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Armed, masked Greek men attack refugee boats, leaving stranded people to die at sea - HRW

© Yannis Behrakis / Reuters
Syrian refugees call for help and empty water from their flooding raft as they approach the Greek island of Lesbos.
Armed masked men around the Greek islands have been targeting migrant boats and turning them back, sometimes throwing their engines away, according to a damning HRW report. This follows witness claims of Greek border guards refusing asylum seekers entry.

The report bases its findings on nine witness testimonies detailing cases of masked, often armed, assailants intercepting boats off the Aegean Sea coast, which are usually headed from neighboring Turkey carrying refugees from the Syrian war.

The most recent case allegedly took place on October 7 and 9, when the attackers allegedly disabled the engines of several boats and even punctured holes in their inflatable hulls. Some of the boats were towed back into Turkish waters.

There is virtually no guarantee any of the people would survive such conditions. This has prompted an outcry from Human Rights Watch, whose Greece specialist, Eva Cosse, says these "criminal actions require an urgent response from the Greek authorities."

The allegations follow repeated cases of Greek border guards turning migrants back toward Turkey across the land border at Evros. On October 9, HRW staff saw one inflatable rubber boat drifting in neutral waters for more than an hour. The boat was loaded over capacity and looked set to perish. Thankfully, a group of volunteer Spanish lifeguards came to the rescue in their own boat.

Speaking to HRW, a 17-year-old Afghan refugee recounted how the passengers in the boat he was on had felt when they were captured by a boat containing five masked men in balaclavas carrying guns. Their rubber dinghy, filled to the brim with women and children, had set off from the Turkish shore at Assos headed for the Greek island of Lesbos.

They were intercepted 30 minutes into their journey. "At first when they approached, we thought they had come to help us," Ali told HRW. "But by the way they acted, we realized they hadn't come to help. They were so aggressive. They didn't come on board our boat, but they took our boat's engine and then sped away."


Generic pharmaceutical manufacturer offers $1 AIDS drug after competitor's 5000% price hike

© Associated Press/Craig Ruttle
Protest against Martin Shkreli raising price of critical AIDS drug by 5000%
Martin Shkreli caused mass outrage last month when he hiked the price on a critical AIDS drug up 5,000%. Now, a rival pharmaceutical company is offering patients a cheaper alternative. Pay $750 for one of Shkreli's pills, or $1 for an Imprimis Pharmaceuticals brand?

Founded in 2012, Imprimis Pharmaceuticals is making a name for itself by creating inexpensive versions of generic drugs. Given the exorbitant cost of medication in the United States, it's a business model that seems to be taking off.

"We are looking at all of these cases where the sole-source generic companies are jacking the price way up," the company chief executive, Mark Baum, told the Associated Press. "There'll be many more of these" drugs in the future, he adds.

Given the company's mission statement, it makes sense for Imprimis to set its sights on Turing Pharmaceuticals. That's the company owned by former hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli. If you recognize that name, it's probably because he made headlines last month after buying the rights to a life-saving drug known as Daraprim, and instantly raising the price from $13.50 per pill to $740 per pill.

Comment: It seems it is possible to be a good corporate citizen.


Massive blaze engulfs historic Poile Zedek Synagogue in New Jersey

© Fox5NY/You Tube
A massive fire engulfed the historic Poile Zedek Synagogue in New Brunswick, New Jersey, ultimately leaving the building hollow once the flames had been controlled by firefighters.

The blaze first erupted Friday afternoon around 4:30 p.m. and continued to intensify, with flames eventually shooting out of the synagogue's windows. Firefighters responded to the scene, trying to contain the situation and keep the fire from spreading to neighboring buildings. No injuries have been reported so far, according to WABC News.

The cause of the fire is also unknown, though CBS New York reports that it began on the third floor. According to CBS, the roof also suffered from a partial collapse. The fire was eventually contained and mostly extinguished after 6 p.m., though reports suggested that much of the building aside from its frame was destroyed.

Poile Zedek was first established in 1901 as a mutual aid society, with its early congregants primarily consisting of Russian and Polish immigrants. The synagogue was then built in 1923. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1995. Roughly 100 families currently belong to the synagogue, according to its website.


