Friday, August 29, 2014

Rotherham child sex abuse could be tip of an iceberg, say campaigners...

Rotherham has been labelled a town of shame in the wake of revelations that 1,400 children were sexually exploited over a 16-year-period, but experts and campaigners argue the same abuse is continuing to happen across the country, and is hidden in other boroughs that refuse to acknowledge the problem.

"When you look at the Rotherham report – nature of the abuse, the failures – you could write the same report about any number of different places," said Dr Helen Beckett, of the International Centre, which researches child sexual exploitation, violence and trafficking at the University of Bedfordshire. "What we see time and time again is that young people are not treated as victims, there is a real failure to see the vulnerability of these young people and instead write them off as out of control, problematic teenagers."

There is mounting evidence that the shocking revelations in the Rotherham report could provide a glimpse of the scale of childhood sexual abuse across the country, and not just in one town.

In an extensive report into the nature of child sexual exploitation, the Office of the Children's Commissioner identified 2,409 victims over a 14-month period and estimated that 16,500 children were at risk of a specific type of abuse that can see gangs of abusers grooming children as young as 11 in order to rape, sexually abuse and, in some cases, traffic them among other men and between cities. Full story...

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Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation...

’Twas not a famous victory – but that’s what the Palestinians of Gaza are celebrating. There was much shaking of heads in the international media when the fireworks burst over that shattered land on Tuesday night. After more than 2,100 dead – about 1,700 of them civilians – and 100,000 wounded, what did they have to crow about? An end to the killing? Peace?

Well, no. In fact, Hamas – the vicious, horrible, terrorist Hamas with whom “we” (as in “the West”, Tony Blair, Israel, the US and all honourable men and women) cannot talk – has indeed won a victory.

Israel said it must be disarmed. It has not been disarmed. Israel said it must be smashed/destroyed/rooted out. It hasn’t been smashed/destroyed/rooted out. The tunnels must all be destroyed, Israel proclaimed. But they haven’t been. All the rockets must be seized. But they haven’t been. So 65 Israeli soldiers died – for what? And from under the ground, quite literally, clambered on Tuesday the political leadership of Hamas (and Islamic Jihad) whose brothers were participating – much against the wishes of Israel, the US and Egypt – in the Cairo “peace” talks.

In Israel, significantly, there were no celebrations. The ever-so-right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu had once more over-egged its victory demands and ended up with another ceasefire as strong and as weak as the equally febrile truce that followed the 2009 Gaza war and the 2012 Gaza war. Physically, the Israelis had won; all those broken lives and all those smashed buildings and all that destroyed infrastructure do not suggest that the Palestinians have “prevailed” (to use a “Bushite” word). But strategically, the Palestinians have won. They are still in Gaza, Hamas is still in Gaza, and the coalition government of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas appears still to be a reality. Full story...

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Ferguson aftermath: California city tells cops to get rid of armored vehicle...

The city council of Davis, California has decided to drop the local police department’s Pentagon-supplied armored vehicle following worries from the community that it could be used against demonstrations, as was the case in Ferguson, Missouri this month.

The Davis City Council adopted a resolution this week that orders the city to come up with a plan to drop the MRAP (mine-resistant ambush protected), originally developed for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and acquired by the city through a government surplus program. The armored vehicles have been distributed to local law enforcement agencies, especially after the wars wound down and the Pentagon’s budget was reduced.

A large crowd largely opposed to the city’s MRAP gathered at the city council meeting for the resolution vote. A petition had circulated around town calling for Davis officials to get rid of or repurpose the MRAP.

“I would like to say I do not suggest you take this vehicle and send it out of Davis, I demand it. I demand it!” announced a man attending the meeting wearing a “Tank The Tank” t-shirt, according to the local CBS affiliate.

 Many in Davis are concerned that the military vehicle could be used against political demonstrations or protests, as was the case in Ferguson, Missouri earlier this month when local law enforcement responded to civil unrest over the police killing of an unarmed teenager with what many saw as a heavy-handed, militarized posture. Full story...

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Fueled by superstition, people are violently attacking albinos in Tanzania...

In the past month, a spate of violent attacks in Tanzania targeting people with albinism for their body parts has highlighted a morbid practice linked to witchcraft.

People with albinism, also known as albinos, are born with a deficiency of melanin pigmentation. Those with a complete lack of pigmentation have extremely pale skin and hair, and their eyes are typically a light shade of blue. The condition generally results from recessive genes carried by parents. Albinism in Africa brings with it an increased chance of developing fatal skin cancer, and the lack of pigment to protect eyes against the bright sun can cause sight problems.

