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Mon, 27 Feb 2017
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Vladimir Putin gains 5 notches in 2016 list of World's Most Admired Men

© Sputnik/ Aleksey Nikolskyi
Russian President Vladimir Putin ranks among YouGov's top ten most admired men in 2016; the other politician to move into the top ten was German Chancellor Angela Merkel in eighth place.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has entered the market research firm YouGov's list of the top ten most admired men in 2016 in sixth place, one below British physicist Stephen Hawking, who moved up from ninth place.

The company conducted a survey of respondents in 30 countries to determine the results.


Cops break into mother's house without warrant, kill her pet parakeet and beat her children

© NY Daily News
Evelyn shows photos of her parakeet, Tito.
Evelyn Lugo, a 57-yr-old mother in Staten Island, is devastated after police officers broke into her house without a warrant, beat up her children, and murdered her pet parakeet, according to the lawsuit.

Evelyn's bird, Tito, was a small parakeet that clearly posed no danger to the officers.

"It was a blue and green bird. It was really pretty," said Anna, Evelyn's daughter.

At some point during the break-in, officers caused Tito's cage to fall off of a dresser and crash onto the floor, according to court records.

"I screamed, 'The bird!' said Anna.

That's when police said "Fuck your bird!" and began crushing and stomping the parakeet to death, according to reports.

"I was shocked," said Anna.

"The cops don't even care about us humans, they don't care about the bird either, " Anna said.

It all started when the Evelyn was having a labor day celebration with her children.

Her son, Edwin, was taking out the trash when police approached him randomly on the street.

According to reports, they stopped him and began interrogating him about a cone that was placed in front of the family home to save a space for parking.

Though Edwin had committed no crime, officers demanded that he present his identification immediately.


Giving back: Syrian refugees donating what little they have to help victims of Alberta wildfires

© yle Aspinall via Calgary Herald
Many Syrian refugees have stepped up to help their Canadian neighbors after learning about mandatory evacuations caused by out-of-control wildfires.

Five months ago, Rita Khanchet made the trek from her homeland in Syria to Canada with her husband and young son. Like many refugees, she had few possessions but was optimistic about the future.

You can imagine, then, how frightening it was to learn that her new neighbors were being forced to flee their homes in the wake of the devastating wildfires in Canada.

The compassionate samaritan told the Calgary Herald:
"It's not easy to lose everything. We can understand them more than anyone in Canada. We were in the same situation. Me and my family wanted to do something for these people. Canadian society helped us when we came to Canada."
After Khanchet wrote an appeal in Arabic on a private Facebook group, Syrian refugees in Calgary started giving what little they have to northern Albertans.
"(Canadians) gave us everything. And now it's time to return the favour," she wrote.


Massive Alberta wildfires expected to burn for months, nearly 19,000 people evacuated (VIDEOS)

© Mark Blinch / Reuters
Smoke and flames from the wildfires erupt behind cars on the highway near Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, May 7, 2016.
Massive blaze in Alberta could double in size and go on for months, local officials predict. There are about 19,000 people already evacuated from the affected areas.

Apocalyptic landscapes of burned-out woods and towns, that's what raging fire leaves behind, and no efforts of deployed 500 firefighters have been sufficient to tame the natural disaster.

Comment: See also: As wildfires rage across Canada, Russian offer of help - the only such international offer thus far - is turned down because it may earn Putin kudos


Russian President Vladimir Putin: Prolific mega bridge builder

16 of Russia's 25 longest bridges have been built in the Putin era

The word pontiff derives from the Latin pontifex, which in itself is the combination of pons for bridge and fex (facere) meaning to make. Probably building bridges was the most high-tech activity in the Roman times and therefore it found its way to denote the most prominent priests in ancient Rome. Later the honorary title was appropriated by the Christian Church to refer to a bishop and today is most often used in relation to the Pope.

But, it is Vladimir Putin that has emerged as the real pontifex-bridge maker of our times. He is of course so in many figurative senses but also in very concrete action. Putin has built more bridges in Russia than all the other leaders combined through history. Now, I said Putin has built bridges but naturally he has not built them personally but ordered them to be built and created the conditions for that. The reader will know that Putin's detractors, both domestic and Western, want to assign every ill that happens in Russia - and for them nothing good has ever occurred in Russia in the last 15 years - to Putin personally. This being the case, we might as well commend Putin for all the progress, in fact, to a big degree it has come about through his personal agency.

The case of bridges is doubly interesting in view of the Western media narrative, which would like us to believe that if there has been any progress at all, then it has merely touched the glistening oil-fueled capital, Moscow. "Go ten kilometers outside the Moscow outer ring road and you will see the real crumbling Russia", they say. Therefore, I will offer this snapshot to the impressive infrastructure investments in bridges, which have occurred during Putin's tenure at the helm of Russia. Somebody's got to tell it, because the Russian government is not very good at parading its achievements.


Eva Bartlett: Concerts at Palmyra represent Syrian liberation, resilience and revival in face of imperial occupation and slaughter

The momentous Syrian-Russian liberation of world heritage site Palmyra on March 27, 2016, came and went with zero congratulations from world leaders who are supposedly fighting terrorism. Palmyra is an area that was subject to ten months of Da'esh (ISIS) occupation, slaughters, and destruction.

When a delegation of foreign journalists went to Palmyra post-liberation, although scheduled to join the delegation, the four US media outlets are reported to have cancelled the night before. When a delegation of independent visitors went to Palmyra still not long after, the information in accounts they shared until now remain glaringly-absent from corporate newspapers and channels.