Young Australian child's skeleton found in suitcase identified and linked to mother's murder

© NSW/SA Police/AAP
Khandalyce Kiara Pearce, left, and her mother Karlie Jade Pearce-Stevenson.
Remains found in NSW's Belanglo forest in 2010 and in SA's Wynarka this year identified as Karlie Jade Pearce-Stevenson and Khandalyce Kiara Pearce

The remains of a little girl and a woman found years and thousands of kilometres apart have been identified as being from mother and daughter, who police believe were murdered in a "shocking" crime. In a huge breakthrough in each case, police have been able to identify the remains of a woman found in New South Wales's Belanglo forest in 2010 and the remains of a girl found in a suitcase near the Karoonda Highway at Wynarka, east of Adelaide in South Australia in July.

They were mother and daughter, Karlie Jade Pearce-Stevenson and Khandalyce Kiara Pearce, who were from Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. The last confirmed sighting of the pair was in 2008 on the Stuart Highway, just south of Coober Pedy in South Australia, when Karlie was 20 and Khandalyce was two years old.

Remains of murdered child in South Australia were put in suitcase, police say. Police said the pair were murdered and suffered violent deaths, though it is yet to be established where they were when they died and if they died at the same time. "This is one of the most shocking crimes, shocking and unimaginable, and another family has been torn apart and devastated," Detective Superintendent Des Bray told reporters on Wednesday. "Those people that are responsible for this crime are truly evil and must be quickly caught and held to account for what they've done."

Bray said although it was a significant breakthrough it was the beginning of an investigation rather than the end of one, and initially it had been like looking for a needle in a haystack. "This is about the killing of that beautiful little girl. Everybody who knows something needs to do something about it and I'm confident that even people within the criminal community will provide information about who commits such a horrible crime," he said.


Did Moscow achieve the unthinkable by catching Kiev in a 'peace trap'?

Independent journalist Andrei Babitskiy argues that Moscow's diplomatic efforts to ensure peace in eastern Ukraine have caught Kiev off-guard, catching President Petro Poroshenko in a 'peace trap' and preventing him from starting a new military offensive.

In an article for Latvian news website Vesti.lv published earlier this week, Babitsky suggested that for any potential warmongers in Kiev, the Minsk agreements have effectively become a "noose around their necks," only tightening as time goes on to ensure that the conflict in eastern Ukraine cannot continue.

The journalist noted that the recent "abundance of conflicting versions attempting to give a consistent description on Russian policy in Ukraine can be explained, in part, by the fact that the strategic position formulated and pursued by Moscow does not imply quick results, being a very long-term project, designed with implications in mind which are far broader than the settlement around the two unrecognized Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics."

Comment: Interesting analysis from a non-Russian partisan.


EPA solely responsible for toxic spill at Gold King Mine in Colorado

© EPA / Reuters
Yellow mine waste water is seen at the entrance to the Gold King Mine in San Juan County, Colorado, in this picture released by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) taken August 5, 2015.
An investigation by the Department of the Interior found that the Environmental Protection Agency was solely to blame for the toxic mustard-colored waters that contaminated rivers in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and the Navajo Nation in August.

The EPA had claimed that the August 5 spill near Silverton, Colorado was "likely inevitable," but research carried out by the Interior's Bureau of Reclamation disagreed. The spill released arsenic, mercury, lead and other contaminants into the Animas River and thousands of drinking water wells as far as 100 miles away, creating a natural disaster.

Hasty operations by the EPA were the sole cause, the Interior report concluded. The Gold King Mine burst because the EPA had neglected to check its water levels before excavating the already weakened, oozing mine entrance. Though the EPA had acknowledged some risk of a blowout in June 2014, the dangers had been building for decades. Despite the fact that mining companies had redirected water flow through the cavernous mines, causing it to build up, Interior officials say the spill could have still been avoided if the EPA had done its due diligence.

Comment: Did the EPA intentionally poison Animas River to secure SuperFund money?

No Entry

Threats of shooting cause seventeen US schools to go on lockdown

© Flickr/ Rebekah Dobrasko

United States has sealed off all 17 schools in Fairfield county, Connecticut, following threats to open fire in a school.

All 17 schools in Fairfield county, Connecticut have been placed on lockdown following reported threats, the Fairfield Public School District said in a statement on Friday.

"All schools are currently in lockdown," the statement read. "There is a police presence at every school."

According to local media, the school district went into lockdown shortly after receiving a phone call Friday morning from an unidentified man threatening to bring an assault riffle into a school.

Comment: Reports of shootings, threatened shootings, foiled shootings; the US has seen such an uptick in shootings of all stripes that it beggars belief. One thing's for sure, it isn't just a case of people gone crazy - though it is that too. Shootings serve as a wonderful distraction for other big things in the news.

