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Bad Guys

From Helen to Hillary: Nuclear bombs, war and women

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© Ed Westcott
Accepted wisdom in U.S. culture, despite overwhelming evidence, holds that the two nuclear bombs dropped on Japan shortened World War II and saved more lives than the some 200,000 lives they took away.

And yet, weeks before the first bomb was dropped, on July 13, 1945, Japan sent a telegram to the Soviet Union expressing its desire to surrender and end the war. The United States had broken Japan's codes and read the telegram. U.S. President Harry Truman referred in his diary to "the telegram from Jap Emperor asking for peace."

Truman had been informed through Swiss and Portuguese channels of Japanese peace overtures as early as three months before Hiroshima. Japan objected only to surrendering unconditionally and giving up its emperor, but the United States insisted on those terms until after the bombs fell, at which point it allowed Japan to keep its emperor.

Snowflake Cold

Professor: Global Warming deniers should go to prison for "an organised campaign funding misinformation"

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Despite the fact that many parts of the United States have suffered through the coldest temperatures this century (source), one professor from the Rochester Institute of Technology believes that those who deny global warming are part of a grand scheme and should be jailed for criminal negligence.

Dr. Lawrence Torcello has a PhD in Philosophy. In a paper published by an academic magazine called The Conversation, he outlines his belief that "climate denial" is "science misinformation" that should be considered criminally negligent.

Torcello's entire career focuses on this topic. His bio states:

Airplane

Jet loses part of its wing on flight from Orlando to Atlanta

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© CNN
A large panel is missing from the wing of a Delta Air Lines Boeing 757 jet in this photo from a passenger after crewmembers said the panel flew off during a flight from Orlando to Atlanta, Sunday, March 16, 2014.
A Delta Air Lines jet lost part of its wing during a flight from Orlando International Airport to Atlanta on Sunday.

A photo taken by a passenger on the flight shows a large panel missing from one of the jet's wings.

The crew of Delta Flight 2412 reported the panel flew off while in flight.

The jet landed safely and without incident at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Six crewmembers and 179 passengers were on board.

A Delta spokeswoman said the jet is a Boeing 757. She could not immediately confirm how old the aircraft was.

Delta officials are trying to determine what caused the panel to fly off, the spokeswoman said.

Arrow Down

Mexican police nab cartel member in organ trafficking case

Organ Trafficking
© Associated Press

Mexico City - Police in Mexico's western state of Michoacan detained an alleged member of the Knights Templar cartel, saying he is suspected of trafficking organs.

Michoacan state Public Safety Secretary Carlos Castellanos Becerra alleged that Manuel Plancarte Gaspar was part of a cartel ring that would target people with certain characteristics, especially children, for kidnapping and harvesting organs.

He did not give any specifics or present cases. He said investigators are looking into alleged cases that occurred in previous years.

"We have several statements in open investigations," Castellenos said at a news conference Monday.

Plancarte Gaspar, 34, was detained last week along with another suspect in a stolen car. The men were carrying cash and crystal meth, Castellanos Becerra said. He said Plancarte Gaspar is the nephew of Enrique Plancarte Solis, a top Knights Templar leader.

The federal government generally handles cases of trafficking that have to do with cartels, such as drugs and in the case of the Knights Templar, iron ore. Federal officials were not immediately available for comment Monday, which was a holiday in Mexico.

Mexican authorities have said drug trafficking is no longer the top source of income for the Knights Templar, which was once a top producer of crystal meth. The officials say the cartel's main sources of income are illegal mining, illegal logging and extortion.

Handcuffs

Harpersville, Alabama - the town that turned poverty into a prison sentence

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© Harpersville, Alabama (Hannah Rappleye)
Most states shut down their debtors' prisons more than 100 years ago; in 2005, Harpersville, Alabama, opened one back up.

At the single stoplight in Harpersville, Alabama, Debra Shoemaker Ford saw the police lights flash. On that January day in 2007, she steered her beat-up black Chevy Blazer into the parking lot, under the big red dot advertising Jack's restaurant. The officer said she had a taillight out. He asked to see her license.

Ford didn't have one. Her license had been revoked after she failed to pay a court judgment against her for a traffic ticket in a nearby town. She hadn't worked since a car wreck a decade earlier, surviving instead on disability payments of about $670 a month. That meant generic washing powder instead of Purex. Cigarettes, when she allowed herself, were rationed, each drag a pleasure measured in pennies. To pay the ticket, plus the fee to reinstate her license, would have meant going without essentials. Though she knew she shouldn't, Ford, a small white woman in her 50s with a fringe of bangs and a raspy voice, regularly climbed behind the wheel of the old Chevy. In rural Alabama, it's the only way to get around.

Ford left the parking lot with tickets for no proof of insurance and driving without a license, which would come to $745 with court costs. She didn't know it yet, but they would also cause her to spend years cycling through court, jail and the offices of a private probation company called Judicial Correction Services. JCS had contracted with the town of Harpersville several years earlier to help collect on court fines, and also to earn a little something extra for itself. It did this by charging probationers like Ford a monthly fee (typically between $35 and $45) while tacking on additional fees for court-mandated classes and electronic monitoring.

Ford tried to meet her mounting debt to Harpersville, but as the months passed and the fees added up, she fell behind and stopped paying. In June 2007, the company sent a letter telling her to pay $145 immediately or face jail. But the letter was returned as undeliverable - a fact that did not stop the Harpersville Municipal Court from issuing a warrant for her arrest. Almost two years later, in January 2009, Ford was arrested on that outstanding warrant and promptly booked in the county jail - where, to offset costs, the town charged her $31 a day for her stay.

