Monday, September 30, 2019

“We were spread all over the place like a broken egg,”

 2-12-2019   PLOVDIV, Bulgaria (Reuters)  On a cold day in
January, Ivanka Angelova was at home with her daughter and four
grandchildren when the village mayor arrived and advised them to leave. 
Two neighbors - brothers aged 17 and 21 - were accused of beating up a local
resident.  The victim, a soldier, had been hospitalized. 
  Angelova, who like the brothers is from Bulgaria’s minority Roma
community, said the mayor told her that villagers were out for revenge.  He
was concerned her family might be attacked.   She and most of the 76-strong
Roma community fled Voyvodinovo village that evening, Jan. 6, and headed
ten kilometers to Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s second largest city. 
  “We were spread all over the place like a broken egg,” said Angelova, a
widow, wiping away tears.  Bulgaria, which joined the European Union in
2007 and is its poorest member, has one of the bloc’s largest Roma
minorities.  As in other EU countries, many Roma live on the fringes of
society and struggle for work - with those in small settlements facing
legal problems when it comes to land ownership, says the Bulgarian Helsinki 
Committee (BHC), a human rights group. 
  After Angelova and her family fled, the authorities started to demolish the
cluster of 17 small homes at the village’s edge.  When the Thomson Reuters
Foundation visited three days later, three houses had been destroyed and
several others damaged.  Notices were pasted to the other homes to notify
residents that theirs would be demolished too. 
  According to the 2011 census, there were 325,000 Roma people comprising
about 5 percent of Bulgaria’s 7.3 million people.  The Europea
Commission, however, estimates there are more than twice as many Roma -
about 750,000 people.  In the week following the assault on the localresident,
nationalist and far-right groups held nightly gatherings in Voyvodinovo. 
  And at a Jan. 8 press conference, Krasimir Karakachanov - the deputyprime
minister and head of the nationalist VRMO party - referred to the incident
when he said “gypsies ... have grown exceedingly insolent”....
  In a case brought by the BHC to the European Court of Human Rights
(ECHR) the court ruled in 2012 that in seeking to evict Roma from a
community in the capital Sofia, the Bulgarian authorities had violated one’s
“right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his
correspondence”.   Kanev said the ECHR recognized that “you cannot evict
people on an arbitrary basis leaving them without any shelter”.
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-bulgaria-roma-housing
feature/forced-evictions-discrimination-continue-to-afflict
bulgarias-roma-minority-idUSKCN1Q202O
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3-29-16 
  Stolipinovo, a ghetto neighbourhood near to the center of one of Europe’s oldest
and most historical cities, can safely be described as third-world, poverty
stricken, rampant with disease, heavily polluted, and somewhat shocking. As
many as fifty-thousand predominantly Roma (Gypsy) people are densely packed
into concrete communist-era apartment blocks, or within the surrounding
tapestry of hobbled-together shacks and shanties. In both cases, many survive
without running water.
Much of the district is covered in a putrid sea of trash. Broken sewerage and
water pipes leave large pools of fetid water along the main boulevards. Not so
long ago, a hepatitis epidemic ran through the area. Unemployment and crime,
are off the charts.  Many children don’t attend school.  Recently listed as the
worst place on the planet to take a short vacation,  Stolipinovo is a parallel world 
hat defies belief, just a short drive from the heart of Plovdiv, Bulgaria.  This is the 
argest Gypsy ghetto in Europe.
  Along with a Nepalese photojournalist, and two local Bulgarian girls roped into
providing translation duties, we walked to Stolipinovo from the city centre of
Plovdiv, Bulgaria. It’s only about a two or three kilometer journey. Chatting on the
way, I discovered that neither of the local girls had ever walked around “the
ghetto”, but both seemed somewhat curious. Until now, they had only read and
seen tales from Stolipinovo in the local media – dominated by reports of drugs,
murder, crime and poverty.  Now, they would see for themselves just what the ghetto down the street was all about.




https://yomadic.com/stolipinovo-gypsy-ghetto/
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 Eneya  Oct 2nd 2011  Again there is a clear segregation and distrust, the Roma groups are
very closed in themselves with negative attitude towards education, seen as something
useless.  There are huge families who live in poverty, the kids are sent to beg and steal or
sold, prostitution numbers are skyhigh and so on.
  Or even worse, the families live in almost fallen buildings huge and many satellite dishes on the roofs and the whole family is on the streets - begging, stealing, being used as prostitutes.  But the biggest issue is that this is controlled by very, very white mafia.  Yes, there are several big names like Rashkov but predominantly it's so very Bulgarian mafia who is in control and they are in bed with the politicians to the point that that's not even a "public secret" but a well known fact by everyone.  
  bojmican
  2-23-2013   Bulgarians feel (rightly) that they were ripped off by the private companies in charge of their utilities and got really cross with the companies in question and their government.  What they have painfully realised is that liberalising key public utilities does not actually ensure good prices.  The system failed not because it was a bad idea.  It failed because in Bulgaria, just like in all the Balkans, there can never be fair competition.  There is no such mentality.  The way things are done in this part of the world has not changed much since the apparachyk times, which were a legacy of the Byzantine-Russian administrative tradition.  The three companies realised that it's no good competing each other so they formed a cartel, ripping off the public to make bigger profits.
  hadasf08
  Oct 4th 2011   There is an increasing trend of visible extremest groups and radical political parties stirring up hatred against Roma. The integration of Roma makes little headway leading to major problems across Europe.  Attempts need to be made by Bulgarian authorities to defuse tensions and protect Roma communities from violence.  https://www.economist.com/node/21531139/comments?page=1
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smuggling people, overview

