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Fri, 07 May 2021
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Police officers suspended in Texas for contest on who could steal most signs from the homeless

© AP
A homeless woman named Katt in Midland, Texas.
Two police officers in Midland, Texas were reprimanded for a contest to see who could confiscate the most cardboard signs from homeless panhandlers, despite the fact that panhandling is not illegal in the city.

The officers, Derek Hester and Daniel Zoelzer, were suspended for three days without pay and, according to Police Chief Price Robinson, "reminded to respect individual rights and human dignity."

"We want to respect people, no matter who they are - homeless, whatever," he continued. "That situation's been dealt with. Those officers understand."

An attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project, Cassandra Champion, said that "the fact that they are making sport out of collecting the personal property of homeless individuals could be seen as them targeting these individuals for discriminatory harassment. Simply holding a sign is absolutely a protected part of our free speech."


EU votes through new draconian anti-smoking rules

After three years of tortuous debate, the European Parliament voted and passed the Tobacco Product Directive by 514 votes to 66. Certainly, the sacking by Manuel Barroso of Maltese Health Commissioner John Dalli for allegedly soliciting a bribe of €60 million from a Swedish snus manufacturer did nothing to speed matters up.

The main points of the TPD are:
  • Banning the sale of packs of ten cigarettes and small pouches of tobacco
  • Health warnings to cover 65 percent of the front and back of all packaging
  • Banning of flavours like menthol
  • Minimum sized packets
  • Allows member states to ban internet sales, specifically aimed at electronic cigarettes
  • Regulation of electronic cigarettes
  • Continuing ban on Swedish snus, a tobacco-based alternative to smoking

Comment: Smokers' lungs used in half of transplants: Improves Survival Rate!
Smoking Does Not Cause Lung Cancer (According to WHO/CDC Data)
Air pollution causes lung cancer in non-smokers (erm, can't it cause it in smokers too then?)
Government Suppresses Major Public Health Report
Air pollution leading cause of cancer, World Health Organisation warns
'World No Tobacco Day'? Let's All Light Up!


Netherlands Immigrants: Learn Dutch or get out!

France's face veil ban is just the latest controversial law aimed at assimilating new immigrants in Europe. The Netherlands now requires Dutch fluency to become a citizen:

Eye 2

Talking parrot helps Indian police solve mysterious murder case

© Shutterstock
First a parrot rats out its owner for a DUI and now this: Last week, a talking parrot helped police solve the mysterious murder of its owner.

On February 20, Neelam Sharma and her pet dog were found murdered in Agra, India.

Police were baffled by the case until they got an tip from Sharma's husband, Vijayy Sharma.

After the murder, Sharma noticed that whenever his nephew Ashutosh visited his home or was mentioned, Hercule the parrot changed his behavior.

"During discussions too, whenever Ashutosh's name was mentioned, the parrot would start screeching. This raised my suspicion and I informed the police," Sharma told the Times of India.

Police detained Ashutosh, who quickly confessed to murdering his aunt and her dog.

"We checked his call details and took him in custody. He accepted his crime and informed us that he was accompanied by an accomplice. They had entered the house with the intention of taking away cash and other valuables," an Agra police spokesperson told the Times.

Ashutosh said he killed his aunt after she recognized him. The dog got the axe because he wouldn't stop barking. Unfortunately for Ashutosh, he didn't see the parrot, who silently witnessed the entire crime, according to police.


Unimaginable desolation: Palestinian refugees Israel refuses permission to return to their homeland are desperate and starving under blockade by Western terrorists in Syria

It is a scene of unimaginable desolation – a crowd of men, women and children stretching as far as the eye can see into the war-devastated landscape of Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria. This was the queue for aid at a UNRWA distribution point in the capital, Damascus, on 31 January. The UN relief agency has distributed more than 7,000 food parcels in the Palestinian camp, home to about 160,000 people, since 18 January. The UN has reported infant malnutrition in the community, which has been reduced to eating animal feed. As of this week, all aid distributions have been suspended because of security concerns. Chris Gunness, a spokesperson, said UNRWA had received assurances that a deal allowing humanitarian access to Yarmouk would be implemented as soon as possible. He said: “They have suffered enough.”
Huge crowd of Palestinians is photographed waiting for aid in Yarmouk, which has been under blockade for month

It is a vision of unimaginable desolation: a crowd of men, women and children stretching as far as the eye can see into the war-devastated landscape of Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus.

A photograph released on Wednesday by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, shows the scene when thousands of desperate Palestinians trapped inside the camp on the edge of the Syrian capital emerged to besiege aid workers attempting to distribute food parcels.

More than 18,000 people are existing under blockade inside Yarmouk, enduring acute shortages of food, medicines and other essentials. Much of the camp has been destroyed by shelling, and attempts to deliver aid to those inside have been hampered by continued fighting in Syria's three-year-old civil war.

United Nations workers have delivered about 7,000 food parcels over recent weeks, following negotiations between the Syrian government, rebel forces and Palestinian factions within the camp. The most recent delivery, of 450 parcels, was on Wednesday. The UN acknowledges that the level of aid is a "drop in the ocean".

Comment: Don't be fooled by the attempt to pass this off as "very complex". It's actually quite straightforward:

Al Qaeda is blocking aid from reaching starving Syrians, says Palestinian minister

Bizarro Earth

Senegal farmers protest land grab by multinational corporation

© Unknown
Farmers and herders from northwestern Senegal have travelled to Europe to demand the scrapping of a land deal that threatens the lives and livelihoods of some 9,000 people. A murky international conglomerate, Senhuile SA, has leased 20,000 hectares of land in the Ndiaël Reserve, land which has been used for decades by residents of some 40 villages in the area. The villagers want the project stopped, saying it will cut off their access to grazing land, water, food and firewood - ultimately forcing them off their homes and land.

