Daily News, via SOTT.net aggregation.
EU approves Bayer's $62.5bn takeover of GMO & pesticide evil giant MonsantoEU approves Bayer's $62.5bn takeover of GMO & pesticide evil giant Monsanto
Germany's Bayer won EU antitrust approval on Wednesday for its multi-billion-dollar purchase of Monsanto. The mega-merger is expected to reshape the agrochemicals industry. The deal will create a giant company with control of more than a quarter of the world's seed and pesticides market. The European Commission said Bayer had addressed its concerns with an offer to sell a swathe of assets to boost rival BASF. Bayer pledged to sell certain seed and herbicide assets for €5.9 billion ($7.2 billion) to BASF and to give it a license to its digital farming data. "Our decision ensures that there will be effective competition and innovation in seeds, pesticides and digital agriculture markets also after this merger," said European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.
Austin mail bomb suspect dies after detonating bomb inside his car as SWAT team approachesAustin mail bomb suspect dies after detonating bomb inside his car as SWAT team approaches
The Austin bombing suspect, who has been keeping the public and authorities on high alert for days, is dead after blowing himself up in a car, police announced during a press conference. According to Chief of Police Brian Manley, law enforcement pinpointed the person in a car in Round Rock, 27km from Austin and followed him. Police were waiting for ballistic vehicles to arrive when the man's automobile began to drive away, but soon stopped in a ditch at the side of the road. A SWAT team then approached the vehicle, but the suspect blew himself up, injuring one of the special operators. The perpetrator was identified as a 24-year-old Mark Anthony Conditt.
Zakharova: Boris Johnson 'poisoned with hatred and anger, it's scary he represents a nuclear power'Zakharova: Boris Johnson 'poisoned with hatred and anger, it's scary he represents a nuclear power'
British foreign minister Boris Johnson is poisoned with hatred and anger so it is scary that he represents a nuclear power, Russia's foreign ministry spokeswoman said on Wednesday. Maria Zakharova was commenting on Johnson's earlier statement that compared Russia's hosting of this year's World Cup to the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany. "Any such parallels and comparisons between our country, that lost millions of lives in the fight against Nazism, fought with an enemy on its own territory, and then liberated Europe [and Nazi Germany] are absolutely unacceptable," she said, in a statement published on Facebook. The Russian ministry spokeswoman then added that such statements are "unworthy of a head of a European state's diplomatic service ... It is clear that [Boris Johnson] is poisoned with hatred and anger," she said, also denouncing his words as "unprofessional" and "rude." It is "scary" that "this man is a representative of a nuclear power that bears a special responsibility for its actions in the international arena as well as for the preservation of international peace," Zakharova said.
Ahed Tamimi 'plea bargain': 8 months in jail for slapping Israeli soldierAhed Tamimi 'plea bargain': 8 months in jail for slapping Israeli soldier
Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi will serve eight months in prison for slapping an Israeli Defence Force soldier. The 17 year old reached a plea bargain Wednesday after serving three months in detention. Tamimi was arrested on December 19 for assaulting an Israeli soldier after troops shot her 15-year-old cousin Mohammad Tamimi in the head at close range with a rubber bullet. Footage of the confrontation went viral and the teenager's subsequent arrest and detention has garnered international attention, with many seeing her as the poster child for Palestinian resistance against Israeli occupation. Tamimi's trial in military court began on February 13. The Military Court of Appeal rejected a request to have the hearing in public, which Tamimi's attorney said would deprive her of a fair trial.
Venezuela builds 2 million affordable homes in seven years, plans to complete additional million by 2019Venezuela builds 2 million affordable homes in seven years, plans to complete additional million by 2019
The government plans to build another million homes by 2019. The Venezuelan government has built two million houses in seven years as part of the People's Social Protection System. President Nicolas Maduro made the announcement in a Venezuela Housing Great Mission (GMVV) event in the new "Mirador de Caiza" housing complex in Charallave, state of Miranda, in which he also spoke of future housing plans.
Electric storm at 30,000ft: Passenger captures astounding pyrotechnics through airplane window (PHOTO, VIDEOS)Electric storm at 30,000ft: Passenger captures astounding pyrotechnics through airplane window (PHOTO, VIDEOS)
Alabama was subjected to hurricane-force winds and tornados as an extremely powerful weather system descended on the state. One resident managed to capture some spectacular atmospheric pyrotechnics through her plane window. Martha Hart Mulligan was traveling home from North Carolina on Monday as the tempest hit. The pilot of American Airlines pilot flight 5566 reportedly took the long way around to avoid the storm system but it proved too big to escape as the footage shows. No-one on board was injured and the flight landed safely that evening. "We were trying to fly south of the storm to avoid some turbulence. This is the impressive lightning we encountered, and we're happy to report that it did not 'encounter' us," Hart Mulligan wrote on Facebook.
