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Ukraine protesters declare eight-hour truce as talks with government continue

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© Pochuyev Mikhail/ITAR-TASS Photo/Corbis
Vitali Klitschko speaks at a rally organised by Ukraine's opposition.
After declaring truce, opposition politician Vitali Klitschko said he would return to barricades later to announce results of talks

An eight-hour truce has been declared by protesters in Kiev after a day of violence in which at least three people died and an opposition leader said he was willing to face "a bullet in the forehead" if Ukraine's president, Viktor Yanukovych, did not launch snap elections.

The truce was announced by opposition politician and former heavyweight boxer Vitali Klitschko at midday Kiev time, as negotiations between opposition leaders and Yanukovych were expected to continue.

On Thursday afternoon Yanukovych called a special parliament session for next week to discuss the crisis, but there was no indication that this represented an inclination to compromise with the opposition.

On Wednesday, a three-hour meeting between the sides ended without a deal, leaving the capital braced for intensified violence.

After the truce was announced, protesters began to extinguish the huge burning barricade, made of thousands of tyres, which has separated them from lines of riot police and been the focal point of clashes.

Klitschko said he would return to the barricades at 8pm local time (6pm GMT) to announce the results of negotiations.

Pocket Knife

Behind the Headlines: Surviving the Psy-pocalypse - Interview with Stefan Verstappen

Sott Talk Radio logo
Earlier this month we spoke with Stefan Verstappen, Canadian writer, artist, and martial arts expert. This world traveller is also one of the few people who understands that psychopaths rule our world. Creator of the viral YouTube video documentary 'Defense Against the Psychopath', based on his book The Art of Urban Survival: A Family Safety and Self Defense Manual, Verstappen has lots to share, not only about defending ourselves from the predators in our midst, but also about what we can do to prepare for natural disasters and social breakdown.

Running Time: 01:52:00

Download: MP3


Comment: Here's a link to the documentary Verstappen refers to in this interview:

Stress, Portrait of a Killer - Full Documentary (2008)


Handcuffs

Russian Foreign Ministry: Guantanamo must close during Obama's term

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© AFP Photo / Michelle Shephard
Guantanamo Bay.
Guantanamo Bay detention facility should be closed down while President Barack Obama is still in power, insists Russia's Foreign Ministry. A Russian delegation which recently inspected the facility witnessed grave violations of basic human rights.

"Our visit to Guantanamo has convinced us all over again that this so-called prison must be shut down at the earliest possible time," said the Russian Foreign Ministry's Commissioner for Human Rights, Konstantin Dolgov, at a media briefing in Moscow.

Bomb

Russian teenager arrested in Pennsylvania for building bombs

Vladislav Miftakhov
© Altoona Police Department
Vladislav Miftakhov was being investigated for growing marijuana in his home when police found bomb-making materials.
The Russian roommate of a Penn State student who has been charged with building a suspected bomb in his bedroom has said that the 19-year-old recently set off three "mini-bombs" just outside their apartment.

Andrew Leff told the Altoona Mirror that he warned Vladislav Miftakhov to get rid of the bomb-making materials. He called Miftakhov "dumb" and "crazy", but not dangerous.

Miftakhov was in jail on Sunday in Altoona, after being arrested on Friday and charged with possessing a weapon of mass destruction, risking a catastrophe and other counts. Court records do not list a lawyer for Miftakhov.

Police said they were investigating a reported marijuana growing operation at Miftakhov's apartment when they found and dismantled the suspected bomb. They also allegedly found a suitcase containing explosives-related material.

Health

Americans are flocking to Mexico to take advantage of its better healthcare system

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Another surprise about US/Mexican relations...

For years, thousands of Americans have been going to Mexico for medical procedures that would otherwise be too expensive in the US.

Now, some are ever taking advantage of Mexico's free health care.

Given the unfolding collapse of any semblance of competence, sanity and humanity in the US health care system, this trickle could easily become a flood.


Family

Polar vortex and food stamp cuts create perfect storm of hunger

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The freezing temperatures across the country mean higher heating costs for everyone. Many low-income families are struggling with this increase in prices. They are already under the strain of trying to afford food.

Last year 47 million hungry Americans lost food stamp benefits, and Congress may be bringing more cuts to the table. Needy families are placed in the awful situation of having to choose between heat or food.

The combination of this winter's "polar vortex" with the cuts in food stamps has created a perfect storm of increasing hunger in America.

Feeding America's CEO Bob Aiken says, "The high cost of heat this winter due to prolonged and brutal cold spells will strain many household budgets and send more people to food pantries, soup kitchens and other emergency-food charities."

In a study released prior to the cold spell, Feeding America said about 46 percent of its clients "report choosing between paying for food and paying for heating fuel or other utilities." With the massive drop in temperatures this winter, this figure is likely much higher.

