Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Being African in India: 'We are seen as demons'

After a year in India, Zaharaddeen Muhammed, 27, knows enough Hindi to understand what bander means. Monkey.

But it isn't even the daily derogatory comments that make him doubt his decision to swap his university in Nigeria for a two-year master's degree programme in chemistry at Noida International University. Nor is it the questions about personal hygiene, the unsolicited touching of his hair or the endless staring. It is his failure to interact with Indian people on a deeper level.

"People often look at me as if I am different, and hard to be trusted," the tall, softly spoken student explains. "I try to be friendly. I speak Hindi and always laugh. But when I offer biscuits to the neighbours' children, they don't accept."

After a year, one of Zaharaddeen's biggest wishes remains unfulfilled: to be invited to an Indian wedding.

"I am a big fan of Bollywood," he explains about why he wanted to come to India. "I did not come for the school because there are enough good universities back home. But I wanted to learn about this other culture and interact with the people here." Full story...

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Why so many can't resist smirking when England lose...

It was the knowing look, then the smile. Leaving a petrol station in Banbridge yesterday morning, a middle-aged gentleman turned to me and said: "Pity about the result last night, Steven." It was followed quickly by a grin and a wink.

He was, of course, referring to England's humiliating 2-1 defeat to Iceland (population 330,000) in the Euro 2016 finals on Monday night.

The jokes at England's expense started even before coach Roy Hodgson had tendered his resignation just minutes after the final whistle.

My favourite: "If they can't beat Iceland, what would Asda or Tesco do to them?"

How the people of Northern Ireland chuckled.

Already beaming with pride at the performances of their country's football team in France, here was another reason to enjoy this year's European Championships.

It's a strange scenario when you think about it. Full story...

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Muslim school kids must swim to be Swiss...

Authorities in Basel have denied two Muslim teenage girls a Swiss passport because they refused to participate in school swimming lessons and residential camps on religious grounds.

The case, which occurred last year but was made public by broadcaster SRF on Monday, involved two sisters, aged 12 and 14.

Speaking to the broadcaster, Stefan Wehrle, president of the naturalization committee involved in the decision, said young people wishing to become Swiss citizens must prove they are meeting the requirements of the Swiss education system.

 Since swimming lessons are compulsory in Basel’s schools – and in many other places in Switzerland including Zurich and Bern – failing to attend means a student is not meeting requirements. Full story...

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2016 Olympics: What Rio doesn’t want the world to see...

Media pushes "ban" on old people voting after Brexit...

Older people were far more likely to vote to leave the European Union (EU), and having lost the argument, supporters of Remain are blaming them, insult them and even arguing their democratic rights should now be curtailed.

The demographic divide in last week’s vote was stark.

The more working class, poor, old and uneducated people are, statistically the more likely they were to support Brexit. The more wealthy, metropolitan, young, urban and educated, the higher is the chance they backed the EU bureaucracy.

Of course, barely concealed contempt for the working classes, particularly the white poor, is nothing new to social media or the liberal press. But, the all-out attacks on senior citizens post-referendum has shocked many.

Headlines in the Europhile press have included: “How old people have screwed over the younger generation” from the Independent, and “EU Referendum Results: Young ‘Screwed By Older Generations’…” from the Huffington Post.

VICE gave us: “Old People Seem Intent on Fucking Us Over Forever”, and, “Brexit Proves Baby Boomers Should Get Less of a Vote”. Full story...

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Complaints prompt Windows 10 update change...

Microsoft is to offer "clearer options" for users upgrading - or not - to Windows 10.

The move comes following months of criticism that Windows 10 was being forced upon users using what has been described as a "nasty trick".

This week, a Seattle woman successfully sued the company for $10,000 over disruption caused by the software installing without, she said, permission.

In recent months, in an apparent bid to accelerate adoption of Windows 10, Microsoft altered the way it asked users if they wanted to upgrade. It gave the Windows 10 update "recommended" status, normally reserved for critical security updates.

