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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

NEWS FOR the weekend of 2/28/2015 Saturday February 28th 2015 & 3/1/2015 Sunday March 1st 2015

THE DAILY USA PATRIOT'S TOP FOUR NEWS STORIES FOR the weekend of 2/28/2015 Saturday february 28th 2015 and 3/1/2015 sunday march 1st 2015


Google wants to rank websites based on facts not links

The trustworthiness of a web page might help it rise up Google's rankings if the search giant starts to measure quality by facts, not just links

THE internet is stuffed with garbage. Anti-vaccination websites make the front page of Google, and fact-free "news" stories spread like wildfire. Google has devised a fix – rank websites according to their truthfulness.

Google's search engine currently uses the number of incoming links to a web page as a proxy for quality, determining where it appears in search results. So pages that many other sites link to are ranked higher. This system has brought us the search engine as we know it today, but the downside is that websites full of misinformation can rise up the rankings, if enough people link to them.

A Google research team is adapting that model to measure the trustworthiness of a page, rather than its reputation across the web. Instead of counting incoming links, the system – which is not yet live – counts the number of incorrect facts within a page. "A source that has few false facts is considered to be trustworthy," says the team ( The score they compute for each page is its Knowledge-Based Trust score.

The software works by tapping into the Knowledge Vault, the vast store of facts that Google has pulled off the internet. Facts the web unanimously agrees on are considered a reasonable proxy for truth. Web pages that contain contradictory information are bumped down the rankings.

There are already lots of apps that try to help internet users unearth the truth. LazyTruth is a browser extension that skims inboxes to weed out the fake or hoax emails that do the rounds. Emergent, a project from the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, New York, pulls in rumours from trashy sites, then verifies or rebuts them by cross-referencing to other sources.

LazyTruth developer Matt Stempeck, now the director of civic media at Microsoft New York, wants to develop software that exports the knowledge found in fact-checking services such as Snopes, PolitiFact and so that everyone has easy access to them. He says tools like LazyTruth are useful online, but challenging the erroneous beliefs underpinning that information is harder. "How do you correct people's misconceptions? People get very defensive," Stempeck says. "If they're searching for the answer on Google they might be in a much more receptive state."

(New scientist, march 1st)

AR-15 Bullet Sales Surge After ATF Ban Announcement

Customers are purchasing AR-15 ammo in volumes up to 20 times the normal rate in some gun stores across the country in reaction to the ATF’s plan to ban 5.56 mm steel-tipped bullets.

Earlier this week, the ATF announced its intention to ban sales of the ammunition, typically used by sports shooters, in the name of protecting law enforcement officers from “the threat posed by ammunition capable of penetrating a protective vest.”

The news prompted panic buying, with numerous gun stores reporting a rush of demand for the ammunition.

According to Travis Brunson, owner of Guns on 41 in Ft. Myers, Florida, he is getting calls from customers asking, “whether this ammunition is gonna be banned, how much can I get and what’s happening to the price.”

“We probably sold 2,000 rounds today, where normally we might sell 100, 200,” Brunson told Fox 4. The price of the bullets is also starting to rise.

It’s a similar story at Fowler Firearms, where manager Jon Dezendorf said he began receiving calls about the ammunition shortly after the ATF made its announcement.

Steve Ellis, owner of Top Guns in Terre Haute, Indiana, told WTHI that supplies were dwindling.

“Everyone is selling out of ammunition, distributors are out, manufacturers are out, most dealers are out,” said Ellis.

It was also reported that a Walmart in Anchorage, AK went from having plentiful supplies of the bullets to none whatsoever.

Meanwhile, Ryan Cook, manager of Eagle Armory in Springfield, said that suppliers were telling him “there was none available to order”.

(Infowars, feb 28th)

John Boehner allies fret coup attempt

Conservatives warn the speaker’s fate could be determined by how he handles the next seven days.

Close allies of Speaker John Boehner are worried that his conservative rivals could move to oust him as soon as next week.

Removing a sitting speaker is exceedingly difficult, and such an effort would almost certainly fall short. Yet growing speculation about the possibility of it – coming after Friday’s embarrassing defeat at the hands of conservatives and House Democrats on the homeland security battle — shows how vulnerable the speaker has become.

Five years into the job, he’s a leader consistently buffeted by forces beyond his control. The legislative calendar guarantees it won’t get any easier: in the coming weeks and months there will be battles over the debt ceiling, budget, taxes, and spending cuts.

The question is how many more of these episodes Boehner can withstand.

Frustration with the Ohio Republican is mounting after dozens of hardliners voted Friday against his three-week funding package for the Department of Homeland Security. Hours of frantic leadership meeting ensued. After some backroom maneuvering with Democrats, Boehner was able to push through a one-week bill to keep DHS open.

President Barack Obama signed the bill into law just 10 minutes before a shutdown of the massive federal agency.

The stinging rebuke of Boehner on the House floor infuriated his supporters, who accused opponents of handing Democrats a huge PR victory.

