Sunday, January 22, 2017

Many studies saying breakfast aides weight loss may be industry funded...

Cereal makers have happily encouraged the belief that eating breakfast can help keep us thin and bring other benefits, partly by paying for studies that seem to support the idea.

So, does that mean breakfast is bad for you? Not that either. What it does show is how difficult it can be to sort the hype from reliable dietary advice when studies are funded by the makers of Froot Loops, nutrition science is often inconclusive, and gray areas can be spun for marketing.

Take Special K. In the 1990s, Special K boxes featured findings that people who didn't normally eat breakfast lost more weight after they started doing so.

"That was the little piece they put on the cereal box," said David Schlundt, a co-author of the study of about 50 women. Not mentioned on those boxes: Regular breakfast eaters who started skipping the meal lost even more weight, compared to those who stuck with their routines.

That doesn't mean particular breakfasts can't help some people control their appetites, or bring other benefits like energy. Schlundt's study was tiny. But it shows how easy it is to simplify the complexities and limitations of nutrition science and cherry-pick the findings. Full story...

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Donald Trump warns journalists, calls them 'most dishonest human beings'

Describing journalists as the most dishonest human beings on Earth, US President Donald Trump+ has said he has been "running a war" with the
media and warned them of consequences for falsely reporting that less number of people attended his inauguration. .
.
 "We had a massive field of people. You saw them. Packed. I get up this morning, I turn on one of the networks, and they show an empty field," Trump said. .
.
 "I say, wait a minute, I made a speech. I looked out, it looked like a million, million and a half people. They showed a field where there were practically nobody standing there. They (media) said, Donald Trump did not draw well. I said, it was almost raining, the rain should have scared them away, but God looked down and he said, we're not going to let it rain on your speech," he said. .
.
"Then I walked off and it poured right after I left. It poured. But, we have something that's amazing because, it looked like a million and a half people. Whatever it was, it was. But it went all the way back to the Washington Monument. And I turn on — and by mistake I get this network, and it showed an empty field. And it said we drew 250,000 people," he said. Full story...

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Germany could’ve but didn’t stop Berlin attacker. Why?

According to German broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW), German security and intelligence agencies were particularly familiar with the Berlin attacker, Anis Amri, long before he plowed a large truck into a Christmas market, killing 12 and injuring many more.

In an article titled, “All the cracks that Berlin suspect Amri slipped through,” a now familiar litany of excuses are peddled before audiences in a bid to explain why the suspect wasn’t stopped, weeks, months, even years before he carried out his attack, as soon as it became apparent he was both violent and a danger to society.

DW’s article admits:

The suspect first caught authorities’ attention in November 2015, when he unwittingly told an informant for the investigative police unit (BKA) in the state of North-Rhine Westphalia that he wanted to “do something in Germany,” according to a document obtained by the daily S├╝ddeutsche Zeitung. He also claimed that he could get an AK-47 for an attack.

The article claims that from that point onward, Amri was “watched” by German agencies. DW also admits: Full story...

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Saturday, January 21, 2017

“Hard work. A loving family. A wonderful marriage. And she never drank, she never smoked, but she was happy. And I think that was the key to her longevity.”

A 109-year-old woman from southern Illinois has some advice for living a long life.

“I never smoked a cigarette in my life, I never drank liquor in my life, and I had one husband for 43 years,” said Ruth Benjamin. “And I love bacon!

Ruth just celebrated her 109th birthday. She was born in 1908 as one of her parents’ six children.

Later in life, she worked at Quakemaid in Terre Haute for 43 years. While her life may be more quiet now, she used to always be on the go.

“I’ve been to Hawaii, I’ve been to Washington D.C., I’ve been to Niagara Falls. I’ve been about everywhere.”

Dr. Jim Turner of Cork Medical Center is Ruth’s doctor.

You’d think he’d have a long list of ‘doctor’s orders’, but, “‘What do you do with someone who’s 109 years old?’ and my answer was ‘absolutely nothing. We don’t need to do anything.'”

As for a key to Ruth’s long life? Dr. Turner attributes that to her attitude.

“Hard work. A loving family. A wonderful marriage. And she never drank, she never smoked, but she was happy. And I think that was the key to her longevity.” Source...

Thailand's misbehaving monks...

India overturns bull-wrestling ban in response to massive protests...