  An undercover team infiltrated a criminal gang operating out of Dunkirk in the north of France, who charge £7,000 for a spot on a boat crossing the channel.  The LBC team posed as an Indian family pretending to attempt to bring a young family member over to the UK….They met people smuggler Farooq in his camp in the woodlands outside Dunkirk.  Farooq, caught by the undercover reporter with a hidden camera, claimed that French Police officers at the border advise smugglers on when is the best time to attempt the journey through the channel.  As the LBC reporter asked whether there are ever any problems with the French Police,  Farooq replied: “French police is no problem.  Police in France just gives you the way.” He added:  “Because police want you to get out France, yes?  They want you to go.  They help.  This is business to France.”…
   French Police in Dunkirk denied the allegations.  Speaking to Express.co.uk a spokesman said:  “The information is false.  We don’t help illegal immigrants to get to the UK." https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1184429/eu-migrant-crisis-french-police-calais-dunkirk-emmanuel-macron-english-channel-lbc
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8-31-19  At least 54 migrants were taken by officers for questioning at Dover this morning following an attempt to flock to the UK from the Channel on several small boats.  https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1184429/eu-migrant-crisis-french-police-calais-dunkirk-emmanuel-macron-english-channel-lbc
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8-23-19      

-smuggler boat, at Dover.  “We had an event around 2.30 am this morning, and at 5 am, then at 7 am and then again at 11.30 am.”

https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1169292/English-channel-Migrant-border-force-Dover-Calais-UK-immigration-latest-news-Priti-Patel
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Athens, Greece — Human smuggling is a big business in Athens and CBS News has found evidence that ISIS members are being moved through Greece to the rest of Europe.
In central Athens, an area around Omonia Square is notorious as a center of criminal activity where human smuggling gangs operate.  Filming with a hidden camera, CBS News set up a meeting with Alrayes.  He comes from North Africa and runs a smuggling syndicate, moving people from Athens to western Europe for around $8,000 each.
"'From Athens you go [to] Italy, you arrive there in Italy. I have people will help you with everything.  It's very easy," he said.
His usual customers are migrants and refugees. Hundreds of thousands have come to Greece from the Middle East, many making the dangerous crossing by boat. They're dreaming of a better life in western Europe, and Alrayes and other smugglers can get them there.

williams-headline-material-rem32-frame-1433.jpg
Filming with a hidden camera, CBS News set up a meeting with a man who runs a smuggling syndicate.  CBS NEWS

I posed not as a refugee, but as an ISIS wife, who wanted safe passage to Germany.  "No problem," Alrayes said.  In fact, he said, he's moved other ISIS members before.

He even bragged that he'd smuggled three brothers of notorious al Qaeda terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a claim CBS News cannot confirm.
The smugglers use stolen identity documents.  CBS News went undercover again, this time posing as smugglers, and found criminals with hundreds of them for sale in Athens, including U.S. passports. They try to match their customers with an ID photo they resemble.
Then the smugglers use the stolen documents to fly people from Athens to Spain or Italy, where they claim security is lax.  From there they can travel anywhere in western Europe with no border checks.
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 more than 36,000 migrants entered Spain this year seeking a better life in Europe.  Almost all of them relied on smugglers to make the crossing....
Ousman Umar who made a five-year journey from Ghana to Spain said it was "impossible" to travel thousands of kilometres (miles) from sub-Saharan Africa through deserts and other inhospitable areas without the aid of gangs.  "There is almost no chance of reaching Europe illegally" without paying traffickers, Robert Crepinko, the head of the human smuggling unit at Europol, the European Union's policing arm, told AFP.  90% of migrants who enter Europe are helped by human traffickers, he added, citing a 2015 study.
Spain has become the main entry point for migrants arriving this year, after Italy and Greece.  "The journey can last one year, two years, depending on the ring and the funds you have, because the trafficking networks will take you as far as you can pay," Jose Nieto Barroso of the national police's human smuggling unit UCRIF told AFP.  Migrants gather in Morocco because "it's the best place to wait for the right moment to cross" over to Spain, said Nieto Barroso.
The vast majority pay for a spot on an inflatable dinghy or to take part in a mass run on the heavily fortified border fences that surround Ceuta and Melilla, two tiny Spanish territories in North Africa that share the EU's only land borders with Africa.
Human traffickers charge 18 euros ($21) to try to scale the border fences, 200-700 euros to join a packed boat to cross the narrow Strait of Gibraltar separating Spain from Morocco by just 15 kilometres (nine miles) at its narrowest point, or up to 5,000 euros to make the trip by jet ski, according to Spanish police.  Europol estimates migrants pay on average 3,000-5,000 euros for a complete trip to Europe.
Once in Spain many want to move on to wealthier northern European countries like Britain, France and Germany where they believe they will have better opportunities or because they already have family there.  Once again human traffickers play a role in getting them there.  The smugglers promise migrants they will be rescued at sea by the Spanish coast guard and then taken to migrant reception centres where "in three or four days members of the network will be in the area and get you out," Nieto Barroso said.
The gang will then take the migrants to another country or, in worst-case scenarios, pass them on to other gangs that exploit them.  Women are sometimes forced into prostitution while men are used as slave labour in agriculture or made to beg in the streets.
With migrant arrivals to Spain's southern shores on the rise, more of them are heading north to the border town of Irun, some sleeping rough as they wait to cross into neighbouring France, or to Santander, where police in August arrested two people for hiding migrants in their vehicle which was going to board a ferry bound for Britain.  Police smashed 25 human trafficking rings in Spain last year but many more remain active in Africa, recruiting more migrants.  https://www.france24.com/en/20180918-smugglers-pave-path-migrants-africa-europe
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  Philippines is a source country and transit country when it comes to forced labor and sexual exploitation. Thailand is one of the biggest suppliers of forced labor in the Southeast Asia region and around the globe. Most of the forced laborers are brought in from nearby Southeast Asian countries like MyanmarMalaysiaLaosVietnam and Cambodia.  Migrants voluntarily migrate into Thailand where they can end up in forced labor or sold into its own sex industry.[9]
Laos is labeled as a source country of men, women, and children for the sex slave industry and the forced labor industry.  Many of the Lao migrants move to countries like Thailand or are sent to China from a transit country.[10]   Lao migrants are mainly flowed into sectors of intensive labor with little pay. 70 percent of migrants from Laos are female and many of them are sought for the use of domestic labor. In Thailand there are no labor protection for domestic workers, which can lead to risks for the migrant Lao females.[11]
Cambodia is a source country for migrants due to high levels of unemployment and poverty. This leaves natives with little opportunity and high levels of risk for human trafficking.  Many Cambodian women are trafficked into sexual or labor industries, while men are trafficked into the fishing, agricultural and construction sectors in many countries within the Southeast Asian region.[11]
Myanmar's history of rule under a military regime is one of the reasons the country is considered a source country.  The regime's poor management of the economy and human rights abuse put the countries citizens at risk for human trafficking. Men, women and children are subject to labor exploitation in ThailandChinaPakistanSouth Korea and  Macau.[10]  Children are trafficked in Thailand to be forced into begging, while young girls are trafficked into China to work in the sex slave industry.[12]  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_trafficking_in_Southeast_Asia
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Sunday, September 29, 2019

