Thursday, April 24, 2014

Canadian aborted babies incinerated in Oregon waste-to-energy facility to provide electricity...

The British Columbia Health Ministry has admitted that the remains of babies destroyed by abortion in B.C. facilities are ending up in a waste-to-power facility in the United States, providing electricity for residents of Oregon.

The province’s Health Ministry said in an email to the B.C. Catholic that “biomedical waste” shipped to the U.S. to be incinerated includes “human tissue, such as surgically removed cancerous tissue, amputated limbs, and fetal tissue.”

“The ministry understands that some is transferred to Oregon. There it is incinerated in a waste-to-energy plant,” the email stated.

 The ministry said that contractors handling the province’s “biomedical waste” follow “health and safety protocols, as well as federal, provincial, and local regulations.” Full story...

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The frightening new technology transforming state surveillance...

Murder of a Thai poet: Impunity for royalists feeds growing violence...

“Maineng Kor Khuntee” or Kamol Duangpasuk was a radical Red Shirt poet who wrote for a weekly Thai-language magazine. He was gunned down Wednesday in cold blood by assassins as he left a Bangkok restaurant. He died later in hospital.

Mai-Nueng opposed the military coup in 2006 and had been active in the pro-democracy Red Shirt movement ever since. Unlike the Pheu Thai government and the mainstream leadership of the Red Shirts, he also took a principled stand against the draconian lèse-majesté law. Lèse-majesté has been used by the military and the conservatives to imprison and exile many pro-democracy activists. Mai-Nueng was also a tireless campaigner for the release of Thailand’s political prisoners. His poems were hard-hitting and upset the establishment.

In recent days right-wing royalist extremists set up what they called the “Rubbish Collection Organization” to deal with people who oppose the royalists, the military and the conservative ruling elites. They are responsible for their first death. They have blood on their hands.

Others with blood on their hands include all those who have systematically supported the destruction of democracy and supported the use of lèse-majesté. This includes the military, the judiciary, the establishment politicians, the right-wing academics and the yellow shirted NGO leaders.

This is a grim day for Thai democracy. While the fanatics hunt down people who dare to criticize the elites, accusing them of lèse-majesté, those who commit violence on the streets against pro-democracy activists continue to enjoy impunity. Source...

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India elections: Tamil Nadu chief Jayalalithaa feeds goodwill with five-rupee meals...

Every morning, at 3am, the kitchens round the back of the Rajiv Gandhi government general hospital in the southern Indian city of Chennai come to life. Forty cooks light the gas cookers and start sorting 185kg of rice.

At 7am the first of the 4,000 daily customers surge in. Porters, rickshaw drivers, nurses, patients, students, bureaucrats, doctors and itinerant holy men all stand to eat their heavily subsidised meals, priced at no more than 5 rupees (5p) and eaten at ferocious speed with fingers from tin plates.

Everyone, cooks and consumers alike, knows who to thank for their almost free meal: Jayalalithaa Jayaram, the chief minister of Tamil Nadu state.

This and 202 other eating places in Chennai – all set up over the last 14 months and all hugely popular – are known as "Amma canteens". Amma, or mother, is one of the local names for the chief minister. "Great Revolutionary Leader" is another.

The 43-year-old chief cook, A Malathi, said: "This [canteen] is like a temple for her. We will all vote for her, and so will our families, and so will all the customers." Full story...

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Singapore: Independent media making a mark despite restrictions...

Speaking in a Singaporean university seminar room in early March, Lord David Puttnam highlighted the importance of media plurality. He saw it as a means to an end, a way to foster an informed citizenry in a society where no one person or entity has too much influence over the media.

It was an interesting location for him to be talking about media plurality. Thanks to the laws and regulations establish by the People’s Action Party government – the party’s rule has been uninterrupted since Singapore achieved self-governance in 1959 – the country has not had true media plurality for a long time. Most mainstream media organisations are owned by government-linked corporations, and the government also has the power to appoint management shareholders to newspaper companies.

This has resulted in a mainstream media that revolves more around educating Singaporeans along official narratives rather than serving as a Fourth Estate. But as Singaporeans increasing turn to the internet as their source of news and information, websites and blogs are making an unmistakable impact on Singapore’s media landscape.

