At least five air strikes hit military sites and an area near the presidential palace compound in the Yemeni capital Sanaa at dawn on Sunday while warships pounded an area near the port of the southern city of Aden, residents said.

The bombings were the first raids on Sanaa since a Saudi-led alliance said last week it was scaling back a campaign against Iranian-allied Houthi militias, which control Sanaa and have powerful allies in Yemen's factionalised armed forces.

"The explosions were so big they shook the house, waking us and our kids up. Life has really become unbearable in this city," a Sanaa resident who gave his name as Jamal told Reuters.

Eyewitnesses in Aden said foreign warships pounded Houthi armed positions around the city's main commercial port and dockyard, the first time the port area has been shelled, residents said.

Aden residents reported heavy clashes between local armed militia and Houthi fighters backed up by army units, and sources in the militia said they were retaliating for the first time with tank and Katyusha rocket fire against the Houthi advance.

In the southern province of Dalea, the militiamen said they had fought for hours to retake several rural districts with the help of Saudi-led air strikes, in fighting which left around 25 of the Houthi forces and six of their own men dead.

Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter and arch regional adversary of Iran, is concerned about possible security threats posed by the Houthis' advance across Yemen since last September.

It launched a month-long campaign of air raids against the group that has halted its battlefield progress but has yet to reverse their dominant position in the country or force them to return to peace talks.

Three people were found dead inside a Los Angeles-area business on Saturday in what might have been a fire bomb or Molotov cocktail attack, law enforcement said.

One victim was alive but covered in flames when firefighters arrived at the early morning blaze in the city of El Monte, east of downtown Los Angeles, said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Grace Medrano.

Firefighters were unable to get to the man, trapped behind a heavily locked gate, before he died from his injuries, she said.

Inside the building, two other bodies were found, she said. One firefighter sustained injuries to his face while trying to rescue the burning man, she said.

The sheriff's office did not release the name of the business, but the Los Angeles Times said it was a tire shop.

A witness who called 911 told authorities he saw several suspects throw a Molotov cocktail at the business before driving away, Medrano said.

Fire officials were working to determine whether the business was hit by a Molotov cocktail or fire bomb, she said.

No arrests have been made, she said.

Foreign fighters are streaming into Syria and Iraq in unprecedented numbers to join the Islamic State or other extremist groups, including at least 3,400 from Western nations among 20,000 from around the world, U.S. intelligence officials say in an updated estimate of a top terrorism concern.

Intelligence agencies now believe that as many as 150 Americans have tried and some have succeeded in reaching in the Syrian war zone, officials told the House Homeland Security Committee in testimony prepared for delivery on Wednesday. Some of those Americans were arrested en route, some died in the area and a small number are still fighting with extremists.

The testimony and other data were obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press.

Nick Rasmussen, chief of the National Counterterrorism Center, said the rate of foreign fighter travel to Syria is without precedent, far exceeding the rate of foreigners who went to wage jihad in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen or Somalia at any other point in the past 20 years.

U.S. officials fear that some of the foreign fighters will return undetected to their homes in Europe or the U.S. to mount terrorist attacks. At least one of the men responsible for the attack on a satirical magazine in Paris had spent time with Islamic extremists in Yemen.

Meanwhile, the White House circulated a proposal Tuesday that would have Congress authorize the U.S. military to fight Islamic State terrorists over the next three years. A formal request for legislation is expected on Wednesday.

Also at the White House, President Barack Obama praised Kayla Jean Mueller, the young American whose death was confirmed Tuesday. Mueller died while in Islamic State hands, though the group blamed a Jordanian airstrike, and Obama said, "No matter how long it takes, the United States will find and bring to justice the terrorists who are responsible for Kayla's captivity and death."

As for foreign fighters, officials acknowledge it has been hard to track the Americans and Europeans who have made it to Syria, where the Islamic State group is the dominant force trying to overthrow the government of President Bashar Assad. The U.S. Embassy in Syria is closed, and the CIA has no permanent presence on the ground.

"Once in Syria, it is very difficult to discern what happens there," according to Wednesday's prepared testimony of Michael Steinbach, the FBI's assistant director for counterterrorism. "This lack of clarity remains troubling."

The estimate of 20,000 fighters, from 90 countries, is up from 19,000, Rasmussen will tell the House committee, according to prepared testimony. The number of Americans or U.S. residents who have gone or tried to go is up to 150 from 50 a year ago and 100 in the fall.

Rep. Michael McCaul, the Texas Republican who chairs the committee, said in his prepared remarks that the Syrian war had created "the largest convergence of Islamist terrorists in world history." Sustained bombing by a U.S.-led coalition has not stopped the inflow, he noted.

McCaul's committee staff compiled from public sources a list of 18 U.S. citizens or residents who joined or attempted to join the Islamic State group, and 18 others who tried to or succeeded in joining other violent Islamic groups. The list includes three Chicago teens and three Denver teens who were radicalized and recruited online and were arrested after attempting to travel to Syria to join Islamic State fighters. It also includes Douglas McAuthur McCain, 33, a Californian who died in August while fighting with the Islamic State group near Aleppo.

U.S. intelligence officials do not make public their estimate of how many Americans currently are fighting in Syria and Iraq. In September, FBI director James Comey said it was "about a dozen."

Francis X. Taylor, who heads the Homeland Security Department's intelligence office, said in his prepared testimony for the hearing that "we are unaware of any specific, credible, imminent threat to the homeland."

However, he said, the department is concerned that Americans who join violent extremist groups in Syria "could gain combat skills, violent extremist connections and possibly become persuaded to conduct organized or 'lone-wolf' style attacks that target U.S. and Western interests. We also have become increasingly aware of the possibility that Syria could emerge as a base of operations for al-Qaida's international agenda, which could include attacks against the homeland."

Taylor said the U.S. is trying to instruct other governments on how best to track foreign fighters, including "how they can compare airline manifests and reservation data against terrorist watch lists and other intelligence about terrorist travel." He said the U.S. outpaces other countries in that effort.

The intelligence officials also discussed the possibility of homegrown attacks inspired by the Islamic State or al-Qaida but not directly connected to the groups. Rasmussen of the counterterrorism center appeared to downplay that threat, saying it "will remain at its current level resulting in fewer than 10 uncoordinated and unsophisticated plots annually from a pool of up to a few hundred individuals, most of whom are known to the (intelligence agencies) and law enforcement."

McCaul said he fears the Obama administration is blind to the looming dangers of homegrown radicalism of the kind that led to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

"We have no lead agency in charge of countering domestic radicalization and no line item for it in the budgets of key departments and agencies," he said. "I am also concerned that the few programs we do have in place are far too small to confront a challenge that has grown so quickly."

A team of researchers think they have pinpointed how the Ebola epidemic in West Africa started - with a small boy playing in a hollowed-out tree where infected bats lived.

The researchers explored an area in southeastern Guinea where 2-year-old Emile Ouamouno fell ill a year ago and died. Health officials believe he was the first case in the epidemic, which wasn't recognized until spring.

The Ebola virus wasn't found in the bats they tested, the scientists reported in a study published Tuesday. But they came away believing that the boy got it from the bats that had lived in the hollow tree.

The Ebola epidemic is the worst in world history, blamed for killing nearly 8,000 people across West Africa this year.

The epidemic's exact origin has never been determined, but the virus is thought to spread to people from some sort of animal. Many experts have suspected some species of fruit bat, though some wonder if West Africa's epidemic started through another animal - like a chimpanzee or small antelope - that was perhaps infected by bats and then eaten by people.

The researchers saw no signs that Ebola had affected larger animals around the boy's small village of Meliandou. They also found no evidence of the virus in tests of 169 bats, including fruit bats.

Then they learned that a large colony of small, smelly bats with long tails lived in a hollow tree near the boy's home. Villagers told the researchers that the tree caught fire in March, causing a "rain of bats" to emerge from the tree.

The study, led by researchers at the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin, was published Tuesday in EMBO Molecular Medicine. They said more research should be done on the bats as possible Ebola carriers.

Also on Tuesday, Liberia's government announced it will allow families to bury Ebola victims in a special plot of land instead of requiring that the bodies be cremated so as not to spread the virus.

Ciatta Bishop, head of Liberia's national Ebola burial team, said the government has secured 25 acres where Ebola victims can now be buried. More than 2,000 suspected Ebola victims have been cremated since the cremation decree was ordered at the height of the crisis in Liberia several months ago.

The corpses of Ebola victims are highly contagious, and many of those who washed or touched bodies before the burials contracted the disease.

The cremation decree is highly unpopular in Liberia, where funeral traditions are carefully followed and are considered a sacred obligation to the deceased. Many families have tried to secretly bury their relatives' bodies to avoid them being taken away by burial teams to face cremation.

Most of the Ebola deaths have been in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone

Fighting high winds and stormy seas, helicopter rescue crews on Monday evacuated hundreds of people trapped aboard a Greek ferry that caught fire off Albania. The death toll climbed to 10 as survivors told of a frantic rush to escape, caught among flames, pelting rain and passengers who fought others for rescue.

The evacuation of the overnight ferry from Greece to Italy was completed in the early afternoon with the rescue of 427 people, including 56 crew members, said Italy's transport minister, Maurizio Lupi.

The original ferry manifest listed 422 passengers and 56 crew members, but Italian navy Adm. Giovanni Pettorino said 80 of those rescued did not appear on it at all.

That backed up something that officials as high as Italian Premier Matteo Renzi have hinted throughout the day: That the ferry may have been carrying a number of illegal migrants trying to reach Italy.

Italian authorities said two boats were remaining in the Adriatic Sea to continue the search for people who may still be missing, while a priority was placed on comparing the list of those rescued and deceased with the passenger list to determine how many people, if any, may still be unaccounted for.

`'We cannot say how many people may be missing," Lupi said.

Adm. Giuseppe De Giorgi, an Italian naval commander, said it was possible others had fallen in the water when lifeboats were initially deployed.

The problem wasn't just that the ferry carried people not officially declared. It remained unclear how many people on the original manifest never actually boarded the ill-fated ferry, which caught flames early Sunday en route from the Greek port of Patras to the Italian port of Ancona.

Of the 10 dead, one Greek man died Sunday trying to get into a lifeboat, with his wife, who survived; and four bodies were recovered from the sea on Monday. The circumstances and identities of the other three were unknown.

The fire broke out before dawn Sunday on a car deck of the Italian-flagged Norman Atlantic. All day and night, passengers huddled on the vessel's upper decks, pelted by rain and hail and struggling to breathe through the thick smoke.

Exhausted and cold from their ordeal, the largest group of 49 passengers reached land Monday in the southern Italian port of Bari, more than 24 hours after the fire began.

Evacuees, many wrapped in blankets, made their way gingerly down the exterior stairs with assistance, some thrusting their hands in a victory sign as they waited their turn. Among them were four children. The evacuees then boarded bright red fire department buses. Officials have said hotels have been booked for them around town.

Later Monday, one of the rescue ships arrived at the Greek port of Igoumenitsa, carrying some 69 rescued ferry passengers among the roughly 500 people on board, while seven people had been airlifted from the ferry to Corfu.

But many rescued passengers remained on boats still searching off the Albanian coast. Authorities said they eventually would be taken by helicopter to land to allow the search to continue, without specifying where.

The Greek and Italian premiers separately expressed their condolences to the victims and gratitude to the rescue workers for persisting throughout the night in worsening weather conditions, against winds over 40 knots (75 kph; 46 mph).

"Notwithstanding the weather and the darkness, which is another factor, we persisted throughout the entire night," Pettorino told Sky TG24.

Los Angeles has long served as a proving ground where the counterinsurgency tactics later adopted by police throughout the United States were first domestically deployed. Ever since the nation’s very first no-knock SWAT raid on the Black Panther Party headquarters at 41st & Central and the CIA-facilitated, “crack cocaine explosion” that was first unleashed on South Central to more recent, repressive innovations like so-called“Community Policing” and today’s “Predpol,” the City of Angels has repeatedly been lauded as a “model” for “modern” policing. But what is the Los Angeles model, really? And why is it being exalted again now?

In August, when people in Ferguson, Missouri bravely erupted in open revolt against the police after Darren Wilson murdered Mike Brown – their spirited resistance inspired and reenergized a movement nationwide. The collective rejection of establishment collaborators like Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpton and even newcomers like Antonio Frenchalso signaled a renewed challenge to the “negotiated management” of black rage. Andpower trembled.

Seemingly overlooked, however, Ferguson also exposed Police Chief Tom Jackson’s not-quite-ready-for-primetime media inexperience. When Jackson first got before cameras, hestuttered and stumbled. Pressured to face his critics (after several masterful, hug-filled photo ops by “star” Captain Ron Johnson), Jackson and his henchmen mucked their own PR stunt up and turned a peaceful march into a melee. Even after a canned, too-little-too-late apology to the Brown family, Jackson proved unable to recuperate his own public perception or that of his department.

That’s where the “LA model” comes in. As the media tells it, the LAPD have built an exemplary “bank of trust” with the community. But what community is that? Not us. The“private sector,” like real estate billionaires. The media. Self-selected “Civil Rights leaders” like Connie Rice, Earl Hutchinson and Najee Ali – that’s who. And that’s the core of “the LAPD model;” what I call “copaganda.” Highly managed dissent, maintained through the threat and actualization of the same old violence, but now reimagined for the public through relentless propaganda and the very deliberate tokenization of a very select fewpolice collaborators. In short: the careful management of public perception.

In modern policing, preserving a positive public perception, what Feruson’s police couldn’t maintain, is paramount because – no matter what power says to the contrary – professional policing in the US is foundationally racist. As is true with capitalism itself, the bedrock our police were built upon is the ultraviolent management, hyperviolent exploitation and forced warehousing of black bodies and the protection of (white) private property. This has been the case since chattel slavery, where black bodies were the property itself, through the “ethnoracial exclusion” of the 20th Century ghetto system – and it continues today with what Glen Ford calls “Mass Black Incarceration” and Michelle Alexander calls “The New Jim Crow.”

You can’t reform that. And you certainly can’t alter the way it is enforced by police without even acknowledging it. Not with some technological pseudo-panacea like bodycameras. Not with empty slogans like “community policing.” And definitely not with mere “diversity.”

The truth that Los Angeles and other diverse police forces reveal is that non-white cops enforce the same order, the same racist laws, that white cops do. Diversity in policing, then, is clearly no real inhibitor to police violence; the system is violence. As Annalee Newitz once observed, “the police uniform, the badge, are like white skin, and the person who wears that skin is allowed to enforce laws which he doesn’t himself intend to follow.” After the Marikana Massacre in South Africa in 2012, Margaret Kimberley further explained, “White supremacy doesn’t necessarily need white people in order to function. It only needs people who understand clearly where whites stand vis a vis other groups. The black police who ordered the shootings and who carried them out were as much white supremacists as the white police who killed in the days of minority rule.”

White supremacy is the cudgel of capitalism and is the driving force of modern policing; thesine qua non, not some unintended and easily-tweakable consequence. What Loïc Wacquant called the “anti-black animus” that motivates modern policing is, indeed, fundamentally inseparable from it. Therefore, maintaining the current, racist order – and the inextricable role our police play in maintaining it – necessitates a constant obfuscation of that very fact. Or, in other words, it requires successful public relations. And that’sexactly where the LAPD excel.

President Putin’s visit to Argentina in July laid the groundwork for exchanging Russian military hardware for wheat, beef and other goods Moscow needs due to EU food embargoes.

The deal involves a lease/lend of 12 Sukhoi Su-24 supersonic, all-weather attack aircraft.

They are ageing but Nato still regards what it codenames “Fencers” as “super-fighters”, with their 2,000-mile range and laser-guided missiles.

Russia has been increasing its links with Argentina since 2010, when it provided two Mi17 assault helicopters which are in service with the 7th Air Force Brigade.

Buenos Aires needs to replace its decrepit fighter fleet but its attempts over the past two years have failed so far.

In October, defence minister Agustin Rossi announced the purchase of 24 Saab Gripen fighters, which were to be provided by Brazil, which has just purchased 36, but Whitehall squashed the deal as some of the jet’s parts are made in the UK Tensions over the islands resurfaced after exploratory seabed drilling revealed the promise of an oil bonanza.

An arrest warrant affidavit alleges Kattner sexually assaulted a woman three times, but it does not state whether she is a prostitute.

About 1:20 a.m., Kattner called the woman and told her to follow him to the 9700 block of Webb Chapel Road, the affidavit states.

