The decision by Morocco’s king to pardon a Spanish pedophile who raped 11 children has outraged many in the north African kingdom.
Reuters reports King Mohammed VI, fulfilling a request by Spain’s King Juan Carlos, has pardoned Daniel Fino Galvan. Galvan is one of 48 Spaniards pardoned by Morocco’s constitutional monarch on Tuesday, Throne Day, on which pardons are often granted.
But the decision to free Galvan, who has served only about 18 months of a 30-year prison sentence, has angered many Moroccans. The particularly heinous nature of the Spaniard’s crimes– he raped 11 Moroccan children ages 4-15 and filmed the abuse– and the short amount of time the perpetrator has spent behind bars have been cited by many locals, some of whom are planning to participate in a Friday protest in the capital city of Rabat.
The demonstration is being organized by the February 20 movement, an anti-government group consisting mostly of students which was at the forefront of Morocco’s Arab Spring protests of 2011-2012.
“The king’s pardon is a second rape for the victims,” tweeted a Moroccan woman identified as Meryem El.
Galvan’s attorney told Reuters that his client had been released from prison on Wednesday and was planning on returning to Spain on Thursday. Moroccan Justice Minister Mustapha Ramid said Galvan was deported on Thursday.
“That person is banned in Morocco’s territory, he cannot return,” Ramid told Reuters.
Many Moroccans bristled at the way their king agreed to the Spanish monarch’s pardon request. Spain and France were colonial powers which established protectorates in Morocco in the 20th century; Spain still maintains colonies on the Moroccan Mediterranean coast in Ceuta and Melilla.
US home prices rose sharply in May, with San Francisco leading the way, according to new data from the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city index.
Record gains in home prices were recorded throughout the nation in May, with the S&P/Case-Shiller index showing a 12.2 percent rise over last May’s prices. May’s gains come on the heels of a similar 12.1 percent increase over the year-ago figures in April.
With a 24.5 percent gain over year-ago figures, San Francisco leads the nation in the ongoing home price recovery. In May, the median home price in the City by the Bay topped $1 million, a 32 percent jump from the year before, according to the San Francisco Business Times.
“Shrinking inventory combined with low interest rates and motivated buyers has resulted in historically high sale prices,” said Christine Dwiggins, president of the San Francisco Association of Realtors.
Cities which took a severe beating when the US housing bubble burst last decade saw some of the nation’s steepest price increases in May. Right behind San Francisco were Las Vegas (up 23.3 percent) and Phoenix (up 20.6 percent).
Home prices in Dallas and Denver reached historic highs in May, surpassing levels seen during the heady last days of the real estate bubble in 2006 and 2007.
In San Francisco, homes are attracting more bids and selling faster than at any time since the market took a dive in 2008-2009. Single-family homes are sold in an average of 28 days, compared to 49 days last May. Condo sales are also very robust, with an average citywide selling price of $850,000.
Taking into account numerous factors, such as ratio of home price to median household income, the rate of home price increase and the speed of sale, some experts warn that San Francisco could be experiencing something of a bubble. But Glenn Kelman, CEO of real estate brokerage house Redfin, told the Huffington Post that San Francisco is unique among American cities when it comes to its real estate market.
“The normal laws of economics don’t apply to the Bay Area,” Kelman said in April. “You could have huge unemployment numbers here and home prices would still go up because [the supply is so constrained and] there are enough people with limitless amounts of money who want to live here.”
The Bay Area is the world’s leading center of technological innovation. Tech is booming. So is construction. The San Francisco skyline is once again dotted with towering construction cranes. Among the projects currently underway is the Transbay Transit Center, of which the 1,000-foot Transbay Tower, the tallest building west of the Mississippi, will be the centerpiece. Plenty of new residential towers, most full of pricey, high-end condos, are also going up.
