Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Happy Deepavali 2014

Switzerland and Singapore regarded as 'best place for expats'

Switzerland is the world's favourite destination among expats, followed by Singapore and China, a poll on quality of life for bank HSBC found on Wednesday.

"Many Switzerland-based expats mentioned the better work-life balance, availability of outdoor activities and the family-centric culture as the reasons they enjoy the Swiss lifestyle," the British bank said.

The poll questioned 9,300 people working in various sectors and mostly aged between 35 and 54.

They were asked about their financial situation, such as salary, savings and the local economy, as well as their quality of life and family issues such as education opportunities for children.

 Switzerland emerged the winner, with a trusted economy, good quality of life and comfortable salaries: a quarter of expats said they earned more than $200,000 (157,000 euros) a year. Full story...

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Man loses mind after 5 year sex ban...

A man from Bulawayo claims he lost his mind after his wife banned him from sex for five years.

Roberto Moyo approached the court yesterday seeking a protection order against his wife Leandy Moyo, who conceded that she denied the man his conjugal rights claiming he was cheating on her.

"She is emotionally and psychologically abusing me," said Moyo."I'm always stressed and under medication. I was taken to hospital as a mentally disturbed patient and my doctor said I must do away with her.

"Leandy told magistrate Marylene Mutshina that her husband cheated on her and sometimes goes for a week without sleeping at home."He also stopped giving me money and paying fees for his children. When our children asked him for money he would shout at them as if he wasn't their father.

I started doing a man's role, doing piece jobs to raise money for my children's school fees."The Civil Court has ordered the couple to go for counselling before it delivers judgment in a matter. Source...

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Hungary looks to levy big tax on internet use...

Hungary is planning to start taxing internet use by the amount of data individuals downloaded as part of an effort to increase government revenues – and the controversial idea has already sparked outrage online and calls for protest.

If the proposal passes as part of the 2015 tax bill, Hungarians would be charged 150 forints for each gigabyte of data they start to download. That’s roughly 62 cents per gigabyte, meaning that residents could expect to pay a substantial amount of extra money every month. Downloading between 50 to 100 gigabytes of data would cost $30 - $60 in taxes on top of whatever people are already paying for monthly service – since the service providers are expected to try and pass the burden on to users.

What’s more, there is apparently no cap limiting the amount that customers would have to pay out. How this tax will affect businesses that rely on the internet is also unclear.

 Writing for the Wall Street Journal, Margit Feher called the proposal “the latest in a series of extraordinary taxes” that have been implemented since the Fidesz party came into power in 2010. Full story...

Indian government’s gift to tourists: E-visa scheme likely to be launched by month-end...

Government's gift to tourists — electronic visa — is likely to be launched by October-end. There are about 30 countries including the US, Japan and South Korea where the facility will be extended first while Germany, Israel and Russia are under consideration.

Sources said countries already being given visa-on-arrival including New Zealand, Luxembourg, Finland and Singapore besides Japan, South Korea and the US will be able to apply for electronic travel authorization (ETA) or e-visa. There are at least a couple of countries from the African continent that are also in consideration. Sources said Germany, Israel and Russia were also being actively considered.

Once implemented, ETA will allow foreign travelers to apply for a visa and receive an online confirmation within three to five working days. ETA will be available for a 30-day period from the date of the tourist's arrival in India. The government plans to establish a separate website to extend the facility to foreigners intending to visit India as tourists. To get the visa, they would need to apply through the designated website along with the required fees.

 The e-visa scheme received PMO nod in June and is expected to be implemented in time for the country's tourist season. Full story...

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'I am a Liberian, not a virus': West Africans hit back against Ebola stigma...

“You’re from Liberia, so you have a disease”. When Shoana Solomon’s nine-year-old daughter came home from her American school and told her mother what her classmates were saying, Solomon knew there was trouble ahead.

Solomon, a photographer and TV presenter, moved her daughter to the US from a school in Liberia’s capital Monrovia in September. Despite coming from an Ebola zone, she says she was not subjected to any particular scrutiny upon arrival on American soil.

But as fear about Ebola mounts, Liberians in the US are increasingly finding themselves in a difficult position. With stigma and paranoia on the rise, Solomon has launched a campaign aimed at encouraging others to treat Liberians normally.

“The day after that happened to my daughter, I made a Facebook post,” Solomon told the Guardian. “I said, oh my goodness, my daughter’s being stigmatised. I said: Get ready.” Full story...

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Apple issues new iCloud security warning amid fears over Chinese hacking...

