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France Slammed by Human Rights Watch Over Spot Checks

Image
© IslamOnline.net
HRW said boys as young as 13 were arbitrarily stopped by police, questioned, frisked and even roughed up.
French police single out young black and Arab men for random street checks as part of a new policy to combat crime, a rights group said on Thursday, questioning the success of one of President Nicolas Sarkozy's main initiatives before elections in April.

Sarkozy, who made his reputation as a hardline interior minister, declared war on urban violence in 2010 after riots in the east city of Grenoble.

The government said last week crime had fallen in 2011 for the ninth straight year. But Interior Minister Claude Gueant has raised eyebrows with his right-wing stance on the issue since Sarkozy promoted him to his Cabinet a year ago.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report that French law allowed the police to carry out the checks without any evidence of a crime being committed or being officially registered.

Dollar

The Bush-era Tax Cuts are Good for Some Americans, Mainly Rich Investors

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© politicsdaily.com
Mitt Romney, if elected President, vows to keep the Bush-era tax cuts. And he wants to layer in a bigger corporate tax break - in a bid to jumpstart the economy.

More than any other presidential candidate, Romney also has benefited handsomely from these cuts - the lower capital gains and dividends taxes - and he will likely do so again if they are maintained.

So are these tax cuts good or bad for the rest of us? Good, if you're an investor. In fact, all investors should be aware of the Bush tax cuts' implications, described below.

Without another extension, the low rates that former President George W. Bush signed into law will skyrocket at the end of this year as scheduled, says Bill Smith, managing director in CBIZ MHM national tax office in Bethesda, Md. "Does this create a conflict of interest for Romney? Absolutely," says Smith, because they benefit Romney enormously.

First, Romney paid a 14 percent effective overall tax rate, much lower than many middle class folks pay. One reason is the Bush tax breaks for capital gains.

Generally speaking, investment gains are taxed at 15 percent. Bush argued the low rates would help encourage saving and investment. If the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of 2012, that 15 percent tax rate would rise to the ordinary income rate of 39 percent. Long-term capital gains taxes would rise from 15 percent to 20 percent.

The tax code's treatment of income from partnerships in private equity, hedge funds and real estate development means that some of the country's wealthiest people are taxed at a lower rate than bus drivers and nurses. Romney is among the top earners - because the bulk of his taxable income came from investments, not from a salary.

Eye 1

US Citizen Training: Tasered for Walking the Dog

walking dogs
© n/a
Be advised that walking your dog off leash could get you electrocuted by the authorities.
A Montara man walking two lapdogs off leash was hit with an electric-shock gun by a National Park Service ranger after allegedly giving a false name and trying to walk away, authorities said Monday.

The park ranger encountered Gary Hesterberg with his two small dogs Sunday afternoon at Rancho Corral de Tierra, which was recently incorporated into the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, said Howard Levitt, a spokesman for the park service.

Hesterberg, who said he didn't have identification with him, allegedly gave the ranger a false name, Levitt said.

The ranger, who wasn't identified, asked Hesterberg to remain at the scene, Levitt said. He tried several times to leave, and finally the ranger "pursued him a little bit and she did deploy her" electric-shock weapon, Levitt said. "That did stop him."

San Mateo County sheriff's deputies and paramedics then arrived and Hesterberg gave his real name, the park spokesman said.

Hesterberg, whose age was not available, was arrested on suspicion of failing to obey a lawful order, having dogs off-leash and knowingly providing false information, Levitt said.

Witnesses said the use of a stun gun and the arrest seemed excessive for someone walking two small dogs off leash.

"It was really scary," said Michelle Babcock, who said she had seen the incident as she and her husband were walking their two border collies. "I just felt so bad for him."

Babcock said Hesterberg had repeatedly asked the ranger why he was being detained. She didn't answer him, Babcock said.

Star of David

A Report on the Situation Facing Palestinian Children Detained in Occupied East Jerusalem

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© DCI
Today DCI-Palestine submitted a report to the UN - In their own Words: A report on the situation facing Palestinian children detained in occupied East Jerusalem.The Report finds an increase in reports of physical violence and threats.

The report is the third six-monthly submission lodged by DCI-Palestine with the UN in which the situation facing Palestinian children from occupied East Jerusalem detained by Israeli authorities is considered. The report covers a six month period between 1 July and 31 December 2011 and is based on data collected from 68 cases in which DCI-Palestine provided legal assistance to Palestinian children. The Report also relies on 23 testimonies collected from children who were detained during the same period.

The common complaints and areas of concern raised by the children in their testimonies are presented below:

Attention

US: No Transplant for Dying Dad Who is Illegal Immigrant

Jesus Navarro
© D. Ross Cameron/Staff
Wearing a surgical mask to avoid infection, Jesus Navarro, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, connects the machine for his daily home dialysis treatment, Monday, Jan. 9, 2012, in Oakland, California.
Without a new kidney, Jesus Navarro will die.

The Oakland man has a willing donor and private insurance to pay for the transplant. But he faces what may be an insurmountable hurdle in the race to save his life: He is an illegal immigrant.

Administrators at UC San Francisco Medical Center are refusing to transplant a kidney from Navarro's wife, saying there is no guarantee he will receive adequate follow-up care, given his uncertain status.

Their decision is a stark illustration of the tension between health care and immigration policies in the state and underscores the difficult role medical professionals play in trying to save the lives of undocumented residents.

Though no data are available, anecdotal evidence suggests clinics sometimes perform organ transplants on illegal immigrants, especially when the patients are young. In one high-profile case, UCLA Medical Center gave an undocumented woman three liver transplants before she turned 21.

