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Sun, 19 Feb 2017
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Libyan rendition & torture victim pledges to 'fight UK govt until the end' - forgets to mention he's an al-Qaeda-linked terrorist and John McCain's best friend

© Youssef Boudlal / Reuters
Abdul Hakim Belhadj
Libyan torture victim Abdel Hakim Belhaj has vowed to fight his case against the UK government "until the end."

In 2004, Abdul Hakim Belhaj was kidnapped in Hong Kong with British complicity, along with his pregnant wife, and rendered back to his native Libya. He was then held and tortured by the Muammar Gaddafi regime for six years.

Speaking to Middle East Eye, Belhaj says he intends to pursue his quest for justice after the UK's top court ruled unanimously in January that he could bring a case against the UK government and Tony Blair's former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw for his role in the abduction.

Comment: For more information. Read:

Libya Tribes leader: Trump's travel restrictions justified, terrorists using fake Libyan passports to enter U.S.


Florida Man Planned To Blow Up Target Stores Along the East Coast To Buy Retailer Stock Cheap

A Florida man tried to redefine "activist investing" after he made at least 10 explosive devices with the intention of blowing up Target stores along the East Coast in an elaborate "scheme" to send Target stock plunging so he could buy it on the cheap, the Department of Justice alleged.

Mark Charles Barnett, 48, of Ocala was charged with "possession of a firearm (destructive device) affecting commerce by a previously convicted felon" after he offered an unidentified person $10,000 to put at least 10 explosives - disguised as food items - on the shelves of Target stores in New York, Florida and Virginia, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Ocala.

According to the DOJ's compaling, Barnett, a registered sex offender on probation for multiple felony kidnapping, sexual battery and grand theft counts, hatched a plan to place explosives disguised as food items in Target stores along the East Coast from Florida to New York, thinking the plot would cause the stock price for the retail giant to plummet, allowing him to buy cheap shares of the company before they rebound.

"Barnett theorized that the company's stock value would plunge after the explosions, allowing him to cheaply acquire shares of Target stock before an eventual rebound in prices" according to the criminal complaint.

Arrow Down

UKIP says Britain should cut its foreign aid budget

© DFID - UK Department for International Development / Facebook
The UK Independence Party (UKIP) is calling for an 80 percent cut to the foreign aid budget so the money can be spent on national infrastructure.

Britain currently spends around £12.5 billion ($15.5 billion) a year supporting developing and war-torn countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, and South Sudan.

But UKIP says the aid is inadequate, does not truly alleviate poverty, leaves those receiving it dependent on support, and perpetuates bad government.


Judge slams #fakenews outlet CNN for reckless reporting in defamation case

First BuzzFeed, now CNN: Our favorite fake news station has lost an important initial ruling to a hospital CEO who sued the network for defamation.

Too bad they still get away with misreporting basically everything else.

The details:
Davide Carbone, former CEO of St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach, filed a defamation lawsuit against CNN after they aired what he claims were a "series of false and defamatory news reports" regarding the infant mortality rate at the hospital. CNN's report said the mortality rate was three times the national average. However, Mr. Carbone contends that CNN "intentionally" manipulated statistics to bolster their report. He also claims that CNN purposely ignored information that would look favorable to the hospital in order to sensationalize the story.


Teacher: I Lost $100 Bet Because Trump Wasn't Shot on Inauguration Day

I received a rather disturbing report of yet another case of Trump Derangement Syndrome -- this time from a high school in Camarillo, California.

Jane Germaine said her son's English teacher at Rancho Campana High School told the class that she lost a $100 bet because President Donald Trump had not been shot on Inauguration Day.

Mrs. Germaine tells me the teacher's remarks were troubling.

"A public school teacher using classroom time to share with students how she lost a bet because the president was not shot on Inauguration Day is beyond reprehensible to me and I do not see how the school district does not find this troubling as well," she told me.

And it turned out not to be the first time she's heard about teachers at the high school making politically-charged statements in the classroom.

Comment: See also: Convergence of Trump & Putin Derangement Syndromes


Because key cards are so inconvenient, Belgian employees get microchipped

© Sputnik/ Anton Polyakov
A group of workers from Belgium have joined an increasing number of people with microchips inserted in their hand.

Employees at Newfusion, a Belgian digital marketing firm, have had microchips inserted under their skin which allow them to open and close doors and access the company's computers, Le Soir reported.

