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Thu, 30 Mar 2023
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Paris protest turns violent

Riot police France
© AFP / Julien De Rosa
Riot police charge past burning garbage bins in the street during a demonstration in Paris, France, March 28, 2023
A pension reform protest in Paris degenerated into violence on Tuesday, as groups of masked rioters clashed with heavily-armored riot police. Authorities say nearly 100,000 people marched in the French capital, as public anger over the government's pension reform plan refuses to subside.

The march started out peacefully, but as the crowd neared its destination of Place de la Nation in the east of the city center, activists dressed in black set fire to a storefront, prompting police to charge the crowd with batons drawn. Demonstrators were clubbed back and water cannons brought out to disperse stragglers.

Comment: Agent provocateurs?

Video footage showed ranks of officers raining down blows upon the frontmost rows of demonstrators, some of whom responded by throwing rocks and other projectiles.

Comment: The numbers quoted were likely much higher. See also:


Founding member of pope's child protection board resigns citing insufficient transparency

Hans Zollner
© AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, File
FILE - Hans Zollner, head of the new safeguarding institute at the Pontifical Gregorian University, poses for photos before an interview with the Associated Press, in Rome, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. A founding member of Pope Francis' child protection advisory board resigned Wednesday, March 29, 2023 citing inadequate financial accountability in the commission, insufficient transparency and a lack of clarity about the board's relationship with the Holy See's sex abuse office.
A founding member of Pope Francis' child protection advisory board resigned Wednesday, citing a host of problems inside the commission and in its relationship with the Vatican bureaucracy.

In an unusually frank resignation note, the Rev. Hans Zollner cited inadequate financial accountability, insufficient transparency about decision-making and a lack of clarity about staff hiring and the board's relationship with the Holy See's sex abuse office.

Francis announced the creation of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors in 2013 to advise the Vatican on best practices to prevent clergy sexual abuse. He named Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley as the commission's head.

Comment: See also:

Eye 1

French woman arrested & faces trial for calling Macron 'filth' on Facebook

france protest
© Emmanuel DUNAND / AFP
The months-long protest movement against the pension reform has sent social tensions spiralling in France
A woman in northern France is to be put on trial on charges of insulting President Emmanuel Macron after describing him as 'filth' in a Facebook post, a prosecutor said on Wednesday. The woman risks a fine of 12,000 euros but not prison if convicted at the trial due to be held in June.

She was arrested on Friday and held in custody for questioning after the state's local administrative office filed a complaint over her Facebook post, the prosecutor in the northern town of Saint Omer, Mehdi Benbouzid, told AFP.

The complaint focused on a post on her Facebook page made on March 21, the day before Macron gave a lunchtime interview to TF1 television to defend his controversial pension reforms that have sparked nationwide protests.

Comment: Macron and his security force goons must be choosing to look away at how people are creatively expressing their feelings about him and his policies during the unrelenting protests and strikes:

Footage of today's protest:

See also: France's protests against Macron gov't continue despite police brutality


Congressman demands IRS explain Matt Taibbi home visit

© Tom Williams/Getty Images
Matt Taibbi
The tax authority sent an agent to the independent journalist's New Jersey home earlier this month...

Republican Congressman Jim Jordan has demanded the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service explain why an agent of the tax authority visited the home of journalist Matt Taibbi while he was testifying about government abuses in Washington.

Taibbi testified before Jordan's Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government earlier this month.

Jordan described the circumstances of the IRS visit "at the exact time [Taibbi] was testifying to Congress about 'the most serious' government abuse he has witnessed in his career as a journalist" as "incredible." In a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel on Monday, Jordan also suggested the visit was a "thinly-veiled attempt to influence or intimidate a witness before Congress."


Liam Holden was waterboarded and tortured by British army, Belfast high court rules

© Paul Faith/PA
Liam Holden with his family outside the court of appeal in Belfast
In 1973 Liam Holden was convicted of murdering a British soldier in Northern Ireland and became the last person in the United Kingdom to be sentenced to hang.

On Friday - half a century after the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, 11 years after the sentence was quashed and a year after Holden died - a high court in Belfast awarded £350,000 to his estate.

The court accepted that the army waterboarded and tortured Holden into confessing to shooting Frank Bell, an 18-year-old member of the parachute regiment. The posthumous award included damages for inhumane and degrading treatment, misfeasance in public office and malicious prosecution.

Holden died last September, aged 68, after campaigning for decades to clear his name. The damages case was brought against the Ministry of Defence.

His son Samuel told BBC radio the family was sad and relieved.
"My father is not here to see this finished, to see it done. It was a long, long journey for him, a long road - he went through an awful lot to get here. What he went through should never have happened ... today it's all clear that he was innocent."
The Pat Finucane Centre tweeted: "Sadly he passed away before this vindication."

Bad Guys

The Great Food Reset has begun

pig mask farmer protest great reset
© Carsten Koall / Getty Images
German family farmers protest against trade agreements in Berlin
We all lose from the global war on farmers

France is in flames. Israel is erupting. America is facing a second January 6. In the Netherlands, however, the political establishment is reeling from an entirely different type of protest — one that, perhaps more than any other raging today, threatens to destabilise the global order. The victory of the Farmer-Citizen Movement (BBB) in the recent provincial elections represents an extraordinary result for an anti-establishment party that was formed just over three years ago. But then again, these are not ordinary times.

