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US: In Detroit, Swapping a House for a Car Is a Great Deal

Detroit
© MinyanvilleMotor City.

When you're involved in a barter, you're usually looking to at least break even. Those with enough savvy can even manage to trade up. Or, in the exceptional, world news-making case, a dealer with forethought, time and can-do spirit in spades can swap a plastic office supply for a home.

Like 25-year-old Kyle MacDonald who -- after twelve months and fourteen transactions that included a fish-shaped pen, a Coleman camp stove, a Cintas cube van, and Alice Cooper -- managed to turn a single red paperclip into a two-story 1920s farmhouse.

It also makes the news when an exchange goes the other way around. Not exactly as devastating as losing a piece of property to a piece of plastic, but what about swapping a $96,000 house for a $6,750 minivan?

In what may be one of the most telling scenarios about the underwater state of the Detroit real estate market -- a market so bad that Habitat for Humanity is having to turn down donation offers from home owners unable to sell -- a 36-year-old mother of six let go of her four-bedroom, three-bathroom home in Russell Woods, one of the city's better neighborhoods.

What for? A 2006 Chevrolet Uplander with 85,000 miles and a Kelley Blue Book value of between $5,000 and $8,500.

Pistol

Virginia, US: Shots Fired at Virginia Tech; Officer Reported Shot

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© UnknownVirginia Tech
Blacksburg - A police officer was shot at Virginia Tech on Thursday morning and campus officials warned everyone to seek shelter while an armed suspect was at large.

"We don't know if the suspect fled or the extent of the injuries to the suspect or to the officer," NBC News' Pete Williams told MSNBC TV.

"This was a traffic stop on campus," Williams said. "It was not someone walking around firing shots."

A second victim was at a campus parking lot, CBS television station WDBJ reported.

A Virginia Tech alert described the suspected shooter as a white male wearing gray sweat pants, a gray hat with a neon green brim and a maroon hoodie, and carrying a backpack.

A Virginia Tech alert posted on the school's website said the suspect was last seen walking toward McComas Hall, which is the main gym on campus, about two blocks from Lane Stadium.

In the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, 33 people, including the mentally ill gunman, were killed on the Virginia Tech campus on April 16, 2007. The massacre in a classroom building began at 9:40 a.m. when Seung-Hui Cho chained the doors and killed dozens before committing suicide.

Handcuffs

US, Massachusetts: 80-Year-Old Woman Criminally Charged For Feeding Ducks


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© unknownClaire Butcher is criminally charged for feeding ducks.
A woman known as "the bird lady" is facing criminal charges for feeding the ducks, geese, and pigeons at a local pond.

Eighty-year-old Claire Butcher has been feeding the birds for 45 years at Flax, Sluice, and Goldfish Ponds in Lynn.

But the controversy really began to simmer back in 2009.

At the time, Lynn officials were fed up with Butcher. They had been complaining for several years, asking her to stop bringing shopping carts full of food to the pond.

The city contended Butcher's feeding the birds was causing a problem with animal feces as well as attracting rats.

"You can see how filthy it is over there and how many animals reside there. It's because of the constant feeding by Ms. Butcher," Lynn's Attorney Vincent Phelan told WBZ-TV on Wednesday.

Attention

US: NYPD Warns Banks About Letter Bombs After Device Mailed to Bank HQ in Germany

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© unknown
The device was not detonated and no one was hurt.

The NYPD is warning New York banks to concentrate their security efforts on mailrooms after a confirmed letter bomb was sent to the CEO of Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt, Germany, law enforcement officials said.

All New York banks are "being advised to take precautions" Wednesday after the device was detected in the mailroom of Deutsche Bank's headquarters overseas, addressed to Joseph Ackermann, the official said.

No one was injured.

The NYPD warning to bank security officials reads in part:"We have received a report of a confirmed mail (package) explosive device that was addressed and sent to ... Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt, Germany. The package was detected by X-ray technology inside the mail room. The package did not detonate."

NYPD officials are stepping up security around Deutsche Bank locations in the city. There was no immediate word on what individual or what group sent the apparent letter bomb, the official said.

Mail

Package sent to Deutsche Bank CEO was bomb

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© Reuters/Fabian BimmerChief Executive of Deutsche Bank Josef Ackermann delivers a speech in Hamburg, December 2, 2011.
A suspicious envelope sent to Deutsche Bank Chief Executive Josef Ackermann - the face of capitalism in Germany - was a functioning letter bomb, investigators said on Thursday.

No one has so far claimed responsibility for the package, which was intercepted late on Wednesday.

It raised fears that a wave of protests against the failures and excesses of bankers could turn more violent, and prompted police across Europe to warn banks to be extra vigilant.

Ackermann, 63, a Swiss who is the first non-German to head Germany's biggest bank, is one of the few senior managers in the country always surrounded by bodyguards.

"Initial investigations show that this was an operational letter bomb," the Criminal Investigations Office for the state of Hesse and Frankfurt prosecutors in a statement.

