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Fri, 27 Jan 2023
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Russian ruble hits 2015 high as oil prices climb

© RIA Novosti / Ramil Sitdikov
The Russian currency is seemingly making a comeback, improving more than 3.6 percent in 2 days to bring the ruble to a 3-month high. The climb is attributed to a slight increase in oil prices as well as the approaching tax season.

At 5:05pm in Moscow, the ruble had gained 1.8 percent against the dollar at 56.78, and 1.35 percent stronger at 62.24 versus the euro. On Tuesday the ruble gained 2 percent against the dollar, closing at 57.70.The last time that the ruble strengthened to 57 against the dollar was December 30 of last year. In 2015, it has gained 5.2 percent against the dollar.

Russian companies are likely converting foreign currency into rubles to pay corporate taxes, the largest of which fell due on March 25. The next date to watch is March 30, when companies will have to pay corporate profit tax. Another factor driving up the ruble's value is the fact that the peak debt payment deadlines have passed.

Comment: Crude oil is rising in part by the Yemen offensive being conducted.


Multiple rape charges filed against NYPD officer and Christian pastor for assault on 16-year old girl

An officer with the New York Police Department has been charged with multiple counts of rape related to a sexual relationship he's alleged to have maintained with a teen girl more than 20 years his junior.

The cop, 38-year-old Vladimir Sosa, was arrested in the Bronx on Tuesday and charged with three counts of third-degree rape, five counts of sexual misconduct, two counts of third-degree sexual abuse, and other charges, according to The New York Times. He was released on his own recognizance later that evening, the paper reported, but has been suspended without pay.

According to investigators, Sosa had at least three sexual encounters with a girl between April and September of 2014, while she was only 16. In New York State, the age of consent is 17.

The alleged victim, who has not been identified since she is a minor, confessed to her mother about the relationship last month, according to reports. The parent then approached police, who initiated an investigation that led to this week's arraignment.

A local CBS affiliate reported that Sosa resides in the Bronx with his mother in the home where authorities believe he also had sex with the girl.

"He actually was really kind," neighbor Jocelynne Mora told the station. "If I was locked out of my house, I would knock on his door. I would use his phone." Multiple outlets have reported that Sosa worked for a local church.

Comment: Sexual predators often take positions in the community where they have easy access to their victims. The best protection we have for our ourselves and children is to educate ourselves, so they will have a better understanding of how these predators operate and learn how to spot them.

From Predators: Pedophiles, Rapists, and Other Sex Offenders, Who They Are, How They Operate, and How We Can Protect Ourselves and Our Children by Dr. Anna Salter:
"One molester, who himself was a minister, said: 'I considered church people easy to fool ... they have the trust that comes from being Christians ... They tend to be better folks all around. And they seem to want to believe in the good that exists in all people. And because of that, you can easily convince, with or without convincing words.'

In interviewing victims in the growing number of cases involving priests, I have been surprised - although I should not have been - by how deeply religious many of the victims' families were. I have never before grasped that it was the most religious families who were thrilled to have a priest take an interest in their children, who wanted their children to be altar boys, who could not believe that a priest would do anything so wrong.

The growing crisis in the Catholic Church just underlines the fact that offenders can recognize ideal settings for child molesters even if the rest of us can't. In truth, a deeply religious and trusting group of people, plus the requirement of celibacy (an ideal cover for any man who has no sexual interest in adults), plus a hierarchy that doesn't report complaints to the police and simply moves the offender on to new and fresh territory with new potential victims, is the ideal setting for pedophiles."
See also: SOTT Talk Radio: Predators Among Us - Interview With Dr. Anna Salter


Germanwings co-pilot deliberately crashed Flight 4U9525 into mountain after locking his captain out of cockpit, says French prosecutor

crash site
© www.dailymail.co.uk
Rescue teams sift through the wreckage of Germanwings plane.
The co-pilot of the doomed Germanwings Airbus A320 locked his captain out of the cockpit before deliberately crashing into a mountain to 'destroy the plane', it was sensationally revealed today.

French prosecutor Brice Robin gave further chilling details of the final ten minutes in the cockpit before the Airbus A320 plunged into the French Alps killing 150 people. Revealing data extracted from the black box voice recorder, he said the co-pilot - named as 28-year-old German Andreas Günter Lubitz - locked his captain out after the senior officer left the cockpit. At that point, Lubitz uses the flight monitoring system to put the plane into a descent - something that can only be done manually.

Mr Robin said: 'The intention was to destroy the plane. Death was instant. The plane hit the mountain at 700km per hour.

