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Thu, 23 Mar 2023
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Global response to people fleeing ravages of war: 'callous indifference,' humanitarian failure

© Stephen Ryan / IFRC
A Syrian father carries his daughter on 8 August 2015 to Gevgelija train station in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia where they will register with the authorities before proceeding north towards Serbia.
It's a crisis of record proportions that is being met with global "callous indifference" and failed, dehumanizing responses, human rights experts say.

The crisis, described as Europe's worst refugee crisis since World War Two, involves hundreds of thousands of people fleeing conflict, many from Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, trying to reach safety in Europe.

For some, the journey reaches a fatal end. As the Associated Press notes, the deaths come "by land and sea."

Austrian officials said Friday that 71 likely Syrian refugees, including eight women and three children, died in the back of a truck that was abandoned in Hungary.

Comment: Not many want to look at the root of the problem which is the US and the West with their imperial wars forcing many to flee from their war torn counties.


Houston Sheriff's deputy shot dead in 'execution-style killing' at gas station

Houston police
© Richard Carson / Reuters
Houston police are on a manhunt for the killer of a sheriff's deputy, who was ambushed and shot dead at a gas station.

The male suspect killed the uniformed officer as he was fueling his patrol car in the northwest of the city Friday.

"It appears to be an unprovoked execution-style killing of a police officer," said Sheriff Ron Hickman.


Water wars? Devastating shortages will fuel MidEast conflicts for 25 years

© Osman Orsal / Reuters
In a worrying global trend, the Middle East is set for a record water shortage to strike over the next 25 years. The global fallout from the recent record heatwaves will force more and more people into overcrowded cities and stagnate economic growth.

Worse still, according to scientists with the World Resource Institute (WRI), water shortages will exacerbate existing conflicts - and the factor is considered to have contributed to the rising violence in Syria that erupted in 2011.

"Drought and water shortages in Syria likely contributed to the unrest that stoked the country's 2011 civil war. Dwindling water resources and chronic mismanagement forced 1.5 million people, primarily farmers and herders, to lose their livelihoods and leave their land, move to urban areas, and magnify Syria's general destabilization," a new WRI report says.

Comment: So the authors conclude a "climate agreement" is needed as if governments can control the climate. Water management and conservation practices will help but Mother Nature may have other ideas. Read Earth Changes and the Human Cosmic Connection.


Mass shootings and gun control in the U.S.: The problem is not gun laws, but a society dripping in fear, insecurity, anger and violence

© Chris Keane / Reuters
People gather to pay respects at a memorial outside of the offices for WDBJ7 in Roanoke, Virginia, August 26, 2015.
The problem in the US is much deeper than simply access to weapons, the whole society is dripping with fear, with violence, people are afraid of each other and there is a lot of insecurity, journalist and political analyst Caleb Maupin, told RT.

RT: A TV crew was shot dead in Virginia in the US during a live interview. It is another tragic shooting which has reignited the debate over gun control in the US. But in the past the pro-gun lobby always seemed to win through - will this be any different?

Caleb Maupin: US media often portrays kind of a false image of US society, and a lot of people around the world are led to believe that the US is some kind of paradise in which the streets are paved with iPads and everyone lives in prosperity. But for a few moments on live television people [on Wednesday] saw what the US is really like. This is a society dripping with fear, with violence and people walk around really upset and afraid of each other and there is a lot of insecurity.

Of course there is going to be a debate about gun control following this, but the issue is obviously something deeper than that, because there are many countries around the world where people are heavily armed, but they don't feel a need to kill each other and there are not these kinds of mass shootings we see routinely happening here in the US. The problem is much deeper than simply access to weapons.

Comment: To expand upon Caleb Maupin's excellent analysis, we have a society in the U.S. set up by psychopaths in power that forces us to be at each other's throats to survive a system set up by those same psychopaths. We should all be gathering together to remove them from power to eliminate the horrible system which terrorizes us all, yet we're too busy fighting against each other to notice the big picture. As long as that's case, the Powers That Be will be happy to sit idly by while we slaughter each other.


Police in LA set to roll out body cams for over 7,000 officers but will not share recordings with public

police body cam
© Rick Wilking / Reuters
Hundreds of police in Los Angeles, California will begin wearing body cameras Monday, after a year of preparations. Once fully operational, the LAPD body cam program will be the most extensive in the US, but recordings will be kept from the public.

The first wave of cameras was funded by $1.5 million from private donors, such as Steven Spielberg and the Los Angeles Dodgers. They will go to 860 officers in LAPD's Mission division, covering the northwestern suburbs in the San Fernando Valley. LAPD plans to outfit more than 7,000 officers with body cameras over the coming months. By contrast, New York is currently using 60 cameras in a pilot program, and wants to buy 5,000 more.

While favoring the use of body cameras in principle, the American Civil Liberties Union's (ACLU) Southern California chapter has written in opposition to the LAPD program, objecting to the policy of allowing officers to review the recordings, but not the general public. A recent ACLU poll found that 79 percent of California voters favor public access to the findings and conclusions of investigations into police misconduct, including body cam footage.

"This secrecy around peace officer records undermines transparency, obstructs efforts to hold law enforcement accountable for its actions, and breeds distrust between police and the communities they serve," said Peter Bibring, the chapter's director of police practices.