Apple has posted a new security warning for users of its iCloud online storage service amid reports of a determined effort to steal passwords and other data from people who use the service in China.

"We're aware of intermittent organised network attacks using insecure certificates to obtain user information and we take this very seriously," the computer-maker said on its support website. The post said Apple's own servers were not compromised.

Apple's post did not mention China or provide any details on the attacks. But several news reports that some Chinese internet users have begun seeing warnings that indicate they had been diverted to an unauthorised website when they attempted to sign into their iCloud accounts.

That kind of diversion, known to computer security experts as a "man in the middle" attack, could allow a third party to copy and steal the passwords that users enter when they think they are signing into Apple's service. Hackers could then use the passwords to collect other data from the users' accounts. Full story...

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Singapore's IKEA Halloween ad...

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Nobody wants to host the 2022 Olympics — and one example from a college professor tells you why...

The bidding process for the 2022 Olympics was a disaster for the International Olympic Committee.

Democratic nations are no longer buying the argument that hosting the games is a wise investment. Every potential 2022 host city with a democratic government eventually pulled out of the bidding, many over economic concerns, leaving Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan, as the IOC's only two options.

Academics have been saying for years that hosting the Olympics doesn't make economic sense. The costs are typically larger than expected, the infrastructure needed for a big sporting event isn't the same as the infrastructure needed for daily life, and the economic benefits are typically overstated.

The latter point was addressed by Holy Cross professor Victor Matheson in a 2004 paper called "Economic Multipliers and Mega-Event Analysis."

The paper examines a major problem with pre-event economic-impact studies, which Matheson says have a tendency to overestimate how much a one-time attraction like the Olympics will contribute to the local economy. Full story...

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Vote all you want, the secret government won’t change...

The voters who put Barack Obama in office expected some big changes. From the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping to Guantanamo Bay to the Patriot Act, candidate Obama was a defender of civil liberties and privacy, promising a dramatically different approach from his predecessor.

But six years into his administration, the Obama version of national security looks almost indistinguishable from the one he inherited. Guantanamo Bay remains open. The NSA has, if anything, become more aggressive in monitoring Americans. Drone strikes have escalated. Most recently it was reported that the same president who won a Nobel Prize in part for promoting nuclear disarmament is spending up to $1 trillion modernizing and revitalizing America’s nuclear weapons.

Why did the face in the Oval Office change but the policies remain the same? Critics tend to focus on Obama himself, a leader who perhaps has shifted with politics to take a harder line. But Tufts University political scientist Michael J. Glennon has a more pessimistic answer: Obama couldn’t have changed policies much even if he tried.

Though it’s a bedrock American principle that citizens can steer their own government by electing new officials, Glennon suggests that in practice, much of our government no longer works that way. In a new book, “National Security and Double Government,” he catalogs the ways that the defense and national security apparatus is effectively self-governing, with virtually no accountability, transparency, or checks and balances of any kind. He uses the term “double government”: There’s the one we elect, and then there’s the one behind it, steering huge swaths of policy almost unchecked. Elected officials end up serving as mere cover for the real decisions made by the bureaucracy. Full story...

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Lessons from Singapore...

When British ministers scour the world for policy ideas, one country is most often singled out for praise and emulation: Singapore. In the mid-Nineties, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown travelled there seeking guidance on how to reform the welfare state, and came back promising a “stakeholder society”. Unfortunately, they turned out to have learnt little apart from some new phrases: the radical overhaul of benefits that they promised after studying Singapore’s social insurance model failed to materialise. More recently, education ministers have looked to the south Asian city-state for inspiration when it comes to raising exam performance. There, 15‑year-olds are 10 months ahead of those in the UK in English and 20 months ahead in maths. There are lessons for the monolithic NHS, too: Singapore’s system of personal health accounts produces better outcomes than ours for half the price.

Next year Singapore celebrates 50 years of independence, and today its president, Tony Tan Keng Yam, becomes the republic’s first leader to pay a state visit to the UK. He represents a country of just over five million people that is nothing short of a phenomenon – one viewed in the West with a mixture of awe, envy and a certain amount of suspicion. How is it possible to have such centralised direction, while retaining the liberties needed for a free market to flourish? The answer is that Singapore seems to be run less like a state and more like a corporation, one aware of the vulnerability its small size brings and able to adapt to changing circumstances.

Whatever its democratic deficiencies, Singapore’s model has – with no resources and limited land – produced a small state, efficient public services, a competitive economy and high per capita income. There must be something we can learn from that. Source...