The microchips replace the badges which the workers used to wear, and also contain personal data about the user.

The chips cost 100 euros each and are the size of a grain of rice. They were inserted between the thumb and index finger of their hands.

While Newfusion is thought to be the first in Belgium to microchip their workers, other organizations are also considering chipping their employees.

In June last year it emerged that the US military had held meetings to discuss the possibility of implanting soldiers with chips fitted with global positioning (GPS) technology in order to track their movement.

Comment: See also:


Record number of Palestinian homes destroyed by Israel in 2016, highest in 12 yrs - rights group

© Reuters
In 2016, Israeli authorities had sped up demolishing homes of Palestinians in the occupied territories, rights group B'Tselem reported. The number was the highest in 12 years, during which the group kept systematic statistics of the demolitions.

B'Tselem says the demolitions campaign intensified in August 2015 and unofficially halted later in the year, only to be resumed in 2016. Last year Israel demolished 274 homes in the West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem), thereby rendering homeless 1,134 individuals, including 591 minors.

In East Jerusalem, Israeli authorities demolished 73 Palestinian homes in 2016, while 15 others were demolished by their owners on orders from the municipality. Violation of the orders would have carried hefty fines and would not likely prevent the demolitions or being charged the cost of carrying them out. Together those actions rendered 295 people homeless, including 160 minors, B'Tselem said. The authorities also demolished 48 non-residential buildings.

"Despite the differences between Area C and East Jerusalem in terms of which authorities operate in each area and the laws applied by Israel, the policy Israel pursues in the two areas is similar, and designed to minimize the number of Palestinians in as much land as possible," the group said. "Authorities cynically cite illegal construction as a pretext for the demolitions, while at the same time authorities are the ones that prohibit legal construction by Palestinians."

Comment: See also: Palestinian president supports Trump's call for Israeli settlements 'pullback', wary of 'one state' idea

Eye 1

Twitter in court fight with US government over right to reveal number of surveillance requests of its users

© Kacper Pempel / Reuters
Twitter attorneys told a federal judge that the US government restricted its First Amendment rights by barring the social media giant from publishing a transparency report on surveillance requests of its users. Twitter sued the US over the matter in 2014.

On Tuesday, attorneys for Twitter argued before a US District Court judge that the company's speech was unconstitutionally restrained when Twitter attempted to reveal an accurate number of various types of surveillance requests, including FBI-issued national security letters, that it had fielded from the US government.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) requires companies like Twitter to report such requests in broad terms, claiming that the information, which is designated as classified, must remain secret for national security purposes. The US says the actual number of such requests cannot be revealed, but can only be detailed in ranges of 500.

Twitter attorneys said Tuesday that this amounted to prior restraint on its First Amendment speech rights, an action that can only be justified with specific proof that restricting the speech would jeopardize US national security.

Cell Phone

Survey says nearly half of all families text each other while under the same roof

© Shutterstock/Monkey Business Images
Some will find it depressing. Others will recognise an all-too familiar snapshot of tech-obsessed modern life.

But nearly half of families with children now text each other when they are in the same house.

Just under a third of us (32 per cent) are guilty of tapping out messages on mobiles when we want to talk to someone under the same roof, according to research.

That figure rises to 45 per cent for households with children - suggesting the phenomenon is only set to get worse.

It's not the only way mobiles get in the way of family time at home.

In a third of households, people use their mobiles during their mealtimes.


California man pleads guilty to providing San Bernardino attack rifles killing 14 people

© The scene of a shooting in San Bernardino, California. December 2, 2015. Mario Anzuoni / Reuters
The scene of a shooting in San Bernardino, California. December 2, 2015.
A California man has pleaded guilty to providing the high-powered rifles used to kill 14 people in the San Bernardino terror attack.

Enrique Marquez Jr, 25, pleaded guilty to conspiring with one of the San Bernardino shooters to plot other mass killings that were never carried out, and to providing material support to terrorists.

The plea agreement between Marquez - a reported longtime friend of one of the attackers - and prosecutors was accepted by a federal judge in Riverside, California, on Thursday reports AP.

Husband and wife, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, carried out the attack in December 2015 at a San Bernardino County employee holiday party that killed 14 people and injured 22 others.

Comment: See also: