Saturday, March 25, 2017

Camouflage Challenge: Simon's Cat...

Israeli soldiers drag shoeless Palestinian eight-year-old from house to house in shocking video from Hebron...

Footage of a crying little boy being dragged around by Israeli soldiers as he is forced to help find other children accused of throwing stones has emerged from the Palestinian city of Hebron.

Eight-year-old Sufian Abu Hitah disobeyed his mother to sneak out from his grandparents’ house to look for a missing toy when he was seized by a group of around 15 soldiers who asked him in Arabic to give the names of children who had thrown stones and a Molotov cocktail at the nearby Kiryat Arba Israeli settlement.

Crying, the boy told the soldiers he didn’t known anything. However, he was then grabbed by both arms and escorted to both the Kiryat Arba gate and into several houses, despite only wearing socks. Several women who witnessed the scene tried to intervene, eventually managing to free the boy more than an hour later. Full story...

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Teenage Singaporean blogger Amos Yee granted asylum in U.S...

Singaporean teenage blogger Amos Yee has been granted asylum in the United States, his lawyer said Saturday.

The 18-year-old has been held in a detention facility in Chicago since December 16, after border control officers stopped him from entering the country upon finding out about his plans to seek asylum.

“On March 24, 2017, the Honorable Immigration Judge Samuel B. Cole granted Amos Yee’s asylum application,” Sandra Grossman, Yee’s pro-bono lawyer in the US, said in a statement.

“Judge Cole concluded that the Singapore government persecuted Yee on account of his political opinion, and that Yee is deserving of asylum as a matter of discretion.” Full story...

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Friday, March 24, 2017

Meet the Hyderabad couple fighting for the right to reject religion...

What’s in a sarkaari form? A lot of things, including your name, ‘father/husband’s name’, date of birth, and of course, your religion and caste.

But what happens when you don’t believe in religion, and don’t want to bring up your child with a caste? What about the non-religious, the agnostics, the atheists, the children of couples who hold different faiths, or just about any person who does not want to tell the government which gods they pray to?

A couple from Hyderabad are fighting a very interesting battle to seek a provision in official forms, for those who follow no religion and caste. They took the case to court, and the Hyderabad High Court on Tuesday issued notices based on the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by DV Ramakrishna Rao and S Clarance Krupalini.

The court has asked the government of Telangana and Andhra, along with the Centre to respond in two weeks, on some of the questions raised by the couple.

"It all started in 2010, when my younger daughter was joining school, and the authorities insisted that we had to mention some religion in the place provided, even though it was against our wishes," Ramakrishna Rao tells TNM. Full story...

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Saudi Arabia asks for $10bln in Aid from Kuwait to continue war in Yemen...

Documents leaked by Arab military sources disclosed that the Saudi regime has gone bankrupt as a result of the war on Yemen, and asked for huge amount of cash from Kuwait.

"Saudi King Salman in a letter to Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah has asked for a sum of $10 billion in aid to go on with the war on Yemen," documents provided to the Arabic-language al-Massira television by Yemeni military sources revealed.

"Had the situation not been difficult and intolerable, Saudi Arabia would not have asked for financial assistance (from Kuwait)," said one of the documents that is a letter written by the Saudi king to the Kuwaiti emir.

The leaked documents also show fierce internal conflicts among the Saudi-backed militias over Saudi Arabia's cut-off financial support for these groups of militants that has, in turn, resulted from the Kingdom's bankruptcy. Full story...

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‘Bury them alive!’: White South Africans fear for their future as horrific farm attacks escalate...

LAST month, British woman Sue Howarth and her husband Robert Lynn were woken at 2am by three men breaking into a window of their remote farm in Dullstroom, a small town in the northeast of South Africa, about 240km from the nearest capital city.

The couple, who had lived in the area for 20 years, were tied up, stabbed, and tortured with a blowtorch for several hours. The masked men stuffed a plastic bag down Mrs Howarth’s throat, and attempted to strangle her husband with a bag around his neck.

The couple were bundled into their own truck, still in their pyjamas, and driven to a roadside where they were shot. Mrs Howarth, 64, a former pharmaceutical company executive, was shot twice in the head. Mr Lynn, 66, was shot in the neck.

Miraculously he survived, and managed to flag down a passer-by early on Sunday morning. Mrs Howarth, who police said was “unrecognisable” from her injuries, had multiple skull fractures, gunshot wounds and “horrific” burns to her breasts.

