Sunday, September 25, 2016

Why the Chinese are such bad tourists...

Sri Lanka’s president misses an opportunity at the UN...

Sri Lanka’s Maithripala Sirisena spoke at the United Nations (UN) on Wednesday. Mr. Sirisena touched on economic development, poverty, drugs and more. It was a brief speech. However, Mr. Sirisena could have at least attempted to make a clear, articulate case for the most important aspects of the coalition government’s reform agenda, especially transitional justice. Regrettably, the president failed to do that.

Let’s not forget that Colombo continues to drag its feet on a host of war-related issues: the detention of Tamil political prisoners, the military’s continued occupation of civilian land, pervasive militarization across the country’s north and east, among other matters. Leaving the government’s sincerity toward deeper reform aside for a moment, one could argue that the environment to implement a credible, comprehensive transitional justice package does not yet exist, especially in the northern and eastern provinces.

In other international settings, Mangala Samaraweera - the country’s foreign minister - has issued soaring, exuberant speeches that don’t reflect reality, although at least Mr. Samaraweera has attempted to talk about some of the more controversial components of the government’s reform agenda. To a large degree, the foreign minister’s remarks have been intended to express what Colombo thinks the international community wants to hear. But then, usually, similar messages are neither conveyed to a domestic audience nor backed up with concrete action. Full story...

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Bosnian migrant blew up his ex-girlfriend with a HAND GRENADE after she ran off with another man...

A Bosnian migrant in Austria travelled back to his homeland to blow up his ex-girlfriend with a hand grenade when he found out she was seeing somebody else.

Bosnian migrant Dalibor Gavric, 42, lived in the Austrian capital of Vienna where he met waitress Miljana Malesevic, 24, also from Bosnia. The couple started a relationship and even though he was married and had two daughters, he divorced his wife so that he could live with the younger woman.

But he was always jealous, and frequently the jealousy turned to violence which resulted in Milijana, with whom Gavric had a 4-year-old son, eventually leaving him and when she could not escape in Vienna, she fled back to Bosnia two months ago.

With the experience she learned in Austria, she set up a cafe back home and even found a new partner in the town of Prnjavor in Northern Bosnia.

The cafe called 'Acapulco' was doing well and she was reportedly enjoying life with her new boyfriend. Full story...

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In Japan, hundreds of thousands of young people are refusing to leave their homes...

According to a survey released by the government of Japan this month, more than half a million young people have recoiled from society to lead reclusive lives.

The phenomenon, called “hikikomori,” is defined by the Japanese Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry as people who haven’t left their homes or interacted with others for at least six months. Of the 541,000 people between age 15 and 39 who fit that description, 34% have spent seven years or more in self-isolation. Another 29% have lived in reclusion for three to five years.

Hikikomori (the term is used for both the condition and its subjects) surfaced as a phenomenon in Japan in the 1990s. At the time, some experts estimated that about one million people, mostly young men in their 20s, were spending their days locked up in their bedrooms, reading manga (comic books), watching TV, or playing video games. They refused to work or go to school and often didn’t communicate with family members, let alone friends.

There’s no standard course of treatment. Doctors believe the condition, which is not yet classified as an official disorder, is caused by a mix of psychological and societal influences. It’s far more common in men, who face more cultural pressure to succeed socially and professionally than women do. Full story...

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Canadian town steams over Nestlé bid to control local spring water well...

A small town in Ontario, Canada, has prompted fresh scrutiny of the bottled-water industry after its attempt secure a long-term water supply through the purchase of a well was outbid by the food and drinks multinational Nestlé.

When authorities in Centre Wellington, population of about 30,000, learned that Nestlé had put a bid on a spring water well in their region, they scrambled over the summer to counter with a competing bid. The goal was to safeguard a water supply for the township’s fast-growing population, Kelly Linton, the mayor, told the Guardian. “By 2041, we’ll be closer to 50,000 so protecting our water sources is critical to us.”

Using a numbered company, the municipality submitted what Linton described as an “aggressive bid” for the five-hectare site. “We put in more money than they did and we removed all conditions.” He declined to specify the exact amount of the bid.

An agreement forged with Nestlé after its initial bid, made 18 months earlier, gave the company the right to respond. “They had the opportunity to match our offer and that’s how we lost on that on that one,” said Linton. Full story...

