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Wed, 31 May 2023
The World for People who Think

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Facebook reveals 2,000 data requests from UK police

© Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images
Facebook says it looks at each individual request from police.
Law enforcement agencies in the UK made thousands of requests for data on Facebook users in the last six months of 2013, according to results published by the social network.

Between July and December 2013, there were 1,906 requests submitted to Facebook for user data related to criminal cases. These requests affected 2,277 different accounts, and Facebook revealed that more than 70% of these requests saw some data produced.

"We respond to valid requests relating to criminal cases. Each and every request we receive is checked for legal sufficiency and we reject or require greater specificity on requests that are overly broad or vague," said the report.


Police raid woman's home because she purchased organic plant food

DEA stormed home
© missellyrh
DEA agents stormed the home of Shorewood artist Angela Kirking at 5am on October 11th after an agent spotted her shopping at Midwest Hydroganics, an indoor garden center they had been staking out.

The Shorewood Patch reports: During the agent's stakeout, the agent noticed Kirking "exit the front door of the store carrying a green plastic bag containing unknown items."

The agent followed Kirking from Midwest Hydroganics back to her home in Shorewood, Illinois. The agent later acquired her electric bills from February 2013 through September. The agent then compared Kirking's bill to two of her neighbors, and noticed her bills were "consistently higher," according to the complaint for the search warrant.

An "investigative garbage pull" was performed at Kirking's residence three weeks later, at 4:15am, the complaint said. After scavenging through her trash, the agents allegedly reported finding "multiple green plant stems" that smelled strongly of "green cannabis."

Three days later agents and police pulled Kirking's husband over while leaving for work at 4:50 a.m., according to the police report. The husband was then presented with the search warrant and was asked to unlock this front door and give them access to the home.

Even though Kirking's husband cooperated agents entered the home with guns drawn according to his wife.


World Bank figure of 1 billion people in poverty 30% 'too low'

World's Poor
© AFP Photo/Rodger Bosch
The current international poverty line of $1.25 per day used by the World Bank is "too low" and "artificial," say researchers from Bristol University, adding that the total number of poor people worldwide would increase by 30 percent in future.

The World Bank's "estimates are flawed" as the organization hasn't used "different poverty measures" and only explores one angle of the problem - financial, says the study, called "The mis-measurement of extreme global poverty: A case study in the Pacific Islands," published in Journal of Sociology.

"There is considerable controversy surrounding the 'dollar a day' measure used to monitor progress against the Millennium Development Goals," adds the research, which was carried out together with specialists at the Australian National University, UNICEF Pacific and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

"Thus, the tighter definition of poverty used by the World Bank tends to lead to a better-looking poverty trend, because the poverty line is too low the trend it reports is too rosy," adds the study.

The paper urges the World Bank to examine "non-monetary forms of disadvantage and deprivation for families, adults and children." Researchers looked deeper at those living on the Pacific island state of Vanuatu by taking into account shelter, sanitization, water, information, nutrition, health and education to build up a more comprehensive picture of poverty, deprivation and inequality.

Stock Up

This is just the beginning; meat prices will continue to soar

The average price of USDA choice-grade beef has soared to $5.28 a pound, and the average price of a pound of bacon has skyrocketed to $5.46. Unfortunately for those that like to eat meat, this is just the beginning of the price increases. Due to an absolutely crippling drought that won't let go of the western half of the country, the total size of the U.S. cattle herd has shrunk for seven years in a row, and it is now the smallest that is has been since 1951. But back in 1951, we had less than half the number of mouths to feed. And a devastating pig virus that has never been seen in the United States before has already killed up to 6 million pigs in this country and continues to spread like wildfire. What all of this means is that the supply of meat is going to be tight for the foreseeable future even as demand for meat continues to go up. This is going to result in much higher prices, and so food is going to put a much larger dent in American family budgets in the months and years to come.

One year ago, the average price of USDA choice-grade beef was $4.91. Now it is up to $5.28, and the Los Angeles Times says that we should not expect prices to come down "any time soon"...


Climate change = violence

© Unknown
Social unrest and famine, superstorms and droughts. Places, species and human beings - none will be spared. Welcome to Occupy Earth

If you're poor, the only way you're likely to injure someone is the old traditional way: artisanal violence, we could call it - by hands, by knife, by club, or maybe modern hands-on violence, by gun or by car.

But if you're tremendously wealthy, you can practice industrial-scale violence without any manual labor on your own part. You can, say, build a sweatshop factory that will collapse in Bangladesh and kill more people than any hands-on mass murderer ever did, or you can calculate risk and benefit about putting poisons or unsafe machines into the world, as manufacturers do every day. If you're the leader of a country, you can declare war and kill by the hundreds of thousands or millions. And the nuclear superpowers - the US and Russia - still hold the option of destroying quite a lot of life on Earth.

So do the carbon barons. But when we talk about violence, we almost always talk about violence from below, not above.

Comment: For more insight on how humanity as a whole has contributed to the climate situation, read Comets and the Horns of Moses by Laura Knight-Jadczyk.


10 killed in California as truck and bus carrying students collide

A FedEx tractor-trailer crossed over a grassy median on a Northern California freeway and slammed into a bus carrying 44 high school students in an explosive crash that left 10 people dead, authorities said.

Among the students on the trip to visit Humboldt State University was Steven Clavijo, 18, a senior at West Ranch High in Santa Clarita, who planned to enroll in the school. Just as Clavijo was trying to catch a nap Thursday afternoon, he said he felt the big vehicle begin to shake from left to right and then he heard a loud boom.