In Cincinnati, Ohio, temperatures have been in the single digits or below zero multiple days this month. Sarah Cook of the Freestore FoodBank says, "We are seeing more people right now because of utility issues. "

However, the Freestore and other food banks across the country face dwindling donations following the holidays, making it tougher to keep up with any increase in demand. In addition, with the cuts in food stamps, hungry Americans are turning to food banks for more support than ever. Food banks, even with the generosity of its donors, cannot make up the difference for major cuts in federal food aid.


Che Guevara

Protest turns into riot as 120,000 take to Paris streets to demand President's resignation

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© Reuters/Philippe Wojazer
Demonstrators gather near a sign portraying French President Francois Hollande wearing donkey ears with a school grade of Zero and which reads, "You, President Resign" as several thousand people attend the "Journee de la Colere" (Day of Anger) march in protest of France's President Francois Hollande, in Paris January 26, 2014.
Clashes have broken out during anti-government protests in France. Thousands of people took to the streets of Paris in a "Day of Anger" against a host of policies introduced by President Francois Hollande.

An anti-government protest in Paris ended in violence on Sunday when police used tear gas to disperse several hundreds youths throwing bottles, fireworks, iron bars and dustbins.

Police said at least 150 people were arrested and 12 police officers were injured in the clashes.

According to official figures at least 17,000 people carrying banners saying "The French are angry" marched through central Paris in a mass rally against the embattled president Francois Hollande.

Organizers put the turnout at around 120,000.

Comment: "Mainly right-wing protesters"?

Try telling that to the the various socialist groups that joined the protest!

The international media has clearly bought the French government line about dissent in France being predominantly the 'work of right-wing extremists'.


Rose

Aaron Swartz's documentarian on the life and death of an anti-establishment icon

Aaron Swartz
© wikimedia commons
Aaron Swartz at Wikimedia Meetup in Boston
On Monday, documentary filmmaker Brian Knappenberger premiered his documentary on Aaron Swartz, The Internet's Own Boy, at the Sundance Film Festival. With Aaron's family in attendance, and buoyed by two standing ovations, it was an emotional moment.

Knappenberger is no stranger to films that straddle the fine line between objective observer and "angsty activist." His last film, We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists, carved out similar territory, blunting government and corporate talking points by giving Anonymous hacktivists a direct voice in their own story. In truth, Anonymous is quite good at this on its own, but We Are Legion brought a lot of the loose hacker collective's voices together in a single vehicle.

Comment:
Who killed Aaron Swartz?
Aaron Swartz's suspicious death
The inspiring heroism of Aaron Swartz
Remembering Internet prodigy and activist Aaron Swartz (1986-2013): Your life is an inspiration


Pirates

Anti-François Hollande protests in Paris degenerate into violence‏

Anti Hollande Protest
© Philippe Wojazer/Reuters
'You, President, get out': anti-François Hollande protests in Paris.
Nineteen police officers were injured and 250 people detained as a protest in Paris against President François Hollande's leadership degenerated into violence, police have said.

Police said that none of the injuries was critical. The numbers of injuries and detentions are high compared with other protests in recent weeks expressing discontent with Hollande, who is particularly unpopular for his handling of the economy.

Police said 17,000 people took part in Sunday's largely peaceful protest, while organisers put the number several times higher.

Fifty associations were involved, including conservative and far-right groups. Also present were supporters of the provocateur-comic Dieudonné, who has been repeatedly convicted of antisemitism and racism.

Bizarro Earth

'I am not ill; I am grieving': Judge orders urgent release of mother held in psychiatric hospital against her will for a MONTH after fighter pilot husband strangled son, 14, and hanged himself

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© Facebook
Free at last: Christina Schumacher, 48, was ordered released from a Vermont psychiatric ward more than five weeks after she was hospitalized against her will in the wake of her husband and son's murder-suicide
A Vermont woman committed to a psychiatric ward against her will after her estranged husband killed their son and then hanged himself was ordered released by a judge Friday.

Christina Schumacher, 48, was ordered released immediately from Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington by Vermont Superior Court Judge Kevin Griffin.

Schumacher had been at the hospital since December 19, a day after 14-year-old Gunnar 'sonny' Schumacher and 49-year-old Ludwig Schumacher were found dead in an Essex apartment.

Police said the father, a former Vermont National Guardsman and F-16 pilot, strangled the high school freshman before he hanged himself.

It was unclear whether Schumacher had left the facility by Friday night.

Griffin said in his ruling that he disagreed with a doctor's assessment before Schumacher arrived for a regular appointment the day after the murder-suicide that she needed to admit herself or be taken into custody.