The Anti-Meida : June 22, 2017
One of the few elected Democratic lawmakers with an extensive anti-war record, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), has combined forces with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) to push legislation through both the House and the Senate that would bar federal agencies from using taxpayer-backed funds to provide weapons, training, intelligence, or any other type of support to terrorist cells such as al-Qaeda, ISIS, or any other group that is associated with them in any way. The Stop Arming Terrorists Act is so unique that it’s also the only bill of its kind that would also bar the government from funneling money and weapons through other countries that support (directly or indirectly) terrorists such as Saudi Arabia.
While both pieces of legislation were introduced in early 2017, no real action has been taken as of yet. This proves that Washington refuses to support bills that would actually provoke positive chain reactions not only abroad but also at home. Why? Well, let’s look at the groups that would lose a great deal in case this bill is signed into law.
Military & Homeland Security Companies, Lobbyists, And Lawmakers All Profit From War
With trillions of tax dollars flowing to companies such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and even IBM, among others, companies that invest heavily in weapons, cyber security systems, and other technologies that are widely used in times of war would stand to lose a lot — if not everything — if all of a sudden, the United States chose to become a nation that stands for peace and free market principles.
For one, these companies have a heavy lobbying presence, ensuring that lawmakers sympathetic to their plight are elected every two years. When the possibility of a new conflict appears on the horizon, these companies are the first to lobby heavily for action.
But this dynamic isn’t a secret. We all know that the crony capitalist system that thrives in Washington, D.C., is the very bread and butter of politics in America. After all, President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned the nation in his farewell address in 1961 that “an immense military establishment and a large arms industry” were becoming the great powers behind U.S. politics, and that if we weren’t weary of this influence, we would risk living in a perpetual state of war.
Still, we allowed it to take over. And there isn’t one industry powerful enough to counter this destructive authority.
With the support of an army of well-established and connected millionaire lobbyists, the war machine operating in Washington is so powerful that anything can be turned into an existential threat.
Any conflict abroad that has absolutely no importance or that poses literally no threat to the common American is inflated to become a threat to the American way of life. They hate us “for our freedom.” Therefore, we must show them what democracy looks like.
Without the same kind of powerful and wealthy team behind the cause for sanity and peace, this army of big money and big lobbyists has single-handedly put us and many generations to come in debt over Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, and now Syria. And as the marketing machine behind this kind of lobbying effort taps into the social justice trend that has infiltrated every aspect of our culture in recent years, these organizations have learned that they will get even broader support from the public if they add feminist, anti-poverty, and pro-equality messages to their pro-war efforts.
Take the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, for instance, which, as NBC has reported, originated with “Obiageli Ezekwesili, a former vice president of the World Bank for the Africa region and a senior advisor on Africa Economic Development Policy for the Open Society Foundations” — a George Soros-backed foundation. In no time, the social media “effort” had become the most effective lobbying force behind the expansion of the never-ending war on terror. And whether it was meant to promote this outcome or not, it helped the United States easily invest more tax dollars into an unwinnable war.
As you can see, even if Gabbard and Paul managed to use all of their time to force the Stop Arming Terrorists Act through Congress so it could get to President Donald Trump’s desk, the powers at play in Washington would do their best to sweep this effort under the rug. Not because individuals involved in pro-war lobbying are, perhaps, thirsty for war per se, but because the system under which they operate allows for bad incentives to produce a great deal of wealth and influence, tilting the balance toward evil.
Without a state that can be bribed, companies would be left to fend for themselves and stay afloat by making customers… happy. And you can’t make customers happy if all you have to offer is war.by
Strep throat leads to quadruple amputation for Kent Co. man
WOOD: March 14, 2017
An extremely rare case of strep throat that almost killed an Alto man has instead taken his hands and feet.
Kevin Breen, 44, was healthy and active when he started feeling sick on Christmas Day.
“It didn’t seem that unusual,” he said.
Days later, the unbearable stomach pain sent him to the emergency room.
“I never thought (I’d be) going in for a stomachache and coming out a totally different person and (it’s) life-changing,” said Breen.
“He was one of the sickest patients I have ever taken care of,” said Dr. Elizabeth Steensma, an acute care surgeon at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital.
Although Breen’s son had had strep and fought it off, Steensma didn’t think this was the same type of infection. Breen’s stomach was growing and hardening. A CT scan showed his stomach was filled with pus.
Doctors thought maybe an organ was punctured, but they couldn’t find anything.
“It was almost a mystery,” said Steensma.
While doctors tried to pinpoint the source of the problem, Breen’s organs began failing. In an effort to save those organs, his body redirected blood flow to them — leaving the flesh of his hands and feet to die.
At one point, his wife was told to gather family and prepare for the worst.
“That moment was terrifying,” she said. “I just kind of lost it and stopped and prayed.”
Then there was a clue: a rash on his upper torso.
Knowing that Breen’s son had strep throat, doctors ran a test and found a common sign of strep in his belly.
The strep had traveled from his throat to his stomach, and his body couldn’t fight it. Breen had a strong strain of strep that he was very susceptible to. It was the perfect storm.
Breen’s case is being studied by doctors at Spectrum Health. Dr. Steensma found 32 cases of patients with strep traveling to the abdomen, most involving women and their urinary tracts. Breen is one of two men in the world who had strep travel from his throat to stomach, according to Steensma.
“It’s crazy,” Breen said.
He returned home, but the infection had taken its toll. His hands and feet turned black and lost almost all movement — so doctors said they both hands and feet would have to be removed.
Breen was the breadwinner for his family. He now relies on his wife and her teaching salary for pretty much everything.
Throughout this whole ordeal, Breen has continued to smile. He’s not bitter, but happy to be alive and thankful for the doctors who saved him.
(read the full article at WOOD)by
Gatestone Institute : December 1, 2016
A German court has ruled that seven Islamists who formed a vigilante patrol to enforce Sharia law on the streets of Wuppertal did not break German law and were simply exercising their right to free speech.
The ruling, which effectively legitimizes Sharia law in Germany, is one of a growing number of instances in which German courts are — wittingly or unwittingly — promoting the establishment of a parallel Islamic legal system in the country.
The self-appointed “Sharia Police” sparked public outrage in September 2014, when they distributed yellow leaflets which established a “Sharia-controlled zone” in the Elberfeld district of Wuppertal. The men urged both Muslim and non-Muslim passersby to attend mosques and to refrain from alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, gambling, music, pornography and prostitution.
The vigilantes are followers of Salafism, a virulently anti-Western ideology that openly seeks to replace democracy in Germany (and elsewhere) with an Islamic government based on Sharia law.
Salafist ideology posits that Sharia law is superior to secular, common law because it emanates from Allah, the only legitimate lawgiver, and thus is legally binding eternally for all of humanity. According to the Salafist worldview, democracy is an effort to elevate the will of humans above the will of Allah, and is therefore a form of idolatry that must be rejected. In other words, Sharia law and democracy are incompatible.
