Poster encouraging parents to shoot rabid children gets feature in UK govt. magazine

The readers of Civil Service Quarterly were likely puzzled when they saw an article illustrated by a hoax poster advising parents to kill children who contract rabies. The poster creators meanwhile reported a copyright breach.

The latest edition of the Civil Service Quarterly, published by the UK government, has some unsettling illustrations in it. One of the many posters, accompanying an article telling about “A Century of Government Communications” has “If you suspect your child has rabies, don’t hesitate. Shoot” plastered all over it.

The poster depicts a gun and a visibly scared child at the background. However, neither its written message, nor the troubling imagery apparently prompted the designers of the magazine to reconsider their choice before the issue came out and was sent to government offices across the country.

Those who first spotted the mistake must have been familiar with the phenomenon of Scarfolk Council. In small print on the poster’s bottom one can read “a Scarfolk public information message” which is followed by a tag-line: “for more information please reread this poster.”

Scarfolk is a fictional northern English dystopian town, that is forever stuck in the 1970s.

“Here in Scarfolk, pagan rituals blend seamlessly with science; hauntology is a compulsory subject at school, and everyone must be in bed by 8pm because they are perpetually running a slight fever,” or as town’s creator, writer and designer Richard Litter, touts it.

After getting in the news, Litter, who also “serves” as the town’s mayor issued a mock copyright cease and desist notice, scolding the UK government for appropriating its policies without being given any permission.

“Permission was neither asked nor granted to reproduce our policy and your publication therefore constitutes an infringement of our rights,” the notice reads, demanding the UK government “immediately removes all infringing content regards exterminating children (for political, entertainment or culinary reasons.)”

The government, meanwhile, has given in to the Scarfolk’s request and the poster can no longer be seen in the Quarterly’s online version, where it has been replaced by an army poster, calling on Britons to “join your country’s army” in name of the King.

The government-run publication has admitted their mistake, but provided no explanation for the blunder.

Litter has told Sky News he has “no idea” how the poster ended up in the magazine but hopes it was an inside job by a Scarfolk devotee.

“I’d like to think a Scarfolk fan and/or cult member infiltrated the civil service – as my book predicts!” he said.

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Howard Dean gets earful for claim Ukraine’s anti-Semitism struggle is Russian disinformation

The author of an article published in the Jewish-American press about anti-Semitic attacks in Ukraine has pushed back against progressive heartthrob Howard Dean, who suggested that the piece was inspired by Russian propaganda.

Lev Golinkin wrote an open letter to Dean – former six-term governor of Vermont and Chair of the Democratic National Committee – after he speculated on Twitter about Golinkin’s article, ‘Violent Anti-Semitism Is Gripping Ukraine — And The Government Is Standing Idly By,’ which was published by prominent Jewish-American outlet The Forward.

“Be interested to know if this is based on Russian disinformation,” Dean tweeted on June 24, in response to Golinkin’s piece.

Golinkin, who is Jewish, addressed Dean’s cynical insinuation in a letter published by The Forward two days later. He stressed that his article was published by a reputable Western media outlet and not a Russian one. He also claimed that, as a child refugee from the Soviet Union, he harbored little sympathy for the Kremlin.

He pointed out that his article cites numerous Western sources, including reports from State Department-funded Radio Free Europe. “I’m glad you’re exhibiting a healthy scepticism,” wrote Golinkin.

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Supporters and members of different far right nationalistic movements and parties, Kiev, Ukraine, January 1, 2018 © Sergii Kharchenko

“The next logical step would’ve been to look at the article, which contains 58 links to stories by established Western media, including Reuters, the New York Times, and US-funded Radio Free Europe; statements from Amnesty International and the Anti-Defamation League; a video from the World Jewish Congress; a report from the Israeli government; and a press release from the president of Ukraine acknowledging the existence of anti-Semitism in his own country.”

He then theorized that Dean had made his comment because highlighting right-wing vandalism, intimidation and violence in Ukraine was inconvenient to American foreign policy, which is obviously unacceptable.

“I like puppies and rainbows as much as everyone else; the reason I choose not to ignore neo-Nazis, however, is because, well, they’re neo-Nazis, and ignoring neo-Nazis doesn’t work,” Golinkin wrote. “Indeed, it has reached the point where US-funded Radio Free Europe — certainly not an arm of the Kremlin — is now filing regular reports about Roma pogroms and neo-Nazi street gangs, some of which are supported by the government — the very government we’re giving billions to.”

