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Thu, 25 Aug 2016
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Refugees who could be us

© Santi Palacios/Associated Press
Syrian refugees wait near the border railway station of Idomeni, northern Greece, to cross into Macedonia.
Watching the horrific images of Syrian refugees struggling toward safety — or in the case of Aylan Kurdi, 3, drowning on that journey — I think of other refugees. Albert Einstein. Madeleine Albright. The Dalai Lama.

And my dad.

In the aftermath of World War II, my father swam the Danube River to flee Romania and become part of a tide of refugees that nobody much cared about. Fortunately, a family in Portland, Ore., sponsored his way to the United States, making this column possible.

If you don't see yourself or your family members in those images of today's refugees, you need an empathy transplant.

Aylan's death reflected a systematic failure of world leadership, from Arab capitals to European ones, from Moscow to Washington. This failure occurred at three levels:

■ The Syrian civil war has dragged on for four years now, taking almost 200,000 lives, without serious efforts to stop the bombings. Creating a safe zone would at least allow Syrians to remain in the country.

■ As millions of Syrian refugees swamped surrounding countries, the world shrugged. United Nations aid requests for Syrian refugees are only 41 percent funded, and the World Food Program was recently forced to slash its food allocation for refugees in Lebanon to just $13.50 per person a month. Half of Syrian refugee children are unable to go to school. So of course loving parents strike out for Europe.

■ Driven by xenophobia and demagogy, some Europeans have done their best to stigmatize refugees and hamper their journeys.

No Entry

Statistician finds patterns showing that US elections are a sham, blocked from investigating

Many of us have suspected for years that American elections are a sham. Not only does it seem like nothing changes no matter how many times we vote the bums out, but sometimes the votes themselves don't seem to add up. Especially now that we have electronic voting machines, which don't provide a whole lot of accountability and are notoriously easy to hack.

Fortunately, you can still tell when the votes don't make sense, even with electronic voting machines. In states like Kansas, where in some counties they use electronic voting machines that also record the votes on paper tapes, there seems to be some blatant inconsistencies with the voting results from the past few elections.

Comment: There is so much wrong with the US electoral process, where does one even begin - except to say that the information presented above should come as no surprise whatsoever. But just for the sake of reminder, lets review:

1.) There are no essential differences between the fake two party system we are forced to choose between. The Democricans and Republicats both ultimately serve the same monied interests and power brokers in the banking, finance and military industries, and elsewhere. If the politicians didn't, they wouldn't win elections. Third party candidates with sincere mandates for social reform and honest brokering rarely, if ever, are "allowed" in the club.

2.) There is no test currently being administered to weed out pathological individuals from political office. That means that you can be just as dangerous an influence aligned with either party. We see both. Choosing a party affiliation is like choosing what color suit you prefer more: gray or navy. It is not about having objective values or ethics, but who has a greater will to power.

3.) If you want to make yourself extra crazy pondering voter fraud in particular, just enter 'voting' or 'voter fraud' in the SOTT.net search function and see how many articles come up reporting on this pervasive phenomenon. Then connect that with 'brand USA' where we try to sell ourselves and the world on the con that we are a "free" and "democratic" republic when we really are, in actuality, THE most fascistic and totalitarian nation on the planet.


The concept and illusion of money

Awareness about the concept of money is making a comeback. Gone are the decades in which the global citizenry was fooled to leave this subject to economists, governments and banks - a setup that has proven to end in disaster. The crisis in 2008 has spawned debate about what money is, where it comes from and where it should come from. These developments inspired me to write a post on the concept of money and the money illusion. (All examples in this post are simplified.)

The Concept Of Money

Money is a collective human invention

First, let us have a look at the fundamentals of money. How did Money evolve? Thousand and thousands of years ago before any trade occurred homo sapiens use to be self-sufficient; families or small communities grew their own crops, fished the seas, raised cattle and made their own tools.

Comment: Everyone needs to understand the role of money so that when the collapse happens, a new system can be created fairly for all peoples.


Whole Foods removes security guard who brutally beat black customer in California

The Whole Foods market near Lake Merritt in Oakland was the site of a bloody "altercation" between a security guard and a black customer last night, according to a witness and the Whole Foods store.