All of this is good news for San Francisco homeowners who, like this reporter, got in when the getting was good. It’s not such good news for those who cannot afford the stratospheric price of entry into the nation’s hottest real estate market, folks who must choose between either being eternal renters (and even that’s something of a mission impossible when the median one-bedroom is going for more than $2,700 a month) or packing it up and crossing the bridge to less costly climes.
I remember being very scared in the early 1980s. Apparently I wasn’t alone. Newly-released British government documents reveal that UK officials had written a speech to be delivered by Queen Elizabeth II in the event of a nuclear war between the United States (and, by extension, Britain) and the Soviet Union, circa 1983.
Those were dangerous days. President Ronald Reagan was ratcheting up his anti-Soviet rhetoric to heights unseen since the days of the Cuban Missile Crisis, with bellicose bluster and confrontational cowboy talk of an “evil empire.” It was more than just talk, what with his provocative Star Wars missile ‘defense’ system and ever-escalating military budgets designed to force the Soviets to spend themselves broke. As for the Russians, they seemed to change leaders more often than Menudo changed band members in those days. The scary sight of goose-stepping Red Army soldiers and menacing missiles and terrifying tanks rolling through Red Square each year struck fear in my pre-pubescent heart. It was more than just parades, too. There was the occupation of Afghanistan. There was the shoot-down of a US-bound Korean civilian airliner that strayed into Soviet airspace. It seemed as if the world was headed irreversibly toward armageddon.
That fear was constantly reflected in the zeitgeist of the age. There were books about World War III, like Whitley Strieber and James Kunetka’s “Warday.” There were movies too, like the apocalyptic “Threads” and “Red Dawn,” laughable today but downright terrifying back in the day. Then there was “The Day After.” My mother tried to stop me from watching that ABC special about the effects of a nuclear war on a small Kansas city, but I feigned sleep and snuck a peek on my rabbit-eared, four-channel bedroom TV set anyway. I’d never seen anything scarier before– or since.
“The Day After” left quite an impression on President Reagan too– say what you want about him (and I’ve said plenty), but he wrote about how the film deeply affected him in his diary, and it wasn’t long after that a series of nuclear arms control summits with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev began.
Apparently the specter of global thermonuclear annihilation weighed heavily upon Queen Elizabeth’s speechwriters too, as evidenced by the freshly-released details of a ‘World War III’ address they had prepared for her.
“The horrors of war could not have seemed more remote as my family and I shared our Christmas joy with the growing family of the Commonwealth,” the Queen was supposed to have said in the spring of 1983, the most tense year of the Cold War since the superpowers narrowly avoided full-on nuclear war during the Cuban crisis. “Now this madness of war is once more spreading through the world and our brave country must again prepare itself to survive against great odds.”
Later in the speech, the Queen would have continued:
“We all know the dangers facing us today are greater by far than at any time in our long history. The enemy is not the soldier with his rifle nor even the airman prowling the skies above our cities and towns but the deadly power of abused technology. But whatever terrors lie in wait for us all the qualities that have helped to keep our freedom intact twice already during this sad century will once more be our strength.”
The chilling speech would have concluded:
“Help those who cannot help themselves, give comfort to the lonely and the homeless and let your family become the focus of hope and life to those who need it. As we strive together to fight off the new evil let us pray for our country and men of goodwill wherever they may be. God bless you all.”
Thankfully, Queen Elizabeth never had to deliver that address. But as it was for my parents’ generation, the threat of nuclear war with the Soviet Union remained with us Gen X-ers, a seemingly permanent possibility, until the thrilling, unforeseen events of the decade’s last years brought the threat of superpower confrontation crumbling down like the Berlin Wall.
Today’s generation mercifully knows nothing of the bad old days. It lives in fear of terrorists, maybe, and deals with potential body counts in the thousands, at worst. We dealt with the palpable prospect of human extinction, a prospect that may have faded but is still very much alive, simmering just beneath the surface in a world in which the means and methods of developing ‘game-over’ weaponry are available to an ever-increasing list of potential players. The true test for humankind will come when those of us old enough to remember the real danger of World War III pass from the scene, and those who’ve never lived in fear of being instantly vaporized, or much worse, are running the show.
