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In the Name of My Father: Requiem and Renewal in the Shadow of Wall Street

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NYPD officers guard an icon to Wall Street fascism
On May 1, after a day of May Day activities on the streets and avenues of Manhattan, my wife and I and a troop of other OWS celebrants marched into Zuccotti Park to jubilant exhortations of "welcome home" from a throng of fellow occupiers. The next day, my wife and I boarded a southbound Amtrak train to join family gathered at my dying father's bedside to bid him farewell.

May in Georgia...In this age of climate chaos, the local flora comes to bloom a full month earlier than in decades past. This season, magnolias and hydrangeas blossomed in early May. Their petals opened to the world as my father's life is fading. The magnolia petals have grown heavy; his body is shrinking. Soon he will drift from this world...carried by the scent of late spring blossoms.

In our once laboring class neighborhood, McMansions blot out the late spring sun. In the arrogant shadow of these shoddily constructed, bloated emblems of late capitalism, the neighborhood's remaining 1950's single level, brick homes seem to recede...fading like memory before the hurtling indifference of passing eras.

In late spring, veils of pollen merge with shrouds of Atlanta traffic exhaust. Timeless nature has awakened as the noxious capitalist certainties underpinning the aberration known as the New South are dying.

Magic Hat

State of the US: Blown Up Election

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© Linh Dinh, State of the Union
If family values are in the news, you can be sure an American election is just around the corner. According to Republicans, gay marriage is a glory hole puncturing the sanctity of the nuke-clear family, so for backing such a ghastly proposal, with ring, no less, Obama is the "gayest president," according to Rand Paul, or "The First Gay President," per Newsweek. Anything to sell that particular brand of rectum tissues, I suppose, although I'd rather use corn cobs.

Countering, Democrats will huff that the travails of their dead battery, soft spot, touching turmoil or whatever it is that's inside their boxer's shorts or panties is no one's business, least of all the government, though of course the Democrat-appointed Janet Napolitano and her TSA hordes have set up an enduring base next to their exposed, uh, discount toys. Irradiated and propped up by Cialis, they don't look half bad. Oh yes, they do.

According to Democrats, Obama is a good liberal because he will also send gay men and women worldwide to massacre whoever gets in the way of the oil liberals need to drive their SUVs to anti-war rallies.

According to Republicans, Mitt is a good conservative since he can't stand Ellen DeGeneres, Johnny Weir or Barney the Dinosaur, although he will condemn a husband or wife halfway across the globe to commit unspeakable acts for years, while the remaining spouse languishes at home in anxiety and loneliness, to be comforted by some groggy chick at the bar, talk radio, a young cable guy, Jesus, reruns of American Idol or, in the best case scenario, nothing at all.

Heart - Black

Former Priest Sentenced For Hiring Hit Man to Kill Teen

Former Priest
© NewsWest 9
Former Priest Sentenced For Hiring Hit Man to Kill Teen
Dallas, Texas - A former Catholic priest has been sentenced for hiring a hit man to kill a teen he's accused of raping.

That teen was found in Big Spring where police say John Fiala had set the boy up in an apartment and enrolled him in school.

A Dallas jury sentenced John Fiala to 60 years in prison for the murder for hire plot. He'll be eligible for parole in 15 years.

John Fiala was convicted on Thursday.

Police say Fiala hired a hit man in Dallas to kill the 16-year-old teen.

That hit man was actually an uncover cop.

Stormtrooper

German police clear Frankfurt Occupy tent camp outside ECB

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Policemen carry away a protester as they close down the Occupy Camp in front of the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt, May 16, 2012.
German police have cleared out the Frankfurt Occupy tent camp which had been standing outside the European Central Bank (ECB) headquarters since October 2011.

The forceful eviction came Wednesday as part of security measures ahead of the four-day long 'Blockupy' demonstration in the city by activists angry at the way Europe's financial crisis has made life difficult for millions of ordinary people.

Police also made a dozen arrests as protesters started to throw paint at officers trying to clear a make-shift Occupy camp.

The clearance was completed when the last two protesters came down from trees they had climbed.

Police are already preparing for the rallies, setting up a cordon around the European Central Bank.

Global anti-capitalist movement began last year in New York with protesters calling for economic and social justice.

Chart Pie

Income Inequality Discussion Too Hot for TED Talks

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© Jeffery A. Salter
Seattle venture capitalist named Nick Hanauer

If you're plugged into the Internet, chances are you've seen a TED talk - the wonky, provocative web videos that have become a sort of nerd franchise. TED.com is where you go to find Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg explaining why the world has too few female leaders, or Twitter co-founder Evan Williams sharing the secret power of listening to users to drive company improvement. The slogan of the nonprofit group behind the site is "Ideas Worth Spreading."

