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Fri, 21 Jul 2017
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Wall Street

Wall Street's efforts to improve its tattered image fail to sway Americans

© Lucas Jackson / Reuters
Bad news for financial titans like JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s Jamie Dimon and Goldman Sachs Group Inc.'s Lloyd Blankfein: Most Americans hold unfavorable views of Wall Street banks and corporate executives, and distrust billionaires more than they admire them.

Despite efforts by Wall Street firms to regain trust since the 2008 financial crisis, fewer than a third of Americans view the industry positively -- unchanged from 2009, according to the latest Bloomberg National Poll.

House

Chinese investors set new record buying US real estate in 2016

© Joe Raedle / Reuters
A record $31.7 billion was spent by the Chinese on US residential real estate in 2016, keeping their leading position regarding dollar sales for the fourth consecutive year, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

The figure was more than ten percent up from the $28.6 billion in Chinese investments in the sector in 2015.

According to the agency, Canadians have been catching up with transactions at $19 billion, also a record.

Growing interest from Canadian buyers comes from the high price of real estate in Canada, especially in Toronto and Vancouver, according to NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.

All in all, foreign buyers along with recent migrants brought a record $150.3 billion to the US real estate market, marking a 49 percent year-over-year increase the association reports.

Better Earth

Senator John McCain diagnosed with brain cancer

Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona has been diagnosed with brain cancer after checking into a hospital for a blood clot near his left eye. Doctors discovered a glioblastoma, a malignant brain tumor.

The tumor was discovered at the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix last Friday.

"The Senator and his family are reviewing further treatment options with his Mayo Clinic care team," a Wednesday evening statement from McCain's office read. Chemotherapy and radiation may be the next step, according to the statement.

Doctors said McCain recovered from surgery "amazingly well," according to McCain's office, and they added that McCain's "underlying health is excellent."

Comment: Could it really be happening? Rockefeller, Brzezinski, Killary and McCain all in one year??


Document

Russia toughens law for inciting children to suicide

The bill doubles the maximum penalty for inciting children to take their own lives from 8 to 15 years in jail

© Valeriy Sharifulin/TASS
Russia’s State Duma
Russia's lower house of parliament, State Duma, approved on Wednesday the bill doubling the maximum penalty for inciting children to take their own lives, from 8 to 15 years in jail.

The bill was submitted by the MPs of the United Russia Vladimir Vasilyev, Vasily Piskarev and Ernest Valeyev.

Video

Russian filmmaker Konchalovsky compares Oscars to McDonald's and suggests sanctioning it

Konchalovsky thinks that films that have been awarded an Oscar over the past years are a far cry from being masterpieces

© Matt Sayles/Invision/AP
Russian filmmaker Andrey Konchalovsky, whose film "Paradise" was nominated for an Oscar, took a swipe at this award comparing it to "McDonald's" in an interview with TASS and suggested Russia slap sanctions on it.

Andrey Konchalovsky used to be a member of the Russian Oscar Committee that chooses films for the contest, but abandoned it a few years ago. Replying to a question on what film Russia should present at this year's Oscars, the film director stressed that no Russian film should take part in it.

Pistol

Learn to kill - just like an Israeli

Although the Israeli "anti-terrorism day camps" for civilians are not new, an article in Haaretz last week about their growing popularity amongst tourists from around the globe has created significant buzz and, in some cases, righteous outrage. "Anti-terror Fantasy Camps Are Popping Up Throughout Israel and the West Bank - and Tourists Are Eating It Up", reads the Haaretz headline. Another headline explains that "Tourists in Israel can now pretend to kill a Palestinian for only $115." That's the bargain price, for a two-hour program, jam packed with a knife-wielding terrorist, and a suicide bombing in a Jerusalem market. Longer sessions, featuring multiple "terror" scenarios, cost up to $600. The half-dozen such "fantasy camps" in Israel, and in illegal West Bank settlements, are apparently quite popular with American families visiting Israel for a son's bar mitzvah. There are also month-long summer camps for young boys, which cater primarily to American Jews, offering all kosher meals and a daily minyan. Israelis, of course, don't need to "play soldier," as they are conscripted in the army, women for two years, and men for three.

