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Fri, 24 Nov 2017
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UK overseas aid department reportedly blows £1bn on contractors every year

© Feisal Omar / Reuters
Britain's overseas aid department is scrutinizing its costs after the annual consultancy budget was revealed to have soared to £1 billion (US$1.25 billion), according to reports.

Analysis by the Times indicates that spending on private contractors by the Department for International Development (DfID) may have helped to as much as double spending since 2012.

The department was, for example, quoted £10,000 for a blog post and apparently paid £23,000 for a two-page policy report.

The paper also reports that celebrity speakers sent to a conference in Mexico cost £40,000, while elsewhere a bank and law firm split £1 million for advising a Nigerian state-owned investment fund.


Officer strikes man in bunny suit, is charged with assault

© Photography is Not a Crime
A New Jersey police officer has been charged with assault, following an incident in which he struck a man dressed in a bunny costume. The victim was in a police station when the incident occurred and in the process of handing himself in. Officer Nicholas Maresca, Jr. faces one count of simple assault, according to the New Jersey Herald. The video of the moment he struck Kevin Hemmerich was filmed on a cell phone by his brother and posted online.

In the video, 28-year-old Hemmerich can be seen at Hopatcong Borough Police Department station, dressed in a bunny outfit as he attempts to hand himself in to authorities. Hemmerich was wanted for failing to complete ordered time in the Sheriff's Labor Assistance Program.

Comment: The empowerment of radical bunny suits and annoying horn accessories...who knew.


Video proves cop, who fired AR15 rounds into "charging" victim, lied

© The Daily Beast
In a blow to police accountability, Lt. Daniel Stephenson was found by his own department to have acted in accord with department policy for shooting and killing Todd Browning.

The facts of the case are simple. On August 19, police were called because of reports of a man armed with a knife. Shortly after the call, police encountered Browning, 54, less than a mile away. Within less than a minute after Stephenson walked to the front of his cruiser, he would put four .223 rounds into the chest of Browning.
© unknown
Does this look like a knife?
Browning was not holding a knife. Instead, he was 'armed' with a water main key — a thin metal rod used for turning on and of water meters and waste valves.

The police agree on all of the above. However, it is what happened after Stephenson killed Browning that is the subject of controversy. Police claim Browning charged the officer. But, from what we can see on the dashcam, this is a clear fabrication.

As the video begins, Stephenson is seen rounding the front of his cruiser. The two exchange words as Browning threatens Stephenson and vice versa. However, at no point do we see anyone charge anyone. In fact, Browning was barely inching toward Stephenson when the officer opened fire.

At no point was a less than lethal option even considered by Stephenson in the video. At no point did Stephenson back up. For slowly walking toward a police officer with a thin metal rod, Browning was put to death by his judge, jury, and executioner — Lt. Daniel Stephenson.

Immediately after the killing in August, police investigators released a statement to the media claiming that a man ran at the officer. And since the investigation, no one in the media has questioned it — even as the video clearly shows it is false.

Comment: Clearly there is a programmed reactionary response paired with a disconnect between what is the ultimate solution to a victim/officer stand off and what is a reasonable and effective discharge of such situations. Police departments are increasingly on kill mode and rewarded for it.


ICRC and Red Crescent evacuate about 150 patients from Old Aleppo hospital

© Sputnik/ Mikhail Voskresenskiy
About 150 civilians, mostly people with disabilities or those in need of urgent medical care, were evacuated from a hospital in the Syrian city of Aleppo, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said in a statement on Thursday.

The ICRC pointed out that among those evacuated there were six children who lost their parents. However, 11 people died before the SARC and the ICRC specialists reached Dar Al-Safaa center, accommodating patients with mental health needs and physical disabilities.

"Nearly 150 civilians, most of whom were disabled or in urgent need of care, were evacuated late night from a hospital in the Old City of Aleppo, in a joint operation by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)," the statement read.


Racism and discrimination alive and well at CNN: Black employees file class-action lawsuit against company

© DeWayne Walker
DeWayne Walker, an employee at CNN, is part of a class-action lawsuit against his employer.
Former and current black employees on Tuesday filed a class action lawsuit against Atlanta-based CNN, Turner Broadcasting and New York based parent company Time Warner for racial discrimination.

"As a result of the current discrimination lawsuit filed on behalf of DeWayne Walker vs. CNN, Time Warner & Turner, we have uncovered stories involving abuse of power, nepotism, revenge, retaliation and discrimination," said Daniel Meachum said in a press release.

The press release provided a photo of DeWayne Walker, a CNN producer who sued CNN individually in January for $50 million for racial discrimination and retaliation for filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. He accused CNN of not promoting him over 13 years because he is black, skipped over frequently for promotions in favor of white employees.

According to his LinkedIn page, Walker is an integrated marketing manager at CNN.

