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Snakes in Suits

Surprised? Twinkie CEO admits company took employees pensions and put it toward executive pay

Hostess, twinkies, cup cakes, fruit pie
Twinkie-maker Hostess continues to screw over its workers. The company is in the process of complete liquidation and 18,000 unionized workers are set to lose their jobs. More troubling - they could lose their pensions.

According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, Hostess' CEO, Gregory Rayburn, essentially admitted [3] that his company stole employee pension money and put it toward CEO and senior executive pay (aka "operations"). While this isn't technically illegal, it's another sleazy theft by Hostess executives - who've paid themselves handsomely while running their company into the ground. Just last month, a judge agreed to let Hostess executives suck another $1.8 million out of the bankrupt company to pay bonuses to CEOs.

If there's no way to recover the money for the Hostess pension plans for workers, then we the taxpayers - through the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. - will have to foot the bill to make sure workers get the retirement money they paid in.

Hostess shows us clearly what Bain-style predatory capitalism is all about: big bucks for the very few rich executives, layoffs and poverty for the workers and their communities.

And don't mourn the loss of Hostess brands - they'll be back, as the company is currently negotiating with over 100 potential buyers right now to bring Twinkies, Wonder Bread, and Ding Dongs back into the marketplace.

The Hostess story has nothing to do with unions, and everything to do with the Enron-ization and Bain-ization of the American economy.

Pistol

Oregon mall shooting: Masked gunman identified as Jacob Tyler Roberts, 22; used stolen rifle from someone he knew

Jacob Tyler Roberts

Jacob Tyler Roberts
Portland, Oregon - The gunman who killed two people and himself in a shooting rampage at an Oregon mall was 22 years old and used a stolen rifle from someone he knew, authorities said Wednesday.

Jacob Tyler Roberts had armed himself with an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle and had several fully loaded magazines when he arrived at a Portland mall on Tuesday, said Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts.

The sheriff said the rifle jammed during the 22-year-old's attack, but he managed to get it working again. He later shot himself. The sheriff said authorities don't yet have a motive.

A law enforcement official has told The Associated Press the shooter did not have a criminal record. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss details of an ongoing criminal investigation.

Two people - a 54-year-old woman and a 45-year-old man - were killed, and another, Kristina Shevchenko, whose age could not be confirmed, was wounded and in serious condition on Wednesday.

The shooter, who wore a mask, fired randomly, investigators said. People at the mall were heroic in helping get shoppers out of the building, including off-duty emergency room nurses who rendered aid, Roberts said.

Hourglass

Mayan apocalypse fever: Farmer builds survival pods

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Prepared: Farmer Liu Qiyuan looks out from inside one of seven survival pods that he has also dubbed Noah's Arc
Farmer Liu Qiyuan has built seven pods consisting of a fibreglass shell around a steel frame
  • He hopes they will be adopted by government departments and international organisations for use in the event of tsunamis and earthquake
  • The airtight spheres contain oxygen tanks and seatbelts with space for around 14 people, and remain upright when in water
  • With just ten days to go before the Mayan apocalypse supposedly spells the end of the world, many believers may be looking for ways to dodge doomsday.

    But one farmer in China believes he is ready for any eventuality after building seven emergency survival pods.

    Liu Qiyuan created the fibreglass shells - dubbed Noah's Ark - after being inspired by the apocalyptic Hollywood movie 2012.

    Comment:
    It's smart to take all date-specific predictions with a spoonful of cynicism: 2012 'End Times' prophecy corrected by Mayan priests


    Che Guevara

    15,000 march in Dublin against 'austerity measures'

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    Anti-austerity protests in Dublin, Ireland
    The Dublin government's fiscal 'kite flying' season is well and truly underway ahead of next month's annual 26-County Budget announcement.

    Measures already signalled and likely to be included in the spending plans for 2013 are an annual property tax of around 300-500 euro per home, and a universal cut in child benefit.

    Other elements being leaked by government officials include a hike in motor tax, a 'fat tax' or 'sugar tax', and an increase in the duty on the 'old reliables' - alcohol and cigarettes.

    Unions on the wrong side?

    Over 15,000 marched on Saturday in a demonstration against the government's unrelenting austerity measures, which once again look set to hit the most vulnerable the hardest.

    Michael O'Reilly, president of the Dublin Council of Trade Unions (DCTU), which co-organised the event, said it was just one step in a long campaign to reverse cutbacks.

    Crusader

    Loyalist mob vents rage at Belfast City Hall in dispute over British flag

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    More than 1,000 Protestants had rallied outside as council members voted 29-21 to remove the Union Jack from the building for all but 17 designated days each year.
    RUC/PSNI officers have been injured and the Alliance Party's office in Carrickfergus Co.Antrim, has been attacked and burned after trouble flared following a loyalist flag protest.

    Two men and two women have been arrested following the violence.

    Police said that about 1,500 people had gathered at the Irish Gate roundabout earlier on Wednesday.

    They were protesting against Belfast City Council's decision to stop flying the union flag every day.

    The crowd dispersed after baton rounds were fired by the RUC/PSNI but many of the lawless mob stayed behind which allowed trouble to break out and missiles, bottles and masonry were thrown at police.

    The violence continued in nearby West Street, where Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson has a constituency office.

    It was ransacked and the rioters tried to set it on fire. The building has been smoke damaged.

    Police have said a number of officers were injured in the riot.

