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Bedroom tax 'punishes poor and powerless,' UK Supreme Court hears

© Andrew Winning/Reuters
The United Kingdom's Supreme Court in Westminster, central London.
Disabled people are unfairly impacted by the Tories' 'bedroom tax,' lawyers for five appeal cases told the Supreme Court on Monday.

Campaigners for disability rights and women's groups gathered outside the Supreme Court as judges heard five appeals that claim the subsidy discriminates against vulnerable citizens. The cases previously failed in both the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

One of the claimants, Charlotte Carmichael, suffers from spina bifida, which means she is forced to sleep in a fixed position in a hospital bed. Living in a two-bedroom house in Manchester, Carmichael and her husband do not have enough space in one bedroom for two beds. She therefore relies on the extra room. They are nevertheless lumbered with a 14 percent tax on their benefits.

The bedroom tax, also called 'under-occupancy' or the 'spare room subsidy,' is a change to housing benefits that targets benefit claimants with spare bedrooms. Having one unused bedroom results in a 14 percent cut in housing benefit, while having two or more spare bedrooms results in a 25 percent cut.

Activist John Ingleson, who launched a petition against the tax that has gained more than 15,000 signatures, called on Prime Minister David Cameron to stop "punishing the poor and powerless."

"Don't make the poor pay with their homes to subsidize tax breaks for the rich. If the billions lost to corporate tax dodgers and very rich individuals were collected instead of cutting tax-collectors' jobs then we could take care of the sick and vulnerable, easily!

Comment: Let them starve: British High Court upholds Tory government's oppressive 'Bedroom Tax', social security slashed for UK's 'untermenschen'


Handcuffs

Horry County Police arrest 4 for extensive sexual abuse of two 4-year-old victims


Four people were arrested after Horry County Police learned of extensive, and disturbing, sexual assaults being committed on two 4-year-old children over the course of a five month span.

Lt. Mark Bonner with Horry County Police says detectives received information on January 25 of sex crimes committed against two young children. Detectives spoke with the children, two 4-year-old victims, and learned that they were being sexually abused by their parents and friends of their parents.

Forensic interviews of the children revealed that the sex crimes occurred at multiple locations in Horry County, according to Lt. Bonner.

In an incident report from Horry County Police documenting the abuse, officers note that they spoke with an individual who stated she had been providing counseling to the young victims since May 1, 2015, after a Department of Social Services investigation revealed the children were "being forced to have sex with their siblings and their parents."

During the investigation, detectives learned that some of the sexual assaults took place in Horry County at a location the victims referred to as "the dance club." That location was later identified as Chez Joey, a strip club located at 716 Seaboard Street in Myrtle Beach, according to the report.

The report details how the children would go to work with Lindsey D. Honeycutt, one of the four alleged child molesters, who was a dancer at Chez Joey. While at the club, the children were forced to perform different sex acts, the report states.

Gold Bar

Due to 'surging demand for gold' BlackRock suspends gold ETF issuance

BlackRock's Gold ETF [exchange traded fund] (IAU) has seen fund inflows every day in 2016 (no outflows at all) and with the stock trading above its NAV [net asset value] for most of the year, the world's largest asset manager has made a significant decision:
  • *BLACKROCK SAYS ISSUANCE OF GOLD TRUST SHARES SUSPENDED
  • *BLACKROCK SAYS SUSPENSION DUE TO DEMAND FOR GOLD

Quenelle - Golden

'It is the people who lose': Kurds & FSA tell about the fight against Assad, Turkey's role in arming terrorists

© REUTERS
Jabhat Al-Nusra terrorists have pitched their camps right next to the border and receive regular supplies from the Turkish side, Syrian Kurdish forces told RT's Lizzie Phelan, who traveled with YPG to investigate suspicious activity there.

An RT crew has filmed a number of vehicles coming through the Bab al-Salam crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border, on the outskirts of the northern town of Azaz, which is partially controlled by Al-Nusra, according to reports.

"We can actually see here the important border town of Azaz, that Turkey is determined to prevent YPG from taking. Just a little beyond that you can see the Bab al-Salam border crossing and a heavy flow of vehicles coming from Turkey into Azaz," the RT correspondent said, reporting from the Turkey-Syria border, an area that TV crews rarely gain access to.

Comment: Further reading: US-Russia ceasefire could split Syrian rebels & weaken terrorist groups


Magnify

Police state madness: Parents hire K9 teams to search teens' rooms

© Pat McDongh, The CJ
Parents in Kentuckiana are turning to a private K9 company to search their teens' rooms for drugs.

