Everything Else - Global News Tracker
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02-03-2018, 02:10 AM
RE: Everything Else - Global News Tracker
“THE SCALES ARE TIPPED”: EMAILS SHOW LOUISIANA’S CLOSE RELATIONSHIP WITH OIL INDUSTRY, MONITORING OF PIPELINE OPPONENTS

Alleen Brown
The Intercept - March 1 2018, 4:10 p.m.

"SHORTLY AFTER THE controversial Bayou Bridge pipeline received its final major permit to begin construction in Louisiana, the head of the state’s Homeland Security office forwarded seemingly benign details on the activities of an environmentalist group opposing the pipeline to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, the State Police, and the National Guard. The FBI also received a copy.

The January 4 email, authored by an intelligence officer with the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, pulled information from the social media page and email list of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. It highlighted a local pastor’s planned participation in an anti-pipeline Facebook livestream and described the fundraising efforts of Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, who coordinated military relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina and now runs the environmental justice group GreenARMY.

A similar email that GOHSEP Director James Waskom forwarded to Department of Environmental Quality head Chuck Carr Brown on December 20 pulled quotes from an article published by the news site Inside Sources describing the visitor vetting process used by the anti-pipeline L’eau Est La Vie Camp.

The emails were among a larger set turned over by the state’s environmental protection department in response to a public records request filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights. Taken together, they suggest that while Louisiana saw the oil company behind Bayou Bridge as a partner, officials increasingly viewed pipeline opponents as a security threat. Additional emails also indicate a close working relationship between the oil company, Energy Transfer Partners, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which issued the permit that allowed construction to go forward.

Buren “Ric” Moore, the intelligence officer who authored the emails forwarded by Waskom, included a quote after his signature, stating, “In the case of terrorism, to wait for an indication of crime before investigating it is to wait too long. There is no guarantee of success, but there has to be a guarantee of effort. Let’s make it hard to hurt us. If you see something suspicious, report it.”

“I was strictly shocked to think that that would be of intelligence interest to the governor’s staff that I supported the movement,” said Honoré, who added that neither sufficient regulations nor effective regulators exist to safely construct pipelines through Louisiana’s wetlands.

“I’d be more interested in them tracking the people who are doing the polluting. They seem to be closer to terrorists than I am,” Honoré said. “Looks like you’re watching the wrong people, all based on the scenario of what happened in Standing Rock.”

Anne Rolfes, head of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, called the emails from the state Homeland Security office “a clear attempt to intimidate opponents and to harass us and to chill other people for being involved.” She said some of the content came from a newsletter sent to members and other information came from the group’s social media page.

Greg Langley, a public affairs officer at the Department of Environmental Quality, said the agency had held a hearing on the night of January 4, and the communications from the Homeland Security office would have been used “just to see if we might need extra security. We have an obligation to keep everybody safe and keep state property safe.” Langley added, “We’re happy for people to come, happy for people to express their opinion, to protest if they want.”

A spokesperson for the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, Mike Steele, downplayed the emails’ significance. He explained that Moore is GOHSEP’s single liaison at the state fusion center, where police, the FBI, and other agencies exchange information. “His job is to keep everyone aware,” Steele said, noting that, although most of the fusion center personnel work for law enforcement, GOHSEP does not have any law enforcement or investigative authority, and would share the same type of information about Mardi Gras or sporting events. “This was for situational awareness. It doesn’t necessarily mean any actions will be taken,” he said.

Steele added that the Louisiana Bucket Brigade has been on GOHSEP’s radar for a while. “They’ve had events at the gates of plants and industrial sites in the past, and I know we’ve kind of tracked some of that, but again, it was more we may get called in to provide resources to help out,” he said.

Asked about the quote at the end of Moore’s email, Steele said, “He is an ex-military, so that’s something that was a tagline for his emails.” He added that “it in no way meant that there was anything terrorist-related with what’s going on with the pipeline fight. We probably need to talk to him about that because I can see how that would be misunderstood.”

“In an effort to protect the infrastructure of Louisiana, the FBI New Orleans Field Office routinely coordinates with federal, state, and local agencies across the state on a variety of issues, to include oil and gas matters,” the FBI special agent in charge, Eric J. Rommal, said in a statement.