Although he sharply criticized Russian media for covering anything bad that’s happening in America, while “suppressing and ridiculing coverage of horrible things perpetuated by Moscow and its allies,” Golinkin said that “did Russia cover this?” should not be “a litmus test for what’s allowed to be discussed in American media.”

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John Flannery gets down to business restructuring General Electric

THIS should have been one of the darkest weeks in the history of General Electric (GE). The firm founded by Thomas Edison has been a member of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, a stockmarket index comprised of leading American companies, for over a century. Alas, mismanagement and a failure to move with the times have turned the erstwhile icon of innovation into a disorganised, debt-laden mess. GE’s shares have plunged to below a quarter of their peak value in 2000. On June 26th GE was ejected from the Dow index and replaced by Walgreens Boots Alliance, a big health-care firm.

Yet on that same day a ray of sunshine also fell on GE. John Flannery, an insider known for his number-crunching skills who took over as the troubled firm’s boss last August, announced details of a much-awaited restructuring plan. Over the next couple of years GE will spin off its healthcare division and unwind its newish stake in Baker Hughes, a petroleum-services firm. He had previously confirmed the sale of…Continue reading

Business and finance

Man tries to sell 4-year-old daughter for sex in 'Daddy's little girl' online ad, gets 60 years prison term

Washington: A 30-year-old man, trying to prostitute his four-year-old daughter to several clients for sex, has been sentenced to 60 years in prison on Friday.

In 2015, the Wisconsin-based Andrew James Turley,  28-year-old at the time, posted an advertisement on Craigslist titled “Play with Daddie’s Little Girl”. In the ad description, Turley mentioned his daughter is “younger than 10”. 

During interaction with a client on email, he said that the child would be given sleep-inducing medication ahead of the encounter and that he’d charge $ 1,000 for two hours. 

According to the Harris County district attorney’s office, Turley reportedly implied that his daughter “might be too young for intercourse but everything else was OK.”

The client, an undercover police officer, visited Turley’s apartment in November 2015, where the child lived with her mother. He was reportedly led to a bedroom, where the girl was lying unresponsive and naked under a blanket.

The child’s mother was reportedly unaware of the entire incident. 

Finding him guilty of trafficking a child and compelling prostitution of a minor, Turley was sentenced to 60 years in prison (30 years on each of the two charges) by a jury in Harris County, Texas. Turley will not be eligible for parole until he’s 75.

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Prime minister ‘should dive into some prison time’: Stormzy gets biased towards the Brits

Grime star Stormzy used his performance at the Brit awards to slam PM Theresa May over her response the Grenfell Tower tragedy. The rapper mused that the Tory leader’s house should be burnt down to “see if you can manage this.”

Stormzy hit out at May in a scathing rap verse during his memorable performance at the London O2 Arena on Wednesday night. He criticized May for failing to properly support the hundreds of residents left homeless following the inferno at the North Kensington 24-story tower block.

After performing his hit “Blinded By Your Grace” the rapper took a swipe at the PM saying: “Like yo Theresa May where’s the money for Grenfell…What, you thought we just forgot about Grenfell?” He went on: “You criminals, and you got the cheek to call us savages.

“You should do some jail time/ you should pay some damages… we should burn your house down and see if you can manage this.” He finished the performance to rapturous applause from the crowd.
Grime had a glorious night at the Arena, as Stormzy took home the “British Album of the Year” award for his acclaimed debut Gang Signs & Prayer. He also won the “British Male Solo Artist” award.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn praised Stormzy for his intervention. Following the event he tweeted: “Congratulations @Stormzy1 for winning your first #BRIT award, and what a powerful performance. #Grenfell.”

Stormzy fans, and some Labour MPs, flocked to Twitter to express their support for his political rant. Though there were others who were more critical of the grime star.

It comes as the world’s most prestigious award ceremonies are becoming increasingly charged with politics. Just a few days ago at the Baftas, many female actors chose to dress in black to show allegiance to the Times Up #MeToo campaign. The movement was launched to raise awareness of sexual harassment following allegations against leading film producer Harvey Weinstein.

Many other attendees brought activists as their plus ones to the glamorous film ceremony. Feminist protest group Sisters Uncut also took the chance to protest May’s Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill as they stormed the red carpet; they say the bill will criminalize survivors.

