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Sat, 15 May 2021
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Saddam's statue: the bitter regrets of Iraq's sledgehammer man

© Jerome Delay/AP
Kadom al-Jabouri swings a hammer at the base of the statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad in April 2003.
Kadom al-Jabouri became famous when he took his hammer to the dictator's statue. Now he wishes he had never done it

Ten years ago, Kadom al-Jabouri became the face of the fall of Baghdad. Pictured with a sledgehammer while attempting to demolish the huge statue of Saddam Hussein in the city's Firdos Square, Jabouri's jubilant act of destruction made front pages around the world.

For Tony Blair and President George W Bush, the image was a godsend, encapsulating the delight of a grateful nation that their hated dictator had been ousted. The US networks showed the statue's fall for hours on end.

However, almost exactly a decade later, the "sledgehammer man" - who was helped by a US tank carrier to finally topple the statue - furiously regrets that afternoon and the symbolism of what he was involved in. "I hated Saddam," the 52-year-old owner of a motorcycle spares shop told the Observer. "I dreamed for five years of bringing down that statue, but what has followed has been a bitter disappointment.

Arrow Up

Food fraud conceals rising price inflation

If inflation is not the first topic that comes to mind when you read about food fraud, you are not alone. There is no immediate, intuitive connection between recent sensational headlines about horsemeat being found in so-called beef lasagnas and the concept of price inflation.

But in fact, it is price inflation that is causing food fraud. Everyone has experienced shrinking package sizes where price is maintained (quantitative easing), offsetting higher input costs.

However as per this recent Zerohedge article, quality and ingredient substitutions are now the rage:
We've had an endless series of products whose ingredients have been cheapened in order to maintain the price. Consumers won't be able to taste the difference, the theory goes.
As WealthCycles readers know, although the term "inflation" is commonly used in referring to rising prices, the true meaning of economic inflation is inflation of the currency supply. Importantly, we detail in Semantics Deception Illustrates Power of Words, that when you control the language, you control the argument.


Warwick Police investigating apparent double murder-suicide

Three people are dead after an apparent double murder-suicide in Warwick Saturday morning.

Deputy Chief Michael Babula said that three people were found shot to death in a home on Kenway Avenue in what appears to have been a domestic incident. Babula declined to identify the deceased as notifications of family members are still being made.

Alarm Clock

Two dead in apparent murder-suicide near Gravel Switch

Kentucky State Police are investigating what is being called a murder-suicide after the bodies on a Boyle County man and woman were found shot to death on the porch of a Casey County residence early Saturday morning.

Troopers were dispatched a "shots fired" call from Casey County dispatch about 11:45 p.m. Friday. When they arrived, they discovered the bodies of Judith "Robin" Duncil, 52, and George "Buddy" Merrick, 61, on the front porch of a residence on Little South Road near Gravel Switch, Trooper Billy Gregory said.


Food prices to rise: UK farmers face disaster with 'perfect storm' of appalling weather and livestock disease

flooded fields
© Christopher Furlong/Getty
Appalling weather has coincided with disease in livestock to hit farmers hard.
Prince's Countryside Fund says agriculture is confronting a worse crisis than the foot-and-mouth outbreak of 2001

British agriculture is facing a worse crisis than the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak of 2001, with around 90% of farmers affected, according to the Prince's Countryside Fund. The charity, established by the Prince of Wales in 2010, is co-ordinating welfare efforts for families in dire need.

"This crisis is unique because it's so broad," said Tor Harris, the fund's director. "There have been others in the past but they have affected particular groups, such as livestock farmers. This affects upland and lowland farmers and even arable farmers, which is something we haven't seen in a very long time. Nearly every farmer is going to be touched by this over the next year or 18 months."

Farming faces a perfect storm. Appalling weather - 2012 was the second wettest year on record in England - has coincided with disease in livestock, including bovine TB and Schmallenberg in sheep, which causes birth defects. On top of this there are commercial pressures, with retailers driving prices down because of the state of the economy, combined with the cost of animal feed needed to replace poor quality silage due to the weather, shooting up by 40%.