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Saturday, September 24, 2016

U.S. police killings reminiscent of lynching, UN group...

Police killings of black people in the United States are reminiscent of lynchings and the government must do far more to protect them, a United Nations working group says in a report that will be debated at the U.N. Human Rights Council on Monday.

The hard-hitting criticism - drawing a comparison between modern police behaviour and mob killings of blacks in the 19th and 20th centuries - comes at a time of renewed racial tension in the United States.

This week Charlotte, North Carolina, saw street riots over the shooting of a black man, Keith Scott, by a black police officer. On Friday, a white police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man turned herself into authorities in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“Contemporary police killings and the trauma that they create are reminiscent of the past racial terror of lynching,” said the report by the U.N. Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent. Full story...

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Friday, September 23, 2016

‘If US can’t stop the war, they can at least stop selling weapons to Saudis’ - 10yo Yemeni girl...

Living in a Van down by the river – time to face the true state of the middle class in America...

(...)

I put a couple of phrases in that quote in bold because I really wanted you to notice a couple of things.

First of all, it is very alarming to hear that the number of New Yorkers staying in homeless shelters “reached an all-time high” last weekend. I thought that we were supposed to be in an “economic recovery”, but apparently things in New York are rapidly getting worse.

Secondly, the fact that applications for emergency grants are up 26 percent compared to last year is another indication of how rough things are right now for average families in New York. We all remember what happened when millions of families lost their homes to foreclosure across the nation during the last financial crisis, and nobody should want to see a repeat of that any time soon.

During this election season, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton would like all of us to believe that the economy is doing just fine, but that is not true at all. Even using the doctored numbers that the government gives us, Barack Obama is solidly on track to be the only president in all of U.S. history to never have a single year of 3 percent GDP growth, and he has had two terms to try to do that. Full story...

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Neighbours form human chain to prevent bailiffs evicting mum-of-five...

This is the moment kindhearted neighbours formed a human chain around a mum's house - to stop her being kicked out in a 'revenge eviction'.

Nimo Abdullahi, 39, was told she and her family would be thrown out of their home of 12 years after she complained to her landlord about damp.

But in a bid to protect the mum-of-five from a 'revenge eviction', residents and campaigners turned out to stop it happening.

Around 30 people stood side by side, arms linked, to build a wall of bodies in front of the privately-rented property in Easton, Bristol.

All morning, more neighbours joined the blockade - with a newlywed couple living opposite the family cutting up their wedding cake to keep the protesters sustained.

 When bailiffs turned up at 11am on Tuesday, they weren't able to get inside. Full story...

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For the first time, Saudi Arabia is being attacked by both Sunni and Shia leaders...

The Saudis step deeper into trouble almost by the week. Swamped in their ridiculous war in Yemen, they are now reeling from an extraordinary statement issued by around two hundred Sunni Muslim clerics who effectively referred to the Wahhabi belief – practiced in Saudi Arabia – as “a dangerous deformation” of Sunni Islam.

The prelates included Egypt’s Grand Imam, Ahmed el-Tayeb of al-Azhar, the most important centre of theological study in the Islamic world, who only a year ago attacked “corrupt interpretations” of religious texts and who has now signed up to “a return to the schools of great knowledge” outside Saudi Arabia.

This remarkable meeting took place in Grozny and was unaccountably ignored by almost every media in the world – except for the former senior associate at St Antony’s College, Sharmine Narwani, and Le Monde’s Benjamin Barthe – but it may prove to be even more dramatic than the terror of Syria’s civil war. For the statement, obviously approved by Vladimir Putin, is as close as Sunni clerics have got to excommunicating the Saudis.

Although they did not mention the Kingdom by name, the declaration was a stunning affront to a country which spends millions of dollars every year on thousands of Wahhabi mosques, schools and clerics around the world. Full story...

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Britain increases aid to Yemen while selling arms to Saudis - who are bombing Yemen...

International Development Secretary Priti Patel announced that Britain will provide an additional £37million in funding for Yemen this year.

A total of £72m has already been committed to the crisis in Yemen by the UK Government.

But the Government has simultaneously approved more than £3billion in arms sales over the past 18 months.

Hundreds have been killed in airstrikes that have hit schools, hospitals, markets and private homes, and nearly half of Yemen's 22 provinces are on the verge of famine.

