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Tue, 28 Sep 2021
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Drone hits Navy ship, 2 sailors hurt; officials seek cause

Drone hits Navy ship
© Alexander Tidd / AFP / Getty Images
This US Navy handout image shows the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) underway on July 6, 2011 in the Arabian Sea. Two sailors aboard the guided missile cruiser Chancellorsville were injured and the ship was damaged when it was hit by a BQM-74 drone, launched from a naval base at Point Magu in Ventura County on the afternoon of November 16, a Navy official said.
Officials are trying to determine why a drone being used as part of a Navy training exercise malfunctioned off the Ventura County coast Saturday.

Two sailors suffered minor burns in the incident, the Navy said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Third Fleet told the Associated Press that it is unclear what went wrong.

The ship sustained some damage and is returning to its home port of San Diego, the Navy said.

The sailors aboard the USS Chancellorsville were using the drone to test the ship's radar-tracking system, something done on a regular basis. The drone, a 13-foot-long aircraft with a wingspan of nearly 6 feet, was being controlled from Point Mugu.

Around 1:25 p.m., the drone slammed into the port side of the ship, a guided missile cruiser with a crew of about 300.


Revealed: Tape that shows BBC chief 'did know of Savile probe'

Paedophile Jimmy Savile
© Unknown
Former British media personality paedophile Jimmy Savile

A Tory MP last night sent a bombshell tape recording to the chairman of the BBC Trust which he says proves there was a 'cover-up' over the Jimmy Savile affair.

Rob Wilson has given Chris Patten a recording of Nick Pollard - who headed an independent inquiry into why the BBC's Newsnight programme axed its investigation of Savile.

On the tape, Mr Pollard is heard admitting that he made a 'mistake' by withholding a key detail from his report. He says he was told that BBC head of news, Helen Boaden, had personally informed director-general Mark Thompson of the sex abuse allegations against Savile in December 2011. Mr Pollard added he received the information in a letter from Ms Boaden's lawyer.

The assertion is at odds with Mr Thompson's claim that he was unaware of the allegations against Savile until after he left the BBC in September 2012. In his final report in December 2012, Mr Pollard stated that he had 'no reason to doubt' Mr Thompson's story.

But during the tape-recorded private conversation, Mr Pollard adds: 'It doesn't particularly reflect well on me that I overlooked this [the letter] in the report.'

Airplane Paper

50 Feared dead in Boeing 737 plane crash in Russia's Tatarstan

Plane Crash in Tatarstan
© RIA Novosti. Valentina Elagina
50 Feared Dead in Plane Crash in Russia’s Tatarstan
A total of 50 people are feared dead as a passenger jet crashed on landing in the city of Kazan in Russia's republic of Tatarstan, a spokeswoman for the Emergencies Ministry reported Sunday.

Irina Rossius said the jet, a Tatarstan Airlines Boeing 737 bound from Moscow to Kazan with 50 people on board, crashed at about 19:30 Moscow Time, adding that there was an explosion. According to preliminary data, all those on board died, she said.

The pilot tried to perform a go-around after an aborted landing, a spokesman for Federal Air Transport Agency Rosaviatsiya said, adding that the airport in Kazan is closed.

The Rossiya-24 TV channel reported that there were 44 passengers and six crew on board.

An investigation is under way, the Investigative Committee said, adding that it will send experts to the crash site. Committee chief Alexander Bastrykin will head to Kazan on Monday. The fire on the crash site has been extinguished, the committee said.


Gay-marriage exorcism planned by Illinois bishop

bishop Thomas Paprocki
Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Illinois is planning an exorcism for the state after it approved gay marriage.
The devil made them do it?

According to a Catholic bishop in Springfield, Illinois, Satan was behind his state's recent legalization of same-sex marriage.

So, next Wednesday, at about the same time Gov. Pat Quinn signs the gay marriage bill into law, Bishop Thomas Paprocki will hold an exorcism ceremony "in reparation for the sin of same-sex marriage."