Comment: Not isolated to the UK, the 'perfect storm' of surging food prices is global.


Con-man? Missing Irish tycoon Kevin McGeever is arrested on suspicion of wasting police time


Chancer? Kevin McGeever
An Irish property tycoon who vanished for eight months - only to reappear on a country lane claiming to have been held hostage by an armed gang - has been arrested on suspicion of wasting police time.

Kevin McGeever attracted international publicity in January when he was found wandering, emaciated and dishevelled, on a rural road. The 68-year-old claimed to have been abducted by masked men who threatened to kill him unless a ransom was paid.

At one stage in his ordeal, Mr McGeever claimed his captors put a gun to his forehead and told him he had only two days left to live.

But as details emerged of his colourful and complicated business life and police struggled to trace his captors, doubts began to grow. Now the Irish authorities appear to suspect that there is less to the abduction tale than meets the eye, after arresting the flamboyant developer at his sprawling mansion near Galway city.


3 dead after small plane crashes into parking lot in Florida

A twin-engine plane crashed late Friday afternoon in a Fort Lauderdale, Florida, parking lot, killing all three people onboard, authorities said.

The Piper PA31 aircraft went down around 4:30 p.m., soon after departing Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, said Kathleen Bergen, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration.

Fort Lauderdale fire Division Chief John San Angelo told CNN affiliate WPEC that all three people on the plane died in the crash. Fort Lauderdale city spokeswoman Shannon Vezina later confirmed the three fatalities to CNN.

"(There was) a lot of damage, a lot of fire -- I don't think anybody could make it through that," San Angelo said.


Mother Called Her Final Act 'Evil'


Cynthia Wachenheim
Sometime before 3:25 p.m. Wednesday, Cynthia Wachenheim, a lawyer who was on child-care leave from her job, wrote out a note. On lined notebook paper, it ran for 13 pages.

According to a law enforcement official who has seen the note, she wrote that her infant son, Keston Bacharach, had previously taken a few tumbles, including "two shameful incidents," a fall from a Gymini play set onto the wood floor when she walked out of the room for five minutes, and off a bed. She blamed herself, and was convinced that those falls had led to a series of concussions and seizures that aggravated or contributed to maladies that would harm him for the rest of his life.

Her friends, family members and pediatrician did not believe her, she wrote. But she noticed changes in the baby - changes that only a mother who spends all day with her child would notice. For instance, she wrote, her son had grown sleepier and cried more frequently.

Eye 1

Texas inmate accidentally hires sheriff as hitman

A Texas man already in jail for assaulting his wife could now spend life in prison for allegedly attempting to hire a local sheriff to kill her.

KXAS-TV reported on Thursday that 53-year-old Tab Denny Johnson was indicted on March 7 on two counts of solicitation of capital murder after unwittingly enlisting the services of Johnson County Sheriff Bob Alford.

According to The Dallas Morning News, Court documents revealed that Johnson had been asking fellow inmates in Johnson County Jail to kill his wife, Barbara Johnson, and her boyfriend.


Bus carrying college lacrosse team crashes in Pennsylvania, killing driver and 1 passenger

Emergency and rescue crews respond to the scene of a tour bus crash on the Pennsylvania Turnpike on Saturday near Carlisle, Pa.
A tour bus carrying a college's women's lacrosse team to a game went off the Pennsylvania Turnpike on Saturday and crashed into a tree, killing the driver and one passenger and sending others to hospitals, including some with serious injuries, authorities said.

Lacrosse players from Seton Hill University and three coaches were among the 23 people aboard when the bus crashed at about 9 a.m., turnpike spokeswoman Renee Colborn said. It's not clear what caused the crash, but state police were investigating, said Megan Silverstram of the Cumberland County public safety department.

Three of the injured were flown by helicopter to Penn State Hershey Medical Center, where one person died, hospital spokeswoman Danielle Ran said. She did not give the conditions of the other two. Officials said all other passengers were taken to hospitals as a precaution.

The bus came to a stop upright on the side of the road with part of its left side shorn off, photos from the scene showed, though it's unclear whether that was from the impact or rescue operation.