If when prompted to update to Windows 10 users clicked the red "X", the upgrade would not immediately start. However, the update process would automatically be scheduled for a later time. Full story...

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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Here’s how the dairy industry tricked us into thinking we needed milk...

Let’s play a little game. Pick out which item does not belong in this group: apples, bananas, spinach, quinoa, sweet potato, and milk. If you picked milk because it’s the only beverage in the group, you would be right, but there’s another reason the drink doesn’t belong. Fruits, vegetables, and grains are unquestionably good for you, while milk is … well not, entirely. That’s right. Despite what the dairy industry would like us all to believe, milk is not needed for a balanced diet. In fact, since only one in four people can digest the stuff, we’d say it makes for a pretty imbalanced diet.

This video by Vox illustrates the facade of the dairy industry perfectly. As they point out, despite the fact that consumers can get the daily recommendation of calcium, potassium, and protein from fruits and vegetables, the dairy industry has spent billions of dollars to convince you otherwise. The dairy industry convinced parents and children that the only way they were going to “grow up to be big and strong” was by chugging a big ol’ glass of milk. What they left out was the fact that milk actually doesn’t protect against bone fractures, and oh yeah, it’s linked to certain types of cancer.

With this vital information left out of the equation, the dairy industry has been able to lobby their way into schools, touting milk as a nutritional powerhouse. Luckily, despite all of their embellishing, many people have been able to wake up to the fact that milk is not as amazing as they paint it to be. Research shows that hormones and cow’s bodily fluids make their way into the milk, disrupting our own systems. Even some governments have started to lower their daily dairy intake, and are instead placing emphasis on the other portions of the dietary guideline “plate,” such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes. More + video...

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False prophets hype Brexit disaster...

Public sentiment in Britain, across Europe, in America and elsewhere is being manipulated to believe Brexit assures economic and financial chaos.

New world order con man/billionaire speculator George Soros, known for profiting from color revolutions, imperial wars and neoliberal harshness warned of disaster from Brexit, saying:

“Now the catastrophic scenario that many feared has materialized…the disintegration of the EU (is) practically irreversible,"

“Britain eventually may or may not be relatively better off than other countries by leaving the EU, but its economy and people stand to suffer significantly in the short to medium term.”

Financial Times chief foreign affairs commentator Gideon Rachman made similar comments. So did others. Full story...

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Bill Clinton picked up women while jogging as staffers snorted cocaine at work, former Secret Service officer claims in new tell-all book...

In a book set to be released on Tuesday, former Secret Service officer Gary J. Byrne details his time in the White House serving former president Bill Clinton and former first lady Hillary Clinton.

Byrne claims within the pages of the book that Bill Clinton had a 'jogging list' and would have Secret Service 'take the names of attractive women he saw while out exercising'.

In Byrne's new book, 'Crisis of Character: A White House Secret Service Officer Discloses His Firsthand Experience with Hillary, Bill, and How They Operate', the former White House security makes no apologies for his criticisms of the Clintons.

In the 'jogging list', a detail exposed by Byrne, the former president Clinton would allegedly see women who were dressed in nightclub attire or exercise gear, who showed up at the southeast gate. Full story...

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What happens when you stop showering?

Many people are now aware of the importance of your gut microbiome. Some even take proactive steps to protect it, like minimizing the use of antibiotics and eating fermented foods to support a healthy balance.

Less widely known is that such microorganisms don’t only populate your gut; they’re found throughout your body, including on your skin. Just as your gut depends on a balanced microbial state to function optimally, the balance of bacteria and other microbes on your skin also matters.

What’s more, the average American showers close to once each day,1 a hygiene habit that may be doing your body more harm than good.

If you spend 20 minutes a day washing, that equates to about two years of your life spent in the shower or bath along with a hefty amount of money spent on the “necessary” accouterments like shampoo, conditioner, soap and moisturizer.2

What if you were to cut this back to showering once every other day, once every three days or, simply, hardly at all? Dr. James Hamblin, a senior editor at The Atlantic, tried the latter and wrote about his experience, explaining: Full story...

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Payout of $10,000 for Windows 10 update...

Microsoft has agreed to pay a Californian woman $10,000 (£7,500) after an automatic Windows 10 update left her computer unusable.

Teri Goldstein said her Windows 7 computer had automatically tried to update itself to Windows 10 without her permission.

She said the update had made her machine unstable, leaving her unable to use it to run her business.

Microsoft said it had dropped its appeal to save on legal costs.

Microsoft has been aggressively pushing the latest version of its widely used operating system, which is currently available as a free download for computers running Windows 7 and 8. Full story...

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Monday, June 27, 2016

India Bihar 'exam topper' sent to jail for cheating...

An Indian student has been sent to jail for cheating after she failed a retest.

Ruby Rai, 17, ranked first in the Bihar state exams - but said in a video interview that her main subject political science was about cooking.

After the video went viral, Ms Rai was made to re-sit her exams, and was arrested after she failed and had her original results cancelled.

She was produced in court on Sunday where a magistrate sent her to jail until 8 July.

The decision to send her to prison has been criticised given that she is a minor and should, therefore, be sent to a detention home for juveniles.

The Hindu newspaper quoted Senior Superintendent of Police Manu Maharaj as saying that Ms Rai would have to "prove" that she was a minor. He did not specify how. Full story...

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Geneva to get 'café fellatio' by end of year...

A firm in Geneva plans to open a café where customers can enjoy oral sex while they sip their morning coffee. Not everyone is happy with the idea.

The idea for the sex café has been brewing for several months, Bradley Charvet of the Geneva firm Facegirl told Geneva’s Le Matin newspaper recently.

Modelled on similar establishments in Thailand, the proposed Geneva café would add a new dimension to the sex trade in the city of the protestant reformer Calvin.

Put simply, the business model would see men ordering a coffee and using an iPad to select a prostitute they want to perform oral sex on them. They would then sit at the bar.

 “In five or ten minutes, it’s all over,” Charvet explained to Le Matin. Full story...

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Seoul puts up road safety signs to warn 'smartphone zombies'

Office worker Kim Byung Jin, 35, has noticed something new on the pavement near Seoul's City Hall on his way to the office.

It is a crossed-out circular sign showing a walking man looking at a smartphone in his hand and the words: Stay safe when walking.

The message is part of a new campaign by the Seoul city government and the National Police Agency to encourage road safety in a country with a smartphone penetration rate of more than 80 per cent.

Mr Kim, who first spotted the sign last week, said it was a good idea, but it was not enough to convince him to put his phone down.

"Walking around looking at the phone has become a habit for so many people. We are free to do so and no one seems to realise the danger in doing so," he told The Straits Times. Full story...

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Friday, June 24, 2016

Auxit, Frexit, Nexit... Could Brexit trigger domino effect in Europe & fuel more referendums?

Britain votes to leave EU, unleashing global turmoil...

Britain has voted to leave the European Union, results from Thursday's referendum showed, a stunning repudiation of the nation's elites that deals the biggest blow to the European project of greater unity since World War Two.

World financial markets plunged as complete results showed a near 52-48 percent split for leaving. The vote created the biggest global financial shock since the 2008 economic crisis, this time with interest rates around the world already at or near zero, stripping policymakers of the means to fight it.

The pound suffered its biggest one-day fall in history, plunging more than 10 percent against the dollar to hit levels last seen in 1985. The chief ratings officer for Standard & Poor's told the Financial Times Britain's AAA credit rating was no longer tenable.

Futures trading predicted massive opening losses on share markets across Europe. Britain's FTSE futures and Germany's Dax futures fell about 9 percent. The euro zone's Euro Stoxx 50 futures sank more than 11 percent. Full story...

EU referendum: Brexit sparks calls for other EU votes...

