Wednesday, April 23, 2014

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

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

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

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

But campaigners have warned the move could backfire.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Spoek Mathambo and Control...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Irate Singaporeans want to stomp STOMP...

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

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

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

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

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

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Manchester United sack manager David Moyes...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Why everything you know about Jesus is wrong...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Reincarnation: the Eastern view....

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Monday, April 21, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

L'venir reports:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

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

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

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

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

(...)

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

(...)

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

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Daughter, 10, of Brazilian Fifa chief responsible for choosing host nation for the World Cup had £2million deposited into her bank account...

The daughter of a wealthy Fifa delegate who helped in the controversial decision to name Qatar and Russia future hosts of the World Cup received a £2million payment from a business associate of her father with Qatari links, it has been claimed.

Antonia Wigand Teixeira, the daughter of Brazil's Fifa representative Ricardo Teixeira, was paid the large sum of money in 2011.

It is not certain from whom the funds came, but it is thought that Sandro Rossell, the former president of Qatar-sponsored Barcelona football club, was behind the transfer.

Documents seen by the Daily Telegraph show that Miss Teixeira was given the money on June 22 2010, when she was 10 years old.

The payment is the latest in a series of financial revelations surrounding Fifa's decision to award the World Cup to Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022. Full story...

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Saudi princesses who say they are kept locked in palace as punishment for advocating women's rights make another plea for help...

One of the Saudi princesses who claims she and her sisters are being held captive by their father has managed to make contact with the outside world.

Sahar, the eldest daughter of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, said the women were being starved and beaten on the orders of her father.

The 42-year-old princess, who had lived a life of luxury before the past 13 years of captivity, made her claims during a clandestine phone call to the New York Post.

'We are cut off and isolated and alone. We are hostages,' she said.

'No one can come see us, and we can’t go see anyone. Our father is responsible and his sons, our half-brothers, are both culprits in this tragedy.'

She said that the King was punishing her and her three sisters, Jawaher, Hala, and Maha, because they spoke out about the injustices and inequality faced by women in Saudi Arabia. Full story...

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Turkey may leave World Wide Web ...

Turkey's Minister of Transport, Maritime and Communication, Lüfti Elvan says Turkey may establish a national 'ttt' protocol instead of the regularly used 'www'.

Hurriyet Daily News has a report where it is pointed out that Elvan has defended the action saying that several EU countries have toyed with the idea of establishing "their own national Internet protocols."

He went on to explain how,

"Instead of www, a ttt system can be formed. Turkey and other countries can establish their own domains. Such a move would detach the Internet systems from each other. This is a controversial issue."

Elvan has also said there should be what he calls an "international convention" in order to curb what he sees as "the lack of control over social media." Full story...

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

German president attacks “dangerous” Swiss self-government...

As outrage grows among European Union bosses over Swiss voters’ February decision to curb mass immigration into Switzerland, German President Joachim Gauck (shown) warned that self-government by the people is “dangerous.” Switzerland is not a member of the EU, but this has not stopped officials in Germany and across the European Union from going into meltdown mode against their independent neighbor and brazenly terrorizing the Swiss with increasingly outrageous threats over their decision to limit immigration. Gauck’s attack on Switzerland’s system of constitutional self-government, though, is among the most extreme thus far, and it has infuriated citizens all across the political spectrum.

During an official visit to the liberty-minded and fiercely independent Alpine nation last week, the German head of state blasted the Swiss system whereby the people can organize elections to override the wishes of politicians. Speaking of the immigration referendum, Gauck claimed it is “dangerous when citizens vote on highly complex issues.” It was not immediately clear why the German president thought immigration policy could be considered too “complex” for the Swiss people to make a decision about — especially considering Switzerland’s nearly unparalleled track-record of prosperity and freedom.

In fact, across Europe, fury over mass immigration and other issues has sparked calls all over the bloc for Swiss-style national referendums. However, the emerging Brussels-based super-state, like many of its member governments, has become notorious for imposing its will in defiance of the public. Indeed, the entire continent-wide effort to smash all remaining vestiges of national sovereignty and create a “federal” Europe has been accomplished almost entirely against the wishes of citizens, rather than through consent. In the few cases where referendums were allowed, the public rejected EU schemes, which were imposed anyway. The erection of the radical “Lisbon Treaty” offers an excellent example.  Full story...

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Landmark case in South Africa sees Pirate Bay user hit with 5-year sentence...

In a blaze of publicity mid December 2013 it was revealed that South Africa had netted its very first Internet pirate. SAFACT, the Southern African Federation Against Copyright Theft, said it had caught a man uploading a high-profile movie to The Pirate Bay.

The case had unusual hallmarks from the start, not least since SAFACT admitted it had engaged the services of a “certified ethical hacker” to identify, profile and trace the uploader. Adding to the intrigue, SAFACT also refused to name the uploaded movie, although it was later revealed to be Four Corners, a local gangland film that was yet to be officially released.