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First paedophile jailed over webcam sex with fake 10-year-old child Sweetie...

A registered sex offender is believed to be the first to be jailed after being caught performing sex acts in front of a fake child in an undercover sting online.

Sweetie was a computer generated 10-year-old Filipina girl used by charity workers to catch more than 1,000 sexual predators around the world last year.

Of those, 110 men were British and were sent to the UK National Crime Agency (NCA). Nobody has been arrested or charged yet.

Scott Robert Hansen, from Australia, pleaded guilty to three charges in Brisbane District Court including sending obscene images to Sweetie, having images of sexual abuse on his computer and not complying with the terms of him being on the sex offenders’ register. Full story...

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iPhone 6 'caught fire and burnt man's leg' after bending in his pocket...

An iPhone 6 "caught on fire" and burnt through its owner's jeans, it has been claimed.

According to an account on his blog, Phillip Lechter was visiting the University of Arizona when a rickshaw he was travelling on with his wife and seven-year-old son crashed.

The cart was rocked by the smash, bending Mr Lechter’s Apple phone – worth more than £500 – as he was thrown to the side of the vehicle.

He wrote: "I felt a burning sensation on my leg and then saw and smelled smoke from my pants.

"I surveyed the rickshaw quickly and could not find anything that could have set me on fire. Full story...

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What it's like to work with cats...

UN slams Spain over assault on migrant...

The UN High Commission for Refugees is concerned that the human rights of those struggling to enter Spain by crossing high fences around the country’s North African enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta are not being respected.

The spokeswoman in Spain for the UN High Commission for Refugees said she was "worried" by video footage of an attempt by a number of sub-Saharan Africans to scale the fence complex and enter Melilla from Morocco on October 15th which shows one migrant being beaten by border guards before being carried, apparently unconscious, back to the Moroccan side.

"Whatever their reasons for trying to enter, these people must be respected and these images show that some parties are not acting as they should... There are people beating those who are on the fence," Maria Jesus Vega told the AFP news agency.

UNHCR fears that Spanish police are denying "asylum procedures to people in need of international protection, who come to Spain's southern border fleeing war and persecution", Vega's office said in a statement on Friday.

 It urged Spain to take all "necessary measures to prevent this kind of situation from occurring again at Spain's borders". Full story...

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Paris opera ejects woman in Muslim veil after cast refuses to sing...

A woman in niqab, a traditional Muslim veil, was asked to leave the opera in Paris after the cast said they wouldn’t perform if a solution wasn’t found. She had to leave the auditorium, because wearing a veil covering the whole face is banned in France.

The incident happened during the performance of La Traviata at Opera Bastille in Paris on October 3, Jean-Philippe Thiellay the opera house’s deputy director, told AFP.

The fuss blew on Sunday, October 19, in French media.

The woman and her companion, tourists from one of the Gulf States, were sitting just behind the conductor and were visible to monitors. Their seats were reportedly the most expensive in the opera, costing 231 euros ($294) each.

 The woman was wearing a niqab, a veil that covers her face and hair. It only leaves the eyes and part of the forehead visible. Full story...

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Monday, October 20, 2014

British aid money is being used to line the pockets of corrupt foreign politicians, warns former Pakistani cricket star Imran Khan...

British aid money is being used to line the pockets of wealthy Pakistanis with links to the country's corrupt regime, minsters have been warned.

Former cricket star Imran Khan said Pakistani politicians were syphoning off cash from the multi-million pound budget handed over by the Department for International Development.

Mr Khan, head of Pakistan's Tehreek-e-Insaf opposition party, said the cash was going to those who did not need it and 'never reaches' deserving people.

The remaks, to the Sun on Sunday newspaper, come after a report revealed aid spending had done nothing to help the economic and political freedoms of people in the countries which get the cash.

It examined the progress of 28 countries which have had a share of the aid financed by British taxpayers and found that the money 'does not have any discernible impact on freedom in developing countries'.

The report produced by the TaxPayers' Alliance found that twice as many countries lost freedoms after receiving British aid than improved the political and human rights conditions for their citizens. Full story...

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‘CIA should be probed for Ebola’s origin in Zaire’

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa might be a resurfacing of Zaire’s Ebola infection spread, where the US Central Intelligence Agency was suspected to be involved with, an American investigative journalist says.

“When you look at the original outbreak of the Ebola in 1976 in Zaire,” Wayne Madsen told Press TV.