It states that Kattner was wearing his Dallas Police Department uniform and driving a marked police car at the time of the attack.

He had her perform a sex act while one of his hands was on his duty weapon, the affidavit states.

Detectives in the area saw Kattner and the woman. They stopped the woman as she was leaving and interviewed her. She told the detectives Kattner had assaulted her twice before after showing her her outstanding warrants and telling her he knew where her daughter lives.

She said she believed Kattner’s statements were threats to her and her daughter’s safety if she didn’t comply with his demands, the affidavit states.

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The region of Cappadocia in central Turkey is home to one of the most spectacular landscapes in the world – deep valleys and soaring rock formations dotted with homes, chapels, tombs, temples and entire subterranean cities harmoniously carved into the natural landforms. Cities, empires and religions have risen and fallen around these unique underground havens, and yet it seems they still hold a few more secrets. Archaeologists in Turkey have uncovered another massive underground city in Cappadocia, consisting of at least 7 kilometers (3.5 miles) of tunnels, hidden churches, and escape galleries dating back around 5,000 years.

Calling it the “biggest archeological finding of 2014”, Hurriyet Daily News announced that the ancient city was found beneath Nevşehir fortress and the surrounding area, during an urban transformation project carried out by Turkey’s Housing Development Administration (TOKİ). 

“Some 1,500 buildings were destructed located in and around the Nevşehir fortress, and the underground city was discovered when the earthmoving to construct new buildings had started,” writes Hurriyet Daily News.

Nevşehir province in Cappadocia, Turkey

Nevşehir province in Cappadocia, Turkey (Wikimedia Commons)

Nevşehir province is already famous for its incredible subterranean city at Derinkuyu (pictured in featured image), which was once home to as many as 20,000 residents living together underground. It is eleven levels deep and has 600 entrances and many miles of tunnels connecting it to other underground cities.  It incorporates areas for sleeping, stables for livestock, wells, water tanks, pits for cooking, ventilation shafts, communal rooms, bathrooms, and tombs.

A reconstruction of what the Derinkuyu underground city is believed to have looked like

A reconstruction of what the Derinkuyu underground city is believed to have looked like (Wikipedia)

It is hard to imagine anything surpassing the Derinkuyu underground city in both size and scope, but archaeologists are saying they have reason to believe the newly discovered subterranean city will be the largest out of all the other underground cities in Nevşehir and may even be the largest underground city in the world.

Details regarding the dating of the site and how this was carried out, have not yet been released by those involved. However, researchers have reported retrieving more than forty artifacts from the tunnels so far, so archaeologists may have reached the estimated date of 5,000 years based on those. Numerous other known underground sites in Cappadocia have also been dated to this era.

Despite pouring 90 million Turkish Liras into the urban transformation project so far, the TOKİ has said it will move now move their project to the outskirts of the city so that the newly found city, which is now officially registered with the Cultural and National Heritage Preservation Board, can be investigated and preserved. TOKİ Head Mehmet Ergün Turan told Hurriyet Daily News that they do not view this as a loss considering the importance of the discovery.

“Hasan Ünver, mayor of Nevşehir, said other underground cities in Nevşehir’s various districts do not even amount to the “kitchen” of this new underground city,” reports Hurriyet Daily News.

Through the ages, the Hittites, Persians, Alexander the Great, Rome, The Byzantine Empire, Ottoman Empire, and Turkey have all governed the spectacular region of Cappadocia in Central Anatolia. One hundred square miles with more than 200 underground villages and tunnel towns complete with hidden passages, secret rooms and ancient temples and a remarkably storied history of each new civilization building on the work of the last, make Cappadocia one of the world's most striking and largest cave-dwelling regions of the world. Now a discovery has been made that may overshadow them all.

The incredible cave houses of Cappadocia, Turkey

The incredible cave houses of Cappadocia, Turkey. Source: BigStockPhoto

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is far ahead of other potential Republican candidates for the 2016 presidential nomination, a new CNN/ORC poll  shows, with nearly a quarter of Republicans surveyed picking him after his announcement that he is "actively exploring" a campaign.

Twenty-three percent of the 453 potential GOP voters surveyed between Dec. 18-21, including 244 who identified themselves as Republican and 209 as Independents who lean Republican, said they would pick Bush, reports CNN. 

That puts him at 10 points ahead of his nearest potential competitor, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who netted 13 percent of the GOP voters.

Dr. Ben Carson placed third, with 7 percent of the voters, and Sen. Rand Paul and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee tied for fourth place with six percent.

The margin of error with both the Republican and Democratic sides of the poll was plus or minus 4.5 points, leaving Bush still several points ahead of Christie. 

The numbers show that support has dropped for all potential candidates except for Bush and Christie since the last CNN/ORC survey in November. That poll put Bush ahead with 14 percent, followed by Carson with 11 percent and Christie and Rep. Paul Ryan in fourth with 9 percent.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the GOP's 2012 nominee, was not included among the choices in the new CNN poll. Romney, though, came out ahead of Bush in a Zogby Analytics poll this past week.

On the Democratic side of the poll, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton remains the clear frontrunner for the Democratic nomination. Two-thirds of the 469 potential Democratic voters polled, including 299 who identified as Democrat and 170 as Independents leaning Democrat, picked Clinton.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren trailed Clinton to place second with only 9 percent of the voters, and Vice President Joe Biden placed in third with 8 percent. 

The poll also showed that some comments Bush has made that proved controversial in conservative circles don't matter as much as feared to voters. The Republicans polled were evenly divided on whether Bush's stance on allowing illegal immigrants to stay in the United States would affect their votes.

GOP primary voters are about evenly split on whether his support for allowing some illegal immigrants to stay in the United States makes them more or less likely to support him,  has no difference on their opinion of him. They were also split on whether Bush's support of Common Core educational standards would affect their vote.

The poll also found that GOP voters are more concerned about having a nominee that can win the race, with 69 percent saying they want someone who will beat the Democratic candidate, while 29 percent of the voters were more purists and want somebody who reflects their conservative values.

The poll also matched up potential GOP candidates against Clinton, and Bush came out best, trailing the Democratic powerhouse by 13 points overall among the 1,011 adults surveyed. The overall sample carried a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

(Click "Show Transcript" below to read her remarks in full.)

At 9 years old, she saw her friend's mother punished for a crime that in most countries is just a normal, everyday activity.

This is just one reason North Koreans live in fear for their lives.

Yeonmi's own mother was forced to make a horrible compromise to protect her daughter.

*Trigger warning: Discussion of rape.*

And often, escaping into China isn't even the safe haven it should be.

As Yeonmi points out, there are about 300,000 North Korean refugees in China who are vulnerable. 70% of North Korean women and teenage girls who have escaped into China are being victimized and trafficked, sometimes sold for as little as $200.

(FACT CHECK: These numbers seem to correlate roughly with this report by Human Rights Watch)

So what can people do to help put an end to this 7-decade-long human rights violation?

Here are Yeonmi's requests:

  1. "Educate yourself so that you can raise awareness about [the] human crisis in North Korea."
  2. "Help and support North Korean refugees who are trying to escape to freedom.
  3. "Petition on China's repatriation [of North Korean citizens]. ... We need governments all around the world to put pressure on China to stop repatriation."

Just by watching this video, you're already doing #1.

Passengers aboard a car ferry that caught fire off the coast of Greece early on Sunday pleaded for help as rescue vessels struggled to approach the burning vessel in high winds and rough seas.

The Norman Atlantic, carrying almost 500 passengers and crew and more than 200 vehicles, was 44 nautical miles northwest of the island of Corfu when it sent a distress signal after a fire started in the lower deck, Greek coast guard officials said.

It was unclear whether there had been casualties or if any passengers were in the water, though one man on board said strong winds were stopping rescuers from getting close.

"We are burning and sinking, no one can save us," Nikos Papatheodosiou told Greek TV by telephone. "Please help us! Don't leave us," he said before hanging up.

Cold winter temperatures would make survival in the sea difficult unless rescue came quickly.

Passengers said they were waiting on the upper deck of the ship as Shipping Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis said the combination of very bad weather, with winds of up to 55 miles (88 kilometres) per hour and the fire, made the operation extremely complicated.

"We are doing everything we can to save those on board and no one, no one will be left helpless in this tough situation," he told reporters. "It is one of the most complicated rescue operations that we have ever done."

He did not confirm earlier reports that as many as 130 people had been rescued, saying only that 35 people had been able to board a nearby container ship, the Spirit of Piraeus, from a rescue boat carrying 150.


Conditions made it difficult for the boat to re-approach the cargo ship.

Varvitsiotis said there were 478 passengers and crew aboard the ship, more than the 466 originally reported. Of those, 268 were Greek. There were no immediate details of the nationality of other passengers.

While rescue vessels and aircraft had been dispatched to the scene, early rescue work was being coordinated from nearby passenger and cargo ships. A fire-fighting vessel was trying to approach the ferry.

The fire broke out in the lower deck garage of the vessel but there were differing reports of when it started. Initial reports said the fire began at around 6.00 a.m. local time (11.00 p.m. EST/0400 GMT) but Italian officials put the time at 4.30 a.m.

Officials said both Italian and Albanian authorities were taking part in the operation, which was being conducted in extremely difficult conditions with strong winds, heavy seas and very cold temperatures.

Rescue helicopters and a C-130 search-and-rescue support aircraft had also been sent

 Iran's army said Saturday it has deployed a suicide drone for the first time in massive ongoing military drills near the strategic Strait of Hormuz at the entrance to the Persian Gulf.

Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan, the army's chief commander of ground forces, described the unmanned aircraft as a "mobile bomb," according to state media, which said the aerial device is designed to strike air, ground and naval targets.

He did not provide the name of the drone. The conservative Kayhan daily referred to it as the Yasir, while an online news website called it the Raad. Officials could not be reached for comment.

The Yasir drone, first unveiled last year, can fly for up to 10 hours and carry out 360-degree imaging, officials said at the time. Western military analysts say the Yasir is a modified version of the American ScanEagle drone. Iran said in December 2012 that it had seized at least three Boeing-designed ScanEagle drones after they allegedly violated its airspace over the Persian Gulf.

Iran is believed to have produced its own remotely piloted suicide drone, the Raad-85, which is designed to crash into targets and set off its warhead.

The six-day military exercise is being carried out over 527,000 square kilometers (850,000 square miles) near the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow waterway through which one-fifth of the world's oil supply passes.

Iran frequently touts advances in its homegrown aerospace industries. It says its most advanced drone, the Shahed-129, can reach much of the Middle East, including Israel. The drone is said to have a range of 1,700 kilometers (1,050 miles) and a 24-hour flight capability, and can carry eight bombs or missiles capable of hitting both stationary and moving targets.

America’s $400 billion, top-of-the-line aircraft can’t see the battlefield all that well. Which means it’s actually worse than its predecessors at fighting today’s wars.
When the Pentagon’s nearly $400 billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter finally enters service next year after nearly two decades in development, it won’t be able to support troops on the ground the way older planes can today. Its sensors won’t be able to see the battlefield as well; and what video the F-35 does capture, it won’t be able to transmit to infantrymen in real time.

Versions of the new single-engine stealth fighter are set to replace almost every type of fighter in the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps inventory—including aircraft specifically designed to support ground troops like the A-10 Warthog. That will leave troops in a lurch when the F-35 eventually becomes the only game in town.

“The F-35 will, in my opinion, be 10 years behind legacy fighters when it achieves ,” said one Air Force official affiliated with the F-35 program. “When the F-35 achieves , it will not have the weapons or sensor capability, with respect to the CAS mission set, that legacy multi-role fighters had by the mid-2000s.”

The problem stems from the fact that the technology found on one of the stealth fighter’s primary air-to-ground sensors—its nose-mounted Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS)—is more than a decade old and hopelessly obsolete. The EOTS, which is similar in concept to a large high-resolution infrared and television camera, is used to visually identify and monitor ground targets. The system can also mark targets for laser-guided bombs.

“EOTS is a big step backwards. The technology is 10-plus years old, hasn’t been able to take advantage of all the pod upgrades in the meantime, and there were some performance tradeoffs to accommodate space and stealth,” said another Air Force official familiar with the F-35 program. “I think it’s one area where the guys are going to be disappointed in the avionics.”

Ironically, older jets currently in service with the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps can carry the latest generation of sensor pods, which are far more advanced than the EOTS sensor carried by the F-35. The latest generation pods—the Lockheed Martin Sniper ATP-SE and Northrop Grumman LITENING-SE—display far clearer high-definition video imagery in both in the infrared and optical spectrum—and from greater distances. Further, both pods have the ability to beam those full-motion video feeds to ground troops, which provides those forces with vital intelligence information.

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An AirAsia flight with 162 people aboard lost contact Sunday morning with air traffic control after encountering storms shortly after takeoff from Indonesia.

The Airbus A320-200 plane had 155 passengers and seven crew members aboard when it lost communication with Jakarta's air traffic control at 7:24 a.m. It is suspected to have gone down near Belitung Island.

A flight manifest cited by News Detik claims there were 138 adults, 16 children and one infant among the passengers expected to land Singapore about an hour after the flight disappeared from radar screens.

There were 156 Indonesians, three South Koreans and one each from France, Malaysia and Singapore among the passengers, the airline confirmed in a statement.

The crew was composed of two pilots, four flight attendants and one engineer.

Flight QZ8501 was lost about 42 minutes after takeoff from Indonesia's Surabaya airport, Hadi Mustofa, an official of the transportation ministry told Indonesia's MetroTV.

Flight tracking website FlightRadar24 shows the plane went down in the Java Sea near the Java Islands.

Weather observations from the time show rough seas amid stormy weather in the region. The pilot asked for a "route deviation" because of the storms, according to the airline.

One week before the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan draws to a close, President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, thanked American troops on Thursday during a Christmas Day visit to Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kanoehe Bay.

One man in the crowd yelled "Huah!", a traditional cheer of the U.S. military, and the audience applauded as Obama spoke of the United States officially ending its fighting role in Afghanistan after 13 years of conflict.

"Because of the extraordinary service of the men and women in the American armed forces, Afghanistan has a chance to rebuild its own country," Obama said.

The Taliban were ousted by U.S.-backed Afghan forces in 2001, following the Sept. 11 attacks on America by Islamist militants using hijacked airliners, and the United States has kept a military presence there ever since.

With the end of the NATO-led combat mission in Afghanistan, the Obama administration said earlier this month it would leave a residual U.S. force of about 10,800 troops behind for at least the first few months of 2015 to help provide support to Afghan security forces.

This year has been the deadliest in the war, with more than 4,000 Afghan soldiers and police killed during the past 12 months. The conflict has claimed the lives of more than 2,000 U.S. military personnel.

Obama told a crowd of 420 people, including troops and their families, gathered in the U.S. Marine base's Anderson Hall dining facility that Afghanistan is "not going to be a source of terrorist attacks again."

Obama said the United States still has "some very difficult missions around the world," mentioning Iraq, where U.S.-led coalition forces are countering the Islamic State. In Africa, U.S. troops are helping to battle an Ebola epidemic that has killed at least 7,500 people.


One scientist may have been exposed to the Ebola virus and as many as a dozen others are being assessed for potential exposure at a lab of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, agency officials said Wednesday.
The potential exposure took place Monday when scientists conducting research on the virus at a high-security lab mistakenly put a sample containing the potentially infectious virus in a place where it was transferred for processing to another CDC lab, also in Atlanta on the CDC campus.


A lab technician who processed the material in the second lab may have been exposed and perhaps a dozen others who entered the lab are being contacted to be assessed, officials said. The technician has no symptoms of illness and is being monitored for 21 days. Agency spokeswoman Barbara Reynolds said others who entered the lab have been contacted and will be assessed for possible exposure by CDC clinicians. She said the number of exposures could be much less than a dozen.


Agency officials said there was no possible exposure outside the secure laboratory at CDC and no exposure or risk to the public. The mistake took place Monday afternoon and was discovered by laboratory scientists Tuesday and reported to leadership within an hour of the discovery.


The event is under internal investigation by the CDC, and it was reported to Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell and to the program that has oversight over “select agents” such as Ebola and anthrax.

This is the largest outbreak of the Ebola virus in history.

The accident comes after a series of incidents earlier this summer involving themishandling of dangerous pathogens at the nation’s labs, including one in June at a CDC lab that potentially exposed dozens of employees to live anthrax because employees failed to properly inactivate the anthrax when transferring samples.


