Saturday, January 31, 2015

Singapore smoker fined $15,000 for throwing cigarette ends out of window

Singapore has fined a smoker a record S$19,800 ($15,000) for throwing cigarette butts out of his flat window, the National Environment Agency has said.

The man was fined S$600 per cigarette for the first 33 offences and ordered to do community service for the 34th, all committed within four days, the agency said.

The 38-year-old, who was caught on surveillance camera, will have to clean a public area for five hours while wearing a bright vest bearing the words “corrective work order”.

Singapore, famous for its cleanliness, cracks down hard on even minor crimes such as littering and vandalism, which is punishable by caning, and bans the import of chewing gum, in part to keep its public areas spotless.

The agency said on its website it deployed surveillance cameras at nearly 600 locations and took 206 enforcement actions against offenders for high-rise littering in 2014. It did not say which floor the smoker lived on. Source...

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Netanyahu and his wife are being sued for ‘racist and physical abuse’ of African bodyguard and maid

Benjamin Netanyahu has long been accused by Palestinians and African refugees of being a racist. But now the Israeli Prime Minister is being sued by a former bodyguard who says that he was constantly subjected to racist and physical abuse.

Manny Naftali, 35, says that Bibi and his wife Sarah did not just provide him with a job, primarily as a bodyguard, they also provided him with constant abuse. The former soldier says that the humiliating treatment by Mrs Netanyahu was the worse, and it occurred almost entirely with her husband’s knowledge.

The lawsuit was just filed with Jerusalem district labour court. Mr Naftali explains in the suit that he worked for 20 months at the Balfour Street residence.

During that time, he describes one particularly disturbing incident when Mrs Netanyahu complained him about a Shabbat meal.

“We are sophisticated Europeans,” she explained to the Moroccan-descended Naftali. “We don’t eat as much food as you Moroccans. You are stuffing us, so that when they photograph us abroad, we look fat.” Full story...

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Tamil Sripavan appointed Sri Lanka's top judge...

Sri Lanka's president has appointed a Tamil judge as the new chief justice - the first member of the minority community to hold the post in decades.

Judge Kanagasabapathy Sripavan, 62, was sworn in in the capital Colombo.

President Maithripala Sirisena, from the majority Sinhalese community, has sought reconciliation with Tamils after the separatist war that ended in 2009.

About 100,000 people have been killed during the conflict that erupted in the 1980s. Full story...

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Friday, January 30, 2015

Acid attack survivors: Beauty salon owner helps rehabilitate victims...

Indian father buried his ten-year-old daughter alive because he had always wanted a son and hated having a girl...

An Indian father has been arrested for attempted murder after trying to bury his ten-year old daughter alive.

Locals in Putia village, in Tripura, northeast India, alerted police that Abul Hussein was trying to bury his daughter in the backyard of his home.

When police arrived at his home he had had tied his daughter's hands with rope and taped her mouth before burying her up to her chest.

Police said that Hussein disliked girls and tried to kill his ten-year-old daughter Rukshena while his wife was away from their home. He was desperate for a son and hated that he had a daughter.

Senior police official Pradip Dey said: 'We received a call from a villager telling us that a man was trying to kill his daughter by burying her alive. Our team immediately reached the house and found Rukshena. Full story...

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Office puts chips under staff's skin...

Felicio de Costa, whose company is one of the tenants, arrives at the front door and holds his hand against it to gain entry. Inside he does the same thing to get into the office space he rents, and he can also wave his hand to operate the photocopier.

That's all because he has a tiny RFID (radio-frequency identification) chip, about the size of a grain of rice, implanted in his hand. Soon, others among the 700 people expected to occupy the complex will also be offered the chance to be chipped. Along with access to doors and photocopiers, they're promised further services in the longer run, including the ability to pay in the cafe with a touch of a hand.

On the day of the building's official opening, the developer's chief executive was, himself, chipped live on stage. And I decided that if was to get to grips with this technology, I had to bite the bullet - and get chipped too.

The whole process is being organised by a Swedish bio-hacking group which was profiled by my colleague Jane Wakefield recently. One of its members, a rather fearsome looking tattooist, inserted my chip. Full story...

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New Sri Lankan government solidifies reforms...

The electoral ouster of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse on Jan. 8 appears to be a refreshing and ultimately hugely significant moment of destiny for what what Cosmas once called "this great island in the ocean."

