coast to Jimmy Savile, the story for which she is probably best known."

Comment: MacKean wasn't the first high-profile female BBC reporter to die suddenly when exposing the high-level pedophile network linked to the BBC. Jill Dando was shot to death on her doorstep just over a decade earlier, in 1999. That crime remains 'unsolved'.

Murdered presenter tried to expose pedophile culture within BBC but 'No one wanted to know'


The Chinese company that sold fentanyl ingredients into the US

© Ben Westhoff
Yuancheng's headquarters in Wuhan, China
Ye Chuan Fa works in a cubicle. His small station is indistinguishable from those of the hundreds of employees at his chemical company, Yuancheng, which translates roughly to "extended success." Founded in 2001, Yuancheng employs about 700 people and has branch offices all over China.

While most of his workers appear to be in their 20s, Ye is in his 60s, thin with a sagging face. He's a self-professed workaholic. "I get sick the minute I stop working," he said in a 2007 Wuhan Morning News profile, which also referenced his great wealth without putting a number on it. His main focus today is Yuancheng, which sells chemicals both to the general public and to other businesses. It offers more than 10,000 different compounds, a vast and head-scratching list, everything from food additives (including synthetic versions of cinnamon) to pharmaceuticals (including the drugs used in Viagra and Cialis) to collagen, pesticides, veterinary products, anabolic steroids, and precursor chemicals used to synthesize drugs, including fentanyl.

Comment: See also:


US chemical spill kills hundreds of fish, beaches closed - ArcelorMittal waited 3 days before they told the City

chemical spill
© Screenshot/Courtesy of Portage Indiana Municipal Page
Parts of the Indiana Dunes National Park, including some beaches, have been closed after a steel plant's recent chemical spill sent cyanide and ammonia into the east branch of the Little Calumet River, near Lake Michigan.

In a statement released Friday, the steel and mining company responsible for the spill, ArcelorMittal, said the incident was caused by its steelmaking plant in Burns Harbor, Indiana, after the plant's blast furnace water recirculation system experienced a failure.

"This isolated event resulted in the release of wastewater containing elevated levels of ammonia and cyanide," the statement reads, also noting that ArcelorMittal accepts responsibility for the incident and is currently working with state and federal regulatory agencies to prevent similar accidents from taking place in the future.

Comment: See also: 'Mystery' chemical incident leaves people vomiting at Worthing pier, UK


Pepe the Frog has emerged as the face of the Hong Kong protests

hong kong protesters pepe the frog
© Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images
Protesters gather next to graffiti of "Pepe the Frog", outside the Central Government complex after a march during a demonstration on August 18, 2019 in Hong Kong, China.
Pepe the Frog is getting an image makeover this summer.

The cartoon frog with the bulging eyes and wide smile has, for years, been associated with America's alt-right — a symbol of racism and hate as the country continues to grow more divided. In 2016, Pepe the Frog was officially listed as a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League, as the character gained prominence on sites like 4chan and became increasingly associated with anti-Semitism and bigotry.

Comment: The Western press, along with the ADL, the SPLC and any number of other leftist organizations, have never understood Pepe the Frog. Pepe is a meme, used by thousands, if not millions of people for any number of jokes or political commentaries. Just because a small percentage (vanishingly small at that) of memes featuring Pepe are used by the alt right doesn't make the meme itself alt right. If the alt right started featuring Superman in their memes, would that make Superman alt right?

Matt Furie, the artist behind Pepe the Frog, went so far as to "kill off" his creation in a 2017 comic strip, in an attempt to rebuke the far-right's transformation of the character. In a Time magazine essay, Furie wrote that "a once peaceful frog-dude from my comic book," was morphed by racists and anti-Semites into "an icon of hate." He concluded the essay arguing that "I, the creator, say that Pepe is love."

Comment: Here's Jordan Peterson talking to Joe Rogan about the wider implications of the Pepe meme:

See also: