Monthly Archives: March 2014

March 31, 2014

New York Police Arrest 42 over $642K in Alleged Welfare Fraud

On March 28, Onondaga County New York Sheriffs announced the arrests of 42 people accused of defrauding the state of some $624,000 in welfare benefits.

Syracuse resident Sharena Taylor stands accused of stealing the greatest amount, $71,441.01. Two others are accused of stealing more than $30,000 and four more are said to have taken over $20,000 each. 42 people in all were arrested.

“There are few frauds more egregious than people who apply for and use public assistance benefits when they are not eligible,” District Attorney William Fitzpatrick told the media. “They are not only stealing from tax paying citizens, they hurt those who truly need public assistance.”

The raids on the homes of the 42 individuals were carried out by a joint force consisting of the county sheriffs, the Department of Social Services, and the state District Attorney’s office, along with participation from the New York State Police as well as officers from the cities of Syracuse, Manlius, Geddes, Camillus, Solvay, East Syracuse, and DeWitt.

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Complete text linked here.


Ethiopian farmer sues UK over our foreign aid handouts

An Ethiopian farmer is using taxpayers’ money to sue Britain because he says that foreign aid sent to his country is supporting a brutal regime that ruined his life.

The man – known as Mr O – told his British lawyers that the £1.3billion the UK has sent to Ethiopia in the past five years has funded a despotic state.

He claims it is forcing thousands of villagers such as him from their land using murder, torture and rape, it was reported yesterday.

The farmer – whose case is set to cost the British taxpayer tens of thousands of pounds because he is using UK legal aid – accuses the Government here of devastating the lives of some of the world’s poorest people.

He argues that the huge sums handed to Ethiopia are breaching the Department for International Development’s (DfID) human rights rules.

His claims will fuel critics of the taxpayer-funded foreign aid handouts.

The landmark case is highly embarrassing for the Government. Ethiopia is among the biggest recipients of British aid and in July 2011 received £38million during the country’s worst drought in a decade.

Britain is also one of the main partners in Ethiopia’s Protection of Basic Services programme.

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Complete text linked here.


Michael Lewis: Markets are ‘rigged’

Is Wall Street a rigged game? Michael Lewis thinks so, and the financial writer’s new book blasts the so-called high frequency traders he says are gaming the market.

“Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt” explains how several insiders discover these firms are gaining an advantage over others: lightning-fast trades achieved through automation and advanced computer networks.

“The United States stock market, the most iconic market in global capitalism, is rigged … by a combination of the stock exchanges, the big Wall Street banks and high-frequency traders,” he said in an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes.”

The victims, he said, are “everybody who has an investment in the stock market.”

“The insiders are able to move faster than you and play it against orders in ways you don’t understand,” Lewis said.

The high-frequency trading industry has seen less scrutiny than other parts of the financial system, but regulators are turning their attention to it. The New York attorney general has pushed back on firms that feed high-frequency traders. They’ve also looked into — and even shut down — paid subscription services that feed financial results directly into the traders’ computers.

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Complete text linked here.


Warlords to decide outcome of Afghan election

Despite best efforts of Western donors, Afghanistan’s next leader could be chosen by a small circle of warlords, strongmen and the ethnic voting blocs they control.


Afghan presidential candidate Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, speaks to supporters during an election campaign in Kandahar

As Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, a veteran of the jihad against Soviet occupation and a hardline Islamist once close to al-Qaeda, steps to the microphone through a phalanx of armed guard the crowd of 5000 takes up a familiar cry.

One man raises his fist and shouts: “Death to America, death to England.”

Hundreds of hands are thrust into the air as the response echoes around the rally in Parwan province, all captured on video. “Death, death, death,” they shout.

Sayyaf is the man who invited Osama bin Laden to Afghanistan and was mentor to the mastermind who planned 9/11.

