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Tue, 21 Feb 2017
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Exceptional USA: How young American girls are sold for sex online

© Family Handout
In an old home movie, young Natalie is laughing and running around with a soccer ball. She's around 12 years old, and she looks at the camera and says, "When I grow up, I would like to be a doctor."

But a few years later, that laughing, carefree young girl was sold for sex allegedly through the website, Backpage.com. She estimates she was paid for sex over 100 times, and she firmly believes that the site made it possible for her pimp to post ads offering her for sex over and over again.

"Continuously. All day, every day. 24/7," Natalie told ABC News "Nightline." She has asked us to refer to her as "Natalie" for this report, and her parents have asked that we do not use their last name.

Natalie is now a 21-year-old mother with a toddler and another baby on the way. She is part of a major lawsuit against Backpage.com, the highly controversial online classifieds site that is currently being investigated by the U.S. Senate for its alleged connection to underage sex trafficking.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, told "Nightline" that Backpage "requires more of someone who wants to sell a motorcycle than of someone who wants to sell a child."

Comment: As wicked and guilty as Backpage and this Carl Ferrer obviously are, this article is more of a harrowing look into how absolutely sick this society is when you peel beneath the surface. If a person can simply post an underage sex advert online and receive a huge number of calls within minutes, or a girl can run away from home and is being sold for sex within 48 hours, that says it all. Bring on the comets.


Secret service: 41 agents punished for retaliatory private data leaks

© AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Chairman of House Oversight and Government Reform Committee
Congressman Jason Chaffetz's rejected 2003 application to join the Secret Service leaked last year, and now dozens of agents from the federal law enforcement agency charged with protecting heads of state have been suspended without pay.

Actions of a total 57 Secret Service personnel, including 11 senior officials, were reviewed in a Department of Homeland Security investigation last fall. None of those disciplined Thursday were identified due to federal privacy laws. "Of those, 41 are receiving some level of discipline. This discipline includes a letter of reprimand to one individual, suspended discipline contingent on no further misconduct for a period of five years, and suspensions from duty without pay for periods of up to 45 days," Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said in a statement Thursday.

The Department of Homeland Security, the parent office to the Secret Service, released its report in September 2015, finding 45 agents and supervisors peeked at Chaffetz's personnel file, which was stored in an internal Secret Service database and was required by law to be kept private.

A March 31, 2015 email from Secret Service Assistant Director Edward Lowery read that there was "some information that [Chaffetz] might find embarrassing needs to get out." Chaffetz's records were accessed about 60 times, including by officials from headquarters in Dallas, Boston and Phoenix and even from London. The report said that 18 supervisors, including the deputy director and director Joseph Clancy's chief of staff, knew that the information had been accessed from within the agency. "The majority of these instances were in violation of the Privacy Act, Secret Service policy, and DHS policy," Johnson stressed.

Arrow Down

No 'significant' threat? U.S. federal agencies quietly pave the way to restart offshore fracking in California

© Wikimedia Commons
Offshore fracking may soon restart in California.
Two federal agencies on Friday quietly finalized two reports, set for release next week, that found offshore fracking in California poses no "significant" risk to the environment—paving the way for oil and gas companies to resume the controversial extraction method in the Santa Barbara Channel and imperiling the region's wildlife in the process, opponents said.

The announcement Friday from the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (OEM) and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement puts an end to a court-ordered ban on offshore fracking in federal waters off the coast of California. The moratorium was put into place in January as part of a settlement with the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), which challenged the Obama administration's 'rubber-stamping' of offshore drilling activity without an environmental review.

Environmental activists warned on Friday that kicking off a new round of drilling in the area puts wildlife at risk from chemical-laden wastewater and said they would be willing to file another lawsuit to keep it from happening.

"The Obama administration is once again putting California's beautiful coast in the oil industry's crosshairs," said Miyoko Sakashita, director of CBD's Oceans program. "Our beaches and wildlife face a renewed threat from fracking chemicals and oil spills. New legal action may be the only way to get federal officials to do their jobs and protect our ocean from offshore fracking."



Small plane crashes into Hudson River; search and rescue under way

© ffprovinggrounds / Instagram
A small plane crashed into New York's Hudson River, with multiple witnesses saying that it was submerged under the water. New York emergency crews are at the scene. Coast Guard and NYPD harbor units are searching the river, according to WNBC.

The pilot remains "unaccounted for," officials told reporters during a Friday night press conference.

The New Jersey State Police recanted a previous report that one survivor had been in the water. The person turned out to be a swimmer unrelated to the crash. Meanwhile a NJSP helicopter and boats as well as two divers continue to search for any possible survivors.

Diners at Waterside Restaurant in North Bergen, New Jersey, told WNBC they saw a small World War II-type plane appear to start landing, then go into the water nose first. The FAA confirmed it was a vintage WWII P-47 Thunderbolt, according to WNBC.


