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Monday, 2 February 2015

Devout police supporter has change of heart after being arrested by NYPD on bogus charge

Cop supporter_arrest

© The Free Thought Project

New York, NY - A common meme amongst those in the police accountability movement is that it is only a matter of time before an entirely innocent person crosses paths with the wrong cop and gets a hefty dose of .

All too often we hear the ridiculous statement from the apologist crowd saying, "If you don't break the law, you have nothing to worry about."

However, that statement couldn't be further from the truth.

Former NSA official William Binney sums this myth up quite accurately, "The problem is, if they think they're not doing anything that's wrong, they don't get to define that. The central government does."

Attorney Harvey Silverglate argues that the average American commits three felonies a day without even knowing it.

In reality, there are too many cases to count of innocent people, some who've been recognized as pillars of society, being attacked and imprisoned by a system which claims to protect them.

When people assert that not breaking the law protects them from police abuse, those of us with our finger on the pulse of this corrupt police state, answer back by stating, "it's only a matter of time before they are proven wrong."

As a point of clarification, it is important to state the difference between hating cops and holding police accountable.

Those of us who hold police accountable are often referred to as "cop haters" and "anti-cop." Police officers are human beings, they are our brothers and sisters, mothers, fathers, and sons and daughters. To blindly hate a person because of a badge is irresponsible as well as dangerous. However, equally irresponsible and dangerous is to blindly apologize for criminals and psychopaths because of that same badge.

That being said, former police apologist, Carsten Vogel, had his "time" come last month. According to his Facebook page, Carsten Vogel was one of those people who seemed to blindly support police, no matter what.

During the NYPD slowdown, Vogel was involved in a heated argument with a Facebook friend, according to the .

The police in NYC are now refusing to make the mayor look good," Vogel wrote in a thread on his Facebook page. "I get it. I don't think the police are abandoning their jobs or responsibilities. I think they are refusing to play the game."

However, in January, Vogel's attitude would quickly change after he was approached by an NYPD officer on a mission to deprive someone of their rights.

Vogel was on his way to work when an NYPD officer detained him and asked him what he had in his pocket. Vogel was carrying a completely legal pocket knife, which was visible by the clip on the outside of his pocket.

Vogel's knife is no different than any of the other millions of folding knives legally carried by Americans every day. But the fact that this knife was legal did not stop this NYPD officer from making it illegal.

After Vogel handed the officer his knife, the officer, with the flip of his wrist and using the weight of the blade, caused Vogel's knife to pop open.

"It looked like a magic trick," Vogel says of the officer's move in a statement to the . That's the best way I can describe it. It looked like magic. It's something that this guy has obviously practiced a lot."

The NYPD is unique in the respect that they are one of the only departments in the country to use this "flip of the wrist" to convert legal pocket knives into illegal gravity knives. This practice is known to be controversial and immoral, but this does not stop the NYPD from doing it, often.

The reports that even police officers know that this tactic makes people dislike them:

When we wrote about gravity knife arrests in October, it set off a lengthy discussion on Thee Rant, a verified online forum for NYPD officers. One user, in what seems to be a prescient comment, wrote that gravity knife arrests are "Why the public hates us. [Be]cause discretion has been taken away and it's all about numbers."

Vogel was subsequently arrested and brought to the station. He was charged with criminal possession of a weapon. He is now facing multiple trips to court, legal fees, and thousands in court costs and possible fines.

Prior to the ride down to the station, Vogel was still accepting of what these officers were doing. He figured that this was their job, and they were doing what they had to do.

But then he started listening to the officers talking. According to Vogel, the officers were openly talking about how they needed to make arrests in order to receive promotions.

"They were saying, 'Why is he getting promoted?' " Vogel recalls. 'He's only got, like, two guns and a burglary and a few robberies?'

"Here they are talking about promotions, and the relationship between arrest and promotions. And I'm just a pawn,"said Vogel.

The reports:

After his ordeal, Vogel went back to Facebook. He was upset, and he was trying to warn others about the knife law. One of his friends, the same one he'd occasionally sparred with over the police, chimed in. "Aren't you the one always arguing how great cops are and that they're just doing their jobs?" she wrote.

"Never again," Vogel replied.

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

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Newton's journal reveals seeds of plant biology

Newton's Text

© Syndics of the Cambridge University Library

Sandwiched between the headings 'Philosophy' and 'Attraction Electricall & Filtration' is half a page of text on plant function.

Sir Isaac Newton's interest in botany extended well beyond the fabled apple falling from a tree - he also appears to have understood how water moves from roots to leaves over 200 years before botanists did.

Newton, who lived from 1643-1727, is known for his observations on the properties of light, the invention of calculus, and for his time as head of the Royal Mint, and president of the Royal Society, the leading scientific body of the day.

But buried in a notebook Newton used during his undergraduate days, is half a page of text on plant function, which has been reviewed in the journal by Professor David Beerling of the University of Sheffield.

In his notes, Newton describes how water is drawn up through a plant's roots and out through its pores.

Newton wrote:

"Suppose a b the pore of a Vegitable filled with fluid mater & that the Globule c doth hitt away the particle b, then the rest of subtile matter in the pores riseth from a towards b & by this meanes juices continually arise up from the roots of trees upward leaving dreggs in the pores & then wanting passage stretch the pores to make them as wide as before they were clogged. which makes the plant bigger untill the pores are too narow for the juice to arise through the pores & then the plant ceaseth to grow any more."

Eureka moment

"In modern terms what's apparently being described is the evaporative escape of water from a shoot -- transpiration -- driven by energy from the Sun," writes Beerling.

First proposed in 1895, transpiration involves the absorption of water through a plant's roots, its transportation up through the stem, and eventual evaporation into the atmosphere from the plant's surface, usually through leaf pores or stomata.

The system works because the loss of water through evaporation causes an area of low pressure within the plant, which creates tension.

The cohesiveness of water molecules transfers this tension down through the xylem, effectively pulling water from a higher pressure area at the base of the plant, against the opposing force of Newton's gravity, up to the leaf surface.

Beerling thinks Newton's pores were probably water-conducting tissues inside stems, rather than stomata.

He bases this on the fact that the earliest known published observations of pore-like structures on leaves appeared in 1675 in by Marcello Malpighi, who saw stomata through an early microscope.

However, Beerling writes, "presumably, Newton too could have constructed some sort of hand lens to observe stomata had he been inclined, given that he built the first reflecting telescope a few years later in 1668."

According to Beerling, the context of Newton's notes on plant juices isn't known.

"We have no idea how long Newton spent thinking about the workings of plants or what prompted these thoughts," writes Beerling.

"Reclusive and secretive, it's doubtful he gained botanical inspiration from conversations with others at Cambridge University interested in plants."

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

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New Saudi King orders $29 billion 'handouts', tells people: "You deserve more"

Because nothing says "we really do fear social unrest... and please stick with the new king" like Saudi Arabia spewing a massive $29.3 billion spending program that include lavish payments of two months bonus salary to all Saudi state employees and a series of subsidies. As reports, King Salman bin Abdulaziz has issued a number of decrees because - as he wrote on Twitter ( ) "Dear Citizens, you deserve more," adding "do not forget to include me in your prayers."

As reports

Saudi Arabia's newly inaugurated King Salman bin Abdulaziz has issued a series of landmark orders that ushered in fresh new faces into state institutions and awarded financial support for many Saudis.

And the king ordered a total of $30 billion (112 billion Saudi Riyals) spending in the oil rich kingdom.

The king ordered a lavish payout to all state employees on Thursday and reshuffled some top government jobs while keeping in place the oil, foreign, finance, defense and interior ministers.

The top oil exporter will pay two months bonus salary to all state employees and pension to retired government workers, he said in a series of decrees read aloud on state television a week after Salman succeeded his brother Abdullah as king.

Included in the handouts was $5.3 billion (20 billion riyals) pledged in subsidies for electricity, water, and housing.

And in a commitment to the arts, King Salman pledged $267,000 for each art club in the kingdom.

There was also good news for students, people with special needs and those on social welfare who will also receive two months income.

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

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Is it Socialism or just failure? It's money over people!

© Harris & Ewing Collection

House-Capitol tunnel, Washington, DC Feb 3 1939.