“Sue was discovered amongst some trees, lying in a ditch,” writes Jana Boshoff, reporter for the local Middelburg Observer newspaper. “Her rescuers managed to find her by following her groans of pain and then noticing drag marks from the road into the field. Full story...

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Thursday, March 23, 2017

The history of chocolate...

5 reasons why you shouldn’t feel bad about eating butter...

Good news, everyone who likes delicious food. Butter isn't bad for you anymore. Some people, like author Elaine Khosrova, even think it's good for you. "It's the fake stuff we try to substitute for butter that's doing us serious harm," she writes in her new book "Butter, A Rich History." Opt for organic, unsalted butter made from local, grass-fed cows and slather (in moderation) on the benefits. Here are five reasons you need to eat butter.

1. It's filled with good things like calcium, potassium and vitamins A, D, E, K and B-12. And like those healthy fats found in salmon and avocado that everyone's always pushing on you, butter has Omega-3 and Omega-6, too. Butter has some polyunsaturated fats, the same found in nuts and seeds, and monounsaturated fats, the kind that lowers cholesterol.

2. Margarine, the butter substitute of the '70s, is actually way worse. According to Khosrova, studies show that “Margarine increased the likelihood of a heart attack." Makes sense considering it’s made from stuff like diglycerides and soy lecithin. Good rule of thumb: if you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it.

3. It's great for diabetics and fights cancer. The fatty acid butyrate - accounting for four percent of butter - improves a person's response to insulin and increased energy in mice, according to the American Diabetes Association. Butyrate is created in the colon and may be a means of protecting the organ against cancer, just like conjugated linoleic acid, a colorectal tumor and breast cancer fighter also found in butter.

4. Butter reduces obesity. A 2012 paper published in the European Journal of Nutrition showed that eating dairy products considered "high fat" had no link to obesity. The study discovered that those products actually don't increase the risk of metabolic diseases but do, in fact, slightly reduce the risk of becoming obese.

 5. It tastes amazing. Butter just makes everything better. Source...

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Saudi Arabia carrying out ‘open-air massacre’ in Yemen...

"The bombs that rain down every day in Yemen show an absolute disdain for civilian life," Jean-Pierre Delomier of Handicap International said in a joint statement with five other humanitarian aid groups on Wednesday.

"Every day our teams, when they manage to reach people, see the physical and psychological distress of the traumatized civilians," he said, adding, "This open-air massacre is intolerable and unworthy of our era."

The humanitarian aid groups said about 19 million Yemenis, or 60 percent of the country’s population, are suffering food insecurity. Of those, they said, three million women and children are grappling with severe malnutrition.

The war-hit Arab state is "one of the countries... where humanitarian groups have the most difficulties," said Helene Queau, the operations chief of Premiere Urgence Internationale, at a Paris press conference, adding that the Saudi air raids have "partially or totally destroyed” transport infrastructure and “complicated” access to ports and airports. Full story...

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London terror attack suspect was British-born and previously investigated by MI5 over extremism...

The Westminster attacker was born in Britain and had previously been investigated for suspected extremism by MI5, Theresa May has confirmed.

The Prime Minister said the probe took place several years ago and that the unnamed suspect was not “part of the current intelligence picture”.

“The police have no reason to believe there are imminent further attacks on the public,” she told MPs gathered in a packed House of Commons.

“Some years ago, he was once investigated by MI5 in relation to concerns about violent extremism.

“He was a peripheral figure and the case is historic…there was no prior intelligence of his intent or the plot.” Full story...

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Five things to know about prostitution in Germany...

1. How long has prostitution been legal?

Prostitution has actually been legal or tolerated in Germany throughout history. Even in the 1800s, police preferred a system of regulation so they could supervise prostitution, according to the book Prostitution by Eva-Maria Heberer.

Under King Friedrich Wilhelm IV, brothels were banned in large parts of Prussia for some years, and prostitutes had to be registered.

During the Weimar Republic, a campaign to fight venereal diseases adopted the notion that prostitution should not be criminalized, but rather controlled as far as where it could take place, such as not near schools or churches.

The Nazi regime implemented restrictions on prostitutes, and many cities banned the practice in public places. But prostitutes were also used by Adolf Hitler’s government to try to boost the performance of soldiers, as well as to reward prisoners at concentration camps - a manipulative method of creating competition and division. Gay men were also forced to have sex with female prostitutes to prove they were “healed”. Prostitutes were also considered "asocial" by the Nazis and sent to concentration camps. Full story...

