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Tue, 29 Sep 2020
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Couple denied mortgage because of gas drilling

Brian Smith lives near Marcellus Shale well in Daisytown

Washington County, Pennsylvania - Brian and Amy Smith seem to be the first example in western Pennsylvania of a homeowner being denied a mortgage because of gas drilling on a next-door neighbor's property.

The drilling goes on day and night at a new Marcellus Shale well in Daisytown, Washington County, and Brian Smith told Channel 4 Action News(video link) investigator Jim Parsons that he has no complaints -- except one.

"As far as drilling and the noise and the lights in the window? No," he said. "But when it affected the value of my home? Absolutely."

The Smiths live across the street from the new gas well. They applied for a new mortgage on their $230,000 home and hobby farm, and Quicken Loans congratulated them on their conditional approval.

Cowboy Hat

55-Year-Old Grandma Sharon Simmons Auditions to be Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader

Sharon Simmons

55-year-old Sharon Simmons
Being a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader is one of sports' most unique honors, so it stands to reason that folks of all ages would want to vie for the opportunity.

Whereas traditionally cheerleading has been a young woman's game, over the last year we've sort of seen the landscape change up a bit. On both fronts.

Just a few months ago we saw not one, but two different men competing to become NFL cheerleaders. And this past Sunday, 55-year-old Sharon Simmons continued to push the bounds of traditional cheerleading when she threw her hat (presumably a cowboy hat) into the ring, competing against hundreds of other women also hoping to earn a place on Dallas' most exclusive cheerleading unit.

So, was the grandmother of two intimidated going against women half her age? Not even a little.

Briefcase

John Travolta Sued By Masseur for Sexual Assault

travolta
An unnamed male masseuse, a masseur, has filed a $2 million lawsuit against John Travolta, claiming that the actor sexually assaulted him at the Beverly Hills Hotel on January 16, 2012.

The masseur's lawsuit states that Travolta allegedly refused to take "no" for an answer and grabbed the masseur, reports TMZ.

The masseur claims it all began with an online ad. Travolta allegedly picked up the masseur in a Lexus SUV. As they drove to the hotel, the masseur claims to have noticed a pack of condoms in the car.

After the first hour, Travolta is accused of stroking the masseur's leg and grabbing his penis. Travolta allegedly told the masseur that this was normal: "Hollywood is controlled by homosexual Jewish men who expect favors in return for sexual activity."

Travolta's reps said that the lawsuit is a "baseless lie" and the actor wasn't in California at the time.

Magnify

RIP Adam Yauch (MCA) - Thoughts on the Beastie Boys and Tibet

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First things first, RIP to a Adam Yauch, a hip-hop innovator whose contribution to the art form is widely recognised. The Beastie Boys form an important chapter in hip-hop history. Even as white, middle-class kids whose main effect was to make hip-hop more accessible to other white, middle-class kids, they were generally respectful of the art form and of the communities that created it. Chuck D commented on Twitter:
"Adam & the boys put us on our first tour 25 years & 79 tours ago. They ARE essential to our beginning, middle and today. A very real cat R.I.P MCA"
While Yauch deserves respect as an artist and innovator, the aspect of his life that has earned him the most praise in the liberal press is his activism in favour of Tibetan independence. This is interesting. While the press censors musicians who call for Free Palestine, it lauds artists who call for Free Tibet. And while western governments actively support the Israeli government against the Palestinian movement for national self-determination, they actively support the Tibetan independence movement against the government of the People's Republic of China. Why the discrepancy? In short: because Israel is a 'friend' and China is an 'enemy'. The west has consistently used the issue of Tibet in order to paint China as an evil, ruthless coloniser, thereby making it morally abhorrent, even to those that support other aspects of Chinese politics (you know... little things like the most significant poverty alleviation programme of all time).

Every western liberal knows that Tibet must be free. And yet 99.9% of them haven't got the slightest clue as to the history of Tibet, or the relationship between Tibet and the rest of China. Wearing that 'Free Tibet' t-shirt is simply the easiest, most acceptable and least confrontational way of saying "I am a good person", absolving the wearer of all responsibility for developing their knowledge and understanding.

Cult

Rise of Hate: Journalists expelled from Greek press conference for not standing up as Fascist Golden Dawn party leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos enters the room


International press freedom watchdogs are watching the political situation in Greece with growing alarm following the treatment of journalists by the far-right Golden Dawn party.

After Golden Dawn obtained 7% of the vote, a press conference was staged by its leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos. Before his arrival, waiting reporters were ordered by party members to stand as a sign of respect.

Journalists who refused to do so were then expelled from the room.

This move came as little surprise to the Greek journalist Xenia Kounalaki. Last month, she wrote an article about Golden Dawn in the German weekly Der Spiegel, which prompted an attack on her on the party's website.

She said: "It was a 2,500-word-long personal attack... [they] recounted my entire career, mocked my alleged foreign roots (I was born in Hamburg) and even, for no apparent reason, mentioned my 13-year-old daughter.

"The unnamed authors indirectly threatened me as well, 'To put it in the mother tongue of foreign Xenia: "Kommt Zeit, kommt Rat, kommt Attentat!"' In other words, watch your back."