A popular bull-wresting festival in India's Tamil Nadu state is to go ahead after the state and central government moved to temporarily overturn a ban on it.

People in Tamil Nadu have been bull-wresting for centuries as part of their culture and traditions surrounding the Pongal harvest festival, which was held last week.

India's Supreme Court banned the sport known as "Jallikattu" in 2014 in response to a petition by animal rights activists, who argue the practice of giving the animals alcohol and throwing chili powder in their eyes amounted to animal cruelty.

During the festival bulls charge down the road and are let into an open field, where young men try to subdue the bulls by grabbing them by the back or horns. The bull owners say the animals are treated well.

Anger over the three-year ban boiled over this week after several hundred people in Tamil Nadu were arrested for defying the law. In response, tens of thousands of people have been protesting in the state capital Chennai and other cities over the past week to demand the ban be lifted. The protests shut down transport, schools and and businesses. A number of prominent celebrities also threw their support behind the protestors. Full story...

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Roman Polanski picked for French film panel, sparking outrage...

France's minister for women's rights said it was a "shocking" decision to appoint filmmaker Roman Polanski as head of the jury for the country's equivalent of the Oscars.

The award-winning director has been wanted in the US for decades after admitting to sex with a minor.

Mr Polanski, now 83, fled ahead of his sentencing for statutory rape in 1978.

The Cesars have defended their choice, praising the director as an "insatiable aesthete".

His role in the 2017 awards has outraged women right's groups, who have called for a boycott of next month's televised ceremony. Full story...

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Who should be called an expat?

What is an expatriate, exactly? And when is an expat an immigrant — or not?

The word expat is loaded. It carries many connotations, preconceptions and assumptions about class, education and privilege — just as the terms foreign worker and migrant call to mind a different set of assumptions.

But what makes one person an expat, and another a foreign worker or migrant? Often the former is used to describe educated, rich professionals working abroad, while those in less privileged positions — for example, a maid in the Gulf states or a construction worker in Asia — are deemed foreign workers or migrant workers. The classification matters, because such language can in some cases be used as a political tool or to dehumanise — as the debate around the word “migrant” suggests.

Fears surrounding job security, concerns over immigration and nationalism inspire discussion across the globe about who falls into which category. But a key part of this dialogue is how exactly we define different people who cross borders to work. Full story...

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5 things you can do to cheer up quickly...

Life isn’t always easy, and it may seem like it is, in fact, difficult more often than not. Yet both ups and downs are a natural part of life, and we’ve all had our fair share of both. But when you do find yourself in a funk, why not, rather than dwell on it, which often just makes things worse, try to pull yourself out of it, and not let it ruin your day or week?

Sometimes when you’re in one of these moods it can feel impossible to break free, and sometimes it feels easier to just sit in it and brood instead of actively trying to get yourself out of it. Yet truthfully, there are some things you can do RIGHT NOW to instantly lift that extra weight off your shoulders and turn that frown upside down.

(...)

I don’t care if it’s snowing or raining, too windy, too cold, or too hot, I guarantee this will make you feel better, especially if you can walk somewhere green, which has been scientifically proven to make you feel better. Just getting active and breathing in some fresh air can almost instantly lift your spirits. When you are down in the dumps it can be hard to find the energy to even get up to do this, but once you do, you will be glad you did! Full story...

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People are knitting giant sweaters to keep rescued elephants cozy...

Cozy winter garments, made with love, are a bit like hugs that you can wear. And these lucky elephants clearly couldn't be happier to feel that warm embrace from people who took the time to care.

A cold snap is underway across northern India, home to the Wildlife SOS Elephant Conservation and Care Center, and everyone is feeling the chill.

Fortunately, the sanctuary's pachyderm residents, each of whom was rescued from a sad life of exploitation and abuse, aren't having to face the freezing temperatures unprotected.

As it turns out, a group of big-hearted local villagers have been knitting giant sweaters to keep the elephants warm. More + pics...

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Jallikattu: Thousands protest at India bullfighting ban...

Thousands of people in India's southern Tamil Nadu state are protesting against a ban on bullfighting.

At least 4,000 people have been camping at Marina beach in the state's capital, Chennai (Madras), since Tuesday night.

Traditional bull-taming contests, known as Jallikattu, have been popular for centuries in the state. Protesters say they represent its identity.

