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Mon, 05 Dec 2022
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Brilliant! Iceland forgives mortgage debt of its population

The government of Iceland has forgiven the mortgage debt for much of its population. This nation chose a very different way of stopping the crisis from the rest of European countries. It decided to hear the requests of the population and to put politicians and bankers on the bench of the accused three years after their financial excesses would sank one of the most prosperous economies in 2008.

Alarm Clock

Chemical Warfare: The US Military's Pill Addiction

© commondreams.org
The modern Army psychiatrist’s deployment kit is likely to include nine kinds of antidepressants, benzodiazepines for anxiety, four antipsychotics, two kinds of sleep aids, and drugs for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to a 2007 review in the journal Military Medicine.
To fight our insane wars, we're wrecking our soldiers' ability to live with themselves and function in society, then regulating what's left of them with chemicals, which often make things immeasurably worse.

In the pursuit of order, could we possibly be creating more chaos, not simply externally - in the shattered countries we're leaving in our wake - but internally, in the minds of those soldiers?

The Los Angeles Times noted that Air Force pilot Patrick Burke was recently acquitted in a court-marital hearing on charges of auto theft, drunk driving and two counts of assault - due to "polysubstance-induced delirium." This was, the Times explained, a turning point: the first official acknowledgement, by military psychiatrists and a court-martial judge, that the drugs that have become a routine part of military service - in Burke's case, the prescribed amphetamine Dexedrine ("go pills") - can contribute to temporary insanity.

Che Guevara

We don't need the banks anymore! Greek town develops bartering system without euro

As Greece wonders whether its debt crisis will eventually spell its exit from the euro, one town in the centre of the country, Volos, has formed an alternative local currency.

It works through a bartering system or exchange of goods.

The BBC's Mark Lowen reports.

Comment: A peaceful way forward for the global revolution!


Intelligence in Decline

© unk
Back when Britain was brainy: applicants for the Mensa exam gather at the Russell Hotel in 1961
Average IQ is falling in Britain and beyond, explains Philip Hunter

Intelligence quotients (IQs) have risen in developed nations for almost a century. This phenomenon, named the "Flynn effect" after the New Zealand intelligence researcher James Flynn, was first identified in 1984 in the United States. It has been found to occur in all developed nations, and some others as well. The received wisdom became: IQs always go up. But this trend seems to be stopping and even reversing in some countries, research in Britain, Denmark and Norway has shown. It is discomfiting to find intelligence in decline. There is a strong association between a nation's IQ, its prosperity and health.

IQ testing is contentious and regarded by some as a crude indicator of ability or potential. When comparing nations, measured average IQ tends to be affected by class, nutrition, and cultural factors including education. There is also disagreement over the influences of nature and nurture.


Snakes, Leopards, Dogs on the Menu in Zimbabwe

Animal Food
© Minyanville
Earlier this week, Coca-Cola announced plans to invest $4 billion in China over the next three years. The company also opened its 42nd bottling plant in the country last month, according to Forbes.

Well, while Coke works to break into China's home market, competition for Chinese consumers abroad has been heating up. In Zimbabwe, for example, Coke -- along with McDonald's, Burger King, and the rest -- has been facing increased competition from anteaters and stray dogs.

A recent article in the Global Post reports that Chinese workers in Zimbabwe have been doing a number on the local wildlife, eating up everything from pythons to tortoises and leopards to dogs. Apparently, many of these animals are "viewed as prestigious dishes" that "would be expensive to serve at banquets back in China."

China has made a number of substantial investments in Africa and this has led thousands of workers to move to the continent. Unfortunately, as the number of Chinese workers in Africa increases so does the trade in illegal animals.


Psychopath in Action: 'Millionaire Matchmaker' Contestant Achieved Wealth Via Bank Fraud

© Minyanville
There is Earth-shattering news in the world of reality television this week. It seems that a contestant misrepresented himself in order to get on a show for his proverbial 15 minutes of fame. Tampa resident Michael Prozer, a self-proclaimed internet mogul worth $400 million, managed to pass through the ironclad vetting process of Millionaire Matchmaker.

As it turns out, Prozer doesn't own a mansion and a private jet -- as he'd claimed on a 2009 episode of the Bravo series. Appearing as the CEO of Xchangeagent Inc., an online payment service à la PayPal that operates in 36 countries, Prozer scammed producers into setting him up with one of the dating service's gold diggers-in-waiting.

But Prozer didn't just defraud producers of a reality show, he took his con all the way to the bank. With the help of Fedor Stanley Salinas, a financial specialist at Wachovia Bank, Prozer was able to fake deposits worth over $21 million in an account in order to procure a $3 million short-term business loan from Park Avenue Bank in Valdosta, Georgia. Prozer and Salinas set up meetings, both on the phone and in-person, between Park Avenue Bank and people posing as Wachovia employees, who verified his account status.

