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Heart - Black

Named but unashamed - the top ten greediest Americans for 2013

top 10 greediest americans
The headlines haven't been particularly kind to America's most relentlessly greedy over the past year. In just the last month alone, the world's two most visible religious leaders - Pope Francis and the Dalai Lama - have once again dramatically denounced our global concentration of income and wealth. And the world's most powerful political leader, Barack Obama, has chimed in, too.

The impact on America's super rich - and super-rich wannabees? Not much. They haven't even deigned to slow their grabbing.

At "Too Much", the Institute for Policy Studies weekly on excess and inequality, we've been taking names. Lots of them. The greediest of them all? We think we can make a good case for the ten below. We hope you'll find some useful insights from our choices - and maybe even some new incentive to help make our world a more equal place.

10. Angela Spaccia: Pint-Sized Pilfering

We start this year's top ten with garden-variety greed, the sort that inevitably grows in the shadows of escalating grand fortunes. In that shade, people in positions of modest power and authority regularly - and clumsily - try to emulate the avaricious high and mighty they see all around them.

In Bell, a small Los Angeles County working class community, that modest power and authority once belonged to Angela Spaccia. As Bell's assistant city manager for a seven-year span that ended in 2010, Spaccia helped stuff hundreds of thousands of dollars into the pockets of the city's top officials, including herself. Spaccia in one year alone took in $564,000.

Prosecutors eventually caught up with Spaccia and her pals. Her boss, the Bell city manager, cut a plea deal in October to 69 corruption charges. He pulled in $1.18 million in his most lucrative year. Spaccia chose to go to trial instead, claiming she did nothing illegal. "Everyone's greedy," her defense attorney argued in November. "There's no crime in taking too much money."

Jurors disagreed. Last week, they found Spaccia guilty on multiple counts of criminal behavior, including one misappropriation of public funds designed to pump $15.5 million in pension checks to Spaccia and her boss.

Heart - Black

Apartheid-era doctor who made germs to kill Africans found guilty of unprofessional conduct

Wouter Bosson
© Unknown

Wouter Bosson also known as Dr. Death was head of the apartheid governments chemical and biological program
Family members of victims of Wouter Basson have expressed relief that the apartheid-era doctor has been found guilty after a six-year trial.

Wouter Basson was found guilty on Wednesday of unprofessional conduct for acting unethically as a medical doctor during his time as the leader of the apartheid-era chemical and biological programme Project Coast and later Delta G in the 1980s.

Basson was not present at the hearing as he had an emergency with one of his patients in Cape Town, said his legal team.

However, the family members of his victims attended the judgment hearing.

Lizzie Sofolo's husband was abducted, drugged, tortured and killed in the late 1980s - with the use of drugs made by Basson.

"Today the truth has prevailed, it is clear that he used his knowledge as a doctor to kill innocent people," she said.

Maria Ntuli's son, Jeremiah, was one of 10 Mamelodi youths who left home to join the ANC's armed wing, Umkhonto weSizwe, in 1987.

In 1996 the Truth and Reconciliation Commission heard that the group was drugged and put into a Kombi that was crashed into a tree and exploded.

"We just want this case to be over with now. It has been dragging on for years now, why doesn't it just end?" said Ntuli.

Bulb

Cuba to allow auto purchases without state permission

Image
© Bloomberg
A car sits outside the old Capital building in Havana, Cuba, in June 2012. The Cuban state still maintains a monopoly on the retail sale of cars.
For the first time since the 1959 revolution, Cubans will have the right to buy new and used vehicles from the state without government permission, official media announced on Thursday, another step toward greater economic freedom on the communist-led island.

Under a reform introduced two years ago, Cubans can buy and sell used cars from each other, but must request authorization from the government to purchase a new vehicle or second-hand one, usually a relatively modern rental car, from State retailers.

The Communist Party newspaper, Granma, said the Council of Ministers approved new regulations on Wednesday that "eliminate existing mechanisms of approval for the purchase of motor vehicles from the state."

As a result, Granma said, "the retail sale of new and used motorcycles, cars, vans, small trucks and mini buses for Cubans and foreign residents, companies and diplomats is freed up."

