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School calls cops on 6-year-old with Down Syndrome who made 'finger gun' gesture

Down Syndrome daughter police
© CBS Philly
School officials at Valley Forge Elementary in Tredyffrin, Pennsylvania, called the police on a 6-year-old girl who made a finger gun gesture at her teacher and said, "I shoot you." The girl has Down syndrome and didn't understand what she was saying, her mother told CBS Philly.

The principal and teacher agreed that the girl, Margot, had not intended to make a threat. But they informed the authorities anyway, citing a district policy that mandates safety threat assessments in all such cases.

"I was fine with everything up until they said 'and we have to call the police,'" Margot's mother, Maggie Gaines, told reporters. "I said 'you absolutely do not have to call the police.'"


Cancel culture comes to Polish science circles

© Tim Adams/Flickr
Castle Square in Warsaw, Poland
The term "cancel culture" has recently come to mean the practice of boycotting, or denying a speaking platform to, people whose ideas are considered offensive. I experienced it recently in Warsaw, Poland.

Fundacja En Arche (the En Arche Foundation, or roughly, the Origins Foundation) is a Polish group that focuses on the scientific and philosophical issues of Darwinism and intelligent design. Although often labeled "creationist," it is not about biblical creationism (whether young Earth or old Earth). In many ways it is a lot like Discovery Institute.



Letter bombs explode at three locations in the Netherlands - No injuries, perps unknown

ABN Amro bank
Two letter bombs exploded in the Netherlands on Wednesday morning, one at an ABN Amro bank mail-sorting office in Amsterdam and the other 140 miles away at a mail room of Japanese electronics group Ricoh, police said.

Police said there were no injuries and they were investigating whether the blasts were linked to a string of letter bombs intercepted in the country since early January.

An employee in the Amsterdam sorting office heard a hissing sound as they were about to open a letter, the city's police said. "The employee threw the letter away and there was a small explosion," the force added on Twitter.

ABN's chief executive, Kees Van Dijkhuizen said he had spoken to the man who had handled the letter at the sorting center in the western outskirts of the city.

Comment: Another bomb went off the following day, at an ING bank in Amsterdam. No one was killed there either.

They're currently suggesting some kind of 'BitCoin extortion plot' is afoot.


Nelson Mandela on Palestine's struggle: In his own words

Mandela and Arafat
© Reuters/Howard Burditt
Nelson Mandela, left, is embraced by PLO leader Yasser Arafat as he arrives at Lusaka airport February 27, 1990.
On the 30 year anniversary since his release from prison, the late South Africa leader remains an icon for the Palestinians

Thirty years ago, Nelson Mandela raised a clenched-fist salute as he walked out of Victor Verster Prison.

After spending 27 years in prison, Mandela instantly galvanized the country and would spend the next four years tearing down South Africa's apartheid system before becoming the country's first black president.

The struggle he led to end down racial segregation and transform South Africa into a democratic state has been hailed, in particular, by Palestinians, who draw parallels between Israeli occupation and the apartheid wall - and the situation black South Africans faced.

Since its inception in 2005, the BDS movement, has mobilised the apartheid analogy to further the movement for Palestinian rights and modeled its tactics after those employed by the global anti-apartheid struggle: boycotts, corporate disinvestment, and sanctions of Israel.

Eye 1

UC Global director at center of Assange spying accusations claims ambassador ordered espionage

david morales spy assange embassy uc  global
© UC Global
David Morales, director and owner of UC Global.
David Morales, the owner of the Spanish security firm that spied on Julian Assange while he was living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, testified in court on Friday that Ecuador's former ambassador to the United Kingdom, the recently deceased Carlos Abad, asked him to record the cyberactivist's conversations during his stay in the embassy. The former marine and director of UC Global S. L. testified last week before Judge José de la Mata of Spain's High Court, the Audiencia Nacional. Despite overwhelming evidence of the espionage gathered during the legal investigation and already published by EL PAÍS, Morales denied before the judge that the spying was ever carried out.

In his second court statement, this time made on his own request, Morales went from denying that the WikiLeaks founder was ever spied on, to admitting that he was asked to make the secret recordings. But he hid behind the former Ecuadorian ambassador, who died in November, and said it was Ecuador's secret service, Senain, that hired his services during the presidency of Rafael Correa, who governed Ecuador from 2007 to 2017.

Comment: Sure sounds like a lot of back-pedalling and obfustication from Morales. Did his "American client" drop him like a hot potato when he was caught?


Jussie Smollett accused of lying to CPD, indicted on 6 counts of disorderly conduct

Jussie Smollett
© Reuters / Handout
In a story FOX 32 News broke first, former "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett was indicted Tuesday in Chicago by special prosecutor Dan Webb, stemming from the alleged racist and anti-gay attack on him that occurred in January of 2019.