The UK's vote to leave the EU has sparked demands from far-right parties for referendums in other member states.

France's National Front leader Marine Le Pen tweeted "Victory for freedom" and said the French must now also have the right to choose.

Dutch anti-immigration politician, Geert Wilders, said the Netherlands now deserved a "Nexit" vote.

The UK on Thursday voted by 52% to 48% to leave the European Union after 43 years, in a historic referendum.

Analysts say EU politicians will fear a domino effect that could threaten the whole body. Full story...

Cops already acting on Philippine president-elect’s death-to-thugs vow...

As expected, the shooting has already begun in the Philippines, eight days before Rodrigo Duterte is sworn as President on a public promise to support police who take out criminals in gunfights instead of allowing them due process. Alleged drug dealers are turning up dead with signs written by vigilantes stuck to their chests.

According to several reports in the Philippine press, as many as 40 “drug dealers” have been killed “resisting arrest” in Manila, Laguna, Bulacan, Rizal and Cebu, with bloodthirsty local mayors and other officials sanctioning police to open fire well before Duterte arrives on the scene.

“We think it’s just begun,” said an intelligence official with a major country risk firm. “There’s going to be a lot of this before it’s over.”

Duterte swept to a decisive victory in the May 9 presidential poll, winning 39.02 percent of the vote to 23.45 percent for President Benigno S. Aquino’s chosen successor Manuel A. Roxas and 21.39 percent for Grace Poe. He was the favorite of a Filipino population tired of street crime and corruption, although the Philippines doesn’t rank much above most of the other ASEAN nations in terms of street crime, and in fact is well behind several. Full story...

Led Zep didn't steal epic 'Stairway to Heaven' guitar riff: US jury...

Rock fans around the world can heave a sigh of relief. .
.
Led Zeppelin didn't plagiarize the epic guitar to their classic rock anthem 'Stairway to Heaven', a US jury found on Thursday..
.
The verdict in Los Angeles settles a point that music fans have debated for decades but didn't find its way to court until two years ago, when the trustee for the late Randy Craig Wolfe filed a copyright lawsuit..
.
The trust claimed that Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page lifted a passage that Wolfe, better known as Randy California, wrote for ``Taurus,'' a short work he recorded with his band Spirit in 1968..
.
Page and singer Robert Plant, who wrote the ``Stairway'' lyrics, said their creation was an original. In several hours of often-animated and amusing testimony, they described the craft behind one of rock's best-known songs, all the while denying knowledge of one of the genre's least-known tunes. Full story...

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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Turmeric latte: the ‘golden milk’ with a cult following...

It is a drink fit for Midas, with an ochre colour so vivid it doesn’t need an Instagram filter. It’s not made of gold, but it might as well be, given its cult following. “Golden milk” or turmeric latte – an unlikely combination of nut milk and juiced turmeric root – is 2016’s drink of choice. In a new report on food trends in the US, Google singled out turmeric’s ascent after searches for the spice increased by 56% from November 2015 to January 2016. And fuelling that rise is its use in lattes: “golden milk” is among the top online searches associated with the spice. Turmeric lattes are now being sold at cafes from Sydney to San Francisco, and the drink is gaining fans in the UK.

At Modern Baker in Summertown, Oxford, sales of turmeric lattes – listed on the menu as “Golden mylk” (the “y” is health-speak for non-cow milk) now outnumber that of regular lattes. Turmeric lattes routinely feature in reviews for the York outpost of the Filmore & Union restaurant chain. Nama, a vegan restaurant in Notting Hill, west London, has noticed a surge in the turmeric latte’s popularity recently, even though it has sold the drink for nearly two years. A prescient former employee used to whip them up for the staff, and they went down so well that the latte ended up on the menu.

“Nobody was really serving them,” Nama co-founder Irene Arango recalls. “We used to do little tastings at Nama and people got hooked.” It is also, as Arango puts it, a pleasant way for health-conscious diners to get a fix of turmeric juice.

