Monday, September 1, 275760

Random Disclaimer: This is a blog.



9/23/14 EDIT: For in-depth video game information for various obscure RPGs, check out my gaming blog at http://not-another-gaming-blog.blogspot.com

5/29/12 EDIT: I've just created a new blog exclusively for ponies and pony-related news, WITHOUT the stressful news articles on this blog.  It's no Equestria Daily, nor will it ever be, but it's still a pony blog. Feel free to check it out if you please... http://brony-montana.blogspot.com


This blog contains some controversial posts concerning certain political issues and depressing news stories. If you find some of the content on my blog too controversial for your liking, or you're simply interested in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, go to http://www.dailymotion.com/MLPFiMVideos... That is my DailyMotion channel, which is filled with (almost) every episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic so far. If a new episode of MLP:FiM comes on, expect to see it on there within a few hours, unless I lose Internet access or my computer dies out on me, which tends to happen on occasion. It might help to take the edge off from hearing or seeing too much stressful stuff (i.e. some of the posts on my blog), and you may walk away with the realization that not ALL things pertaining to My Little Pony suck. In fact, in the case of FiM, it's AWESOME.

BTW, since DailyMotion absolutely ADORES putting ads all over the place, often ruining perfectly good videos by placing ads at the beginning, end, and occasionally, even the MIDDLE of many videos, please consider installing Adblock Plus for maximum pony enjoyment. DailyMotion can be a great deal better and more enjoyable than YouTube, but only if you use Adblock to get around the horribly annoying ads.

If you're interested in MLP:FiM, but you don't want to go to DailyMotion, either because of the annoying random ads or because the videos play slower there than on other sites, there are dozens, if not hundreds of channels on YouTube that have the entire first and second seasons uploaded to their channels, and they're all ad-free, too. I was planning on creating another YouTube channel to upload pony videos to, but it wouldn't allow me to upload videos past 15 minutes unless I gave a mobile phone number, and I don't have a mobile phone, and I'm NOT breaking these videos into parts.

If you're into ponies, but don't particularly feel like watching a pony episode at this point in time for some reason, or don't have the time to, there are still plenty of adorable pony pictures you can look at... I'll post a few links to pony image dumps immediately below.

Pony image dumps:
http://brony-montana.blogspot.com/2015/03/033015-sweetie-belle-image-dump.html
http://brony-montana.blogspot.com/2015/03/033015-scootaloo-image-dump-contains.html
http://brony-montana.blogspot.com/2015/03/033015-apple-bloom-image-dump-contains.html
http://brony-montana.blogspot.com/2015/03/032915-applejack-image-dump-contains-35.html
http://brony-montana.blogspot.com/2015/03/032915-rarity-image-dump-about-26-pics.html
http://brony-montana.blogspot.com/2015/03/032915-pinkie-pie-image-dump-31.html
http://brony-montana.blogspot.com/2015/03/032315-twilight-sparkle-image-dump-30.html
http://brony-montana.blogspot.com/2015/03/032315-fluttershy-image-dump-25-pics-of.html
http://brony-montana.blogspot.com/2015/03/032313-rainbow-dash-image-dump-30-pics.html
http://brony-montana.blogspot.com/2015/03/032315-pony-image-dump-3-contains-18.html
http://brony-montana.blogspot.com/2015/03/032315-pony-image-dump-2-13-pictures-of.html
http://brony-montana.blogspot.com/2015/03/032315-pony-image-dump-contains-about.html
http://brony-montana.blogspot.com/2015/01/010515-pic-dump-of-day-about-30-random.html
http://brony-montana.blogspot.com/2014/01/011514-fluttershy-image-dump-about-23.html
http://brony-montana.blogspot.com/2014/01/011514-pony-image-dump-4-contains-about.html
http://brony-montana.blogspot.com/2014/01/011514-random-pony-image-dump-3.html
http://brony-montana.blogspot.com/2014/01/011514-rainbow-dash-image-dump-2.html
http://brony-montana.blogspot.com/2014/01/011514-rainbow-dash-image-dump-contains.html
http://brony-montana.blogspot.com/2014/01/011514-applejack-image-dump-contains-20.html
http://brony-montana.blogspot.com/2014/01/011514-pony-image-dump-2-18-pics-mostly.html
http://brony-montana.blogspot.com/2014/01/011514-random-pony-image-dump-20-images.html
http://brony-montana.blogspot.com/2013/10/100213-random-pony-image-dump-mostly.html
http://brony-montana.blogspot.com/2013/09/092713-random-pony-image-dump-contains.html
http://brony-montana.blogspot.com/2013/09/092513-random-pony-image-dump-2-mostly.html
http://brony-montana.blogspot.com/2013/09/91913-random-pony-image-dump-2-about.html
http://brony-montana.blogspot.com/2013/09/091913-random-ponies-image-dump-over.html
http://brony-montana.blogspot.com/2013/09/091613-random-pony-image-dump-3-about.html
http://brony-montana.blogspot.com/2013/09/091613-spike-image-dump-about-80.html
http://brony-montana.blogspot.com/2013/09/091613-fluttershy-image-dump-about-30.html
http://brony-montana.blogspot.com/2013/09/091613-sunset-shimmer-image-dump-46.html
http://brony-montana.blogspot.com/2013/09/091613-random-pony-image-dump-2-about.html
http://brony-montana.blogspot.com/2013/09/091613-ponies-eating-meat-image-dump.html
http://brony-montana.blogspot.com/2013/09/091613-random-pony-image-dump-95-pics.html
http://brony-montana.blogspot.com/2012/08/pony-image-dump-of-day-8281256k-warning.html
http://brony-montana.blogspot.com/2015/05/052515-adorable-pony-image-dump-69-pics.html
http://brony-montana.blogspot.com/2015/05/052515-random-adorable-pony-image-dump.html
http://brony-montana.blogspot.com/2015/05/052515-random-adorable-pony-image-dump_25.html
http://brony-montana.blogspot.com/2015/05/052515-random-adorable-pony-image-dump_69.html
http://brony-montana.blogspot.com/2015/05/052515-random-adorable-pony-image-dump_0.html
http://brony-montana.blogspot.com/2015/05/052515-random-adorable-pony-image-dump_62.html
http://brony-montana.blogspot.com/2015/05/052515-random-adorable-pony-image-dump_86.html
http://brony-montana.blogspot.com/2015/05/052515-random-pony-image-dump-8-about.html
http://brony-montana.blogspot.com/2015/05/053115-huge-random-adorable-pony-image.html
If ponies aren't your thing, I understand. At any rate, I cannot stress enough that there are PLENTY of depressing pieces of news and controversial opinions about certain subjects on here. But if you can get past this disclaimer, you might find that this blog is fairly interesting and informative. I do my best to post interesting articles from various news sources, many of which provide a glimpse into the harsh realities of the world. Some of them may be easily accessed by searching your favorite news site or clicking on CNN, FOX News, MSNBC, etc, whereas some other news stories are less known for various reasons.


