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Thu, 22 Apr 2021
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Red Flag

Kaufman County officials, courts under tight security after D.A. killing

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© David Woo / Dallas Morning news
As a team of investigators swarmed the north Texas home where Kaufman County Dist. Atty. Mike McLelland was gunned down with his wife over the weekend, courthouse staff returned to work Monday under armed guard.

McLelland, 63, and his wife Cynthia, 65, were found shot to death at their home on Saturday, according to Kaufman County Sheriff's Lt. Justin Lewis. The shootings came about two months after Assistant Dist. Atty. Mark Hasse was fatally shot outside the courthouse, a case that is still under investigation with no arrests, officials have said.

Neighbors behind the McLellands' brick suburban home outside Forney, Texas, told The Times they were questioned by the FBI and Texas investigators Sunday, but that they told officials they had not heard anything suspicious.

Arrow Down

Gluttony

Gluttony: Boobus Obesus Americanus' favorite sin
"Our fear of hypocrisy (political correctness) is forcing us to live in a world where gluttons are fine, so long as they champion gluttony."

Jonah Goldberg
"He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have."
― Socrates
"Do you think it is a vain hope that one day man will find joy in noble deeds of light and mercy, rather than in the coarse pleasures he indulges in today - gluttony, fornication, ostentation, boasting, and envious vying with his neighbor? I am certain this is not a vain hope and that the day will come soon."

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

Cell Phone

Think you're anonymous? Cellphone data gives you away

Cellphone Data
© beboy | Shutterstock
Just a few datapoints of cellphone data can identify unique users 95 percent of the time, new research suggests
Just four points of location data from one's cellphone is enough to uniquely identify the person about 95 percent of the time, new research suggests.

Sifting through 15 months of anonymous location data from 1.5 million cellphone users, researchers found that just four points of data could uniquely identify 95 percent of the cellphone users.

"That data that has no name, email or phone number associated with it can still be personal data," said study co-author Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye, a computational social scientist at MIT's Media Lab.

The findings suggest that anonymous location data isn't truly anonymous, and that app makers and legislators may need to reconsider how they treat mobile location data.

Black Magic

Arkansas nuclear plant industrial accident kills one, injures eight

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Arkansas Nuclear One plant
A 25-year-old man was killed on Sunday after part of a generator fell while being moved at the Arkansas Nuclear One plant. Eight others were injured during the industrial accident, but operators claim no nuclear material was released.

"We are deeply saddened by what has happened today," executive vice president and chief nuclear officer Jeff Forbes said in a public statement, without providing details about the cause of the young man's death or the severity of the other victims' injuries.

Wade Walters, a 25-year-old employee at the Arkansas Nuclear One (ANO) plant and a resident of Russellville, died from unknown injuries sustained during the accident. Eight other employees at the facility sustained non-fatal injuries and were rushed to the hospital.

The accident, which occurred at 7:45 a.m. on Easter Sunday, has caused nearby residents to express deep concern over the potential hazards of living near the plant. The plant is located in Russellville, which is about 70 miles northwest of Little Rock.

Chart Pie

France to shift 75% tax burden to businesses

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© ibtimes.com
President Hollande has shifted the burden from individuals to businesses as he pledged last night to go ahead with plans for a 75% tax on incomes over €1million.

In a TV interview, the French president said he would force companies to pay the headline 75% levy. Shareholders would have the choice to pay managers less than €1million or keep remuneration high and pay the tax.

The change of plan comes after the conseil constitutionnel struck down the initial plan to tax individuals at the 75% rate, which it said was unfair because it applied to individual taxpayers when income tax in France is assessed on a household basis.

Megaphone

American Anniversaries from Hell

It's true that, last week, few in Congress cared to discuss, no less memorialize, the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Nonetheless, two anniversaries of American disasters and crimes abroad -- the "mission accomplished" debacle of 2003 and the 45th anniversary of the My Lai massacre -- were at least noted in passing in our world. In my hometown paper, the New York Times, the Iraq anniversary was memorialized with a lead op-ed by a former advisor to General David Petraeus who, amid the rubble, went in search of all-American "silver linings."