Palfreeman case

  Palfreeman had a profound effect on those he met, both young and old. They are sticking by him. 
  A gently spoken gypsy called Simeon told me the Australian rescued him from knife carrying thugs at an outdoors concert in 2006.
  Engineering student and Samokov friend Didi Alexandrova wondered if Palfreeman's fatal flaw was naivety.
   "Not everybody would help a stranger, taking a risk with their own life," she said.     https://www.abc.net.au/news/2009-12-02/australian-awaits-fate-after-years-in-bulgarian/1165992
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  two young people in Australia in 2004. However, despite an investigation at the time, no charges were laid against Palfreeman in relation to that incident with Australian police citing a lack of evidence. Palfreeman has maintained that he was not responsible for the people being stabbed. https://murderpedia.org/male.P/p/palfreeman-jock.htm
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Permalink Submitted by Nick (not verified) on Fri, 22/04/2011 - 9:10am
This is so fucking incorrect you massive tool.  I was there, I saw Jock run in to the house to grab a knife at the house party.  Two of the 'gatecrashers' got stabbed, you think these 'gatecrashers' started stabbing each other do you?  What kind of fucking retard are you?
And asshole, the reason why no one got charged was because all the evidence was hearsay, it was a matter of 1 bunch of boys opinions verse another, with no evidence, of course no one could be formally charged.
I was with my mate a week after he got stabbed 5 times by Jock, and do you know what he said that dog piece of shit did?  He clenched the knife so that the blade protruded through his fingers so that he could stab people, but it looked like he was only punching people.
GET YOUR FACTS RIGHT YOU IGNORANT CUNT.
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1-2-08  in December 2004 that nearly killed James Atack and his friend
Matt, both 20, the daily said.
  No charges were pressed at that time, because of insufficient evidence, but both identified him as the perpetrator at that time.
  "It just hurts to know he has done it to someone else, I was a millimetre away from dying," the paper quoted Matt, who was too afraid to have his last name published, as saying. "I had huge gashes out of my chest, I had surgery . . . I couldn't work for 10 weeks.”  https://www.novinite.com/articles/89006/Australian+Stabber+in+Bulgaria+Accused+Before
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  After arriving in Bulgaria in May 2006, Jock Palfreeman quickly made friends with Grayham Saunders, an English builder who was renovating a house in Samokov, a small town 35 miles outside the capital.
  While staying with Grayham and helping him to repair his house, Jock Palfreeman befriended locals his age, bought a motorcycle, fell in love and picked up harvesting work between travels across the countryside.  During this time, Jock Palfreeman witnessed numerous acts of violence involving Bulgarian skinheads and Roma people.  After intervening in some incidents to assist Roma, and being assaulted himself, Jock Palfreeman started carrying pepper spray as a form of defence….
  According to Hawkins, a nearby traffic surveillance camera recording,
made around 1am that morning, shows two young men starting an
altercation with what some members of
Andrei Monov’s group told police
was a Roma man.  Hawkins’s reading of the witness statements suggests 
that one of the two youths starting the fight was Andrei Monov. Very soon 
afterwards, he is joined by at least 10 other youths, who independent 
witnesses say all participated in bashing the victim.  Not long afterwards, a 
lone figure can be seen rushing across the square to aid the
Roma.  According to Hawkins, that person was almost certainly Jock
Palfreeman….
  subsequent testimony at court from police officer Asen Stoychev, which Hawkins summarises as follows: ‘He recalled that Lindsay was behaving ‘inadequately’ and seemed to be in shock.  But under questioning, Stoychev went much further than in his original statement. Now he said that at the scene he picked up two very different versions of what had transpired.  One version came from the friend holding Andrei’s head who told him that they had been ‘walking’ when suddenly someone with a knife had ‘come at them’. Other group members told Stoychev that the group had an ‘altercation’ with people from ‘the minority’ and the defendant had tried to stop it, after which they attacked him and he had ‘defended himself’. The officer added that passers-by and security guards from the Sheraton had told him the same thing.’ [page 198]
A security guard at the Sheraton Hotel, Viktor Georgiev, and a car park attendant, Lyubomir Tomov, were both situated very close to where the incident occurred. They did not know either Jock Palfreeman or Andrei or their friends and so can be considered to be independent. These crucial and objective witnesses supported Jock Palfreeman’s version of events that he only brandished the knife after being attacked.  They had given police statements to this effect but sloppy errors caused long delays in subpoenaing them to give evidence at trial which caused the defence great distress, increasing its concern that the police investigation was at best sloppy and at worse affected by undue influence from the victim’s family.
Interestingly, the police who arrived first at St Nedelya Square and took the witness statements were not called as witnesses at the trial.  Only those police who subsequently took over the investigation were asked to appear….
subsequent testimony at court from police officer Asen Stoychev, which Hawkins summarises as follows:  ‘He recalled that Lindsay was behaving ‘inadequately’ and seemed to be in shock.  But under questioning, Stoychev went much further than in his original statement.  Now he said that at the scene he picked up two very different versions of what had transpired.  One version came from the friend holding Andrei’s head who told him that they had been ‘walking’ when suddenly someone with a knife had ‘come at them’. Other group members told Stoychev that the group had an ‘altercation’ with people from ‘the minority’ and the defendant had tried to stop it, after which they attacked him and he had ‘defended himself’. The officer added that passers-by and security guards from the Sheraton had told him the same thing.’ [page 198]
A security guard at the Sheraton Hotel, Viktor Georgiev, and a car park attendant, Lyubomir Tomov, were both situated very close to where the incident occurred.  They did not know either Jock Palfreeman or Andrei or their friends and so can be considered to be independent. These crucial and objective witnesses supported Jock Palfreeman’s version of events that he only brandished the knife after being attacked.  They had given police statements to this effect but sloppy errors caused long delays in subpoenaing them to give evidence at trial which caused the defence great distress, increasing its concern that the police investigation was at best sloppy and at worse affected by undue influence from the victim’s family.
Interestingly, the police who arrived first at St Nedelya Square and took the witness statements were not called as witnesses at the trial.  Only those police who subsequently took over the investigation were asked to appear….
