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'So senseless': Nuns 'with hearts of gold' found murdered in rural Mississippi

© WWLP-22News / YouTube
Sister Paula Merrill (left) and Sister Margaret Held were found stabbed to death in Durant, Mississippi.
Two Catholic nuns who worked as nurses helping the poor in rural Mississippi were stabbed to death in their home. While authorities suspect robbery, the community is devastated by the loss.

Sister Margaret Held and Sister Paula Merrill, of the Kentucky-based Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, did not show up to work at the Lexington Medical Clinic in Durant, Mississippi on Thursday. Concerned co-workers alerted the police, who found the two women dead.

There were signs of a break-in at the home and the nuns' car was stolen, Maureen Smith, a spokeswoman for the Catholic Diocese of Jackson, told AP. The blue Toyota Corolla was found later in the day, undamaged, about a mile away from the house. It was towed to the state crime lab in Jackson, about 64 miles away, according to Mississippi Department of Public Safety spokesman Warren Strain.

Camera

One illustration targets the hypocrisy of burqini bans

France recently banned "burkinis," which can be seen on women who are wearing headscarves and bodysuits and are primarily spotted on Muslim women. France has been a large perpetrator of Islamophobia, likely because of repeated attacks in their country, that have caused them to first ban scarves that cover women's faces and now ban burkinis.

Now, when French police in certain cities encounter a woman wearing a burkini, they are allowed to force them to remove extra covering and give them a ticket with a hefty fine.

What's terrible about this situation is that photos have revealed how this is shockingly similar to the way women's bodies were policed decades ago. Photos placed side-by-side have been taken at the beach in different centuries to show how things have not changed. Back then, women were not allowed to show too much skin, and now they are essentially not allowed to cover up too much.

Comment: Further reading:


War Whore

Arkansas 'Hot Check Division' court jails cancer patient for 3 months over bounced checks totaling $41

© Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
Lee Robertson
Bank fees alone are often enough to discourage people from writing checks they can't cash, but some municipal courts find it to be an offense worth jailing citizens over - including one person undergoing cancer treatment.

A class action lawsuit in Pulaski County, Arkansas, is shedding light on practices that many believe have led to a "modern-day debtors' prison."

Lee Robertson became familiar with the practice after his pancreatic cancer treatment left him unemployed, but still responsible for bills.

To get by, he wrote a series of checks for a maximum of $41. When the checks bounced, he owed a few stores $200, according to the Huffington Post. However, after the "Hot Check Division" of Sherwood got hold of him, that numbered turned into $3,054.51 - and it was owed to the court.

The overzealous prosecution of the Arkansas Hot Check law has many concerned about the implications of financially penalizing residents who can't afford to cash a check.

"Through a labyrinthine - and lucrative - a single check for $15 returned for insufficient funds can be leveraged into many thousands of dollars in court costs, fines, and fees owed to Sherwood and Pulaski County," the lawsuit reads.

That is how Robertson ended up going from owing $200 to owing $3,000. Over the course of six years, he was arrested seven times for his debt. In cities with punitive check laws like Sherwood, bouncing a check can land citizens on the hook for $400 in fines and fees, on top of the amount due for the original check.

Comment: UPDATE
Via Huffington Post

Aug. 25 ― All of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit are no longer incarcerated, with Charles Dade and Nikki Petree being released from jail on Thursday, according to Rebecca Sturtevant, a spokeswoman for the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

A reporter with the Arkansas Times visited the "hot check" court on Thursday and spoke with a number of defendants, some of whom broke down in tears talking about their ordeals. One man claimed to have spent 405 days in the Pulaski County Jail over the years after passing a $58 hot check back in 1998. Richard Green Sr. said he now pays $200 every month and has to show up at court every three months.

"I have lost everything because of this," Green told the Times. "It's just a revolving cycle I'm on. You never know when you're going to get it paid off. It'll seem like you're going to get it paid off, but you don't get it paid off. You think it's going down, but then it's going back up on you. You never get through paying."

None of the defendants spent more than 45 seconds in front of Judge Hale, according to the report. Hale issued a statement to KATV, claiming he does not "run a so called 'debtor's prison' in Sherwood. If a defendant pleads guilty, or is found guilty, of writing a hot check we set up a payment plan. It is only after the third or fourth time that they fail to comply with a court order that we incarcerate."

Hale's statement makes no mention of his constitutional duty to make an inquiry into a person's ability to pay before sentencing them to incarceration for failing to make a payment.



Wolf

Gov't to slaughter entire area's wolf population, an endangered species, to protect the local beef industry

© Free Thought Project
An entire wolf pack has been marked for slaughter by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The decision was made to protect a nearby cattle farm after several cows were found wounded or killed.

Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, gray wolves roamed North America by the hundreds of thousands. However, as America's demand for meat grew, the wolves became viewed as vermin and pests — they were slaughtered by the tens of thousands.

As a result of this slaughter, wolves were nearly wiped off the face of the lower 48 states. They were hunted to the verge of extinction and all but disappeared.

The federal government then intervened and placed the wolves on the endangered species list in accordance with the Endangered Species Act. Slowly but surely, the wolves began to grow in numbers; nothing like their previous numbers, but a small increase nonetheless.

In a tragically ironic move, however, the same government who once protected the wolf has now marked them for butchery.

Earlier this month, five cows were found dead or injured, at which point the WDFW authorized a 'partial pack removal.' State agents killed two female wolves, and the cow deaths appeared to stop.

There appeared to be a disturbance in wolf activity and operations paused, according to Donny Martorello, Wolf Policy Lead for WDFW, reported KING 5.