A new, smaller cabinet is being assembled, and with it, hopefully, a political will to change. The appointment of the liberal, culturally refined, and quietly westernized Ranil Wickremesinghe as prime minister will surely be a huge boost to the international profile of the country. As the 2004 UNP prime minister during Chandrika Kumaratunge’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party presidency, Ranil showed considerable imagination in trying to work out a deal with the LTTE, though sadly the initiative ultimately failed.

In addition, rank, privileges and pension have been restored by the new president, Maithripala Sirisena, to the former Army commander, Sarath Fonseka, who was jailed in 2010 by Rajapakse for having the temerity to run against him for the presidency.

The general election was called by Rajapakse, leader of the United Freedom People’s Alliance, out of an overconfident belief that he would be easily re-elected. The relatively peaceful balloting with a 70 percent turnout was called two years earlier than required.

Rajapakse had been in office since 2005. Full story...

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Why it's so important to take the stairs...

A latest research suggests that climbing stairs is considered to be one of the best ways to burn up calories and strengthen your heart. According to a British survey, climbing stairs is directly associated with reduced risk of heart diseases.

It is said that an overweight person can lose up to twelve pounds by climbing two flights of stairs a day for a year. Only strenuous activities like dragging logs and sprinting seem to burn up more energy per minute than climbing stairs. Regular stair climbing is also a beneficial augmentative exercise in a vigorous cardiovascular workout.

Burns more calories: Stair climbing engages your body's largest muscle groups to repeatedly lift your body weight up, step after step. Thus using your muscles to carry your own weight is far higher to running as compared.

Maximises your cardio efforts: It also raises your heart rate immediately thus maximizing your cardio benefits. Full story...

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MH370 Malaysia Airlines: Anwar Ibrahim says government purposefully concealing information...

Malaysia’s government deliberately concealed information that would help to explain what happened to missing Flight MH370, the country’s opposition leader claimed a month after the plane went missing.

In a wide-ranging interview that cast doubt on the official investigation into the disappearance of the plane, Anwar Ibrahim said the country’s “sophisticated” radar system would have identified it after it changed course and crossed back over Malaysia.

Mr Anwar, who personally knew the pilot of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 that went missing in the early hours of March 8 during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, called for an international committee to take over the Malaysian-led operation because “the integrity of the whole nation is at stake”.

He indicated that it was even possible that there was complicity by authorities on the ground in what happened to the plane and the 239 people on board.

 On Thursday, Malaysia's government released a statement formally declaring the crash of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 an accident, and its passengers "presumed dead", clearing the way for families to seek compensation payments. Full story...

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Voltaire's book on tolerance climbs french best-seller lists...

" I don't agree with what you say but I'll defend to the death your right to say it." (Voltaire)

A 250-year-old book by the Enlightenment anti-establishment writer Voltaire is climbing best-seller lists in France weeks after attacks by French-born Islamic extremists that left 20 people dead, including the gunmen.
The "Treatise on Tolerance" is a cry against religious fanaticism and stemmed from Voltaire's conviction that religious differences were at the heart of world strife. He wrote at a time of bloody tension between French Protestants and Catholics.

The Jan. 7-9 attacks started when two gunmen stormed Charlie Hebdo, a satirical weekly that had received death threats for caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, decimating the paper's staff. Also attacked was a kosher supermarket, where four hostages died. The attack on Charlie Hebdo was widely seen in France as an attack on freedom of expression and the secular state, and in the days after Voltaire's writings were frequently invoked. Several bookstores in Paris are giving the Enlightenment philosopher prominent display space.

Voltaire's book came out in 1763 and now has a place among the best-sellers for Amazon, FNAC and French bookseller Gibert Joseph.

Stephane Charbonnier, the Charlie Hebdo editor better known as "Charb" who was killed in the attacks, wrote two books riffing on Voltaire's title, called "Little Treatise on Intolerance" with the subtitle "I laugh about what I want, when I want." Those books are also selling briskly, as is a novel by Michel Houellebecq imagining France with a Muslim president. Source...

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France launches shock video to 'stop jihadists'



The French government has released a shock video campaign in the hope of dissuading young French nationals from heading to the Middle East to fight with Islamic jihadists, by telling them "you'll find hell on earth and you'll die alone, far from home".

