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Mon, 21 Aug 2017
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Egypt busts huge organ trafficking ring, arrests 45, seizes $mlns

Egypt's Minister of Health and Population Dr. Imad Eddin Ahmed Radi
Egypt has uncovered a network accused of illicit international trafficking in human organs, arresting 45 people and recovering millions of dollars in a dawn raid on Tuesday, the health ministry said.

Among those held were doctors, nurses, middlemen and organ-buyers, involved in what the ministry described as the largest organ-trafficking network exposed in Egypt to date.

"The accused who were arrested exploited the economic situation of some Egyptians and the suffering of some patients and their need for treatment to take large financial sums from them, thus breaking the law," the ministry said in a statement.

It said the investigation, which involved the Health Ministry and Administrative Control Authority, a powerful anti-corruption body, focused on a group of private hospitals and health centres, both licensed and unlicensed, where transplants and organ harvesting took place.

Black Magic

Convicted pedophile beaten to death by parents of his victims

© Reuters
An Argentinian music teacher who was convicted of molesting children has died after being severely beaten while he was performing at a concert in a cathedral close to Buenos Aires. Parents of his victims were allegedly responsible for the killing.

Marcelo Fabian Pecollo, who was handed a 30-year prison sentence in 2010 for molesting five preschool children, was both a music teacher and trumpeter with the Moron city orchestra. He was released from prison after only four years following a sentence reduction.

The attack at the cathedral happened on October 30 in the Moron suburb while Pecollo was performing, according to AFP. A group of parents interrupted the show shouting: "There is a pedophile and a rapist in the church and he is playing in this orchestra."


Veterans group blasts Trump's selection of Ben Carson for Housing Secretary as "insulting to veterans"

© AP Photo/ David Zalubowski
President-elect Donald Trump's choice of neurosurgeon Ben Carson to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is insulting to veterans, the group VoteVets said in a press release.

Earlier on Monday, Trump officially named Carson as his nominee for HUD Secretary.

"Hundreds of thousands of veterans live in HUD-assisted housing," the release stated on Monday. "To make their wellbeing subject to the gross unpreparedness of Ben Carson is a complete insult."

The release noted that Carson's own spokesman admitted he does not have the necessary skills to run a government agency.

Veterans who need HUD will be hurt by the appointment, the release added, so the US Senate needs to reject Carson's nomination and force Trump to choose a serious candidate.

Initially, Carson ran against Trump for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, but supported Trump after dropping out of the race.

VoteVets is the largest progressive veterans group in the United States with more than 450,000 supporters.

Red Flag

Ponerized society: Red Cross poll finds half of Americans believe torture is useful for extracting info

© Reuters
A Red Cross poll has found that about half of American respondents believe that torture is a solution for extracting information. The US was matched only by Nigeria, Israel and Palestine.

The global 'People on War' poll that surveyed 17,000 people in 16 countries has revealed that indifference to torture has grown substantially since the late '90s, especially where it concerns the five permanent UN Security Council members. By contrast, those living in war-torn countries like Afghanistan showed very little acceptance of such methods and a greater regard for international law.

According to the poll results, it appears that war crimes are now being looked at as simply a part of war - an attitude increasingly prevalent in the US, where just under half of all respondents (46 percent) support the use of torture. Only Thirty percent disagreed, with the remainder were undecided. The American shift in opinion was also by far the biggest the authors have seen: none of the other P5 members (Russia, China, France, the UK) came close in figures.

On average, one in three people in the US believed torture was "part of war."

Black Cat

Coincidence or conscious? Swastika-looking snowflakes constructed by artist for Latvian Christmas market

In another controversial case of Latvia's relationship to Nazi symbolism, a large ornament eerily similar to a swastika appeared in Riga's Christmas Market, provoking critical reactions.

The scene filmed Monday at Esplanade Park showed several runes, possibly intended to represent snowflakes. But one does stop to wonder what the designer was thinking, when about 80 percent finished, he noticed one of his creations resembled the symbol associated with Nazism in the 20th century.

Some media accounts reported confusion and disappointment from passersby.

Comment: Though the swastika symbol predates Nazism by many centuries, and has held meanings other than the ideology we most commonly associate it with, it is interesting to note that Latvia has aligned itself politically and militarily with NATO.


Trump names Ben Carson as housing secretary: Carson tells positions on poverty with rags-to-riches life story

Ben Carson was born on the southwest side of this city to a mother who could not read. He spent much of his youth in what he has described as "dire poverty," but his neighbors kept their lawns trimmed, and parents called other parents if they saw kids stirring up trouble. Compared with the Boston ghetto where he lived briefly in elementary school, Carson says, it was "like Beverly Hills."