Twitter duel over Bernie Sanders revealed network of fake bot accounts connected to Democrat Sally AlbrightTwitter duel over Bernie Sanders revealed network of fake bot accounts connected to Democrat Sally Albright
One Democratic Party consultant said an unnamed client controlled many of these accounts. When Russians at the Internet Research Agency interfered in U.S. politics, they created false online personas and fake political groups to amplify divisive messages that already had a homegrown American audience. It's not too far from what some U.S. political consultants are doing themselves. Take Sally Albright, a Democratic Party communications consultant who backed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016. Unsurprisingly, Albright is vocally opposed to President Donald Trump and a big supporter of the resistance to his administration. She is also one of the loudest, most divisive voices attacking Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Clinton's onetime Democratic primary opponent, and his left-wing supporters. Well after the primary, Albright continues to claim that Sanders is a fraud, a liar, racist and corrupt, among many other things. In one instance she declared that the policy idea of free college, as promoted by Sanders, was racist. This provoked Sanders supporters to argue back. Trevor, a Sanders supporter who declined to provide his last name for fear of being doxxed, but goes by @likingonline on Twitter, noticed a strange pattern of behavior when Albright responded to him. Her tweets addressing him were rapidly retweeted by the same series of accounts. This created a barrage of notifications making it look as though there was an avalanche of opposition to everything he said.
British media admits it: Due process in Skripal case 'does not apply' to RussiaBritish media admits it: Due process in Skripal case 'does not apply' to Russia
Commentaries in Guardian and Financial Times say that Russia can be declared guilty without being given chance to defend itself It is becoming increasingly difficult for the British authorities and for the British media to deny that 'due process' - ie. the well-established system of rules for conducting fair and impartial trials and investigations in order to determine questions of guilt or innocence - are not being followed by the British authorities in the Skripal case. Here are some of the violations of due process the British authorities which in my opinion the British authorities are committing:
Iraq ready to cooperate with Turkey on securing common bordersIraq ready to cooperate with Turkey on securing common borders
The Iraqi government has expressed its readiness to cooperate with Turkey on ensuring security of the countries' shared borders, the Iraqi Justice Ministry said Tuesday in a press release received by Sputnik. "The Iraqi government has expressed its intention to cooperate with Turkey on all issues related to the security along common borders," the minister stated. According to Zamily, Iraq is strengthening good-neighborly relations with countries in the region, particularly with its Turkish neighbor.
The secret yacht summit that realigned the Middle EastThe secret yacht summit that realigned the Middle East
George Nader, the Lebanese-American businessman and convicted paedophile, who is co-operating with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Donald Trump's campaign funding, organised a secret summit of Arab leaders on a yacht in the Red Sea in late 2015, Middle East Eye can reveal. Nader proposed to the leaders gathered on the yacht that they should set up an elite regional group of six countries, which would supplant both the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the moribund Arab League. Nader said this group of states could become a force in the region "that the US government could depend on" to counter the influence of Turkey and Iran, according to two sources briefed on the meeting.
Strange trumpeting sounds heard in small Swedish townStrange trumpeting sounds heard in small Swedish town
On February 26, 2018, around 7:30 am, YouTube user 'Johan Svensson' recorded trumpeting sounds that lasted about 5 minutes.
Russia is fighting a lethal 100-year-old enemyRussia is fighting a lethal 100-year-old enemy
London's boorish behaviour has resulted in a fiery reaction within Russia - from indignation to jokes about "Little Britain". Sadly, such derision is not the best possible answer. For we are dealing with a threat that is far from comical, and the entire history of relations between Russia and Britain is proof of that. Great Britain's behaviour in the Skripal affair is openly provocative: accusations against Russia, a recommendation to "put a sock in it", declarations about Putin's personal involvement. All of this, of course, is causing indignation in Russia. But if it is possible to understand our civil society's indignation, deriding Britain and her elites is totally incorrect. Discourse about "Little Britain", about how "Lil' England" has lost its influence and is slandering Russia in an impotent rage look strange. All of this is not even suitable as banal retaliatory propaganda, seeing as it is a distortion of reality.
Assange will give evidence to UK Parliament on Cambridge Analytica scandalAssange will give evidence to UK Parliament on Cambridge Analytica scandal
WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange may soon give evidence to a Parliamentary Committee about Cambridge Analytica, a voter-profiling company which accessed data of some 50mn Facebook users, triggering an international scandal. "I have accepted a request by the select committee of the UK parliament @CommonsCMS to give evidence, via video link, about Cambridge Analytica, and other matters, later this month,"Assange, currently holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, said on Twitter. Just over half an hour later, the British Parliament's Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee confirmed that Assange "has offered to appear" before the House of Commons body, explaining that "no formal invitation" has yet been issued to the whistleblower. WikiLeaks rushed to clarify the matter, stating that the Australian was "approached" on a number of occasions to offer his expert opinion to British MPs. During the last attempt, on Monday, the investigative committee allegedly proposed holding the session with Assange on March 28 via video link, "to which Mr. Assange agreed."
Strange sky sounds recorded in Fife, WashingtonStrange sky sounds recorded in Fife, Washington
YouTube user 'Phjose aRulom' uploaded a clip of strange sounds coming from the sky in Fife, Washington on February 17, 2018.
