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Sun, 23 Oct 2016
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Former NSA contractor to face espionage charges over 50TB of 'stolen data'

© Jason Reed / Reuters
The US Department of Justice may charge a former NSA contractor with espionage after discovering top secret documents and enough highly sensitive data to fill 10,000 DVDs at his home in Maryland.

Retired US Navy officer Harold Thomas Martin III, 51, has been dubbed 'the second Snowden' by the press. He worked for Booz Allen Hamilton, the same firm that employed the famous whistleblower who revealed global surveillance programs run by the US.

Martin was arrested late August, but his case was only made public earlier this month. He allegedly hoarded at least 50,000 gigabytes (or 50 terabytes) of classified information from the National Security Agency (NSA), reportedly including the US government's hacking tools. For reference, one gigabyte is enough to store some 10,000 pages of documents containing both images and text, so Martin allegedly stole enough data to fill 10,000 DVDs.


Mass DDoS attack cripples world's biggest websites

© Tom Leyden / Twitter
A widespread cyber-attack was carried out against some of the world's biggest websites on Friday, with users unable to access Twitter, SoundCloud, Spotify and many others for over two hours.

Major DNS host Dyn says access to websites was restored following a DDoS attack early Friday, stating that "services have been restored to normal as of 13:20 UTC," following hours of outages online.

According to Hacker News, a "Massive Dyn DNS outrage" caused Twitter, Etsy, Github, SoundCloud and Spotify to go down.

No-one has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Comment: It may well be blamed on Rusia in 3...2...1...

Other sites reportedly affected included Airbnb, Reddit and Vox Media. Users said they had a variety of issues, depending on their location, Tech Crunch reports.

Eye 2

Exorcist priest and soldier arrested for sex abuse carried out under guise of 'spiritual healing' and exorcism in Italy

© Shuttershock
A Sicilian priest and a soldier have been arrested for sexual abuse, which they carried out under the guise of spiritual 'healing', local media reported on Friday.

The pair, both based in Palermo, used the pretext of liberating victims from demonic possession in order to abuse women and children. The two were named by media as Salvatore Anello, 59, who belonged to the Capuchin order, and Salvatore Muratore, 52, who worked for the Italian army in Palermo.

The men reportedly convinced victims that they were possessed by evil spirits, before carrying out a 'healing prayer' in their homes which involved "repeatedly touching their genitals", Palermo Today reported.

Anello was arrested at dawn on Friday morning and is being held in police custody, following a six-month long investigation into Muratore, who was a member of a local prayer group, and claimed to be able to perform exorcism.

Muratore is thought to have abused at least four women and one girl, while the priest is charged with abusing two women and three minors.

According to La Stampa, prosecutor Giorgia Righi said Muratore "took advantage of victims in a state of psychological fragility", and justified his groping by saying he was freeing the 'demon of lust'.

The army said Muratore would be suspended immediately and that it would co-operate fully with investigations.

Mr. Potato

Al Smith dinner edition features Clinton, Trump - and a lot of jokes, but the real jokes are on the American people

© Mike Blake / Reuters
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton
The Al Smith charity dinner benefits both Catholic charities as well as voters, who finally saw some levity by the presidential candidates. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both spoke, reciting their writers' best jokes about themselves and each other.

Every election year, the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel gives the presidential candidates a chance to present softer versions of their campaigns as they are encouraged to make light-hearted jabs and self-deprecating jokes.

The white-tie event raised over $6 million for Roman Catholic charities and hosted New York City's elite, such as Mayor Bill de Blasio, former Mayors Michael Bloomberg and Rudy Giuliani, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, along with members of the clergy.

Alfred E. Smith IV, the chairman of the dinner, acted as the master of ceremonies and set the tone for the evening.

"Before the dinner started, Trump went to Hillary and asked how you are. She said, 'I'm fine ‒ now get out of the ladies' dressing room,'" Smith said.

Comment: The world is burning and these idiots are telling jokes?!

Snakes in Suits

Obamacare premiums jump: When does the death spiral blow up?

Obamacare premiums are skyrocketing out of sight. A jump of a mere 30% looks like a good deal compared to jumps of over 50% in six states, and 93% in New Mexico.

Congratulations are in order for those living in a handful of states whose premiums only rose 20%.


Former top executives of mining giants Vale and BHP Billiton face homicide charges over Brazil dam disaster

© Ricardo Moraes / Reuters
A rescue worker touches the face of a horse as they try to save it in Mariana, Brazil, November 6, 2015
Brazilian prosecutors have filed homicide charges against 21 people over a mining dam collapse a year ago that killed 19 people and left hundreds homeless in the Minas Gerais region.

Among those charged include current and former top executives of mining companies Vale and BHP Billiton who jointly owned the Samarco mine. If found guilty of qualified homicide, the individuals could face sentences of between 12 and 30 years in prison.

Prosecutors claim employees of BHP and Vale knew there was a risk of collapse but ignored it, prioritizing their profits over the safety of local people. The companies have denied the charges and said they would defend their staff. They also accused prosecutors of ignoring the evidence against those claims.