Wuppertal Mayor Peter Jung said he hoped the police would take a hard line against the Islamists: “The intention of these people is to provoke and intimidate and force their ideology upon others. We will not allow this.”
Wuppertal Police Chief Birgitta Radermacher said the “pseudo police” represented a threat to the rule of law and that only police appointed and employed by the state have the legitimate right to act as police in Germany. She added:
“The monopoly of power lies exclusively with the State. Behavior that intimidates, threatens or provokes will not be tolerated. These ‘Sharia Police’ are not legitimate. Call 110 [police] when you meet these people.”
Wuppertal’s public prosecutor, Wolf-Tilman Baumert, argued that the men, who wore orange vests emblazoned with the words “SHARIAH POLICE,” had violated a law that bans wearing uniforms at public rallies. The law, which especially prohibits uniforms that express political views, was originally designed to prevent neo-Nazi groups from parading in public. According to Baumert, the vests were illegal because they had a “deliberate, intimidating and militant” effect.
On November 21, 2016, however, the Wuppertal District Court ruled that the vests technically were not uniforms, and in any event did not pose a threat. The court said that witnesses and passersby could not possibly have felt intimidated by the men, and that prosecuting them would infringe on their freedom of expression. The “politically correct” decision, which may be appealed, effectively authorizes the Sharia Police to continue enforcing Islamic law in Wuppertal.
German courts are increasingly deferring to Islamic law because either the plaintiffs or the defendants are Muslim. Critics say the cases — especially those in which German law has taken a back seat to Sharia law — reflect a dangerous encroachment of Islamic law into the German legal system.
In May 2016, for example, an appeals court in Bamberg recognized the marriage of a 15-year-old Syrian girl to her 21-year-old cousin. The court ruled that the marriage was valid because it was contracted in Syria, where such marriages are allowed according to Sharia law, which does not set any age limit to marriage. The ruling effectively legalized Sharia child marriages in Germany.
The case came about after the couple arrived at a refugee shelter in Aschaffenburg in August 2015. The Youth Welfare Office (Jugendamt) refused to recognize their marriage and separated the girl from her husband. The couple filed a lawsuit and a family court ruled in favor of the Youth Welfare Office, which claimed to be the girl’s legal guardian.
The court in Bamberg overturned that ruling. It determined that, according to Sharia law, the marriage is valid because it has already been consummated, and therefore the Youth Welfare Office has no legal authority to separate the couple.
The ruling — which was described as a “crash course in Syrian Islamic marriage law” — ignited a firestorm of criticism. Some accused the court in Bamberg of applying Sharia law over German law to legalize a practice that is banned in Germany.
Critics of the ruling pointed to Article 6 of the Introductory Act to the German Civil Code (Einführungsgesetz zum Bürgerlichen Gesetzbuche, EGBGB), which states:
“A legal standard of another State shall not be applied where its application results in an outcome which is manifestly incompatible with the essential principles of German law. In particular, it is not applicable if the application is incompatible with fundamental rights.”
This stipulation is routinely ignored, however, apparently in the interests of political correctness and multiculturalism. Indeed, Sharia law has been encroaching into the German justice system virtually unchecked for nearly two decades. Some examples include:
In August 2000, a court in Kassel ordered a widow to split her late Moroccan husband’s pension with another woman to whom the man was simultaneously married. Although polygamy is illegal in Germany, the judge ruled that the two wives must share the pension, in accordance with Moroccan law.
In March 2004, a court in Koblenz granted the second wife of an Iraqi living in Germany the right to remain permanently in the country. The court ruled that after five years in a polygamous marriage in Germany, it would be unfair to expect her to return to Iraq.
In March 2007, a judge in Frankfurt cited the Koran in a divorce case involving a German-Moroccan woman who had been repeatedly beaten by her Moroccan husband. Although police ordered the man to stay away from his estranged wife, he continued to abuse her and at one point threatened to kill her. Judge Christa Datz-Winter refused to grant the divorce. She quoted Sura 4, Verse 34 of the Koran, which justifies “both the husband’s right to use corporal punishment against a disobedient wife and the establishment of the husband’s superiority over the wife.” The judge was eventually removed from the case.
In December 2008, a court in Düsseldorf ordered a Turkish man to pay a €30,000 ($32,000) dower to his former daughter-in-law, in accordance with Sharia law.
In October 2010, a court in Cologne ruled that an Iranian man must pay his ex-wife a dower of €162,000 euros ($171,000), the current equivalent value of 600 gold coins, in accordance with the original Sharia marriage contract.
In December 2010, a court in Munich ruled that a German widow was entitled to only one-quarter of the estate left by her late husband, who was born in Iran. The court awarded the other three-quarters of the inheritance to the man’s relatives in Tehran in accordance with Sharia law.
In November 2011, a court in Siegburg allowed an Iranian couple to be divorced twice, first by a German judge according to German law, and then by an Iranian cleric according to Sharia law. The director of the Siegburg District Court, Birgit Niepmann, said the Sharia ceremony “was a service of the court.”
In July 2012, a court in Hamm ordered an Iranian man to pay his estranged wife a dower as part of a divorce settlement. The case involved a couple who married according to Sharia law in Iran, migrated to Germany and later separated. As part of the original marriage agreement, the husband promised to pay his wife a dower of 800 gold coins payable upon demand. The court ordered the husband to pay the woman €213,000 ($225,000), the current equivalent value of the coins.
In June 2013, a court in Hamm ruled that anyone who contracts marriage according to Islamic law in a Muslim country and later seeks a divorce in Germany must abide by the original terms established by Sharia law. The landmark ruling effectively legalized the Sharia practice of “triple-talaq,” obtaining a divorce by reciting the phrase “I divorce you” three times.
In July 2016, a court in Hamm ordered a Lebanese man to pay his estranged wife a dower as part of a divorce settlement. The case involved a couple who married according to Sharia law in Lebanon, migrated to Germany and later separated. As part of the original marriage agreement, the husband promised to pay his wife a dower of $15,000. The German court ordered him to pay her the equivalent amount in euros.
In an interview with Spiegel Online, Islam expert Mathias Rohe said that the existence of parallel legal structures in Germany is an “expression of globalization.” He added: “We apply Islamic law just as we do French law.”
A growing number of Muslims in Germany are consciously bypassing German courts altogether and instead are adjudicating their disputes in informal Sharia courts, which are proliferating across the country. According to one estimate, some 500 Sharia judges are now regulating civil disputes between Muslims in Germany — a development that points to the establishment of a parallel Islamic justice system in the country.
A major reason for the growth in Sharia courts is that Germany does not recognize polygamy or marriages involving minors.
The German Interior Ministry, responding to a Freedom of Information Act request, recently revealed that 1,475 married children are known to be living in Germany as of July 31, 2016 — including 361 children who are under the age of 14. The true number of child marriages in Germany is believed to be much higher than the official statistics suggest, because many are being concealed.