BEST OF THE WEB: Blimey! ANOTHER Russian Exile Turns up Dead in UK - Suspicious Pattern Emerging - UPDATEBEST OF THE WEB: Blimey! ANOTHER Russian Exile Turns up Dead in UK - Suspicious Pattern Emerging - UPDATE
Comment: Before you begin reading about what may turn out to be yet another murder of a Russian exile in the UK in order to blame Putin, check out how many Telegraph presstitutes got together to pen this one! It's all-hands-on-deck aboard HMS Indomitable! The British media-intelligence factory is working overtime on Operation 'Get the World to Hate Putin, NOW'... Counter-terrorism police have opened an investigation into the "unexplained" death on British soil of an arch enemy of Vladimir Putin, just eight days after the nerve gas assassination attempt on a Russian double agent. Nikolai Glushkov, 68, the right-hand man of the deceased oligarch Boris Berezovsky, Mr Putin's one-time fiercest rival, was found dead at his London home on Monday. Comment: Berezovsky was certainly a cretin and a traitor - which explains at least in part why he found safe harbour in London - but his death was almost certainly the work of British, not Russian, intelligence. A Russian media source said Glushkov, the former boss of the state airline Aeroflot, who said he feared he was on a Kremlin hit-list, was found with "strangulation marks" on his neck. The inquiry into Glushkov's death was announced hours before a midnight deadline for the Kremlin to explain how Russian-made nerve agent came to be deployed in the assassination attempt on the double agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury.
Snowden docs reveal NSA targeted Bitcoin users around the worldSnowden docs reveal NSA targeted Bitcoin users around the world
The US National Security Agency targeted Bitcoin users around the world, according to classified documents released by Edward Snowden. The revelations strike a blow to the financial privacy of bitcoin users, academics warn. The National Security Agency (NSA) managed to find ways to 'track down senders and receivers' of Bitcoins, according to an internal NSA report dated March 2013. The findings come from classified NSA documents, exposed by ex-CIA whistleblower Edward Snowden and first published by The Intercept. Crucially, the tracking may also have involved amassing information from bitcoin users' computers. One NSA memo suggests that the NSA collected some Bitcoin users' password information, internet activity and MAC address, which is a type of unique device identification number. Bitcoin is a digital currency which uses encryption to regulate its units of currency. From the outset, cryptocurrencies were designed to circumvent the control of banks and provide discretion for financial transactions. But they could not easily evade the attention of national governments, who take a keen interest in controlling flows of money.
Former FBI agent Fred Humphries calls McCabe firing 'fitting': 'Important for top officials to be held accountable'Former FBI agent Fred Humphries calls McCabe firing 'fitting': 'Important for top officials to be held accountable'
Fred Humphries woke up Saturday morning and for the first time ever raised a blue and white Federal Bureau of Investigation flag on the pole in his front yard. "I was encouraged and hopeful," said Humphries, 53, in an exclusive interview with the Tampa Bay Times, reacting to the news that former FBI director Andrew McCabe had been fired. A day earlier, both men left the FBI after 21-year careers. Humphries retired, a short while after serving a 60-day unpaid suspension for previously speaking to the Times without permission. McCabe, fired after the Justice Department rejected an appeal that would have let him retire this weekend, is accused in a yet-to-be-released internal report of failing to be forthcoming about a conversation he authorized between FBI officials and a journalist.
Toxic nothing-burger: Cambridge Analytica "scandal" is a political attack posing as journalismToxic nothing-burger: Cambridge Analytica "scandal" is a political attack posing as journalism
Seeing Donald Trump's media and political critics, who for years feted "big data," suddenly pretend it's a crime, is hard to stomach. And the feigned outrage is being used as a weapon of establishment control over social media. Before being repackaged by two leading liberal-leaning outlets to produce a media firestorm that has wiped tens of billions off Facebook's valuation and could usher in a new wave of investigations and regulation, the actual facts of Cambridge Analytica's data collection had been known since 2015. What has changed is the language: what the Guardian called "psychological profiling" and "behavioral microtargeting" before Donald Trump was elected, in the latest reports from the same newspaper becomes "psyops," the sinister-sounding "harvesting," the alarming "data breach," and most gloriously "Steve Bannon's psychological warfare mindf**k tool." Behind the grand claims, the germ of the story remains - by tech standards - almost disappointingly quotidian. In 2014, the upstart data analysis company Cambridge Analytica developed a psychological quiz app that over 270,000 users of the world's biggest social network downloaded and completed. As well as passing their own data to the UK-headquartered firm, the test-takers agreed to share limited information about their friends - age, location and likes - as in line with Facebook's policy at the time, producing the much-cited but unverified figure of 50 million users that were profiled.
Israel needs to kick out 450 elderly people to make room for Jerusalem's new US embassyIsrael needs to kick out 450 elderly people to make room for Jerusalem's new US embassy
Israeli authorities would need to relocate some 450 USSR immigrants, many of whom are in their 80s, from a plot of land to facilitate the construction of a new US embassy. And there is no solution in sight. The plot in Jerusalem's predominantly Jewish Arnona neighborhood is owned by the United States and currently accommodates an American consulate, which will soon be promoted to embassy status. This is scheduled to happen on May 14, coinciding with the 70th anniversary of Israel's declaration of independence, although red tape may force a postponement, according to local media. While the consular compound, which opened in 2010, is among the most secure American diplomatic facilities in Israel, it's far too small to serve as the full-fledged fortified embassy that the US wants it to be. Construction work required to change this would involve the relocation of 450 residents of the decades-old Diplomat Hotel, which was purchased by the US in 2014 and leased out to house elderly immigrants from the former Soviet Union. According to the Israeli parliament's website, authorities have no plans on how to do this, with a heated debate taking place about the fate of those residents at a recent Immigration Committee meeting. "We cannot leave them in suspense, worry and fear of what their future will be and where they will be transferred," said Committee Chairman Avraham Neguise.