Today, the roofs have caved in on some of the houses on Carson's old street. Half the children in Southwest Detroit live in poverty. Weeds have overrun the courtyards at his old high school. Soon, workers will knock the school down, pounding to dust another cornerstone of the community that nurtured one of America's great against-the-odds personal stories.

Carson, 64, who built a world-renowned career in neurosurgery and now leads some polls in the Republican campaign for president, broke the cycle of poverty. His neighborhood slid deeper into it.

Carson's positions on economic issues, particularly combating poverty, were forged in his extraordinary rise from what is now a riverfront slum in the shadow of a long bridge to Canada. But those positions have created a tension in his run for president.

Comment: See also: Trump names Ben Carson as housing secretary to head urban renewal agenda

Eye 2

Rape of 11yo girl on way to school leaves Memphis residents in shock

© Memphis Police Department / Facebook
Parents in a suburb of Memphis, Tennessee were rattled by a report that an 11-year-old girl was snatched on her way to school, raped, and left in a ditch. Police have arrested a man who matches the description of the attacker.

The girl was walking to Geeter Middle School around 7am on Monday, when a blue SUV pulled up.

"He snatched her, put her in the truck, raped her, and then dropped her off over here," the victim's mother told local media, referring to the ditch near the intersection of Delta and Mason Roads.

The girl was battered and bruised, but is expected to be okay, the mother said.


Bishops in Switzerland create €462K fund for victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy

© Emmanuele Contini / Global Look Press via ZUMA Press
Swiss bishops have created a fund worth €462,000 for those who have been sexually abused by members of the Catholic clergy and cannot seek justice in court because the statute of limitations has passed.

The move was announced on Monday at the Swiss Bishops Conference (SBK), a meeting of the coordinating body of Roman Catholic dioceses, which was held at the Valère Basilica in the city of Sion in southern Switzerland.

"The responsible clergy believe that sex abuse victims in cases where the public statute of limitations has passed and where the Church has long turned a blind eye and provided no reparations, are in a particularly difficult situation," SBK said.

Thus, SBK created a fund worth 500,000 Swiss francs ($495,000, €462,000) that is to be paid out to sex abuse victims. An independent commission will decide on the size of individual compensations.

"A serious sin has been revealed during our time at the Church... This sin committed by some was made possible by certain structures and certain ways of behaving and thinking," Monseigneur Charles Morerod said.

"The sin has several levels: the abusive act, the complicit silence, and the lack of assistance to the victims," he added.


Washington Post doubles down on McCarthyistic smearing of alternative news sites

© The Washington Post
After publishing a McCarthyistic "black list" that smears some 200 Web sites as "Russian propagandists," The Washington Post refuses to apologize — and other mainstream media outlets pile on.

We still don't have any sort of apology or retraction from the Washington Post for promoting "The List" — the highly dangerous blacklist that got a huge boost from the newspaper's fawning coverage on Nov. 24. The project of smearing 200 websites with one broad brush wouldn't have gotten far without the avid complicity of high-profile media outlets, starting with the Post.

On Thursday — a week after the Post published its front-page news article hyping the blacklist that was put out by a group of unidentified people called PropOrNot — I sent a petition statement to the newspaper's executive editor Martin Baron.

"Smearing is not reporting," the RootsAction petition says. "The Washington Post's recent descent into McCarthyism — promoting anonymous and shoddy claims that a vast range of some 200 websites are all accomplices or tools of the Russian government — violates basic journalistic standards and does real harm to democratic discourse in our country. We urge the Washington Post to prominently retract the article and apologize for publishing it."

After mentioning that 6,000 people had signed the petition (the number has doubled since then), my email to Baron added: "If you skim through the comments that many of the signers added to the petition online, I think you might find them to be of interest. I wonder if you see a basis for dialogue on the issues raised by critics of the Post piece in question."

Comment: SOTT.net is proud to be included on such a list.

Christmas Tree

A Christian Christmas in Damascus, thanks to Assad!

May America join Russia and Syria in the coming year To Bring Peace to the land of Paul at last!

Yes, that's our Christmas wish. And if President Trump proves willing and able to fulfill his campaign promise to work with Russia to defeat the very terrorists we now secretly support, our wish may actually come true.

Jumping down the Rabbit Hole

Oops! I just did. And I'm sure I left a bunch of you behind. So let me jump back up to the top of the hole and say that this first big photo you see is of a Christian Christmas party for kids in the Christian section of Damascus (protected by the Lord and Syrian government forces) back in 2013. In Damascus Syria, that is. For I only learned today from my devoutly Christian home health aide that many good American Christians have no idea that Damascus is in Syria. And that Syria is the land of St. Paul. It's right in the Bible.