But health administrators also reject patients because of their immigration status, though that usually happens when the patients lack insurance. Bellevue Hospital in New York attracted attention last year when it refused to transplant a kidney between brothers because they could not pay for the operation.

It is the kind of ethical gray area that hospitals hate, said University of Pennsylvania bioethics professor Arthur Caplan.

"It puts the doctors in a very awkward and torn position," he said. "You come into this trying to do good and find yourself stuck in the middle of a fight about immigration."

Immigrant advocates and some scholars say it is wrong for hospitals to withhold health care from the seriously ill, no matter their legal status.

But proponents of tougher border enforcement -- and those fighting to contain ballooning health care costs -- fear that providing such services could lure more undocumented immigrants.

2 + 2 = 4

Men Struggle for Rape Awareness

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© Michael Nagle for The New York Times
Assaulted: Keith Smith of East Windsor, N.J., was raped when he was a 14-year-old hitchhiker.
Keith Smith was 14 when he was raped by a driver who picked him up after a hockey team meeting. He had hitchhiked home, which is why, for decades, he continued to blame himself for the assault.

When the driver barreled past Hartley's Pork Pies on the outskirts of Providence, R.I., where Mr. Smith had asked to be dropped off, and then past a firehouse, he knew something was wrong.

"I tried to open the car door, but he had rigged the lock," said Mr. Smith, of East Windsor, N.J., now 52. Still, he said, "I had no idea it was going to be a sexual assault."

Butterfly

Margaret Runyan Castaneda, Ex-Wife of Mystic Author, Dies at 90

Margaret Runyan Castaneda
© The Los Angeles Times
Margaret Runyan Castaneda theorized that Carlos Castaneda came up with the name Don Juan Matus because of their mutual enjoyment of Mateus wine.
Carlos Castaneda's ex-wife believed that a key figure in his spiritual bestsellers - Mexican shaman Don Juan - was an extravagant fiction, drawn in part from conversations and activities the couple shared.

Los Angeles - They were an unlikely couple, the Latin American immigrant and the West Virginia divorcee whose paths crossed in mid-1950s Los Angeles.

But, by Margaret Runyan Castaneda's account, she and Carlos Castaneda were kindred spirits whose time together helped turn him into a countercultural phenomenon.

Carlos wrote The Teachings of Don Juan, a 1968 best seller that told of his peyote-fueled adventures with Don Juan Matus, a Mexican shaman who purportedly guided him to an alternate realm inhabited by giant insects, witches and flying humans. Presented as an anthropological work, the book resounded with a generation of youthful rebels who turned the 1970s into a rollicking era of social and pharmacological experimentation.

Decades after their marriage ended, Margaret wrote her own book, which punctured some of the mystery surrounding the man who came to be viewed as either a godfather of New Age or one of its greatest charlatans.

"Much of the Castaneda mystique is based on the fact that even his closest friends aren't sure who he is," Margaret wrote in her 1996 book A Magical Journey with Carlos Castaneda.

Arrow Up

The Truth About Fat Women and Self-Control

Fat Women
© Dreamstime
Many Americans perceive overweight women as lacking self-control, holding the inaccurate belief that body fat is optional.
If the choice between being fat and thin were a simple, conscious decision, most of us would likely be slender. Nevertheless, new research suggests that the discrimination and prejudice faced by overweight people, especially women, are driven by the preconceived notion that body fat is somehow optional.

"Fat women experience both the stigma of unattractiveness and the stigma that they lack control," writes researcher Christine A. Smith in a new literature review published online Jan. 18 in the journal Sex Roles. It's that perceived lack of self-discipline that leads to prejudice, said Smith, of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

"If people are, say, unattractive due to a facial deformity, there tends to be a sympathy factor" that mitigates discrimination against them, Smith said. But because many people think weight is controllable, "for large folks, there doesn't tend to be the sympathy factor."

Comment: See: Book Review: Why We Get Fat - and What to do About it

Carbohydrates Trick Your Body into Stacking on Pounds - Fast

Known as the "Deadliest Nutrient" - but There's No Meaningful Evidence

And watch this:




Dollar

US deficit tops $1 trillion 4 years in a row

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© diy,despair.com
A new budget report released Tuesday predicts the U.S. government will run a $1.1 trillion deficit in the fiscal year that ends in September, a slight dip from last year but still very high by any measure. A previous estimate was for $973 billion.

The Congressional Budget Office [CBO] report also says that annual deficits will remain in the $1 trillion range for the next several years if Bush-era tax cuts slated to expire in December are extended, as commonly assumed. The CBO is a non-partisan budget analyst for Congress.

If the CBO estimate for this year's deficit proves accurate, fiscal year 2012 would be the fourth consecutive year of federal budget deficits topping $1 trillion. The shortfall registered $1.3 trillion in fiscal 2011, up from $1.29 trillion in 2010. It reached $1.42 trillion in 2009, the highest ever.

The report is yet another reminder of the perilous fiscal situation the government is in, but it is commonly assumed that little will be accomplished on the deficit issue during an election year.

Question

Top secret UK Ministry of Defence mission: Mysterious flights which kept Emsworth residents awake finish

Residents in Emsworth say they have endured sleepless nights because of a mystery low-flying plane.

Many living in and around Emsworth have been disturbed by the noisy aircraft which has been flying between 1.30am and 6am every day for over a week.

Scores complained to the Civil Aviation Authority - only to be told the Ministry of Defence mission was top secret.

It has been discovered the light commercial propeller plane - which belongs to 2Excel Aviation Ltd - was carrying out a national security survey of a three-mile radius surrounding Thorney Island.

Simon Spurge, 53, of Orchard Lane, Emsworth, said: "It's been going on for a week and it's driving me mad.