Spokespeople for the Louisiana State Police and National Guard did not respond to requests for comment."
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02-03-2018, 02:16 AM
RE: Everything Else - Global News Tracker
States consider bringing prescription drugs from Canada to US as costs soar
Amid surging prices for popular medicines, proposed agency would buy from Canada where drugs can cost thousands less

Jessica Glenza in New York

The Guardian
Thu 1 Mar 2018 06.00 EST

"In the face of surging prescription drug prices, some US states are proposing to import medicines in bulk from Canada, where many drugs are cheaper thanks to government price controls.

Vermont lawmakers are considering legislation to create an agency which would buy popular prescription medicines in bulk from Canada, and then distribute to pharmacies in the state. Utah, Oklahoma and West Virginia have proposed similar measures.

The state senator Ginny Lyons, who sponsored the Vermont bill, said that without government price controls, “pharmaceutical companies are getting away with murder,” in the US.

Why are Democratic party thinktanks still not backing universal healthcare?
Adam Gaffney
Read more
“People are making choices between food and prescription drugs. We can’t allow that to continue, so we’re trying to take matters into our own hands,” she said.

Lyons acknowledged the bill is a “first step” to rein in spending, but hopes it will spur Congress to act. The federal government would need to approve any bulk importing program.

“When a lot of little fish get together, it has meaning for the members of Congress.”

The desperate move comes as the cost of pharmaceuticals is expected to grow faster than other US healthcare spending in the next decade.

Meanwhile, unpredictable – and sometimes dramatic – increases in drug costs make it nearly impossible for states to budget year-to-year.

Medicaid, the public health program that insures 70 million poor and disabled Americans, is jointly run by the state and federal governments. But states have a limited number of tools legally available to negotiate drug prices with manufacturers.

As a result, mid-year drug approvals and steep price hikes can throw a state’s entire health budget off course."
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02-03-2018, 04:05 PM
RE: Everything Else - Global News Tracker
AfD ridiculed for proposing law to include german language into constitution
AfD claims that german language is "endangered" by immigration and influence of "foreign languages"

Afd MP Stephan Brandner asked others to have "braveness for courage"

MPs of all other political parties respond with ridicule.

FDP MP Stephan Thomae responded in latin with a quote from Cicero to Catiline: „Quo usque tandem abutere patientia nostra?“ („How long will you abuse our patience?“), indicating that he is ...pissed.

Erhard Grundl (Greens) responded in bavarian: "Do we need this?"

Simone Barrientos (Left/Socialists) responded in spanish.

Johann Saathoff von der SPD answered in "platt" (harsh dialect from the coast). Speaker of the Bundestag Wolfgang Schäuble asked Saathoff to respond in a language everybody understands (high german), but couldnt help himself and smile while doing so.

Gitta Connemann (CDU) reminded the AfD of its hypocrisy, because the AfD program is also printed in russian.


...and people say we dont have any humor Laugh out load

Ceterum censeo, religionem delendam esse
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03-03-2018, 09:47 AM
RE: Everything Else - Global News Tracker
I can’t help it, this makes me smile. This is the same organized crime family that oversees the mortal souls of 1.1 billion faithful. Maybe they’ll have to say 20 Hail Mary’s and 10 Our Father’s. Consider
Laugh out load

Vatican Bank’s Ex-Chief Indicted Over $60 Million in Embezzlement Losses

A former president of the Vatican bank has been ordered to stand trial on charges of embezzlement and money laundering, the Vatican has said, making him the highest-ranking Holy See financial official to be indicted on charges tying him to losses of more than $61 million from real estate sales.

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”~ Ambrose Bierce
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04-03-2018, 02:30 AM (This post was last modified: 04-03-2018 02:44 AM by Deesse23.)
RE: Everything Else - Global News Tracker
NEWSFLASH! EXTRA, EXTRA, EXTRA!

SPD members approve new Angela Merkel-led German government

Germany's chancellor will reportedly get a fourth term after her junior partners, the SPD, voted for a coalition deal. The new government could be in place in less than two weeks' time, ending months of uncertainty.

The results of a mail-in ballot among more than 450,000 SPD members were announced at party headquarters in Berlin on Sunday morning.

