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Propaganda Alert! Violence and protest in Iran as currency drops in value

© European Pressphoto Agency
Riot police officers clashed with money changers in Tehran on Wednesday.
Tehran, Iran - The first outbreak of public anger over Iran's collapsing currency and other economic maladies jolted the heart of the capital on Wednesday, with riot police violently clamping down on black-market money changers, hundreds of citizens marching to demand relief and merchants in the sprawling bazaar closing their shops in protest.

The official news media in Iran said an unspecified number of people had been arrested, including two Europeans, in the unrest, which was documented in news photographs, at least two verifiable videos uploaded on YouTube and witness accounts. Economists and political analysts in Iran and abroad said the anger reflected both the accumulated impact of harsh Western economic sanctions over Iran's disputed nuclear program as well as the government's inability to manage an economic crisis that has become increasingly acute.

It came a day after Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, told a televised news conference that the plunge in the value of the currency, the rial - it has fallen by 40 percent against the dollar this past week - was orchestrated by ruthless currency speculators, the United States and other unspecified internal enemies of Iran. He pleaded with fellow citizens to stop selling their rials for dollars, a currency he once characterized as "a worthless piece of paper," and warned that speculators face arrest and punishment.

But Mr. Ahmadinejad, whose stewardship of the economy has been increasingly challenged by other Iranian politicians in the last year of his term, offered no new solutions to arrest the slide in the rial, which is a major inflationary threat and has become the most visible barometer of Iran's economic travails. Because of the sanctions, Iran is facing extreme difficulties in selling oil, its main export, and in repatriating dollars and other foreign currencies, because Iran has been largely cut off from the global banking system.


Every U.S. baby born with over $13,000 debts

© Unknown
A newly released study revealed that every newly-born baby in the US owes more than $13,000 when it comes to state debt.

According to State Budget Solutions, a nonpartisan group pushing for state budget reform, "every American owes $13,425 in state debt on average."

For private sector workers who are shouldering much of the tax burden, the amount of debt adds up to well over $37,000 per worker, the study released on Tuesday said according to Huffington Post.

In a relevant study released in August, the SBS released another report showing that all together, state governments are facing debts of more than $4.6 trillion.

The state with the highest total debt is California, which is $617 billion in the red. New York is second with just more than $300 billion, followed by Texas, Illinois and New Jersey. Vermont has the least amount of debt among the 50 states, with only $5.8 billion in state debt, according to the report.

On a per capita basis, the states with the highest debt load are Hawaii, New Jersey and Alaska. Nebraska has the lowest total debt per capita at just $4,249 for each resident.

Over the last several years, the recession hit states and cities hard, causing revenues from income, property and sales taxes to fall off significantly. To shore up their budgets, many states have slashed work forces and payroll, made deep cuts into services, and have had to hunt for new revenue.

The accrued debts account for state spending on everything from roads, schools, state employee salaries, and even a pork-barrel project or two.

Comment: With the collapsing of the U.S. and world economy, who will be able to make good on such debts?


North and South Korea 'on the verge of nuclear war'

© AP Photo/Frank Franklin
North Korean Deputy Vice Minister Pak Kil-yon addresses the United Nations General Assembly
A senior North Korean diplomat warned a meeting of the UN General Assembly in New York that "a spark of fire could set off a thermonuclear war" on the Korean Peninsula.

Pak Kil-yon, Pyongyang's vice-foreign minster, put the blame for the tense state of inter-Korean relations firmly on South Korea's conservative government and claimed the citizens of the North feel "shame" and "political terror."

Monday's speech was the first time a representative of North Korea has addressed the General Assembly since Kim Jong-un assumed power after the death of his father in December last year.

"Since taking office, the current South Korean government has caused the worst situation in North-South relations by making all inter-Korean agreements null and void," Pak said, referring to pacts with previous South Korean administrations that sought reconciliation between the two ideological enemies and an expansion of economic co-operation.

Describing relations between the two governments as in "total bankruptcy," Pak dismissed the South Korean government of Lee Myung-bak with the comment, "History will bring them to justice."

