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Thu, 04 Mar 2021
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Star of David

The civilian toll of Israel's bombs

 Gaza Strip
© unknown
After an Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip
When Israeli bombs struck the Abu Khadra complex for civil administration, they also gutted the sixth floor of the Abu Shabaan complex, located 10 meters across the road. According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), eight Israeli warplane-fired bombs leveled roughly half of the government compound in eastern Gaza City in the early hours of Nov. 21.

The bombings also took a considerable toll on the homes and businesses nearby, including the Gaza bureau of Al Jazeera.

Over 50 percent of the private medical center in the Abu Shabaan building was destroyed, says Dr. Naim Shariff, 42, owner of the Benoon In Vitro Fertilization clinic.

Two weeks after the bombing tore apart the sixth floor and ravaged the fifth floor, Shariff has re-paned the windows, ordered new specialized machinery, and re-opened for clients.

"The problem with replacing my machines and equipment is that most of it doesn't exist in Gaza. It takes months to arrive and costs more money than it would elsewhere," he says.

"What else can I do but start again? There's no insurance here for war damages."

Che Guevara

Stephen Crowder, Fox News' self-styled "brightest, funniest young Conservative mind", beaten up by Union members in Michigan

The Michigan House approved a second right-to-work bill on Tuesday that would cover all private employees, by a vote of 58-52.

Republicans have asked for a reconsideration of the votes, which means final passage on the private sector bill, SB 116, before it reaches the Michigan Governor's desk, will most likely be delayed till tomorrow.

Read More Here


Arrow Down

Mystical 'doomsday' mountain braces for Mayan apocalypse

Mount Rtanj
© Tamburix, distributed by Wikimedia under a Creative Commons license
The pyramidal peak of Mount Rtanj in Serbia.

What is it with mountains and the end of the world?

Last month, officials announced that a supposedly mystical mountain in France would be closed on Dec. 21 to prevent a flood of doomsday believers from coming to wait out the Mayan apocalypse. Now, a pyramid-shaped peak in Serbia is the site of similar frenzy, according to the Telegraph newspaper.

Bookings are pouring in for Dec. 21 at hotels around the mountain, the newspaper reported. That date is the day the ancient Maya Long Count Calendar completes a full cycle of creation, a fact that some believers have taken to herald an apocalypse.

In fact, everyone from NASA scientists to Maya scholars say that these beliefs are off-base. The Mayans never predicted that the end of their Long Count Calendar meant the end of the world, and there are no astronomical phenomenon headed our way that could possibly destroy the planet in less than two weeks.

Heart - Black

Atheists suffer worldwide persecution from religious and state officials, says study

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Atheists and other religious skeptics suffer persecution or discrimination in many parts of the world and in at least seven nations can be executed if their beliefs become known, according to a report issued on Monday.

The study, from the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), showed that "unbelievers" in Islamic countries face the most severe - sometimes brutal - treatment at the hands of the state and adherents of the official religion.

But it also points to policies in some European countries and the United States which favor the religious and their organizations and treat atheists and humanists as outsiders.

The report, "Freedom of Thought 2012", said "there are laws that deny atheists' right to exist, curtail their freedom of belief and expression, revoke their right to citizenship, restrict their right to marry."

Dollars

Ensuring Scottish sovereignty

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It might take another William Wallace before Scotland ensures genuine independence through control of its monetary system, but anything's possible in a collapsing system...
The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and the Bank of Scotland were pillars of Scotland's economy and culture for over three centuries. So when the RBS was nationalized by the London-based UK government following the 2008 banking crisis and the Bank of Scotland was acquired by the London-based Lloyds Bank it came as a shock to the Scots. They no longer owned their oldest and most venerable banks.

Another surprise turn of events was the triumph of the Scottish National Party (SNP) in the 2011 Scottish parliamentary election. Scotland is still part of the United Kingdom, but it has had its own parliament since 1999, similar to US states. The SNP has rallied around the call for independence from the UK since its founding in 1934, but it was a minority party until the 2011 victory, which gave it an overall majority in the Scottish Parliament.

Scottish independence is now on the table. A bill has been introduced to the Scottish Parliament with the intention of holding a referendum on the issue in 2014.

Comment: Great ideas, but you can bet the psychopaths in power in the UK will be saying 'over our dead bodies' when they hear such revolutionary talk!


Dollars

Google tax dodge: Sheltered revenues in no-tax Bermuda soar to $10 billion

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Front Street in Hamilton, Bermuda. The increase in Google’s revenues routed to Bermuda, disclosed in a Nov. 21 filing by a subsidiary, could fuel the outrage over corporate tax dodging.
Google Inc. (GOOG) avoided about $2 billion in worldwide income taxes in 2011 by shifting $9.8 billion in revenues into a Bermuda shell company, almost double the total from three years before, filings show.

By legally funneling profits from overseas subsidiaries into Bermuda, which doesn't have a corporate income tax, Google cut its overall tax rate almost in half. The amount moved to Bermuda is equivalent to about 80 percent of Google's total pretax profit in 2011.

The increase in Google's revenues routed to Bermuda, disclosed in a Nov. 21 filing by a subsidiary in the Netherlands, could fuel the outrage spreading across Europe and in the U.S. over corporate tax dodging. Governments in France, the U.K., Italy and Australia are probing Google's tax avoidance as they seek to boost revenue during economic doldrums.