The rapidly deteriorating situation in Yemen has prompted campaigners to call on Theresa May to halt the arms trade with the Saudis. Full story...

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Dozens of Spanish cities declare themselves ‘Free of Israeli Apartheid’

(...)

“Netanyahu’s peculiar claim that his government has defeated the BDS movement would have been worthy of a serious response if it weren’t so outlandish, false and laughable.

The claim comes in direct response to a professional report issued by the Israeli state comptroller accusing the Netanyahu government of utter “failure” in responding to the impressive growth of the BDS movement in recent years.

Despite its undeniable influence in the US Congress and, by extension, in Brussels and other world capitals, the fact that most in the Israeli establishment recognize today is that BDS is winning at the grassroots level, where Israel is losing the global battle for hearts and minds.

It is in this arena where our possession of the moral higher ground trumps Israel’s military, financial and political prowess, which is deemed irrelevant.

A quick look at the top 11 achievements of BDS since the beginning of 2016, during the height of Israel’s war of repression and lawfare against the movement, reveals how fast the movement is growing.

It also reveals how delusional Netanyahu has become in his desperate attempt to deflect internal condemnation of his failure to stop BDS.” Full story...

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Maru and the swing...

Catholic Church ACQUITS Mexican priest who admitted raping 30 young girls even though he knew he was infected with HIV...

The Catholic Church has acquitted an HIV-infected priest who has admitted to raping close to 30 young girls between the ages of five and 10 years old.

According to a bombshell report, which appeared in the Spanish-language news site Urgente24.com, the priest, Jose Garcia Ataulfo, was absolved of any wrongdoing by the Archdiocese of Mexico.

Ataulfo has admitted to sexually assaulting indigenous young girls from Oaxaca, a state in southern Mexico known for its large indigenous population.

The priest has yet to face any criminal charges, most likely due to the significant influence that the Catholic Church wields in Mexico, particularly in areas populated by indigenous ethnic groups. Full story...

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New mayor kills off Rome's bid for 2024 Olympics...

Rome's new mayor, Virginia Raggi, pulled the plug on the city's bid to host the 2024 Olympics, saying staging the summer games would bury the Italian capital under mountains of debt and tonnes of cement.

The decision represents a blow to the International Olympic Committee, which has already seen Boston and Hamburg abandon their 2024 bids, and is struggling to convince potential host cities that it is worth putting on the sporting extravaganza.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi had championed Rome's challenge, but he needed the backing of the city council to press ahead. Raggi's decision means only Paris, Los Angeles and Budapest are left in the running to stage the 2024 games.

"It would be irresponsible for us to support this candidacy," said Raggi, whose anti-establishment 5-Star Movement took power for the first time in Rome after a landslide victory in local elections in June.

"We have nothing against the Olympics and sport ... but we don't want sport to be an excuse for more rivers of cement in the city. We won't allow that." Full story...

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Yahoo confirms major breach — and it could be the largest hack of all time...

Yahoo on Thursday revealed a massive data breach of its services.

Yahoo "has confirmed that a copy of certain user account information was stolen from the company's network in late 2014 by what it believes is a state-sponsored actor," the company posted on its investor relations page.

The stolen data include names, email addresses, telephone numbers, birthdays, hashed passwords, and some "encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers." Yahoo says it believes no payment card or bank account information was stolen.

Yahoo said it believes that at least 500 million user account credentials were stolen, which would make it the biggest breach of all time — bigger than the Myspace breach of 360 million user accounts and 427 million passwords.

The breach has turned out to be larger than the 200 million accounts previously expected. Full story...

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

'First' food waste 'supermarket' opens in Leeds...

A food waste "supermarket", which organisers say is the first in the UK, has been opened in Leeds.

The Real Junk Food Project's warehouse on the Grangefield Industrial Estate in Pudsey is stocked with surplus food from supermarkets and local businesses.

Project founder Adam Smith said people "pay what they feel" for the goods by giving time, money or skills.

The food is donated by several major supermarket chains as well as cafes, restaurants and food banks.

Mr Smith said the idea of using food which was being thrown away began three years ago when a cafe, offering meals produced from waste food, opened in Armley.

There are now more than 120 similar cafes across the world. Full story...

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Duterte to EU: “I read the condemnation of the EU against me. I will tell them, ‘fuck you.’

