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Extinguisher

Explosion and intense fire on Pemex oil platform in Gulf of Mexico leads to evacuations, 1 reported dead

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A fire broke out on an oil platform belonging to Mexico's state Pemex petroleum giant in the Gulf of Mexico, leading to the evacuation of about 300 workers. According to the company at least one person has died and 16 have been injured.

Pemex said on Twitter that the fire on the Abkatun Permanente platform in the oil-rich Campeche Bay broke out overnight and eight firefighting boats were tackling the blaze.
¡Impresionante! #Video del incendio de la plataforma Abkatun Alfa en la Sonda de #Campeche #PEMEX @OlmecaDiario pic.twitter.com/E7RxBzdQzR

— Sistema Informativo (@SistemaInfoVEOO) April 1, 2015
The oil giant said in a statement that at least one person, a contractor, has been killed and 16 have been injured in the blaze. Two of them are in a serious condition.


Comment: Is this another example of the Earth "opening up"? Or possibly a short circuit caused by an EMP blast from a fireball entering the atmosphere? Could this be related to the recent power outages in Turkey and Amsterdam and the "accidental" airing of the Emergency Alert System in the U.S.? Taking all these incidents into account, it sure is looking like the universe is trying to send us a message.


Heart - Black

Plainclothes cop caught berating Uber driver with xenophobic rant on camera is NYPD detective

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The angry lawman who was caught on camera belittling an Uber driver during a bias-fueled tirade in the West Village is an NYPD detective assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force, police sources confirmed Tuesday.

The NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau is investigating the video, which shows Det. Patrick Cherry lambasting the Uber driver during a traffic stop and mocking his broken English.

"I don't know where you're coming from, where you think you're appropriate in doing that; that's not the way it works. How long have you been in this country?" Cherry, who is white, barked at the driver after pulling him over in an unmarked car with flashing lights, according to video of the encounter.

The roadside rage erupted after the detective tried to park the unmarked car without using his blinker, and the Uber driver went around him and gestured to him to use his signal, according to Sanjay Seth, a passenger in the Uber car who posted the video clip.

The car Cherry drives in the video does not belong to the NYPD, according to a police source.


Health

Psychological after-effects of killing for the Empire - 6 veterans per day seeking PTSD help

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© Reuters / Toby Melville
Experts warn the "floodgates" of post-traumatic stress are about to open, as a top armed forces charity claims mental health issues among military personnel have risen 26 percent over the last year.

The charity Combat Stress, which supports veterans with mental health issues said: "This increase is mainly accounted for by a marked rise in those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan seeking help."

Some 2,264 personnel have requested treatment with three-quarters said to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) - an average of six veterans per day over the last 12 months.

Many are also affected by depression and abuse of alcohol and drugs - symptoms associated with the condition.

Head of medical services at Combat Stress Dr Walter Busuttil said: "It is the biggest increase we have seen in recent years and we expect it to continue, so we are building up our clinical services accordingly."

"I do think there needs to be more significant investment in relation to veterans' mental health. The good news is that we do have treatments that work."

Eye 1

We are at the end of the age of privacy

Privacy as we once knew it is dead. We now find ourselves in the unenviable position of being monitored, managed and controlled by our technology—specifically the technology employed by the government against the American citizenry. As a result, warns John W. Whitehead in this week's vodcast, we are becoming a nation where even the most virtuous citizen risks becoming an outlaw.

Comment: For more on the ways Big Brother is watching you see:


Bizarro Earth

Nestlé water bottling plant shut down by drought protestors in California

California water protest Nestle
© Dan Bacher
Protesters stayed in front of the plant from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Representatives of the "Crunch Nestlé Alliance" said the company is draining up to 80 million gallons of water a year from Sacramento aquifers during a record drought. They claim Sacramento City Hall has made it possible through a "corporate welfare giveaway."

Environmental and human rights activists, holding plastic "torches" and "pitchforks," formed human barricades at both entrances to the Nestlé Waters bottling plant in Sacramento at 5:00 a.m. on Friday, March 20, effectively shutting down the company's operations for the day.

Members of the "Crunch Nestlé Alliance" shouted out a number of chants, including "We got to fight for our right to water," "Nestlé, Stop It, Water Not For Profit," and "¿Agua Para Quien? Para Nuestra Gente."

The protesters stayed until about 1 pm, but there were no arrests.

Representatives of the alliance said the company is draining up to 80 million gallons of water a year from Sacramento aquifers during a record drought. They claim Sacramento City Hall has made it possible through a "corporate welfare giveaway."

"This corporate welfare giveaway is an outrage and warrants a major investigation," Coalition spokesperson Andy Conn said. "For more than five months we have requested data on Nestlé water use. City Hall has not complied with our request, or given any indication that it will. Sacramentans deserve to know how their money is being spent and what they're getting for it. In this case, they're getting ripped off."

Comment: Nestle's behavior is par for the course, as mega-corporations are psychopathic by their very nature. All considerations such as human rights or the very health of the planet are subordinate, if non-existent, with respect to the pursuit of proft. It seems pretty clear that the state government which should be defending the rights of its citizens, has been bought and paid for. Why else for the stonewalling on Nestle's water usage?


Stock Down

The next economic crash is dead ahead - shown in five charts

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© Atlasobscura.com
When an economic crisis is coming, there are usually certain indicators that appear in advance. For example, commodity prices usually start to plunge before a recession begins. And as you can see from the Bloomberg Commodity Index which you can find right here, this has already been happening. In addition, I have previously written about how the U.S. dollar went on a great run just before the financial collapse of 2008. This is something that has also been happening over the past few months. Some people would have you believe that nobody can anticipate the next great economic downturn and that to try to do so is just an exercise in "guesswork". But that is not the case at all. We can look back over history and see patterns that keep repeating. And a lot of the exact same patterns that happened just before previous stock market crashes are happening again right now.

