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Thu, 27 Jul 2017
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Oscars of the web: RT wins 'People's Voice' award at Webbys for work in social media

RT Social Media has won its first-ever Webby Award, after beating established rivals in the popular vote for the world's most prestigious internet accolade. And it's all thanks to you!

After three weeks of online voting, RT scored a confident popular victory over BBC News, the New York Times, NBC News & Nightly News, and ABC News in the Social Media News & Information category.

"To be nominated in the first place means we're doing things right. To win the People's Voice award - and to win it by a landslide - means our community is engaged and close to us. And we thank every person who voted and brought this victory!" said RT's Head of Online Projects Kirill Karnovich-Valua.

The prize from the judges went to the New York Times, which also captured the award for best news website. Notably, it was also beaten in the popular vote in that category - by Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill's The Intercept, another relative newcomer.

Comment: Congratulations, RT! It's interesting to note that RT is not only one of the most innovative news sites out there, but also one of the most helpful in terms of deconstructing the lies of Western governments. On a related note, we at Sott.net are still waiting for the folks at the Webbys to create a best website category for awareness in macrocosmic change...


'Highway robbery': Police in Oklahoma seize $53k of funds for Thai orphanage

Eh Wah, musician
After being accused of "highway robbery" for seizing over $53,000 from a Christian rock band fundraising for a Christian school in Burma and an orphanage in Thailand, police in Oklahoma have been forced to backtrack on felony charges they had initiated against the man safeguarding the money.

Eh Wah, a native of Burma but a US resident since the mid-2000s, was stopped by police in Muskogee County on February 27 for a broken taillight but it quickly became more than a routine traffic stop.

When a police K-9 sniffed a "positive alert" on Wah's car, the vehicle was searched. It was then that officers discovered $53,234 in cash in various travel bags, gift bags and envelopes.

According to the nonprofit advocacy group Institute for Justice (IJ), who took the case against the police, Wah told officers that the money had been raised during the course of a five-month US tour with the band Klo & Kweh Music Team and as the band's tour manager, it was Wah's responsibility to mind the cash.


Asset forfeiture reform signed into law in Nebraska

This past Tuesday, Nebraska made history when Governor Pete Ricketts signed LB 1106 into law, completely reforming the state's asset forfeiture system. In doing so, Nebraska has become the 10th stateto require a conviction before property can be seized. What's more, the reforms are so sweeping that Nebraska has become the third state, following New Mexico and North Carolina, to essentially disband its civil asset forfeiture system, a great boon for innocent citizens and private property.

Evil Rays

Bad publicity: Meet the PR firm that murderous foreign regimes hire to sell themselves to the American public

Ketchum was hired to improve the Honduran government's image, which is stained by human rights violations.

Hillary Clinton is not the only person doing P.R. to legitimize the government of Honduras that rose to power in the wake of the U.S.-backed 2009 coup, overseeing a dramatic escalation in violence against Indigenous, human rights and environmental defenders.

The powerful U.S.-based P.R. firm Ketchum—which is owned by Omnicom—was paid $421,333 last June for a one-year contract with the Honduran government that continues into the present. One of the largest such agencies in the world, the firm is headquartered in New York and claims to operate in 70 countries on six continents. It describes itself as "a global communications firm that loves to do break through work for clients" and boasts: "we're just crazy enough to believe you can actually change the world."

The company is representing the government of Honduras in the midst of an escalating human rights crisis defined by a spate of assassinations of Indigenous environmental activists, including the renowned social movement leader Berta Cáceres. Today, Honduras is one of the most dangerous places on earth for environmental defenders, with activists reporting that death squads are making a comeback. Human rights and environmental groups from around the world are calling on Secretary of State John Kerry to halt military aid to the Honduran government until an investigation into Cáceres' murder is fully carried out. Meanwhile, new reporting from the New York Times shines light on police leaders' unchecked power to order assassinations.

Comment: For more context, see: Celebrated Honduran indigenous rights leader Berta Cáceres murdered. The people Ketchum is being paid to image-manage are evil murderers, pure and simple. How's that for bad publicity?

Comment: For more on the type of work companies like Ketchum put out see:

Turkey's information war: Wall Street Journal runs massive ad denying Armenian genocide

Arrow Down

Railroad crossing arm crashes through LA school bus windows while carrying seven special-needs students

A railroad track crossing arm crashed through a passenger window of a school bus carrying seven special-needs students and came out a window on the other side Tuesday in Los Angeles.

