Hong Kong citizens step up protests as riot police withdrawn

(from theguardian.com)

Thousands of Hong Kong citizens protested across the city on Monday, blocking roads and prompting the closure of banks and schools, as they stepped up their calls for democracy.

Police attempts to use teargas to clear huge protests from Admiralty and Central in downtown Hong Kong late on Sunday backfired by spurring more people to take to the streets, with numbers peaking in the tens of thousands. Fresh protests sprang up in Causeway Bay and Mongkok, in Kowloon.

Parts of the financial hub, generally known for its orderliness, were paralysed by the demonstrators. The government announced on Monday morning that riot police had been taken off the streets as citizens “have mostly calmed down” and urged people to unblock roads and disperse.

Hong Kong enjoys considerable autonomy under the “one country, two systems” framework and has long been promised universal suffrage for the election of the next chief executive in 2017. But protesters are furious that the rules announced by Beijing will impose such tight controls on candidates that a democrat could not even stand. They see the decision as part of a broader attempt to tighten controls on the region.

(keep reading at theguardian.com)

God Loves Gays Billboard is making the news in Topeka, KS

(from wibw.com)

A new billboard in Topeka is going viral and getting national attention due to it’s message and location.

The Facebook page known as “The Facebook God” raised more than $80,000 to pay for a sign that says “God Loves Gays” located near 21st and Western in the capitol city.

The “Facebook God” page has more than 1,700,000 likes and used a popular online crowd funding website called indiegogo.com to generate funds for the message.

It’s no coincidence that the page chose Topeka to display their message because Topeka is home to an internationally known group of anti-gay protesters.

(keep reading at wibw.com)

‘Children killed in their sleep’: Israeli artillery fire hits UN school, killing at least 20

(from mondoweiss.net)

Israeli military fire hit a United Nations-run school in Gaza today, killing at least 20 people and injuring an estimated 90 people. The school under attack, called the Abu Hussein girls’ elementary school, is located in the densely-populated Jabaliya refugee camp.

The United Nations Relief Works and Agency (UNRWA), the group that serves Palestinian refugees, issued a stern statement placing the blame for the attack on the Israeli army.

Last night, children were killed as they slept next to their parents on the floor of a classroom in a UN designated shelter in Gaza. Children killed in their sleep; this is an affront to all of us, a source of universal shame. Today the world stands disgraced,” said UNRWA Secretary General Pierre Krähenbühl. “We have visited the site and gathered evidence. We have analysed fragments, examined craters and other damage. Our initial assessment is that it was Israeli artillery that hit our school, in which 3,300 people had sought refuge.”

(keep reading at mondoweiss.net)

‘It’s a warzone in the US’: Indiana sheriff explains why he deployed heavy armor in his county

(from rt.com)

From the streets of Fallujah to Franklin, Indiana, heavily armored military vehicles have been rolled out for one and the same reason: many police officers in the US believe there’s a war going on.

Franklin, Indiana is by all accounts the idyllic Midwestern American town. Eponymously named after one of the founding fathers and “the first American,” Franklin’s small town bona fides provided Life Magazine with a Norman Rockwell-esque scene for a bit of village life utopia in the heart of the Great Depression.

But if you were to talk to local law enforcement, a battle is raging in the streets of Mayberry.

Franklin is the county seat of Johnson Country, Indiana. Speaking with Mark Alesia from The Indianapolis Star, Sheriff Doug Cox described the 139,000-strong administrative district as a place where officers’ old-time policing just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Leading Alesia to a pole barn in Franklin, Cox shows him a MRAP – a 55,000 pound, six-wheeled Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected armored-fighting vehicle with the word “SHERIFF” emblazoned on its flank.

“We don’t have a lot of mines in Johnson County,” confessed Sheriff Doug Cox, who acquired the vehicle. “My job is to make sure my employees go home safe.”

Cox isn’t alone in believing his deputies have something to fear. Johnson County is one of eight Indiana law enforcement agencies to acquire MRAPs from military surplus since 2010, according to public records obtained by The Indianapolis Star.

All across the state, and the country, the trend is similar. From picking up military surplus to using to $35 billion in grants from the Department of Homeland Security to acquire the most advanced weapons, police forces across America are armed to the teeth.

And as Pulaski County Sheriff Michael Gayer puts it, the effects are not only tactical, but psychological.

To put it bluntly: “It’s a lot more intimidating than a Dodge.”

(keep reading at rt.com)