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Bad Guys

UK: Rupert Murdoch gave Rebekah Brooks a 'remarkably curious' severance package

murdoch brooks
© AP
Murdoch and Brooks leave his residence in central London on July 10, 2011.
When a special committee of the British Parliament questioned Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks about phone hacking at the News International tabloid News of the World, the executives for the global parent company News Corp. refused to disclose any specifics about the severance package they extended to Brooks, the former News International chief, after she stepped down.

Now we know at least some of the details.

According to records obtained by the UK Guardian, Brooks received £1.7m (or roughly $2.72 million) in cash, use of an office in central London and "a chauffeur-driven limousine" for two years as part of her severance from the newspaper group.

Cult

US: Pastor's sickening corporal punishment advice scrutinized after child deaths

corporal punishment
© AP Photo/Don Brinn
In recent years, several children have died after enduring extreme forms of corporal punishment from parents who had absorbed the controversial child-rearing advice of Tennessee pastor Michael Pearl. Now, the New York Times reports, Pearl himself is under fire.

In their self-published book, To Train Up a Child, Pearl, 66, and his wife Debi, 60, recommend the systematic use of "the rod" to teach young children to submit to authority. They offer instructions on how to use a switch for hitting children as young as six months, and describe how to use other implements, including a quarter-inch flexible plumbing line. Older children, the Pearls say, should be hit with a belt, wooden spoon or willow switch, hard enough to sting. Michael Pearl has said the methods are based on "the same principles the Amish use to train their stubborn mules."

There are 670,000 copies of the book in circulation, and it's especially popular among Christian home-schoolers such as Larry and Carri Williams of Sedro-Woolley, Wash. In September, local prosecutors charged them with homicide by abuse after their adopted daughter Hana, 11, was found naked and emaciated in the backyard, having died of hypothermia and malnutrition. She had been deprived of food for days at a time, and made to sleep in an unheated barn.

Stormtrooper

Watch: 'Occupy Oakland' protester shot by rubber bullet while filming cops

In a video published to YouTube, an unidentified protester holding a video camera, filming a police line during the early hours of Thursday, Nov. 3, is apparently shot with a rubber bullet even after repeatedly asking officers, "Is this okay?"


Rubber bullets, though considered non-lethal, have killed people before. They can also cause serious internal injuries and even break bones. Despite their name, rubber bullets are small metal cylinders merely coated with a layer of rubber, and can be launched from traditional firearms. (Update: There's been some speculation that this person may have been shot by a beanbag round instead, but it remains unclear.)

The incident took place following Thursday's call to general strike, which saw tens of thousands of protesters shut down one of the city's major highway overpasses. Though the event was largely peaceful, police said they made 103 arrests, mostly for protesters who failed to disperse after being told to leave public spaces. There were also reports of some vandalism and broken windows, although it was not widespread.

Chalkboard

Number of Americans in poverty at record high

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© Chappatte/Int'l Herald Tribune
Washington - A record number of Americans - 49.1 million - are poor, based on a new census measure that for the first time takes into account rising medical costs and other expenses.

The numbers released Monday are part of a first-ever supplemental poverty measure aimed at providing a fuller picture of poverty. Although considered experimental, they promise to stir fresh debate over Social Security, Medicare and programs to help the poor as a congressional supercommittee nears a Nov. 23 deadline to make more than $1 trillion in cuts to the federal budget.

Based on the revised formula, the number of poor people exceeds the record 46.2 million, or 15.1 percent, that was officially reported in September.

Broken down by group, Americans 65 or older sustained the largest increases in poverty under the revised formula - nearly doubling to 15.9 percent, or 1 in 6 - because of medical expenses that are not accounted for in the official rate. Those include rising Medicare premiums, deductibles and expenses for prescription drugs.

"As seniors choose between food and medicine, some lawmakers are threatening lifeline programs that provide a boost to those in poverty or a safety net to those grasping at the middle class," said Jo Ann Jenkins, president of AARP Foundation, which represents the needs of older Americans. "With nearly 16 percent of seniors already living in poverty, our country cannot afford to slide further backward."

Working-age adults ages 18-64 saw increases in poverty - from 13.7 percent to 15.2 percent - due mostly to commuting and child care costs.

Comment:
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© Solution Revolution



Attention

US: Little-Known Federal Database Helping Crooks Profit From Deceased

Scam Alert
© TechMaish.com
Washington - A little-known but widely used federal database meant to protect Americans from fraud has itself become a major source of mischief and misery.

Crooks are pocketing fraudulent tax refunds after filing returns with personal information about recently deceased people found in the Social Security Administration's Death Master File, which is widely available on the Internet, federal authorities and consumer experts say.

The Internal Revenue Service - citing data it is making public for the first time at the request of Scripps Howard News Service - estimates that tax filers improperly submitted 350,000 returns on dead Americans this tax season, improperly seeking $1.25 billion in refunds.

Parents who recently lost a child are increasingly targeted by these thieves, experts say. Armed with the deceased child's Social Security number and other personal information, the crooks falsely claim them as dependents and have the refunds routed to them.

