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Wed, 19 Sep 2018
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The public's lynch mob mentality when it comes to Russia

skripal suspects
© MET Police
Their best sides - "Alexander Petrov" and "Ruslan Boshirov" make sure to be caught on CCTV at Salisbury Station on March 3, 2018 in an image handed out by the Metropolitan Police in London, Britain September 5, 2018
I was caught in a twitterstorm of hatred yesterday, much of it led by mainstream media journalists like David Aaronovitch and Dan Hodges, for daring to suggest that the basic elements of Boshirov and Petrov's story do in fact stack up. What became very plain quite quickly was that none of these people had any grasp of the detail of the suspects' full twenty minute interview, but had just seen the short clips or quotes as presented by British corporate and state media.

As I explained in my last post, what first gave me some sympathy for the Russians' story and drew me to look at it closer, was the raft of social media claims that there was no snow in Salisbury that weekend and Stonehenge had not been closed. In fact, Stonehenge was indeed closed on 3 March by heavy snow, as confirmed by English Heritage. So the story that they came to Salisbury on 3 March but could not go to Stonehenge because of heavy snow did stand up, contrary to almost the entire twittersphere.

Once there was some pushback of truth about this on social media, people started triumphantly posting the CCTV images from 4 March to prove that there was no snow lying in Central Salisbury on 4 March. But nobody ever said there was snow on 4 March - in fact Borisov and Petrov specifically stated that they learnt there was a thaw so they went back. However when they got there, they encountered heavy sleet and got drenched through. That accords precisely with the photographic evidence in which they are plainly drenched through.

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Arrow Down

Statues of Nazi-saluting wolves appear in Chemnitz amid anti-immigrant protests

Nazi wolf statue Chemnitz Germany
© Tobias Schlie/Reuters
Under the eyes of Chemnitz's Karl Marx statue, the sight of snarling bronze wolves with their right paws outstretched seems out of place. However, the artist behind the work hopes it will spark a "discussion" in German politics.

Titled "the wolves are back?," the installation features ten bronze statues of aggressive-looking wolves, many with their right paws outstretched as if they are doing a Hitler salute. Others, meanwhile, are blindfolded.

Describing his work as a "political vigil," artist Rainer Opolka's installation in Chemnitz comes two weeks after the death of a German man, allegedly killed by two migrants, sparked protests and rioting in the city.

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Italy's first sex doll brothel raided by police and forced to shut down after just 9 days

sex doll brothel turin
© Getty Images/Stefano Guidi/LightRocket
Turin authorities closed the brothel after just nine days citing hygiene concerns
Days after opening, Italy's pioneering sex doll brothel has been shut by authorities over a "lack of hygiene" and other offenses. All eight of the dolls have been seized for forensic examination by authorities.

Police raided the establishment on Wednesday, seizing the silicone sex workers. Until its sudden closure on Wednesday, LumiDolls in Torino, northwestern Italy charged clients €80 ($90) for 30 minutes of alone time with the hyper realistic dolls which cost roughly 2,000 euro each to produce.

Authorities are concerned over hygiene at the establishment and also insufficient information on the materials the dolls were made from and their country of manufacture, according to Wired Italy. The brothel owners claim that they clean the dolls for two hours once a client has finished with them. Police are also investigating whether the brothel breached Italian laws on renting out accommodation and alleged but unspecified illegal activity.

Comment: A sorry sign of the times:


Salisbury suspects Petrov & Boshirov: The burden of proof is on the UK govt, not them

skripal suspects interview

Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov
I am currently away for a few days and so haven't been able to study the interview of Petrov and Boshirov in any great detail, though I have read the transcript and seen something of the reaction from a number of different quarters. I don't really want to comment much on the credibility or otherwise of their claims, but rather on something far more important, which seems - not for the first time in this case - to have been largely forgotten (please do forgive any rough formatting on this piece - I've had to do it on an iPhone as I don't have my laptop with me).

For some time now, I have been concerned that our generation has been busy burying some of the most cherished legal concepts that many of our forebears seemed to instinctively understand, and which were enshrined into English Common Law. Concepts such as innocent until proven guilty, and that the burden of proof rests with the prosecution to prove its case against the accused, rather than on the accused to prove his or her defense against the accusations.

My biggest initial gripe in the Salisbury case was that the British Government completely discarded these concepts and simply presented unsubstantiated accusations as if they were fact. Not only did this prejudice the investigation from the outset, but it went a long way towards poisoning the wells of justice. So much for their much vaunted "British Values".

More recently, the same has been done again. The Metropolitan Police, The Crown Prosecution Service and Her Majesty's Government (TMP/CPS/HMG) named two suspects in the case, stating that they had enough evidence to prosecute the men. They then presented at least some of that evidence, before - at least in the case of the Government and the media - then going on to treat the suspects as if it had been proven that they had brought something called "Novichok" into the country and had carried out an assassination attempt on 4th March at the home of Sergei Skripal at 47 Christie Miller Road, Salisbury.