The BBB grew out of the mass demonstrations against the Dutch government's proposal to cut nitrogen emissions by 50% in the country's farming sector by 2030 — a target designed to comply with the European Union's emission-reduction rules. While large farming companies have the means to meet these goals — by using less nitrogen fertiliser and reducing the number of their livestock — smaller, often family-owned farms would be forced to sell or shutter. Indeed, according to a heavily redacted European Commission document, this is precisely the strategy's goal: "extensifying agriculture, notably through buying out or terminating farms, with the aim of reducing livestock"; this would "first be on a voluntary basis, but mandatory buyout is not excluded if necessary".

Eye 1

Progressive Portland area school administrator arrested in human sex trafficking sting

Terrance A. Schloth
Eight men, including a Portland-area high school administrator, were arrested and charged in relation to their alleged participation in a sex trafficking sting conducted by local law enforcement.

As announced by the city of Lake Oswego's police department, they "conducted a human sex trafficking mission with the assistance of the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office, Oregon City Police, Milwaukie Police, and Sandy Police," on Thursday, March 23, 2023.

"During the operation, decoys (law enforcement officers) were contacted by men who offered to pay money in exchange for the decoys to perform requested sexual acts," the department stated, going on to describe how the eight suspects allegedly agreed to meet with the supposed trafficking victims, and were subsequently "arrested and charged with the relevant crimes."

Suspects Stephen R. Berry, Maximilien Aquitaine, Austin L. Olson, Vincent S. Namauleg, German D. Pascual, Jake R. Walt, and Erik J. Bjorman were all cited and released for Commercial Sexual Solicitation, officials said. However, according to the Lake Oswego Police Department, the assistant principal of Centennial High School in Gresham, Oregon was hit with additional charges.


Germany to massively increase military aid to Ukraine - Spiegel

Olaf Scholz speaks in the Bundestag
© Sean Gallup/Getty Images
File photo: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks in the Bundestag, March 2023
Heavy losses of equipment in battle mean that Ukraine's military needs more tanks, artillery and air defenses, as well as maintenance for them, according to a letter from the German treasury to the parliament revealed by Der Spiegel on Tuesday.

Finance Minister Christian Lindner wrote to the Bundestag on Monday, and the parliamentary budget committee met on Tuesday in secret to consider his request, according to the German outlet. He is asking for €3.2 billion ($3.47 billion) more this year and another €8.8 billion ($9.54 billion) for "ongoing commitments," on top of €2.2 billion ($2.39 billion) already spent on Ukraine.

"Due to the high material losses of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, new supplies of material are required," the treasury wrote, further arguing that a number of procurement and maintenance contracts for "needs-based sustainable equipment" of Kiev's military need to be concluded immediately.

The letter specifically says the Ukrainians need more air defense, armored tracked vehicles - including tanks - and ammunition for tanks and artillery. Supplying the weapons systems also creates a "follow-up obligation" to provide ammunition, service and maintenance, the treasury added.

The additional expenses are "objectively unavoidable," Lindner argues, because "without ongoing support to Ukraine, there is a serious danger of it losing" in the conflict against Russia, "with unforeseeable consequences for peace in Europe."

Comment: Nothing like lighting money on fire when one's economy is suffering from sabotage and one's financial sector is one bank failure away from total catastrophe.

Bad Guys

Moscow warns neighbor of threat from Ukraine

Belarusian fighters in Poland
© Raul Moreno / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images
FILE PHOTO: Belarusian fighters in Poland before going to fight for Ukraine.
Belarusian "nationalist units" fighting for Ukraine could be sent back to their own country to conduct acts of sabotage, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Galuzin has warned. The official, however, expressed confidence that Minsk will be able to thwart such attempts, adding that Moscow will assist in doing so if necessary.

The diplomat noted that the rhetoric coming from members of "Belarusian nationalist formations... who are actively supported by the Kiev authorities and their Western backers, has become significantly tougher" lately.

"The leaders and commanders of those cut-throat mercenaries openly say that they plan, in the future, to apply their combat experience to topple the current Belarusian leadership," Galuzin said in an interview with the Russian news network RTVI on Wednesday.

Red Flag

Minnesota advances 'trans refuge' bill opponents say would strip custody from non-consenting parents

minnesota protesters trans refuge
© AP Photo/Trisha Ahmed
Dozens of protesters chanted for and against a bill that would make Minnesota a trans refuge state
Minnesota lawmakers on Thursday advanced legislation that would establish the state as a "trans refuge" for children who are seeking transgender medical procedures but who may be denied "gender-affirming care" in other states.

In a party-line 68-62 vote, the Minnesota House passed HF 146, which had been introduced by Rep. Leigh Finke of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. Finke is the state's first transgender lawmaker.

Democrats supporting the bill say the legislation will protect transgender people, their families and healthcare providers from facing legal repercussions for traveling to Minnesota to obtain cross-sex hormone prescriptions or sex-change procedures. Similar legislation has been introduced in California and other states with Democratic-controlled legislatures, which seek to counter Republican states that have sought to ban transgender procedures for minors.

"Gender-affirming care is lifesaving health care," Finke told reporters ahead of debate on the bill. "Withholding or delaying gender-affirming care can have a dramatic impact on the mental health of any individual who needs it. Rates of depression, suicide, substance abuse are dramatically higher in transgender and gender-expansive individuals who lack access to care."