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Fri, 04 Dec 2020
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Dozens hurt as Metro train and bus collide near downtown Los Angeles

© Unknown
A Metro bus and a blue line train collided in Los Angeles on Monday. No injuries were considered life-threatening, according to fire-rescue officials.
A transit bus and Metro Blue line train crashed near downtown Los Angeles on Monday morning, injuring dozens of people, Los Angeles Fire Department officials say.

Officials say at least 40 people were on board the bus. Medical personnel were attending to as many as eight people who were traveling on the train, according to NBCLosAngeles.com.

None of the injuries was life-threatening, according to fire-rescue officials. The number of patients hospitalized was not immediately available.

The Line 51 bus collided with the train at about 7 a.m.. The bus then crashed into at least two light poles, fire officials say.

The intersection at Washington Boulevard and San Pedro Street remained closed. Major delays were expected, and authorities were adding more buses to the area for morning commuters.

Bizarro Earth

Maryam Keshavarz: 'In Iran, Anything Illegal Becomes Politically Subversive'

The Iranian-American director of Circumstance, a teenage lesbian romance, knows a thing or two about causing trouble, and the link between desire and dissent
© Peccadillo Films
Nikohl Boosheri and Sarah Kazemy in Circumstance.
"I've always had the tendency to cause trouble," says Maryam Keshavarz. The 36-year-old is speaking down the line from an idyllic-sounding writers' retreat in Portugal, but with the release of Circumstance in the UK this week, the first-time director is not far from controversy.

Set in Iran, the film follows two girls: Atafeh, raised in a rich liberal home, and Shireen, an orphan whose conservative uncle cannot afford to pay for her schooling. Against a backdrop of hedonistic underground parties, the teenagers' intense friendship spills over into a passionate love affair. With homosexuality illegal in Iran (punishable by lashings or even death) their happiness is threatened by the jealousy of Atafeh's brother, an ex-drug addict who finds religion and with it the ear of the powerful morality police.

Replete with illicit sex, drugs and alcohol, and furious in its criticism of the Islamic Republic, the movie's forthright style has made Keshavarz a target of death threats, she says. On the phone from Lisbon she sounds nonchalant, saying that "in the beginning I was more frightened", but insisting there have been so many, they no longer have the power to terrorise her. Yet she is cautious enough to refuse to reveal much.

Black Cat

Essex Police Investigate 'Lion' Sighting Near St Osyth

Police in Essex are investigating reports that a lion has been spotted in a field near St Osyth.
Police Car
© BBC News
Police have closed roads near scene of the reported sighting near Earls Hall Drive.
Residents have been advised to stay indoors after the sighting in fields off Earls Hall Drive at 19:00 BST.

Essex police are working with experts from Colchester Zoo who believe the reports to be genuine after being shown a photograph by a member of the public.

Local resident Che Kevlin told the BBC: "I heard a loud roar at 10pm. It sounded like the roar of a lion."

Armed police have been drafted into the area and two police helicopters are searching the area where it was spotted.

Essex police say about 25 officers are on the scene, including around a dozen specialist firearms officers, and experts from Colchester zoo are also on hand.

A force spokesman said there had been no sightings of the lion reported to police in the last few hours but that the search would continue through the night.

Police said all the animals at Colchester Zoo had been accounted for.

The spokesman said a circus had been in the area, at Clacton Airfield, recently but added: "Officers have spoken to the circus and confirmed that they do not have an animal missing, nor do they have any lions."

Evil Rays

Smart Meter Installations Stir Rowdy Response from Gun-Toting, Cage-Building Texans

Thelma Taormina
© David J. Phillip/Associated Press
In this Friday, Aug. 24, 2012, phot, Thelma Taormina poses next to her old electric meter at her home in Houston. Taormina was involved in a confrontation last summer when a contractor for Center Point Energy had refused to leave her property without first installing a smart meter designed to remotely monitor her electricity usage.
Dallas - Thelma Taormina keeps a pistol at her Houston-area home to protect against intruders. But one of the last times she used it, she said, was to run off a persistent utility company worker who was trying to replace her old electricity meter with a new digital unit.