The video attempts to show French viewers the difference between what they're told about heading to Syria and Iraq and the reality of they can expect over there.

The video begins with a skim through popular Jihad groups on social media site Facebook, followed by an anonymous and friendly invitation to join the action. "The truth is out there and now is the time to go... if you want more info just give me your number...".

 What follows are a series of comparisons between "What they tell you" and "the reality", often combined with extremely graphic images. Full story...

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

7 shocking facts about Saudi Arabia under ‘modernizing’ reign of King Abdullah...

Taken aback by the fulsome praise the recently deceased King Abdullah has garnered from world leaders, RT has decided to assess whether his record stands up to scrutiny.

The majority of eulogies went beyond the requirements of diplomatic etiquette, while some epithets used by Western politicians made people believe they had stepped through the looking glass. UK Prime Minister David Cameron said the monarch, who died at 90, “strengthened understanding between faiths,” while IMF chief Christine Lagarde called him “a strong advocate of women,” albeit a “discreet” one. And almost all political grandees seemed to agree that the scion of the House of Saud, was – in the words of Tony Blair – “a skillful modernizer,” who “led his country into the future.”

One is invited to do a reality check and examine how far the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques really brought his country into the 21st century. Full story...

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Lizard Squad: Behind the group responsible for recent huge hacks...

LATE yesterday afternoon, Facebook, Instagram and Tinder went offline. While Facebook claimed it was “not the result of a third party attack”, a hacker group called Lizard Squad took responsibility for it.

Early this morning, that same group claimed responsibility for hacking everyone's favourite pop star Taylor Swift’s Twitter and Instagram accounts. They even threatened to post nude pictures of Swift (for the record, she denies that any exist).

The group also said they were responsible for a series of hacks on Microsoft and Sony’s online gaming networks over the Christmas period.

So who, or what is Lizard Squad?

Basically, it’s a hacking group which just wants to cause trouble. And thus far, no one has really been able to stop it.

When interviewed last year by BBC Radio Five Live in the UK, a 22 year old from the group, calling himself “Member Two”, said the reason they hacked sites was “because we can”. Full story...

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Stalker avoids conviction after blaming behaviour on Bollywood movies...

A Hobart magistrate has taken into account the cultural background of a man who said Bollywood films encouraged his stalking.

Sandesh Baliga stalked one woman for 18 months and another for four months in 2012 and 2013.

The 32-year-old security guard maintained Bollywood movies contributed to his belief a woman would eventually fall in love with a man if he pursued her enough.

Baliga came to Tasmania from India to study about three years ago.

The court heard Baliga texted, called and approached the women excessively, and had begun referring to himself as their boyfriend. Full story...

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Cuba has an illegal 'Internet' that connects thousands of computers...

Some have argued that Internet access is now a human right but you won’t hear such poppycock in Cuba. With home Internet connectivity reserved for a select few and public Internet cafes and hotels charging roughly a quarter of a month’s salary for just an hour of web time, it’s simply impossible for most to use a service that the majority of us take for granted.

In its absence, however, young Cubans have come up with their own solution. Since 2001, these rebels have created a homegrown version of the Internet called SNet, short for streetnet.

Located in Havana, SNet consists of roughly 9,000 computers connected over a piecemeal network of hidden Wi-Fi antennas and Ethernet cables, some of which are strung over rooftops and city streets.

It’s not the real Internet but you may not even notice at first as hundreds can be found playing Call of Duty or World of Warcraft at any given time. Chat rooms are also popular as people enjoy trading photos, telling jokes and even organizing real-world events.

Because using Wi-Fi equipment without a license in Cuba is illegal, SNet is technically an illegal operation. But those that helped build the network – like 22-year-old Antonio Broche Moreno – say the government is aware of its existence. So long as users respect Cuban law, it is permitted.

The service is more or less self-governed by volunteer administrators to make sure everything is on the up and up. Its users aren’t allowed to share pornography, discuss politics or link to the real Internet. Those that don’t abide by the rules are banned from the network. Source...

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Spain charges 10 priests with child sex abuse...

A judge in the southern Spanish city of Granada has charged 10 Roman Catholic priests and two Catholic lay workers with child sex abuse.

The 12 are suspected of abusing four teenage boys between 2004 and 2007, the most serious offences occurring in a house used by the priests, BBC reported.