EC President Juncker under fire for daring to congratulate Putin on election victory and calling for positive relations with RussiaEC President Juncker under fire for daring to congratulate Putin on election victory and calling for positive relations with Russia
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker's extremely polite letter of congratulations to Vladimir Putin on his election win has enraged Britain's Twitterati and other senior EU officials. Jean-Claude Juncker's call for positive relations and a security deal proved too much to swallow for many commentators who want to see Russia punished over the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Britain. There is a hawkish mood in Britain towards Russia currently, even before a definite link to the Salisbury poisoning has been established beyond doubt. While there have been declarations of solidarity from EU allies with Britain's accusations aimed at the Kremlin, there is also a sense that many countries share the position of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has suggested the blame is running ahead of the evidence.
Good idea! Trump plans to meet Putin to discuss 'arms race that is getting out of control'Good idea! Trump plans to meet Putin to discuss 'arms race that is getting out of control'
US President Donald Trump said he will meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in the not too distant future to discuss an arms race that Trump called "out of control." He also congratulated Putin on his election victory. Trump answered a question about Putin as he was holding a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the White House. "We will be meeting in the not too distant future to discuss the arms race which is getting out of control," Trump said, expanding on the content of the phone call with Putin on Tuesday. He reaffirmed his commitment to maintaining America's military spending. "We are going to remain stronger than any other nation in the world by far," he said. "We will never allow anyone to have anything close to what we have." At the proposed meeting, they would also discuss Ukraine and North Korea, Trump said.
EU court finds men subjected to CIA-style '5 techniques' by British Army were not torturedEU court finds men subjected to CIA-style '5 techniques' by British Army were not tortured
A European court has rejected a request to find that a group of 14 men detained during internment in Northern Ireland suffered torture. The prisoners were subjected to white noise, sleep and food deprivation as well as beatings. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) rejected the Irish government petition to revise a 1978 judgement against the UK and find that the prisoners, known as the 'hooded men' were subjected to torture. The men were exposed to methods known as the "five techniques" - hooding, white noise, stress positions, sleep deprivation, and food deprivation. The practice was applied over an unknown period of four to seven days for an unspecified number of hours at a time. Similar interrogation techniques have since been deployed by the CIA and outlined in a 2014 Senate Torture report.
Sweden will criminalize sex without first getting explicit consentSweden will criminalize sex without first getting explicit consent
Sex without first getting explicit consent is to be criminalized in Sweden. The new bill was sent to lawmakers Tuesday, despite some deeming the law unnecessary. Sweden already has extensive sexual assault laws, but country's lawmakers want to further cement the need for consent in the hope that the new law will see more sexual assault cases being prosecuted. The government describes the bill as being "based on the obvious: sex must be voluntary." "Sex should be voluntary. Everything else is abuse," Justice Minister Morgan Johansson tweeted. "I think it's important to reach that clarity in legislation," Johansson later added, Omni reports. "I think the number of crimes solved will increase. Particularly through the combination of stronger and broader legislation together with increased support for victims."
Crisis of meaning in America: Youth suicide skyrocketed over 70% in the last decadeCrisis of meaning in America: Youth suicide skyrocketed over 70% in the last decade
According to the Centers for Disease Control, youth suicide is in the midst of a precipitous and frightening rise. Between 2006 and 2016, suicides by white children between ages 10 and 17 skyrocketed 70%; while black children are less likely than white children to kill themselves, their suicide rate also jumped 77%. And as The Blaze points out, CNN reported last year that "the suicide rate among girls between the ages of 15 and 19 rose to a 40-year high in 2015." It's not just young people. According to Tom Simon, a CDC report author, "We know that overall in the US, we're seeing increases in suicide rates across all age groups." As of 2016, suicide levels were at 30-year highs. So, what in hell is going on? A few years back, the trendy explanation was economic volatility - the market crash of 2007-2008 had supposedly created a culture of despair, cured only by suicide. But the economy is booming, and has been growing steadily since 2009. There are those who blame the rise in drugs as well, particularly opioids - but according to a study from the National Institute of Drug Abuse, drinking, smoking and drug use may be at the lowest levels "seen in decades," as the Los Angeles Times reports.
Scandinavian Stone Age society more reliant on fishing than previously thought - particularly aquatic mammalsScandinavian Stone Age society more reliant on fishing than previously thought - particularly aquatic mammals
Stone Age people depended more heavily on fish than scientists thought, according to a new report. Researchers from Sweden's Lund University studied human bones that are thousands of years old for a new study on the diets of Stone Age individuals. Previously, scientists thought that these people depended largely on land mammals for food. But, while they did eat some mammals, the researchers found that more than half of what they consumed was fish, emphasizing the importance of fishing to prehistoric Scandinavian people. The scientists said fish made up more than half of what the individuals ate. Before now researchers believed that land mammals played a bigger role in the diets of Stone Age people. File photo
Woman accused of killing mother with glass shards - Removes eyes and leaves them on top of cardboard boxWoman accused of killing mother with glass shards - Removes eyes and leaves them on top of cardboard box
A blood trail along a living room floor grew heavier in the kitchen and led to the garage of a Royal Palm Beach home. There, detectives say, was the body of Francisca Monteiro-Balla, 55, who had been slashed in her head, arms, chest and stomach. Placed on top of a cardboard box: Monteiro-Balla's eyes, which had been removed from their sockets. Detectives say Monteiro-Balla's daughter Camille Balla, 32, killed her using glass shards. Deputies were called to the 100 block of Country Club Way around 1:40 a.m. Friday. A colleague of Camille Balla had called authorities after finding her covered in blood in front of the house.