"This is Texas." she declared at a recent public hearing on the new meters. "We have rights to choose what appliances we want in our home."

A nationwide effort to upgrade local power systems with modern equipment has run into growing resistance in Texas, where suspicion of government and fear of electronic snooping have made a humble household device the center of a politically charged showdown over personal liberty.

Some angry residents are building steel cages around their electric meters, threatening installers who show up with new ones and brandishing Texas flags at boisterous hearings about the utility conversion. At a recent hearing at the state Capitol in Austin, protesters insisted everyone present recite the Pledge of Allegiance before the meeting could begin.

"It's Gestapo. You can't do this," said Shar Wall of Houston, who attended the Public Utility Commission meeting wearing a large red "Texas Conservative" pin. "I'm a redneck Texas girl and I won't put up with it."

Utilities began replacing old-style electricity meters across the country about seven years ago as part of an effort to better manage demand on an increasingly strained power grid. New "smart meters" transmit and receive data remotely as electricity is used. Utility officials say they can use the real-time information to help prevent grid overloads during extreme temperatures. The devices would also promote conservation, such as cycling air conditioners on and off during peak demand periods.

In 2009, President Barack Obama devoted $3.5 billion in federal stimulus funds to help utility companies make the upgrade.


TAPS and Trickery at the Pasadena Playhouse

© Luis Castillo
Britt Griffith, star of Syfy's Ghost Hunters and Ghost Hunters International took the stage Saturday night at the Pasadena Playhouse to deliver a lecture on ghost hunting and to do a Q&A with excited fans. Tickets to the event, originally $30, were lowered to $5 due to poor sales. By the time Griffith took the stage, only about 1/3rd of the available seats were taken.

After saying that he was a bit rushed and would only be able to talk for about an hour, Britt kicked off his performance by stating, unequivocally, that he never faked evidence on Ghost Hunters, nor did he ever see anyone he worked with fake anything. "I don't know how they do things on other shows," he said. "But we never faked anything." And if that sounds like a weird way to kick off a show to you, I would agree. But roughly 35 minutes later, these words would blow up in his face.

Lou Castillo, an independent paranormal investigator in California and self-proclaimed "believer," attended the evening's festivities and reported what went on directly to me throughout the night. A longtime listener of the internet radio show and podcast, Strange Frequencies Radio, that I host along with my friend Bobby Nelson, Lou is affectionately known by us as our "West Coast Correspondent."

Britt put on an entertaining show, Lou told me. He told jokes, regaled the audience with tales from behind-the-scenes of the Ghost Hunters program and showed clips of pranks the cast has pulled on each other. He also gave advice to would be paranormal investigators, explaining why the crew uses certain pieces of equipment and warning that should they ever be traipsing around in abandoned locations, it may be smart to invest in a carbon monoxide detector. Later, creating a bit of an "Us vs. Them" atmosphere, Mr. Griffith gave a few of his thoughts on skeptics, pooh-poohing "what skeptics would have you believe" as it pertained to paranormal photography and EVP recordings.

What really got the audience excited, however, was Britt's buildup to a secret piece of video never before seen from one of their televised investigations. "West Coast Correspondent Lou" described it as "black and white night vision footage of a hotel where, down a hallway, what looked to be an elderly man moving right to left, then left to right" could be seen. It never made air, apparently, due to the request of the proprietors of the location itself. They felt that showing this on television would possibly scare clients away, or maybe even stir up activity at the location more.


America's Descent into Poverty

© Salon.com
The United States has collapsed economically, socially, politically, legally, constitutionally, and environmentally. The country that exists today is not even a shell of the country into which I was born. In this article I will deal with America's economic collapse. In subsequent articles, I will deal with other aspects of American collapse.

Economically, America has descended into poverty. As Peter Edelman says, "Low-wage work is pandemic." Today in "freedom and democracy" America, "the world's only superpower," one fourth of the work force is employed in jobs that pay less than $22,000, the poverty line for a family of four. Some of these lowly-paid persons are young college graduates, burdened by education loans, who share housing with three or four others in the same desperate situation. Other of these persons are single parents only one medical problem or lost job away from homelessness.