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UN condemns Sri Lanka over war probe...

The United Nations has condemned Sri Lanka's government for failing to investigate civil war-era atrocities, suggesting the government was afraid of punishing soldiers who committed abuses during the conflict.

The world body had previously accused the Sri Lankan military of killing thousands of civilians, mostly ethnic Tamils, in the last weeks of a 26-year civil war that ended in 2009.

Government troops were accused of deliberately shelling civilians, hospitals, and blocking food and medical aid to hundreds of thousands of people boxed inside a tiny strip of land as the now-defeated Tamil Tiger rebels mounted their last stand.

"The consistent failure to effectively investigate, prosecute and punish serious crimes appears to reflect a broader reluctance or fear to take action against members of the security forces," Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told the UN rights council on Wednesday.

"At the centre of all this are the victims," he said. "There can never be sustainable peace without justice for them." Full story...

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Youth in Singapore shunning religion...

Having prayed to Buddha as a child and after spending her early teens worshipping Jesus, copywriter Hannah Jasmine Kok, 23, no longer believes in the divine.

She said she left the Buddhist faith at 13 as she could not relate to rituals she performed with her parents, and dropped out of church after three years because she "didn't think it was going anywhere".

Now an atheist, she said: "I think it is highly improbable that any god exists. There is no evidence for it."

Ms Kok is one of a growing number of young people here with no religious affiliations.

The Department of Statistics' General Household Survey 2015 report released earlier this month found that those who said they had no religious affiliation constituted 18.5 per cent of the resident population last year - up from 17 per cent in 2010. Full story...

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Imam arrested for running prostituition ring from Saudi mosque...

An imam was arrested earlier this week in Saudi Arabia on charges of performing illicit sexual acts and operating a prostitution network from within a mosque, the Saudi media reported.

The imam, a Bangladeshi immigrant from the city of Afif, allegedly solicited Bangladeshi housekeepers to have sex with him inside his mosque and passed them on to another man for a fee – though it remains unclear whether these acts were performed inside the mosque’s four walls.

A video of his arrest, in which several women were seen inside the mosque, sent shockwaves across the kingdom’s mainstream and social media.

It was also reported that the local branch of the Ministry of Religions appointed a special investigator. Full story...

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'Winston Churchill is no better than Adolf Hitler,' says Indian politician...

An Indian politician has said Winston Churchill is no better than Adolf Hitler and the two leaders have equivalent amounts of “blood” on their hands.

Dr Shashi Tharoor, whose new book Inglorious Empire chronicles the atrocities of the British Empire, said the former British Prime Minister should be remembered alongside the most prominent dictators of the twentieth century.

Dr Tharoor, a former Under-Secretary General of the UN, said the blame for the Bengal Famine rested with Churchill. In 1943, up to four million Bengalis starved to death when Churchill diverted food to British soldiers and countries such as Greece while a deadly famine swept through Bengal.

“This is the man who the British insist on hailing as some apostle of freedom and democracy," the author said of Churchill at a launch of his book. "When to my mind he is really one of the more evil rulers of the 20th century only fit to stand in company of the likes of Hitler, Mao and Stalin". Full story...

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The dog lady of New Delhi...

Mandatory vaccine push by Big Pharma tied to Australian Prime Minister’s wife...

Vaccines are a touchy subject in Australia, where government officials aggressively push for total compliance with vaccination mandates by whatever means possible. There is even a “No Jab No Pay” law on the books that essentially bars citizens from receiving government welfare unless they and their children are fully vaccinated. And at the root of it all, as usual, is government collusion with big industry, including with Australia’s new prime minister — and more specifically, his wife.

Malcolm Turnbull has repeatedly been exposed for his own ties to multinational corporations. He has large investments in many of them, particularly tech companies, that many say is clouding his judgment on various matters more than just a little bit. At issue with the vaccination debate is his wife Lucy’s ties to pharmaceutical companies, and how this influence is steering public policy to force Aussies to be jabbed against their will in order to function normally within society.

As explained by The Mind Unleashed, Lucy Turnbull is chairman of the pharmaceutical company Prima Biomed, which is currently trying to release a vaccine for cancer that it knows will generate billions of dollars in profits. Cancer, of course, is the one thing that bonds the populations of the world in solidarity of fear, so it’s expected that people will flock to the vaccine, should it ever achieve proper standards for safety and effectiveness. Full story...