Pope Francis telephoned one of the alleged victims, now 24, in November to offer his apologies.

He acted after the man wrote him a letter about the alleged abuse.

The pontiff, who has pledged zero tolerance of child sex abuse, then ordered a Church investigation.

Several arrests were made in November but the suspects are now free on bail. Full story...

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Facebook freebooting...

Greek PM: We will no longer submit to the EU...

 Greece's new leftist prime minister has said that his government's top priorities are negotiating with creditors to resolve the country's debt problems and that it would no longer blindly submit to the EU.

Alexis Tsipras said on Wednesday that he wanted a "viable, mutually beneficial solution" to what he called a humanitarian disaster his country has suffered as a result of the austerity imposed by its creditors.

Tsipras, who leads the Syriza party, told the cabinet meeting that he would renegotiate the country's bailout terms and restore the dignity and prestige of the Greek people. He said Greece would not meet a bailout requirement to produce "unfeasible and destructive" surpluses and that the country was ready for a four-year fiscal plan that would balance the budget.

The 40-year-old insisted Greece's new leaders were no longer willing to bow to the "politics of submission", in a clear swipe at Brussels and the International Monetary Fund.

"Our people are suffering and demand respect ... We must bleed to defend their dignity," Tsipras said. Full story...

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A 5-year-old girl just died of the very strain of flu she was vaccinated against...

(...)

The vaccine… didn’t magically save her. Why? Because vaccines are not magical saviors (despite what Big Pharma and its biggest customer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, would have people believe).

The CDC just got done admitting last week that more than 3/4ths of the people who take the shot this year are going to get the flu anyway but the agency stupidly continues to tell people to get the shot they admit probably won’t protect them from diddly squat!

Why?

Someone has money to make, obviously. That’s after the CDC admitted this year’s flu vaccine is the wrong strain. They’re saying it’s maybe 23% effective. Not very good odds, and yet again, like we live in crazy land, they’re still telling people to get the shot anyway even though they know it’s ineffective.

The seasonal flu isn’t supposed to be “deadly” anyway, just by the way. The reason so many things like the flu or even measles are deadly these days is because so many people are nutritionally deficient. Maybe if our food wasn’t junk, and our water and air weren’t poisoned, we’d be hearing a lot less of these stories in the first place. Full story...

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What can we learn from Facebook’s annual Bullshit Report?

Last week was Davos week, the time of year when 2,900 movers and shakers (only 17% of whom are women, incidentally) congregate in a small town in Switzerland to talk the talk. It also means that it’s the week in which Facebook issues its annual Bullshit Report, claiming that it is not only a Force for Good but also one of the world’s economic powerhouses. In 2012 the report claimed that Facebook – an outfit which then had a global workforce of about 3,000 – had indirectly helped create 232,000 jobs in Europe in 2011 and “enabled” more than $32bn in revenues.

Now, two years on, Facebook has more than 1.3 billion users, and its claims have become correspondingly more extravagant. This year’s Bullshit Report asserts that in the year ending October 2014 the company’s “global economic impact” amounted to $227bn – which is roughly equal to the gross domestic product of Portugal – and that Facebook accounted directly and indirectly for 4.5m jobs.

These numbers were plucked out of the air by Deloitte, the consulting company regularly employed by Facebook’s fantasy economics division. I use the word fantasy advisedly, having read the disclaimer at the head of Deloitte’s document: “The information contained in the report,” it says, “has been obtained from Facebook Inc and third party sources that are clearly referenced in the appropriate sections of the report. Deloitte has neither sought to corroborate this information nor to review its overall reasonableness. Further, any results from the analysis contained in the report are reliant on the information available at the time of writing the report and should not be relied upon in subsequent periods.” Full story...

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Litvinenko accused Vladimir Putin of being a 'paedophile who ordered his murder'

Former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko accused Russian president Vladimir Putin of being a paedophile just months before he died, it has been revealed.

At an inquiry into his death it was also announced that the ex-spy also fingered the Russian premier as the person who ordered his murder - naming him to British cops as he lay on his deathbed.

The shocking allegations were revealed this morning at the start of a 10-week inquest into Mr Litvinenko’s death.

Robert Tam QC, one of the lawyers working in the investigation, outlined what would be heard during the inquiry.

Mr Tam said much of Mr Litvinenko's writings alleged corruption against Mr Putin. Full story...