Africans with the condition can suffer alienating social stigma in communities where their neighbors and relatives believe them to be ghosts, cursed, or intellectually incapacitated. In some regions, they face a near-constant threat of violence.

UN officials and rights groups reported at least five assaults on albinos that occurred in Tanzania in less than two weeks in August.

On August 5, three men armed with machetes hacked a 15-year-old girl's right arm off below the elbow in the western region of Tabora. Her family was threatened with death and could not scream for help. Later that day, the assailants targeted her uncle, who also has albinism, though he was able to escape. Full story...

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Happy in Udupi...

Cambodian rat meat: A growing export market...

Popularly considered a disease-carrying nuisance in many societies, the rice field rats, Rattus argentiventer, of this small South-East Asian nation are considered a healthy delicacy due to their free-range lifestyle and largely organic diet.

Rat-catching season reaches its height after the rice harvest in June and July when rats have little to eat in this part of rural Kompong Cham province, some 60km from the capital Phnom Penh.

That lack of food coincides with seasonal rains that force the rodents onto higher ground, and into the 120 rat traps local farmer Chhoeun Chhim, 37, said he set each evening.

"Wild rats are very different. They eat different food," said Mr Chhim, explaining with a gourmand's intensity the difference between rice-field rats and their urban cousins, which he considers vermin unfit for the cooking pot.

Common rats "are dirty and they have a lot of scabies on their skin," Mr Chhim said. "That's why we don't catch them." Full story...

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Rome man begs for jail to escape wife during house arrest!!!

Most prisoners long for the day when they will be reunited with their families - but a man in Rome has adopted the opposite attitude.

A 37-year-old, currently under house arrest, has asked a judge that he be placed in jail instead because his "constant fighting" with his wife was too much to bear.

The unnamed father-of-three was just three months into his eight-month sentence for a series of minor crimes, but spending his days at home with his wife had proved to be anything but domestic bliss.

The couple’s neighbours had become well aware of their arguments, which police had been brought in to resolve.

 “Put me inside, otherwise it will end badly,” he was told police at the Tor Bella Monaca police station in the east of Rome, according to Il Messaggero. Full story...

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Malaysia Airlines: 'spike in cabin crew resignations' after MH17 and MH370 tragedies...

Almost 200 cabin crew resigned from Malaysia Airlines in the year to July, many as a result of the MH17 and MH370 tragedies, Malaysia Airlines has confirmed, as rumours swirl about the airline's future.

"Following the MH17 incident, there was a spike in crew resignations but the number has now decreased to acceptable and routinely expected levels,” Malaysia Airlines said in a statement to the Telegraph.

"Many cited 'family pressure' as the reason for their resignation due to the MH17 and MH370 tragedies," the statement said.

A spokesman for the airline would not comment on rumoured crew shortages, but said the organisation’s resignation rate was "way below the industry norm”, and pointed to the company’s support for staff through counselling and special prayer sessions, as well as a talk held last week titled 'Exclusive Discourse - MH370 and MH17 from the perspective of Islam’.

 “Some are afraid to fly. There is nothing we can do about this. They have developed some kind of fear and we hope that over time, they will be back to normal.” Malaysia Airline System Employees Union secretary-general Abdul Malek told local media. Full story...

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India's Narendra Modi to launch bank accounts for every household...

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to launch a plan to provide a bank account for every household, in a landmark initiative to help the poor.

Nearly 40% of Indians have little access to financial services and are often at the mercy of moneylenders who charge extortionate interest.

Mr Modi has told state and private banks to support the plan.

Correspondents say taking banking to the poor, who may have no identity papers, will be a challenge.

"There are millions of families who have mobile phones but no bank accounts. We have to change this scenario," Mr Modi said in his first Independence Day speech on 15 August.

Reports say Mr Modi's government aims to provide bank accounts to 75 million households by 2018, and to have two account-holders per household. Full story...

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Egyptian female activist defecates on ISIS flag... (Graphic)




Controversial Egyptian Femen activist Aliaa Magda al-Mahdy has posted a photo of her and a fellow activist defecating and menstruating on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) banner, the Blaze news website reported.

In the photo, al-Mahdy is shown facing the camera while the other unidentified activist, wearing what appears to be a hijab, has their back to the camera. Al-Mahdy has “IS,” an acronym for ISIS, drawn on her chest and the other protester has the Femen logo on her back.

The Norway-based activist has reportedly received death threats following the controversial post.