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They thought she was crazy: doctor extracts RFID chip from sex-trafficking victim...

If someone walks into a hospital and claims that they’re being tracked, and that they need to have a tracking device removed, there’s a pretty good chance that they’re going to be sent to a mental institution instead. However, according to a doctor who wished to remain anonymous to protect his patient, that very situation occurred last October and it didn’t end how you might expect.

The patient in question was a 28-year-old woman who claimed that she had a GPS tracking device planted in her body. Normally a patient like that would be regarded as crazy, but this woman appeared totally sane, and she had an incision mark on her side. So the doctor decided to check her out anyway. The medical staff at the hospital were stunned when they finally gave her an x-ray.

“Embedded in the right side of her flank is a small metallic object only a little bit larger than a grain of rice. But it’s there. It’s unequivocally there. She has a tracker in her. And no one was speaking for like five seconds — and in a busy ER that’s saying something.”

It turns out that it wasn’t a GPS device, but an RFID chip. “It’s used to tag cats and dogs. And someone had tagged her like an animal, like she was somebody’s pet that they owned.” Full story...

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Singapore blogger bends under threat of huge fine, jail term...

Han Hui Hui, a 24-year-old Singapore dissident, has buckled under to a threat of a S$600,000 fine and jp to 18 years in prison for “scandalizing” the Singapore courts and removed a series of blogs and a Facebook entry from the Internet and apologized to the court for posting them.

Singapore still takes no stick about its courts. She claimed she was mistreated in custody on while awaiting a court hearing for helping to organize a protest rally in Hong Lim Park, the only place where it is legal to exercise free speech without a permit in the island republic, and for organizing a demonstration without approval.

The charges stem from the YouTube video and five Facebook posts she put on her blog between Jan 21 and Feb 25 about her dealings with the authorities, who allege she falsified her charges of mistreatment, and that they have CCTV camera footage to prove it and have charged her with “scandalizing” the Singapore courts.

“I have been advised not to publish the six charges,” Han said in an email. The Singapore government, she said, “is out to politically persecute me by using character assassination against me through the mainstream media.” She has refused to take down the blogs. Full story...

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Inside the 'billionaire bunkers' where the world's super rich will ride out the apocalypse...

A growing number of the world's super rich are preparing for the apocalypse by purchasing 'doomsday bunkers'.

But don't expect the one per cent to slum it out in drab, concrete dwellings as they survive the end of the world - these bunkers feature some of the most lavish layouts imaginable that are designed for the more modern survivalist.

'Your father or grandfather's bunker was not very comfortable,' Robert Vicino, CEO of Vivos, told CNN.

'They were gray. They were metal, like a ship or something military. And the truth is mankind cannot survive long-term in such a Spartan, bleak environment.' More + photos...

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Japanese "mouse" commercial...


Muslim converts breathe new life into Europe’s struggling Christian churches...

Christianity is making a comeback in Europe – and it’s mostly thanks to Muslims, say experts in Islam and faith leaders.

A soaring number of Muslims, many of them refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, are converting to Christianity, breathing new life into Europe’s once floundering Christian churches. The Muslims are flocking to various Christian denominations, experts said, including becoming Protestants, evangelical or Catholic.

As many parts of Europe are becoming more secular and houses of worship are seeing congregants leave in droves, it is Muslim converts who are reviving struggling Christian churches.

"European churches have struggled for decades to share the gospel with modern secular Europeans,” Matthew Kaemingk, a professor at the Fuller Theological Seminary in Seattle, told Fox News. “They have found Muslim immigrants to be much more open to the message of Christianity." Full story...

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BBC accused of Brexit bias by more than 70 MPs in open letter...

‘It particularly pains us to see how so much of the economic good news we’ve had since June has been skewed by BBC coverage which seems unable to break out of pre-referendum pessimism and accept new facts’

Dozens of predominately Conservative MPs have signed a letter to the BBC's director general accusing the public broadcaster of bias in its Brexit coverage.

It is understood 70 MPs wrote to Lord Hall, the BBC’s chief, deriding the organisations inability to break out of “pre-referendum pessimism” to “accept new facts” was skewing its coverage.

According to reports the signatories included former Cabinet ministers Iain Duncan Smith and Theresa Villers, alongside dozens of their colleagues, DUP MP’s and three Labour MPs – Kate Hoey, Kelvin Hopkins and Graham Stringer. Full story...

