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Thu, 25 May 2017
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Oliver Stone goes face to face with Putin: "You'll see a different point of view" — deadline disruptors

© Chris Chapman
Last year, three-time Oscar winner Oliver Stone made his 20th directorial outing with Snowden—a look at the life of former NSA consultant and whistleblower Edward Snowden. The film took Stone on numerous trips to Russia, where Snowden has lived in exile since 2013, which then led to a series of interviews with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. The format is something Stone has used to great effect before in his documentaries about controversial politicians such as Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez.

Comment: Oliver Stone eyes Putin documentary to show 'a different point of view' to Americans


American Society of Plastic Surgeons report 20% rise in gender confirmation surgeries from 2015 to 2016

© Christopher Furlong, Getty Images
Gender confirmation surgeries are on the rise in the United States, according to newly released data from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

There has been an almost 20% increase in gender confirmation surgeries from 2015 to 2016, with more than 2,300 gender confirmation surgeries being performed in 2016, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, which has been tracking national statistics on gender confirmation surgeries.

Loren Schechter, MD, a board-certified plastic surgeon in Chicago, said in a statement that over the past few years plastic surgeons have seen an increase in patients seeking surgical treatment for gender dysphoria.

Schechter said gender confirmation surgery covers everything from facial surgery to breast or chest surgery and genital surgery.

"There is no one-size-fits-all treatment, and no one discipline can meet all the needs of an individual," Schechter said in a statement. "For example, plastic surgeons work with doctors who specialize in hormone therapy, urology and with mental health professionals who help patients through the emotional aspects of their transition."

No Entry

'We don't want war with Russia': NATO exit is gaining force among citizens of Slovakia

So far 150,000 Slovaks have signed a petition calling for a referendum on Slovakia's withdrawal from NATO. 350,000 signatures are needed to trigger a referendum in the country of 5.5 million people.

Signatures are being gathered by the right-wing eurosceptic party Kotleba - People's Party Our Slovakia. The petition was launched in July 2016, meaning it has been gathering about 15,000 signatures per month on average. At this pace there will be enough signatures to trigger a referendum sometime next year.

The country has been a scene of repeated small-scale protests against NATO in general, and in particular against NATO bases on Slovak soil.

Light Saber

Alabama lawmakers pass bill to protect Confederate monuments from removal

© Richard Ellis / Global Look Press
Lawmakers in Alabama have passed a bill which, if signed into law, would protect any historical monuments in the state, including those honoring members of the Confederacy, from removal. It comes as other Southern states are removing Confederate symbols.

The Monument Preservation Act, bill SB60, would prohibit cities and counties from relocation, alternation, renaming or other disturbance of "architecturally significant" buildings, memorials, memorial streets or monuments on public property for 40 or more years, according to AP.

Senator Gerald Allen, a Republican sponsor of the bill, blasted what he perceived as a "wave of political correctness" assailing monuments dedicated to people who he says, despite having flaws, were important to history.

Comment: See also: Protestors face off at demonstration in New Orleans over planned removal of Confederate monuments


Dakota Access pipeline plagued with 2 more leaks, valve failures

© cbsnews.com
Not yet fully operational, the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) has leaked more than 100 gallons of oil in North Dakota in two separate incidents. Two barrels, or 84 gallons, spilled due to a leaky flange at a pipeline terminal in Watford City on March 3, according to the North Dakota Health Department. A flange is a section connecting two sections of pipeline.

The department's incident report said the oil flow was immediately cut off and the spill was contained on the site. Contaminated snow and oils was removed and no people, wildlife or waterways were affected. In a separate incident, a leak of half a barrel, or 20 gallons of oil, occurred on March 5 in rural Mercer County, according to data from the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Contaminated soil was removed and no people, wildlife or water ways were affected.

The online report says an above-ground valve failed due to a manufacturing defect causing the leak and upstream and downstream valves were closed to isolate the leak. Later, all other such valves on the line were inspected and were found to be working well.

The Dakota Access pipeline, a construction project estimated at $3.8 billion, will move North Dakota oil 1,200 miles (1,930 kilometers) through South Dakota and Iowa to a distribution point in Illinois. DAPL's operators, Energy Transfer Partners, plans to begin commercial operations June 1.

Comment: There are numerous ways an oil pipeline may leak, including faulty welding points, equipment failure and pipe connections. The Alaskan pipeline's history was riddled with massive spills, controversy, legalities, suspicious deaths and congressional investigations. The Tribe should be concerned, but so far, these leaks are relatively insignificant.


Algerian tycoon revs up for burkini party at Cannes Film Fest, sends one to Le Pen, Morano

© Tim Wimborne/Reuters
Working on that tan.
An Algerian millionaire dubbed 'Zorro of the niqab' is planning to throw a burkini beach party during the Cannes Film Festival. The tycoon claims to have sent right-wing Marine Le Pen the Muslim swimwear in French tricolor.