This is not the first time al-Mahdy has used provocative means to voice her message. In 2012 the 23-year-old took part in a protest by the International women’s movement Femen in Stockholm “to say NO to Sharia constitution in Egypt!”

Speaking to Al Arabiya News in 2012, Inna Scevchenko, a leader Femen France said Alia was kidnapped in Egypt in 2011 after she posted nude pictures on the internet. Full story...

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Brazil’s valley of beauties appeals for single men!!!

It sounds like a tale from Greek mythology: a small rural town hidden in the rolling hills, populated by beautiful women who are looking for love.

But this is the reality for the ladies of Noiva do Cordeiro, deep in the countryside of south-east Brazil.

In the picturesque 600-strong community, where men are scarce, or work far away in the city, the women are left to shoulder the town’s burdens alone. The situation has led some of the women, who are known throughout Brazil for their beauty, to put out an appeal for single men. “Here, the only men we single girls meet are either married or related to us; everyone is a cousin,” said Nelma Fernandes, 23.

“I haven’t kissed a man for a long time. We all dream of falling in love and getting married. But we like living here and don’t want to have to leave the town to find a husband. We’d like to get to know men who would leave their own lives and come to be a part of ours. But first they need to agree to do what we say and live according to our rules.”

 Noiva do Cordeiro, which translates as Bride of the Lamb, has a reputation for its strong female community after its founder, Maria Senhorinha de Lima, settled in the town when she was branded an adulteress and exiled from her own church and home in 1891. Full story...

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Coca-Cola forced out of $25 million factory in India...

The Coca-Cola company has been forced to abandon a $25 million newly built bottling plant in Mehdiganj, Varanasi, India as the result of a sustained campaign against the company's plans.

The $25 million plant - which was a significant expansion to its existing plant in Mehdiganj - had already been fully built and the company had also conducted trial runs, but could not operate commercially as it did not have the required permits to operate.

Coca-Cola required permissions, or 'No Objection Certificate' (NOC), from the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) - the national groundwater regulatory agency, and the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) - the statewide pollution regulatory agency.

The Central Ground Water Authority rejected Coca-Cola's application to operate for its new facility on July 21, 2014, and had sought time till 25th August 2014, to announce its decision before the National Green Tribunal (NGT), India's 'green' court.

Somehow having learnt that its application had been rejected, in order to save itself major embarrassment, Coca-Cola sent a letter to the CGWA on Friday, August 22, 2014 - two days before the rejection was to be made public on Monday, August 25, 2014 - stating that it was "withdrawing" its application. Full story...

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5 reasons to suspect Jesus never existed...

Most antiquities scholars think that the New Testament gospels are “mythologized history.” In other words, they think that around the start of the first century a controversial Jewish rabbi named Yeshua ben Yosef gathered a following and his life and teachings provided the seed that grew into Christianity.

At the same time, these scholars acknowledge that many Bible stories like the virgin birth, miracles, resurrection, and women at the tomb borrow and rework mythic themes that were common in the Ancient Near East, much the way that screenwriters base new movies on old familiar tropes or plot elements. In this view, a “historical Jesus” became mythologized.

For over 200 years, a wide ranging array of theologians and historians—most of them Christian—analyzed ancient texts, both those that made it into the Bible and those that didn’t, in attempts to excavate the man behind the myth. Several current or recent bestsellers take this approach, distilling the scholarship for a popular audience. Familiar titles include Zealotby Reza Aslan and How Jesus Became Godby Bart Ehrman.

But other scholars believe that the gospel stories are actually “historicized mythology.” In this view, those ancient mythic templates are themselves the kernel. They got filled in with names, places and other real world details as early sects of Jesus worship attempted to understand and defend the devotional traditions they had received. Full story...

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Malaysian women offer their bodies to ISIS militants in 'sexual jihad'

Three Malaysian women have allegedly travelled to the Middle East as "comfort women" for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters, according to senior intelligence officials.

Jihad Al-Nikah, or sexual jihad, refers to women joining the jihad by offering sex to fighters to boost their morale.

"These women are believed to have offered themselves in sexual comfort roles to ISIS fighters who are attempting to establish Islamic rule in the Middle East.

"This concept may seem controversial but it has arisen as certain Muslim women here are showing sympathy for the ISIS struggle," an intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Malaysian Insider news site.

One of the women, who is in her 30s, had travelled to Turkey in December last year to meet up with middlemen who helped her to complete her journey to Syria via land routes, said the official. Full story...