It's all still about Greece, and that makes sense, if nothing else Syriza is a breath if not a tornado of fresh air. But those too pass. The question at the end remains: did anything really change? It's quite possible, don't get me wrong, but Tsipras and Vanoufakis are busy looking out for the people who voted for them, not the rest of the Europe, or the world for that matter. And neither should they.

They've already gotten good response from Obama, from France and Britain, and if only for that reason they will get more. But you have to understand what they are trying to do: getting a better life for their own people, and that's hard enough all by itself. The best they can do for now, hopefully, is that. But Greece is merely a symptom of something bigger and deeper that is going wrong.

There's an ideological battle happening between money and wellbeing, between people and banks. Western leaders have so far chosen to protect money and banks, instead of people and their wellbeing, and that's why we find ourselves where we do. Choosing money before people can only end in the demise of the system that makes such a choice. That, however, is apparently terribly hard to comprehend.

And that got Greece where it is. That's why Europe set up a 'union' that shares a currency but that has no provisions to transfer funds from - even temporarily - weak regions from stronger ones. Even the US has that, or it would have imploded long ago. It's the kind of thing that makes you wonder if maybe the EU wasn't set up from the start so Germany could exploit the Mediterranean.

But even that is not the core issue. It's money over people that is. And Brussels should not just be ashamed for what they've done to Greece, they should be driven out of town with tar and feathers. That's not how they see it, though. Brussels, in the voice of Eurogroup head Dijsselbloem, when he met with new Greek FinMin Varoufakis, had the audacity - and stupidity, his job is up for grabs - to point out that much progress had been made. As the troika demands have turned Greece into a third world nation. That's known as progress.

If you think about it, it's not much different from how US policies have turned Detroit, and many other places, into semi-hellholes. It's fine if there's a difference between West Virginia and the Hamptons, it's just about how big that difference gets.

It all comes down to a system that is failing spectacularly. Failing, that is, even if it's intentional: there are plenty Darwinists and neo-liberals who would swear the poor only get what they deserve. Just as Brussels apparently saw the Greeks: let 'em bleed, let 'em suffer, let 'em die, it's only because they borrowed too much.

I can't seem to figure out the logic there: if they borrowed so much, why are they unemployed and miserable and without health care? The answer to that of course is that they didn't, it's 90%+ money that flowed into western banks to make up for their gambling losses. It should by now be a non-issue, because it's so glaringly obvious, but the narrative is strong.

This is not about Greece, this is about ideology, about economics as a belief system, a system so blind it sacrifices real people and proclaims that is a good thing: 'much progress had been made'. Some people are saying: you need to help these people who end up on the wrong side of the economic tracks, while others invoke Darwin.

But you need to ask how they got where they are, or you'll never solve the issue, you'll just need up murdering people. And whether they deserve it or not, murder is not legal, Mr. Dijsselbloem . And neither is using your job to put people into misery, not even if your economic beliefs say that's alright.

In the US, a lot of people complain about how the country has turned into a socialist bastion. And even taking into account that the word has a very different connotation stateside than it does in Europe and other parts of the world, it's simply not correct, it doesn't fit.

The US, like western Europe, is in the midst of a massive failure of its brand of capitalism. There are no free markets, no price discovery, there are asset bubbles being blown with money that belongs to our grandchildren as people are thrown into despair, while others attain unparalleled riches, and the whole grossly distorted movie is fed to everyone by a well-oiled spin machine.

Yes, 40 million Americans are on food stamps, 100 million are not even officially in the labor force, and perhaps as much as most Americans are receiving some sort of government assistance, but that doesn't make it socialism. It makes it a failed capitalist system. Socialism is supposed to be about a society that cares, and that's not what those US government handouts are about. They're about keeping people quiet in a failed system.

Europe understands the 'caring society' definition of socialism much better. Or it used to. Now it has to face the 'New Greeks', elected to stand up against a Europe that does not care one bit. That only wants Greece to obey its budget and bailout rules, over the bodies of its own people. The Greeks have democratically voted not to take that anymore.

Can you imagine what would happen in the US if the government pay-outs were halted? If there were no more foodstamps? The epic failure of the economic system would come to light in too many ways to mention. But one thing's for sure, it would create one big mess of chaos and unrest that would sweep across the streets of the country like a tidal wave.

Nothing to do with socialism, that's a political ideology, like capitalism is. There's not much between them, once you put people first in either.

Still, for now, we all live in a failed economic system, and we refuse to admit it, edged on by our self-serving leaders and media. But how is it not obvious? It is in Greece, after all.

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

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China announces new "Silk Road" initiative through Russia and India

© Reuters/Wu Hong

China is ready to develop economic cooperation with Russia and India as part of the "One Belt and One Road" strategy, the building of a new Silk Road, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi announced on Monday.

"We call for mutual benefits over a zero-sum game, over confrontation. China created the 'One Belt and One Road' initiative. We want to continue the tradition of the Silk Road and give it with a new meaning in a new century," he told journalists after the trilateral Russia-China-India Foreign Minister talks.

According to Yi, China is ready to cooperate with all countries located along the economic corridors that connect China with Europe.

"This is not a Chinese solo, this is a symphony for all our partners," Yi noted, stating that China will cooperate with all interested parties, above all Russia and India to achieve mutual benefits in the 21st century.

In 2013 the Chinese government ratified the "One Belt and One Road" strategy, an economic belt that passes through the countries of the Silk Road which once connected China with Europe through East and Central Asia.

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

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DNA clock predicts speed of aging

Scientists have identified a biological clock that provides vital clues about how long a person is likely to live.

Researchers studied chemical changes to DNA that take place over a lifetime, and can help them predict an individual's age. By comparing individuals' actual ages with their predicted biological clock age, scientists saw a pattern emerging.

People whose biological age was greater than their true age were more likely to die sooner than those whose biological and actual ages were the same.

Four independent studies tracked the lives of almost 5,000 older people for up to 14 years. Each person's biological age was measured from a blood sample at the outset, and participants were followed up throughout the study.

Researchers found that the link between having a faster-running biological clock and early death held true even after accounting for other factors such as smoking, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Scientists from the University of Edinburgh, in collaboration with researchers in Australia and the US, measured each person's biological age by studying a chemical modification to DNA, known as methylation.

The modification does not alter the DNA sequence, but plays an important role in biological processes and can influence how genes are turned off and on. Methylation changes can affect many genes and occur throughout a person's life.

Dr Riccardo Marioni, of the University of Edinburgh's Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, said: "The same results in four studies indicated a link between the biological clock and deaths from all causes. At present, it is not clear what lifestyle or genetic factors influence a person's biological age. We have several follow-up projects planned to investigate this in detail."

The study's principal investigator, Professor Ian Deary, also from the University of Edinburgh's Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, said: "This new research increases our understanding of longevity and healthy aging. It is exciting as it has identified a novel indicator of aging, which improves the prediction of lifespan over and above the contribution of factors such as smoking, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease."

The study is published in the journal

Journal Reference:

  1. Riccardo E Marioni, Sonia Shah, Allan F McRae, Brian H Chen, Elena Colicino, Sarah E Harris, Jude Gibson, Anjali K Henders, Paul Redmond, Simon R Cox, Alison Pattie, Janie Corley, Lee Murphy, Nicholas G Martin, Grant W Montgomery, Andrew P Feinberg, M Daniele Fallin, Michael L Multhaup, Andrew E Jaffe, Roby Joehanes, Joel Schwartz, Allan C Just, Kathryn L Lunetta, Joanne M Murabito, John M Starr, Steve Horvath, Andrea A Baccarelli, Daniel Levy, Peter M Visscher, Naomi R Wray, Ian J Deary. DNA methylation age of blood predicts all-cause mortality in later life. , 2015; 16 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s13059-015-0584-6

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

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Apocalypse now and forever

As a political psychoanalyst I find the Super-bowl halftime show the best concise index of how psychotic American culture is becoming from year to year, and the 2015 version signaled a complete break from reality, a nightmare of twerking robots in a hall of mirrors, as if America had utterly surrendered its tattered soul to some rogue motherboard pulsing deep within Dr. Evil's subterranean palace of sin. Hence it is the perfect analog for understanding otherwise incomprehensible happenings such as the USA's role in fomenting further chaos and mayhem in Ukraine.