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Apple sold $4.2 billion of product in New Zealand, paid $0 local taxes...

The big technology story in New Zealand this weekend is about Apple's tax bill. Or rather, the lack thereof.

The electronics giant sold $4.2 billion (NZD) worth of products in New Zealand, but it didn't pay any local tax at all. That's according to a Saturday report from the New Zealand Herald. Apple did pay $37 million in income tax based on its New Zealand sales, but it paid that money to the Australian government, since that's where the New Zealand operation is run from.

The arrangement to send the tax on New Zealand profits to Australia has been in place since at least 2007. Experts confirmed the arrangement is legal under New Zealand law.

"They're operating completely legally," said Deborah Russell, a university lecturer who was recently selected to be a candidate in the New Zealand Labour Party. "It's just that age-old distinction between legality and morality."

If Apple didn’t hold $181B overseas, it would owe $59B in US taxes
John Payne, a spokesman for a New Zealand business lobby called the Corporate Taxpayers Group, said the same tax techniques used by Apple are used by local exporters. Full story...

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Subway advertises for ‘Apprentice Sandwich Artists’ to be paid just £3.50 per hour...

Fast food chain Subway has come under fire for seeking to pay young “apprentices” just £3.50 per hour.

An advert listed on a Government website, which has since been taken down, sought applicants to become “Apprentice Sandwich Artists” at the fast food chain’s Gateshead branch.

Successful candidates were offered just £119 per week for five 8pm to 5pm days, including weekends, which it said amounted to 35 hours of work. The rate is the minimum that employers are required to pay apprentices by law.

The advert suggested apprentices would carry out the same tasks as normal Subway employees. Tasks listed included using the cash register, collecting payment, cashing up, preparing food and cleaning the restaurant. Full story...

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Wait, what? Does it get any CRAZIER! You’re being watched in the Most SECRET Place!

This whistleblower goes to places you have never been to before...

William Tompkins is one of the most incredible whistleblowers to step forward. The depth and implications of his testimony are nothing short of astounding. Of course, there will always be those who refuse to believe his story, since he is an ET (Extraterrestrial) whistleblower. Tompkins claims he was part of an operation involving US Navy spies who stole UFO plans and antigravity technological secrets from the Nazis during the height of World War 2. He asserts he personally distributed some of these stolen secrets as information packages to the CEOs of leading American corporations involved in the military and space industries. Furthermore, William Tompkins says he actually worked alongside ETs – Nordic alien women who looked indistinguishable from humans and who were working as his secretaries. Additionally, he reveals that the Nazis already had operational UFOs during the war, and because of the information that the US spies were able to obtain, the US later developed its own fleet of UFOs – which then got siphoned off into the black military sphere under the control of MJ 12 (aka MJ-12 or Majestic 12), the ultra secretive group that came into existence in the 1940s to “manage” the UFO/alien issue.

To understand this tale and put it in historical context, we have to go all the way back to before World War 2 began. You may have heard of Secret Societies that were in existence around the time of the rise of Hitler and the Nazis, such as the Thule Society and the Vril Society. An extremely talented young woman, Maria Orsic, managed to make contact with alien civilizations and channel information from them. It is widely reported that one of these civilizations was from the planet Aldebaran, which is located is the Taurus system. According to Tompkins, the Nazis were in contact with Extraterrestrial Reptilians at the same time as Orsic was doing her channeling. Hitler found out about Orsic, her abilities and the fact she was receiving information that detailed how to construct UFOs. Again, according to Tompkins, Hitler allowed Orsic (and the Nordics with whom she was working) to continue work on their UFO program, because the Nazis were already in contact with the Reptilians – and because Hitler knew he could always come in take over Orsic’s project at any time. Full story...

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EUROZONE TURMOIL: Spain, Italy and Greece owe massive debt of €1 TRILLION to ECB...

Analysts condemned the "flawed economics of this reckless [EU] experiment" and said the ECB faces a rude awakening as states crumble under the burden of debt.

Market conditions in Eurozone are showing signs of a return to the conditions that sparked the 2011 European debt crisis which first reared its head in 2009.

The ECB uses a system called Target2 to assess levels of debt and the bank's data appears to show it is only a matter of time before the current system breaks.

At the time several eurozone member states including Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Spain and Cyprus were unable to repay or refinance their government debt.