Paprocki, who's something of an expert on exorcism, says he's just following the Pope's marching orders.

When Pope Francis, then Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, was an archbishop in Argentina, he called that country's legalization of same-sex marriage "a 'move' of the father of lies who wishes to confuse and deceive the children of God."

In a statement released on Thursday, Paprocki said: "The pope's reference to the 'father of lies' comes from the Gospel of John, where Jesus refers to the devil as 'a liar and the father of lies.' So Pope Francis is saying that same-sex 'marriage' comes from the devil and should be condemned as such."

Since his election as Pope in March, Francis seems to have taken a less combative approach to homosexuality. At a news conference in July, for example, he said "Who am I to judge?" a gay person who seeks to be a good person.

Illinois politicians - including Catholics - cited the Pope's words when explaining their support for the state's same-sex marriage bill.

In September, the Pope said the church has no right to "interfere spiritually" in the lives of gays and lesbians and chided Catholics who "obsess" about fighting culture war issues like abortion and same-sex marriage.


Colorado man suing for $1M in damages after police kill his dog

The owner of a dog shot that was shot and killed by Colorado police officers is suing Commerce City and three cops for $1 million in damages.

The officers involved in the shooting of the chocolate lab/pit bull mix, Chloe, were cleared of any wrongdoing in a criminal trial.

The video of Chloe's killing went viral on the Internet and many people were horrified by what had happened and protested about the excessive use of force. That is just part of the reason that Gary Branson has decided to file the civil case.

Chloe helped Branson recover after undergoing triple bypass surgery in 2008.

"She motivated me," Branson said. "When you have a surgery like that, that's going to bring you down. She was always there to perk me up, whether it was by licking my toes or begging for a bone. She just brightened my day, every day."

Branson cites the severe emotional distress that he has suffered and, although he's already gotten another dog, he claims his life will never be the same.

"I can't replace Chloe," said Branson, "there are so many dogs being shot needlessly it needs to come to a stop."


State cop shoots at minivan full of kids

A mother is facing felony charges and two state police officers are under investigation after a traffic stop escalated into a wild scene involving broken glass, gunfire and a high speed chase.

Bizarro Earth

Novelist of the 99% is trending big-time as U.S sinks into Dickensian nightmare

Bleak House Dickens
© Main Street films
A scene from Charles Dicken's Great Expectations
Charles Dickens is a man for our season, an artist who got people to think about economic injustice.

Can art do anything for the 99%? The case of Charles Dickens argues that yes - when genius, perseverance, activism, and admittedly, luck, combine, artistic creations can spark fires that burn through encrusted layers of human wrongs. It doesn't happen overnight, and not as often as we wish. But it happens.

Maybe that's why we're turning to Dickens for guidance as America careens toward the nightmare he warned us about in the brutal early days of industrial capitalism. In this late finance-driven stage, as our top-heavy society teeters on the brink of self-inflicted disaster, we need him more than ever.

Dickens is a man for our season.

Poet of the People

Dickens was the most famous writer in Europe and America during his lifetime, just 25 when his first novel, The Pickwick Papers, rocketed him to the heights of literary success. Ebeneezer Scrooge gave us the icon of miserly capitalism, while Oliver Twist indicted economic injustice in the simple request of a hungry child, "Please, sir, I want some more."

A friend of the laborer, the poor, the prisoner, and the sufferer, Dickens was likewise the enemy of the miser, the hustler, the social climber, and the hypocrite, all of whom he could slice and dice in a fury of satire.

In the subjects Dickens took on we find a menu of concerns that reflect our current ills: laissez-faire capitalism (Hard Times), class divides (Great Expectations) child poverty (Oliver Twist), debt (Little Dorrit), legal injustice (Bleak House) and tyranny (A Tale of Two Cities).