The Online Citizen (TOC) is a notable example. Launched in 2006, the website is unabashedly political in a country where the subject of politics is often approached with trepidation. “Our specialty is in reporting on social issues and government policy. We tend to focus on cases where policy has affected people in ways that you will not see touted in mainstream media, and we try to increase our readers’ perspective on these issues, so they can think about the way forward,” the TOC core team wrote in an email to Index. Full story...

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Rebellion is brewing against the political elite that has ruined Europe...

(...)

This brings me to the European elections that are to be held next month. In theory, they could mark a historic moment of social and political upheaval, as the subject voters of Europe challenge the political colonialism of the centre. And there are scattered signs that nationalist parties determined to smash the EU system may indeed achieve some substantial successes. In France, Marine Le Pen could lead the National Front to first place in the polls. The situation in Greece is indecipherable. Here in Britain (where we have a far stronger democratic tradition than other European countries), Nigel Farage has emerged as a brilliant leader of the insurgent Ukip, which may well get more votes than the Conservatives.

Elsewhere, the political analyst runs into difficulty. In defiance of logic, the expected anti-European revolt is simply not happening. Take the example of Spain, which has suffered terribly during the past five years and where youth unemployment is more than 50 per cent. One would expect a revolution – and yet there are no anti-European parties that are worthy of the name. Exactly the same applies to Portugal, which has suffered almost as badly during the eurozone crisis.

 A paradox is at work. It was only towards the end of the last century that Spain and Portugal emerged from dictatorships, while the former Iron Curtain countries have emerged from Communist rule even more recently. For them, the European Union represents a deeply cherished respectability. These countries seem happy to exchange the formal apparatus of dictatorship for the European Union’s emerging anti-democratic system. Full story...

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Qatar maids detained by authorities after having passports confiscated...

The "widespread" practice of confiscating low-income workers' passports in Qatar has left hundreds languishing for up to a year in the Gulf state's deportation centre, the Guardian has learned.

Amnesty International has uncovered evidence linking the Qatari government to the practice. Some employers gave domestic workers' passports to authorities at the interior ministry if workers absconded, the human rights group discovered. "This practice suggests that the government may implicitly accept the principle that domestic workers do not hold their own passports," says an Amnesty report, "My Sleep Is My Break": Exploitation of Migrant Domestic Workers in Qatar, published on Wednesday.

All of the dozens of domestic workers the Guardian met in Qatar during an investigation in January had been forced to hand over their passports to employers. François Crépeau, the UN special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, met just one worker who had managed to retain his passport when he visited the Gulf state in November.

The man was in the overcrowded deportation centre in which more than 1,300 people were detained. Visitors to the female quarters of the building on the outskirts of the capital, Doha, have described seeing babies and up to three women sleeping on a single mattress. Full story...

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Driving Ferraris with the Thai royalists...

Chemicals killing smartphone chip factory workers...

Dangerous chemicals are killing workers in factories that assemble processor chips for Apple and Samsung smartphones, advocacy groups claim.

Worker representatives, advocacy groups and academics are demanding manufacturers lift their standards to eradicate the dangerous conditions causing occupational leukaemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

With more than 100 victims and counting, they claim companies have so far turned a blind eye, and said that Samsung is actively subverting the victims' pursuit of compensation and justice.

The problem originates in 'clean rooms', dust-free environments where semi-conductors, used in electronics such as smartphones and LCD TVs, are produced.
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Only armed with 'white bunny-suits' designed to minimise contamination, workers frequently handle and inhale chemical cocktails whose purpose is to sterilise materials, including wafers. Full story...

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Brazil's new Internet 'Bill of Rights' protects privacy, ensures net neutrality...

Brazil's president signed into law on Wednesday a "Bill of Rights" for the digital age that aims to protect online privacy and promote the Internet as a public utility by barring telecommunications companies from charging for preferential access to their networks.

The law signed by President Dilma Rousseff at a global conference on the future of Internet governance puts Brazil in the vanguard of online consumer protection and what is known as "net neutrality," whose promoters consider it profoundly democratic in part because it keeps financial barriers for innovators low.

The new law promotes privacy by limiting the data that online companies can collect on Internet users in this nation of 200 million people, deeming communications over the Internet "inviolable and secret." Service providers must develop protocols to ensure email can be read only by senders and their intended recipients. Violators are subject to penalties including fines and suspension.