subsequent testimony at court from police officer Asen Stoychev, which Hawkins summarises as follows: ‘He recalled that Lindsay was behaving ‘inadequately’ and seemed to be in shock.   But under questioning, Stoychev went much further than in his original statement.  Now he said that at the scene he picked up two very different versions of what had transpired.  One version came from the friend holding Andrei’s head who told him that they had been ‘walking’ when suddenly someone with a knife had ‘come at them’. Other group members told Stoychev that the group had an ‘altercation’ with people from ‘the minority’ and the defendant had tried to stop it, after which they attacked him and he had ‘defended himself’. The officer added that passers-by and security guards from the Sheraton had told him the same thing.’ [page 198]
A security guard at the Sheraton Hotel, Viktor Georgiev, and a car park attendant, Lyubomir Tomov, were both situated very close to where the incident occurred. They did not know either Jock Palfreeman or Andrei or their friends and so can be considered to be independent. These crucial and objective witnesses supported Jock Palfreeman’s version of events that he only brandished the knife after being attacked.  They had given police statements to this effect but sloppy errors caused long delays in subpoenaing them to give evidence at trial which caused the defence great distress, increasing its concern that the police investigation was at best sloppy and at worse affected by undue influence from the victim’s family.
Interestingly, the police who arrived first at St Nedelya Square and took the witness statements were not called as witnesses at the trial.  Only those police who subsequently took over the investigation were asked to appear….
subsequent testimony at court from police officer Asen Stoychev, which Hawkins summarises as follows: ‘He recalled that Lindsay was behaving ‘inadequately’ and seemed to be in shock.  But under questioning, Stoychev went much further than in his original statement.  Now he said that at the scene he picked up two very different versions of what had transpired.  One version came from the friend holding Andrei’s head who told him that they had been ‘walking’ when suddenly someone with a knife had ‘come at them’. Other group members told Stoychev that the group had an ‘altercation’ with people from ‘the minority’ and the defendant had tried to stop it, after which they attacked him and he had ‘defended himself’.  The officer added that passers-by and security guards from the Sheraton had told him the same thing.’ [page 198]
A security guard at the Sheraton Hotel, Viktor Georgiev, and a car park attendant, Lyubomir Tomov, were both situated very close to where the incident occurred.  They did not know either Jock Palfreeman or Andrei or their friends and so can be considered to be independent. These crucial and objective witnesses supported Jock Palfreeman’s version of events that he only brandished the knife after being attacked.  They had given police statements to this effect but sloppy errors caused long delays in subpoenaing them to give evidence at trial which caused the defence great distress, increasing its concern that the police investigation was at best sloppy and at worse affected by undue influence from the victim’s family.
Interestingly, the police who arrived first at St Nedelya Square and took the witness statements were not called as witnesses at the trial.  Only those police who subsequently took over the investigation were asked to appear….
In 2011, during the appeal Sydney barrister Jonathan Cohen contacted the Bulgarian Embassy in Canberra, claiming that Jock Palfreeman had brutally assaulted him in 2006.  Cohen asked that the ‘Bulgarian Court of Appeal uphold the sentence and offering to provide more information about the assault on him.’ [pages 266-267].http://lsa.net.au/Portals/7/%27Every%20Parents%20Nightmare%27%20Study%20Guide.pdf
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  Reporter Belinda Hawkins asked Palfreeman about the night and the following is a transcript of that interview.
  "On December 30th 2004, my brother called me and asked if I was in the neighbourhood and I said yes and he said his friend was having a party and his friends wanted to see me because I see his friends all the time.
"So I went over and I was just talking and chatting with his friends.
"Just as I was about to leave, a big group of boys - maybe 10 or 15 - came.
About five ran in the front way and then others were jumping over the fenc es and stuff.  Then I grabbed one who knew me and I said hey what's up? I was happy to see him.
He said 'oh we're here to beat up one guy’.  I said 'oh who?’  And he said 'oh I think his name is Spenser'. So I went oh shit that's my brother and as I ran I pushed him and ran in the back of the garden.
They chased him.  He was walking backwards and they'd pushed him into the back fence.  I said listen, I am Spenser's brother and I'm not moving and they said just move aside we only a problem with your brother, not you.  It seemed one of them had a grudge against him because of an ex girlfriend.
"So I turned around to Spenser to tell him to jump the back wall and leave because if he left the situation it would be a lot more easier to calm down and to simmer down because with Spenser gone you know there's nothing there left for them.  And Spenser said no, I'm not leaving you here.
"I had my back to the rest of the group and then all of a sudden they just attacked me from behind and just started punching me in the back of the head. One of them had a knife but I don't know who and I was pushed against the wall and then I fell to the ground and it was all just chaotic, kicking and punching and stuff.
"Then one of the guys from the group, I don't really know who he is, was stopping them from kicking me.  And then I got up and I saw my brother's friend had been stabbed or slashed or whatever.
"So I got out my mobile and called the police and ambulance and then I took him inside and was trying to put pressure on his wound and whilst I was carrying him they were still trying to attack me and punch me from behind.
"And then the ambulance came.  They (the gang) were all out the front shouting and stuff and then when the police came they started running away out the front gate and down the street, but the police stopped them from leaving.
"It was a mix of people aged between 17 and 21 or 22 and I was 18 at the time.
"I didn't have a knife or anything at all like a weapon.
"Maybe a week later my father called me and said the police wanted to talk to me and I said no problem and he gave me the detective's number. I've forgotten his name now but then I called him up and said I'll come in and talk to you.  He said ah tomorrow and I said no that's no good for me. I think it was Wednesday.  I said what about what about Friday.  He said no problem.  So on Friday I went in and talked to them for about I don't remember, about an hour and then I left.
"I hadn't done anything other than stand between my brother and them.
"I would never have thought that night in Chatswood to have had repercussions down the line.”  http://indymedia.org.au/2011/03/30/call-out-for-solidarity-for-jock-palfreeman-11th-17th-of-april.html
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  That includes a poorly laid claim by Sydney barrister Jonathan Cohen that Jock had assaulted him—it was quickly disproved because Jock hadn’t even been in Australia at the time.  For some reason, this of all things incensed me.  That’s probably because until that point I’d considered the absence of delivered justice the Bulgarian court’s fault, and now here was an Australian inflicting further, senseless damage. Moreover Cohen, a man of the law, should have known and done better with investigating the issue before bandying around accusations.  https://blog.boomerangbooks.com.au/every-parents-nightmare-part-1/2013/06

