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Thu, 23 Jan 2020
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Second Russian prison guard in high-profile torture case sentenced


Maksim Yablokov (left) is shown at a court hearing in Yaroslavl on July 25, 2018.
The second of at least 17 Russian prison guards charged in a high-profile inmate torture case has been sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison.

A court in Yaroslavl, some 250 kilometers northeast of Moscow, on January 17 convicted Maksim Yablokov of abuse of authority for beating three inmates. The court handed down the sentence the same day.

Two days earlier, former prison guard Sergei Yefremov, who made a deal with investigators, was sentenced to four years in prison.

Comment: This anti-corruption drive has been forging ahead for a good while now and it's stories like these that show the Russian government, under Putin, means it:


Explosion due to suspected gas leak destroys house in France, two seriously injured

explosion limoges
© Youtube
A violent explosion shook the city center of Limoges this morning. Around 8:30 am, a house caught fire, rue de la Souterraine, in the Marceau district. The strong deflagration made the walls of many of the surrounding houses tremble.

A large plume of smoke can be seen from all over the city. The house was blown up during the explosion. Firefighters are on site to control the fire. A security perimeter has been established by the police and municipal police.

Comment: More on the story from Lci.fr translated with DeepL:
The blast literally blew the house down.

An explosion occurred this Saturday, January 18 shortly after 8:30 am in Limoges in a pavilion located rue de la Souterraine. Two people were seriously injured and two more slightly affected. A fire broke out following the explosion. The fire brigade and rescue services were sent on the spot. A security perimeter was set up.

"I heard an explosion and saw a big cloud of smoke," a local resident, who lives in the Place Carnot area, told France Bleu. "There are bits of tiles everywhere, shutters and windows that landed on the roofs of other houses." Statements supported by images relayed en masse on social networks.

According to the chief of staff of the prefect of Haute-Vienne, the first elements of the investigation suggest a gas leak. The gas has been cut off in the whole neighborhood. Some neighbouring homes were hit, with several windows destroyed.
Other unusual explosions in the news in the last 7 days:

Evil Rays

ALEC is determined you will have 5G

5G cell tower
For the average American, bills that are introduced into state legislatures, especially those with bipartisan support, generally become the law of the state. But how often does the average citizen of any state review the bills in different committees or the laws passed and signed by the governors that have a direct impact upon their lives? We would imagine very few. What does it mean when a bill in California, for example, that mandates a change in an existing environmental law that protects citizens and in turn permits and protects corporations to pollute the environment, water and air with impunity? Then that same bill shows up in other states across the nation. How does that happen? One past example are bills to ban GMO labeling that were virtually the same in California, Oregon, Colorado and elsewhere. The same is true for hydro-fracking and pipeline installations, roll backs on environmental protections, public funds for charter schools, increasing the private prison system, gun rights, keeping drug costs high, etc. These are only a few examples of thousands of laws that are in place because one trade organization that represents many of the world's largest corporations and industries has fully captured the policy narrative in many of our state legislatures.

Today, many of us in the environmental movement consider the greatest danger to human health and the environment is going to be the full roll out of 5G technology. This is article exposes one of the largest organizations in American that is paving the way to make 5G a reality: the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).


App developers take Facebook to court over alleged 'anticompetition scheme'

The proposed federal class-action lawsuit is based entirely on previously secret documents that NBC News and international journalistic partners obtained last year.

A group of companies behind defunct Facebook apps is suing the social media giant, claiming illegal monopolistic behavior.

The proposed class-action lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court is based entirely on previously secret documents that NBC News and international journalistic partners obtained last year.

The trove of more than 7,000 pages was leaked from an ongoing lawsuit brought by another defunct startup known as Six4Three, which made a short-lived app known as Pikinis. The documents showed that Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and other top officials used their market position to squeeze potential rivals and competitors from 2011 through 2015.


Eiffel Tower

The Louvre closed as pension-reform protesters gather outside the museum in Paris

French trade unions pension reforms, Musee du Louvre on strike
Employees and members of French trade unions hold flags and a banner reading "Musee du Louvre on strike" on Friday.
Tourists hoping to see some of the most famous works of art in the world had their plans upset on Friday as the pension-reform protests that have swept across France sprang up outside the Louvre museum in Paris.

Dozens of demonstrators were in high spirits as they gathered at the entrance to the famous museum, chanting slogans and singing songs on a grey day in the French capital.

The landmark was chosen as a demonstration site because it is where French President Emmanuel Macron celebrated his victory in the May 2017 presidential election.

Comment: "I am France": No one is calling this a revolution, but it is
No one is calling this a revolution, but it is.