How otherwise to explain things like this morning's report that the USA "now supports providing defensive weapons and equipment to Kiev's beleaguered forces, and an array of administration and military officials appear to be edging toward that position...."

Earth calling readers: I regret to inform you that this decision was already reached a year ago when we paid for the coup d'état against the elected President, Viktor Yanukovych, after the poor sap decided to not sign up with EU but rather the Russian-backed Eurasian Customs Union. Whoops! You're out of here, Bub, State Department Under Secretary Victoria Nuland burbled in a clandestinely recorded phone call to the American ambassador. Will somebody please find Yats! Yes Yats! [UKR politician Arseniy Yatsenyuk] and plug the Bluetooth earpiece of power into his skull!

And so it went this past year with a cabal of the USA, the EU, and the IMF shoveling financial support (billions!), armaments, and surely boots-on-the ground into the Ukrainian morass. Last week, a reporter in eastern Ukraine approached a soldier in UKR army battle garb only to be told, in pitch perfect American English, to "get out of my face." Say what??? The You-tube clip was seen all over the world and to this minute no agent of the US government has been called to account over it. Like I said, a hall of mirrors.

But anyway, we get a little ahead of ourselves because all this really begs the question: what business do we have in Ukraine in the first place and why should it matter to us that they align with Russia? And more to the point: why is it not transparently obvious that Ukraine is solidly within Russia's sphere of influence, and has been, really, for more than 500 years, and for an excellent reason that has been demonstrated most recently in Napoleon's invasion of 1812 and then Hitler's , the invasion of 1941.

In both cases, Russia owed it survival to the vast expanse of flat geography represented by Ukraine where "General Winter" was able to carry out his own defensive operations of relentless howling wind, snow, sub-zero temperatures, and frostbite that eventually vanquished the invaders. Through most of modern times Ukraine has been under the explicit "protection" of the Russian Czars or has been an outright province under the former USSR. Hundreds of years before that, Kievan Rus was the center of an emerging Russian culture and kingdom that only later picked up and moved to Moscow.

You get the picture: Ukraine has a long association with Russia, a principal association, not always happy, sometimes tragic, but a fact of life and history that the US and its foolish stooges in the EU bureaucracy now wish to challenge for absolutely no good reason. Does anybody who is not whacked out of his/her head on crack, or focused like a laser beam on the gender schism within the Kardashian Klan, remember when the US ever challenged the Soviets over Ukraine? No. And for the excellent reason that we accepted the relationship for reasons stated above. So, whose idea is it now that we should start World War Three over this remote region where so many other reckless adventurers came to grief? And what, by the way, do mean by "defensive weapons?" Are not most modern weapons designed to work both ways? Anyway, I see the list includes "anti-armor missiles" (i.e. tank-killers) and "drones," the latter presumably guided by comfortable American military gamers effortlessly targeting pixelated "bad guys" between Slurpee gulps and taco bites, not exactly style.

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

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Williamsburg, Brooklin storage fire still burning, may have destroyed sensitive docs

More than 70 firefighters were still working to extinguish a blaze on the Williamsburg waterfront Monday after a storage facility caught on fire over the weekend, potentially burning sensitive documents ranging from court records to financial information, officials said.

The CitiStorage facility at 5 N. 11th Street was still smoldering Monday, more than two full days after the fire broke at the building, which was filled with paper documents, FDNY officials said.

The firefighters were there to monitor the blaze and minimize "hot spots," an FDNY spokesman said. Officials had no estimate on how long it would take for the fire to die down. The smell of smoke still hung in the air and even in some L train cars Monday.

The blaze at the facility, located near Kent Avenue, started Saturday around 6 a.m., sending huge plumes of smoke across North Brooklyn.

The ongoing fire meant that the several hundred companies and agencies that kept documents at the building had few answers about the extent of the damage.

CitiStorage owner Recall Holdings hasn't been able to get inside to fully assess the situation, said Ron McMurtrie, the company's senior vice president and chief marketing officer.

The New York state court system may have had records on completed cases from Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan civil supreme courts at CitiStorage, which they kept to comply with laws on record keeping, according to Office of Court Administration spokesman David Bookstaver. Family court records may also have been in the burned storage building, he said.

The courts haven't heard back from the company about whether their records were in the burned building, said Bookstaver, who added that some documents were located in an adjacent property.

Many members of the Greater New York Hospital Association, which includes more than 140 area hospitals, kept records at CitiStorage, according to spokesman Brian Conway.

It's unclear what kind of documents they were, he said.

"With the fire still burning, it's been very challenging to get information," Conway said.

Many legal firms also kept files at the building, according to Recall Holdings, as did the city's Administration for Children's Services.

McMurtrie said in a statement that it is Recall Holdings' priority to reach out to affected customers.

Meanwhile, Recall has hired disaster recovery firm Belfor to collect stray records, which flew across north Brooklyn after the fire.

Locals posted photos of documents that appeared to be city and bank records all weekend.

The area around the facility "is essentially clear" of any potentially revealing documents, McMurtrie noted, and Belfor will also be sent to other areas "to minimize the potential for privacy concerns."

"Supporting our customers is our priority at this time, and Recall is committed to keeping all of its customers informed," the company said in a statement.

No one was injured in the fire, but property owner Norman Brodsky, who sold his majority stake of CitiStorage in 2007, reportedly still had a home with his wife in the burned facility.

It was unclear whether he was at home at the time of the fire. Brodsky did not immediately respond to request for comment.

The Health Department recommended that locals stay indoors and keep windows closed in light of the smoke.

Despite its pervasive smell, local air quality is unlikely to be a problem for healthy people, the Health Department said. More vulnerable residents - seniors, children and those with respiratory conditions - may have some trouble.

The smell of smoke, the department said, may be around long after "worrisome levels" of smoke are gone.

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

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Mother with learning disability facing forced sterilization

Authorities say the woman has physical health problems which could put her life in danger if she became pregnant again

A mother-of-six with learning disabilities could be sterilised after health authority and social services bosses asked a judge for permission to force entry into her home, restrain her and take her to hospital.

The woman, who is in her 30s, has had her children removed from her care and authorities say she has physical health problems which could put her life in danger if she became pregnant again.

A judge at the Court of Protection in London examined the case last week at a two-day public hearing. Mr Justice Cobb, who told lawyers he was dealing with a case of "enormous gravity", is due to deliver a ruling soon. Authorities have said the moves are in the woman's best interests.

Barrister John McKendrick, who represented a health authority, hospital trust and council involved in the case, said the rulings sought were "extraordinary" and would involve serious interference with the woman's basic human rights, but he said they were necessary.

They say the woman could be at "grave" risk if action is not taken, while specialists say she lacks the mental capacity to make decisions about treatment.

Lawyers appointed by the court to represent the woman's interests have backed the plan put forward by health and social services officials. They have agreed the woman "lacks capacity" because her mind is impaired. Mr Justice Cobb, who has ruled that no-one involved can be identified, received details of the issues in written legal submissioms.

The judge has given permission for a reporter who attended the court hearing to be given access to documents.

Health and social services officials want the judge to declare: the woman lacks capacity to make decisions under the terms of mental capacity legislation; a "therapeutic" sterilisation is in her best interests - and authorise medics to sterilise her; to authorise her removal from her home to a hospital; to authorise deprivation of her liberty; and to authorise the use of forced entry and "necessary restraint".

Mr Justice Cobb was told the woman and her partner had repeatedly refused to co-operate or engage with medical and social services staff and a legal representative. She had said she wanted to be "left alone".

The judge has seen evidence from psychiatrists, an obstetrician and gynaecologist plus social workers. Details of a number of gynaecological problems the woman had were detailed in the report.

Specialists have said the issues would pose a grave risk to her health if she became pregnant again.

The judge was also told professionals had faced difficulties in trying to persuade the woman to use contraception and in administering contraception.

Barrister Michael Horne, who is representing the interests of the woman, said the issues raised had nothing to do with "eugenics". He said sterilisation was "therapeutic" and the most effective way of mitigating "grave risks" to the woman's health and life.