There's one idea, though, that TED's organizers recently decided was too controversial to spread: the notion that widening income inequality is a bad thing for America, and that as a result, the rich should pay more in taxes.

Alarm Clock

Smuggler Arrested Carrying Roasted Fetuses

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© Unknown
Thai police show the remains of six foetuses wrapped in gold leaf.
Sorry in advance for ruining a lovely Friday morning. There's pretty disturbing news coming out of Thailand where authorities have arrested a man for smuggling six roasted human fetuses in his luggage. (We said sorry!)

According to The Independent's Rob Williams and other news reports, the fetuses had been roasted and covered in gold leaf as part of a ritual. Chow Hok Kuen, a British citizen, was planning to sell them to people looking to get rich.

Handcuffs

Chinese Smuggling kingpin Lai Changxing gets life imprisonment

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Lai Changxing is led away
Xiamen - Lai Changxing, the kingpin of a notorious smuggling ring, was sentenced to life imprisonment Friday for smuggling and bribery, the Intermediate People's Court of Xiamen said.

The sentence was handed down given the graveness of Lai's offences and "an extremely large amount of money" involved, and Lai as the mastermind should be held responsible for all the crimes his syndicate committed, the court said.

The court deprived his political rights for life and confiscated all his personal assets, according to the verdict.

His illegal income would also be confiscated, the court said.

The court found that Lai, 53, had formed a smuggling ring by establishing firms and bases in Hong Kong and Xiamen since 1991.

Arrow Up

Leading Psychiatrist Apologizes for Study Supporting Gay 'Cure'

Dr. Robert L. Spitzer
© Alex di Suvero for The New York Times
Dr. Robert L. Spitzer
Princeton, New Jersey - The simple fact was that he had done something wrong, and at the end of a long and revolutionary career it didn't matter how often he'd been right, how powerful he once was, or what it would mean for his legacy.

Dr. Robert L. Spitzer, considered by some to be the father of modern psychiatry, who turns 80 next week, lay awake at 4 o'clock on a recent morning knowing he had to do the one thing that comes least naturally to him.

He pushed himself up and staggered into the dark. His desk seemed impossibly far away; Dr. Spitzer suffers from Parkinson's disease and has trouble walking, sitting, even holding his head upright.

The word he sometimes uses to describe these limitations - pathetic - is the same one that for decades he wielded like an ax to strike down dumb ideas, empty theorizing, and junk studies.

Now here he was at his computer, ready to recant a study he had done himself, a poorly conceived 2003 investigation that supported the use of so-called reparative therapy to "cure" homosexuality for people strongly motivated to change.

Yoda

Austerity will send Greece to hell, warns Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras

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© Martin Godwin
Alexis Tsipras, the leader of Syriza, continues to reject the Greek government's EU-mandated austerity deal.
Syriza leader's claims countered by Antonis Samaras, who says Greek government must not abandon reforms or quit euro

The two main figures in what promises to be Greece's most electric election in living memory were on a collision course on Thursday, with one predicting "hell" if Athens adheres to EU-mandated austerity and the other forecasting a "nightmare" if the nation abandons reforms and gives up the euro.

Emboldened by yet another poll showing his party's wide appeal, the leftwing Syriza leader, Alexis Tsipras, said the international accord that Greece had signed up to in return for rescue loans was catastrophic for the country. Instead of a rescue, the debt-stricken nation has been thrown into its worst recession since the second world war.

"With this policy [bailout agreement] we are going directly to hell," he told CNN. "To save Europe we need to change direction," insisted the politician who has pledged to "tear up" the €130bn (£104bn) "memorandum of understanding" that Athens reached with the EU and IMF earlier this year.

Alarm Clock

Euro crisis ensnares Spain

spain
© Bloomberg News

Spain moved back into the eye of the eurozone storm on Thursday, as the country's borrowing costs rocketed to unsustainable levels and the country's banking sector was hit by mass downgrades.

Moody's slashed the ratings of 16 Spanish banks on Thursday evening, citing the reduced ability of the Spanish government to provide support to the sector, as well as the "adverse operating conditions" characterised by a renewed recession.

The rating agency also downgraded Santander UK, although, at "A2," it is still rated one notch above its parent bank Banco Santander. Moody's highlighted that Santander UK has "no direct exposure to the Spanish government (or regional governments)".

Earlier in the day, shares in Bankia, the country's fourth biggest bank, plunged by as much as 29pc amid reports that depositors had pulled out €1bn in the past week.