Welcome to Sott.net
Mon, 02 May 2016
The World for People who Think

Society's Child


For the second day in a row White House on lockdown

© Jonathan Ernst / Reuters
The executive mansion has been locked down for the second time in less than 24 hours. The lockdown is due to an unknown situation, according to reporters in the press briefing room.

The president is believed to be inside the White House.

A Secret Service agent told RT that it "might be an hour" before the lockdown is lifted.

The lockdown was prompted by a package containing papers and a phone that was thrown over the fence, CNN reported. The Secret Service, which protects the president and the White House, is still checking for any possible threats in the area.


Report finds over 5 million children in the US have a parent in jail

© Jim Young / Reuters
A new report examining the devastating toll of incarcerated parents on children, families and their community has found that over five million children have a parent in jail, leading to poor education outcomes, economic strife and psychological problems.

"The saying is all too familiar: Do the crime, do the time. But in America's age of mass incarceration, millions of children are suffering the consequences of their parents' sentences and our nation's tough-on-crime practices," stated the report, A Shared Sentence released on Monday by The Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Over a period of four decades, the report found that the number of children with a father in prison or jail at some point in their childhood rose by 500 percent. The sharp increase came along with the emergence of laws and policies mandating long sentences for drug possession as well as three-strikes laws and incarcerations for low-level crimes.

For the children, most younger than 10, these circumstances created great instability. When fathers are incarcerated, family income can drop by an average of 22 percent, the report found. Many of the families already relying on public programs such as food stamps struggled with the loss of income and became more dependent.

"Mothers...report being unable to pay for necessities such as food, utilities, rent and medical care for their children," stated the report.


The shoe fits: Dutch paper's cartoon depicts Erdogan as ape crushing free speech

© Joshua Roberts / Reuters
A front-page caricature went public in a popular Dutch daily De Telegraaf, showing Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan as a sinister ape squashing freedom of speech in Europe.

The cartoon illustrates a brawny ape with President Erdogan's face - turned red and puffy - squashing a slim woman resembling Dutch columnist Ebru Umar.

In the caricature, called "The long arm of Erdogan", the Turkish president stands on a rock labeled "Apenrots," Dutch for"ape rocks." The word is also used to refer to a place in The Hague where the Foreign Ministry's premises are located.

The Dutch cartoon is a reflection on the latest developments in Ankara's crackdown on freedom of speech in Turkey and beyond.
© De Telegraaf


IS-aligned hackers allegedly breach US State Dept, DHS, other agencies, release "wanted killed" lists

© www.pcworld.com
The Islamic State-aligned United Cyber Caliphate claims to have hacked into US State Department records, releasing online information on 43 employees it wants dead. The leak also includes staff with Homeland Security and other agencies, media reported. The information was released through the group's account on the messaging app Telegram. The departments of energy, commerce, health and defense have been compromised along with the State Department and DHS, the SITE Intelligence Group reported.

The document is entitled 'wanted to be killed' and contains threats to the US, which the group sees as its main enemy. Various staff members from all over the world were identified, including embassy workers in Sudan and Togo, Vocativ was able to verify. The list included other officials, Homeland Security among them. However, according to Vocativ, the hack is unlikely to reveal much new. A lot of what was listed is publicly-available information, while many numbers are simply office lines.

The hack comes barely a day after the group aligned with Islamic State (ISIS/IS, formerly ISIL) jihadists posted 3,600 purported New York residents' details, again, under the hashtag 'We Want Them #Dead'.

These activities are the result of a merger of three distinct pro-IS groups to form the so-called United Cyber Caliphate (UCC). The UCC has been taking on the Anonymous hackers and other groups that target IS online. One of the group's most components are hackers with the Cyber Caliphate Army (CCA), which, according to Foreign Desk News, has previously also issued a kill list of 36 Minnesota police officers. The group also allegedly tried hacking Google, but mistakenly hit an Indian SEO company, Add Google Online.

Comment: Chutzpah and threats...a tactic exploited by psychopaths to create a state of fear resulting in the dynamic of submission.


Vivid language listing protections given to whistleblowers actually inhibits their reporting of misconduct

A new study by researchers at Florida Atlantic University and Providence College has found that vivid language intended to assure potential whistleblowers they will be protected from retaliation is instead likely to evoke fear and make them less likely to report misconduct.

"When you start listing all the protections that you're giving them you start raising their awareness of the risks and dangers," said James Wainberg, Ph.D., a professor of accounting at FAU's College of Business and co-author of the study with Stephen Perreault, Ph.D., assistant professor at Providence College School of Business. "It serves to raise their level of anxiety and has the opposite of its intended effect. All the protections are really a list of the things that can go wrong."

It's the first study to demonstrate that promoting explicit whistleblower protections can have the unintended consequence of actually inhibiting reporting of misconduct by intensifying the perceived risk of retaliation.

The researchers surveyed a group of students in a university graduate auditing course. The results suggest that explicitly raising the specter of retaliation, even to reassure potential whistleblowers they will be protected from it, increases perceptions of risk on average by about 25 percent over what it would be otherwise.

"That's really counterintuitive," said Wainberg, who's also researching the impact of financial incentives for whistleblowers. "You really should be getting people to feel at ease and interested in calling."

