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Canada, British Columbia: Vancouver Airport Improvement Fee Jumps to $20 to Pay for Upgrades

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© Wikipedia
Passengers flying out of Vancouver International Airport for destinations beyond B.C. are going to have to pay more for the privilege starting May 1.

The Vancouver Airport Authority has announced $1.8 billion in upgrades and says it's hiking the airport improvement fee by 33 per cent in order to pay for the work.

The fee will jump from $15 to $20 for people flying outside of B.C., while passengers flying within the province and Yukon region will continue to pay five dollars.

USA

US Special Forces Troops Free US, Danish Hostages, Kill 9 Pirates in Somalia Raid

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© unknown
American Jessica Buchanan and Dane Poul Hagen Thisted have been rescued by US Navy SEALs
U.S. Navy SEALs parachuted into Somalia under cover of darkness early Wednesday and crept up to an outdoor camp where an American woman and Danish man were being held hostage. Soon, nine kidnappers were dead and both hostages were freed.

President Barack Obama authorized the mission by SEAL Team 6 two days earlier, deploying the same unit that killed Osama bin Laden last year. Minutes after the president gave his State of the Union address to Congress he was on the phone with the American's father to tell him his daughter was safe.

The Danish Refugee Council confirmed the two aid workers, American Jessica Buchanan and Poul Hagen Thisted, a Dane, were "on their way to be reunited with their families."

Buchanan, 32, and Thisted, 60, were working with a de-mining unit of the Danish Refugee Council when gunmen kidnapped the two in October.

Heart - Black

US: Psychic Peaches Stevens Scammed Florida Woman Out Of $136,000

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© Jail Base
'Fraud' psychic Peaches Stevens allegedly scammed a Florida woman out of $136,000
What else is in the teachings of Peaches? Fraud, that's what.

So say Florida cops, who arrested "psychic" Peaches Stevens for allegedly defrauding a woman in Windermere out of $136,000 over seven years, according to The Orlando Sentinel.

Stevens was collared on Jan. 11 and thrown in Orange County Jail after a years-long bid by one of her alleged victims to out the fizzling fortune-teller.

For the victim -- identified during an interview with Anderson Cooper last fall as Priti Mahalanobis -- there were plenty of signs that Stevens wasn't exactly legitimate. First, Stevens allegedly told Mahalanobis to stuff 11 $100 bills and 11 names of relatives on a piece of paper in an envelope under her bed, along with a grapefruit, to quell the evil that Stevens said was wreaking havoc on Mahalanobis's family.

People

Occupy Movement Exposes Uncomfortable Facts

occupy protestors
© n/a
The recent Pew Research report on tensions between the rich and poor gives a road map to the ofttimes unfocused Occupy movement. Since 2009, the study found, there is "a growing awareness of class conflict" among Americans.

Whatever its findings, that the mainstream Pew Research Center would frame the report in the usually verboten language of "class conflict" is itself remarkable. Whenever verbiage such as "class" or "class struggle," let alone "class conflict" is used by academics or politicians to describe the incongruity between democracy and capitalism, it is rejected as Marxist ideological rant.

Even the avoidance of the use of "working class" for the more centrist "middle class" by President Obama led to the farcical cry of Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum that Obama was encouraging class warfare.

This is hardly surprising, for when Obama attempted to raise taxes on the wealthy for the benefit of the larger populace, he was charged with encouraging class warfare rather than attempting a more equitable distribution of wealth. Although the concept of a fair distribution of assets is democratic, not Marxist, in thrust, and the 1 percent have been waging a rigged undeclared war against the 99 percent for decades, now that the 99 percent have begun pushing back, there is an inevitable cry of foul from the reactionary rich.

Crusader

What Kind of Christianity Is This?

Jesus delivering the Sermon on the Mount.
© Painting by Carl Bloch
Jesus delivering the Sermon on the Mount.
Though founded by a pacifist, Christianity has justified some of the most brutal slaughters in human history, from the wars of the late Roman Empire to the Crusades to the Inquisition to world wars to genocides against "heathens," Muslims and Jews. Yet, Gary G. Kohls says the essence of Christianity can still be reclaimed.

From time to time, I read about condemnations of religion coming from non-religious groups, especially concerning the all-too-common violence perpetrated in the name of religious gods. Indeed there is plenty to condemn.

Altogether too many religions sects of both major and minor religions, despite verbally professing a desire for peace and justice in the world, are actually pro-war, pro-homicide and pro-violence in practice (or they may be silent on the subject, which is, according to moral theology, the same as being pro-violence).

