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Thu, 27 Jan 2022
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2012, Year of the Aspens?

It is with a morbid curiosity that we face the upcoming New Year. Not because of a cartoonish version of prophecy. No, it's a visceral knowing that many wrong and untenable creations are still alive and they threaten every thread in the fabric of what we know. And it's inevitable to reflect when a New Year is looming. I never quite understood why New Year's didn't fall on the very first day after the winter solstice. The days lengthen at that moment, hope beckons, but with our calender there is that lag, and during this lag week that we find ourselves in now, there is time to consider what awaits.

It's not to say that it is an entirely terrible thing that much of this seems ready to topple- we've been complacent and ugly in the protection of our way of life. Even if we don't make the cruel decisions, much comfort is derived at the expense of others. A mounting debt, not of the fiscal kind, swirls on our horizon. Oddly our way of life really doesn't seem to make us anything but medicated, fat and plastic. And then shocked into a stunned puddle as it is inevitably stripped away, one by one- lay-off or medical bill- chose your middle class poison. Deeply felt emotions are difficult to mine these days unless they are rage or crippling depression.


North Carolina, US: A 'reckless' decision to shoot family dog

In response to the story "Deputy fatally shoots dog during attack" in the Herald-Sun on Dec. 13, we want to be sure readers understand that on Dec. 9, one of our family dogs was shot in the head by a Durham County sheriff's deputy investigating a break-in - not a break-in at our home, but at our neighbor's home.

The officer came onto our property from the side yard and our three Jack Russells, not knowing who he was or where he came from, circled him and did what terrier dogs do to protect their territory from strangers or intruders. All three of our pets were wearing fully-functioning invisible fence collars and the driveway boundary was marked by bright orange flagging.

This horrific, senseless act of violence by investigating officer L. Kelly has devastated our family.


Psychopathy Alert! North Carolina, US: Deputy fatally shoots dog during attack

A Durham County sheriff's deputy pepper sprayed and shot a dog to death Friday when it bit him as he was investigating a burglary.

Deputy R. Kelley was investigating a break-in at 4006 Kerley Road, near the Durham-Orange County line, during which someone had used a rock, brick and tool to break through windowpanes on the side of French door in the garage which leads to the house.

The intruders went down a hallway into the master bedroom where drawers were opened, and items were stolen from drawers along with two jewelry boxes.

According to an email on the Arrowhead neighborhood listserv, Kelley was the first to respond to the scene. He was concerned that another break-in could have happened next door at 4012 Kerley Road, because he had seen the resident's garage door open.


2 U.S. Flags Burned at Occupy Charlotte Land Group in Jail

Four protesters, including the spokesman of Occupy Charlotte, were charged after setting fire to two American flags early Friday near the Occupy camp in Center City, police said.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police weren't sure earlier if the four men who set fire to two flags were associated with the Occupy Charlotte movement.

But, WBTV has learned that one of the men is the media spokesman for the Occupy group and has been the contact person listed on press releases from Occupy Charlotte.

The fires happened with in feet of the group's encampment.

Earlier reports indicated one flag was burned, but a police report says that 2 US flags were burned.

Officers said they noticed the suspects lighting something on fire directly in front of the Occupy camp along Trade Street around 12:30 a.m. Friday morning.

Police swarmed the area, and detained the men while firefighters were called in to knock down the flames. About $30 worth of damage was caused to landscaping at the site.

It was only after the fire was out did officials figure out what was burning, the American flag.


Canada: Vancouver Health Authority Begins its Free Crack Pipe Program for Addicts

© Jenelle Schneider / Postmedia News
Hugh Lampkin, president of the Vancouver Area of Network Drug Users, shows one of 60,000 crack smoking kits that will be distributed at five sites throughout Vancouver's Downtown Eastside to help reduce the spread of disease.
Crack addicts in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside have started receiving free crack pipes as part of a Vancouver Coastal Health Authority harm reduction strategy aimed at curbing the spread of disease.

Part of a $60,000 trial project first announced in August, the pipes are just one piece of drug paraphernalia found inside kits that have been distributed to users in the area since the beginning of the month. The glass pipes are heat-resistant and shatterproof, which experts say should reduce injury to the users' lips and mouth - wounds that can make them more susceptible to diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis B and C.