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Obama challenges India on women's rights and religious tolerance...

Barack Obama challenged India’s record on religious tolerance and women’s rights on Tuesday in a parting speech to students in Delhi that contrasted with the at-times saccharin feel of a state visit designed to highlight the closeness of the two countries.

Though careful to acknowledge inequality in the US, the president devoted a substantial part of his speech to a lecture on the importance of empowering women in society and addressed a recent spate of sexual attacks in the emerging south Asian power.

“We know from experience that nations are more successful when their women are successful,” said Obama. “These are facts. So if nations really want to succeed in today’s global economy, they can’t simply ignore the talents of half of their people.”

“Every daughter deserves the same chance as our sons,” he added. “And every woman should be able to go about her day – to walk the street, or ride the bus – and be safe and be treated with the respect and dignity that she deserves.”

A series of high profile gang rapes and other attacks on women in India have prompted widespread public anger. But despite repeated promises by authorities to improve security for women, campaigners say the problem remains acute. Full story...

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Need more proof that the music industry is fake?


India hunger striker Irom Sharmila to be freed...

 It is not the first time 42-year-old Irom Sharmila will be free to go home and her force-feeding suspended.

The authorities have force-fed her in Manipur using a law against suicide.

But India's recent decriminalisation of suicide could mean that the authorities will find it harder to detain her again.

However, her supporters warn that the relevant clause has not yet been removed from the criminal code.

Not since November 2000 has Irom Sharmila eaten a meal voluntarily.

She started her hunger strike to protest against sweeping powers for the army in her remote north-eastern home state.

The Armed Forces Special Powers Act allows the army to search and enter properties, make arrests and shoot on sight. Full story...

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The woman who swapped home for a hut near Chechnya...

Few tourists visit the gorge, a notoriously insular region with a reputation for drug and arms smuggling, and radical Islam - one of the top leaders of Islamic State (IS), Abu Omar al-Shishani, hails from here.

But this remote part of the Caucasus Mountains is where Devi Asmadiredja, a German woman of Indonesian descent, found refuge.

Four years ago, she was living in Germany with her husband and three children. But in, early 2011 he abruptly informed her that he no longer loved her, and told her to leave their home. He ordered her to go to Pankisi to learn Chechen, the language of his forefathers.

"He knew I was good at languages, he thought I could come back and teach him," she says.

He bought her a plane ticket and gave her enough money for food. "I had never travelled before. For me it was interesting and a chance to run away from him," she says. Leaving behind her three children - then five, eight, and 12 - was harder. "It was very difficult. I'd never slept a single night without them," she says. But she didn't feel she had a choice. Full story...

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Millionaires per capita: Qatar leads with 17.5%, followed by Switzerland, Singapore...

The small, wealthy nations of Qatar, Switzerland and Singapore have the most millionaires per capita, at more than 10 percent of all households, the Boston Consulting Group reports.

The oil-rich emirate of Qatar led the field with an astounding 17.5 percent of households being worth more than 1 million U.S. dollars in 2013. In Switzerland, the figure was 12.7 percent, while Singapore, Hong Kong and Kuwait were in the 9-10 percent range. The U.S., China and Japan had the most millionaires by number.

In terms of “ultra-high net worth” households, those with more than $100 million in assets, the U.S., U.K. and China led in absolute numbers, while Hong Kong, Switzerland and Austria had the highest percentages.

Overall, 2013 was a good year to be rich, as global private wealth rose 14.6 percent to $152 trillion, and became even more concentrated toward the top. Full story...

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  4. As inequality soars, the nervous super rich are already planning their escapes...

As inequality soars, the nervous super rich are already planning their escapes...

With growing inequality and the civil unrest from Ferguson and the Occupy protests fresh in people’s mind, the world’s super rich are already preparing for the consequences. At a packed session in Davos, former hedge fund director Robert Johnson revealed that worried hedge fund managers were already planning their escapes. “I know hedge fund managers all over the world who are buying airstrips and farms in places like New Zealand because they think they need a getaway,” he said.

Johnson, who heads the Institute of New Economic Thinking and was previously managing director at Soros, said societies can tolerate income inequality if the income floor is high enough. But with an existing system encouraging chief executives to take decisions solely on their profitability, even in the richest countries inequality is increasing.