The law obliges Internet companies, however, to hold on to user data for six months and hand it over to law enforcement under court order.

Enactment of the law, which won final legislative approval in the Senate late Tuesday, coincided with Brazil's hosting of a global conference widely seen as an effort to chart a path for a less U.S.-centric Internet and attended by high-level delegations from countries including Germany and the United States. Full story...

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Future of the internet debated at NetMundial in Brazil...

A meeting to determine how the internet should be governed gets under way in Sao Paulo, Brazil later.

The country's president, Dilma Rousseff, organised the two-day NetMundial event following allegations the US National Security Agency (NSA) had monitored her phone and emails.

Last month the US announced plans to give up its oversight of the way net addresses are distributed.

But campaigners have warned the move could backfire.

The US currently determines who runs the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), the body responsible for regulating the internet's codes and numbering systems.

But Washington now aims to pass the duty over to the "global multi-stakeholder community" by September 2015.

Human rights group Article 19 supports that idea, but said there were potential pitfalls. Full story...

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Inside China's insane witch hunt for erotic fiction writers...

Chinese online writers tend to enjoy a popularity and critical respect unseen among their western peers. Han Han and Giddens Ko became best-sellers through blogs, and a viral memoir sealed Essay Liu’s movie deal. Online fiction is very popular in China, and readers are willing to pay monthly subscriptions for serial novels.

Massive demand for online romance novels have also made sites like Misty Rain & Red Dust and Yenqing Net into significant paid subscription services. There’s a smattering of fan fiction, and a lot of historical fantasies and modern urban tales. Unfortunately for some of the more explicit writers, a recent sweep on “pornography and internet indecency” in China is putting some of these writers and editors behind bars.

The punishment seems harshest against slash fiction — male same-sex romances targeted toward female readers. As of April 17, eight fiction websites have been shut down and their staff arrested. Some sites sport dodgy names like Dangerous Kindergarten, but most of these contain few if any explicit images — just words.

The Chinese Academy of Press And Publication says that online pornography degrades society and impedes the healthy growth of Chinese adolescents, but some online are noting a particular bias: Full story...

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French writer's wealth inequality book tops Amazon list...

French economist Thomas Piketty's book on income inequality soared on Tuesday to the top of online retailer Amazon's best sellers.

Already running in Amazon's top 100 since the English version, "Capital in the Twenty-First Century," was released last month, Piketty's book climbed past hit books like "Frozen", "Game of Thrones" and "Heaven is for Real, which has been on the list from 28 months.

Piketty's book has drawn huge interest as US political leaders debate whether widening income disparity is a problem that requires political action.

On a trip through Washington last week he met with Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and the top economic advisors of President Barack Obama in the White House.

The 700-page opus has been praised as one of the most important economic works in recent years, using data the past two centuries to argue that the wealthy are hoarding more of an economy's income than ever and that existing policies only mean that will increase.

But he has been denounced by American conservatives as a neo-Marxist. A review in the Wall Street Journal branded Piketty a "utopian visionary" whose book "is less a work of economic analysis than a bizarre ideological creed." Source...

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Top Hollywood bosses - including former Fox head, top BBC executive and Disney TV president -accused alongside X-men director Brian Singer of abusing young boys...

The former child model who's accused X-Men director Bryan Singer of sexually assaulting him as a teenager has now revealed shocking allegations against three more Hollywood power players.

Days after filing suit against Singer, 31-year-old Michael Egan has filed additional suits against former BBC Worldwide America president Garth Ancier, former Disney TV president David Neuman and theme park design firm head Gary Goddard.

Details emerged earlier on Tuesday of a incident in which a teenaged Egan was allegedly drugged and raped by a businessman after a Siegfried and Roy show.

Egan appeared at a news conference Monday alongside his mother and sex abuse attorney Jeff Herman at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills.

'It’s not about money, it’s about disarming these pedophiles,' Bonnie Mound, Egan's weeping mother, told reporters.

Herman, who not long ago represented the accusers of Elmo puppeteer and alleged abuser Kevin Clash, compared Egan's suit to the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Full story...

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US unleashes three days of drone strikes on Yemen, 55 killed...

