Society's ChildS


New York woman visited by police after researching pressure cookers online

Pressure Cooker
© The Guardian, UK"What the hell is quinoa?" police asked when Catalano's husband told them what pressure cookers were used for in their household
A New York woman says her family's interest in the purchase of pressure cookers and backpacks led to a home visit by six police investigators demanding information about her job, her husband's ancestry and the preparation of quinoa.

Michele Catalano, who lives in Long Island, New York, said her web searches for pressure cookers, her husband's hunt for backpacks, and her "news junkie" son's craving for information on the Boston bombings had combined somewhere in the internet ether to create a "perfect storm of terrorism profiling".

Members of what she described as a "joint terrorism task force" descended on Catalano's home on Wednesday.

Catalano was at work, but her husband was sitting in the living room as the police arrived. She retold the experience in a post on on Thursday.

She attributed the raid largely to her ongoing hunt for a pressure cooker, an item used devastatingly by the two Tsarnaev brothers in Boston, but also used by millions across the country to prepare vegetables while retaining most of their nutrients.


Star Secret: What does giant pentagram mean?

© Google MapsThis strange pentagram, etched into the Earth's surface in a remote corner of Kazakhstan, can be seen on Google Maps.
Conspiracy theorists, start your engines: On the wind-blown steppes of central Asia, in an isolated corner of Kazakhstan, there's a large pentagram etched into the Earth's surface.

The five-pointed star surrounded by a circle shows up vividly on Google Maps. There are almost no other signs of human habitation in the area; the closest settlement is the city of Lisakovsk, about 12 miles (20 kilometers) to the east.

What is this bizarre symbol, measuring roughly 1,200 feet (366 meters) in diameter, doing on the side of a desolate lake in northern Kazakhstan? Naturally, many online comments have already linked the site with devil worship, nefarious religious sects or denizens of the underworld.


Best of the Web: Alcoholic mother, abusive father, bullied at school, kicked out of home for being gay, sent to illegal war, tortured by U.S. government, indefinitely detained in solitary... The conscience of Bradley Manning

He was a 'mess of a child' who was tormented for being gay, kicked out of home at 18 by his father and once threatened to stab his step mother with a knife.

His own mother drank too much, he could not hold down a job and once literally crawled up a wall because he felt his family were ignoring him.

Perhaps it was no surprise then, that Bradley Manning was angry at the world - angry enough to hit back at any figure of authority that was within his grasp.

He has now been convicted of leaking classified information but given the troubled life he led Manning was always a time bomb waiting to go off.

His family left him scarred, his school days left him feeling like a loner - meaning that when he enlisted he was deeply disillusioned with life already.

Comment: 'Cold-blooded' revenge is not something typically associated with 'a lifetime of rejection'. Reading between the propaganda lines here, it seems fairly clear that Bradley was a really sweet guy, despite growing up in an abusive narcissistic family dynamic and in two heavily ponerized countries.

If Bradley Manning is symbolic of the small frail conscience remaining in America, what has torturing and indefinitely detaining him done to the country's soul?

Bradley Manning - Theft or War Crimes?

Brick Wall

Femcare license suspended

An Asheville clinic that performs abortions had its license suspended Tuesday by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

DHHS says inspectors found nearly two-dozen health and safety violations at FEMCARE during a routine survey conducted July 18th and 19th

People 2

12.5-million Americans think lizard people rule the world, plus 19 other conspiracy theories

© Beawiharta/ReutersA Komodo dragon ponders your fate at the Komodo National Park in Indonesia on October 4, 2011.
"Do you believe that shape-shifting reptilian people control our world by taking on human form and gaining political power to manipulate our societies, or not?"


This was one of the 20 questions in a survey conducted by the American firm Public Policy Polling (PPP) and released yesterday (as in, not an April Fools' Day joke).

The remaining 19 covered a wide swath of conspiracy theories, from JFK's assassination (did Lee Harvey Oswald act alone?) to a potential link between childhood vaccinations and autism. You can find the full list here.