BTW, I've noticed a few people have been searching for "Rainbow Dash Attack", basically a ponified version of the popular Adult Swim Flash game "Robot Unicorn Attack". If you want to play "Rainbow Dash Attack", follow the link below.
http://www.comdotgame.com/play/rainbow-dash-attack

If you just want to play the original version, Robot Unicorn Attack, feel free to follow this link...
http://games.adultswim.com/robot-unicorn-attack-twitchy-online-game.html

Saturday, December 31, 275555

A veritable encyclopedia of important links, including search engines, Pastebins, proxies, alternative news sources, etc.

Alternative Search Engines
 
001 http://www.mamma.com
002 https://blekko.com/
003 https://startpage.com/
004 https://ixquick.com
005 https://duckduckgo.com/
006 http://www.alltheweb.com
007 http://www.gigablast.com/
008 http://www.proxysearchengine.tk
009 http://74.125.47.132  (google)
010 http://gibiru.com/
011 http://filetram.com/  (file search)
012 http://www.worldcat.org/  (library search engine)
013 http://www.monstercrawler.com
014 http://searchalot.com
015 http://www.searchcanvas.com/
016 http://web.search.ch
017 http://mamma75.mamma.com
018 http://search.freecause.com/
019 http://www.general-files.com/  (file search)
020 http://www.ebook3000.com/ (free books)
021 http://www.sqfile.com  (file search)
022 http://www.zoozle.org/ (file search)
023 http://translate.google.com/
024 http://www.robtex.com/
025 http://95.154.230.253 (hide my ass)

Friday, January 3, 275000

A Comprehensive List of Suicide Crisis Hotlines across America

If you are feeling suicidal for any reason, please don't throw your life away. Instead, talk with someone you're close to or contact your local suicide hotline. Here is a comprehensive list of all the suicide hotlines across all 50 states.

 Information taken from  http://www.suicide.org/suicide-hotlines.html . If you need more detailed information on the subject of suicide and how to deal with it, please go to the URL and check out any of the links on the left side of it. If you or a loved one or friend is expressing suicidal ideations or behavior, contact the hotline on the list that is nearest to you immediately. 

To find a particular suicide hotline or hotlines in your area, press Ctrl+F, and either type in your state of residence or the name of said hotline.

Thursday, March 6, 2025

CISA 2.0 (Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act) Frequently Asked Questions

 https://www.accessnow.org/blog/2015/03/04/the-cisa-2.0-frequently-asked-questions-faq

What is CISA?

Lawmakers in Washington, D.C. love their acronyms. “CISA” is the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA).

CISA is a bad bill. It would risk user privacy by encouraging companies to transfer private information. It also creates new risks by enabling the use of countermeasures or “hack backs,” which endanger the integrity of the internet and further risk exposure of private information. Yet, the bill seems to be a high priority for some members of Congress and we may see a floor vote within the next few months.


What does CISA do?

CISA’s primary mechanism is to facilitate the transfer of “cyber threat indicators,” which are defined broadly enough to include private information such as email content or personal identities.1 CISA even protects companies that transfer “cyber threat indicators” that other privacy laws would have protected.2 It also ensures that companies that pass on information will be protected against court action — liability limits that disincentivize companies from adequately protecting user privacy.
In addition, the bill does little to allow users to enforce their rights even when companies violate the few privacy protections found in the bill. Knowing when rights have been violated would pose its own challenge. CISA’s transparency provisions wouldn’t allow us to know the full impact on users (in fact, it exempts this information from disclosure under federal open government laws).

How can we stop CISA?

First off, you sign our petition.

Then, you can call or write your senators, particularly Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr and Vice Chairman Dianne Feinstein, to express your concerns. You can also reach out to your local representative to let them know cybersecurity legislation should protect your rights.

Do they really need my personal information?

No, they don’t. Security experts have made clear that personal information need not be shared in order for us to maintain our cybersecurity. Alex Stamos, the Chief Information Security Officer at Yahoo! recently said that while information sharing is easy to discuss, it doesn’t fall into the top ten most effective things the government can do to protect users. Even if companies attempt to go beyond CISA’s requirements and remove private information, advanced analytics might still be used on the “cyber threat indicators” to gain access to identities.

What would companies be able to do with personal information after it is collected?

The bill does little to ensure companies would strip private information before passing “cyber threat indicators" to other companies and the government. CISA requires companies to review “cyber threat indicators” and remove what is known to be private at the time of transfer, however a company would not have to remove information it suspects to be private — or which may be used in conjunction with other information that can identify a user.3


But won’t CISA make the internet more secure?

CISA may actually make the internet less secure.

The bill contains a provision enabling the deployment of countermeasures, also referred to as “hack backs,” which enable a company to take action in response to threats to their network.4 While the bill enables countermeasures to protect the rights of a network owner, owners are only prohibited from intentionally destroying other systems. If they perceive that they are acting based on their rights, and they end up causing damage to other systems, they may not be liable. For instance, a malicious hacker may use a botnet, causing companies to use countermeasures that affect innocent users with no knowledge or intent to participate.

Will the National Security Agency (NSA) be involved?
CISA requires the direct transfer of “cyber threat indicators” to every appropriate agency, including the NSA. That would give the NSA immediate access to massive new datasets, even as Congress has so far failed to pass reforms in the wake of revelations about NSA surveillance.5

Is CISA already a law? Who’s behind it?

No. A draft of the bill was recently circulated to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence by Chairman Burr. As of March 4, 2015, the bill has not yet been formally introduced. Vice Chairman Feinstein introduced a version of the bill last year, though it never made it to a vote by the full Senate. While this is the second iteration of CISA, there have been a number of information sharing bills floated around Congress, in this and previous sessions.

How does President Obama feel about the bill?

While President Obama twice threatened to veto the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), a similar bill from the House of Representatives, he never made the same threat against CISA, probably because it never made it to a Senate vote. The president did recently introduce his own legislative proposal, which, while not good, is not as bad as CISA.

But now that Sony and Anthem have been victims of high-profile hacks, and President Obama has hosted his own cybersecurity summit, there’s a lot of pressure on him to sign effective cybersecurity legislation. That legislation should not be CISA. President Obama should stand by his past opposition to CISPA and reject the similarly awful CISA.

Here is a letter from Access and a number of other privacy groups urging President Obama to pledge to veto the previous version of CISA.

How do other experts feel about the bill?

Access recently co-signed a joint letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee urging a rejection of the bill. It was signed by dozens of leading digital rights groups, academics, and technologists. You can read the letter here.


What are the alternatives to information sharing legislation?

The government should pass legislation that promotes proper digital hygiene, such as the use two-factor authentication and indicators of phishing attacks, and encourages companies to do the same. It could encourage the integration of digital security into education curriculums, so that students know how to protect themselves and learn about career opportunities. The government could also implement a federal bug bounty program to encourage individuals to find and report bugs.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Lawsuit claims excessive force by police prompted suicidal Groton, Connecticut man to kill himself

http://www.theday.com/local/20150623/lawsuit-claims-excessive-force-by-police-prompted-suicidal-groton-man-to-kill-himself

Groton — A lawsuit in federal court claims that state police provoked a suicidal Poquonnock Bridge firefighter to kill himself in 2012 by repeatedly firing nonlethal ammunition at him.