Last week, the European Union's executive body, the European Commission, advised member states to create blacklists of tax havens and adopt anti-abuse rules. Tax evasion and avoidance, which cost the EU 1 trillion euros ($1.3 trillion) a year, are "scandalous" and "an attack on the fundamental principle of fairness," Algirdas Semeta, the EC's commissioner for taxation, said at a press conference in Brussels.

Eye 2

Cellphone application creators investigated by US government for violations of children's privacy rights

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The government is investigating whether software companies that make cellphone apps violated the privacy rights of children by quietly collecting personal information from mobile devices and sharing it with advertisers and data brokers, the Federal Trade Commission said Monday. Such apps can capture a child's physical location, phone numbers of their friends and more.

The FTC described the marketplace for mobile applications - dominated by online stores operated by Apple and Google - as a digital danger zone with inadequate oversight. In a report by the FTC's own experts, it said the industry has grown rapidly but failed to ensure the privacy of young consumers is adequately protected. The FTC did not say which or how many companies it was investigating.

Among 400 apps designed for kids examined by the FTC, most failed to inform parents about the types of data the app could gather and who could access it, the report said. Others apps contained advertising that most parents would find objectionable or included links to Facebook, Twitter and other social media services where kids post information about themselves.

Comment: Aside fromthe fact that these applications may pose safety risks, children should not be using cellphones because they pose much more serious problems for their health:
Growing concern over safety of cellphones for children
Cellphones and Temper Tantrums: A Possible Link
Cellphones Cause Brain Tumors, Says New Report By International EMF Collaborative
"Disconnect": Why cellphones may be killing us


Cult

Catholic priest punished by church for performing Mass with female priest

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Father Bill Brennan, a Milwaukee, Wisconsin Jesuit, was recently punished by Catholic Church authorities for celebrating Mass last month with Janice Sevre-Duszynska, of the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, in violation of church rules.

Jeremy Langford, spokesman for the Society of Jesus, said that Father Brennan, 92, remains a Jesuit, can still celebrate Mass privately and hear confessions with other Jesuits, but can no longer celebrate Mass or other sacraments in public, reports the Daily Mail.

Langford added that the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and the Wisconsin Province of the Jesuits agreed on the sanctions against Father Brennan.

The Province said in a statement: "The Province did not approve or sanction the event, and regrets Father Brennan's participation in it."

Women are forbidden by the Catholic Church to become priests, but some have been ordained and celebrate Mass outside of the official church.

Black Cat

Wave of street muggings and grave robberies hits Paris

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© Alamy

Police said sky-high market prices for precious metals are acting as a magnet for thieves with scant regard for the living or the dead

Austerity-struck Paris has been hit by a wave of street muggings and grave robberies with thieves prepared to exhume bodies to steal gold and jewellery.


Last week, police in the French capital arrested three people as part of a widening grave robbery investigation.

There was further public outrage after two masked intruders shot dead a 52-year old precious metal worker when he tried to stop them stealing gold from his foundry in the chic central Parisian district of Le Marais.

Police said sky-high market prices for precious metals are acting as a magnet for thieves with scant regard for the living or the dead.

In Pantin cemetery, in the north of Paris, dozens of bodies have recently been dug up, with gold teeth and jewellery stolen from them.

Police sources said the three men seized last week were gravediggers employed by the city's cemeteries.

Piggy Bank

Europe clings to scorched-earth fiscal policy as depression deepens

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© Incamerastock / Alamy

The eurozone has crashed back into double-dip recession.

Like the generals of the First World War, Europe's leaders seem determined to send wave after wave of their youth into the barbed wire of tight money, bank deleveraging, and fiscal austerity a l'outrance.


The strategy of triple-barrelled contraction across a string of inter-linked countries has been the greatest policy debacle since the early 1930s. The outcome over the last three years has been worse than forecast at every stage, and in every key respect.

The eurozone has crashed back into double-dip recession. It will contract a further 0.3pc next year, according to a chastened European Central Bank. The ECB omitted mention of its own role in this fiasco by allowing all key measures of the money supply to stall in mid-2012, with the time-honoured consequences six months to a year later.

The North has been engulfed at last by the contractionary holocaust it imposed on the South. French car sales crashed 19pc last month, even before its fiscal shock therapy -- 2pc of GDP next year. The Bundesbank admitted on Friday tore up its forecast on Friday. Germany itself is in recession.

The youth jobless rate has reached 58pc in Greece, 55.8pc in Spain, 39.1pc in Portugal, 36.5pc in Italy, 30.1pc in Slovakia, and 25.5pc in France, with all the known damage this does to the life-trajectory of the victims and the productive dynamism of these economies.

EU policy elites blame "labour rigidities". The United Nation's economic arm UNCTAD counters that the EU demand for "wage compression" is itself perpetuating the crisis.

The labour share of total income has fallen to a 60-year low, eating away at demand. This is a formula for perma-slump. In a thinly veiled attack on Berlin, Frankfurt, and Brussels, the UN decried the "political blockade" against any solution to the crisis. It mocked the "discredited mantra" of flexible labour markets. Well, at least somebody is exposing the lie.