Sunday, March 29, 2015

All about that [upright] bass feat Kate Davies...

Turkish border guards find woman hiding in suitcase...

A Georgian man was caught by Turkish police after he attempted to sneak a woman over the border hidden in a suitcase.

The made, aged 25, was stopped after authorities became suspicious of the black suitcase he was carrying as he entered the country via the Sarp Border Crossing between Georgia and Turkey.

When police demanded he open his case, they found a 22-yaer-old female Georgian national curled up silently inside.

The pair were briefly detained by the police before being deported by Turkish officials, according to Turkey’s Dogan News Agency.

It later emerged that the women had reportedly attempted to smuggle herself into Turkey before, after being banned from the country. Source...

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The battle for the Middle East's future begins in Yemen as Saudi Arabia jumps into the abyss...

Saudi Arabia has jumped into the abyss.

Its air attacks on Yemen are a historic and potentially fatal blow to the Kingdom and to the Middle East.

Who decided that this extraordinary battle should take shape in the poorest of Arab nations? The Saudis, whose King is widely rumoured in the Arab world to be incapable of taking decisions of state? Or the princes within the Saudi army who fear that their own security forces may not be loyal to the monarchy?

The “story” of Yemen appears simple. Houthi rebels, who are Shia Muslims, have captured the capital of Sanaa with the help – so say the Saudis – of the Iranians. The legitimate President – Abed Rabou Mansour Hadi – has fled to the Saudi capital of Riyadh from his bolthole in the old southern Yemeni capital of Aden. The Saudis will not permit an Iranian proxy state to be set up on their border – always forgetting that they already have an Iranian-proxy state called Iraq on their northern border, courtesy of the 2003 Anglo-American invasion of Iraq. The real “story” is more important. Perhaps half of the Saudi army is of Yemeni tribal origin. Saudi soldiers are intimately – through their own families – involved in Yemen, and the Yemen revolution is a stab in the guts of the Saudi royal family. No wonder King Salman of Saudi Arabia – if he indeed rules his nation – wishes to bring this crisis to an end. But are his bombing raids on Sanaa going to crush a Shia Muslim rebellion? Full story...

Modi's popularity in rural India punctured by discontent, suicides...

Over a dozen debt-laden farmers have committed suicide in recent weeks in India, and discontent in many rural areas against government policies is turning into anger against Prime Minister Narendra Modi less than a year after he swept into office.

Unseasonal storms have badly damaged the winter crop in large parts of the fertile northern plains, most likely contributing to the suicides, and villagers have blamed Modi for not stepping in to help the distressed farmers or ensuring that crop prices remained stable.

The farmer suicides in India's most politically sensitive region are the latest in several setbacks for Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is hoping to consolidate power by winning local elections in large, predominantly rural states over the next two years.

The government has delayed a comprehensive health plan as it shifts focus from subsidies to investment, while religious tensions have made minorities uneasy. Nevertheless, Modi has made progress with economic reform in his first year - although not as rapidly as some investors would like - and has reined in inflation. Full story...

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Saturday, March 28, 2015

What happens when your guru disappears...

The controversial American spiritual teacher Andrew Cohen did just that about two years ago, and his disappearing act became an enduring mystery in the New Age world.

In June 2013, amid increasing allegations of abuse and cultish behavior, Cohen formally apologized in an open letter to his worldwide community of followers and voluntarily relinquished his 27-year reign as their “Perfectly Liberated Spiritual Master.” Perhaps this is not earth-shaking news to observers accustomed to tales of cult leaders gone bad, but within the spiritual subculture, Andrew Cohen quitting his job and vanishing was a very big deal.

Despite all “the blood and tears he left in his trail,” as he sometimes boasted, he had consistently weathered all attempts to expose and depose him, and actually seemed to be at the top of his game. He was the author of 11 provocative books about the spiritual path; he served as editor of What Is Enlightenment?, a once-popular, thoughtful and respected magazine; he was the founder of EnlightenNext, a nonprofit global organization. He lectured internationally, often appearing in public dialogue with leading theologians, philosophers, and scientists. He led retreats around the world; and in 2012 he was #28 on Mind Body Spirit magazine’s list of the top 100 most spiritually influential people alive.

Before his ascent to spiritual stardom, Andrew Cohen was an ardent seeker and committed meditator, but it wasn’t until a fortuitous meeting in 1986 that he was quite suddenly propelled into the guru profession. That cataclysmic “awakening” event occurred in Lucknow, India, only 20 minutes into his first encounter with H.W.L. Poonja—“Poonja-ji”—a guru who declared Andrew to be “finished” with his spiritual path and destined to be the successor Poonja-ji had waited for his entire life. Full story...