The estate of Timothy Devine has accused four troopers — Louis Fusaro Jr., Steven Rief, Michael Avery and Kevin Cook — of using excessive force and violating Devine’s civil rights, in effect “causing” his wrongful death. Michael Devine, Timothy Devine’s father, is the administrator of the estate.

Fusaro, now a major and known by the initials L.J., is a front runner for the police chief’s job in the Town of Groton. Town Manager Mark Oefinger, who is in charge of naming a chief, said in an email he would answer questions when he announces who the next chief is.

The Town Council had a potential executive session scheduled during its meeting Tuesday night in the Town Hall Annex to hear an update on the chief's job.

The attorney general's office, in response to the suit filed July 16, 2014, in U.S. District Court in New Haven said the four troopers cannot be sued because they were acting in their official capacities.

Devine was suicidal and "there was no duty upon the defendant police officers to assure the survival of Timothy Devine," wrote Matthew B. Beizer, assistant attorney general.

The case has not gone before a jury. The attorney general's office filed a motion on June 11 for summary judgment. Devine’s attorneys, Hubert J. Santos and Jessica M. Santos of Hartford, have until July 2 to respond. Hubert Santos did not return calls seeking comment. Judge Jeffrey A. Meyer is hearing the case.

The day before Devine's death on July 24, 2012, on the University of Connecticut campus at Avery Point, several teenage boys gave police statements accusing Devine, who owned Crossfit gym in Groton City, of touching them in a sexually inappropriate manner, court papers said. Groton City and Groton Town police were investigating the allegations, and an officer had called Devine to talk about the investigation, according to court documents.

At first, Devine said he’d come in, the documents said. Then he called the officer back and said he wouldn’t, that he would kill himself. Police later found Devine by the water at Avery Point holding a gun to his head.

“The officers were trying to save Devine’s life,” Beizer said Friday. “Devine was trying to kill himself, so the officers made, I think, an entirely appropriate decision to try to intervene, and the result was Devine shot himself, and that is no blame on the police officers.”

Officers are entitled to “qualified immunity” based on a U.S. Supreme Court decision that gives state or municipal employees the benefit of the doubt when they make difficult decisions in close calls, Beizer said.

Harry Boardsen, a family friend, retired spokesman for the Connecticut state police, and former Groton town police officer, said Friday the level of force was unjustified.

“He had no hostage, he was not threatening the police. Whatever happened to waiting it out? The Coast Guard was there with a gunboat with a machine gun on it. Where’s Tim going?” Boardsen said. “School was out, he’s on the rocks, he’s not threatening the police. That’s all the more reason for them to pull back and wait. And wait. He never committed a crime, was never arrested. Nothing did he do that warranted the amount of force that was inflicted upon him.”

Boardsen said the family would not speak to the press yet. Michael Devine did not return a call to his home.

On the day before his death Tim Devine called Jeffrey Douchette, his friend and supervisor at the Poquonnock Bridge Fire Department, three times. The second time, at 7:15 p.m., Devine told him something was going on, though he didn’t say what, and that “he had always done the right thing and always tried to help people,” Douchette’s statement to police said.

At 9:25 p.m., Devine called again and said he had said goodbye to his parents and would hide $12,000 in cash to pay for his funeral, the statement said. He also asked his friend where he should put the gun to his head so it wouldn’t hurt, Douchette said. He called a Groton town police officer.
Police found Devine’s black Jeep at UConn-Avery Point about 9:55 p.m. They found him near the water, holding his 9mm pistol to his head.

Officers from Groton Town, Groton City, Ledyard and Stonington surrounded him, using shields and cover as protection, the lawsuit said.

Devine talked to two negotiators for more than three hours, but wouldn’t put down the gun. He said his job as a firefighter and gym owner were through, that no one would believe him and that one of his accusers was the son of a judge, court records said. He said he placed his hands on the boys to position their bodies correctly, actions he said the boys misconstrued.

At about midnight, then-Groton City police Capt. Thomas Davoren, who is now chief, called for the state police Emergency Services Unit; 24 troopers responded, the records said. The campus was on lockdown at the time.

Troopers set up an armored vehicle about 25 yards from Devine. They also put up a “command post” of police vehicles on the lawn.

State police Sgt. Chris Bartolatta, a crisis negotiator for 19 years, stepped in. Devine told him, among his statements, “You don’t know what is going on,” “They are never going to look at me the same,” and “I want the pain to end,” Bartolatta said in an affidavit.

Devine said he was sorry for embarrassing his fellow firefighters and parents. He mentioned “suicide by cop” saying something like, “I know that if I point this gun at your guys, you will shoot me,” the affidavit said.

“My greatest concern throughout this incident was that Mr. Devine may direct his gun at a police officer and provoke or initiate a deadly exchange,” Fusaro said in an affidavit. He also worried about others becoming involved, he said.

Boardsen disputes that Devine ever threatened police and said the family has witnesses to support that.

Devine's brother, Shane Devine, and father, Michael Devine, arrived separately at the campus, but according to the father's statement they were not allowed to speak with Timothy Devine.
“I believe that I could have made a difference if I was allowed to talk to Timothy. I believe I could have talked him down,” Michael Devine said in his statement. He said his son was “pushed to the edge” by the allegations, and that "he would stretch kids, clients out, nothing inappropriate. He was licensed and knew what he was doing. The allegation was just that.”

Friends and gym co-workers told police they never saw Timothy Devine inappropriately touch minors.

Bartolatta said Devine became agitated upon learning his parents were there, so Bartolatta didn't raise the issue of Devine's parents again. Police became concerned because negotiations weren’t working, court documents said. Rief, the state police tactical unit east team leader, was concerned that a bystander might become involved, his affidavit states.

About 3 a.m., they decided on a plan to disarm Devine: Strike him with munitions when he had the gun down, so he would drop it or give up in pain.

“I felt that there was a high probability that it would work,” Fusaro’s affidavit said.

Police used an ARWEN 37 mm launcher that fires plastic impact batons to use “pain compliance” to get a subject to surrender, according to expert witness testimony in the case. The batons can reach 100 meters (about 328 feet) and fire at an initial speed of 74 meters per second (about 165 miles an hour) on average, according to the product description.

Brian Kirkey, president of Police Ordnance Company Inc., which manufactures the ARWEN, said officers are trained to hit extremities like arms and legs, and the weapon is intended to be used until the person surrenders or the threat is gone.

In this Sept. 11, 2008, Day file photo, Poquonnock Bridge firefighter Tim Devine, center, salutes the flag as the pledge of allegiance is recited and the national anthem sung as students at Ella Grasso Southeastern Technical High School gather before the start of classes to mark the seventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day file photo)
In this Sept. 11, 2008, Day file photo, Poquonnock Bridge firefighter Tim Devine, center, salutes the flag as the pledge of allegiance is recited and the national anthem sung as students at Ella Grasso Southeastern Technical High School gather before the start of classes to mark the seventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day file photo)
 
“The system is designed to try to save lives,” Kirkey said, adding that officers had to make a judgment about how long to let someone hold a loaded gun, and no one else was in their shoes.
The suit alleges troopers fired three “barrages” at Devine, starting at 3:31 a.m., and hit him eight times. The troopers also deployed flash bang devices that create light, sound and pressure to disorient a person, an expert witness said in court papers.

