24 Oct 2014

Missouri police prepare for potential riot ahead of grand jury decision in Michael Brown shooting

Missouri police have been brushing up on constitutional rights and stocking up on riot gear to prepare for a grand jury's decision about whether to charge a white police officer who fatally shot a black 18-year-old in suburban St. Louis.
The preparations are aimed at avoiding a renewed outbreak of violence during the potentially large demonstrations that could follow an announcement of whether Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson will face a criminal trial for the Aug. 9 death of Michael Brown.
Police and protesters have repeatedly clashed since the shooting, which prompted a national conversation about race and police tactics. Images of officers in riot gear and armored vehicles confronting protesters have drawn widespread criticism.
Many protesters want Wilson indicted for murder. Grand jury proceedings are secret, but legal analysts say recently leaked information about Wilson's testimony to investigators may be an attempt to prepare the public for the possibility that he might not be charged.
The decision could be made public within the next month.
In the meantime, law officers have adjusted their tactics to interact more peacefully with protesters while also honing their procedures for quick, widespread arrests. They plan to have a large contingent of officers at the ready, but have been meeting with clergy, community leaders and students in hopes of building relationships that could ease tensions on the streets.
"I know there's a lot of anxiety, there's a lot of fear, anticipation" about that announcement, said Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, who was put in charge of security in Ferguson in the days after Brown was killed and is now part of a coordinated command with local police. But "I have a lot of hope."
Law enforcement officers expect to receive at least a day's notice before a grand jury announcement. That should provide time for them to execute security plans but may also allow demonstrators to prepare.
"The moment I learn that there is, in fact, a non-indictment, then there's going to be an organized protest," said Eric Vickers, a black St. Louis attorney and civil rights activist.
Brown was unarmed when Wilson encountered him walking in the street with a friend. A scuffle ensued and Brown was shot multiple times. Witness accounts of what happened varied, with some people saying they saw Brown raise his hands as if in surrender.
Wilson told investigators he felt threatened while fighting with Brown from inside a police SUV, where an initial gunshot was fired, according to information provided to several news outlets by people described as familiar with the investigation, but not otherwise identified. After Brown fled the vehicle, Wilson said Brown turned around in a threatening manner, prompting the officer to fire the fatal shots, according to those accounts of his testimony.
Wilson's description of events was leaked recently, as was an autopsy report that showed Brown had marijuana in his system and was shot in the hand at close range. Wilson has alleged Brown was trying to grab his gun in the SUV.
"It appears that it may be calculated to soften the blow if there is no indictment," said Peter Joy, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis who directs the school's Criminal Justice Clinic.
But, he said, "it's conceivable that if the leaks are from law enforcement that perhaps there may be an indictment and this is calculated to garner public sympathy for officer Wilson."
Wilson's attorneys have denied being the source of the reports.

Ottawa shooter attempted to rob McDonalds with pointed stick, "wanted to be in jail" because he believed it was the only way to overcome his crack cocaine addiction

Ottawa shooter Michael Zehaf-Bibeau attempted to confess to a historical armed robbery that the RCMP believed didn’t happen, then attempted an armed robbery at a McDonald’s to go to jail, court recordings provided to CTV News show.
It was all part of a bizarre plan by the man who attacked Parliament Hill to get to jail to atone for his sins and get clean from a crack addiction, the audio recordings show.
“Perfect, perfect,” a Zehaf-Bibeau says with a French accent on the tapes, when he is finally allowed to be incarcerated. “The RCMP are investigating.” 

Zehaf-Bibeau visited the Burnaby detachment of the RCMP to claim he had committed an armed robbery in Quebec 10 years ago, but an officer could find no evidence of the crime. Instead, the RCMP arrested Zehaf Bibeau under the B.C.’s Mental Health Act, and released him the next day.

Zehaf-Bibeau then attempted to rob a Vancouver McDonald’s with a pointed stick, the recording reveals.
His grin unnerved the McDonald’s clerk, who asked if the man was serious. Zehaf-Bibeau said, “Yes, hand over the money, homeboy.”
The McDonald’s clerk refused, telling Zihaf-Bibeau that he had already phoned the police.
“Beat it,” the clerk said.
Zehaf-Bibeau walked out of the McDonald’s, and dropped his stick on the pavement to wait for police arrived.