'I don't think that the passengers realised what was happening until the last moments because on the recording you only hear the screams in the final seconds'. The captain - named by local media as German father-of-two Patrick S - can then be heard asking for access to which he gets no response. He knocks and asks him to open and then starts banging furiously when he receives no reply.

Comment: It seems there are still many factors still to be determined before there is a final explanation for the crash.


'Heritage terror': ISIS propaganda machine targets people with culture

ISIS /statue
© www.ibtimes.co.uk
A still from the video showing IS destroying ancient statues in Mosul
Whether they're authentic or not, videos of Islamic State militants destroying ancient artifacts at Iraq's Mosul Museum and elsewhere are "propaganda videos" meant as "heritage terror," an Islamic art professor told RT.

The videos show men with sledgehammers knocking over statues, smashing antiquities and torching ancient writing. But there are questions being raised about the authenticity of the videos, when it's known that the Islamic State (IS, formerly known as ISIS/ISIL) needs money to keep operating its terror campaign - and antiquities could fetch large sums of money on the black market.

Speaking to RT's Manila Chan, Dr. Stephennie Mulder, an associate professor of Islamic Art at the University of Texas at Austin, said the Islamic State's destruction of ancient artifacts in Iraq and Syria is an act of propaganda.

"This is a propaganda video that is intended as an act of heritage terror. [ISIS] know this kind of action will cause alarm in the international community," said Mulder. "It demonstrates their mastery over everything. Their mastery over the past and it has a deep impact on the people of Iraq as well who cherish these objects."

Comment: Mulder is right: this is a propaganda act. ISIS is a well-oiled PR machine, and they have cornered the market on every possible target audience. Women who like kittens and Nutella? Check. Japanese, British, Israelis, Americans? Check. People who think beheading is nasty and wrong? Check. People are disgusted by rape, murder, and children being indoctrinated to be killers? Check. People who feel a strong connection with history and preserving nations' and peoples' national heritage? Check. That's the purpose: to outrage the international community, to create a bogeyman out of ISIS, to justify illegal interventions that align with U.S. geopolitical 'interests'.


French prosecutor said Germanwings co-pilot appears to have crashed plane deliberately

© Reuters / Ina Fassbender
The Germanwings co-pilot seemed to have crashed the plane deliberately, killing 150 people on board. The co-pilot wouldn't let the captain inside the cabin, with the "intension to destroy" the jet, the French prosecutor said at a press conference.

The Germanwings co-pilot was identified as Andreas Lubitz.

Comment: It will be interesting to learn the motive of the co-pilot for his actions.

Bizarro Earth

7-year-old forced by two other first graders to perform sex act on them

© Shutterstock
The Children's Services department in Lucas County, Ohio has launched an investigation after a 7-year-old first grade student said that two of her classmates forced her to perform sex acts on them at a charter school.

Rise and Shine Academy CEO Dr. Pat McKinstry told WTOL that the school first learned of the incident when a student reported that something "nasty" was happening in one of the bathrooms.

According to the mother of the victim, two girls, ages 6 and 8, asked her daughter to perform sexual favors on them.

"My daughter is considered the victim," the mother told WTOL. "They think that they bribed my daughter into doing things... Not once but twice. And the first time she said she didn't say anything because she was scared."

The school, however, said that only one of the girls instigated the incident, and she had not been allowed to return to class.

"We have not let that child come back," McKinstry pointed out. "It's disheartening, it's sad to me that we have to terminate her if her mother would not be honest enough to get this baby some treatment."

Comment: How does this incident even occur? It's likely that in the U.S. today, society has become so sexualized that it is trickling down to young children where such thoughts never occurred before. This is the state of society in the U.S. today and where our media, whether music, movies, or television are doing to children's minds.

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Crimea chose wisely: Growth fastest in 20 yrs thanks to Russia, sanctions

© Sputnik/ Artem Zhitenev
Crimea has been experiencing an upsurge in development following its reunification with Russia thanks to the country's investment in the republic, Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Crimea Dmitry Polonsky told Sputnik on Wednesday.

"Crimea has not developed at such a pace as it has in the past year over the past twenty years," Polonsky said, adding that the Russian government plans to invest almost 700 billion rubles ($12.1 billion) in the republic's economy under the current social-economic development program, which will run until 2020.

Polonsky, who is Crimea's Internal Policy, Information and Mass Communications Minister, stressed that during the 23 years prior to the March 2014 independence referendum, Crimea experienced "regression" due to the Ukrainian authorities lack of investment.

