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Phoenix

Four people set on fire during assault in North Denver; 1 victim in critical condition


Denver police say four people were set afire during an assault in North Denver Thursday night.

The incident happened in the 4300 block of Lipan Street shortly before 7:30 p.m.

Police spokesman Raquel Lopez said two black males knocked on an apartment door and when a woman answered, she was sprayed with some type of liquid from a lawn and garden sprayer. She was then set afire when the men threw a match or lighter on her. She said the initial report of a small propane torch was incorrect. .

Three others inside - 2 men and a second woman -- the apartment were also sprayed and set afire, but suffered only minor burns, she said.

Lopez said the woman who answered the door was the most seriously burned and she was transported by ambulance to a local hospital.

Police do not have a motive for the attacks but they called the incident "highly unusual and extremely scary."

Police were trying to get better descriptions of the suspects.

Padlock

Army sergeant sentenced to life in Colorado slaying

Image
© The Associated Press/The Colorado Springs Gazette/Mark Reis
Sgt. Vincinte Jackson is shielded from cameras as he's led into court Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012 for closing arguments in his court-martial at Fort Carson, Colo. Jackson is charged with premeditated murder in the death of Spc. Spc. Brandy Fonteneaux
Fort Carson, Colorado - A weeping Army sergeant on Thursday apologized to the family of a female soldier he admitted killing, after a military panel convicted him of unpremeditated murder and sentenced him to life in prison.

Sgt. Vincinte Jackson said he doesn't know why he killed Spc. Brandy Fonteneaux, 28, of Houston. She was found dead Jan. 8 in her barracks room, stabbed 74 times. A military panel sentenced Jackson to life in prison with the possibility of parole, though prosecutors couldn't immediately say how many years he would serve before becoming eligible.

"I will be forever haunted by what happened," Jackson said. " ... It's only fair that I continue to have nightmares about what I've done."

His testimony came at the end of an emotional sentencing hearing that included statements from the families of Jackson and Fonteneaux.

The same panel of eight soldiers who convicted Jackson decided his sentence. The potential sentence for unpremeditated murder ranged from no punishment to life in prison without parole.

The panel -- the equivalent of a jury in a civilian trial -- convicted Jackson earlier Thursday after 2 1/2 hours of deliberations. It acquitted Jackson of premeditated murder, which carries a sentence of up to life in prison without parole.

Prosecutors asked for life without parole, while Jackson's defense attorneys asked for 28 years.

Arrow Down

Pagan symbol carved into six-year-old's back


A Texas man rang the police to tell them he had carved a pentagram into his six-year-old son's back because it was "a holy day".

Richland Hills police said Brent Troy Bartel faces charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and has been jailed in lieu of a $500,000 (£309,400) bond.

In the 911 call released by police, Bartel calmly provides the dispatcher with his home address before telling her: "I shed some innocent blood."

When asked why he did it, Bartel replies: "Because it's a holy day."

The incident took place on December 12, 2012 - or 12/12/12 - considered an auspicious date in many communities around the world.

Health

Chávez faces complications from surgery

Hugo Chavez
© Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
Hugo Chavez
Caracas, Venezuela - President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela experienced complications related to his cancer surgery, resulting in bleeding that required "corrective measures," but he was showing signs of recovery, an official said Thursday.

The surgery, which lasted more than six hours, was done in Havana on Tuesday. Ernesto Villegas, Mr. Chávez's information minister, did not say when doctors detected the bleeding or got it under control. But he said that Mr. Chávez was recuperating in a way that he described as "progressive and favorable."

Given how little information the government has released on Mr. Chávez's health throughout the course of his illness, the recent change in its tone suggests that his condition is extremely serious and that there are doubts about how fully he may recover.

On Wednesday, Mr. Villegas had warned the country that Mr. Chávez, 58, might not be able to return to Venezuela by Jan. 10, when he is scheduled to be sworn in for a new six-year term. In that case, Mr. Villegas wrote in a note posted Wednesday on the Information Ministry's Web site, "the people should be prepared to understand. It would be irresponsible to hide the delicacy of the present moment and the days to come."

Comet

NASA releases Mayan apocalypse video '10 days early'

Nasa appears so confident about their prediction that he world will not come to an end that they have released the video early


Nasa has released a video ahead of schedule tackling the 'myths' surrounding the belief the world will end on December 21st.

The video, which was clearly intended for release the day after the 21st, begins: "December 22, 2012. If you're watching this video, it means one thing. The world didn't end yesterday."

It goes on to attempt to debunk the ideas surrounding the so-called 'Mayan prophecies', saying the date is based on a misconception.

Making the argument point by point the video sets to put to rest the catastrophic prophecies, including debunking the notion that the sun will irradiate the atmosphere or that another planet will smash into Earth.

Indeed Nasa appears so confident about their prediction that the world will not come to an end that they have released the video early.

Comment: It probably isn't an accident that this video was released 'early'. What we find most interesting about the video is the conflation of the Mayan-calendar-end-of-days 'prophecy' with catastrophes brought on by cometary bombardment. The Western New Age promoters of the Mayan schtik largely avoid the issue of cyclic catatophism, preferring instead to promote John Major Jenkins' theories about the planet's alignment with galactic center on that date and a subsequent sudden mass enlightenment/spiritual ascension, along the same lines as the Christian fundie 'Rapture'.

So they aren't using the Mayan schtik to pooh-pooh the dominant New Age meme; instead, they're using it to ridicule the very real historical threat of cyclic catastrophes brought on by close encounters with large cometary bodies and their progenitors. Given the incredible increase in the rate of reported fireball sightings in 2011 and again in 2012, it seems that they 'doth protesteth too much' by using the New Age '12.21.2012' phenomenon as a strawman to downplay the fact that Something Wicked This Way Comes.