At first, it seems an odd concept. Turmeric is mostly known as a curry ingredient that leaves indelible yellow stains on appliances and fingernails. And, save for the aeration and the artistic lashes of cinnamon, the turmeric latte bears little similarity to its caffeinated namesake. But this is one of those trends whose provenance isn’t just Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop website. Full story...

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Dutch tourist in Qatar jailed for 3 months, fined $845 after reporting she was raped...

The nightclub was hopping when Laura stepped away from her drink to dance. The 22-year-old Dutch tourist had come to Qatar on vacation with a friend. Now she was partying at one of the few places to drink alcohol in the country: the Crystal Lounge at the W Doha Hotel.

As she danced between a mirrored floor and swirling disco balls, however, Laura suddenly began to feel sick and blacked out, according to her attorney.

When she regained consciousness, she was in a stranger’s apartment building. Her clothes were torn.

“Laura realizes from that moment that she was drugged and raped,” Brian Lokollo, her attorney, told the Telegraaf. “She suspects that someone in an unguarded moment threw something into her drink.” Full story...

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Hillary Clinton: A career criminal...

It's not just the plot to let in 1.5 million Turks... DANIEL HANNAN outlines ten bombshells the EU's keeping secret until after you've voted...

Embarrassing leaks have revealed that British Government officials colluded in Brussels to keep contentious issues about plans for making the EU into more of a superstate off the political agenda until after next week’s referendum.

One of the most shocking of these secret proposals involves allowing 1.5 million Turks visa-free access to Britain.

Here, DANIEL HANNAN outlines ten more controversial policies EU leaders are planning — by stealth — if we vote to Remain... Full story...

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Media refusing to cover numerous witness accounts of multiple shooters in Orlando massacre...

As mainstream media headlines begin to solidify around the narrative a single shooter was responsible for the carnage at Pulse nightclub in Orlando on Sunday, details calling the now-official story into question must be addressed.

While no doubts can be raised Omar Mateen, indeed, played a role in the attack, eyewitness accounts — while varied and certainly subjective, considering the chaos unfolding at the time — don’t unanimously agree he acted alone.

“I mean, I’m pretty sure it was more than one person,” witness Janiel Gonzalez told a bevy of reporters. “Like I said, I heard two guns going off at the same time,” he continued, gesturing back and forth with his fingers indicating the gunfire emanated from separate directions.

Further, he explained, panicked clubgoers had difficulty locating exits during the shooting, which he estimated lasting eight minutes — plenty of time for the shooter(s) to reload multiple times. When Gonzalez and others finally found a door hidden behind a curtain, Full story...

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Monday, June 13, 2016

The cat guardians of Singapore...


By day, they are fed and watered by a small army of dedicated volunteer feeders - office workers heading home, hipsters heading out, ageing "aunties and uncles".

But at night, a hardcore of cat-lovers take to the streets.

"This cat is very special," says a slight man in a loose T-shirt and flip-flops, crouching down by a tower block in northern Yishun district.

"She will let me know she is here, but whenever I go to her she will run away. Then when I appear to be going away, she will chase me."

True to form the cat - called Orange because she is - runs after us as we walk away into the night. Full story...

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Thai junta to crack down harder on internet users...

The Thai junta, which already administers one of the world’s toughest measures against supposed misuse of computers, appears on the verge going to frantic lengths to stiffen the law even more with, among other things, an amendment that could give the government the ability to force internet users to decrypt their transmissions.

The military has been steadily tightening the screws on freedom of expression since 2006, when a coup brought down the government of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Interrupted only by Thaksin surrogate governments that were elected democratically, the military has continued to shut off avenues of free speech. The most draconian of the laws is the lèse majesté provision against insulting members of the royal family, which has extended all the way to threats of arrest for making fun of King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s dog.

