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Mon, 30 Jan 2023
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Racketeering trial in Philadelphia underway for 6 former narcotics cops

© RT / Philadelphia Police Department
(TOP L-R) Brian Reynolds, Michael Spicer, John Speiser (BOTTOM L-R) Linwood Norman, Perry Betts, Thomas Liciardello
In the trial for six ex-Pennsylvania narcotics officers accused of conspiracy, robbery, extortion, kidnapping and drug dealing during a six-year racketeering scheme, opening statements began with a verbal sparring match between the lawyers.

The former Philadelphia police officers were charged with committing a variety of crimes between February 2006 and November 2012, among them beatings, threatening to shoot suspects, busting into homes without warrants to steal drugs and money, and the distribution of narcotics.

The officers standing trial are Thomas Liciardello, 38; Brian Reynolds, 43; Michael Spicer, 46; Perry Betts, 46; Linwood Norman, 46; and John Speiser, 44.

"Make no mistake about it ‒ taking money while armed and while exercising your power as a Philadelphia police officer and keeping it for yourself and your co-conspirators is robbery, even if the money is illegal drug money," Assistant US Attorney Anthony Wzorek said during his opening statements on Monday.

He told jurors the former officers routinely broke into homes without search warrants and ransacked them to steal drugs, cash, a Rolex watch and other valuables.


Afghan opium production on the rise - military industrial complex profits

Opium production has been on the rise in Afghanistan over recent years despite US counternarcotics efforts. Infamous mercenary firm, formerly known as Blackwater, has creamed off $569 million from the Pentagon in this unsuccessful drive.

The money the company received from US tax-payers was used for "training, equipment, and logistical support" for Afghan forces engaged in counternarcotics operations. These agencies included the"Afghan National Interdiction Unit, the Ministry of Interior, and the Afghan Border Police," says a report from The Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction, or SIGAR, cited by the Guardian.

Formerly known as Blackwater, and later rebranded as Academi, the notorious company has been the biggest beneficiary of counternarcotics expenditure in the war-torn country.

However, the firm failed to eradicate opium production. In fact, this has reached record highs since the beginning of US occupation in 2001.

Since the US toppled the Taliban in 2002, opium production in the country has tripled. Afghanistan accounted for over 90 percent of the world's heroin market in 2014.

A UNAIDS report from 2014 said that there is a 7-percent increase in land being cultivated despite the US spending over $7 billion on counternarcotics programs.


Thousands evacuated after underground fire in central London

Holborn Fire
© London Fire Brigade
Firefighters said power cables had started a fire beneath the pavement in Holborn, London
More than 2,000 people were evacuated from buildings in central London this afternoon as toxic smoke filled the streets.

The Metropolitan Police declared a "major incident" after blocks housing businesses and part of the London School of Economics were cleared by the emergency services.

Firefighters said power cables had started a fire beneath the pavement in Holborn and they could not put it out until the current was switched off.

Footage from the scene showed the air filled with dark smoke that appeared to be streaming from potholes and underground vents.

People were seen pouring out of offices, restaurants, cafes and shops while roads were cordoned off by the emergency services.

Onlookers described "crazy scenes" and "madness" as smoke rose so high in the air that it could be seen from the Shard skyscraper.

"Holborn is chaos. All the manholes on Kingsway are smoking," Jordan Hatch wrote on Twitter.

Comment: In February this year, US Utility company, Con Edison responded to hundreds of manhole explosions in New York in the space of just three days. Perhaps not all of these incidents can be attributed solely to the conventional meme of "manhole explosions this time of year are as common as snow, because the salt used to treat icy roads corrodes underground wiring when it seeps below the surface".

As well as potentially leaking gas mains, maybe there is a build up of methane from deep below the planet's surface too which is igniting?

With Manhattan's East Village recently shaken by an explosion and partial building collapse, perhaps another source of ignition - electrical in nature - needs to be considered.

Could some of the increasing number of power outages, such as in the Netherlands and Turkey, also be affected by this electrical 'grounding' too?