Killary is sorry, but not really, that people misunderstood her when she said husbands forced their wives to vote for TrumpKillary is sorry, but not really, that people misunderstood her when she said husbands forced their wives to vote for Trump
Hillary Clinton said in a Facebook post Sunday that she's "sorry" if American women "misinterpreted" a quip she made during an interview in India, suggesting that women only voted for Donald Trump because their husbands, sons, and other men in their lives told them to. "I understand how some of what I said upset people and can be misinterpreted. I meant no disrespect to any individual or group. And I want to look to the future as much as anybody," Clinton wrote. The wording is key; Clinton isn't actually sorry for what she said. She's sorry for how insulted you were by it (but that's definitely your fault). She also claims her quote about women was said "in passing," and not as a response to a question from the event's moderator.
California judge bars L.A. from enforcing gang injunctions that reduce crimeCalifornia judge bars L.A. from enforcing gang injunctions that reduce crime
The city of Los Angeles has been barred from enforcing the vast majority of its gang injunctions, which applied restrictions on gang associations that authorities have long credited with reducing crime. The ruling Thursday by U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips, an appointee of former President Bill Clinton, agreed with the American Civil Liberties Union that the injunctions were likely to be unconstitutionally broad, and affect people who did not have adequate opportunity to challenge them in court. The gang injunctions are civil court orders that have applied to nearly 9,000 people and 79 gang sets since 2000, the Los Angeles Times reported. The orders can effectively prevent individuals from legally associating with people in gang-ridden neighborhoods or networks.
Michael Moore blasts corporate media for non-stop anti-Russia coverageMichael Moore blasts corporate media for non-stop anti-Russia coverage
Liberal firebrand and documentary filmmaker Michael Moore lashed out at corporate media for their non-stop coverage of alleged Russian malfeasance, distracting Americans from discussing high poverty rates and inequality. "You turn on the TV and it's 'Russia, Russia, Russia!'" Moore said during a live-streamed town hall event attended by Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. "And don't forget Stormy Daniels!" Sanders jokingly added, referencing the porn star who claims to have had an affair with Donald Trump before he ran for president. The town hall, watched by an estimated 1.7 million people online, focused on confronting and combatting inequality in America. According to Moore, the media's obsession with Russia is a distraction used to avoid dialogue on issues such as child poverty and income inequality.
Fmr Abu Ghraib detainees describe the physical and mental trauma they continue to experience thanks to US torture methodsFmr Abu Ghraib detainees describe the physical and mental trauma they continue to experience thanks to US torture methods
Former Abu Ghraib detainees say time has not fully healed the physical and mental pain they suffered at the infamous US prison. Iraqis spoke with RT on the 15th anniversary of the US-led invasion of their country. "The time I spent in that prison felt like a lifetime. An hour of that pain, humiliation, and injustice stays with you forever," Anwer Al-Sudani, a former Abu Ghraib detainee, told RT. Once used by Saddam Hussein to lock up political dissidents, Abu Ghraib prison was converted into a US Army detention facility shortly after the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003. In April 2004, photographs showing prisoners being subjected to torture, sexual humiliation, rape, and other forms of abuse at the hands of US soldiers were leaked to the press.
Diversity trumps quality: Catholic university cancels women's conference because the speakers are too whiteDiversity trumps quality: Catholic university cancels women's conference because the speakers are too white
A Catholic university in Minnesota canceled an annual women's conference because the qualified women chosen blindly to speak at the touted event ended up being too white, and thus not reflecting the proper "diversity" values of the school. St. Catherine University's Leadership Imperative Conference was set to be held on January 19, with some 30 prominent women ready to speak at the event. The speakers, picked through a blind call, were chosen "solely based on their fit" with the themes of the conference, indicates an email from the school's associate provost. The conference was hyped by the university as "the event of the year for professional women in the Twin Cities." "You won't want to miss out," the university site boasted of the conference. "Space is limited! Last year, the event sold out quickly." But when the speakers submitted their photos and bios, everything changed. The group of qualified women chosen for the event were too white for St. Catherine. So the conference was canceled in December, the Star Tribune reported last week.
In Salisbury, where ex-spy & daughter were allegedly poisoned, people own stake in Russian financial marketsIn Salisbury, where ex-spy & daughter were allegedly poisoned, people own stake in Russian financial markets
While the UK government angrily accuses Russia of poisoning of an ex-spy and his daughter, a regional British pension fund continues investing in Russian bonds and shares of state-run Sberbank. The Wiltshire County Council pension fund had 10.6 percent of its cash invested in emerging markets through a fund operated by the Investec Asset Management. The latter held Russian obligations along with shares in Russia's state-owned banking major as of January, as data revealed by Bloomberg shows. Notably, the town of Salisbury, where the former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were allegedly poisoned earlier this month, is located in the region of Wiltshire. "It raises a broader question about what investment funds do with their money," Richard Connolly, a lecturer at the University of Birmingham focusing on Russian political economy, told the agency. "If the yield is good, the money will find its way there. It's such a difficult question for anyone to address legislatively." Combining investments is part of a long-term plan, aimed at eliminating risks and reducing the fund's deficit, according to a spokesman at the Wiltshire County Council pension fund.