“We see a year when the US was violating a Senate law that forbid the US from engaging in the Angolan Civil War and we saw Zaire being used as a bait for the CIA and then we saw the outbreak of Ebola in Zaire. The same year that George H. W. Bush was the director of the CIA.”

“In 1980 we saw the outbreak of HIV in Zaire and Angola where the CIA was operating,” he said on Monday.

“I think what we need to see is an investigation of how intense the CIA biological warfare program was in Zaire and Angola between 1976 and 1980, and what has hit in Sierra Leon and other countries is the Zaire strain of Ebola,” he said. Full story...

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Norway passes bill on mandatory military service for women...

The Norwegian parliament has voted in a strong majority on a bill aimed at extending mandatory military service to females. If the legislation is approved, all women in the country will be subject to the same conscription conditions as men.

The proposition, which was first announced in June 2013, was passed in Oslo this week, with 96 parliamentarians voting in favor of gender equality in the army. Only six voted against it.

"We do not really need more conscripts but we wish to extend military service to the entire age group to attract more motivated and more competent recruits," Norwegian Minister of Defense Ine Eriksen Soreide said.

If the bill is enacted, all medically fit women between 19 and 44 years old will have to serve at least 19 months of mandatory duty in the armed forces. It will apply to women born in Norway from 1997 onwards, with the first service in the summer of 2016. Women will also be subject to conscription during wartime. Full story...

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Saving Alaska children from suicide in a tiny town...

The 4-H club in this Yukon River village began out of desperation. It was maybe four years ago when Cynthia Erickson, who owns the local store, found herself one night in the sanctuary of the Catholic Church with the body of a sweet 20-something village youth. He had shot himself in the face. She cleaned him up the best she could, she said, and then she went outside to throw up.

There were so many suicides leading up to that one. Six she could think of right away in Tanana and neighboring villages on the river: five men and one young girl. Alaska Native men have the highest suicide rate in the country. Her brother-in-law was on her list. He hanged himself, leaving five children.

There are dozens of theories about why suicide is so common in Alaskan villages. And there are as many programs and committees meant to address it. Maybe it’s lack of connection to traditional culture, people say. Or seasonal affective disorder. Or generational trauma. Or lack of opportunity. Or lack of purpose that comes with living on food stamps. Or the ready availability of firearms. Or brain damage caused by fetal exposure to alcohol.

After that night in the church, Erickson just wanted to heal it, she said, or at least heal what she could. While 4-H clubs are often associated with farm kids — Tanana has no agriculture to speak of — she opened a chapter as a way to keep the kids close. The 4-H slogan “Helping hands, healing hearts” always appealed to her, she said. She put up a sign and opened her house to children soon after that. They did beading, made jam, skipped rocks and sewed kuspuks, traditional overshirts worn by Alaskan Natives. Soon they began talking about problems at home. Full story...

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Lynching of boy underlines how the curse of caste still blights India...

In another time, another place, Sai Ram might have escaped serious harm. But he died in great pain last week, a casualty of a bitter, barely reported conflict that still claims many lives every year.

Ram, 15, was a goatherd in a village in the poor eastern Indian state of Bihar. He was a Dalit, from the lowest rung of the caste hierarchy that still defines the lives, and sometimes the deaths, of millions of people in the emerging economic power.

His alleged killer, currently being held by local police, is from a higher landowning caste. He took offence when one of the teenager’s goats strayed on to his paddy field and grazed on his crops. Ram was overpowered by the landowner and a group of other men. He was badly beaten.

Then petrol was poured over him and lit, Ram’s father, Jiut Ram, said. “He was crying for help, then went silent,” the 50-year-old daily wage labourer told the Guardian.

The incident took place at Mohanpur village, about 125 miles (200km) south-west of Bihar’s capital, Patna, in an area known for caste tensions. It was the latest in a series of violent incidents that have once again highlighted the problems and discrimination linked to caste, particularly in lawless and impoverished rural areas. Full story...

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Controversial exhibit of religious Barbie dolls cancelled due to death threats...

For a plastic doll, Barbie can be polarizing. Emiliano Paolini and Marianela Perelli discovered this recently when their exhibit “Barbie: The Plastic Religion” at POPA gallery in Buenos Aires was cancelled. “Given repeated anonymous threats concerning the event, the artists decided not to exhibit his work, fearing for the physical safety of visitors,” a notice on the gallery’s website announced.