Senhuile SA is a joint venture controlled by Italy's Tampieri Financial Group, Senegalese investors, and Agro Bioethanol International, a shell company registered in New York. The herders, along with representatives of the Conseil National de Concertation et de Coopération des Ruraux (CNCR) and the Senegalese non-governmental organisations ENDA Pronat and ActionAid, are in Europe from today to 6 March 2014 to mobilise citizens to call on Tampieri, Senhuile's majority shareholder, to close down the project. The project was initially established in another location, Fanaye, where violence resulting from local opposition led to the death of two villagers and dozens more injured in 2011.

Light Sabers

With radical nationalists siezing power in Kiev, Autonomous Republic of Crimea sets date for referendum on secession from Ukraine

© Reuters/Baz Ratner
Ukrainian police stand guard in front the Crimean parliament building in Simferopol February 27, 2014.
The Supreme Council of Ukraine's Autonomous Republic of Crimea has dismissed the regional government, electing a pro-Russian party leader as its new chair. The MPs have also voted in favor of holding a referendum to decide the future of Crimea on May 25.

Fifty-five out of 64 MPs voted for the government's dissolution. The decision was announced by parliament official Olga Sulnikova.

The decision to dismiss Crimea's Council of Ministers was supported by 55 out of 64 Crimean MPs. The no-confidence motion came as a result of "unsatisfactory" work by the regional government in 2013, Interfax-Ukraine reported.

The Chairman of the Council of Ministers, Anatoly Mogilyov, was also dismissed. The leader of Crimea's Russian Unity party, Sergey Aksyonov, has been voted in as the new chairman, RIA Novosti reports. The pro-Russian politician was supported by a majority of 53 MPs of the Crimean parliament, with 64 MPs taking part in the vote out of 100.


U.S Federal Appeals Court: Judge rips death penalty states for secretive, unproven execution methods - comparable to high school chemistry class

© Reuters
Lethal injection room
A federal appeals court judge excoriated states that have resorted to secretive and unproven methods for lethal injections, calling the source of the drug Missouri used Wednesday for an execution as "nothing more than a high school chemistry class."

Judge Kermit Bye, of the US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, ripped death penalty states for their increasingly closed approaches in carrying out capital punishments with the aid of anonymous compounding pharmacies that supply drugs.

Bye leveled his disapproval hours before Michael Taylor, 47, was executed for the 1989 murder of a 15-year-old girl in Kansas City. Taylor was put to death using pentobarbital from a pharmacist that the Missouri Department of Corrections will not disclose.

Though the Eighth Circuit did not stay Taylor's execution - nor did the US Supreme Court halt the proceedings - Bye said in his dissent the Eighth Amendment "prohibits the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain through torture, barbarous methods, or methods resulting in a lingering death."

FBI review of death penalty cases leads to 27 possible mistaken executions
Connecticut Lawmakers Vote to Repeal Death Penalty
Death penalty suspended in Washington state
35 Years Of Death Penalty Regrets

Cowboy Hat

Here's the surprising reason why so many bosses are horrid to their women employees

men bosses female workers

Father figure? Perhaps he's hen-pecked
  • Men's attitudes to female colleagues depends on their wives and daughters
  • A boss with a stay-at-home wife is likely pass up a women for a promotion
Are you a working woman who thinks you're overdue a pay rise? Are you frustrated that a long-deserved promotion continues to elude you?

If your boss is male, there may be factors thwarting your career progression that have nothing whatsoever to do with your ability and everything to do with his personal life.

It may not matter if you've brought in more business than your peers, single-handedly turned round your company's fortunes or even invented a cure for cancer. The most important factor may be whether your boss's firstborn happens to be a girl rather than a boy, or whether his wife is a stay-at-home mother.

That's according to a groundbreaking piece of new research, which shows that men see female colleagues through a lens defined by the nature of their close relationships with women in their private lives.

For example, if his eldest child is female, a male boss will pay his staff more, give women the biggest raises and be more likely to treat male and female colleagues as equals. Conversely, he will pay his female and male employees less (and himself more) after having sons.

If he has sisters, a male boss is more likely to cling more to traditional gender roles and believe a woman's place is in the home.

This is also true if his wife happens to be a stay-at-home mum: in which case his world view, albeit unconscious, is that working women are less competent and female-run organisations less effective.

This disapproval means he is less likely to promote qualified female employees.

It's a shock. No matter what key client accounts you bring in or how long and hard you work, the fact your boss's wife spends her days volunteering for the school cake sale committee or honing her abs at the gym may make you less competent in his eyes.


Disabled Vietnam vet, 70, shot in the stomach by police as he reached for his CANE during a traffic stop

Bobby Canipe
Shot: Bobby Canipe is recovering in hospital after a deputy fired at him

A disabled Vietnam vet was shot in the stomach by police in South Carolina as he reached for his cane during a traffic stop.

Bobby Canipe, 70, is recovering from emergency surgery after York County deputy Terrence Knox fired several times on Tuesday evening.

Mr Canipe had been pulled over near Clover for an expired license as he returned from a day out to watch car racing.

The 24-year-old deputy believed the elderly man was trying to grab a rifle from the back of his pick up truck and fired at him, with one bullet striking Mr Canipe.

'Deputy Knox was forced to make a split-second, life-or-death decision and fired his weapon several times, striking Canipe once,' Trent Faris, a spokesman for the sheriff's office, said.

Joe Ashwell, who was driving along the same road at the time of the shooting, said he heard gunfire and saw an officer trying to help a man on the ground.