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Tue, 06 Dec 2022
The World for People who Think

Society's Child


One minute you're walking down the street. The next, you're arrested and jobless. What did you do?

At what point did we lose all common sense? Aren't there actual, you know, criminals who we should be spending our resources on?

The stats at the beginning are absolutely jarring. The story that unfolds is sad and wrong. If smoking a cigarette on a street corner can ruin your entire life, we've got problems.

Life Preserver

Ukraine scores $15 bln from Russia, 33% gas discount

Presidents Vladimir Putin and Viktor Yanukovich
© RIA Novosti/Michael Klimentyev
Presidents Vladimir Putin (left) of Russia and Viktor Yanukovich of Ukraine meeting in the Kremlin, December 17, 2013.

After stringing along Russia, the EU and the Ukrainian people, President Viktor Yanukovich has inked an agreement worth $15 billion in securities and from January 1, can start buying Russian gas for $268 instead of $400 per 100 cubic meters.

The Russian government will essentially buy $15 billion in Ukrainian debt by buying Ukrainian securities using money from Russia's Welfare Fund, President Vladimir Putin announced Tuesday at a meeting with Yanukovich in Moscow.

"For the purpose of supporting the Ukrainian budget the Russian government has made a decision to invest part of the National Welfare Fund, to the tune of $15 billion, in Ukrainian government securities," Putin said.

Russia will invest roughly 17 percent of its $88 billion National Welfare Fund, which, together with Russia's Sovereign Wealth Fund is used as a sort of buffer for the country's oil-dependent budget.

Ukraine and Russia need to learn lessons and avoid mistakes in future bilateral cooperation, Yanukovich said.

"We have this need to draw lessons for the future and not to repeat such mistakes," Yanukovich said at the conclusion of the bilateral talks held in Moscow on Tuesday.

Ukraine "is our fully-fledged strategic partner beyond any doubt," Putin said at the meeting, where the two presidents signed 14 separate agreements on space, engineering, defense and trade.

Heart - Black

Three men convicted in gang rape of American tourist in India

india rape
Indian protesters shout anti-government slogans during a protest against rape in New Delhi on January 2, 2013.
Three men were convicted Tuesday in the gang rape of an American tourist in India.

All Nepali men in their 20s, they were convicted of sexual assault and robbery, police said. They were sentenced to 20 years in prison. Officially, they were sentenced to 20 years each for sexual assault and five years for robbery, but the sentences will run concurrently.

The men will also have to pay about $250 each in fines.
Fighting sexual harassment in India.The incident took place in June in the Indian mountain state of Himachal Pradesh.

The men were accused of raping and robbing the American woman, who had sought a lift from them in their small truck, Vinod Kumar Dhawan, the state's police superintendent, told CNN.

Comment: Swiss tourist gang raped in India, say police
India: Six held over new gang rape on a bus
Rape cases in New Delhi jump 23 percent in 2012
Gang-rape epidemic: India mourns victim, proposes chemical castration for offenders


Apathy: Texas school fails to call 911 when six-year-old severs finger

6-year old Amazing Johnson
Amazing Johnson, 6, severed the top of her finger when it was accidentally caught in a door at school. Instead of calling 911, school officials only called her parents.

Latesha Coleman, Amazing's mother, received a call from Hughes Road Elementary administrators about her daughter's injury, but tells KRIV Fox 26 they downplayed just how severe the injury was. Coleman was told the "nurse was working with Amazing, that Amazing was fine...She's being loved on by the nurse."

Emergency medical help was not called, even as it became clear that Amazing was missing a piece of her finger.


Swiss banks urge U.S. tax dodgers to come clean to beat deadline

© AP
Swiss banks are quietly warning wealthy U.S. clients with secret accounts to come clean with the tax man in the next two weeks - or risk jail time, according to several letters obtained by POLITICO.

The letters come ahead of a New Year's Eve deadline the U.S. government set for about 300 Swiss banks to take deals protecting them from prosecution. In exchange for confessing and shelling out mountains of Americans' account information, they'll get immunity. It is a new twist to the traditional bank-client relationship.

"The banks have every incentive right now to shove their American clients into compliance in order to reduce the penalties," said tax attorney Jeff Neiman, who prosecuted Swiss banking giant UBS for the U.S. government.

The effort is part of a U.S. crackdown on American tax evaders and the banks that help them, which ramped up when Swiss banking giant UBS admitted as much with a $780 million settlement in 2009. The Justice Department is currently probing 14 major Swiss financial institutions - including Credit Suisse, Julius Baer and the Swiss arm of HSBC - for shielding U.S. tax cheats.