The 33 pieces in the controversial collection are each one-of-a-kind, and they include Barbie dolls as the Virgin Mary; Joan of Arc; Kali, the Hindu goddess of destruction; and the Virgin of Guadalupe, patron saint of Mexico. Ken becomes Christ on the cross, Buddha, Moses, St. Sebastian and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The sculptures represent figures from Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Argentine folk religion. The Muslim prophet Muhammad is not included in the series—the artists told Reuters that since Islam prohibits the creation of his image they omitted him out of respect.

Questions of taste and faith have been raised by Argentine Catholic Priests, Italian Bishops, and Hindu Clerics, much to the surprise of the artists. “We have a sanctuary in the kitchen that has more saints than the Vatican,” Paolini told the Associated Press. Some have accused the artists of grandstanding—disrespecting religion in order to gain notoriety. They disagree.

“The true message of our work was mutilated by magazines and television. That’s a shame. The media is killing our art.”

The sculpted dolls are additional portrayals in the canon of religious iconography, weighted down with the 55-year legacy of a plastic girl and her boyfriend. Source + photos...

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A poop bank in Massachusetts will pay you $40 every day...

Are you under 50 years old, willing to make daily trips to Medford, and have regular bowel movements? You, my friend, could be earning $40 a day—just for pooping.

All you have to do is visit OpenBiome, launched in 2012 as the only independent nonprofit stool bank in the country. The brainchild of MIT postdoctoral associate Mark Smith, OpenBiome collects, tests, and provides fecal samples to 122 hospitals in 33 states for one of the most interesting medical treatment innovations today: fecal microbiota transplantation.

“Think of us as a blood bank, but for poop,” said Smith, who developed OpenBiome when he saw the gap in the medical structure to provide many patients with the life-saving fecal samples. “You shouldn’t have to fly across the country to get poop.”

Smith works with a team of full-time and part-time researchers, graduate students, gastroenterologists, and business minds to ensure that fecal samples are in every city and town and within a two-hour radius for every person who needs them. Smith said that they’ve hit the four-hour radius so far. Full story...

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Luxury dining in Kenya: Macaroni and cheese served by a white waiter...

Nairobi is a rapidly growing city opening to international markets. There's an emerging status symbol among wealthy Kenyans that some clever restaurateurs have exploited: being waited on by a white person at a restaurant. In the New York Times, Jeffrey Gettleman describes the scene at the Caramel, a high-end restaurant:

The other night, Martin Mileveski, a smiley young man from Macedonia, leaned over a table of three immaculately dressed Kenyan women and delicately poured out the Captain Morgan rum.

“Anything else I can get you ladies?”

They smiled and he drifted away.

“That’s kind of cool,” said one of the women, Lawrencia Namulanda. “A mzungu,” or foreigner.

The food that Mileveski serves includes macaroni and cheese, a dish seen as quintissentially American. Other members of the staff are also white or from the West. Their presence draws in customers: Full story...

In Yemen, they stone buildings...


Italian couple get stuck in frolic at sea...

An Italian couple wound up in hospital after getting stuck together while romping in the sea in the Marche region.

Il Mattino reported that the amorous couple were making the most of a warm day, and a practically deserted beach, when they decided to take a dip in the ocean at Porto San Giorgio to express their love.

But their lovemaking came to an embarrassing end when the man was unable to extricate himself from the woman due to suction, the newspaper said.

They remained in the water until they caught the attention of a woman walking along the beach, who gave them a towel after they struggled back to the shore. Full story...

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After ‘Make in India’, govt launches ‘Save in Switzerland’ campaign!!!

Inspired by PM Modi’s ‘Make in India’ campaign, the government today launched their prestigious pet project ‘Save in Switzerland’, with an aim to move all the country’s assets to Switzerland banks. As part of the project, the BJP led government earlier told Supreme Court that they could not disclose names of foreign account holders with black money till chargesheets were filed in the court.

“Today we have launched ‘Save in Switzerland’ campaign. We want everyone to support this campaign by opening an account in Swiss bank on their driver’s or butler’s name. We have nominated 9 people in the country for the ‘Swiss account’ challenge to start with, who will receive Swiss bank applications in next 2 days. Ram Jethmalani and Kejriwal are among the 9 members,” revealed BJP’s official spokesperson.

“I also want all the journalists and Arnab Goswami to join this campaign and make it successful,” he added.

Congress leaders were seen celebrating publicly after the announcement. Robert Vadra announced his complete unconditional support for the campaign and nominated his wife Priyanka Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi for the ‘Swiss account’ challenge.

However, Shashi Tharoor who tweeted in support of ‘Save in Switzerland’ campaign was suspended from Congress party. The Party refused to explain why it was done. Full story...