Still, in our post-9/11 world, there are so many other anniversaries from hell whose silver linings don't get noticed. Take this April. It will be the ninth anniversary of the widespread release of the now infamous photos of torture, abuse, and humiliation from Abu Ghraib. In case you've forgotten, that was Saddam Hussein's old prison where the U.S. military taught the fallen Iraqi dictator a trick or two about the destruction of human beings. Shouldn't there be an anniversary of some note there? I mean, how many cultures have turned dog collars (and the dogs that go with them), thumbs-up signs over dead bodies, and a mockery of the crucified Christ into screensavers?

Or to pick another not-to-be-missed anniversary that, strangely enough, goes uncelebrated here, consider the passage of the USA Patriot Act, that ten-letter acronym for "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism"? This October 26th will be the 11th anniversary of the hurried congressional vote on that 363-page (essentially unread) document filled with right-wing hobbyhorses and a range of provisions meant to curtail American liberties in the name of keeping us safe from terror. "Small government" Republicans and "big government" Democrats rushed to support it back then. It passed in the Senate in record time by 98-1, with only Russ Feingold in opposition, and in the House by 357-66 -- and so began the process of taking the oppressive powers of the American state into a new dimension. It would signal the launch of a world of ever-expanding American surveillance and secrecy (and it would be renewed by the Obama administration at its leisure in 2011).

Syringe

Storyville: The House I Live In 2012


As America remains embroiled in overseas conflict, a less visible war is taking place at home, costing countless lives, destroying families, and inflicting untold damage on future generations of Americans.

For over 40 years, the War on Drugs has accounted for 45 million arrests, made America the world's largest jailer, and damaged poor communities at home and abroad. Yet for all that, drugs are more available today than ever before.

Filmed in more than 20 states by critically acclaimed filmmaker Eugene Jarecki, Storyville: The House I Live In captures a definitive and heart-wrenching portrait of individuals at all levels of America's War on Drugs. From the dealer to the grieving mother, the narcotics officer to the senator, the inmate to the federal judge, the film offers a penetrating look inside America's longest war, revealing its profound human rights implications.

Chart Bar

Crises of Capitalism

In this RSA Animate, celebrated academic David Harvey looks beyond capitalism towards a new social order. Can we find a more responsible, just, and humane economic system?

This RSA Animate was taken from a lecture given as part of the RSA's free public lecture programme. The RSA is a 258 year-old charity devoted to driving social progress and spreading world-changing ideas. For more information, visit http://www.thersa.org


Arrow Down

What's behind spike in Gulf Coast dolphin attacks?

Dead Dolphin
© Institute for Marine Mammal Studies/Reuters
A bottlenose dolphin found shot dead in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, on November 9, 2012.
Dead - and sometimes mutilated - dolphins have been turning up recently.

When Louisiana Fisheries and Wildlife personnel discovered a dead bottlenose dolphin near Elmer's Island late last year, they figured it was another victim of the 2010 BP oil spill.

So they were shocked when an onsite necropsy showed no signs of oil-related injury, or of bacterial infection, biotoxins, or disease - the most common causes of death in dolphins.

Instead, the Louisiana officials found a tiny piercing on the right side of the dolphin's blowhole. That hole would later reveal the cause of death: a small bullet lodged in the animal's lung.

The killing turned out to be another in a growing string of apparent attacks on dolphins and other marine mammals reported along the Gulf Coast in recent months.

According to a December report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in 2012 three dolphins with gunshot wounds were found "stranded" (or washed ashore) along the Gulf Coast - the highest number since 2004.

Health

France fire: Five children die in Saint-Quentin

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The children's father was said to have leapt from the building to raise the alarm
Five children have died in a house fire in northern France.

The blaze in Saint-Quentin, about 130km (80 miles) north-east of Paris, was probably accidental, reports say.

The children's father was present but escaped with serious burns, local officials said.

Three people were also killed and 13 hurt in a fire in the Paris suburb of Aubervilliers on Saturday. Officials suspect the fire was "of criminal origin" and an investigation has begun.

Officials said that the blaze in Saint-Quentin began at around 22:30 local time (21:30 GMT).

The father had been looking after the children for the first time since splitting up with his wife three months earlier, a neighbour told French media.

He tried to reach his children but was beaten back by the flames and jumped from the first floor of the building to raise the alarm, reports say.