    Blue Planet

    It's smart to take all date-specific predictions with a spoonful of cynicism: 2012 'End Times' prophecy corrected by Mayan priests

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    Ignore Second-Hand Information ... Hear the Real Prophecy

    The Mayan 2012 end of the world "prophecy" is scaring the pants off numerous children and suicidal teeangers. 1-in-10 people believe that the Mayans have prophesied the end of the world (and see this). A Google search for "Maya 2012" currently brings up 325 million hits, only slightly less than a search for the most popular words.

    This post is a public service announcement to reach children and adults scared about the Mayan prophecy ... to show with the Mayan priests' own words that the world will not end in 2012.

    Many people are talking about the Mayan 2012 prophecy.

    But few know what the Mayan priests actually said about 2012.

    In reality, Mayan elders say something very different from what you might have heard.

    For example, Wakatel Utiw - leader of the National Council of Elders Mayas, Xinca and Garifuna, Day Keeper of the Mayan Calendar, and 13th generation Quiche Mayan Spiritual Leader - says that the end of the Maya calendar has nothing to do with the end of the world.

    Che Guevara

    Turkish people continue protests against U.S. Patriot missile deployment along country's border with Syria

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    © FARS
    Large crowds of people in the Turkish capital city of Ankara took to the streets to show their anger at the possible deployment of the NATO Patriot missile batteries along their country's border with Syria.

    During the rally organized by the Turkish Freedom and Solidarity Party on Sunday, protesters carried placards in condemnation of the Turkish government's demand for the deployment of the NATO Patriot missile systems, and called on their government to leave the organization and close all US and NATO bases on Turkish soil.

    Also in the rally, one of the Freedom and Solidarity Party leaders reiterated that the deployment of NATO missiles indicates the Turkish government's hostile position on neighboring Syria.

    She described the deployment of the missile systems as a "factor" which "jeopardizes the future of the Turkish nation," and stressed that her party and the Turkish nation oppose the measure.

    Pistol

    3 dead, including gunman, in Oregon mall shooting

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    © The Associated Press/The Oregonian/Bruce Ely
    Onlookers observe the scene outside Clackamas Town Center in Clackamas, Ore., where a shooting occurred Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012.
    Portland, Oregon - A gunman opened fire in a suburban Portland shopping mall Tuesday, killing two people and wounding another as people were doing their Christmas shopping, authorities said.

    Witnesses described a scene of chaos and disbelief as a gunman wearing some sort of camouflage outfit and what looked like a hockey mask fired rounds fire from a military-style rifle near the food court at Clackamas Town Center.

    Parents with children joined other shoppers rushing to stores' backrooms for safety as teams of police officers began entering the mall to find the shooter.

    Clackamas County sheriff's Lt. James Rhodes said later that the gunman was dead, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. A shopper told KATU-TV he saw a man lying on the floor with a gun next to him.

    Authorities went store-to-store to confirm that there was only one shooter and to escort hiding shoppers outside, Rhodes said.

    Austin Patty, 20, who works at Macy's, said he saw a man in a white mask carrying a rifle and wearing a bulletproof vest.

    He heard the gunman say, "I am the shooter," as if announcing himself, Patty said. He then fired several shots paced seconds apart.

    USA

    Iraq war: U.S. soldier throws his medals and stars, "I'm no longer the monster I once was"

    Jon Turner is a former Marine who fought with the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines in Iraq and who testified at Winter Soldier March 13-16. This aired Monday March 17, 2008 on Democracy Now.


    AMY GOODMAN: Iraq and Afghanistan veterans gathered in Maryland this past weekend to testify at Winter Soldier, an eyewitness indictment of atrocities committed by US troops during the ongoing occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Organized by Iraq Veterans Against the War, the event was modeled after the historic 1971 Winter Soldier hearings held during the Vietnam War.

    Over the weekend, war veterans spoke of free-fire zones, the shootings and beatings of innocent civilians, racism at the highest levels of the military, sexual harassment and assault within the military, and the torturing of prisoners.

    Although Winter Soldier was held just outside the nation's capital, it was almost entirely ignored by the American corporate media. A search on the Lexis database found that no major television network or cable news network even mentioned Winter Soldier over the weekend, neither did the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times or most other major newspapers in the country. The editors of the Washington Post chose to cover Winter Soldier but placed the article in the local section.

    On Friday, Democracy Now! broadcast from Winter Soldier. This week, we play excerpts from the proceedings. We begin with Jon Michael Turner, who fought with the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines.

    Star of David

    The civilian toll of Israel's bombs

     Gaza Strip
    © unknown
    After an Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip
    When Israeli bombs struck the Abu Khadra complex for civil administration, they also gutted the sixth floor of the Abu Shabaan complex, located 10 meters across the road. According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), eight Israeli warplane-fired bombs leveled roughly half of the government compound in eastern Gaza City in the early hours of Nov. 21.

    The bombings also took a considerable toll on the homes and businesses nearby, including the Gaza bureau of Al Jazeera.

    Over 50 percent of the private medical center in the Abu Shabaan building was destroyed, says Dr. Naim Shariff, 42, owner of the Benoon In Vitro Fertilization clinic.

    Two weeks after the bombing tore apart the sixth floor and ravaged the fifth floor, Shariff has re-paned the windows, ordered new specialized machinery, and re-opened for clients.

    "The problem with replacing my machines and equipment is that most of it doesn't exist in Gaza. It takes months to arrive and costs more money than it would elsewhere," he says.

    "What else can I do but start again? There's no insurance here for war damages."