Heart - Black

Beaten to death by father, 9-week-old Florida baby left to decompose in crib until mom complained about the smell

© Inside Edition
Chance Walsh
The Florida couple accused of murdering their nine-week-old baby boy allegedly let the infant waste away in his crib, and then the closet, for more than a week after his father beat him to death, officials said. Joseph Walsh, 36, was charged Tuesday with first-degree felony murder in the death of his newborn son, Chance, who had been missing for more than a month when his body was found in a shallow grave in the woods less than 13 miles from their home, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Walsh and 32-year-old Kristen Bury, Chance's mother, allegedly told investigators that the baby had died early September 16 in their North Port home. Bury, who was also charged with first-degree felony murder in her son's death, went on to allegedly tell detectives that Joseph repeatedly struck Chance. At one point she claims she told Joseph, "you are going to break his f****** neck," the affidavit said.

"Joseph said to Kristen that he was going to bash his (Chance's) head into the ground at one point during the argument. Kristen never called 911 or took any measures to prevent Joseph from abusing Chance," the court document said.
The document said that the couple, who are both alleged long-time drug users with a criminal history, "made the conscious determination not to contact EMS or any other medical assistance." Joseph said during his interview that Kristen told him she did not want them to call 911 because she did not want to lose both people she loves in the same day."

After he died, Chance was placed in his crib, where he was left to decompose until Bury complained about the smell, the affidavit said. "Joseph wrapped Chance in numerous garbage bags, and then placed the decomposing remains of Chance in the closet of the bedroom," the court document said. On September 24, eight days after Chance was killed, Bury and Walsh made two trips to Elliot Court where they dug a shallow grave and then buried their son.

Comment: See also: Florida parents charged with neglect for missing baby


Minority Report 'precrime' is here: NH teen arrested after parking in 'predictive hot spot' for crime

© Mariana Bazo / Reuters
‘What did I do wrong?'
An 18-year-old man was arrested for resisting arrest in Manchester, New Hampshire, after a police officer scoped him out for parking within a "predictive hot spot" for crime. No other charges were filed.

On October 20, Connor Deleire was sitting by himself in his parked 2000 Honda Accord on the north side of Merrimack Street near Union Street, part of an area deemed a "hot spot" by computer programs that predict where crime is likely to happen for the Manchester Police Department.

Officer Derek Cataldo spotted the teenager at 5:35pm. In order to determine if Deleire had a legitimate purpose for being there, he circled the block to park his squad car in a place where he could get a better view. After several minutes without provocation, Cataldo got out of his squadcar and walked up to the driver. Cataldo described Deleire as "physically shaking" as he handed over his ID.

Upon further questioning, Deleire "attempted to provide a legitimate reason for being in the area," according to Lieutenant Brian O'Keefe, who relayed Cataldo's account to the media. Cataldo was reportedly unconvinced of Deleire's answers and ordered him out of the car. Deleire complied.

At this time, a second officer, Ryan Heile, arrived. Reports conflict on which of the two officers noticed Deleire's holstered Beretta 9mm handgun, but regardless, one of the officers removed it and placed it inside Deleire's vehicle. Police confirmed the gun was properly permitted and registered.


Schools in Sweden receive threats day after deadly knife attack

© Bjorn Larsson Rosvall/Reuters
Police cordon off an area after a masked man attacked people with a sword at a school in Trollhattan, western Sweden October 22, 2015.
Schools in Sweden received threats on Friday, just one day after a stabbing attack killed two people and injured three others at a school in Trollhatan, Expressen newspaper reported.

The Greve Farm School wrote on its website that three posters had been hung on the premises which clearly referenced the Thursday attack.The phrase "Guess what, I'm back" accompanied a picture from Thursday's incident, according to Joakim Hansson, assistant officer in charge of police in the Western Region. "Now we have been in contact with the police several times and do not believe that the threat is serious. We can therefore conduct our business," said Anne-Charlotte Robb, principal of Greve Farm School. She added that she is "very worried." "It is extremely unpleasant. There are cameras in the school and I hope they caught the culprit on the image," Robb said.

The Kannebäck School in Gothenburg also received threats, though the details remain unknown. Police have increased their presence in the area following the threats. Also on Friday, a man inspired by the Trollhattan attack threatened to launch an assault in the city of Borås. The man, who describes himself as mentally ill, wrote the comments on Facebook. Parents in Borås have been asked to pick up their children from school. Police and security guards have been called to the city's schools, which have been locked and secured.

The Thursday attack at a school in Trollhatan occurred when a masked man armed with a sword entered the campus. He stabbed four people, killing a teacher and a student. The attacker was shot by police at the scene and later died in hospital. A police investigator said that a racist motive was "part of the picture."