Johnson added: “People need to know there are possibilities for their children – that they will have the same opportunity as anyone else. There is a wicked feedback loop. Politicians who get more money tend to use it to get more even money.”

Global warming and social media are among the trends the 600 super-smart World Economic Forum staffers told its members to watch out for long before they became ubiquitous. This year, income inequality is fast moving up the Davos agenda – a sure sign of it is poised to burst into the public consciousness. Full story...

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North Korea slams Israel as a rogue 'nuclear threat'

North Korea’s Foreign Ministry slammed the “shamelessness of Israel” on Friday, calling the Jewish State a “rogue group” that “poses a nuclear threat” and commits “terrorist attack[s]” against neighboring countries.

On Friday the Korean Central News Agency released a statement attributed to North Korea’s Foreign Ministry that responded to comments Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made last week that were critical of the Hermit Kingdom.

“This is an unpardonable insult and provocation to the dignity and social system in the DPRK and the choice made by its people,” the statement said of Netanyahu’s comments, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The statement then took issue with Israel’s foreign policy in the Middle East, stating: “Israel not only represents dictatorial forces for aggression that trample down the legitimate right of the Palestinian people and indiscriminately kill them but also is a rogue group that poses a nuclear threat and makes terrorist attack[s] on its neighboring countries with lots of nuclear weapons.” Full story...

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Almost 500 cases of female genital mutilation identified in just one month in English hospitals...

Almost 500 newly identified cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) were reported by hospitals across England in one month, according to the latest figures.

An average of 15 cases were discovered each day in November, according to data published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

Last November 466 cases of FGM were identified; while in October, the first month such figures were compiled, 455 cases were reported. The figures for December are expected this week.

Despite the apparently high number of FGM cases, no one has yet been convicted for the practice, which has been illegal in the UK since 1985.

Dhanuson Dharmasena is currently on trial accused of performing FGM on a patient at the Whittington hospital in north London, it is the first prosecution of its kind. Full story...

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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Uproar in India over 'forced' conversions...

China's iPhone workers are pressured into working 65-hour weeks, made to sleep on plywood beds in bleak dormitories and harassed by the facility’s security force...

A U.S.-based labor watchdog group says it has uncovered disturbing working conditions inside a Chinese factory producing parts for our favorite electronic gadgets.

According to a new report from the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights, workers at the Zhen Ding Technology Holding factory in Shenzhen, China, are pressured into working 65-hour weeks, made to sleep on plywood beds in bleak dormitories and harassed by the facility’s security force. The work is so exhausting that some of the estimated 15,000 workers choose to sleep through their lunch breaks instead of eating, the report states.

Zhen Ding supplies circuit boards for Apple iPhones and iPads, among other electronics.

“The production goal increases every day,” the report quotes one worker as saying. “Today we met the production goal, and then it goes up tomorrow. It goes up until we can’t finish the job.”

After viewing the report, an Apple spokesman told The Huffington Post that the company was already aware of problems at the factory due to previous annual audits. Apple put Zhen Ding on probation earlier this year after discovering it had doctored payroll records to hide excessive overtime. Such falsification is "a core violation of our Supplier Code of Conduct -- the most serious breach of compliance," the spokesman said. Though Zhen Ding may still be producing parts for Apple, the company won't be eligible for new orders until it proves its payroll records are legitimate. Full story...

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A Nepalese World Cup worker dies every other day in Qatar...

Nepalese migrants building the infrastructure to host the 2022 World Cup have died at a rate of one every two days in 2014 – despite Qatar’s promises to improve their working conditions, the Guardian has learned.

The figure excludes deaths of Indian, Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi workers, raising fears that if fatalities among all migrants were taken into account the toll would almost certainly be more than one a day.

Qatar had vowed to reform the industry after the Guardian exposed the desperate plight of many of its migrant workers last year. The government commissioned an investigation by the international law firm DLA Piper and promised to implement recommendations listed in a report published in May.

But human rights organisations have accused Qatar of dragging its feet on the modest reforms, saying not enough is being done to investigate the effect of working long hours in temperatures that regularly top 50C. Full story...

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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Underwear thief is caught after ceiling collapses under the weight of the 2,000 sets of lingerie he had hidden in China!!!

China's most prolific underwear thief terrorised his neighbours in a one-man crime wave that was anything but brief ... it lasted more than a decade.