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Rotherham sex abuse scandal: 1,400 children exploited by Asian gangs while authorities turned a blind eye...

More than 1,400 children were sexually abused during a period of over 16 years by gangs of paedophiles after police and council bosses turned a blind eye for fear of being labelled racist, a damning report has concluded.

Senior officials were responsible for “blatant” failures that saw victims, some as young as 11, being treated with contempt and categorised as being “out of control” or simply ignored when they asked for help.

In some cases, parents who tried to rescue their children from abusers were themselves arrested. Police officers even dismissed the rape of children by saying that sex had been consensual.

Downing Street on Tuesday night described the failure to halt the abuse in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, as “appalling”.

 Following the publication of the report, the leader of Rotherham council, Roger Stone, resigned, but no other council employees will face disciplinary proceedings after it was claimed that there was not enough evidence to take action. Full story...

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Denmark's animal fuckers...

How the web lost its way – and its founding principles...

(...)

The case is used by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the man who invented the world wide web nearly 24 years ago, as an example of the sharing, perhaps caring and certainly egalitarian principles realised by means of his invention. At a recent Ted talk, Berners-Lee also cited as evidence of the help the web can be to humanity the case of GeoEye, a company that shortly after Haiti's 2010 earthquake released satellite imagery of the devastated areas, with a licence that allowed people to use it. Quickly, relief workers zoomed into it – and added to OpenStreetMap details about the devastated area – to build up a picture of which roads were blocked, which buildings damaged, where refugee camps were growing and when medical ships were reaching port. "The site rapidly became the map to use on the ground if you were doing relief work," said Berners-Lee.

This sort of thing was what he hoped would be made possible after the birth of the world wide web at Cern in Geneva in December 1990. "It consisted of one web site and one browser, which happened to be on the same computer," he recalls. The simple setup demonstrated a profound concept: that any person could share information with anyone else, anywhere. In this spirit, the web spread quickly from the grassroots up.

"The web evolved into a powerful, ubiquitous tool because it was built on egalitarian principles and because thousands of individuals, universities and companies have worked, both independently and together as part of the World Wide Web Consortium [established by Berners-Lee so that stakeholders could work together in open groups to build a better web than any company could build by itself], to expand its capabilities based on those principles."

But, in spreading from the grassroots up, his invention has arguably lost many of the egalitarian principles Berners-Lee hoped for. It has become less straightforwardly a force for good. Earlier this month, Charles Leadbeater, former policy adviser to the Labour government and a champion of the web's potential to give power to hitherto deprived groups, published a report called A Better Web for the Nominet Trust pointing to the pervasive misogyny of the web as an example of how the democratising potential of the internet has not been fulfilled. Full story...

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The Times of India just instituted a bizarre Twitter and Facebook policy...

Hundreds of journalists working at the Times of India and its sister publications have received a peculiar request from their employer: hand over your Twitter and Facebook passwords and let us post for you.

Even after you leave the company.

Under a contract unveiled to employees last week, Bennett, Coleman and Company Ltd—India’s largest media conglomerate and publisher of the Times of India, Economic Times, among many other properties—told staffers they are not to post any news links on their personal Twitter and Facebook accounts. This runs counter to many social-media policies in newsrooms across the world, which often encourage journalists to share content widely.

But BCCL, as the company is known, is telling journalists that they must start a company-authorised account on various social media platforms. They also have the option of converting existing personal social media accounts to company accounts. On these, they are free to discuss news and related material. The company will possess log-in credentials to such accounts and will be free to post any material to the account without journalists’ knowledge. It is now also mandatory to disclose all personal social-media accounts held by the journalist to the company. Full story...

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Malaysia Airlines is burning $2 million every day as flights go empty...

Malaysia Airlines is facing dire economic straits after being involved in the two worst air tragedies of the year. Based on some recent photos taken by its few remaining passengers, some flights are operating nearly empty.

In March, Flight 370, scheduled to travel from from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, disappeared with 12 crew and 227 passengers on board — which remains a mystery.

Then, last month, tragedy struck again when Flight 17 was shot down while in Ukrainian airspace. All 283 passengers and 15 crew aboard were killed.

Blame for the second tragedy cannot be placed squarely on Malaysia Airlines, as many major carriers routinely fly over conflict zones. But the loss of lives was inextricably linked to the airline by people around the world.

The carrier, which was operating in the red for about five years before either of this year's tragedies, has continued operating despite the major damage to its reputation. Full story...

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Virginia man mourns his dog shot and killed by deputies. The deputies were at the wrong house serving a warrant...

