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53 ton fish-kill: Dead 'popocha' fish removed from Cajititlan Lagoon, Mexico

RT -

The bodies floated up last week in Cajititlan Lagoon. They belong to a finger-sized type of chub, known locally as ‘popocha’.

One theory is suggesting low water levels, while authorities are also looking into whether negligence by the local wastewater treatment plants could be to blame.

Some 130 fishermen from the town of Tlajomulco worked tirelessly over the weekend to pull the dead fish out of the water, having to shovel them manually and using bulldozers, while wearing masks to protect against the rotting smell, the Jalisco state environment agency said.

"We don't want this problem to worsen, because we would end up in the street," Rigoberto Diaz, a local fisherman, told AFP. He fears this may not be the only species to face the gruesome fate. Others, such as the tilapia, may die too. The bad news is, unlike the popocha, it’s edible.

"We were told that the state government will support us. We don't know when we will be able to fish again," said another fisherman, Mauro Hernan.

This is the fourth mysterious mass death in Cajititlan Lagoon this year.

Speculating about possible causes, Guzman Arayo, director of the University of Guadalajara’s Fresh Water Institute, said the lake is very shallow, and strong wind could have led to a rise in sediment off the lakebed, depriving the fish of oxygen.

"The lake has problems because too much water is being drawn off, and its level is very low," he told the AP, explaining that the nearby housing projects could have led to a lowering of the water levels, but that it was probably not the cause.

When the Jalisco state environment secretary Magdalena Ruiz was reached for comment, she told reporters that “you can’t deny that there’s contamination” caused by negligent practices at the nearby wastewater treatment plant, believing pollution to be the key cause.

Locals believe the bad management of local water resources is causing ever more frequent deaths of marine life.

In July 2013, another incident took place, in which 500 tons of dead fish were ruled to have died as a direct consequence of a nearby company making livestock feed without permit. They were dumping molasses into the Jasilco Reservoir.

Also on Monday, an August 27 fuel spill in the coastal state of Veracruz was ruled to be the cause of bird, turtle and fish deaths. The spill was caused by thieves trying to tap into the pipeline by drilling into it.

While the spill was contained, heavy rains and winds had carried the pollution elsewhere, with containment being very difficult and ongoing at the time of publication.

Dalos Rodriguez Vargas, the Veracruz state environmental prosecutor, told the AP that "The danger is that if it rains more, with the tropical weather system out there, it could overflow again if they don't get it gathered up quickly, and reach the lake."

He spoke of the Laguna Maria Lizamba Lake.

"They are working with all possible speed to get it contained," he added.

Illegal taps into fuel pipelines have been an increasing concern in Mexico, often being the direct cause of mass wildlife deaths.

#FightFor15: Fast food workers to strike for higher wages across US

RT -

The rally was announced by Fight For 15, a union of fast food and retail workers, which is seeking a $15/hour living wage.

“It's official: We're going ON STRIKE again on Sept 4!” wrote Fight For 15 in Chicago on Twitter.

The hashtag #FightFor15 has already gone viral on Twitter with many internet users pledging support for the protest.

The organizers said the rallies are planned to be held in more than 100 cities across the country. This time workers will be peacefully engaged in acts of civil disobedience, said Kendall Fells, an organizing director for Fast Food Forward.

“They’re going to use nonviolent civil disobedience as a way to call attention to what they’re facing,” Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, one of the sponsors, told the New York Times. “They’re invoking civil rights history to make the case that these jobs ought to be paid $15 and the companies ought to recognize a union.”

The workers involved in the rally are ready to be arrested as they try to get their message across, the organizers of the Fight for $15 movement said, as reported by the Orlando Sentinel.

It's official: We're going ON STRIKE again on Sept 4! http://t.co/Yi8S5JN9ah #StrikeFastFood#FightFor15

— Fight For 15 (@fightfor15) September 1, 2014

The fast food campaign is aimed at bringing attention to the problems fast food workers face, which few customers think about while buying burgers and fries, Catherine Fisk, a professor of labor law at the University of California in Irvine, told AP.