But the bra bandit of Yulin city, southeast China, has finally been snared after the ceiling of his apartment collapsed under the weight of his stash.

The bra bandit, named only as Tan, had hidden more than 2,000 pairs of pilfered pants and brassieres in the cavity above his bedroom in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region's second-largest metropolis.

He had amassed the vast - and colourful - trove of lingerie by creeping into his neighbours' homes and snatching their smalls when they were at work. Full story...

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Federal court gives “early Christmas present” to war criminals Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and others, immunizing them from civil inquiry regarding Iraq war...

Late Friday, a federal judge dismissed a civil claim filed against George W. Bush and other high-ranking officials regarding their conduct in planning and waging the Iraq War, and immunized them from further proceedings.

“This is an early Christmas present to former Bush Administration officials from the federal court,” Inder Comar of Comar Law said. Comar brought the claim on behalf of an Iraqi refugee and single mother, Sundus Shaker Saleh. “This was a serious attempt to hold US leaders accountable under laws set down at the Nuremberg Trials in 1946. I am very disappointed at the outcome.”

The tribunal at Nuremberg, established in large part by the United States after World War II, declared international aggression the “supreme international crime” and convicted German leaders of waging illegal wars.

The case alleged that George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz committed aggression in planning and waging the Iraq War. Specifically, the lawsuit claimed that high-ranking Bush officials used the fear of 9/11 to mislead the American public into supporting a war against Iraq, and that they issued knowingly false statements that Iraq was in league with Al-Qaeda and had weapons of mass destruction, when none of those things were true.

“The decision guts Nuremberg,” Comar said. “Nuremberg said that domestic immunity was no defense to a claim of international aggression. This Court has said the opposite.” Full story...

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VIP child abuse whistleblowers were 'murdered': MP says men were poised to lift lid on scandal...

A campaigning MP sensationally claimed yesterday that two whistleblowers who threatened to expose an alleged VIP paedophile ring may have been murdered.

John Mann has passed detectives information about the suspicious deaths of the men who were allegedly poised to lift the lid on child sex abuse at the heart of the Establishment.

The development comes as the Labour MP told the Daily Mail yesterday that a key witness has come forward providing the address of a Dolphin Square flat which was used for ‘abuse parties’ by a network of high-profile figures including politicians and leading members of the judiciary, military and security services.

The potential breakthrough, which could help detectives identify the alleged perpetrators, comes a day after it emerged that Mr Mann had handed detectives a dossier naming 22 politicians – including six serving MPs and members of the House of Lords – suspected of involvement in a Westminster paedophile ring.

The Bassetlaw MP has since spoken to a victim who has provided a specific location where it is claimed that boys from care homes in Lambeth, South London, were taken to be abused – the apartment in the luxury block of 1,250 flats at Dolphin Square in Pimlico. Full story...

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JOE COCKER -With A Little Help From My Friends- 1969 Woodstock...


Sex slavery 'pushes ISIL victims to suicide'

Women and girls from Iraq's Yazidi religious minority forced into sexual slavery by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group have committed suicide or tried to, rights group Amnesty International said.

The London-based rights group said on Tuesday, women faced torture, rape, forced marriage and were "sold" or given as "gifts" to ISIL fighters or their supporters in Iraq and Syria.

"Hundreds of Yazidi women and girls have had their lives shattered by the horrors of sexual violence and sexual slavery in ISIL captivity," Amnesty's Senior Crisis Response Adviser, Donatella Rovera, said in a statement.

"Many of those held as sexual slaves are children, girls aged 14, 15 or even younger,'' Rovera added.

Based on interviews with over 40 former captives, the Amnesty report , Yezidi women and girls face harrowing sexual violence , said fearful of rape, some of the women had tried to kill themselves.

A 19-year-old named Jilan committed suicide out of fear she would be raped, Amnesty quoted her brother as saying. Full story...

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Forget 'evil' Putin - we are the bloodthirsty warmongers...

This is a time of year for memories, and the ones that keep bothering me are from my childhood, which seemed at the time to be wholly happy and untroubled.

Yet all the adults in my life still dwelt in the shadow of recent war. This was not the glamorous, exciting side of war, but the miserable, fearful and hungry aspect.

My mother, even in middle-class suburban prosperity, couldn’t throw away an eggshell without running her finger round it to get out the last of the white. No butcher dared twice to try to cheat her on the weights.

