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Fri, 13 Dec 2019
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'I plan to seek justice': Max Blumenthal vows legal action after US govt drops 'bogus' assault charges against him

Max Blumenthal
© Facebook / Max Blumenthal; Reuters / Carlos Barria
(L) FILE PHOTO: Max Blumenthal; (R) FILE PHOTO: Activists opposed to US-intervention in Venezuela occupy the country's embassy in Washington, DC.
The US government has dropped all charges against Max Blumenthal, after arresting the journalist over a dubious 5-month-old warrant. But the Grayzone editor says the case is far from closed.

Blumenthal was detained for nearly two days after police raided his Washington, DC office in October. The month-old warrant for his arrest listed the journalist as "armed and dangerous," and police carrying out the warrant reportedly threatened to kick down his door.The government's case was based solely on an unsubstantiated claim made by a right-wing Venezuelan opposition activist, Naylet Pacheco, who alleged that Blumenthal and a friend had assaulted her during a protest at the Venezuelan embassy in Washington.

Comment: See also: US government drops case against Max Blumenthal after jailing journalist on false charges

Arrow Down

West Virginia employees suspended after photo emerges of correctional officers' Nazi salute

West Virginia state officials Nazi salute

This photo, released by West Virginia state officials Thursday, depicts most of a training class of roughly 30 correctional officers giving the Nazi salute.
Several West Virginia state employees have been suspended after a photo emerged depicting a training class of roughly 30 correctional officers performing a Nazi salute.

Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety Director Jeff Sandy sent a letter to all employees Wednesday describing the photo as "distasteful, hurtful, disturbing, highly insensitive, and completely inappropriate."

The photo, on state letterhead, shows almost all of Basic Training Class No. 18 displaying the Nazi salute. Text above the photo reads: "HAIL BYRD!"


Performance art: Banana bandit eats $120,000 'art' installation

David Datuna
© Reuters / Eva Marie Uzcategui
David Datuna shows off the remnants of his $120,000 snack.
A New York-based performance artist strode into a Miami art gallery and ate a banana. The banana, however, was a piece of art, and the slightly overripe fruit was worth a whopping $120,000.

Entitled 'Comedian,' the art installation consisted of a banana duct-taped to a wall, and was on display at Art Basel Miami in an exhibition run by contemporary art gallery Perrotin. According to Artnet, two of three editions have already been sold to two French collectors with the third now priced at $150,000, which will be sold to a museum.

Comment: That last sentence is the truly audacious part of the whole story. That they would admit that there is literally nothing special about the 'art', and that it could be replaced by any old grocery store banana just shows that this art is worthless (on many levels). Modern art is truly a scam and anyone who buys into it is an idiot.

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Bernie Sanders campaign staffer departs after anti-Semitic, other offensive tweets surface: reports

Bernie Sanders
© Associated Press
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a fundraiser for the Nevada Democratic Party, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Las Vegas.
A newly hired community organizer for the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign has left just days after taking the job - reportedly because some of his past tweets allegedly contained anti-Semitic and homophobic statements, as well as derogatory remarks about women and Asians.

Several of the tweets also reportedly included crude sexual references.

Darius Khalil Gordon had announced Wednesday that he had been named deputy director of constituency organizing for Sanders, the independent U.S. senator from Vermont who is among the top contenders for the Democratic Party's 2020 presidential nomination, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

Comment: It's too bad that Sander's decided to kow-tow to the 'past sins' police on this one. Assuming the old tweets were the reason for the dismissal, Sanders will probably find out the hard way that giving in to the demands of dirt-digging woke gestapo is the complete opposite of how situations like this should be handled. Society has to realize, and make it OK, that people have made mistakes in the past. Not everyone who has made a racist or sexist tweet or comment in the past is an irredeemable bigot.

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Brick Wall

With people in the streets worldwide, media focus uniquely on Hong Kong

NYT hong kong protest

New York Times photo (11/17/19) of Hong Kong protesters with Molotov cocktail.
2019 may be remembered as the year of the protest, as demonstrations are engulfing the world. From the Yellow Vests in France to demonstrations in Lebanon, Gaza, Chile, Ecuador and Haiti, sustained movements all over the planet have taken to the street demanding change. Yet US corporate media have been disproportionately interested in only one: the Hong Kong protests.

As FAIR argued previously (FAIR.org, 10/26/19), this disparity in coverage can largely be explained by understanding who is protesting and what they are protesting against. The unrest in Hong Kong flared up in March in response to a proposed extradition treaty between the island city, the Chinese central government and Taiwan, which many residents feared would be used by Beijing authorities to arrest and persecute opponents of the Chinese state. Thus, the target of Hong Kong's protesting is an official enemy of the US, hence the extent and favorability of the coverage.