At 3:31 a.m. Fusaro, the state police tactical unit commander, “commanded members of the tactical team to begin using ‘less lethal’ ammunition on Devine” and Avery and Cook fired at Devine, striking him, the lawsuit said.

Rief instructed the troopers to fire a second time; Avery and Cook fired, hitting Devine again, the suit said.

“Following the second barrage, Devine placed his gun to his head . . . Devine said to defendant Rief, ‘Don’t make me do this,’” the suit recounted. Devine lowered his gun to chest level, then Rief told the troopers to fire again. Avery and Cook fired a third time, hitting him five times, the suit said. Devine raised the gun to his head and shot himself, the suit said.

The lawsuit said the troopers are not entitled to immunity and the actions “were unreasonable, excessive and unnecessary.”

“Any reasonable, properly trained law enforcement officer would not have engaged in such conduct,” the complaint said. The four troopers failed to prevent the excessive force by another, “although they were aware that each other’s actions constituted unreasonable or excessive force” and have a sworn duty to prevent it, the complaint said.

An autopsy found deep tissue bruising on Devine’s right buttocks, where three batons hit, more deep bruising on his right outer thigh where another struck, and a broken ring finger, where another hit him. He was also struck on his right inner thigh and twice on his left calf, a police report said.
In his right front shorts pocket, Devine left a note, that read, in part:

“This is probably the best for everyone. I just want to ask that no one judge me for my actions. No matter how many good deeds I tried to accomplish through firefighting or exposing people to the world of fitness, nothing erased the demons that I had to face every day inside. Over time, it just became more obvious that I was going to be forever void of being truly happy."

Cosmic colors: Astronomers use 'interstellar rainbow' to map distance to star system

http://rt.com/usa/269467-nasa-cosmic-rainbow-circinus/

NASA has released an image of a breathtaking 'interstellar rainbow,' made possible by X-ray light echoes reflecting off clouds of dust. The beautiful rings have allowed astronomers to determine how far the double star system Circinus X-1 is from Earth.

The rings were the result of a burst of X-rays emitted by Circinus X-1 in late 2013, NASA said in a statement.
 
While the beautiful colors were certainly a feast for the eyes, they also served a vital purpose for astronomers, who used them to determine how far Circinus X-1 is from our planet.

Using the Chandra X-ray Observatory, the researchers determined that each individual ring was created by X-ray reflections off a different dust cloud.

 “The burst reflected off intervening clouds of dust, with some reflected X-rays arriving to Earth from different angles at a time delay of about one to three months, creating the observed rings,” the statement reads.

They then compared the Chandra data to prior images of dust clouds collected by the Mopra radio telescope in Australia, and put their geometry skills to use.
 
“It’s really hard to get accurate distance measurements in astronomy and we only have a handful of methods,” said Sebastian Heinz of the University of Wisconsin in Madison, who led the study.“But just as bats use sonar to triangulate their location, we can use the X-rays from Circinus X-1 to figure out exactly where it is.”

The final result showed that Circinus X-1 is located about 30,700 light-years from Earth. The information settles the difference in results published in previous studies.

The findings also provided astronomers with other useful information. For instance, Circinus X-1 is much brighter in X-rays and other types of light than previously thought – meaning its brightness is more in line with a black hole than a neutron star.


"Circinus X-1 acts in some ways like a neutron star and in some like a black hole," said co-author Catherine Braiding of the University of New South Wales. "It's extremely unusual to find an object that has such a blend of these properties."

Circinus X-1 is a double star system located in the plane of our galaxy. It contains a neutron star, explained by NASA as “the dense remnant of a massive star pulverized in a supernova explosion.”
The neutron star is in orbit with another massive star, and is shrouded by thick clouds of interstellar gas and dust. Circinus X-1 is also a source of a powerful jet of high-energy particles.

The double star system is believed to have become an X-ray source about 2,500 years ago, making it the youngest known 'X-ray binary.'

The NASA research was published in the Astrophysical Journal on Friday.

TPP supporters flood pro-trade senators with millions in donations

http://rt.com/usa/269554-tpp-senators-millions-donations/

With Congress poised to grant President Obama the authority to negotiate free-trade agreements such as the Asia-centered Trans-Pacific Partnership, new data shows lawmakers gathering millions of dollars from pro-trade parties.

According to data from researchers at MapLight, dozens of groups representing a variety of industries – ranging from the banking sector and insurance companies to electronics and food makers – donated about $218 million to senators since 2008, and that’s not counting senators who were voted out of office during the intervening years.
 
Researchers said that the amount of money donated is roughly nine times more than groups who opposed free trade legislation donated to senators. Opposition groups have donated just over $23 million.


Out of all the senators, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) received the most from pro-trade groups. He collected more than $8.2 million, while opposing groups only donated $11,000. Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), who voted against ending debate on giving Obama the ability to expedite the approval of trade agreements, was second on the list, accepting almost $6.2 million from pro-trade groups.

Notably, three of the 10 senators who received the most money were “no” votes on “fast-tracking” the TPP – Gillibrand, Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) Overall, six of the top 10 recipients were Republicans, while four were Democrats.

Those who agreed to give Obama fast-track authority generally received an average of $2.34 million from supporting groups.

“As far as business, this is the most important vote that will be taken this year,” said professor Anthony Corrado of Colby College in Waterville, Maine, a campaign finance expert, to CNBC. “The business community for the most part has been united on TPA, so you might expect a large disparity.”
Opponents of fast-track donated the most money to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who received nearly $2 million.

While dozens of senators received more than $1 million from pro-trade groups, only six senators collected more than $1 million from anti-trade organizations.

The controversial TPP deal would involve the US and 11 other Pacific Rim countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
Supporters argue that it will boost the US economy and open up overseas markets to American goods, but opponents claim it will cost jobs at home, potentially subvert American regulations, hurt the environment and diminish internet privacy rights.

After months of grueling debate in Congress, the Senate voted 60-38 on Wednesday to give Obama fast-track authority, allowing him to submit a finalized TPP pact, as well as other deals, to Congress for an up-or-down vote. The House of Representatives already approved the legislation as well. Once Obama signs it, lawmakers will not be allowed to offer amendments to whatever pact the White House negotiates with TPP members.

Obama has faced strong opposition from his own Democratic Party, with prominent lawmakers breaking ranks to speak and vote against the measure. Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers that usually oppose Obama generally backed the president on the issue.

Rare ‘testicle-eating’ fish with human-like teeth found in New Jersey

http://rt.com/usa/269485-testicle-eating-fish-jersey/

AFP Photo / Mark Ralston

A fish native to the Amazon called the pacu was caught in a reservoir in Southern New Jersey over the weekend. The fish has a nasty reputation for occasionally biting people with its human-like teeth.