Comment: Interesting what efforts they employed to associate people who believe in shape-shifting aliens with those who are convinced that there was a conspiracy behind the murder of JFK and 9-11.

Arrow Up

Student receives more than $4 mln after being 'forgotten' in jail for five days

 Daniel Chong
© Youtube

A University of California student spent five days forgotten in a windowless jail cell without food and water, and was forced to drink his own urine to survive. Now, the US government is voluntarily paying the young man $4.1 million to avoid a lawsuit.

Daniel Chong, a 25-year-old economics student at UC San Diego, was one of nine people taken into custody during a drug raid in April 2012. Chong was at a friend's house when officers discovered 18,000 ecstasy pills at the home. He was locked in a Drug Enforcement Administration jail cell, but after questioning the young man, a police officer authorized to perform DEA work told the student that he would not be charged.

"Hang tight, we'll come get you in a minute," the officer told Chong, according to Attorney Eugene Iredale.

But the officer never returned, and Chong spent five dismal days in the 5 by 10 ft. windowless cell. The student, who was still handcuffed, had no food, water, or access to a toilet, and barely survived his living nightmare.

"It sounded like it was an accident - a really, really bad, horrible accident," he said at a news conference this week, in which he described how close he came to death.

After three days in the cell, the famished young man said he began to hallucinate. He imagined that DEA agents were trying to poison him with gases that entered his cell through the vents. Deprived of food and water, he started to accept the idea that he would not survive. He bit into his glasses to break them, and used a shard of glass to carve a farewell message to his mom on his arm.

"Sorry Mom," he tried to carve into his bleeding skin, but he only managed to write the "S".

In a last-ditch attempt to stay alive, he urinated on the metal bench in his cell and then drank his own urine.

To try to capture the attention of the guards, he then stacked a blanket and his clothing on the bench to try to reach an overhead fire sprinkler. Chong desperately tried to set it off by hitting it with his handcuffed hands. He failed.

On the fifth day, Chong screamed at the top of his voice, trying to get the attention of the agents outside.

"I didn't just sit there quietly. I was kicking the door yelling," he said.

He slid a shoelace under the door, hoping to garner the attention of the guards. He succeeded, and "five or six people" came to the cell and found him starved and lying in his own feces. Chong had lost 15 pounds, and was immediately hospitalized for five days.


San Francisco gets green light for city-owned bank

When the Occupiers took an interest in moving San Francisco's money into a city-owned bank in 2011, it was chiefly on principle, in sympathy with the nationwide Move Your Money campaign. But recent scandals have transformed the move from a political statement into a matter of protecting the city's deposits and reducing its debt burden. The chief roadblock to forming a municipal bank has been the concern that it was not allowed under state law, but a legal opinion issued by Deputy City Attorney Thomas J. Owen has now overcome that obstacle.

Establishing a city-owned San Francisco Bank is not a new idea. According to City Supervisor John Avalos, speaking at the Public Banking Institute conference in San Rafael in June, it has been on the table forover a decade. Recent interest was spurred by the Occupy movement, which adopted the proposal after Avalos presented it to an enthusiastic group of over 1000 protesters outside the Bank of America building in late 2011. David Weidner, writing in the Wall Street Journal in December of that year, called it "the boldest institutional stroke yet against banks targeted by the Occupy movement." But Weidner conceded that:
Creating a municipal bank won't be easy. California law forbids using taxpayer money to make private loans. That would have to be changed. Critics also argue that San Francisco could be putting taxpayer money at risk.


ETCS that prevents trains from going over speed not operable on Santiago crash train

© Contando Estrelas Wikimedia CC 2.0 Generic
Spanish transport minister Mr Rafael Catala has confirmed in a radio broadcast that excessive speed is believed to be a factor in the derailment of a Madrid - Ferrol service 4km south of Santiago de Compostela on July 24, which killed 78 people.

Police are waiting to question the hospitalised driver, who is under formal investigation, and the train event recorder has now been recovered from the wreckage for analysis.

