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New South Wales, Australia: 25 dead ponies dumped near cliff

The bodies of 25 ponies with no obvious wounds have been dumped near a cliff in northern NSW, police say.

A tip-off on Saturday afternoon led police to a truck parking bay three kilometres south of Old Ben Lomond Road near Glen Innes.

The officers followed tracks to a nearby cliff, where they spotted the bodies of 25 ponies of various colours and ages in the early stages of decomposition.

There were no obvious wounds on the animals or any other indication as to the cause of their death, police said.

Family

Gaming is "Next Major Addiction": Up to 40 Percent of Under-16s Know an Addict - and a Third of Adults Play Every Day

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© Alamy
Troubling: A charity has warned that addiction to playing computer games is set to become a major issue, particularly for 10 to 16-year-olds
Astonishing 40 per cent of people under 16 think they know of at least one person addicted to gaming

Addiction to playing computer games is set to become a major issue, a charity has warned.

New research carried out by Norfolk-based Norcas - which helps people overcome addiction to drugs, alcohol and gambling - revealed that huge numbers of 10 to 16-year-olds would be lost without computer games.

The charity commissioned independent research into gaming and addictive behaviours which revealed that more than a third of people surveyed above the age of 16 think they know of at least one person addicted to gaming.

For those under the age of 16 that number rose to almost 40 per cent.

People

US: Million-plus jobless Californians are facing benefit cutoff

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© Heidi Schumann/The New York Time
More than 1 million jobless California workers could have their unemployment insurance benefits cut off soon if Congress does not continue federally financed benefit extensions of up to 99 weeks, state officials said Wednesday.

At least 100,000 of those workers, those who have been unemployed the longest, could see a cutoff of benefits as early as the first week of January.

The state has more than 2 million unemployed workers, and 1.1 million of them are now collecting benefits -- either the 26 weeks of state-financed payments, or the up to 73 weeks of federally financed extended benefits in five tiers, in order, of 20, 14, 13, six and 20 weeks. Benefits range from $40 to $450 a week.

In all, California is paying out about $1.2 billion in state and federal unemployment insurance benefits a month.

Stormtrooper

IDF soldiers: Problem in West Bank isn't Palestinains, it's Jews

Nadav Bigelman of Haifa.
© Abdulla Shama
Nadav Bigelman of Haifa. 'It’s the same people who bring you cake at 2 A.M.'

'Our purpose there is to protect the Jews, but they generate many of the problems. It's very confusing,' says combat soldier discharged last year.

Recent attacks by right-wing extremists on Israel Defense Forces soldiers in the West Bank are just one manifestation of the violence to which many have been subjected during their service in recent years. Both regular and reserve soldiers, including junior officers, spoke about the complicated situation they find themselves in: having to protect the settlers while at the same time being attacked by them.

"Our purpose there is to protect the Jews, but they generate many of the problems. It's very confusing," said Nadav Bigelman, a combat soldier who was discharged last year.

"You understand pretty quickly what is going on, but it's not so clear what you are supposed to do about it," he said. "We never received an order telling us what to do when a Jewish boy throws stones at a Palestinian. Are we allowed to detain him or not? There's a gap between the battalion commander's instructions and what happens on the ground.

"It's the same people who bring you cake when you're on guard at 2 A.M.," he added. "What, are you going to arrest their kid when he throws stones the next day?"

Wall Street

Plan B - How to Loot Nations and Their Banks Legally

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© foolscrow.wordpress.com
Is there a plan B? That question is usually asked of governments regarding their attempts to 'save' the banks domiciled in their country. But has anyone asked if the banks have a plan B?

Does anyone think that if our governments fail to keep to their austerity targets and fail to keep bailing out the banking sector, that the banks will just shrug and say, "Well, thanks for trying" and accept their fate? Or do you think the banks might have a Plan B of their own?

First let's be clear about Plan A. That plan is to enforce an era of long-term austerity cuts to public services, in part to cut public expenditure so as to free up money for spending on the banks, but perhaps more importantly to further atrophy public services so that private providers can take over. A privatization of services which will bring great profits and cash flow to the private sector and to the banks who finance them, and a further general victory for those who feel that private debts rather than public taxes should be what underpins our national life and social contract.