In addition to the lèse majesté law, in 2007 following the coup, the junta pushed through the Computer Crimes Act, which prescribed three to 15 years in prison for uploading or publishing anything that is “likely to damage computer data or a computer system related to the country’s security, public security and economic security or public services.” Another section punishes any computer-related act that causes “damage the country’s security or causes a public panic” if it is “related with an offense against the Kingdom’s security under the Criminal Code,’’ with the potential for five years in prison. Authorities have used the act and the lèse majesté act to go after almost anyone who makes any kind of statement the military deems harmful. Full story...

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Sunday, June 12, 2016

'We are scared' _ Africans in India say racism is constant...

Fear and anger. Those are the emotions that shadow Odole Emmanuel Opeyemi every time the Nigerian man steps out of his New Delhi apartment.

Every encounter with Indians is fraught with those feelings, whether he's taking an autorickshaw or the Metro, buying vegetables or trying to find a spot to park his car.

"When I sit down in the Metro, people sit away from me. Even old men and women will stand up as if any contact with me will give them a disease," he said, describing the mixture of fear and revulsion with which most Indians treat Africans.

Opeyemi is among hundreds of thousands of Africans in India, drawn by better education and work opportunities. For them rampant racism is a daily battle in a country where their dark skin places them at the lower end of a series of strictly observed social hierarchies. Indians routinely perceive Africans as either prostitutes or drug dealers. Full story...

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Dutch woman held in Qatar after making rape complaint...

A 22-YEAR-OLD DUTCH woman is being held in Qatar on suspicion of adultery after she said she was raped while on holiday, her lawyer says.

The woman says she was drugged in a hotel and realised she had been raped when she woke up in an unfamiliar apartment.

“She was arrested in March on suspicion of adultery, which means having sex outside marriage,” lawyer Brian Lokollo told Dutch radio NOS-Radio1 today.

A Dutch foreign ministry spokeswoman confirmed the arrest but said the young woman, whom she named as Laura, has not been charged.

Daphne Kerremans added that “the enquiry is ongoing” and that Dutch authorities are in regular contact with Laura. Full story...

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Friday, June 10, 2016

Why I left Facebook...

Only two countries do this appalling thing—and the U.S. is one of them...

Nearly every country in the world bases its tax system on residency rather than citizenship. If you’re an Italian citizen, and you leave Italy to live and work in Dubai, you don’t have to pay taxes on the income you earn abroad to the Italian government.

But Eritrea levies a 2% flat tax on its citizens who live abroad. If you’re an Eritrean citizen, you have to pay taxes to the Eritrean government, no matter where you live and work.

The media has condemned this as “extortion” and a “repressive” measure by an “authoritarian” government.

The UN has even weighed in. In Resolution 2023, the UN Security Council condemned Eritrea for “using extortion, threats of violence, fraud and other illicit means to collect taxes outside of Eritrea from its nationals.”

You might be wondering, “What’s the controversy? Eritrea is getting criticized, and rightly so.”

That brings us to the only other country on the planet with a similar tax system… the United States. Full story...

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Indian bride ‘burnt alive by husband’s family because her skin was too dark’

An Indian woman was allegedly set on fire and killed by her husband’s family because she was too dark-skinned and they wanted him to remarry a fairer bride.

According to a report in the Calcutta-based newspaper The Telegraph, Somera Bibi’s in-laws had insisted on a large payment of 100,000 rupees (£1,000) and farmland when the pair first wed to “compensate” for her dark skin colour.

They had since been extorting more money from Mrs Bibi’s family to continue with the marriage ever since, the victim’s family alleged.

On her deathbed, Mrs Bibi, 22, reportedly told police in West Bengal she had been attacked for finally protesting against the treatment of her family, who had been forced to cough up a further 250,000 rupees since the wedding and were now broke. Full story...

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Sir Tim Berners-Lee: Internet has become 'world’s largest surveillance network'

WORLD WIDE WEB CREATOR Sir Tim Berners-Lee has said that the internet has fallen into the hands of large corporations and governments and become the "world’s largest surveillance network".

Berners-Lee explained in an interview with The New York Times that his invention has steadily come under the control of powerful interests.