Polygamy, although illegal under German law, is commonplace among Muslims in all major German cities. In Berlin, for example, it is estimated that fully one-third of the Muslim men living in the Neukölln district of the city have two or more wives.
According to an exposé broadcast by RTL, one of Germany’s leading media companies, Muslim men residing in Germany routinely take advantage of the social welfare system by bringing two, three or four women from across the Muslim world to Germany, and then marrying them in the presence of a Muslim cleric. Once in Germany, the women request social welfare benefits, including the cost of a separate home for themselves and for their children, on the claim of being a “single parent with children.”
Although the welfare fraud committed by Muslim immigrants is an “open secret” costing German taxpayers millions of euros each year, government agencies are reluctant to take action due to political correctness, according to RTL.
(readthe full article at gatestone institute)by
Zero Hedge : March 10, 2016
One month ago, when describing the latest in an endless series of Vancouver real estate horror stories, in this case an abandoned, rotting home (which is currently listed for a modest $7.2 million), we explained the simple money-laundering dynamic involving Chinese “investors” as follows.
Chinese investors smuggle out millions in embezzled cash, hot money or perfectly legal funds, bypassing the $50,000/year limit in legal capital outflows.
They make “all cash” purchases, usually sight unseen, using third parties intermediaries to preserve their anonymity, or directly in person, in cities like Vancouver, New York, London or San Francisco.
The house becomes a new “Swiss bank account”, providing the promise of an anonymous store of value and retaining the cash equivalent value of the original capital outflow.
We also explained that hundreds if not thousands of Vancouver houses, have become a part of the new normal Swiss bank account: “a store of wealth to Chinese investors eager to park “hot money” outside of their native country, and bidding up any Canadian real estate they could get their hands on.”
This realization has now fully filtered down to the local population, and as the National Post writes in its latest troubling look at the “dark side” of Vancouver’s real estate market, it cites wholesaler Amanda who says that “Vancouver seems to be evolving from a residential city into almost like a lockbox for money… but I have to live among the empty houses. I’m a resident, not just an investor.”
The Post article, however, is not about the use of Vancouver (or NYC, or SF, or London) real estate as the end target of China’s hot money outflows – by now most are aware what’s going on. It focuses, instead, on those who make the wholesale selling of Vancouver real estate to Chinese tycoons who are bidding up real estate in this western Canadian city to a point where virtually no domestic buyer can afford it, and specifically the job that unlicensed “wholesalers” do in spurring and accelerating what is currently the world’s biggest housing bubble.
A bubble which, the wholesalers themselves admit, will inevitably crash in spectacular fashion.
This is the of about Amanda, who was profiled yesterday in a National Post article showing how a “Former ‘wholesaler’ reveals hidden dark side of Vancouver’s red-hot real estate market.” Amanda quit her job allegely for moral reasons; we are confident 10 people promptly filled her shoes.
* * *
Vancouver’s real estate market has been very good to Amanda. She’s not a licensed realtor, but buying and selling property is her full-time job.
She started about eight years ago as an unlicensed “wholesaler” in Vancouver.
She would approach homeowners and make unsolicited offers for private cash deals. Amanda made a 10-per-cent fee on each purchase by immediately assigning the contract to a background investor. It is seen as the lowest job in property investment, but it is low risk and very profitable. Amanda has done so well that she now owns two homes in Vancouver and develops property in the U.S.
Unlicensed wholesaling is an illicit and predatory business that is quickly growing in Metro Vancouver because enforcement is virtually non-existent.
It’s similar to a tactic currently being examined by B.C. real estate authorities known as “assignment flipping,” which involves legally but secretly trading homes on paper to enrich realtors and circles of investors.
However, unlicensed wholesaling is completely unregulated. Amanda estimates hundreds of wholesalers are scouring Metro Vancouver’s never-hotter speculative market — not including the realtors who are secretly wholesaling for themselves.
Amanda decided to step away from the easy money for moral reasons.
She’s most concerned that wholesalers are targeting B.C.’s vulnerable seniors who don’t understand the value of their old homes. She is also worried about offshore money being laundered, and the resulting vacant homes.
Because wholesalers are unlicensed, they have no obligation to identify their background investors or reveal the source of funds to Canadian authorities who fight money laundering.
“Vancouver seems to be evolving from a residential city into almost like a lockbox for money,” Amanda said. “But I have to live among the empty houses. I’m a resident, not just an investor.”
Amanda said she believes that unethical and ignorant investors are driving B.C.’s housing market at full speed towards a crash. For these reasons, and with the condition that we not use her real name, she came forward to reveal how wholesalers operate.
[…] “A lot of money is leaving China, so now every second day people are asking if I can go out and find places for them. They have tons of money,” Amanda said. “They are basically brokering business deals specifically for Chinese investors.”
She said the mechanics of wholesaling schemes work like this:
The investor behind the unlicensed broker targets a block, often with older homes, and gives the wholesaler cash in a legal trust.
The wholesaler persuades a homeowner to sell, offering immediate cash, no subjects, no home inspections, and savings on realtor fees.
While the wholesaler claims to represent one buyer, or in some cases to be the buyer, Amanda said three or four contract flippers are often already lined up, with an end-buyer from China who will eventually take title in most cases. These unlicensed broker deals appear to be illegal.
A veteran Vancouver realtor confirmed these types of deals. The realtors we spoke to have been asked by their brokerages not to comment to reporters, so we agreed to withhold their names.
“I work with some non-licensed flippers,” one said. “They walk on to the lawn of an older house, see the owner and yell, ‘We’re not realtors!’ The owner invites them in, thinks they’re saving a commission — which they are — and loses big-time on the actual sale. I’ve seen it first-hand.”
According to flyers obtained from across Metro Vancouver and interviews with homeowners who were solicited, wholesalers often say they have Chinese buyers willing to pay a premium for quick sales.
Homeowners in Richmond, Vancouver’s east and west sides, Surrey, Langley, Coquitlam, Burnaby, White Rock, Delta and North Vancouver confirmed such offers in interviews.
One resident of Vancouver’s west side Dunbar area said she was annoyed by wholesalers constantly soliciting her, and a man in Surrey said his elderly mother was bothered by wholesalers.
“A guy walked up and he offered $700,000 cash within a day, and he said I would save on the realtor fees,” said Zack Flegel, who lives near 119th Street and Scott Road in Delta.
“He also says he will give me $100,000 cash and move me into a $600,000 house. He said he has a bunch of properties. He was talking about my house like it was a trading card. We don’t have abandoned homes yet like Vancouver, but this is how it happens, right?”
After the offer is accepted, the wholesaler assigns the purchase contract to the investor for a 10-per-cent markup, Amanda said. But some wholesalers aren’t content with making $100,000 or more per sale.
“People were going in and offering, for example, an 80-year-old widow, she bought the house for $70,000 and it is now worth $800,000 and they were offering her $200,000,” Amanda said. “So they are making $300,000 or $400,000 (after assigning the contract).
“And you are socializing with other wholesalers, and it is hard to hear them say, ‘Oh this whole street is filled with seniors whose partners are dropping off like flies.’ Or, ‘They just want to get rid of it, they have no clue what their house is worth, and it’s the whole street.’”
Amanda said her father died recently. She pictured her mother being targeted by wholesalers and resolved never to play that role again.
“There are elements of this that are elder abuse, absolutely.”
In a recent story that deals with implications of rising property taxes rather than predatory real estate practices, the Financial Post reported that, especially in Vancouver and Toronto’s scorching markets, “it’s not uncommon for some Canadian seniors to be unaware of the value of their location.”
B.C.’s Superintendent of Real Estate, Carolyn Rogers, conceded the potential for elder abuse as reported by Amanda.
“We would welcome an opportunity to speak to (Amanda) and assuming she gives us the same information, we would open a file,” Rogers said. “The conditions in the Vancouver market right now present risks … and seniors could be an example of that.”
It is illegal for wholesalers to privately buy and sell property for investors without a licence, Rogers said. She said her officers have approached some wholesalers recently and asked them to become licensed or cease their activities.
A review of the superintendent’s website shows no enforcement orders, fines or consumer alerts filed in connection to unlicensed wholesalers making cash deals and flipping contracts.
Amanda said that over the past year she learned of new levels of “layering and complexity that I didn’t see five years ago” in wholesaling and assignment-clause flipping.
“Five years ago I didn’t see realtors wholesaling, and I didn’t see people calling me so that I would get them a property and not assign the property to them, but work as a ‘partner’ and I would attach a 10-per-cent fee.
“And then they would assign it to their boss and attach 10 per cent, and then that person’s boss would attach 10 per cent. I’ve been watching over the last month, and it has got astounding.”
Amanda said some wholesale deals involve only unlicensed brokers and pools of offshore cash organized informally, and some appear to involve realtors and brokerages hiding behind unlicensed wholesalers.
“I’ve seen it from the back end. We have friends in the British Properties and the realtor said he will buy their property for $2 million. And then six months later it was sold for $3.5 million. When I’m looking at that, it is a pretty clear wholesale deal.”
Darren Gibb, spokesman for Canada’s anti-money-laundering agency, FINTRAC, confirmed that unlicensed property buyers have no obligation to report the identity or sources of funds of the buyers they represent.
However, Gibb said, if realtors are involved in “assignment flipping” it is mandatory that they and unlicensed assistants make efforts to identify every assignment-clause buyer and their sources of funds.
Vancouver realtors confirmed that money laundering is a big concern in assignment-flipping deals, whether organized by an unlicensed wholesaler or a realtor.
“When you are a non-realtor broker you no longer have to play by any rules,” one Vancouver realtor said.
“There is a role for assignments, but nobody is asking where the money came from. We are creating vehicles for money laundering.”
“No person in their right mind wants to buy your house once, and sell it three more times in a small window of opportunity, unless they have a whole pool of people lined up trying to get their money out of the country. The higher the prices go, these vehicles to get money out of the country get bigger and bigger.”
NDP MLA David Eby and Green MLA Andrew Weaver commented that allegations of unlicensed brokers targeting seniors and participating in potential money-laundering schemes call for direct action from Victoria and independent investigation, because these concerns fall outside the jurisdiction of the B.C. Real Estate Council and its current ongoing review of real estate practices.
“It is very troubling to me,” Eby said, “that not only do we have a layer of real estate agents that are acting improperly and violating the rules, but there might be this additional layer who are not bound by any rule and have explicitly avoided becoming agents for that reason.
“This unscrupulous behaviour is targeting seniors who need money for retirement. What kind of society is that?” Weaver said.by
what is happening is quite simple:
Chinese investors smuggled out millions in embezzled cash, hot money or perfectly legal funds, bypassing the $50,000/year limit in legal capital outflows.
They make “all cash” purchases, usually sight unseen, using third parties intermediaries to preserve their anonymity, or directly in person, in cities like Vancouver, New York, London or San Francisco.
The house becomes a new “Swiss bank account”, providing the promise of an anonymous store of value and retaining the cash equivalent value of the original capital outflow.
Then the owners disappear, never to be heard from or seen again.
As more Chinese scramble to engage and repeat if only the first three steps, the price of local housing, which is merely a store of value to price indiscriminate foreign buyers, soars while it makes home purchases for the domestic population prohibitively expensive and virtually impossible.
Interviews conducted by B.C. Securities Commission investigators and read into evidence in a Securities Commission fraud hearing against Ayaz Dhanani reveal a complex real estate transaction with connections to alleged fraud and organized crime players. …
NDP MLA David Eby, B.C.’s opposition housing critic, said facts gathered by The Province provide perhaps unprecedented detail and corroboration of similar allegations reported to his office concerning offshore buyers and local realtors.
“I was really troubled by the facts in your case,” Eby said in an interview. “And I’m concerned this is not a one-off situation, and this could be a systemic, regular practice. There is enough information to raise red flags for investigations.”
“It has come to light that institutions have been, I would say inadvertently, making mortgages to people whose income has been falsified,” said Jeremy Rudin, superintendent of financial institutions.
Properties are traded one or more times before a deal closes – legal but controversial flipping that creates opportunities for agents to make multiple commissions and investors to profit tax-free from houses that are not yet technically in their possession.
Because assignment sales are rarely listed publicly, they have created a thriving grey market that is accessible largely to investors, speculators and real estate agents who have insider information.
What’s more, the assignment market appears to reward neither the original seller nor the ultimate buyer, despite pushing prices higher and higher: Sellers receive less for their properties than what buyers are finally willing to pay at the end of the chain. And buyers – many of them foreign or backed by foreign investors – pay more than they would have to if the middlemen weren’t involved.
The resulting distortions threaten to strain the public’s trust in the real estate brokerage business, according to some in the profession, while others openly question the sustainability of a market they are heavily invested in – and helped create.
“It worries me a lot that this could all come crashing down. I worry about it all the time,” said one Re/Max agent, Khalid Hasan, who said he owns or co-owns 15 to 20 properties, all destined for resale.
“A lot of people are just assigning and flipping in this market – because they can make more money,” said Mr. Hasan, who said he’s bought several properties through assignments. “We witness assigning all the time – crazy assignments.”
MintPress News : January 29, 2016
Activists from Fresno are alarmed after a local anti-corruption whistleblower was found dead not long after forecasting his own demise on social media.
While responding to a house fire on the afternoon of Jan. 20, firefighters found John Lang, 51, unresponsive. Later that day, he was pronounced dead at a local hospital, though it wasn’t clear whether his death was caused by the fire or by the multiple stab wounds to his back and abdomen. According to a Jan. 25 report from The Fresno Bee, “Investigators are looking into the cause of the fire,” which police described as suspicious.