No such collateral existed, the loan was never repaid, and the Park Avenue Bank took the $3 million hit. Last year, it was forced out of business.


Spain Nun on Trial Over Babies 'Stolen' Under Franco

© Agence France-Presse
Sister Maria may have been part of a nationwide baby-snatching network
A Spanish nun has become the first person to appear in court in connection with the alleged theft of newborn babies, mostly in the Franco era.

Sister Maria Gomez Valbuena, 80, is accused of stealing a mother's newborn daughter at a Madrid hospital in 1982.

Appearing before a judge on Thursday, Sister Maria refused to testify.

Thousands of babies are thought to have been taken from parents in hospitals and given to other families during the Franco dictatorship and later.

The alleged thefts are thought to have started in the 1936-39 Civil War. Some cases are believed to happened as late as the 1990s.

The practice is believed to have been motivated by a desire to remove children from "undesirable" left-wing parents and give them to "approved" right-wing families.

The Spanish authorities have investigated hundreds of complaints related to the events. Many parents say they were told by hospital staff that their babies had died during or after childbirth.

Many cases have been dismissed for lack of evidence.


Zimmerman Makes Court Appearance in Florida Shooting

George Zimmerman
© The Associated Press/Gary W. Green/Orlando Sentinel/Pool
George Zimmerman, center, is directed by a Seminole County Deputy and his attorney Mark O'Mara during a court hearing Thursday April 12, 2012, in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of the 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
US: Stanford, Florida - Neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman made his first court appearance Thursday on a second-degree murder charge in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, as a court document provided new details on the prosecution's case.

During the brief appearance, Zimmerman stood up straight, looked straight ahead and wore a gray prison jumpsuit. He spoke only to answer "Yes, sir," twice after he was asked basic questions about the charge against him and his attorney.

His hair was shaved down to stubble and he had a thin goatee, which appeared consistent with his booking photo from the day before. He had resurfaced Wednesday to turn himself in after weeks in hiding.

Judge Mark E. Herr said he found probable cause to move ahead with the case and that an arraignment would be held on May 29 before another judge.

A document prepared by prosecutors shed some light on why they chose to charge Zimmerman. The affidavit says Martin's mother identified screams heard in the background of a 911 call as her son's. There had been some question as to whether Martin or Zimmerman was the one calling for help.

Prosecutors also interviewed a friend of Martin's who was talking to him just before the shooting. The affidavit says Martin told the witness he was being followed and was scared.

Martin tried to run home, the affidavit says, but was followed by Zimmerman: "Zimmerman got out of his vehicle and followed Martin."

The affidavit says that "Zimmerman disregarded the police dispatcher" who told him to stop, and "continued to follow Martin who was trying to return to his home."

Comment: Please read the Sott Focus: Hysterization Via Racism in the Trayvon Martin Case for a better understanding of the dynamics at play in the Trayvon Martin case.


Texas Christian Values: School Fires Unwed Pregnant Teacher

© American Broadcasting Company
A Christian school in Texas has fired an unmarried science teacher because it claimed she was not a good "Christian role model" - even after she offered to get married.

Cathy Samford, who is now 39 weeks pregnant, told ABC News that she was "totally shocked" when Heritage Christian Academy in Rockwall, Texas fired her from her job as a science teacher and volleyball coach after they discovered she was pregnant late last year.

"I'm not just some teacher that went out to a bar and got pregnant and went back to school saying it's okay," Samford explained. "I was in a committed relationship the whole time and probably would have been married if things had gone differently and this would be a non-situation."

"I didn't think I would lose my job," she said. "I was in shock and devastated and that's when I said, 'If this is the problem, I'm willing, and so is my fiancé, to go ahead and get married.' That wasn't the issue. We were going to get married regardless."


Cindy Sheehan vs. The Empire

cindy Sheehan
© Unknown
Even if one only counts foreign military invasions, the United States of America has long been an Empire, but if we talk about our nation's First People, it has always been so.

This is a true story: A few months before I went to Crawford, Texas in August of 2005, to ask George Bush the infamous question, "What Noble Cause," I visited my Congressional Representative, George Miller (D). I begged him to do what he could to end the wars and hold the Bush crime syndicate accountable for killing my son, Casey.

Miller told me that he was sympathetic to my cause, but he couldn't do anything because the Democrats were at that time, a "minority." (We would all soon learn that the Democrats wouldn't do anything even when they were the majority, but that's another story.)

Anyway, I said, "George, I am only one person, but I will do whatever I can to hold Bush accountable. The Bush family has been murdering people for generations, but when they murdered by son, Casey, they murdered the wrong person."

Well, since that meeting, I have been doing everything I can to hold BushCo (etc) accountable, but in my quest for accountability, I learned my target was too narrow--George Bush was never the bullseye. The bullseye is the Robber Class that uses the Military Empire for profit and power.