Rachid Nekkaz, an Algerian businessman and political activist, has resumed his pro-burkini campaign as summer approaches. This time, he has chosen the French Riviera city of Cannes for his "burkini-style party." The event on May 26 will coincide with the Cannes Film Festival, which is held in the resort city. The burkini is full-body swimwear used by some Muslim women, especially in public.

The party is scheduled to last for two hours - from 2-4pm local time. "A duration of a film," Nekkaz told Nice Matin newspaper. "This is a way of celebrating a decision of [France's] State Council from August 26, 2016, which allows any woman to wear a burkini," he said, adding "Cannes was the first [city] to forbid it."

Cannes banned burkinis back in August of 2016, and the majority of French resorts soon followed suit. The ban divided French society, with some praising the restrictions, while others worried it would provoke more tension with Muslims.

Comment: Big deal.


Just in: The price tag on universal health care is bigger than California's entire budget

© unknown
The size of the solution.
The price tag is in: It would cost $400 billion to remake California's health insurance marketplace and create a publicly funded universal heath care system, according to a state financial analysis released Monday.

California would have to find an additional $200 billion per year, including in new tax revenues, to create a so-called "single-payer" system, the analysis by the Senate Appropriations Committee found. The estimate assumes the state would retain the existing $200 billion in local, state and federal funding it currently receives to offset the total $400 billion price tag.

The cost analysis is seen as the biggest hurdle to creating a universal system, proposed by Sens. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, and Toni Atkins, D-San Diego.

It remains a long-shot bid. Steep projected costs have derailed efforts over the past two decades to establish such a health care system in California. The cost is higher than the $180 billion in proposed general fund and special fund spending for the budget year beginning July 1. Employers currently spend between $100 billion to $150 billion per year, which could be available to help offset total costs, according to the analysis. Under that scenario, total new spending to implement the system would be between $50 billion and $100 billion per year.

"Health care spending is growing faster than the overall economy ... yet we do not have better health outcomes and we cover fewer people," Lara said at Monday's appropriations hearing. "Given this picture of increasing costs, health care inefficiencies and the uncertainty created by Congress, it is critical that California chart our own path."

Comment: Until the healthcare conundrum is finally, if ever, useful and affordable:
  • actively seek answers to health issues,
  • verify the protocols,
  • diligently apply knowledge, and
  • do not depend on the system for your health and wellness.


After department re-training, Salt Lake City cops have killed no one since 2015

It's a tale of two Michael Brown's, one a police chief for Salt Lake City, the other deceased, killed by Ferguson, MO police officer Darren Wilson. Salt Lake City Police Chief Michael Brown decided his town had seen enough officer-involved shootings and retrained his officers in de-escalation of force techniques.

"Can I shot this guy," Wilson asked himself as Brown was allegedly punching him through his cruiser's window. Wilson went on to shoot and kill the unarmed Michael Brown, a shooting which touched off grassroots protests throughout the country objecting to police brutality and the escalation of force implemented by nearly all of the nation's police forces.

And while Chief Brown knows there are times when police can and should take someone's life, it appears now his department wants that decision to be the last resort. "People don't call us when they're having the best day of their life. They call us when they're having a crisis," Brown said.

The Salt Lake City PD is proud of their new de-escalation program, even offering officers incentives and awards for deescalating encounters with citizens. One such encounter was captured on video, and Brown says there have been 37 such instances since the program was enacted in 2016.


Cop cleared of wrongdoing after unloading into car full of teens, killing one and injuring two others

A graphic video, released as part of a report issued by the Alabama State Bureau of Investigation, shows officer Allan Brown firing eleven shots into the vehicle, after engaging in a high speed chase, pausing only to reload and fire another ten shots into the vehicle as the teens can be heard begging for their lives.

Christian Redwine, 17, was killed in the shooting, and passengers Hunter Tillis and Hanna Wuenschel, both 19 at the time, suffered nonfatal gunshot wounds. It was the first volley, of the 21 total bullets, that struck Redwine in the head and heart that ended his young life, according to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences.

Brown claimed that Redwine tried to use the car to run him over, which caused him fear for his life, and prompted the fatal shots. An attorney representing Wuenschel said Redwine was trying only to back out of a hole. The attorney said Redwine was shot seven times, Wuenschel two or three times, and Tillis at least twice, according to the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer.

Despite the clearly desperate pleas of mercy from the teens, as Brown unloaded two magazines into their vehicle, a Russell County grand jury found that Brown committed no criminal wrongdoing in the November 6 incident.


Kim Dotcom tweets he was working with Seth Rich to get leaked emails to Wikileaks

© Nigel Marple/Reuters
Kim Dotcom
More Seth Rich news is breaking, which can only mean more bad news for the Democrats who concocted the entire Russiagate fake news story.

Kim Dotcom has confirmed via Twitter that he was working with Seth Rich to get leaked emails to WikiLeaks.

Comment: See also: