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"Guccifer Files" - Online outlaw's "archive" identifies scores of new high-profile victims

guccifer
The hacking spree by "Guccifer," the online outlaw who has bedeviled Colin Powell, members of the Bush and Rockefeller families, Obama administration officials, and assorted other public figures, has been far more extensive than previously known, The Smoking Gun has learned.

A large cache of documents reveals that the illegal "Guccifer" incursions have victimized scores of other high-profile victims both in the U.S. and overseas during the past year. The hacker has accessed e-mail correspondence, contact lists, phone records, personal photos, online storage sites, and a wide range of confidential financial documents, including credit card, banking, and investment statements.

Comment:

Hacker begins distributing confidential memos sent to Hillary Clinton on Libya, Benghazi attack
Audacious hack exposes Bush family pictures, e-mail


Arrow Down

Blood bricks: how India's urban boom is built on slave labour

Slave Labour_1
© Narendra Shrestha/EPA
Blood bricks … Migrant labourers are forced to work in squalid conditions to fuel India's building boom.

Across India, once small trading towns are transforming into bustling centres, as global companies flood in to set up call centres, factories and software development branches, eager to capitalise on high skill-sets at low labour prices. India's cities are expanding ever outwards to accommodate an expected 600 million people by 2030, when over 40% of the country's population will live in urban areas - compared to just 10% a century ago. But this miraculous metropolitan boom comes at a price.

On the outskirts of Hyderabad, the sprawling capital of the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, thick clouds of smoke hang above a primal scene of bare-footed workers clambering atop kilns, hacking at mounds of clay and hauling heavy loads.

This is just one of over 150,000 brick production units in the country, which together employ an estimated 10 million workers, churning out the building blocks of the new offices and apartments, factories and shopping malls. All told, India's brick industry - the second largest in the world after China - contributes around £3bn to the country's economy every year. Not that the workers see much of that.

"It's modern-day slavery," says Andrew Brady, of Union Solidarity International (USI), a UK-based NGO that has been campaigning to improve the brick labourers' conditions over the last two years. "Entire families of men, women and children are working for a pittance, up to 16 hours a day, in terrible conditions. There are horrific abuses of minimum wage rates and health and safety regulations, and it's often bonded labour, so they can't escape."

Yoda

Jazz musician and author Gilad Atzmon speaks out in support of Dieudonne

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Speaking from London, jazz musician and author Gilad Atzmon speaks out in support of French comedian Dieudonne, accused by the French regime of 'anti-semitism'...


Bad Guys

Former Miss Venezuela Monica Spear and British ex-husband shot dead in robbery

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© Chaiwat Subprasom/Reuters
Former Miss Venezuela Mónica Spear in the 2005 beauty pageant. Police said her car was forced to stop before she was shot dead. Five suspects have been held.
A Venezuelan beauty queen and her British ex-husband were shot and killed after their car broke down on a roadside near Puerto Cabello on Monday night.

Mónica Spear, who won the Miss Venezuela crown in 2004, and Thomas Berry, a travel company boss from London, according to his Facebook page, are believed to be the victims of an attempted robbery or kidnapping in one of the world's most dangerous countries.

Their bodies - along with their injured five-year-old daughter Maya, who is now receiving hospital treatment - were found in a Toyota Corolla that had apparently broken down on the way from Puerto Cabello to Valencia.

Reflecting the high profile of Spear, President Nicolás Maduro made a statement on the killing, saying it reflected wider problems. "It is very sad to hear of the loss of this young woman ... It is a problem of social violence," he said.

People

U.S. Army Col. Harry G. Riley calls for millions to march on D.C.

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© WND
Truckers rallied in Washington to restore America to its constitutional republic foundations. So did veterans. And bikers. They all assembled and then departed, leaving the Beltway insiders to continue running the nation into the ground, according to one man who says an event he hopes to hold this spring will be different.

U.S. Army Col. Harry G. Riley, retired, who runs the Patriots for America website, told WND his event planned for May 16 doesn't really have an organized sponsor - it will be just be individual Americans assembling to demand a restoration of their nation.

One of the primary catalysts for the event he said, was the establishment of a prayer group.

Also, he vows that they won't leave Washington until they see change.

"One million or more of the assembled 10 million must be prepared to stay in D.C. as long as it takes to see Obama, Biden, Reid, McConnell, Boehner, Pelosi, and Attorney General Holder removed from office," Riley explains in a promotional email about his plan.

"The senior Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives will become Speaker of the House and the U.S. House of Representatives will elect a temporary president and vice president of the United States. The U.S. Senate will take action to elect a new majority and minority leader," he declared.

USA

The developing new American caste system

Caste System
© SMU Central University Libraries
Owditch (or Water) Brahmin-- part of the caste system.

America is believed by the rest of the world to be the land of opportunity and unimpeded upward mobility. It is where people from all walks of life, backgrounds, races and color can make the best of their opportunities and talents. America attracted people from all over the world to achieve, discover, innovate and improve their lives, and this helped create the greatest society ever built by man. It used to be that in America you could make a future for yourself no matter who your parents were, what your religion or race is. Can you imagine a black president with a Moslem father becoming the elected leader in France, England or Germany?

Unfortunately this is becoming less and less so. Life in America is slowly falling into a type of a new caste system, where your origins, and particularly your family's fortunes can in large part determine your future. If you were born rich you are likely to remain that way. But, if you were born poor, you and your progeny are likely to remain that way as well. The opportunity to change your caste is becoming less available nowadays.

