Society's ChildS

Piggy Bank

Bank of North Dakota reaping profits despite oil bust - a model for California?

Bank of North Dakota
© Dale Wetzel/Associated PressEven amid falling oil prices, by increasing its lending into a collapsing economy, the state-owned Bank of North Dakota has helped prop the economy up.
Despite North Dakota's collapsing oil market, its state-owned bank continues to report record profits. This article looks at what California, with fifty times North Dakota's population, could do following that state's lead.

In November 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Bank of North Dakota (BND), the nation's only state-owned depository bank, was more profitable even than J.P. Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs. The author attributed this remarkable performance to the state's oil boom; but the boom has now become an oil bust, yet the BND's profits continue to climb. Its 2015 Annual Report, published on April 20th, boasted its most profitable year ever.

The BND has had record profits for the last 12 years, each year outperforming the last. In 2015 it reported $130.7 million in earnings, total assets of $7.4 billion, capital of $749 million, and a return on investment of a whopping 18.1 percent. Its lending portfolio grew by $486 million, a 12.7 percent increase, with growth in all four of its areas of concentration: agriculture, business, residential, and student loans.

By increasing its lending into a collapsing economy, the BND has helped prop the economy up. In 2015, it introduced new infrastructure programs to improve access to medical facilities, remodel or construct new schools, and build new road and water infrastructure. The Farm Financial Stability Loan was introduced to assist farmers affected by low commodity prices or below-average crop production. The BND also helped fund 300 new businesses.

Heart - Black

Cop caught on video beating handcuffed woman while other cops stand by and do nothing

caught beating woman
Earlier this week, the Free Thought Project reported on the story of Officer Akinyemi Borisade who was caught on surveillance footage beating Mayra Martinez — while she was in handcuffs. The surveillance footage of the incident was brutal, but on Sunday, the department released dashcam footage of the arrest which shows an even more violent scene.

Martinez, 31, had a bad first day on the job at the local Scores Bar in Jacksonville. That afternoon, she became intoxicated, quit, and refused to leave, so police were called. When police arrived at the bar around 5 p.m., they arrested Martinez and charged her with trespassing and resisting.

According to the police report, Martinez was drunk and belligerent when two officers showed up to remove her from the property. When police tried to place her in handcuffs, Martinez tried to kick and bite officers, according to the report.

To deal with the unruly woman who was half their size, two officers, one of them Borisade, threw the intoxicated Martinez to the ground. In the video, Borisade is seen dropping fist after fist into the back, head and face of Martinez. He also slams the woman's face into the concrete repeatedly.

Red Flag

Quaker Oats facing lawsuit after tests find glyphosate in "100% natural" products

quaker oats
© Gary Cameron / Reuters
Quaker Oats is facing a new lawsuit following private tests that found trace amounts of the herbicide glyphosate on the company's products. Thus, plaintiffs argue, the company employs false marketing tactics in claiming its products are "100% natural."

A lawsuit seeking class-action status was filed in Federal District Courts in New York and California claiming that statements made by Quakers Oats about its products are misleading.

"Defendant aggressively advertises and promotes its oatmeal products as '100% Natural,' and claims its oats are grown using 'eco-friendly' methods that pose 'less risk of pollutants and groundwater pollution,'" the lawsuit says. "These claims are false, deceptive, and misleading."

The suit says Quaker Oats also uses the herbicide glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup weed killer that was deemed a "probable" human carcinogen by the World Health Organization last year, to dry its oats prior to harvest.

"There is nothing unlawful about Quaker Oats' growing and processing methods," the suit reads. "What is unlawful is Quaker's claim that Quaker Oats is something that it is not in order to capitalize on growing consumer demand for healthful, natural products."

Heart - Black

Dashcam video shows cop beating woman and her children while other officer laughs

Officer Jose Lopez caught smiling on dashcam video
© WBBM-TVOfficer Jose Lopez caught smiling on dashcam video while his partner attacks Catherine Brown in a May 2013 encounter
A Chicago woman is suing local police over a 2013 incident in which two officers threatened her with their guns and pepper-sprayed her while her children were in the car, WBBM-TV reported.

Rev. Catherine Brown said the two officers, Jose López and Michelle Morsi-Murphy, "beat me down to my underwear, pulled my skirt off me. They beat me with the sticks and hit me with their boots in my head."

According to Brown, the encounter on May 13, 2013 began when she honked her horn to avert a collision with the officers' squad car, which was speeding toward her in the alley leading to Brown's home.

Dashcam video shows Morsi-Murphy leaving her vehicle. Brown said Morsi told her, "B*tch, move that f*cking car back" while López pointed his gun at her head. Brown then called police dispatchers to ask for a supervisor. Audio of the call captures her childrens' screams.


Cop shoots cat; tells neighbor to clean up the mess

Sugar, the cat
© Facebook/ Justice for SugarSugar
A Pennsylvania cop who chose to shoot a man's beloved pet cat, rather than bring it to a veterinarian for a health check, will not be charged with animal cruelty — despite the rather murky circumstances of the animal's killing.