Reuters reports Mukhtar Ablyazov was arrested in the village of Mouans-Sartoux, located about 5 miles (8 km) north of Cannes. A lawyer for his family told the Financial Times that Ablyazov was captured by French special forces and that Russia has requested his extradition. France’s judicial police said that the extradition request was made by Ukraine.
The 50-year-old entrepreneur and former Kazakh government minister was once one of the wealthiest men in his country, but he fled his homeland in 2009 after BTA, the bank he once controlled, defaulted during the financial crisis. BTA was seized by the government and Ablyazov fled to Britain, where he was granted political asylum.
BTA then filed 11 fraud charges against Ablyazov. He is also accused of money laundering and having connections to organized crime. BTA, which is controlled by the Kazakh sovereign wealth fund Samruk-Kazyna, received court permission to seize some $3.7 billion of Ablyazov’s assets. The exiled oligarch vehemently denies the allegations against him, claiming dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev is trying to eliminate him as a possible rival. Ablyazov also claims his life is in danger.
Ablyazov fled Britain last year after being sentenced to nearly two years in prison for contempt of court. He was in hiding from the time he left the UK until his capture.
Ablyazov made headlines in June when Italian authorities, acting on a request from the Kazakh government, raided a Rome villa where he was believed to be hiding. He wasn’t there, but police apprehended his wife and young daughter and illegally deported them to Kazakhstan. The incident led to an unsuccessful effort by Italy’s opposition parties to remove Interior Minister Angelino Alfano from office.
A newly-released music video by a little-known band could be the most racist song in quite some time, maybe ever.
Ever heard of Day Above Ground? Neither have we, but then again more time is spent around here scouring news sites than watching music videos, which are harder to find on TV these days than tits on a turtle anyway.
Anyway, this LA band must have known that their latest release, “Asian Girlz,” would raise eyebrows and ire, for just before they premiered the video at the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood they put out this statement about the song:
“Our song ‘Asian Girlz’ was not written with any malicious, hateful, or hurtful intent. We know it is racy and does push the boundaries further than other songs out there. Understand that we do not promote or support racism or violence.”
Day Above Ground says “Asian Girlz” is an “homage” to, well, Asian girls. But with lyrics like these, one has to wonder:
Love your sticky rice
Butt fucking all night
Bitch I love you
I love your creamy yellow thighs
Ooh your slanted eyes
It’s the year of the dragon
Ninja pussy I’m stabbin’
Pretty much every verse of the song contains racist stereotypes about Asians, from “best nails in the city” to “sit on my lap or we’ll send you back” to the oh-so-imaginative “flied lice.” Animal welfare advocates will no doubt love the bit about eating shark fin soup because it’s “tradition.” There’s even a reference to statutory rape– “17 or 23, it doesn’t matter to me”– and “happy endings.”
A truly happy ending to this story would be that we never hear from Day Above Ground again.
UPDATE: The model in the video, San Jose’s own Levy Tran, has tweeted her apology for participating in the horrific project:
As global temperatures rise Himalayan glaciers are melting rapidly and taking entire communities with them
Unprecedented glacier melting caused by warming global temperatures has spawned an increase in massive water surges known as “Himalayan tsunamis” that are causing vast destruction in Himalayan communities in India and threatening countless others across Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tibet, India, Nepal and Bhutan, according to a recent report by India Today.
The phenomenon known as Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFS) “are capable of releasing billions of cubic meters of glacial water, stored for decades, in a few short hours, or even in a matter of minutes and virtually without warning to those living downstream,” India Today reports.