Last year the judge ruled the woman could be restrained and sedated when giving birth to her sixth child. He concluded a planned caesarean was the best option for delivery.

He said she had an "extraordinary and complex obstetric history".

"It is right to acknowledge the extraordinary nature of the relief sought in these proceedings," Mr McKendrick told Mr Justice Cobb in a written submission.

"The relief sought involves significant interference with (the woman's) basic human rights. Such interferences are however lawful, and necessary and proportionate given the complex and tragic social and medical background."

Mr Horne added: "The issues raised in this case have nothing whatsoever to do with eugenics. The sterilisation which the applicants propose is a 'therapeutic' sterilisation in that it most effectively mitigates the grave risks to (the woman's) health and life that a further pregnancy would bring."

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

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Boston sets 7-day snowfall record

If it's any consolation, we're part of a history-making period in Boston weather. As of 1 p.m. Monday, Boston set a new record for snowiest seven-day period in the city's history with 34.2 inches. The old record of 31.2 inches was set 19 years ago in January, 1996.

Snowfall totals to the north of the Massachusetts Turnpike may reach 15 to 18 inches, with up to 20 inches in some areas. Schools in Boston were closed for Tuesday.

"The safety of our children and families in Boston is always our top priority. Our crews will be working hard to clear all streets and schools tonight and tomorrow as we recover from this ongoing winter storm," Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said.

Tony Troc, of Whitman, Mass., was among those looking on the bright side of shoveling snow, and sees it as a pretty good workout.

"It doesn't bother me at all," said Troc, of Whitman, who works in a supermarket warehouse and spoke Monday after clearing about eight inches of snow from his driveway. "If I didn't like it, I'd be in Florida."

Just a week after a blockbuster blizzard dropped up to three feet of snow in some part of Massachusetts, another winter storm is expected to bring another foot of snow or more.

Wind-blown snow started falling in the early hours of Monday and continued for the day.

By noon, Lunenburg had more than 13 inches and Westminster nearly a foot, according to unofficial snowfall totals reported by the National Weather Service. Weymouth and Lynn had 10 inches.

Lunenburg was one of a handful of Massachusetts communities that got three feet of snow during the last storm. In Weymouth, a woman died after she was struck by a plow, David Traub, a spokesman for the Norfolk district attorney's office said. Troc, after clearing his own driveway, moved on to a neighbor's house.

"I live for this stuff," said Troc, who enjoys the workout shoveling provides. "When I'm in Vegas or California on vacation, I remember this. By going through the bad, you enjoy the good more," he said.

Many cities and towns gave kids another snow day out of school, and banned on-street parking. But Gov. Charlie Baker did not order a ban on non-essential travel, as he had done in the prior storm. Many people tried to make it to work, jamming area highways with slow-moving traffic. State police were reporting numerous spinouts.

The MBTA was operating, although with delays, while buses were being rerouted. Dozens of flights in and out of Logan International Airport were canceled, although two runways remained open.

"The airlines have thinned out their schedules and we ran less than 50 percent this morning," Ed Freni, aviation director at the Massachusetts Port Authority said. "They expect to do somewhat the same this afternoon, so there will be more than 500 flights canceled."

Freni also talked about charter flights bringing fans back from the Super Bowl. One charter landed Monday morning and several others are expected later in the day. He said none should have problems getting into Boston.

The state Transportation Department had deployed about 3,300 pieces of equipment as of 9 a.m.

Walsh, in addition to dealing with the storm, was planning a celebration for the New England Patriots. He said a parade would be held Tuesday, starting at the Prudential Center and ending at City Hall.

The good news was that power outages were minimal, and no coastal flooding was expected, according to the state Emergency Management Agency. The state's two major utilities were reporting about 1,500 outages combined Monday morning, out of almost 2.5 million customers.

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

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Hawaiian ahi tuna showing rising levels of mercury concentration

© AFP Photo

Mercury concentrations in Hawaiian yellowfin tuna are increasing at a rate of 3.8 percent or more per year, according to a new University of Michigan-led study that suggests rising atmospheric levels of the toxin are to blame.

Mercury is a potent toxin that can accumulate to high concentrations in fish, posing a health risk to people who eat large, predatory marine fish such as swordfish and tuna. In the open ocean, the principal source of mercury is atmospheric deposition from human activities, especially emissions from coal-fired power plants and artisanal gold mining.

For decades, scientists have expected to see mercury levels in open-ocean fish increase in response to rising atmospheric concentrations, but evidence for that hypothesis has been hard to find. In fact, some studies have suggested that there has been no change in mercury concentration in ocean fish.

By compiling and re-analyzing three previously published reports on yellowfin tuna caught near Hawaii, U-M's Paul Drevnick and two colleagues found that the concentration of mercury in that species increased at least 3.8 percent per year from 1998 to 2008.

A paper about the study is scheduled for online publication in the journal on Feb. 2. The other authors are Carl Lamborg of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, now at the University of California at Santa Cruz, and Martin Horgan.

"The take-home message is that mercury in tuna appears to be increasing in lockstep with data and model predictions for mercury concentrations in water in the North Pacific," said Drevnick, an assistant research scientist at the U-M School of Natural Resources and Environment and at the U-M Biological Station. "This study confirms that mercury levels in open ocean fish are responsive to mercury emissions."

Drevnick and his colleagues reanalyzed data from three studies that sampled the same yellowfin tuna population near Hawaii in 1971, 1998 and 2008. In each of the three studies, muscle tissues were tested for total mercury, nearly all of which was the toxic organic form, methylmercury.

In their re-analysis, Drevnick and his colleagues included yellowfins between 48 and 167 pounds and used a computer model that controls for the effect of fish body size. Data from 229 fish were analyzed: 111 from 1971, 104 from 1998 and 14 from 2008.

The researchers found that mercury concentrations in the yellowfins did not change between the 1971 and 1998 datasets. However, concentrations were higher in 2008 than in either 1971 or 1998. Between 1998 and 2008, the mercury concentration in yellowfins increased at a rate greater than or equal to 3.8 percent a year, according to the new study.

"Mercury levels are increasing globally in ocean water, and our study is the first to show a consequent increase in mercury in an open-water fish," Drevick said. "More stringent policies are needed to reduce releases of mercury into the atmosphere. If current deposition rates are maintained, North Pacific waters will double in mercury by 2050."

Yellowfin tuna, often marketed as ahi, is widely used in raw fish dishes - especially sashimi - or for grilling. The Natural Resources Defense Council's guide to mercury in sushi lists yellowfin tuna as a "high mercury" species.

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San Francisco received no measurable rain in January, setting city record

© Brant Ward,

For the first time in recorded weather history, San Francisco received no measurable rain in January.

The city's streets stayed dry, and the month ended on Saturday with sunshine and the temperature hitting 70 degrees.

The rest of the Bay Area was also dry. Meteorology consultant Jan Null tells the San Francisco Chronicle that other cities, including San Jose, saw at most two one-hundredths of an inch of rain.

The Bay Area is still above normal rainfall totals for this time of year after a wet December. But rain will have to start falling soon to maintain a normal pace. The state, meanwhile, remains in the grips of a drought.

San Francisco's recorded weather history dates back to the Gold Rush era of the mid-19th century.

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

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Stalingrad veterans' open letter to Merkel: Fascism is here again

stalingrad vets

Every Museum desires to do educational outreach, and the Museum-Panorama of the Battle of Stalingrad is no exception. (Visit its site here) On January 22, it hosted a Round Table discussion with actual survivors of the historic battle. These old soldiers, still resident in the Volgograd region, Maxim Matveyevich Zagorulko, Alexander Kolotushkin, Maria V. Sokolov, Mikhail Tereshchenko, Eugene F. Rogov, and Alexander Yakovlevich Sirotenko, in their late 80's or even early 90's, looked at the present world as well as at the past, and produced an open letter, a "letter of the living" to the Chancellor of Germany. The full text is on several Russian language sites. Their letter follows, in English.

Letter of the Living to Frau Angele Dorothea Merkel from the Veterans of the Stalingrad Battle

Dear Frau Merkel,

Here in the 70th year after the victory over Nazism, we, veterans of that terrible war and participants in that most horrible combat, are aware that a spectre again is haunting Europe, a spectre of the Brown Plague. This time it is Ukraine that has become the nursery of Nazism, where from the fountainhead of an ideology in ultranationalism, antisemitism, and inhumaneness, there have come into practice rejections of other cultures, physical violence, elimination of dissenters, and murders motivated by ethnic hatred.