They were bailed out through assistance of third parties including Eurozone countries, the ECB, and the International Monetary Fund.

But Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal are racking up debts they will never be able to pay off. Full story...

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3 exciting new ways to destroy humanity that everyone is talking about...

You know what everyone is really nostalgic for? The good old days during the Cold War when everyone thought humanity was going to be wiped out by a nuclear holocaust. There was something cozy about nuclear fallout shelters and cowering under a desk as the air raid sirens blared in the distance.

Now-a-days, people don’t seem to be peeing their pants as often about the possible extinction of our species at the hands of governments and their nefarious technologies winding up in the wrong hands.

The Trump election was a good little boost to the doom the media sells, but it targeted the same demographic that Global Warming whipped into a frenzy. We are already past Al Gore’s ten year mark for the point of no return, and with no mutant polar bears invading the lower 48, the fear we needed to create from Climate Change just hasn’t panned out.

And with the disappointing end to the Obama administration, without filling the FEMA camps with gun owners and preppers, how can the media hit that key right wing demographic that needs to think the world is going to end?

Cue the insect drone nukes, killer robots, and swarming bio-nano-terror-bots! Full story...

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The international companies using only English...

Nearly every meeting Keiko Claassen must attend at work is held in English. No big deal – except that her company is based in Italy and she’s Dutch.

At one recent meeting where she was the only non-Italian in the room, her colleagues stopped speaking English – the common language between them – because someone had trouble following the conversation.

“It was like watching a movie,” says Claasen. “As soon as they switched… you could see their culture come to life.”

At ITT Motion Technologies, an Lainate, Italy-based engineering company where Classen is executive director of communications, every senior staffer is expected to speak English and most communications are delivered in English. While it’s not considered an official corporate language, with 4,500 employees working in several countries, including Japan, China, India and Germany, it’s the only language that everyone can generally speak in common – even if speaking doesn’t mean always fully understanding. Full story...

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Article 50: Theresa May to trigger Brexit process next week...

Prime Minister Theresa May is to officially notify the European Union next Wednesday that the UK is leaving.

Downing Street said she would write a letter to the European Council, adding that it hoped negotiations on the terms of exit and future relations could then begin as quickly as possible.

An EU spokesman said it was "ready and waiting" for the letter.

Mrs May's spokesman also rejected reports an early election may be held, saying: "It's not going to happen."

Under the Article 50 process, talks on the terms of exit and future relations are not allowed until the UK formally tells the EU it is leaving. Full story...

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Doctor fights female feticide by delivering baby girls for free...

"It's a girl."

The three words struck terror in Jaya Sable's heart when she gave birth 10 years ago. That's because her husband and his family badly wanted a boy. They didn't even visit her in hospital. Instead, Jaya was punished when she came home for not bearing a son. Her husband and in-laws beat and harassed her for months. Finally, they attacked Jaya with acid, partially disfiguring her face. They even managed to have Jaya legally declared dead by procuring a fake death certificate.

Sometimes I wish I had given birth to a boy. My life would have been different. I would certainly have been spared this torture," the 27-year-old says as she lies in a hospital in Pune, recovering from a second reconstructive surgery, her right arm bandaged, her chest, neck and jaw crisscrossed with deep scars.

Jaya's case is extreme but it's a stark reminder of the widespread preference for boys over girls in India. It's an attitude that's led to rampant female feticide, infanticide, neglect of girls and in Jaya's case, attempted murder. Full story...

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US forbids any device larger than cellphone on airlines from 13 countries...

US authorities have secretly required airlines from 13 nations to forbid passengers from carrying any electronic or electrical device larger than a cellphone.

The new edict was distributed in an email described as “confidential” from the US transportation safety administration (TSA) on Monday.

The requirement forbids passengers from bringing laptops, iPads, Kindles and even cameras larger than mobile phones into the cabin. All such devices must be checked.

Saudi Arabia’s Saudia Airlines and Royal Jordanian airlines are among the affected countries; the full list has not been revealed to the affected airlines themselves. Full story...

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Monday, March 20, 2017

Doping in sport: Drug use 'fast becoming a crisis'

Drug use at every level of sport is "fast becoming a crisis" according to UK Anti-Doping - responding to a BBC poll into doping in amateur sport.

It found more than a third (35%) of amateur sports people say they personally know someone who has doped, and 8% said they had taken steroids.

Half believe performance enhancing substance use is "widespread" among those who play sport competitively.

