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European Police Smash Online Child Porn Ring

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© Agence France-Presse/Thomas Coex
A French policeman investigates sensitive content during a hunt for online paedophiles. Police in 22 European countries swooped on 112 suspects for allegedly sharing "the most extreme form" of online videos of children being sexually abused and raped, policing agency Europol said Friday.
Police in 22 European countries swooped on 112 suspects for allegedly sharing "the most extreme form" of online videos of children being sexually abused and raped, policing agency Europol said on Friday.

"So far in 22 countries we have identified 269 suspects with 112 arrests," Europol director Rob Wainwright said at a press conference at the agency's headquarters in The Hague.

"The operation targeted those sharing the most extreme forms of video material, which included babies and toddlers being sexually abused and raped," he said.

"I have no doubt that the number of suspects will increase in time."

Much of the material seized during some of the house searches in the probe, dubbed "Operation Icarus", is now awaiting forensic examination for follow-up investigations, Europol's top official added.

Whistle

US: Case of Accused Army Leaker Carries High Stakes

Bradley Manning
© EPA
Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, in an undated file photo.
The U.S. military is making its case for why Army Pfc. Bradley Manning should be court-martialed on charges of endangering national security by stealing and leaking an enormous trove of government secrets.

Manning, 23, was to make his first public appearance Friday at the opening of his pretrial hearing at Fort Meade. The Army post near Washington is, ironically, home to U.S. Cyber Command, the organization whose mission includes protecting computer networks like the one Manning allegedly breached by illegally downloading huge numbers of classified documents in Iraq.

He is suspected of giving the documents to WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy website that last year began publishing the materials.

The hearing was expected to last through the weekend and possibly beyond. Manning's lawyer asserts that the documents' release did little actual harm.

The case has spawned an international movement in support of Manning, who is seen by anti-war activists as a hero who helped expose American mistakes in Iraq and Afghanistan. To others he is a villain, even a traitor, who betrayed his oath of loyalty by deliberately spilling his government's secrets.

Camera

US: Controversial Air Force Casket Photo Prompts Investigation

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© unknown
This controversial photo has launched an Air Force investigation
The Air Force has launched an investigation into a controversial photo that shows several non-commissioned officers posing with an open casket, in which a fellow airman poses with a noose around his neck and chains over his body.

The Air Force Times received a copy of the photo over email, which includes the caption, "Da Dumpt, Da Dumpt .... Sucks 2 Be U." The casket is similar to those used to transport deceased U.S. soldiers home from the battlefield.

Air Force Secretary Michael Donley told the paper that investigators were mounting an inquiry of the grief the image might cause for families of fallen service members. "We take this matter seriously. [Air Education and Training Command] has initiated a commander directed investigation," Donley said in a statement.

Nuke

Cold shutdown': Japan reactor now stable, PM says

Tokyo - The tsunami-devastated Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant has reached a "cold shutdown" and is no longer leaking substantial amounts of radiation, Japan's prime minister said Friday.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's announcement marks a milestone nine months after the March 11 tsunami sent three reactors at the plant into meltdowns in the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl.

"Even if unforeseeable incidents happen, the situation is such that radiation levels on the boundary of the plant can now be maintained at a low level," Noda said at the government's nuclear emergency response meeting.

However, experts noted that the plant remains vulnerable to more problems and will take decades to decommission the plant.

Located 150 miles northeast of Tokyo, the plant was wrecked on March 11 by a huge earthquake and a tsunami that exceeded 45 feet in some areas, which knocked out its cooling systems, triggering meltdowns and radiation leaks.

The crisis displaced some 100,000 people. Officials are to start discussing allowing some residents to return to less contaminated areas. A 12-mile zone around the plant is expected to remain mostly off-limits for years.

Comment: If a person breezed pass the title, they might have got the impression there was only one reactor at the Dai-ichi power plant.
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© Unknown

How much Radiation leaked out Mr. Prime Minister? "Substantial amounts of radiation." Do you have some form of measurement for each type of Radiation that leaked?

How is it possible that "radiation levels on the boundary of the plant can now be maintained at a low level" is it a new technology, hocus-pocus-alakhazam, or are you just blowing smoke Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda?

So far as "unforeseeable incidents" happening, there was an unforeseeable Earthquake/Tsunami. Is it now that, even if a repeat were to happen, that everything will somehow now endure?


People

China - Inside Wukan: The Chinese Village That Fought Back

Wukan Villagers
© Malcom Moore
Thousands of Wukan's residents gathered for a second day in front of a triple-roofed pagoda that serves as the village hall.

For the first time on record, the Chinese Communist party has lost all control, with the population of 20,000 in this southern fishing village now in open revolt.

The last of Wukan's dozen party officials fled on Monday after thousands of people blocked armed police from retaking the village, standing firm against tear gas and water cannons.