Neither the United States nor the UN escaped criticism, with Pak saying recent joint military manoeuvres between the US and South Korean troops were "reckless provocations."

Bizarro Earth

Anti-Muslim ads could be on the way to Washington

© Agence France-Presse
An ad in New York Subway saying"In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad ” in New York
The controversial "Defeat Jihad" advertisements that went up in New York last month could soon be coming to the nation's capital pending a ruling expected in DC District Court this week.

When the American Freedom Defense Initiative attempted to purchase ad-space earlier this year to propagate its mission of defeating the spread of so-called "Islamorealism,"officials in both New York, NY and Washington, DC rushed to put a halt on their plans. The signage, subways ads that read, "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man: Support Israel/Defeat Jihad," were quick to be condemned by Muslim-Americans who viewed the work as hateful to Muslims.

The group's plea to put signs up in subways across New York ended up with a fight in District Court, where a Manhattan federal judge eventually sided with the AFDI and the organization's founder, Pamela Geller, opining that the First Amendment protection of speech allowed for her group to go ahead with their plans there. Now the case will be discussed in a courtroom in DC, where Geller intends on also having the adverts on display.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority had originally agreed to cut a deal with the AFDI, but a wave of anti-American sentiment that swept the Muslim World last month, especially the September 11, 2012 incident in Benghazi that killed US Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others, had them rethinking their contract. The WMATA temporarily pulled the plug on the planned launch date of September 24, insisting that the agency would be required to "re-evaluate" the signage as they feared the anti-Islamic rhetoric would "expose passengers to terrorism and threaten their safety," court documents obtained by POLITICO reveal.

Eye 2

TSA hires a priest excluded from clergy for child molestation

Thomas Harkins
© CBS News
Thomas Harkins was a priest in New Jersey until May 2002 and now works as a Transportation Security Administration agent at Philadelphia International Airport.
In 2002, Thomas Harkins was permanently removed by the Catholic Church after 20-plus years of allegations that the former clergyman had molested children at parishes across the East Coast. Today, he's your friendly TSA agent.

Despite being excommunicated and forced to pay around $195,000 to settle civil lawsuit relating to a barrage of sex-crime charges in the greater Philadelphia area, Harkins, now 65, didn't have a problem finding a new job after being booted from the Catholic Church in 2002. Shortly after, he was hired by the Transportation Security Administration and assigned to a position that required him to routinely pat-down young children and subject them to the evasive, hands-on body scans that have become a hallmark of post-9/11 America.

The Church reached out to the TSA and told the federal agency of Harkins' sordid pass - which includes several allegations that suggest the priest molested young girls as early as 1979. He was transferred in 2000 to a prison to serve as a chaplain there and, two years later, permanently removed from the Catholic community.

As a TSA agent, Harkins touched passengers - children and adults, alike - until 2004. At that point, the Philadelphia Inquirer has learned, he was promoted to a supervising provision where he remains today, overseeing checked baggage. Now he maintains a quiet life as a federal security staffer, despite once looking at a life in jail for a series of sex crimes.

Because those crimes never made it through a full court trial, however, the TSA says they have their hands tied.

"An allegation alone does not warrant dismissal or automatically disqualify applicants from employment with the TSA," spokeswoman Ann Davis tells the Inquirer.

TSA Hiring Pedophiles and Child Pornographers
Thomas Harkin, Former Catholic Priest Accused Of Sex Abuse, Now Works For TSA


Police Brutality: Philadelphia cop caught punching woman in the face

The Philadelphia Police Department is in hot water after a video has surfaced showing an officer with the force striking a woman in the face during this weekend's Puerto Rican Day parade.

Video was published on YouTube over the weekend that documents the events immediately before an unidentified woman in attendance at Sunday's was sucker-punched by a large police officer, prompting blood to gush from the victim's face.

"Philadelphia Police Brutality" was uploaded by Youtube user Gisela Valentin on Sunday and by Monday afternoon the clip had made it to the front page of the popular sharing-site Reddit and was generating new comments every few seconds.