The timing of Lang’s death is suspicious to local activists, who reported that Lang had predicted his demise in recent, increasingly alarmed posts online. Dylan Donnelly documented Lang’s warnings in a Jan. 26 investigation for independent media site Fresno People’s News, noting that Lang had been “a frequent poster in the Fresno People’s Media group on Facebook and acquaintance to many in the Fresno activist community.”
The series of postings began on Jan. 13, when Lang shared his belief that police were targeting him not just for being an outspoken activist, but because he was exposing a policing “scheme” that he said targeted Fresno’s most disadvantaged residents.
(Read the full article at MintPress News)by
London child aged THREE in terror alert over radicalisation
The London Standard : July 27, 2015
A three-year-old child is among hundreds of young Londoners who have been identified as potential future extremists or at risk of radicalization.
The disturbing tally, revealed today by the Evening Standard, is contained in new statistics which paint the most detailed picture so far of the scale of the security challenge facing police and intelligence agencies in the capital.
They show that a total of 1,069 Londoners have been referred to the government’s “Channel” counter-extremism programme since the start of 2012.
That means that the capital accounts for about a quarter of the 4,000 referrals to the programme nationwide since then. The Standard, which obtained the figures from the London Assembly, can also reveal that:
Since September last year, 400 Channel referrals were made for teenagers and children under 18.
450 Londoners, including 300 under-18s, are part of the Met’s “Prevent Case Management” process, linked to Channel.
(read the full article at The London Standard)by
Reuters: July 20, 2015
Japan’s Toshiba Corp overstated its operating profit by 151.8 billion yen ($1.22 billion) over several years in accounting irregularities involving top management, an independent investigation said in a report on Monday.
In the country’s biggest corporate scandal in years, the findings could lead to the restatement of earnings, a board overhaul and potentially hefty fines at the computers-to-nuclear conglomerate.
Toshiba President and Chief Executive Hisao Tanaka and his predecessor, Vice Chairman Norio Sasaki, were aware of the overstatement of profits and delay in reporting losses in a corporate culture that “avoided going against superiors’ wishes,” the investigating committee said in a report filed by Toshiba to the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
The overstatement was roughly triple Toshiba’s initial estimate. Sources have said Tanaka and Sasaki would resign in the coming months and most of the board would be replaced to take responsibility for the shortcomings.
The report said Tanaka and Sasaki had set operating profit targets that the heads of divisions were required to meet, applying pressure by hinting at withdrawing from areas that underperformed.
“Within Toshiba, there was a corporate culture in which one could not go against the wishes of superiors,” the report said.
“Therefore, when top management presented ‘challenges’, division presidents, line managers and employees below them continually carried out inappropriate accounting practices to meet targets in line with the wishes of their superiors.”by
San Diego Union-Tribune says:
The struggle, which occurred around 5:30 p.m. behind a grocery store on South Mission Road near Ammunition Road, was videotaped by an onlooker with a cellphone and posted online Sunday. A sheriff’s spokeswoman said the deputy used his Taser after being bit on the hand by the boy during a struggle.
The video shows the teen on the ground, leaning against the deputy, who is on his knees, when the deputy puts his Taser up against his back and stuns him. Onlookers can be heard yelling profanities, with one shouting, “he’s a kid” and another saying, “police brutality right here.” A voice also can be heard saying, “You’re going to get sued, dude.”
A witness explained to FilmingCops.com:
The child was 13-yrs-old (on the video other witnesses assume he’s “15 or 16″ but according to the source he is in fact 13). He was riding on his skateboard with other young boys behind a shopping center, and there happened to be a patrol car parked nearby.
At some point an officer inside of the patrol car told the 13-yr-old child to “get in the car.”
The child replied, “Why?”
The officer then warned, “You don’t want to get dropped.”
The officer apparently knew the boy was only 13 and not suspected of criminal wrongdoing as the San Diego Union-Tribune reported:
Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Jan Caldwell said the incident began when a woman reported that her son had been missing about a day and a half. A deputy went to her home and found out from the woman where her son liked to hang out. The deputy found the boy behind the store with a group of youths riding skateboards.
“He approached him, identified him, verified who he was and said he had to come with him,” Caldwell said. “The juvenile refused.
According to witnesses, the officer then attacked the boy, hitting him from behind as the boy was skateboarding. He then got on the boys back and began choking him, according to witnesses. The video shows the choking and the subsequent tasering to the child’s spine.
The boy can be heard in the video writhing in pain as the officer attempts to subdue him.
“Put your fucking hands behind your back!” shouts the officer. To which the child replies, “I can’t.”
The witnesses can be heard telling the officer, “He’s just a kid.”
The officer then loads the beaten and tasered child into his patrol car and begins walking towards the people filming. The video then ends.
According to the witnesses, the officer then proceeded to confiscate everyone’s cellphones and deleted their video. This one video below managed to make it out.
The brutal execution was reportedly committed by members of the Azov Battalion, a regiment of the the Ukrainian Army. It is apparently “the backbone of the forces fighting against the local self-defense militia advocating independence from Ukraine.”
The clip shows a man kneeling in a field with 5 Ukrainian militants surrounding him. The Ukrainian militants then grab the victim, place him on a wooden cross and burn him alive. Azov fighters have stated that “All the separatists, traitors of Ukraine and militia fighters will be treated the same”.
“Azov fighters do more than wave a Swastika-like flag,” writes Robert Parry, “they favor the Wolfsangel flag of Hitler’s SS divisions, much as some of Ukraine’s neo-Nazis still honor Hitler’s Ukrainian SS auxiliary, the Galician SS. A Ukrainian hero hailed during the Maidan protests was Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera whose paramilitary forces helped exterminate Jews and Poles.”
Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post: April 19, 2015
The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000.
Of 28 examiners with the FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit, 26 overstated forensic matches in ways that favoured prosecutors in more than 95 per cent of the 268 trials reviewed so far, according to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project, which are assisting the government with the country’s largest post-conviction review of questioned forensic evidence.
The cases include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death. Of those, 14 have been executed or died in prison, the groups said under an agreement with the government to release results after the review of the first 200 convictions.
The FBI errors alone do not mean there was not other evidence of a convict’s guilt. Defendants and federal and state prosecutors in 46 states and the District of Columbia are being notified to determine whether there are grounds for appeals. Four defendants were previously exonerated.
The admissions mark a watershed in one of the country’s largest forensic scandals, highlighting the failure of the U.S. courts for decades to keep bogus scientific information from juries, legal analysts said. The question now, they said, is how state authorities and the courts will respond to findings that confirm long-suspected problems with subjective, pattern-based forensic techniques — like hair and bite-mark comparisons — that have contributed to wrongful convictions in more than one-quarter of 329 DNA-exoneration cases since 1989.