Before us there stand familiar pictures: torchlight parades, thugs in nazi-emblemed uniforms, upraised right hands in the Nazi salute, fascist processions with police protection through the center of Kiev, and the imposition, on certain people, of second-class status.

We have seen all this before, and we know where it leads.

In Ukraine the Brown Plague has been smoldering over the last decade, and has broken out into a civil war. Nazist-like formations such as Right Wing (Praviy Sektor), such as the so-called National Guard, numerous informal but well-armed battalions like "Azov," with regular Ukrainian army support, with air strikes and with heavy artillery, have been systematically destroying the population of Eastern Ukraine.

They are murdering innocent people simply because the people wish to speak their own language, because they have a different idea about the future of their country, and because they do not wish to live in a government led by Banderists.

Banderists are followers of the so-called Ukraine Liberation Army, which, we remind you, Frau Merkel, fought in the time of the Second World War on the side of the Vermacht, and with the SS Galizia Division, who distinguished themselves in the murder of Soviet Jewry. They exalt their ideological forebears, renaming the streets of Ukrainian cities after Nazi war criminals! The history of the 20th Century is being rewritten before our eyes. No wonder that the Banderists of our time - with a fanaticist's gleam that is familiar to us veterans from the front of the World War, at Stalingrad - are calling for wiping Donbass off the face of the earth, and incinerating citizens of their own country in the east with napalm! There is documentary evidence that they have killed people simply for wearing the Ribbon of St. George, our symbol of the victory over fascism.

The truth is, Frau Merkel, that in Ukraine an all-out orgy of fascism is going on. It's not just some anti-semitic remarks in Parliament or by dropouts about the superiority of one "race" over another. It is a matter of full-scale bloody crimes, whose victims now number in the hundreds and in the thousands.

But the west has taken a very strange position, and we do not understand it. The position can be understood as accommodating Ukrainian Nazis. It is understood in Ukraine as the position of Europe, and it is beginning to be perceived as such in Russia. And we would like to know what the German people would say about it from the vantage point of their historic national experience.

It is important for us to know your view, the view of the leader of the great people that once suffered the Brown Plague, but at the cost of terrible sacrifice, recovered from it. We are aware of how they struggle in your country with any manifestations of Nazism, and believe us, we appreciate it. All the more, it makes us wonder why, cleaning out any possible germs of nazism in you country, you are unconcerned about a full-scale outbreak of it in another part of Europe?

Why do European leaders march in support of French caricaturists murdered by Islamic terrorists, but do not march against fascism in Ukraine? Why did the head of state, who ordered annihilation of part of his own population, participate in this march? Why do 12 French victims deserve attention, but thousands of Ukrainian and Russian victims do not?

Do you know how many children got killed in East Ukraine by thugs with Nazi emblems on their uniform? Do you want to know? We will offer you this information - if you do not already have it. Why do the people of Europe look calmly upon the massive violence in Ukraine? Is it simply because there is no mention of it in your mainstream media? Then where is their well-known independence? Independence from facts? Independence from truth? What is the actual goal of your economic sanctions? Weaken Russia as a power? Support Fascism in Ukraine? Or just to eliminate our pensions which we get as veterans of the World War?

Dear Frau Merkel, the grim history of the 20th Century has taught us a few lessons.

1. The re-writing of history is the first path to Nazism.

Every European fascist regime in the 20s and 30s started with this. And this is the path they have traveled in Ukraine: from re-writing schoolbook histories to the widespread demolition of Soviet memorials. The acme of falsehood was uttered by Ukrainian Prime Minister Yatsenyuk in the German media about "the Soviet Union invading Germany and Ukraine"! It would be interesting to know your sentiments about that, the sentiments of a leader where holocaust-denial is a crime entailing actual time in prison.

2. The search for scapegoats is a manifestation of Nazism.

Fascist regimes blame every failure of their country on various groups, ethnic, social, religious. In years past, this was the Jews and the Communists. In today's Ukraine, the assigned scapegoats are Russians, Russia, and the entire east of the country.

3. If Nazism appears in one country, the disease can spread throughout the world.

You cannot promote nazism in one country and suppose that it will stay within that country's borders. The wave of Nazism spreads to all, overstepping boundaries. That's the reason they called Nazism "The Brown Plague." Nazism must be stopped at the distant approaches, lest it arrive in your house.

4. Nazism cannot be ignored; it must be resisted.

Should anyone suppose that one can simply ignore Ukrainian fascism, and pay no attention to it, he is utterly in error. The nature of Nazism is such that it takes being ignored as encouragement, even as an acknowledgement of its strength. Nazism is never local; it can only root, and grow. Therefore the only way with Nazism is an active bitter struggle against it.

5. The most important weapon in the struggle against nazism in its early stages is the truth.

In short, truth defeats nazism. By exhibiting the inhumane essence of nazism, the inhumane essence revealed in it own ideology, in the exhortations of its adherents, in its actual executions of persons, we fight against nazism as it is. Historical truth is the best shield against nazism. If their own government wouldn't hide the history of their country and their people from the youth, there would be fewer nazi followers in Ukraine. Current mass media play a huge role: they can either form nazism, or they can fight it.

Dear Frau Merkel! In Russia, as successor to the USSR, we have a special and historic mission. 70 years ago, at the cost of the worst casualties of the war, we put an end to nazism in Europe. We personally, Stalingraders all, with superhuman effort, changed the course of history, not just our history, but European history, yes, world history. And we cannot allow the recrudescence of nazism. Certainly not next door! We have fought it; we will fight it; we invite you to fight it together!

A character, archetype of a fascist boss, in a well-known and favorite film here is made to say: "As soon as anywhere, instead of saying 'Hello' they say 'Heil!' you'll know: that is where they are waiting for us, and that is where we will start our great revival."

Frau Merkel, "Heil" is heard everywhere in Ukraine, openly, with official support. It is time for the whole European world to stop this bane. We very much hope that the German people, and all Europe, together with the people of Russia, will stamp out the reptile, root and branch.

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

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100,000 anti-Kiev forces to join fight in east Ukraine


Alexander Zakharchenko, the leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.

The leader of the pro-Russia forces in eastern Ukraine has announced that their side is to be reinforced by 100,000 more fighters by spring.

"In 10 days, we will begin a general mobilization," Alexander Zakharchenko said, according to the semi-official Donetsk News Agency, adding, "We plan to mobilize up to 100,000 people."

On January 20, Ukraine conducted the fourth wave of mobilization of its armed forces since the conflict in eastern regions started. Another two waves are planned for April and June.

According to Ukraine's Minister of Defense Stepan Poltorak, a total of 104,000 Ukrainians will be mobilized throughout 2015.

Forces of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic have, meanwhile, said they have seized two large ammunition depots and prevented army columns from delivering food and fuel to troops in the town of Debaltseve.

Eduard Basurin, the deputy commander of the self-proclaimed republic's forces, said on Sunday that nearly 60 Ukrainian troops had been killed during recent clashes with pro-Russia forces in the region.

The two mainly Russian-speaking regions of Donetsk and Lugansk in eastern Ukraine have been the scene of deadly clashes between pro-Russia forces and the Ukrainian army since Kiev's military operation started in April 2014, in a bid to crush the protests.

Violence intensified in May 2014, after the two flashpoint regions held local referendums in which their residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence from Ukraine and joining the Russian Federation.

The fighting has left more than 5,100 people killed and over 1.5 million displaced, the United Nations says.

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

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Pepper-sprayed teacher: Efforts to curb police brutality 'met with more force'

Jesse Hagopian, a high school history teacher who was pepper-sprayed by a police officer in an unprovoked attack, says that what happened to him is reflective of the police brutality that is rampant across the United States.

Hagopian - an activist promoting black causes in the Seattle area - was pepper-sprayed by a police officer after speaking at a Black Lives Matter rally on Martin Luther King Day. He was walking away from the gathering, on a sidewalk, when he was suddenly pepper-sprayed in the face.