Smollett is due in court February 24 at the Criminal Court Building at 26th and California. Webb said in a statement that Smollett faces six felony counts of disorderly conduct, charges that stem from four separate false reports that he gave to police in which he contended he was a victim of a hate crime "knowing that he was not the victim of a crime."

The statement immediately raised questions about county prosecutors' decision to drop the charges last year and made it clear that those prosecutors had not adequately explained to special prosecutors why they did so. But Webb stressed that he had reached no conclusions about whether anyone involved in the case had engaged in any wrongdoing.

Comment: Previously:


Deaths in China exceed 1,000, but number of new COVID-19 virus cases continues to fall

supermarket china coronavirus wuhan
© Reuters
A shopper pushes a cart inside a supermarket on February 11 following an outbreak of the new coronavirus in the Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei Province.
China's National Health Commission reported 97 new coronavirus deaths on February 11 for the previous 24 hours, bringing the total number of fatalities nationwide to 1,113.

The total number of confirmed cases of the illness in mainland China stands at 44,643. However, the number of new cases -- 2,015 -- has declined for a second day.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has named the disease caused by the virus as COVID-19. Twenty-five countries as of February 12 have confirmed cases, including one death -- in the Philippines. A U.S. citizen died in China.

Including China, more than 45,100 people worldwide have been infected with the virus.

Comment: The cornavirus story has the same whiff that the MERS-CoV, and H1N1 stories had. Dire warnings from the WHO due to early high death rates, mass panics threatening, though no deadly pandemic ever really materialized. Barring some unforeseen development, COVID-19 looks to be playing out the same way. What is different is China taking the opportunity to crack down further on civil liberties, in the name of protecting the public.

In the meantime Big Pharma will make out like a bandit.


Russia & EU on path to cut out the dollar by boosting settlements in national currencies

© Getty Images / Eskay Lim 53
With the number of non-dollar deals rising, Moscow and Brussels are discussing ways to boost the volume of settlements in euros or rubles, says Russia's envoy to the EU Vladimir Chizhov.

The talks about the switch-over come as the greenback still remains a "powerful weapon" of the US, the permanent representative to the EU said in an interview with Sputnik. Sanctions are another tool for Washington, as foreign companies dependent on the American market have to stop dealing with firms, as well as whole countries, that the US targets.

"We have dialogue [about switching to rubles and euro in settlements], and the share of settlements in euros is gradually growing," Chizhov said.


Forget about balance? BBC now a climate activist saying it's a 'privilege' to have 'global icon' Greta Thunberg front new series

© Getty Images / Laura Lezza
In a bid to peddle its new series on climate change to a wider audience, BBC drops all pretenses of impartiality, as they announce Greta Thunberg will front the latest effort to sell their overtly political environmental message.

With the turmoil surrounding the BBC right now, warring talent arguing over their salaries, the hunt for a new Director General and the bound-to-get-uglier row over the tv licence fee, excitedly announcing a new climate change documentary all about Swedish teen Greta Thunberg shows a palpable lack of feel for the public mood.

But she is exactly the sort of poster child the BBC is looking for, as it turns to climate activism in a bid to boost its audience figures.

The national broadcaster is very much a self-appointed custodian of all things climate. Look at their What is Climate Change website and you will see plenty of broad facts about changes in the environment, but nothing to suggest that environmental change is largely part of the wondrous cycle of nature and not entirely the fault of man. That is where the BBC case lies.

Mr. Potato

'Nothing is truly Scandinavian' top Nordic airline SAS declares in ad — what could go wrong with that?

(left) 2 girls (right) boy

Screenshots from the SAS ad. Left: ‘There is no such thing’ as truly Sandinavian. Right: We are no better ‘than out Viking ancestors’.
SAS, the leading airline of Denmark, Norway and Sweden had to quietly remove a video commercial, which declared entire Scandinavian culture borrowed and featured a black guy saying he is no better than his 'Viking ancestors. '

Hijacking a hot button social topic to generate some good publicity is a tricky task. Just ask Gillette with their last year take on 'toxic masculinity,' or Pepsi equating drinking its soda with fighting for justice in street protests a few years ago. Scandinavian Airlilnes, or SAS, had its own tone deaf disaster of a commercial pulled after public outcry.

The ad published on Monday starts with a punchline that nothing is "truly Scandinavian" before going down the list of things that people in Denmark, Norway and Sweden take pride of — wind power plants, popularity of bicycles, parental care rights and democracy — and declares them "copied."

"It gets worse. Rumor has it that the oh-so-sweet Swedish meatballs might not be as Swedish as you think, but Turkish," the video goes on.