The coalition agreement can now be signed, and the Bundestag will elect Merkel chancellor of Germany for the 19th legislative period. It's thought the vote will take place on March 14. It will be the third grand coalition in Merkel's 13 years as German leader.

Update:
The vote was 66/33, which indicates that the SPD is far from being unified in its opinion(s) (4 years ago it was 75/25.
Ca. 350.000 votes were valid and ca. 250.000 votes "yes". If it would have been "no", then Germany would have had new elections. If you think this provided some stability for Germany and Europe, then this margin is really small, even compaared to the 3(?) million votes between Clinton/Trump. 250.000 is a medium sized EU city, not more.

Ceterum censeo, religionem delendam esse
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04-03-2018, 02:39 AM
RE: Everything Else - Global News Tracker
'Living laboratories': the Dutch cities amassing data on oblivious residents.

Stratumseind in Eindhoven is one of the busiest nightlife streets in the Netherlands. On a Saturday night, bars are packed, music blares through the street, laughter and drunken shouting bounces off the walls. As the night progresses, the ground becomes littered with empty shot bottles, energy drink cans, cigarette butts and broken glass.

It’s no surprise that the place is also known for its frequent fights. To change that image, Stratumseind has become one of the “smartest” streets in the Netherlands. Lamp-posts have been fitted with wifi-trackers, cameras and 64 microphones that can detect aggressive behaviour and alert police officers to altercations. There has been a failed experiment to change light intensity to alter the mood. The next plan, starting this spring, is to diffuse the smell of oranges to calm people down. The aim? To make Stratumseind a safer place.

All the while, data is being collected and stored. “Visitors do not realise they are entering a living laboratory,” says Maša Galic, a researcher on privacy in the public space for the Tilburg Institute of Law, Technology and Society. Since the data on Stratumseind is used to profile, nudge or actively target people, this “smart city” experiment is subject to privacy law. According to the Dutch Personal Data Protection Act, people should be notified in advance of data collection and the purpose should be specified – but in Stratumseind, as in many other “smart cities”, this is not the case. [...]

The first revolt is against the supreme tyranny of theology, of the phantom of God. As long as we have a master in heaven, we will be slaves on earth.

Mikhail Bakunin.
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04-03-2018, 02:57 AM (This post was last modified: 04-03-2018 03:07 AM by Kaneda.)
RE: Everything Else - Global News Tracker
(04-03-2018 02:39 AM)Szuchow Wrote:  It’s no surprise that the place is also known for its frequent fights. To change that image, Stratumseind has become one of the “smartest” streets in the Netherlands. Lamp-posts have been fitted with wifi-trackers, cameras and 64 microphones that can detect aggressive behaviour and alert police officers to altercations. There has been a failed experiment to change light intensity to alter the mood. The next plan, starting this spring, is to diffuse the smell of oranges to calm people down. The aim? To make Stratumseind a safer place.

Because unleashing an air-bound psychotropic agent on an unsuspecting populace worked so well in Firefly. Dodgy
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04-03-2018, 03:12 AM
RE: Everything Else - Global News Tracker
(04-03-2018 02:57 AM)Kaneda Wrote:  
(04-03-2018 02:39 AM)Szuchow Wrote:  It’s no surprise that the place is also known for its frequent fights. To change that image, Stratumseind has become one of the “smartest” streets in the Netherlands. Lamp-posts have been fitted with wifi-trackers, cameras and 64 microphones that can detect aggressive behaviour and alert police officers to altercations. There has been a failed experiment to change light intensity to alter the mood. The next plan, starting this spring, is to diffuse the smell of oranges to calm people down. The aim? To make Stratumseind a safer place.

Because unleashing an air-bound psychotropic agent on an unsuspecting populace worked so well in Firefly. Dodgy

Don't know, I didn't watch. Supermarkets already do such (or similar, as allegedly it was scent of bread) things though if memory serves.

The first revolt is against the supreme tyranny of theology, of the phantom of God. As long as we have a master in heaven, we will be slaves on earth.

Mikhail Bakunin.
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06-03-2018, 01:48 AM
RE: Everything Else - Global News Tracker
France to raise the age of consent after men escape rape charges.