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South Korea prepares for 10Gbps broadband; transfer 1GB file in 0.8 seconds...

While AT&T and Verizon argue over an FCC proposal that would set 10Mbps as America’s new minimum speed to qualify as “broadband,” South Korea is positioning itself to introduce 10Gbps fiber service.

SK Broadband will introduce its new 10 gigabit per second Internet service at the Oct. 20 Plenipotentiary Conference of the International Telecommunications Union to be held at Busan’s BEXCO Center, in partnership with the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning and the National Information Society Agency.

With the latest advances in broadband technology coming mostly from Asian countries like Japan and South Korea, citizens of both countries are proud of the fact they are way ahead of the United States.

“In the 1960s the world watched NASA send men to the moon and many of us grew up amazed at the constant advancements of the Americans,” said Natsuki Kumagai. “Now the Americans watch us.” Full story...

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Meet the teenager who lost his virginity to his mother’s corpse after murdering her with a hammer...

I don’t think you need much information beyond that headline, but let’s do this. (*DEEP BREATH*)

Kevin Davis, an 18-year-old from Corpus Christi, Texas, has admitted to a crime so ugly that brutally murdering his mother by striking her twenty times with a hammer isn’t even the worst part of the incident.

Asked what happened next, Davis said: “I had sexual intercourse. Guess I lost my virginity to a dead corpse.”

“Dead corpse”? Ugh, as if the murder, necrophilia, and incest weren’t bad enough, the jerk’s also redundant.

If there’s one silver lining to this awful story, it’s that Davis stopped short of further compounding his terrible deed. He had originally planned to kill his sister as well, but he decided against it. “I had my fill of killing. It seemed a little much,” he told police.

Davis also told officers that he would kill again, if allowed. Unsurprisingly, it took a jury less than an hour to find him guilty and jail him for life. Source...

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Is Australia the world’s biggest rip off?

Would you pay $9 for a litre of water?

While Australia is one of the world's most popular holiday destinations, a recent photograph on social media has sparked an outrage on the costs for overseas tourists.

Chris Ledlin tweeted on his Twitter page, a photograph taken from a Novotel hotel of an 'Evian' branded water bottle with a price tag of $9 wrapped around the lid.

He also added: 'It’s shocking. Quick tip: always get your water from a supermarket. 100% cheaper.'


Seven News reports that 'Australia is gaining a reputation worldwide and it's not good. A place where holiday makers are ripped off.'

'The message to tourists is don't come back to Australia because it’s a rip-off place, everything is ridiculously expensive,' Australian businessman Dick Smith told Seven News. Full story...

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Indian athlete Debjani Bora beaten in 'witch hunt'

An Indian athlete has described how she was tied up and severely beaten after being branded a witch in her village in the north-eastern state of Assam.

Debjani Bora, a javelin thrower who has won several gold medals, fears her injuries may prevent her representing India in a forthcoming Asian contest.

One woman has been arrested for inciting a crowd to attack Ms Bora.

Witch hunts targeting women are common in parts of India and a number of those accused are killed every year.

Experts say superstitious beliefs are behind some of these attacks, but there are occasions when people - especially widows - are targeted for their land and property.

The latest incident took place earlier this week in Ms Bora's home village in the remote hill district of Karbi Anglong, where she also makes a living as a farm worker and lives with her husband and three children. Full story...

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Only 12% of drone victims in Pakistan identified as militants: report...

A recent research by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that only 12% of drone victims in Pakistan have been identified as militants. Moreover, the research also stated that fewer than 4% of the people killed have been identified as members of al Qaeda.

The research contradicts US Secretary of State John Kerry’s claim last year that only “confirmed terrorist targets at the highest level” were fired at.

The number of US drone strikes in Pakistan has hit 400 between June 2004 and October 2013.

Of the 2,370 people killed in these strikes, 704 have been identified, of which only 295 were reported to be members of some kind of armed group.

More than a third of them were not designated a rank, and almost 30% are not even linked to a specific group.

The Bureau has a project titled Naming the Dead, which has gathered the names and details of people killed by CIA drones in Pakistan since June 2004. Full story...

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Pakistani court upholds death penalty of blasphemy accused Aasia Bibi...

A court on Thursday upheld the death sentence of a Christian women
convicted of blasphemy four years ago, as her lawyers vowed to appeal.

Aasia Bibi, a mother of five, has been on death row since November 2010 after she was found guilty of allegedly making derogatory remarks about Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) during an argument with a Muslim woman.