The accident occurred in the transition section between ETCS Level 1, which is used on the 87km Ourense - Santiago high-speed line over which the train had travelled, and the standard Spanish Asfa system used on the conventional network. Santiago is one of dozens of ETCS-Asfa transition points on the Spanish network.

IRJ has learned from a senior source at Renfe that while ETCS is operable on the Ourense - Santiago high-speed line, class 730 sets of the type involved in the derailment operate exclusively on Asfa on this route despite the fact that they are equipped with ETCS. All other passenger trains operating on this line, including the fleet of class 121 Avant emus, operate on ETCS. The reasons for this have not yet been firmly established.

Spanish train driver told witnesses immediately after crash 'he was unable to slow down to the necessary 80 km/h before sharp curve'


Edward Snowden's father says FBI asked him to fly to Moscow

© Peter Kramer/APEdward Snowden's father, Lon Snowden, who said he was not going to be an 'emotional tool' for the FB
Lon Snowden says his son will be 'treated horribly' if he returns to US and in his place he would stay in Russia

The father of the whistleblower Edward Snowden has said the FBI tried to persuade him to fly to Moscow so that he could encourage his son to return to the United States.

"I said: 'I want to be able to speak with my son ... Can you set up communications?' and it was 'Well, we are not sure,'" Lon Snowden told the Washington Post. "I said: 'Wait a minute, folks, I'm not going to sit on the tarmac to be an emotional tool for you.'"

Snowden's father, who is retired from the US Coast Guard, also said he preferred Edward to remain in Russia, where he is stuck in the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport while Russia considers his request for temporary asylum.

"If he comes back to the United States, he is going to be treated horribly. He is going to be thrown into a hole. He is not going to be allowed to speak." The 52-year-old said he had been as "surprised as the rest of America" when his son, who worked for a contractor, was revealed as the source of the leaks about surveillance by the National Security Agency to the Guardian. "As a father it pains me what he did," Snowden said. "I wish my son could simply have sat in Hawaii and taken the big paycheck, lived with his beautiful girlfriend and enjoyed paradise. But as an American citizen, I am absolutely thankful for what he did."


Spanish train driver told witnesses immediately after crash 'he was unable to slow down to the necessary 80 km/h before sharp curve'

© Marcio Machado/Zuma/EyevineAt about the point where the crash happened, one safety system switches to another
Why did Francisco José Garzón, a train driver with 30 years' experience, hit a bend at 190 kilometres per hour when the speed limit was 80 km/h? Did he ignore the automated warnings? Or did his train's alert system fail at a critical time?

An inquiry is under way into the derailing of the packed train, which killed 79 people in Santiago de Compostela, north-west Spain on 24 July. Garzón has admitted to "confusion" over the train's speed and, though freed on bail, is facing the prospect of 79 charges of negligent homicide.

One focus of the investigation will be the fact that the crash took place at a point where one safety system hands over to another - from one that controls the train's speed to one that does not. On high-speed sections, the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) intervenes wirelessly to ensure a train slows down if alerts are ignored.

Crucially, ERTMS cuts in if its alerts are ignored. It does so using GSM-R - a robust railway version of the GSM standard used by cellphones to communicate with the cell towers.

"ERTMS has all sorts of measures that prevent trains going over speed and will eventually be fitted over the whole route from Santiago to Madrid," says Roger Kemp, a safety-critical systems engineer specialising in railway technology at Lancaster University, UK. "But it is not a finished project."

This means that, 4 kilometres from Santiago de Compostela, on a slower, bendier section of track that snakes through the town, ERTMS has not yet been fitted. Instead, an older Spanish-developed system called ASFA advises the driver of the necessary safe speeds. But ASFA can only intervene if the driver does not respond.

"The driver only has to acknowledge that they have seen the speed advisory by pushing a button - otherwise the system will apply the brakes - but you don't have to comply with that speed under ASFA," says Kemp.

Spanish TV station Antena 3 says that Garzón told some witnesses immediately after the crash that he was not able to slow down to the necessary 80 km/h before the sharp curve - but it is not known why.