Facebook user Zoe Marks shared three graphic photos of the victim of the attack, who she says was "trying to buy groceries with his EBT card and ended up in a stretcher."
"I just saw a young man violently assaulted by an armed security guard at Whole Foods - slammed repeatedly against concrete pillars, put in a chokehold, restrained, and suffocated until he was thrown face down on the pavement unconscious. The guard locked him out of the store despite the fact he was immobile. Not a single employee called the paramedics."
She added, "I'm sorry for more graphic images of violence against black citizens, but I was here and spoke to the victim (to keep him conscious), perpetrator, several bystanders, and cops. Armed private guards cannot be tolerated in our grocery stores and communities when this is what they do to paying customers."

Comment: This woman is probably somewhat traumatized by this event, so details and her recollection may be sketchy. Her story does prompts a couple of questions. If he was locked out, that implies that the doors were locked. How did other customers come and go? Also, if he was thrown out unconscious, how could you speak to him to keep him conscious?

Marks, who appears to be visiting Oakland from Edinburgh, also took to the market's Yelp page to share her account of the incident:
It's time to disarm your guards and put customers first. This young man was violently assaulted by an aggressive security officer while trying to buy groceries with EBT. He was slammed against a concrete column repeatedly, placed in a chokehold, and then suffocated over his mouth before being thrown face first on the pavement in front of the store. Instead of medical care your staff locked him out, lying unconscious in a pool of his own blood while horrified fellow customers demanded calls to the paramedics and shouted they would NEVER shop at Whole Foods Oakland again.

Arrow Down

Unconscionable inhumanity: 90% of water in Gaza Strip is undrinkable

© Mohammed Salem / Reuters
Palestinian children, who fled their houses during an Israeli offensive, fill bottles with water at a United Nations-run school, sheltering displaced Palestinians, in Gaza City
More than 90 percent of the Gaza Strip's water is undrinkable. The rest is quickly running out. A combination of factors is rapidly depriving the population of this most basic of needs. RT investigated day-to-day life under these conditions.

Just one fresh water source exists today, according to the locals - a coastal aquifer beneath the ground that is shared with Israel and Egypt. But Gaza is situated downstream from Israel, and Palestinians accuse the Jewish state of using the situation to its advantage, employing water deprivation as a tactic against the civilian population.

The grim water statistics are part of a recent UN report on Gaza, which says the strip will become uninhabitable by 2020. A number of reasons compound the problems, according to the document by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

Comment: The amount of suffering inflicted on the Palestinians by the Israeli government is heart-breaking to anyone with a conscience, yet much of the Western world simply watches in silence or makes excuses for their horrific actions, making them complicit in these crimes against humanity.

IDF celebrates anniversary of Gaza op - they should be begging Palestinians for forgiveness:
The siege of Gaza, under which 1.8 million people have been forced to exist in what is tantamount to a vast prison camp for the past ten years, shames the West, without whose continued financial, political, and diplomatic support Israel would find its ability to consistently flout international law vis-à-vis its oppression of a people whose only crime is that they continue to exist.


Muslim flight attendant says ExpressJet airlines suspended her for refusing to serve alcohol

© Eric Gaillard/Reuters
A Muslim flight attendant says she was suspended from ExpressJet for refusing to serve alcohol, which is against her religious beliefs. She has filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission.

Charee Stanley, 40, was placed on administrative leave for 12 months in late August after the airline said it was revoking its religious accommodation for the employee. That accommodation had previously allowed the flight attendant to decline serving alcohol.

Lena Masri, an attorney for the Council on America-Islamic Relations Michigan, said Stanley's "employment may be administratively terminated" after the 12-month period is over.

The lawyer said they are requesting the reinstatement of her employment, and for the accommodation of her religious beliefs to be simultaneously reinstated.

She went on to state that ExpressJet Airlines has an "obligation under the law to reasonably accommodate Ms. Stanley's religious beliefs," and has violated Stanley's constitutional rights.

Stanley, who has worked for the airline for nearly three years, converted to Islam about two years ago. This year, she learned that her faith prohibits her from serving alcohol, Masri said.

Comment: She should find another job. She has no right to impose her beliefs on others. That's what freedom of belief is all about.


