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Western debt-slavery: Half of UK graduates cannot pay back student loans

© AFP Photo / Leon Neal
In a dramatic reassessment of UK student finance, the government estimates around 45 percent of graduates will be unable to pay back their loans. The shortfall could cancel out the profits made by the disputed tripling of tuition fees in 2012.

British Universities Minister David Willetts has said that the amount of graduates who will fail to pay back their student loans has greatly exceeded previous estimates. Before tuition fees were increased threefold in 2012, the government predicted that only 28 percent of loans would ever be paid back. However, in light of projections for the coming years, the government has reassessed this figure and almost doubled it to 45 percent.

This increase could potentially nullify the 10 billion pounds ($16 billion) in profits made by increasing tuition fees to 9,000 pounds ($15,000) a year in 2012. If the amount of students unable to pay back their loans grows to 48.6 percent, economists predict the government will start losing more money.

When the tuition fee hikes came into effect, the Conservative government hailed them as progressive and a way of allowing universities to make the money back they had lost in state funding. Rival party Labour condemned the move as a "tragedy" for a generation of young people, while the National Union of Students called the threefold increase an "outrage." The reform triggered widespread protest across the country.


Thirty-two hurt in train derailment at Chicago's O'Hare airport

© Reuters/Jim Young
A worker puts up a tarp to cover the scene where a Chicago Transit Authority subway train crashed into a platform at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago March 24, 2014.
Thirty-two people were injured after a Chicago Transit Authority train derailed and hit a platform at O'Hare International Airport early on Monday, with its front car landing on an escalator and stairs, a city fire official said.

It was not immediately clear how fast the train was moving, but authorities were looking at speed as a possible factor, said transit authority spokesman Brian Steele.

"It's evident the train was going faster than it should," he said at the scene.

The female train operator was among those hurt, though neither she nor any of the passengers faced life-threatening injuries, said Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford.

"Fortunately nobody was on the staircase," he said. "Anybody on the staircase probably would have been killed."

Langford said the eight-car train jumped a bumper at the end of the line just before 3:00 a.m. Chicago time.


Fascist West: Ireland follows Britain with smoking ban in people's own cars

© Chris Radburn/PA Wire
Legislation to ban smoking in cars where children are present will be ready in the next number of weeks, Minister for Health James Reilly said today.
Legislation to ban smoking in cars where children are present will be ready in the "next number of weeks", Minister for Health James Reilly said today.

There were "major difficulties" in preparing the legislation because of the many departments involved and a "whole host of issues" which had not been foreseen.

"One last issue" to be resolved was a "finer legal point" which the Attorney General was dealing with, he said. "I think they are nearly there and I look forward to it very shortly".


Why is police aggression increasing when crime is down?

Tompkins square 1874
© unknown
New York police attack unemployed workers in Tompkins Square, 1874

You might not know it from watching TV news, but FBI statistics show that crime in the U.S. - including violent crime - has been trending steadily downward for years, falling 19% between 1987 and 2011. The job of being a police officer has become safer too, as the number of police killed by gunfire plunged to 33 last year, down 50% from 2012, to its lowest level since, wait for it, 1887, a time when the population was 75% lower than it is today.

So why are we seeing an ever increasing militarization of policing across the country?

Given the good news on crime, what are we to make of a report by the Justice Polivcy Institute, a not-for-profit justice reform group, showing that state and local spending on police has soared from $40 billion in 1982 to more than $100 billion in 2012. Adding in federal spending on law enforcement, including the FBI, Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Drug Enforcement Agency and much of the Homeland Security Department budget, as well as federal grants to state and local law enforcement more than doubles that total. A lot of that money is simply pay and benefits. The federal Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that the ranks of state and local law enforcement personnel alone swelled from 603,000 to 794,000 between 1992 and 2010. That's about two-thirds as many men and women as the entire active-duty US military.

Comment: For more on the militarization of the police:

Militarization of local police means that now cops kill 8 times more Americans than terrorists do

Why Do the Police Have Tanks? The Strange and Dangerous Militarization of the US Police Force


Dangerous precedent: Alabama woman to be tried for murder for stillbirth when she was 16

© Zfotto/Shutterstock.com
Rennie Gibbs's daughter, Samiya, was a month premature when she simultaneously entered the world and left it, never taking a breath. To experts who later examined the medical record, the stillborn infant's most likely cause of death was also the most obvious: the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck.

But within days of Samiya's delivery in November 2006, Steven Hayne, Mississippi's de facto medical examiner at the time, came to a different conclusion. Autopsy tests had turned up traces of a cocaine byproduct in Samiya's blood, and Hayne declared her death a homicide, caused by "cocaine toxicity."

In early 2007, a Lowndes County grand jury indicted Gibbs, a 16-year-old black teen, for "depraved heart murder" - defined under Mississippi law as an act "eminently dangerous to others...regardless of human life." By smoking crack during her pregnancy, the indictment said, Gibbs had "unlawfully, willfully, and feloniously" caused the death of her baby. The maximum sentence: life in prison.


