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Tue, 19 Jun 2018
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Pumpkin

Desperate message from Chinese forced labor camp hidden in Halloween decorations

Image
© Randy Rasmussen/The Oregonian
Julie Keith contacted a human rights organization after finding a plea for help inside a package of Halloween decorations.
The letter came in a box of Halloween decorations purchased at Kmart, but for a year Julie Keith never knew. It gathered dust in her storage, a haunting plea for help hidden among artificial skeletons, tombstones and spider webs.

Keith, a 42-year-old vehicle donation manager at a southeast Portland Goodwill, at one point considered donating the unopened $29.99 Kmart graveyard kit. It was one of those accumulated items you never need and easily forget. But on a Sunday afternoon in October, Keith pulled the orange and black box from storage. She intended to decorate her home in Damascus for her daughter's fifth birthday, just days before Halloween.

She ripped open the box and threw aside the cellophane.

That's when Keith found it. Scribbled onto paper and folded into eighths, the letter was tucked between two Styrofoam headstones.

"Sir:

"If you occasionally buy this product, please kindly resend this letter to the World Human Right Organization. Thousands people here who are under the persicution of the Chinese Communist Party Government will thank and remember you forever."

The graveyard kit, the letter read, was made in unit 8, department 2 of the Masanjia Labor Camp in Shenyang, China.

Chinese characters broke up choppy English sentences.
Image

The letter describes conditions at a forced labor camp in China.
"People who work here have to work 15 hours a day without Saturday, Sunday break and any holidays. Otherwise, they will suffer torturement, beat and rude remark. Nearly no payment (10 yuan/1 month)."

Ten yuan is equivalent to $1.61.

"People who work here, suffer punishment 1-3 years averagely, but without Court Sentence (unlaw punishment). Many of them are Falun Gong practitioners, who are totally innocent people only because they have different believe to CCPG. They often suffer more punishment than others."

The letter was not signed.

Shocked, Keith sat down as her mind reeled.

Wow, that's daring, she thought. She imagined the desperation the writer must have felt, the courage he or she must have mustered to slip the letter into that box. If caught, what would happen?

Like a message in a bottle, the letter traveled more than 5,000 miles over the Pacific Ocean. It could not be ignored.

Airplane

Hystericized society: Miami airport shuts down due to lighter mistaken for grenade

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© DX.com
This lighter is similar looking to the one found at Miami International Airport.
Miami, Florida - A lighter was mistaken for a grenade at Miami International Airport, prompting a security scare on Christmas Eve, said Miami-Dade Police.

A woman flying to Honduras was carrying the lighter.

"It appeared that there was something that looked like a grenade in there. So obviously we can't take any chances with that," said Lauren Stover, assistant aviation director for public safety at the airport.

Travelers were first evacuated from concourses J and H, and then allowed back inside. Once inside, however, they were not allowed to move toward the security checkpoint that was blocked off by police.

"We were just arriving to check in and they were already evacuating," said traveler Bill Murdock.

The all clear was given shortly before 1 p.m.

Source: Post Newsweek

Sheriff

Cops: Firefighter shooter served time for beating grandmother with hammer

New York gunman died of self-inflicted gunshot wound, and had served time for killing his grandmother with a hammer, police said.

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William Spengler
© Monroe County Sheriff's Office
Undated booking photo of William Spengler, who shot and killed two firefighters Monday.
Two volunteer firefighters were killed and two others seriously injured when they were ambushed with gunfire while responding to a house and car fire in western New York -- what police now believe was a Christmas Eve trap set up by a shooter who had once served time for beating his grandmother to death with a hammer.

Webster police identified the gunman Monday afternoon as William Spengler, 62, and said he died by a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Spengler had served nearly 18 years in jail for killing his 92-year-old grandmother in 1980 at the house next to where Monday's attack happened, and he had a "lengthy criminal record," police said. After serving time for manslaughter in his grandmother's killing, police said he was on parole until 2006 and could not legally own a gun. A motive for Monday's shooting was unclear.