In a statement, the FBI and Justice Department vowed to continue to devote resources to address all cases and said they “are committed to ensuring that affected defendants are notified of past errors and that justice is done in every instance. The Department and the FBI are also committed to ensuring the accuracy of future hair analysis, as well as the application of all disciplines of forensic science.”
Peter Neufeld, co-founder of the Innocence Project, commended the FBI and department for the collaboration but said, “The FBI’s three-decade use of microscopic hair analysis to incriminate defendants was a complete disaster.”
“We need an exhaustive investigation that looks at how the FBI, state governments that relied on examiners trained by the FBI and the courts allowed this to happen and why it wasn’t stopped much sooner,” Neufeld said.
Norman Reimer, the NACDL’s executive director, said, “Hopefully, this project establishes a precedent so that in future situations it will not take years to remediate the injustice.”
While unnamed federal officials previously acknowledged widespread problems, the FBI until now has withheld comment because findings might not be representative.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., a former prosecutor, called on the FBI and Justice Department to notify defendants in all 2,500 targeted cases involving an FBI hair match about the problem even if their case has not been completed, and to redouble efforts in the three-year-old review to retrieve information on each case.
“These findings are appalling and chilling in their indictment of our criminal justice system, not only for potentially innocent defendants who have been wrongly imprisoned and even executed, but for prosecutors who have relied on fabricated and false evidence despite their intentions to faithfully enforce the law,” Blumenthal said.
(read the full article at National Post)by
Barack Obama stuttered for 20 seconds when a Rasta in Jamaica asked him about marijuana (VIDEO)
WTF News: April 12, 2015
The curious legal structure of state and federal laws in America has left many around the world with questions about why marijuana is treated with such a wide disparity in different regions.
A set of intriguing questions on the issue was posed to United States President Barack Obama during a recent trip to Jamaica by a geniune Rastafarian in the town hall crowd named Miguel Williams.
The exchange was originally reported as a funny outtake by Yahoo from an ABC News video but the full version of the video reveals the likely reason that Yahoo declined share the entire clip. The Yahoo article made a joke of a very serious set of questions and left out the most critical parts of the man’s logic, even disrespecting his stated nickname by not capitalizing the first letter.
US President Barack Obama had been on the verdant Caribbean island of Jamaica less than 24 hours — and had already visited Bob Marley’s former home — before he was asked by a dreadlocked Rastafarian about legalizing marijuana.
In a Kingston town hall event, participant Miguel Williams, sporting a “Rasta4life” wrist band, asked the US commander-in-chief if he would become ganja’s champion.
“Give thanks! Yes greetings Mr President,” said Williams, “life and blessings on you and your family.”
“My name is Miguel Williams but you can call I and I ‘[S]teppa’… That is quite sufficient, ya man.”
Unperturbed by giggles from the audience, Williams set forth his case for legalization and decriminalization of the hemp industry and marijuana.
The Rastafari faith includes the spiritual use of cannabis.
“How did I anticipate this question?” was Obama’s joking response. “Well,” he said adding a comic sigh.
“There is the issue of legalization of marijuana and then there is the issue of decriminalizing or dealing with the incarceration in some cases devastation of communities as a consequence of non-violent drug offenses,” Obama said.
“I am a very strong believer that the path that we have taken in the United States in the so-called ‘war on drugs’ has been so heavy in emphasizing incarceration that it has been counterproductive,” he said to some cheers.
But on the question of whether the United States should, in the words of reggae musician Peter Tosh “legalize it” Obama was more circumspect.
“I do not foresee, any time soon, Congress changing the law at a national basis.”
What was skipped by Yahoo is one of the principal questions at the heart of the drug war and an issue of personal liberty for billions around the world.
(Miguel “Steppa” Williams on the island nation’s economic issues relating to the International Monetary Fund)
“It really comes on the foreground of, um… we face economic issues with the [ (IMF)] et cetera, and we find realistically that the hemp industry, the marijuana industry provides a highly feasible alternative to rise up out of poverty, so I am wanting to overstand and to understand how US is envisioning, how would you see Jamaica on a decriminalization, legalization emphasis on the hemp industry… Your thoughts… (to crowd applause)
The virtually global prohibition on marijuana is not new and has failed to hide the knowledge that cannabis and hemp can be used for thousands of commercial products and industrial services, not to mention personal use at home.
The question stumped President Obama for about 20 seconds as he formulated his response. Obama started with a nervous explanation of the laws in Washington and Colorado and the distinction between decriminalization, which is focused on ending the prison problem leaving millions with drug convictions that prevent them from getting a job, versus the legalization aspect which enables the legal sale and taxation of the plant. He went on to bend his response towards a cynical message of “reducing demand” for cannabis, as in lowering the amount consumed by the populace, and then trended into talking about problems of addiction and a public health crisis.
Obama largely ignored the issue of economics and poverty, the critical part of the series of questions asked, giving it very little response time in comparison to the long-winded explanation of the simpler concepts. Well played Mr. President, can’t bash the IMF of course, it is counterproductive to the organization’s goals of “government reform” enforced by debt slavery. Obama simply stated that even if cannabis and hemp were legal, multinational corporations would soon dominate the market and freeze out “small and medium” competitors as he framed it.
(full article at WTF News)
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Vice: March 12, 2015
“We were informed by Britain about three girls who left to join ISIS a few days after they departed for Turkey,” said Çavuşoğlu during the interview. “This person was working for the intelligence service of a country participating in the coalition against ISIS. This country is not the United States or a member of the European Union. I told this to the British foreign secretary and he replied ‘as usual.”
The Daily Sabah reports that several Turkish media outlets claim that the individual currently in detention is a Canadian, while it is known that the current coalition against ISIS includes Canada, Australia, and other Arab countries within the region.
A spokesperson for the Minister of Public Safety said the department is “aware of these reports,” but added “(w)e do not comment on operational matters of national security.”
The report comes on the heels of expanded foreign spying powers for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and Bill C-51 that promises to bolster the legal capabilities of law enforcement agencies to surveil and arrest terrorist threats in Canada.
(read the full article at Vice)
UPDATE: While the government hasn’t confirmed specifics, they are willing to say that the individual is neither Canadian nor a Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) spy. Though when asked if CSIS were operating in countries like Turkey, Minister of Public Safety Steven Blaney exclusively told VICE Canada, “I believe CSIS is operating in a region where there is potential high-risk travellers.”
It’s well known that the corridor between Turkey and Syria is the major trafficking point for foreign fighters joining up with ISIS.
One alleged Canadian fighter told VICE in June that the Turkish border with Syria is where foreigners join the militant organization in its fight against Syrian, Iraqi, and Kurdish forces.
While declining to comment on specifics due to operational security, Blaney maintains that any activities CSIS is engaged in “have been conducted respecting Canadian laws.”
(full update at Vice)
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Elizabeth Nolan Brown
Reason: March 4, 2015
Sex acts provided to politicians “to lobby or to develop goodwill” do not violate state ethics policies, nor must this activity be disclosed, ruled the North Carolina Ethics Commission.