The catch was made by Ron Rossi from the town of Delran, which has an artificial reservoir called Swedes Lake.

“We scoop[ed] this thing up and brought it up. We didn't know what kind of fish it was,” Rossi told a local ABC affiliate.

Though the fish is from South America, they are sometimes kept as pets, according to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and have also been found in far-flung locations such as Washington State, France and Denmark.

 “Many times, these fish are deposited into lakes by pet owners. These fish do not survive in colder water, so we encourage people not to release it into the wild but to humanely destroy the fish,” said spokesperson for the DEP in a statement.

While the pacu, which can weigh up to 44 pounds, does have a powerful bite, the fish probably isn’t aggressive toward humans in general, with only two cases being claimed in New Guinea.

The fish became notoriously – and erroneously – known for eating testicles . While it is true that pacu is related to piranhas, unlike their meat-loving cousins, pacus are omnivores. As with the similar-looking teeth of humans, theirs are made for grinding.

"I think it's just a rumor," Lars Skou Olsen, curator of Copenhagen’s Blue Planet Aquarium, told National Geographic when asked if the fish has a taste for male genitalia.

Despite fears of attacks and castration, some are concerned about pacus in the wild because of the possibility that they might harm the ecosystem by outcompeting native species and introducing exotic diseases.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Ron Paul: Economy will soon have ‘day of reckoning… when you’ll see the very, very big crash’

http://rt.com/usa/268456-ron-paul-economy-crash/

As the stock market surged close to all-time highs and the Federal Reserve hinted it wouldn't raise interest rates, former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) reiterated his fears that the US economy is not sustainable, predicting a huge crash in the near future.

“I look at the markets as being unstable, which means some days they go up a lot and some days they go down rapidly, but they don’t advance very far when you look at real growth,” Paul said on CNBC’s ‘Futures Now’ on Thursday. “The [Federal Reserve] won’t allow this market to drop. This is why I’ve always leaned toward the assumption that the Fed is never going to raise interest rates deliberately. I think the market will raise interest rates.”
 
On Wednesday, the Fed released a statement that indicated it would not raise interest rates at this time, leading stocks to surge on Thursday. The Nasdaq topped its intraday high from March 2000, while the S&P 500 closed less than 1 percent off its all-time high.


Paul blamed the Chairman of the Federal Reserve for causing economic instability, noting that their every word can be interpreted by the market actors in radical and unexpected ways, leading to “havoc.” Market-determined interest rates, he suggested, would lead to more stability and better results for the economy.

“And we live in a chaotic world that’s totally unreal ‒ people don’t depend on savings for their capital, they depend on the Fed. And the Fed says the slightest thing about, ‘Oh, maybe we shouldn’t print so much money ‘til next week’, you know, all kinds of things can happen,” he added.

“Eventually the value of money, the purchasing power of money will require that interest rates go up. But that is the game they’re playing, they fool a lot of people and as long as people believe the majority of the players still believe this, they’ll still be involved and they’re gonna make a lot of money.”
 
One of the things that Paul is adamant will happen is that the stock market will crash, bringing with it the entire US ‒ and possibly world ‒ economy with it.

“It could be tomorrow, it could be a month, it could be a couple years because it all depends on a psychological acceptance of the system,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any way to know what the time is but, you know, after 35 years of a gigantic bull market in bonds, believe me, they cannot reverse history. You cannot print money forever and deceive the markets forever."
 
“Eventually, the markets will rule, and that’s only a question of when that will happen. And, of course, I run a little bit scared because I think there will be a day of reckoning,” Paul added.

Paul blames the “fallacy of economic planning through monetary policy” for the instability in the economy.

“You cannot have it, it’s artificial, it has nothing to do with freedom and free markets and capitalism and sound money, but it’s all artificial, it’s all political and that is why we are so vulnerable,” he said.
“So we’re all on the verge ‒ the country, the world is on the verge of looking more like Detroit and Greece than anything else. But [in] time that will happen ‒ it’s probably not going to happen tomorrow or next month, but it will happen because this is unsustainable.”
 
Paul said he thinks the market correction is “going to be a lot more than anybody anticipates.”

“What I’m looking at is the ‘big one’, where all the malinvestment, all the mistakes made, all the pyramiding, all the unworthy debt that has been created, sovereign debt ‒ our sovereign debt is really not payable... there’s no way the debt is going to paid ‒ so the debt has to be liquidated, and that will come, but the big question is when will it come,” he said.

In the stock market crash of 1929, which marked the beginning of the Great Depression, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 11 percent of its value in one day.

“But as far as corrections go, I think 10 percent is puny. I think it’s going to be much greater and it will probably go a lot lower than people say it should… you know, markets overshoot,” Paul added.

And when the markets overshoot, Paul said, the result will be far worse than when the economy crashed in 2008, leading to the Great Recession. Because this time, the US won’t be able to bail the economy out.

“I don’t think it’s just going to be a correction. I think what will happen is the efforts made in ‘08 and ‘09 to correct all these mistakes will resume itself. That was just a notion of what the markets wanna do, but because they could bail out the big guys ‒ the banks and big corporations ‒ they were able to tide it over and restore confidence, so to speak,” Paul said. “But eventually though, the restoration of confidence in the system that doesn’t deserve confidence will be resumed. They will lose the confidence, and that is when you’ll see the very, very big crash.”

Surveillance court moving toward renewal of NSA spying program for 6 months

http://rt.com/usa/268441-surveillance-court-nsa-spying/

The secretive court that oversees US government spying requests has indicated that it will temporarily renew the National Security Agency's bulk phone records collection authority despite a new reform law that ended the dragnet.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) – often seen as a compliant "rubber stamp" for US government spying requests – released an order on Friday positing that lapsed spying powers vested in the Patriot Act – which expired without renewal on June 1 -- would not restrict the court from reauthorizing for six months the phone metadata collection program. The FISC order, though, is not yet an official revival of the NSA's surveillance program.

FISC Judge F. Dennis Saylor wrote that it “has the authority to grant the applications and issue the requested orders.”


In issuing the order, the FISC also maintained that, at least in this case, it did not need to consult an "amicus," or panel, of privacy advocates created under the USA Freedom Act.

"The statute provides some limited guidance, in that it clearly contemplates that there will be circumstances where an amicus curiae is unnecessary (that is, 'not appropriate')," Saylor wrote. "At a minimum, it seems likely that those circumstances would include situations where the court concludes that it does not need the assistance or advice of amicus curiae because the legal question is relatively simple, or is capable of only a single reasonable or rational outcome."
 
Privacy supporters decried the court's handling of the privacy panel.

"Propriety in the spirit of the USA Freedom Act is when the decision at hand were to have an impact on the rights of individuals, not necessarily when the Court conjectures that a decision is self-evident," said Amie Stepanovich, US policy manager with the digital-rights advocacy group Access, according to the National Journal. "It is the job of the amicus to raise issues that may not be readily apparent on first blush, meaning that what first may appear to be a clear-cut decision actually raises underlying questions. The Court must respect the presumption of the statute in favor of appointing the amicus."
 