Others might be Ph.D.s teaching at universities as adjunct professors for $10,000 per year or less. Education is still touted as the way out of poverty, but increasingly is a path into poverty or into enlistments into the military services.

Edelman, who studies these issues, reports that 20.5 million Americans have incomes less than $9,500 per year, which is half of the poverty definition for a family of three.

Che Guevara

Thousands protest against Togolese government in Lome


Togolese opposition supporters hold a demonstration in the capital, Lome, August 22, 2012.
housands of opposition activists have held a demonstration in the Togolese capital, Lome, to protest against President Faure Gnassingbe's government.

The demonstration started in Lome's Be Kpota neighborhood and ended peacefully near a city beach on Saturday.

However, the opposition coalition Let's Save Togo said over 100 protesters were wounded and 125 others were detained during similar demonstrations on Tuesday and Wednesday, when security forces fired tear gas canisters to disperse the crowd.

In response, the demonstrators threw rocks at the security forces and burnt tires.

Protesters have been campaigning for a delay in parliamentary elections to allow reforms to first take place in the West African nation.


How Are US Religious Fundamentalists Any Different Than Middle Eastern Ones?

Congressman Todd Akin
© Dan Gill / The New York Times
Congressman Todd Akin.

In the American media, the news from Iran, Pakistan, Egypt, Afghanistan and elsewhere generally runs along the same themes: scary, violent and religious nutsos. But isn't it time the US media and the American public agreed that America isn't much different? America has just as many religious fundamentalists and nut jobs, and they are making public statements just as often - if not more often - than the religious fundies elsewhere.

Are we to believe that a fundamentalist in a suit is less scary than a fundamentalist in a beard, even if both are spouting hatred against women?

Missouri Republican Congressman Todd Akin's recent comments about how women can't become pregnant from what he called "legitimate rape" was just the latest in a long line of pronouncements from American leaders with strong religious backgrounds who believe they are an authority on women's needs and health. Akin is no different than the numerous Iranian clerics who've said such ridiculous things as women who have extramarital sex "cause earthquakes," or the Egyptian cleric who first said that a husband and wife cannot be completely naked while having sex. (This was then modified by scholars, and it was agreed that the most important thing is that no one look at the vagina at the scene of the sex act.) Or the fatwa after fatwa about men and women working together, schooling together and all the rest (sounds a lot like segregation, doesn't it America?).

Che Guevara

Immigrants Hold Demonstration in Greece Against Racism

Thousands of immigrants have held a demonstration in Greece's capital city of Athens to protest against racism in the country, Press TV reports.
On Friday, more than 5,000 demonstrators marched to parliament, carrying banners reading "No Islamophobia" and "Neo Nazis out!" in one of the biggest anti-racism demonstrations in Athens in recent years.

Greece is a main entrance for Asian and African migrant workers trying to enter the European Union. They face increasing hostility as the country, which has been at the epicenter of the eurozone debt crisis, is experiencing its fifth year of recession, while harsh austerity measures have left about half a million people without jobs.

In recent months, there has been a sharp rise in tensions between immigrants and Greek citizens.

On Thursday, police arrested hundreds of undocumented migrant workers in the western city of Corinth and put them in a former army camp.


Illinois Police Say Teen Held Captive 2 Years Escapes

© The Associated Press/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, J.B. Forbes
Members of the Madison County tactical response team take a two-year-old child to a waiting ambulance Thursday evening, Aug. 23, 2012 in Washington Park, Ill.
Washington Park, Illinois - A teenage girl reported missing more than two years ago escaped from a home in southwestern Illinois where she said she was held captive and repeatedly sexually assaulted, police said Thursday.

Police in Washington Park, a village next to East St. Louis, said the girl reported that she was raped by her captor, got pregnant and had a baby.

In April 2010, St. Louis, Mo., police listed the girl as a missing or runaway juvenile. She was 15 when she disappeared.

She escaped from the home in Washington Park earlier this week and went to police, saying her child was still in the house.

About two dozen members of a SWAT team wearing helmets and body armor swarmed the home Thursday afternoon with their assault rifles drawn. They recovered the child and arrested a 24-year-old man.