Obvious examples include those portions of the three major war-justifying religions of the world: fundamentalist Islam, fundamentalist Judaism and fundamentalist Christianity.

Gear

Canada Extradites Phoney Rabbi Accused in 'Massive Immigration Fraud Mill'

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© unknown
A former New York lawyer who was posing as an orthodox rabbi in Toronto has been extradited to the United States, where he is accused of perpetrating a massive immigration fraud, raking in millions of dollars by processing up to 25,000 falsified immigration applications.

Earl Seth David, also known as Rabbi Avraham David, is a dual citizen of Canada and the United States, and fled to Canada when authorities uncovered what prosecutors called "a massive immigration fraud mill."

But to many in the Jewish community around Toronto, he was known as a Torah scholar and author of Code of the Heart, a 2005 book claiming to decode the Torah, the Hebrew Bible.

His book uses numerology and other techniques to find hidden meaning that influence and foreshadow world events, including the war in Iraq, the 9/11 terror attacks and even the rape allegations against basketball star Kobe Bryant.

The book's promotional materials said the world would be hearing a lot more from Rabbi Avraham David. On Wednesday, it did.

Attention

Military Coup Reported in Papua New Guinea

There are unconfirmed reports that a military coup has taken place in the capital of Papua New Guinea.

Australian Broadcasting Corp. News in Australia is reporting that soldiers loyal to ousted former prime minister Sir Michael Somare have staged a bloodless mutiny.

ABC said that early Thursday morning, about a dozen soldiers are believed to have raided the defense force headquarters and placed the head of the army, Brigadier General Francis Agwi, under house arrest.

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade warned Australians to limit their travel in the capital, due to what it described as "disturbances" at two barracks.

Eye 2

UK: Groupon Criticized For Literally Peddling Snake Oil

Groupon
© unknown
It's easy to laugh at the just released report from British advertising watchdogs scolding Groupon for selling snake oil after the company helped peddle an anti-aging serum last October. A complaint reviewed by the London-based Advertising Standards Authority scolded the Chicago-based deals site's U.K. affiliate, MyCity Deal, for falsely promoting the effects of "Wrinkle Killer Snake Serum" that the ad copy said offered "temporary freeze-like effects on the face muscles" and "leaves the skin looking younger." After what sounds like a pretty scientific study of the snake oil's effects, the ASA deemed the ad "misleading" and subsequently forbade Groupon from running it again.

This is funny for a couple of reasons. The first one is simply the idea that snake oil salesmen still exist in the world and still attempt to sell snake oil. It was over a hundred years ago that the Food and Drug Act regulated the sale of medicines, and while using snake oil as an anti-age serum is not the same as using it cure diseases, it's still a pretty lame way to take advantage of consumers.

Dollar

US, New Mexico: Man Awarded $22 Million After Two Years Spent in Jail for DWI

Stephen Slevin
© unknown
Stephen Slevin
A federal jury has awarded $22 million to a New Mexico man who was kept in solitary confinement for two years and forced to pull his own tooth after being arrested for drunken driving in Dona Ana County.

Civil rights attorney Matt Coyte said the jury awarded Stephen Slevin, 58, the damages Tuesday after a six-day trial in Santa Fe.

Jess Williams, spokesman for Dona Ana County, declined comment other than to say the county plans to appeal.

"We have believe we have strong legal issues to raise with the appeal," he said.

Slevin was arrested while driving through the southern New Mexico county in August 2005. He ended up in solitary confinement because he was suffering from depression and someone checked a box on a form indicating he was suicidal, Coyte said.

Bad Guys

Obama's "State of Delusion Address": Rebuilding America With War Crimes

king Obama
© n/a
From beginning to end, Barack Obama's State of the Union speech was replete with delusion and falsifications. His promise of building an "America that lasts" was predicated on a sentimental, but utterly disingenuous notion of selfless teamwork. The invocation of American military "heroes" and their "achievements" during nine years of waging war on Iraq as an exemplar of how to salvage his nation from economic and social catastrophe was both sickening and laughable.

"These achievements are a testament to the courage, selflessness and teamwork of America's Armed Forces. At a time when too many of our institutions have let us down, they exceed all expectations," said Obama in praise of US troops fresh from their destruction in Iraq.

If that's what Obama and the American people believe will resolve the deep-seated problems of American society then good luck to them in harbouring such crass delusions.

But what is sickening is how a truly gargantuan criminal war and blot on humanity is deified as a paragon of virtue to provide inspiration.