The USA Freedom Act is a law approved by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama on June 2 to replace Patriot Act spying provisions with those that would allow bulk phone data collection through a supposedly targeted basis that must be approved by the FISC. In this case, private phone companies would be compelled to offer government spies the sought after metadata, which can indicate caller location, numbers dialed, length of conversations, and other information, but not the actual conversations.


The USA Freedom Act gave the NSA six months to end the phone metadata program. Citing the Freedom Act’s provision for a six-month transition period, the government quickly argued that the NSA needs to restart the bulk collection program in order to end it.

In a filing to the FISC in early June, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) requested permission to continue the “bulk production of call detail records” for 180 days, arguing that the USA Freedom Act allows a six-month transition period.

DOJ officials also asserted that the USA Freedom Act extended Section 215 powers from the Patriot Act through December 15, 2019.

Section 215 actually expired on May 31, after the extraordinary Sunday session of the Senate adjourned without passing the Freedom Act, partly thanks to the delaying tactics by Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Martin Heinrich (D-NM). The NSA had to shut down the program by the evening of May 31, to comply with the law. Senators eventually voted to pass the House-approved text of the USA Freedom Act on June 2.

Many opponents of government surveillance see the USA Freedom Act as a timid reform effort that will not adequately address NSA or other government spying capabilities. Their fears were exacerbated this week by comments made by former NSA chief Michael Hayden, who mocked the slow pace of redress following revelations of mass NSA spying supplied by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden two years ago.

Hayden said on Monday: "If somebody would come up to me and say 'Look, Hayden, here’s the thing: This Snowden thing is going to be a nightmare for you guys for about two years. And when we get all done with it, what you’re going to be required to do is that little 215 program about American telephony metadata — and by the way, you can still have access to it, but you got to go to the court and get access to it from the companies, rather than keep it to yourself' — I go: 'And this is it after two years? Cool!'”

Video surfaces of Chicago cop shooting into car full of black teenagers

 http://rt.com/usa/268489-chicago-cop-shooting-black-teens/

Police dashcam footage shows a Chicago police officer shooting into a car full of six black teenagers more than a dozen times. The incident happened in 2013, but the footage was just released by a retired judge.

In the nearly three-minute dashcam video, viewers see Chicago police officer Marco Proano arrive at the scene, where a vehicle had been stopped by two other officers. Proano is seen approaching the vehicle with his gun pointed sideways.

When the driver of the vehicle puts the car in reverse, and tries to do a three-point turn before crashing into a lamppost, Proano approaches with his gun pointed and opens fire into the car.
Later, the viewer sees all of the teenagers being arrested and handcuffed, with one clearly limping.
Three teens were injured in the incident. Two were shot by Proano – one in the shoulder, and another in the hip and the heel.


The incident happened more than 18 months ago on Dec. 22, 2013, but former Cook County Judge Andrew Berman gave the footage, which was under protective order, to the Chicago Reporter, calling it “disturbing on a whole different level.”
 
"You don’t start firing into a car full of unarmed people,” Berman told the Reporter. “You just don’t do that.

Judge Berman had previously heard a criminal case involving one of the teens. The Chicago Police Department (CPD) told the Chicago Reporter that officer Proano was moved off the street and assigned to desk duty, and the matter was referred to state and federal authorities.


Each time an officer fires their weapon is a serious matter, which is why the city takes two very important steps for each shooting incident: we conduct an independent, civilian led investigation, and we refer each incident to prosecutors to determine if criminal charges are appropriate,” the statement read, according to the Chicago Reporter.“Due to pending investigations by IPRA and federal authorities, CPD cannot comment further.”
 
Proano did admit to the shooting in court documents, but said the teens did show a weapon. Proano is still on the force.
 
Since the 2013 incident, the CPD has changed its policy on firing at moving vehicles, saying that officers are “prevented from firing at or into a moving vehicle when the vehicle is the only force used against the sworn member or another person.”

 The mothers of the three teenagers who sustained injuries filed a lawsuit against the city over the shooting, and claim that the teens did not show a weapon or act violently during the police stop. The plaintiffs also alleged that police officers took the teens from the hospital to the police station for questioning without authorization. The city tentatively agreed to a $360,000 settlement, but it has still to be approved by the city council.

4 year old Ohio girl takes police bullet meant for dog

http://rt.com/usa/268498-girl-4-shot-police-bullet/

A police officer following up on a hit-and-run case in Columbus, Ohio, heard screams coming from a neighbor panicked by a medical emergency. On responding, he was accosted by the family dog and in the struggle accidentally shot a young girl in the leg.

The mishap occurred on Friday when a Columbus police officer missed the dog and hit the girl in the right leg.

They were carrying her, she had a blanket around her, there was some blood, she obviously was conscious, she wasn’t even crying,” Gary Parsley, who lives a few doors down, told WTTE Fox 28.
The police officer responsible, who remains unnamed, is receiving psychological counseling.


 
Parsley was the man the police had wanted to interview. He had just been discharged from the hospital after recuperating for two weeks following a hit-and-run accident and the police officer had come to get a statement. As the officer went to check something on the computer in his car, a neighbor started screaming because of a medical emergency. The police officer was responding to these screams when the unfortunate incident took place.

When he goes to help out, a dog charges him, he fires one shot misses the dog, hits the four-year-old in the leg,” Denise Alex-Bouzounis of the Columbus Police told WTTE.

A heavy police presence was called in as Columbus police began their investigation into the shooting.
I was upset when I thought they shot the dog,” Parsley said, describing how he felt when he arrived on the scene. He became even more alarmed, however, when he heard the girl’s mother yell at the cop “You shot my kid!

READ MORE: 3-year-old Ohio boy kills himself with mother's gun
 
The little Ohio girl is in stable condition at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. She is expected to fully recover from the bullet meant for her furry guard. The dog wasn’t hurt.

Police say the officer will receive mandated psychological support counseling and can take leave time to recover from the traumatic experience.

West Philadelphia shooting: 7 people, including 2 kids critical after gunman ‘randomly’ fires in street

http://rt.com/usa/268639-west-philly-shooting-children/

At least seven people, including a two-year-old and eleven-year-old child, were injured in West Philadelphia after a shotgun-wielding attacker fired into a street picnic, local police said. The children were hospitalized in critical condition.

The report comes almost simultaneously with news from a block party in Detroit, where one person was killed and 9 injured in a shooting on the same Saturday evening.

It was not immediately clear why the West Philadelphia shooter targeted the block party on Ogden Street, according to local police.

“It looks like they just randomly fired down the street and hit anyone in their way,”
NBC 10 Philadelphia quoted Philadelphia Police Lt. John Walker.

The agency added that a shotgun was used to fire at the victims, which included children.
An 18-month-old girl was rushed to Philadelphia’s Children’s Hospital with a neck wound, while another girl, aged 11, was struck in the knee, and a boy, aged 13, took a shot to the shoulder.

Hospitalized in critical condition, the children were all listed as stable, according to the latest update by CBS Philly.

Police later listed the ages of the rest of the victims as 22, 26, 26 and 46. The 26-year-old, a man, was shot multiple times and his condition was unknown.