Since then, the police have retreated to a roadblock, some three miles away, in order to prevent food and water from entering, and villagers from leaving. Wukan's fishing fleet, its main source of income, has also been stopped from leaving harbour.

The plan appears to be to lay siege to Wukan and choke a rebellion which began three months ago when an angry mob, incensed at having the village's land sold off, rampaged through the streets and overturned cars.

Although China suffers an estimated 180,000 "mass incidents" a year, it is unheard of for the Party to sound a retreat.

Christmas Tree

Census shows 1 in 2 people are poor or low-income

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© dbaldinger
Washington - Squeezed by rising living costs, a record number of Americans - nearly 1 in 2 - have fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income.

The latest census data depict a middle class that's shrinking as unemployment stays high and the government's safety net frays. The new numbers follow years of stagnating wages for the middle class that have hurt millions of workers and families.

"Safety net programs such as food stamps and tax credits kept poverty from rising even higher in 2010, but for many low-income families with work-related and medical expenses, they are considered too 'rich' to qualify," said Sheldon Danziger, a University of Michigan public policy professor who specializes in poverty.

"The reality is that prospects for the poor and the near poor are dismal," he said. "If Congress and the states make further cuts, we can expect the number of poor and low-income families to rise for the next several years."

Congressional Republicans and Democrats are sparring over legislation that would renew a Social Security payroll tax cut, part of a year-end political showdown over economic priorities that could also trim unemployment benefits, freeze federal pay and reduce entitlement spending.

X

US: Vermont Fraternity Asks Members Who They Want to Rape

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© Flickr/Nigsby
The University of Vermont has temporarily suspended the fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon after one their members sent out a survey asking his brothers who they would like to rape.

Sigma Phi Epsilon - or SigEp - was already on probation for alcohol abuses, but this latest incident prompted university authorities to contact the national fraternity and the police.

While the survey began with ordinary questions like major and favorite memories, the final question shocked students and members of the UVM administration.

"If I could rape someone, who would it be?" the survey asked.

According to student blogs, the survey was leaked when one SigEp brother mistakenly emailed it to a teaching assistant. One blog alleged that same student had been accused of rape, WCAX reported.

Megaphone

Iraqis Mark End of US Occupation

Thousands of Iraqis have taken into the streets in the western city of Fallujah to celebrate the withdrawal of US troops from the country.
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© unknown
Iraqi protesters burned Israeli and US flags during a rally in Fallujah to celebrate the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, Dec. 14, 2011.

Burning US and Israeli flags and carrying photos of Fallujah residents killed by US forces after the 2003 US-led invasion, the demonstrators on Wednesday described resistance against American invaders key to their country's freedom.

The demonstration was dubbed the first annual "festival to celebrate the role of the resistance".

"Celebrations mark a historical day for the city of Fallujah and we should remember in pride the martyrs who sacrificed their blood for the sake of this city," Reuters quoted Dhabi al-Arsan, deputy governor of Anbar province, as saying.

Handcuffs

US: '5,000-Plus Occupy Protesters Arrested'

The US police have arrested over 5,000 people attending anti-corporatism protests across the country over the past three months, a report says.
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© unknown
A protester is arrested near the Occupy Portland encampment in the city of Portland, Oregon in northwestern US on November 13, 2011.

There have been 5,425 arrests during Occupy protests in 94 cities across the United States up to December 12, according to St. Pete for Peace, an Occupy-affiliated group from St. Petersburg, Florida.

The group says it only tracks 'confirmed arrests.'

It says its list represents "a running total of the number of Occupy protesters arrested around the US since the Occupy Wall Street movement began [in September]."

Info

Egyptians Head to Polls Again in Landmark Election

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© Agence France-Presse/Mohammed Abed
Balloting began Wednesday with a "large voter turnout," said Hamdi Badeen, a member of the ruling council
Egyptians were headed to the polls again on Thursday in a phased election to choose the first post-revolution parliament, as liberals faced an uphill battle to compete with Islamist parties.

Ten months after a popular uprising ended Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule, the country's new political landscape looks set to be dominated by Islamist parties which clinched two thirds of the votes in the opening stage of the election.

Polling stations are due to open at 8:00 am (0600 GMT) in a third of the country's 27 provinces.

Voters are required to cast three ballots: two for individual candidates and one for a party or coalition, in the assembly's 498 seats. The ruling military council which took power when Mubarak was ousted in February will nominate a further 10 deputies.

The second round of the three-stage polls takes place in Cairo's twin city of Giza; Beni Sueif south of the capital; the Nile Delta provinces of Menufiya, Sharqiya and Beheira; the canal cities of Ismailiya and Suez and the southern cities Sohag and Aswan.