"The goal is to persuade workers that it doesn't have to be this way. The goal is to persuade consumers that it doesn't have to be this way," she said. "This is about getting attention to the issue."

Douglas Hunter, a fast food worker, who has worked at a McDonald’s for five years, told the Chicago Tribune on Monday that he is “really struggling trying to make ends meet.”

“I’m prepared to do whatever it takes to get McDonald’s to the table to discuss increasing my pay to $15 an hour,” he added.

According to the National Restaurant Association, the protests are the unions’ attempts "to boost their dwindling membership." The industry lobbying group said it hopes that organizers of the rallies will respect both customers and workers during their demonstrations.

The federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour for fast food workers was last raised in 2009. On February 12, President Obama, responding to heat in the fast food kitchen, agreed to raise the minimum wage for federal employees to $10.10 an hour.

It remains to be seen if the president’s political maneuvering, in what promises to be a hostile election year, will force the fast food corporations to follow suit and give their workers an honest wage.

I know that if I go all the way y'all are gonna go all the way with me. #FightFor15pic.twitter.com/Ugf7DK23SV

— $15 and a Union (@15andaUnion) September 1, 2014

Thursday’s strike is the latest in a series of protests launched by labor groups to demand an increase in the minimum wage. In July, more than 1,300 low-wage employees gathered at a convention in Chicago to coordinate their demands for higher wages.

More than 100 protesters arrested at McDonald’s HQ demanding fair pay

May 15th has been declared a global day of solidarity for fast food workers in the 150 US cities and 33 countries worldwide, who held rallies in an effort to boost the minimum wage to $15 per hour.

Spanning five continents, the global movement brought together thousands of employees from the industry’s heavy hitters, who have not only revolutionized the way the world eats, but are now an integral part of the labor market: McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy’s and KFC.

EU prepares emergency ‘Plan B’ blueprint in case Russia halts gas - report

RT -

Foreseeing a possible halt in supplies over the political standoff between Russia and Ukraine, Europe has an emergency plan to stock up on energy supplies, the source told Reuters.

"In the short-term, we are very worried about winter supplies in southeast Europe," the source, who has direct knowledge of the Commission’s energy emergency plans, told the news agency. Europe gets a large proportion of its energy from Russia, which supplies about 30 percent of its natural gas needs, as well as oil and coal. The EU has urged Ukraine to ensure gas transit to Europe.

Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Finland, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic import 100 percent of their natural gas from Russia and logically want to diversify their import options. Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Austria, Poland, Turkey, and Greece all receive more than 50 percent of their natural gas from Russia.

Halting industrial output would put the already-struggling EU economy at great risk.

To save, Europe would no longer 're-sell' any LNG gas imported from the Middle East and North Africa. Often it sells it abroad instead of on the domestic market.

"Our best hope in case of a cut is emergency measure 994/2010 which could prevent LNG from leaving Europe as well as limit industrial gas use in order to protect households," the source said.

European Union Regulation 994/2010 was passed in 2010 to safeguard Europe against any supply disruption, after Moscow turned off the gas in 2009.

The legislation could include banning gas companies from selling LNG outside of Europe, keeping more gas in reserve, and ordering industry to stop using gas.

“In order to reduce the impact of potential crises triggered by the disruption of gas supplies, Member States should facilitate the diversification of energy sources and gas delivery routes and supply sources,” the legislation reads.

The escalating political crisis in Ukraine and the risk of the pipes being turning off has already spiked gas prices 35 percent since July, Reuters reported.

Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk warned that Russia will turn off gas supplies; however Moscow claims these claims are based on “disinformation” and has warned that Ukraine will siphon off gas meant to reach Europe. Russia turned off gas to Ukraine in 2009 after Gazprom claimed Ukraine stole gas intended for European customers. After this, the Russian company built the alternative Nord Stream pipeline route to guarantee supplies to Europe.