"He laid in wait with armament and shot first responders," Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering said.

Four firefighters were fired on "probably with a rifle" from an earthen berm and all hit as they responded to the fire at 5:35 a.m., Pickering said. One fled the scene in his own car, and the other three were pinned down until a SWAT team arrived.

Police chased the shooter and exchanged gunfire with him, Pickering said. The shooter's body was found outside one of the houses.

"These people get up in the middle of the night to go and put out fires," Pickering said of responding firefighters. "They don't expect to be shot and killed."

Stop

White House web petition calls for U.S. blacklisting of Russian lawmakers

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© Reuters/Larry Downing
US President Barack Obama signs H.R. 6156, the Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal and Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, December 14, 2012.
Over 35,000 people have signed a petition on the White House website urging the enactment of the Magnitsky Act. This would blacklist a majority of Russia's parliamentarians, who supported a new law banning US citizens from adopting Russian children.

The petition called on the Obama administration to "identify those involved in adopting such legislature responsible under the 'Magnitsky Act' and thus included to the relevant list," arguing that they "breached all imaginable boundaries of humanity, responsibility, or common sense and chose to jeopardize the lives and well-being of thousands of Russian orphans."

Within nearly 24 hours, the online appeal gathered the number of votes necessary for an official review. Many of the petition's signatories have names that are apparently Russian, others suggest bot activity.

On Friday, the Russian parliament held the third and final reading to pass legislation dubbed the 'Dima Yakovlev bill,' which banned US citizens from adopting Russian children. The law passed with an overwhelming majority: 420 voted in favor, seven against and one abstained.

The new law also targets countries believed to be violating the human rights of Russians, and outlaws US-funded nonprofit political organizations that could threaten Russian interests.

Map

'Deport Piers Morgan' petition: Pro-gun advocates demand CNN host out of U.S.

Piers Morgan
© Reuters / Mario Anzuoni
Piers Morgan
British CNN host Piers Morgan has reacted defiantly against a US petition calling for him to be deported from the US for his views that America should change its gun control laws.

In one message, Morgan urged his detractors to "bring it on" and sign the petition, as he tracked its progress on Twitter.

Morgan infuriated the US gun lobby with his outspoken view that gun laws in the US should be changed to avoid further mass shootings in the wake of the December 14 shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Primary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

In less than a day, the petition earned more than 56,000 signatures, surpassing the 25,000 required for a formal response from the White House.

Bullseye

Ron Paul on NRA safety plan: Government security just another kind of violence

Ron Paul
© David Carlyon
Former Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul has rejected calls from the National Rifle Association to put armed patrolmen in every school across America.

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), who will retire from Congress following the completion of his current term, released a statement on his website Monday morning condoning the NRA's response to the horrific school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut earlier this month.

Only one week after 20-year-old Adam Lanza opened fire in Sandy Hook Elementary School and killed more than two people, NRA Vice President Wayne LaPierre called on Friday for the government to pay for armed officers in schools across the country. In response, Rep. Paul said, "Government security is just another kind of violence."

LaPierre's comments were met widely with criticism from anti-gun advocates who insist that more firearms, specifically in schools, will not be able to curb another massacre. Three days later, Rep. Paul responded by saying that while he believes personally that more guns could mean less crime if, increasing security in schools to such an alarming degree does not sit well with him personally.

V

Anonymous affiliates KnightSec take on alleged Ohio gang rapists and their protectors

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© Agence France-Presse/Rick Gershon
Steubenville, Ohio
A hacker group, connected with Anonymous, announced Sunday that it has extensive information on people said to have been involved in the gang rape of a 15-year-old Ohio girl. Local parents and authorities are accused of protecting the rapists.