Bizarro Earth

New Twist! Lesbian boss 'fired me for being straight'

Image
© Victor Alcorn
Gregory Kenney claims he was axed by Trinity athletic director Pat Krieger, inset, for being a straight, married dad.
A married, heterosexual gym teacher at a tony Upper West Side private school was fired because his lesbian supervisor disapproved of his "traditional family status," the canned teacher claims in a new Manhattan lawsuit.

Gregory Kenney, 50, taught gym at the Trinity School on W. 91st St. for 16 years before he was let go in June 2012.

Kenney, who lives with his wife and three young children in LI, says he was a well-liked employee at the elite institution that counts Truman Capote, Ivanka Trump and Eric Schneiderman as alumni, until a gay athletic director named Pat Krieger took over in 2009.

Krieger allegedly forced him to coach three sports, even though his contract only required him to join two teams, according to his reverse discrimination suit. When he complained that the extra responsibilities interfered with his family obligations Krieger allegedly told him, "We all make choices," the suit says.

Dominoes

Ponerization of society: Children arrested in alleged 'knockout' attacks

Image
© DNAinfo/Sonja Sharp
Congresswoman Yvette Clark, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, and Brooklyn DA-elect Ken Thompson joined other elected officials and community leaders in calling for an end to alleged "knockout game" attacks in Brooklyn.
Police have arrested four children in connection with a string of alleged "knockout game" attacks in Brooklyn, the NYPD said.

A 14-year-old girl and three other children, aged 10 and 11, were arrested in connection with three assaults that took place between October and November.

The victims included an 11-year-old boy who was punched on President Street, a youth who was hit with a rock while walking home from school and a youngster who was "mushed" in the face with a plastic bag, said Deputy Inspector George Fitzgibbon, the 71st Precinct's new commanding officer.

"Kids are kids - when you're talking 10 and 11 year olds getting involved in these type of things, sometimes they don't realize the magnitude of what they're doing," Fitzgibbon said.

While the NYPD's Hate Crimes Task Force worked on the investigation as well, police determined that the attacks were not motivated by bias.

Book 2

William Powell: I wrote the Anarchist Cookbook in 1969. Now I see its premise as flawed

Image
© Scott Olson/Getty Images
'The continued publication of the Cookbook serves no purpose other than a commercial one for the publisher.'

Forty-four years ago this month, in December 1969, I quit my job as a manager of a bookstore in New York City's Greenwich Village and began to write the Anarchist Cookbook. My motivation at the time was simple; I was being actively pursued by the U.S. military, who seemed single-mindedly determined to send me to fight, and possibly die, in Vietnam.

I wanted to publish something that would express my anger. It seems that I succeeded in ways that far exceeded what I imagined possible at the time. The Cookbook is still in print 40 years after publication, and I am told it has sold in excess of 2m copies.

I have never held the copyright, and so the decision to continue publishing it has been in the hands of the publisher.

I now find myself arguing for it to be quickly and quietly taken out of print. What has changed?

Unfortunately, the source of my anger in the late 60's and early 70's - unnecessary government-sanctioned violence - is still very much a feature of our world. The debacle of the U.S. invasion of Iraq is yet another classic example. It still makes me very angry. So my change of heart has had less to do with external events than it does with an internal change.

Pistol

South Sudan: UN peacekeepers from India killed

Image
© Reuters
South Sudanese civilians crowd at the United Nations mission in Bor.
Deaths blamed on gang who invaded base where civilians were sheltering, while Obama calls for end to violence

Three United Nations peacekeepers from India were killed when a base sheltering civilians in South Sudan was stormed on Thursday, officials have said.

The compound of the UN mission in Akobo was besieged by local youths from the Nuer community intent on revenge for alleged targeted killings of their kinsmen in the capital, Juba.

Witnesses in Akobo, in South Sudan's restive Jonglei state, said the perimeter was overrun and civilians, government officials from the country's most populous tribe, the Dinka, and UN peacekeepers were among the casualties.

India's UN ambassador, Asoke Mukerji, said three of his country's troops were killed. It was the first announcement of UN fatalities from this week's upsurge of ethnic-based violence.

In Washington, Barack Obama issued a statement saying the conflict threatened to derail progress South Sudan has been making since gaining independence. "Inflammatory rhetoric and targeted violence must cease," the US president said. "All sides must listen to the wise counsel of their neighbors, commit to dialogue and take immediate steps to urge calm and support reconciliation."

