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Sat, 07 Dec 2019
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Australia: NSW police strip-searched more than 100 girls under 18, including 12-year-olds

NSW police australia
© Dean Lewins/AAP
As part of strip-searches, NSW police are permitted to instruct people to squat, lift their testicles or breasts or part their buttock cheeks. Freedom of information documents reveal that since 2016 there have been 3,919 strip-searches by police on women in NSW, including 122 girls under the age of 18.
The New South Wales police performed strip-searches on more than 100 girls in the last three years, including two 12-year-olds.

Following the NSW police watchdog's investigation into the allegedly illegal strip-search of a 16-year-old girl at a music festival last year, data obtained under freedom of information laws show she was just one of 122 girls under the age of 18 who have been forced to undergo the controversial practice by police since 2016.

The revelations come as the NSW police watchdog revealed last week that it investigated six separate allegations of misuse of strip-search powers by police last year, and is likely to place the practice under increased scrutiny.

Comment: See also:


Propaganda

With the US-backed right-wing coup in Bolivia nearly complete, the junta is hunting down the last remaining dissidents

Bolivia
On the day of my scheduled interview with a leftist Bolivian journalist, I learned that he had been disappeared. Every outspoken opponent of the military junta is a target and subjected to charges of sedition.

A brutal military junta that seized power from Bolivia's democratically elected President Evo Morales is violently repressing a working-class indigenous-led uprising, and the country is rapidly falling under its control.

Soldiers in military fatigues prowl the streets, enforcing a series of choke points around the seat of power. Anyone perceived as standing against the status quo is now subject to being arrested on charges of sedition or terrorism. Dissident journalists and Morales sympathizers have been forced into hiding, leaving the house only when necessary.

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Cow

People power! #Yestomeat hashtag overcomes Planetary Health Diet on social media outreach

yestomeat info graphic
© The Lancet
Follower networks coloured by community and word clouds of the profiles of users in each community. Words have a size proportional to their frequency in profile text. The largest community (blue) is generally positive, with the second largest (red) very negative, and the third one (yellow) displaying a mix of sentiments. The fourth community (green) is composed of vegan diet supporters that opposed #yes2meat independently of the EAT-Lancet Commission.
In January 2019, The Lancet's report "Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT-Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems" received significant positive international media coverage. The report concluded that greatly reduced meat and dairy consumption would improve health and environmental outcomes and proposed the "Planetary Health" diet.

However, an analysis of social media campaigns linked to the launch of the EAT-Lancet commission shows that days before the report's launch, online pro-meat advocacy began to consolidate around the hashtag #yes2meat. In the months following the report's launch, tweets attacking its findings surpassed balanced communications. The critics of the planetary health diet reached 26 million people on Twitter — compared with 25 million from academics and others promoting the research — despite having fewer followers (1.3 million compared with 3.45).

Comment: To see the propagandists in such a tizzy over this is gratifying beyond words! They can't understand why people didn't simply soak up their lies and regurgitate them like good little citizens. Pushing people to make major lifestyle changes based on misinformation is clearly harder than the elite thought.

And make no mistake - the EAT-Lancet report is not science. It's propaganda dressed up as science. The fact that so many debunkers were able to pick it apart and spread the word goes to show how effective the truth is when confronting the lies. Bravo people - the truth wins!

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Snowman

Thanksgiving day massacre! Facebook, Instagram experience major outage across continental US and beyond

Facebook Instagram outage
© Via Twitter/SpecialK2991
The world's largest social media platform Facebook has experienced a major outage across the continental US on Thanksgiving with thousands of reports of problems flooding in to popular crowdsourcing site DownDetector.

Users reported outages across both Facebook and Instagram, which are both owned by the same company, but WhatsApp appeared to be unaffected by the issue as yet. All three apps share much of the same underlying infrastructure which can often create a cascade effect when a server goes down.


Fire

Iranian consulate in Iraq torched by protesters

Iraq Protester fire
© Reuters/Stringer
An Iraqi demonstrator in front of the burning Iranian consulate in Najaf
Protesters in the Iraqi city of Najaf have stormed the Iranian consulate and burned the building to the ground. The destruction comes after two months of continuous protests in Iraq, during which 350 people have died.

A crowd of protesters lit the building ablaze on Wednesday. Diplomatic staff within managed to escape beforehand, Reuters reported. After attempting to disperse the crowd, authorities in Najaf issued a curfew.

Video footage shared on social media shows protesters cheering as the building went up in flames, smoke spewing out of the walled compound housing the consulate.

Comment: See also:


X

Students say Not OK to celebrate Thanksgiving

First Thanksgiving
© Bettman/Corbis
First Thanksgiving
'Based off of the genocide of indigenous people'

As Thanksgiving draws near, The College Fix visited Macalester College in Minnesota to ask students if it's acceptable to celebrate the holiday. Most of the students said no, and several gave a qualified yes, that being it's okay to celebrate Thanksgiving as long as one keeps in mind the oppression it represents or that it's more about spending time with family than honoring the past.

For those who said no, they mainly focused on themes such as oppression and colonization.

"I think that Thanksgiving has been misconstrued a lot, especially in textbooks," one student told The College Fix. "It's kind of just based off of the genocide of indigenous people and I don't really think that we actually give thanks on Thanksgiving, we just eat a bunch of food and it's just a bunch of capitalist bullshit."

A few students took this a step further, explaining how they believe most American holidays are rooted in oppression.