But the Supreme Court banned it in 2014 after objections from animal rights groups. It upheld the ban in 2016.

BBC Tamil reports that similar protests are being organised on Wednesday in other parts of the state. Calls have been made on social media asking people to join the protests. Full story...

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‘Molested when we confessed’: Duterte fires up at Catholic priests over pedophilia, corruption...

Unshaken by a blessing from Pope Francis, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has hit back at priests and bishops critical of his war on drugs, accusing clergymen of homosexuality, child molesting, hypocrisy and corruption. “You asked for it,” he said.

“You expose me, fine. I expose you. Why? When you commit mistakes it's OK, but when we do, no? Bullshit. That’s stupid,” the president said during a speech to newly-promoted police officers at Malaca├▒an on Thursday.

Duterte, who revealed in 2015 that he was molested by a priest when he was young in an act of “sexual awakening,” but did not file a complaint for fear of “what would happen,” said Catholic priests had their skeletons in the closet.

“You asked for it. If you want a showdown, then let's have a showdown. You mend your ways. If you cannot even give justice to the small boys that you have molested in the past, you do not have that moral ascendancy to lecture [me] on what to do. Sanctity of life? You're enjoying your worth,” he said, as quoted by The Philippine Star. Full story...

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Friday, January 20, 2017

A triple execution in Bahrain has provoked national outrage – and international silence...

(...)

Since the report, which the King accepted to much international acclaim, the Bahrain government has emphasised its commitment to reforms. Yet implementation of the recommendations has been frequently documented as inadequate. Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) found that only two of the report’s 26 recommendations had been fully implemented, and eight had not even begun. Many of these reforms centred around creating mechanisms to ensure an end to torture and an increase of state accountability. Even Professor Cherif Bassiouni, the head of the BICI team, wrote in June last year that most of the reforms had not been fully implemented.

But things are actually getting worse. Amid the token reforms, the January executions show that Bahrain is regressing with regards to political development and human rights. The country’s only remotely critical newspaper, Al Wasat, which was shut down in 2011, has now been ordered by the government to close its online paper, too. The official reason given was that it was “jeapordising national unity and disrupting public peace”. In fact, it had been slighty critical of the executions.

Earlier this year, the government of Bahrain announced that it was reversing one of the BICI reforms which stipulated that Bahrain’s National Security Agency (NSA) have its powers of arrest removed. The power separation was considered important in controlling torture. Other laws enacted which have clamped down on freedom of expression, alongside the arrest of activists, have prompted accusations not of reform, but of de-democratisation. The fact that these are the first official executions to have occurred since 2010 suggest Bahrain is becoming more, not less authoritarian. Full story...

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10 ways a hospital stay can make us sicker...

Especially when we’re sick and vulnerable, we rely on health-care providers to treat us. We depend on their knowledge, training, skills, and compassion. We expect them to help us to heal so that we can return to our duties and responsibilities as employers or employees, spouses, parents, neighbors, and friends.

We certainly don’t expect to get worse as a result of being hospitalized. However, there’s a chance that, in fact, we will get worse as there are 10 ways a hospital stay can make us sicker.

Dr. Harlan Krumholz of the Yale School of Medicine has coined the term “post-hospital syndrome” to identify a temporary period during which patients are susceptible to an illness following a hospital stay. This requires their readmission within 30 days of their initial discharge.

The cause of readmission ranges from a hospital-acquired infection (HAI), stress experienced during hospitalization, sleep deprivation during the hospital stay, a lack of nutrition or exercise, lowered immune system functioning, and depression. Research conducted in 2009 shows that, among Medicare patients, 2.6 million discharged patients (20 percent) were readmitted to the hospital within a month of their discharge. Full story...

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As Jallikattu protests swell, Tamil Nadu looks at legal way out: 10 points...

After Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam today that he cannot use an ordinance or executive order to remove a ban on bull-taming festival Jallikattu, the AIADMK government is said to be considering bringing an ordinance under a state law to circumvent the ban. Mr Panneerselvam has extended his stay in Delhi to get legal opinion on his options as a protest by thousands of people at Chennai's famous Marina Beach entered its third day. The protesters demand that Jallikattu be brought back to Tamil Nadu.