Among the victims is Matt Pilcher of Potomac, Md., who still grieves over the 2010 death of his daughter, Ava, from lung disease following her premature birth. Pilcher's 2010 income tax filing was rejected by the IRS because someone else claimed Ava as a dependent.

"All we really have is her memory and her name," Pilcher said. "For someone to try to take that, to steal that, to appropriate that for themselves - it's beyond reprehensible."

Question

What's So Special About the Date 11/11/11?

November 11 2011
© Life's Little Mysteries

In medieval times, numerologists - those who searched for the mystical significance of numbers - believed all numbers had both positive and negative aspects ... except for 11. In the words of the 16th century scholar Petrus Bungus, 11 "has no connection with divine things, no ladder reaching up to things above, nor any merit." Stuck between the divine numbers 10 and 12, 11 was pure evil, and represented sinners.

That doesn't bode well for Nov. 11, 2011, the date when three 11s will align for the first time in a century. A new horror film, 11/11/11, has even been made for the occasion, and it plays on (or perhaps plays up) people's fear of coincidences surrounding the number. Film characters experience the so-called "11:11 phenomenon," a tendency to look at the clock more often at 11:11 than at other times of the day. In the film, this is a warning of what's to come: "On the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the eleventh year, a gateway will open ... and on this day, innocent blood will spill," says a voiceover in the trailer.

Indeed, the 11:11 phenomenon is widely reported in real life, with entire online discussion forums dedicated to figuring out what the number means. People say they feel haunted by 11s, which appear to them eerily often. To them, the impending date is bound to seem ominous.

Arrow Down

Russia: Man Kept 29 Mummified Bodies

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© AP Photo/Russian Interior Ministry
A mummified body at an apartment dressed up like a doll taken from a grave at an apartment in Nizhny Novgorod, some 400 kilometers (250 miles) east of Moscow.
The Russian historian had always been open about his interest in the dead and eagerly described how he loved to rummage through cemeteries, studying grave stones to uncover the life stories behind them.

What he failed to mention, according to police, was that he had dug up 29 bodies and taken them back to his apartment, where he dressed them in women's clothes scavenged from graves and then put them on display.

A police video of the man's apartment in the Volga River city of Nizhny Novgorod released Monday shows his macabre collection of what look like dolls. Lifesize, they are dressed in bright dresses and headscarves, their hands and faces wrapped in what appears to be cloth. Police said they were mummified remains.

Instructions for doll-making were found in the apartment, police said, and the video showed old-fashioned plastic dolls in frilly dresses lying about.

Attention

Small Businessman Tries to Pay Debt With Severed Finger

Severed Fingers
© Minyanville

A small businessman in Wenzhou, China couldn't pay back a debt -- so he offered to hand over what he could.

"If you like, you can cut off one of my fingers instead," 42 year-old pharmacy owner Zhong Maojin told the loan sharks whose bill had come due.

According to Bloomberg, Zhong is in hock to 130 lenders for 30 million yuan ($4.7 million) at interest rates reaching 7% a month. However, his "offer of traditional retribution ... was declined" after another creditor insisted on his release so Zhong could pay off an even larger debt owed to them.

Though Mastercard, Visa, and American Express don't consider human flesh to be legal tender, the Zhong case is hardly the first time fingers have been used to settle financial scores.

In March, an Albuquerque, N.M., woman named Samantha Hernandez was dropped off in a Walmart parking lot, after being kidnapped and relieved of her pinky over an $80 debt.

Handcuffs

Flex Your Rights: The Top 3 Things to do in Every Police Encounter

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© N/A
Dealing with police in the U.S. can be a touchy situation, no matter who you are, where you're going, or what you're up to. That's why three law enforcement experts attending the 2011 Drug Policy Alliance conference in Los Angeles decided to stage a panel discussion about what people can do to prevent police encounters from becoming seriously detrimental to one's life.

While the conversation was wide-ranging and covered a lengthy variety of topics, there were several main points they all made that can help every single person to deal with police in a manner that limits the potential for arrest or violence.

3. Be cool and be aware

When confronting an officer during a traffic stop, exhibiting anger or frustration at the onset of the encounter can change the outcome dramatically. Remain calm, keep your hands on the wheel and do not reach for your license or insurance papers until directed to. Most importantly, be respectful and do not challenge the officer's authority directly - that's what the courtroom is for.

Bizarro Earth

Canada: Peace-oriented white poppy campaign keeps low profile as Remembrance Day nears

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© Peace Pledge Union
So far this year we've been spared the almost annual clash between the custodians of the red Remembrance Day poppy and anti-war activists who promote the white poppy of peace.

Last year, the Royal Canadian Legion threatened to sue peace groups if they tried to sell white poppies, seeing it as an infringement of their rights to the symbol. So far white-poppy advocates have kept a low profile.

It's surprising to learn the feud is almost as old as the lapel poppy itself.

The red poppy was adopted in 1921 as a symbol of remembrance of First World War dead, first in Britain and then Canada and other British Empire combatants.

The unprecedented, senseless slaughter in the trenches also sparked a strong pacifist movement that lobbied the British Legion to print No More War in the centre of the red poppy, according to the UK-based Peace Pledged Union. Failing to do that, pacifists suggested they should create their own version.