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9-29-19 Moscow rally


  "We have to keep demanding to respect our rights because they have left us no choice but to protest in the streets," said opposition leader Lyubov Sobol at the 9-29 protest.  
  Allegations of police brutality and what many Muscovites see as harsh jail sentences have sparked an unusual public outcry.   "Not only people from the opposition but also some within government circles have been very upset and angry about these arrests."   
  The current wave of demonstrations was triggered by the refusal of Moscow authorities to allow opposition politicians such as Sobol, an associate of top Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, to participate in local elections….Investigators dropped initial "mass riot" charges against six demonstrators but some remain in jail awaiting trial for alleged violence against police, while five people have already been sentenced to lengthy jail terms.
  Actor Pavel Ustinov's arrest earlier this month was met by an immense backlash after videos proving he was not guilty of hurting a police officer were not allowed to be shown in court.
  Ustinov, 23, was sentenced last week to three and a half years in prison for hurting a policeman at a July demonstration, despite insisting he was an innocent bystander.  His case sparked a star-studded solidarity campaign and in an apparent backtrack last week Ustinov was freed pending his appeal hearing.  https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/09/thousands-rally-moscow-demand-release-jailed-protesters-190929141851193.html   and  https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-49871901
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  Five people have so far been sentenced for their roles in the rallies.  Kremlin opponents see the jail terms as aimed at putting down future dissent.  One of those sentenced, Kirill Zhukov, 28, will spend three years behind bars for lifting a policeman's visor….Over recent weeks, groups of professionals ranging from teachers to doctors to Orthodox priests have signed open letters demanding the release of those sentenced. 
  Speakers during the rally included Navalny and his allies Ivan Zhdanov and Lyubov Sobol, opposition candidates who were barred from running in the city council elections.