Yet is also left even Boehner backers wondering how viable he remains. They admit these repeated confrontations, in which Boehner can’t muster 218 Republican votes for his proposals and has to turn to Democrats for help, leave him looking weak and ineffective — and thus vulnerable to a conservative challenge.

(Politico, feb 28th)

Nina Pham claims the extent of her Ebola training was a printout of guidelines her supervisor found on the web. “The only thing I knew about Ebola, I learned in nursing school” six years earlier, Pham said.

The 26-year-old nurse says she has nightmares, body aches and insomnia as a result of contracting the disease from a patient she cared for last fall at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas.

She says the hospital and its parent company, Texas Health Resources, failed her and her colleagues who cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person in the United States diagnosed with Ebola.

“I wanted to believe that they would have my back and take care of me, but they just haven’t risen to the occasion,” Pham told The Dallas Morning News last week in an exclusive interview.

Pham says she will file a lawsuit Monday in Dallas County against Texas Health Resources alleging that while she became the American face of the fight against the disease, the hospital’s lack of training and proper equipment and violations of her privacy made her “a symbol of corporate neglect — a casualty of a hospital system’s failure to prepare for a known and impending medical crisis.”

She says that Texas Health Resources was negligent because it failed to develop policies and train its staff for treating Ebola patients. She says Texas Health Resources did not have proper protective gear for those who treated Duncan.
Pham wants unspecified damages for physical pain and mental anguish, medical expenses and loss of future earnings. But she said that she wants to “make hospitals and big corporations realize that nurses and health care workers, especially frontline people, are important. And we don’t want nurses to start turning into patients.”

In her 90-minute interview, Pham described working in chaotic surroundings at the hospital with ill-prepared nurses who received little guidance on how to treat Ebola and protect themselves. She talked about her life since her diagnosis and recovery, as well as her anxiety about the future.

(Dallas news, feb 28th)


Sessions Vs. Jeb: Battle For The Soul Of The GOP

In a surprise speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) unloaded on former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush—systematically dismantling Bush’s push for amnesty and a massive increase in guest workers from around the world.

“Right now, there are two conferences—one of them in public where candidates are out there having to speak and defend and answer questions on their views and on their positions on important issues facing America,” Sessions said to open up his remarks to the Breitbart News-sponsored meet-and-greet with CPAC activists. “Many people at this conference here and watching it from abroad are evaluating them, judging them and asking themselves whether or not their visions, their ideas, their character will be used to advance the interests of the American people and this republic—and that’s the way it ought to be.”

However, Sessions cited a Washington Times article saying Mitt Romney’s former top fundraising aide Spencer Zwick, “praised Jeb Bush’s stance on immigration, saying the party should follow his lead if the party hopes to win back the White House.”

“If someone wants to be serious about running for president, they need to be in a similar place [to Bush],” Zwick said on a conference call with GOP donors organized by Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist—a key figure at CPAC since he is a board member of the American Conservative Union (ACU). The ACU hosts CPAC every year, but the organization under new chairman Matt Schlapp has seen a shift away from the establishment wing of the GOP it had under old chairman Al Cardenas.

“I’ll tell you one thing: It’s the people of this country that run this country,” Sessions responded, pushing back against the donor community’s push for other Republican candidates to abandon their constituents in support of Bush’s immigration position. “Contributions and supporters are always important in presidential elections and other elections too, but votes trumps money.”

The crowd in the room cheered for Sessions.

Bush, on the other hand, was booed by CPAC activists—many of whom walked out on his speech as he argued that Congress needs to grant amnesty to the millions of illegal aliens in America right now.

(breitbart, feb 27th)

Jeb Bush 'Will Not Sign Any Pledges' in 2016

Anti-taxman Grover Norquist recently told ABC News he believes Jeb Bush will likely sign his no-new-taxes pledge if and when he officially becomes a candidate for president.

Norquist may have had good reason to believe Bush would sign the Taxpayers Protection Pledge, where candidates vow to oppose "any and all efforts to increase taxes." After all, the vast majority of Republican candidates for national office and many for local and statewide office have been signing it ever since Norquist started Americans for Tax Reform in 1985.

Jeb Bush Answers Boos With Defense of Immigration and Common Core Positions...

...But Jeb Bush didn't sign Norquist's pledge (or any other pledge) in any of his three campaigns for governor of Florida and Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell says he is not going to start now.

"If Governor Bush decides to move forward, he will not sign any pledges circulated by lobbying groups," Campbell told ABC News.

(ABC news, march 1st)

GLOBAL CONFLICTS_______________________

Russia: US-Backed Opposition Leader Gunned Down in Moscow

Martyrdom on demand: if not of use alive, perhaps of use dead?