Dozens are reportedly dead in Yemen, including at least three civilians, as the result of a series of drone strikes that started in the southern part of the country on Saturday and is alleged to still be occurring two days later.

By noontime in Washington, DC on Monday, the Associated Press reported that 55 Al-Qaeda militants were among those that had been killed in an hours-long series of strikes that targeted a training camp operated by the group, according to Yemen's interior ministry. The United States is alleged to have carried out the strikes using unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, but does not legally have to acknowledge any operations conducted by its Central Intelligence Agency and has not commented.

While reports consider the strikes carried out by US-operated drones, outlets like The Bureau of Investigative Journalism say that, as of early Monday evening EDT, it is ultimately unknown whether Yemen military forces were involved or if the attacks were indeed executed with unmanned drones. A “high-level Yemeni government official” told CNN the attacks were “a joint US-Yemeni operation.” He added that, “unfortunately, a civilian truck was also hit.”

 Among the 55 believed to be killed in that series of strikes, the AP reported, were three senior but unnamed Al-Qaeda leaders. The AFP also corroborated that claim by reporting that witnesses on the scene in Shabwa province early Monday said three alleged militants were indeed killed when a missile struck the car the men were traveling in that morning. Full story...

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End to Mediterranean dream for 90,000 Britons who left Spain last year...

Nearly 90,000 Britons abandoned their Mediterranean dreams in Spain last year, according to new figures.

The ongoing effects of the eurozone crisis, a huge property slump and a rapidly shrinking job market have contributed to the exodus, reducing Spain's total population for the second year running.

Town hall registers across the country recorded a steep drop in Britons, falling 23 per cent from 385,179 on Jan 1 last year to 297,229 at the end of December.

Other European expatriates are also taking their leave – the registered German population fell by 23.6 per cent to 138,917 and the French population by 12.7 per cent to just over 100,000. The only nationality to increase their presence in Spain were the Chinese.

 Jackie Miles, 48, is among British expatriates who has abandoned Spain in the last year when she moved with her husband and two children to Dubai. Full story...

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Malaysia Airlines flight MH370: Concerns grow among search officials that missing jet ‘may have landed somewhere else’

The authorities searching the southern Indian Ocean for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 fear that they may need to “regroup” and look at the possibility it came down somewhere else entirely, it has been reported.

The Bluefin 21 submersible vehicle has now scanned more than 80 per cent of the narrowed search area described as the most promising lead in the ongoing recovery effort, but so far not a single piece of physical evidence has been found.

The complete sweep is expected to be finished by the end of Wednesday, leaving the Perth-based search coordination centre under increasing pressure to explain what will happen if there are still no further leads.

According to reports in the New Straits Times, officials are now looking at the prospect of starting the whole search from scratch if they are to get to the bottom of the unprecedented mystery.

Quoting an unnamed official with the investigation team, the newspaper also appears to suggest the possibility that the plane “ landed” somewhere else entirely. Full story...

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North Korea: the new generation losing faith in the regime...

If she is lucky - if her husband or children can slip away unnoticed to the riverside, nearer the Chinese phone masts - Chae Un-ee can talk to her family each day. “Talk” is perhaps an exaggeration; her loved ones end the call, made on a smuggled handset and SIM card, almost as soon as it begins.

“They have to be very quick because otherwise the phone can be tracked down,” she said. “It’s mainly just to hear their voice and know that they’re okay. If they don’t call me I worry, because the situation is very tense there.”

“There” is North Korea. Chae is not a dissident, not even a defector; only a mother working abroad in China to feed her family. Yet the North’s control of its citizens is such that even this work, in the country’s only significant ally, could result in harsh punishment.

Six decades after its creation, North Korea remains a totalitarian state, controlling not just the expression and movements of its citizens, but their livelihoods, viewing habits and even haircuts.

A United Nations report released last month warned that the “gravity, scale and nature of [human rights] violations reveal a State that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world”. Full story...

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Spoek Mathambo and Control...

Singapore needs to address its treatment of migrant workers...

Faced with low wages and poor working conditions, Singapore's migrant workers are beginning to get restless. Last year, a fierce riot broke out in the suburb of Little India, after an Indian worker died in a road accident. The riot was as violent as it was rare (the last riot took place in 1969) and provoked intense scrutiny into how migrant workers are treated in the country.