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A protester holds a poster reading "Free Yegor Zhukov!" during an August rally in Moscow, after mass police detentions. He was arrested in Moscow on Aug. 1.
Yuri Kadobnov/AFP/Getty Images  On Aug. 1, Yegor Zhukov posted his last YouTube video, making an impassioned appeal to support anti-government protesters caught up in the wheels of Russia's criminal justice system. Wearing a dark blue button-down shirt, the 21-year-old Moscow political science student leaned into the camera and urged Russians not to be cowed into silence. "Russia will eventually be free," he said. "But we may not live to see it if we let fear win."  Hours later, law enforcement agents arrested Zhukov and charged him with rioting during an unauthorized rally in downtown Moscow....though the charges against Zhukov have changed and he's now under house arrest, the student still faces up to five years in prison.Lucian Kim/NPR  https://www.npr.org/2019/09/19/761596001/the-russian-student-who-has-become-moscows-new-face-of-dissent...................

Trump has largely ignored Xinjiang, essentially giving China a pass.

9-25-19    So far the trade talks have taken precedence.  And Mr. Trump has largely ignored Xinjiang, essentially giving China a pass.  The administration’s limited action probably affects the global calculus.  If the United States does not take a leadership role on the issue, other countries do not feel the pressure to act either.  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/25/world/asia/china-xinjiang-muslim-camps.html
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9-24-19   In Xinjiang “any ideology which really captures someone’s conscience that is other than the [Communist] Party is a threat,” Mr. Paix said.  “So in essence it doesn’t matter what religion it is – or even if it was a non-religious ideology.”  https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/article-in-xinjiang-incarceration-of-christians-and-han-chinese-shows-broad/
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9-27-19  “If we lose, Hong Kong will become Xinjiang,” he said, referring to China’s western, Muslim-majority region that is blanketed by a huge security clampdown....
  Local artist Perry Dino, 53, has sketched scenes from both movements, though he says it is a harder job now the protests are not static.   “I’m optimistic seeing that many Hong Kong people have come out on the streets fearless about being arrested, let alone enduring the sun and rain,” he added.  Medical student Wong said he retained a similar sense of hope even as China rejects further concessions.  “We have proved that after 2014, we have the strength to come back again,” he said. “No matter what is waiting for us ahead, we will be back and we will continue our fight”.  We are stronger than before,” added Bunny.  “We won’t be easily worn down like in 2014.”
https://www.hongkongfp.com/2019/09/27/lose-hong-kong-will-become-xinjiang-umbrella-movement-generation-five-years/
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9-23-19    https://www.theepochtimes.com/chinas-rivers-are-the-major-source-of-plastic-entering-the-oceans_3091941.html

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Saturday, September 28, 2019

“For the U.S. to be like Russia is today,”

            3-1-1999                                When hammer and sickle gave way to
Russia's tricolor in 1991 Russians believed themselves destined for democracy and a free-market economy, the two key constituents of what they called simply a "normal society."  They also exhibited admiration for the United States unequaled by any other of America's adversaries after the great conflicts of this century.  Such attitudes are now hardly perceptible.  They have been replaced by hostility toward what has been foisted on them in the name of democracy and capitalism, and toward the United States, which most believe to have been in some degree responsible for the failures and perversions of “reform.”…
  The revolution of 1991 was not as revolutionary as it seemed.  The termites had long been chewing away within, even before the wrecking balls of glasnost and perestroika assailed from without.  The Soviet system collapsed because a large portion of the nomenklatura, those with hands directly on state property, deserted the CPSU and the Soviet state to pursue business interests and nationalist political agendas.  This had been going on sub rosa for years; the events of late 1991 only unveiled and accelerated the process.  As a result the post-Soviet scene in Russia is dominated by the people, relationships habits of the late Soviet era, particularly in the nexus of property and power….Elections are generally freer and fairer than in Belarus or Kazakhstan.  It is more apt to call them free-for-all and fair-or-foul, since money, manipulation and political violence continue to play a large role. There is freedom of the press, in that ideologically diverse media host lively commentary on Russia’s affairs.  But Russia's media are controlled by the politico-business clans who dominate national and regional politics. …the “new Russians", working with organized crime and corrupt officialdomextract wealth as quickly as possible and send abroad what they don’t ostentatiously consume.  The most powerful actors in this sector are deeply invested in phony banking, controlled media and patronage politics….
  But should the U.S. government render such help (return stolen funds) to Russia?   For a policy decision the late Ed Hewitt, then running Soviet affairs on the National Security Council, assembled officials from State, Treasury, Defense and the intelligence community.  The answer was no.  Some worried about risk to intelligence sources.  But the main rationale was the following:  capital flight is capital flight.  We can no more help Russia retrieve such money than we can help Brazil or Argentina.  If they get the economic fundamentals right, the money will return.  I cannot remember whether anybody put it so explicitly, but the implication was clear:  it doesn't matter who has the money or how it was acquired, even if by theft; so long as it is private it will return to do good things if there is a market. 
 