US-backed opposition groups in Russia have so far failed utterly to produce results. Their transparent subservience to Washington coupled with their distasteful brand of politics has left a rather unpleasant taste in the mouth of most Russians. Each attempt to spread the “virus” of color revolution to Moscow, as US Senator John McCain called it, has failed – and each attempt has fallen progressively flatter.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has never been more popular. His ability to weather serial provocations aimed at Russia by NATO has made him a champion against the perceived growing injustice exacted against the developing world by an increasingly militaristic and exploitative West.

So when US-backed opposition groups in Russia decided to gather again this coming March 1, Sunday, many wondered just exactly what they expected to accomplish.

Bloomberg just a day ago, would report in an article titled, “Anti-Putin Opposition Looks to Russian Spring for Revival,” that:

    The opposition “hasn’t been this weak for many years,” Stefan Meister, an analyst at the German Council of Foreign Relations in Berlin, said by phone. “Even when we have a growing economic crisis in Russia, there’s still high support for Putin.”

Clearly to match the expectations the “spring” rally was meant to have, to infuse the “virus” US Senator McCain had claimed was intended for Moscow, something drastic would have to be done to change the current calculus.

The prospect of triggering sustainable unrest aimed at the Kremlin was beyond impossible – that is – until the leader of the planned protest was shot dead, practically on the steps of the Kremlin itself in the heart of Moscow.

Boris Nemtsov, was reportedly shot four times in the back on Friday night in a drive-by shooting. His body laid conveniently for media photographers to capture the Kremlin looming in the background.

Russia immediately condemned the killing, with President Putin noting it was an act of “pure provocation.”

Nemtsov’s Questionable Ties to US Agitators....

Nemtsov, A Convenient Martyr… Too Convenient....

A Message to America’s Proxies – Be Useful Alive, or Be Useful Dead....

....continued in article

(Land destroyer, feb 28th)

US State Department Admits Russia had Nothing to Gain from Killing Boris Nemtsov

Perhaps believing by virtue of having admitted the murder of Russian opposition member Boris Nemtsov in Russia’s capital of Moscow Friday evening in no way served the Russian government’s best interests, the US State Department believes it can deflect guilt from being shifted towards its direction.

Indeed, the US State Department through its Voice of America media network - chaired by the US Secretary of State himself - would state in an online article titled, “Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?,” that (emphasis added):

    With the murder of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, gunned down on a Moscow street, the fiercest critic of President Vladimir Putin has been removed from the political stage. But it remains to be seen whether, in death as in life, Nemtsov will remain a threat to Putin’s rule.

    Already, city authorities have approved a mass march for up to 50,000 people in central Moscow on Sunday. The march, expected to be far larger than the scheduled protest rally it replaces, will provide a powerful platform for Kremlin critics who suspect a government hand in Nemtsov’s death.

    Even officials in Putin’s government seem to sense the danger that the former first deputy prime minister’s martyrdom might pose, hinting darkly that Friday night’s drive-by shooting may have been an deliberate “provocation” ahead of the planned weekend rally.

While this logic has clearly not escaped the US State Department’s media network, it stops short of clearly implicating the Russian opposition and its foreign backers (the US State Department itself) as the chief suspects in Nemtsov’s murder – though the article clearly states only the opposition (and in turn, their foreign sponsors) stood to benefit from his death.

(land destroyer, march 1st)

Venezuela president claims to have captured U.S. pilot accused of 'recruiting citizens to stage a coup'

    -'Pilot' with 'Latino roots' detained in Táchira, border with Colombia, in the last few days, President Nicolas Maduro claims
    -5 other U.S. nationals and 4 missionaries have been detained recently
    -All accused by Venezuelan government of 'espionage' and 'recruitment'
    -Comes as tensions rise between the two nations, Maduro accused the U.S. of trying to overthrow him
    -There has been a recent surge in anti-government protests in Caraca

(daily mail, feb 28th)

Venezuela to limit staff at U.S. Embassy and require $160 visa for American tourists

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro today announced his government is implementing a new $160 visa for all U.S. citizens who want to visit his country, and ordered his foreign ministry to “revise, reduce and adjust” the number of U.S. personnel working at the U.S. embassy in Caracas.

Maduro did not say how many U.S. embassy posts he wants eliminated, but said the U.S. currently has more than 100 employees in its diplomatic mission, while Venezuela has only 17 in Washington, D.C.

The president also ordered the U.S. embassy to notify his government about all meetings it has with members of Venezuela’s opposition.

Maduro said the new visa policy for all other U.S. citizens visiting Venezuela will be a quid pro quo for “the same price that they charge Venezuelans at the U.S. embassy,” according to Telesur. The U.S. charges Venezuelans $160 for non-immigrant visas.

Furthermore, the Venezuelan leader said, his government will deny entry to U.S. politicians who “violate human rights.” The Venezuelan president specifically named George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Bob Menéndez, Marco Rubio, Ileana Ross-Lethinen, George Tenet and Mario Díaz Balart — none of whom have responded yet. Nicaragua recently issued a similar ban for certain U.S. politicians, journalists and NGO workers identified as unfriendly to the government.

