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Sat, 16 Oct 2021
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Probation for drunk Texas wealthy teen driver who killed four sparks backlash

Ethan Couch

Ethan Couch, the teen who drove over 4 people while drunk
A decision by a Texas judge this week to give an affluent teenager probation after he killed four people while driving drunk has sparked a backlash and complaints of a miscarriage of justice.

State District Judge Jean Boyd on Tuesday sentenced the 16-year-old boy to 10 years probation and ordered him to get therapy. The teen was driving a pickup truck when he ran down four people who were helping fix a vehicle at the roadside in the Fort Worth area.

Comment: Imagine what the sentence would be if the crime was committed by one of the youths from a minority community in the U.S., one of those who do not suffer from "affluenza"!

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Mandela Memorial 'a disgrace,' turnout 'embarrassingly poor'

© Breitbart
Though with kind words for Nelson Mandela and for the speeches given at his tribute, the Daily Mail's David Jones reports from the scene that the event was "a shambles" and embarrassing for the late leader.

In a scathing column for the Mail, Jones laments the empty stadium, the chronic booing of the event's host, and the fact that the ceremony -- four hours long -- began 57 minutes late. "It's my view that yesterday's memorial ceremony for Nelson Mandela not only failed to reflect the towering achievements of the man," he writes, "at times, it was a shambolic disgrace to his name."

Jones notes the stadium, home to the last World Cup, was only two-thirds full. Despite warnings of potentially discordant crowds, "we gazed down upon rows of empty seats" and an "embarrassingly poor" turnout. What's more, he adds, the crowd that was there required disciplining as it booed the image of current South African President Jacob Zuma, the host of the event, whenever he appeared on the jumbotron. The crowd also cheered Mandela's second wife, Winnie, more than his third, Jones recounts.

The crowd played a winners-and-losers game with the guests that made the event "almost like being in a Roman amphitheatre" and "frankly distasteful," writes Jones.
FNB Stadium

Poor turnout: The 80,000 seat FNB Stadium in Johannesburg was only two-thirds full for Mandela's memorial.


Noam Chomsky: U.S. used to have people killed for practicing what Pope Francis preaches

© The Raw Story
Noam Chomsky
The United States waged a decades-long war against Catholics who practiced the teachings that got Pope Francis named as Time magazine's person of the year, said political philosopher Noam Chomsky.

He said that the 1962 Vatican II conference had restored the Gospels to the Roman Catholic Church for the first time since the 4th Century, when the Roman Empire took over Christianity as its official religion, and this had a profound effect on religious leaders in Latin America.

Chomsky said in an interview last week with social justice activist Abel Collins that priests or lay people set up groups with Latin American peasants to read the Gospels and encourage them to demand more rights from the region's military dictatorships - which became known as liberation theology.

"There is a reason why Christians were persecuted the first three centuries," Chomsky said. "The Gospels are radical - it's a radical text - that's a basically radical pacifism with its preferential option for the poor.


Unease among Brazil's farmers as Congress votes on GM terminator seeds

Environmentalists warn approval could shatter global agreement not to use technology, with devastating repercussions


© Ruy Barbosa Pinto/Getty Images/Flickr RF
Brazil's national Congress is under pressure from landowning groups to green light GM 'terminator' seeds.
Brazil is set to break a global moratorium on genetically-modified "terminator" seeds, which are said to threaten the livelihoods of millions of small farmers around the world.

The sterile or "suicide" seeds are produced by means of genetic use restriction technology, which makes crops die off after one harvest without producing offspring. As a result, farmers have to buy new seeds for each planting, which reduces their self-sufficiency and makes them dependent on major seed and chemical companies.

Environmentalists fear that any such move by Brazil - one of the biggest agricultural producers on the planet - could produce a domino effect that would result in the worldwide adoption of the controversial technology.

Major seed and chemical companies, which together own more than 60% of the global seed market, all have patents on terminator seed technologies. However, in the 1990s they agreed not to employ the technique after a global outcry by small farmers, indigenous groups and civil society groups.


7,000 UK horses abandoned in the past year after burger meat scandal

More than 7,000 horses have been abandoned in the past year in the wake of the economic downturn and the horsemeat scandal.

RESCUE: Actor Jenny Seagrove says she has to turn away some of the horses
RSPCA estimates show a sharp rise in the number of healthy horses left to die as owners cannot afford to keep them and in many cases cannot afford to have them put down either.

Earlier this year a global investigation was launched when horsemeat was discovered in processed beef and thousands of burgers and ready meals were pulled from supermarket shelves.

Overbreeding also has to be brought under control, campaigners say. Prices have plummeted and ponies can change hands for as little as £5 at some markets. A horse can cost up to £100 a week to look after and owners have to find even more for humane ­disposal of healthy animals which can cost up to £1,000.

Actress Jenny Seagrove, who founded the Mane Chance Sanctuary near Guildford, Surrey, two years ago, said: "We are getting phone calls every day from people who are shockingly desperate and we probably turn away 25 horses a week.

