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Tue, 31 Jan 2023
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Former Guantanamo chief faces French court inquiry

Major General Geoffrey D. Miller
© Reuters/Damir Sagolj
Major General Geoffrey D. Miller.
Guantanamo prison ex-chief Geoffrey Miller has been summoned by a French court over the use of torture in the detention facility a decade ago, following a lawsuit from two French citizens who were former inmates of the infamous military jail.

French citizens Nizar Sassi and Mourad Benchellali have filed a lawsuit in a French court against the former Guantanamo chief, demanding a criminal probe into his actions.

On Thursday, the court granted the complaint, summoning the former American general to France for a hearing.

Comment: Hopefully this will have a snowball effect. These human rights violators must be brought to justice, including the politicians involved.


China to fund new high speed railway in Russia

China plans to invest 300 billion rubles ($5 million) in the construction of a high-speed railway from Moscow to Kazan. Of this sum, 250 billion rubles will come in the form of 20-year loans from Chinese banks.

According to business daily Vedomosti, the Chinese side discussed the financial details of this project with a representative of the Russian delegation at a meeting behind closed doors during the Boao Forum for Asia 2015.

Earlier, Alexander Misharin, first vice-president of Russian Railways, said that project financing would be offered in two currencies - rubles and yuan, writes the newspaper Kommersant. This project is more than just a promising idea - according to Misharin, for the state, the payback period of such projects is five to seven years.

Brick Wall

Should you withdraw your money from the bank? Recent glitches and freezes in the system


The above right image was captured from a real ATM machine not long ago, and could be seen anytime for any reason by anyone operating on the digital grid.
If ever you needed a better motivation to get your funds out of the bank, this is a clear sign that a digital clampdown is coming.

There are increasing examples of technology failures and stricter bank policies that are keep people from getting their money.

And they are happening all across the globe.

Ulster Bank in Ireland just made news after customers were locked out of their accounts by a glitch that disabled access to wage money:
Following a number of complaints from those expecting their weekly and monthly salaries to post, the bank apologised on Twitter for the glitch.

"We're aware that a number of customers are experiencing delays in receiving credits this morning, our tech team are working on this at the moment," the bank's customer care account, @UlsterBank_Help tweeted.

Comment: So not only are there laws on the books effectively criminalizing one for taking out large amounts of one's own money, not only are their "glitches" in withdrawing your money electronically, but the whole banking system itself is dangerously over-leveraged ie., horrible "investments" have been made with your money, which leaves your money in a very precarious position.

See also:


Take that Empire! FIFA rejects U.S. lawmakers calls to move 2018 World Cup out of Russia

© Sputnik/ Alexey Nikolsky
World football's governing body FIFA rejected on Thursday a call by a bipartisan group of 13 US senators to move the 2018 World Cup out of Russia.

In a letter sent Tuesday and released publicly Wednesday, the Democratic and Republican US lawmakers said they "strongly encourage" the International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) to move the global competition, arguing that allowing Russia to play host to the event "inappropriately bolsters the prestige" of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

FIFA spokeswoman Delia Fischer rejected calls to strip Russia of the World Cup it was awarded in 2010.

"History has shown so far that boycotting sport events or a policy of isolation or confrontation are not the most effective ways to solve problems," Fischer wrote Wednesday in an email to the Associated Press.

The World Cup, she said, "can be a powerful catalyst for constructive dialogue between people and governments, helping to bring positive social developments."

"We have seen that the FIFA World Cup can be a force for good and FIFA believes this will be the case for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia."

FIFA President Sepp Blatter earlier slammed calls to boycott the 2018 World Cup in Russia saying football was "a symbol of unity."

"Football should be united, sport should be united when it comes to boycotts," Blatter said addressing the 39th UEFA Congress in Vienna. "Boycotts have never had any results."


Massive fire raging at General Electric plant in Kentucky, US

Massive fire at GE's Appliance Park in Buechel, Kentucky

Massive fire at GE's Appliance Park in Buechel, Kentucky, US.
A four-alarm fire ravaged a Louisville, Kentucky factory on Friday. Eyewitnesses say GE's Appliance Park facility was consumed in the blaze, and local media reported that all employees are safe and accounted for.