The brutal assault was the subject of a New York Times profile, which described how local superstar high school football players Trent Mays and Ma'lik Richmond are charged with the rape and kidnap of the girl in Steubenville, Ohio. But most accounts claim that the two were not the only ones involved.

"The town of Steubenville has been good at keeping this quiet and their star football team protected," reads the statement from the Anonymous-affiliated group, which refers to itself as KnightSec.

As part of "Operation Roll Red Roll," KnightSec claims to have obtained extensive information on "everyone involved including names, social security numbers, addresses, relatives, and phone numbers." The group says that adults in the football-crazed town are protecting the group of boys involved, which other students at the Big Red High School say refers to itself as the "rape crew."

Vader

Warmonger senior Bush still hospitalized

George H.W. Bush
© Tom Pennington/Getty Images
Former President George H.W. Bush talks with Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, at Bush's office on March 29, 2012 in Houston.
Former President George H.W. Bush won't be home for Christmas, remaining in the hospital because of a fever.

Plans to send the 88-year-old to his Houston home for the holidays were put on hold after he developed the fever. Bush was hospitalized Nov. 23 with bronchitis. No date has been set for his discharge.

"We were hoping to get him out but he's just got a few setbacks that they think they've got a handle on," said his spokesman, Jim McGrath. "Doctors express confidence that they have the situation under control and are cautiously optimistic going forward."

Bush had a lingering cough and remained in the hospital to improve his strength. Then came some "low-energy days" and the fever, McGrath said.

"It's been one thing after another," McGrath said. "He's just had a couple of steps backward."

Bush is the nation's 41st president and father of the 43rd president, George W. Bush.

Bad Guys

The scapegoating of Nancy Lanza

Nancy Lanza
© Handout/Reuters
According to the script in progress, implicitly or explicitly, we blame Nancy Lanza for her son Adam's baffling rampage – if only for keeping five weapons in her home.
She was Adam Lanza's first victim. Yet while the other 26 dead in Sandy Hook are rightly mourned, Nancy is being disgracefully smeared

Addressing the bereaved community of Sandy Hook last week, President Obama read the names of Adam Lanza's victims - all 26. On the one-week anniversary of America's second-most lethal school shooting, bells tolled across the nation - 26 times. But even omitting his suicide, the impenetrable killer's victims numbered 27.

American education has not so deteriorated that even the president can't count. The discreetly deleted fatality was Adam's first and no doubt primary target: his mother, shot in her bed, four times in the head. Yet grief on Nancy Lanza's account has been stinting. With funerals of children and teachers standing-room-only, Nancy's service last Thursday drew a sparse two dozen relatives.

Comment: Who is Adam Lanza?


Snakes in Suits

Ex-TSA agent: We steal from travelers all the time

TSA Kennedy Airport
© Reuters / Andrew Burton
A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security agent takes a traveler's luggage for a second security check at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York.
A TSA agent convicted of stealing more than $800,000 worth of goods from travelers said this type of theft is "commonplace" among airport security. Almost 400 TSA officers have been fired for stealing from passengers since 2003.

­Pythias Brown, a former Transportation Security Administration officer at Newark Liberty International Airport, spent four years stealing everything he could from luggage and security checkpoints, including clothing, laptops, cameras, Nintendo Wiis, video games and cash.

Speaking publicly for the first time after being released after three years in prison, Brown told ABC News that he used the X-ray scanners to locate the most valuable items to snatch.

"I could tell whether it was cameras or laptops or portable cameras or whatever kind of electronic was in the bag," he said.

Brown often worked alone, screening luggage behind the ticket counters. He was frequently told the overhead surveillance cameras, installed to prevent theft, were not working.

"It was so easy," he said. "I walked right out of the checkpoint with a Nintendo Wii in my hand. Nobody said a word."

With more electronics than any one individual could need, Brown began to sell the stolen items on eBay. At the time of his arrest, he was selling 80 cameras, video games and computers online. Brown said the theft was comparable to an addiction.