Although Singapore's prime minister Lee Hsien Loong dismissed the riot as an "isolated incident arising from unlawful actions of an unruly mob", others saw it as an expression of long-simmering discontent. An editorial in The New York Times argued that migrant workers were "underappreciated and underpaid", and attributed the riot to systematic problems with migrant living conditions.

The riot was not caused solely by migrant working conditions. Other factors included alcohol and anger at the way the police responded in the early stages.

According to Jolovan Wham of Home, an organisation that supports migrant workers in Singapore, "it has been observable, particularly over the past couple of years, that riots tend to occur among marginalised groups. This is a characteristic for many large-scale riots around the world."

"Regardless of the causes of the riot", Wham adds, "it is a good opportunity for us to reflect and re-think our attitudes, policies, and laws which affect migrant workers." Full story...

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Moyes' sacking shows the ugly side of the beautiful game...

David Moyes is not facing a cost of living crisis; we do not need to worry about his financial future. Whatever severance terms he finally agrees with Manchester United he will leave several million pounds richer.

But whether anyone, no matter how prominent or highly paid, should first hear about their sacking via the media is another matter. No employee ought to be publicly humiliated in this way. There should be dignity in labour – in the high street, at a call centre or in the football manager's dugout.

While the sport in which Moyes earns his living has sometimes been called the beautiful game, the treatment handed out to him and other football managers is decidedly ugly. At another United to the east of the Pennines, Leeds, a second manager has had it much worse: Brian McDermott was sacked and reinstated in the space of 24 hours at the beginning of February. As his team beat Huddersfield Town 5-1 he didn't know for sure whether he still had a job. The fans chanted their support for him and by Monday morning he was back in post. For the time being. As the season draws to a close it seems quite possible that the club's new owner, Massimo Cellino, could let him go all over again.

Football probably takes up too much media space already, and football talk can alienate those with no interest in or enthusiasm for the game. But this sport – or rather business – forms a large and unavoidable part of modern life. Its changing mores reflect to some degree the way life has changed more generally. Full story...

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Sri Lanka to deport British tourist over Buddha tattoo...

A British tourist is to be deported from Sri Lanka because of a tattoo of Buddha on her arm.

Sri Lankan police said Naomi Coleman, 37, was arrested at Bandaranaike international airport in the capital, Colombo, after she arrived from India.

A police spokesman said she was arrested for "hurting others' religious feelings" after the tattoo of Buddha seated on a lotus flower was spotted on her right arm.

Buddhism is the religion of the country's majority ethnic Sinhalese, and Buddhist tattoos are seen as culturally insensitive.

Coleman appeared before a magistrate who ordered her deportation. The spokesman said she was being held at an immigration detention centre and would be removed "very soon – it could be tomorrow or the day after tomorrow". Full story...

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Irate Singaporeans want to stomp STOMP...

Maybe citizen journalism isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Ask Singapore Press Holdings, publisher of the Straits Times, which in 2006 founded the Straits Times Online Mobile Print, or STOMP, to give ordinary citizens the chance to have a voice in the island republic’s daily affairs.

Now they want a voice in shutting down the website. More than 23,000 angry Singaporeans have signed an online petition demanding that the website be taken down because of inaccurate, biased, often malicious reporting, seemingly aimed at inflaming sentiment.

The island’s mainstream media is notoriously hobbled by a government determined to make sure the only negative reporting on the country is what the government wants negatively reported, such as campaigns for cleaner toilets or against public rudeness.

As with citizen journalism in other parts of the world, STOMP was designed to serve the theory that democracy is better served without news being filtered by autocratic mainstream editors, and that common citizens, given a platform, will deliver unvarnished truth.

There have been plenty of incidents reported by STOMP that got authorities’ attention. In 2011, the website published a hilarious picture of a Singapore army soldier on his way to maneuvers with his Filipina domestic helper toting his army pack while he walked ahead, appearing to text on his phone. The entry kicked off a huge fuss and an army investigation. Full story...

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Manchester United sack manager David Moyes...

Manchester United manager David Moyes has been sacked, only 10 months after succeeding Sir Alex Ferguson.

