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Tue, 21 Feb 2017
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5 London teens arrested on suspicion of traveling to Syria to join terrorist group

© Cathal McNaughton / Reuters
Five London teens whom police suspected of planning to travel to Syria to join a terrorist group have been arrested.

The arrests on Monday follow searches of residential properties in South, West and East London on February 14.

Although police have not said the arrests are connected with the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), they said the youths were planning to join a proscribed organization.

The male teens are one each aged 15, 16 and 19, and two 17-year-olds.


North Carolina needed 6,500 farm workers. Only 7 Americans stuck it out to the end of the season

© The Weinstein Company
Freddie Quell works at a cabbage farm alongside migrant workers in PT Anderson’s “The Master.”
When I talked to him about the economic effects of immigration last month, Center for Global Development migration expert Michael Clemens mentioned that he was working on research on agricultural migrant workers. That research is finally out, in the form of a report released by CGD and the Partnership for a New American Economy, a pro-immigration reform group started by Michael Bloomberg and Rupert Murdoch.

Clemens's study focuses on the agricultural industry in North Carolina, and more specifically on the North Carolina Growers Association (NCGA), which supplies manual laborers to North Carolina farms. The NCGA is the nation's largest user of the H-2A guest worker program,which is designed with agricultural workers in mind. Under that program's regulations, Clemens explains, NCGA "must submit an application to the US Department of Labor proving that it has actively recruited US natives and native workers will not take NCGA jobs."

That data is interesting, because it describes the labor market before any immigrant workers are recruited. That, as Clemens says, "allows us to assess the willingness of native workers to take farm jobs before they can even be offered to foreign workers, meaning that this study does not miss any impact caused by people who self-select out of an area or occupation because of competition with foreign workers."

That willingness, he finds, is basically nonexistent. Every year from 1998 to 2012, at least 130,000 North Carolinians were unemployed. Of those, the number who asked to be referred to NCGA was never above 268 (and that number was only reached in 2011, when 489,095 North Carolinians were unemployed). The share of unemployed asking for referrals never breached 0.09 percent.

Comment: North America has become so accustomed to food abundance, they no longer value those that produce their food. Furthermore, Big Agra has such a stranglehold on the industry, they place producers in the wage bind they are in because they can demand a farmer's products at prices that barely keep the operations running. Buying farm produce locally as much as possible can help break this evil monopoly.

Brick Wall

Not just Oroville: Northern California infrastructure needs a major overhaul

© William Croyle/California Department of Water Resources via AP
This Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017, aerial photo released by the California Department of Water Resources shows the damaged spillway with eroded hillside in Oroville, Calif. Water will continue to flow over an emergency spillway at the nation’s tallest dam for another day or so, officials said Sunday.
The Oroville Dam crisis reminded many Californians of something we only associate with earthquakes: Our crumbling state infrastructure.

It's not just The Big One that has the power to wreak havoc on our roads, dams, bridges and transit, though. As this winter has proven, extended periods of heavy rains can do it too. In addition to the erosion at Oroville Dam which prompted the evacuation of 200,000 people, rains have worsened our already awful roads.

Even before Oroville, the state was putting forward a major proposal to fix the state's aging infrastructure. Recently, Gov. Jerry Brown revealed the details of a $100 billion infrastructure proposal to President Trump, asking for upgrades to roads, levees, veterans services, ports and more. The proposal is a catch-up wish list; the state's already in a $136 billion backlog of road repairs, according to the San Francisco Business Times.


Montreal city council votes to become sanctuary city to any undocumented migrants

© Christinne Muschi / Reuters
A family from Yemen crosses the U.S.-Canada border into Hemmingford, Quebec, Canada February 14, 2017
The council of Canada's second most-populous city has voted to adopt the status of a 'sanctuary' for non-status immigrants. The motion means that any undocumented migrant will have full access to local services without fear of being turned in or deported.

The motion was passed by Montreal city council on Monday, and was initially put forward by Mayor Denis Coderre, who is also a former Canadian immigration minister.

Addressing the press, Coderre said Montreal has the means to take care of the refugees living there, and that it was time for the city to take action.

"[We can provide] healthcare, housing, integration. A lot of these people are victims. They've been victims of terrorist acts, they've been kicked out of their country or left because of their situation - from sexual orientation to political refugees. Some of them have been here six, seven, eight years.

Comment: Ironically, the majority of refugees from the Middle East have left their homes because of the actions of the governments of the West, including Canada. Their victimization is a result of the very governments that pretend to care about their well-being. Here's a thought for Canada: maybe don't support the psychopathic destruction of their countries and you won't need to create sanctuary cities.

