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Sun, 09 May 2021
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Air Force sexual assault prevention chief loses job

After being charged with ... sexual assault

© Arlington County Police Department
The first rule of preventing sexual assault: don't sexually assault people. That's some free advice for the head of the US Air Force's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, who was removed from his post today after being charged with sexual battery, NBC reports. Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski, 41, allegedly approached a woman in a parking lot in Arlington, Virginia, early Sunday morning and grabbed her breasts and buttocks.

According to the police report, he was drunk and she fought him off before calling the cops - scratches can be seen on his face in his mug shot.

Arrow Down

'Catholic mafia' hindered priest probe, special commission of inquiry into child sex abuse hears

NSW police officers discussed whether a "Catholic mafia" existed within the force, deliberately hindering the investigation of pedophile priests, an inquiry has heard.

Giving evidence at the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry into child sex abuse, Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox said he discussed these fears in 2002 with the current state Nationals MP, Troy Grant, then a serving officer.

Mr Grant "was highly critical of some senior police at Newcastle in what he perceived to be hindering his investigation" into alleged child abuse by clergy, Detective Fox said.

The MP, who will give evidence tomorrow, used the phrase "Catholic mafia" to describe two particular officers he felt were deliberately asking him to work on other criminal investigations, Detective Fox said.

"He was referring to what he perceived to be police who he felt to be aligned to the Catholic Church, who were attempting to discourage investigations into clergy," he said.


Fracking ourselves to death: Big energy means big pollution

A gas flare burns at a fracking site in rural Bradford County, Pennsylvania January 9, 2012.
© Reuters/Les Stone
A gas flare burns at a fracking site in rural Bradford County, Pennsylvania January 9, 2012.

Gary Judson had just been removed from his shackles when they slapped the handcuffs on him. The 72-year-old Methodist minister had chained himself to the fence surrounding a compressor station -- part of the critical infrastructure associated with hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking -- a stone's throw from Seneca Lake in upstate New York. The sheriff and his deputies freed him only to arrest him for trespassing.

"They don't have the right to do this -- to put the lake in jeopardy. We'll all end up paying for their mess," Judson told a small group of supporters on hand to witness his act of civil disobedience. The "this" he was protesting, Sandra Steingraber recounts in a recent issue of Orion magazine, was the plan of Missouri-based Inergy Midstream to turn abandoned salt caverns beneath the lake's shores into storage areas for millions of barrels of natural gas piped in from Pennsylvania's fracking fields. "Inergy has been in violation of the Clean Water Act at this facility every single quarter for the past three years," Judson said. "Since 1972, there have been fourteen catastrophic failures at gas storage facilities. Each one of them has been at a salt cavern." A "failure" at Seneca Lake could be particularly catastrophic because, Steingraber writes, it provides the drinking water for 100,000 people. (Last month, Steingraber was jailed for 15 days for her own act of civil disobedience against Inergy.)

In Pennsylvania, where gas is currently being forced out of the shale rock in which it's resided for millions of years, "failures" are already an everyday affair, as TomDispatch regular Ellen Cantarow reports in the latest in her series of articles from fracking's front lines.

Evil Rays

Huge anti-blasphemy law protests paralyse Bangladesh capital, 24 dead

Hefazaat leader forced to leave Dhaka as clashes between anti-government protesters and police continue for second day.

The government in Bangladesh has cracked down on protests, taking a television station off-air and transferring the man at the head of the group that instigated the deadly protests out of Dhaka under police escort.

Allama Shah Ahmad Shafi was taken out of the Hefazaat-e-Islam headquarters on Monday before being put on an aircraft to the country's second largest city, Chittagong. Police said, however, that Shafi had not been arrested.

Tens of thousands of Hefazaat supporters rallied near a commercial district of Dhaka early on Monday.

Violence soon began spilling beyond the city, with at least two police officers and a border guard reported dead in Narayanganj, about 20km outside Dhaka.

At least 24 people have reportedly been killed in clashes on Monday alone.


'Prehistoric animal' mystery solved

Dead Orca
© Luana Lovell-Dewes
The carcass was discovered by a group of quad bikers.
New Zealand - A large animal carcass that washed up on a Bay of Plenty beach left some locals wondering if they'd come across the remains of a prehistoric animal.

The carcass was discovered by a group of quad bikers on a beach about 5km east of Pukehina Beach. The animal's jaw and teeth and parts of its body were still intact.

"People have been asking about it all weekend. It's caused a bit of 'What is it?' in the beach," says Luana Lovell-Dewes, one of the quad bikers who found the remains.

"We haven't seen teeth like that on an animal that's washed up."

Photos of the animal have been sent to the Department of Conservation and Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium for identification, but Mrs Lovell-Dewes says it has proven difficult to get any confirmation.