FAIR conducted a study of New York Times and CNN coverage of four important protest movements around the world: Hong Kong, Ecuador, Haiti and Chile. Those outlets were chosen for their influence and their reputation as the most important, agenda-setting outlets in the print and television media. Full documentation, including links to all articles in the sample, can be found here. All relevant results to "country+protests" on those outlets' websites were counted, except purely rehosted content, since each protest began. This was March 15 for Hong Kong, October 3 for Ecuador, October 14 for Chile and July 7, 2018, for Haiti. The end date for the study was November 22, 2019.

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Journalist: Newsweek suppressed OPCW scandal and threatened me with legal action

newsweek opcw scandal
A Newsweek journalist has resigned after the publication reportedly suppressed his story about the ever-growing OPCW scandal, the revelation of immensely significant plot holes in the establishment Syria narrative that you can update yourself on by watching this short seven-minute video or this more detailed video here.

"Yesterday I resigned from Newsweek after my attempts to publish newsworthy revelations about the leaked OPCW letter were refused for no valid reason," journalist Tareq Haddad reported today via Twitter.

"I have collected evidence of how they suppressed the story in addition to evidence from another case where info inconvenient to US government was removed, though it was factually correct," Haddad said. "I plan on publishing these details in full shortly. However, after asking my editors for comment, as is journalistic practice, I received an email reminding me of confidentiality clauses in my contract. I.e. I was threatened with legal action."

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More than 500 legal scholars sign letter saying Trump committed 'impeachable conduct'

impeachment hearings
More than 500 legal scholars signed on to a letter published Friday accusing President Donald Trump of having "engaged in impeachable conduct" in his dealings in Ukraine.

"There is overwhelming evidence that President Trump betrayed his oath of office by seeking to use presidential power to pressure a foreign government to help him distort an American election, for his personal and political benefit, at the direct expense of national security interests as determined by Congress," they wrote. "His conduct is precisely the type of threat to our democracy that the Founders feared when they included the remedy of impeachment in the Constitution."

The letter comes after four other legal scholars testified at the first House Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing Wednesday, with three of them making the case for impeaching Trump.

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Stock Down

Japan is again forced to stimulate its troubled economy

Japanese economy Tokyo
Japan faces a wall of debt that can only be addressed by printing more money and debasing its currency. This means they will be paying off their debt with worthless yen where possible and in many cases defaulting on the promises they have made. Japan currently has a debt/GDP ratio of about 250% which is the highest in the industrialized world. With the government financing almost 40 percent of its annual budget through debt it becomes easy to draw comparisons between Greece and Japan. While adding to the markets move higher across the globe the latest move by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should do little to boost confidence in the small island nation.

Entering the third quarter of 2019 Reuters reported their monthly Tankan survey showed that Japanese manufacturers had again turned pessimistic about business prospects. Confidence in the service sector also plunged. Amid the escalating Sino-U.S. trade war, and problems in China the prospects for a global downturn remain large. Survey results showed the weakest sentiment reading since April 2013. Concerns about weakening global demand intensified after a closely watched bond market indicator pointed to the growing risk of a U.S. recession, and data revealed Germany's economy was in contraction.

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43 killed as massive blaze rips through factory building in New Delhi

new dehli factory
Ambulances and a firefighting vehicle at the scene of a deadly fire that swept through a New Delhi factory
Over four dozen people have been killed after a fire erupted at a house in New Delhi, trapping scores of laborers inside the burning building. Multiple fire units rushed to the scene in an attempt to fight the blaze.

The fire broke out in the early hours of Sunday, at about 5:30am, when dozens of workers were sleeping inside the factory building in the Aanaj Mandi area near downtown New Delhi. The fire spread rapidly through the building, exposing many oblivious laborers to the smoke and flames.

"A fire broke out in a 600sq feet plot. It was very dark inside. It is a factory where school bags, bottles and other materials were kept," the Times of India quoted Deputy Fire Chief Officer Sunil Choudhary as saying.

Comment: There have been numerous fires and explosions at various industrial facilities of late:


Administration drops proposal to require facial scans for US citizens entering or leaving US

US Customs
© Washington Post/Katherine Frey
A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer at Dulles International
Officials at the Department of Homeland Security said Thursday that they were dropping a proposal that would have required citizens to have their faces scanned when entering or leaving the United States.

Reports this week that U.S. Customs and Border Protection wanted to expand airport facial screening to U.S. citizens drew immediate outcry from privacy advocates and lawmakers, who accused administration officials of reneging on promises that the scans would remain optional for citizens.

Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., said Wednesday that he planned to propose legislation to block the CBP from making the change. On Thursday, however, the CBP said it was withdrawing the proposal. The agency said in a statement:
"There are no current plans to require U.S. citizens to provide photographs upon entry and exit from the United States. CBP intends to have the planned regulatory action regarding U.S. citizens removed from the unified agenda next time it is published."

Comment: See also:
Smile America! DHS to expand airport face recognition scans to include US citizens