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Wed, 20 Nov 2019
The World for People who Think

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Ukrainian swamp: Detectives detain bribery suspect in presidential office

Ukraine president office
© Shutterstock
The presidential office of Ukraine in Kyiv.
Ukrainian anti-corruption detectives on November 12 have detained the head of one of the main departments at the presidential office for allegedly demanding a $300,000 bribe, the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office (SAP) said on Facebook.

The official was arrested while taking half the amount from an individual as payment for assistance in getting a person appointed to a management position at the state-run Naftogaz oil and gas conglomerate.

Comment: Could it be that Zelensky has greenlighted the beginnings of the effort to address the rampant, entrenched corruption in Ukraine's government?


Eco-hypocrite Greta Thunberg hitches another top-dollar yacht ride to Europe, while plebs should live with 'flight shame'

thunberg yacht ride
© Reuters / Twitter @GretaThunberg
Greta Thunberg poses with the crew of La Vagabonde
Swedish eco-activist Greta Thunberg has managed to find a ride across the Atlantic with a pair of sailing YouTubers. Once again, the activist will make her journey on a yacht far beyond the means of the ordinary working Joe.

After hitching a ride from Europe to New York aboard a €4 million racing yacht in August, Thunberg embarked on a whirlwind tour of climate change summits and street-level protests. However, when the UN's COP25 climate summit in Chile was moved to Spain due to political unrest, the Swedish activist was left marooned in the US.

Avoiding combustion-powered planes and boats, Thunberg's options were limited. However, she announced on Tuesday that she had been offered a seat on board the La Vagabonde, an ultra-sleek catamaran owned by a couple of Australian YouTubers who make a living sailing around the world chasing the sun.



Moscow policeman 'assaulted' by protestor says man does not deserve punishment

Nikita Chirtsov
Nikita Chirtsov in a Moscow court on November 12.
A Moscow police officer who authorities say was assaulted by an activist has said the suspect "does not deserve imprisonment."

Investigators say Nikita Chirtsov pushed Yuriy Mikhalyonok during an unsanctioned protest on July 27, inflicting physical pain on the officer.

A Moscow court on November 12 ruled that Chirtsov must remain in pretrial detention until April 30, despite Mikhalyonok saying during the hearing that he "did not feel any pain during the attack" and that he is "ready to make peace" with Chirtsov.

Prosecutors have asked the court to sentence Chirtsov to 3 years and 2 months in prison.

Mikhalyonok told RFE/RL after the hearing on November 12 that Chirtsov's "action against me was not that heavy."

"I think the punishment for this action should not be imprisonment. He [Chirtsov] does not deserve a prison term," Mikhalyonok said.

Comment: Moscow police went a bit overboard in their response to the Moscow protests. Luckily, public outcry resulted in overturning some of the more obviously manufactured charges: Needless to say, the foreign interventionists didn't get the "big show" they were hoping to in Moscow, despite their fervent wishes.


The inevitable finale of the Nord Stream 2 saga

oil refinery
© nord-stream2.com
Nord Stream 2 may have become one of the most geopolitically charged energy projects in history, but its completion was inevitable since before construction even begun.

Europe is quickly becoming one of the most important export destinations for gas exporters. Production is decreasing quickly due to political and technical developments. The next few decades are promising for exporters. Nord Stream 2 is arguably one of the most contentious projects currently under development. Denmark recently granted the last necessary permit to start construction activities in its EEZ and analysts now agree that the project's completion is only a matter of time. In reality, the pipeline's future was decided long before construction even started due to external factors such as Poland's decision to diversify away from Russian gas and Western Europe's determination to turn away from nuclear and fossil fuel production.


The next generation of journalists wants to comfort the comfortable & afflict the afflicted

news stand
© Reuters / Carlo Allegri
A renowned journalism school's paper recently apologized for 'traumatizing' students by posting photos of their participation in a public protest. Is protecting people from the consequences of their actions now the media's duty?

The purpose of journalism is "comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable," according to a quote frequently attributed to newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst. At Northwestern University - home to a renowned journalism school - the profession's task seems to be comforting the comfortable, while belittling the afflicted.

University paper The Daily Northwestern printed a fulsome apology for "contributing to the harm students experienced" as they protested an appearance by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions at a campus College Republicans event. The nature of that harm? Reporters assigned to cover the event photographed the protesters and posted the photos on social media - a breathtakingly normal act of journalism that they realized only afterwards was "retraumatizing and invasive," according to the apology.