Can you smell what The Caliph is cooking?

RT -

Osama bin Laden, now arguably at the bottom of the Arabian Sea (according to the official spin), used to personify the intolerant Wahhabi worldview run amok. Then his Wahhabism married Sayid Qutb’s Egyptian Islamism, personified by Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Qutb, killed by the Egyptian regime in the late 1960s, was the wayward prophet of a global jihad between Islam and the West. Yet his zealous sons – from Osama/al-Zawahiri to current Caliph Ibrahim of ISIS/IS [The Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS/ISIL] – went much further, their jihad targeting civilians and even Muslims.

Now Caliph Ibrahim has maneuvered Washington into renewed bombing in Iraq – and potentially bombing Syria. Obama does “Syraq”. And yet, more crucially, what if Obama is doing Al-Qaeda’s bidding?

This could all fit Osama’s carefully laid-out trap – over the years - of finally managing to expel the US from the Middle East via a constant war of attrition, slowly bleeding the Empire of Chaos. Eric Margolis has alluded to this possibility here.

At a minimum, the US and some selected allies indeed have been doing Al-Qaeda’s bidding – even though ISIS/IS has split from “historic”Al-Qaeda.

Obama’s “coalition of the willing”, about to fight ISIS/IS/The Caliph, includes Britain, Australia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates. No less than five out of these seven happen the be the ones who trained/weaponized/facilitated the “flowers of evil” of ISIS/IS blooming in Syria.

So it’s no wonder the Arab Street is drowning in skepticism about who’s really running the ISIS/IS show. It can’t be Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a.k.a Caliph Ibrahim, all by himself. How come The Caliph, out of the blue, crosses the desert with a skilled, full-fledged army crammed with advanced artillery to capture a territory larger than the UK?

Meanwhile, the powerful House of Saud’s PR lobby is absolutely monolithic; Wahhabism – which has been boosting/funding fanatics worldwide since the early days of the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan – is simply not to be blamed for what The Caliph has been up to. And yet it’s Saudi ideology which ultimately spawned the Frankenstein Caliph leading the freak sons of the Syrian “revolution”.

Show me the money

ISIS/IS is a formidable machine oiled by all forms of extortion, kidnapping for ransom, outright bank and jewelry robbery and taxing of residents. But the Holy Grail is definitely oil smuggling.

The Caliph now controls seven oil fields and two refineries in northern Iraq, plus six oil fields in northeastern Syria – extracting, realistically, at least 40,000 barrels a day. They sell all this oil at a cut-rate $25 to a maximum of $60 a barrel. Brent crude, as a comparison, is currently over $100 on the London ICE Futures Europe exchange.

The Caliph is making roughly $2 million a day, and everything paid for in cash or bartered goods. No one knows who’s buying from the Islamic State’s complex distribution network of middlemen, but the fact is the oil flows from Caliph-controlled “Syraq” to Turkey and Jordan.

Being so flush, no wonder The Caliph’s armies are heading towards Aleppo; they are less than 50 km away, and could soon easily take over some eastern suburbs.

The Obama administration, meanwhile, prefers to excel at sanctioning Russia. If they were really serious at targeting The Caliph, they’d be following the money, deploying local intel to track where the money actually is (certainly not in a bank). Instead, all the rhetoric in the Beltway is about more bombing of - another historical irony - made in USA hardware left behind by the Iraq army; more drones; and eventually, more “boots on the ground”.

The “known known” – to quote Donald “Rummy” Rumsfeld – in the Beltway “debate” is that for the CIA and the Pentagon, fighting The Caliph is the absolutely perfect excuse to eventually impose regime change in both Iraq and Syria.

Washington has already got regime change-lite in Baghdad. The CIA and the Pentagon are thinking in terms of We bomb The Caliph/Caliph fights Assad/Hezbollah gets involved/Divide and Rule and More Chaos/We bomb a little to the side/Assad falls.