"It controls what people see. It creates mechanisms for how people interact. It's been great, but spying, blocking sites, repurposing people's content, taking you to the wrong websites completely undermines the spirit of helping people create," he said.

"The problem is the dominance of one search engine, one big social network, one Twitter for microblogging."

Berners-Lee met a group of internet activists this week, including Brewster Kahle, head of the Internet Archive, and fellow internet pioneer Vint Cerf, in San Francisco at the Decentralized Web Summit to discuss ways of "re-decentralising" the internet, giving more control to individuals and ensuring more privacy and security. Full story...

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Thursday, June 09, 2016

Pakistani mother burns daughter to death in latest shocking 'honour killing' case...

A Pakistani mother has been arrested on suspicion of burning her 16-year-old daughter alive for marrying without family consent in the latest so-called "honour killing" to shock the country.


Perveen Bibi, tied her daughter, Zeenat, to a bed, doused her with fuel and then set fire to her in Lahore, police said.

Family members stopped neighbours from entering the house as the girl screamed for help, said Nighat Bibi, who lives nearby.

As her daughter burned, Perveen Bibi ran into the street shouting that she had killed the teen for bringing shame on her family.

The police eventually arrived and found the charred body near a staircase.

Zeenat married a man named Hasan Khan on May 29, police said. Khan's ethnicity - he is an ethnic Pashtun, while Zeenat was a Punjabi - was the main cause of the family's disapproval, according to the woman's family. Full story...

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Singapore to cut internet access for government workers...

So that's the end of Googling from the office.

By next May, none of Singapore's public servants will have access to the internet while at work.

The city-state, which prides itself on strong law and order, is cutting off online access for government workers from about 100,000 computers, according to the Straits Times.

A memo is being sent to all government agencies, outlining the new policy, which has been introduced to increase security, according to a statement from the Infocomm Development Authority.

"The Singapore Government regularly reviews our IT measures to make our network more secure," the statement said.

"We have started to separate internet access from the work stations of a selected group of public service officers, and will do so for the rest of the public service officers progressively over a one-year period."

The Straits Times reports that workers will be able to access the internet on their private devices. Full story...

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Simon's cat: muddy paws...

Child sex abuse whistleblower resigns from UN over the organisation’s failure to hold senior officials to account...

A United Nations whistleblower who was suspended for exposing the sexual abuse of children by peacekeepers has resigned over the organisation’s failure to hold senior officials to account.

Anders Kompass, director of field operations at the UN human rights office in Geneva, announced his resignation on Tuesday. Kompass – whose suspension last year for exposing the sexual abuse of children in Central African Republic was revealed by the Guardian – said he could no longer work for an organisation with no accountability.

“The complete impunity for those who have been found to have, in various degrees, abused their authority, together with the unwillingness of the hierarchy to express any regrets for the way they acted towards me sadly confirms that lack of accountability is entrenched in the United Nations. This makes it impossible for me to continue working there,” he told the IRIN news agency.

Kompass announced his resignation five months after a report commissioned by Ban Ki-moon into the scandal completely exonerated him for sharing confidential documents that revealed children as young as eight and nine were being raped by peacekeepers in the Central African Republic. Full story...

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UN removes Saudi Arabia from Human Rights blacklist after just one week, faces intense backlash...

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon removed Saudi Arabia from a U.N.-blacklist of violators of children’s human rights, after initially placing their Yemen coalition on the list last Thursday. The decision resulted in a massive outcry from rights groups who lambasted Ki-moon’s “flip-flopping.”

Saudi Arabia criticized the U.N. for a recent report that said the coalition it is leading in Yemen was resulting in over 60 percent of child deaths there. “Last week’s U.N. report said the Saudi-led coalition was responsible for 60 percent of child deaths and injuries in Yemen in 2015, killing 510 and wounding 667,” Reuters reported. “It also said the coalition carried out half the attacks on schools and hospitals.