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Police report lodged over Amos Yee anti-Lee Kuan Yew video...

A police report has been filed against a video that a 17-year-old Amos Yee has put up on YouTube, Yahoo Singapore has learned. The report was filed by student Yuen Wei Ping.

In his statement, he stated that Amos' video "made insensitive comments against the late Mr Lee (Kuan Yew) as well as against the Christian faith".

Yuen said the video's content could be an offence under Section 298 of the Penal Code. Under this section, anyone found uttering words "with the deliberate intention of wounding the religious or racial feelings of any person" could be sentence to 3 years imprisonment, a fine, or both.

In the eight-minute long video titled "Lee Kuan Yew Is Finally Dead!", Amos says that the late "Lee Kuan Yew is a horrible person because everyone is afraid that if they say something like that, they might get into trouble."

Amos compared the late Lee to Jesus Christ, by saying both figures "are both power-hungry and malicious but deceive others into thinking they are both compassionate and kind". Full story...

Watch the video here...

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Outrage over the release of Oscar-nominated movie showing member of aircrew locking himself in cockpit to crash a plane and kill everyone on board...

An Oscar-nominated film will still be released in the UK today despite its disturbing similarities to the Alps air disaster - to the disgust of cinema-goers near to the home of one of the three British victims.

Argentinian film Wild Tales features a mass killer who locks himself in the cockpit of a passenger jet and crashes it in to the ground to murder everyone on board.

In terrifying scenes the fictional passengers panic and one tries to smash his way through a door to get to the controls in chillingly similar circumstances to the ill-fated Germanwings Airbus A320 flight.

The fictional killer invites his enemies on to the flight, including a lover who jilted him and a colleague who was hard on him at work, so he can kill them.

Despite protests the highly-acclaimed movie will be shown in British cinemas from today, however, it was released in Spain and Germany last year although it is not known if Andreas Lubitz had seen it. Full story...

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“Jibo the Family Robot” is the creepiest product of the year. Big Brother gets closer to your family...

Woman left unable to have sex after jealous husband superglued her vagina...

A WOMAN has been left scarred for life after her jealous husband superglued her vagina.

The sick hubbie was convinced his wife was having an affair with her uncle and decided to take matters into his own hands.

Locking her in a bedroom at their home in South Africa the 45-year-old forced her to strip while pointing a machete at her and threatened to chop her head off if she did not do as he said.

The distraught woman, 40, said: "He had previously tried to cut my hand off so I was terrified.

"He ordered me to lie down and open my legs and then took out super glue and applied it to my vagina. Full story...

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Monsanto’s man in India...

It was a case of Modi mania when Narendra Modi and his BJP ‘swept’ to power in last year’s Indian general election. It was however hardly the sweeping endorsement from the voters that much of the corporate media liked to portray it as. The BJP might have took 282 of the 543 seats in the Lok Sabha, but it ‘swept’ to power on only 31 percent of the vote.

Parts of corporate India and the well-off middle classes nevertheless celebrated Modi’s rise to Prime Minister in the belief that they would materially benefit from a ‘Thatcherite-style’ revolution (see here). And many ordinary folk also swallowed the PR about Modi’s ‘vibrant Gujarat’ PR campaign, which has been shown to be anything but ‘vibrant’.

Writing on the Countercurrents website, Rohini Hensman shows that GDP growth in Gujarat under Chief Minister Modi was nothing special compared with many other states in India and was supported by wholesale privatisation of public assets, which has in effect meant the state government abdicating responsibility for decision-making processes that impact millions of people’s lives by handing them to elite interests (see here). In terms of poverty, rural population displacement, hunger, farmer suicides, corruption, disease and debt, Hensman demonstrates that under Modi the extreme economic neoliberalism practised was anything but a resounding success.

Now at the political helm nationally, Modi and his administration are helping to accelerate a process that could eventually result in the selling of the economic and social bedrock of the country – agriculture – to foreign GMO agribusiness, not least by pushing for open field trials of various GM food crops. (The BJP does not stand alone here, though, as the process was gathering pace under the previous Congress-led administration and Veerappa Moily near the end.) Full story...

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After Lee, no sign of welcome home for Singapore's dissidents...

Some dissidents and opponents of Lee Kuan Yew believe that, with the death of modern Singapore's iron-handed founding father this week, the political restrictions he imposed in the name of security will begin to ease.