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Pakistan: Zainab Ansari's bad thing gets four decease penalty

A court in Pakistan has given a 24-year-old man, Imran Ali, four death sentences for raping and murdering a six-year old girl last month.

Zainab Ansari’s body was found in a rubbish dump in the city of Kasur, south of Lahore, on 9 January.

Her murder triggered outrage across the country, including riots against alleged police incompetence in which two protesters died.

The victim’s father was in court to hear the verdict, amid heavy security.

Zainab’s killer has also been linked by police and the chief minister of Punjab province to the murders and assaults of other girls in the area.

Ali’s alleged crimes stretch back at least a year and angry residents say authorities should have been quicker to identify him as the perpetrator.

Ali will be tried over the rest of the cases later, government prosecutor Ehtisham Qadir Shah told Reuters news agency.

Dozens of witnesses testified against Ali in the trial, where forensic evidence including DNA and polygraph tests was also presented.

His lawyer had withdrawn from the case after Ali confessed, reports say.

Ali was handed death sentences for kidnapping, rape, murder and an act of terrorism, a life sentence for sodomy and a large fine. He now has a 15-day window in which he may appeal against the verdict.

The news of his sentencing sparked strong reactions on social media, including by Hamza Ali Abbasi, a Pakistani actor, model and director.

Some echoed calls by Zainab’s parents for Ali to be hung in public at the spot in which he kidnapped her, but commentator Ali Moeen Nawazish disagreed.

Other Twitter users suggested there could be a wider network of criminals behind the spate of child killings, and have called for investigations to continue before Ali is executed.

Police have been under huge pressure to find who killed Zainab and the other children.

Zainab’s family say the police did not take action during the five days from when she was reported missing and her body was found. Relatives recovered CCTV footage of her last movements.

The video, which showed a girl being led away by a man, was circulated widely on social media.

Ali, who lived near Zainab, was arrested by police on 23 January.

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BBC News – World

Usrr ex-governor gets 10 many years in most significant anti-corruption pilot

A court in the Russian Far East region of Sakhalin has sentenced former Governor Aleksandr Khoroshavin to 13 years in prison for running a ring that brought in over half a billion rubles in bribes for him.

Apart from the sentence, to be served in a maximum-security prison, the court ordered the ex-governor to pay a fine of 500 million rubles ($ 8.6 million) and banned him from assuming any official posts for five years after the sentence is served.

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© Nikolay Gyngazov / Global Look Press

The announcement of the sentence took the judge several days. Other suspects in the case – the former adviser to the governor, the ex-deputy chairman of the regional government, and the former Sakhalin minister of agriculture and trade – were also convicted of corruption crimes and received lengthy prison sentences and multi-million-ruble fines.

Prosecutors said they were satisfied with the sentence, while the defense team claimed the conviction was a foregone conclusion. They intend to appeal the verdict.

Khoroshavin and other former officials of the Sakhalin regional administration were arrested in March 2015 and taken to Moscow for investigation. Searches in their homes and apartments yielded around $ 17 million in cash (in various currencies), expensive jewelry, and a collection of watches worth over $ 10 million. In addition, investigators said they confiscated around $ 2 billion in assets that belonged to the ex-governor.

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President Vladimir Putin (RIA Novosti / Alexei Druzhinin)

Soon after the arrest, Khoroshavin was sacked due to lack of trust. At the trial, the ex-governor was charged with receiving a $ 5.6-million bribe for his role in the inclusion of a local energy corporation in a federal investment program. Further investigation uncovered additional episodes of bribery that brought the sum to 522 million rubles. Other suspects faced charges of bribery and money laundering.

After the court sentenced the former Sakhalin officials, the spokesperson for Russia’s top investigative body – the Investigative Committee – revealed additional details about the property seized from Khoroshavin. “Apparently, the [former] governor had a great need in expensive watches. He had 195 in his collection for a total price of 602 million rubles ($ 10.4 million),” Svetlana Petrenko told reporters. She added that the most expensive piece from the collection cost $ 700,000 and that shortly before his arrest in 2015, Khoroshavin had ordered a watch for 36 million rubles. 

Petrenko also said that a “significant part” of Khoroshavin’s assets were not properly declared and the court impounded and later confiscated a home, four city apartments, six cars, including a Mercedes limo, two Lexuses and two Bentleys, and numerous pieces of jewelry and expensive watches.