He has decided to sue city authorities and the police for $500,000 in damages.

In video footage of the incident - which was filmed by a bystander, and where Hagopian is clearly visible - a small crowd is standing on the sidewalk and in the road.

[embedded content]

A female officer in a line of other officers appears to drastically overreact to the situation. She screams at the people facing her - who do not appear to be any threat whatsoever - to move back. She pepper-sprays them just as Hagopian is walking past at a normal pace while chatting on his mobile phone. The other officers remain calm and silent, but do not intervene to stop what appears to be an overreaction by their colleague.

The pepper-spray left Hagopian with searing pain in his eyes, ears, and face.

The history teacher said city authorities have not commented on the incident, even though it happened almost two weeks ago.

"We still don't have the name of the officer...I hope the city will respond rapidly to address this incident and others like it. I'm not the only one who's faced this type of overreaction from the police here in Seattle," he told RT.

He explained that the police officer's actions in Seattle are reflective of the wider problem of police brutality in the US.

"Every effort to curb police brutality seems to be met with more force," Hagopian said.

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

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Dominique Strauss-Kahn's pimping trial starts

© Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund, will go on trial in Lille on Monday accused of pimping, in a case that threatens to expose the double life of the politician once tipped to be the next president of France.

The court is expected to hear how, while in Washington holding the most senior economic job in the world, Strauss-Kahn had group sex with prostitutes brought to him in Europe and the US, organised by French businessmen friends who wanted to curry favour with the man they thought would one day lead the country.

Details from court papers filed by the investigative magistrates and reported by several French papers referenced more than 15 "soirées" between 2009 and 2011 in which Strauss-Kahn was described as the instigator and "king of the party", and where he allegedly had multiple encounters with numerous women in scenes described by some witnesses as "carnage" or "slaughter".

The judges who referred the case to court argued that it was impossible for Strauss-Kahn to be unaware the woman were paid. They said that the encounters were organised around his busy international schedule, that he was the instigator and principal beneficiary and that the type of sexual practices involved and the lack of use of condoms suggested the women participating could only have been paid.

The encounters, involving sex workers from France and Belgium, took place in Brussels, Paris and three in Washington and New York. The prosecution claim that two entrepreneurs from northern France flew women to the US for orgies involving Strauss-Kahn while he was at the IMF, picking up the bill themselves.

Their last visit ended on 13 May, the day before Strauss-Kahn was arrested in New York over the alleged attempted rape of a hotel maid, Nafissatou Diallo. Criminal charges against Strauss-Kahn in the Diallo case were dropped by prosecutors, and he later settled a civil action with her.

That case marked the end of his political career in France. He currently acts as a consultant, including to the Serbian government and the Russian Regional Development Bank.

Strauss-Kahn has vehemently denied all charges of pimping, describing them as "dangerous and malicious insinuations and extrapolations". At the time of the alleged offences, the former finance minister was tipped to be the next Socialist presidential candidate and was part of a celebrity power couple with his now-ex wife, the journalist Anne Sinclair.

He has admitted he took part in group sex but denied knowing that women at the orgies were prostitutes. "I challenge you to tell the difference between a naked prostitute and a naked woman of the world," his lawyer, Henri Leclerc, said in 2011.

Some sex workers said they had been instructed not to mention they had been paid; others said it was impossible for him not to know. One sex worker, whose testimony to investigators was quoted in the , said that as an "escort" it was rare to meet someone who displayed such a lack of respect as Strauss-Kahn.

The investigating magistrates said the case was not a moral crusade, arguing there were concrete indications that Strauss-Kahn was the "central pivot" of sexual encounters that favoured prostitution. Prostitution involving people over 18 is not illegal in France but pimping and living off the benefits of it is against the law.

The charge of , which translates as aggravated procuring for the purposes of prostitution, covers a wide range of crimes, including aiding, abetting, organising, encouraging or assisting in the prostitution of others. It is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. All 13 people in the dock with Strauss-Kahn, including small businessmen and a senior police chief, have denied the charges. The case will be heard by three judges but no jury.

The case, known as the Carlton Affair, began in 2011 as an investigation into an alleged prostitution network at the Hotel Carlton in Lille.

Strauss-Kahn was not involved in any alleged activity at that hotel, but his name was mentioned by sex workers in interviews with investigators and the inquiry was widened.

His high profile and the others in the dock with him have made the case one of the trials of the year. Those who will be in court with the former IMF leader include Dominique Alderweireld, a portly, cigar-chewing owner of hostess bars in Belgium who goes by the name Dodo the Pimp and said he had prepared for the case by getting his teeth whitened in Spain.

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

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Groundhog Punxsutawney Phil 'forecasts' 6 more weeks of winter

© AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

Groundhog Club handler Ron Ploucha, left, holds Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, during the 129th celebration of Groundhog Day on Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa., Monday, Feb. 2, 2015.

The handlers of Pennsylvania's most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, said Monday the furry rodent has forecast six more weeks of winter.

Members of the top hat-wearing Inner Circle announced the "prediction" Monday morning.

A German legend has it that if a furry rodent sees his shadow on Feb. 2, winter will last another six weeks. If not, spring comes early.

The forecast was also announced on Twitter, as was referenced in the official proclamation read by Jeff Lundy, the Fair Weatherman of the Inner Circle.

"Forecasts abound on the Internet, but, I, Punxsutawney Phil am still your best bet. Yes, a shadow I see, you can start to Twitter, hash tag: Six more weeks of winter!"

The forecast was delivered after a steady pre-dawn rain turned to snow as temperatures dropped from the high 30s to around freezing. They were forecast to keep dropping over much of the state, prompting the state Department of Transportation to lower the speed limit to 45 mph for many interstate highways which were already wet and expected to freeze or be covered with snow as the day wore on.

The rain kept some revelers away, with state police estimating the crowd at around 11,000, slightly smaller than in recent years when upward of 15,000 attended.

Despite the German legend, Phil's handlers don't wait to see if he sees his shadow - as he likely would not have on such an overcast day. Instead, the Inner Circle decide on the forecast ahead of time and announce it on Gobbler's Knob, a tiny hill in the town for which the groundhog is named, about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

Records going back to 1887 show Phil has now predicted more winter 102 times while forecasting an early spring just 17 times. There are no records for the remaining years.

Phil's counterpart in New York City, Staten Island Chuck, delivered a conflicting message in calling for an early spring after not seeing his shadow.

Chuck emerged from his home at the Staten Island Zoo early Monday and took part in a new ceremony that didn't include being held by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Last year, in de Blasio's first time at the annual ceremony, the rodent slipped from his grasp and fell to the ground. It died weeks later.

A medical exam revealed it died of internal injuries, but zoo officials said it was unclear if they were caused by the fall from de Blasio's arms. Zoo officials didn't make the death public for months.

The accident became a source of teasing for the mayor, and de Blasio himself suggested Monday that "teams of animal behavior experts and scientists have consulted from all over the country" to keep the groundhog safe.

In Wisconsin, the mayor of Sun Prairie might not be getting too close to a groundhog again.

During a celebration Monday, the handler of Jimmy the groundhog held the animal next the face of Mayor Jonathan Freund, and Jimmy promptly bit down on the mayor's left ear.

Freund flinched, but went on with the event.

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

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The Guardian exposes itself as pro-war propaganda outfit

timothy garton ash

"Sometimes only guns can stop guns" - are you volunteering, Tim?

Since the beginning of time, television pundits and other serious thinkers have beckoned the young to die or lose limbs in pointless, illegal wars.

Just in the last 15 years alone, our groomed foreign policy experts and think tank fellows have made compelling cases for armed humanitarian interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and about a half dozen other defenseless nations desperately in need of drone strikes or some other form of Western aid.

Some might think this ancient practice of the privileged few urging everyone else to perish for nothing is outdated - maybe even harmful.

Perhaps. But tradition is very important in the United Kingdom. Well-placed sources tell us that wooden mallet-spankings at Eton College are just as regular as they were 100 years ago.

We are beginning to drift into less savory subjects, so let us return to the main agenda item: Writing in , Oxford historian Timothy Garton Ash has demanded more weapons for Ukraine , and more hostile, Draconian measures levied against Russia. Why? Because Putin is a maniac and "sometimes only guns can stop guns."

