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Book 2

Pastor officiated son's gay wedding, defrocked by Methodist Church





United Methodist church officials defrocked a pastor from central Pennsylvania on Thursday who violated religious doctrine by officiating his son's gay wedding, and he later said he was shocked by their decision, calling his involvement in the wedding an "act of love."

Frank Schaefer immediately appealed the penalty, which he believed was meted out reluctantly by many members of the regional Board of Ordained Ministry.

"So many of them came to me and they shook my hand and some hugged me, and so many of them had tears in their eyes," Schaefer said. "They said, 'We really don't want to do this, you know that, don't you?'"

John Coleman, a spokesman for the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the denomination, said Schaefer left the board no choice after defying the order of a religious jury by refusing to resign.

"When asked to surrender his credentials as required by the verdict, he refused to do so," Coleman said. "Therefore, because of his decision, the board was compelled by the jury's decision to deem his credentials surrendered."

Wreath

Target says 40 million credit, debit cards may have been compromised in security breach

Image
© Unknown
Target Corp. is confronting a security breach that potentially exposed the credit and debit cards of 40 million customers who purchased merchandise between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15, the company said in a statement early Thursday morning.

"Target's first priority is preserving the trust of our guests and we have moved swiftly to address this issue, so guests can shop with confidence. We regret any inconvenience this may cause," the statement said.

The Minneapolis-based company did not respond to requests Wednesday for comment on the extent of the data theft, which was first disclosed in an online report by Brian Krebs, a journalist who specializes in computer security.

Target said that it has "identified and resolved the issue" that allowed the security breach.

A spokeswoman for American Express confirmed the breach in an interview with the Star Tribune, and the Secret Service confirmed to the Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press that it has begun its own investigation.

"We're working with Target on this," Marina Norville, an American Express spokeswoman, said Wednesday. "It's an investigation right now. We've put fraud controls in place."

On his website, Krebs quoted unnamed sources as saying the computer breach occurred on or around Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and one of the year's busiest shopping days. It may have continued until Dec. 6 or Dec. 15, sources told Krebs, involving transactions in stores but not online purchases.

Stock Down

Bitcoin tumbles after PBOC rumors confirmed

UPDATE:
The earlier rumors have been confirmed: People's Bank of China told more than 10 third-party payment service providers yesterday not to give clearing services to online Bitcoin exchanges, China Business News reports, citing a central bank meeting with the companies. This news is pressuring Bitcoin to $678 (on Mt.Gox) but more notably, BTC China rates imply a $588 equivalent price - down 57% from its highs. From a $100-plus premium, BTC China now trades $130 cheap to Mt.Gox as the 'arb' flips.

Arrow Down

In Michigan, the meaning of 'rape insurance'

The Michigan state legislature yesterday finished passing a bill that requires women to buy separate coverage ahead of time for abortion if they want to have coverage for it at all. The measure applies to private health insurance, and it has no exceptions for rape or incest.

For that reason, opponents have been calling the new plan "rape insurance," which is tough terminology, to be sure. As we've seen in places like Virginia, what you call something really matters.


Arrow Down

European boycott of death penalty drugs lowers rate of U.S. executions

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© Pat Sullivan/AP
Boycott on the export of anaesthetics to US corrections departments has seen a succession of states running out of their primary lethal drugs supplies.

New Death Penalty Information Center report claims there were 39 executions this year - the lowest number since 1994


The European-led boycott of medical drugs used by U.S. corrections departments to execute prisoners is having such an impact that it has driven the number of executions to an almost all-time low, a leading authority on the death penalty has concluded.

The year-end report for 2013 from the Death Penalty Information Center, based in Washington, records that there were 39 executions this year - only the second time since 1994 that the number has fallen below 40. The report says a major factor behind the slump in judicial killings has been the difficulty states that still practice the death penalty are encountering in finding a consistent means of ending life.

California, Arkansas and North Carolina have all had effective moratoriums for the past seven years because they have failed to settle on a workable lethal injection protocol. Several other states are turning to untested drugs or to lethal medicines improvised in single batches by so-called "compounding pharmacies" that are not subject to federal regulations.

"The goal-posts keep shifting under the death penalty states," said Richard Dieter, director of the Death Penalty Information Center and lead author of the report. "As soon as they move to a new protocol, the boycott spreads."

USA

India urges USA to drop case against its female diplomat

Student Protests
© AFP Photo
Members of The All India Students Federation (AISF) protest in front of the US consulate in Hyderabad on December 19, 2013, following the arrest of New York-based Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade
India Thursday urged the United States to drop the case against a female diplomat who was arrested and strip-searched and apologise for her "terrible" treatment, ratcheting up pressure in the blistering diplomatic row.

US Secretary of State John Kerry expressed "regret" over the episode in New York, and India's Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid said he hoped the "valuable relationship" with Washington would soon return to an even keel.

But in a sign of the bruised pride and humiliation felt in India, Khurshid reiterated calls for the visa fraud case against the diplomat to be withdrawn and branded her treatment as "terrible".

"We have asked for the case to be dropped and withdrawn ... we are not convinced that there are legitimate grounds for pursuing it," Khurshid told foreign journalists.