Tom Newhart and his wife rescued 'Sugar' at birth six years ago, but just over a week ago, the cat managed to slip out of their home.

"I found the cat sitting right here," said neighbor Mike Lienert, according to local 69 News, who also noted the cat appeared to be injured. Lienert then called North Catasauqua Police to help.

Top Secret

Greenpeace leaks secret TTIP files and attacks "transfer of power from people to big business"

People read documents in a 'TTIP reading room' set up by Greenpeace in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany.
© Ferdinand Ostrop/APPeople read documents in a 'TTIP reading room' set up by Greenpeace in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany.
Greenpeace charged today that a massive US-EU trade deal would place corporate interests above the environment and consumer safety, as it released classified documents from the negotiations.

The campaign group published 248 pages online to "shine a light" on the closed-door talks to forge a so-called Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which would be the world's largest bilateral trade and investment agreement.

"This treaty is threatening to have far reaching implications for the environment and the lives of more than 800 million citizens in the EU and US," said Greenpeace as it presented the documents in Berlin.

Both Washington and Brussels want the mega-deal completed this year before US President Barack Obama leaves office, but the agreement in the making has faced mounting opposition on both sides of the Atlantic.

In Europe there is deep suspicion that TTIP will erode social, ecological and consumer protections to the advantage of big business, while the US has also seen rising protectionist sentiment.

Greenpeace said the papers show, for example, that the US wants to be able to scrap existing EU rules in areas such as food labelling or approval of dangerous chemicals if it they spell barriers to free trade.

"TTIP is about a huge transfer of power from people to big business," the group argued, having also projected an image of a classified text passage onto the facade of Berlin's parliament building.

'Public scrutiny'

Irish MEP Luke 'Ming' Flanagan, who has been vocal in criticising what he calls the lack of transparency around the proposed deal, wrote on his Facebook today that the leaked documents showed "exactly why the negotiations need to be out in the open".


Protecting tourists: Chinese police mobilize to patrol Italian cities

Chinese police in Italy
© AP Photo/ Jin Yu/Xinhua via AP
The four Chinese lawmen handpicked for this assignment were trained by Italian instructors in Beijing and will be wearing their usual uniforms while patrolling the streets of the Italian cities they're assigned to.

Italian Minister of the Interior Angelino Alfano said that the experiment which was announced on Monday and will be conducted until May 13 is aimed at helping Chinese tourists feel safe and will hopefully strengthen the bond between China and Italy, La Repubblica reports.

"It is an experimental project, unprecedented for Italy and the first of its kind for Europe. Today we once again demonstrate that Italy can efficiently cooperate with agencies from other countries," Alfano said.


Off-duty cop caught on video screaming and threatening tow truck driver

Deputy Tracy Weiss
Deputy Tracy Weiss
An off-duty Florida sheriff's deputy was caught on video by a tow truck driver she berated as he removed her illegally parked vehicle.

Tracy Weiss, an Orange County sheriff's deputy, became enraged after the driver towed her pickup truck, which was blocking a sidewalk, reported WFTV-TV.

A resident of the Starlight Ranch Retirement Community reported that the deputy's personal vehicle was partially blocking a sidewalk, which is used by senior citizens in wheelchairs.

Weiss ran outside to confront the driver — who recorded the incident on his cell phone. "I'm a cop — get my truck," she said. The driver asked her to put away her gun, which he spotted in the pocket of her shorts.

"You're going to f*cking jail for stealing my car," she said.


Colorado considering replacing Obamacare with universal public health care

In an unprecedented move, Colorado may become the first state to replace Obama Care with a single-payer health insurance plan that would guarantee coverage for all of the state's residents.

This November, voters in Colorado will decide whether to keep the Affordable Health Care Act or give it the boot and usher in a single-payer, state-wide health coverage plan. The $38 billion-a-year measure proposed by the organization ColoradoCare would largely be funded by tax increases.

A 10 percent hike on payroll tax would break down into 6.7 percent for employers and 3.3 percent for workers. An additional 10 percent would be levied on self-employed workers. The 10 percent tax hike would also apply to investment income and small business income.

If passed, ColoradoCare would cover all state residents and allow them to choose doctors and specialists without distinguishing between "in network" and "out of network." The plan also would eliminate deductibles.

Insurance groups and the Colorado Chamber of Commerce along with members of the medical and business fields are rallying against the plan. Opponents argue the plan's details are too vague and its cost threatens to cripple the state economy.


Towering Inferno: 28-story high rise engulfed in flames in Nanjing, China

China high rise fire
© BREAKING / YouTubeNo one was injured in the blaze.
A 28-story building in eastern China became a towering inferno after a fire broke out Tuesday.

Like a scene from a Hollywood movie, flames were captured engulfing the high-rise in downtown Nanjing, which is identified as the Longsheng Building by several media outlets.

Miraculously, there were no casualties.

Firefighters were eventually able to bring it under control, according to local news, but the cause is not yet known.