(, feb 28th)

Pentagon walks back plans for spring offensive against ISIS stronghold Mosul

Facing criticism, the Pentagon announced it has pushed back plans by Iraqis to mount a major attack to regain Mosul from the Islamic State

According to a new report by the Daily Beast, military officials said Friday it is more realistic for Iraqi and Kurdish troops to try and retake Mosul from the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS or ISIL) in the fall.

“I can’t put a date certain…nor say April is out,” said Defense Department spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby to the website. “I don’t think we are there yet. There are gaps and seams that need to be closed.

(Russia today, feb 28th)

Egyptian Court Declares Hamas a Terrorist Organization

An Egyptian court on Saturday declared the Palestinian Islamist Hamas movement a terrorist organization, media report.

The news comes one month after a judge listed the group’s armed wing as a terrorist group.

While the January decision on Hamas targeted only the armed wing, Saturday’s broader ruling could further deteriorate relations between Cairo and Hamas which controls the Palestinian Gaza Strip.

The ruling came in response to a lawsuit alleging that Hamas was involved in attacks in Egypt in recent months.

(Sputnik, feb 28th)

Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger whose punishment of 1,000 lashes has prompted international condemnation, may now face the death penalty.

Mr Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, told The Independent in a series of messages that judges in Saudi Arabia’s criminal court want him to undergo a re-trial for apostasy. If found guilty, he would face a death sentence.

She said the “dangerous information” had come from “official sources” inside the conservative kingdom, where Mr Badawi has already been sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes – administered at a rate of 50 per week – for criticising the country’s clerics through his liberal blog. In 2013, a judge threw out the charge of apostasy against the 31-year-old blogger after he assured the court that he was a Muslim. The evidence against him had included the fact that he pressed the “Like” button on a Facebook page for Arab Christians.

The news that the charge may now be re-examined will come as a bitter blow to Mr Badawi’s family and supporters, who had hoped that the international pressure over his case would prompt Saudi Arabia to reduce his sentence.

Although he remains in prison, he has only been flogged once since his sentence was passed, with subsequent punishments being repeatedly postponed.

(Indepedent, march 1st)


London schoolgirls among 60 female Britons thought to have joined Isis

Top counter-terrorism official reveals figures as CCTV shows three teenagers feared to be heading to Syria at Istanbul bus station

Sixty British women and girls, including 18 teenagers, are believed to have travelled to Syria to join Islamic State (Isis) militants, the UK’s top counter-terrorism police officer has said.
Deputy assistant commissioner Helen Ball, senior national coordinator for counter-terrorism, revealed that about five of them are 15 – 16.

The figures came as fresh CCTV images emerged of three London schoolgirls who secretly caught a flight to Istanbul after slipping out of their homes last month.

Shamima Begum, 15, was pictured with Amira Abase, also 15, and Kadiza Sultana, 16, on the Turkish leg of their trip before they were feared to have crossed the border into Syria.

(the guardian, march 1st)

Teacher investigated for posting ‘terrorist list’ of students on classroom door

Pinellas school district officials are investigating a math teacher at St. Petersburg High who allegedly posted a “terrorist list” on his classroom door with students’ names.

District officials declined to name the teacher, citing the investigation.

Tyler Harris, 15, discovered the list Wednesday after arriving at his fourth period class. He was one of five students named. Under each name was an Arabic-sounding alias that mimicked the students’ actual names. Harris took a photo of the list and sent it to his parents.

“He was upset, very upset,” said Sandra Harris, his mother.

(Tampa Bay Times, feb 28th)

Crowd Kills Girl Suspected to Be Suicide Bomber in Nigeria

Girls aroused suspicion by refusing to be searched when they arrived at the gate to the vegetable market

A crowd beat to death a teenage girl accused of being a suicide bomber and then set her body ablaze Sunday, according to police and witnesses at a northeastern Nigerian market.

A second suspect, also a teenage girl, was arrested at Muda Lawal, the biggest market in Bauchi city.

A spate of suicide bombings has been blamed on Nigeria’s home-grown Boko Haram Islamic extremist group, which wants to enforce strict Islamic law across Nigeria. The group has threatened to disrupt Nigeria’s March 28 presidential and legislative elections, saying democracy is a corrupt Western concept.

(AP, march 1st)

U.S. GOVERNMENT__________________

Congress OKs stopgap DHS funding bill, lawmakers remain at impasse in immigration fight

After a dramatic and chaotic day of votes, Congress late Friday approved a stopgap bill to keep money flowing to the Homeland Security Department past a midnight deadline and avert a partial agency shutdown — though Congress is no closer to a long-term deal.

The House voted 357-60 for a mere one-week spending bill. With the Senate already having approved the measure. President Obama signed the bill into law late Friday night.

But that legislation was passed only after efforts to pass a slightly more substantial stopgap – a three-week funding bill – melted down on the House floor Friday afternoon. Though it had been expected to pass, 52 Republicans defected and joined Democrats in opposing the leadership-backed legislation.