“I am troubled by this incident in our Ebola research laboratory in Atlanta,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden in a statement. “We are monitoring the health of one technician who could possibly have been exposed and I have directed that there be a full review of every aspect of the incident and that CDC take all necessary measures. Thousands of laboratory scientists in more than 150 labs throughout CDC have taken extraordinary steps in recent months to improve safety. No risk to staff is acceptable, and our efforts to improve lab safety are essential — the safety of our employees is our highest priority.”


The lab where Monday’s potential exposure occurred was decontaminated and the material destroyed as a routine procedure before the error was identified. The laboratory was decontaminated for a second time and is now closed, and transfers from the high-security lab have stopped while the review is taking place.


The high-security lab where the mistakes were made also performs diagnostic tests for Ebola, and has conducted hundreds of those tests since July. Stuart Nichol, a top CDC official, said diagnostic testing for Ebola will be moved to a different lab.

-- Violent protests broke out in suburban St. Louis after another black 18-year-old was fatally shot by a white police officer.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said the officer was questioning the 18-year-old and another man about a theft late Tuesday at a convenience store in Berkeley when the young man pulled a 9mm handgun on him. The officer stumbled backward but fired three shots, one of which struck the victim, Belmar said.

Berkeley is just a few miles from Ferguson, Missouri, where a white police officer fatally shot Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, on Aug. 9. Brown's death sparked weeks of sometimes violent demonstrations and a grand jury's decision to not charge Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting has spurred a nationwide movement to protest police brutality.

Belmar declined to name the 18-year-old killed in Berkeley, but a woman at the scene told reporters she was his mother and identified him as Antonio Martin. Belmar said he was 18 years old and black.

The 34-year-old white police officer, a six-year veteran of the Berkeley Police Department, is on administrative leave pending an investigation, Belmar said.

"He will carry the weight of this for the rest of his life, certainly for the rest of his career," Belmar said. "So there are no winners here."

Police released surveillance video from the parking lot outside the store. The nearly two-minute clip shows two young men leaving the store at about the time a police car rolls up. The officer gets out and speaks with them. About a minute-and-a-half later, the video appears to show one of the men raising his arm, though what he is holding is difficult to see because they were several feet from the camera. Belmar said it was a 9mm handgun.

The other man ran away, and police are searching for him.

It was the third fatal shooting of a black suspect by a white police officer in the St. Louis area since Brown was killed. Kajaime Powell, 25, was killed Aug. 9 after approaching St. Louis officers with a knife. Vonderrit Myers Jr., 18, was fatally shot Oct. 8 after allegedly shooting at a St. Louis officer.

Each shooting has been met by protests, and a crowd quickly gathered late Tuesday and early Wednesday in Berkeley. The demonstration involving up to 300 people turned violent.

More than 50 police officers, some in riot gear, responded. Video showed some wrestling with protesters. Belmar said officers used pepper spray but not tear gas. Four people were arrested on charges of assaulting officers.

Belmar said three explosive devices, possibly fireworks, were tossed near gas pumps. Some protesters threw rocks and bricks. One officer was hit by a brick and treated for facial cuts. Another was treated for a leg injury sustained as he tried to get away from one of the explosives.

The protest spilled to a neighboring convenience store where a man in a hoodie set a fire inside the store. The fire was quickly put out, but the glass door was shattered.

Orlando Brown, 36, of nearby St. Charles was among the protesters.

"I understand police officers have a job and have an obligation to go home to their families at the end of the night," he said. "But do you have to treat every situation with lethal force? ... It's not a racial issue, or black or white. It's wrong or right."

Brown said he was pepper-sprayed during the protest and that his friend was arrested for failing to disperse.

Toni Martin, Antonio Martin's mother, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that her son was with his girlfriend at the time of the shooting. The video did not appear to show a female with the two young men.

 Islamic State group militants captured a Jordanian pilot after his warplane crashed while conducting airstrikes over Syria, the Jordanian military said Wednesday. It was the first instance of a foreign soldier falling into the group's hands since the U.S.-led coalition began its air campaign against the extremists.

The cause of the crash was not immediately clear. Activists monitoring the conflict said Islamic State group fighters shot down the warplane near the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, the group's de facto capital.

The Raqqa Media Center published a photograph said to be of the pilot - in a white shirt, naked from the waist down and sopping wet - being pulled by gunmen out of what appeared to be a lake. Another picture shows him surrounded by more than a dozen fighters, some of them masked. The center said IS fighters are scouring the area in case there is a second pilot.

The United States and several Arab allies have been striking the Islamic State group in Syria since Sept. 23, and U.S. and other international warplanes have been waging an air campaign against the extremists in Iraq for even longer. The campaign aims to push back the jihadi organization after it took over much of Iraq and Syria and declared a "caliphate."

Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates are participating in the Syria strikes, with Qatari logistical support.

The pilot's capture raises a nightmare scenario for Jordan, which has been sharply criticized by militant sympathizers for its participation. IS in the past has beheaded dozens of Syrian soldiers it captured in operations around the country. The group has also beheaded three Americans and two Britons.

Jordan's military said in a statement that as its air force was carrying out a military mission against the Islamic State group Wednesday morning, "one of our warplanes crashed," it said. "The pilot was taken hostage by the Daesh terrorist organization," it added, using the Arabic acronym for the isalmic State group.

It said IS and "those who support it" will be responsible for the safety of the pilot. It did not give the cause of the crash or identify the type of aircraft.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it had confirmation from activists on the ground that the aircraft was shot down, either by a Russian-made anti-aircraft missile or by heavy machinegun fire.

The Raqqa Media Center, an agency of activists that operates openly in IS-ruled areas with permission of the group, said the plane was downed near the village of Hamra Ghannam outside Raqqa. It posted photos of militants posing with shards of wreckage. It also posted a phot of the pilot's military identification card, identifying him as Mu'ath Safi Yousef al-Kaseasbeh.

In Jordan, the pilot's cousin Marwan al-Kaseasbeh confirmed by telephone with The Associated Press that the photos are of his cousin.

Although President Barack Obama and his administration continue to aggressively push to closedown the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention center for terrorist prisoners, they might wish to review their own files on released detainees and where they are today. For example, according to the government watchdog Judicial Watch on Monday, an al-Qaida terrorist who was released from the military prison at Guantanamo, Cuba, is now wanted by the United States government for his jihadist activity and he's on a global terrorist list that offers $5 million for information about his location.

Ibrahim al-Rubaysh was released from Gitmo and has moved up the ranks of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.
Courtesy of Rewards for Justice

The fact that his own State Departmentreleased a memorandum about the former Gitmo detainee did not deter President Obama as he continues to release terrorists, the latest being four prisoners sent back to Afghanistan who were some of the first captured on the battlefield by U.S. forces. Obama's ultimate goal is closing Gitmo so that he can tell his supporters that he kept his 2008 campaign promise.

The release of hundreds of Gitmo jihadists started with President George W. Bush after he'd been lambasted by the Democrats and their news media chorus. Few have forgotten how Democrat Sen. Dick Durbin called the Guantanamo detention center a gulag and called the U.S. Marine Corps guards Nazis. While Vice President Dick Cheney, who said he didn't care what the leftists thought of him, argued against releasing detainees, Bush acquiesced to the liberal-left and began to release the prisoners. Unfortunately, the CIA and FBI believe that as many as 30 percent of the released prisoners returned to the ranks of Islamic terrorist groups including al-Qaida and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

According to documents obtained by Judicial Watch, U.S. government officials are secretly conceding that the U.S. made a major mistake when a Saudi national namedIbrahim al-Rubaysh was released in 2006 and he was transferred to a Saudi Arabian “rehabilitation” program. Unfortunately, because of obviously poor intelligence, that facility wasn't a reform school for jihadists, but a training center for future terrorists.

A State Department memorandum describes al-Rubaysh currently being "a senior advisor for [al-Qaida on the Arabian Peninsula or AQAP] operational planning and is involved in the planning of attacks. He has served as a senior AQAP sharia official since 2013, and as a senior AQAP sharia official, al-Rubaysh provides the justification for attacks conducted by AQAP. In addition, he has made public statements, including one in August 2014 where he called on Muslims to wage war against the United States.”

The U.S. government is offering a $5 million reward for information that could lead to the capture of a terrorist who had already been captured and taken off the global battlefield. In fact, the bounty on his head is part of a $45 million jackpot being offered by the Obama State Department’s Rewards for Justice Program involving eight key AQAP leaders, among them al-Rubaysh.

"The bottom line remains: The U.S. had him and let him go. Now it’s offering a chunk of change for his capture. Uncle Sam has paid out over $125 million to more than 80 people who provided actionable information that put terrorists behind bars or prevented acts of international terrorism worldwide. The reward program appears to be the government’s best hope of capturing this terrorist it once held." Judicial Watch officials noted.

I am deeply skeptical of the FBI’s announcement on Friday that North Korea was behind last month’s Sony hack. The agency’s evidence is tenuous, and I have a hard time believing it. But I also have trouble believing that the U.S. government would make the accusation this formally if officials didn’t believe it.

Clues in the hackers’ attack code seem to point in all directions at once. The FBIpoints to reused code from previous attacks associated with North Korea, as well as similarities in the networks used to launch the attacks. Korean language in the code also suggests a Korean origin, though not necessarily a North Korean one since North Koreans use a unique dialect. However you read it, this sort of evidence is circumstantial at best. It’s easy to fake, and it’s even easier to interpret it wrong. In general, it’s a situation that rapidly devolves into storytelling, where analysts pick bits and pieces of the “evidence” to suit the narrative they already have worked out in their heads.

In reality, there are several possibilities to consider:

  • This is the work of independent North Korean nationals. Many politically motivated hacking incidents in the past have not been government-controlled. There’s nothing special or sophisticated about this hack that would indicate a government operation. In fact, reusing old attack code is a sign of a more conventional hacker being behind this.
  • This is the work of hackers who had no idea that there was a North Korean connection to Sony until they read about it in the media. Sony, after all, is a company that hackers have loved to hate for a decade. The most compelling evidence for this scenario is that the explicit North Korean connection—threats about the movie The Interview—were only made by the hackers after the media picked up on the possible links between the film release and the cyberattack. There is still the very real possibility that the hackers are in it just for the lulz, and that this international geopolitical angle simply makes the whole thing funnier.
  • It could have been an insider—Sony’s Snowden—who orchestrated the breach. I doubt this theory, because an insider wouldn’t need all the hacker tools that were used. I’ve also seen speculation that the culprit was adisgruntled ex-employee. It’s possible, but that employee or ex-employee would have also had to possess the requisite hacking skills, which seems unlikely.
  • The initial attack was not a North Korean government operation, but was co-opted by the government. There’s no reason to believe that the hackers who initially stole the information from Sony are the same ones who threatened the company over the movie. Maybe there are several attackers working independently. Maybe the independent North Korean hackers turned their work over to the government when the job got too big to handle. Maybe the North Koreans hacked the hackers.

I’m sure there are other possibilities that I haven’t thought of, and it wouldn’t surprise me if what’s really going on isn’t even on my list. North Korea’s offer tohelp with the investigation doesn’t clear matters up at all.

Tellingly, the FBI’s press release says that the bureau’s conclusion is only based “in part” on these clues. This leaves open the possibility that the government has classified evidence that North Korea is behind the attack. The NSA has been trying to eavesdrop on North Korea’s government communications since the Korean War, and it’s reasonable to assume that its analysts are in pretty deep. The agency might have intelligence on the planning process for the hack. It might, say, have phone calls discussing the project, weekly PowerPoint status reports, or even Kim Jong Un’s sign-off on the plan.

On the other hand, maybe not. I could have written the same thing about Iraq’s weapons-of-mass-destruction program in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of that country, and we all know how wrong the government was about that.

There is still the very real possibility that the hackers are in it just for the lulz.

Allan Friedman, a research scientist at George Washington University’s Cyber Security Policy Research Institute, told me that from a diplomatic perspective, it’s a smart strategy for the U.S. to be overconfident in assigning blame for the cyberattacks. Beyond the politics of this particular attack, the long-term U.S. interest is to discourage other nations from engaging in similar behavior. If the North Korean government continues denying its involvement no matter what the truth is, and the real attackers have gone underground, then the U.S. decision to claim omnipotent powers of attribution serves as a warning to others that they will get caught if they try something like this.

Sony also has a vested interest in the hack being the work of North Korea. The company is going to be on the receiving end of a dozen or more lawsuits—from employees, ex-employees, investors, partners, and so on. Harvard Law professor Jonathan Zittrain opined that having this attack characterized as an act of terrorism or war, or the work of a foreign power, might earn the company some degree of immunity from these lawsuits.

I worry that this case echoes the “we have evidence—trust us” story that the Bush administration told in the run-up to the Iraq invasion. Identifying the origin of a cyberattack is very difficult, and when it is possible the process of attributing responsibility can take months. While I am confident that there will be no U.S. military retribution because of this, I think the best response is to calm down and be skeptical of tidy explanations until more is known.

In addition to all of our wars in the Middle East and the war that has erupted on the streets of America, we are now engaged in a cyber war with North Korea and an economic war with Russia.  Without a doubt, the United States has the capability to do a tremendous amount of damage to both of them.  But what about the damage that they could potentially do to us?  We have a society that is absolutely teeming with soft targets.  Our Internet infrastructure is extremely vulnerable, our debt-based economic system is already teetering on the edge of disaster, and government officials freely admit that security at key facilities such as power plants is sorely lacking.  And these kinds of bitter conflicts have a way of escalating.  The North Koreans and the Russians are both very proud, and neither one is going to back down any time soon.  If a foreign power wanted to really make us hurt, it wouldn’t take much imagination at all.  There are thousands of ways to do it.  So Americans should not just smugly assume that we are untouchable.  In a war, it is often those that are overconfident that get hurt the worst.

Last week, Barack Obama blamed North Korea for the nightmarish hack attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment and he promised that the U.S. would respond.

Well, it looks like that response began on Monday.  According to Bloomberg, North Korea’s connection to the Internet was totally cut off…

North Korea’s limited access to the Internet has been cut off, according to a network-monitoring company, days after the U.S. government accused the country of hacking into Sony Corp. (6758)’s files.

North Korea, which has four official networks connecting the country to the




















Internet — all of which route through China — began experiencing intermittent problems yesterday and today went completely dark, according to Doug Madory, director of Internet analysis at Dyn Research in Hanover, New Hampshire.

Needless to say, that got the attention of the North Koreans.

On their end, the North Koreans are still denying that they had anything to do with the attack on Sony.  And we may never know the actual truth.  In reality, Russia could have carried out such an attack.  Or it could have been the Chinese.  Or it could have even been a false flag cyberattack conducted by a three letter U.S. agency.  We just don’t know.

But what we do know is that North Korea is now vowing to take action against “the White House, the Pentagon and the whole U.S. mainland“…

“The DPRK has already launched the toughest counteraction. Nothing is more serious miscalculation than guessing that just a single movie production company is the target of this counteraction. Our target is all the citadels of the




U.S. imperialists who earned the bitterest grudge of all Koreans,” a report on state-run KCNA read.

“Our toughest counteraction will be boldly taken against the White House, the Pentagon and the whole U.S. mainland, the cesspool of terrorism,” the report said, adding that “fighters for justice” including the “Guardians of Peace” — a group that claimed responsibility for the Sony attack — “are sharpening bayonets not only in the U.S. mainland but in all other parts of the world.”

So can North Korea back up those bold words?

We shall see.











But without a doubt our Internet infrastructure is very vulnerable.  As I have written about previously, our big banks are under Internet attack every single minute of every single day.  And in recent months we have seen a whole host of retailers and major corporations get hacked.

This is an emerging threat that should not be underestimated.  As a society, we have become extremely dependent on the Internet, and these attacks are constantly becoming more powerful and more sophisticated.

I think that Steve Quayle put it very well during one recent interview…

“Cyberwarfare is increasing dramatically as we speak. There are serious












concerns about the ability of the United States’ banking system to whether extremely sophisticated cyberattacks. The Sony breach is just one example of how a detrimental cyberattack can bring one of the world’s most prominent entertainment giants to its knees.”

And we do know that the North Koreans take hacking very seriously.

In fact, it has been reported that North Korea has a small army of hackers that are continually harassing the western world known as “Unit 121?…

Just like in a Bond movie, an army of teenage geniuses tap away at keyboards in fortified complex tucked away from prying eyes in a rogue state, bent on bringing cyber-carnage to their Western enemies on the orders of their leader who is bent on revenge.