“A two-judge bench of the Lahore High Court dismissed the appeal of Asia Bibi but we will file an appeal in the Supreme Court of Pakistan,” her lawyer Shakir Chaudhry told AFP.

Two high-profile politicians — then Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer and minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti — were murdered in 2011 after calling for reforms to the blasphemy law and describing Bibi’s trial as flawed.

The blasphemy allegations against Bibi date back to June 2009.

She was working in a field when she was asked to fetch water. Muslim women labourers objected, saying that as a non-Muslim she was unfit to touch the water bowl. Full story...

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Friday, October 17, 2014

The Arab world’s Stockholm Syndrome...

What is it with the Arab World and its morbid infatuation with its own colonizers?

Why is it that America’s Tomahawks tend to find both helpless victims and overzealous, welcoming enthusiasts all at the same time and on the very same patch of war-torn Arab land?

Bona-fide war criminals of the Bush-variety come to the Arab World; lay complete waste and devastation to one Arab country, drone-bomb the living daylights out of another; only to “sword-dance” their way out of the region with the “grateful” rulers of a third, with pocketful of cash and lucrative oil and “reconstruction” contracts no less.

Even Francios Hollande, France’s “socialist” president, couldn’t resist a few awkward rounds of waltzing, sword in hand, with the Saudis after locking-in an arms deal to the tune of US$ 3 bln.

Not only that; these imperialist blunderers and harbingers of biochemical-death get to temporarily hang their “shock-and-awe” military hats and make multi-million-dollar careers out of trading on their newfound status as advisors, “intellectuals” and “peaceful mediators”; unabashedly touring the very same Arab lands where they’ve previously wreaked doomed havoc and sectarian discord, to preach the virtues of democracy, peaceful dialogue and human rights of all things, to an awestruck GCC sponsored crowd of course, one that’s more than willing to bestow its stock of admiration and exaggerated hospitality; on a scale that seems strictly reserved to those who have a storied history of pillaging the Arab world. Full story...

India: 16-year-old girl jumps from bridge after boyfriend posts 'intimate pictures' of her online...

An Indian girl has committed suicide after "intimate" pictures of her were allegedly posted on social media by her boyfriend.

The 16-year-old girl, known only as Rani, jumped from a bridge into the Sabarmati river, in Jamalpur, in the Indian state of Bihar.

The girl's father, Razzak Chhipa, told the Times of India that "Rani was driven to suicide as her boyfriend Farzan had betrayed her by posting her photos on a social website account which Rani and Farzan used to jointly operate."

The man said that following his daughter's death, he found a note with Rani's login details for various social networking website.

"I went to a cyber cafe and on opening the accounts found that Rani's intimate photos with Farzan had been posted there". Full story...

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Violent Pakistani husband ‘fitted tracker inside his wife'

An abused Pakistani wife has claimed her husband drugged her and had a tracking device fitted inside her body so he could stalk her, a court has heard.

Police in Ghaziabad have registered a case against her husband, named as Saleem, after the Lahore High Court ordered an inquiry into her allegations.

Chaudhry Irfan of Ghaziabad Police said the victim had scarring from stitches sewn unti her abdomen recently.

The woman, Sughran Bibi, had separated from her husband earlier this year after he and a magistrate friend raped her following a heavy drinking session.

 Ms Bibi claimed that shortly after she left him, her husband and an accomplice arrived at her new home and knocked her unconscious with a chloroform rag. Full story...

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

"Sade. Attaquer le soleil"

I was deported for writing something truthful about Israel...

Turning a corner in the back of an Israeli police van, Michael Bublè’s “Home” began to blare out of the speakers. “Let me go home / I’ve had my run / Baby, I’m done / I gotta go home,” he crooned.

We both wanted to go home, Michael and I, but I’m guessing he was in a slightly better place to do so than me. I was being driven against my will – along with a bunch of illegal workers from eastern Europe – to the removal centre at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport, all for the abominable error of writing about Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territory.

It was a few hours earlier that I’d been told I was persona non grata in Israel. A stern, hard-boiled female officer had tapped her polished red nails on a keyboard in search of incriminating cyber-evidence against me. “What is this?” she barked, turning the screen in my direction. I was sure she could see a manga sweat drop falling from my forehead as I read the title of the article she was pointing at.

 “The dangers of stone throwing”, it read, my name clearly and undeniably pixellated right there, at the top of a story I’d written about Israel charging some Palestinian teenagers with attempted murder for throwing stones at a settler. My mind raced to make up a credible cover story. A namesake? A childhood mistake? A false step on my way to embracing Judaism? My cover story of spending a third holiday at my (fake) Italian cousin’s place in Haifa was beginning to unravel like the bullshit it was. Full story...