President Duterte let loose a fresh string of tirades against the European Union, on Tuesday, after it called for a halt to extrajudicial killings of drug suspects in the Philippines.

“I read the condemnation of the EU against me. I will tell them, ‘fuck you.’ You’re doing it in atonement for your sins,” Mr. Duterte said in a speech before local government officials in Davao City.

Duterte said members of the European Union have become strict about the behavior of other nations due to their “guilt feelings” over the atrocities they had committed in the past.

He also called them hypocrites, as he added that a check of encyclopedias would show what European countries have done, he said. For instance, France and Great Britain had killed Arabs, he said.

“And then EU now has the gall to condemn me. I repeat it, ‘fuck you,’” he said.

Mr. Duterte also asked who he was supposed to have killed in the Philippines.

Assuming accusations against him were true, and there were over 1,000 killed in the country, he asked who were the people killed.

“Who are they? Criminals? You call it genocide? How many did they kill?” he asked. Source...

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Pentatonix & Dolly Parton - Jolene...

THOUSANDS of ‘witches’ imprisoned for years in huge witchcraft prison camps in Ghana...

Hundreds of women are living in poor conditions in the five camps in the north of the country after being accused of dabbling in the occult by superstitious neighbours and even their own families.

Now the British High Commissioner to Ghana, Jon Benjamin, is calling for the camps to be closed. He told a meeting in Ghana last month, “Personally, I believe in the 21st Century, it’s time to say there is no such thing as a witch and to decry the practice of using such a term to dehumanise vulnerable women.”

He added that the witch camps — each one holding around 800 women and up to 500 children — were “a form of human right abuse and must be kicked against by all and sundry so as to create a safe environment for development”.

One camp was closed down in 2014 with the help of a British charity, ActionAid, but there is resistance to closing the rest from both villagers who still fear the “witches” in their midst will harm them and the authorities who worry that women sent back to their communities will suffer violence or even death. More + photos...

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Here’s how homeschooling is changing in America...

As children head back to school, an increasing number of their homeschooled peers will be starting their academic year as well. Homeschooling in the United States is growing at a strong pace.

Recent statistics indicate that 1.5 million children were homeschooled in the United States in 2007. This is up significantly from 1.1 million children in 2003 and 850,000 children in 1999.

The homeschooling movement first emerged in earnest during the 1980s. Back then it was largely led by evangelical Christians. But as the movement has grown, it has also changed. Today’s homeschooling families may increasingly welcome cooperation with their local public school districts. In my own research, I have seen how diverse homeschoolers now are. This diversity challenges any simplistic understanding of what homeschooling is and what impact it will have on the public school system.

So how do we understand this evolution in American education? Full story...

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N.J. woman uses couponing to feed 30,000 people in need...

When she first learned about couponing, her eyes lit up.

Not because of the potential deals on her groceries. For 29-year-old Lauren Puryear, she realized that couponing was the tool she'd been looking for to bring thousands of meals to people in need.

She has set a goal of delivering 30,000 meals to people who are food insecure by her 30th birthday.

Puryear, a Woodbridge resident who is a mental health clinician, has been spending years of her time helping to feed the hungry.

It all began four years ago after the death of her grandmother, who had strongly instilled the importance of helping others. Full story...

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Why are there so many cancers now?

C-A-N-C-E-R is the word that strikes horror in the hearts and minds of every human alive. However, that always was not the case. I’m old enough to remember when cancer was a rather ‘rare’ disease or condition. Furthermore, I know medical doctors a little older than my ‘vintage’ who say that when they were in medical school, they were not taught very much about cancer, so much so, that when a cancer patient was in one of the wards in a teaching hospital, the entire class of physicians-in-training was trotted in to see that patient. How interesting?

Personally, I’m of the belief that there is not very much new under the sun EXCEPT what’s being designed and created by genetic modification and geoengineering. Cancer, undoubtedly, has been around in some form probably since very ancient times. However, the current ‘plague of cancers’, even though not an anomaly since just about everyone and his or her brother has or had it, became ‘profitable’ during the latter half of the twentieth century.