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Good news: animals won’t shrink as the climate gets warmer

GettyImages-544532124

Do animals get bigger as the climate they live in gets colder? According to a rule established in 1847, they do – which has had biologists concerned over what climate change might do to animal body size. But now an analysis of the weights and geographical locations of nearly 274,000 individuals from 952 bird and mammal species has challenged the idea.

Bergmann’s rule, formulated in 1847 by German anatomist Carl Bergmann, states that an animal’s body size is negatively related to the temperature of its environment: smaller individuals of a species are found in hotter regions of the species’ range, while larger members reside in colder climes. Moose, for example, are supposed to get larger further north in their range.

The rule, which most often refers to populations within a species but has also been applied to differences between species within a genus, has been invoked to explain

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New Scientist – Earth

As China gets tough on pollution, will its economy suffer?

LEO YAO thought he had nothing to fear from the environment ministry. Before, when its inspectors visited his cutlery factory, he says, they generated “loud thunder, little rain”. After warning him to clean up, they would, at worst, impose a negligible fine. Not so this time. In August dozens of inspectors swarmed over his workshop in Tianjin, just east of Beijing, and ordered production to be halted. His doors remain shut today. If he wants to go on making knives and forks, he has been told that he must move to more modern facilities in a less populated area.

Mr Yao’s company, which at its peak employed 80 people, is just one minor casualty in China’s sweeping campaign to reduce pollution. For years the government has vowed to go green, yet made little progress. It has flinched at reining in dirty industries, wary of the mass job losses that seemed likely to ensue. But in the past few months it has taken a harder line and pressed on with pollution controls, hitting coalminers,…Continue reading

Business and finance

When Using Heroin With a Friend Gets You Charged With Murder

In early August 2013, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, police arrested Jarret McCasland, then 24, ostensibly for a minor traffic violation. But at the station, they began questioning him about the death of his girlfriend, Flavia Cardenas. “Why are you treating me like this?” he asked. McCasland told the cops he didn’t know Cardenas, age 19, was dead. He’d been unable to reach her and had assumed she was back with her ex.

In fact, she had been found dead by her mother two weeks earlier. Toxicology reports indicated a heroin overdose. McCasland was charged with murder, on the grounds that he had supplied the heroin and injected it into Cardenas.

At least 20 states and the federal government have laws allowing such prosecutions, many of which were enacted during the crack cocaine era of the 1980s. But amid the opioid epidemic, prosecutors are applying them aggressively, and nine more states—including New York, Ohio, and Maryland—considered such laws in 2017.

In Louisiana, where overdose deaths outnumber homicides, the mandatory minimum sentence for heroin distribution has been doubled from 5 to 10 years, with up to 99 years for repeat offenders. Prosecutors are increasingly using a 1987 law to charge people who provide or dispense the drugs in fatal overdoses with second-­degree murder, triggering an automatic life­without-parole sentence, without regard to intent. Though it’s hard to track how often the law is used, data from the Drug Policy Alliance suggests prosecutions have skyrocketed over the last five years.

During his trial, McCasland adamantly denied giving Cardenas the drug. He said Cardenas had bought heroin on credit, and that he’d watched her inject it before he left her house around 2 a.m. But a friend testified that McCasland had injected Cardenas, and the prosecutor presented evidence that portrayed McCasland as the instigator. He was convicted and sent to the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola. Though the judge said the mandatory sentence he imposed “bothers me tremendously,” he refused to reduce it.

Baton Rouge’s prosecutors have charged at least two other people with similar crimes, but grand juries did not indict them for second-degree murder. In one case, a man and his girlfriend overdosed in their car—she died; he was revived. In another, a man admitted to purchasing heroin and injecting it into his friend. Both men pleaded guilty to lesser charges and received sentences of about five years behind bars.

Stephen Singer, an attorney at the Louisiana Capital Assistance Center who spent years defending a woman charged with murder in the overdose death of her friend, considers such cases essentially useless. “This is not what the Legislature had in mind when passing this statute,” he told me in an email. “I think they meant to go after real dealers, not end users sharing.”

McCasland’s parents are certain the jury convicted their son because prosecutors insinuated he sold drugs. According to the family, after the trial was over, one of the jurors muttered on his way out the door, “At least we got one dealer off the street.”

Crime and Justice – Mother Jones