But this isn’t the plot line from a film. This is North Korea in 2014. And the cyber-warriors inside have diverted from their usual work of disrupting governments and big business to turn their collective fury on Sony.

The building, the Kim Il-Sung Military Acade.99

Peru Is Now Giving Free Solar Power To Its 2 Million Poorest Citizens

Peru last week initiated a new program that will provide electricity to more than two million of its poorest residents using solar panels.
Energy and Mining Minister Jorge Merino said that the program will allow 95% of Peru to have access to electricity by the end of 2016. Currently, approximately 66% of the population has access to electricity.
“This program is aimed at the poorest people, those who lack access to electric lighting and still use oil lamps, spending their own resources to pay for fuels that harm their health,” said Merino.
The first phase of the program, called “The National Photovoltaic Household Electrification Program” was initiated on Monday (July 8) in the Contumaza province, where 1,601 solar panels were installed. These installations will power 126 impoverished communities in the districts of Cupisnique, San Benito, Tantarica, Chilete, Yonan, San Luis, and Contai.
The program plans to install about 12,500 solar (photovoltaic) systems to provide for approximately 500,000 households at an overall cost of about $200 million.
Peru is the third-largest country in South America, with a population over 24 million. It has average solar radiation levels which can reach 5 kWh per m2 a day in the Sierra (foothill of The Andes). Peru is also home to the first major PV installation in Latin America.
This follows Peru’s public commitments to accelerate renewable energy development, as reported here previously by CleanTechnica.
Meanwhile, in the United States, Americans for Prosperity — a political lobbying group founded by billionaire fossil fuel industrialists Charles and David Koch — is currently lobbying the Georgia state legislature to reject a plan requiring Georgia Power, one of the largest energy utilities in the American Southeast, to buy more solar energy.

The nuclear submarine Vladimir Monomakh is the third in the Borei-class nuclear ballistic missile-carrier project. These are the fourth generation strategic nuclear submarines with unique technical characteristics. In 2012, Americans could not detect the Shchuka submarine in their waters for one month. The APL Vladimir Monomakh can be described as a stealth ship compared to Shchuka, says First Vice-President of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems Konstantin Sivkov.
“The noise level of these submarines has been radically lowered in all frequency ranges, especially in low frequency range. As a result, it is almost impossible to detect them. For one, infrasonic vibrations in a rage from 5-10 hertz spread to a long distance in water, especially in deep waters. The distance could be thousands of kilometers. Consequently, a submarine can be detected using long antennas. For one, Americans install these antennas on their ships. Infrasonic vibrations in Vladimir Monomakh have been significantly lowered. As a result, it is impossible to detect. Moreover, noise-level in high frequency ranges has also been significantly lowered. Usually, propellers and turbines produce this noise,” Sivkov said.

After two NYPD were assassinated on Saturday, a startling internal memo was widely distributed to police in New York from the Police Benevolent Assocation.

At first the internal memo seems like instructions for basic safety.

First it requires that officers begin traveling in packs of two:

“At least two units are to respond to EVERY call, no matter the condition or severity…”

It then requires that officers hereafter refrain from arresting any Americans unless it is absolutely necessary.

This second step might be taken for a number of reasons.

One reason might be because citizens are able to make fake 911 calls in order to get police to show up at a designated location, only to ambush the police once they arrive.

By restricting arrests only to those that are absolutely necessary, police might avoid such traps.

At the same time, it could mean that less Americans will be harassed, extorted, coerced, or thrown in a cage for victimless “crimes” (for example, for carrying marijuana). It could also mean that less Americans will be “stopped and frisked” and racially profiled.

This part of the memo — calling for no more unnecessary enforcement — is sure to be cheerfully welcomed by Americans. After all, it was Eric Garner who said “Please, just leave me alone.”

That’s all most Americans are asking for: to live in peace without government employees initiating violence upon them.

But it’s the last portion of the memo that has people concerned.

The reason is that it declares that the NYPD is now a “Wartime” department, and that “we will act accordingly.”

The memo does not elaborate on exactly what actions the NYPD intends to perform in order to be a “Wartime” department on the streets of America.

During the Egyptian revolution a couple of years ago, Egyptian protesters burned down police stations after police killed an innocent street vendor for selling things without paying taxes.

In response, the police began going out secretly, in plainclothes, and staging fake terror attacks and random murders throughout the cities.

They did this partly as retaliation against the Egyptian citizens, but it was mainly a ploy, as if to say “See? What would you do without us? You need us!”

Some suspect that a false flag terror attack might be staged by the NYPD to stoke fear, maintain power, and to get naive citizens begging for their help. Rumors have also circulated that portions of the story about the two officers who were killed were made up or staged.

But we aren’t in a position to speculate on such matters.

The fact is, the memo never specifies which actions will be taken.

The memo was released after Ismaaiyl Brinsley shot two NYPD officers in a planned assassination. He did it, he said, to avenge the police slayings of Eric Garner and Michael Brown.

Every year around this time, it just isn't the holiday season if you don't end up stuck in a long line of traffic going through a mandatory DUI checkpoint. The cops are looking for people drinking and driving, and this unconstitutional search has been upheld by the Supreme Court.

And every year around this time, when I say it is a violation of my rights, someone chimes in:

"If you aren't doing anything wrong, you don't have anything to worry about."

Sewage epidemiology is a rapidly expanding field that can provide information on illicit drug usage in communities, based on the measured concentrations in samples from wastewater treatment plants.

According to the American Chemical Society’s report:

The war on drugs could get a boost with a new method that analyzes sewage to track levels of illicit drug use in local communities in real time. The new study, a first-of-its-kind in the U.S., was published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology and could help law enforcement identify new drug hot spots and monitor whether anti-drug measures are working.

The thought of authorities slogging through the sludge may be comical, but it represents another example of big brother using our money to monitor our behavior. Drug consumption is a non-violent act upon oneself. The drug trade is made violent in a black market under government prohibition.

What is the rationale behind attempts at drug eradication and criminalization? It provides a means for government to assert power; it enriches the prison industry and the jackboot industry and politicians. Take these away and there is no logic to the war on drugs.

Supply is consistently available to meet demand, despite massive amounts of money and effort directed at eradicating supply and criminalizing demand.

Instead of learning from this history, however, the state continues its meaningless pursuit

China has detained over 30,000 people during a two-month clamp down on pornography and gambling, state news agency Xinhua reported on Sunday.

In the latest arrests, police in the southern province of Guangdong arrested 3,014 and put more than 8,000 in criminal detention as of Dec. 15, Xinhua reported the Guangdong Provincial Public Security Department as saying.

In Huizhou City, police busted an online gambling ring involving funds of 30 million yuan ($4.82 million) on Nov. 24. Gambling has been illegal on mainland China since 1949, though a state lottery does operate.

China launched an anti-pornography campaign in April as part of efforts to "clean up" the internet. The move has coincided with a crackdown on online freedom of expression, which has intensified since President Xi Jinping came to power early last year

- Kurdish and Yazidi fighters battled to take the strategic northern Iraqi town of Sinjar back from Islamic State on Sunday after breaking a months-long siege of the mountain above it.

Seizing the town would restore the majority of territory Iraq's Kurds lost in the jihadist group's surprise August offensive.

It would also give a huge strategic victory to both the Iraqi Kurds and the central government in Baghdad, as the Kurdish fighters could then cut the highway from Syria to Mosul, a vital supply line for Islamic State.

Backed by U.S. warplanes, Iraqi Kurdish and Yazidi fighters, also joined by Kurdish guerrillas from Syria and Turkey, pushed into Sinjar from the western border post of Rabia and from Sinjar mountain to the north, to which Iraqi Kurdish fighters opened a corridor on Thursday.

The Iraqi Kurdish region's president, Masoud Barzani, visited Sinjar mountain and vowed that all of the town of Sinjar would be retaken.

"Most of Sinjar is under our control now. With the help of God we will free all of it. The help of the coalition forces was noteworthy and their support was very effective," Barzani said on the mountain's summit.

Wounded peshmerga, as Iraqi Kurdish fighters are known, were raced by vehicle to the mountain summit for treatment. Planes and helicopters rumbled overhead, while from time to time the boom of an airstrike reverberated.

The U.S. military said it had carried out four air strikes around Sinjar on Sunday.

Pick-up trucks full of peshmerga fighters hurtled down to Sinjar town, which was blanketed in smoke.

The military campaign also promised relief for Iraq's Yazidi religious minority. When Islamic State pushed into the Sinjar area in August, killing or capturing thousands of Yazidis, some took refuge on the Sinjar mountain.

President Barack Obama cited the plight of the Yazidis when he first ordered air strikes against Islamic State this summer.

Returning from the town of Sinjar late on Saturday, Yazidi fighter Qassem Sheshou, head of the Sinjar Protection Forces, said the area was heavily mined, but bragged that the militants had not put up much of a fight. "They fled like rats," he said.

Fahd Hamid, a Yazidi fighter from Sinjar, said there were 1,700 Yazidi families on the mountain.

Hamid sought refuge there at the beginning of Islamic State's blitz in August, enduring both near starvation and the fear that the Sunni Arab jihadists would storm the area.

"Our faith in God and this mountain was strong," Hamid said.

"Our fathers and grandfathers used to talk about past genocides and we didn't really believe them, but it happened again."

Asked why he and other Yazidis were not leaving the mountain now that a safe passage had been opened to the north, he said "this mountain is the safest and best place."

Others longed to return home immediately. "Islamic State has been at our throats for a long time. We want to go back to our village," said a woman named Gule who was baking bread at an encampment. She said her brother and son had been killed three weeks earlier when they tried to sneak back to their village near Sinjar to try to retrieve some belongings.

The battle for Sinjar is being conducted by a range of groups.

Fighters from Turkey's outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party(PKK) and its sister organization, the Syrian Kurdish armed faction known as the YPG, claimed to have about 500 men present on Sinjar mountain, including those from affiliated armed groups.

The YPG's supporters said they had opened a new route from Syria to Sinjar on Saturday, and the group's flag was visible at intervals along the road leading from the mountain to the Rabia border crossing. The two factions said that they had initiated the offensive on Sinjar town. "The YPG came to Sinjar before the peshmerga," said one YPG guerrilla.

Despite such internal rivalry, some were simply elated to see the Islamic State on the backfoot. A Yazidi volunteer named Kheder, who had made his way to Sinjar mountain from a refugee camp in the north, exulted in the fight and the spectacle of U.S. air power.

"I came to kill the terrorists," Kheder said. "I like going to war with the Americans."

 A driver shouting "Allahu Akbar" ("God is greatest") ploughed into pedestrians in eastern France on Sunday, injuring 11 of them, just a day after a man yelling the same words was killed in an attack on police officers.

Two of the people injured in the car attack in the city of Dijon were in a serious condition, a police source said, adding that the driver had been arrested.

"The man, born in 1974, is apparently unbalanced and had been in a psychiatric hospital," a source close to the investigation told AFP, adding that "for now his motives are still unclear".

The man had targeted groups of passersby at five different locations in the city on Sunday evening in a rampage that lasted around half an hour, the police source said.

"Nine people were lightly injured and two others seriously but their lives do not appear to be in danger," the source added.

Witnesses told police that the driver shouted "Allahu Akbar" and "that he was acting for the children of Palestine", a source close to the investigation said.

Police sources said the driver was known to police for petty offences dating back to the 1990s.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls took to Twitter to express "solidarity" with those injured in the attack.

France is still reeling from a suspected radical Islamic attack on Saturday that saw a French convert to Islam shot dead after attacking police officers with a knife while also reportedly crying "Allahu Akbar" in the central town of Joue-les-Tours.

- 'Lone wolf' fears -

The assailant, Burundi-born French national, Bertrand Nzohabonayo seriously injured two officers -- slashing one in the face -- and hurting another.

The 20-year-old attacker also cried "Allahu Akbar" during the assault, said a source close to the case speaking on condition of anonymity.

The assault prompted the government to step up security at police and fire stations nationwide.

Nzohabonayo had previously committed petty offences but was not on a domestic intelligence watch-list although his brother is known for his radical views and once pondered going to Syria, the source said.

The anti-terror branch of the Paris prosecutor's office has opened a probe into that attack, with the line of inquiry focusing on whether it was motivated by radical Islam.

The weekend incidents in France come as governments around the world brace for so-called "lone wolf" attacks by individuals returning from waging jihad abroad, or who are simply following Islamic State group calls for violence in the countries involved in a coalition fighting the militants in Iraq and Syria.

The group has repeatedly singled out France for such attacks, most recently in a video posted on jihadist sites this week.

Last week in Australia, an Iranian-born Islamist with a history of extremism and violence entered a cafe and held people hostage for 16 hours before being killed. Two of the hostages also died.

Last year in France, a recent convert to Islam also stabbed a soldier in the busy Paris commercial complex and transport hub of La Defense.

And the main suspect in the murders of four people at Brussels' Jewish Museum in May, Mehdi Nemmouche, spent more than a year fighting with extremists in Syria.

Authorities in France believe around 1,200 nationals or residents are involved in one way or another in jihadist networks in Iraq and Syria.

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Police officer shot and killed near Tampa, Florida

Police officer shot and killed near Tampa, Florida

By Letitia Stein

TAMPA, Fla. (Reuters) - A veteran Florida police officer was shot and killed while on duty early Sunday by a man described as transient, according to law enforcement officials, who gave no motive for the suspect now charged with murder.

Officer Charles Kondek, 45, was gunned down in Tarpon Springs, about 30 miles northwest of Tampa, after responding to a call for service around 2 a.m. EST, the Tarpon Springs Police Department said.

The officer later died of his injuries at a local hospital, the police department said.

His death followed a Saturday afternoon shooting in New York City, where a gunman shot dead two police officers and then killed himself. Authorities said that shooter had indicated on social media that he might seek revenge for recent U.S. police killings of unarmed black men.

In the Florida case, police said they arrested Marco Antonio Parilla Jr., 23, on a charge of first-degree murder.

Parilla was taken into custody after fleeing the shooting scene and crashing into a pole and another vehicle, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said in a release.

Police officials did not give any information about the type of call Kondek had responded to ahead of the shooting.

Kondek served on the Tarpon Springs police force for more than 17 years and previously worked as an officer for the New York City Police Department, officials said.

 The Islamic State extremist group has executed 100 of its own foreign fighters who tried to flee their headquarters in the Syrian city of Raqqa, the Financial Times newspaper said Saturday.

An activist opposed to both IS and the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is well-known to the British business broadsheet, said he had "verified 100 executions" of foreign IS fighters trying to leave the jihadist group's de facto capital.

IS fighters in Raqqa said the group has created a military police to clamp down on foreign fighters who do not report for duty. Dozens of homes have been raided and many jihadists have been arrested, the FT reported.

Some jihadists have become disillusioned with the realities of fighting in Syria, reports have said.

According to the British press in October, five Britons, three French, two Germans and two Belgians wanted to return home after complaining that they ended up fighting against other rebel groups rather than Assad's regime. They were being held prisoner by IS.

In total, between 30 and 50 Britons want to return but fear they face jail, according to researchers at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King's College London, which had been contacted by one of the jihadists speaking on their behalf.

Since a US-led coalition began a campaign of air strikes against IS in August, the extremist group has lost ground to local forces and seen the number of its fighters killed rise significantly.

There have been a string of apparent setbacks for IS in recent weeks.

Iraqi Kurds claimed Thursday to have broken a siege on a mountain where Yazidi civilians and fighters have long been trapped.

The Kurdish advances came during a two-day blitz in the Sinjar region involving 8,000 peshmerga fighters and some of the heaviest air strikes since a US-led coalition started an air campaign four months ago.

Meanwhile Thursday, the Pentagon said several IS leaders had been killed in US air strikes.

In 40 days across October and November, some 2,000 air raids killed more than 500 people, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group, which relies on a network of sources on the ground.


HAVANA (AP) - Cuban President Raul Castro sent a blunt message to Washington Saturday as the White House works to reverse a half-century of hostility between the U.S. and Cuba: Don't expect detente to do away with the communist system.

Castro's speech to Cuba's National Assembly was a sharp counterpoint to the message U.S. President Barack Obama gave in his year-end news conference the day before. Obama reiterated that by engaging directly with the Cuban people, Americans are more likely to encourage reform in Cuba's one-party system and centrally planned economy.