The fire broke out Friday morning within one of the buildings that composes the massive manufacturing park opened in the 1950s by General Electric. A local ABC News affiliate reported that the building is leased by Derby Industries, an industrial supply company. Building 6 at GE's Appliance Park was evacuated quickly after the blaze erupted, according to the ABC affiliate, and the network reported that the fire "consumed the building," sparing next to nothing.


Baffin Island town in state of emergency as power outage continues

arctic power outage
© David Kilabuk
A fire at the local power plant has led to a community-wide power outage in the Nunavut community of Pangnirtung.
Emergency supplies and generators on way to hamlet of Pangnirtung that is mostly in the dark

The Northwest Territories Power Corporation is airlifting two mobile generators to Pangnirtung, Nunavut, after an overnight fire at the local power plant knocked out power to the entire community of about 1,400.

"Loss of power in the community, in the North, in the winter time is a very serious situation," said Ed Zebedee, the territory's director of protection services in Iqaluit. The community relies entirely on the power plant that generates electricity from diesel fuel.

Environment Canada has called for a high of -15 C today with a low of -19 C expected tonight.

An emergency warming shelter has been opened at Attagoyuk Ilisavik School, where there is backup power. A few other buildings in the community also have backup power, but the rest are cold and dark.

"We opened the warming shelters very early this morning and people are starting to go there," Zebedee said. "We talked to the hamlet and they are getting food from the local stores so they can start feeding people."

The Nunavut government is now working towards getting charter flights to the community to bring people with high-risk health issues, such as those who may be on oxygen generators, to Iqaluit.

The government is also working with the public health agency in Ottawa to get cots, blankets and pillows, which will be flown into Pangnirtung in case residents have to sleep in the school.

Light Saber

Wisconsin grandmother sent to jail for protesting drone murders

grandmother drone protest

Bonnie Block, a Madison grandmother and long-time peace activist
Joy First reports from Mauston, Wisc., that Bonnie Block, a Madison grandmother and long-time peace activist, was found guilty of trespassing in a jury trial in the Juneau County Courthouse on Wednesday, April 1, 2015, and sent to jail.

Sadly, this is not an April Fool's joke. Block was compelled to either pay $232 or spend 5 days in the Juneau County Jail. Faced with that choice, Block said in court:

"Your Honor, I asked for a jury trial in this matter so I could explain to the citizens of Juneau County my moral, constitutional, and legal reasons for opposing the drone training via handing out a leaflet at the Volk Field Open House. I also wanted to point out the absurdity of being arrested for trespassing at an event to which the public had been invited.

"However, the Court's pretrial orders based on the District Attorney's 25-point Motion in Limine precluded me from explaining this to the jury because the pre-trial orders prohibited any mention to the jury of the very issues that I believe constitute a defense for my nonviolent action.

"These prohibitions also made it impossible for me to testify on my own behalf because I couldn't honor the oath 'to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.' And to top it off, there was the unilateral refusal of Volk Field Commander Romauld to honor my third-party subpoena to testify so he could explain the military rules and rationale that he considers the justification for my arrest. It puts the military brass above the law and I object.

"For these reasons, I can't in good conscience pay the fine. It would be giving consent to the outcome of a legal process I believe was unfair and which sets dangerous precedents for those of us engaged in nonviolent civil resistance and seeking justice for victims of U.S. drone warfare. So I'll 'do the time instead of paying the fine.'"

After sentencing Block to 5 days in jail, First reports, Judge Paul Curran told Block that he would allow her to have lunch with her husband and son before reporting to the Juneau County "Justice" Center to begin her sentence.

Comment: It's heartening to know there are still people of conscience in America.


Mass dog killings shock city of Hermosillo, Mexico

© KOIN.com
Somebody is systematically poisoning the dogs of Hermosillo, an industrial city in northern Mexico, and not just strays: At least 64 dogs, all with owners, have died of a similar poison since mid-March. More stray animals have probably been killed, but had no one to file a complaint, authorities say.

An organic phosphate compound, possible an insecticide or rat poison, apparently was used in most of the cases, and local media have dubbed the person responsible the "Mataperros," or "The Dog Killer".

Not even dogs kept behind the walls of their owners' homes are safe: Officials say the killer has tossed poison into the gated patios of some homes.