An east Louisville couple feared their teen might have smoked a few joints. But when Michael Davis, who owns The Last Chance K9 Service, led a search of their home, a German Shepherd found four grams of heroin.

Tucked into a pair of tube socks.

Davis, who opened his company on East Spring Street in New Albany in September, said his teams at TLC have already searched more than 50 homes in Kentuckiana.

Comment: It says a lot about society when parents need to hire K9's to search the children's room for drugs. It says even more that kids think they need to use drugs to cope with reality.


Apple Green

Gates Foundation will pay students to engage in GMO banana 'trial'

Twelve students will be paid to eat genetically modified (GMO) bananas as researchers at Iowa State University start moving forward with a long-delayed project.

The project which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation would pay each student $900.

Thes tests are to be carried out on the students without any previous animal testing, so it is not known what the impact would be to the students' health.

According to The Des Moines Register, the bananas were created by a Australian scientist and contain a gene that is supposed to help people living in Africa make vitamin A.

When the testing was first proposed in 2014, at least 124 food and outreach organizations, as well as 26 individual scientists, signed a letter sent to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in protest against the human trials.

Comment: No prizes for guessing the conclusion of this study if it goes ahead: Totally pro-GMO. As if a 4 day, 12 person study is rigorous enough to assess long term damage on the cellular and even DNA level.

It's great that the Gates Foundation is so committed to saving those poor people in Africa, who were so impoverished by the exact same imperial interests that Western 'philanthropists' represent - and all the while using debt-ridden students as the perfect guinea pigs for their trials.


Eye 1

Hundreds of children sexually abused by 'predator priests' in Penn. - grand jury report

© Ahmad Masood / Reuters
Over the course of 40 years, hundreds of children in Pennsylvania were sexually abused by dozens of Roman Catholic priests, a new state grand jury report said, adding that the behavior was also covered up by bishops.

"The heinous crimes these children endured are absolutely unconscionable," said state Attorney General Kathleen Kane, according to Reuters. "These predators desecrated a sacred trust and preyed upon their victims in the very places where they should have felt most safe."

The grand jury report highlighted abuse by some 50 priests, describing victims that were incredibly traumatized and at least one that took their own life as a result. It also names former Altoona-Johnstown Diocese Bishop James Hogan, who died in 2005, and his immediate successor Joseph Adamec, who retired in 2011, saying they "failed to protect children" due to "the desire to avoid public scandal."

Additionally, the report said that the leaders allowed accused priests to return to ministry "with full knowledge they were child predators."

"As wolves disguised as the shepherds themselves - these men stole the innocence of children by sexually preying upon the most innocent and vulnerable members of society and of the Catholic faith," the report states.

Comment: Getting rid of the statute of limitations for sexual offenses against minors could help some victims find closure. Since the Catholic Church certainly has no intention of holding their 'good shepherds' accountable.


Red Flag

Trump releases healthcare plan, vows to 'completely repeal Obamacare'

GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump has released his healthcare plan, in which he says he will "completely repeal Obamacare." The proposal is being welcomed by Republicans, who have aimed to overturn the healthcare policy since its inception.

Of the proposals listed in the seven-point plan, Obamacare receives the most stage time, with Trump making the bold claim that it has "raised the economic uncertainty of every single person residing in this country."

Pocket Knife

Knife-wielding white supremacists scream 'Heil Hitler' as they attack Hispanic teens in LA park

Last Sunday, three insane white supremacists attacked Stephen Sorensen Park in Los Angeles. It was reported by police and witnesses that they were screaming "Heil Hitler" and racial slurs while waving a wallet with the Confederate flag on it.

The racists were in their late teens or early twenties. Immediately upon charging into the park, they began to assault three Hispanic teenagers, two males and one female. When a nearby family tried to protect them, the white supremacists pulled out knives.

"They just started beating them up," said the father of the family. "They started coming towards us, and they pulled out some knives, and they were saying they would kill us."

Upon learning that police had been called, they ran away. Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt.

Fire

Symbolic?: American Airlines flight attendant set fire to a plane mid-flight

© AP/LM Otero
American Airlines flight attendant suspected of starting a fire during a flight.

In a statement released by the FBI on Wednesday, Johnathan Tafoya-Montano has been charged with "destruction of aircraft or aircraft facilities and [making] false statements or entries generally."

According to the FBI, Tafoya-Montano reported a fire in the rear lavatory aboard an American flight from Dallas to Detroit on February 1.

Tafoya-Montano, who was a member of the flight's cabin crew, extinguished the fire, and the aircraft landed safely in Detroit.

No injuries resulting from the incident have been reported.