Thousands of refugees reach Germany after Hungary, Austria stop impeding progress of asylum seekers

© Marko Djurica/Reuters
After weeks of travel, hardships and uncertainty, some 8,000 exhausted refugees have finally made it to Germany. The mass exodus via Austria came after Hungary gave up on its attempts to stop the progress of asylum seekers and bused them to its northern border.

Arriving by trains from Salzburg, Austria on Saturday evening, the refugees from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Eritrea were welcomed by cheering crowds. Upon their arrival Germans offered small toys to refugee kids as they made their way through the terminal.

A cluster of medical helpline and Red Cross tents were set up outside the station ready to assist with aid. In a stark contrast to the disorder refugees faced in Budapest, Arabic-speaking interpreters have been helping people at emergency registration centers in Munich.

Some 10,000 refugees were expected to arrive from Hungary, with the Upper Bavaria regional administration claiming that so far 8,000 have reached the safety of Germany. The last train pulled into Munich from Austria at 1:30am Sunday.

After arriving by train from Salzburg earlier in the evening, hundreds of refugees waited to start the next leg of their journey, hoping to be taken to Dortmund and Frankfurt on Sunday morning.

Following days of chaos and uncertainty, Hungary deployed dozens of buses on Friday night to take thousands of the migrants to the Austrian border, after Vienna agreed with Germany on asylum rules to allow migrants access. While some stayed in Hungary, the majority - mostly Syrians - went on to Germany.


Medivac plane disappears west of Senegal; seven on board

A medical evacuation plane with seven people on board, including a French patient, disappeared west of Senegal during a flight from Burkina Faso to Dakar, the Senegalese civil aviation authority said.

The private Senegalair plane from Ouagadougou disappeared from radar screens at 7:08 p.m. (3:08 p.m. EDT) on Saturday 118 km (74 miles) west of the Senegalese capital, it said in a statement.

Senegal's armed forces were conducting a search, the statement added.

The plane was carrying three crew members and medical staff, including a doctor and two nurses. Nationalities of those on board included two Algerians and a citizen of Congo, although the aviation authority did not specify whether it referred to the Democratic Republic of Congo or Republic of Congo.

The plane, chartered by SOS Medicin Senegal, left Ouagadougou at 4.30 p.m., Burkina Faso's Minister of Transport, Daouda Traore, told Reuters. Ouagadougou is around 1,700 km (1,080 miles) southeast of Dakar.


Multiple explosions rock Japanese industrial plant

© youtube

Multiple explosions were heard within seconds of each other and have left the building seriously damaged, according to reports

A series of huge explosions have left a Japanese factory seriously damaged after it was engulfed with smoke and flames.

Multiple blasts were heard at the aluminium plating plant, operated by Shinkou Alumer Inc., in Kitakyushu, in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Firefighters were first alerted to the scene at 6.24am although it took until midday to extinguish the blaze.

Comment: There have been a spate of industrial plant, fuel truck, petrochemical factory, and high rise apartment block explosions and fires recently, at a time of increased meteor fireball activity. Coincidence?

See also: Sott Exclusive: Meteor fireball explodes over eastern Turkey, sending shower of meteorites to the ground


British man builds helicopter from a garden chair and 54 drones

© gasturbine101/YouTube
A drone enthusiast has built a home-made helicopter from the parts of 54 unmanned aerial vehicles and posted footage of his test flight online.

YouTube user gasturbine101 has invented a flyable personal helicopter he calls The Swarm Manned Aerial Vehicle Multirotor Super Drone.

The Swarm features a garden chair on a sleigh-like frame with an umbrella over the head of the pilot for protection.

In a video posted online, the man is seen taking off and landing his DIY machine over and over again.

Although he never flies much higher than about fifteen feet in the air, the video demonstrates the helicopter's apparent ease of control.

According to the YouTube page, The Swarm cost about £6,000 to build and is powered by four cell batteries.

He writes: "The Swarm man carrying multi-rotor airborne flight testing montage. 54 counter-rotation propellers, six grouped control channels with KK2.15 stabilization. Take-off weight 148kg, max lift, approx. 164kg. Endurance 10 minutes. Power approx. 22KW."

He ends his description by observing there is a major flaw in the design of the vehicle.