France plans to make 15 the age of sexual consent after a public outcry over two cases of sex involving 11-year-old girls, equality minister Marlène Schiappa said on Monday.

After public consultations and the recommendation of a panel of experts, “the government has decided to set the age at 15”, Schiappa told AFP.

The issue was brought to the fore after critics and lawmakers said French laws had allowed two men to escape rape charges when they were accused of sex with underage girls.

Any sexual act by an adult with a child younger than 15 can be prosecuted as a sexual offence under current French law.

But prosecutors hoping to charge an offender with rape must prove the sex was forced, a more complicated question when pre-teens are involved.

In November, a 30-year-old man was acquitted of the rape of an 11-year-old girl after the court determined she had not been subjected to “constraint, threat, violence or surprise”.

In another case involving an 11-year-old girl, a 28-year-old man had faced charges of sexual relations with a minor, rather than rape – a decision that enraged the girl’s family. [...]

Czech protesters inflamed by police role for Communist MP.

Thousands of demonstrators brought the centre of Prague to a standstill on Monday night in a display of anger over the appointment of a communist-era riot squad officer to head the Czech parliament’s police watchdog.

Chanting “communists are murderers” and “we have had enough”, protesters held sheets of paper rolled up to resemble police batons in an expression of indignation over the installation of Zdeněk Ondráček, a Czech Communist party MP, as chair of the parliament’s general inspection of security forces commission.

The choice of Ondráček to head a sensitive committee overseeing police wrongdoing was confirmed in a parliamentary vote last week despite objections that he had served in a unit that beat up pro-democracy demonstrators in the 1989 Velvet Revolution before the fall of communism in what was then Czechoslovakia. [...]

The first revolt is against the supreme tyranny of theology, of the phantom of God. As long as we have a master in heaven, we will be slaves on earth.

Mikhail Bakunin.
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06-03-2018, 12:28 PM (This post was last modified: 06-03-2018 12:40 PM by Kaneda.)
RE: Everything Else - Global News Tracker
At work. Weeping

Here’s a blurb for early Tuesday:

Oklahoma comes closer to joining West Virginia in a major teacher strike

[Image: MSTJXCAWLBB5XFV3NPTDYJTJBE.jpg]Supporters of a teacher pay raise attend a rally at the Oklahoma Capitol in Oklahoma City on Feb. 12, 2018. (Sue Ogrocki / Associated Press)

By MATT PEARCE
MAR 06, 2018 | 4:00 AM

On Feb. 28, high school track coach and government teacher Bon Bennett stepped up to the microphone at the community center in Bartlesville, Okla., as hundreds of parents, students and teachers sat rapt in attention.

An education crisis was brewing across Oklahoma, and the district's school board had called a special meeting to hear from the community. By some measures, Oklahoma's teachers are the lowest-paid in the nation, and Bennett drew the audience's attention to the massive statewide teachers strike that had just launched in West Virginia.

"Now let's just take one second and digest that. West Virginia teachers walked out — and they make more than us!" Bennett said, his voice rising, according to a video of the meeting. "West Virginia!"

Bennett wasn't alone. Behind him, the crowd whooped and applauded.
Across Oklahoma, teachers, labor organizers, parents and school boards are taking steps to follow West Virginia in launching their first major strike since 1990 to demand higher pay from the state Legislature.

On Thursday, the Oklahoma Education Assn. teachers union plans to unveil a shutdown strategy and a proposed funding measure to pressure lawmakers to boost spending for education in the state. The union said 80% of more than 10,000 respondents to an online survey backed closing schools in support of a walkout.

Association President Alicia Priest said the union was "working toward" bringing all districts on board with a possible walkout, as in West Virginia, though she said "not everyone is on board yet, and that's OK."

"The goal is not a walkout," Priest said. "The goal is for us to have funding for public education to best meet the needs of our students."

Quote:Next week, teachers in Tulsa, one of the state's biggest school districts, plan to engage in a work-to-rule protest — a labor slowdown in which workers do only the minimum amount of work required. They have the backing of top administrators, who said they plan to support a teacher walkout and school shutdowns "should they become necessary."

"We have a really hard time holding on to our wonderful folks and recruiting others," said Deborah Gist, superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools, which has 3,000 educators and 40,000 students. "We lost 22% of our teachers last year, and over the last couple of years, more than 30% in total."