"We must not expect that in order for relations with the United States to improve, Cuba will abandon the ideas that it has struggled for," Castro said.

Also appearing before parliament, shaking their fists in victory, were three convicted spies just released from long U.S. prison terms. The last imprisoned members of the "Cuban Five" spy ring were freed this week in a sweeping deal that included American contractor Alan Gross and a Cuban who had spied for the U.S., both released from their cells in Cuba as a first step toward the restoration of full diplomatic ties and a loosening of U.S. trade and travel restrictions.

While the 83-year-old Castro spoke in Havana, other Cubans of his generation were leading a protest in Miami against plans to normalize relations with the Castro government. About 200 people showed up, most of them older Cuban exiles.

"The Cuban resistance will continue both on the island and in exile to do everything and continue the struggle until Cuba is truly free and democratic once again," said Sylvia Iriondo, an activist with Mothers Against Repression.

Castro also expressed gratitude to Obama during his speech, calling it a "just decision" to release the men who spied on anti-Castro exile groups in South Florida in the 1990s and have long been regarded as heroes in Cuba. Seated behind the three and their families was Elian Gonzalez, the young Cuban rafter at the center of a bitter custody battle in 2000 between relatives in Miami and his father in Cuba.

The president closed with a shout of "Viva Fidel!" in reference to his older brother, who has not been seen nor heard from since the historic development was announced on Wednesday, provoking speculation about his health and whereabouts.

The executive orders Obama announced Wednesday can clear the way for limited exports to Cuba and freer travel by specific categories of Americans such as academics and artists, but he acknowledged his need to work with Congress to end the decades-old embargo Cuba blames for the dire condition of its infrastructure and economy.

Castro reminded Cubans that the embargo remains in place, particularly limits on international financial transactions that Cuba accuses of blocking its access to credit and international investment.

Flu season is picking up steam just in time to ruin a lot of people’s holidays. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports widespread flu activity in 29 states, primarily in the South and Midwest. That’s twice as many states as the previous week.

Most of the patients who have been hospitalized with severe cases of the flu are either very young or the very old. In recent days flu outbreaks have forced schools in Ohio, Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina to close.

Make a Quick Ranch Spinach Dip

So far this season, the virus has killed 11 children.

Describing the pattern of this year’s outbreak, Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told CBS News, “There’s almost like a Christmas tree right in the middle of the country of the hot spots for disease.”

Thirteen states reported high levels of influenza-like illnesses, while another six states saw moderate activity.



Health experts say part of the problem is that this year’s vaccine doesn’t provide protection for H3N2, the strain of the influenza that’s currently making the rounds. This year’s vaccine does help protect against H1N1 and one or two strains of influenza B.


On Friday December 19th, the General Assembly of the United Nations passed a resolution recognizing the Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources.

The Assembly adopted the resolution with a recorded vote of 165 in favour to 6 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Palau, United States)

“While I had my hands up naked in the shower they shot me with a 40 millimeter non-lethal round,” said Chadwick.

A second stun grenade soon followed.

“I turned away, the explosion went off, I opened my eyes the lights are out and here comes a shield with four or five guys behind it. They pinned me against the wall and proceeded to beat the crap out of me,” said Chadwick.

That’s when officers shot the unarmed Chadwick in the back of the head with a Taser at point blank range.

“They claimed I drew down with a shampoo bottle and a body wash bottle,” said Chadwick . . .

“They grabbed me by my the one hand that was out of the shower and grabbed me by my testicles slammed me on my face on the floor and proceeded to beat me more.”

After being thrown in jail for a couple of days I'm sure he figured that someone would quickly start to apologize profusely and put everything to bed. Not at all, instead they slapped him with charges of assaulting a police officer and after that charge was cleared they charged him with resisting arrest based on the testimony of the entire SWAT team. All charges were eventually cleared and he proceeded to file a civil lawsuit which was summarily dismissed by a federal judge who said, I shit you not:

“There is no freestanding constitutional right to be free from malicious prosecution.”

This poor man now has a fractured nose, bruised ribs and permanent hearing loss. Instead of getting any kind of justice the prosecutors feared a lawsuit so they hit him with multiple other charges to cover their own asses. Incredible! We are living the dream here in America, hoping not be killed and/or framed by the police.


Greenpeace hand out photograph showing Greenpeace activists from 7 countries gathered in Nazca, Peru on December 8, 2014. (AFP Photo / Greenpeace)

Greenpeace hand out photograph showing Greenpeace activists from 7 countries gathered in Nazca, Peru on December 8, 2014. (AFP Photo / Greenpeace)


Greenpeace’s executive director was met with protests calling for “Justice for Nazca” outside a Peruvian court following a reckless stunt during which activists trampled Peru’s world-renowned Nazca Lines in an attempt to promote renewable energy.

“The first thing that the people of Nazca are demanding in the name of everyone who makes a living from tourism is the punishment to the individuals responsible for this,” a demonstrator said Friday.

This week, prosecutor Patricia Begazo begun a preliminary investigation into Argentine activist Mauro Fernandez, coordinator of the environmental organization's Andean Climate and Energy Campaign.

Earlier this month, 20 Greenpeace activists illegally entered the fragile UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is home to ancient geoglyphs. Hiking through the desert to one of the most famous etchings—a large stylized hummingbird— the activists laid out yellow cloth letters spelling out, “Time for change! The future is renewable.”

Authorities fear the activists may have caused irreparable damage to the site.

The country’s deputy culture minister, Luis Jaime Castillo, decried the activists as “irresponsible and childish,” calling their act a “true slap in the face at everything Peruvians consider sacred.”

“You walk there, and the footprint is going to last hundreds or thousands of years. And the line that [Greenpeace has] destroyed is the most visible and most recognized of all," Castillo told the BBC.

Screenshot from Ruptly video

Screenshot from Ruptly video

The etchings, scratched into the dark ground 1,500-2,000 years ago, reveal lighter colored earth underneath, forming illustrations of real and imagined animals and plants.

READ MORE: Greenpeace activists 'damage' ancient Nazca Lines, Peru to seek criminal charges

In a video released earlier this week, Greenpeace international executive director Kumi Naidoo strongly condemned the local Greenpeace activists' actions and issued an apology to the people of Peru.

“Greenpeace should never have done the activity at the Nazca Lines. We made a mistake. We must now commit our full attention to making amends. This is not who we are. This is not what we stand for,” he said.

Talking to reporters on Friday, Naidoo took responsibility for the extreme misstep and vowed to make sure Greenpeace does not repeat such a mistake.

“I hope that we will make sure that we will strengthen our systems and our way of working that such a thing will be impossible for anybody associated with Greenpeace to ever conceptualize in the future,” he said.

However, according to the New York Times, as of Monday, Greenpeace had yet to release the names of all of the activists who illegally entered the heritage site on December 8. The activists—believed to be from countries including Germany, Argentina, Colombia and Spain—have reportedly left Peru.

Authorities have said that they will seek charges of "attacking archaeological monuments." If convicted, Fernandez may face up to six years in prison.

unman ambushed and fatally shot two New York City police officers on Saturday and then killed himself, police said, and a social media post indicated it may have been in revenge for the police chokehold death of an unarmed black man.

The officers were killed without warning and at close range as they sat in their squad car in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, Police Commissioner William Bratton told a news conference, flanked by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

"Although we're still learning the details, it's clear that this was an assassination, that these officers were shot execution style," said de Blasio.

Raw: 2 NYPD officers shot in Brooklyn

New York police have come under intense pressure in recent weeks, with protests erupting after a grand jury declined this month to charge a white police officer involved in the chokehold death of Eric Garner during an arrest attempt in July in the borough of Staten Island.

Demonstrations over Garner's death came on top of protests around the country over another grand jury's decision in November not to indict a white police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri. President Barack Obama, who was briefed on the New York killings while on vacation in Hawaii, has had to calm eruptions of anger over police brutality against minorities.

The killings were the first time New York City police officers have been killed by gunfire since 2011 and were bound to fuel anger among some police against de Blasio, who has had a prickly relationship with law enforcement.

Bratton identified the gunman as Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, and said he took a shooter's stance on the passenger side of the squad car, opening fire with a silver semi-automatic handgun. He then fled into a nearby subway station and died there from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, Bratton said.

Bratton identified the slain officers as Rafael Ramos, 40, and Wenjian Liu, 32. Liu had been married for two months. Ramos had a 13-year-old son.


An online posting suggested a possible link between Brinsley, who was black, and anger over the death of Garner.

  • BradSimpson312....Ignorant liberal "educator"
    AT 10:53 PM DECEMBER 20, 2014

Screenshots taken by various media showed an Instagram account attributed to Brinsley with a picture of a black man with wire-rimmed glasses and a separate picture of a silver pistol.

The account, using the slang insult pig for police, said: "I'm Putting Wings On Pigs Today. They Take 1 Of Ours ... Let's Take 2 of Theirs."

The post included hashtags for Eric Garner and for Michael Brown, the teenager who was shot dead in August in Ferguson.

Instagram said the account attributed to Brinsley had been deleted.

Bratton was asked whether there was a link between Brinsley and the weeks of protests over law enforcement, and said this was under investigation. He added:

"There has been ... a very strong anti-police, anti-criminal justice system, anti-societal set of initiatives under way and one of the unfortunate aspects sometimes is some people get caught up in these and go in directions they should not."

He said police would investigate whether Brinsley had been part of protests in New York and in Atlanta, his last place of residence, over the Brown and Garner killings.

Brinsley had shot and seriously wounded his ex-girlfriend in Baltimore County, Maryland, early on Saturday before traveling to Brooklyn, where he had connections, the police commissioner said.

Attorney General Eric Holder called the killings of the police officers "barbarism."


The Sergeants Benevolent Association, which comprises about 12,000 retired and active New York police sergeants, lashed out at de Blasio over the shootings.

"The blood of 2 executed police officers is on the hands of Mayor de Blasio," the group said in a tweet.

The mayor, a Democrat who took office this year promising strong support for civil liberties in the city, has had a sometimes tense relationship with police. He voiced support for protesters' rights after the Garner case and has agreed with activists that police need retraining, but has not stepped away from New York's policy of cracking down on low-level offenses in an effort to stop more serious crimes.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, a New York civil rights leader who has supported the families of Brown and Garner, said he was outraged by the officers' killings, if they were related to the men's deaths. Civil rights leaders in Los Angeles and Brown's family also condemned the shootings.

Police set up a perimeter for several blocks around the street corner where the shooting occurred. Only residents were allowed to cross the police line and the subway line where the gunman shot himself was shut down.

John Jeronimo, a 28-year-old photographer who lives in public housing nearby, predicted the neighborhood would change as more police were sent into the area.

"A lot more people are going to get checked, stopped, pulled over. From here on now it's going to be more hectic," he said.

As ambulances carrying the officers' bodies left Woodhull Hospital in Brooklyn, police and firefighters blocked traffic along the motorcade route with squad cars and fire trucks.

Hundreds of police and firefighters stood silently at attention, saluting as the ambulances drove by on their way to the city medical examiner's office.

canadian man will travel the world with Elizabeth Gallagher. Just not the same Elizabeth Gallagher he used to date.

Jordan Axani, 28, and his former girlfriend booked the three-week trip in May, including stops in Italy, France, India and Thailand. But the pair broke up, leaving Axani with plane tickets booked in her name.

Wary of the hassle of changing names on tickets booked with several airlines, Axani put out a call on social media website Reddit in November for someone with the same name as his ex-girlfriend and a valid Canadian passport.

After worldwide media attention, Axani received thousands of responses, including from Nova Scotia student Elizabeth "Quinn" Gallagher, 23. Axani picked Gallagher, a homeless shelter volunteer, after talking with her on the phone and becoming impressed with her social conscience.

"It's totally platonic," Axani said from New York where the trip starts on Sunday. "Do I think we'll become friends? Sure."

Other responses were more odd. Axani said he heard from hundreds of people, male and female, who offered to legally change their names.

Axani has turned the attention into a charity called A Ticket Forward that aims to fund trips for underprivileged people.

What does the original Elizabeth Gallagher think of all this? Axani said she has been in touch but he declined further comment.

Kepler spacecraft should have been rendered useless by a 2013 hardware failure, but instead its secondary mission -- called K2 -- has just yielded its first major discovery in the form of a particularly exciting exoplanet. The limping spacecraft, which was designed to survey the galaxy for new planets, has been kept on the road because of some tenacious ingenuity on the part of NASA scientists.

Kepler launched in 2009 with a very specific goal: Find out just how common planets are in our cosmic neighborhood, and how many of those planets share characteristics with Earth -- such as small size and proximity to a bright star -- that might indicate they're worth a closer look. For four years, Kepler stared at one spot in the sky, looking at 150,000 stars at once to see if any planets passed in front of them.

But in May 2013, one of Kepler's four reaction wheels (which kept it centered so precisely on its target) failed. Without it, the spacecraft was unstable, and any outside force could knock it totally out of position. It seemed like the mission was over.

Instead, scientists decided to harness the power of the sun.

By using the light from the sun as a physical force pushing hard against the craft's solar panels, the mission team turned the star into a virtual fourth reaction wheel. The other wheels push back against the force of the sun, and that tension keeps Kepler firmly in place.

It's not exactly the same as it was during its first mission. Now Kepler has to be positioned so that the sun hits its panels just so and can stay focused on one point only for about 80 days before it's time to readjust, but NASA has found new ways to use the craft.

Kepler-186f planet seen in NASA artist's concept

"We developed this concept of how to operate the telescope in a different mode," said Steve Howell, Kepler/K2 project scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center. Instead of staring at lots of stars for a long time to observe the sheer number of planets, Howell said, K2 focuses on potentially interesting objects in the hope of finding a planetary jackpot.

That's why he's so excited about K2's first finding. "This was the promise of K2," he said. "We had great hopes that it would find these kind of planets."

The planet in question is a Super Earth (a planet about 2.5 times larger than Earth) 180 light years away. Because it sits in between Earth (a rocky planet) and Neptune (a gaseous one) in size, Howell says that many scientists will clamber to study it. They want to understand how planet size and type are related.

To find it, a graduate student at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics named Andrew Vanderburg compared thousands of publicly available images from Kepler.

"We get an image of the star over and over," Howell said, "And in those images the star is very slightly fainter at times because the planet has blocked its light."

Kepler's work on this new planet is now done: K2 will never be pointed at the planet again, Howell said. But as it continues to look for new bodies worth exploring, scientists using other space telescopes -- and ones on the ground -- will turn their attention to the first big find of its second life.

protesters were arrested on Friday in Milwaukee when they blocked rush-hour traffic on a major highway to protest the killing of an unarmed black man who was fatally shot by a white police officer this year.

The Milwaukee County Sheriff's Department took at least 73 adults and one minor into custody during the protest that blocked Interstate 43, which runs through the city, according to the department's Twitter feed.

Red Arrow Park to see more protests Friday

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and social media, protesters blocked traffic in both directions for about 75 minutes around 5 p.m. local time.

The protest in Milwaukee is the latest in a string of demonstrations against police violence across the country, in the wake of recent cases where unarmed black men were killed by white police officers.

Police killings in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City, along with subsequent decisions by grand juries to not indict the officers who were involved, have rekindled a national debate over race relations in the United States.

  • I grew up near Gary, these Gentle Giants are vicious and dont accept reasoning. Let the Libs play bocci ball in Hyde Park with their Section 8 pals, but my family survived the always one-way crime onslaught --> move away like me and visit relatives only and see an occassional Sox game (with...
    AT 1:05 AM DECEMBER 20, 2014

Milwaukee protesters called for charges to be filed against white Milwaukee police officer Christopher Manney, who shot Dontre Hamilton, an unarmed 31-year-old mentally disabled black man, 14 times during a struggle in Red Arrow Park in downtown Milwaukee on April 30, according to media and authorities.

Charges have not been filed against Manney, who was fired from the department in October, according to media.

Peaceful protests have been occurring regularly in Milwaukee since the incident, but none with as many arrests as on Friday.

"We're still peaceful," Dontre's brother, Nathaniel Hamilton, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "Nothing is burning. Nothing is torn down. No one's hurt. I don't want them to think being disruptive is being violent."

The first researchers to systematically document ill health in livestock, pets, and people living near fracking drill sites were Michelle Bamberger and Robert Oswald. Bamberger, a veterinarian, and Oswald, a professor of molecular medicine at Cornell University, used a case study approach–looking at individual households–to search for possible effects (Bamberger and Oswald 2012).

