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Tue, 07 Apr 2020
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Most senior Catholic cleric to be convicted of child sex abuse WALKS FREE from jail after appeal granted in unanimous decision

Cardinal George Pell
© Reuters / Mark Dadswell
Cardinal George Pell is surrounded by Australian police as he leaves the Melbourne Magistrates Court in Australia.
Australia's highest court has tossed the conviction of Cardinal George Pell, who was found guilty of historic child sex crime and sentenced to six years in prison. The ex-Vatican treasurer was once a close aide to Pope Francis.

"The High Court found that the jury, acting rationally on the whole of the evidence, ought to have entertained a doubt as to the applicant's guilt with respect to each of the offenses for which he was convicted, and ordered that the convictions be quashed and that verdicts of acquittal be entered in their place," a Queensland High Court said in a statement on Tuesday.

Pell was convicted by a jury in Australia of five counts of historic sex crimes in December 2018. Pell, who is the most senior Vatican figure to ever be found guilty of the sexual abuse of a minor, was sentenced to six years behind bars with a possibility of parole. He had served 405 days of his sentence before the groundbreaking verdict was overturned unanimously on Tuesday.

The case against Pell was solely based on the testimony of one of his alleged victims - a former choirboy who said that the cardinal, then the archbishop of Melbourne, sexually abused him and another boy in late 1996 and early 1997.

Comment: See also:

Light Saber

German lawyers preparing lawsuits against medical martial law, ACLU files the first one in the US


Several German law firms are preparing lawsuits against the measures and regulations that have been issued.
A specialist in medical law writes in a press release: "The measures taken by the federal and state governments are blatantly unconstitutional and violate a multitude of basic rights of citizens in Germany to an unprecedented extent. This applies to all corona regulations of the 16 federal states. In particular, these measures are not justified by the Infection Protection Act, which was revised in no time at all just a few days ago. () Because the available figures and statistics show that corona infection is harmless in more than 95% of the population and therefore does not represent a serious danger to the general public."

Source: Swiss Propaganda Research

* * * * * *

The ACLU said Sunday it is seeking an injunction to block part of Puerto Rico's strict curfew against the new coronavirus, arguing that some of its restrictions are unconstitutional.

The curfew imposed March 15 has shuttered non-essential businesses in the U.S. territory and ordered people to stay home from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. unless they have to buy food or medicine, go to the bank or have an emergency or health-related situation. Violators face a $5,000 or a six-month jail term, and police have cited hundreds of people.

"There's been no martial law declared, and there are no circumstances for it," the ACLU argued. "As such, emergency states cannot be used to suspend fundamental rights."

Kelvin Carrasco, a spokesman for Puerto Rico's Justice Department, said there was no immediate comment.


Facebook's alleged pursuit of spy software shows rapacity of its 'advertising machine'

facebook noticias
© Dado Ruvic / Reuters
Facebook allegedly tried to buy a spyware package, known as Pegasus, designed by Israeli mobile surveillance company NSO Group back in 2017, a move that would show the social media giant is willing to go to any lengths to collect data on people, web developer and technologist Chris Garaffa told Radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear.

"I really feel like this would have been a bigger story if we weren't dealing with the pandemic right now, and people should pay attention to what Facebook tried to do a couple of years ago," Garaffa told host John Kiriakou on Monday. "The NSO Group is a very shady company. They are based out of Israel, and effectively, they sell software that lets you attack mobile phones. That is essentially what their primary business is."
"The NSO company is one of these companies that sells to governments around the world. They have security researchers that try to find security issues in primarily, in this case, the iPhone, but really in all sorts of devices, and they develop what's called an 'exploit.' They develop a way to take advantage of that security issue to take over that phone, and usually in ways that you are not even going to be able to notice unless you're highly trained. We know that they've sold to countries around the world - many countries that you certainly wouldn't want attacking your phone. This software has been used against journalists and human rights activists, and it turns out, in 2017 Facebook approached the NSO Group and tried to buy the Pegasus software from them," Garaffa added.
According to a report by Motherboard, NSO CEO Shalev Hulio recently said in a court filing that two Facebook representatives asked the company in October 2017 whether they could purchase Pegasus, which allows operators to infect mobile phones remotely and steal data from them. Around the time that it approached NSO, Facebook had developed and released a VPN product called Onavo Protect, which, if downloaded on a person's phone, could determine what other apps they were using.

Comment: See also:

Red Pill

'Profound lack of human decency': Oliver Stone tears into US govt over Iran & Venezuela sanctions amid Covid-19 crisis

oliver stone
© REUTERS/Mark Blinch
Some may have seen the beautiful story of Cuba allowing a cruise ship, denied by other countries, to dock in its harbor though some on board had tested positive for COVID-19. This ship was full of mostly British citizens who were permitted to fly back home from Cuba. In addition, Cuba, along with China, is sending doctors and supplies to a number of countries around the world to help them fight the pandemic.

These actions represent the type of international solidarity and show of humanity that the world needs right now. Sadly, the federal government in Washington is demonstrating the very opposite at this time, removing all of its Peace Corps staff from around the world, and, even worse, increasing sanctions against countries like Cuba, Iran, Venezuela and Nicaragua during the height of the COVID-19 outbreak. It is accurate to say that the U.S. is weaponizing the virus against these countries.


The video that started it all: Ten years since WikiLeaks published 'collateral murder' footage

Collateral Murder video
Yesterday marked 10 years since WikiLeaks published the Collateral Murder video, showing US soldiers in an Apache helicopter indiscriminately firing upon unarmed civilians and journalists in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.