Since November the revolt against Macron and the French state has entered a higher, more intense phase. Along with the vast union strikes go freeway and rail closure, petrol shortages, the selected allocation of electricity supplies to poor areas; the denial of power to Amazon, the marches of the Gilet Jaune, the intensifying battles with the police, the involvement of more and more of the French citizenry and institutions, including, last week, the National Ballet; all of it is evidence of how the struggle to remove Macron is intensifying.

After a year of weekend battles in every major French city and the official entry of the trade unions into the fight, big changes are in the wind and the yearlong power struggle in France is moving inexorably towards a climax.
See also:

Arrow Up

Pakistan sentences hard-line Islamists who violently protested acquittal of Christian woman for blasphemy

protests Pakistan 2018 Asia Bibi acquittal

There were protests across Pakistan in 2018 after Asia Bibi's acquittal.
A Pakistani court has sentenced 86 people to 55-year prison terms each for taking part in violent rallies over the acquittal of a Christian woman in a high-profile blasphemy case.

Those convicted were all workers and supporters of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), a hard-line Islamist party that had spearheaded violent protests across Pakistan in late 2018 in the wake of Asia Bibi's acquittal.

An anti-terrorism court in the city of Rawalpindi, near Islamabad, announced the verdicts late on January 16 following a trial that lasted for more than a year.

Senior party leader Pir Ejaz Ashrafi said the sentences -- unusually harsh in Pakistan, where blasphemy is a very sensitive issue -- would be appealed.

Those convicted are not expected to spend more than 25 years in prison -- the equivalent of a life sentence under Pakistani law.



Finding a 'Benedict Option' for the Humanities

tourists greek ruins parthenon
© Andrew Holbrooke/Corbis via GettyImages
The University of California Santa Barbara wants to hire a professor of woke alchemy:
politically correct sjw woke university course queer migration
Can you imagine wasting your money, your mind, and your life studying this garbage? As a Twitter follower of mine said:
tweets swj college course woke university
Ross Douthat writes an extremely sobering column about the collapse of the academic humanities (this "queer migrations" position sounds like social science, not humanities, but the general theme is applicable). It begins:

Comment: Further reading:


Eva Bartlett: Social media platforms on 'narrative-control' rampage after US assassination of Soleimani

censorship, narrative control social media, twitter bans, big brother
© Getty Images / Alexander Koerner
Twitter has been on a narrative-control rampage, removing or censoring legitimate accounts that are critical of US-led wars, propaganda and lies. Facebook and Instagram have increased their Big Brother policing, too.

Attempts by American-based social media behemoths to silence or censor voices critical of the establishment-approved narrative is nothing new, but this trend seems to have intensified lately.

Just in the past several days, following the criminal US assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, Instagram and Facebook have been removing posts supportive of Soleimani, even profile photos honouring the general, allegedly to comply with US sanctions, a truly absurd explanation for the narrative control.

On January 7, it was reported that Twitter had suspended numerous Venezuelan accounts, including those of the central bank, the Bolivarian National Armed Forces, public media, political leaders, the Finance & Oil ministries.

Comment: Social media platforms (like mainstream media) are corporate vassals of the US security state and are merely performing ascribed duties:


Witness to history: Polish veterans recall childhood memories of Warsaw's liberation - 'We wanted to be Red Army soldiers'

polish soldier WWII memories photos
© RT
Czesław Lewandowski in our days
It is often said that truth is the first casualty of war - and, indeed, when the bombs have stopped falling, the blood has been shed and the troops have stood down, another kind of war begins: A war of memories.

This is perhaps no more apparent than in the case of the experiences of Poland, and Eastern Europe at-large, after the defeat of Nazi Germany during World War II, and the decisive role played by the Soviet Red Army.

Friday marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Warsaw from the grip of fascism. A momentous date in history, it is still fraught with controversy - and regularly used as a political football so many decades later.

Comment: What a shame that historical memory is so short that what was once a solemn commemoration of an international tragedy, has now become an occasion for petty political posturing. There is shame for the leaders of every country involved, except Russia.


Ukrainian PM Honcharuk offers resignation amid controversy over leaked audio recordings

Oleksiy Honcharuk

Oleksiy Honcharuk
Ukrainian Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk has submitted his resignation amid a scandal surrounding an audio recording where he allegedly disparages the economic knowledge and competence of both himself and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

In a Facebook post on January 17, Honcharuk wrote that "in recent days, you have all witnessed ongoing events around files leaked to social networks that had been mounted from fragments of records from the government's meetings."

Zelenskiy's office acknowledged receiving Honcharuk's resignation letter, but said it will comment later on how it will react to the situation.

"In order to prevent any doubts about our respect and trust to the president, I have submitted my resignation to the president with the right to bring the issue to the parliament," Honcharuk wrote.

Comment: His departure may not be a great loss to Kiev: Nothing to see here: New Ukrainian PM visits neo-Nazi band's gig