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US: Smart Meters Make Themselves At Home . . . by Force

smart meter fraud
© n/a
Many Idaho residents want nothing to do with the new Smart Meters forced on them by Idaho Electric and the Public Utilities Commission in order to replace analog electric meters.

Some simply don't want them, others don't appreciate the eerie surveillance of residents' whereabouts and usage and the ability for remote power shut-off, especially where medical devices are concerned.

Most alarming have been the health effects from the EMF output - headaches, insomnia, nausea, ringing ears and more reported by residents nationwide.

Idaho Electric has been caught installing Smart Meters without permission, despite protest, even hopping fences while residents are away. Whether residents are home or not, IE reps have brought armed law enforcement to make sure the job gets done and police go without questioning or filing paperwork.

The media has been strangely quiet about the incidents and the outraged residents. One reporter interviewed an investigative blogger who brought the incidents to light, and wanted to clear it with her editor first. The story never made it to the papers. If anything, the mainstream media have lauded the new "energy efficient" Smart Meters despite growing evidence of health hazards and power spying.

USA

US: Voters Leaving Republican, Democratic Parties in Droves

USA illustration
© Anthony Freda Illustration
A recent analysis conducted by USA Today showed that American voters are fed up with both mainstream political parties and are leaving them in droves.

The newspaper claims that "More than 2.5 million voters have left the Democratic and Republican parties since the 2008 elections."

Over the last decade this trend has only seemed to accelerate says USA Today. While many people feel there is little difference in the parties, their options remain slim. Yet, voters switching to Independent have climbed dramatically.

According to the statistics gathered from eight swing states, "Democrats' registration is down by 800,000 and Republicans' by 350,000. Independents have gained 325,000."

Nationally, Democrats still outnumber Republicans 42 million registered voters to 30 million, however Dems have lost the most voters since 2008. Meanwhile Independents are becoming a viable party in itself with 24 million registered voters.

Bell

"I Cannot Eat Your Prayers": How Student Debt Changed One Woman's Mind on "Christian Charity"

From an evangelical home to over $100,000 in student loans and healthcare debt, one writer faces the ways in which even progressive Christianity comes up short.

Image
© Jasmic
I'm going to tell you a story. It's the story of a good girl from a quiet town who prayed, studied hard, said no to drugs, and otherwise did everything she was told - and then went on to become Sallie Mae's bitch and lost just about everything. This story is mine.

I grew up in an evangelical home, and was an earnest "liberal-evangelical" into my early twenties. Now I think that my former religious faith - not unlike my faith in the U.S. higher education system - gave me a warped sense of optimism about the way the world works. I believed in faith-based platitudes, plus a few secular ones. Examples:
  1. God has a plan for my life.
  2. My whole future is ahead of me.

Eye 1

Hysteria Alert: US Passenger's frosted cupcakes spark airport terror alert

cup cake
© File picture
Terror!: Airport security staff confiscated two cupcakes claiming the icing could be explosive
A woman who just flew back home from Las Vegas says an airport security officer confiscated her frosted cupcake because he thought the icing on it could be a security risk.

Rebecca Hains said the Transportation Security Administration agent at McCarran International Airport took her cupcake Wednesday, telling her its frosting was enough like a gel to violate TSA restrictions on allowing liquids and gels onto flights to prevent them from being used as explosives.

'I just thought this was terrible logic,' Hains said Friday.

Hains, who lives in Peabody, just north of Boston, said the agent didn't seem concerned that the cupcake could actually be explosive, just that it fit some bureaucratic definition about what was prohibited.

Family

Russia: 50,000 take to the streets of Moscow as protests continue over Putin vote-rigging claims

More than 50,000 people took to the streets of Moscow today as opposition forces challenge Vladamir Putin's government in a new wave of protests against alleged election fraud.

Organisers of the demonstration hope it will be as large as a protest two weeks ago that drew tens of thousands - the largest show of discontent since the 1991 Soviet collapse - although rallies in other cities in the far east and Siberia earlier today drew much smaller crowds.

Rally participants began gathering on a broad avenue about 2.5 kilometres from the Kremlin on a snowy day. Nearly 53,000 people have so far signed up on Facebook to take part.

Russia protest 1
© AP
Turnout: Tens of thousands of demonstrators rally in the Russian capital in what is believed to be the largest protest so far against election fraud
Russia protest 2
© Reuters
Ridicule: As thousands take to the streets of Moscow in protest, a placard shows Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin draped in a condom in reference to remarks he made mistaking white ribbons worn by protesters for contraceptives

Christmas Tree

Nike sneakers frenzy as US police resort to pepper spray and arrests

Air Jordan XI Retro Concords

Air Jordan XI Retro Concords
A new brand of Nike basketball shoes has triggered shopping madness across the US complete with fights, arrests and even pepper spraying. It's nothing new, though - "sneaker wars" involving mugging and even killing have broken out in the past.