What started as Wise County Sheriff's Office deputies serving a warrant ended in gunfire Saturday, and now a homeowner's dog is dead.

Paul Carico treated his pit bull De'Ja like a daughter. "My dog was like a family member. I mean, we loved her. I love her," he says.

Now, he's heartbroken after he says De'Ja was unfairly shot and killed by a Wise County Sheriff's Office deputy.

Carico says he was home Saturday when he heard De'Ja barking. When he opened the front door to check it out, several deputies stood outside looking to serve a warrant. "I saw these cops and I told them I didn't know the person they were looking for," he says.

Carico claims an officer charged toward the front door, which is when De'Ja got territorial. "He came with a threatening approach up my steps, and the dog was not going to stand for that, she got by me," he says. Full story...

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Babies discovering mirrors...

Now do it for Israeli kid! Calls on Lionel Messi to balance his support of Palestine children...

Netizens are trying to get soccer ace Lionel Messi to honor a four year-old boy, who was killed by a missile fired by Hamas. The child idolized the Barcelona star. Earlier Messi had spoken out about the plight of Palestinian children.

Daniel Tregerman became the first Israeli child to die in the conflict on Friday in Nahal Oz. The four year-old was a big fan of the Barcelona forward and there was a picture in the Israeli papers of him wearing Messi’s No. 10 Argentina football shirt.

Messi had previously expressed his sympathy for the plight of Palestinian children, writing on his Facebook page on August 7.

"Children did not create this conflict, but they are paying the ultimate price. This cycle of senseless violence must stop. We must reflect on the consequences of military conflicts and children must be protected," he wrote. Full story...

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Toxic vaccines and autism: A CDC coverup...

For over 20 years, I have seen enough parents who reported that their child was developing normally until they received a vaccine. Within hours to days of the vaccine (particularly the MMR vaccine), these parents claim that their children changed in their behavior and attitude. The story was always similar; one day the child was normal, the next day he/she was crying and irritable and began regressing on all fronts—neurologically, behaviorally, and emotionally. From this point on, the lives of the parents and affected children were changed forever. Nearly all of these children were eventually diagnosed as autistic.

Unfortunately, vaccines contain toxic additives such as mercury, aluminum, and/or formaldehyde. I have written about these toxic additives many times before. Injecting a dangerous substance like ethyl mercury into any living being makes absolutely no sense to me. How could it make sense? Mercury is an extremely toxic substance that needs to be avoided, not injected into any living being, much less a small child whose blood-brain barrier is not properly formed.

The CDC keeps putting out articles saying mercury-containing vaccines are safe. I think it is ludicrous—how can they be safe? It doesn’t make common sense nor does it make biochemical or physiological sense that injecting mercury into a human being is safe. Someday, the history of medicine will look on this practice of medicine as the dark ages of medicine. (Note: The MMR vaccine does not contain mercury).

Now, there may be proof that the CDC not only knew about the link between the MMR vaccine and autism but they changed the data in a landmark 2004 study to hide the damning data. What did the heads of the CDC do? They altered the data and reported in 2004 (1) no association between autism and the MMR vaccine. Who wrote this article? William Thompson, PhD, the new whistleblower, was one of the authors of that 2004 study. He is reported to be suffering with regret and remorse over the damage that has been done to our children over the last ten years. Full story...

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'France is in crisis, all politicians are powerless'

President François Hollande and his Socialist Party were embroiled in yet another political crisis on Monday.

On Monday, Hollande asked his prime minister, Manuel Valls, to form a new cabinet after two ministers publicly criticized the government's economic policy.

Hollande’s popularity is already at an all-time low, but with the appointment of Valls as Prime Minister of France, in April, he had hoped to win back some of his electors, and to re-assert his authority.

But things have clearly not gone as he had hoped. On Sunday, the soon-to-be-sacked Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg and Education Minister Benoît Hamon questioned Hollande and Valls economic policy of trying to trim state deficits by imposing €50 billion worth of cuts.

The rebel ministers demanded a change of tack towards growth and more tax cuts for residents. Full story...

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New ice bucket challenge? Gazans launch 'Rubble Bucket Challenge'...