There is little sign of immediate change, however, as Lee's son, who is prime minister, has given no indication he will allow those in self-imposed exile an easy return home.

Tang Fong Har, now living in Hong Kong, who was among 22 people detained in 1987 for allegedly being part of a Marxist plot against the government, said the "litmus test" would be whether Singapore abolished the Internal Security Act, a legacy of British colonial rule.

That allows authorities to detain anyone seen as a threat to security for up to two years.

Teo Soh Lung, a retired lawyer who was among activists arrested in 1987 and 1988 but who remained in Singapore and resumed her legal practice, was not optimistic of rapid change.

"All these people want to return, but I don't think they will be allowed back," she said, citing the legacy of Lee and his longstanding fight against communism. Full story...

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Germanwings flight 4U9525 crash: Andreas Lubitz planned gesture to 'make everyone remember' him...

Airbus crash pilot Andreas Lubitz had been planning a spectacular gesture to make everyone "remember" who he was, it was claimed on Friday night.

An ex-girlfriend of the Germanwings pilot who crashed his plane in the French Alps, killing all 149 others on board, described him as "tormented" and able to hide secrets.

Maria, 26 (not her real name), told Bild newspaper that when she heard about the crash she remembered that he had said he was going do something "that would change the system" and "make everyone remember" him.

She added: "It didn't make sense at the time but now it all does."

Maria, who is thought to have met Lubitz at work, said he would wake up at night screaming in terror: "We're going down."

Her claim follows revelations by the Dusseldorf prosecutor that Lubitz had been declared unfit, or unwell, in the days leading up to his last fatal flight on Tuesday, but that he had hidden this from his employer. Full story...

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Israel killed more Palestinians in 2014 than in any other year since 1967...

Israel killed more Palestinian civilians in 2014 than in any other year since the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip began in 1967, a UN report has said.

Israel’s activities in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem resulted in the deaths of 2,314 Palestinians and 17,125 injuries, compared with 39 deaths and 3,964 injuries in 2013, according to the annual report (pdf) by the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The conflict in Gaza in July and August was largely responsible for the dramatic increase in fatalities. It claimed the lives of 2,220 Gazans, of whom 1,492 were civilians, 605 militants and 123 unverified.

More than 11,000 people were injured and about 500,000 Palestinians were internally displaced at the height of the conflict. About 100,000 remain so.
There was also a sharp rise in fatalities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, where 58 Palestinians were killed and 6,028 injured – the highest number of fatalities in incidents involving Israeli forces since 2007 and the highest number of injuries since 2005.

Most of the incidents took place in the second half of the year, following the abduction and murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, which led to daily riots and protests in East Jerusalem. Full story...

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Lobbyist claims Monsanto weed killer is safe to drink, then bolts when TV host offers him a glass...

This new documentary explores one of Guantánamo’s most baffling cases...

Patricio Henríquez is arguably one of Canada's foremost documentary filmmakers on the subject of Guantánamo. His 2008 doc, Under the Hood: A Voyage Into the World of Torture chronicled the uses of torture in a post-9/11 world. And in his 2010 film, You Don't Like the Truth: Four Days Inside Guantánamo, Henríquez uses footage of a 2003 interrogation of Canadian detainee Omar Khadr to tell his story and explore the idea of a "forced dialogue."

Henríquez's latest look inside GTMO concerns 22 detainees from the Xinjiang region of China known as East Turkestan. Uyghurs: Prisoners of the Absurd explores the Kafkaesque experience of the eponymous group, most of whom were sold into custody during the early-goings of the war on terror in Afghanistan, only to be declared not enemy combatants a few years later. Yet they were left in a sort of purgatory in the detention camp as the US failed to find somewhere to release the ostensibly free men. The film gets its Toronto premiere at this week's Human Rights Watch Film Festival at TIFF.

 Uyghurs are, after all, Muslims, and have been persecuted and accused of being separatists by the Chinese government for their resistance to the state. Among the many twists and turns in the case of the 22 detainees is the fact that, during the lead-up to the second American invasion of Iraq, for which the US was courting China's approval in the UN, Chinese officials were given "red carpet" access to the Uyghur dissidents while they were in GTMO. Even now, they've been released to places like Albania, Palau, Bahamas, and Switzerland, yet are still effectively considered terrorists-at-large by the Chinese government. Full story...

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The Filipino food wave is coming...

Three years ago, T.V. chef Andrew Zimmern proclaimed Filipino food to be the next big thing–but how come it hasn’t really happened yet?

While Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese restaurants can be found in any respectable-sized U.S. city and many random shopping malls in the suburbs, it’s just not the case with Filipino food. It’s a little hard to pin down something that originates from somewhere among 7,100 islands hugging a low corner of the South China Sea known as the Philippines. One challenge is, it’s very hard to describe.

Chef Yana Gilbuena is trying. She has a wide smile and a half-shaved head topped by spiky blonde or green hair, depending on the day. She moved to California from the Philippines over a decade ago, at the age of 20, which she admits was a bit traumatic.

“In L.A. I was trying to get on a bus. I thought it was like in Iloilo. You raise your hand and the bus will stop, but no, the bus didn’t stop. My friends told me I had to go to a bus stop. I had the hardest time getting that,” she remembers.

She dreamed of being an interior designer with her own firm in New York, but her first job wasn’t how she imagined it. She couldn’t find good Filipino food anywhere—it was either “high-end fusion or mom-and-pop stuff that wasn’t so fresh”–so she started cooking her own, at first to relieve stress. Later, gaining confidence, she invited friends for dinner parties. Full stories...

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Reprimanded for Facebook chatting, Indian boy kills himself...

Reprimanded by mother for continuously chatting with his facebook friends on mobile, a class IX student shot self with his father's licensed revolver in his Manas Nagar resident at Naini on Wednesday.

Karchana circle officer Samar Bahadur said that a lawyer lived in Manas Nagar colony. His elder son Charan (name changed) was hooked to mobile chatting due to which he was reprimanded by his mother.

He further said that the boy was chatting with his facebook friends on mobile when his mother scolded him and asked him to concentrate on studies. A furious Charan threw away his phone and rushed into the backroom. Before other family members could react, they heard a fun fire.

His mother immediately rushed to the room and found Charan in a pool of blood. He was immediately rushed to a private nursing home where doctors declared him brought dead, said the officer.

 Cognitive expert of Allahabad University's Centre of Behaviour and Cognitive Science (CBC) Dr Bhoomika R Kar said, "Children below the age of 15-16 years are not mature enough to handle situations and often lose temper. Besides, in some families, especially those having single child, kids are pampered. They often react violently to any attempt to prevent them from doing things of their interest. This is where things get out of hand." Source...

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Australian media criticises India for lacking fight in World Cup semifinal...

Australian media were critical of lack of fight from Indian batsmen while praising their national team for a strong performance in their emphatic 95-run run victory to storm into the final of the cricket World Cup on Thursday.

Chasing a stiff target of 329, India were all out for 233 in 46.5 overs and the media here said that the likes of captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (65) and Virat Kohli (1) failed to inspire their team when it mattered the most.

"If India were going to have any chance of chasing down Australia's target, it was going to come down to one of Dhoni or Kohli to go the distance but neither managed to," a report in the 'Daily Telegraph' said.

"There was hope for India for as long as MS Dhoni was still at the crease, but in the semi-final of the World Cup the Indian skipper simply gave up. Dhoni, possibly playing in his last ODI after his shock retirement from Test cricket recently, top-scored for India with 65 before being run out by Glenn Maxwell.

"It was a superb throw, but Dhoni seemed to retire halfway down the pitch. There was no dive, no last-ditch attempt to make his ground, he simply ran straight down the tunnel. And with him vanished India's last sliver of hope," the report said. Full story...

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Pope's sex abuse commission alarmed by bishop appointment...

Several members of Pope Francis' sex abuse advisory board are expressing concern and incredulity over his decision to appoint a Chilean bishop to a diocese despite allegations from victims that he covered up for Chile's most notorious pedophile.

In interviews and emails with The Associated Press, the experts have questioned Francis' pledge to hold bishops accountable, listen to victims and keep children safe, given the record of Bishop Juan Barros in the case of the Rev. Fernando Karadima.

Barros was installed last week as bishop of Osorno in southern Chile amid nationwide political opposition, violent protests in the cathedral and a boycott by most of the diocese's priests and deacons. It was an almost unheard-of vote of no-confidence for a bishop in an overwhelmingly Catholic country in a part of the world that the Argentine pope knows well.

While the Holy See is loath to be bullied by public opinion, the concern about the appointment expressed by the commission members is hard to ignore given that they are not victim advocacy groups. Rather, they are professionals appointed by Francis himself to advise the Vatican on best practices to protect children and educate the church on how to respond to and prevent sexual abuse by priests.