JFK Documents: US government planned false flag attacks to justify war with Soviet UnionJFK Documents: US government planned false flag attacks to justify war with Soviet Union
The U.S. government once wanted to plan false flag attacks with Soviet aircraft to justify war with the USSR or its allies, newly declassified documents surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy show. In a three-page memo, members of the National Security Council wrote, "There is a possibility that such aircraft could be used in a deception operation designed to confuse enemy planes in the air, to launch a surprise attack against enemy installations or in a provocation operation in which Soviet aircraft would appear to attack US or friendly installations to provide an excuse for U.S. intervention." The memo shows that the department, along with the CIA, considered buying Soviet aircraft to stage the attacks, even getting estimates from the Air Force on how long it would take and how much it would cost to produce the planes domestically and covertly. Costs ranged from $3.5 million to $44 million per plane, depending on the model, most taking several months to build.
On the second day of spring a nesting bald eagle is caught on camera buried in snow in Hays, PittsburghOn the second day of spring a nesting bald eagle is caught on camera buried in snow in Hays, Pittsburgh
Neither snow nor rain nor ... more snow stopped the Pittsburgh Hays bald eagle from tending to her two eggs Wednesday. A live webcam caught the eagle seemingly buried in snow while incubating eggs that are expected to hatch today or in the next week, according to Rachel Handel, spokeswoman for the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania. The Pittsburgh winter doesn't stop the nesting progress of these birds. The once endangered raptor is quite hardy and acclimated to the snow and cold with the nation's largest population living in Alaska.
Poor children officially fatter than rich kids, study revealsPoor children officially fatter than rich kids, study reveals
Poor children are now officially fatter than their rich-kid counterparts. A new study has revealed that kids from poorer families weigh more for the first time in history - a reversal of the traditional weight-wealth pattern. Researchers looked at data collated from 5,400 babies born in 1946, 17,200 born in 1958, 17,300 in 1970, and 16,000 in 2001. The average child is 6.35kg heavier by the time they reach 15 years than kids born in the 1940s. They also have a higher body mass index (BMI) despite an increase in height. The study also found that 11-year-old children from poorer households have closed the 4.1cm height gap that existed in the 1940s to 1.2cm, but now weigh more. University College London research officer David Bann carried out the study. He said that the introduction of fast food into the modern diet has had a significant impact. "From the 1980s onwards is when the obesity epidemic really hit the UK," he said.
Farmer killed by wild boar in Maharashtra, India - second such local death in daysFarmer killed by wild boar in Maharashtra, India - second such local death in days
A farmer was today killed and a woman injured in two separate attacks by wild boars here, police said. In the first incident, a 65-year-old farmer, identified as Babarao Ramji Rathod, died while undergoing treatment in a local hospital after he was attacked by a wild boar in Daheli village today morning, officials said. In another incident, police said, a wild boar attacked Kanta Wankhede (30), a resident of Ambika Nagar here, and she is currently admitted in a local hospital. In the past few days, two people, including a woman, have died in such attacks, police informed. Inspector Rita Uikey of the Darwa police station said a case of accidental death had been registered and further investigations were underway. Source: Press Trust of India
Angry and upset: Daughter forced to show mum's ashes to disability inspector to prove dead woman is not fit to workAngry and upset: Daughter forced to show mum's ashes to disability inspector to prove dead woman is not fit to work
An outraged daughter handed an urn containing her deceased mother's ashes to a disability inspector when he showed up to assess the mother's ability to work. She had passed away seven months before. Hatti Broxton said she was left "angry and upset" over the incident, which saw the Work and Pensions Department send a disability inspector to assess whether Hatti's mother Louise was fit to work. She claims the department had previously acknowledged the death and offered their condolences. Hatti, 27, said she had immediately informed authorities of her mother's death in August and the benefits were then ended. But she nonetheless received a letter in February addressed to her mother stating doctors would turn up at the property in Wolverhampton, West Midlands, for an assessment on March 13 between 11am and 2pm.
Israel officially admits striking alleged 'Syrian nuclear reactor' in 2007Israel officially admits striking alleged 'Syrian nuclear reactor' in 2007
Israel Defense Forces have shared details of an airstrike that destroyed an alleged nuclear reactor under construction in Syria's Deir ez-Zor back in 2007, for the first time officially acknowledging carrying out the secret raid. For over a decade Israel refused to officially acknowledge taking out the suspected nuclear reactor in the Deir ez-Zor region of Syria on the night of September 6, 2007. Although, in October 2007, the IDF indirectly admitted the attack by lifting some censorship on media coverage of the incident, Tel Aviv still continued to censor details of the intended target of the strike.
Whatever goes wrong, you can always blame a Russian!Whatever goes wrong, you can always blame a Russian!
If something has gone wrong in life and you've run out of options, there's now a very easy solution that works in any situation... blame a Russian. Russians are extremely useful because they can be accused of absolutely anything, in fact, there is almost no end to things you can blame on a Russian. Lost an election? Blame a Russian. Need to win an election? Well, a Russian armed with a single Twitter account can persuade entire nations to vote for you. Perhaps you just need to scare the taxpayer into spending more on the military. Then, you guessed it, just get yourself a Russian.