For example, let's talk about the price of oil. There are only two times in history when the price of oil has fallen by more than 50 dollars in a six month time period. One was just before the financial crisis in 2008, and the other has just happened...
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As a result of crashing oil prices, we are witnessing oil rigs shut down in the United States at a blistering pace. In fact, almost half of all oil rigs in the U.S. have already shut down. The following commentary and chart come from Wolf Richter...
In the latest week, drillers idled another 41 oil rigs, according to Baker Hughes. Only 825 rigs were still active, down 48.7% from October. In the 23 weeks since, drillers have idled 784 oil rigs, the steepest, deepest cliff-dive in the history of the data:

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We are looking at a full-blown fracking bust, and this bust is already having a dramatic impact on the economies of states that are heavily dependent on the energy industry.

For example, just check out the disturbing number that just came out of Texas...
The crash in oil prices is hammering the Texas economy.

The latest manufacturing outlook index from the Dallas Fed plunged again in March, to -17.4 from -11.2 in February, indicating deteriorating business conditions in the state.
Ouch.

Comment:


Red Flag

Prosecutors in Nashville have been forcing women to undergo sterilization as part of plea deals

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© Wikimedia Commons
Nashville's district attorney recently banned his staff from using invasive surgery as a bargaining chip, after it became apparent that local attorneys had been using sterilization as part of plea bargains.

In the most recent case, a woman with a long history of mental illness was charged with neglect after her young baby died. Jasmine Randers, 26, suffers from paranoia and had fled from a Minnesota treatment facility where she was under state commitment. The district attorney refused to go forward with a plea unless she agreed to be sterilized.

The cause of Randers' baby's death could not be determined. A cab driver who drove her to a hotel the night before she brought the baby to a hospital claims the baby was screaming, but stopped completely during the ride. Prosecutors speculated that the child could have suffocated in Randers' coat during the cab ride, died as a result of unexplained infant death syndrome, or been accidentally crushed to death by Randers while she slept. According to an investigation by the Tennessean, the child was healthy and there were no signs of traumatic injury.

Comment: This is a barbaric, sexist practice that no respectable city, state, or nation should engage in.


Megaphone

Former UK climate diplomat: Shell is "psychopathic"

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© Reuters
The U.K.'s former top climate change diplomat says Shell and other oil companies are fighting tooth and nail to stifle climate change action. The United Kingdom's former climate change envoy John Ashton has accused Shell of engineering a "psychopathic" attempt to block action on climate change.

In an open letter to Shell Chief Executive Ben van Beurden published by the U.K.'s Guardian newspaper Tuesday, Ashton said the energy giant's recently announced roadmap to cleaning up its environmental portfolio is nothing more than veiled attempt to preserve the "status quo." Ashton accused Beurden of using a cynical argument that "the economic and moral cost" of phasing out fossil fuels "would exceed the benefit in climate change avoided."

"In reality your authority is compromised by your obvious desire to cling to what you know, whatever the cost to society," he stated. Ashton continued by arguing, "For a leader in the oil and gas industry to call for continued dependence on oil and gas will sound to most like special pleading."

2 + 2 = 4

Los Angeles elementary school teacher facing prison for putting plastic bag over 10-year old student's head

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A photo posted on Instagram shows Thelmo Garcia, parents of his students confirmed on March 12, 2015.
A fourth-grade teacher in Los Angeles is facing up to 6 years in prison over allegations he abused a student at Rosewood Elementary School with a plastic bag.

Teacher Thelmo Garcia, 37, was arrested off campus and charged with a single count of child abuse last Friday stemming from an incident in February in which Garcia allegedly put a plastic bag over a 10-year-old student's head for several seconds before removing it, KTLA 5 reports.

Garcia pleaded not guilty at his arraignment at the Foltz Criminal Justice Center in downtown L.A. and was held on a $100,000 bond, according to NBC Los Angeles.

"I was surprised because I thought he was a good person," Rianna Lashchev, a former student of Garcia's, told the news site. "I was crying and I felt bad for him."

Parent Tara Siddiqi, however, is less surprised.

"Her daughter, Tanya Siddiqi, said her teacher would pull children's hair, give high-fives while holding a tack, and throw staples at students," NBC Los Angeles reports.

Los Angeles Unified School District officials issued a statement about Garcia's arrest that does not detail his alleged misdeeds, but informs parents that he was removed from the school in February. The statement also does not disclose whether Garcia is on paid or unpaid leave, or whether he was terminated.

His profile was also removed from the school's website, according to KTLA 5.

Comment: A new behaviorial theory of teaching children to fear for their lives?


Magnify

Media manipulation: Newspaper uses yearbook photos for white suspects, mug shots for black suspects

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Rafi of the blog So Let's Talk About It recently made a startling discovery about subtle racial biases. Earlier this month the Iowa newspaper The Gazette posted two stories about local burglaries written by the same author and published within one day of each other. One story used yearbook photos of the suspects while the other used mugshots. The only other difference between the two stories? Those who got the yearbook photos were white and those who got the mugshots were black.

As Rafi points out, regardless of what photos were available of the black suspects, the white suspects definitely had mugshots taken. In trying to justify the discrepancy, The Gazette explained they must make a formal request in order to get mugshots, yet they were clearly willing to take that extra step when it came to the black suspects.

This is just another reminder that the media has a lot of power to subtly shape the perception of crimes. It's the same issue that inspired the #IfTheyGunnedMeDown hashtag on Twitter, which sought to draw attention to the way black victims of police brutality are so often portrayed as menacing or dangerous. Similarly, The Huffington Post explored how the media will often portray white suspects with more empathy and respect than black victims.