"Unfortunately, the 23-year-long tenure in Ukraine has been the time of regression for Crimea. The Ukrainian government did not invest a single penny into Crimea, at the same time it sucked out all possible resources from here," Polonsky told Sputnik, stressing that Russia "is taking an entirely different route" which is making a "drastic" difference on the peninsula. But even if Crimea residents were told not to expect any investment from the Russian government a year ago, they would have "still made the choice of becoming part of Russia," the minister stressed.

Comment: If you're looking for the truth about Crimea, you won't find it in the Western media, from the Western politicians, or in Western NGO reports. For what really happened one year ago, see this: Crimea: The Way Back Home - EN Subtitles - Full Documentary (VIDEO)

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Half of all Americans are broke

piggy bank money
© Flickr
With the unstable economic situation in the US, many Americans have learned to live on a budget. But what happens when one faces a substantial cost outside their budget?

According to Chief International Economist at Deutsche Bank, Torsten Sløk, nearly half of American households don't save any of their money, leaving themselves with harsh economic consequences should the economy turn and they lose their jobs.

Over a million people lost their homes in 2008 due to the economic collapse, according to Foreclosures.com.

Since the recession, which began in December 2007, the US unemployment rate has risen 4 percentage points, changing the labor market substantively. The rate peaked at 10% in October, 2009, and has decreased substantially to 5.5% in February, 2015.

Comment: There is no recovery. In fact, all signs point towards things getting much, much worse.


Who's accountable for Ferguson's crimes? No one, it seems

© AP Photo/John Minchillo
This article is part of The Nation's 150th Anniversary Special Issue. Download a free PDF of the issue, with articles by James Baldwin, Barbara Ehrenreich, Toni Morrison, Howard Zinn and many more, here.

In the wake of the deaths of Mike Brown and Eric Garner, Fox News anchor Bill O'Reilly had some advice for black America: "Don't abandon your children. Don't get pregnant at 14. Don't allow your neighborhoods to deteriorate into free-fire zones. That's what the African-American community should have on their T-shirts." (That's either a very big garment or very small lettering.)

Whenever black kids get shot, black parents get lectured about personal responsibility. If you raised your kids better, goes the conservative logic, we wouldn't have to shoot them. Arguments about systemic discrimination and racist legacies are derided as liberal excuses for bad behavior. Neither history nor economics nor politics made Mike Brown grab Darren Wilson's gun—that was his choice. Individuals, we are told, are responsible for their own actions and must be held accountable for them.

Comment: Brown's grabbing Wilson's gun is a highly questionable data point, like all else Wilson asserted concerning the events of that fateful that day.

The vehemence with which this principle is held is eclipsed only by the speed with which it is abandoned when it becomes inconvenient. Discussions about choices and accountability change tenor when we shift from talking about the black and the poor to the powerful and well-connected.

Comment: "Confessions of collective guilt are the best possible safeguard against the discovery of culprits, and the very magnitude of the crime the best excuse for doing nothing." - Just one of the many ways in which the U.S. government and the pundits who defend the psychopathic behavior of Police and intelligence agencies deflect responsibility of the guilty. And why? Because to one degree or another they are complicit themselves.

Arrow Down

Police raid small New York family farm, charge family, seize animals because they were free range

Farm Raid_2
© Facebook
Image from Friends of West Wind Acres Facebook Page.
Schenectady County - Earlier this month, a family farm in rural New York was raided by police after the owners were cited on a number of trumped up regulatory violations. Joshua Rockwood, the owner of the farm, is being accused of mistreating his animals, and the local government has began confiscating some of them.

Police initially visited Rockwood's property on February 25th to investigate reports of unlicensed working dogs, weeks before the raid. Unfortunately, Rockwood voluntarily showed local police around his property, which he had not yet tended to that day because of their unexpected interruption. After showing them around, they began to critically assess every aspect of the farm, writing a number of citations for arbitrary offenses.

The very next day, Rockwood had a veterinarian visit the farm to check on the animals to confirm that they were well taken care of and in good health. According to numerous reports, the vet said that the animals were just fine, and did not seem to share the concerns that the officers alleged during their walk-through.

A second veterinarian was also called in to verify the health of the animals and they also found them to be in perfect health.

A week later, police returned again to notify Rockwood that he was to appear in court the next Thursday on a number of charges relating to the animal's food and shelter. In total, 12 different charges were brought against Rockwood, but he has posted a number of photos to a Facebook support page, which shows the animals with sufficient housing, and plenty of food.