Pistol

Family of Washington man receives $15 million in damages after father is killed by police sniper

© Ted S. Warren / Associated Press
A jury assessed $3 million in punitive damages against Lakewood Police Chief Mike Zaro, finding that his department acted recklessly in the fatal shooting of Leonard Thomas.
He grabbed his mother's wrist and took her phone when she tried to call 911. They were having a family argument. Within hours, 30-year-old Leonard Thomas was dead, killed by a police sniper's bullet on a May night in 2013. In this freeway-divided Tacoma suburb, the unarmed man was shot on his porch while holding his 4-year-old son in his arms. Police said the minor dispute had turned into a standoff that could only be settled with a militaristic show of force and lethal action.


Comment: Folks, we can't stress this enough: do NOT call 9-1-1 for help from police! There are many options available besides involving the state.


But on Friday, a federal court jury in Seattle unanimously disagreed, handing down one of the most costly legal verdicts against police officers in Washington state history.

Having heard testimony from an officer's after-incident report boasting that the sniper's bullet, fired from 90 yards away, was a "frickin' million-dollar shot," the jury decided to award Thomas' family $15 million.

The seven-member panel awarded the amount to the family in a civil rights lawsuit as a way of saying local police had overreacted to a minor domestic dispute. At least 27 officers from the Pierce County Metro SWAT team and two armored vehicles were sent to the scene after Thomas — who was bipolar, had been drinking and was despondent over a friend's death — refused to leave his house.

Witnesses during the trial described a battleground setting: One armored transport was driven across a neighbor's yard, through a fence, and parked off the back patio of the Thomas home in the town of Fife. The other vehicle, a BearCat personnel carrier, took position at the front of the house.

Comment: Another man killed by police needlessly. We see time and time again, black and mentally ill people are frequently killed by police who are completely ill-equipped to de-escalate tense situations like the above. The only thing they seem to be able to do is kill.


People

Poll shows 75% of Venezuelans support socialism

The majority of Venezuelans believe in a socialist economy, but want the government to be more efficient and promote private investment, a top pollster said Wednesday.

"Most [Venezuelans] believe in a strong, vigorous state [to] establish clear laws for the market," said Oscar Schemel, the head of polling agency Hinterlaces.

He pointed to the latest Hinterlaces poll, which asked participants if "the best thing for Venezuela is a socialist economic model of production, where various forms of private property exist".

While three out of four Venezuelans agreed with this statement, 24 percent disagreed, while 1 percent were unsure.

Heart - Black

Arizona Senate candidate bullied online for being Muslim

© Deedra 2018 / Facebook
Deedra Abboud
Democratic Senate candidate Deedra Abboud has been inundated with hateful comments on Facebook after she posted a campaign video touting the wisdom of America's Founding Fathers and the freedoms that they had written into law. All because she's Muslim.

Abboud, a Phoenix attorney and civil rights activist, is running to represent the people of Arizona in the US Senate in 2018.

Online reaction to her campaign posts and videos has been full of attacks on Abboud's religion. Here are just some of the comments to her posts and videos:

Info

Tibet rising from poverty: Fantasy and reality

© Xinhua
A village in Shannan City, Tibet Autonomous Region, China.
As a result of Hollywood and a fascination with Buddhism among certain celebrities and in some bohemian circles, many Americans are deeply misinformed about Tibet.

The reality is that the Tibet Autonomous Region's position, as part of the People's Republic of China, has been overwhelmingly good for the population. It has also been good for Tibetan culture and traditions, which are not being destroyed, but rather celebrated and promoted by the central government.

As part of China's 13th Five Year Plan (2016-2020), the Sichuan-Tibet Railway is under construction to link remote and mountainous parts of the region to the rest of the world. This ambitious project involving well over a thousand miles of railway will cost roughly US$36 billion, and will vastly improve the economic access of the region.

Due to the nature of the terrain, 80 percent of the track will be either cross bridges or pass through tunnels.