1 The centre's top lawyer Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told NDTV that Tamil Nadu can bring a new law or ordinance under sports, which is exclusively a state subject, to allow Jallikattu, keeping in mind the Supreme Court ban and imposing penalties to ensure bulls are not treated cruelly.

2  Mr Rohatgi said Jallikattu is a local event and the state has the power to enact laws on local events.

3  Mr Panneerselvam told reporters after his meeting with PM Modi today that the state government would, along with the centre, would take steps to ensure that Jallikattu is held during the harvest festival of Pongal. The event hasn't been held for three years since the Supreme Court banned it in 2014. Full story...

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Why can't you use cell-phones on a plane?

Polanski to preside at French Oscars: 'We feel sick', say French feminists...

Feminists called for protests Thursday at the "French Oscars" next month after controversial film director Roman Polanski agreed to preside over the ceremony.

The maker of "Chinatown" and "Rosemary's Baby" has been wanted in the US for almost four decades for the rape of a 13-year-old girl in Los Angeles in 1977.

Polanski, 83, last month defeated a bid to extradite him from his native Poland, telling reporters, "I'll finally be able to feel safe in my own country."

But the decision to honour him at the annual Cesars ceremony has infuriated women's groups, with many taking to social media calling for a boycott of the televised show.

The leading group Osez le feminisme (Dare feminism) called the decision by the French Academy of Cinema Arts and Techniques "shameful", and urged people to protest outside. Full story...

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Rohingya crisis: Malaysia PM says Muslims must act...

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has called on Muslim countries to lead international action over the plight of Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims.

Mr Razak made the comments in an opening statement to members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) gathering in Kuala Lumpur.

The OIC is made up of 57 countries with large or majority-Muslim populations.

It is holding the emergency session to discuss what it says is a humanitarian crisis faced by the Myanmar minority.

Approximately 65,000 Rohingyas have fled Myanmar's Rakhine state since Burmese soldiers began intensive counter-terrorism operations there in October. Full story...

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Japan government mulls stopping employees from fatal overworking...

Japan's government has announced measures to prevent employees from overworking in an attempt to stop people literally working themselves to death, a report says.

The Independent newspaper reported on Wednesday that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would soon seek to impose a cap on the number of overtime hours employees can work.

Yoshihide Suga, a government spokesman, has said that Japan needs to end the "norm of long working hours so people can balance their lives with things like raising a child or taking care of the elderly."

Some Japanese companies have begun a routine of switching all the lights off at night to encourage workers to leave the office.

The Japan Business Federation is also set to launch a campaign that will allow workers to leave the office early on the last Friday of every month. Full story...

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After Big Pharma Failed, Parents Risked All to Save Daughter’s Life with Cannabis — It Worked!

(...)

The outlook for children with schizencephaly is grim. Some patients are stillborn, others are “not compatible with life” and others succumb to medication-induced organ failure. Barbara has connected with parents of children suffering from this condition, and many have lost the battle.

By the time Nova was two years old, she was having all types of seizures and was taking six anti-seizure medications. But they weren’t working. Doctors had turned to simply trying to sedate her, including the use of benzodiazepines – potent psychoactive drugs known through names such as Xanax and Valium.

If Nova wasn’t in a state of seizure, Barbara says the cocktail of drugs kept her in an immobilized, completely unresponsive state, with no apparent awareness of her surroundings. Barbara tearfully described a moment when she tried to get Nova to play with some small bells, lifting Nova’s hand to touch them. But Nova, eyes rolled to the back of her head, just let her hand drop.

Barbara began to “question how [Nova] could ever have a quality of life.” After several MRI and EEG scans, the Texas neurologist said Nova was a good candidate for brain surgery called lesionectomy, which would remove most of the brain she had left. There is no guarantee it would work, and the extreme procedure could result in Nova’s death. Full story...

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12-year-old Indian girl raped by principal, three teachers on school premises...

A 12-year-old student of a government school was allegedly gangraped by the principal and three teachers in Bihar's Jehanabad, police said on Monday.

Principal of Kako Secondary School Aju Ahmed and three teachers - Atul Rahman, Abdul Bari and Md Shakaut - gangraped the girl on Sunday when she was alone in the building, Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) P K Srivastava said.

The accused took her to the roof of the school building and committed the crime, the SDPO said quoting an FIR registered against the four based on a complaint filed by the girl's mother.