No wonder Dickensia is everywhere right now. Since the financial crisis, there have been BBC adaptations, a hit biography, and retrospectives celebrating the 200-year anniversary of his birth in 2012. Oprah doubled down on Dickens with a Great Expectations /A Tale of Two Cities combo for her book club. Most recently, Bill de Blasio rode A Tale of Two Cities all the way to the New York mayorship, making the title of Dickens' novel a campaign slogan for a divided metropolis. A new film version of Great Expectations featuring Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Havisham and an upcoming biopic starring Ralph Fiennes seal the author's resurgence.

Charles Dickens didn't just imagine hard times; he lived them. The world was very nearly deprived of one of its great artists and humanitarians when poverty struck his decidedly ordinary family. When Dickens was 12 years old, his father, a clerk, hit a rough financial patch and was thrown into debtor's prison. Young Charles left school and labored in a rat-infested shoe polish warehouse, toiling 10 hours a day, six days a week, for two years. If not for the death of his grandmother, who left the family a small inheritance, Dickens would likely have remained there and never continued his education. Fortunately he was able to make his way to school and eventually landed a job as a newspaper reporter.

Dickens' childhood story, which haunted him for life, is a vivid example of what happens when people fall on hard times in the absence of a social safety net: they get trampled. No doubt Dickens and his family would have been sneered at today by Tea Partiers and self-serving 1 percenters who pretend that poverty is a deserved condition. But Charles Dickens learned firsthand that poverty is no more a sign of depravity than wealth is an indicator of superiority. He saw that very often the reverse is true. This theme would feature in Great Expectations, where the working-class Pip longs to be a gentleman, but soon finds out that many gentlefolk were either dissipated or conniving or sadistic - or all three.

Comment: Change comes only when many voices are working for it as well as calling for it. What are you doing?


Spanish cyclist fined €100 for eating croissant

© Tony Hall
The croissant ended up being an expensive breakfast for this Spanish cyclist.

A cyclist in Spain was fined €100 ($135) recently for eating a croissant while riding his bicycle.

Ivan González was slapped with the fine after a policeman spotted him eating the breakfast pastry while riding through central Sabadell, in Spain's Catalonia region.

He was on his way to work when a local policeman waved him down and wrote up a ticket for reckless driving, Spain's La Vanguardia newspaper reported on Thursday.

An indignant González said he planned to appeal the decision.

Even police at the local station appeared confused by the hefty penalty, he said.

The fine for dangerous cycling is all part of Spain's shift towards a points-based driving licence.

Spanish drivers receive a total of 12 points but can lose points for various infractions, including talking on a mobile phone while driving, speeding or drink driving.

They can also see points stripped for more unusual activities like reversing on a motorway or throwing any object from a car window that could cause an accident.

But even cyclists can lose points for similar infractions, as Ivan González discovered recently.


Buying citizenship: Which nations are affordable?

© Anne Rippy
There are plenty of countries offering to hand you a new citizenship, provided you invest a sufficient amount of money. For those who do not have millions to spare, which nations are more affordable?

Malta made headlines earlier this week when its parliament approved a program to sell the nationality for just $900,000. It comes with full EU benefits and is one of the least restrictive passports for global jetsetters.

It's likely to be an unwelcome development for an immigration-wary Brussels. Programs are already available for swift residency in Portugal - a "Gold Residence Permit Programme" there can be secured with property investments of at least $675,000. It does not give you full citizenship, however.

Arrow Down

Social services worker arrested after boy found handcuffed to porch with dead chicken around neck

Union County, North Carolina - Authorities arrested a Union County Department of Social Services worker and a Monroe man Friday night after an 11-year-old boy was found handcuffed to the front porch of a home with a dead chicken tied around his neck, investigators said.

WBTV of Charlotte reported a deputy was answering an animal services complaint next door to the home on Austin Road, south of Monroe, when he saw a child secured to the front porch at the ankle, by what appeared to be a pair of handcuffs.

The child also had a dead chicken hanging around his neck, and appeared to be shivering, the deputy said.