It won’t work, though. Washington thought – until the capture of Mosul – that The Caliph was under control. But he has a mind of his own - and a lot of cash still flowing from powerful Saudi and Kuwaiti backers, apart from the oil smuggling. The Caliph dreams of being intimately involved in the House of Saud’s succession, and even making a play for power himself.

I’m a better serial killer than you

The Islamic State is a product of gruesome Tawhid & Jihad (“Monotheism and Holy War”), led by Jordanian serial killer Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, incinerated by a US missile in 2006. Zarqawi had pledged allegiance to Osama in 2004, and renamed his outfit Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). After he died, AQI turned into Islamic State in Iraq (ISI).

It took years for his successor, Ibrahim al-Badri, a.k.a. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a.k.a. Caliph Ibrahim to turn ISI into ISIS (adding the Levant) and trying to absorb Al-Qaeda’s Syrian franchise, Jabhat Al-Nusra.

Al-Zawahiri, for his part, didn’t like these shenanigans one bit. He insisted Jabhat al-Nusra was the real jihadi deal. Al-Baghdadi got a dressing down; fight in Iraq, not Syria. Bad move - al-Baghdadi ended up telling al-Zawahiri to stuff it.

And al-Zawahiri finally “excommunicated” ISIS.

Thus the myth was born that ISIS/IS is way more hardcore than Al-Qaeda – a sterling PR move by The Caliph to bolster his and his outfit’s charisma. For the multinational Google Jihad generation, if the grand mufti of Egypt, the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) all dismiss ISIS/IS, that’s because it’s the real deal. And it’s wealthy, armed to the teeth and rules over a vast territory. It is reducing the Sykes-Picot agreement to dust.

So yes, The Caliph is indeed implementing Osama’s trap – in his own way. Zarqawi tried to implement it. And Zarqawi is the predecessor of al-Baghdadi. But that’s only part of the story.

The real juice is how The Caliph has now legitimized the Global War on Terror (GWOT) for “decades”, in British Prime Minister David Cameron’s words. The indefatigable “senior US military officials” have gone on red alert, warning that ISIS/IS will soon “threaten” the US and Europe. The Caliph is the new Osama.

And this only just a year after Obama – armed with his self-imposed red line – was about to bomb Syria because “Assad must go” had “gassed his own people.” And the ones who actually talked Obama out of this insanity were none other than Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov - now demonized with a vengeance by the Empire of Chaos.

Hollywood couldn’t come up with a more far-fetched script. Deep in the bowels of a palatial abode in “Syraq”, one can distinctly hear the sound of The Caliph laughing.

5 fact-checks about the high cost of college tuition

Socialism OnLine! -

URL: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2014/sep/01/5-fact-checks-about-high-cost-college-tuition/

5 fact-checks about the high cost of college tuition. "As students head back to college this month, many will find it a tough call about what’s more stressful -- their homework, or their looming student debt. In recent months, PolitiFact has done a number of fact-checks about tuition and student debt. Here are five of them: • "In 1978, a student who worked a minimum-wage summer job could afford to pay a year's full tuition at the 4-year public university of their choice." Mostly True..."

Topic(s): Geography:  Vote Up/Down

‘American tax payer-paid weapons bombing American tax payer-paid equipment in Iraq’

RT -

RT:Why is Washington looking to form an anti-Islamic State Western coalition do you think? Why not just go it alone?

Derek Monroe: I think the issue here is gaining some degree of credibility because there are so many mistakes in our foreign policy, specifically in the past 12 months. On the one hand, we were supporting the Free Syrian Army and indirectly also the ISIS in Syria fighting the Assad regime, and then when they crossed over into Iraq last December when they took over the Western part of Iraq and they started jeopardizing our own oil concessions in Northern Kurdistan, then basically the idea was that we have to get involved officially for humanitarian reasons. I think there is definitely a lot of pressure from the corporate world, specifically oil companies, to make sure that our day-to-day business would not be interrupted. And also the official version of the intervention in Northern Iraq against ISIS is basically to protect our personnel, whether it is military, or diplomatic, or corporate. So there is just variety of different reasons why we are getting involved there now.