No arrests have yet been made in connection with the shooting, but investigators believe the gunman was not attending the party at any time during the night.

Police officers described the crime scene as extremely chaotic and a “terrible situation,” with people frantically trying to help the injured baby girl as heavy rain began to pour.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

US House passes standalone fast track bill giving president more authority in TPP talks

http://rt.com/usa/268165-tpp-tpa-fast-track/

The US House has passed Trade Promotion Authority bill that boost presidential authority in negotiating trade deals. This version of the legislation is not linked to any other bill.

It was passed around noon today with a vote of 218-208.

The sister legislation to the TPA, the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), would provide assistance to workers who lose jobs as a consequence of the trade deals and foreign competition. It was easily defeated in the House last week. Initially lawmakers were set to vote once again on the TAA this week, but on Thursday they agreed to vote again on standalone TPA. Though the TPA and the TAA were passed the Senate, the TPA will now return to the Senate in its standalone form.

Obama has requested “fast-track” authority to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTiP) deals. Republican lawmakers back both initiatives, but the President’s own party is opposed.
 
The vote was split along partisan lines, with Republicans overwhelmingly voting in favor at 190-50, and Democrats being strongly against with a 28-158.

The sister legislation to the TPA, the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), would provide assistance to workers who lose jobs as a consequence of the trade deals and foreign competition. It was easily defeated in the House last week. Initially lawmakers were set to vote once again on the TAA this week, but on Thursday they agreed to vote again on standalone TPA. Though the TPA and the TAA were passed the Senate, the TPA will now return to the Senate in its standalone form favored by Republicans.

The TPP, which seems to be close to coming into existences, covers countries which together comprise 40 percent of the global economy. President Obama has promoted the deal as a way of solidifying the economic relating between the United States fast-growing Asian countries.

Republicans in the House of Representatives sought to resurrect Barack Obama’s trade agenda and plans for a Pacific Rim free trade zone, joining with a small band of pro-trade Democrats to vote to grant the president the “fast-track” authority he needs to conclude such pacts – meaning that the president will be empowered to ask Congress for a simple yes-or-no vote on trade agreements without any debate or amendments.

“This is a vote to re-establish America’s credibility,” said Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), the former Vice Presidential candidate that ran against the Obama who has now has been championing the President’s favored the legislation in the House.

Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-California) had different thoughts on the matter, despite being a top Democrat and traditional ally to the President. She said that she and members of the party were against the TPP, not against the president himself.

“This has been a longstanding dispute within the Democratic party having nothing to do with the president but everything to do with our bosses, our constituents,” she said.

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) is a vocal critic of the deal because of a provision called Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). The provision would mediate disputes between foreign investors and a government, which Warren believes will inhibit regulation and pose a threat to American sovereignty.

ISDS is designed to address the problem of uneven national economic policies in an interconnected global economy. Foreign investors have to deal with the risk of having their investments seized if and when a new government comes to power and decides to nationalize the businesses of foreign industries. While this isn’t a risk in a stable company with a strong judicial system like the United States, it is a genuine risk in other countries without such stability. ISDS is an arbitration process that uses sanctions to put pressure on governments who have unfairly seized property.

That means that ISDS would allow foreign investors to make complaints against the United States, which is a point that many take issue with. Warren argues that the agreement could “tilt the playing field in the United States further in favor of big multinational corporations.”
 


Many opponents of the TPP worry that multinational corporations could argue that environmental, financial and minimum wage regulations could qualify for a dispute under ISDS, potentially costing the United States expensive damages.

Also controversial are secretly negotiated provisions called the “Healthcare Annex,” which was only seen by the public when they were published by WikiLeaks.

The secret TPP negotiations showed that an addition to the do has been seeking to regulate state schemes for medicines and medical devices. According to WikiLeaks, it “forces healthcare authorities to give big pharmaceutical companies more information about national decisions on public access to medicine."

Legal privileges such as patents are instituted in to encourage research and development to encourage pharmaceutical company to develop new drugs without worrying about someone immediately copying them. These privileges expire eventually, allowing generic versions of the drugs to come to market.

The TPP has been lobbied by large pharmaceutical company to include these provisions to further delay the introduction of generic drugs.

"The leaked TPP document "shows that the pact could expose Medicare to pharmaceutical company attacks and constrain future policy reforms, including the ability of the US government to curb rising and unsustainable drug prices," consumer rights advocacy group Public Citizen said in a statement.

South Carolina church shooting suspect arrested; identified as Dylann Storm Roof, 21

rt.com/usa/268108-carolina-church-shooting-suspect/

Dylann Roof (image from Dylann Roof Facebook page, posted May 21, 2015.)



South Carolina police have released the identity of the suspect in the church shooting Wednesday night as Dylann Storm Roof, 21. Local media report he was arrested Thursday morning.

A law enforcement source told WLTX that Roof has been arrested in Shelby, North Carolina, almost 250 miles (400 km) - about three and a half hours' drive - away from Charleston. The arrest was reported shortly after shortly after 11 am local time, and confirmed by US Attorney General Loretta Lynch at a press conference.

Roof was transported back to South Carolina on Thursday afternoon.

Charleston police chief Greg Mullen said that local police stopped the suspect's car after a citizen called in about "suspicious activity." Mullen said the suspect was "cooperative" with the officer who pulled him over.


Roof’s car was spotted on Highway 74 by a florist shop employee on her way to work, reported the Shelby Star. She followed the car and called her boss, who informed the authorities. Within 20 minutes, Shelby PD was pulling Roof’s black Hyundai over.

Meanwhile, a prayer vigil for the victims at the nearby Morris Brown AME Church was interrupted by an anonymous bomb threat. The police cleared the area and searched for explosives, but found none.

A gunman attacked parishioners at Charleston's historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on Wednesday evening, killing 9 people.

Shortly after noon, President Obama made a statement expressing “deep sorrow over the senseless murders that took place last night.

Mother Emmanuel is more than a church,” Obama said. “It is a place of worship founded by African Americans seeking liberty.” That church was a “sacred place” in the history of Charleston and America, he said.

While he said he was aware of the attitudes in Washington concerning gun control, Obama called for a “shift in how we think about the issue of gun violence collectively” in the wake of the Charleston tragedy.

Sylvia Johnson, cousin of Pastor Clementa Pinckney who was killed at the church, told NBC News that one of the survivors told her the gunman reloaded five times and told a victim, “I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.”

Witnesses say the suspect attended a prayer meeting for an hour, before he began shooting. Three men and six women were killed. There were three survivors.

Police are describing the shooting as a hate crime.

A Facebook photo shows Roof wearing a jacket with two flag patches: one of Apartheid-era South Africa, and the other of Rhodesia, before it became majority-ruled Zimbabwe.

Roof’s uncle, Carson Cowles, told Reuters in a phone interview that the 21-year-old received a .45-caliber handgun as a birthday present from his father in April.

Arrest records indicate that Roof was detained on charges of felony drug possession in March, and misdemeanor trespassing in April of this year. He had no prior criminal record.

Roof lived in in Lexington, SC, about 120 miles northwest of Charleston, where he attended White Knoll High School.