His dismissal was announced shortly after 0830 BST, following a meeting with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward at the club's training ground.

Moyes, 50, was chosen by Ferguson to succeed him when he retired after 26 years in charge last summer.

United said player-coach Ryan Giggs will take charge "until a permanent appointment can be made".

His first match as interim boss will be the home game against Norwich on Saturday.

The BBC understands coaches Steve Round and Jimmy Lumsden have also left their posts, but goalkeeping coach Chris Woods and first-team coach Phil Neville will remain with the club for the rest of the season.

United refused to comment on newspaper reports on Monday that
Moyes, who left Everton to sign a six-year deal with the Premier League champions, would be sacked before the end of the season. Full story...

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Why everything you know about Jesus is wrong...

How a brain injury turned an average Joe into a math genius...

When Jason Padgett pours cream into his morning coffee, this is what he sees:

“I watch the cream stirred into the brew. The perfect spiral is an important shape to me. It’s a fractal. Suddenly, it’s not just my morning cup of joe, it’s geometry speaking to me.”

Padgett’s world is bursting with mathematical patterns. He is one of a few people in the world who can draw approximations of fractals, the repeating geometric patterns that are building blocks of everything in the known universe, by hand. Tree leaves outside his window are evidence of Pythagoras’ theorem. The arc that light makes when it bounces off his car proves the power of pi.

He sees the parts that make up the whole. And his world is never boring, never without amazement. Even his dreams are made up of geometry.

“I can barely remember a time,” the 43-year-old says, “when I saw the world the way most everyone else does.” Full story...

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Reincarnation: the Eastern view....

Reincarnation has become an increasingly popular doctrine in the West. For example, polls taken in the US over the past couple of decades have shown that between 20 and 28 percent of the population believe in it. The figures for western Europe are similar.

What explains the appeal of an idea that until recently was the province of a few occultists and eccentrics? Some of it can be explained by the appeal of Asian religions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, to which reincarnation has always been integral. But this does not explain much: you could turn the argument around and say that Hinduism and Buddhism are so appealing because they teach reincarnation.

The allure of the doctrine is easy to see, particularly when it is weighed against the conventional Christian view of heaven and hell. The latter is hard to defend in the light of any real sense of cosmic justice. It holds that the deeds of an individual’s life on earth will bring upon him either eternal reward or eternal damnation. And this is hard to swallow. Even the greatest monsters of history, no matter how many evil acts they committed, committed only a finite number of acts. How can even these extreme cases merit an infinite series of punishments?

By contrast, the doctrine of reincarnation, along with the closely associated doctrine of karma, holds that evil acts do entail retribution – but only in proportion to the act. The punishment suits the crime. Nor do good deeds done in a single life win the individual an infinite life of bliss, merely a limited number of auspicious future lives. Full story...

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India's elders lift ban on inter-caste marriages...

One of India’s most influential tribal councils has lifted a ban on inter-caste marriages in a move hailed by campaigners as the start of a social revolution.

India’s more than 800 million Hindus are born into rigid castes which determine their opportunities in life and their social status.

Those who defy traditional barriers to marry someone from below their own caste are often shunned and occasionally murdered – there are more than 1,000 honour killings in India every year of those who cross caste and religious divides to marry for love.

Most of the killings have been in northern India where Hindus from the Jat tribe – traditionally regarded as peasant warrior – also forbid marriages between those from the same sub-caste or gotra, which they regard as incest.

 In September last year a 23 year-old student and his 20 year-old girlfriend who had been in a forbidden relationship were lured back to their village where the young woman was beaten to death and her boyfriend beheaded in front of his family’s home. Full story...

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Monsanto pressures Sri Lanka to reverse ban on herbicide believed to be causing widespread kidney disease...

Monsanto has successfully pressured the government of Sri Lanka to back off from banning its signature chemical glyphosate, commonly known by the trade name Roundup. The Sri Lankan government had moved to ban glyphosate following findings that linked it to an epidemic of kidney failure that has killed tens of thousands of agricultural workers.

For years, a rare kidney disease has been devastating farm workers in Central America, Sri Lanka and India. The cause of the disease remains unknown, although scientists have suggested that a combination of chronic dehydration (due to hard labor in tropical climates) and exposure to toxic chemicals may be to blame.