This led to bad blood late Friday between House Republicans who joined Speaker John Boehner in supporting the bill, and those who peeled off. One senior House GOP source told Fox News that the nearly 200 Republicans who backed that bill were “super mad” at those who left them hanging.

(Fox news, feb 28th)'

FCC chief scheduled for marathon week of testimony on Internet rules

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler's March schedule is filling up fast.

Wheeler has agreed to cap off a marathon week of hearings next month with testimony in front of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Communications and Technology on March 19.

The hearing, announced by panel Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.), will be his third of the week. He will also testify at the Senate Commerce Committee and the House Oversight Committee.

There is still another request for testimony outstanding from the House Judiciary Committee.

(the hill, feb 27th)

Big Brother 2.0: 160,000 Facebook pages are hacked a day

Company loosens up your privacy settings every time they update the terms of service...

WikiLeaks, the National Security Agency, data mining — we all know Big Brother is watching. But few of us realize to what extent.

Some things you might not know: Your smart TV is probably watching you watch it. Your office photocopier is recording everything you duplicate. Your smartphone can identify you by the way you walk, the way you hold it, and may also be recording you. The app you downloaded has now siphoned your name, e-mail address and place of residence and reported back to its parent company.

The insecurity of the individual, however, has nothing on the insecurity of nations, diseases, global finance, air and space travel, traffic and power grids, police and fire departments, medical data, news organizations. There are no firewalls that can’t be breached.

In his new book, “Future Crimes: Everything is Connected, Everyone is Vulnerable and What We Can Do About It” (Doubleday), global-security expert Marc Goodman explores our existing and impending vulnerabilities, all while exhorting us to be aware to the point of paranoia.

(NY Post, march 1st)

POLICE STATE______________________

Gitmo2Chicago: Activists demand probe of ‘secret interrogation facility’ (PHOTOS)

Activists in Chicago are demanding a thorough investigation into Homan Square, a local detention facility which is being compared to a CIA black site. Several dozen protested on Saturday after police denied the accusations.

Organized by Anonymous, Occupy, and Black Lives Matter, as well as a number of other groups, the ‘Shut Down Homan Square’ protest gathered around 200 people outside the detention facility in the city’s West Side.

Braving Saturday’s below-zero temperatures, the activists held banners and chanted slogans such as “Shut it down” and “Freedom first,” as well as “Indict, convict, send the torturers to jail.” They demanded a probe and changes at the facility after a report in the Guardian claimed it is used by Chicago police as a “secret interrogation facility.”

“Hopefully with the presence we expect to have, that will put a little bit of pressure to say, ‘Hey, look – this isn’t going to go away,’” said Travis McDermott, one of the organizers of the protest, as quoted by the Guardian.

Later, dozens of protesters marched through nearby streets.

During Saturday’s demonstration, organizers called on people to come forward if their rights have ever been violated by police.

“We need you to come forth and tell us yes you have been a victim of abuse,” one organizer said, according to USA Today. “Please come forward and let the people know so we can take some action.”

Anonymous took to Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms with the hashtag #Gitmo2Chicago to draw attention to the so-called secret prison. “Torture soon coming to a city near you,” it stated.

“This will not stand,” the collective said in a video message posted on February 27.

(Russia Today, march 1st)

Private police carry guns and make arrests, and their ranks are swelling

Michael Youlen stopped a driver in a Manassas apartment complex on a recent night and wrote the man a ticket for driving on a suspended license. With a badge on his chest and a gun on his hip, Youlen gave the driver a stern warning to stay off the road.

The stop was routine police work, except for one fact: Youlen is not a Manassas officer. The citation came courtesy of the private force he created that, until recently, he called the “Manassas Junction Police Department.”

He is its chief and sole officer.

He is a force of one.

And he is not alone. Like more and more Virginians, Youlen gained his police powers using a little-known provision of state law that allows private citizens to petition the courts for the authority to carry a gun, display a badge and make arrests. The number of “special conservators of the peace” — or SCOPs, as they are known — has doubled in Virginia over the past decade to roughly 750, according to state records.

(washington post, march 1st)

LAPD fatal shooting of man caught on tape

Authorities said Sunday night that Los Angeles police fatally shot a man on skid row during a struggle over an officer's weapons.

Police officials offered a detailed account of what they say prompted the Sunday morning shooting, which was captured on video by a bystander.

Cmdr. Andrew Smith said officers assigned to the LAPD's Central Division and Safer Cities Initiative — a task force focused on skid row — responded to the location about noon Sunday after receiving a 911 call reporting a possible robbery.

People gather at Pershing Square on Sunday to protest the police shooting of a homeless man. The man was killed by LAPD officers during a confrontation downtown.

Smith said the officers approached the man and made contact with him, at which point he "began fighting and physically resisting the officers." The officers attempted to take him into custody and at one point, attempted to use a Taser that Smith said was "ineffective."