Ukad chief Nicole Sapstead described the figures as "incredibly alarming".

A BBC State of Sport investigation into doping in UK amateur sport also found that 49% thought performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) were "easily available" among people who play sports regularly. Full story...

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Happiness report: Norway is the happiest place on Earth...

Norway is the happiest place on Earth, according to a United Nations agency report - toppling neighbour Denmark from the number one position.

The World Happiness Report measures "subjective well-being" - how happy the people are, and why.

Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland and and Finland round out the top five, while the Central African Republic came last.

Western Europe and North America dominated the top of table, with the US and UK at 14th and 19th, respectively.

Countries in sub-Saharan Africa and those hit by conflict have predictably low scores. Syria placed 152 of 155 countries - Yemen and South Sudan, which are facing impending famine, came in at 146 and 147. Full story...

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What happens when two monkeys are paid unequally?

Spanish pimps offered girl's virginity up for €5,000...

Spanish police on Saturday announced they had smashed a high-end prostitution ring whose catalogue of services included offering the sale of an teenage girl's virginity.

Seven people were arrested in the sting and a 16-year-old girl, whose virginity had been offered up online for the price of €5,000, was freed, the police said in a statement.

The network, operating out of the southern resort city of Marbella, advertised the sale of the virginity of a woman who was 18 but looked much younger - but police said she was actually 16.

Authorities described a "perfectly organised" and lucrative network which used telephone operators to book services and taxi rides for prostitutes to hotels and the homes of "clients with a high financial standing".

 The network also used a specialised agency to help it optimise its visibility online when internet users searched for prostitution services. Source...

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Singaporeans among poorest of sleepers in the world...

Singaporeans are among the poorest sleepers in the world, clocking in an average of just 6.56 hours of sleep per night. according to data collected by fitness-tracking firm Fitbit.

Only the Japanese and Indians sleep less than Singaporeans, while New Zealanders clock in the most amount of sleep with an average of 7.25 hours a night, Fitbit’s findings showed.

The data, which was released ahead of World Sleep Day on Friday (March 17), was compiled from anonymous and aggregated data from its users from 18 countries between January to December last year.

Other Asian countries like Hong Kong, Korea and Taiwan were also near the bottom, while the top were dominated by European countries and Australia. In Singapore, Fitbit currently holds an 85 per cent market share for activity trackers, according to market research institute GFK.

The Fitbit findings generally correspond with two other studies published recently. Full story...

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Saudi Arabia's billionaire king is on a lavish Asian adventure — here's what he's spending his money on...

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud, who has an estimated net worth of over $17 billion (£13.8 billion), is not one for subtlety.

He's currently on a lavish tour of Asia, and has arrived in every country on his itinerary — most recently China — on a golden escalator from his personal plane.

He also isn't travelling alone — when he landed in Indonesia, he was joined by an entourage of 620 staff and a further 800 delegates.

The pomp and pageantry on display during the tour has caught the world media's attention — and not for the first time. Full story...

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Wiping out crime: face-scanners placed in public toilet in Beijing to tackle loo roll theft!!!

One of Beijing’s busiest public toilets is fighting the scourge of toilet paper theft through the use technology – giving out loo roll only to patrons who use a face scanner.

The automated facial recognition dispenser comes as a response to elderly residents removing large amounts of toilet paper for use at home.

Now, those in need of paper must stand in front of a high-definition camera for three seconds, after removing hats and glasses, before a 60cm ration is released.

Those who come too often will be denied, and everyone must wait nine minutes before they can use the machine again.

But there have already been reports of software malfunctions, forcing users to wait over a minute in some cases, a difficult situation for those in desperate need of a toilet. Full story...

Duterte tax reform to bring relief to 99 pct of workers...

President Rodrigo Duterte’s reform program will bring tax exemptions or lower rates to 99 percent of Filipinos, who earn no more that P5 million per year, a finance official said.

Under the proposal, which is pending in Congress, those who earn P250,000 or lower per year will be exempted from paying income tax, undersecretary Karl Kendrick Chua said.

This means a call center agent who earns P21,000 per month will be exempted from tax, according to computations from the Department of Finance.

While the agent’s gross annual income is P273,000, his taxable income is P236,834, still below the P250,000 threshold. This is because his 13th month pay and mandatory contributions are excluded from the computation.

The reform push aims to address the fundamental flaw of the tax system, “very high rates and a very narrow base,” Chua told DZMM. Full story...

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