See: SOTT Exclusive: Solar System 'grounding':Transformer explosions and electrical anomalies


Explosion and intense fire on Pemex oil platform in Gulf of Mexico leads to evacuations, 1 reported dead

A fire broke out on an oil platform belonging to Mexico's state Pemex petroleum giant in the Gulf of Mexico, leading to the evacuation of about 300 workers. According to the company at least one person has died and 16 have been injured.

Pemex said on Twitter that the fire on the Abkatun Permanente platform in the oil-rich Campeche Bay broke out overnight and eight firefighting boats were tackling the blaze.
¡Impresionante! #Video del incendio de la plataforma Abkatun Alfa en la Sonda de #Campeche #PEMEX @OlmecaDiario pic.twitter.com/E7RxBzdQzR

— Sistema Informativo (@SistemaInfoVEOO) April 1, 2015
The oil giant said in a statement that at least one person, a contractor, has been killed and 16 have been injured in the blaze. Two of them are in a serious condition.

Comment: Is this another example of the Earth "opening up"? Or possibly a short circuit caused by an EMP blast from a fireball entering the atmosphere? Could this be related to the recent power outages in Turkey and Amsterdam and the "accidental" airing of the Emergency Alert System in the U.S.? Taking all these incidents into account, it sure is looking like the universe is trying to send us a message.

Heart - Black

Plainclothes cop caught berating Uber driver with xenophobic rant on camera is NYPD detective

The angry lawman who was caught on camera belittling an Uber driver during a bias-fueled tirade in the West Village is an NYPD detective assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force, police sources confirmed Tuesday.

The NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau is investigating the video, which shows Det. Patrick Cherry lambasting the Uber driver during a traffic stop and mocking his broken English.

"I don't know where you're coming from, where you think you're appropriate in doing that; that's not the way it works. How long have you been in this country?" Cherry, who is white, barked at the driver after pulling him over in an unmarked car with flashing lights, according to video of the encounter.

The roadside rage erupted after the detective tried to park the unmarked car without using his blinker, and the Uber driver went around him and gestured to him to use his signal, according to Sanjay Seth, a passenger in the Uber car who posted the video clip.

The car Cherry drives in the video does not belong to the NYPD, according to a police source.


Psychological after-effects of killing for the Empire - 6 veterans per day seeking PTSD help

© Reuters / Toby Melville
Experts warn the "floodgates" of post-traumatic stress are about to open, as a top armed forces charity claims mental health issues among military personnel have risen 26 percent over the last year.

The charity Combat Stress, which supports veterans with mental health issues said: "This increase is mainly accounted for by a marked rise in those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan seeking help."

Some 2,264 personnel have requested treatment with three-quarters said to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) - an average of six veterans per day over the last 12 months.

Many are also affected by depression and abuse of alcohol and drugs - symptoms associated with the condition.

Head of medical services at Combat Stress Dr Walter Busuttil said: "It is the biggest increase we have seen in recent years and we expect it to continue, so we are building up our clinical services accordingly."

"I do think there needs to be more significant investment in relation to veterans' mental health. The good news is that we do have treatments that work."

Eye 1

We are at the end of the age of privacy

Privacy as we once knew it is dead. We now find ourselves in the unenviable position of being monitored, managed and controlled by our technology—specifically the technology employed by the government against the American citizenry. As a result, warns John W. Whitehead in this week's vodcast, we are becoming a nation where even the most virtuous citizen risks becoming an outlaw.

Comment: For more on the ways Big Brother is watching you see:

Bizarro Earth

Nestlé water bottling plant shut down by drought protestors in California

California water protest Nestle
© Dan Bacher
Protesters stayed in front of the plant from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Representatives of the "Crunch Nestlé Alliance" said the company is draining up to 80 million gallons of water a year from Sacramento aquifers during a record drought. They claim Sacramento City Hall has made it possible through a "corporate welfare giveaway."

Environmental and human rights activists, holding plastic "torches" and "pitchforks," formed human barricades at both entrances to the Nestlé Waters bottling plant in Sacramento at 5:00 a.m. on Friday, March 20, effectively shutting down the company's operations for the day.