An appeal to garner support for Gaza which imitates the wildly popular ALS Ice Bucket Challenge but uses rubble and dirt instead of cold water is picking up steam on social media. "I have to do something and to send a message all over the world about Gaza," said Ayman al Aloul, a journalist who started the so-called Rubble Bucket Challenge on Saturday. When the 42-year-old discussed the idea with friends, some suggested that he use either a bucket of blood or shrapnel. "It came to my mind that it's good idea to show the whole picture - how Gaza looks now, rubble, destruction, cement with sand, small rocks," Aloul said. By Monday morning, nearly 2,000 had liked the Rubble Bucket Challenge page. Other hashtags doing the rounds on Facebook and Twitter included #dustbucketchallenge and #remainsbucketchallenge.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has seen figures ranging from former President George W. Bush to Lady Gaga to Oprah Winfrey being filmed getting doused after being nominated by friends. The viral sensation has earned $62.5 million for the ALS Association, which works to fight the neurological disorder also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. Aloul's aims are more modest. "If five famous people in the world like actors or presidents will do the challenge, that means I succeeded in sending the message about Gaza," he said. The conflict that has killed more than 2,100 Palestinians and 68 Israelis since July 8 has also leveled swaths of the Palestinian enclave. Full story...

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Loyal dog starves but refuses to leave boy's grave for a fortnight...

From a distance, the dog was a blur next to a freshly dug grave, its whimpers lost in the noise of vehicles speeding past. For more than a fortnight the animal would not leave the spot where the 18-year-old boy who had adopted him had been buried after he died in a road accident. The brown mongrel went without food, braved sun and rain, but refused to move in an extraordinary display of loyalty.

Blue Cross of India volunteers spotted the dog sitting near the grave in the open burial ground near Avadi Bridge, Blue Cross of India general manager Dawn Williams said. "When we attempted to rescue the dog, it stubbornly resisted and refused to budge," Williams said. "It just scratched the grave and whined."

The volunteers then spoke to people who lived nearby. "We met a local resident who said the dog belonged to Bhaskar. He died after being hit by a speeding vehicle on August 2. Bhaskar's mother, Sundhari, 50, is a construction worker who lived in a shed near the building site," Williams said.

 When the team went to Sundhari's house she said the dog, Tommy, had been her son's pet for five years. After his death, the animal had disappeared. She accompanied the team to the grave. The emaciated dog staggered towards Sundhari and crouched near her feet. Full story...

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Monday, August 25, 2014

India lower caste still removing human waste...



Rajni was only 10 when her mother told her that she would spend her life picking up human excrement from dry latrines. They belong to the Valmiki caste, regarded as the lowest among the Dalits - formerly India's untouchables.

"She said that we are born to do this. First, we clean the waste of others and then we get to eat," Rajni recalls her mother saying.

Now 21, Rajni remembers how sick she felt for most of her childhood; the stink emanating from the excrement; and the flies that followed her when she carried the waste in a basket fetched from the households in her village in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

"The worst days were when it rained. The waste would drip onto your neck and shoulders," she told Al Jazeera. "You wanted to keep throwing up."

Rajni was married as a teenager and continued to be a manual scavenger in her husband's village until 2012 when Sulabh International, a non- profit organisation, replaced the dry latrines in her village with flush toilets. Full story...

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Chef cooking snake dies after cobra bites him - 20 minutes AFTER head was cut off...

A chef preparing a dish from cobra flesh died when the snake's head bit him - 20 minutes AFTER it was cut off.

Victim Peng Fan had been preparing a special dish made from the Indochinese spitting cobra, a rare delicacy in Asia where eating snakes is commonplace.

But when he went to throw the serpent's severed head into the waste bin, it bit him - injecting him with its fast acting venom.

Police say Mr Peng died before he could be given life saving anti-venom in hospital.

Diners who were eating in the restaurant at the time have described screams coming from the kitchen as the tragedy unfolded.

Restaurant guest Lin Sun, 44, who was in the restaurant with his wife Su at the time said: "We were in the restaurant having a meal for my wife's birthday when suddenly there was a lot of commotion. Full story...

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10 very unusual libraries...

Surf. Sand. Library… wait, library? Yes, you heard it right. Those are three words that usually don't go together, but there's no reason why they shouldn't. Herman Kompernas built a library on the sandy beach of the Bulgarian Black Sea resort of Albena and stocked it with over 2,500 books in 10 languages.

Guests are invited to borrow the books (for free) and leave their own for others to read. This has to be the most relaxing library in the world.

(...)

Brazilian bus collector Antonio da Conceição Ferreira, 42, is an example of how a little cooperation and generosity can make a big difference in people's lives.

11 years ago, he was inspired by his love for reading to create Culture on the Bus, transforming the bus he rides into a small library.