"I did have a couple classes with the guy in middle and high school," tweeted Lexington resident Kimberly Taylor, "But he wasn't my best friend or someone I kept in contact with."

His MySpace page contains only a music track from the Christian death metal band "A Thousand Times Repent."

The FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and several other agencies have joined in the manhunt, police chief Gregory Mullen said.

According to the police, six women and three men were killed in the shooting, including Reverend Clementa Pinckney, the church's pastor, who was a Democratic member of the State Senate. Eight people were killed inside the church and one more died at the hospital soon after the incident.

At a press conference Thursday morning, Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley called the shooting “the most unspeakable and heartbreaking tragedy.”

The only reason that someone could walk into a church and shoot people praying is out of hate,” Riley said. “It is the most dastardly act that one could possibly imagine, and we will bring that person to justice. … This is one hateful person."

READ MORE: 9 people killed in S. Carolina church shooting, police investigating ‘hate crime’

Three people survived the attack, although police have not revealed their identities yet. The president of the Charleston NAACP, Dot Scott, said the gunman told one survivor he would let her live so that she would tell others what happened in the church, local newspaper The Post and Courier reported.

Early Thursday, Charleston police released photos of the suspect as well as of the black sedan car he was leaving in, obtained from security cameras.

Police chief Gregory Mullen described the suspect as a clean-shaven white man with sandy blond hair and slender build, wearing a gray sweatshirt with blue jeans and Timberland boots.

All 50 states fail to meet international standards on lethal force by police – Amnesty

http://rt.com/usa/268186-police-fail-force-amnesty/

All 50 US states and the District of Columbia fail to meet international standards for the use of lethal force by law enforcement, according to an Amnesty International report. It also found that 13 states have laws that don't comply with US standards.
 
The international standards, found in the United Nations' Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, call for lethal force to be used only as a last resort, to protect officers from death or serious injury. However, not a single state in the entire US has a law that supports such a notion.


READ MORE:Tamir Rice killing: Cop said 12yo boy ‘gave him no choice’

"Police have a fundamental obligation to protect human life," said Steven Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty International USA, as quoted by USA Today. "Deadly force must be reserved as a method of absolute last resort. The fact that absolutely no state laws conform to this standard is deeply disturbing and raises serious human rights concerns."

Meanwhile, 13 states have laws that don't comply with domestic constitutional standards, and all states lack specific accountability mechanisms for officer-involved killings – including mandatory reporting that a firearm has been used, as well as prompt and impartial investigations into killings.

In addition, the 41-page report revealed that nine states currently have no laws that even deal with the issue of lethal force by officers.


Hawkins has called on states to change and create laws dealing with lethal force.

The Amnesty report also suggests that President Obama and the US Justice Department (DOJ) should create a national commission to review law enforcement policies, and that the DOJ should publish nationwide figures on police shootings.

The report comes amid growing concern surrounding police overreach, after the highly publicized deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Walter Scott and Freddie Gray.

The deaths sparked protests and riots around the country, along with a nationwide debate about law enforcement and race relations.

Footage allegedly shows IDF sniper killing Palestinian 'without cause'

 http://rt.com/news/268030-idf-israeli-sniper-killing/

A video posted online purports to show an Israeli sniper shooting dead an unarmed Palestinian in the occupied West Bank village of Silwad. The soldier is shown aiming at the faraway figure, then a shot rings out and the person collapses.

“Got it! Wow, got it. Got video, too!” the sniper allegedly says in Hebrew after what looks like a kill shot. This is followed by the camera veering away and the video ending.

According to Israeli website Mako, the soldiers in the video come from the Heredi Netzah Yehuda Batallion of the Kfir Brigade, implicated a few days ago in the controversy over the excessive use of force near a refugee camp in Ramallah.


Israeli website Mako has quoted an IDF spokesman as saying: “The video shows the sniper fire toward the lower body of an inciter in a violent and illegal disruption of peace, which occurred in the village of Silwad, northeast of Ramallah. The shooting was done with permission by the sector commanders after the suspect threw an incendiary device and stones at the forces on the spot. The shooting was filmed as part of the instructions of the commanders in the sector for documentation and verification."
 
However the 7-second video does not show any signs of anything that could have led up to the shooting.

It is impossible to identify the victim, or if the person was armed. A veteran colonel that Mako spoke to on condition of anonymity said “the target is not threatening the forces in the field in a manner that requires operating the sniper, not according to military procedures.”


“It is customary to put snipers at controlling points and they have a very specific role: to locate and destroy an armed person who threatens the forces, if such a person appears among the demonstrators, or take out of commission a demonstrator who presents a clear threat and endangers the life of forces in the field… unfortunately, it does not look like that is the situation in the film in question,” he said after being shown the video.

The colonel also focuses on the PR damage the video could do to the IDF: “The trickling of such materials to the Internet is especially serious,” he continues. “In this way you can see how the force operates, they’re exposing themselves to legal problems, and what they don’t understand is that this could get the whole country in hot water. Damage at a global level. It’s just stupidity.”

Sweden hospital to open emergency center for male rape victims

http://rt.com/news/268039-sweden-male-rape-hospital/

A Stockholm hospital will soon become the first medical center in Sweden with an emergency department for male rape victims. The move is to ensure “gender equal” care for victims of both sexes.
 
Södersjukhuset hospital's newest addition will open in October, and will admit men and boys who have been sexually assaulted.
 
"The general perception is that men cannot be raped," Lotti Helström, a senior physician at the hospital, told Sveriges Radio, as quoted by The Local.
 
Helström added that men can suffer even more than women.
 
"In studies, the health effects are shown to be greater for men, both in terms of physical health and mental health. There is a greater risk of a raped man getting post-traumatic stress disorder," she said, adding that the subject of male rape is "extremely taboo.”

She also said that men are much more likely to be raped by other men than by women, which could lead to “sexual identity” problems for male victims.

The new clinic has been welcomed by the gender equality organization RFSU.
 
"There are myths about masculinity that make it difficult for men who have been sexually traumatized to talk about their experiences," a spokesperson for the group said.

According to a 2014 RFSU study, men in most municipalities across Sweden did not know where they could get emergency help following rape.
 
"A clinic focusing on men who have been sexually abused will contribute to the awareness of experiences of sexual abuse among men and make it more possible to meet men’s needs in a very exposed situation,” the RFSU spokesperson said.
 
READ MORE: ‘Horrific statistics’: Male rapes common in UK army, MoD data reveals
 
The new clinic will be in addition to Södersjukhuset's department for female rape victims, which treats between 600 and 700 patients a year.

Around 370 cases of sexual assault on men or boys were reported across Sweden in 2014, according to the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention. However, experts believe the real figure to be much higher.

Sweden has the second-highest incidence of rape worldwide, according to Gatestone Institute research published in February. The research referred to Sweden as the “rape capital of the West.”
 
The issue was brought into the spotlight in May, when India's Women's Minister publicly stated that Sweden had a worse rape problem than her home country – despite India's public struggle to rebuild its reputation following a number of highly publicized rapes.