People power: Somerset flooding prompts Cardigan farmers to send fodder

© Unknown
Farmers' Union of Wales Ceredigion chair Aled Rees said it was important to help other farmers
A consignment of animal fodder from farmers in Cardigan is going to Somerset to help farmers still affected by flooding feed their animals.

About 90 tonnes of donated hay and silage are heading for Sedgemoor market for distribution to farmers struggling to feed stock.

The Farmers' Union of Wales has organised the delivery.

County chair Aled Rees said it repaid English farmers who helped snow-hit colleagues in Wales a year ago.

Somerset was one of the worst hit counties in last month's devastating flooding and farmers need at least 12 months of supplies because fields have been badly affected.

Comment: As usual, the government has been giving little support to those who have and will suffer from extreme weather events. At the same time, lots of money are spent by our ''leaders'' in ways that do not benefit the community at large, but rather benefit their own agenda.There is no better time than now to join forces, get prepared, spread truth and help one another out in these times.

Arrow Up

UK views Russia more positively than EU - poll

© Reuters / Neil Hall
British citizens view Russia more favorably than the European Union, a survey has revealed. The poll also shows that the UK is largely divided over whether it should remain a member of the European block ahead of the planned referendum in 2017.

Former Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party, Lord Michael Ashcroft, commissioned a poll aimed at ascertaining the British public opinion of the EU. The findings of the poll were published this Saturday in a report entitled Europe on Trial: Public opinion and Britain's relationship with the EU.

As part of the survey, 20,000 people were asked to rate a list of 27 countries and institutions on a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of how favorably they viewed them. Russia surpassed the EU with an average score of 4.07, coming 21st in the list. The only countries and institutions that scored worse than the EU in terms of public opinion were Israel, the EU Parliament, Saudi Arabia, Iran and North Korea.

The poll was, however, taken before diplomatic relations took a turn for the worse between the EU and Russia following the integration of Crimea into Russian territory.


Communities grow weary of militarized police

militarized police
© Reuters/Stephen Lam
As numerous law enforcement agencies across the United States begin enrolling large armored vehicles into the force, pockets of resistance are forming among some communities concerned with the trend.

According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, the federal government has been granting armored vehicles like BearCats to cities and towns since the World Trade Center attacks in 2001. Additionally, about 200 vehicles designed to survive landmines and other explosions have also been distributed across the country, with another 750 requests pending.

While some communities have welcomed such acquisitions amid increased concern over mass shootings, others have balked at the idea. As RT reported last year, residents in Salinas, California, flooded the Facebook page of their local police department after it obtained a heavily armored vehicle capable of withstanding rifle fire and minefield explosions.

"That vehicle is made for war," mentioned one commenter at the time. "Do not use my safety to justify that vehicle," another one wrote. "The Salinas Police Department is just a bunch of cowards that want to use that vehicle as intimidation and to terrorize the citizens of this city."

Monkey Wrench

Germany seizes cocaine-filled condoms sent to Vatican

100 kg of cocaine
© AFP Photo/Wolfgang Kumm
German customs officers present 100 kg of cocaine during a press conference in Berlin, on August 19, 2011
Berlin - German customs officials have intercepted a package addressed to the Vatican containing 14 condoms filled with cocaine, the finance ministry said Sunday.

A ministry spokesman told AFP that a box packed with 340 grammes of cocaine valued at 40,000 euros ($55,200) was seized at the international airport in the eastern city of Leipzig in January.

The narcotics, posted from an unnamed South American country, were in liquid form and had been poured into the condoms and placed in the package addressed to the main postal centre at the Vatican.

"I can confirm the incident as reported" in the Bild am Sonntag newspaper, the spokesman said.

"But we cannot say anything more about the case," he added, saying it was now in the hands of local prosecutors.

Authorities handed the parcel to a police officer at the Vatican with the aim of laying a trap for a culprit who might try to claim it.

But the box had remained there since January.

German investigators believe the intended recipient, who remains unknown, was likely tipped off that the package had been intercepted.


The surprising questions that will tell you if your relationship is likely to last


According to US experts, a shared interest in films - particularly horror - is a sure sign of compatibility amongst couples.
  • Mathematicians reveal what you should ask if looking for love
  • The Harvard experts are brains behind dating website OK Cupid
  • 'Have you ever travelled alone?' is another key question
  • Also reveal that men believe women who like beer are more likely to sleep with them on the first date
Many people wonder what the secret to long-lasting love is but hours of soul searching might be a waste of time if new research is to be believed.

Whilst mutual trust, loyalty and a shared love of Breaking Bad might spring to mind, Harvard mathematicians have revealed three rather more humble questions to determine whether a couple have real potential.

And wait for it...they are: 'Do you like horror movies?' 'Have you ever travelled around another country alone?' and 'Wouldn't it be fun to chuck it all and go live on a sailboat?'

The four experts who cam up with these questions are responsible for building dating website, OK Cupid, the fastest-growing dating website.

Grading The Online Dating Industry
Online Dating: Where Technology and Evolution Collide