We are slowly turning into a system similar to the landed gentry feudal system in England or to the more structured caste system in India. In a caste system, you are born in a pre-defined caste with no way out. In America the newly developing caste system appears to encompass more than just income inequality, it encompasses inequality in opportunity, in health, in life expectancy, in happiness and in all other aspects of life itself. Robert Reich related the Caste system to the decreasing social mobility in the United States.

Wealth inequality is dividing our one United States into two Americas: one that is rich and in control and one that is poor and helpless. The two Americas exist in increasingly separate spheres and barely know each other. The rich don't use the same schools, don't frequent the same restaurants, don't attend the same social functions, don't support similar causes, and don't use the same modes of transportation or shop at the same stores. They live on a higher plane and have an easier and more enjoyable life, different in many ways from the more demanding and stressful lives of most Americans. The rich populate the Congress and other government hierarchies. They write the laws and establish the rules for the rest of us to follow while largely unfamiliar with our lives and the challenges we face. Now, the wealth gap in the United States is the forth highest in the world; only Russia, the Ukraine and Lebanon are worse.

Dollars

Maryland ice cream plant reopens - attracts 1,600 desperate applicants for 36 Jobs

labor statistics maryland
© Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Manufacturing employment in the Hagerstown, Md., area is down.
When the Good Humor ice cream plant closed here two summers ago, more than 400 jobs and a stable, punch-the-clock way of life melted away, another in a string of plant closings that have battered this once-proud manufacturing town.

The hulking plant sat vacant until a co-op of Virginia dairy farmers purchased it in summer 2013 to process milk and ice cream, though on a far smaller scale than the 60,000 cases of ice cream that global food giant Unilever churned out every day.

Randy Inman, the board president for Shenandoah Family Farms, said he expected the plant's revival to trigger plenty of interest in its three dozen or so initial jobs. What he did not expect: 1,600 applicants and counting - a deluge.

Many applicants are desperate former employees still without work in a county with 7.3 percent unemployment and in an economy where manufacturing job openings now require more specialized abilities than the lower-skilled positions that have gone overseas or, in the case of Unilever, to Tennessee and Missouri, where labor and operating costs are cheaper.

Wall Street is booming, the Federal Reserve is paring back its stimulus, there are bidding wars for houses again, but for blue-collar workers in places like Hagerstown the economic recovery has yet to materialize, and many around town worry that it won't. Laid-off workers are living week-to-week on unemployment. They're working temp jobs and trying to reeducate themselves. They are trying to save their houses from foreclosure.

USA

Satanists unveil 7-foot monument they want to erect at Oklahoma Statehouse

satanist
© Screenshot from www.thesatanictemple.com
The New York-based Satanic Temple religious group has officially unveiled the design of the statue of Satan it wants to place near the Ten Commandments monument at the Oklahoma state capitol building.

As the sketch of the proposed seven-foot monument shows, the temple hopes to depict Satan as the goat-headed, Baphoment figure, complete with a long beard, horns, wings, and Pentagram design placed overhead. On both sides of Satan are smiling children.

"The monument has been designed to reflect the views of Satanists in Oklahoma City and beyond. The statue will serve as a beacon calling for compassion and empathy among all living creatures. The statue will also have a functional purpose as a chair where people of all ages may sit on the lap of Satan for inspiration and contemplation," temple spokesman Lucien Greaves said in a statement.

Ever since the Ten Commandments monument was authorized in 2012, numerous groups have stated their desire to place statues of their own, including a Hindu leader from Nevada, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and the satirical Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Light Sabers

U.S.-India strip-search consular dispute update : India puts pressure on U.S. to drop charges, International relationship is at stake

Indian activists
© Rajanish Kakade/AP
Indian activists shout slogans during a protest outside the U.S. consulate in Mumbai on Jan. 7.
The case of an Indian consular official accused of visa fraud appeared headed toward a new crisis Tuesday as her attorney and the Manhattan prosecutor handling the case filed dueling federal court petitions, each charging the other side with negotiating in bad faith to resolve the issue.

The arrest last month of Devyani Khobragade, 39, India's deputy consul general in New York, on charges of submitting fraudulent U.S. visa documents for her Indian maid, has become a major crisis in U.S.-India relations and a source of contention within the Obama administration. India has demanded that the charges be dropped, while the State Department and federal prosecutors are at odds over the wisdom of the arrest and how it was conducted.

Life Preserver

NYC area airports packed with what amounts to Climate Change Refugees - Expect more such scenarios

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© Reuters/Carlo Allegri
A woman sit on the floor while her flight is delayed at La Guardia airport in New York, January 6, 2014.
Hours before a deep freeze moved in, flights in and out of the New York City area had already been disrupted.

JetBlue halted operations at all three major New York-area airports and in Boston in an effort to catch up with dozens of weather-related delays and cancellations.

The airline announced Monday that operations stopped entirely at Newark, John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia airports and at Boston's Logan International Airport at 5 p.m.

The plan allows 17 hours for the company to rest crew and time to service aircraft.

As CBS 2′s Tracee Carrasco reported, stranded travelers had nowhere to go and nothing to do Monday but wait and sleep in airport terminals.

JetBlue customer Julia Moron has been desperately trying to get home to Houston for days.

"I've been stuck here between JFK and now LaGuardia since Thursday," she said.