But it has not been proven. Very far from it. Accusations are not convictions. Suspects are not culprits. And if we are going to pretend that the extraordinarily flimsy evidence against the two men - at least that presented in public - is enough to claim "case closed; culprits caught", then we have basically torn up 1,000 years or so of legal history, and are pretty well lost as a nation.

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European court determines that bulk data collection by NSA and GCHQ violates human rights charter

bulk interception
GCHQ's methods for bulk interception of various online communications violated privacy rights and failed to provide sufficient surveillance safeguards, the European court of human rights ruled in a 5-2 ruling

The court found that GCHQ's "bulk interception" violated article 8 of the European convention on human rights, which guarantees privacy due to "insufficient safeguards" relating to the "communications data."

Heart - Black

The Politicization of the young Isn't cute. It's creepy Political Evangelism.

Feeding youngsters with our own convictions or giving them national platforms is problematic for several reasons.
David Hogg and Horace
Be it municipal children's councils or national youth organizations: the effort to promote children in politics is ongoing. To nobody's surprise, the kids reach the exact conclusions that the adults want them to reach.

The next presidents

"You are the decision makers of the future. You are the ambassadors of your generation."

These words still echo in my own ears. I've personally participated in a large number of youth and student councils, as well as events dedicated to "give a voice to young people". There isn't anything wrong with the idea of involving children in the decisions that affect them on a daily basis, but that doesn't seem to be what we do at all. In reality, children's parliaments are there for our mere entertainment, so that we can smile at the cuteness of youngsters in suits and call them our future presidents.


'It can't be more absurd!' German man who liked satire post taunting Hitler scrutinized by police

© RT / Global Look Press
A Facebook post by a German satire magazine ridiculing a right-wing politician and Hitler received a solid like from a Munich student. Despite being among thousands of users who also liked the post, he was scrutinized by police.

Law enforcement has now launched an inquiry into Johannes Koenig, a 27-year-old student from Munich, local media reported, saying the case has been passed on to the local police department, Commissariat 44, which deals with far-right offences.

But the situation is tricky, considering where the post was made, namely Postillon, a popular satire magazine which frequently mocks public figures and ridicules national controversies. Their articles contain fictional characters and sometimes describe fictitious events - which the magazine says in their disclaimer.


Arizona: Twenty-four suspects arrested in child and human trafficking sting

pedo mugshots
A multi-agency operation in Mesa, Arizona, has resulted in the arrest of 24 suspects, all tied to child and human trafficking.

The Mesa Police Detectives, partnered with Chandler, Gilbert and Tempe police Departments as well as the Attorney General's Office for Operation Degrossting - an undercover operation targeting the demand for child and human trafficking.

In the span of six days, undercover detectives placed several ads on websites that are commonly used by suspects who wish to seek out illegal sex acts. The 24 suspects who were arrested solicited and/or brokered deals for various sex acts and were subsequently arrested, according to Fox 10.


Olympic figure skater Denis Ten murder case to be taken to court by end of month

Denis Ten
© Timur Batyrshin / Sputnik
The trial into the murder of Kazakh figure skater Denis Ten is expected to begin by the end of September, according to officials.

"Two culprits have been charged with theft, mugging and murder, while a woman has been accused of withholding information about the crime. I think that by the end of the month the case will be brought to court," Kazakh Minister of Internal Affairs Kalmukhanbet Kasymov was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti.

Ten, a 2014 Olympic bronze medalist, was stabbed to death in July after an altercation with two men who were attempting to steal rear-view mirrors from his car in Almaty.


Pure Sci Fi: Professor discounts claims of 'microwave attacks' on US diplomats in Cuba

Screen sound analysis cuba
TV grab taken on October 26, 2017 from a recent recording by Cuban Television showing environmentalists analyzing sounds in areas where officials from the US embassy in Havana were allegedly affected by mysterious attacks.
There's no conclusive evidence that US diplomats stationed in Cuba were injured by a futuristic weapon, Kenneth R. Foster, a professor of bioengineering, told RT, adding that theories involving microwaves were "science fiction."

NBC published an explosive report earlier this week claiming that several anonymous US officials suspect that Russia was behind a series of unexplained "attacks" on US diplomatic personnel in Cuba and China, leaving the victims with injuries ranging from hearing loss to "problems with cognition."

But Foster, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania who studied microwave phenomena while working at the Naval Medical Research Center in Bethesda, told RT that the evidence that these purported injuries were caused by some kind of microwave weapon - which the NBC article alleges - is "science fiction."

"The kind of effect that has been talked about with the embassy is purely a fairy tale," Foster said. He noted that while non-lethal microwave weapons exist, they require high-power transmissions and are only able to cause "thermal pain" in people. "I can't conceive of a microwave weapon as it's being thought about in this case. And it's not clear that the symptoms are real."

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