Arrow Down

EPA delayed intervention in Flint water crisis by seven months despite knowledge of disaster

The US Environmental Protection Agency should have intervened to protect the people of Flint, Michigan from lead-contaminated water at least seven months sooner, an EPA "alert report" has found. It also urged updates to the Safe Drinking Water Act.

The EPA's Office of the Inspector General (IG) said the agency had "sufficient" information and the authority to issue an emergency order already in June 2015, but it did not do so until January 21, 2016.

Among factors that affected its delayed response to the Flint environmental crisis was the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and its Section 1431, which set the "jurisdictional bar" for the EPA to act while local authorities were sitting idle.

"By June 2015, EPA Region 5 also knew that the state and local authorities were not acting quickly to protect human health," inspector Arthur Elkin said in a report sent to the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) Thursday. "While events were complicated, given what we know about the consequences of the Flint drinking water contamination, it is clear that EPA intervention was delayed."

Comment: The crisis in Flint is about more than water
What is in the mind of someone who knowingly poisons children and impairs their lives? Why did the politicians, regulators and bureaucrats who knew the water in Flint, Mich.,was toxic lie about the danger for months? What does it say about a society that is ruled by, and refuses to punish, those who willfully destroy the lives of children?

The crisis in Flint is far more ominous than lead-contaminated water. It is symptomatic of the collapse of our democracy. Corporate power is not held accountable for its crimes. Everything is up for sale, including children. Our regulatory agencies—including the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality—have been defunded, emasculated and handed over to corporate-friendly stooges. Our corrupt courts are part of a mirage of justice. The role of these government agencies and courts, and of the legislatures, is to sanction abuse rather than halt it.


A scene out of 'Breaking Bad': Police officer 'killed & dissolved in acid' after Grindr sex date

© Chor Sokunthea / Reuters
A Morgan Stanley worker accused of strangling a police officer he met on a gay dating app before trying to dissolve his dismembered body in acid was trying to re-enact a plotline from the US TV drama 'Breaking Bad', a court has heard.

Stefano Brizzi, 50, is alleged to have murdered Gordon Semple, 59, at his flat in Southeast London in April after using the Grindr dating app to invite him there for a drug-fueled "hot, dirty, sleazy" sado-masochistic party.

Bizarro Earth

Decline of civilization: Record rates of sexually transmitted diseases hit U.S. - CDC

© Jean-Paul Pelissier
Cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis reached records levels in 2015 among young Americans, according the federal health officials. Highest rates are among gay and bisexual men. Among the causes are budget cuts in STD clinics and dating apps.

According to the new report in 2015, there were more than 1.5 million chlamydia cases reported, nearly 400,000 cases of gonorrhea, and nearly 24,000 cases of syphilis. In just a year since 2014, chlamydia cases grew by 5.9 percent, gonorrhea by 12.8 percent and syphilis great by 19 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a national study.

"We have reached a decisive moment for the nation," Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of the CDC's center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention said in a release. "STD rates are rising, and many of the country's systems for preventing STDs have eroded. We must mobilize, rebuild and expand services - or the human economic burden will continue to grow."

The 2015 data should American 15 to 24 years old accounted for nearly two-thirds of chlamydia diagnoses, and half of the gonorrhea cases. Gay and bisexual men accounted for the majority of gonorrhea cases, and 82 percent of syphilis cases. The health agency also said antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea may be higher among men who had sex with men.

Eye 1

Eva Bartlett: Overcoming savagery, treachery, Maaloula's heroic defenders fight for the future

© Eva Bartlett
Maaloula, Syria
Since 2013, September has for the historic village of Maaloula been a month of tragic anniversaries. Crimes and atrocities committed by Western, Gulf, Turkish and Zionist-backed terrorists there in September alone include murders, maimings, kidnappings, and the beginning of what would be the vast destruction and looting of Maaloula's rich and unique ancient heritage.

On September 4, 2013, a Jordanian suicide-bomber exploded his truck at the Syrian army checkpoint at the arched gate outside the village. This was immediately followed by attacks on Syrian soldiers nearby, mainly by al-Nusra (al-Qaeda in Syria) and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) terrorists—including Chechens, Uighurs, Turkestanis, Libyans, and Saudis, as well as locals.

On September 7, 2013, terrorists point-blank assassinated three unarmed Maaloula men after they refused to convert to Islam, critically injuring one of the men's sisters.

On September 13, 2013, a group of roughly twenty Syrians, including a Maaloula local, climbed the mountains above the town in an attempt to observe the never-interrupted, nearly 1,700 year old, annual traditions of the Festival of the Holy Cross. Terrorists attacked the men, killing roughly half of them and abducting the others (1).

Although since March 2013 al-Nusra and FSA, among other terrorist factions, had occupied areas of the cliffs above and beyond the over 4,000 year old village, the September 4th attack began what would be an eight month battle by Maaloula's defence forces, the Syrian Arab Army, and Hezbollah to liberate the village from terrorists who bombed, burned, looted, and in any way possible attempted to destroy the heritage of Maaloula.
© Eva Bartlett
Gate at the outskirts of Maaloula, where on September 4, 2013, al-Nusra and other terrorists carried out a series of coordinated attacks on Syrian soldiers, the start of the battle for Maaloula.

Comment: Death and destruction funded by the West and its 'moderate rebels'.