The man continued to resist police, Smith said, and the man and some of the officers fell to the ground.

"At some point in there, a struggle over one of the officer's weapons occurred," Smith said. "At that point an officer-involved shooting happened."

Two officers and a sergeant fired at the man, who was pronounced dead at the scene, Smith said. It was unclear how many times the officers fired, although at least five shots can be heard on the video recording that captured the shooting.

No other gun was recovered at the scene, Smith said. It was unclear if the man had any other weapons among his possessions — investigators were still combing the scene late Sunday night.

The man has been tentatively identified, but Smith said it was unclear if he was homeless.

Two officers were treated and released for injuries sustained in the struggle, Smith said. The extent of those injuries was unclear.

(LA times, march 1st)

Autopsy: Teen killed by Denver police had 4 gunshot wounds,

An autopsy shows a 17-year-old girl who was killed by Denver police officers while driving a stolen car was shot three times.

The coroner’s report states that Jessica Hernandez suffered four gunshot wounds, but two of the wounds were caused by one bullet. Two bullets were recovered from her body, one exited.

The Denver medical examiner’s office said Friday that Hernandez also had marijuana and a small amount of alcohol in her system during the Jan. 26 shooting that sparked protests and calls for an outside investigation.

(AP, feb 28th)

Miami Gardens Police Chief Stephen Johnson, hired last May to rein in a department reeling from accusations of racial profiling, was fired Friday night after being arrested on a charge of soliciting a prostitute in Dania Beach.

Michael Wright, a detective and police department spokesman, said Johnson was arrested at a Dania Beach motel during a sting operation conducted by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office. He said Johnson was immediately fired by City Manager Cameron Benson and that Assistant Police Chief Antonio Brooklen would take the helm in the interim.

The city released a statement late Friday saying, “We recently learned Chief Stephen Johnson has been arrested for solicitation of a prostitute. As a result, Mr. Johnson’s employment with the city of Miami Gardens has been terminated, effective immediately.”

(Miami Herald, feb 28th)

VIDEO: Hidden camera records cop receiving illegal ‘massage’

This cop lied about the details of a marijuana arrest, failed to report how he tormented a suspect with his Taser, and claimed a three-hour lunch break lasted only one.

While his supervisors investigated his misdeeds, Coconut Creek Police Officer James Yacobellis kept drawing his nearly $90,000 annual salary. After 16 months of paid leave, they finally agreed to let him return to duty.

But within a year and a half, James Yacobellis was in trouble again.

It was a video-recorded massage — and its happy ending — that finally cost him his job.

(Sun-sentinel, feb 28th)

Widespread aggressive police coercion of civil activists in the United Kingdom demonstrates the British state is “afraid of its own citizens,” a senior United Nations official told Sputnik on Sunday.

“The practice of infiltrating civil society and protest groups is clearly not a thing of the past, and it’s more than a series of isolated incidents. There are patterns that strongly suggest an official policy,” Maina Kiai, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, said.

Last week, police in Cambridge confirmed that two of its officers had been facing an internal investigation into allegations they had been using threats and intimidation in trying to persuade activists to spy for them.

One campaigner secretly filmed a police detective attempting to bribe him to spy on fellow Cambridge University students, anti-racism activists, environmentalists and those campaigning against government cuts to public services.

“Why is an established democracy such as Britain so afraid of its own citizens that it feels the need to spy on peaceful civic groups?” Kiai said.

The UN official called on a nationwide investigation, specifying that the police had been infiltrating Britain’s civic groups at least since 2003.

“Why do [the police] think they can keep getting away with it? This is pure, blatant intimidation, and it is suffocating the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association in the UK,” Kiai said.
At least two of the individuals who claim they were pressured into becoming police informants were students at Cambridge University, whose alumni include naturalist Charles Darwin, philosopher Bertrand Russell and physicist Stephen Hawking.

Helen Hoogewerf-McComb, president of Cambridge University Students’ Union (CUSU), refused several requests to be interviewed by Sputnik or deny whether she or other CUSU officials had been approached by police to inform on fellow students.

In 2013, a Freedom of Information request revealed that over a five-year period police forces in England and Wales had paid over 25 million pounds ($38 million) to “Covert Human Intelligence Sources,” a police designation of their informants.

(sputnik, march 1st)

MISCELLANEOUS NEWS___________________

Chicago nears fiscal free fall with latest downgrade

 Chicago drew closer to a fiscal free fall on Friday with a rating downgrade from Moody's Investors Service that could trigger the immediate termination of four interest-rate swap agreements, costing the city about $58 million and raising the prospect of more broken swaps contracts.

The downgrade to Baa2, just two steps above junk, and a warning the rating could fall further still, means the third-biggest U.S. city could face even higher costs in the future if banks choose to terminate other interest-rate hedges against fluctuations in interest rates. All told, Chicago holds swaps contracts covering $2.67 billion in debt, according to a disclosure late last year.