The footage, filmed by the US military on July 12, 2007, shows the gunship circling above a group of 10 men, going about their business in the suburb of Al-Amin al-Thaniyah. In increasingly exasperated tones, those on board ask whether they have been given permission to open fire on the individuals, who pose no conceivable threat.

When the signal has been given, they let loose with 30 mm cannon fire. The viewer's horror at the massacre is matched only by revulsion at the glee of the American soldiers.

As the 10 men lie catastrophically wounded or dead, a US soldier expresses his hope that one of them will pick up a non-existent weapon, so that the fusillade may be resumed. A van pulls up to give assistance to the wounded. It is fired upon, killing the driver and inflicting horrific wounds on his two young children.

At the end of the carnage, as many as 18 lie dead. They include Reuters journalists Saeed Chmagh and Namir Noor-Eldeen. Congratulations and more blood lust are the response from within the Apache.

Collateral Murder, 17 minute version:

Life Preserver

Food banks warn they will soon run out of food as economic suffering explodes all over America

girl crying
What are hungry Americans going to do when the food banks don't have any more food for them? Over the past couple of weeks, we have witnessed the largest spike in unemployment in all of U.S. history. Since most of those workers did not have any sort of a cushion to fall bank on, a lot of of them have been forced to seek out emergency assistance for themselves and their families almost immediately. Of course our national network of food banks was not built to handle this sort of a scenario, and as you will see below, many of them are already starting to run out of food. But if things are this bad at the very beginning of this new economic downturn, what are things going to look like a few months from now?

It is imperative for people to understand that we are now in uncharted territory. At this point, even the head of the IMF is warning that this new economic crisis will be "way worse" that the last recession...
The coronavirus pandemic has created an economic crisis "like no other" — one that is "way worse" than the 2008 global financial crisis, the International Monetary Fund's top official said Friday.

"Never in the history of the IMF have we witnessed the world economy come to a standstill," Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the IMF, said at a news conference.

No Entry

The government wants to decide what items are essential purchases and what things you're not allowed to buy

closed sign
Living under lockdown restrictions, prevalent in nearly every state, is about to get a whole lot worse. The government in the United States and Canada has decided to take away the guesswork in the stores that are still open and decide for you what's "essential" and what's not.

When I have gone to the store to pick up groceries (I'm still getting fresh produce while I can), I also like to pick up a couple of things that are pleasant diversions: magazines, a crossword puzzle book, coloring pencils, some craft supplies. It's nice to have some things that are enjoyable on hand to keep lockdown from feeling so grim and torturous. If the store is already open, getting a sunny yellow pillow for the living room is a pick-me-up, not a frivolous jaunt to a place I wasn't already going. When we had a birthday in the family, we even picked up a few small gifts on our regular trip to the grocery store to provide a sense of normalcy.

But the days of getting a random item to brighten a family member's day may be numbered. The government (at least in some places) wants to make this already unpleasant time as dismal as possible for us all.

Comment: As economics worsen over time (even when the lockdown conditions are eventually lifted) one can expect greater difficulty in acquiring convenient items, essential items, and even quality food. The time to start thinking about such matters is certainly now - in case one hasn't already.

Star of David

Israel's Ultra-Orthodox communities, the government, and COVID-19

israel orthodox
© REUTERS / Amir Cohen
Israel continues to attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus that has left more than 40 people dead and over 7,000 others in hospitals across the country.

As the number of cases continues to soar, the Jewish state has imposed a number of new measures that include the sealing off of some cities and neighbourhoods considered a hub for the spread of the virus, as well as the closure of roads and junctions leading to those towns.

One such place is Bnei Brak, located east of Tel Aviv and considered the centre of Haredi Judaism, which is now second after Jerusalem in the amount of people who've tested positive for the coronavirus.


'Expert' COVID prediction of 50K hospitalizations in NY by April 1 turned out to be 400% too high

NYC Navy hospital ship
© Kena Betancur / Getty Images
The USNS Comfort, a Navy hospital ship, is docked at Pier 90 on April 3, 2020, in New York City.
As coronavirus models go, the one put forth by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, or IHME, has been one of the more optimistic ones.

According to The Washington Post, the model predicted 38,000 to 162,000 deaths in the United States — lower than most models and lower than the White House estimate of 100,000 to 240,000 deaths.

Even though it may be conservative, however, the IHME model might not have been conservative enough.

Take New York, the epicenter of the disease. According to the IHME model, the state would have needed 50,962 hospital beds on April 1, on the way to peak usage April 9. On that day, it would need 76,130 hospital beds.

Comment: Seems even New York's manipulation of the death rate by including any symptom that is vaguely like the coronavirus as a cause of death hasn't worked out so perfectly. No worries. Most people won't see these details, and most of those who do will see through the facts because 'people are dying'!

Eye 1

Israel's draconian quarantine measures

israel police
On Sunday, the Israeli Health Ministry reported that the death toll from the COVID-19 outbreak in the country has climbed to 51.

Israeli police and special forces are doing their best to enforce the coronavirus-related quarantine measures in the country, which, in particular stipulate limiting citizens to within a 100-metre radius of their homes.

Israeli police spokesman Michael Zingerman said on Monday that since the quarantine regime was tightened last month, they have sanctioned thousands of people over violating the measures.

"The sanctions that the police apply are mostly fines which are slapped on those who should be in self-isolation, but who go out, violating the quarantine regime", Zingerman pointed out, referring to a fine of 5,000 shekels (about $1,300).