On March 12, the Sri Lankan government made an announcement that the country's president would be banning the herbicide based on a scientific report that "revealed that kidney disease was mainly caused by glyphosate."

Monsanto, other chemical companies and Sri Lankan officials connected to the pesticide industry immediately began contesting the decision, attempting to cast doubt on its scientific basis. Less than a month later, the government placed the glyphosate ban on hold.

A similar story took place in El Salvador last year. The country's Legislative Assembly approved a ban on glyphosate and 52 other agricultural chemicals, largely due to their suspected role in the kidney disease epidemic. The president refused to sign the bill into law, however. Full story...

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BNP banker, his wife and nephew murdered in Belgium...

In the beginning it was banker suicides. Then about two weeks ago, suicides were replaced by outright murders after the execution-style killing of the CEO of a bank in otherwise sleepy (and tax evasive) Lichtenstein by a disgruntled client. Then on Friday news hit of another execution-type murder in just as sleepy, if not so tax evasive, Belgium, where in the city of Vise, a 37-year-old Director at BNP Paribas Fortis was murdered alongside his wife and a 9 year old nephew in a premeditated and orchestrated drive-by shooting.

L'venir reports:

According to Marcel Neven, Mayor of Vise, nothing can yet explain what caused the violent shooting that rocked the neighborhood sports hall of his town this Friday, April 18, late at night. A man of 37 years, Benedict Philippens, bank manager Ans-Saint-Nicolas, was shot. A little 9 year old boy, living in Dolhain, was also killed. A lady, the wife of the man and the boy aunt and godmother, Carol Haid, 37 also died of his injuries on Saturday, in the morning. She was hit by three bullets in the back, said a judicial source.

According to information from the survey and some witnesses, a car waiting outside their house Berneau street near the sports hall Visé. When the victims' car is back in the driveway, shots were fired from the car that waited patiently. The author of the shots is actively sought.

So far neither the shooter nor any motive for the execution have not been found: "Some suggest the presence of a single gunman with an automatic pistol, others are surprised that a bullet hole was noted in one of the windows of the sports hall. "That would mean that the author was already in the driveway of the house and waited for the victims side of the house," says a source close to the case." Full story...

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Manchester United invite teen who grew up in brothel for trial...

Ladies it’s finally time to take off that bra… for good!

During the day many women are fantasizing about what they are going to do as soon as they get home. They are going to reach their hands up and under their shirts, and grab onto their… bra clasps! And rip their bras off! Letting their breasts be free! Unrestricted and able move around, jiggle and wiggle freely. This is such an amazing feeling of freedom, but it kind of makes me wonder, if bras are so uncomfortable, why do so many women wear them so often? Is this feeling of discomfort that results from wearing these restricting bras a sign from our bodies that we have been ignoring?

According to the American Cancer Society, there is absolutely no evidence that leads to the correlation between wearing a bra and contracting breast cancer. The apparent reasoning behind this is that there have been no conclusive studies done to show that there is a link, they themselves have not conducted studies to disprove this. However there have been several studies done that do show a correlation between wearing bras and the development of breast cancer. In the 1930’s there was “no link” that proved that cigarettes caused lung cancer either, in fact, doctors were still promoting cigarette smoking in the 1950’s. It wasn’t until 1964 when the American Cancer Society finally mentioned that there was a direct link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer. If they would have found out the link to cigarettes and cancer sooner, just think of all the money that would not have been made for the sale of cigarettes -and the treatment of cancer. Perhaps someday in the future, this will be the story of the bra, and people will say “I can’t believe they didn’t realize that there was a link between wearing bras and breast cancer!’

Another noteworthy piece of information is that much like the cancer industry, there is a huge bra industry as well. When you think about how many bras each woman is buying every year, this is a multi-billion dollar industry in the US alone.

Right now, we do not know for sure that wearing bras causes cancer, but at least we can look at some of the evidence, and from there make an informed decision for ourselves. Full story...

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I had underage sex with police officers at guest house used by 'VIP paedophile ring'

A former child actor has told detectives he was abused by undercover male police officers at a guest house at the centre of an alleged VIP paedophile ring.

Lee Towsey made the astonishing claim to Scotland Yard’s Operation Fernbridge, which is investigating historic child sex abuse.