The victim was spotted by her mother, also a teacher in the same school, lying in a "dishevelled" state on the roof. The girl then narrated the incident to her, the SDPO said.

The accused are at large and searches are being conducted to nab them.

Sunday, routinely a holiday, had been declared a working day in the school in a verbal communication by the Principal who had instead ordered it to be closed on Friday, Srivastava said. Source...

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Tamil girl and son dancing duet...

Why do Indians vote for 'criminal' politicians?

Political scientist Milan Vaishnav has been studying links between crime and democracy in India for many years now. His upcoming book When Crime Pays offers some intriguing insights into what is a disturbing feature of India's electoral democracy.

The good news is that the general election is a thriving, gargantuan exercise: 554 million voters queued up at more than 900,000 stations to cast their ballots in the last edition in 2014. The fortunes of 8,250 candidates representing 464 political parties were at stake.

The bad news is that a third (34%) of 543 MPs who were elected faced criminal charges, up from 30% in 2009 and 24% in 2004.

Some of the charges were of minor nature or politically motivated. But more than 20% of the new MPs faced serious charges such as attempted murder, assaulting public officials, and theft.

Now, India's general elections are not exactly a cakewalk. Full story...

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Fake News: The fake-stream media devours itself...

When their Anointed One lost the election, big television news networks and primary newspapers coined the term “fake news” because they were angry at alternative media for eroding deep into their domain. It was time to expose these fakers because audiences were fleeing to alternatives to establishment media as certainly as they fled to alternatives to establishment politicians.

Without a doubt there is a ton of fake news on alternative media sites, which often publish what works for them without much fact checking. So, to launch a war on their competition, the mainstream media employed their standard sound-byte strategy that has worked well for them in the past. They simultaneously started circulating the new talking point “fake news” to try to stop the migration of audiences toward alternative news sites. It was time to point out how they, the mainstream media, do a superior job of editing out the baloney for you.

Everybody else’s news became fake news, but the mainstream media’s own exaggerated and highly spun stories, which they ran day after day … that was just bedrock reality. Following Fox’s years of example, the MSM dropped even the pretense of separating their own commentary from news stories, and much of their news became commentary about alternative media; but the “fake news” mantra all backfired this time. Full story...

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Sex between husbands and wives will only be for 'special occasions' because ROBOTS will satisfy everyday needs, experts predict...

Married couples will only have sex on special occasions, turning to robots to satisfy their day-to-day needs, experts have predicted.

Speaking at an international robotics conference, those working in the field predicted that the use of artificial intelligence (AI) devices in the bedroom will be the norm within 25 years.

Dr Trudy Barber, an expert in the relationship between technology and sexual intercourse, compared the rise of sex robots to that of the e-book and said the machine would would allow people to appreciate 'the real thing' more.

At the International Congress of Love and Sex with Robotics, Dr Barber yesterday said that society's readiness to embrace technology means it was only a matter of time before it also plays a significant role in people's sex lives.

She said: 'It could be that we are so busy with our lives, we are so embedded in our technological narrative that the idea of engaging in long-distance sex and robot sex is actually a natural process in our evolutionary cycle. Full story...

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Encrypt the Web...

Air India cordons off women-only seats...

Air India will introduce women-only seats on its domestic flights to give female passengers more choice and comfort, said a senior official from the national carrier, rejecting claims the move was linked to reports of in-flight sex attacks.

From Wednesday, Air India will allocate six seats in the third row of its economy class cabin for solo women travellers - making it the only airline in India, and possibly the world, to take this step, said the official.

India already has policies which segregate women from men on public transport to avoid sexual harassment and molestation. Many trains - both underground and overground - have carriages reserved for women, and some buses have women-only seats.

"We are doing this as we get lots of requests by female passengers at the check-in counter who want to sit next to another woman, rather than a male passenger," said G Prasada Rao, Air India's general manager for corporate communications. Full story...

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China: Agents, parents get in on ‘rent-a-girlfriend’ game...

China's recent rent-a-girlfriend trend has helped bachelors avoid mounting pressure to marry by hiring strangers as stand-ins for pushy parents.

But this year, business is booming, with more agencies offer the services as high demand drives up prices ahead of Spring Festival.

What's more, parents seeking to cash in on the trend are helping their daughters hook up with agents and those looking to deceive their families.