Many fracking chemicals are known carcinogens, endocrine disruptors or other classes of toxins (Colborn et al. 2011). Bamberger and Oswald’s studies, carried out during the ongoing fracking boom, uncovered serious adverse effects including respiratory, reproductive, and growth-related problems in animals and a spectrum of symptoms in humans that they termed “shale gas syndrome”. Ultimately, their research led them to consider fracking’s broader implications for farming and the food system (Bamberger and Oswald 2012 and 2014).


A German court says a 93-year-old man charged with 300,000 counts of accessory to murder for serving as an SS guard at the Nazis' Auschwitz death camp will go on trial early next year.

The Lueneburg state court said Tuesday its review of the prosecution's case against Oskar Groening determined there was enough evidence to proceed with the trial. The starting date has not been announced.

Groening has openly talked in interviews about his time as a guard and says he witnessed atrocities but didn't commit any crimes himself.

It has been four days since about 25 families living in Eastern Ohio have been able to return to their homes after a fracking well started leaking natural gas. Oil and gas workers have been unable to control the leak that started on Saturday.

A spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Bethany McCorkle, said crews in Monroe County lost control of the well on Saturday. Evacuation of homes in a 3.0-mile radius of the well-site about, 160-miles east of Columbus, was ordered. People are allowed back in their homes during the day, but must not stay overnight.

Although the well is not on fire, there is a risk of explosion. “There’s still a steady stream of natural gas coming from the wellhead,” McCorkle said yesterday.

Though the U.S. government’s official position is that North Korea is to blame, it’s not clear exactly who has hacked Sony and one could argue that it is nothing more than a propaganda show designed to distract the American public from more important matters like a collapsing global economy, problems in Russia or the fact that our Congress just passed a spending bill padded with all sorts of goodies for banking behemoths.

But it has nonetheless been interesting to observe.

So much so that even the President of the United States has now gotten involved. After Sony reportedly pulled ‘The Interview’ from theater distribution earlier this week in response to threats of a “9/11-style attack” from the hacking collective that calls itself the Guardians of Peace, the President said in a press conference that Sony executives made a mistake.

“I am sympathetic to the concerns that they faced,” Obama said. “Having said all that, yes, I think they made a mistake.”

“I wish they’d spoken to me first [before canceling the release of the film],” Obama said later.

“We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States,” Obama said. “If somebody’s able to intimidate folks out of releasing a satirical movie, imagine what they start doing when they see a documentary they don’t like, or news reports they don’t like. Or even worse, imagine if producers and distributors and others start engaging in self-censorship because they don’t want to offend the sensibilities of someone whose sensibilities probably need to be offended.”

Indeed, that’s one statement from the President we can agree with.

Sony supposedly pulled the movie because theaters that were going to show the flick were threatened with terrorist attacks. That, of course, is an easy out for executives at the firm, because just a couple of days earlier the ‘GOP’ hackers warned Sony of a Christmas surprise. Specifically, they said that if the movie opened as scheduled they would release even more damning evidence and information against the company. In fact, they even released a massive digital file named after the CEO of Sony, Michael Lynton, and said it would be decrypted for the public if Sony didn’t back off.

Given what we saw from the previous Sony hack, Lynton must have realized that failing to heed the hackers’ warnings would be a career ender for him. So, in the interests of self preservation, Lynton jumped on board with ‘The Interview’ ban in the hopes that all of his problems would go away.

But as you might have expected, when you negotiate with terrorists, it will only lead to more demands.

Appeasement was a failed policy under Neville Chamberlain that allowed Hitler to continue to Blitzkrieg Europe, and as noted by well known Hollywood actor Rob Lowe, it is a failed policy for Sony.

In the spirit of Kim Jong Il, Un and the rest of the world’s dictators, the hackers now wantall traces of the movie’s existence removed from the annals of history… or else.

“It’s very wise that you have made the decision to cancel the release of The Interview. It will be very useful for you,” CNN reports the message as reading. The email concludes, “We will ensure the security of your data unless you make additional trouble.

Unfortunately for Sony, that “trouble” includes a laundry list of perceived issues: “Now we want you never let the movie released, distributed or leaked in any form of, for instance, DVD or piracy,” the message reportedly says. It also says, “And we want everything related to the movie, including its trailers, as well as its full version down from any website hosting them immediately.

But why stop there?

Why not force all American movie companies to simply submit all of their scripts and production plans to the hacking collective for approval?

We understand Sony’s decision was based on the self preservation of its executives in this matter. But from public relations perspective the company completely fumbled the ball on this one.

They could have taken the short-term pain and went with the release of the film. The hackers would have released the emails. More than likely heads would have rolled at the executive management levels of the company. But the company would have, at the very least, been seen as an organization that is prepared to do as they said, which is to “stand behind the free expression” of the artists involved in their films.

Now they are seen by the American public as weak and spineless.

And guess what? Chances are that all that sensitive data is going to be released anyway.

This is what happens when you cave in to the demands from terrorists. Moreover, Sony just sent a clear signal to the rest of the world that American companies are more than willing to negotiate.

Cafe in Leeds (UK) feeds 10,000 people on 20 tonnes of unwanted food, which would otherwise have been wasted

The founder of a quietly-growing empire of social cafes has called on a change in the law to prevent the UK’s "criminal" levels of food waste - especially by supermarkets - while so many go hungry.
Adam Smith, founder of The Real Junk Food Project, in Armley, Leeds, feeds his punters on goods that would otherwise have been thrown away by supermarkets, independent grocers and food banks.
The 29-year-old trained chef cooks up stews, casseroles, soups and cakes with the unwanted food, charging a “pay as you feel” policy - allowing punters to pay what they feel they can, and if that is nothing, they can help with the washing up.
In just 10 months he has fed 10,000 people on 20 tonnes of unwanted food, raising over £30,000.
The cafe has had such resonance in a world with such high food wastage and high hunger levels it has inspired 47 other "pay as you feel" cafes to spring in the past few months in Manchester, Bristol, Saltaire – with the concept even exported as far away as Los Angeles and Brazil, Warsaw and Zurich. 
But Mr Smith says The Real Junk Food Project – which is in the process of being registered as an official charity – is about more than simply feeding those who might otherwise go hungry. "It is bringing people from different demographics together that doesn't involve money. People are opening Junk Food Projects because they have had enough of what is going on in society and care about what is happening to other human beings," he said. "It is a revolution."
Mr Smith wants the law to be changed to prevent supermarkets throwing so much food away for fear of prosecution - and he wants more pressure on supermarkets to be compelled to work with organisations like his.
Currently, a retailer will be prosecuted if it sells food after the use-by date, but not before the "best-before" date.  Despite this, supermarkets from across the sector regularly throw food out before its "best-before" date and, in Mr Smith's experience, are scornful about working with enterprises like his, which would happily take it.
"Supermarkets are a pain in the arse," Mr Smith said. "They do not want anything to do with us. Many look down on us, I've had one manager of one well-known supermarket even spit in my face.  We are breaking the law in their eyes. But we want to fight the law and take the fight to the general public."

he United States and Cuba will start talks on normalizing full diplomatic relations, marking the most significant shift in U.S. policy toward the communist island in decades, American officials said Wednesday. The announcement comes amid a series of new confidence-building measures between the longtime foes, including the release of American Alan Gross and the freeing of three Cubans jailed in the U.S.

President Barack Obama was to announce the policy changes from the White House at noon Wednesday.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, said the U.S. and Cuba were moving toward normalized banking and trade ties. He also said the U.S. was poised to open an embassy in Havana in the coming months.

"This is going to do absolutely nothing to further human rights and democracy in Cuba," Rubio said in an interview. "But it potentially goes a long way in providing the economic lift that the Castro regime needs to become permanent fixtures in Cuba for generations to come."

Gross, 65, was on an American government plane bound for the U.S. Wednesday morning after being released on humanitarian grounds by the Cuban government at the request of the Obama administration. As part of the secret negotiations to secure his release, the U.S. was releasing three Cuban jailed in Florida for spying.

Obama administration officials have considered Gross' imprisonment an impediment to improving relations with Cuba.

Cuba was also releasing a non-American intelligence "asset" along with Gross, according to a U.S. official. That official and others spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to be identified by name before Obama's remarks.

Bonnie Rubinstein, Gross' sister, heard the news from a cousin, who saw it on television.

"We're like screaming and jumping up and down," she said in a brief telephone interview from her home in Texas.

Gross was detained in December 2009 while working to set up Internet access as a subcontractor for the U.S. government's U.S. Agency for International Development, which does work promoting democracy in the communist country. It was his fifth trip to Cuba to work with Jewish communities on setting up Internet access that bypassed local censorship.

Cuba considers USAID's programs illegal attempts by the U.S. to undermine its government, and Gross was tried and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

The three Cubans released in exchange for Gross are part of the so-called Cuban Five — a group of men who were part of the "Wasp Network" sent by Cuba's then-President Fidel Castro to spy in South Florida. The men, who are hailed as heroes in Cuba, were convicted in 2001 in Miami on charges including conspiracy and failure to register as foreign agents in the U.S.

Two of the Cuban Five were previously released after finishing their sentences.

In a statement marking the fifth anniversary of Gross' detention earlier this month, Obama hinted that his release could lead to a thaw in relations with Cuba.

"The Cuban Government's release of Alan on humanitarian grounds would remove an impediment to more constructive relations between the United States and Cuba," Obama said in a statement.

Gross' family has said he was in ailing health. His wife, Judy, said in a statement earlier this month that Gross has lost more than 100 pounds, can barely walk due to chronic pain, and has lost five teeth and much of the sight in his right eye. He has begun refusing to see his wife and daughter, the new chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana and members of Cuba's small Jewish community, who had been visiting him on religious holidays.

Obama has taken some steps to ease U.S. restrictions on Cuba after Raul Castro took over as president in 2010 from his ailing brother. He has sought to ease travel and financial restrictions on Americans with family in Cuba, but has resisted calls to drop the embargo.

Among the expected changes as a result of the improvement in U.S.-Cuba relations is that licensed American travelers to Cuba will now be able to return to the U.S. with $400 in Cuban goods, including tobacco and alcohol products worth less than $100 combined. This means the long-standing ban on importing Cuban cigars is over, although there are still limits, according to a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the official White House announcement.

The surprise prisoner swap has echoes of the deal the U.S. cut earlier this year to secure the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who had been held by the Taliban. In exchange for his release in May, the U.S. turned over five Taliban prisoners held at the Guantanamo Bay detention center.

132 students and nine staff members were killed on Tuesday after Taliban gunmen broke into a school in the Pakistani city of Peshawar and opened fire, witnesses said, in the bloodiest massacre the country has seen for years.

More than eight hours after militants slipped into the heavily guarded compound through a back entrance, the army declared the operation to flush them out over, and said that all nine insurgents had been killed.

Gunmen wearing the uniforms of security forces, some strapped with suicide vests, went from classroom to classroom at the sprawling school, firing at children as some students cowered under their desks, witnesses said.

Children fled the besieged campus, some escorted by Pakistani security forces. Television images showed bloodied students being loaded into ambulances and carried through hospital corridors packed with anguished relatives of the dead and wounded.

Kerry says
Injured rushed to hospital as Taliban school siege ends
More than 120 Pakistanis, mostly children, killed in Taliban high school attack
Death toll rising in Taliban attack on school
Militants attack Pakistan school

The attack on a military-run high school attended by more than 1,100 people, many of them children of army personnel, struck at the heart of Pakistan's military establishment, an assault certain to enrage the country's powerful army.

Wounded children taken to nearby hospitals told Reuters most victims died when gunmen, suicide vests strapped to their bodies, entered the compound and opened fire indiscriminately on boys, girls and their teachers.

"One of my teachers was crying, she was shot in the hand and she was crying in pain," said Shahrukh Khan, 15, who was shot in both legs but survived after hiding under a bench.

"One terrorist then walked up to her and started shooting her until she stopped making any sound. All around me my friends were lying injured and dead."

A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack and said it was retaliation for the Pakistani military's months-long offensive in northeastern Pakistan's tribal areas, which officials say has killed hundreds of militants.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the attack and said he was on his way to Peshawar.

"I can't stay back in Islamabad. This is a national tragedy unleashed by savages. These were my kids," he said in a statement.

"This is my loss. This is the nation's loss. I am leaving for Peshawar now and I will supervise this operation myself."

The United States also condemned the 'horrific' attack. President Obama pledged continued support for the Pakistan government's efforts "to combat terrorism and extremism and to promote peace and stability in the region."

"By targeting students and teachers in this heinous attack, terrorists have once again shown their depravity," Obama said in the statement released by the White House.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday's Taliban attack had angered the world.

"The news of the brazen murder of more than 120 innocent students in Peshawar is devastating," he told reporters. "This morning, wherever you live, wherever you are, those are our children and this is the world's loss.

"This act of terror angers and shakes all people of conscience ... the perpetrators must be brought to justice."


As night fell on Peshawar, a teeming, volatile city near the Afghan border, security forces wrapped up an operation that lasted more than eight hours and involved intense gun battles. The military said about 960 pupils and staff were evacuated.

The Taliban said the gunmen had been equipped with suicide vests and at least three explosions were heard inside the high school at the height of the massacre.

  • @Horsinaround 130 dead kids and you lay it at Fox News? What a fool you are. These people are taught to hate and kill. If there were not guns, there would be swords - no swords there are still rocks and hands with which to kill. Quran (2:191-193) - "And kill them wherever you find them,...
    AT 11:42 AM DECEMBER 16, 2014

Outside, as helicopters rumbled overhead, police struggled to hold back distraught parents who were trying to break past a security cordon and get into the school.

Officials said 121 pupils and three staff members were wounded. A local hospital said the dead and injured were aged from 10 to 20 years old.

A Reuters correspondent visiting the city's major Combined Military Hospital said its corridors were lined with dead students, their green-and-yellow school uniform ties peeping out of the white body bags.

The gunmen, who several students said communicated with each other in a foreign language, possibly Arabic, managed to slip past the school's tight security because at least some of them were wearing Pakistani military uniforms, some witnesses said.

Pakistanis, used to almost daily militant attacks, were shocked by the scale of the massacre and the loss of so many young lives. It recalled the 2004 siege of a school in Russia's Beslan by Chechen militants which ended in the death of more than 330 people, half of them children.


"We were standing outside the school and firing suddenly started and there was chaos everywhere and the screams of children and teachers," said Jamshed Khan, a school bus driver.

Mushtaq Ghani, the information minister for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, of which Peshawar is the capital, said it was one of the deadliest terror attacks in years.

Along with the more than 132 killed, a number that includes teachers and one member of the security forces, dozens of others were wounded, some critically, said hospital officials, who pleaded with the public for blood donations.

Hours into the siege, three explosions were heard inside the military-run high school, and a Reuters journalist at the scene said he heard heavy gunfire.

Outside, as helicopters rumbled overhead, police struggled to hold back distraught parents who were trying to break past a security cordon and get into the school.

Tenth-grader Shah Rukh Khan said he was in the auditorium when armed men barged into the hall and opened fire.

"I immediately hid beneath the desk and they continued firing," he said.

A teenage student who was rescued by security forces said he saw a gunman who was about 25 years old firing indiscriminately at students. The student, who requested anonymity, saw several injured classmates as he was escorted to safety.

"One of my classmates was dead," he said.

"An army doctor was visiting us teaching us about first aid when attackers came from behind our school and started firing," one student told Pakistan's Dunya Television.

"Our teachers locked the door and we ducked on the floor, but they (militants) broke down the door. Initially they fired in the air and later started killing the students, but left the hall suddenly.

"The attackers had long beards, wore shalwar kameez and spoke Arabic."

Taliban gunmen who attacked a school in northwestern Pakistan on Tuesday made no demands and started killing children as soon as they entered the building, a military spokesman said.

"They didn't take any hostages initially and started firing in the hall," said Major General Asim Bajwa. But the militants had brought rations for several days, he said, implying that they may have intended to take students hostage.


The Pakistani Taliban, who are fighting to topple the government and set up a strict Islamic state, have vowed to step up attacks in response to a major army operation against the insurgents in the tribal areas.

But despite the crackdown this year, the military has long been accused of being too lenient towards Islamist militants who critics say are used to carry out the army's bidding in places like Kashmir and Afghanistan.

The military denies the accusations.

So far the Taliban have targeted mainly security forces, military bases and airports, but attacks on civilian targets with no logistical significance are relatively rare.