There is no doubt that cancer, as an ‘industry’, will become even more problematic—plus profitable—to the point where every person probably will contract cancer in some form or other, almost as if by some ulterior design. Why do I say that? Because of how cancer has been made into a “profitable business,” revenue stream and profit center for varied and numerous vested interests, when there actually are cancer cures controlling vested interests suppress or even keep for themselves. Is that too harsh to hear? Well, have you recently looked into or checked out the ridiculously-priced costs of cancer treatments and protocols? Like all wars, the “war on cancer” is profitable for vested interests.

For starters, the average cost of a new cancer drug is over $100,000 per year. Full story...

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Barefoot skateboarders of India ...

Man calls police to report ex-girlfriend for overfeeding hamster!!!

A man rang police to report that his former girlfriend had left their hamster "looking like a fat little pig" by over-feeding it.

He rang 101 and explained to the operator that it was his pet, but his ex-girlfriend wouldn’t give him back and she was overfeeding him.

The call was one of several released by Northumbria Police in an attempt to persuade the public to stop bombarding them with unnecessary 101 calls.

The Northumbria Police operator listened sympathetically as the unnamed Geordie caller revealed: “Me and my girlfriend split up a while ago and she’s got my hamster but she’ll not give us it back."


I know it sounds daft but it’s my little hamster.

I don't want to cause any trouble whatsoever, she'll not give us it back because she says 'I look after it better than you' but it's ended up looking like a fat little pig.

Not being disrespectful to the hamster, he was my pride and joy. I need him back now, he has only got a couple of years left in him because they only live so long and I love him.

– The unnamed caller

The man was politely informed that it wasn't a police matter. Full story...

Why are we sending $38 Billion to rich and powerful Israel?

Last week’s announcement of a record-breaking US aid package for Israel underscores how dangerously foolish and out-of-touch is our interventionist foreign policy. Over the next ten years, the US taxpayer will be forced to give Israel some $38 billion dollars in military aid. It is money we cannot afford going to a country that needs no assistance to maintain its status as the most powerful military in the Middle East.

All US foreign aid is immoral and counterproductive. As I have often said, it is money taken from poor people in the US and sent to rich people overseas. That is because US assistance money goes to foreign governments to hand out as they see fit. Often that assistance is stolen outright or it goes to the politically connected in the recipient country.

Just as bad is the fact that much of what we call “foreign aid” is actually welfare for the wealthy here at home. The aid package to Israel is a very good example. According to the agreement, this $38 billion will all go to US weapons manufacturers. So the real beneficiaries are not the American people and not even Israeli citizens. The real beneficiaries are the US military-industrial complex. Perhaps the money won’t even leave Washington – it may simply go across town, from the Fed to the Beltway bomb-makers. Full story...

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Assange, Manning and Snowden: Standing up for the conscience of truthtellers...

Last week, Oliver Stone’s biopic “Snowden” hit the theaters. The film illuminates the life of Edward Snowden between 2004 and 2013, aiming to humanize one of the most wanted men in the world. Just before its release, a public campaign was launched urging President Obama to pardon this renowned NSA whistleblower.

The massive US government persecution of truthtellers over the past years has exiled conscience from civil society, locking it behind bars and driving it into asylum. Yet, despite these attacks, it refuses to die.

From prison where she is serving 35 years, Chelsea Manning is standing up for her dignity. Recently, she protested her dehumanizing treatment by engaging in a hunger strike. All the while, WikiLeaks editor in chief Julian Assange keeps publishing, giving asylum to the most persecuted documents, while being arbitrarily detained in the Ecuadorian embassy for the last 4 years. As this struggle continues, the torch for transparency and courage that kindled hearts and has sparked public debate keeps shedding light on the state of the world we live in.

In a debate with executive director of Freedom Press, Trevor Timm, which addressed the question of pardoning Snowden, National security attorney Bradley Moss expressed his disdain over the former NSA contractor providing information to the Press. He criticized Snowden’s act, noting how journalists are unauthorized to possess government information: Full story...

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Unarmed black pastor with hands up shot dead by cops in Oklahoma...

POLICE IN the US have released a dash cam recording of a white female officer fatally shooting an unarmed black pastor on the street.

The video, released on Monday (Sept 19) shows police officers in Tulsa, Oklahoma killing Terence Crutcher, whose car was stalled in the middle of the street.

Police originally claimed that 40-year-old Crutcher was not cooperating with officers when they arrived for a routine traffic stop on Friday night. They said that he would not raise his hands in the air when instructed to.