"They are all looking for hope and we try to give it to them. It's just so sad because these horses have done nothing. We just cannot take them all."


Mad world: The revenge porn avengers

© Unknown.
What would you do if you found out that someone had posted naked pictures of you online, without your permission? It's known as "revenge porn", and in the age of mobile phone cameras and sexting, more and more people are becoming victims. Some are fighting back.

Hollie Toups remembers in vivid detail the day that changed her life. The 33-year-old Texan was at work last year when a friend called to tell her there were naked pictures of her on a website.

"I left work and came home and ran upstairs and opened my computer," she tells me at her home in the small town of Nederland in south-east Texas. We're sitting on the same couch where she first typed in the address of the site - Texxxan.com.

A few clicks later Toups was looking at topless photos she'd taken for an ex-boyfriend when she was 24. And not just photos - posted alongside them were her name, links to her Facebook and Twitter accounts, a Google map of her location and a stream of comments.

Cow Skull

Homelessness and demand for food show increase in survey of 25 U.S. cities

homeless hunger
© Agence-France Presse/Spencer Platt
A homeless man sleeps under an American Flag blanket on a park bench on September 10, 2013 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City

A survey of 25 American cities, including many of the nation's largest, showed yearly increases in food aid and homelessness.

The cities, located throughout 18 states, saw requests for emergency food aid rise by an average of seven percent compared with the previous period a year earlier, according to the US Conference of Mayors study, published Wednesday.

All but four cities reported an increase in demand for assistance between the period of September 2012 through August 2013.

"There's no question that the nation's economy is on the mend, but there's also no question that the slow pace of recovery is making it difficult -- and, for many, impossible -- to respond to the growing needs of the hungry and the homeless," said the group's president Tom Cochran.

Around 43 percent of people who asked for food aid were employed, 21 percent were elderly and nine percent were homeless.

The increase in demand grew because of unemployment, lower salaries, poverty and higher prices for housing.


General who opened Guantanamo prison urges for shut-down in 2014

 Marine Major General Michael Lehnert.
© AFP Photo / Peter Muhly
Marine Major General Michael Lehnert.
The American general in charge of opening the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba has come out in favor of closing the facility, declaring, "the entire detention and interrogation strategy was wrong."

Writing in the Detroit Free Press, Marine Major General Michael Lehnert stated the time has come to close Guantanamo, and that the prison "should never have been opened."

Lehnert was the leader of the 2002 Joint Task Force charged with constructing a prison in Guantanamo Bay. He said the facility was created out of fear caused by the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, when the U.S. believed those detained would offer a "treasure trove" if intelligence.

Soon after Guantanamo opened, however, Lehnert decided the operation was a mistake. Most of the individuals captured did not have much information, he said, nor was there adequate evidence connecting them to war crimes.

"We squandered the goodwill of the world after we were attacked by our actions in Guantanamo, both in terms of detention and torture," Lehnert wrote in his column. "Our decision to keep Guantanamo open has helped our enemies because it validates every negative perception of the United States."

Mr. Potato

Man builds deadly weapons with items he bought AFTER going through airport security

© Ben Swann.com
As we reported several weeks ago, a Tennessee man built a firing gun from items he purchased at the airport - after going through security. Since his project received a huge variety of responses from our readers, I decided to reach out to him and find out more. Evan Booth, a computer programmer from Greensboro, created the gun using items like a hairdryer, lithium batteries, and body spray. He calls his creation BLUNDERBUSiness.

Booth said he decided to embark on this project after the TSA introduced body scanners, which he believes violate travelers' privacy.

He told me, "People who understand security understand that the current screening procedures exist primarily to put passengers at ease - 'security theater,' if you will. They also know that, given enough time, a persistent attacker will succeed to some degree."

Booth was able to shoot pocket change out of his gun with enough power to blow a hole through Sheetrock.

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12 Wuhan petitioners attempt mass suicide in Beijing

Mass Suicide
© Want China Times
The 12 petitioners display their petitions in Beijing, Dec. 10.
Twelve people from Wuhan in central China's Hubei province attempted to commit suicide together in Beijing after their petitions against the forced demolition of their houses three years ago received no response.

They have been hospitalized after drinking pesticide but two have since fled and another three are otherwise unaccounted for, reports Hong Kong's China Review News Agency.

The petitioners, three men and nine women from Wuhan's Jiangan district, drank pesticide in Zhengyangmen in Beijing at around 4pm on Tuesday to protest against the forceful demolition of their houses and unfair compensations.

Their houses were demolished when their village, Xinchun, was remodeled in 2010. They did not reach an agreement on compensation with the village committee but their houses were destroyed without their consent. They had traveled to Beijing to petition multiple times over the past few years.

One of the three men in the group said they had planned to kill themselves in November but they were prevented by officials who discovered their plan.

They stated their suicide plan in Beijing again in the same month and to multiple government departments in Wuhan in the hope of securing their attention.