Young women are charging an average 3,ooo yuan ($500) for a 2 day-1 night stint as a stand-in significant other, according to listings on e-commerce site Taobao.

Legitimate matchmaking agencies have entered the game, and have strict rules for renters, with rates starting at 1,000 yuan a day. Full story...

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President Obama commutes Chelsea Manning’s prison sentence...

President Obama has commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning, the former army intelligence analyst who was convicted of leaking classified military documents to Wikileaks.

The 29-year-old whistleblower, who was sentenced to 35-years in prison in August 2013, will now be released in five months, on 17 May of this year, instead of 2024.

Since her incarceration, the former US Army soldier who was known as Bradley Manning, attempted suicide twice last year and went on a hunger strike at the US Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

She continued her protest for less than a week until doctors allowed her to receive gender reassignment surgery. A military doctor has nonetheless refused to change her gender on her military records. Full story...

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Hundreds of Alberta students seeking 'sugar daddies'

Facing staggering debt loads, hundreds of Alberta post-secondary students are logging on to a website connecting them to "sugar daddies" who can provide them a monthly allowance and gifts in exchange for negotiated relationships.

But student advocates warn such arrangements can be fraught with peril, exposing them to potential exploitation or abuse with few avenues to disentangle themselves from a bad situation.

Matchmaking website Seeking Arrangement this week released its rankings of Canadian universities that have had students sign up in search of financial aid. Equating relationships to a business deal, the company said clients hammer out financial arrangements with benefactors ahead of time, leaving the expectations of such an accord between them.

 In 2016, the University of Alberta topped the list for new signups in Canada, with 138 new students logging on. The boom in new members at the Edmonton school brings its total number of members (determined by those using their university emails) to 422, ranked the seventh most of all Canadian post-secondary institutions. Full story...

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Train crushes 2 boys clicking selfies in Delhi...

Obsession with selfies claimed two more young lives in the capital when two teenagers were crushed under a train while posing between two railway tracks at Anand Vihar, east Delhi, on Saturday afternoon. .
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 The victims, Yash Kumar, 16, and Shubham, 14, along with five friends studying in the same tuition centre, had pooled in money and rented a DSLR camera for Rs 400 per day. Cops said they wanted to build a modelling portfolio. .
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As per accounts of the other boys, the group had chosen a spot between two tracks to take selfies with an approaching train in the background. They were so engrossed in taking pictures when the train approached that they didn't notice another train coming from the opposite direction.

While others stayed where they were, Yash and Shubham, in a reflex action, jumped onto the other track fearing they would be crushed between two trains. They instantly came under the second train and died, police said. .
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 Before the accident, Yash and Shubham had gone to a gaming parlour near Akshardham after tution classes, with Rohit Kumar, Tushar Yadav, Bhaveet Tomar, Rohit Singh and Aman Kumar. Full story...

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Monday, January 16, 2017

How to wash a car with a baby...

Driver for Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu gets 27 year sentence for raping minors...

A former driver for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was sentenced on Sunday to 27 years in prison for rape, sodomy and “indecent acts” of a sexual nature against six minors.

Ilan Shmuel, 54, from Zecharia, an agricultural village outside Beit Shemesh, was convicted in September. Prosecutors said in October that they were seeking a 40-year prison term.

The father of one of the victims, who is also a relative of Shmuel’s, told Army Radio Sunday morning after the sentencing that the family, which had been “torn apart” by Shmuel’s actions, had “come full circle” with the sentence.

Another victim told Army Radio, “I want to turn to every young girl in Israel who has been sexually assaulted, so they will know that there is indeed justice.” Full story...

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Fake news: Too important to ignore...

Fake news is nothing new, depending on what you mean by it.

But during the past year - specifically during Donald Trump's election - it has become a cancer in the body politic, growing from an isolated but malignant tumour into a raging, mortal threat.

No hack can witness this without alarm. As a BBC journalist I am required to be politically impartial; but as my distinguished colleague Nick Robinson has argued, I am under no obligation to be impartial about democracy (as against tyranny, for example).

Nor am I under any obligation to be impartial about truth, as against lies. The possibility of truth is a necessary condition for democracy.

Fake news is an assault on truth. Therefore it behoves all right-thinking journalists to combat fake news. Full story...