Also included are mouthpieces, filters, alcohol swabs, screens and push sticks.

While harm-reduction tools such as these have been made available to addicts in the past, this marks the first time they have been combined in a single kit, explained Trudi Beutel, a spokesperson for the health authority.

In total, 60,000 kits are expected to be distributed through five different Downtown Eastside harm reduction centres over the duration of the eight-month trial period.


New Year Despair for Japan's Nuclear Refugees

checking for radiation
As most of Japan prepares to ring in the New Year at the end of a traumatic 2011, refugees from the country's nuclear crisis relocated far from home say they have nothing to celebrate.

All over the country families will gather for a midnight trip to a shrine, many donning traditional kimono for the centrepiece of several days of celebration during one of Japan's most important festivals.

But for the many tens of thousands of people forced to flee when reactors at Fukushima Daiichi began spewing radiation, festivities are a long way from their thoughts.

Many of the 1,000 or so refugees holed-up in a 36-storey Tokyo tower block say their mood will be altogether downbeat, after a devastating year which saw their hometowns engulfed by the worst nuclear crisis in a generation.


The Number One Catastrophic Event That Americans Worry About: Economic Collapse

collaped freeway
© n/a
Can you guess what the number one catastrophic event that Americans worry about is? There are certainly many to choose from. Many Americans are deathly afraid of a major terrorist attack. Others live in constant fear of natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanoes and hurricanes. Still others are incredibly concerned that a massive pandemic will break out at any time or that World War III will erupt in the Middle East.

Yes, there are certainly a lot of potential catastrophic events that one can worry about in the times in which we live, but the number one catastrophic event that Americans worry about is actually "economic collapse". At least that is what a recent survey conducted by Leiflin Inc. for the EcoHealth Alliance found. But this goes along with what so many other polls have found over the past few years.

Over and over again, opinion polls have found that the number one issue that American voters are concerned about is the economy. The truth is that average Americans are deeply, deeply concerned about unemployment, debt, the housing crash and the steady decline in the standard of living. It has been years since the U.S. economy has operated at a "normal" level, and many Americans are afraid that things could soon get a whole lot worse.

In the new survey mentioned above, those contacted were asked to select the top three potential catastrophes that worry them the most.


US, Iowa: Des Moines Police Arrest 12 Protesters at Democratic Headquarters

Twelve protesters have been arrested at the Iowa Democratic headquarters this afternoon, as they protested that Guantanamo remained open and corporate donations to campaigns.

As arrests were going on, other protesters with the Occupy the Caucuses movement chanted, "Hey, hey, ho, ho, Obama close Guantanamo."

Among those arrested was Frankie Hughes, 14, who earlier today told a Register reporter that she gets good grades.

Heart - Black

US: Michigan man may have intentionally infected hundreds with HIV

A Michigan man has been charged with felony sex offenses after he told police he was HIV-positive and had set out to intentionally infect as many people as he could. Health officials have issued an alert warning that "possibly hundreds of people have been exposed to HIV."

The man, identified as David Dean Smith, 51, of Comstock Park, north of Grand Rapids, was arraigned Wednesday on a second count of "AIDS-sexual penetration with an uninformed partner" after police said they had identified a second possible victim.

Smith was initially charged with one count after he went to Grand Rapids police last week and told them he had intentionally had unprotected sex with as many people as he could over the last three years.

According to documents on file with Grand Rapids 61st District Court, Smith claimed to have had sex with "thousands" of partners, intending to kill them by infecting them with HIV. Some of those people are from outside the Grand Rapids area, including people Smith met over the Internet, he told police, according to documents.

Eye 1

US Federal court revives government wiretapping suit

A federal appeals court has revived two lawsuits challenging the highly secretive National Security Administration's warrantless monitoring of Americans' communications since 9/11.

Two groups of telecom customers had sued the federal government for violating their privacy in the surveillance program authorized by President George W. Bush. Government lawyers have moved to stop such cases, arguing that defending the program in court would jeopardize national security.

In 2009, a San Francisco-based federal judge dismissed the lawsuits. He said the plaintiffs could not sue because they didn't have enough evidence linking the telecom companies to the NSA program.

But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that the plaintiffs are eligible to sue.