Welcome to Sott.net
Sun, 24 Jul 2016
The World for People who Think

Society's Child

Snakes in Suits

Former executives of France Telecom may be prosecuted over employee suicides

French prosecutors have called for telecommunications giant France Telecom, now renamed Orange, and its former executives to face trial over a wave of employee suicides, an investigation source said Thursday.

After a probe lasting seven years, prosecutors have asked an investigating judge to bring harassment charges against the company and its former chief executive Didier Lombard, the source told AFP.

Prosecutors want similar charges to be brought against the company's former number two, Louis-Pierre Wenes and its former human resources chief, Olivier Barberot.

Another four executives could be tried for complicity in the harassment, according to the requests, which were dated June 22.

A spokesman for Orange said the request for a trial was "a normal stage in the procedure (that) does not assume how the judge will decide."

Unions and management accept that 35 France Telecom employees took their own lives between 2008 and 2009.

Comment: French telecom Orange investigates second wave of suicides among staff - 'explicitly related' to jobs


High levels arsenic detected near Charlotte, NC main water supply source

© duke_energy / Instagram
High level of arsenic have been detected near Duke Energy's Riverbend power plant, right next to Charlotte, North Carolina's main water supply source.

The toxins have been traced back to Duke Energy's coal ash pits, after abnormal levels of arsenic were discovered on June 20.

While the state safety threshold for arsenic in surface water is 10 parts per billion (ppb), June's reading showed levels of 95 ppb, according to Mecklenburg County officials.

The samples came from the water adjacent to the Duke Energy's Riverbend Steam Station Coal Ash Ponds in Mountain Island Lake. The two ponds at Riverbend hold 3.6 million tons of coal ash, which showed the high levels of arsenic. The discovery came after operators drained the coal ash ponds at the Riverbend Steam Station in January, in preparation for excavating the ash.

Comment: America's multi-billion ton toxic legacy: Coal ash
Duke Energy currently has around 150 million tons of coal waste stored in 4,500 acres of ash dumps, of which about 70% are in North Carolina. In the aftermath of the Dan River spill, the company admitted cutting corners and ignoring engineers' requests for better monitoring at the site, and agreed to pay $102 million in fines and environmental restitution fees.

America's coal plants produce 140 million tons of ash each year, making it the country's second-largest industrial waste stream. The vast majority of that ash is blended with water to make it easier to move, and then pumped into impoundments that are often little more than holes in the ground.

There are currently more than 1,100 such impoundments in the US, of which almost half lack any kind of lining to prevent seepage, and every state that has coal-ash impoundments has also had EPA-verified water contamination incidents linked to the sites.

That's troubling because coal ash contains toxic heavy metals such as arsenic, lead, selenium, and other agents that have been linked to cancer, learning disabilities, neurological disorders, birth defects, reproductive failure, asthma, and other illnesses.

According to an EPA risk assessment, people who live within a mile of an unlined coal-ash facility have a 1 in 50 risk of cancer due to arsenic exposure alone, without even considering the other toxins to which they're potentially exposed.

Heart - Black

Democracy is dead

© Zoriah
From the west to the east, and the south to the north of our global horizon, it is the same tableau: the horrendous killing fields of disaster capitalism where its cohorts of 18-wheelers, heavy road machinery and police patrol cars roam the landscape continuously and are turning us and the better principles of our humanity into countless road kills. Hell on Earth is to be our common fate, and we might have already reached a point of no return. The corporate hyenas and political vultures that generally constitute the global elite are joyfully feeding on the carcasses of justice and morality; rationality and empathy; common sense and the notion of public good; sound governance without corruption and equality before the law; and last but not least, freedom and fair governance through democracy.


New 'pay to stay' housing law prices poorer tenants out of London

© Flickr/ Images Money
New housing laws are forcing poorer tenants to leave London as the government start to charge them market rents.

The fact that it is cheaper to have a mortgage in the capital than it is to rent speaks volumes and only goes to show the poor state UK's housing market has come to.

Areas once considered inhabitable or "too rough" have now turned into wealthy upmarket regions of London and investors are snapping them up.


Whistleblower Manning rushed to hospital, reports claim attempted suicide

© U.S. Army / Reuters
Imprisoned whistleblower Chelsea Manning was taken to a hospital in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas after reportedly attempting suicide in the maximum-security military penitentiary, where she is serving a 35-year sentence for leaking classified documents.

Manning was transported to the hospital Tuesday, according to CNN's crime reporter Shimon Prokupecz.

Comment: See also:
Surprise, surprise: FBI says Clinton shouldn't be charged but was 'extremely careless' with classified emails

Bad Guys

Yankee go home: U.S. overseas military bases have become symbolic of lawlessness and crime

Recent scandals involving US military personnel have been widely covered by the international media. Instead of being the "bulwark of American democracy" and the "defenders of peace and security" American bases and their occupants are rapidly becoming a symbol of lawlessness and crime, as evident by the vocal criticism that has been voiced by various members of the international community in various countries around the world and numerous protests local residents have held in a desperate bid to have these bases removed.

Less than a week ago a new wave of protests swept the US embassy in Japan, after the arrest of yet another American soldier who was driving a car while drunk on Okinawa.

It should be remembered that it's been only a short while since US military commanders introduced prohibition on military bases on Okinawa after a US soldier injured two local residents in a car accident. Okinawans have been demanding the closure of US military bases on the island for years. The latest string of incidents resulted in the largest anti-American protest of the last two decades. The demonstration was attended by tens of thousands of people that demanded the military bases be shifted to a deserted part of the island to avoid the continuation of numerous criminal deeds committed by US servicemen. Similar demands are being voiced by the residents of pretty much all the islands of Japan.