Haunted all her life by rationing, she would habitually break a chocolate bar into its smallest pieces. She had also been bombed from the air in Liverpool, and had developed a fatalism to cope with the nightly danger of being blown to pieces, shocking to me then and since.

I am now beset by these ingrained memories of shortage and danger because I seem surrounded by people who think that war might be fun. This seems to happen when wartime generations are pushed aside by their children, who need to learn the truth all over again. Full story...

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Monday, December 22, 2014

Argentine court extends human right to freedom to orangutan...

In an unprecedented decision, an Argentine court has ruled that the Sumatran orangutan 'Sandra', who has spent 20 years at the zoo in Argentina's capital Buenos Aires, should be recognized as a person with a right to freedom.

The ruling, signed by the judges unanimously, would see Sandra freed from captivity and transferred to a nature sanctuary in Brazil after a court recognized the primate as a "non-human person" which has some basic human rights. The Buenos Aires zoo has 10 working days to seek an appeal.

The "habeas corpus" ruling in favor of the orangutan was requested last November by the Association of Professional Lawyers for Animal Rights (AFADA) alleging that Sandra suffered "unjustified confinement of an animal with proven cognitive ability."

 Lawyers argued that just as a person, the ape is capable of maintaining emotional ties and has the ability to reason, while feeling frustrated with her confinement. Furthermore, the legal team claimed that the 29-year old orangutan can make decisions, has self-awareness and perception of time. And therefore, all things considered, Sandra's presence at the Zoo constituted illegal deprivation of liberty. Full story...

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New York Times calls for Cheney, Bush officials to be investigated and prosecuted for torture...

In a blistering editorial published in the Monday edition of the New York Times, the editorial page editors are calling upon the Justice Department to open an investigation into the torture practices committed during the administration of President George W. Bush with an eye towards prosecuting those who “committed torture and other serious crimes,” along with former Vice President Dick Cheney and other major administration officials.

Under a headline reading, “Prosecute Torturers and Their Bosses,” the board criticizes the administration of current President Barack Obama for failing “to bring to justice anyone responsible for the torture of terrorism suspects,” during the period following the attack on 9/11.

The editorial notes that the American Civil Liberties Union will present a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. on Monday calling for appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate what appears to be “a vast criminal conspiracy, under color of law, to commit torture and other serious crimes.”

Saying it is hard to imagine the current administration “having the political courage” to order an investigation, the board calls for a full investigation that will include major figures in the Bush administration, including Cheney, and former CIA director George Tenet. Full story...

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How one indigenous woman took on a multinational mining corporation... and won!



For over three years, indigenous Peruvian farmworker Maxima Acuña de Chaupe has refused to allow a U.S.-based multinational corporation to turn her land into an open-pit gold mine, withstanding multiple violent eviction attempts by corporate and state agents.

On Wednesday, Acuña de Chaupe finally saw victory when a Peruvian appeals court struck down a lawsuit levied by the Yanacocha mine—which is 51 percent owned by Colorado's Newmont Mining Corporation—that had sought to expel and imprison the family for "invading" their own land.

The ruling is an important win in a case that has become a rallying point for local resistance to multinational plunder.

In 1994, Acuña de Chaupe and her family built their home in Tragadero Grande in the region of Cajamarca next to the Blue Lagoon of Celendin. This lake was sought after for the building of the open-pit Conga gold mining project—an extension of the one at Yanacocha.

This mine is widely opposed by peasant, worker, and indigenous peoples in the region, who have protested its resource extraction, exploitation, displacement, and environmental harm with with mass marches and general strikes.

When Yanacocha sought to buy Acuña de Chaupe's land in 2011, she refused, in a bid to protect the environment and her family's home. Full story...

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CCTV doesn't work, so we'll spend money on 'bobbies on the beat'

A police force is preparing to abandon round-the-clock monitoring of CCTV cameras and spend the money on 'bobbies on the beat'.

Dyfed-Powys Police discovered its network of security cameras was failing to cut crime and is poised to drop monitoring the CCTV feeds to save cash.

An independent report found the cameras had "little success in deterring violent crime or anti-social behaviour".

Christopher Salmon, the force's police and crime commissioner, said: "We must spend every pound where it delivers.

 "In the meantime, I'm giving the public what they ask me for - more bobbies on the beat." Full story...

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