Although the police department has yet to issue a formal explanation for the assault, the evidence caught on camera paints a story that has many laptop critics to condemn the cops for assaulting a woman seemingly without provocation.


At least 26 killed in Nigeria school massacre

© Agence France-Presse
An undated picture released on the internet site of the Mubi Federal Polytechnic school shows the entrance of the premises in Mubi, northeast Nigeria.
Gunmen opened fire on students in a northeast Nigerian college, shooting some of them dead and stabbing others. Police say an Islamist extremist group could be behind the attack, but are also looking into possible links with student union elections.

­Local sources say the attackers mainly targeted students who live in rented accommodation outside the campus of the Federal Polytechnic in Mubi.

The massacre is being blamed on Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, but officials say they do not rule out the possibility of political rivalry between college groups ahead of student union elections.

The town of Mubi is located in Nigeria's troubled northeast which has seen such violence previously, including January when gunmen killed at least 12 people.


Whitley County restaurant shut down after road kill found in kitchen

Chinese Restaurant
Williamsburg, Kentucky - A Chinese restaurant forced to shut its doors after getting caught with a dead deer in the kitchen.

It happened Thursday afternoon at the Red Flower Chinese Restaurant in Williamsburg.

"We were actually joking about the, you know, the whole Chinese restaurant. You know some rumors that you hear," says Katie Hopkins, a customer of the Red Flower restaurant.

But, Hopkins and her friends never imaged what would happen next, after finishing up a buffet lunch.

"Two of the workers came in wheeling a garbage can and they had a box sitting on top of it. And hanging out of the garbage can, they were trying to be real quick with it. So that nobody could see it. But there was like a tail, and a foot and leg. Sticking out of the garbage can and they wheeled it straight back into the kitchen," adds Hopkins.

Hopkins immediately called the health department to describe what she saw, "Many people eat there. A lot of locals eat there on lunch breaks and stuff. It was very disturbing. There was actually a blood trail that they were mopping up behind the garbage can."

Paul Lawson, the environmental health inspector in Whitley County says this is the craziest thing he's ever seen.


Precursor to social unrest? High food prices forecast more global riots ahead, researchers say

When French peasants stormed the Bastille on July 14, 1789, they weren't just revolting against the monarchy's policies. They were also hungry. From the French Revolution to the Arab Spring, high food prices have been cited as a factor behind mass protest movements. But can food prices actually help predict when social unrest is likely break out? Yes, say a group of researchers who use mathematical modeling to describe how food prices behave. Earlier this summer, their model had predicted that the U.S. drought would push corn and wheat prices high enough to spark social unrest in other parts of the world.

"Now, of course, we do see this happening," says Yaneer Bar-Yam of the New England Complex Science Institute in Cambridge, Mass. And unless those food prices come down, the researchers warned last week, more waves of riots are coming.

© Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images
A Tunisian protester holds a baguette while taking to riot police in January 2011

Comment: Is the food shortage before us? Will we be buying bacon and pork sausages next year?

Arrow Up

Eurozone unemployment hits record high and reveals two-speed Europe

Eurozone unemployment has hit a record high, revealing further evidence of a two-speed Europe as increasing numbers of young people in Spain, Greece and Italy desperately seek work while Germany's jobless rate continues to fall.

Troubled eurozone states Greece and Spain are seeing youth unemployment rise, but Germany has seen a fall to 8.1pc in August
The eurozone unemployment rate was 11.4pc in August, up from 10.2pc last year. Data from the EU statistics agency Eurostat estimated that 25.5m men and women were out of work over the period, 18.2m of whom were in the eurozone.

Compared with the previous month the number of unemployed people in the EU rose by 49,000 and in the eurozone by 34,000.

The overall unemployment rate in Spain has reached 25.1pc, while the latest data from Greece for June shows a figure of 24.4pc. The outlook is far more optimistic in Germany, however, where just 5.5pc of people are out of work.