On May 5, the ancient site was newsworthy once again. Just over a month after its liberation by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) backed by the Russian Air Force, Palmyra's Roman Amphitheatre was host to a concert of exceptional musicality and tremendous significance for both Syria and Russia.

Better Earth

Russian researchers: Successful Syria operation boosts Russians' interest in politics

© Vitaliy Ankov/Sputnik
Sociologists have registered record growth in the Russian citizens' interest to politics and researchers tie this fact to Russia's recent successes on the international arena, especially its anti-ISIS operation in Syria.

According to the latest research conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation (FOM), 48 percent of Russians say they are interested in politics, which is the highest figure since 2001. Forty-nine percent of responders said that politics was not at the top of their interests' list, and 3 percent said it was difficult to give a direct and simple answer to this question. For comparison, in 2010 the share of Russians who said that they considered politics to be an important subject was 30 percent and 64 percent said that they had no interest in politics whatsoever.

The 2016 research also shows that the current events in Syria and Russia's counter-terrorist operation in this country were the most popular discussion topics among Russians. The situation in Ukraine ranked second, the ongoing price hikes in Russia were in third place and the last Q&A session with President Vladimir Putin was in fourth place.

In the same poll, 63 percent of responders said they were interested in international politics and the same share of Russians said that in their view over the past few years their country claimed more victories than it suffered defeats on the international arena. Fifty-three percent of Russians hold that the government is paying sufficient attention to foreign politics and 27 percent said that the attention to this sphere was excessive.

Comment: Putin is here, there and everywhere


'People before profits!' Thousands rally in Rome against TTIP, US corporate rule, GMO and wars

© Ruptly
Tens of thousands came out in the capital of Italy to decry the secretive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal between the EU and the United States, which protesters believe would push Europe into corporate slavery.

Demonstrators gathered in Rome's San Giovanni Square holding up anti-TTIP banners reading, "American chicken filled with hormones on our tables? Stop TTIP,""People before profits," and "Free circulation? Not capital, but people," while chanting slogans denouncing the treaty.

Protesters believe the treaty will lead to a deterioration in agricultural practices, as well as quality of work and services.

"Firstly, because it accelerates privatization, and secondly because big corporations will rule over European governments," demonstrator Loretta Boni told RT's Ruptly video agency.

Comment: That is the big question mark; if the TTIP deal is so good for Europe, why is it so secret?


US proposes 30-year kill eagle permits to wind farms

© www.ecnmag.com
U.S. wildlife managers on Wednesday again proposed granting 30-year permits to wind farms that would forgive them for thousands of eagle deaths expected during that time frame from collisions of the birds with turbines, towers and electrical wires. The proposed rule, like one struck down by a federal judge last year, would greatly extend the current five-year time frame in the permits required under U.S. law for the "incidental take" of eagles, including those killed by obstacles erected in their habitat.

Wind energy companies have pressed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to lengthen the terms of the eagle permits, saying a five-year duration left too much uncertainty and hampered investment in the burgeoning renewable power industry. The agency in 2013 approved a similar plan extending eagle-take permits to 30 years. But a U.S. judge overturned it last year, agreeing with conservation groups that the Fish and Wildlife Service had failed to properly assess impacts of the rule change on federally protected eagle populations.

The revised proposal cites significant expansion within many sectors of the U.S. energy industry, particularly wind energy operations in the Western states, at a time when bald eagle numbers are growing while golden eagles appear to be in decline.

Nevertheless, the Fish and Wildlife Service concluded that the U.S. population of roughly 40,000 golden eagles could endure the loss of about 2,000 birds a year without being pushed toward extinction. And the agency suggested that bald eagles, estimated to number about 143,000 nationwide, could sustain as many as 4,200 fatalities annually without endangering the species.

The new proposal, which is open for public comment through July 5, would make wind farms and other energy developers responsible for monitoring eagle deaths from collisions with facility structures. That arrangement was decried by the American Bird Conservancy, which led the successful legal challenge against the previous eagle permit plan.

Comment: The proposed rule is a decree to placate big industry without consequence for operational hazards. Eagle populations can sustain X number of kills per year? This, at a time when species are leaving the planet in droves, and, from one day to the next, there are multiple natural disasters on the uptrend. Smaller eagle populations mean higher rodent populations that multiply faster than birds. Monitoring deaths? How reliable is big industry to offer up real numbers for the next 30 years? And, if the wind industry goes over the 2000 golden eagle quota and the 4200 bald eagle quota, what then?


Worst service: American couple charged for porn after cancelling Comcast service

© Brendan McDermid / Reuters
A Tampa, Florida family complained that they were being incorrectly charged for pay-per-view adult movies, but cable provider Comcast refused to believe them until the fed-up couple returned their cable equipment - and was still billed for porn.

The Overstreet family had been Comcast cable customers for eight years and rarely ordered any kind of on-demand content. Suddenly, though, charges started appearing that claimed the couple had ordered pay-per-view pornographic films in the middle of the night, according to a report by Tampa's WFTS-TV.

The first erroneous charge occurred on March 30, and it prompted Alyssa Overstreet to call Comcast claiming that she was charged for a film that she never ordered. Her pleas fell on deaf ears, however, with charges for 20 more films rolling in over the next three weeks, with Comcast insisting that they were legitimate.