Comment: As governments and corporations have little to gain by encouraging whistle-blowers, one might assume that such explicit language is used deliberately to provoke fears of retaliation.

The history of the U.S. government's attacks, intimidation, and murder of whistleblowers


Police State: Parents outraged over arrests of 10 elementary students for watching fight, police chief apologizes

© Murfreesboro Police Department
In a public outcry, the community sought two specific actions in response to the April 15 arrests of 10 Murfreesboro elementary school students: an investigation and an apology.

They now have both.

"I am so saddened, and I'm so sorry this incident happened," Murfreesboro Police Chief Karl Durr said, "because I truly think it could have been avoided."

In an exclusive interview with The Tennessean, Durr expressed his concern over the outcomes in a case that has garnered attention nationwide and put a spotlight on police-community relations. The matter is before the Juvenile Court of Rutherford County. There are no plans to dismiss the charges at this point.

Durr reiterated that his department is now conducting an internal review of the arrest incident with three goals: 1) to determine if there are policies that have been violated by the department or if there is policy that is lacking, 2) to determine what training may need to be done as a result of what occurred, and 3) to determine if there has been any department misconduct in this case.


The disturbing history of police in schools: More than a few rogue cops

© usprisonculture.com
Another week, another video of police abuse surfaces. This time the video shows San Antonio school resource officer Joshua Kehm body-slamming 12-year-old Rhodes Middle School student Janissa Valdez. Valdez was talking with another student, trying to resolve a verbal conflict between the two, when Kehm entered and attacked her. "Janissa! Janissa, you okay?" a student asked before exclaiming, "She landed on her face!" In a statement on the incident, co-director of the Advancement Project Judith Browne Davis wrote, "Once again, a video captured by a student offers a sobering reminder that we cannot entrust school police officers to intervene in school disciplinary matters that are best suited for trained educators and counselors."

This senseless attack on a student is immediately reminiscent of video taken by kids at a South Carolina high school in October. While classmates looked on, school resource officer (SRO) Ben Fields slammed a 16-year-old student to the ground and then dragged her by her hair across the floor after she refused to hand over her cellphone.

Comment: The school-to-prison pipeline: It's time to get cops out of schools


Power restored after massive power outage in Zurich

© Reuters
A massive power outage struck the Swiss city of Zurich, electric officials have confirmed, adding that the city center lost electricity and traffic was halted. Almost an hour after the blackout, the power was back.

The Zurich Electricity company (EWZ) tweeted that the blackout took place shortly before 2pm local time (12:00 GMT).

The company added that two transformers had been shut down due to "unknown reasons."

The lights were off on Zurich's main downtown street, Bahnhofstrasse, Swiss 20 Minuten newspaper reported.

Several shops had increased security measures, according to the paper.


Poll shows more than half of Americans think presidential nominating system 'rigged'

© Reuters/Charles Mostoller
More than half of American voters believe that the system U.S. political parties use to pick their candidates for the White House is "rigged" and more than two-thirds want to see the process changed, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.

The results echo complaints from Republican front-runner Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Bernie Sanders that the system is stacked against them in favor of candidates with close ties to their parties - a critique that has triggered a nationwide debate over whether the process is fair.

The United States is one of just a handful of countries that gives regular voters any say in who should make it onto the presidential ballot. But the state-by-state system of primaries, caucuses and conventions is complex. The contests historically were always party events, and while the popular vote has grown in influence since the mid-20th century, the parties still have considerable sway.

Comment: Half the US population thinks the voting system is more or less rigged? Where does that leave the vaunted US 'freedom and democracy' when the 50% of the supposed fount of those values believe them to be utterly corrupted?

Light Saber

Author Michael Chabon: Israeli occupation is 'the most grievous injustice I have ever seen in my life' and I am 'culpable'

Celebrated author Michael Chabon
A lot of people are passing this interview around today, and they should be. It will bring tears to your eyes: the US novelist Michael Chabon speaking sincerely and eloquently about the horrors of the occupation, which he has just toured with Breaking the Silence. Chabon is preparing a book of essays by novelists about the occupation. He was interviewed by Naomi Zeveloff of the Forward. Key excerpts:
Once you see for yourself it is pretty obvious I think to any human being with a heart and a mind, it is pretty clear what to feel about it. It is the most grievous injustice I have ever seen in my life. I have seen bad things in my own country in America. There is plenty of horrifying injustice in the U.S. prison system, the "second Jim Crow" it is often called. Our drug laws in the United States are grotesquely unjust. I know to some degree what I am talking about. This is the worst thing I have ever seen, just purely in terms of injustice. If saying that is going to lose me readers, I don't want those readers. They can go away and never come back.
What a beautiful statement, let's honor Chabon for it. He is bearing witness, he is being in the moment. Yes we can criticize him for showing up late; this horror show was evident many many years ago, behind the wall, decades ago to Palestinians. But he went and he saw and he is surely going to take action.

Comment: This last sentiment by the author of the article seems very much like wishful thinking, but certainly it would help greatly if the Michael Chabons of the world spoke out and wrote on what they're seeing - thereby helping others of his generation to understand.