"This is an unfortunate wake-up call for anyone still asleep over the fiscal cliff facing the city of Chicago," said Laurence Msall, president of the Chicago-based government finance watchdog, The Civic Federation.

Chicago's finances are already sagging under an unfunded pension liability Moody's has pegged at $32 billion and that is equal to eight times the city's operating revenue. The city has a $300 million structural deficit in its $3.53 billion operating budget and is required by an Illinois law to boost the 2016 contribution to its police and fire pension funds by $550 million.

(Reuters, feb 27th)

Wells Fargo, one of the largest subprime car lenders, is pulling back from that roaring market, a move that is being felt throughout the broader auto industry.

The giant San Francisco bank, known for its stagecoach logo and its steady profits, has been at the center of the boom in making loans to people with tarnished credit scores. Wall Street, meanwhile, has been bundling and selling such loans as securities to investors, reaping big profits while allowing millions of financially troubled borrowers to buy cars.

But now, amid signs that the market is overheating, Wells Fargo has imposed a cap for the first time on the amount of loans it will extend to subprime borrowers.

The bank is limiting the dollar volume of its subprime auto originations to 10 percent of its overall auto loan originations, which last year totaled $29.9 billion, bank executives said.

The decision, detailed in interviews with top Wells Fargo executives, along with other large auto lenders, is a sobering moment for the booming market. Other lenders may decide to take their cue from Wells Fargo, one of the nation’s largest lenders. After successfully sidestepping many of the catastrophic mortgage losses that hit its competitors during the financial crisis, the bank has developed a reputation for deftly managing risk.

John Stumpf is the chief executive of Wells Fargo. Last year, the bank made $29.9 billion in new auto loans to consumers

Over all, auto loans to subprime borrowers — typically people with credit scores at or below 640 — have more than doubled since the financial crisis, with one in four new auto loans going to subprime borrowers. In the second quarter of 2014, for example, total auto loan originations hovered at the highest level since before the financial crisis, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. In that quarter, lenders originated $20.6 billion in subprime auto loans, nearly two times as much as in the same period of 2010.

Behind the surge are two major forces: Large banks, weathering a slowdown in other types of lending like mortgages, have increased their auto lending. And much as in the housing boom, investors in search of higher returns, like insurance companies and hedge funds, are buying billions of dollars of investments backed by subprime auto loans.

Such growth, though, has given rise to concerns, like those at Wells Fargo, that growing competition is fostering lax lending practices, including longer repayment periods and increased loan balances.

Federal and state authorities, meanwhile, are examining whether dealerships have been inflating borrowers’ income or falsifying employment information on loan applications to ensure that any borrower, even some who are unemployed and have virtually no source of income, can buy a car.

More broadly, many of the questionable lending practices, while not necessarily illegal, could eventually spell losses for banks and investors, credit analysts and regulators say. The size of the subprime auto loan market is a fraction of the subprime mortgage market at its peak, but its crash would still have wide-reaching effects for banks and borrowers, including some of the most vulnerable Americans

(NYT, march 1st)

Meta-Study On Genetically Modified Food: Virtually All Independent Scientists Are Concerned

Half of the Studies Find Cause For Concern … The Other Half Are Studies By the GMO Food Industry Itself

Tufts University’s Director of the Research and Policy Program at the Global Development and Environment Institute (Timothy Wise) points out:

    There is no … consensus on the safety of GM food. A peer-reviewed study of the research, from peer-reviewed journals, found that about half of the animal-feeding studies conducted in recent years found cause for concern. The other half didn’t, and as the researchers noted, “most of these studies have been conducted by biotechnology companies responsible of commercializing these GM plants.”


    The only consensus that GM food is safe is among industry-funded researchers.

By way of background, genetically engineered foods have been linked to obesity, cancer, liver failure,infertility and all sorts of other diseases (brief, must-watch videos here and here).

And genetically-engineered meat isn’t even tested for human safety.

And a leading risk expert says that genetically modified foods could wipe out the global ecosystem.

But government agencies like the FDA go to great lengths to cover up the potential health damage from genetically modified foods, and to keep the consumer in the dark about what they’re really eating.  (Indeed, the largest German newspaper – Süddeutsche Zeitung – alleges that the U.S. government helped Monsanto ATTACK THE COMPUTERS of activists opposed to genetically modified food.)

Indeed – as Tufts’ Timothy Wise notes – huge sums of money are being poured into shutting down all honest scientific debate about the risks from GMOs:

    Biotechnology companies and their powerful advocates, like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, are succeeding in a well-planned campaign to get GM safety declared “settled science.”


    An indicator was a quiet announcement in the press last summer that the Gates Foundation had awarded a US$5.6 million grant to Cornell University to “depolarize” the debate over GM foods. That’s their word. The grant founded a new institute, the Cornell Alliance for Science.