As the average global temperature continues to rise, a combination of “rapidly melting Himalayan glaciers,” extreme rainfall, and unpredictable seismic events are causing the GLOFS in which massive waves of water suddenly charge down mountains and wipe out entire villages and communities.
“The Kedarnath floods may be only a small precursor to never-seen-before mega floods,” said Maharaj K. Pandit, director, Center for Inter-disciplinary Studies of Mountain & Hill Environment at Delhi University, in reference to a recent and deadly GLOFS that “entombed most of Kedarnath town in just 24 hours on the evening of June 16 and on June 17,” India Today reports.
“Survivors say they witnessed tonnes of waterborne debris flattening almost anything that stood in the way. Screaming pilgrims, their voices drowned out, did not stand a chance in the face of the ferocious flood that unbelievably tossed around boulders, several meters across, like paper balls,” India Today writes.
Such instances have increased over recent decades, along with steady warming in the region, while proliferating glacial lakes currently pose an imminent threat to more and more communities.
Significant warming in the snowbound higher Himalayas is causing the growth of existing glacial lakes and the formation of new water bodies, according to Pandit.
Surface air temperatures in the Indian Himalayas have increased by one degree Celsius in the past decade.
“It is like a ticking time bomb,” India Today writes. According to research by scientist Pradeep Mool at International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), there are at least 20,000 glacial lakes across the Himalayas, straddling Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tibet, India, Nepal and Bhutan, with more than 200 of them currently classified as potentially dangerous.
“They have a huge potential for causing damage,” Mool said of what a growing community of scientists in the region are now calling “Himalayan tsunamis.”
The largest intelligence leak in U.S. history, disclosed by Pfc. Bradley Manning to WikiLeaks, did not lead to the deaths of any military sources, the government’s first sentencing witness testified Wednesday.
Manning has long admitted to sending WikiLeaks more than 700,000 confidential files, including U.S. embassy cables, Guantanamo detainee profiles, and footage of airstrikes that killed civilians. The battlefield reports from Iraq and Afghanistan are known as the war logs. WikiLeaks calls its Afghan War Diary “an extraordinary secret compendium of over 91,000 reports covering the war in Afghanistan from 2004 to 2010.”
In 2011, then-Army Chief of Staff Mike Mullen had said that Manning and WikiLeaks “might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family” named in the leaked documents as a source of intelligence to the United States. But Manning has insisted that he sent WikiLeaks only low-sensitivity categories of files that he believed would shed light on U.S. war fighting and statecraft. Three years of journalistic scrutiny into the effects of the leaks could not uncover a case of an intelligence source who was killed or injured because of the disclosures.
The military’s position took another hit Wednesday, as the former brigadier general who headed the Information Review Task Force investigating the leaks said that he had never heard that a source named in the Afghan war logs was killed. Though the Taliban had claimed that its review of the war logs led them to an Afghan whom the U.S. military named as a source, the supposed informant the Taliban claimed to have executed was not in fact named in the leaked materials.
Now-retired Brig. Gen. Robert Carr had wanted to testify about the Taliban’s claim Wednesday, but Col. Denise Lind, the military judge presiding over Manning’s court-martial, barred such testimony as inadmissible hearsay.
The revelation supports an assessment by former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates that the rhetoric about the supposed harm caused by the leaks was “fairly significantly overwrought.” When Gates tapped Carr to head the mitigation team in 2010, the Daily Beast labeled him “The General Gunning for WikiLeaks,” and “a fitting adversary” for Julian Assange. The website had been prescient in reporting that Carr’s team would have to assess harm, mitigate it and “gather evidence about the workings of WikiLeaks that might someday be used by the Justice Department to prosecute Assange and others on espionage charges. Military officials have credited these “mitigation efforts” for their safety in the absence of any proof that a source had been killed. Carr also acknowledged, however, that none of the names listed in the war logs were identified as “human intelligence,” or “HumInt.”