In September, 2013, however, dozens of people, including many children, were killed in an attack on a church, also in Peshawar in Pakistan's northwest.

  • @Horsinaround 130 dead kids and you lay it at Fox News? What a fool you are. These people are taught to hate and kill. If there were not guns, there would be swords - no swords there are still rocks and hands with which to kill. Quran (2:191-193) - "And kill them wherever you find them,...
    AT 11:42 AM DECEMBER 16, 2014

The assault on a school where officers' children studied could push the armed forces into a more drastic response, analysts said.

Army chief Raheel Sharif's first public remarks after the attack reflected rising anger.

"These terrorists have struck the heart of the nation. But our resolve to tackle this menace has gotten a new lease of life. We will pursue these monsters and their facilitators until they are eliminated for good," he said.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif used similarly strong words.

"We will take revenge for each and every drop of our children's blood that was spilt today," he said.

In India, Pakistan's long-time rival, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his shock.

Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai, joint winner of this year's Nobel peace prize for education campaign work and survivor of a Taliban attack in 2012, said she was devastated.

"I am heartbroken by this senseless and cold-blooded act of terror in Peshawar that is unfolding before us," Malala, who now lives in central England, said in a statement.


Suspect On The Loose After Allegedly Shooting 6 People To Death In Killing Spree

Suspect On The Loose After Allegedly Shooting 6 People To Death In Killing Spree

PENNSBURG, Pa. (AP) — A man suspected of going to three houses in the Philadelphia suburbs and fatally shooting six people, including his ex-wife and her teenage niece, was at large, and prosecutors said investigators didn't know where he was or how he was getting around.

Police recovered the cellphone and car of Bradley William Stone, who had recently been in court fighting with his ex-wife over custody of their two children. SWAT teams surrounded his Pennsburg home on Monday and pleaded through a bullhorn for him to surrender, but Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said it was unclear if he was there.

"As I stand here right now, we do not know where he is," Ferman said at an evening news briefing.

The shooting rampage started before dawn at the home of Stone's former sister-in-law in Souderton and ended about 90 minutes later at ex-wife Nicole Stone's apartment in nearby Harleysville, Ferman said.

Nicole Stone's sister, Patricia Flick, her sister's husband, Aaron Flick, and the couple's 14-year-old daughter, Nina Flick, were killed in the first wave of violence, discovered just before 8 a.m., Ferman said. Their 17-year-old son, Anthony Flick, was pulled from the home with a head wound and was taken in an armored vehicle and then by helicopter to a Philadelphia hospital for treatment.

Nicole Stone's mother, Joanne Hill, and grandmother Patricia Hill were killed next at their home in nearby Lansdale. Investigators were alerted by a hang-up call to emergency dispatchers, Ferman said.

Nicole Stone's neighbors at the Pheasant Run Apartments in Harleysville said they were awoken around 5 a.m. by the sounds of breaking glass and gunshots coming from her apartment. They said they saw Stone fleeing with their two children and alerted authorities.

"She would tell anybody who would listen that he was going to kill her and that she was really afraid for her life," neighbor Evan Weron said.

The two children Stone took from his ex-wife's house were safe, Ferman said. She did not say anything about what weapon or weapons were used.

Stone, who's white, about 5-foot-10 and 195 pounds, was likely wearing military fatigues and was known to use a cane or walker, but it's possible he did not need them, Ferman said.

Harleysville, Lansdale and Souderton are within a few miles of each other. Police with armored vehicles and rifles moved to Pennsburg after spending several hours outside the Souderton home where several victims were found. Several school districts ordered students and teachers to shelter in place.

Later Monday night, police in neighboring Bucks County swarmed an area outside Doylestown after an attempted carjacking by a man dressed in fatigues and similar in appearance to Stone.

Brad and Nicole Stone married in 2004 and filed for divorce in 2009, court records show. Brad Stone, 35, remarried last year. Nicole Stone, 33, became engaged over the summer, neighbors said.

The former couple sparred over custody of their two children, with Brad Stone filing an emergency petition Dec. 5 and Nicole Stone responding with a counterclaim Dec. 9. The outcome of their dispute was unclear

ree people are dead after a hostage drama in a Sydney cafe ended in heavy gunfire as security forces stormed the building, Australian police said on Tuesday.

Local media reports said the hostage-taker was among those killed.

Heavy gunfire and blasts from stun grenades filled the air shortly after 2 a.m. local time (1500 GMT on Monday) at the Lindt cafe in central Sydney, bringing to an end a siege that had lasted more than 16 hours.

Australian police stormed the cafe to free several hostages being held there at gunpoint. Moments earlier at least six people believed to have been held captive managed to flee the scene after several loud bangs were heard coming from the cafe.

Sydney, Australia hostage situation

A 50-year-old man, a 38-year-old woman and a 34-year-old man had died, New South Wales police said. Two people were taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries, while a police officer was being treated after being hit in the face with gunshot pellets. A woman was being treated for a gunshot wound to the shoulder, police added.

Medics tried to resuscitate at least one person after the raid and took away several people on stretchers, said a witness at the scene in downtown Sydney. Bomb squad members moved in, searching for explosives. No explosives had been found and 17 hostages had been accounted for, Andrew Scipione, police commissioner for the state of New South Wales, told reporters.

The operation began shortly after a police source named the gunman as Man Haron Monis, an Iranian refugee and self-styled sheikh facing multiple charges of sexual assault as well as being an accessory to murder. Monis, also known as Sheik Haron, was charged last year with being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife who was stabbed and set alight in a Sydney apartment block.

He was also found guilty in 2012 of sending offensive and threatening letters to families of eight Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan, as a protest against Australia's involvement in the conflict, according to local media reports.

Earlier this year, Monis, who describes himself as a "spiritual healer," was charged with the indecent and sexual assault of a Sydney woman in 2002. Further charges were laid in October.

Monis's website shows graphic images of children that the website says were killed by U.S. and Australian airstrikes, as well as media coverage following Monis's court appearances and statements addressed to the Muslim community and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Local media reported his age at 49 or 50.

Although he was known to the authorities, security experts said preventing attacks by people acting alone could be difficult.

"Today's crisis throws into sharp relief the dangers of lone wolf terrorism," said Cornell University law professor Jens David Ohlin, speaking in New York.

"There are two areas of concern. The first is ISIS (Islamic State) fighters with foreign passports who return to their home countries to commit acts of terrorism.

"The second is ISIS sympathizers radicalized on the internet who take it upon themselves to commit terrorist attacks to fulfill their radical ideology.

"We are entering a new phase of terrorism that is far more dangerous, and more difficult to defeat, than al Qaeda ever was."


Australian police locked down the center of the country's biggest city on Monday after the gunman walked into a busy downtown Sydney cafe, took hostages and forced them to display an Islamic flag, igniting fears of a jihadist attack.

  • Kram, you can call anyone a terrorist you want from the safety of your keyboard, commando, but it's men with guns that keep you safe from radical Islamists like this.
    AT 1:07 PM DECEMBER 15, 2014

Police, including paramilitary officers, cordoned off several blocks around the cafe as negotiators tried to defuse one of the biggest security scares in Australia for decades. Snipers and a SWAT team took up positions around the cafe and police helicopters flew overhead. At least five hostages had been released or escaped since the mid-morning siege began, with terrified cafe workers and customers seen running into the arms of paramilitary police.

Scores of armed police surrounded the cafe after the siege began around 5:45 a.m. ET on Sunday. The area is home to the Reserve Bank of Australia, commercial banks and close to the New South Wales state parliament.

"I walked up to the door and then everyone was sitting down and the door's locked which is pretty weird because it's never locked and there was one guy walking around with a hat and a beard," a man who identified himself as Bruno, a worker at the cafe, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp, referring to the suspected assailant. He said he then turned away.

Grainy images of the suspected assailant showed what appeared to be a middle-aged man wearing a headband and a white shirt.

The Reserve Bank of Australia said staff had been locked down inside the building and were all safe.

The nearby U.S. consulate was also evacuated, according to an embassy spokeswoman, along with the Sydney Opera House. Tourists were being let back into the world-famous venue by early afternoon but performances on Monday and Tuesday were canceled.

India's parliamentary affairs minister said an Indian IT professional may be among the hostages.

"Whatever steps need to be taken, are being taken. We don't want to discuss it because there is some information that one of our Indian IT professionals also is there," Venkaiah Naidu told reporters.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who has warned of militant plans to strike Australian targets, said there were indications the hostage-taking was politically motivated.

"This is a very disturbing incident. I can understand the concerns and anxieties of the Australian people," Abbott told reporters in Canberra.

Australia, a staunch ally of the United States and its escalating action against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, is on high alert for attacks by home-grown militants returning from fighting in the Middle East.

News footage showed hostages holding up a black and white flag displaying the Shahada - a testament to the faith of Muslims. The flag has been popular among Sunni Islamist militant groups such as Islamic State and al Qaeda.

At least five hostages were released or escaped on Monday, with terrified cafe workers and customers running into the arms of paramilitary police.

A further 15 or so hostages were understood to have been holed up inside the cafe.

The incident forced the evacuation of nearby buildings and sent shockwaves around a country where many people were turning their attention to the Christmas holiday following earlier security scares.

In September, anti-terrorism police said they had thwarted an imminent threat to behead a random member of the public and days later, a teenager in the city of Melbourne was shot dead after attacking two anti-terrorism officers with a knife.

The siege cafe is in Martin Place, a pedestrian strip popular with workers on a lunch break, which was revealed as a potential location for the thwarted beheading.

"We're possibly looking at a lone wolf who has sympathies to global jihad or someone with mental health issues in search of a cause," said Adam Dolnik, a professor at the University of Wollongong who has trained Sydney police in hostage negotiations. "This is all about attention."

In the biggest security operation in Sydney since a bombing at the Hilton Hotel killed two people in 1978, major banks closed their offices in the central business district and people were told to avoid the area.

Muslim leaders urged calm. The Australian National Imams Council condemned "this criminal act unequivocally" in a joint statement with the Grand Mufti of Australia.

Concerns about an attack in Australia by Islamists have been growing for more than a year, with the security agency raising its national terrorism public alert to "high" in September

Hostage situation in Sydney




An armed assailant was holding an unknown number of hostages in a Sydney cafe on Monday, shutting down Australia's largest city and raising fears it could be an attack by Islamist militant sympathizers.

Six hours after the mid-morning siege began, television showed three hostages running out of the Lindt chocolate cafe and sheltering behind a heavily armed, black-clad SWAT team.

Police said it was not known exactly how many more hostages remained in the cafe but it was not as high as the 30-40 that had been reported earlier. The remaining hostages were being held by at least one armed assailant, police said, but did not rule out that others could be involved.

Hostage situation in Sydney

Police said on Monday negotiators had been in contact with a gunman but refused to speculate on his possible motivation.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who has warned of militant plans to strike Australian targets, said there were indications the hostage situation at the cafe was politically motivated.

"This is a very disturbing incident. I can understand the concerns and anxieties of the Australian people," Abbott told reporters in Canberra, without providing any information on the siege.

Australia, a staunch ally of the United States and its escalating action against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, is on high alert for attacks by home-grown militants returning from fighting in the Middle East.

"We have moved to a footing that would be consistent with a terrorist event," Andrew Scipione, police commissioner for the state of New South Wales, told reporters in Sydney.

The cafe was directly opposite a commercial television studio and footage earlier showed several people inside the cafe standing with their hands pressed against the windows.

Pictures showed a black and white flag similar to those used by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria being held up by what appeared to be a staff member and another woman. Local media reports said the flag was the Shahada, a general expression of faith in Islam, a translation of which is: "There is no god but Allah; Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah."

  • "Dozens of hostages...some being forced to hold up a black flag w/white Arabic writing in the window, raising fears of an attack linked to Islamic militants." So then the flag of Islamic beheaders forced to be held by hostages "raises fears" the attack is "linked"?...
    AT 11:20 PM DECEMBER 14, 2014

The incident forced the evacuation of nearby buildings in Sydney's central business district and sent shockwaves around a country where many people have started to turn their attention to the approaching Christmas festive season following earlier security scares.

In September, Australian anti-terrorism police said they had thwarted an imminent threat to behead a random member of the public and days later, a teenager in Melbourne was shot dead after attacking two anti-terrorism officers with a knife.


Dozens of heavily armed police surrounded the cafe in Martin Place after the siege began around 9:45 a.m. local time. The area is home to the Reserve Bank of Australia, commercial banks and close to the New South Wales state parliament.

"I walked up to the door and then everyone was sitting down and the door's locked which is pretty weird because it's never locked and there was one guy walking around with a hat and a beard," a man who identified himself as Bruno, a worker at the cafe, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp, referring to the suspected assailant. He said he then turned away.

A couple of hundred people were being held back by cordons and a police SWAT team and the fire brigade's hazardous unit were on the scene, a Reuters witness said.

Several hours into the siege, police led about two dozen people out of a building opposite the cafe and through the cordon. Others were evacuated from the building above the cafe by ladder, television pictures showed.

Earlier, Lindt Australia Chief Executive Steve Loane told Sky Business there were about 10 staff working at the cafe and "probably 30 customers" although he said that figure was an estimate.

The Reserve Bank of Australia said staff had been locked down inside the building, and were all safe and accounted for.

The nearby U.S. consulate was also evacuated, according to an embassy spokeswoman, along with the Sydney Opera House. Tourists were being let back into the world-famous venue by early afternoon.


Major banks closed their offices in the central business district and people were told to avoid the area. Shops in a four block radius were shut, leaving large parts of the CBD all but deserted by mid-afternoon.

Traders in currency markets said the hostage news may have contributed to a dip in the Australian dollar, which was already under pressure from global risk aversion as oil prices fell anew.

Ray Hadley, a popular radio jockey, said he had been contacted by a hostage and could hear the suspected gunman issuing orders in the background. He said he did not talk at any length to the hostage but police said declined to comment on his claim.

Concerns about an attack in Australia by radical Islamists have been growing for more than a year, with the security agency raising its national terrorism public alert to "high" in September.

That month, a spokesman for the Islamic State urged supporters in Western nations, including Australia, to attack civilians or military personnel at home.

Senior Bush administration officials Sunday slammed the Senate study on the CIA’s use of brutal interrogation tactics and defended the techniques as necessary to get information from senior Al Qaeda operatives who had stopped talking to interrogators.

“I’d do it again in a minute,” former Vice President Dick Cheney said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “It absolutely did work."

The report released last week by the Democrat-led Senate Intelligence Committee has revived a decade-old debate about whether the U.S. should use coercive interrogation techniques to get information from terrorists and if such methods produce accurate and useful information.

CIA cables written at the time show that detainees had provided key information before the harsh tactics, such as waterboarding, confinement in small spaces and beatings, had been used. The study concluded that the use of torture was not effective and did not produce actionable intelligence about an imminent attack.

Cheney called the report “a cheap-shot piece of political business,” and criticized the Senate investigation for not interviewing CIA personnel. “The report is seriously flawed,” Cheney said. “They didn’t talk to anybody who knew anything about the program. They didn’t talk to anyone who was in the program.”

The Senate staff said they reviewed the transcripts of interviews with CIA staff conducted by the CIA’s inspector general.

Later on "Meet the Press," Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said the Democratic staff of the committee reviewed 6 million pages of documents. “There are a mountain of contradictions,” he said.

“Facts aren’t partisan," Wyden said, adding that the Justice Department should review the new facts in the report and reconsider the department’s decision not to prosecute those involved in the CIA’s program.

Speaking on "Fox News Sunday," Jose Rodriguez, who helped design the detention and interrogation program as head of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center, defended his controversial decision in 2005 to destroy tapes depicting hours of CIA interrogation sessions.

“I knew the tapes would leak some day,” Rodriguez said. He destroyed the tapes out of concern for the safety of the CIA officers whose faces appeared in the footage, he said. He was afraid that if the tapes were made public Al Qaeda would “go after them and their families.”

“I was concerned for their safety,” he said.

“This is one of the most highly reviewed covert action programs in the history of the agency,” Rodriguez said. “In the end no prosecutable offenses were found — no one tortured anyone else."

Karl Rove, who was a senior advisor and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush, said on "Fox News Sunday" that all of the interrogation techniques were “carefully designed” and approved by administration lawyers.

The Senate study details multiple instances where interrogators appeared to act outside of their legal authorities and used techniques that were not approved.