"We knew we were in major trouble," he said.

Both the bus and semi driver were among those killed in the fiery crash, authorities said.

Brick Wall

300,000 jobs at risk: German enterprises worried about relations with Russia

German and Russian flags
© ITAR-TASS/Dmitry Burlakov
Economic sanctions against Russia are unlikely to be effective in settling the Ukrainian crisis, Ingo Kramer, president of the Confederation of German Employers' Associations (BDA), told Germany's daily Die Welt (The World) on Friday.

"Our enterprises are really worried about their relations with Russia," Kramer said. "Some of them can already feel the consequences of the current crisis, but this has not affected the general state of the economy yet."

"Economic sanctions will not help to reach a breakthrough in politics," he said. "And I do not think there will be any escalation (of the conflict) or another 'ice age'. There is very strong interdependence (between Russia and the West)."

Kramer added that "Russia has always been a reliable economic partner", which was not to be neglected.


Breaking news! Top security forces refuse to deploy forcing Kiev to backpedal on referendums after deadline to stop protest expires

Ukraine federalisation supporters
© RIA Novosti
Ukraine federalization supporters carrying sand sacks for building barricades around the building of the regional administration in Donetsk on April 10, 2014.
Just after a deadline set by Kiev for protesters in eastern Ukraine to vacate seized buildings expired, Parliament-appointed PM Arseny Yatsenyuk pledged to push through a law allowing regional referendums in the country.

Holding referendums on the status of their respective regions was among the main demands posed by anti-Maidan activists, who have taken over a number of governmental buildings in eastern Ukraine this week.

Ukrainian law currently does not allow regions to hold referendums separately from the rest of the country. It was one of the main arguments Kiev voiced in declaring illegal last month's referendum in Crimea, which ended with the peninsula's seceding from Ukraine and joining Russia.

Speaking in Donetsk, one of the regions engulfed by the anti-Kiev protests, Yatsenyuk said his government wants greater autonomy for Ukrainian regions, including the abolition of the offices of capital-appointed governors.

He was speaking just as a 48-hour deadline, which Kiev gave to protesters to liberate the seized buildings, expired. Previously the central authorities threatened to use force, including that of the military and even threatened their opponents as terrorists, unless they withdrew from the buildings.

The U-turn comes after Ukraine's elite Alpha unit reportedly refused to obey an order to besiege protester-held buildings. At a session of law enforcement officials in Donetsk, one of the Alpha commanders said that he and his men are a force intended for rescuing hostages and fighting terrorism and will only act in accordance with the law, local media reported.

Comment: The demonstrators pictured above are in stark contrast to the hooded fascist in Maidan square, who were armed with clubs, chains, molotov cocktails and were wearing nazi insignia. These people seen above are more convincing of being a real people's movement against tyranny and oppression. That the West chooses to put their support behind the Maidan crowd shows clearly what has become of the West.


Illinois legislators back off raw milk ban after consumer outrage

Under current Illinois law, farmers can sell an unlimited amount of raw milk on the farm without a permit. Legislators and health officials were working hard to completely banish farm-to-consumer agreements in some sneaky ways. This was not lost on Illinois' thriving raw milk market.

The ball got rolling last year, with health bureaucrats issuing statements at a farmers meeting that they wanted regulations because...there were none. They tried to assure farmers that they could still sell raw milk BUT - only less than 100 gallons per month, after purchasing expensive large-scale equipment meant for Big Dairy, NO herd-share agreements, and keep customer logs. Translation: buy expensive equipment to produce a pittance of milk to sell to no one and give us your files. Then, they admitted they didn't want the public to have any access.

If that wasn't absurd enough, the Northern Illinois Public Health Consortium launched a health warning campaign and called for an all-out ban. Today, the Weston A. Price Foundation issued a point-by-point rebuttal of Illinois public health official claims that a ban was warranted. See Response to the Northern Illinois Public Health Consortium, Inc. on the Campaign for Real Milk website. It's pretty compelling. Wait, there's more...


Swedish politician becomes a beggar for 5 hours: 'Only children looked at me'

Nikoletta Jozsa
© Tidningen Nu
Nikoletta Jozsa.
A Swedish local politician who pretended to be a beggar for five hours tells The Local about the shame, the physical pain, and being seen only by passing children and the few people who photographed her "like an object".

Nikoletta Jozsa was elected to municipal office in Järfälla, northern Stocholm, three years ago. Originally a social worker who volunteers in a soup kitchen in her spare time, Jozsa says she felt she had to experience what beggars in Sweden go through.

Pulling on a pair of jeans and a warm jacket, she headed to Drottninggatan, a main shopping fare in central Stockholm that is usually thronged with people.

"I was terrified. My first thought was, ''I'm going back home'," Jozsa tells The Local. "I stood there for so long hesitating before I sat down, until I felt I just had to do it. And when I was finally sitting, the first thing I felt was shame."

Unable to even look up, she sat pondering how she had made herself so vulnerable to other people. In the end, she looked up, but was saddened even more when she did.

"What upset me the most is that I no longer existed. People would either almost walk into me, because they hadn't seen me, or they'd make big detours to avoid me," she explains. "I'm not sure which was worse...."

"And some people would pull their kids away from me," says Jozsa, whose voice breaks down in a sob. "And that was the thing, if there was someone who saw me, who looked at me and looked in my eyes, it was always the children."