No one was injured in the accident southeast of downtown, which was reported at about 7:30 a.m., authorities said. Fire Department spokesman Erik Scott said the crossing arm and some broken glass ended up on one student's lap.


Rescue dog dies after saving seven from quake rubble

Dayko searches the rubble for survivors.
A brave 4-year-old rescue dog lost his life in line of duty not long after saving at least seven people from the rubble of the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that devastated Ecuador on April 16.

Dayko, a Labrador retriever, suffered a heatstroke last week, the City of Ibarra Fire Department had posted on its Facebook page, which led to a fatal heart attack.

Stock Down

Pension funding crisis spreads: Major UK pension fund slashes benefits

As we continue to cover the pension crisis that is unfolding in the United States (recently here and here), it is important to remember that these problems are not unique to just the U.S.

One of the largest educator pension funds in the U.K., the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) is implementing significant changes to the plan benefits as it becomes increasingly under-funded, just like its peers in the United States. The changes are drastic, and are meant to keep the fund solvent in order to at least pay some benefits rather than none over time. The plan represents 330,000 members across 400 institutions, according to its website.

The changes were foreshadowed in 2014, when in discussing the funding issues, the USS said "this means it is likely that, given the increased cost of providing future pensions and the need to deal with an increased deficit, higher contributions and/or other responses will be required."

Upon the completion of the 2014 actuarial valuation, the first of those "other responses" was for the fund update its deficit recovery plan to include employer's contributing 2.1% of salaries toward the deficit over a period of 17 years.

Comment: One would be wise to keep their money out of such schemes, given the current climate.

Alarm Clock

The U.S. Foster Care System: Child trafficking & modern day slavery

Foster Care: "Best Interest of the Child" or "Child Abuse"?

May is National Foster Month, "Honoring, Uniting, and Celebrating Families." But is this really what foster care is doing? Theoretically, foster care provides a temporary loving, nurturing and safe home for children who are removed from their own families due to heinous neglect or abuse. This theory helps those involved in the system sleep good at night and feel like heroes.

Molly McGrath Tierney, the former Director of the Baltimore City Department of Social Services, gave one of the most insightful TEDx talks about the problems with the "Foster Care Industry" - an industry where children become a commodity that profits doctors, lawyers, judges, social workers, advocates, and other organizations, an industry that can only exist by taking other people's children, an industry that damages the very children it purports to be helping. She goes on to explain the trauma inflicted on children by the foster care industry, saying:
... we're digging a wound so deep, I don't believe we have a way of measuring it. This dismantling of families - it has enormous consequences. Kids that grow up outside of families - they don't master the things that can only be learned in that context, like who to trust, how to love, and how to take care of yourself, and that frankly does more damage than the abuse and neglect that brought the kid to my attention in the first place.

Red Flag

Atlanta WalMart: Officer goes into berserk Robocop mode; breaks man's leg over a tomato

© wsb-tv
An innocent Atlanta man spent multiple days handcuffed to a hospital bed with a broken leg and a severed artery after an Atlanta cop falsely accused him of stealing a tomato that he actually bought.

Tyrone Carnegay spent then spent three days in jail before the charges were finally dropped. The interaction was all caught on a Walmart security camera.

"I was chained to my bed in Grady. They said I assaulted him and obstructed him from doing his job," Carnegay told the local news. The video proves that none of this was true.

Comment: Even if the tomato had been stolen it is a complete overkill for such a situation.


Louisiana: 'Blue lives matter' bill will make resisting arrest a hate crime and put cops in a protected class

Last year, in an outburst of pure insanity, the National Fraternal Order of Police, a union representing over 300,000 officers, called for cops to be included under Congress's hate crimes statute. This demand has now materialized into actual legislation being presented to Louisiana lawmakers.

Bill HB 953 would change the state's hate crime law to include law enforcement and firefighters.

A hate crime is defined by Congress as a "criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender's bias against a race, religion, disability, ethnic origin or sexual orientation."

Comment: Police are already out of control -- beating, maiming and killing at will. If the Louisiana bill passes other states will surely adopt similar bills. Just imagine how much worse it will get with an official blessing from the state.