At the ripe old age of 96, Dr. Heimlich finally gets to use his own maneuver

Henry Heimlich, the doctor behind the lifesaving Heimlich maneuver, has only now put the emergency technique to practice for the first time - over 40 years after developing it.

The 96-year-old surgeon found himself having to use the emergency technique on Monday after a woman at his senior citizen's center in Cincinnati, Ohio began choking on her food.

Although Heimlich has previously demonstrated the maneuver in a teaching context, he says he has never actually had to use it on a person who was choking.

Black Cat

The fruits of Kiev's police reform: Crime up nearly 50%

© AFP / Sergei Supinsky
Ukraine cadets with their lame leader Poroshenko
Crime is out of control in Ukraine. The police reforms conducted with so much pomp and ceremony last year have failed to bear fruit. Their only results, Russian online newspaper Svobodnaya Pressa suggested, "has been numerous photos of beautiful young patrolmen and women in new American-style uniforms and sunglasses. Statistics, alas, show that the new cops aren't able to cope with the criminals."
Last month, Ukrainian National Police chief Khatia Dekanoidze admitted that the crime rate in Kiev had jumped by 45% between 2015 and 2016, and proposed a "comprehensive approach" toward combating the threat.
Meanwhile, "Eka Zguladze, her predecessor and the ideological inspiration for the reform of Ukraine's police service, did not admit anything, but resigned from her post as deputy head of the Interior Ministry in late April and left for France," the newspaper added.


Turkish refugee camps: Centers for pedophilia and organ trafficking

A prominent Turkish journalist revealed dreadful facts about the Syrian refugee camps in his country that include raping children and selling the refugees' body organs and women.

Yashar Idan, the representative of BirGun newspaper in Ankara, told the Iran-based Arabic-language al-Alam news channel that tens of children have been raped in Nizip camp in Southern Turkey and the body organs of a number of refugees have been sold in the market.

According to Idan, it is a shame for the Turkish government that calls the Nizip camp a role model for other refugee camps that such crimes are committed in there, while these are only the rapists and not the camp's officials who are tried and punished.

BirGun newspaper had earlier this month revealed that 30 Syrian children were raped for months at Nizip and government authorities failed to notice. It came amid reports that Turkey is not a safe country for asylum seekers.


'Moderate' domestic abuse? Pakistani clerics offer guide on how to 'lightly' beat wives

© Mohsin Raza / Reuters
A husband has the right to beat his wife "lightly" if she disobeys him, according to a Pakistani religious body. The organization's top cleric later added that a handkerchief, hat or turban could be used to hit spouses.

The advice is part of a 163-point legislation proposed by the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) in Pakistan, local media reported Thursday. Copies have been sent to all provincial assemblies.

"A husband may, when needed, lightly beat his wife," the bill said, as cited by Dawn newspaper, adding that "three consecutive declarations of divorce [by women] will be punishable."

The CII-proposed bill also includes plans to regulate breastfeeding and contraception.

"Mothers must breastfeed for two years," "A ban on advertisements for baby formula/substitutes for breast milk," "A woman cannot use contraception without the husband's permission" - these are a few recommendations listed on the proposed legislation.

Comment: Farzana Bari is right: this legislation is not only bad PR, it's just plain wrong. How about some equivalent legislation against husbands, for when a wife wants her man to "mend his ways"? Better yet, how about some 'legislation' teaching men to actually see their wives as human beings and develop healthy relationships?


The 25 rules of disinformation and propaganda

25 Rules of Disinformation - Possible rules of Operation Mockingbird

1. Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. Regardless of what you know, don't discuss it — especially if you are a public figure, news anchor, etc. If it's not reported, it didn't happen, and you never have to deal with the issues.

2. Become incredulous and indignant. Avoid discussing key issues and instead focus on side issues which can be used show the topic as being critical of some otherwise sacrosanct group or theme. This is also known as the "How dare you!" gambit.

3. Create rumor mongers. Avoid discussing issues by describing all charges, regardless of venue or evidence, as mere rumors and wild accusations. Other derogatory terms mutually exclusive of truth may work as well. This method works especially well with a silent press, because the only way the public can learn of the facts are through such "arguable rumors." If you can associate the material with the Internet, use this fact to certify it a "wild rumor" which can have no basis in fact.

Comment: Further reading:


Two US Navy F-18 Super Hornet fighter jets crash in the Atlantic off North Carolina's coast

© Mike Blake / Reuters
US F-18 fighter jets.
Two of the US Navy's F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets have crashed off the coast of North Carolina on Thursday, the US Coast Guard confirmed. Their crews have been recovered and taken to a hospital.

Four people have been recovered and taken to the Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in Norfolk, Virginia, the Virginian-Pilot reported citing Coast Guard Petty Officer Fagal Nifin.

Nifin said the extent of the crew members' injuries is "unknown." One of the crew had a leg injury, reported WCTI.

Comment: See also: Egypt's head of forensics denies reports of explosion and human remains retrieved from missing EgyptAir Flight 804