The five commission members spoke to the AP in their personal and professional capacity and stressed that they knew about the case only from news reports and were not speaking on behalf of the 17-member commission, which Francis formed in late 2013 and named Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley to head. Full story...

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Germanwings crash prompts airlines to introduce cockpit ‘rule of two’

Some airlines are to change their rules to ensure two crew members are in plane cockpits at all times, after a co-pilot appeared to deliberately crash a Germanwings plane into the French Alps this week, killing all 150 on board.

Questions have been raised about the lack of a “rule of two” among European carriers after Andreas Lubitz, 27, apparently crashed the Airbus A320 on Tuesday while the captain was locked out of the flight deck.

Two low-cost European carriers – easyJet and Norwegian Air Shuttle – said on Thursday that they would bring the new rule into effect almost immediately.

“EasyJet can confirm that, with effect from tomorrow … it will change its procedure,” the airline said in a statement, adding that the decision had been taken in consultation with the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority.

Norwegian’s flight operations director, Thomas Hesthammer, said: “We have been discussing this for a long time but this development has accelerated things. When one person leaves the cockpit, two people will now have to be there.” Full story...

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Nothing can break this Shaolin kungfu master...

Thursday, March 26, 2015

No more physics and maths, Finland to stop teaching individual subjects...

For years, Finland has been the by-word for a successful education system, perched at the top of international league tables for literacy and numeracy.

Only far eastern countries such as Singapore and China outperform the Nordic nation in the influential Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) rankings. Politicians and education experts from around the world – including the UK – have made pilgrimages to Helsinki in the hope of identifying and replicating the secret of its success.

Which makes it all the more remarkable that Finland is about to embark on one of the most radical education reform programmes ever undertaken by a nation state – scrapping traditional “teaching by subject” in favour of “teaching by topic”.

“This is going to be a big change in education in Finland that we’re just beginning,” said Liisa Pohjolainen, who is in charge of youth and adult education in Helsinki – the capital city at the forefront of the reform programme. Full story...

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Facebook reveals its Master Plan – control all news flow...

(...)

Last night, I came across an incredibly important article from the New York Times, which described Facebook’s plan to provide direct access to other websites’ content in exchange for some sort of advertising partnership. The implications of this are so huge that at this point I have far more questions than answers.

Let’s start with a few excerpts from the article:

With 1.4 billion users, the social media site has become a vital source of traffic for publishers looking to reach an increasingly fragmented audience glued to smartphones. In recent months, Facebook has been quietly holding talks with at least half a dozen media companies about hosting their content inside Facebook rather than making users tap a link to go to an external site.

Such a plan would represent a leap of faith for news organizations accustomed to keeping their readers within their own ecosystems, as well as accumulating valuable data on them. Facebook has been trying to allay their fears, according to several of the people briefed on the talks, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were bound by nondisclosure agreements.

Facebook intends to begin testing the new format in the next several months, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions. The initial partners are expected to be The New York Times, BuzzFeed and National Geographic, although others may be added since discussions are continuing. The Times and Facebook are moving closer to a firm deal, one person said.
Full story...

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‘Why NOT vaccinating my kids was the best decision I ever made’

When I first became a Mum, I never questioned getting my children vaccinated. It was just what you did when you have children - you do what your doctor tells you, because they know best.

My husband and I had never been told that there could be any adverse reactions, only a bit of redness and swelling at the injection site. So as each of our six eldest children got progressively sicker after each vaccination, we never made that connection.

Out of our six vaccinated children, our 16, 12 and 10-year-old have moderate to severe Autism, our 25-year-old has ADHD, our 14-year-old has a severe language disorder, and our 20-year-old has severe mood swings.

They also suffered from chronic ear infections, bronchiolitis, asthma, eczema, psoriasis, urinary infections, gastrointestinal and autoimmune disorders, allergies, chemical sensitivities and intolerances.

We tried genetic testing to look for answers, but no reason was found for our children’s afflictions. So I started looking for answers on my own. I read books, went to seminars, read all the scientific studies I could get my hands on and that’s when I discovered that our family was not the only one.

There were many other families suffering from the same issues as ours. Full story...

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Pakistan police arrest hundreds of parents refusing to vaccinate kids with deadly vaccine causing paralysis epidemic...

It is now official. Vaccination by gunpoint is being carried out through the use of police force. The medical police state is being unleashed in Pakistan as thousands of children are force-fed unnecessary and dangerous pharmaceutical drugs.