That’s when he was arrested and court workers concluded that he may have an undiagnosed mental health disorder, in addition to being addicted to crack.
At a Dec. 19, 2011 bail hearing, Zehaf-Bibeau told the court that he didn’t want to be on the outside.
“I wanted to come to jail,” he said. “The RCMP couldn’t do the work fast enough."
“I warned them that if you can’t keep me in I will do something right now to put me in.”
He was kept in jail pending his trial and given a psych assessment.
“The accused is aware of his charged and possible consequences of conviction,” said the psychiatrist. “He wants to be in jail as he believes this is the only way he can overcome his addiction to crack cocaine.”

“He has been a devoted Muslim for seven years and he believes he must spend time in jail as a sacrifice to pay for his mistakes in the past and he hopes to be a better man when he is eventually released. 

Read more: http://bc.ctvnews.ca/ottawa-shooter-tried-to-rob-vancouver-mcdonald-s-with-stick-1.2068636

Candid Photos From The Bohemian Grove Meeting (15 pics)

When Alex Jones snuck into the Bohemian Grove Meeting a decade ago and took pictures, conspiracy theorists had a field day. When the world's most powerful leaders meet every July deep in the woods of California, it's hard not to believe there's a conspiracy going on here. What are they doing, and more importantly what's with the giant owl statue?

Everyone Is Watching You Go To The Bathroom (14 pics)

The artist that created these paintings obviously has a sick sense of humor.

23 Oct 2014

North Korea has banned all tourism in the country in fear of Ebola outbreak

North Korea will bar entry to foreigners on tourist trips from Friday, because of worries over the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, operators of tours to the isolated country told Reuters.

At least 4,877 people have died in the world's worst recorded outbreak of Ebola, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, with nearly 10,000 cases recorded by Oct. 19, though the true toll could be three times as much.
It was not immediately clear if the North Korean ban also covered non-tourist members of the diplomatic or business community with ties to Pyongyang.

"We have just received official news from our partners in the DPRK that, as of tomorrow, tourists from any country, regardless of where they have recently visited, will not be permitted to enter," said Gareth Johnson of Young Pioneer Tours, a travel company based in China that runs tours in North Korea.

DPRK is short for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

In late September, the North's official news agency, KCNA, said it was stepping up quarantine efforts to detect foreigners and tourists who might be carrying the virus.
Other travel agents specialising in tours to North Korea confirmed the news, which they said came through official channels in Pyongyang and Beijing.
"It is unknown how long this closure will be in effect, and due to the very changeable nature of DPRK policy, we are still hopeful we will be able to run the three tours we have scheduled for the remainder of 2014," said Nick Bonner of Koryo Tours, a travel group based in Beijing that also specialises in North Korea tours.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/reuters/article-2804542/North-Korea-bar-foreign-tourists-Ebola-concerns-tour-operators.html

Texas jails are eliminating in-person visitation and requiring instead the use of a video visitation system sold by Dallas-based Securus Technologies...Securus charges callers as much as a dollar a minute to use its video services, and jails get a 20 to 25 percent cut."