"I cannot believe if a US senator was arrested he would be put through this behaviour....I would rather not prejudge. Let us allow the American government to respond."

Kerry tried to end the row in a phone call to India's national security adviser on Wednesday, expressing regret and stressing concern that the issue not be allowed to hurt a "vital relationship."

Comment: American empire's treatment of arrested people are barbaric. Interestingly, every body is protesting about the treatment of one indian diplomat but not about countless other victims. It's all because of coming general election and no indian political party wants to lose woman vote bank. After elections, neither ruling party nor the opposition party cares for it. US knows about it and trying to pacify Indians with comments of regret for now. It is politics as usual folks!.


Eye 1

U.S. Border Patrol: Degrading people, one body cavity at a time.

drug-sniffing dog
© CBP
In a case eerily similar to David Eckert's humiliating ordeal at the hands of cops in Deming, New Mexico, a federal lawsuit charges U.S. Border Patrol agents with subjecting a U.S. citizen to six hours of degrading and fruitless body cavity searches based on an alleged alert by a drug-sniffing dog.

The lawsuit, filed yesterday by the ACLU chapters in Texas and New Mexico, says the plaintiff, a 54-year-old New Mexico resident identified in the complaint as Jane Doe, was crossing the bridge between Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and El Paso after visiting a family friend last December when she was chosen at random for "additional screening."

This "secondary inspection" involved a pat-down during which an agent "inserted her finger in the crevice of Ms. Doe's buttocks" - a rather startling incursion inasmuch as the agents at this point had no basis to suspect that the woman was carrying contraband. But they were just getting started.

Comment: As long as society allows such dehumanizing practices to continue, perhaps it should cease describing itself as 'civilized'. Once you know, your silence becomes complicity.


Binoculars

Seattle gunman wrestled to ground by bus passengers





CCTV captures the moment a gun-wielding man is disarmed by fellow passengers on a bus in Seattle. The hooded figure points the firearms in the face of a man before he is brought to the ground by the man and two others on the bus. A 19-year-old has pleaded not guilty to charges of robbery and attempted robbery

Source: Youtube

Comment: Power to the People!


Dollar

Psychopath? One of U.S. government's highest-paid officials commits massive fraud, says lying to people gave him 'a rush'

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© U.S. DoJ
Human or... something else? John Beale is set to be sentenced by a federal judge on Wednesday, Dec. 18.
The EPA's highest-paid employee and a leading expert on climate change was sentenced to 32 months in federal prison Wednesday for lying to his bosses and saying he was a CIA spy working in Pakistan so he could avoid doing his real job.

John C. Beale's crimes were "inexplicable" and "unbelievably egregious," said Judge Ellen Huvelle in imposing the sentence in a Washington. D.C. federal court. Beale has also agreed to pay $1.3 million in restitution and forfeiture to the government.

Beale said he was ashamed of his lies about working for the CIA, a ruse that, according to court records, began in 2000 and continued until early this year.

"Why did I do this? Greed - simple greed - and I'm ashamed of that greed," Beale told the court. He also said it was possible that he got a "rush" and a "sense of excitement" by telling people he was worked for the CIA. "It was something like an addiction," he said.

Beale pled guilty in September to bilking the government out of nearly $1 million in salary and other benefits over a decade. He perpetrated his fraud largely by failing to show up at the EPA for months at a time, including one 18-month stretch starting in June 2011 when he did "absolutely no work," as his lawyer acknowledged in a sentencing memo filed last week.

Comment: Pretending to work for the cult of intelligence is a classic con-game that many U.S.-based psychopaths have been pulling for decades now.


Handcuffs

How a criminal record keeps Americans jobless for life

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Luis Rivera had some peace of mind for about five months, from late fall of 2010 through early spring of the following year. That's the closest thing he's seen to financial stability in more than twenty years.

"I got hired for a wonderful job. It was a clerk/porter/doorman position at a high-rise classical building in the East Village," he recalls wistfully. Rivera, 44, has a wife of twenty-five years and three teenage daughters. They live up in East Harlem, where the Puerto Rican - born New Yorker grew up and has spent much of his life. He's ferociously proud of his marriage and children; his back straightens and his tone turns serious when he talks about his family, like a man who's managed to achieve something he's been told he can't accomplish. Yet looking back on those five months as a jack-of-all-services for wealthy downtown hipsters, Rivera still gets excited about an opportunity that tore him away from home at all hours.

"When they needed somebody, they would call me in the middle of the night and I would say, 'Yes!' Because I needed a job. And the pay was excellent," he brags, pointing to his $17 hourly wage for part-time work. "I was next to be hired in a position there permanently."

The new position held promise that Rivera could finally work just one legit job - on the books, with steady hours and a steady paycheck - rather than hustling to piece together part-time informal work, as he's done his entire adult life. But that promise hadn't yet been realized. He was still at the mercy of his employer's whims. If they called, he worked; if not, he didn't. So when the superintendent of a building across the street mentioned that his crew was looking for part-time help as well, Rivera put in his name. While applying, he was honest to a fault.