Yet 12 years after international troops forced the Taliban from Kabul and after billions of dollars has been delivered in aid, he is a contender for president and one of a handful of warlords well-placed to act as kingmakers.

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Complete text linked here.


Joe Biden: ‘We Could Lose’ Congress to More Candidates Like Ted Cruz

In another sign that Democrats are worried that the 2014 midterm elections may resemble the 2010 midterms in which the Tea Party movement gave the GOP historic gains, Vice President Joe Biden sent out a fundraising email Sunday imploring Democrats to donate to prevent more conservatives like Ted Cruz from getting elected.

Biden and Cruz (R-TX) may be rivals for the presidency in 2016, and Biden’s email on behalf of the Democratic National Committee a day before the end of the fundraising quarter warned supporters, “We could lose.”

“Losing will mean more senators like Ted Cruz, and more Tea Party Republicans in the House,” he writes in the email.

Claiming that he is not engaging in hyperbole, Biden urges supporters to chip in $3 before the fundraising deadline to help Democrats because “the deadline tomorrow is among the most important.”

“If we wake up on Tuesday and find out we came up short, we’re in bad shape for November – that is not hyperbole,” Biden writes.

As the Washington Examiner notes, Democrats have been lagging behind Republicans in fundraising this year. In addition, polls have shown the Republicans, especially those that identity with the Tea Party, are more enthusiastic about the midterms than Democrats. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that 76% of Tea Party Republicans are enthusiastic about the midterms compared to only 36% of Republicans who do not identify with the movement.

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Complete text linked here.


Francois Hollande on ropes after far-right wins French town halls

President Francois Hollande will try to relaunch his government and could sack his prime minister within days after his Socialist party took a beating in a French mayoral contest that saw a surge to the centre-Right opposition and victories for the far-Right National Front.

Less than two years since he defeated Nicolas Sarkozy, Mr Hollande was forced to acknowledge the rebuff that voters inflicted on his stumbling administration in yesterday’s run-off voting for thousands of village, town and city councils. The Socialists were expected to save their control of Paris, but elsewhere they lost more than a dozen cities as power swung towards the Union for a Popular Movement, the party that Mr Sarkozy built up a decade ago as his personal electoral machine.

In early results, the UMP took Limoges, Saint-Etienne, Reims and Angers from the Socialists.

However, the biggest splash in the run-off was expected to be the breakthrough in the Mediterranean region and the industrial northeast by Marine Le Pen’s National Front, which won Beziers, a city of 75,000 in the southwest, as well as Frejus, the second city in the Var departement, near the port of Toulon, according to early results. The Front was also expected to take Forbach in Lorraine, as well as perhaps winning Perpignan, near the Spanish frontier.

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Complete text linked here.


March 30, 2014

Our Gang – School’s Out (1930)

The kids mistake Miss Crabtree’s brother for a potential boyfriend, and plot to discourage him.


Movie One Sheets: Reefer Madness

Reefer Madness (originally made as Tell Your Children and sometimes titled as The Burning Question, Dope Addict, Doped Youth and Love Madness) is a 1936-1939 American propaganda exploitation film revolving around the melodramatic events that ensue when high school students are lured by pushers to try marijuana — from a hit and run accident, to manslaughter, suicide, attempted rape, and descent into madness. The film was directed by Louis Gasnier and starred a cast composed of mostly unknown bit actors.


Quick Pix: Francis the Mule w/Video

Francis the Talking Mule was a mule celebrity, featured in seven movie comedies in the 1950s. The character originated in the 1946 novel Francis by writer David Stern, and Universal Studios bought the rights for a film series, with Stern adapting his own script for the first entry, simply titled Francis.


God’s Not Dead – Trailer

“The magic is as wide as a smile and as narrow as a wink, loud as laughter and quiet as a tear, tall as a tale and deep as emotion. So strong, it can lift the spirit. So gentle, it can touch the heart. It is the magic that begins the happily ever after.” – Unknown