Journalists covering Virginia shooting threatened by police, forced to delete footage taken where shooter crashed

© David Manning / Reuters
The car of suspected gunman Vester L. Flanagan, also known as Bryce Williams, is seen off Highway I-66 in Fauquier County, Virginia August 26, 2015
Two BBC journalists say they were threatened by Virginia police after filming the scene where gunman Bryce Williams crashed and shot himself on Wednesday. They say a cop threatened to confiscate their camera and car if they did not delete their footage.

White House reporter Tara McKelvey and videojournalist Fraz Strasser were among the first to arrive at the scene on I-66, where Bryce Williams - also known as Vester Flanagan - crashed his vehicle and shot himself hours after killing journalists Alison Parker and Adam Ward during a live news broadcast in Virginia.

Strasser tweeted that he and McKelvey were told the footage "could be evidence," and that they were forced to delete it. He added that a cop by the name of Officer Clark threatened to tow their car because it was apparently illegally parked.

Strasser said the officer watched him delete his file and let him go. Another officer reportedly "apologized and said we have to understand," he tweeted.


FBI, NSA, and Justice Dept. sued by whistleblowers for civil rights violations and malicious prosecutions

expose facts whistleblowers
© Jonathan Ernst / Reuters
The whistleblower group ExposeFacts.org at the National Press Club in Washington April 27, 2015
Five whistleblowers are suing the Justice Department, National Security Agency, FBI and their former directors for violating their constitutional and civil rights after they complained about government waste and fraud through proper channels.

According to the complaint, filed in Washington, DC's federal district court, all five were subjected to illegal searches and seizures, raids on their homes and places of business, false imprisonment, and cancellation of their security clearances after they complained about government waste and fraud at the NSA.

Four of the five whistleblowers worked at the National Security Agency: Thomas Drake, Ed Loomis, J. Kirk Wiebe and William Binney. The fifth, Diane Roark, worked at the Department of Energy. They are seeking some $100 million in damages.

The plaintiffs blew the whistle on the wasteful abandonment of a short-lived surveillance program called THINTHREAD which was being built by the NSA, but was then scuttled in favor of a more expensive program less protective of Americans' communications.

Comment: This is just another story that highlights the fact that the U.S. government shows nothing but contempt for the Constitution, civil rights, and for the people attempt to hold the government responsible for failing to uphold that which they have given oaths to uphold. There is no honor left in the U.S. government, only criminals.


Funding regime change and chaos: U.S. taxpayers spend nearly $10 million a day fighting ISIS

palmyra baal shamin temple
© Welayat Homs / AFP
Smoke billowing from the Baal Shamin temple in Syria's ancient city of Palmyra
The Pentagon has spent nearly $4 billion fighting Islamic State across Syria and Iraq since operations began a year ago, according to statistics released this week. The average daily cost of the campaign is $9.9 million, or $6,785 a minute.

A colossal $3.7 billion in expenses have been racked up since the campaign began on August 8, 2014 up to August 15 of this year.

President Barack Obama authorized a bombing campaign against the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS/ISIL) last year, sending 3,400 American soldiers to Iraq to advise and train Iraqi forces.

Since Operation Inherent Resolve began, the US and its coalition allies say they have conducted a total of over 6,000 airstrikes in the region. Of those strikes, nearly 4,000 have been made in Iraq and nearly 2,500 in Syria.

Comment: Add this to how much taxpayers pay to fund, arm, and train ISIS and you've got an astronomical amount of money funded by the American population to create death and destruction around the world, all in the name of American hegemonic control and imperialism.

Red Flag

Former cop who killed 6 civilians now teaches police how to stop hesitating before shooting

© virtra.com
A former Arizona police officer, who killed six people during his 12-year career before it ended after the latest shooting, is now selling firearm training simulators that jolt people who hesitate to shoot.

James Peters, former police officer with the Scottsdale PD, applied for "accidental disability retirement" in 2012 after he shot a 50-year-old man in the head with a rifle. The deceased, John Loxas, who was holding his baby grandson in his arms at that moment, had a record of threatening neighbors with firearms.

Peters reported seeing a black object in Loxas' trouser pocket, believing it to be a handgun. It was actually a phone, but Peters learned that only after killing the man in what he called an action necessary to protect the baby.

The officer left the service and was not charged over the shooting, although Scottsdale paid a $4.25 million settlement to Loxas' family. Prior to that incident Peters, who served some of his career as a SWAT team member, was involved in six other shootings, it was reported at the time. Five of them were fatal, with none of them ending in prosecution.

Comment: Looks like this company hired just the right person for the job, a man who has no hesitation to shoot and kill innocent people.


Agent for TSA arrested for sexually assaulting traveler in bathroom

© Rick Wilking / Reuters
A Transportation Security Administration screener based in New York City has been arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a female foreign exchange student from South Korea after leading her into a bathroom, officials announced on Friday.

Identified as 40-year-old Maxie Oquendo, the TSA employee was arrested Thursday evening at LaGuardia Airport.

"The defendant is accused of an egregious abuse of his position as a government screener at LaGuardia Airport to sexually victimize a young woman," Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said, according to WABC News. "Such alleged conduct cannot, under any circumstances, go unpunished."

The incident itself occurred earlier this week on Tuesday, when a 21-year-old college student from Korea arrived at the airport after a flight from Salt Lake City, Utah. The student, who remains unidentified, had already exited a sterile checkpoint area and entered another area where she no longer needed to be screened, WABC reported, citing the charges against the TSA worker.