1 injured in another Texas blast 'unrelated' to Austin serial bombing1 injured in another Texas blast 'unrelated' to Austin serial bombing
One person has been seriously injured by an "incendiary device" in Austin, Texas, on Tuesday evening. Police and the FBI are so far reluctant to link this incident to the series of "package bombings" that rocked Texas recently. The incident occurred in the vicinity of a Goodwill store on Brodie Lane, according to Austin Fire Department. Police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are on the scene. While initial reports indicated that the explosion was caused by yet another mail blast, after examining the scene, the ATF announced that "it was not a package bomb," but rather an "incendiary device" which left one person injured. "At this time, it does not appear to be related to the #packagebombmurders," the ATF said on Twitter. The Austin Police Department also noted that "items inside package was not a bomb, rather an incendiary device," and insisted that, so far, there was "no reason to believe this incident is related to previous package bombs."
Chris Hedges: Building the iron wall of censorshipChris Hedges: Building the iron wall of censorship
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, along with 18 members of the House of Representatives-15 Republicans and three Democrats-has sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions demanding that the Qatari-run Al-Jazeera television network register as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). The letter was issued after Al-Jazeera said it planned to air a documentary by a reporter who went undercover to look into the Israel lobby in the United States. The action by the senator and the House members follows the decision by the Justice Department to force RT America to register as a foreign agent and the imposition of algorithms by Facebook, Google and Twitter that steer traffic away from left-wing, anti-war and progressive websites, including Truthdig. It also follows December's abolition of net neutrality. Comment: See: Robert Fisk: Why is Al Jazeera not airing a hard-hitting investigation into US and Israeli lobbying?Dershowitz throws tantrum over Al Jazeera's Israel lobby film: Demands censorshipUS congressmen want a 'foreign agent' tag for Al Jazeera for digging into pro-Israel lobby The letter asks the Justice Department to investigate "reports that Al Jazeera infiltrated American non-profit organizations." It says that the "content produced by this network often directly undermines American interests with favorable coverage of U.S. State Department-designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations, including Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda's branch in Syria." "American citizens deserve to know whether the information and news media they consume is impartial, or if it is deceptive propaganda pushed by foreign nations," the letter reads.
How convenient: Torture report modified to save CIA Nominee Gina HaspelHow convenient: Torture report modified to save CIA Nominee Gina Haspel
On Thursday evening ProPublica issued an important correction concerning Deputy CIA Director Gina Haspel, the woman Donald Trump has nominated to head the agency if and when current Director Mike Pompeo is confirmed as the new secretary of state. It was apparently ProPublica that first reported last year that Haspel ran the secret CIA "black site" prison in Thailand in 2002 when supposed al-Qaida detainee Abu Zubaydah was brutally tortured, and that Haspel had personally mocked the prisoner. In an extended correction signed by editor in chief Stephen Engelberg, ProPublica has now retracted those claims. Haspel did indeed run that secret prison in Thailand, but according to this new report did not take over as director until after the Zubaydah interrogation had ended. If this new information is accurate, this was a monumental error that will likely mean that Haspel is ultimately confirmed as CIA director. We can expect the Republicans in the Senate to use this to turn her into a "fake news" victim and set her up as a patriotic martyr.
Western stooge Navalny accuses Sobchak of being 'Putin's agent'Western stooge Navalny accuses Sobchak of being 'Putin's agent'
As two Russian politicians discussed the future after the presidential election, their discussion quickly turned into a confrontation, with both sides accusing each other of lies, hypocrisy and betrayal of the liberal cause. The scandal developed when Ksenia Sobchak, the former socialite and now glossy magazine editor, proposed that Aleksey Navalny, the anti-corruption blogger turned opposition activist, should cooperate with the new political party that she wanted to launch. Sobchak tried to win Navalny's sympathies by reminding him that she also built her political platform around numerous allegations of corruption in the higher echelons of Russian power.
A political obituary for Jared Kushner: R.I.P to the President's son-in-lawA political obituary for Jared Kushner: R.I.P to the President's son-in-law
Here we are a little more than a year into the Trump presidency and his administration's body count is already, as The Donald might put it, "unbelievable, perhaps record-setting." Among the casualties are Secretary of State Rex Tillerson; my former boss at Goldman Sachs, economic policy chief Gary Cohn; national security adviser Michael Flynn; FBI Director James Comey; White House press secretary and communications director Sean Spicer; four other communications directors including Hope Hicks who, having been Ivanka Trump's confidante, was elevated to the status of the president's "real daughter" before her own White House exit; chief strategist Steve Bannon; chief of staff Reince Priebus; a bunch of other instant relics of Trumpian political history, and a partridge in a pear tree. (Actually, a 200-year-old magnolia uprooted from the White House grounds thanks to the first lady.) Responding to Hope Hicks' departure and, perhaps subliminally, the rumored future exile of son-in-law Jared Kushner, the president typically half-lamented and half-quipped, "So many people have been leaving the White House. It's invigorating, since you want turnover. I like chaos. It really is good. Who's going to be the next to leave? Steve Miller or Melania?"