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The world’s eight richest billionaires control the same wealth between them as the poorest half of the globe’s population, according to a charity warning of an ever-increasing and dangerous concentration of wealth.

In a report published to coincide with the start of the week-long World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Oxfam said it was “beyond grotesque” that a handful of rich men headed by the Microsoft founder Bill Gates are worth $426bn (£350bn), equivalent to the wealth of 3.6 billion people.

The develo pment charity called for a new economic model to reverse an inequality trend that it said helped to explain Brexit and Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election.

Oxfam blamed rising inequality on aggressive wage restraint, tax dodging and the squeezing of producers by companies, adding that businesses were too focused on delivering ever-higher returns to wealthy owners and top executives. Full story...

Read also: India's rising income inequality: Richest 1% own 58% of total wealth

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Bernie Madoff manipulated the market for hot cocoa mix at his prison...

Even behind bars, Bernie Madoff is still the master of monopolizing people’s money. The business he ran from prison, however, is vastly more legit than the multibillion-dollar con that landed him a 150-year sentence.

According to Steve Fishman, the host of Ponzi Supernova, a new Audible audio series focused on the disgraced former money manager, Madoff found much success steering his talents to the prison supply of Swiss Miss.

“At one point, he cornered the hot chocolate market,” Fishman told MarketWatch. “He bought up every package of Swiss Miss from the commissary and sold it for a profit in the prison yard. … He made it so that, if you wanted any, you had to go through Bernie.”

It seems Madoff’s Swiss Miss-hoarding hasn’t hurt his standing with the other inmates of Butner Prison, the North Carolina correction facility famed for its cushy digs. Full story...

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Scientists discover that white rhino dung has a lot in common with a Facebook post...

Here’s a social networking site you can find with your nose. Scientists studying the communal pooping areas of white rhinos in South Africa have found that the animals use them like social messaging boards – to leave notes about their status and to read the “posts” of others.

The discovery, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, offers insight into the behaviors of these and other social animals — and could even help researchers develop new tools to aid in their conservation.

Mammals are known to leave one another scent signals in their urine (as anyone watching a dog studiously sniff a lamppost while his owner tugs on the leash might suspect).

But the potential signal-sending power of poo has garnered relatively less attention, scientists said.  Full story...

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The extreme bike brothers...

'This is Singapore' is no excuse for racist behaviour...

What is your definition of Singapore, and what happens when a fellow Singaporean has a vastly different idea of what the country should be or represent?

A 28-year-old poet has taken to social media to relate an incident last week in which racism reared its ugly head.

Ms Jennifer Anne Champion, a Singaporean with Ceylonese Tamil, Malay, Indonesian and Chinese heritage, was waiting for her partner's return at Changi Airport last Tuesday, according to her Facebook note. Standing next to her were other people waiting to welcome returning family and friends, including a bespectacled Chinese man in his 40s.

When a Filipino family reunited at the railings near the exit of the gate, the bespectacled man began his tirade. At first, he said: "No hugging here. Can you see? This is Singapore. Go hug outside."

In her note, Ms Champion said she thought the man was perhaps asking the Filipino family not to obstruct the exit. Unfortunately, she was proven wrong. Full story...

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Cuba sees explosion in internet access as ties with US grow...

Two days before Christmas, Luis Gonzalez received a little Chinese modem from Cuba's state-owned telecommunications company.

The 55-year-old theater producer connected the device to his phone and his laptop computer, which instantly lit up with a service unimaginable in the Cuba of just a few years ago — relatively fast home internet.

"It's really easy to sit and find whatever you need," Gonzalez said as he sat in his living room updating his Facebook account, listening to Uruguayan radio online and checking an arriving tourist's landing time for a neighbor who rents rooms in their building in historic Old Havana. "Most Cubans aren't used to this convenience."

Home internet came to Cuba last month in a limited pilot program that's part of the most dramatic change in daily life here since the declaration of detente with the United States on Dec. 17, 2014.

While Cuba remains one of the world's least internet-connected societies, ordinary citizens' access to the internet has exploded over the last two years. Since the summer of 2015, the Cuban government has opened 240 public Wi-Fi spots in parks and on street corners across the country. Cubans were previously restricted to decrepit state internet clubs and hotels that charged $6-$8 for an hour of slow internet. Full story...

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