    “Our goal is to depolarize the GMO debate and engage with potential partners who may share common values around poverty reduction and sustainable agriculture, but may not be well informed about the potential biotechnology has for solving major agricultural challenges,” said project leader Sarah Evanega, senior associate director of International Programs in Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS).

    Got it? The Gates Foundation is paying biotech scientists and advocates at Cornell to help them convince the ignorant and brainwashed public, who “may not be well informed,” that they are ignorant and brainwashed.

    “Improving agricultural biotechnology communications is a challenge that must be met if innovations developed in public sector institutions like Cornell are ever to reach farmers in their fields,” added Kathryn J. Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of CALS.

    It’s kind of like depolarizing an armed conflict by giving one side more weapons.

(washingtons blog, march 1st)

Ikea turns furniture into wireless phone chargers

Global furniture giant Ikea announced on Sunday the launch of desks, tables and lamps that will wirelessly charge phones and other devices.

The new collection will use Qi wireless technology to charge devices that are placed on or near the furniture.

"Through research and home visits, we know that people hate cable mess. They worry about not finding the charger and running out of power," Ikea's business area manager of lighting and wireless charging, Jeanette Skjelmose, said in a statement.

"Our new innovative solutions, which integrate wireless charging into home furnishings, will make life at home simpler," she added.

The Home Spot range of desks, bedside tables and lamps will hit stores in Europe and North America in April, Ikea said, with a "global roll-out" in the works.

"This is (a) very early time in the furniture business to blend wireless technology," Jeff Kagan, a technology industry analyst, told AFP.

(AFP, march 1st)

Bill O’Reilly admits he did not see “Irish terrorists kill” in Northern Ireland

Fox News has now stated that host Bill O’Reilly’s claim that he saw action in Northern Ireland was based on seeing photographs of violence shown him by police, the Washington Post reports.

O’Reilly’s claims to have seen violence in Northern Ireland and elsewhere have come under withering fire from his opponents.

O’Reilly has stated that he reported from Northern Ireland and in his 2013 book “Keep it Pithy” he stated “I’ve seen....Irish terrorists kill and maim their fellow citizens in Belfast with bombs.”

However, the Washington Post points out he told syndicated radio host Hugh Hewitt a different story: “We went on a raid in Divis Flats (Republican stronghold high rise  flats ) with the police. And it was a pretty intense situation. There was stuff being thrown, arrests being made, all of that.”

“Were you in fear of physical harm?” Hewitt asked.

No, O’Reilly said.

Fox News clarified to the Washington Post that O’Reilly had been shown pictures of violent incidents and victims of bombings by police but had not actually seen any such incidents first hand himself.

That explanation is very similar to what they told critics about his time in El Salvador where he stepped back from comments about seeing nuns shot to seeing pictures of nuns who were shot.

(irish central, march 1st)

Montel Williams Got Called Out On Twitter For Endorsing Payday Loans—And He Didn’t Handle It Well

You may have heard of Montel Williams, actor, producer, and host of the long-running but now-defunct Montel Williams Show. You may also know that Williams is a spokesperson for Money Mutual, a lead generator for so-called payday lenders.

On Thursday, that side-business got a little awkward for the former host when an education activist named André-Tascha Lammé called out Williams on Twitter for “Support[ing] the *most* predatory of loans in existence, PayDay loans. Designed to prey on the poor.”

Williams denied the charge.

Montel is either being disingenuous—deliberately not addressing Lammé’s point—or he just doesn’t understand the real-world effect of payday lending. The truth is that a large portion of payday customers end up in dire financial straits because of these seemingly innocuous loans.

Here’s what happens. The average payday loan charges a fee of about $15 for every $100 borrowed. That might sound like an interest rate of 15%, but that’s the fee for a two-week loan. On an annualized basis—which is how most people think about interest rates, or should—that translates into a rate of 391%.

Montel apparently thinks it’s unfair to think about it this way, since borrowers are supposed to pay back their loan in two weeks.

But here’s the thing: Four out of five payday loan borrowers are not able to pay off their debt in such a short time period, so they go back to the payday loan shop and take out another loan to pay off the first one—for an additional fee, of course—and a cycle of debt begins.

In fact, according to the CFPB, the median payday customer is in debt for 199 days a year, taking out new payday loans along the way as they struggle to pay down the initial loan amount. That’s more than 14 times longer than the period Williams was talking about. As a result, more than half of payday loans are made to borrowers who end up paying more in interest than they borrowed in the first place. The median loan recipient ends up paying $458 in fees and an effective interest rate of 130%.

(time, feb 27th)


NOAA: 2185 cold records broken or tied in past week – 1913 Low Min Records Broken & 272 tied in 7 days

(Climate depot, feb 28th)

The unseasonable cold is expected to continue over much of the U.S., with some interruptions, and the latest GFS model forecast shows some snow for portions of all 50 states in the next seven days.

And, yes, I checked…even in Hawaii.

(dr. roy spencer, feb 27th)

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