No one knows who the dog killer is, whether the killings involve more than one person or what caused them to turn against dogs.

A male caller to a local radio station in Hermosillo claimed to be, along with accomplices, the killer. But he complained about loose dogs, dog bites and dogs spreading disease and uncleanliness — complaints that don't jibe with attacks on pets inside their owners' homes.

Animal rights activist Carolina de la Torre said she doubts that one person could have poisoned so many dogs. But she noted there appears to be a modus operandi: poison wrapped in a hot dog or meat as bait.

"This is systematic. This can't be the work of one person alone," said De la Torre, who says a total of at least 71 dogs have been killed in the city of about 800,000. She said the killings appear to be concentrated in three neighborhoods on the city's south side.

"It could range from a neighbor who is bothered by noise (from pets), or even thieves who want to get rid of the dog in order to be able to break into the house," said De la Torre. "Those are the two theories we are looking at."

Hermosillo resident Julieta Robles, 23, lost her 5-year-old female German Shepherd, "Box," to the poisoner two weeks ago. The dog had gotten out of her home, but was wearing a collar and tag.

"When she came home that night, she was disoriented," Robles said. We tried to help her, we took her to the vet, but we couldn't save her."

"It was a feeling of a lot of helplessness," Robles added, "not knowing who they are or how to respond to a mass poisoning."

Animal defenders are starting to fight back.

Los Angeles-based actor Raul Julia Levy has offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the culprit or culprits.

"When have you heard of anything like this?" Julia Levy said, "We know there are serial killers of humans, but we've never heard of a serial killer of dogs."

While killing a dog is considered a non-serious crime in Hermosillo, punishable by a fine of about $225, the dog killer has introduced poison into people's homes, a much more serious crime involving trespass and risk for the human inhabitants that could carry a four-year sentence.

Heart - Black

Supporting rape culture: University of Maryland says frat member's racist, pro-rape email didn't break school policy; protected by free speech

© Shutterstock
The University of Maryland's president is calling a sexist and racist email by a member of a campus fraternity reprehensible but says it did not violate school policy and is protected by the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment right to free speech.

Comment: Considering the rape culture rampant at universities, it's no surprise that the President of the school is unwilling to recognize the problem here. It's become the new normal. As long as the power structures at these schools remain indifferent, the rape culture will continue.

The email sent by a member of Kappa Sigma no longer enrolled at the school to several fellow fraternity members was racist and used "language disparaging the importance of sexual consent," university spokesman Brian Ullmann said.

In a letter to students on Wednesday, President Wallace Loh said the email was "hateful and reprehensible," but did not break the law or violate school policy. The student has not been identified.

"It caused anger and anguish, pain and fear, among many people," Loh said.

The email was sent last year but only recently became public online.

The national chapter of Kappa Sigma in a statement called the incident inexcusable and said the student submitted a letter of resignation from the fraternity.

The school ordered mandatory diversity training for Kappa Sigma and said all members of its fraternity system will undergo mandatory training in sexual assault prevention, multicultural competency, drug and alcohol education and hazing prevention.

Comment: The UVA rape outrage and media damage control


11 former educators found guilty of racketeering in test-cheating scandal

© Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Kent D. Johnson
Eleven former Atlanta public school educators were found guilty by a jury on Wednesday on charges of racketeering in one of the largest U.S. test-cheating scandals.

Prosecutors accused a dozen former teachers, principals and administrators of erasing incorrect answers or instructing students to change their answers to secure promotions and cash bonuses in 2009.

Eleven of the 12 defendants were found guilty of racketeering. Some were also convicted on lesser charges.

Only one educator was found not guilty on all counts.

The educators were among 35 teachers, principals and administrators indicted in 2013 after a state investigation of 56 Atlanta public schools found cheating on standardized tests in 44 of them.

The cheating was largely prompted by pressure to meet test targets, according to the state investigation.

Comment: The education system has turned from being concerned with actually educating our children to playing a numbers game, where meeting "test targets" is prioritized over everything else due to school funding being tied to standardized testing. What you see in this case are educators who felt the need to break the rules in order for their schools to meet arbitrary testing requirements. Perhaps the state should be less concerned about standardized tests, which can be faulty in judging a student's education, and more concerned with turning out truly educated students.