But this cessation in wolves being wolves only lasted a couple of weeks. On August 19, more cows were injured or killed. The WDFW then authorized the slaughter of the entire pack living in Profanity Peak in Ferry County.

This move by the WDFW to slaughter the wolves in the name of beef farming has, understandably, created a firestorm of backlash — especially considering that they are still on the endangered species list.

Handcuffs

Colorado sheriff arrested for taking mentally impaired inmate with a 'kid's brain' to his house to rape her

© CBS
An egregious case of alleged rape under the color of authority comes from rural Colorado, where a sheriff has been arrested for taking a developmentally delayed inmate to his home, sexually assaulted her, and threatened life imprisonment if she told anyone what he did to her.

"I just want sex," Sedgwick County Sheriff Tom Hanna told the inmate, as quoted in court documents.

Hanna, 43, was taken into custody from his office on Tuesday with bail set at $250,000 — though, according to the Associated Press, he has not yet been formally charged.

Health

War-scarred UK military veterans getting inconsistent specialist attention

© Nigel Roddis / Reuters
Armed Forces charity SSAFA says military veterans face a 'postcode lottery' in accessing National Health Service (NHS) care and provision across the UK.

With the exception of NHS Wales - and in spite of a pledge by NHS Scotland - specialist services across the UK are too inconsistent to provide for the particular needs of military veterans, says SSAFA head Air Vice Marshal David Murray.

"The legacy of every conflict will forever impact the lives of our veterans who committed to risking their lives to protect our national security, and so it is imperative that their welfare and that of their families is a priority," Murray told the Express on Thursday.

He said the healthcare experience of veterans in England could be "variable" with services sometimes "failing to understand their unique experiences or specific needs."

Pirates

Turkey arrests 40 ISIS suspects in southern Turkey provinces

© Dado Ruvic / Reuters
A group of 20 people, allegedly linked to Daesh, were detained by the anti-terror team in the Seyhan district of Adana province, and the remainder were apprehended in the central Anatolian province of Konya, the police source was quoted as saying by the Anadolu news agency.

According to the source, police seized documents from the suspects, who have been taken into custody for questioning after medical checks.

The move comes after the Turkish army launched a military operation earlier this week in northern Syria against Daesh jihadists, outlawed in Russia and many other countries.

Comment: See also:


Bomb

DPR leader survives possible assassination attempt, bomb claims one victim

At 13:00 on August 25th, an explosion broke out in the center of Donetsk outside the home of the famous Sparta battalion commander Motorola and the deputy prime minister of the DPR. The explosion itself claimed the life of one so-far unidentified man, whose death ties into the remaining mystery of the placement of the device.

While specialists and intelligence services are still working at the scene, varying reports have claimed that the bomb, either packaged TNT or a grenade, was either placed in the nearby trash bin while "the man who died was doing something in the bushes nearby," or that the victim of the explosion was in fact the perpetrator of this supposed act of terrorism whose bomb exploded in his own pocket as a result of unsuccessful preparation. Social media updates, official statements, and differing speculations are currently making their rounds.

DPR head Alexander Zakharchenko has since stated that the explosion could have been an attempt on the lives of important republic leaders.

Precise device positioning aside, this explosive incident is not the first of its kind. In fact, it is by all indices only the latest in a series of incidents which have no other likely source than Ukrainian forces and their agents within the Donbass republics. It is no coincidence that on Monday, a bomb was discovered and neutralized in the apartment of the republic's leader, Alexander Zakharchenko.


Pistol

Rapper shot during Black Lives Matter video shoot calling for non-violence

© Real King Yella / YouTube
A Chicago rapper has been shot while shooting a video in support of Black Lives Matter and calling for non-violence. The bloody attack adds to Chicago's worrisome statistics as the city saw nearly 10 people shot in one day alone this week.

King Yella's shooting was recorded on video, which he shared on his Instagram account. In the footage, the rapper is seen preparing to record his music video as bullets are fired toward him from a passing vehicle.

He sustained two injuries - to his elbow and his chest - but managed to get to a hospital on his own.

Earlier this week, Yella called on people to show up for a recording of his music video in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, urging everyone who would come to wear blue and red shirts.

Yella was one of nearly a dozen shooting victims in Chicago on Wednesday alone, all following a bloody weekend of more gun violence.

Sheriff

Alaskan cop who 'kindly assisted' innocent man by savagely beating him has pleaded guilty, sentenced to 120 days in jail

A former Bethel cop who claimed that he "kindly tried to assist" Alaska Native Wassillie Gregory into his cruiser has pleaded guilty to assault and has been sentenced to jail. Andrew Reid, 40, pleaded guilty by telephone in Bethel District Court to two misdemeanor charges — fourth-degree assault and official misconduct — after a video surfaced which shows his treatment of Gregory was anything but kind.

In the video obtained from a store surveillance camera, Reid can be seen repeatedly picking up and slamming an inebriated Gregory to the concrete before arresting him. Gregory clearly has poor motor control and is pushed away from the cruiser before being tossed around like a sack of potatoes. He sustained a fractured rib and shoulder injury that required surgery.

A visitor from Arizona witnessed the brutality on July 12, 2014, and reported it to police. Gregory pleaded guilty to harassment two days later without a lawyer present. However, the complaint from the witness prompted Bethel Police Chief Andre Achee to investigate the incident, whereupon he obtained the video footage.

It wasn't until Gregory's new lawyer, Sean Brown, got the video in May 2015 that Gregory's conviction was dropped, and the City of Bethel paid $175,000 to settle a civil suit.

After this, the city sent the investigation to the FBI, which referred it to Alaska's Office of Special Prosecutions. The charging document states that Reid's use of force "was excessive and unnecessary."

Comment: Alaskan officer faces charges for fourth-degree assault on resident