Okinawa witnessed the bloodiest skirmishes between American and Japanese soldiers during the Second World War, and has been forced to live under total US occupation until 1972. Beginning in the 1950s the so-called "red threat" was used as a pretext for the continued occupation, though nowadays there's no certainty from whom the US is trying to protect Okinawa, all while victimizing its citizens.


Australian science program Catalyst under review and host suspended after airing episode on the dangers of Wi-Fi radiation

Catalyst host Maryanne Demasi

Comment: This appears to be a clear case of corporate pressure being used to discredit a solid reporter from discussing the clear scientific evidence of the health dangers of electromagnetic radiation and censoring the rest of the public from the data provided in the show's episode. "Prominent scientists" who are really paid corporate shills tout the safety of Wi-Fi while at the same there exists significant evidence of the biological effects of EM radiation on humans. The scientists who attack anyone who points out these facts are merely doing what they are paid to do - lie to the public about the safety of EM radiation. They are deceitful liars who sell their allegiance to the highest bidder. The Sydney Morning Herald does not even conduct a balanced reporting on the subject either. They just repeat the lies and nonsense because they, too, are paid corporate shills. If they did any research, they would see the vast evidence showing the dangers of EM radiation.

The ABC will apologise to its viewers and review its science program Catalyst after an independent investigation found a controversial episode on the potential health risks of Wi-Fi that went to air earlier this year breached its editorial standards.

The damning finding - which will see reporter Maryanne Demasi suspended from on-air assignments until at least September - comes two years after a similar investigation slammed a Catalyst program questioning the use of cholesterol-reducing medications.

As with the earlier program on cholesterol, the Wi-Fi episode will be removed from the internet.

Prominent scientists attacked the February program at the time as scare-mongering and unscientific for questioning the links between Wi-Fi and brain tumours.


Syrian former Guantanamo detainee reported 'missing' after allegedly leaving Uruguay, airline issues alert

© Andres Stapff/Reuters
Former Guantanamo detainee Jihad Diyab (R) from Syria displays to the media the wedding ring of fellow ex-detainee Abdul Bin Mohammed Abis Ourgy of Tunisia, after the latter's wedding, at the window of Ourgy's apartment in Montevideo, June 5, 2015.
A Syrian former Guantanamo detainee has gone missing after resettling in Latin America. An internal alert was issued by a Brazilian airline for Jihad Ahmed Dhiab, as Uruguayan authorities had for weeks believed that the ex-prisoner was in Brazil.

The former detainee was one of six who resettled in Uruguay as part of a proposal by then-President Jose Mujica. Under law Dhiab is entitled to leave his new home for other countries, but authorities across borders have lost all track of him, with the Uruguayans insisting for weeks he was in Brazil. However the Brazilians say they have no record of him entering the country, the Associated Press (AP) reports.

Alarms were first raised in late June, when law enforcement in Brazil began the search in coordination with American and Uruguayan authorities. According to the Washington Post, US officials believed Dhiab had left for Brazil without the necessary documents to do so legally. Local Uruguayan media reported then that the former detainee was free to move about as he pleased, but the Brazilians confirmed he had previously been denied entry into the country.

Uruguay's internal minister was unable to clarify the situation, although, according to the AP, another Uruguayan official claimed that Dhiab was in fact allowed to enter Brazil. In either case, the deepening mystery threatens to inflame further the tensions between the White House and Congress - Dhiab's resettlement being part of the Obama administration's strategy for eventually shuttering the Guantanamo Bay facility.


Foreign buyers flood US real estate market in search of bargains

© Zhang Peng/LightRocket/Getty Images
Chinese investors negotiate at the US-China Real Estate summit & trade fair in Beijing.
The appetite for U.S. real estate continues to flourish, but international buyers are shifting their sights from luxury to less-pricey properties. This may be due to overall higher home prices, along with a stronger U.S. dollar, which both cost foreign buyers more at the negotiating table. There are also fewer nonresident foreigners investing in the market.

"Weaker economic growth throughout the world, devalued foreign currencies and financial market turbulence combined to present significant challenges for foreign buyers over the past year," said Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). "While these obstacles led to a cool down in sales from nonresident foreign buyers, the purchases by recent immigrant foreigners rose, resulting in the overall sales dollar volume still being the second highest since 2009."

Foreign buyers purchased $102.6 billion of residential property in the U.S. between April 2015 and March 2016, according to NAR's annual report on international activity in U.S. real estate. That is a 1.3 percent decline in dollar volume from the previous survey. The number of properties purchased, however, rose 2.8 percent to 214,885. The value of homes bought by foreigners was typically higher than the median price of all U.S. homes.

Comment: Americans are being priced out of their own housing market due to greedy government policies.


Iraq war veterans protest in London after release of Chilcot report, call for Blair indictment

© Paul Hackett / Reuters
Demonstrators protest before the release of the John Chilcot report into the Iraq war, at the Queen Elizabeth II centre in London, Britain July 6, 2016
Veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are calling for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to indict former Prime Minister Tony Blair for war crimes. They spoke to RT about their sense of "betrayal" over the Blair-era Iraq War.

At the Westminster rally to mark the publication of Sir John Chilcot's report, after a seven-year investigation into the 2003 Iraq conflict, military veterans told RT of their disgust at the circumstances surrounding the war.

Dan Taylor, 28, served in Iraq in the artillery. He is now a member of Veterans for Peace, a growing group of ex-services anti-war campaigners.

After reading aloud from the platform the names of five Iraqis and five UK soldiers killed in the war, Taylor told RT: "I think Corbyn will indict [Blair] and he needs to. The question is, is there support behind him to do it?"

He also said the Chilcot report must now be "torn to pieces. We need to look at what isn't said. I suspect it will be heavily redacted and it has taken far too long."