A current resident of Brasilia, Brazil's capital, Antonio offers about 15 titles on a shelf inside the bus everyday and lends those books to passengers of the line. Besides being a distraction to help pass the riding time, the mobile library is a way to offer culture to people. More + photos...

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Two killings, two videos–and a double standard...

Like a great many other people, I was shocked and revolted by the execution video that has spread across the internet in the last few days. The footage of the man’s death sparked several questions in my mind: what provoked the killing? How can someone hold another person’s life in such scant regard? Is this evidence of an ideological clash between different cultures that all too often manifests itself in hatred?

But there was one particular question that stood out: why did St Louis police have to kill Kajieme Powell?

In case the name is not familiar, Powell was the 25-year old man shot dead by police in St Louis on 19 August, not far from where Michael Brown was killed by Officer Darren Wilson ten days earlier. Following the Brown killing and the subsequent mass protests, many people have expressed disbelief that police could kill another young African American man in the same area so soon after Brown’s death.

Repeat viewings do not make the film any easier to watch. Powell was walking back and forth outside a convenience store from which he is alleged to have stolen a couple of soft drinks. The passer-by who recorded the footage on his mobile phone is amused at Powell’s behaviour at first. It is when the police arrive that the tone shifts drastically, with Powell repeatedly shouting “shoot me” at the officers. As several gunshots ring out and Powell collapses to the ground, the reaction of witnesses is one of stunned incredulity. “The man is already dead (and) they’re cuffing him,” says the cameraman.  Full story...

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It isn't Ferguson: It's the USA...

Now that almost all mainstream political and media mind managers have responded, in horror, sympathy or skepticism, to the most recent – as this is written – police killing of an unarmed black man, it is time to consider radical action for social change as opposed to the usual reactionary individual reform.

The attention given this latest outrage has been greater than ever before, which is good no matter what form it takes. Most often it has been understandably critical of the police action, though not many will publicly shout “great” at any alleged racially motivated killing unless they are brain dead, or racists, or more likely both.

The specific facts of the case are not known to anyone but the deceased, who cannot speak, and the killer, who would only be believed or doubted by those whose minds were already made up. We know that the dead man was unarmed and that he was shot six times. We also know that he was young, big and may have been angry, but there is nothing in the biblically worshipped constitution that says you get the death penalty for being a big black man who may be angry. Or, for that matter a dumb white man in a position of authority. In fact, if being a dumb white man in a position of authority were a capital offense, our government would be the site of an ongoing blood bath of executions. Sarcasm aside, what is to be done?

Another in a dreadful series of murders of unarmed black men by police officers frequently dressed and equipped like an invading colonial army in a foreign country – what they often are - should not only invite anger but also concern for society in general and not just the community in which this killing took place. Full story...

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Singapore group's "Crazy in love" (lip dub)

Size does matter in this case, rules judge!!!

A judge has ordered a deliveryman's manhood to be measured after he claimed in court that it was too small for him to be guilty of exhibitionism.

Herbert O, 54, was accused by a teenaged girl of delivering more than just the package her family had ordered when he approached their house in August 2013.

The girl and her mother went to police the same evening to report the offending member protruding from his open pants zipper.

But Herbert has contested the allegations, saying that he is insufficiently endowed to trouble public order. He even called on his wife to take the stand and testify to his lack of inches.

 “I'm sorry, darling, but your penis is too short to hang out of your trousers,” she told the local court in the town of Leer in East Frisia (Lower Saxony). Full story...

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India reviews state hospitals to end widespread corruption...

The Indian government on Saturday ordered a review of activities at all state-owned hospitals to end what the health minister called systemic corruption, as part of the new administration's crackdown on malpractice in the healthcare sector.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has vowed to eradicate graft in India's $74 billion healthcare industry, where doctors receiving extra payments for referring patients to a particular clinic or receiving gifts from companies for prescribing their drugs are common.

"There are many aspects to corruption in hospitals which as a medico I know exist," Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said in a statement.

"If money is made in the allocation of beds or as kickbacks from suppliers, it is sleaze. What is equally corrupt is the silent practice of reserving beds and facilities for employees or VIPs."

Private companies dominate India's healthcare system, while government hospitals are overcrowded and lack the resources to cater to growing demand. Full story...

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Step inside Singapore's floating food market...

Cutting edge architecture could soon rejuvenate the beautiful Singapore waterfront, with the introduction of mobile, floating restaurants.

The sustainable 'pods' will embrace both the street food heritage and the surrounding waterscape to transform the city.