Top Secret

US: Air Force dumped ashes of more troops' remains in Virginia landfill than acknowledged

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© Mark Wilson / Getty ImagesA U.S. Army carry team carries the transfer case a soldier during a dignified transfer at Dover Air Force Base on Aug. 4, 2009.
The Air Force dumped the incinerated partial remains of at least 274 American troops in a Virginia landfill, far more than the military had acknowledged, before halting the secretive practice three years ago, records show.

The landfill dumping was concealed from families who had authorized the military to dispose of the remains in a dignified and respectful manner, Air Force officials said. There are no plans, they said, to alert those families now.

The Air Force had maintained that it could not estimate how many troops might have had their remains sent to a landfill. The practice was revealed last month by The Washington Post, which was able to document a single case of a soldier whose partial remains were sent to the King George County landfill in Virginia. The new data, for the first time, show the scope of what has become an embarrassing episode for vaunted Dover Air Base, the main port of entry for America's war dead.


The landfill disposals were never formally authorized under military policies or regulations. They also were not disclosed to senior Pentagon officials who conducted a high-level review of cremation policies at the Dover mortuary in 2008, records show.

Comment: Honor, Integrity, Courage, Moral, Service, Heroes.. actually, no. Now you see them treated as the cannon fodder the Government considers them to be.

"Military men are just dumb stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy." - Henry Kissinger


Bizarro Earth

An Idiot's Overview of Why Western Capitalism is Crashing

economic Indicators for Dummies
© Idiot's Guides
The idiot of the headline is me in the sense that I am not an economist and have never had any formal association with study of the theory and practise of economics, but... I began to understand why what is today called Western capitalism was bound to crash way back in the early 1970's when I was researching and producing an epic documentary on the everyday reality of global poverty and its implications for all.

When I reflected on what I had witnessed and learned while researching in 120 countries (as well as at the World Bank and many UN agencies) and filming in 69 of them, I let commonsense be my guide. It led me to the conclusion that capitalism was not of itself the problem. It was the short-sighted and stupid way Western capitalism was managed.

Now I'll put some flesh on that bone.

By the early 1970's truly informed development experts were drawing attention to the fact that our one small planet was divided into two worlds - the Rich World containing about 20% of humankind (and known in development jargon as the North), and the Poor World containing about 80% of humankind (and known in development jargon as the South).

Dollar

US: California Governor Jerry Brown Filing Initiative to Hike Taxes on Sales and Wealthy

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© REUTERS/Lucy NicholsonCalifornia Governor Jerry Brown speaks after vetoing the budget passed the day before by state legislators in Los Angeles, California June 16, 2011.
Warning of deeper cuts to schools and public safety without new money, Gov. Jerry Brown announced Monday he will file a ballot initiative to hike taxes on sales and wealthy earners.

The November 2012 proposal, as reported last week, would raise an estimated $7 billion annually over five years.

"The stark truth is that without new tax revenues, we will have no other choice but to make deeper and more damaging cuts to schools, universities, public safety and our courts," Brown wrote in what he dubbed "An Open Letter to the People of California."

The broadest tax hike is the half-cent increase in the state sales tax. Based on Bee research, it would amount to a $123 annual increase for the median California joint tax filer earning $65,025.

Handcuffs

US: For Many Women, a Prison Sentence Also Means Abuse

Artistic recreation of a woman's prison
© BeyondMediaArtistic recreation of a woman's prison cell, part of the multimedia installation Voices in Time: Lives in Limbo.
Washington - While most of the one million women in prison in the U.S. are incarcerated for non-violent offenses, many experience harsh treatment that advocates say violates their human rights.

For example, the shackling of women prisoners' arms and legs during labor and childbirth remains a common practice in many states, according to human rights organizations. Only 14 states prohibit the shackling of women when they're giving birth.

But shackling is not the only treatment that defines many women's experiences in prison in the U.S. One study found that 2.1 percent of female inmates experienced sexual misconduct by a staff member during a 10-month period, and advocates believe the real number could be much greater.

Tuesday is the twelfth day of the "16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence", a campaign organized by Rutgers University, and one of the themes of this year's campaign is "sexual and gender-based violence committed by state agents".

Attention

Best of the Web: Where Were You When They Crucified My Lord?

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© Ilustration by Mr. Fish
Chris Hedges gave an abbreviated version of this talk Saturday morning in Liberty Square in New York City as part of an appeal to Trinity Church to turn over to the Occupy Wall Street movement an empty lot, known as Duarte Square, that the church owns at Canal Street and 6th Avenue. Occupy Wall Street protesters, following the call, began a hunger strike at the gates of the church-owned property. Three of the demonstrators were arrested Sunday on charges of trespassing, and three others took their places.

The Occupy movement is the force that will revitalize traditional Christianity in the United States or signal its moral, social and political irrelevance. The mainstream church, battered by declining numbers and a failure to defiantly condemn the crimes and cruelty of the corporate state, as well as a refusal to vigorously attack the charlatans of the Christian right, whose misuse of the Gospel to champion unfettered capitalism, bigotry and imperialism is heretical, has become a marginal force in the life of most Americans, especially the young. Outside the doors of churches, many of which have trouble filling a quarter of the pews on Sundays, struggles a movement, driven largely by young men and women, which has as its unofficial credo the Beatitudes:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the earth.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons and daughters of God.
Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.