This all makes perfect sense, except...Who's supposed to use these guns to fight Putin's invisible Russian army? The Ukrainians? They don't want them. Ukraine's Ministry of Defense says that in the latest mobilization, only 20% of those called up for service reported for duty. More than one million Ukrainian men of military age are now refugees in Russia. Mothers don't want to send their sons to die in a pointless war against an enemy that doesn't exist, and who could blame them?

[embedded content]

Maybe Ash will answer the call to arms? He certainly seems confident in Ukraine's current leadership, as one of his delightful anecdotes shows:

Last year a Russianist of my acquaintance was sitting naked and at ease in the hot tub with a friend of his in Moscow after several vodkas, as is the Russian custom, when this highly educated Russian asked: "So tell me, honestly, why do you support the fascists in Kiev?"

Ash doesn't answer the question, because he's an Oxford professor and he can't be bothered with questions.

The fact that the current government in Kiev is authoritarian at its core and has neo-Nazi and extremist elements is not even disputed anymore. Now it's just a matter of "how" fascist the government is. A little bit fascist, somewhat fascist, or very very fascist? This is what scholarly circles are now discussing.

The rest of the article - comparing Putin to Slobodan Milošević, for example - is not particularly creative. But a real pearl of wisdom comes at the end of his piece:

We need to counter [Russian] propaganda not with lies of our own but with reliable information and a scrupulously presented array of different views. No one is better placed to do this than the BBC.

Of course, the entire piece is bold-faced garbage since it's based on the completely baseless notion that Russia has invaded Ukraine. But that won't stop Ash from cheering for further violence and hostilities - .

As Mark Twain warned long ago:

The loud little handful--as usual--will shout for the war. The pulpit will--warily and cautiously--object--at first; the great, big, dull bulk of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes and try to make out why there should be a war, and will say, earnestly and indignantly, 'It is unjust and dishonorable, and there is no necessity for it.' Then the handful will shout louder. A few fair men on the other side will argue and reason against the war with speech and pen, and at first will have a hearing and be applauded; but it will not last long; those others will outshout them, and presently the anti-war audiences will thin out and lose popularity. Before long you will see this curious thing: the speakers stoned from the platform, and free speech strangled by hordes of furious men who in their secret hearts are still at one with those stoned speakers--as earlier--but do not dare say so. And now the whole nation--pulpit and all--will take up the war-cry, and shout itself hoarse, and mob any honest man who ventures to open his mouth; and presently such mouths will cease to open. Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception.

We can't allow this to happen.

P.S. - Isn't supposed to be a hippie paper?

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

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U.S. passports near elimination?

N. Americas flags

© twitter.com

To be joined at the hip creating "North Americans."

A Soros-funded group arguing to replace the U.S. passport with a North American passport appears ready to take up the mantle of championing the concept of a European Union-style regional government to supersede the sovereignty of the United States, Mexico and Canada, fulfilling the dream of the late American University professor Robert Pastor.

The future of the U.S. lies in North America, not in the United States as a sovereign nation, contends the New America Foundation, a Washington-based leftist think-tank with ties to Jonathan Soros, son of famed leftist billionaire George Soros.

United States of North America

© www.erikaharrsch.com

United States of North America, (so far) a fictitious passport, that joins the three NAFTA members’ passport heraldics: Canada, U.S.A. and México.

Appropriately named "New America," the foundation believes the U.S. passport should soon become obsolete and replaced with a European Union-style passport issued for all citizens of the U.S., Mexico and Canada. Citizens would be redefined by their regional identity as "North Americans," echoing President Obama's claim in Spanish in his December 17, 2014, announcement of his executive actions to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba, "Todos Somos Americanos," or, "We are all Americans.

"The United States, Canada and Mexico are bound by a shared economic, environmental, demographic and cultural destiny. How we move forward together is key to our success," wrote André Martinez, an editor with New America and a professor at the Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University; and Daniel Kurtz-Phelan, a fellow at New America and a former adviser on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's policy planning staff, in an article titled , published by CNN.com.

"In recognition of our shared destiny, the three countries should create a North American passport that would, over time, allow their citizens to travel, work, invest, learn and innovate anywhere in North America. Work, tourist and student visas are necessities in the modern world to regulate the flow of people between sovereign states," Martinez and Kurtz-Phelan declared.

"In the North American context, much like within the European Union, our economies and societies are far more integrated than our immigration system recognizes - and a North American passport, much like the EU passport, would align our laws with reality."

The article authored by Martinez and Kurtz-Phelan provides additional support for the argument reported by WND for the past decade that globalists seeking to create a "North American Union" realized the EU stealth model could be replicated in North America. It can be accomplished, they believe, through establishing free-trade agreements such as NAFTA and transforming them incrementally into a regional government.

In Europe, the European Coal and Steel Agreement - signed as a treaty in Paris on April 18, 1951, and put into force on July 23, 1952 - evolved into the European Common market. The EC was created by the Treaty of Rome March 25, 1957, and ultimately became the European Union, a regional government.

"The inception of NAFTA marked an important step toward leveraging these geographic realities for a shared North American success," Martinez and Kurtz-Phelan noted.

"NAFTA has been a boon to our growth and competitiveness. Integrated production platforms, sometimes spanning all three countries, have helped draw manufacturing back from competitors across the Pacific." They said, however, "the promise of NAFTA has fallen short in a critical respect." While trade and investment have grown, "the barriers to movement have remained too high for the people who help drive and stand to benefit from that growth."

"As evidenced by the recent political firestorm over President Obama's executive move to allow more undocumented workers to avoid deportation, it would take farsighted and courageous political leadership in all three countries to press for a North American passport," Martinez and Kurtz-Phelan stressed. "But the fact is that allowing North Americans to move more effortlessly across the borders would help alleviate our contentious domestic immigration battles."

The New America Foundation boasts millions of dollars in funding by a blue-chip list of leftist donors along with government funding in the form of a seven-figure grant from the State Department and a six-figure grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Prominent among a list of nearly 150 different funding sources is Google Inc., reflecting the participation of Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, on the New American Foundation's board of trustees.

Also on the board is Jonathan Soros, CEO of JS Capital Management LLC, a private investment firm, also credited on the New American Foundation website as holding several board positions affiliated with the George Soros Open Society Foundations.

The president and CEO of the New American Foundation is Anne-Marie Slaughter, who previously served as the director of policy planning in the State Department, where she worked for Hillary Clinton from January 2009 through February 2011.

Slaughter is the author of the 2005 book , in which she argued the structure of global governance is already in place, through international organizations and agreements, broad networks of economic markets, travel and information flow.

Robert Pastor, a longtime proponent of North American integration, died at the age of 66 after a three-year battle with cancer. He was a professor of international relations and the director of the Center for North American Studies at American University in Washington, D.C.

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

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BEST OF THE WEB: Turkey's fingerprints in the Western war against China and Russia

While the world's attention has been fixed on France in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo killings, the subsequent manhunt, and the political fallout from the incident, a number of important news items have quietly been pushed off the front pages of the world's major newspapers, and out of the lead segments of television news programs all over the globe. In Nigeria, Boko Haram reemerges with a vengeance, committing one of the worst atrocities in the recent history of the region. In Syria and Iraq, the war against the Islamic State continues unabated. In Greece, an all-important election that could have dire implications for the future of the European Union is set to take place.

And quietly, with almost no fanfare from international media, reports surfaced from China indicating that Chinese authorities had arrested at least ten Turkish suspects alleged to have organized and facilitated the illegal border crossings of a number of Uighur [Muslim ethnic group in Western China] extremists. It has further been revealed that the Uighur extremists were planning to travel to Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan to train and fight with fellow jihadis.

While the details of the investigation have not been fully revealed as yet, the incident points to a much larger issue than simply a few Turks being involved in document forgery and illegal immigration. Rather, the story is still further evidence of a well-funded, well-organized international terror network operated and/or facilitated by the Turkish government and Turkish intelligence. From the hosting of extremist fighters along the Syrian border to providing material support to terrorists in China, Turkey has placed itself at the center of an international terror war aimed at countries that oppose NATO and stand in the way of the Neo-Ottoman vision that President Erdogan and Prime Minister Davutoglu have for Turkey.