Ford spent seven weeks in jail, during which time her debt grew into the thousands. She did not, however, see the inside of a courtroom. All the lawyer hired by her family managed to do was to eventually get her transferred to a work-release program, which stopped her jail fees from growing and allowed her to live in a closed facility, the Shelby County Work Release Center,while going to work. Ford found a minimum-wage job at a local thrift store, but after buying food and handing a cut to the work-release program - 40 percent of her gross earnings - there wasn't much left to pay off the fines that kept her there. What had started as a simple traffic violation had become an indefinite sentence in a debtors' purgatory - one that would take years to pay her way out.

"It shouldn't have been that much punishment," Ford recalled later. "I was guilty - no license and no insurance - but I was trying to fix it. I was trying to make my wrong right, and there was no way they was gonna let me."

Oscar

Jon Stewart roasts Dianne Feinstein: She doesn't mind if the NSA looks at your 'sh*t'

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© Raw Story
Daily Show host Jon Stewart broke out his George Carlin swear jar on Wednesday to highlight Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D-CA) apparent double standard when it came to government surveillance.

"She doesn't mind if our security apparatus might be looking at your stuff, because your stuff is sh*t," Stewart said after Feinstein accused the Central Investigation Agency (CIA) of violating the Constitution by searching Senate staffers' computers. "But her sh*t is stuff."

What made the allegations incredible, Stewart said, was that it was Feinstein - who has publicly supported the National Security Agency's (NSA) domestic surveillance program - behind them, and not privacy advocates like Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) or Sen. Rand Paul, who has criticized the use of unmanned military drones.

But at the same time, Stewart didn't quite buy CIA director John Brennan's statement that such an action would be "beyond the scope of reason."

Blackbox

CNN host Don Lemon 'puts it out there': Was lost Malaysian flight taken by 'supernatural' forces?

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Saying he was "just putting it out there," CNN host Don Lemon asked his Sunday afternoon guests if something "supernatural" might be in play with the missing Malaysian flight MH 370.

After noting that he has been getting questions via email, social media, and on the street, Lemon wondered if "something beyond our understanding" might have happened to the missing airliner.

"Especially today, on a day when we deal with the supernatural," Lemon said. "We go to church .... the supernatural power of God. People are saying to me, why aren't you talking about the possibility - and I'm just putting it out there - that something odd happened to this plane; something beyond our understanding?"

Decoded host Brad Meltzer responded saying, "People roll their eyes at conspiracy theories, but what conspiracy theories do is, they ask the hardest, most outrageous questions sometimes. But every once in awhile they're right."

Airplane

The missing Malaysian flight may have used "terrain masking", a dangerous flying technique, to avoid detection

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© AP Photo/U.S. Navy, Eric A. Pastor
In this photo provided by the U.S. Navy, crew members on board an aircraft P-8A Poseidon assist in search and rescue operations for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the Indian Ocean on Sunday, March 16, 2014
Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 may have dropped to an altitude of as low as 5,000 feet in an effort to evade the radars of at least three countries. The dangerous flying technique known as "terrain masking" is the latest direction being looked at by investigators trying to locate the missing plane, a Malaysian newspaper reported on Monday.

The New Straits Times in Kuala Lumpur reported that investigators are further asking if the aircraft stuck to a more high-traffic commercial route over the Bay of Bengal in order to avoid the suspicion of those manning military radars.

"To them, MH370 would appear to be just another commercial aircraft on its way to its destination," the Malaysian paper wrote.

"The person who had control over the aircraft has a solid knowledge of avionics and navigation, and left a clean track. It passed low over Kelantan [in Malaysia], that was true," an unnamed official told the New Straits Times. "It's possible that the aircraft had hugged the terrain in some areas that are mountainous to avoid radar detection."

Sheriff

Oklahoma sheriffs visiting State Capitol building ordered to disarm walk out

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© KTUL-TV
Sheriff Bob Colber
Wagoner County Sheriff Bob Colbert traveled to Oklahoma City, the state's capitol, earlier this week with 40 other sheriffs from around the state like they do every year - to meet with politicians and lobby.

Everything was going fine in the state capitol building on Tuesday. More than that, "everybody in that building knew who we were," Colbert told KTUL-TV in Tulsa.

"One of the senators, who they wouldn't tell us, complained because we were armed in the building," Colbert added to the station. Then he said the sheriffs were given a choice - disarm or leave.

"So we all packed up and left," Colbert told KTUL. Colbert said he doesn't know which senator complained, but he has his own beefs about the treatment he and his associates received. "We're the people that protect these people," he told KTUL.

Family

American father deported from Britain because he had cancer; mother forced to raise daughter alone

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Family: Lorraine Marx (left), 56, of Chidham, West Sussex, nursed her partner Ralph Marx (centre), also 56, when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. They have 10-year-old daughter Alexandra (right).
  • Lorraine Marx, 56, nursed husband when he was diagnosed with leukaemia
  • But he was escorted onto a plane and deported against medical advice
  • Home Office ruled Ralph Marx, 56, had become burden on the taxpayer
  • Couple, who have 10-year-old daughter Alexandra, married 13 years ago
  • Mr Marx chose not to apply for residency status when he wed Mrs Marx
  • It meant the engineer could only stay in UK for up to six months at a time
A British mother has been left to bring up her daughter alone after her American husband was kicked out of the country - because he had cancer.

Distraught Lorraine Marx, 56, nursed her husband Ralph Marx, also 56, when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

But the Home Office ruled he had become a burden on the taxpayer - despite having private health cover - after the NHS billed him £98,000 for the emergency cancer treatment he had received.