Russian metals plant to start bitcoin mining

© Igor Kralj / PA Images / TASS
A Russian aluminum plant closed as a result of U.S. sanctions is set to be transformed into a bitcoin mining hub.

The Nadvoitsy Aluminum Plant in Russia's northern Karelia region, owned by Russian metals giant Rusal, stopped production last summer after it lost access to American customers following the introduction of U.S. sanctions against Rusal in April 2018.

Part of the old production site is now being leased to the Russian Mining Company (RMC), which plans to ramp up bitcoin mining across Russia, Russian business site RBC reported.

"Now the plant is unprofitable for Rusal, the electricity supplied to it is barely utilized, and people living in the single-industry town near the plant have nowhere to work," said Dmitry Marinichev, Russia's internet ombudsman and RMC founder.

Red Flag

Bad precedent: Supreme Court clears way for Newtown shooting victim families to sue AR-15 gun-maker

Sandy Hook memorial
© Robert F. Bukaty/AP, FILE
A makeshift memorial with crosses for the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre
The case will now proceed to trial in Connecticut for the families of the victims of the shooting, which took place in December 2012 at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. Twenty children and six adults were killed at the school.

The justices did not offer an explanation for their decision to deny the request to take up the case.

"The families are grateful that the Supreme Court upheld precedent and denied Remington's latest attempt to avoid accountability," the attorney representing the families, Josh Koskoff, said in a statement. "We are ready to resume discovery and proceed toward trial in order to shed light on Remington's profit-driven strategy to expand the AR-15 market and court high-risk users at the expense of Americans' safety."

The lawsuit was first filed over four years ago and has overcome a series of hurdles to go to trial.

Arrow Down

New study reveals that US poverty has plunged

abandoned trailer
© Getty Images
The government says that America's poverty rate is 11.8 percent. It also says that the poverty rate has hovered around 11 to 15 percent since 1970 suggesting little or no progress against poverty in decades.

But the Census Bureau's official poverty rate is biased upwards and kind of meaningless. In terms of material well-being, families near the bottom are much better off today than in past decades because of general economic growth and larger government hand-outs.

In a Cato study, John Early recalculated the U.S. poverty rate using more complete data and found that it fell from 19.5 percent in 1963 to just 2.2 percent in 2017. (The study's charts are updated here.) Early is a former Assistant Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Comment: It's hard to reconcile the competing lines on poverty in the US. Just last year, the UN Poverty in the US Report was released stating that poverty in the US is the worst its ever been, and only sinking. It was criticized, however, for being politically motivated and really just an attempt to smear Trump.

See also: Meanwhile, in the UK:

Brick Wall

UN Envoy's grim warning over Assange's life

julian assange video conference
© Wikimedia
A United Nations expert in torture diagnosis has in the past week issued a stark warning that Australian whistleblower Julian Assange is in danger of dying from extreme prison conditions in Britain.

It is testimony to the rank hypocrisy of British and American governments who lecture others around the world about democracy, human rights and international law.

One can only imagine the hysterical outcry among Western governments and media if somehow Assange was being detained in a Russian prison.

Comment: See also:


Canada's identity crisis: Wokeness clashes with WWI remembrance in Don Cherry scandal

don cherry
© Reuters / Chris Wattie
Canadian hockey commentator Don Cherry speaks to journalists on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on November 7, 2006.
Calling out immigrants who do not wear a poppy in memory of WWI veterans got legendary Canadian sportscaster Don Cherry fired and further polarized the nation struggling to reconcile "woke" values with its history and tradition.

Red poppy badges are a must-have accessory around Remembrance Day - November 11 - across the British Commonwealth, symbolizing the armistice that ended the First World War. When Cherry - the octogenarian sports commentator and former hockey coach - called out immigrants who refused to wear the badge, however, he was fired from Sportsnet and accused of being xenophobic and racist.

During an episode of his Coach's Corner show on Saturday, Cherry lamented that "nobody wears the poppy" in downtown Toronto, unlike in smaller towns across Canada.

Comment: In reality, there was nothing bigoted or racist in what Cherry said. And despite the fact that his co-host, Ron McLean, nodded in agreement at the time, he has since apologized and toe'd the line. Good on Cherry for sticking to his guns.