Dollars

Fast-food workers protest for living wages in NYC

Image
Workers from a number of fast food chains around New York City held walkouts and demonstrations calling for a living wage Thursday morning.

According to The Atlantic, the protests, part of the Fast Food Forward campaign, were organized by groups like New York Communities for Change (NYCC), Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and community organizations in a push to get them to form a union.

The impetus for the campaign, said NYCC organizing director Jonathan Westin, was his group's discovering that most employees at companies like Wendy's, McDonald's, Burger King and Kentucky Fried Chicken couldn't cover basic necessities like transit fare or food, or even to be able to make their rent making the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, forcing them to rely on public assistance.

Gear

Candles, matches sell out as rumors of 3 days of darkness spread in China

Bugarach
© Reuters
The peak of Bugarach, surrounded in legend for centuries, has become a focal point for many Apocalypse believers as rumours have circulated that its mountain contains doors into other worlds.
'Doomsday', 'The End of the World', 'The Apocalypse.' Whatever you want to call it, the threat to all life on earth has believers worldwide scrambling to prepare for the inevitable. In fact, a recent rumor that 3 days of darkness will shroud the China prompted locals of the Sichuan provide to raid supplies stores and purchase items such as candles and matches in bulk, according to China Daily.

China's lunar orbiter chief scientist Ouyang Zinyuan responds, stating: "The rumors are a misinterpretation of the Maya calendar and are still going on."

Nanjing Purple Mountain Observatory astronomer Wang Si chao echoes Zinyuan, and asserts that "The sun will still rise on Dec. 21. All reactions to the doomsday prophecy show a strong recognition of the crisis of human existence. However, these reactions should be rooted in science."

Despite scientists worldwide debunking the myths of destruction and death, people are willing to invest in precautionary measures, and business owners are more than happy to meet their demands. China Daily reports that Yang Zongfu of East China's Jiangsu province created his own Noah's Ark and has since sold the device for millions of yuan, the local currency.

Even NASA's Senior Scientist David Morrison took the time to address the issue.

"On the 21st, the date of the winter solstice, a calendar cycle called the 13th b'ak'tun comes to an end. Although Maya scholars agree that the ancient Maya would not have seen this day as apocalyptic, rumors have spread that a cosmic event may end life on Earth on that day."

Stock Down

Cheaper gas drives down wholesale price index

Cheaper gas drove down a measure of wholesale prices in November for the second straight month, a sign inflation remains in check.

The producer price index fell 0.8 percent last month, the steepest drop since May, the Labor Department said Thursday. That follows a 0.2 percent decline in October. The index measures the cost of goods before they reach the consumer.

Gas prices fell last month by the most in more than three years. Food prices, however, rose by the most in nearly two years, pushed higher by costlier beef and vegetables.

Beef prices jumped 8.2 percent, the biggest gain in four and a half years. Vegetable prices rose nearly 12 percent. Grocery stores may mark up the prices of those products in the coming months, but probably not by as much.

Comment: Such a pretty picture, with a pinch of optimistic illusion.
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Snakes in Suits

Surprised? Twinkie CEO admits company took employees pensions and put it toward executive pay

Hostess, twinkies, cup cakes, fruit pie
Twinkie-maker Hostess continues to screw over its workers. The company is in the process of complete liquidation and 18,000 unionized workers are set to lose their jobs. More troubling - they could lose their pensions.

According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, Hostess' CEO, Gregory Rayburn, essentially admitted [3] that his company stole employee pension money and put it toward CEO and senior executive pay (aka "operations"). While this isn't technically illegal, it's another sleazy theft by Hostess executives - who've paid themselves handsomely while running their company into the ground. Just last month, a judge agreed to let Hostess executives suck another $1.8 million out of the bankrupt company to pay bonuses to CEOs.

If there's no way to recover the money for the Hostess pension plans for workers, then we the taxpayers - through the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. - will have to foot the bill to make sure workers get the retirement money they paid in.

Hostess shows us clearly what Bain-style predatory capitalism is all about: big bucks for the very few rich executives, layoffs and poverty for the workers and their communities.

And don't mourn the loss of Hostess brands - they'll be back, as the company is currently negotiating with over 100 potential buyers right now to bring Twinkies, Wonder Bread, and Ding Dongs back into the marketplace.

The Hostess story has nothing to do with unions, and everything to do with the Enron-ization and Bain-ization of the American economy.

Pistol

Oregon mall shooting: Masked gunman identified as Jacob Tyler Roberts, 22; used stolen rifle from someone he knew

Jacob Tyler Roberts

Jacob Tyler Roberts
Portland, Oregon - The gunman who killed two people and himself in a shooting rampage at an Oregon mall was 22 years old and used a stolen rifle from someone he knew, authorities said Wednesday.

Jacob Tyler Roberts had armed himself with an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle and had several fully loaded magazines when he arrived at a Portland mall on Tuesday, said Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts.

The sheriff said the rifle jammed during the 22-year-old's attack, but he managed to get it working again. He later shot himself. The sheriff said authorities don't yet have a motive.

A law enforcement official has told The Associated Press the shooter did not have a criminal record. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss details of an ongoing criminal investigation.

Two people - a 54-year-old woman and a 45-year-old man - were killed, and another, Kristina Shevchenko, whose age could not be confirmed, was wounded and in serious condition on Wednesday.

The shooter, who wore a mask, fired randomly, investigators said. People at the mall were heroic in helping get shoppers out of the building, including off-duty emergency room nurses who rendered aid, Roberts said.