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What Islamic State hostages endured before beheadings

James Foley’s videotaped death was a very public end to a hidden ordeal

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China announces penalty points plan to curb abuse of internet

<!– google_ad_section_start –> Mainland censors will track and penalise individual and group internet users for “illegal activity and dishonest behaviour” under a new centralised “credit” system. <!– google_ad_section_end –>

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Egypt blames ‘external forces’ for deadly Sinai attacks

Abdel-Fattah El- Sisi says his administration is “taking measures” on the border with the Gaza Strip

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Detroit: The Dispersal of Urban Black America Begins

“The water department is determined to solve its financial problems – and change the city’s demographics – by ejecting the poor from the grid.” The two United Nations Special Rapporteurs have seen human rights violations around the world, but Detroit’s massive water shut-offs are uniquely upsetting. “We were deeply disturbed to observe the indignity people have faced and continue to live with in one of the wealthiest countries in the world and in a city that was a symbol of America’s prosperity,” said Catarina de Albuquerque and Leilani Farha, in a joint statement. An “unprecedented” 27,000 households have been disconnected from the pipes that sustain life and dignity – most of them Black and poor, according to the rapporteurs’ observations, although the city doesn’t bother to maintain records on the race and income of those it casts into purgatory. The water department is deliberately blind to the shut-offs’ “disproportionate impact on low-income African Americans.” Detroit, an 82 percent Black city, run for four decades by Black mayors and Black city councils, and presided over for the past year and a half by a Black state-appointed emergency financial manager, may well be in violation of the United Nations Convention on Elimination of Racial Discrimination, “which explicitly prohibits and calls for the elimination of racial discrimination in relation to several human rights directly affected by water disconnections, including the right to housing and the right to public health,” wrote Albuquerque and Farha. The poor are not asking for a free ride, said Albuquerque. “In the three days we were here, nobody asked us for free water. People want to pay their bills within their possibilities…they want affordable and fair bills.” However, the water department is determined to solve its financial problems – and change the city’s demographics – by ejecting the poor from the grid. Albuquerque was compelled to remind Detroit that the city’s bankruptcy drama “doesn’t exempt it from human rights obligations.” “We have decided to foreclose on everything.” High water bills and cascading shut-offs have added to the flood of forced evictions. “Our conclusion is that you have here in Detroit a man-made perfect storm,” said the UN officials. More precisely, a corporate-made vortex of ethnic and class cleansing, to make way for a new, gentrified city. Just as the water shut-offs are “unprecedented,” so too is the pace of county home foreclosures, which have now targeted one of every five properties in Detroit. Wayne County is notifying 70,000 Detroit households that they have been caught up in the foreclosure frenzy. “We have decided to foreclose on everything,” said Wayne County chief deputy treasurer David Szymanski. He claims the foreclosure proceedings are for the occupants own good, since they might then be eligible for federal housing aid. It is obvious that the water disconnections and housing foreclosures are coordinated prongs of a hyper-aggressive gentrification pincer movement. While emergency manager Kevyn Orr completes the financial restructuring of the city under bankruptcy proceedings, the bureaucracy clears the land of unwanted populations. Back in September, the mayor and city council could have peremptorily dismissed Orr, whose term of authority under the emergency manager law had expired. Instead, they kept him on, so that he can complete the corporate handover of the city in bankruptcy court. The city council reclaimed its powers to award contracts and Mayor Mike Duggan, the first white person to occupy that office since 1974, took responsibility for the day-to-day duties of pushing out the poor. “You have here in Detroit a man-made perfect storm.” Mayor Duggan resents the two young UN rapporteurs’ interference with Detroit’s race and class makeover project. Aid Alexis Wiley claims the city is in possession of facts that were not taken into account. “It’s disappointing but it’s kind of scary that you can have such a heavy name of the United Nations — that is such a responsibility — and to not live up to that responsibility, to come really without an interest in information,” said Wiley. “No one’s saying we’re perfect. But if you want to work together, let’s work together and make sure policy is built on facts. It’s not built on an agenda.” Certainly, not on a human rights agenda. One wouldn’t want that, would one?. After all, Detroit still has big dreams – it’s just that poor Black people have no place in the plan. Albuquerque and Farha recommended “that the Federal Government immediately undertake an investigation into the water shut-offs to determine if they are having a disproportionate impact on African Americans and other groups protected against discrimination” – an idea that will be flushed into the nearest Oval Office toilet. The Obama administration is a full partner in transforming Detroit into the model for urban “renaissance” across the country, having signed off on the city’s financial restructuring and acquiesced in the effective disenfranchisement of Detroit – and half of all Black voters in Michigan – under the emergency manager regime.The Great Black Urban Dispersal is set to accelerate.

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Ebola nurse Nina Pham free of virus

A Dallas nurse infected with Ebola while treating a patient is declared free of the deadly virus, a day after the first infection in New York.

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Will the GOP Get the Message in Kansas?

The state’s ruinous foray into Tea Party economics has turned off huge swaths of Republican voters. So why are its candidates going even further to the right?

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GP shortage could shut practice

Health officials are due to make a decision on whether to close a doctors’ surgery in Gwynedd amid concern over recruiting GPs.

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VIDEO: The smartphone that answers back

How one manufacturer is making its smartphone really stand out from the crowd.

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Nurse Amber Vinson declared Ebola-free

<!– google_ad_section_start –> Doctors could no longer detect Ebola in a nurse who flew across the United States and back before she was diagnosed with the virus, her family said. <!– google_ad_section_end –>

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VIDEO: Who is the top dog at Westminster?

The Daily Politics meets some of the contestants, and their political owners, in the Westminster dog of the year contest.

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‘Anti-extremism’ school code shelved

The Department for Education has shelved plans for a code of practice for some religious schools which operate outside of mainstream education, the BBC learns.

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John Kerry uses trip to Berlin Wall to warn East-West tensions

<!– google_ad_section_start –> US Secretary of State John Kerry visited remnants of the Berlin Wall and warned that East-West tensions again threaten freedom in Europe, 25 years after its collapse. <!– google_ad_section_end –>

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Former Blackwater guards found guilty in 2007 shootings of Iraqis

One guard was found of first-degree murder, while the three others were found guilty of voluntary manslaughter

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Bellingham’s last TV interview aired

Actress Lynda Bellingham had shared her hopes for a final Christmas in a special edition of Loose Women.

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Two of Islamic State&#039;s captured jets destroyed, Syria says

Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi told Syrian TV late Tuesday that Syrian aircraft bombed the jets as they were landing at Jarrah airbase in the eastern countryside of Aleppo province

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Canadian shot dead in fatal hit-and-run linked to terrorist ideology

<!– google_ad_section_start –> The fatal attack on a Canadian soldier by a suspected Islamic militant in Quebec was “clearly linked to terrorist ideology,” Canada’s public safety minister said. <!– google_ad_section_end –>

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Hillsborough officer ‘not leant on’

A former police inspector who was on duty during the Hillsborough disaster denies he was “leant on” to ensure his statements “toed the party line”.

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Two stoned to death in Syria as Islamists gain ground in east, monitor warns

Islamic State is also battling Kurdish forces for control of the town of Kobani at the Turkish border

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VIDEO: First prosecution over avatar ‘Sweetie’

A year ago a charity in the Netherlands created a fake profile of a girl called Sweetie to pose in teen chat rooms.

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Ted Kennedy Jnr rides wave of support in first election bid

<!– google_ad_section_start –> Ted Kennedy Jnr, the son of the late Massachusetts senator and the nephew of a president and attorney general, is making his first run for public office as a candidate for state senator in Connecticut. <!– google_ad_section_end –>

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