Under North Carolina law, lobbyists must report gifts and “things of value” worth more than $10 per day given to someone covered by the state ethics act or their family. But “consensual sexual relationships do not have monetary value and therefore are not reportable as gifts or ‘reportable expenditure made for lobbying,'” stated the commission in its opinion, a response to a formal inquiry from the state’s Lobbying Compliance Commission. The inquiry was made in a “largely hypothetical context,” the ethics commission notes.
“Opinions issued by the Ethics Commission are generally a good deal more banal, dealing with subjects such as under what circumstances it is legal for state officials to accept scholarships to conferences,” North Carolina’s WRAL.com reports.
Joal Broun, the Secretary of State’s lobbying compliance director, declined to comment on why she requested the ethics opinion, deferring questions to the Secretary of State’s spokeswoman Liz Proctor. Proctor said that a private attorney posed the question to the Secretary of State’s Office last in 2014. “We agreed that the question needed to be decided,” she said. Therefore, the office submitted the question to the Ethics Commission.
[…] WRAL News obtained a copy of the four-page request for an opinion from another source. Parts of it are graphic, describing specific sexual acts that might be at issue, but it does not implicate a particular set of people or specify a particular set of facts.
The request for an opinion asks five specific questions of the ethics commission, including (emphasis mine):
– Do sexual favors or sexual acts that a person provides to a designated individual to lobby or to develop goodwill or both on behalf of another, trigger the registration obligation?
– Are sexual favors or sexual acts that a lobbyist or a lobbyist principal provides not for the purpose of lobbying a gift as defined by the Ethics Act that must be reported?
– Is a designated individual who receives sexual favors or sexual acts that a lobbyist or a lobbyist principal provides outside North Carolina obligated to report such sexual favors or sexual acts as required by N.C.G.S. § 120C-800?
Note that the lobbying commission isn’t just asking about personal relationships that happen to develop between lobbyists and politicians but lobbyists providing sex to politicians as a form of lobbying. That’s A-OK, apparently. “However, a lobbyist or lobbyist principal’s provision of paid prostitution services by a third party to a designated individual could constitute a gift or thing of value, albeit an illegal one, depending on the particular facts,” the commission added.
Got that? Lobbyists paying for prostitution for politicians? Must be reported. Lobbyists secretly engaging in prostitution with politicians? No big thing.
(read the full article at Reason)by
The Guardian : February 24, 2015
The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site.
The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights.
Alleged police practices at Homan Square, according to those familiar with the facility who spoke out to the Guardian after its investigation into Chicago police abuse, include:
Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases.
Beating by police, resulting in head wounds.
Shackling for prolonged periods.
Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility.
Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.
At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and later pronounced dead.
Brian Jacob Church, a protester known as one of the “Nato Three”, was held and questioned at Homan Square in 2012 following a police raid. Officers restrained Church for the better part of a day, denying him access to an attorney, before sending him to a nearby police station to be booked and charged.
“Homan Square is definitely an unusual place,” Church told the Guardian on Friday. “It brings to mind the interrogation facilities they use in the Middle East. The CIA calls them black sites. It’s a domestic black site. When you go in, no one knows what’s happened to you.”
The secretive warehouse is the latest example of Chicago police practices that echo the much-criticized detention abuses of the US war on terrorism. While those abuses impacted people overseas, Homan Square – said to house military-style vehicles, interrogation cells and even a cage – trains its focus on Americans, most often poor, black and brown.
Unlike a precinct, no one taken to Homan Square is said to be booked. Witnesses, suspects or other Chicagoans who end up inside do not appear to have a public, searchable record entered into a database indicating where they are, as happens when someone is booked at a precinct. Lawyers and relatives insist there is no way of finding their whereabouts. Those lawyers who have attempted to gain access to Homan Square are most often turned away, even as their clients remain in custody inside.
“It’s sort of an open secret among attorneys that regularly make police station visits, this place – if you can’t find a client in the system, odds are they’re there,” said Chicago lawyer Julia Bartmes.
Chicago civil-rights attorney Flint Taylor said Homan Square represented a routinization of a notorious practice in local police work that violates the fifth and sixth amendments of the constitution.
“This Homan Square revelation seems to me to be an institutionalization of the practice that dates back more than 40 years,” Taylor said, “of violating a suspect or witness’ rights to a lawyer and not to be physically or otherwise coerced into giving a statement.”
(read the full article at The Guardian)
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Palestinians were evacuated from their homes after Israeli authorities opened a number of dams flooding the Gaza Valley.
Al Jazeera : February 22, 2015
At least 80 Palestinian homes have been flooded after water levels in the Gaza Valley (Wadi Gaza) rose to almost three meters, forcing families to evacuate after Israeli authorities opened several dams.
The Gaza Ministry of Interior said in a statement on Sunday that civil defence services had worked alongside teams from the Minsitry of Public Works to evacuate families to shelters in al-Bureij refugee camp and in al-Zahra neighbourhood sponsored by UNRWA, the UN Relief and Works Agency.
Brigadier Gerneral Said Al-Saudi, chief of the civil defence agency in Gaza, told Al Jazeera: “Israel opened water dams, without warning, last night, causing serious damage to Gazan villages near the border. More than 40 homes were flooded and 80 families are currently in shelters as a result.”
He added that the dam opening would adversely affect local agriculture as the flooded area included Israel poultry and animal farms.
“We are appealing to human rights organisations and international rights organisations to intervene to prevent further such action.”
(read the full article at Al Jazeera)by
Ben Swann : January 20, 2015
The 20 year-old Ohio man charged with plotting to blow up the U.S. Capitol building was a “peace loving, momma’s boy”, according to his father.
Christopher Lee Cornell is from just outside Cincinnati, Ohio. According to federal authorities he was plotting to attack the capitol with pipe bombs and to shoot government officials as they fled the building. According to court documents, his arrest came after he reportedly posted to Twitter his support for Muslim terrorists and then showed his plans to an FBI informant who contacted him. At the end of August, Cornell had allegedly written the informant an instant message saying the two of them should carry out a lone wolf attack as a way of supporting ISIS.
He didn’t think ISIS or al Qaeda would give them an official sign-off, but he felt he didn’t need it. As we have reported, Cornell’s father has told various media outlets including CNN and CBS news that his son was definitely “set up.”
So, is Cornell’s father correct? Is it possible that his son was set up by that FBI informant? Keep in mind, Cornell purchased two AR-15 rifles and 600 rounds of ammo before he was arrested in the parking lot of a gun store in Cincinnati. His father says that Christopher worked seasonal, minimum wage jobs and had saved about $1,200 dollars. The guns and ammo purchased at the store were worth about $1,800 dollars.