Tulsa Police officer Betty Shelby called dispatch saying Crutcher was not complying before fatally shooting him at the scene. Officer Tyler Turnbough also fired his Taser and the entire confrontation was recorded via dash cam. Full story...

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Monday, September 19, 2016

The Philippines’ pivot in action: Can “The Punisher” withstand America’s punishment?

Rodrigo Duterte promised to wage a War on Drugs and return pride to the Philippines if his people elected him President, and with less than three months in office under his belt, he’s already making astounding progress on both interlinked fronts. More than 700,000 drug addicts and pushers have surrendered to the authorities, with around 3,000 being killed for violently resisting and endangering the arresting officers’ lives.

It’s thus evidently not for naught that Duterte earned the nickname “The Punisher” during his two-decade-long service as the mayor of Davao City, during which time he turned it round from being one of the most dangerous places in Asia to what is now one of the safest.

On the foreign policy front, Duterte has stood up to the US to global applause, calling Obama a “son of a bitch” and the US Ambassador a “gay son of a whore”.

Moreover, his Foreign Minister powerfully reminded the US that the Philippines are not America’s “little brown brother”, in a moving statement that evoked memories of classic Cold War anti-imperialism. Full story...

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How rich people are using philanthrophy as a desguise to take over the world...

Despite the seeming equality we have achieved, the rich elite haven’t gone anywhere. They have managed to maintain their existence thousands of years throughout history, including in the modern era. They were even there at the dawn of modern day advancement, in the beginnings of the industrial revolution, where society witnessed its biggest growth in history.

The first aristocratic class planted the initial seeds, influencing the direction of our society in the most fundamental ways, just a century ago. In time, they grew by creating most of the major sectors in finance, education, media, and more, shaping society into what it is today. If there is anywhere to look at today for questions or answers for our very imperfect world, it is at those who created it.

The richest “philanthropists” of our time have been constantly pushing forward agendas in their own right. To have such a small group of people have a chance to influence millions of lives on such a big scale sounds scary to me. Let’s take a look at some of the most influential philanthropists in modern history. Full story...

Video: Hillary’s Parkinson’s symptoms...

This video is a very good example of a low-budget presentation that is persuasive. It cost the producer time, not money.

At the time that I discovered it, it had received about 25,000 hits. Dr. Tom Woods subsequently found another posting of this video. It had 2.5 million hits.

The author stated his case, which is compelling. It is so compelling that the refusal of the mainstream media to consider its thesis indicates an intense bias in favor of her election. The media are suppressing the truth.

If the media were interested in refuting this, they would interview at least half a dozen neurologists who specialize in Parkinson’s. They would ask these specialists to comment on the video. They would then summarize their answers, pro and con. So far, the media have not done this. Full story...

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Chinese lecturer to use facial-recognition technology to check boredom levels among his students...

A Chinese university lecturer is using facial-recognition technology on his students to help determine the level of interest in his classes, a tool he said could be used in wider education.

Science professor Wei Xiaoyong developed the new “face reader” to identify emotions which suggest if students are bored or stimulated.

His technique produces a “curve” for each student showing how much they are either “happy” or “neutral”, and that data can indicate whether they are bored, he said.

“When we correlate that kind of information to the way we teach, and we use a timeline, then you will know where you are actually attracting the students’ attention,” Professor Wei told The Telegraph.

“Then you can ask whether this is a good way to teach that content? Or if this content is OK for the students in that class?” Full story...

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Study estimates 100,000 premature deaths from Indonesia haze...

Indonesian forest fires that choked a swath of Southeast Asia with a smoky haze for weeks last year may have caused more than 100,000 premature deaths, according to new research that will add to pressure on Indonesia's government to tackle the annual crisis.

The study by scientists from Harvard University and Columbia University to be published in the journal Environmental Research Letters is being welcomed by other researchers and Indonesia's medical profession as an advance in quantifying the suspected serious public health effects of the fires, which are mostly set to clear land for farming. The number of deaths is an estimate derived from a complex analysis that has not yet been validated by analysis of official data on mortality.

The research has implications for land-use practices and Indonesia's vast pulp and paper industry. The researchers showed that peatlands within timber concessions, and peatlands overall, were a much bigger proportion of the fires observed by satellite than in 2006, which was another particularly bad year for haze. The researchers surmise that draining of the peatlands to prepare them for pulpwood plantations and other uses made them more vulnerable to fires.