Rove denied this. He said the detainees that received “rectal rehydration” and “rectal feeding” were on hunger strikes. But medical experts have said that neither technique is a legitimate medical procedure.

  • @J. Paul Getty's ear - Liberals have never let the truth stand in the way of their story.
    AT 7:46 PM DECEMBER 14, 2014

When it came to the use of waterboarding, a type of simulated drowning that was used on at least three senior Al Qaeda operatives, Rove said the style of waterboarding used by Japanese soldiers on prisoners during World War II was different from the technique used by the CIA.

Unlike the Japanese method, Rove said, when the CIA waterboarded detainees, the “feet were elevated” to prevent the lungs from filling up with water. “Very careful standards were put in place,” Rove said.

The Senate study documents a program that was poorly managed, lost track of detainees, and created an environment in which some interrogators beat detainees, chained them to walls for days at a time and locked them into coffin-like boxes. There is no record of Bush being formally briefed by CIA officials about the program until 2006, the study states.

But Cheney said Bush was well aware of the program. Cheney was in briefings nearly six days a week with Bush and the director of the CIA at the time, George Tenet, he said. Bush “knew what we were doing; he authorized it,” Cheney said.

The Bush administration was “very careful to stop short of torture,” Cheney said.

“Torture to me,” Cheney said, “is an American citizen on his cellphone making a last call to his four young daughters shortly before he burns to death” on the top floors of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, Cheney said

Pressed on the fact that 26 of the 119 detainees in the CIA’s custody were held in error, Cheney said he was more concerned about the U.S. releasing “bad guys” from custody. Many former detainees that have been released have returned to the battlefield. Like Abu Bakr Baghdadi, for example, who now leads the Islamic State and was once held by the U.S. military in Iraq.

One CIA detainee mistakenly held was named Gul Rahman. Rahman froze to death while chained to the floor of a CIA “black site” in Afghanistan.

“I am more concerned with bad guys who were let out and released than a few that were innocent,” Cheney said. “I have no problem as long as we achieve our objective” to prevent a future attack, Cheney said.

CIA Director John Brennan said Thursday during an unprecedented televised speech and news conference at CIA headquarters that there were management failures during the program and that some of the methods used were “abhorrent.” The question of whether the specific “enhanced” interrogation techniques prodded detainees into giving up unique information is “unknowable,” Brennan said, but the CIA’s detention program as a whole was effective and helped save lives.

Police in Alabama are searching for two escaped inmates who broke loose from a rural jail Saturday morning.

Three inmates reportedly overpowered a jailer after he entered their cell to check on one of the inmates, who said he was sick.

However, on Sunday, authorities reported they had arrested one of the inmates, Justin Gordon.

"The U.S. Marshals are in custody of him and they're going to transport him," County Sheriff Elect Scott Lolley told WTOK.

According to authorities, who said the FBI and U.S. Marshals are helping with the search, the jailer was the only guard on duty at the time of the break-out.

The Choctaw County Sheriff said they used dogs to follow the men's trail, but it went cold, indicating they got in a car at some point.

The two remaining inmates, Gemayel Culbert and Demarcus Woodard, are facing murder charges and the local sheriff says they should be considered extremely dangerous.

Authorities have advised anyone who sees the two men to avoid engaging them, and to call the police.

 black man is dead. The police are roundly criticized. Angry protesters march through the streets.

But unlike the deaths of black men in New York and Ferguson, Mo., the death of 17-year-old Lennon Lacy in this tiny lumber town was not known to be at the hands of a white cop — or any cop. After Lacy was discovered hanging from a trailer park swing set Aug. 29, authorities quickly ruled his death a suicide.

His mother and brother refused to believe it. They alleged that the investigation was hasty, incomplete and riddled with contradictions. They took their complaints to the state chapter of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People.

After weeks of pressure from the NAACP and the family, the U.S. attorney for eastern North Carolina announced Friday that the FBI had opened an investigation into the case.

The narrow streets of Bladenboro, population 1,700, were jammed Saturday with a few hundred protesters of all races, chanting and hoisting placards. Organized by the NAACP, the marchers — led by Lacy's mother and brother — cheered the FBI inquiry and demanded a full accounting of how the teenager's death was investigated.

"There were a lot of things the investigators said that just didn't add up," Claudia Lacy said, wearing a "No Justice, No Peace" T-shirt emblazoned with photos of her son.

"Why wasn't this investigation taken seriously?" she asked. "I want answers."

Sneakers on her son's feet were a size and a half too small and did not belong to him, Lacy said. The two canvas belts around his neck were not his. His hands were not bagged to preserve possible evidence, she said, and police were already breaking down the scene when she arrived to identify her son's body.

Investigators did not search the family home, she said. No suicide note was found. And Lacy said investigators seized on a comment she made about her son being upset by the death of a beloved uncle to make a case that he was depressed and suicidal.

Asked whether she suspected someone had killed her son, Lacy replied: "No, I can't say that. I don't know what happened. That's why we need a new investigation."

Walking hand-in-hand with Lacy was the Rev. William J. Barber II, the NAACP state president, who has alleged for weeks that the investigation was slipshod and perfunctory because Lacy was black.

During Saturday's protest, Barber acknowledged that Lacy may have committed suicide, but he also raised the possibility that he was lynched.

"The question is: Was it self-inflicted? Was it a staged hanging? Or was it a lynching homicide?" Barber said.

"If Lennon Lacy had been white, would there have been such a rush to judgment?"

Bladen County Dist. Atty. Jon David defended the investigation as "professional, thorough and extensive," complete with photographs, measurements and interviews. He said he asked the FBI last month to review the case because the Lacy family and the NAACP told him they would provide information only to federal authorities.

"We need to make sure a comprehensive and professional investigation is done," David told reporters Friday. "We recognize the importance of the case to the community."

For nearly three hours yesterday, protesters chanted slogans and peacefully marched the length of the town, observed by sheriff's deputies and state troopers. The demonstration came the same day marchers in Washington, D.C.; New York; and other cities protested the deaths of black people at the hands of white police in Ferguson, Mo., New York and Cleveland.

  • @broheems The President and his AG have encouraged and authorized EVERY arrest, every shooting, and every black objection to law enforcement to become a national, race baiting headline. That's what it has to do with Obama.
    AT 11:57 AM DECEMBER 14, 2014

But in Bladenboro, the focus was not on a confrontation between a black male and a white policeman. It was on black perceptions of the criminal justice system in a small Southern town where the tiny police force has never had a black member, according to a local pastor, the Rev. Gregory D. Taylor, and where the first black county sheriff, Prentis Benston, lost his reelection bid in November.

Suicides can be notoriously difficult to prove conclusively, and family members often fail to detect signs of distress in loved ones who later kill themselves. But even if Lacy's death is ultimately determined to be a suicide, Barber said, the investigation demands further scrutiny.

The Lacy family "can accept anything if it's proven and it's true, but they cannot accept this rush to judgment," Barber said.

Lennon Lacy's brother, Pierre, 31, said investigators told him they considered the case a suicide because there was no other explanation for the hanging.

"They ruled it a suicide almost right away and didn't follow up with anything," Pierre Lacy said. "When I questioned them, they got upset."

The night before his body was found, his mother said, Lennon Lacy was looking forward to playing in the first football game of the season the next day. He washed his uniform and hung it to dry, then went for his usual jog and exercise workout that evening, she said.

It was the last time she saw him alive. Lacy's body was found at 7:25 a.m. Aug. 29, suspended from the swing set in what Barber called "a predominantly white trailer park known for drug activity."

"He wasn't depressed. He wasn't suicidal," Claudia Lacy, 51, said. "I know. I'm his mother."

A family lawyer, Allen W. Rogers, said he was unable to persuade local authorities to consider any possibility other than suicide.

"They had their minds made up, and they just needed to convince the family it was a suicide," Rogers said at the march. "They didn't expect this kind of scrutiny."

A private pathologist hired by the NAACP, Dr. Christena L. Roberts, criticized the way the body was handled at the death scene and the way evidence was collected. In a report, Roberts said she was told by a state medical examiner who conducted an autopsy that the suicide conclusion was based on information provided by investigators at the scene.

The local coroner reported that there were white sneakers on Lacy's body when he placed it in a body bag, Roberts said in the report. When the body arrived at the state medical examiner's office, she said, it bore gray sneakers that were a size and a half too small.

Roberts said she agreed with the medical examiner's conclusion that Lacy's head bore no visible wounds. She also agreed that abrasions on Lacy's face and arms, cited by his family, were ant bites.

In Bladenboro on Saturday, some whites joined in the march and others watched respectfully from sidewalks and storefronts as protesters chanted, "We won't stop marching till we get the truth!"

Taylor, the Lacy family pastor, said of Bladenboro: "There's a history of racism here, but relations have improved."

Travis Smith, 25, a white construction worker who played high school football here, said Lacy's death should be thoroughly investigated because his family deserves answers. He said there are few racial tensions in the town, where about 17% of residents are black.

"It's not like there's a race war going on here," Smith said as he watched from a car wash. "But this whole case opens up the door to play the race card, unfortunately."

Claudia Lacy, drawn and worn after walking the streets Saturday, said she didn't want her son's death subsumed by the issue of race. She said deaths of blacks and whites should be investigated exactly the same way.

Asked whether her son's investigation would have been handled differently had he been white, she replied, "Yes. Oh, yes."

 Its main battlegrounds are far away and its true influence hard to judge, but the Islamic State's (IS) black banner is attracting the attention of militants in Africa, particularly in Nigeria.IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's so-called caliphate is based in Syria and Iraq and draws most of its recruits from the Middle East, North Africa and Europe's immigrant communities.
But the group's rapid rise to the top of the global militant movement, displacing Al-Qaeda as a source of inspiration, has had an echo south of the Sahara, where several insurgencies are underway.
Outside observers see the Islamic State's influence, for example, in the tactics, rhetoric and even online media presence of the Boko Haram rebels of northeast Nigeria and neighboring border areas.
"There are no direct operational contacts," said Peter Pham, head of the Africa Center at the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank.
"But it is quite clear that Boko Haram is paying attention to the IS and the IS is paying attention to Boko Haram."
Jacob Zenn, an African specialist at the Jamestown Foundation, said Boko Haram had initially received backing from Al-Qaeda's regional offshoot Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
"It has more recently begun to model its ideological and military doctrine after the Islamic State and, in turn, has started to receive recognition from the Islamic State," he told AFP.

A soldier returning home for the holidays to see his wife and newborn baby in Central is being kicked out of his wife's apartment after the landlord said he is overstaying the time allowed for visitors.

Sergeant William Bolt is stationed in Missouri, but his wife has been in Central. She gave birth to their daughter two weeks ago.

Bolt said the landlord at The Groves apartment complex in Central told him he had overstayed, saying visitors are not allowed to stay in the apartments past seven days, per the agreement signed by Bolt's wife, Lily.

"I'm stationed in Missouri and we haven't seen each other in six months. What's the problem with me staying and visiting with my wife?" Bolt said.

The landlord, whose name is Chuck, told FOX Carolina he enforces that rule for all his tenants.


US peace activist Kathy Kelly has been sentenced to 3 months prison for her criticism of the US drone programme in Afghanistan on the 10th December.

Considered to be Human Rights Day, peace activist Kathy Kelly was sentenced on the 10th December to 3 months prison by the US Federal court.

According to the Centre for Global Research the defence said that “The punishment for our attempt to speak on behalf of trapped and desperate people, abroad, will be an opportunity to speak with people trapped by prisons and impoverishment here in the U.S”

Examination of DNA from 21 primate species – from squirrel monkeys to humans – exposes an evolutionary war against infectious bacteria over iron that circulates in the bloodstream. Supported by experimental evidence, these findings, published in Science on Dec. 12, demonstrate the vital importance of an underappreciated defense mechanism, nutritional immunity. 

“We’ve known about nutritional immunity for 40 years,” says Matthew Barber, Ph.D., first author and postdoctoral fellow in human genetics at the University of Utah. “What this study shows us is that over the last 40 million years of primate evolution, this battle for iron between bacteria and primates has been a determining factor in our survival as a species.” The study models an approach for uncovering reservoirs of genetic resistance to bacterial infections, knowledge that could be used to confront antibiotic resistance and emerging diseases.

Following infection, the familiar sneezing, runny nose, and inflammation are all part of the immune system’s attempts to rid the body of hostile invaders. Lesser known is a separate defense against invasive microbes, called nutritional immunity, that quietly takes place under our skin. This defense mechanism starves infectious bacteria by hiding circulating iron, an essential nutrient it needs for survival. The protein that transports iron in the blood, transferrin, tucks the trace metal safely out of reach. 

Clever as it sounds, the ploy is not enough to keep invaders at bay. Several bacterial pathogens - including those that cause meningitis, gonorrhea, and sepsis - have developed a weapon, transferrin binding protein (TbpA), that latches onto transferrin and steal its iron. Though scientists have known of the offensive strategy, they failed to realize how pivotal the battle over iron has been in the conflict between host and pathogen.

“Interactions between host and pathogen are transient and temporary,” says senior author Nels Elde, Ph.D., assistant professor of human genetics at the University of Utah. “It took casting a wide net across all of primate genetic diversity to capture the significance.” 

Just as details of a struggle can be gleaned from battle scars, Barber and Elde reconstructed this evolutionary conflict by documenting when and where changes in transferrin and TbpA have occurred over millennia. They examined the DNA of transferrin in 21 species from the primate family tree, and of TbpA from dozens of bacterial strains. The majority of accumulated changes in transferrin and TbpA cluster around a single region of contact between the two proteins, highlighting it as a site of evolutionary conflict between host and pathogen. The authors then used these genetic observations as a guide to perform experiments, which showed changes in TbpA enable the protein to grasp hold of transferrin, and that recent changes in transferrin allow it to evade TbpA.

Up to 25 percent of people in the world’s populations have a small alteration in the transferrin gene, which prevents recognition by several infectious bacteria, the most recent sign of this long battle. “Up until this study no one had come up with a functional explanation for why this variation occurs at an appreciable frequency in human populations,” says Elde. “We now know that it is a consequence of the pathogens we and our ancestors faced over millions of years.”

Today, I stopped caring about my fellow man. I stopped caring about my community, my neighbors, and those I serve. I stopped caring today because a once noble profession has become despised, hated, distrusted, and mostly unwanted.
I stopped caring today because parents refuse to teach their kids right from wrong and blame us when they are caught breaking the law. I stopped caring today because parents tell their little kids to be good or “the police will take you away” embedding a fear from year one. Moms hate us in their schools because we frighten them and remind them of the evil that lurks in the world.
They would rather we stay unseen, but close by if needed, but readily available to “fix their kid.” I stopped caring today because we work to keep our streets safe from mayhem in the form of reckless, drunk, high, or speeding drivers, only to be hated for it, yet hated even more because we didn’t catch the drunk before he killed someone they may know.
Nevertheless, we are just another tool used by government to generate “revenue.” I stopped caring today because Liberals hate the police as we carry guns, scare kids, and take away their drugs. We always kill innocent people with unjust violence. We are called bullies for using a Taser during a fight, but are condemned further for not first tasing the guy who pulls a gun on us.
And if we do have to shoot, we are asked “why didn’t you just shoot the gun out of their hand?” And when one of us is killed by the countless attacks that do happen (but are rarely reported in the mainstream media) the haters say, “Its just part of the job.” I stopped caring today because Conservatives hate us as we are “the Government.” We try to take away their guns, freedoms, and liberty at every turn.
We represent a “Police State” where “jackbooted badge-wearing thugs” randomly attack innocent people without cause or concern for constitutional rights. We are Waco, Ruby Ridge, and Rodney King all rolled into one lone police officer stopping to help change an old lady’s tire. I stopped caring today as no one wants us around, but instantly demands answers, results, arrests, when a crime takes place.
If a crime isn’t solved within the allocated 60 minutes it takes CSI on television, we are inept, incompetent, or covering something up. If we do get “lucky” it was just that and everyone with a Facebook account can post wonderful comments of how “they” would solve the case and how “we” are not nearly as clever.
I stopped caring today because a video of a cop six states away, from a department that you never heard of, screws up and forgets his oath of honor, thus firing up an internet lynch-mob of cop haters even though 99% of us work twice as hard not to end up in the news and to still be “the good guys.” We are “militarized” because we wear body armor and kevlar helmets when shots are fired or rocks thrown at us and carry scary looking rifles even though everyone knows that they are easier to shoot and are more ac