­Fights erupted in queues across the nation for the new version Air Jordan XI Retro Concords, which went on sale at midnight on Friday. Thousands of people had been waiting in the cold for hours to grab the sneakers for $180. The sneakers are already on sale on eBay for more than $500.

Outside Seattle, police pepper-sprayed about 20 people in an attempt to restrain a crowd of 2,000 agitated sneaker- seekers who broke down the doors of the Westfield Southcenter mall, the Seattle Times reports.

Police also had to break up scuffles over line-cutting or pushing. In NYC, 19-year-old Vincenzo Gavrity was arrested after a fight with another customer. "F**k you, I'm getting my shoes," the shopper declared, punching a cop who was trying to handcuff him, according to the New York Daily News.

Cult

Israeli extremists spread violent mayhem

Manger Square Christmas tree
© Musa Al Shaer / Getty
A Palestinian municipal worker decorates Bethlehem's Christmas tree in Manger Square.
If Christian pilgrims traveling to Bethlehem for Christmas this week happen to witness violence, for the first time militant Jews, not Palestinians, are most likely to be the perpetrators.

Now that a far right-wing government has governed Israel for almost three years, settlers feel emboldened so that Jewish extremists are wreaking havoc and mayhem. West Bank Palestinians, meanwhile, are standing by quietly, largely minding their own business - even as these settler-marauders repeatedly attack them. This has never happened before.

In the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority now employs a widely respected police force that has effectively kept the peace. And so it certainly will in Bethlehem. Secret cooperation between Palestinian police and Israeli security forces is "one of the reasons Israeli citizens enjoy such a calm security situation of late," Reuven Pedatzur, a columnist for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, wrote last summer, before the settler-extremist violence had reached its zenith.

But in just the last few weeks, these settlers have burned two mosques, torched Palestinian homes and cars, threatened Israelis they perceive to be leftist and attacked an Israeli army base, wounding one of its officers. That final act, attacking the army, finally roused the government from its lackadaisical approach to the violence.

Stormtrooper

Welcome Home! US Soldiers just back from Iraq get new orders: Afghanistan

 Soldiers arrive at their home base in Fort Hood, Texas, last week after being one of the last U.S. combat units in Iraq.
© CNN

Soldiers arrive at their home base in Fort Hood, Texas, last week after being one of the last U.S. combat units in Iraq.

Atlanta, Georgia -- Soldiers who just returned from Iraq are among several thousand being ordered to Afghanistan in six months as part of a mission designed to beef up Afghan forces ahead of a planned 2014 U.S. military withdrawal, officials said.

News of the pending Afghanistan deployments came as families at bases across the country were celebrating the return in recent days of troops who turned off the lights at a number of U.S. bases ahead of an end-of-the-year deadline to leave Iraq.

"We are glad that we have brought all soldiers back home in time for Christmas to spend with loved ones. We do have to put information out about an upcoming mission, though," the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, said Tuesday on its Facebook Page.

Heart - Black

US: Police torture and kill man with pepper spray

Tampa, Florida- No doubt you've heard the adage: a picture is worth a thousand words. A picture of 62-year-old Nick Christie could be worth thousands of dollars when a jury sees it.


The photo shows the Ohio man restrained inside the Lee County Jail with his body covered in pepper spray.

"This photo is a picture of a man who is strapped to a chair naked inside a jail for hours with a hood over his face. That evokes thoughts of being tortured," says Cleveland-based lawyer Nick DiCello who represents the Christie family.

Cult

Israel's treatment of women is hardly that of a democracy

Israel bus
© David Silverman/Getty
A woman on a bus looks out at an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man in Jerusalem, Israel.
A 'dignified' dress code and gender segregation show Israel is fast becoming bigoted about dissent and difference

While we've been distracted by alarmism over newly elected Islamist leaders enforcing hijabs and bikini bans in the Arab world, Israel is already embroiled in attempts to rein in this unruly matter of female "immodesty".

Last week, Israel's Haaretz newspaper reported on businesses in the southern town of Sderot signing up to a "dignified" dress code - whereby female employees must be "modestly" clothed. So far 20 stores have adopted this long-sleeves directive, initiated by a religious group which says it did not actively threaten to boycott non-signatory shops - but which, nonetheless, has considerable buying power. Not surprisingly, the women subjected to this new code have described it as religious coercion.