Initially, the identity of the uploader was also shrouded in mystery but he was later revealed to be 29-year-old Majedien Norton. The IT engineer was reported to have uploaded the movie on November 21, 2013, although there is no sign of it now, which suggests that the father of two later deleted the file. Norton later admitted to buying a ‘screener’ copy of the movie off the streets and uploading it to Pirate Bay.

As in many countries, relatively minor and non-commercial instances of copyright infringement are dealt with via the civil courts in South Africa, but from fairly early on it was clear that this case would be different. The overall anti-piracy tone was that an example needed to be made and a precedent set for those tempted to make the same kind of mistake in future. Full story...

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French bank bosses to explain 'indecent' pay...

As France struggles to resuscitate its moribund economy and squelch record unemployment, the bosses of its biggest banks have given themselves millions in euros worth of raises since last year. And Economy Minister Arnaud Montbourg is incensed.

Crédit Agricole’s boss Jean-Paul Chifflet is making €2.14 million, a jump of about 38.8 percent over last year. The boss at BNP, Jean-Laurent Bonnafé is pulling in €3.44 million, up by 8.1 percent from the previous year. While Société Générale’s chief Frédéric Oudéa is earning €2.7 million or 8.5 percent more than last year, French daily Le Parisien reported.

The millions in pay hikes prompted Montbourg to tell the Senate on Thursday he’s decided to invite the CEO’s to a “little meeting” where they will "explain themselves" on the topic of the “indecent” jump in their salaries, Le Parisien reported.

“We’re going to have to talk about all this with the banking industry,” Montbourg told lawmakers. “We cannot have a defective banking system and remuneration that soars to, in our view, disproportionate levels.”

 No word yet from the banks on whether they consider the salaries indecent or if they’ll attend the gathering. However, the banks are not government-owned institutions and go pay their bosses what they wish. Full story...

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India's politicians aren't talking about women, but everybody else is...

India’s general elections, which began on April 7 and span four weeks and 10 phases, are now exactly halfway through. And so far, women voters’ turnout has surged compared to previous years, even dwarfing men’s votes in several regions, including Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Sikkim, Lakshadweep, and Chandigarh, an Election Commission official told AFP’s Bhuvan Bagga. In 1962, the difference between men and women’s turnouts was 16.7%. In 2009, it was 4.4%. This year, it is predicted to be even narrower. In the last few decades, India has had both a female prime minister and a female president. It is safe to say that India’s women are ready to demand a place in the political conversation.

After all, it is a conversation that is increasingly about them. A recent survey found that 93% of Indians believe combating gender-based violence should be an election priority. Eighty-eight percent are more likely to vote for a candidate who commits to strong action countering violence against women.

After a horrific New Delhi gang rape in December 2012 first launched phrases like “rape culture” and “victim blaming” onto Indian primetime, the nation’s media and intellectuals have been relentless in scrutinizing how and why India is so lethally violent toward half a billion of its citizens. Some blame Bollywood’s shameless glorification of sexual harassment and female objectification; others fault India’s ancient patriarchal joint family structures. Either way, in the last year, no single issue has galvanized India as thoroughly as its women, their safety, and their lack thereof. Being a woman in India is often described much more often as a plight than a joy. Full story...

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Sri Lanka - Tamil journalist attacked...

A 29-year old freelance Tamil journalist has been attacked by unknown men wearing helmets in the tightly guarded Northern Jaffna peninsula last evening (April 14).

According to media sources, freelance journalist Sivagnanam Selvatheepan who has been contributing to a couple of Tamil national media outlets in Colombo was on his way home when he was attacked with iron rods by two unknown men on a motorbike near Puraporukki in Vadamaradchchi on the Sinhala Tamil New Year day night.

"The attackers have followed him for a couple of miles before stopping him. They questioned him and ensured his identity before launching this cowardly attack," a fellow journalist in Jaffna told the JDS via phone.

Badly injured Selvatheepan has been admitted to the Jaffna base hospital and a complaint has also been lodged with the Kopay police.

It is notable here that Selvatheepan along with his mother has appeared before the government’s Lesson Leant Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) to give on the disappearance of his brother, who had gone missing in Batticaloa. According to reports, he has informed his friends about unknown people following his movements and issuing threats. Full story...

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Gold bars removed from Indian man's stomach!!!

Twelve bars of gold have been recovered from the stomach of a businessman in the Indian capital, Delhi, a surgeon treating him has said.

The 63-year-old man was admitted to hospital after complaining of vomiting and difficulty defecating.

He told his doctor that he had swallowed a bottle cap in anger, after a fight with his wife.

But when surgeons operated they found gold bars weighing nearly 400g (14oz) in his stomach instead of a bottle cap.

Doctors, who performed the operation on 9 April, told the BBC that police and customs authorities had questioned the businessman and confiscated the gold. Full story...

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