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Saudi Arabia beheaded 59 people so far this year but hardly anyone is talking about it...

The string of beheadings of American and British hostages at the hands of the Islamic State has drawn horror and intense media scrutiny the world over, redoubling international determination to defeat the extremist group.

But with IS dominating headlines, it is easy to forget that Saudi Arabia, a member of the UN's Human Rights Council and a close ally of America in the war against the Islamist fighters, is itself routinely carrying out the practice of beheading.

Since January of this year, 59 people have been beheaded in Saudi Arabia under the country's antiquated legal system based primarily around sharia law.

Last month saw Saudi Arabia behead at least 8 people — twice the number of Western hostages who have so far featured in IS's barbaric execution videos. In August those executed by Riyadh were sentenced to death for crimes such as apostasy, adultery and "sorcery." In one case, four members of the same family were executed for "receiving large quantities of hashish," a sentence imposed, according to Amnesty International, on the basis of "forced confessions extracted through torture."

The human rights group has reported a "disturbing surge" in executions in the kingdom. Said Boumedouha, deputy director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Program, said that many are executed for petty crimes, highlighting the frequent and seemingly casual imposition of such sentences. Full story...

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Yemeni sues Germany over US drone strikes...

A relative of two men killed by a US drone strike in Yemen has brought a court case against the German government, alleging it was complicit in the attack by allowing a US air base on German soil.

Faisal bin Ali Jaber, brother-in-law and uncle respectively to the two men killed in the attack, submitted his complaint to the Cologne administrative court on Wednesday.

Imam Salim bin Ali Jaber and his cousin, a policeman, were killed by missiles launched from American drones on August 29th, 2012, eyewitnesses told the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

They were meeting with three men believed to have connections to terrorist group al-Qaeda.

 But the imam had called on local people to stand up to al-Qaeda in a sermon at Friday prayers just days before, Ali Jaber said, and his relatives were meeting the men to respond to their questions about it. Full story...

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Mass internet surveillance threatens international law, UN report claims...

Mass surveillance of the internet by intelligence agencies is “corrosive of online privacy” and threatens to undermine international law, according to a report to the United Nations general assembly.

The critical study by Ben Emmerson QC, the UN’s special rapporteur on counter-terrorism, released on Wednesday is a response to revelations by the whistleblower Edward Snowden about the extent of monitoring carried out by GCHQ in the UK and the National Security Agency (NSA) in the US.

Emmerson’s study poses a direct challenge to the claims of both governments that their bulk surveillance programs, which the barrister finds endanger the privacy of “literally every internet user,” are proportionate to the terrorist threat and robustly constrained by law. To combat the danger, Emmerson endorses the ability of Internet users to mount legal challenges to bulk surveillance.

“Bulk access technology is indiscriminately corrosive of online privacy and impinges on the very essence of the right guaranteed by [the UN’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights],” Emmerson, a prominent human rights lawyer, concludes. The programmes, he said, “pose a direct and ongoing challenge to an established norm of international law.” Full story...

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The age of loneliness is killing us...

What do we call this time? It’s not the information age: the collapse of popular education movements left a void filled by marketing and conspiracy theories. Like the stone age, iron age and space age, the digital age says plenty about our artefacts but little about society. The anthropocene, in which humans exert a major impact on the biosphere, fails to distinguish this century from the previous 20. What clear social change marks out our time from those that precede it? To me it’s obvious. This is the Age of Loneliness.

When Thomas Hobbes claimed that in the state of nature, before authority arose to keep us in check, we were engaged in a war “of every man against every man”, he could not have been more wrong. We were social creatures from the start, mammalian bees, who depended entirely on each other. The hominins of east Africa could not have survived one night alone. We are shaped, to a greater extent than almost any other species, by contact with others. The age we are entering, in which we exist apart, is unlike any that has gone before.

Three months ago we read that loneliness has become an epidemic among young adults. Now we learn that it is just as great an affliction of older people. A study by Independent Age shows that severe loneliness in England blights the lives of 700,000 men and 1.1m women over 50, and is rising with astonishing speed.

Ebola is unlikely ever to kill as many people as this disease strikes down. Social isolation is as potent a cause of early death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day; loneliness, research suggests, is twice as deadly as obesity. Dementia, high blood pressure, alcoholism and accidents – all these, like depression, paranoia, anxiety and suicide, become more prevalent when connections are cut. We cannot cope alone. Full story...

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