Members of the "Crunch Nestlé Alliance" shouted out a number of chants, including "We got to fight for our right to water," "Nestlé, Stop It, Water Not For Profit," and "¿Agua Para Quien? Para Nuestra Gente."

The protesters stayed until about 1 pm, but there were no arrests.

Representatives of the alliance said the company is draining up to 80 million gallons of water a year from Sacramento aquifers during a record drought. They claim Sacramento City Hall has made it possible through a "corporate welfare giveaway."

"This corporate welfare giveaway is an outrage and warrants a major investigation," Coalition spokesperson Andy Conn said. "For more than five months we have requested data on Nestlé water use. City Hall has not complied with our request, or given any indication that it will. Sacramentans deserve to know how their money is being spent and what they're getting for it. In this case, they're getting ripped off."

Comment: Nestle's behavior is par for the course, as mega-corporations are psychopathic by their very nature. All considerations such as human rights or the very health of the planet are subordinate, if non-existent, with respect to the pursuit of proft. It seems pretty clear that the state government which should be defending the rights of its citizens, has been bought and paid for. Why else for the stonewalling on Nestle's water usage?

Stock Down

The next economic crash is dead ahead - shown in five charts

© Atlasobscura.com
When an economic crisis is coming, there are usually certain indicators that appear in advance. For example, commodity prices usually start to plunge before a recession begins. And as you can see from the Bloomberg Commodity Index which you can find right here, this has already been happening. In addition, I have previously written about how the U.S. dollar went on a great run just before the financial collapse of 2008. This is something that has also been happening over the past few months. Some people would have you believe that nobody can anticipate the next great economic downturn and that to try to do so is just an exercise in "guesswork". But that is not the case at all. We can look back over history and see patterns that keep repeating. And a lot of the exact same patterns that happened just before previous stock market crashes are happening again right now.

For example, let's talk about the price of oil. There are only two times in history when the price of oil has fallen by more than 50 dollars in a six month time period. One was just before the financial crisis in 2008, and the other has just happened...
As a result of crashing oil prices, we are witnessing oil rigs shut down in the United States at a blistering pace. In fact, almost half of all oil rigs in the U.S. have already shut down. The following commentary and chart come from Wolf Richter...
In the latest week, drillers idled another 41 oil rigs, according to Baker Hughes. Only 825 rigs were still active, down 48.7% from October. In the 23 weeks since, drillers have idled 784 oil rigs, the steepest, deepest cliff-dive in the history of the data:

We are looking at a full-blown fracking bust, and this bust is already having a dramatic impact on the economies of states that are heavily dependent on the energy industry.

For example, just check out the disturbing number that just came out of Texas...
The crash in oil prices is hammering the Texas economy.

The latest manufacturing outlook index from the Dallas Fed plunged again in March, to -17.4 from -11.2 in February, indicating deteriorating business conditions in the state.


Red Flag

Prosecutors in Nashville have been forcing women to undergo sterilization as part of plea deals

© Wikimedia Commons
Nashville's district attorney recently banned his staff from using invasive surgery as a bargaining chip, after it became apparent that local attorneys had been using sterilization as part of plea bargains.

In the most recent case, a woman with a long history of mental illness was charged with neglect after her young baby died. Jasmine Randers, 26, suffers from paranoia and had fled from a Minnesota treatment facility where she was under state commitment. The district attorney refused to go forward with a plea unless she agreed to be sterilized.

The cause of Randers' baby's death could not be determined. A cab driver who drove her to a hotel the night before she brought the baby to a hospital claims the baby was screaming, but stopped completely during the ride. Prosecutors speculated that the child could have suffocated in Randers' coat during the cab ride, died as a result of unexplained infant death syndrome, or been accidentally crushed to death by Randers while she slept. According to an investigation by the Tennessean, the child was healthy and there were no signs of traumatic injury.

Comment: This is a barbaric, sexist practice that no respectable city, state, or nation should engage in.