The public, including business leaders and parents, "knows what a huge problem we have here in our state and are ready to do something bout it," Gist said.

In the space of just a few days, 55,000 people have joined an Oklahoma teacher's private Facebook group titled "Oklahoma Teacher Walkout - The Time Is Now!" where educators have been discussing the basics of how a walkout would work. How would a walkout affect mandatory testing? Would teachers still get paid?

"If this does, in fact, happen [fingers-crossed emoji], I'd like to work on somehow getting food to kiddos who rely on school for their meals!!" one third-grade teacher wrote. "If any of you have any ideas, connections, etc... PM [private message] me!!"

Talk of a possible walkout had been brewing for months, even before the West Virginia strike, as lawmakers struggled to pass funding measures that might raise teacher pay.

The average salary of Oklahoma teachers in 2016 was $42,760, which falls several thousand dollars below the average salaries in neighboring states such as Texas ($51,890), Arkansas ($48,218) and Kansas ($47,755), according to the most recently available data from the National Education Assn. The highest-paid teachers in the NEA rankings are in New York, earning an average of $79,152. California teachers, at No. 2, earn an average of $77,179.

The salary disparities have led Oklahoma educators to flee to higher-paying jobs in neighboring states. Oklahoma's 2016 teacher of the year, Shawn Sheehan, moved to Texas, where he and his wife — also a teacher — expect to make a combined $40,000 more a year than they made in Oklahoma.
A survey last fall of 250 teachers who left Oklahoma schools said most left because of poor pay, and they took jobs that paid them $19,000 more a year on average. Twenty-four percent still lived in the state but commuted across state lines to higher-paying jobs, said the survey's author, Theresa Cullen, an associate professor at the University of Oklahoma.

"They're just tired of fighting," Cullen said. "They've lost hope."
In their place, schools have been plugging the gaps with undertrained teachers who are given emergency teaching certificates in order to hurry them into schools.

During the 2011-2012 school year, the state of Oklahoma granted 30 emergency teaching certificates to new teachers who had not satisfied their certification requirements. This year, that number exploded to 1,917 teachers as districts struggled to retain teachers who have left for higher-paying jobs.

Dozens of Oklahoma schools, particularly near the Texas and Arkansas borders, have also cut back to four days of school a week to cut costs but also to better compete for teachers who might be interested in having three-day weekends.

Larry Cagle, 54, who teaches an Advanced Placement course at Edison Preparatory School in Tulsa, said he makes $34,500 a year to work at one of the best schools in the state — less than he could make at a nearby QuikTrip gas station.

"I am struggling to pay my bills," said Cagle, who has launched a protest group calling for a strike. "A student graduating from my class can become a QuikTrip full-time employee a year, two years later, making more than me." He compared the funding crisis to the lead-poisoning crisis in Flint, Mich. "Are we Flint? Is this the Flint version of education for Oklahoma? And when does it stop?"

Republican Gov. Mary Fallin said Monday that she was frustrated that lawmakers have not passed pay increases for teachers but stopped short of expressing support for a walkout.

"If teachers feel they have to protest, I hope they do so over spring break," Fallin said in a statement to The Times on Monday. "However, there's still time to develop a pay raise this session, and I would encourage teachers to contact their state representatives, especially those who voted against measures that included teacher pay raises, and plead their case with them because all revenue bills must start in the House of Representatives."

In Bartlesville, population 36,647, administrators discussed the possibility of needing to plan for a walkout during a school meeting in September, and talks revived after the Legislature failed to pass a funding measure in February.

Supt. Chuck McCauley emailed a survey to other superintendents around the state asking them whether their communities might support a walkout, and he found that there was interest.

"If somebody has a better idea, we're all for it," McCauley said. "The reason 'right now' is so drastic — we are hiring people that we would not have interviewed a few short years ago, and it's impacting the level of instruction for our kids."

On Wednesday, McCauley plans to meet with other superintendents around the state to get a sense of the breadth of support for possible school closures to support a walkout.

"Every district, their boards may or may not choose to participate," McCauley said. But in Bartlesville, "our board, our community, our teachers, our parents — they're definitely urging us to consider this option."
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