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Thu, 23 Feb 2017
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Stephen King and hundreds of other American writers sign open letter decrying the rise of Trump

Stephen King is the master of horror — but even he has never experienced anything quite as horrific as Donald Trump.

That's the gist of an open letter that's doing the rounds Tuesday, signed by King and more than 600 of his fellow well-known American writers. The luminaries include Cheryl Strayed, Dave Eggers, Junot Diaz, Amy Tan, Mary Roach, Tobias Wolff, Richard Russo, Michael Chabon and Roy Blount, Jr.

"As writers, we are particularly aware of the many ways that language can be abused in the name of power," the letter reads. "American history, despite periods of nativism and bigotry, has from the first been a grand experiment in bringing people of different backgrounds together, not pitting them against one another."

"The rise of a political candidate who deliberately appeals to the basest and most violent elements in society, who encourages aggression among his followers, shouts down opponents, intimidates dissenters, and denigrates women and minorities, demands, from each of us, an immediate and forceful response."

Eye 2

Planet Aid investigation reveals fraud and cult-like behavior of founders

At first, signing up for Planet Aid's "Manager In Training" program at its Elkridge, Maryland, headquarters seemed like the perfect job, Meredith Crocker said. She answered a Craigslist ad for the charity in 2013.

"The idea that they were both working for the environment and trying to help people at the same time seemed really cool," Crocker said.

Having just received her master's degree in international development economics, Crocker said she was initially attracted to Planet Aid's message of saving the environment by recycling the clothes donated to its bright yellow bins.

Planet Aid makes as much as $42 million a year selling those clothes, according to its financial filings submitted to the Internal Revenue Service, indicating the money goes toward feeding and educating impoverished communities in Africa.

Heart - Black

Detroit school cop beats and pepper sprays 15-year-old girl for using an elevator with an expired pass

A disturbing video uploaded to YouTube, shows a high school sophomore being pushed, kicked, dragged, and pepper sprayed by a Detroit Public Schools Public Safety Officer. The victim's alleged crime — using the elevator with an expired pass.

The victim of the attack was 15-year-old Destiny Heard and her attacker was Officer Charles Braziel.

According to the sophomore student, as reported by VICE,
the incident began after she arrived to school late and decided to use the elevator to get to her class on the sixth floor. Inside, a teacher asked to see her elevator pass, and when she produced an expired slip, Heard says she was told to get out. When she lingered by the elevator, the teacher accused her of trying to get back on and called a security officer. After a brusque exchange where Heard was asked to produce her identification, she says she headed to the second floor, where she was greeted by another security officer and then Orlando Bogins, the school's dean of students.

At this point, reports VICE, Heard says that Bogins—who had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication—began yelling at her for being insubordinate. She says she asked him not to shout at her in the hall, and when he continued to yell, she put her earbuds back on to ignore him. As Bogins continued to reprimand her, Heard says Officer Braziel came over and told her to give him her phone connected to the headphones. She refused, she says, at which point the officer apparently seized it from her, and in the process pushed her to the ground.

Around this point in time, the student claims, Bogins walked away, leaving her alone with the school cop. She says the officer told her to get up, and when she said no, instead asking for medical attention, he grabbed her. Seconds later, the incident on camera began, according to the teen.

Comment: Terrorizing students: The US Police State and the criminalization of children


Montenegro farmer offers his lands to Putin and the brotherly Russian people to build base against NATO

In the village of Kralje, several people have taken the initiative to donate their extensive land holdings to Vladimir Putin and the brotherly Russian people.

"I would offer this territory to the Russians for a military base or hotels and vacation. This is my idea, as they'll know better what exactly to build here. This field is ideal for helicopter landing pads, and stretches another kilometer to the south. As for the forest, where I have fifteen hectares, there is about 150 thousand square meters, enough territory for a Russian missile system to defend against the aggressor," Dzhagisha Dzhurishich told "Life" in an interview.

The Orthodox Serbs living in the village of Kralje at the foot of the Komovi mountains are not satisfied with the course of joining NATO which the government of Montenegro has taken.

Comment: See more: Putin declares free land in Russia's Far East will be provided with infrastructure


More millennials are living with their parents than at any other time in American history

Millennials are staying at home.

According to a new study by the Pew Research Center, millennial men are more likely to live with their parents than with a spouse or partner, with 35% staying with mom and dad and just 28% living with a significant other.

Millennial women are less likely to live at home than with a partner, but not by much. Thirty-five percent live with a significant other, while 29% live with their parents. This is the smallest gap for young-adult women ever recorded by Pew.

In fact, more millennials (ages 18 to 34 as defined by Pew) are living at home than in any other living arrangement. This is the first time a plurality of young adults in that age bracket have lived with their parents, rather than on their own or with a partner or roommates, in American history, according to the Pew analysis. A grand total of 32.1% of millennials are living at home.