He says it happened while he worked at the Elm Guest House in South-West London in 1982. At the time, Mr Towsey was 16, then under the age of homosexual consent.

‘I was naive and struggling to come to terms with my sexuality,’ he said. ‘After we had sex the officers offered me money.’

In an interview with The Mail on Sunday, he also tells of a sexual encounter with Cyril Smith – and how he was warned by police to ‘keep quiet about what and who you saw’.

For years, the question of what went on at the Edwardian terrace in Rocks Lane, overlooking Barnes Common, has been the subject of speculation. It was claimed politicians, judges, pop stars, a high-ranking policeman, a member of the Royal household and an MI5 officer were among the visitors. There were allegations that some VIPs preyed on boys from a nearby children’s home. Full story...

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MEPs second pension: 'gravy train' pay and perks of European parliament MPs...

Repeated controversies over salaries and allowance of MEPs are seen as a major factor in declining voter turnout, which has shrunk in every European election since the first in 1979.

Treasury figures have shown that the annual cost of a MEP sitting in the EU assembly is £1.79 million each a year, which is three times the cost of a Member of Parliament in the House of Commons.

The European Parliament, with 766 MEPs, cost £1.3 billion in 2012 – expenditure that was shared across the EU's members with a share of the annual bill for British taxpayers of £170 million.

In contrast, the combined cost of the House of Commons and House of Lords, with 650 MPs and around 720 active peers, was £494 million in the same period.

 Part of the difference is salary: MEPs are considerably more highly paid than MPs, with a £80,000 per year, paid with low 23 per cent "community tax rates", compared with £66,396 for elected representatives in the Commons. Full story...

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India's democracy reaches out to lone voter in Gir Forest...

He remains one of India's most prized voters. Mahant Bharatdas Darshandas is the lone voter in the midst of Gujarat's Gir forest, home to the Asiatic lion, for whom an entire election team sets up a polling booth every election - and will do so again on April 30.

Darshandas, in his early 60s, is the lone occupant of a hamlet called Banej in Gir forest. He has been casting his vote for the past elections, including the 2004 and 2009 parliamentary elections and the 2007 and 2012 state elections.

This time too, the Election Commission of India is making all arrangements to ensure that Darshandas, a temple priest, gets to cast his precious single vote. Darshandas lives in Banej Tirthdham, a pilgrimage spot inside the Gir sanctuary and looks after an ancient Shiva temple there.

With the Election Commission mandating that no voter should "ordinarily travel more than 2km to reach the booth", every election time a polling team travels around 35 km to reach the hamlet of Banej inside the Gir forest, located in Junagadh district.

"We are only following the EC guidelines, which has said that no voter should have to travel more than 2 km to vote," Junagadh Collector Alok Kumar Pandey told IANS on phone. Full story...

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Saudi man fined for allowing his wife to drive...

The al-Qatif Governorate Traffic Department fined a 28-year-old Saudi national $239 (900 Saudi riyals) and impounded his vehicle for seven days, as he allowed his wife to drive his car, al-Sharq daily said Saturday.

The security patrols caught the woman driving the vehicle in al-Shubaili district at al-Nassirah Corniche in al-Qatif on Thursday evening.

Informed sources said that the woman, aged 23, was also penalized for driving her husband’s 2004 model Honda Accord, silver in color.

The husband and wife had to sign an undertaking that they would not repeat the offense. A traffic violation was registered against the woman for driving without a license. The man and woman were released on bail. Source...

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Health Takeaways: Junk food is first choice for Brits struggling to make ends meet...

Measles witch hunt: anti-vaccination parents burnt at the propaganda stake..

Stories about measles outbreaks in New York, California, and Texas have been in the news lately, complete with fear-inducing headlines and pro-vaccine propaganda.

Naturally, those who choose to opt out of vaccinations tend to be blamed for outbreaks.

(...)

I’m not a scientist, but I don’t think it takes an advanced degree to deduce that getting the measles vaccine just might be more dangerous than contracting the disease itself.

(...)

Despite all of these facts, the mainstream media continues to spin measles outbreaks into a “fringe parenting” issue, blaming the cases on “irresponsible, uneducated” people who opt out of vaccinations, but that’s hardly the truth. Full story...

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