RT: Officials in Washington are growing exponentially worried over the number of American citizens joining the Islamic State. They say its 'hundreds' now. How will the US respond?

DM: I think it also depends on that degree, how you are counting the numbers. Officially the media here in the US are talking about between 140 and 160. However, because of Turkey`s open door policy for people who really want to practice jihad going to Syria and Northern Iraq where they simply don`t trace the people, or make it very easy for them to enter Syria and Iraq, the situation is such that it is very hard to count people who are missing. There are definitely more than 140-150 people in this part of the world whether they were fighting for the IS directly or they were fighting for the Free Syrian Army or they are doing whatever. And it is really kind of hard to determine at this point. So a hundred will be very moderate estimation.

RT: What are the chances some of these American citizens will create problems back in the US?

DM: It might be. There was a situation last year where there was one traveler which was held over in Indonesia and [was] a US passport holder, after being interrogated by local authorities, the in US consul has given an explanation that entry to the US is a privilege, not a right, which is really constitutional at this point. I think it will be very hard especially in the United States to basically prohibit American citizens to enter the United States because it is a constitutional right to go back to your own country. However, a lot of worries have been hyped up in the media justifiably or not, so it is matter of debate that the people who would be coming back from the front lines would also have an ulterior purpose to do here at home, which is at this point based on hype and exaggerated fear.

RT: The US is being accused of creating the Islamic State monster itself, by overwhelming the region with arms that eventually fell in the hands of the militants. Do you agree with this?

DM: Unfortunately this is true because US foreign policy is not only shortsighted but it also has history of backing up extremist movements not only Islamic, but also in Latin America and other places which happen to serve our political and economic interests “du jour.” Unfortunately in many other cases like it was before there is definitely a blowback. This is what is really happening with IS in Syria and Iraq right now. It is the perfect example of this. Our weapons are supposed to support the Free Syrian Army, [but] in Lebanon one of the commanders of the Free Syrian Army switched sides fighting for ISIS bringing all the weapons and supplies with him. It is truly a very difficult situation which is really rather ironic where the American tax payer-paid weapons and bombs, are bombing the American tax payer-paid equipment such as Humvees. So it is really kind of ironic in some ways, but there is also a lot of human misery behind it.

RT: What's going to happen to US-Syria relations now that the Assad regime and Washington have a common enemy?

DM: Yes and what is really unspoken right now in Washington circles is the situation in Iran. Iran has also been very actively fighting ISIS. So there is some very closed conversation taking place in Washington right now to basically console the degree of coordination against IS with Iran for example. So it seems to me that yesterday`s enemy is today`s friend and tomorrow`s friend can be yesterday`s enemy. So in a way the situation is very convoluted and it is very kind of difficult to trace who is going to be allying with whom against whom. The situation is very fluid but here is definitely some type of degree of conversation right now where the Assad regime is supposedly right, and we should not fight against it whatsoever. But, as I said before, that is something that is being currently discussed in a variety of different political circles and how it is going to be in the end played out. It is going to be eventually reported by media which I don`t think often get the whole story to begin with. So it is all matter for debate.

Prosecutors vow to seize $800mn worth of Berezovsky’s foreign assets

RT -

Marina Gridneva told RIA Novosti that the Prosecutor General’s Office would seek the maximum available settlement of Berezovsky’s debts and confiscation of the property that was purchased with ill-gotten funds. She emphasized that the Russian justice system would not be obstructed by the physical location of the property or its nominal belonging to some ‘front’ people or firms.

British press earlier reported that Berezovsky property was worth about US$800,000 at the moment of his death.