Multiple hundreds of parents who nobly object to these vaccinations are being arrested or forced at gunpoint to submit their children to the vaccines. According to Feroz Shah, a spokesman for the Peshawar district administration, 471 people have been arrested so far. "This is the first time such drastic action was taken," Shah said. "This shows determination of the government to eradicate polio."

UNICEF, a key supplier of the vaccines, strives to eradicate polio around the world using vaccines, and Pakistani officials are making them mandatory, destroying parental rights, using force to ram their idea of medicine into the people.

Reportedly, Pakistan inadvertently wasted $3.7 million worth of vaccines donated by UNICEF because of improper storage. Trying not to further waste supplies, authorities are now resorting to force, hunting down anyone who refuses the drugs.

"There is no leniency" if parents refuse the vaccinations, says the deputy police commissioner for Peshawar, Riaz Khan Mahsud. Pakistani officials are tracking down between 13,000 and 16,000 parents who refuse to vaccinate. Many of the helpless, choiceless Pakistanis are persuaded to comply after spending a "few days behind bars." Full story...

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Co-pilot appears to have crashed Germanwings plane deliberately ...

The co-pilot of the Germanwings airliner that crashed in the French Alps killing all 150 people aboard appears to have brought the A320 Airbus down deliberately, the Marseille prosecutor said on Thursday.

German Andreas Lubitz, 28, left in sole control of the Airbus A320 after the captain left the cockpit, refused to re-open the door and operated a control that sent the plane into its final, fatal descent, the prosecutor told a news conference.

The French prosecutor said Lubitz was not known as a terrorist and there were no grounds to consider the crash as a terrorist incident. Recordings suggested passengers' screams began just before the final impact, he said.

Earlier, a German state prosecutor had said that just one of the two pilots of the Germanwings airliner was in the cockpit at the time it went down.

The statements came after the New York Times reported that "black box" recordings showed one of the pilots had left the cockpit and could not get back in before the plane crashed. Full story...

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Youth cuts tongue for India's victory in Cricket World Cup semifinal against Australia...

A cricket crazy youth in Tamil Nadu cut his tongue on Thursday seeking the 'intervention of gods' to make India win the World Cup semifinal match against Australia.

Sudhakar of Ponneri in Vellore district, who closely follows cricket, was sad after Australia amassed 328 runs batting first against India in the semifinal.

Desperation drove the youth to act in a reckless manner and he cut his tongue with a knife at his residence, the Jolarpet police said.

On his hearing Sudhakar's cries, his relatives and neighbours came to his rescue. They rushed him to Adukkamparai government general hospital.

 The police said they had not registered a case as there was no complaint. Source...

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What will happen if all the bees die?

Locked in cages and whipped with toxic stingray tails: The Burmese slaves forced to catch fish that ends up in supermarkets, restaurants and pet shops across America...

Seafood caught by slave fishermen is ending up in supermarkets, restaurants and pet shops across America, an investigation has found.

Burmese men are being kept in cages on a tiny Indonesian island and forced to fish - or risk being kicked, beaten and whipped with stingray tails.

Seafood caught by the slaves is entering major supply networks in the US with tainted produce appearing in sushi, canned pet food and bags of frozen fish, it is claimed.

The Associated Press says the men were brought to the village of Benjina through Thailand and the fish they are forced to catch is shipped back to Thailand before entering the global commerce stream.


It claims tainted fish can wind up in the supply chains of some of America's major grocery stores, such as Kroger, Albertsons and Safeway; the nation's largest retailer, Wal-Mart; and the biggest food distributor, Sysco. Full story...

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We'll probably kill journalists who don't report the truth, says Thai leader...

Thailand’s junta leader, Prayuth Chan-ocha, has said he will “probably just execute” any journalist who does not “report the truth”.

Last month Gen Prayuth said he had the power to shut down news outlets, and on Wednesday he took an even harsher line. “We’ll probably just execute them,” said Prayuth, without a trace of a smile, when asked by reporters how the government would deal with those who do not adhere to the official line.

“You don’t have to support the government, but you should report the truth,” the former army chief said, telling reporters to write in a way that bolsters national reconciliation in the kingdom.

Prayuth, who is also prime minister, heads the ruling junta, the National Council for Peace and Order. He toppled the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in a coup last May, following months of mass protests aimed at ousting Yingluck.

Known for his abrupt manner and impulsive remarks, Prayuth launched a crackdown on dissenters after seizing power in May. He has said Thailand is not ready to lift martial law, which gives the army sweeping powers, including for arrest and detention. In January, the junta forced a German foundation to cancel a forum on press freedom, saying Thailand was at a sensitive juncture. Full story...