Cheeseburger

Stifled by Corporate America, The Young Turn to Farming

organic farmers
© Jim Mone/AP Photo
Laura Frerichs, 31, is shown with husband Andy carrying infant son Eli on her organic farm outside of Hutchinson, Minn.
While fresh demographic information on U.S. farmers won't be available until after the next agricultural census is done next year, there are signs more people in their 20s and 30s are going into farming: Enrollment in university agriculture programs has increased, as has interest in farmer-training programs.

The young entrepreneurs typically cite two reasons for going into farming: Many find the corporate world stifling and see no point in sticking it out when there's little job security; and demand for locally grown and organic foods has been strong enough that even in the downturn they feel confident they can sell their products.

Farming is inherently risky: Drought, flooding, wind and other weather extremes can all destroy a year's work. And with farmland averaging $2,140 per acre across the U.S. but two to four times that much in the Midwest and California, the start-up costs can be daunting.

Still, agriculture fared better than many parts of the economy during the recession, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts record profits for farmers as a whole this year.

Che Guevara

Hugo Chávez Says Obama is "A Clown and An Embarrassment"

Hugo Chávez with Ahmadinejad
© Juan Barreto/AFP/Getty Images
Hugo Chávez with Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: the Venezuelan president has been criticised for his links to Iran.
Venezuelan president makes comments after US leader criticises his links with Iran and Cuba in a newspaper interview

On the eve of his first official overseas trip since being diagnosed with cancer, Hugo Chávez has launched a blistering attack on Barack Obama, describing the US president as a "clown" and an "embarrassment".

"Focus on governing your country, which you've turned into a disaster," the Venezuelan president told state TV on Monday. Chávez touched down in the Uruguayan capital, Montevideo, on Tuesday for a summit of Mercosur, South America's leading trade bloc.

Chávez's comments followed a rare and strongly worded interview with Obama published by the Caracas-based El Universal newspaper. The American president criticised Venezuela's business and political links with Iran and Cuba, and raised concerns at what he called threats to the country's democracy.

Stormtrooper

Canada: Edmonton Woman Alleges Assault by Mall Guards

People 'who have caused problems in the past' not allowed at West Edmonton Mall

A young Edmonton woman alleges she was assaulted by security guards at West Edmonton Mall last year in a case in which she was initially charged with assault with a weapon - her jacket.


Larissa Sharphead, 20, was taken to a holding cell by guards on Oct. 25, 2010, after she and her sister had too much to drink at the Empire Ballroom, a nightclub inside the massive shopping centre.

Sharphead, who was under a 10-year ban from mall premises, was picked up by the guards just outside the Bourbon Street entrance. Surveillance video of what transpired inside the cell afterwards was obtained by CBC News.

Die

Investors Lose Faith in Stocks as Billions Pour Out of Funds

hundred dollar bill
Investors appeared to have lost faith in stocks this year.

Just over a week ago, equity mutual funds globally had the second-biggest one-day outflow of money in 2011, capping four straight weeks of net redemptions, according to data from EPFR Global.

Worldwide, investors have yanked $34 billion out of equity funds this year and put $75 billion into bonds.

In the U.S., stock funds, including both exchange-traded funds and mutual funds, squeaked out a miniscule $4 billion net inflow this year, while fixed income-focused managers collected a monster $86 billion, according to EPFR.

Burned by two bubbles in the last decade and facing the second global financial crisis in three years, investors simply don't have the risk appetite for stocks.

Newspaper

UK Phone Hacking: Morgan refuses to name McCartney voicemail source

Piers Morgan
© Associated Press
In this image made from video, CNN star interviewer Piers Morgan answers questions Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2011
CNN celebrity interviewer Piers Morgan refused to disclose details Tuesday about his most damning link to Britain's phone hacking scandal - his acknowledgment that he once listened to a phone message left by Paul McCartney for his then-wife Heather Mills.

In an eagerly awaited appearance before the U.K.'s media ethics committee, Morgan, who replaced Larry King on CNN, was visibly tense, sometimes hostile and often rejected characterizations of his actions made by inquiry lawyers as "nonsense."

The stakes were high for Morgan. More than a dozen journalists have been arrested, senior executives with Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. media empire have lost their jobs, and top U.K. police officers have resigned over their failure to tackle the phone hacking scandal. His testimony Tuesday was given under oath, and Morgan could be subject to criminal proceedings if he was found to have violated any British laws.