Comment: American nightmare: The death of the middle class and the rise in poverty

Arrow Down

152 inmates served extra jail time due to staff errors, neglect cost US gov't over $1 million

© Stephen Lam / Reuters
Staff errors in the US justice system led to 152 inmates staying in prison beyond their scheduled release between 2009 and 2014, according to a report by the Office of the Inspector General. The pricey mistakes cost the US government over $1 million.

Three inmates served more than one year of extra time, according to the report by US Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz. One of those inmates stayed in jail because federal prison officials simply neglected to check his online court records and therefore missed a judge's order substantially shortening his sentence.

Most of the other prisoners served a month or less of extra time, according to the report on Tuesday.

Comment: See also: Satanic Republican Senator Tom Cotton declares US is 'under-incarcerated' and should lock more people up


Authorities terrify Indiana residents after military holds urban training using gunfire, low-flying helicopters and explosions

After residents of Beech Grove, Indiana, hit their pillows Monday night and turned off their lights, their collective shuteye was over and done just after midnight when explosions, gunfire and low-flying helicopters were heard nearby.

Of course 911 calls flooded police dispatch lines, but some folks took to social media as well:

"Whole neighborhood was out bc we thought the world was ending," one resident tweeted. Some reported seeing people rappelling from helicopters.

Snakes in Suits

Documents show Chris Kyle, "American Sniper", was an American liar about his military record

© Sebastien Micke/Contour by Getty Images
No American has been more associated with the Navy SEAL mystique than Chris Kyle, known as the deadliest sniper in military history. His bestselling autobiography, American Sniper — a story of honor, glory, and quiet heroism — has sold more than a million copies. The movie adaptation became the highest-grossing war film in American history.

"All told," Kyle wrote in his book, "I would end my career as a SEAL with two Silver Stars and five Bronze [Stars], all for valor."

But Kyle, who was murdered by a fellow military veteran several years after leaving the Navy, embellished his military record, according to internal Navy documents obtained by The Intercept. During his 10 years of military service and four deployments, Kyle earned one Silver Star and three Bronze Stars with Valor, a record confirmed by Navy officials.

Kyle was warned at least once before American Sniper was published that its description of his medal count was wrong, according to one current Navy officer, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak about the case. As Kyle's American Sniper manuscript was distributed among SEALs, one of his former commanders, who was still on active duty, advised Kyle that his claim of having two Silver Stars was false, and he should correct it before his book was published.

Comment: See also:


Report: Black people more likely to be casualties, perpetrators in 'mass shootings'

© Jim Young/Reuters
Fear of escalating racial tensions may be why much of gun violence goes unaddressed in US society. A new analysis shows that African Americans constituted the majority of both casualties and perpetrators in 358 multiple shootings last year.

The Mass Shooting Tracker, a list of incidents where at least four people were injured by a gun in 2015, grabbed headlines late last year for showing an average of at least one "mass shooting" per day in the US. The data, gathered from web searches of news stories and collected on Reddit, an online news and social networking forum, along with information from the Gun Violence Archive, is part of a new analysis published in Sunday's edition of The New York Times.

The New York Times found that of the 358 such shootings last year, among the 67 percent of cases where the races of those involved was reported, three-fourths of the victims and three-fourths of the alleged shooters were black.

Traditionally, when the mass media reports on gun violence, it is following a massacre like the Charleston church shooting last year, where nine were killed. While the high-profile tragedy occurred in a black church with all victims being African-Americans, often the face for such events is the shooter's, usually white, and the dead, if covered as more than a statistic, are commonly seen as white as well, such as in most school shootings.


Pepper spray and smoke grenades deployed at Trump rally riot in Albuquerque

© Roberto E. Rosales/The Albuquerque Journal via AP
Pepper spray is deployed at protestors of Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump at the Albuquerque Convention Center after the Trump rally in Albuquerque, N.M., Tuesday, May 24, 2016.
In one of the presidential campaign year's more grisly spectacles, protesters in New Mexico opposing Donald Trump's candidacy threw burning T-shirts, plastic bottles and other items at police officers, injuring several, and toppled trash cans and barricades.

Police responded by firing pepper spray and smoke grenades into the crowd outside the Albuquerque Convention Center.

During the rally, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee was interrupted repeatedly by protesters, who shouted, held up banners and resisted removal by security officers.

The banners included the messages "Trump is Fascist" and "We've heard enough."

Trump lashed back at protesters, tweeting Wednesday: "The protesters in New Mexico were thugs who were flying the Mexican flag. The rally inside was big and beautiful, but outside, criminals!"

Comment: This is Donald Trump's America.