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Indonesian police accidentally got entire neighborhood high burning 3 tons of weed!!!

Police in West Jakarta, Indonesia, got drugs off the streets a few weeks ago, and then accidentally got an entire neighborhood high while they were destroying the drugs.

Residents and nearby journalists reported mild headaches after the area was engulfed by smoke that was pouring from a giant pile of burning cannabis. Police were prepared for the smoke and were wearing gas masks, but they must not have thought about everyone else in town who may not have been in the mood to catch a buzz.

“I got a headache because I wasn’t wearing a mask,” one resident told reporters.

It was also reported that the police destroyed 1.8 kilograms of confiscated crystal meth and 2,538 pills of ecstasy, but it is not clear how they were destroyed, or if they were destroyed on site as well.

No one reported any serious or long term side effects from the smoke, but the police managed to get everyone high with a drug that they arrest people for using on their own.

The burning was a ceremonial occasion that was witnessed by a number of officials and politicians. Source...

EU: Don’t use Facebook if you want to keep the NSA away from your data...

In a key case before the European Union's highest court, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), the European Commission admitted yesterday that the US-EU Safe Harbor framework for transatlantic data transfers does not adequately protect EU citizens' data from US spying. The European Commission's attorney Bernhard Schima told the CJEU's attorney general: "You might consider closing your Facebook account if you have one," euobserver reports.

The case before the CJEU is the result of complaints lodged against five US companies—Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Skype, and Yahoo—with the relevant data protection authorities in Germany, Ireland, and Luxembourg by the Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems, supported by crowdfunding. Because of the important points of European law raised, the Irish High Court referred the Safe Harbor case to the CJEU.

The referral was prompted by Edward Snowden's revelations about the Prism data-collection program, which show that the US intelligence community has ready access to user data held by nine US Internet companies, including the five named in Schrems' complaints. The EU's Data Protection Directive prohibits the transfer of personal data to non-European Union countries that do not meet the EU's "adequacy" standard for privacy protection. To aid US companies operating in the EU, the Safe Harbor Framework was introduced, which allows US organizations to self-certify their compliance with the adequacy provision when they transfer EU personal data back to the US. Full story...

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Germanwings pilot was locked out of cockpit before crash in France...

As officials struggled Wednesday to explain why a jet with 150 people on board crashed amid a relatively clear sky, an investigator said evidence from a cockpit voice recorder indicated one pilot left the cockpit before the plane’s descent and was unable to get back in.

A senior military official involved in the investigation described “very smooth, very cool” conversation between the pilots during the early part of the flight from Barcelona, Spain, to Düsseldorf, Germany. Then the audio indicated that one of the pilots left the cockpit and could not re-enter.

“The guy outside is knocking lightly on the door, and there is no answer,” the investigator said. “And then he hits the door stronger, and no answer. There is never an answer.”

He said, “You can hear he is trying to smash the door down.” Full story...

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

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Serbian public demands compensation from NATO for 1999 bombardments of Yugoslavia...

A Serbian non-governmental organization has demanded that NATO pay compensation for the damage it had inflicted on Serbia during 1999 bombardments of Yugoslavia.

The Belgrade Forum for the World of Equal and the Club of generals and admirals launched the initiative at their meeting held on Monday on the eve of the 16th anniversary of NATO bombing campaign against Yugoslavia that started on March 24, 1999.

Retired General Jovo Milanovic recalled that NATO’s aggression was "a violation of all norms of international law that caused enormous material damage to Yugoslavia and huge human casualties. The participants in the meeting supported Milanovic’s initiative to resume inquiries about compensations and initiation of criminal proceedings against western leaders who made and supported the decision on bombardments.

The NATO bombardments of Yugoslavia which were unsanctioned by the United Nations Security Council lasted for 78 days. NATO bombs and cruise missiles launched from warships deployed in the Mediterranean hit various targets in the territories of Serbia and Montenegro. The failure of talks on Kosovo in the French city of Rambouillet and Serbia’s refusal to sign a peace plan that would allow the deployment of foreign troops in Kosovo and would mean the province’s military occupation were the main reasons behind the NATO aggression. Full story...

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UK supermarket Waitrose suffers brand damage for promoting Israel...

A UK supermarket chain’s promotion of Israel as a food-lover’s paradise has backfired following a massive backlash on social media.

The deluge of Facebook and Twitter messages directed at Waitrose, criticizing its distribution of a brochure titled Taste of Israel in February, has also attracted attention from the mainstream media in the last two weeks, adding to the supermarket’s PR woes.