The estimate of premature deaths linked to respiratory illness that covers Indonesia and its neighbors Singapore and Malaysia dwarves Indonesia's official toll of 19 that included deaths from illness and the deaths of firefighters. However, the possible scale of serious heath consequences was indicated by a statement from the country's disaster management agency in October that said more than 43 million Indonesians were exposed to smoke from the fires and half a million suffered acute respiratory infections. Full story...

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Ikea on EU radar as Vestager looks beyond Apple’s tax billions...

European Union regulators who slapped Apple Inc. with a 13 billion-euro ($14.6 billion) tax bill are examining allegations that Ikea dodged at least 1 billion euros in taxes over the past six years.

Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, under fire in some quarters for targeting mainly U.S. firms in a clampdown on corporate tax avoidance, said EU officials are vetting claims by Green lawmakers that the world’s biggest furniture retailer uses unfair loopholes to avoid paying taxes.

“We have received the documentation that the Greens have made and we are going through it but we have nothing to comment as the case stands right now,” Vestager said Wednesday in Bloomberg TV interview, referring to the report published by the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament earlier this year. “It is very, very early days.”

Ikea representatives didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. At a European Parliament hearing in March, Ikea said its tax affairs are in line with international rules, echoing comments by other firms targeted by EU probes, including McDonald’s Corp. and Apple. Full story...

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'TTIP threatens our way of life,' say Berlin protesters...

Rarely has an issue caused such outrage: Protesters have turned out across Germany to demonstrate against the TTIP and CETA trade deals with the US and Canada. They say they won't stop until both are scrapped.


German retiree Maud Kellerhals has never been to a demonstration in her life. But on Saturday, the 79-year-old former school secretary from Berlin decided to make an exception. She marched through the city, together with many thousands of other people.

"I have nothing against the Americans, but I don't think they should be able to tell us what to do," she said, explaining her decision to join the mass protest against Europe's controversial trade deals with the US and Canada, TTIP and CETA.

 "I don't want to eat their genetically modified food. And the idea that big US companies can take our government to court is just dreadful." Kellerhals said she had been reading up on the issues on the internet. Full story...

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32,000 people in Japan turned 100 this year and the economy can't keep up...

Japan doesn't really believe in dying young.

At least, not according to conventional timelines.

New data from the country's Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare reveal Japan has broken its own record for most centenarians by population for the 46th straight year.

With 32,000 new 100-year-olds, there are now more than 65,000 people in Japan who've lived 100 years or more. Though it trails first-place US by roughly 10,000 centenarians, Japan's population is only a third of America's.

In other words, no country on Earth has a larger percentage of people who have reached their 100th birthday. Full story...

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CEOs can now be prosecuted like war criminals at the Hague...

The International Criminal Court announced Thursday it will now hold corporate executives and governments legally responsible for environmental crimes.

The Hague court made explicit references to widening its approach to include land grabbing, which has allowed private corporations, with the help of governments, to take over large areas of foreign land to exploit natural resources. It will also prosecute for environmental destruction.

“Chasing communities off their land and trashing the environment has become an accepted way of doing business in many resource-rich yet cash-poor countries,” said Gillian Caldwell, executive director at Global Witness. "Company bosses and politicians complicit in violently seizing land, razing tropical forests or poisoning water sources could soon find themselves standing trial in the Hague alongside war criminals and dictators. The ICC’s interest could help improve the lives of millions of people and protect critical ecosystems.” Full story...

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Friday, September 09, 2016

"Math is racist." CNN goes full retard...

This is not from a satire parody site, nor is the article a joke, CNN has now declared "math is racist."

From CNN:

It's no surprise that inequality in the U.S. is on the rise. But what you might not know is that math is partly to blame. In a new book, "Weapons of Math Destruction," Cathy O'Neil details all the ways that math is essentially being used for evil (my word, not hers).

From targeted advertising and insurance to education and policing, O'Neil looks at how algorithms and big data are targeting the poor, reinforcing racism and amplifying inequality.

These "WMDs," as she calls them, have three key features: They are opaque, scalable and unfair.
Full story...

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Gambling addict spends $1million on lottery tickets...