-Fritz Ermarth   https://nationalinterest.org/print/article/seeing-russia-plain-839
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  For two years in the early 1990s Richard Palmer served as the CIA station chief in the United States’ Moscow embassy.  The events unfolding around him—the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the rise of Russia—were so chaotic, so traumatic and exhilarating that they mostly eluded clearheaded analysis.  But from all the intelligence that washed over his desk Palmer acquired a crystalline understanding of the deeper narrative of those times.  In the fall of 1999 he testified before a congressional committee to disabuse members of Congress of their optimism and to warn them of what was to come.
  American officialdom, Palmer believed, had badly misjudged Russia.  Washington had placed its faith in the new regime’s elites; it took them at their word when they professed their commitment to democratic capitalism.  But Palmer had seen up close how the world’s growing interconnectedness—and global finance in particular—could be deployed for ill.  During the Cold War the KGB had developed an expert understanding of the banking byways of the West, and spymasters had become adept at dispensing cash to agents abroad. That proficiency facilitated the amassing of new fortunes.  In the dying days of the U.S.S.R.  Palmer had watched as his old adversaries in Soviet intelligence shoveled billions from the state treasury into private accounts across Europe and the U.S. It was one of history’s greatest heists.
  Washington told itself a comforting story that minimized the importance of this outbreak of kleptomania:  these were criminal outliers and rogue profiteers rushing to exploit the weakness of the new state.  This narrative infuriated Palmer.  He wanted to shake Congress into recognizing that the thieves were the very elites who presided over every corner of the system.  “For the U.S. to be like Russia is today,” he explained to the House committee, “it would be necessary to have massive corruption by the majority of the members at Congress as well as by the Departments of Justice and Treasury and agents of the FBI, CIA, DIA, IRS, Marshal Service, Border Patrol; state and local police officers; the Federal Reserve Bank; Supreme Court justices …”      
  The United States, Palmer made clear, had allowed itself to become an accomplice in this plunder.   His assessment was unsparing.  The West could have turned away this stolen cash, it could have stanched the outflow to shell companies and tax havens.  Instead Western banks waved Russian loot into their vaults.  Palmer’s anger was intended to provoke a bout of introspection—and to fuel anxiety about the risk that rising kleptocracy posed to the West itself….Russian values might infect and then weaken the moral defense systems of American politics and business.
  This unillusioned spook was a prophet, and he spoke out at a hinge moment in the history of global corruption.  America could not afford to delude itself into assuming that it would serve as the virtuous model, much less emerge as an untainted bystander.  Yet when Yegor Gaidar, a reformist Russian prime minister in the earliest post-Communist days, asked the United States for help hunting down the billions that the KGB had carted away, the White House refused.  “Capital flight is capital flight” was how one former CIA official summed up the American rationale for idly standing by.  But this was capital flight on an unprecedented scale and mere prologue to an era of rampant theft.  When the Berkeley economist Gabriel Zucman studied the problem in 2015 he found that 52 percent of Russia’s wealth resided outside the country.
  The collapse of Communism in the other post-Soviet states along with China’s turn toward capitalism only added to the kleptocratic fortunes that were hustled abroad for secret safekeeping.  Officials around the world have always looted their countries’ coffers and accumulated bribes.  But the globalization of banking made the export of their ill-gotten money far more convenient than it had been—which, of course, inspired more theft.  By one estimate more than $1 trillion now exits the world’s developing countries each year in the forms of laundered money and evaded taxes.
  As in the Russian case much of this plundered wealth finds its way to the United States.  New York, Los Angeles and Miami have joined London as the world’s most desired destinations for laundered money.  This boom has enriched the American elites who have enabled it—and it has degraded the nation’s political and social mores in the process.   While everyone else was heralding an emergent globalist world that would take on the best values of America, Palmer had glimpsed the dire risk of the opposite:  that the values of the kleptocrats would become America’s own.  This grim vision is now nearing fruition.   