And the brochure itself has been the subject of a complaint to Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority, by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), on the grounds of false advertising.

In its letter to the advertising watchdog, the PSC cited the brochure’s references to Jerusalem and the Golan Heights as being in Israel, and the listing of Palestinian and Arab foods, such as tahini and zaatar, as being Israeli. Full story...

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MPs attack BBC for its 'biased EU reporting'

The BBC has a ‘deeply concerning’ pro-European bias and has ‘fallen down severely’ in its obligation to provide impartial coverage of the issue, MPs say today.

The European Scrutiny Committee says the corporation does not give enough airtime to those who believe Britain should leave the European Union or that there should be a referendum on membership.

The MPs also criticised the BBC’s director-general, Lord Hall, for failing in his role as the corporation’s editor-in-chief, after he turned down an invitation to give evidence to the committee in Parliament four times.

Lord Hall, who earns £450,000 a year of licence fee payers’ money, eventually relented after the committee told him to treat its invitation as a ‘formal summons’.

Sir Bill Cash, the Eurosceptic who chairs the committee, said: ‘The BBC has fallen down severely on its obligations to viewers and listeners to give them a proper and balanced assessment of both sides of the argument. Full story...

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Forced Adoption: UK families flee to Ireland to keep their children...

UK families are fleeing to Ireland as social workers continue to use false allegations and vague definitions of abuse to forcibly remove children from their parents and boost adoption statistics. RT's documentary crew spoke to several of those families.

The UK is just one of two countries in Europe (the other is Croatia) where adoption without the consent of a child’s biological parents – known as 'forced adoption' – is practiced.

Despite international law calling it an emergency measure, “there were over 2,000 children forcibly taken from one family to another” last year, MP John Hemming told RT's documentary channel (RTD). Every year, some 11,000 children are taken into local authority care without the consent of their parents.

According to the MP, social workers are instructed by their managers to advise the court to get the child adopted – even if they’re been taken care of by a competent family.

 With Britain's children's minister, Edward Timpson, proudly announcing a 63 percent rise in adoptions since 2011, children are being removed from their families “merely to satisfy government target,” Hemming said. More + video...

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Sri Lanka returns military-held lands in former war zone...

Sri Lanka has started releasing private land occupied by the military during the country's 26-year civil war, in a major step at reconciliation with minority ethnic Tamils.

The government said in a statement Wednesday that it intends to release 800 acres (323 hectares) of land in the country's east before the end of April in addition to the 425 acres (172 hectares) in the north already handed over to the owners by President Maithripala Sirisena on Monday.

Continued military occupation of private lands has remained a contentious issue since the end of the civil war in 2009.

Thousands of acres (hectares) of land were taken over the military for their so-called high security zones in the country's north and east since the 1990s. Despite the end of the war the military continued to take over lands citing security expansions under former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

 After his January election victory over his hard-line predecessor Rajapaksa, Sirisena has taken a number of steps in an attempt to heal the wounds of the conflict. Full story...

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The curse of Lee Kuan Yew...

Lee Kuan Yew, who died Monday at 91, was in his final years more than a man: He was a myth, a global idea—an intellectual cult built around the idea that not all autocrats are bad; they can be enlightened philosopher-kings too, leading their countries to prosperity and power without the hassle of liberal democracy.

Today, with little sense of irony, leaders of the major Western democracies are falling over each other to eulogize the fallen Singaporean leader. President Obama praised Lee as “a true giant of history,” saying, “No small number of this and past generations of world leaders have sought his advice.” Former President George H.W. Bush lauded Lee for his “singular leadership,” while Britain’s David Cameron acclaimed him for “one of the great success stories” of modern times because of Lee’s role in transforming Singapore from a backward colonial entrepot into a shining high-tech economy.

And yet since the early 2000s the cult of Lee Kuan Yew has been an unmitigated disaster in Eastern Europe, where the example set by Singapore’s unapologetic autocrat has helped to rehabilitate and legitimize authoritarianism.

Vladimir Putin is a greater admirer of Lee, whom he awarded Russia’s prestigious “Order of Honor.” In Georgia, Mikhail Saakashvili has been under Lee’s charismatic spell, passing his books around like bibles. The Ukrainian government, when ruled by Putin puppet Viktor Yanukovych, would disguise its kleptocracy by likening its governance to Singapore. Today, the cult is so widespread that even the Russian minister directing Crimea points to Lee Kuan Yew as a mentor. Full story...

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