Walker is not actually a plaintiff in this particular case but is a client of Meachum's and his individual lawsuit is still active. Celeslie Henley, a former executive administrative assistant at CNN, and Ernest Colbert Jr., a senior manager at TBS, are the only named plaintiffs though Meachum said 20 to 30 other unnamed current and former Turner employees helped him out with information about their experiences.

Comment: Funny how every time the rock gets lifted that's covering one of these so-called "liberal" media or political establishments in the U.S., the ugly head of racism and elitism rears its ugly, over-sized and venomous head.


British football youth coach arrested after confessing to sex abuse

© Marcin Obara / Global Look Press
Former youth coach and Celtic kitman Jim McCafferty has been arrested in Belfast, Northern Ireland, after confessing to sexually abusing young footballers.

McCafferty, who worked in football in Scotland and Ireland from the 1980s, was arrested after walking into a Belfast police station.

"A 71-year-old male has been arrested by detectives after presenting himself at a station in Belfast," Detective Superintendent Deirdre Bones said, as reported by Sky Sports News.

"He was arrested on suspicion of sexual offenses against children in Northern Ireland. He is currently helping police with their inquiries."


Sexual Predators: Hundreds of UK police officers accused of sexually abusing victims

© Reuters
Hundreds of British police officers have been accused of engaging in the sexual abuse of victims, according to a report by UK top police watchdog ordered by then-Home Secretary Theresa May earlier this year.

The statement by lead researcher Mike Cunnigham branded the findings the "most serious form of corruption."

According to the study done by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), during the 24 months to March 31, 2016, there were 436 allegations of abuse of authority for sexual gain "received, or received and finalised," by police forces in England and Wales, including instances of multiple allegations against a single member of police.


Opioid addicts overdosing in staggering numbers in Miami, FL

Capt. Tony Milan, a battalion commander for City of Miami Fire Rescue, upper left, works on an overdose victim in Overtown last month.
Opioid addicts are overdosing in staggering numbers across Miami-Dade County — and the 'hot zone' for the growing epidemic is the streets of Overtown.

On a sunny morning late last month, a 43-year-old homeless woman named Mary crumpled to the sidewalk along Northwest 17th Street, vomit smeared across her T-shirt and hair. Within minutes, Miami Fire-Rescue paramedics injected her twice with the life-saving antidote known as Narcan.

As they lifted her still-unconscious body into the ambulance, a telltale sign was revealed. On the sidewalk lay a silver burnt spoon used to liquify the powder heroin.

Mary was lucky to survive, and stories like hers have become increasingly common for overwhelmed first responders on the frontline of South Florida's opioid crisis. Newly released statistics show that in the first nine months of 2016, the Miami Fire-Rescue stations in the neighborhood used Narcan nearly 1,000 times - nearly double the rate of last year.

But they don't always make it in time.

Since 2015, at least 31 people have fatally overdosed in Miami's Overtown neighborhood with heroin or fentanyl - often, both - in their blood. That makes it far and away the deadliest zip code for opioid deaths in Miami-Dade County. The city of Miami itself accounted for nearly a whopping 43 percent of all 236 county overdoses recorded since 2015.

Comment: Americans view opioids as biggest local drug epidemic in communities - poll


Danish doctors rise against child circumcision

© Pierre Marsaut / Reuters
A doctor's association in Denmark has made calls to ban child circumcision and the country's government has made it obligatory to report circumcision to authorities, starting next year, in a move to tighten restrictions on the currently unregulated practice.

Circumcision must be "an informed, personal choice," and therefore should be postponed until adulthood, the Danish Medical Association said in a press release. It believes the current state of affairs deprives boys of the ability to make their own decisions about their bodies and their cultural and religious beliefs.

"To be circumcised should be an informed, personal choice. It is most consistent with the individual's right to self-determination that parents not be allowed to make this decision but that it is left up to the individual when he has come of age," The Local quoted Lise Moller, the chairwoman of the doctors' association's ethics board, as saying.

Eye 1

Previously-hidden VA medical center quality ratings are alarming - report

© Larry Downing / Reuters
The sign in the front of the headquarters building at the Department of Veteran Affairs is seen as a man walks past in Washington.
The Department of Veterans Affairs hid quality ratings for nearly 150 of its medical centers, but now USA Today is revealing them for the first time. Despite many facilities receiving just one star, the VA says that the "rating tool" is for internal use only.

According to the VA's rating system, unveiled by USA Today on Wednesday, medical centers receive between one and five stars based on their performance. Texas and Tennessee have most of the lowest-performing medical centers, with VA hospitals in Dallas, El Paso, Nashville, Memphis and Murfreesboro marked with just one star for performance. Many of highest-rated facilities, which scored five out of five stars, are located in the Northeast of the country, clustered in Massachusetts and New York as well as the upper Midwest, in South Dakota and Minnesota.

USA Today managed to obtain the most recent ratings available from June 30, but it says that the VA has refused to provide a list of hospitals that received two, three or four stars.

The agency says its rating system would "hurt" veterans if revealed.

Comment: See also: Veterans in 2016: Backlogs, coverage gaps, and a vague Trump mandate