"What do Americans do except for celebrate unethical holidays," one student said. Another student interviewed outside the campus chapel said that no holidays with religious connotations should be observed.

After spending several hours speaking with students, The College Fix found only a handful who unabashedly supported Thanksgiving.


Chart Pie

UK election poll that got 2017 result right predicts clear victory for Johnson's Conservatives


Comment: We usually avoid pre-election polls like the plague, but this one seems worth highlighting.


uk election poll 2019
A major new poll has predicted Boris Johnson's Conservative Party will win up to 366 seats at the general election.

The MRP poll, commissioned by the Best for Britain pro-EU campaign group, shows the Tories could end up with a majority of 82 on December 12.

It comes ahead of a YouGov MRP poll to be released tonight - the same poll that predicted Theresa May would lose her majority in 2017 when every other poll suggested the Conservatives would secure a big win.

Best for Britain's research surveyed nearly 40,000 people between October 15 and November 24 and shows Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party could finish with just 199 seats.

Cowboy Hat

Sheriffs group urges Supreme Court to strike down New York City gun rules

Sheriffs
© Mark Wilson/Getty Images
The National Sheriffs' Association is leading a coalition of law enforcement and gun rights groups urging the Supreme Court to strike down New York City's gun transportation regulations.

The coalition filed an amicus (or "friend of the court") brief arguing that the city lacks a legitimate public safety rationale for the rule, which prohibits "premise license" holders from carrying their firearms beyond city lines or to any location besides an authorized gun club. The high court will hear a challenge to New York's regulations on Dec. 2.

"The public safety interest alleged to support the rule is non-existent and unproven," the brief reads. "There is no proof that premises licensees have ever posed a threat to public safety when transporting their handguns."

"It is also highly implausible that premises licensees would engage in violence when transporting their handguns out of the city," the brief adds. "Licensees undergo exceedingly searching inquiries during the application process, and licenses can be refused for even trivial reasons."

Attention

How Westpac's LitePay service inadvertently helped Australian paedophiles abuse Filipino children

westpac
© ABC News / Alistair Kroie
Probably the single most damaging revelation in AUSTRAC's case against Westpac is that its LitePay service allowed paedophiles to send money to the Philippines to pay for child exploitation without raising any red flags.

The revelations have already cost the bank one high-profile customer, child protection advocacy group Bravehearts.

"Child sexual assault and exploitation happens in the darkest of corners and Westpac had an opportunity to shine a light on it. Instead they showed an unbelievable and inhumane disinterest," said the group's founder Hetty Johnston.

"There are rules and regulations in place so this doesn't happen but it seems Westpac has opted to ignore them. Every organisation has to take responsibility for protecting our children and if Westpac hasn't been doing that, we simply can't keep banking with them."

In its statement of claim, anti-money laundering watchdog AUSTRAC outlined 12 customer cases where repeated suspicious payments were made to the Philippines in a pattern that should have raised red flags about potential child abuse.

It also said that while LitePay has now taken steps to improve its monitoring, other Westpac services still present opportunities for high-risk transactions to be made to the Philippines and South-East Asia without alerting the bank or regulator.

So how were paedophiles exploiting Westpac's banking services and why was this allowed to continue for so long?

Comment: Apparently Westpac was also facilitating tax evasion:
"That's what this case is all about — it's the facilitation of massive, high-level, cross-border tax evasion," says Nathan Lynch, Thomson Reuters' Asia-Pacific bureau chief, financial crime and risk.
"Westpac established a cloak of invisibility for cross-border payments — tax authorities, financial regulators and agencies couldn't see anything.
...
"Westpac considered that the SWIFT payment network was costly and not an efficient means of sending low-value, large-volume payments for clients of global banks that need to make and receive payments around the world," was AUSTRAC's damning assessment.

To get around the "inconvenience" of SWIFT, Westpac set up two of its own products: LitePay for small transfers of up to $3,000 — the favoured platform of those sending money to Filipino sex traffickers — and the heavy-duty Australasian Cash Management (ACM) platform, capable of facilitating payments of up to $100 million.

Under the SWIFT rules, all of these payments need to be accompanied by sender and recipient data, regardless of the size. Without this data the global anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing (AML/CTF) framework is boxing in a blindfold.
...
As AUSTRAC pointed out, Westpac provided "nesting arrangements" for other banks and financial institutions to shift money around the world without anyone knowing what was really happening, and who was shifting money to whom.
...
"Westpac had limited or no visibility over the sources of funds ... there were no caps or limits on the volume and/or value of cross-border transactions through these arrangements," AUSTRAC alleges.
...
"$11 billion may have been moved through these channels, but Westpac can't show the regulator where it all went. Even after a multi-year remediation project, there is still missing information," Thomson Reuters' Mr Lynch said.



Car Black

Bear blamed for car damages in Alaska airport parking lot

Bear tears apart car
A bear has been blamed for a pair of vehicle break-ins at an Alaska airport parking lot that resulted in thousands of dollars in damage to one car, officials said.

The vandalism occurred at the Island Air terminal parking lot adjacent to the Kodiak Benny Benson State Airport, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported Wednesday.

Vehicle owners Doreen Phillips and Alyssa Brenteson are both residents of Akhiok, a village about 90 miles (145 kilometers) from Kodiak.

Brenteson parked her car for two days at the lot and returned to find a caved-in roof, broken window, ripped seats, and muddy bear prints and fur covering her car, she said.