The well-contained pods have facilities for vendors to prepare and serve food, reinvigorating Singapore's 'hawker' markets with a hawker centre.

Food stores on the floating restaurants would be able to 'pop-up' in a number of locations and for different purposes.

Named the 'Solar Orchid Project', the portable food market is not only intriguing to the eye!

SPARK architects have delivered stunning images and promise their visionary project will be self-contained and sustainable.

The solar-generating, protective canopies are made with an 'energy-generating inflated ETFE pillow', made from thin-film photovoltaic cells.

The sustainable restaurants will use solar energy to power its built-in exhaust, water, gas, electrical, waste collection and water recycling services.

They are also self-contained to prevent mess or pollution - 'leaving no trace of their presence' when they have floated off to their next destination. See photos...

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Is Big Brother spying on your computer – with your own cell phone?

(...)

In order to live in a technological society, you have to give up certain expectation of privacy from those who have the technology to tap into certain systems. If you email someone, you have to expect that someone could read those emails. If you talk on your cell phone, you have to expect that someone could overhear your conversation if they had the tech and chose to use it.

I’m not saying that you should stop using tech, because tech is very useful, but you need to know what you’re opening yourself up to if you don’t take certain precautions.

By now, you probably know that your phone can be tracked when you’re using it and that someone can listen in to your conversation if they have the right equipment.

I’ll start with the basics first. Full story...

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2 Swiss banks to end 200-yr secrecy and publish financials...

Two Geneva-based banks that have kept their finance sheets shrouded in secrecy since 1796 will publish their earnings amid pressure from abroad.

Lomard Odier and Pictet, two of Switzerland’s largest independent private banks, will report financials in August, Bloomberg News reports, citing a source from Odier.

Lombard Odier, Geneva’s oldest wealth management firm, will report August 28, with Pictet also due to report by the end of the month.

Together the banks oversee about $630 billion in asset management, both private and institutional, according to Bloomberg.

Pichet is under investigation by the US Justice Department, along with a dozen other Swiss banks for helping Americans dodge taxes. Lombard Odier has voluntarily agreed to swap information with US authorities. Full story...

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The double identity of an "anti-semitic" commenter...

Like many other news websites, Common Dreams has been plagued by inflammatory anti-Semitic comments following its stories. But on Common Dreams these posts have been so frequent and intense they have driven away donors from a nonprofit dependent on reader generosity.

A Common Dreams investigation has discovered that more than a thousand of these damaging comments over the past two years were written with a deceptive purpose by a Jewish Harvard graduate in his thirties who was irritated by the website's discussion of issues involving Israel.

His intricate campaign, which he has admitted to Common Dreams, included posting comments by a screen name, "JewishProgressive," whose purpose was to draw attention to and denounce the anti-Semitic comments that he had written under many other screen names.

The deception was many-layered. At one point he had one of his characters charge that the anti-Semitic comments and the criticism of the anti-Semitic comments must be written by "internet trolls who have been known to impersonate anti-Semites in order to then double-back and accuse others of supporting anti-Semitism"--exactly what he was doing. (Trolls are posters who foment discord.)

The impersonation, this character wrote, must be part of an "elaborate Hasbara setup," referring to an Israeli international public-relations campaign. When Common Dreams finally confronted the man behind the deceptive posting, he denied that he himself was involved with Hasbara. Full story...

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40 holocaust survivors condemn Israel's Gaza 'genocide'

(...)

As Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of the Nazi genocide we unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and the ongoing occupation and colonization of historic Palestine. We further condemn the United States for providing Israel with the funding to carry out the attack, and Western states more generally for using their diplomatic muscle to protect Israel from condemnation. Genocide begins with the silence of the world.

We are alarmed by the extreme, racist dehumanization of Palestinians in Israeli society, which has reached a fever-pitch. In Israel, politicians and pundits in The Times of Israel and The Jerusalem Post have called openly for genocide of Palestinians and right-wing Israelis are adopting Neo-Nazi insignia.


Furthermore, we are disgusted and outraged by Elie Wiesel’s abuse of our history in these pages to justify the unjustifiable: Israel’s wholesale effort to destroy Gaza and the murder of more than 2,000 Palestinians, including many hundreds of children. Nothing can justify bombing UN shelters, homes, hospitals and universities. Nothing can justify depriving people of electricity and water.

We must raise our voices and use our collective power to bring about an end to all forms of racism, including the ongoing genocide of Palestinian people. We call for an immediate end to the siege against and blockade of Gaza. We call for the full economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel. “Never again” must mean NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE!
 Full story...

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