Comment: You can hope all you want Mr Vujovic, but what we're witnessing is psychopathology run rampant. They are no more capable of "respecting" principles than they are of having them.


Che Guevara

Revolution Brewing: Frontrunner to form new Greek government declares IMF loans null and void

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Alexis Tsipras celebrates his party's victory in Athens on Sunday night
Frontrunner to form a new government shocks financial markets with remarks over EU and IMF loan agreement

The fate of Greece is, on Tuesday night, in the hands of the leader of a far-left party who launched the quest to form a government by declaring the country could no longer commit itself to the terms of an international loan agreement keeping its economy afloat.

After accepting a mandate to create a multiparty administration following inconclusive elections, Alexis Tsipras sent shockwaves through financial markets by announcing the pledges Athens had made to secure rescue funds from the EU and IMF were null and void.

"The popular verdict clearly renders the bailout deal null," said the politician, whose stridently anti-austerity coalition of the radical left, known as Syriza, sprung the surprise of the weekend's poll, coming in second with 16.8% of the vote. "This is an historic moment for the left and the popular movement and a great responsibility for me."

Che Guevara

Revolution Brewing: Anti-austerity parties ride protest vote in Italian local elections

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© Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images
The party led by comedian Beppe Grillo, who says Italy should ditch the euro, performed well in local elections.
Italians vote against tax hikes and corruption, potentially weakening Mario Monti's influence over parties in parliament

The Italian comedian Beppe Grillo has promised that his fledgling party is heading for parliament after his candidates rode a wave of protest against austerity politics and Italy's traditional parties in local elections.

"We will see you in parliament," he tweeted, suggesting his Five Star Movement party will field candidates in national elections in 2013.

The comic campaigns on green issues, fights corruption and has recently criticised Mario Monti's unpopular tax hikes, as well as claiming Italy should ditch the euro. His party took 14% of the vote in Genoa, 9% in Verona and 19% in Parma, where it forced the mainstream Democratic party into a runoff.

In all those towns, Grillo's mayoral candidates trounced Silvio Berlusconi's Freedom People party, which was subjected to humiliating defeats in its first electoral contest since the former prime minister stepped down to make way in November for Monti's technocrat government, which did not stand in the elections.

Cult

Nine men found guilty of running child sex ring in England

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© Peter Byrne/PA
Mohammed Amin, one of the men convicted of conspiracy to engage a child under 16 in sexual activity.
Men plied girls as young as 13 with drink and drugs in order to use them for sex, jury heard

Nine men have been found guilty of being part of a child sexual exploitation ring involving vulnerable girls.

Five girls were "shared" by Kabeer Hassan, Abdul Aziz, Abdul Rauf, Mohammed Sajid, Adil Khan, Abdul Qayyum, Mohammed Amin, Hamid Safi and a 59-year-old man who cannot be named for legal reasons in and around Rochdale, Greater Manchester.

A jury at Liverpool crown court heard that the defendants plied the vulnerable girls, some as young as 13, with fast food, drink and drugs so they could "pass them around" and use them for sex. One 13-year-old victim became pregnant and had the unborn child aborted.

Another gave evidence of being raped by two men while she was "so drunk she was vomiting over the side of the bed". She later cried herself to sleep.

Stormtrooper

Police State: Kelly Thomas beaten to death by California police - new video revealed at pre-trial hearing

Never-before-seen surveillance footage of the beating of Kelly Thomas, a Fullerton, Calif. homeless man with schizophrenia, was revealed Monday during a hearing to determine if the police officers involved in the altercation that led to his death will face trial.


The 33-minute video starts with Thomas being approached by Fullerton Police Department Officer Manuel Ramos, who engages him in conversation. By minute 15, Ramos has already donned latex gloves.

"You see my fists?" Ramos asks Thomas. "They're getting ready to fuck you up."

Bizarro Earth

JPMorgan Chase Whistleblower: 'Essentially Suicide' to Stand Up to Bank

Linda Almonte
© Linda Almonte
When Linda Almonte alerted her boss at JPMorgan Chase about potential fraud in a major deal she was helping to close, she expected him to applaud her great catch.

Instead, he fired her.

"We went down fast," said Almonte, 41, about her family. She had been making $100,000 a year as a division vice president at Chase, enough to support her stay-at-home husband, their four kids, ages 12 to 22, and rent a three-bedroom house in San Antonio, Texas.

Her move at Chase amounted to "essentially suicide," Almonte told The Huffington Post. No bank in town would hire her after word spread that she had stood up to the banking giant, she said. After more than a year of fruitless job hunting, Almonte and her family left town, landing at a hotel near Disney World, paying $300 a week for a two-bedroom with a kitchenette.

Almonte enrolled her children in a federal program for homeless kids so that they wouldn't have to switch schools if the family had to leave the hotel. Her father joined them to help out and they survived on her father's $2,700 monthly combined Social Security and disability payments.

Her fate is far from unusual. "Employees get fired all the time for blowing the whistle," said Dana Gold, a senior fellow at the Government Accountability Project, a nonprofit organization that advocates for whistleblowers. "We see it so much," Gold said. "It's a predictable phenomenon."