According to the official, a Marseilles court is currently considering the case of French citizen Jean-Louis Bordes, the real estate agent who has been charged with laundering Berezovsky’s criminal income through purchasing luxury villas in Cote D’Azur. Law enforcers also suspect the man of forming an international criminal community together with Berezovsky to serve his interests.

Gridneva also reminded the reporters that the French justice had pressed similar charges against Berezovsky, but this case was closed after the tycoon’s death in March 2013.

The spokesperson said that Russian prosecutors were closely following the course of investigation and cooperating with their French colleagues.

When the probe is completed its results would become the basis of the decision to confiscate two villas – the Domaine de La Garoupe and the Villa du Cloche – as compensation to the Russian state and Russian companies that had suffered from the criminal activities of Berezovsky and his accomplices,” Gridneva noted.

Mathematician Boris Berezovsky became one of Russia’s richest people after the fall of the Soviet Union after becoming a member of the inner circle of the first Russian President Boris Yeltsin. Berezovsky’s initial assets were car dealerships but he quickly expanded to oil, finance and mass media.

Vladimir Putin openly opposed Berezovsky after becoming president in 2000 and soon the tycoon had to flee the country and live in UK and France in self-imposed exile. A Russian court convicted Berezovsky of embezzlement, but he retained part of his wealth and was granted political asylum in Britain. Russian court convicted Berezovsky of embezzlement in absentia and repeatedly asked the UK to extradite the former mogul, but to no avail.

In March 23, Berezovsky was found dead in his home in UK, apparently after committing suicide. Mass media quoted people close to the businessman as saying that he had suffered from severe depression for several months before death and also that he had asked Putin personally to allow his to return to Russia just weeks before his death.

Cop cam: Ferguson police to wear body cameras

RT -

There have been conflicting reports over exactly what transpired between Brown and Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson on August 9, with some witnesses claiming that the unarmed black teenager was attempting to surrender at the time of being shot, while others say he was struggling with the officer in an apparent attempt to seize Wilson’s revolver.

NYC police chokehold death proves need for cop-cams - public defendant

Experts say police body cameras would help to provide an accurate account of police-involved incidents, possibly resulting in fewer incidences of police abusing their powers.

Body cameras are becoming increasingly standard gear among US police forces, with about one in six departments using the devices in some form, Scott Greenwood, an attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union, was quoted by ABC News as saying.

Safety Vision and Digital Ally donated mobile body cameras to the Ferguson police department in the hope of possibly preventing another outburst of violence hitting the streets of America.

"The city of Ferguson has gone through an unfortunate series of events and Safety Vision body cameras… will assist in capturing prima facie evidence for investigations involving vandalism, looting, and shots fired," Safety Vision said in a statement on its website.

Meanwhile, Digital Ally, which produces tiny cameras that fasten to the shirt of police officers and relay images back to a centralized location, reported last week a 387 percent surge in its stock price since the slaying of Michael Brown on August 9.

“Since Ferguson, inquiries have increased, conservatively, five-fold,” Digital Ally CEO Stanton Ross told USA Today.

Human rights groups say the new technology has the potential to bring under control US police powers, which have come under increasing criticism for not only the introduction of military equipment, but military tactics as well.

"This is a technology that has a very real potential to serve as a check and balance on police power," Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union, told AP.

Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the video cameras are popular among his officers.

"They are really enjoying them," he said. "They are trying to get used to using them."

An online petition that would require all state, county, and local police to wear a camera while on duty has already attracted over 150,000 signatures.

Public Advocate Letitia James has endorsed video cameras for New York police officers following the death of Eric Garner as police attempted to arrest him for selling black-market cigarettes. A cell phone video captured the tragic incident, which showed one police officer applying an illegal chokehold on Garner.

The pilot program would cost $5 million and equip 15 percent of the city’s police officers with the devices.

Meanwhile, a St. Louis County grand jury has begun hearing evidence into the Brown killing and the US Justice Department has opened its own investigation.


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