Nuke

Fukushima "Breaking".....75 U.S. Navy sailors have cancer after brief visit to leakage site

Charles Bonner
© The Slog
Veteran human rights lawyer Charles Bonner (left) has practiced law for 27 years, so by now he's pretty good at it. Mr Bonner has been the lead attorney in over sixty-five jury trials involving civil rights cases, police misconduct, child protection and a myriad other attempts to protect the vulnerable poor from the mendacious rich. Now he is leading a class action lawsuit against TEPCO, the regulator/owner of the Fukushima nuclear energy plant.

He's unlikely to lose it, because he represents 75 sailors who came down with a host of medical problems, including cancers and leukemias, all kinds of gynaecological problems, and tumors on the brain. These service men and women are mainly young people in their early to mid twenties, and no one in their family had ever any of these kinds of illnesses before. Just since Bonner took the case, another 21 sailors have begun to show the same dire symptoms....of radiation sickness.

Their common link? They were all serving on board USS Ronald Reagan during a brief visit to the waters around Fukushima three years ago. As the Ronald Reagan desalinates all its water from the sea for drinking, bathing and other cleaning purposes, all the sailors were multiply exposed to radiation from the Fukushima accident. Calmed by the bollocks being put out about how "harmless" the radiation leakage was, these 75 service men and women now face death.

I've just been to eighteen internet sites. I have verified who Bonner is, checked the case credentials ("Cooper et al v. Tokyo Electric Power Company, Inc. et. al. case number 3:2013cv00773, filed with the United States District Court for the Southern District of California") - and confirmed the case's existence with Bonner's law firm. This is not left-of-centre urban myth: this is the best indication so far, in my view, of just how serious the Fukushima disaster is going to be.

But not a single mainstream medium I can find within the US, UK or European mainstream has gone near it.

Bad Guys

UK sex-grooming gangs able to flourish due to police errors says report

Greater Manchester police failed vulnerable girls in multiple ways, from lack of oversight to use of untrained CID staff
Image
© Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
A Rochdale shop displays a bulletin on the arrest of nine men on child sexual exploitation charges in 2011.
A catalogue of police failures allowed sex-grooming gangs to flourish in Rochdale, according to a damning, leaked report that is published on Friday. Among the failings identified in the 300-page report, untrained detectives were used to investigate child exploitation and there was a lack of resources and oversight.

The serious case review was announced by Rochdale Council last year after nine Asian men were convicted of the systematic grooming and sexual abuse of white girls in Greater Manchester. The findings of the review have resulted in an acknowledgement by Greater Manchester police [GMP] that the force has let down a number of vulnerable girls who were groomed by gangs for sexual abuse.

An internal police investigation, highlighted in the serious case review, also found a failure to recognise abuse.

The internal police review found that:

- Officers failed to challenge a Crown Prosecution Service decision not to prosecute.

- There was a lack of resources and managerial support for the investigations, initially led by CID, despite formal requests.

- Detectives without training in child sexual exploitation were used to interview potential victims.

- There was a lack of managerial oversight for investigations in 2008 and 2009.

- There was a lack of strategies to respond to frequent "runaways", which allowed them to return to their abusers.

- There was a recognition that there may have been discriminatory attitudes among police officers towards the victims.

Comment: Connection?:
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Alarm Clock

Israel opened the gates to two dams. Now Gaza is sinking

sewage gaza
My name is Rana. I have lived in the city of Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip all twenty-one years of my life. What is happening in Gaza is not fiction but a bitter reality, which we lack the means to defend ourselves against. In the last few days, an unusually powerful storm has flooded many areas, displacing hundreds of residents from their homes. Children are without shelter from the cold and rain. Entire neighborhoods are sinking.

My family and I spent four days in darkness in below freezing weather: no electricity, no water, and no heat. I was so cold, I couldn't leave my bed and the small comfort it and my blankets provided. The cold felt like it penetrated my bones. Yet, I am lucky. I witnessed many people as they became homeless, their children desperate for food and warmth.

Friends called to tell me about the flooding and freezing in their areas. I felt bad, unable to help. Power lines are down and our streets are filled with raw sewage. Greenhouses have been destroyed, affecting farmers and reducing the already minimal food supply we Gazans are forced to survive on.

Making conditions worse, Israel opened two dams, releasing a torrent of water that inundated many homes. As their houses sank, some of my neighbors nearly drowned. Fortunately, rescue workers came to their aid.

Comment: Speak up. Stay human.