Instead of finding there was a “duty to warn” these contacts of potential harm, the U.S. government designated them with a “duty to notify,” which is not legally binding, Carr said.
The retired general added that some of these contacts could not be found, others had died before the WikiLeaks disclosures, and others had been insurgents rather than cooperators with coalition forces. Carr acknowledged that none of the names of Iraqi and Afghan contacts appeared in the original Arabic. To this point, Manning’s military defenders, Maj. Thomas Hurley, asked: “We don’t share an alphabet with either of those countries, do we, Sir?”
“No,” Carr replied.
Hurley also prompted Carr to concede that Iraqi and Afghan nationals tend not to be “not as plugged in” as Westerners. Prosecutors had offered Gen. Carr to also testify about less tangible damage, such as his belief that Manning damaged the system by provoking distrust of junior analysts across the world.
Lead prosecutor Maj. Ashden Fein said the general would testify that Manning’s leaks “impacted the entire system because of lack of trust of junior analysts, and he’ll give his opinion on why that is.”
Manning’s lead defense attorney David Coombs attacked this as overbroad. An overview of prosecution’s sentencing witnesses shows that the government “is trying to put just about everything that ever happened at the feet of Pfc. Manning,” Coombs said.
Judge Lind allowed Carr to testify on all topics, and invited the defense to argue why she should disregard those portions that they believe should be inadmissible. Hurley, Manning’s other lawyer, suggested at the beginning of cross-examination that Carr’s testimony about the intangible harm might be colored by his ongoing 31-year career in the U.S. government.
Carr has spent his retirement working for the military contractor Northrop Grunman as a corporate lead executive here at Ft. Meade, where the court-martial is being held.
The next witness up was also a lifelong government employee. John Kirchhofer, a former Defense Intelligence Agency senior staffer, served as the deputy director under Carr. He had more editorial control over the impact report than any member of the task force. Like Carr, Kirchhofer testified only about potential danger to foreign nationals who met with U.S. forces. Unable to confirmed injury or death, Kirchhofer also testified about tense relations with NATO allies, saying that the reaction included “some unpleasant comments directed at me and at the U.S.”
“Others patted me on the back and said, ‘We’ll get through this,'” Kirchhofer continued. “It really did range from pretty aggressive people getting chesty. I don’t know how to tell you in an open forum.”
“In a closed forum, I can tell you what countries,” he added.
The day ended in a classified session.
Manning was convicted Tuesday under the Espionage Act, Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and military violations. These charges expose the 25-year-old soldier to up to 136 years in prison, even with an acquittal on the controversial “aiding the enemy” charge.
During the case in chief, the parties could present evidence about the harm that the leaks could potentially have caused to U.S. national security. As the sentencing phase of Manning’s trial kicks off, the focus now shifts to what the actual impact was on the ground.
The communications director for Anthony Weiner’s moribund mayoral bid lashed out at a former intern, calling her a “cunt” and a “fucking slutbag” for dishing dirty details about the campaign.
Talking Points Memo reports Weiner communications director Barbara Morgan was infuriated at former campaign intern Olivia Nuzzi, who penned a scathing article in the New York Daily News claiming that some Weiner interns were only working for the doubly-disgraced former congressman so that they might get closer to his wife, Huma Abedin, and ultimately her longtime boss Hillary Clinton.
“I thought if I could only ride this out until the very end, perhaps I could network with Ms. Abedin and, in a few year, secure myself a spot in Secretary Clinton’s all-but-certain bid for the presidency,” Nuzzi wrote. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
This, apparently, was too much for Morgan to countenance. Seemingly unaware that Weiner’s campaign is on the ropes, or perhaps sensing the end is nigh, she launched into a profanity-laced tirade during an interview with TPM’s Hunter Walker:
“I’m dealing with, like, stupid fucking interns who make it on to the cover of the Daily News even though they signed NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) and/or they proceeded to trash me… Fucking slutbag. Nice fucking glamour shot on the cover of the Daily News. Man, see if you ever get a job in this town again.”