 There’s nothing nice about jail. The food stinks. There’s nothing to do. People are in a bad mood. The best you can hope for is to get out quickly with minimal hassle. One of the few things you have to look forward to is a visit from a friend or a loved one—a brief face-to-face connection to remind you that the world is waiting on the other side of the glass. But some Texas jails are eliminating in-person visitation and requiring instead the use of a video visitation system sold by Dallas-based Securus Technologies. Critics say it’s an outrageous profiteering scheme that has no policy rationale and could actually deteriorate security at jails.
Securus markets its video system as a cost-saver for jails and a convenience for family members who live far from their incarcerated loved ones. But the structure of the deals suggests there are powerful financial incentives for jails to curb or eliminate face-to-face visitation. Securus charges callers as much as a dollar a minute to use its video services, and jails get a 20 to 25 percent cut. For big-city jails, that could mean millions in extra money.
“We believe Securus sees Texas county jails as a really ripe market for them,” said Kymberlie Quong Charles, an organizer with the prison reform group Grassroots Leadership. Securus, she pointed out, is a major provider of phone services for jails and prisons, but the FCC is cracking down on what it considers exorbitant rates. Video visitation could offer a source of revenue at a time of sagging profits for the industry.
In Dallas, activists and some local leaders, especially County Judge Clay Jenkins, helped kill a contract with Securus that included a provision stipulating that the jail had to eliminate all in-person visits. “It is very important that we do not profit on the backs of inmates in the jail,” Dallas County Commissioner Elba Garcia said in The Dallas Morning News.
The Bastrop County Jail is set to eliminate all face-to-face visitation in early November. Instead, visitors can use a free video terminal at the jail or pay $1 per minute to use the remote video system. The contract, reviewed by the Observer, cuts the county in for 20 percent of Securus’ revenues. It doesn’t require, like the Dallas contract, that in-person visitation be eliminated, but it stipulates that for the first two years the county only gets paid if it produces 534 paid visits per month.
In Austin, the Travis County Commissioners Court voted in October 2012 to add video visitation as an ancillary service—something prisoners’ rights advocates are fine with as long as the rates are reasonable and the service is reliable. But in May 2013, Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton quietly eliminated in-person visitation. Defense attorneys and inmates sued in April, claiming that the jail and Securus were unlawfully recording privileged conversations between inmates and attorneys and leaking them to prosecutors. On top of that, Quong Charles says the lack of human interaction is worsening conditions.
“What we found is that everything they said would happen in terms of improving conditions has actually gotten worse,” she said. “I think people are frustrated, they’re not getting to see anybody.” 
report released this morning by Grassroots Leadership and the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition found that disciplinary infractions, assaults and contraband cases all increased within the year after the video-only policy was put in place. The report concedes that the trends may be an aberration or temporary but cites social science and long-standing prison policies holding that visitations improves jail security and lowers recidivism rates. One study of 16,420 offenders commissioned by the Minnesota Department of Corrections, for example, found that “prison visitation can significantly improve the transition offenders make from the institution to the community.” Even one visit lowered the risk that a person would re-offend by 13 percent.

Say Hello To The World's First Real Hoverboard (6 pics )

Hoverboards aren't just a figment of your imagination anymore, now they're real. This is the Hendo, the world's first ever hoverboard and the creators are currently running a kickstarter campaign so that they can mass produce this glorious creation. For the price of $10,000 you can own your very own hoverboard to go along with your self tying shoes.

22 Oct 2014

Hungary to impose internet tax in 2015 - as high as ~$0.6 per gigabyte

Hungary plans to impose a new tax on Internet data transfers, a draft 2015 tax bill submitted to parliament late on Tuesday showed, in a move that could hit Internet and telecoms providers and their customers hard.
The draft tax code contains a provision for Internet providers to pay a tax of 150 forints (37 pence) per gigabyte of data traffic, though it would also let companies offset corporate income tax against the new levy.
Within hours of the tax provision being published over 100,000 people joined a Facebook group protesting the levy, which they fear providers will pass on to them. Thousands said they would rally against the tax, which they said was excessive, outside the Economy Ministry on Sunday.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government has in the last few years imposed special taxes on the banking, retail and energy sectors as well as on telecommunications providers to keep the budget deficit in check, jeopardising profits in some sectors of the economy and unnerving international investors.
Economy Minister Mihaly Varga defended the move on Tuesday, saying communications technology has changed the way people use telecom services and therefore the tax code needed to be changed. His ministry said it expects the tax to generate annual revenue of 20 billion forints.
However, fixed-line Internet traffic in Hungary reached 1.15 billion gigabytes in 2013 and mobile internet added 18 million gigabytes, which would generate revenue of 175 billion forints under the new tax according to consultancy firm eNet.
Traffic has probably grown since, eNet partner Gergely Kis told Reuters, so the tax could hit Internet providers by more than 200 billion forints, if left unaltered.
The entire internet service sector's annual revenue came to 164 billion forints at the end of 2013, according to the Central Statistics Office (KSH).
The government's low estimate of revenue suggests it will impose a cap on the amount of tax any single Internet provider will have to pay, and in view of the public reaction the ruling Fidesz party asked the government to set a maximum level on the tax payable by individuals.
"The Fidesz parliament group insists that the data traffic tax be paid by service providers, therefore we propose changes to the bill," Fidesz parliament group leader Antal Rogan said in an emailed statement.
"We think it is practical to introduce an upper limit in the same fashion and same magnitude that applied to voice-based telephony previously."