There are a lot of questions about this story, including how the informant found Cornell in the first place. How long had they communicated? Who actually posed the idea of the attack? Did Cornell have his own means or the opportunity to carry out such an attack? All of these questions are important because the FBI has made these kinds of arrests over 500 times since 9/11. What we almost never hear, however, is how these arrests are made and the role of the so called informants.
Take for instance the case of 8 “anarchists” who had plotted to blow up a bridge in the Cuayhoga County National Park near Cleveland in 2012. When the case made it to court, it was revealed that the one person in the group who had led the brainstorming of targets, showed them bridges to case out, pushed them to buy C-4 military-grade explosives, provided the contact for weapons, gave them money for the explosives and demanded they develop a plan because “we on the hook” for the weapons… was the FBI informant.
Another example, in 2004 there was the case of Shahawar Siraj who was charged with plotting to blow up a subway station in NYC. Siraj’s attorneys say he was set up because “Siraj had no explosives, no timetable for an attack and little understanding about explosives.”
In fact, they say it was the informant who had pushed for the attack. Most conversations between Siraj and the informant were recorded, except for the very first conversation and other “key” conversations. Those became he said, she said arguments. At one point, Siraj had even said that he needed to talk with his mother before he would have been willing to do anything and that was when the FBI stepped in.
And then there is the case of the Newburgh 4, four black muslim men, sentenced for plotting to blow up a bronx synagogue using car bombs and plotting to fire a stinger missile at US military planes. In an unprecedented case, these men were offered up to $250,000 dollars by the informant to help with the bombing, as well as free vacations to Puerto Rico and expensive cars. The judge in this case, after giving three of the four 25 year sentences, was clear stating “Nothing that any of these men did was the product of any independent motivation on their parts.” “It is beyond question that government created the crime here.”
These are only a few examples. In fact, an investigation in 2011 shows that more than 500 times after 9/11 the government has arrested and charged similar suspects. In 158 of those cases an informant was involved. What’s more, in 49 of those cases the informant is the one who proposes the act of terror and then coordinates the plot.
(read the full article and view pictures at Ben Swann)
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Washington Post: January 2, 2015
Prince Andrew was named this week in an ongoing lawsuit brought by a group of women who claim they were trafficked to the world’s rich and powerful as part of an alleged underage “sex slave” ring run by American investment banker Jeffrey Epstein.
The allegation, found in a court filing this week, prompted Buckingham Palace to issue an unusual statement to the Guardian, noting that the allegation surfaced in “long-running and ongoing civil proceedings in the United States to which the Duke of York is not a party.” The statement continues: “As such we would not comment in detail. However, for the avoidance of doubt, any suggestion of impropriety with underage minors is categorically untrue.”
As part of a 2008 plea deal with prosecutors, Epstein spent 13 months in prison on a state charge of soliciting prostitutes. According to unsealed documents pertaining to that deal, Epstein was the subject of a federal investigation probing allegations that the powerful figure abused dozens of underage girls at his Palm Beach mansion. The deal effectively allowed him to avoid potential federal charges stemming from the investigation.
The lawsuit, filed in 2008 by two anonymous alleged victims, charges federal prosecutors with violating a statute by not consulting with them before finalizing the plea deal. The latest filing is a motion to expand that existing case to include the allegations of two more women.
Those women named Prince Andrew, Alan Dershowitz and other powerful associates of Epstein as participants in the alleged sexual abuse ring. It’s the first time the Duke of York’s name has appeared in a court document alleging that he sexually abused Epstein’s alleged victims.
But as the Guardian’s reporting makes clear, this isn’t the first time the Duke of York’s name has been linked publicly to the allegations against Epstein: Prince Andrew was friends with Epstein for years — before, during and after the banker served time in prison. In 2011, responding to a statement from one of Epstein’s former employees, Prince Andrew told Vanity Fair that he never attended any of the notorious pool parties at Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion and denied having contact with the alleged victims. He allegedly ended his friendship with Epstein at some point that year.
In the new motion, “Jane Doe #3″ says she was “forced to have sexual relations with this Prince when she was a minor in three separate geographical locations,” including in British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell’s apartment in London; during an “orgy” on Epstein’s island in the U.S. Virgin Islands; and in New York.
“Epstein instructed Jane Doe #3 that she was to give the Prince whatever he demanded and required Jane Doe #3 to report back to him on the details of the sexual abuse,” the document says. Maxwell is a friend of Epstein’s who is named as a co-conspirator in the suit.
(read the full article at Washington Post)
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Man shot and killed by transit police in Surrey
CBC: December 28, 2014
Metro Vancouver Transit Police shot and killed a distraught man inside a grocery store in Surrey, B.C., on Sunday morning, according to the province’s Independent Investigations Office.
The IIO, which provides civilian oversight of serious police incidents, said Surrey RCMP and transit police were responding to a report of a man with a knife inside a Safeway store at 104 Avenue and the King George Boulevard shortly after 8 a.m. PT.
Metro Vancouver Transit Police spokeswoman Anne Drennan said an attendant at the Surrey Central Skytrain Station called transit police Sunday morning to report a man behaving irrationally, banging his head against the wall and yelling and screaming.
Man shot by transit police in Surrey
Around the same time, she said Surrey RCMP received a call from a convenience store located about 300 metres from the station stating a man had gone behind the counter where the clerk was and was demanding a knife.
“He wanted the clerk to give him a knife, give him a knife,” repeating his words, said Drennan.
When transit police arrived at the convenience store, Drennan said the man was gone, but a call had come in for a man with a knife inside the nearby Safeway store.
Man stabbing himself: Transit police
Drennan said when the officers entered the Safeway, they saw a man with a knife who was repeatedly stabbing himself.
“They started talking to him, issuing commands, directions to drop the knife,” she said. “He refused to so so. He advanced on the officers and shots were fired.”
The man was rushed to hospital but later died of his injuries.
Drennan said transit police in B.C. are a police force certified in the same way as municipal and RCMP police officers and if there’s a call and they are the closest police force, they have the authority to respond.
(read the full article at CBC)
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Reason: September 3, 2014
Parents in New York are having trouble helping their kids with math homework now that the curriculum is aligned to the national Common Core standards, so a local news channel has released some videos explaining the new lessons.
Ready to pull your hair out? […] 9 + 6.
Instead of just, well, adding 9 and 6, students must run a gauntlet of extra addition, “decomposing” 6 into 1 and 5, “anchoring” 9 to 1 to make 10, and then adding the leftover 5. The new way requires a lot more time, a higher vocabulary, and more work. But it’s somehow supposed to be “more comfortable” for young learners, in the estimation of standards peddlers.
How parents must long for the good old days of rote memorization! (Incidentally, a recent Stanford University study found that rote memorization is important for developing brains.)
The videos also illustrate why adapting to Core-aligned curriculum is a difficult—and expensive—process for schools. New instructional materials must be purchased, teachers retrained, tests rewritten, etc.
(Read the article at Reason including source links)
Read more from Reason on Common Core here.by