Five women die in limousine fire on California bridge

© Oakland Tribune-Bay Area News Group, Jane Tyska/AP Photo
San Mateo County firefighters and California Highway Patrol personnel investigate the scene of a limousine fire on the westbound side of the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge in Foster City, Calif., on Saturday, May 4, 2013.
A limousine traveling on a major bridge in the San Francisco area burst into flames, killing five female passengers who were trapped inside and injuring four others who escaped, authorities said Sunday.

The limo was carrying nine female passengers and a male driver when it caught fire late Saturday on the San Mateo bridge, California Highway Patrol officer Art Montiel told The Associated Press.

Five occupants became trapped, while four others suffered injuries but managed to get out after the vehicle came to a stop on the bridge, the patrol said. The driver escaped uninjured.

Montiel said that the victims were all in their 30s. Authorities said the names of the dead would be released once families have been notified.


Soccer referee punched by teen player dies

Ricardo Portillo, seen here in this undated photo, was severely injured while refereeing a youth soccer game in Taylorsville, Utah on May 2, 2013 when a player took a swing at him.
A soccer referee who was allegedly punched in the face by a teenage player and slipped into a coma has died.

Ricardo Portillo, 46, had been in critical condition since the April 27 incident and passed away Saturday night, according to the Unified Police Department of Greater Salt Lake in Utah.

Authorities will consider additional charges against the 17-year-old suspect this week since the referee died, police said in a statement.

Lt. Justin Hoyle with the Salt Lake Unified Police Department said that Portillo was a refereeing a game at Eisenhower Junior High, in Taylorsville, Utah, last weekend when he flagged the teen for a foul.


Death of small business: U.S. self-employment at all-time low

© AFP Photo / Julie Denesha

The unemployment rate in the United States is at a four-year low, but another labor stat is shrinking in not such a favorable way: a decline in the number of self-employed Americans suggests the personal business will soon be a thing of the past.

Since the Great Depression, the number of Americans who identify themselves in the work force as "self-employed as a share of non-farm employment" has been getting smaller. Some economists now say though that the major US recession that started in 2007 will soon send that stat straight down to zero.

The number of self-employed Americans at the end of World War II was roughly one-quarter of the country's population, but during the length of just the 1960s that section shrank from nearly 20 percent to being barely in the double digits. From the 1970s through the first half of the '90s that rate stayed constant, but since just before the start of this century the stats have been smaller than ever. That figure is continuing to decrease, and the result is a major drop in the number of self-employed workers due to the recent recession is ravaging what was once a viable way of making a living.

Although the proportion of self-employed workers has been shrinking during the last few decades, the sheer number of workers who identify as such dropped drastically as a result of the recession - all the while, of course, the population of the country as a whole got larger.


Suicide rates surge in U.S. surpassing road fatalities

© AFP Photo / David Mcnew
More Americans now die of suicide than from car accidents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a disturbing statistic that some experts say points to the true depths of the US economic crisis.

From 1999 to 2010, the suicide rate among US citizens between the ages of 35 to 64 soared by about 30 per cent, to 17.6 deaths per 100,000 people, a jump from 13.7.

In 2010, there were 33,687 deaths from motor vehicle crashes and 38,364 suicides.

Although suicide has been traditionally viewed as a problem among the youth and elderly, the recent study, published in Friday's issue of its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, shows a marked rise in the number of suicides among middle-aged men and women.

The suicide rate for men aged 35 - 64 years jumped 27.3 per cent, from 21.5 to 27.3 per 100,000, while the rate for women increased 31.5 per cent, from 6.2 to 8.1.

Comment: Considering the extent of income inequality in the U.S., the devastation the ongoing financial crisis has dealt, along with the massive drugging of the population, these statistics are not surprising.
Economic Downturn Taking Toll on Americans' Mental Health
An Epidemic: Psychiatric Drugs and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in the U.S.
Warning: Antidepressants May Led to Suicidal Tendencies
Understanding and Overcoming the Myths of Suicide

Bad Guys

Pipeline rupture redux! New ExxonMobil spill hits Missouri

© Reuters
While questions over the severity of ExxonMobil's March 29 oil spill in Mayflower, Arkansas still remain, the same pipeline has now ruptured, this time to the north, in Missouri.

The 70-year-old Pegasus pipeline, which released thousands of barrels of tar sands oil in Arkansas, has now caused another, albeit far smaller incident in Ripley County, Missouri, 200 miles north of Mayflower, Arkansas.

A resident notified ExxonMobil after spotting a patch of oil and dead vegetation in their yard outside the town of Doniphan, according to Reuters.

Luckily, unlike the spill that is still ongoing in Mayflower, the latest breach seems so far to be minor, with an estimated one barrel of crude oil having been leaked. According to an Exxon spokeswoman the cleanup operation there was "close to completion."

Originally built in the late 1940s, the Pegasus is now the subject of severe scrutiny, as many environmentalists argue that the increased corrosive impact of transporting tar sands oil presents a greater concern than other forms of oil. It is worth noting that the pipeline was shut down following the Arkansas spill, and leaked in Missouri despite being out of operation.