Morgan proceeded to call Nuzzi a “bitch,” a “fucking twat” and someone who “sucked at her job.” She also threatened to sue Nuzzi.
“Fuck you, you little cunt,” she raged, “I’m not joking. I’m going to sue her.”
Alas, cooler heads have prevailed and Morgan has issued an apology.
“In a moment of frustration, I used inappropriate language in what I thought was an off-the-record conversation,” Morgan said in a statement. “It was wrong, and I am very sorry, which is what I said tonight when I called and emailed Olivia to apologize.”
Morgan’s attempt at damage control is in service of a fast-sinking ship that is the Weiner campaign. According to the Huffington Post, the sext-prone candidate has fallen to fourth place in the polls with less than a month and a half to go until New Yorkers head to the voting booths for the primary election.
But on Tuesday a defiant Weiner reaffirmed that he’s not quitting, releasing a campaign ad in which he says his detractors “don’t know New York.”
“They certainly don’t know me,” Weiner declares. “‘Quit’ isn’t the way we roll in New York City. We fight through tough things.”
A stray dog rescued by a paralyzed northeastern Arkansas man returned the favor by biting off and eating one of his savior’s testicles while he slept.
KAIT reports the unnamed 39-year-old Trumann resident, who is paralyzed from the waist down, was sleeping on Monday morning when he was awakened around 7:45 am with “burning pain” in his abdomen.
According to the police report, the man, who sleeps nude, then noticed the “small, white fluffy dog” between his legs with blood on its paws and its muzzle.
Upon further investigation, the man was horrified to discover that “the dog had eaten one of his testicles.”
The shocked victim was rushed to St. Bernards (really) Regional Medical Center in Jonesboro.
Police took custody of the animal, which was later euthanized. Its head was sent to the Arkansas Department of Health to be tested for rabies.
This isn’t the first time such stories have made headlines.
In 2010, Fox News reported that two large dogs chewed off and ate a 6-month-old baby’s testicles while the infant was strapped into his baby carrier in a California apartment.
And in 2004, elderly Romanian farmer Constantin Mocanu accidentally cut off his own penis while attempting to kill a noisy chicken keeping him up at night. In rushed his dog, who devoured his detached manhood before his very eyes.
Police in Newport News, Virginia say they’ve solved a cold-case double homicide with the help of a local rapper, who allegedly boasts about the killings in the lyrics of one of his songs.
WAVY reports Antwain Steward, aka ‘Twain Gotti,’ was arrested earlier this month on suspicion of double homicide. Newport News police say Steward’s own lyrics led them to the rapper. In his song “Ride Out,” he raps:
“Listen, walk to your boy and I approached him, 12 midnight on his traphouse porch and everybody saw when I fuckin’ choked him. But nobody saw when I fuckin’ smoked him, roped him, sharpened up the shank then I poked him, 357 Smith & Wesson scoped him.”
Police have charged Steward with the murders of 16-year-old Christopher Horton and 20-year-old Brian Dean, who were shot to death in May 2007 in a gang-related incident on the front porch of Dean’s home in Newport News. According to court documents, investigators believe Steward and Horton had gotten into an argument earlier during the day on which the latter was killed. Steward is believed to have been a member of the Wickzoo street gang at the time of Horton’s death; the victim reportedly belonged to Dump Squad, a rival gang.
Steward refutes the charge against him. On Tuesday, he tweeted, “Don’t believe that BS.” Later that day he tweeted, “S/o to everybody that’s supporting through the BS. Innocent is a fact!!!! Y’all know with love comes hate!!”
Steward was previously arrested in 2011 in connection with a drive-by shooting in the neighboring city of Hampton.
Following his most recent arrest, Steward was charged with two counts of felony murder, one count of unlawfully discharging a firearm and two counts of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. He is being held without bond in the Newport News City Jail.