Under the current tax code private individuals' tax payments are maximised at a monthly 700 forints ($2.9) while companies cannot pay more than 5,000 forints a month.

Russians More Afraid of U.S. Than Islamic Terrorism, Survey Shows

Nearly a quarter of Russians believe that the United States poses a bigger terrorist threat to their country than radical Islamists, a survey published Tuesday showed.
Twenty-two percent of respondents to the poll by the state-run All-Russia Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM), titled “Terrorist Threats Against Russia: New Sources,” said the U.S. was the most likely source of a terrorist attack, compared with a mere 4 percent who felt that way a year ago.
Islamic extremists came in second in the ranking of the biggest threat to Russians, with 13 percent of respondents citing them as the biggest threat.
Ukraine — which had never before been cited in previous surveys on terrorism — came in third, with 7 percent saying the neighboring country was a possible source of a terrorist attack on Russia.
Russia has been at loggerheads with the new leadership in Kiev and its Western allies ever since the ouster of Kremlin-backed President Viktor Yanukovych in February and Russia's annexation of Crimea a month later.
In the ensuing information war, Russian state media widely referred to the new Ukrainian government as a “fascist junta” and Kiev's Maidan protesters as consisting of neo-Nazis and Right Sector ultranationalists intent on exterminating ethnic Russians.
Whereas the North Caucasus used to be considered one of the biggest threats to Russians in previous years — with 20 percent naming it as a potential source of terrorism a year ago — now a mere 3 percent say it threatens Russians' security.
Russian authorities have battled an Islamic insurgency in the turbulent region for decades, and shootouts between security forces and militants still occur there regularly.
The survey by VTsIOM was conducted before a suicide bombing in Grozny on Oct. 5 that killed five policemen and injured a dozen others.
While Russian perceptions on terrorist threats have changed considerably, so has their level of confidence in the authorities.
“Russians have never felt safer over the entire period that [VTsIOM] has been conducting such surveys, since 2002,” a statement on the pollster's website said.
Sixty-eight percent said they were confident in the ability of Russian authorities to prevent a terrorist attack, compared to 20 percent who said authorities probably could not protect the public and 3 percent who said they definitely could not.
In January, in the wake of the Volgograd bombings that killed 32 people, only 23 percent of respondents were confident in the ability of authorities to protect the public.
Forty-three percent said the situation concerning terrorism had improved somewhat, and 15 percent said it had improved considerably. In January, 57 percent had said the situation had not changed at all.
In comments to the Kommersant business daily published Tuesday, Anatoly Yermolin, a veteran officer of the Federal Security Service's Vympel group, said the public's increased confidence likely stemmed from the successful holding of the Olympic Games in Sochi.

Peace Prize Winner Malala Yousafzai to Obama: “...send books instead of guns…change the world..."

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenage girl who recently won the Nobel Peace Prize for her struggle for women’s and girls’ rights to education, called on President Barack Obama to put an end to arming the world and instead promote education, NBC News reports.

"I said instead of sending guns, send books. Instead of sending weapons, send teachers," the young human rights activist spoke of her recent meeting with Barack Obama. In her opinion, the US President could contribute more to peace in many countries if he would use soft measures instead of military tactics.

Malala Yousafzai began to advocate for girls’ and women’s education rights when she was 12. She started writing an internet blog where she described her life under Taliban rule and tried to promote literacy, as well as better education prospects for girls and women. When Malala was 15, she was shot in the head by Taliban attackers while returning from school. She managed to survive and is currently living with her parents in Great Britain, where she is continuing her “rights for education” campaign, as reported by Reuters.
Malala often says that her life is similar to a novel or a film story. "At the end, the villain loses and the hero wins, and there is a happy ending."

The 2014 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Malala jointly with an Indian activist Kailash Satyarthi "for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education." Her prominent co-winner, Kailash Satyarthi, aged 60, has also dedicated his life to the protection of human rights, championing for children’s education opportunities and fighting against child slavery.
The dual prize is meant to be symbolic, it was awarded with the hope the leaders of India and Pakistan will stop their decades-long rivalry over Kashmir and concentrate on cultural, geographic, and economic ties, existing between the two countries.