"We have the capacity to provide services under our own jurisdiction, so when we are talking about housing, when we are talking about basic service - we will be able to do that," Coderre said, as cited by CTV News.

Alarm Clock

Teen 'suicide games' send shudders through Russia

Across Russia and the Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, alarming Blue Whale headlines have become a nearly daily occurrence: a child or teen being encouraged to commit suicide through participation in a ghoulish online "game" driven by Russian-language hashtags including "blue whale," "sea of whales," "I'm in the game," "Wake me at 4:20," "F58," and many others.
On February 14, a 10-year-old girl in the St. Petersburg suburb of Kirishi was hospitalized with a concussion and other injuries after falling from a window. Local media cited "preliminary findings" that suggested the incident was an attempted suicide connected to a shadowy online phenomenon known as "Blue Whale." On February 20, local media reported that the St. Petersburg branch of the Federal Security Service (FSB) was opening a new database of information on child suicides.

Across Russia and the Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, alarming Blue Whale headlines have become a nearly daily occurrence: a child or teen being encouraged to commit suicide through participation in a ghoulish online "game" driven by Russian-language hashtags including "blue whale," "sea of whales," "I'm in the game," "Wake me at 4:20," "F58," and many others.

According to a new Novaya Gazeta report, the Russian Public Internet-Technology Center tracked 4,000 uses of the game hashtags on January 20 alone. Suspicious cases have also been reported in other post-Soviet states Ukraine, Belarus, and Azerbaijan.

Black Magic

Woman battered and suffocated her cousin during horrific two-hour exorcism at German hotel, jailed for six years

Doeon K., described as as the main perpetrator, was sentenced to six years in jail
A court has jailed a woman for her part in the horrific beating and suffocation of a relative during an exorcism ritual in a German hotel room.

The attacker, from South Korea, was sentenced six years behind bars after her cousin died following the two-hour ordeal in Frankfurt's Intercontinental Hotel.

Prosecutors said the victim - named in court as Seonhwa P, 41 - was set upon by family members after she began talking to herself and lashing out during a visit to the hotel in December 2015.

The odd behaviour led the accused to attempt the "exorcism", the prosecutor said.

Stock Up

Ivanka Trump's rising popularity in China leads to trademark requests by dozens of Chinese companies

© Carlos Barria / Reuters
At least 65 Chinese companies and individuals have applied to use the name of US President's oldest daughter Ivanka as a trademark for their products.

According to the national trademark office, the firms range from alcohol retailers to wallpaper companies.

One of them, a Beijing-based company that provides weight loss services filed ten applications to use 'Ivanka,' on products including cosmetics and nutritional supplements.

Recently an application was applied by Fujian Yingjie Commodity Company to use Ivanka for its brand of sanitary napkins. Most of the applications are still being processed, and it's not clear whether any of them will be granted trademark rights.

Arrow Down

Stone age law: Young Iranian chess grandmaster expelled from national team for not wearing hijab

© PowerPlayChess / YouTube
Iran has banned 18-year-old chess grandmaster Dorsa Derakhshani from competing for the national chess team for not wearing a hijab - obligatory dress for women under Iranian law.

Derakhshani was expelled for not covering her hair with the garment - compulsory wear for women since the Islamic Revolution in 1979 - while competing as an independent player in the 2017 Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival.

Her brother Borna, 15, has also been banned after competing against Israeli player Alexander Huzman in the same tournament.

Red Flag

British Muslim teacher denied entry into US, left in Iceland on stopover

© Gary Hershorn / Getty Images
A Muslim school teacher was dumped in Iceland while on a school trip after being denied entry into the United States.

Juhel Miah, a "popular and respected" math teacher from Neath Port Talbot in South Wales, was taking his students to New York when US officials refused to let him through.

Miah's singling out during a Reykjavik stopover and his later ban from entering the country were described as an "unjustified act of discrimination."

The February 16 incident took place despite Miah's valid travel visa and the US appeals court decision to suspend Donald Trump's executive order banning people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US.


Philadelphia commuter trains crash head-on, four people injured

© rob_el_train / Instagram
The crash happened just before 8:30am local time.
Two commuter trains collided head-on in Philadelphia on Tuesday, injuring four people. The crash happened near the 69th Street Terminal during the city's busy morning commute.

"There are [probably] about a half a dozen cars that are involved as a result of the crash," Upper Darby Police Department Superintendent Michael Chitwood told CBS.

The trains were empty when they collided, but minor injuries occurred when one of the cars toppled onto a separate parked car that housed a homeless man. All the other injured parties are reported to be workers from the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA).

A total of four people have been hospitalized, but their injuries are not serious.