As US empire declines it doubles down on denial of realityAs US empire declines it doubles down on denial of reality
US empire is in decline. Reports of the end of the US being the unitary power in world affairs are common, as are predictions of the end of US empire. China surpassed the United States as the world economic leader, according to Purchasing Power Parity Gross National Product, and Russia announced new weapons that can overcome the US' defense systems. Comment: See: Putin Delivers Landmark 'State of The Union' Speech: Puts The Smack Down on US, Shows Off Latest Russian Nuclear Weapons US dollar dominance threatened by Russia-China real gold standard What is happening in the United States, in response, is to do more of what has been causing the decline. As the Pentagon outlined in its post-primacy report, the US' plan is more money, more aggression and more surveillance. Congress voted nearly unanimously to give the Pentagon tens of billions more than it requested. Military spending will now consume 57% of federal discretionary spending, leaving less for basic necessities. The Trump administration's new nominees to the State Department and CIA are a war hawk and a torturer. And the Democrat's "Blue Wave" is composed of security state candidates. Comment: And to sedate the masses further, trillions are being ploughed into (and probably siphoned from) welfare: US Wars Fund The Welfare State Which Finances The Liberal March Towards Totalitarianism The US is escalating an arms race with Russia and China. This may create the mirror image of President Reagan forcing Russia to spend so much on its military that it aided in the break-up of the Soviet Union. The US economy cannot handle more military spending, worsening austerity when most people in the US are in financial distress.
Modern Newspeak: How internet giants censor us to make sure we only hear what they wantModern Newspeak: How internet giants censor us to make sure we only hear what they want
It's not breaking news that the internet censors have been hard at work to silence voices that are in opposition to the mainstream media agenda. But after the influence that social media had on the last election, things are going to a whole new level. The internet, that last bastion of truly free speech, isn't very free anymore. We're watching the evolution of Newspeak right before our very eyes as the internet strives to silence any voices that oppose their carefully crafted stories of how guns are bad, there are 291 genders, and anyone who isn't a liberal is an evil Nazi racist. If you aren't familiar with the term "Newspeak," it's from George Orwell's prophetic novel, 1984. "Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thought-crime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten. . . . The process will still be continuing long after you and I are dead. Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller. Even now, of course, there's no reason or excuse for commiting thought-crime. It's merely a question of self-discipline, reality-control. But in the end there won't be any need even for that. . . . Has it ever occcured to you, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now?" (source)
Turkish forces seize US weapons left by YPG 'terrorists' in AfrinTurkish forces seize US weapons left by YPG 'terrorists' in Afrin
There are many reasons why US interventions abroad tend to backfire spectacularly and usually without fail, but the most embarrassing of all is when US weapons meant for one side end up in the hands of their enemies, and eventually used against the US itself. Most recently, this happened in the 2014-2016 period when ISIS steamrolled countless Iraqi towns, collecting Humvees, SAM missiles, guns and ammo in the process. Today, it happened again in the Syrian-Kurdish town of Afrin, where the "victorious" Turkish army seized an unknown number of weapons provided by the Pentagon to the (formerly) US-allied Kurdish YPG "terrorists" as they are called by Turkey.
Erdogan threatens to wipe out 'terror corridor' in Syria & IraqErdogan threatens to wipe out 'terror corridor' in Syria & Iraq
Turkey's military operation in Syria will target other Kurdish-held towns - and may even spill over into Iraq - President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced just a day after pro-Turkish forces seized Afrin. The controversial cross-border offensive "will go on until the terror corridor through Manbij, Ayn al-Arab, Tell Abyad, Ras al-Ayn, Qamishli has been wiped out," Erdogan said, speaking in the presidential complex in Ankara on Monday. Erdogan hinted that the Turkish military operation may even expand into neighboring Iraq, if needed, in an effort to "eliminate" forces loyal to the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), which Ankara has designated as a terrorist organization.
BEST OF THE WEB: Russian Embassy tweet: 'If Poirot went to Salisbury'BEST OF THE WEB: Russian Embassy tweet: 'If Poirot went to Salisbury'
The tweet from the Russian Embassy in the UK suggesting that in the absence of evidence, Hercule Poirot should be sent to solve the Salisbury poisoning mystery, wasn't well received by sanctimonious, virtue-signaling neo-cons. Let's just imagine though what might happen if Agatha Christie's famous fictional detective did - in defiance of the Thought Police - head down to Wiltshire, along with his faithful sidekick, Captain Hastings. What sort of questions would he be asking - and what conclusions would he come to?
BDS vs AIPAC: Americans have a constitutional right to boycott IsraelBDS vs AIPAC: Americans have a constitutional right to boycott Israel
Politicians at the federal and state levels must reject AIPAC's unconstitutional efforts to suppress the BDS movement. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) concluded its annual policy conference last week with a lobbying day on Capitol Hill. High on its legislative agenda was advocating for bills that would penalise Americans for engaging in their First Amendment-protected right to boycott for Palestinian rights. AIPAC conference attendees pressed their elected officials to support the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, sponsored by Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD). The original, draconian version of this bill, unveiled at last year's AIPAC conference, proposed to jail individuals for 20 years if they advanced an international organization's call for a boycott of Israel, or even of products from its illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank. AIPAC supporters also asked their Members of Congress to back the Combating BDS Act, sponsored by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL). This bill seeks to stifle the successful Palestinian civil society call for campaigns of boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) as a nonviolent means to attain Palestinian freedom from more than 50 years of Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, justice for Palestinian refugees denied their right of return to the homes from which they were expelled by Israel when it was established in 1948, and equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel who face dozens of discriminatory laws. Rubio's bill encourages states to pass legislation denying contracts to individuals, associations and businesses which support BDS.