What We Know and Why It Matters

According to the Turkish foreign ministry, the ten Turkish citizens were arrested in Shanghai on November 17, 2014 for facilitating illegal immigration. While the formal charges against them range from forging documents to actually aiding illegal migration, it is the larger question of international terrorism that lurks beneath the surface. Because of course, as the evidence seems to indicate, these Uighur immigrants were not merely traveling to see loved ones in another country. On the contrary, they were likely part of a previously documented trend of Uighur extremists traveling to the Middle East to train and fight with the Islamic State or other terror groups.

In fact, precisely this trend was exposed two months earlier in September 2014 when Reuters reported that Beijing formally accused militant Uighurs from Xinjiang of having traveled to Islamic State-controlled territory to receive training. Further corroborating these accusations, the of Indonesia reported that four Chinese Uighur jihadists had been arrested in Indonesia after having travelled from Xinjiang through Malaysia. Other, similar reports have also surfaced in recent months, painting a picture of a concerted campaign to help Uighur extremists travel throughout Asia, communicating and collaborating with transnational terror groups such as IS.

Now, with these latest revelations regarding Turkish nationals being involved in the trafficking of extremists, it seems an invaluable piece of the terrorist transit infrastructure has been exposed. The lingering question of course remains: Why?

Why would Turkey - a country that has long sought to play both sides of the East-West divide (fast becoming a NATO-BRICS/SCO divide) - seek to destabilize China in this way? Why risk a potentially lucrative partnership with Beijing to help a radical fringe Islamist movement in Xinjiang?

Turkey's Ottoman Revanchism

While Ankara's policy of fomenting regional conflict through terrorism might seem counter-intuitive given Turkey's economic and political interests today, and the importance of positive relations with non-Western countries, the policy actually makes perfect sense if seen from the Neo-Ottoman perspective.

Perhaps here it is critical to define "Neo-Ottoman" as simply the term used to describe the desire of Turkey's current government to reunify the Turkic peoples spread from Istanbul, through Central Asia, and into Western China. As such, Erdogan and Davutoglu see the Xinjiang jihadis of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM aka "The Chinese Taliban") and similar groups, not as Chinese terrorists, but as Turkey's lost children in desperate need of reunion with their historic homeland. Though of course such thinking smacks of neocolonialism, it is not entirely unpopular in Turkey, especially with the more conservative base of Erdogan's support.

The political marketability of Turkish revanchism is critical to understanding why it is being pursued. Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) have galvanized a wide segment of the population that has become ever more skeptical of the liberalism of the West, and its perceived pernicious effects on Turkish society. In turn this stokes a militaristic and aggressive foreign policy posture as Erdogan trades in the currency of "respect" and "honor." As reported in 2013:

But beyond foreign policy there lies a much more significant domestic transformation, one that is also driven by history. In that same speech, the foreign minister spoke of the need for a "great restoration" where "we need to embrace fully the ancient values we have lost." Praising the historic bonds that connected the peoples of Turkey over the "new identities that were thrust upon us in the modern era," Davutoglu maintained that the road to Turkey's progress lies in its past - an assertion that has terrified the government's detractors enough for them to make it a losing political platform each new election.

But when one considers precisely which countries and which peoples are affected by this Turkish revanchist thinking, the foreign policy fingerprints of the West - the US specifically - immediately become apparent.

The West Writes the Policy, Turkey Does the Dirty Work

The more one looks at a map of the "Turkic peoples," the more obvious it becomes that Turkish revanchism - or Neo-Ottomanism - is a foreign policy that is perfectly aligned with the US as its main targets are Russia and China. Indeed, such a conclusion becomes unavoidable when one considers that the Turkic peoples cut a wide swath across both Russian and Chinese spheres of influence. From the former Soviet Republics of Central Asia to Xinjiang in Western China, the Turkic population becomes a massive hotbed of potential terrorism, secessionism, and destabilization. Moreover, as the US formally exits Afghanistan (remaining informally in a variety of capacities, of course), its ability to directly influence and/or control events on the ground in Central Asia is diminished considerably.

The US has long supported terrorist groups throughout the Caucasus region as a means of destabilizing and otherwise controlling Russia, and stifling its political and economic development. The same is true in Xinjiang, China where the US has, through the National Endowment for Democracy and a number of other "democracy promotion NGOs," financially and politically supported Uighur separatist groups for years. However, now that Turkey has become a regional player looking to assert its own hegemony, Washington seems to be perfectly content to allow precisely that strategy to play out to the detriment of Russia and China.

And perhaps a good indicator of precisely this thinking from the US comes in the fact that repeated, large-scale terror attacks in Xinjiang, and Western China generally go almost unmentioned by the Western media. For instance, in May 2014, 31 Chinese civilians were killed in a terror attack on a market in Xinjiang. Almost triple the body count of the Charlie Hebdo killings, but barely a mention in the West. This is undoubtedly due to the fact that the West must always present China as the aggressor, never the victim of terrorism. Beyond double-standards, such hypocrisy illustrates the insidiously cynical mindset of Western "planners" who see any destabilization of China as a net gain for their hegemony.

The US Wins When China and Russia Lose

Ultimately it is geopolitics and economics that is dictating the Western (and by extension, Turkish) foreign policy agenda in Central Asia and China. It is an attempt to stifle the economic development of both Russia and China, and prevent the two powers from continuing on their dual paths of cooperation and regional integration. Seen in this way, Turkey becomes a giant wedge used to keep Russia and China apart, but also to keep China and Europe apart. There is much wizardry taking place behind the proverbial curtain.

In the context of China, Washington's primary objective is to prevent it from expanding the infrastructure of its economic development not only in Asia, but especially to Europe. Primary among the Chinese grand projects is the 'New Silk Road' - an ambitious project that would link China and Europe via land using high-speed trains, new airports, and a vast distribution network. Such a development would transform global trade as China would no longer be forced to rely almost entirely on commercial shipping, a sphere dominated by the naval power and influence of the US.

A key linchpin in the New Silk Road is the western Chinese city of Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang province. As Duan Zixin, general manager of the Xinjiang Airport Group explained:

"We believe the new international airport in the regional capital of Urumqi will be operational by 2020, and will become one of the most influential aviation hubs in Central Asia... Our focus is to launch new routes connecting Xinjiang with key trade centers in Central Asia, East Asia, and Europe. It will be a Silk Road in the air."

The expansion of airports, combined with the proposal to use Urumqi as a rail hub on the New Silk Road distribution network, has thrust Xinjiang into the center of China's plans for global economic expansion. It is precisely this fact that has made the destabilization of Xinjiang a top priority for the US and its regional ally Turkey. By financing, training, and providing material support to ETIM and other extremist groups in the region, the West hopes to make Xinjiang not viable for economic development, thereby derailing China's plans.

Similarly, Russia has begun implementing its major plans in Central Asia, specifically with the establishment and expansion of the Eurasian Economic Union - a regional economic union that includes Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, and Armenia, with Kyrgyzstan set to join this year, and Tajikistan having expressed interest as well. Considering the geographic immensity of the area covered by the EEU, one cannot help but see it as fundamental to the success of China's 'New Silk Road'. In fact, both Russian and Chinese planners have long since recognized this natural partnership and mutually beneficial development trajectory.

Recent massive energy contracts signed between Russia and China, including commitments to invest large sums in pipeline infrastructure development both in the west - where the Altai Pipeline not so coincidentally will terminate in Xinjiang - and the east, have made Washington increasingly nervous. Naturally, the US sees the potential inherent in such cooperation which ultimately could make even Europe an unreliable ally for the US; it will do anything it can to prevent Russia-China cooperation from being fully realized.

And so, Turkey is given more or less free rein by the West to pursue its Neo-Ottoman strategy using the same tried and true methods of the US: sponsoring terrorism, fomenting civil war, and breeding chaos for the purposes of 'crisis management.' This has led to countless deaths in Syria, and undeniably will lead to more in the future. It has created divisions and conflict in the Middle East, yet another net gain for the US and its closest regional allies, Israel and Turkey. It puts Russia and China directly in the crosshairs of the Empire. And, it would seem, that has always been the goal.

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

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