Bad Guys

Serial rapist: Houston software CEO guilty of transporting and sexually assaulting female employees

Henri De Sola Morris, 66, president and chief executive officer of Solid Software Solutions LLC, which does business as Edible Software Inc., has been convicted on five counts of transportation, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson.

Morris, a naturalized U.S. citizen residing in Houston, admitted that between February 2010 and February 2012, he traveled in interstate commerce and committed, and attempted to commit, the drug-facilitated sexual assaults of several women. Three of the women were present in the courtroom Friday as he acknowledged his guilt.

According to the plea agreement, five women relayed similar experiences of being in compromising situations with Morris after he provided each woman with a drugged alcoholic beverage he had prepared. Each woman reported instances of memory loss that followed the encounter consistent with being administered drugs commonly used in drug-facilitated sexual assault. The women also reported unwanted contact with Morris and, due to their impairment, were unable to defend themselves against him. One woman described how she knew what was happening but had lost physical control of her body and could not stop Morris from even undressing her.

Comment: Update: One of the victims of the sexual assault has filed a lawsuit against her former employer.


Influential group of 5,000 U.S. scholars votes to boycott Israel

Boycott Israel
© Reuters/Francois Lenoir
A powerful group of US scholars has voted to launch an academic boycott of Israeli colleges and universities. With a membership in the thousands, the group has become the largest academic collective to protest Israel's treatment of Palestinians.

The American Studies Association (ASA) announced Monday that its nearly 5,000 members voted in favor of the boycott by a 2-to-1 margin on Sunday night. A total of 1,252 members voted on the issue, with 66 percent voting 'yes' and 30 percent voting 'no.' Three percent abstained from voting altogether.

The boycott calls on US schools and academic research groups to end all work with Israeli groups. It does allow individual Israeli scholars to still attend conferences and speak at American universities, as long as they do not do so in any official capacity of the government.


Republican Senator explains his wife's 'fiasco' on Obamacare website

© AP
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.)
When it comes to Obamacare, "many members of Congress are feeling the very same pain that the rest of America is feeling," Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) told Americans in a radio address on Saturday.

Toomey said he, his wife, and three children are among those "forced" to buy government-mandated health insurance on one of the new exchanges, and last week, his wife tried to sign up the family on an Obamacare exchange website.

"Now, my wife is a very sharp woman. She's a former computer software consultant," Toomey said. After entering the family's personal information, the website wouldn't let her browse the various plans. "When she called someone and asked for help, she was told the system just wasn't working right now and it was best to try again later."

According to Toomey, "The fiasco my wife just faced with the health care website is being experienced by Americans across the country when they try to sign up for health insurance. If this were just a matter of a slow-moving computer glitch, well, then maybe that would be excusable, but it's much more than that.

Brick Wall

Florida city to evict woman from her paid-for house for living "off the grid"

Robin Speronis, a Florida woman who lives off the grid, is being threatened with losing her home due to her "alternative lifestyle".

Last month, Robin's story was featured on Fox 4 news in Florida. She does not have a refrigerator, oven, running water, or electricity.

Robin explains her decision to live off the grid:
"It was an interest in empowering myself, like we did when we got off the health care system. I wanted to look at every other part of my lifestyle and say, do I need this? Is this of value to me? If it went away tomorrow, what would I do? The more I got into it, the more exciting, the more of an adventure it became. My message was to create, so I created a happy place... a place where I get up, and I'm like this is beautiful."
Most of what Robin owns was free, donated, or bought for next to nothing.

She cooks on a propane camping stove, and her electronics run on solar-charged batteries.

Eye 1

Nelson Mandela statue unveiled in Pretoria by Zuma

A statue of Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black president, has been unveiled in the capital, Pretoria, a day after he was buried. The nine-metre (30ft) bronze statue has been erected at the Union Buildings, the government headquarters.

The statue, with Mr Mandela's hands reaching outward, was intended to show that he had embraced the whole nation, President Jacob Zuma said. Mr Mandela was given a state funeral at his ancestral home on Sunday.

African National Congress (ANC) members, veterans of the fight against apartheid and foreign dignitaries - including several African presidents and the Prince of Wales - attended the funeral ceremony in the village of Qunu in South Africa's Eastern Cape province. It followed a 10-day period of mourning and celebrating Mr Mandela's life after his death at the age of 95. The national flag was raised on Monday from its half-mast position, and was flying as normal.