The contagion has spread remarkably quickly which is not to say steadily, in a country haunted since its founding by the perils of corruption.  The United States has had seizures of conscience en route to the top of the new global order surveyed by the British journalist Oliver Bullough in his excellent book Moneyland: Why Thieves and Crooks Now Rule the World and How to Take It Back.  In the months following Palmer’s testimony the zeitgeist swerved in the direction he urged, at least momentarily.  Newspaper articles in the fall of 1999 showed how billions in Russian money, some of it seemingly tied to an alleged crime boss, had landed in the Bank of New York.  These sums startled Bill Clinton’s administration which readied tough new anti-money-laundering bills designed to stiffen banking regulations. But the administration was in its last year, and passing any new law would have required a legislative slog and bull-rushing obstreperous lobbyists, so plans stalled….  
  Title III of the Patriot Act, the International Money Laundering Abatement and Anti-terrorist Financing Act, was signed into law little more than a month after September 11.  This section of the bill was a monumental legislative achievement.  Undeterred by the smoke clouds of crisis, representatives of the big banks had stalked the Senate, trying to quash the measure.  Citibank officials reportedly got into shouting matches with congressional staffers in the hall.  This anger reflected the force of the Patriot Act.  If a bank came across suspicious money transferred from abroad, it was now required to report the transfer to the government.  A bank could face criminal charges for failing to establish sufficient safeguards against the flow of corrupt cash.  Little wonder that banks fought fiercely against the imposition of so many new rules, which required them to bulk up their compliance divisions—and, more to the point, subjected them to expensive penalties for laxity.
   Much of what Palmer had urged was suddenly the law of the land.  But nestled in the Patriot Act lay the handiwork of another industry’s lobbyists.  Every House district in the country has real estate, and lobbyists for that business had pleaded for relief from the Patriot Act’s monitoring of dubious foreign transactions. They all but conjured up images of suburban moms staking for sale signs on lawns, ill-equipped to vet every buyer.  And they persuaded Congress to grant the industry a temporary exemption from having to enforce the new law.
  The exemption was a gaping loophole—and an extraordinary growth opportunity for high-end real estate.  For all the new fastidiousness of the financial system foreigners could still buy penthouse apartments or mansions anonymously and with ease by hiding behind shell companies set up in states such as Delaware and Nevada.   Those states along with a few others had turned the registration of shell companies into a hugely lucrative racket—and it was stunningly simple to arrange such a Potemkin front on behalf of a dictator, a drug dealer or an oligarch.  According to Global Witness, a London-based anti-corruption NGO founded in 1993, procuring a library card requires more identification in many states than does creating an anonymous shell company.
  Much of the money that might have snuck into banks before the Patriot Act became law was now used to purchase property.  The New York Times described the phenomenon in a series of expos├ęs published in 2015 called “Towers of Secrecy.”  Reporters discovered that condos in the ultra-luxe Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle in Manhattan were owned by a constellation of kleptocrats….If foreign plutocrats remained mostly unscathed as they made themselves at home in the U.S., American plutocrats eager to hide their fortunes abroad faced fresh trouble.  In 2007 the United States experienced one of its bouts of moral clarity, jolted by the confessions of a banker named Bradley Birkenfeld, who came clean to the Department of Justice.  (He would later tell his story in a book called Lucifer’s Banker.)  What he freely divulged to prosecutors were his client-recruiting efforts on behalf of UBS, the Swiss banking behemoth.  Birkenfeld described how he had ensconced himself in the gilded heart of the American plutocracy, attending yacht regattas and patronizing art galleries.  He would mingle with the wealthy and strike up conversation.  “What I can do for you is zero,” he would say and then pause before the punch line: “Actually it’s three zeroes—zero income tax, zero capital-gains tax and zero inheritance tax.”  Birkenfeld’s unsubtle approach succeeded wildly as did his bank.  As part of an agreement with the Justice Department, UBS admitted to hiding assets totaling some $20 billion in American money.
  The scale of the hidden cash spun Congress into a fury. 
In 2010 it passed the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (fatca), legislation with moral clout that belies its stodgy name.  Never again would a foreign bank be able to hold American cash without notifying the IRS—or without risking a walloping fine….In 2011 the Obama administration sought to collect more information about foreigners’ bank accounts and to share it with the relevant home countries.  But banks—along with their lobbyists and intellectual mouthpieces—worked furiously to prevent the expansion.  A fellow at the Heritage Foundation denounced the proposed standards as “fiscal imperialism.”  The president of the Florida Bankers Association said “At a time when we are trying to create jobs and reduce the burden on businesses this is the wrong issue.”  Bankers’ associations in Texas, California and New York followed suit. The effort went nowhere in Congress.
  The pattern repeated itself when the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, following the original fatca example, took the congressional template and extended it:  each year banks would report foreign accounts to the tax authorities in the account holders’ home country.  If every nation had signed on to the OECD standards, the effect would have been a hammer-blow to tax havens, shattering the vital infrastructure that allows kleptocratic money to flow unnoticed.  In the end the United States was alone in refusing to join the OECD agreement, finalized in 2014.
  This obstinacy stood to subvert everything the country had done to lead the fight against dirty money:  while the U.S. can ask almost any other nation’s banks for financial information about American citizens, it has no obligation to provide other countries with the same.  “The United States had bullied the rest of the world into scrapping financial secrecy,” Bullough writes, “but hadn’t applied the same standards to itself.”  A Zurich-based lawyer vividly spelled out the consequences to Bloomberg:  “How ironic—no, how perverse—that the USA, which has been so sanctimonious in its condemnation of Swiss banks, has become the banking secrecy jurisdiction du jour … That ‘giant sucking sound’ you hear?  It is the sound of money rushing to the USA.”
  Not long before the U.S. declined to sign on to the OECD standards, a branch office of the baronial Rothschild bank opened on the 12th floor of a building in Reno, Nevada, far away in miles and spirit from the home office in Paris.  The bank’s name wasn’t announced on the exterior of the building or even listed in the lobby directory.  Soon after the Reno outpost opened one of the bank’s managing directors introduced the new branch’s services to potential clients in San Francisco.  What made the presentation so memorable were the ideas included in a draft procured by Bloomberg.  The script laid bare the reasons for wealthy foreigners to funnel money through Nevada:  the state is the ideal place to hide money from governments and avoid paying U.S. taxes.   The draft acknowledged a truth that bankers don’t usually admit in public which is that the United States has “little appetite” for helping foreign governments retrieve money laundered within its borders.  In fact it has grown into “the biggest tax haven in the world.”
  What changed wasn’t just regulatory structure.  The behavior of the American elite changed too.  Members of the professional classes competed to sell their services to kleptocrats.  In the course of that competition they breezed past old ethical prohibitions….The defining document of our era is the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010.  The ruling didn’t just legalize anonymous expenditures on political campaigns.  It redefined our very idea of what constitutes corruption, limiting it to its most blatant forms:  the bribe and the explicit quid pro quo. Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion crystallized an ever more prevalent ethos of indifference—the collective shrug in response to tax avoidance by the rich and by large corporations, the yawn that now greets the millions in dark money spent by invisible billionaires to influence elections.  -F. Fhttps://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/03/how-kleptocracy-came-to-america/580471/oer