The decision to remove Saudi Arabia from the blacklist has been met with criticism from many human rights organizations.

“Political power and diplomatic clout have been allowed to trump the UN’s duty to expose those responsible for the killing and maiming of more than 1,000 of Yemen’s children,” Sajjad Mohamed Sajid, Oxfam’s country director in Yemen, told the Guardian. “The killing of children in their homes, at schools and in hospitals should not be swept under the carpet. When the UN identifies crimes such as these it needs to act, regardless of who the perpetrators are.” Full story...

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Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Singapore shocks its neighbor to the north...

There is more than meets the eye in the Singapore investigation into 1MDB and the subsequent forced closure by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) of the local operations of Swiss private bank BSI.

This was the first time in decades that the MAS has resorted to such actions. BSI has also been heavily fined and its former executives are under criminal investigation. Established in 1873, BSI was previously known as Banca della Szizzera Italiana.

In the first place, the 1MDB investigation must have come as a personal shock, even stab in the back, to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. After all, it has been known for decades that Singapore has happily harbored and laundered the ill-gotten gains of politicians, generals and crooked businessmen from around the region, notably Indonesia and Myanmar as well as Malaysia.

It must have been doubly wounding for Najib who in the past has made efforts to improve relations with Singapore, cooperating in a way unheard of under Mahathir Mohamed and being viewed as undemanding and cooperative by his Singapore counterparts. Full story...

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Sairat: Why a doomed love story has become India's sleeper hit...

In movie-mad India, stories of young love struggling to find happiness despite harsh social rules are still box office gold.

This is because couples are breaking what writer Arundhati Roy, in her Booker prize-winning novel, The God of Small Things, described as "Love Laws" that "lay down who should be loved … And how … And how much".

Now a low-budget Marathi-language regional film Sairat (Wild) on the often cruel - and unsettling - consequences of falling in love in India has become the biggest sleeper hit of the year.

Sairat is avowedly anti-Bollywood: it is made by a Dalit (formerly untouchable) filmmaker, on a shoe-string budget of $597,460 (£414,940) and has a cast of newcomers, including two unknown amateur debutants, in the lead.

The film also upends popular Bollywood stereotypes of love and gender: in Sairat, an upper-caste girl falls in love with a lower-caste boy; and the assertive girl takes the lead in the relationship and there is no happy ending. Full story...

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If no-one helps you after a car crash in India, this is why...

Kanhaiya Lal desperately cries for help but motorists swerve straight past him. His young son and the splayed bodies of his wife and infant daughter lie next to the mangled motorbike on which they had all been travelling seconds earlier.

The widely broadcast CCTV footage of this scene - showing the suffering of a family of hit-and-run victims in northern India in 2013 and the apparent indifference of passers-by - troubled many Indians.

Some motorcyclists and police eventually came to the family's aid but it was too late for Lal's wife and daughter. Their deaths sparked a nationwide debate over the role of bystanders - the media hailed it as a "new low in public apathy" and worse, "the day humanity died".

But what safety campaigner Piyush Tewari saw wasn't a lack of compassion but an entire system stacked against helping road victims. Full story...

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Rape in the US military...

Hindu priest shot, hacked to death in Bangladesh...

Unidentified bike-riding assailants shot and hacked a Hindu priest to death Tuesday in southwestern Bangladesh amid a spate of similar attacks allegedly by radical Islamist groups since last year.

Local police chief Hasan Hafizur Rahman said three men intercepted 70-year-old Anando Gopal Ganguly while riding his bicycle to a temple in Jhenaidah district. Rahman said the three men on a motorbike first shot Ganguly and then slashed him with sharp weapons before they fled the scene.

Police had no immediate clues about who was behind the latest killing but they suspected that Islamist militant groups could be behind as the pattern of the attack was similar to previous ones. No group has claimed responsibility.

The killing of Ganguly took place two days after suspected Islamist militants killed the wife of a police superintendent who led drives against militant groups and drug cartels in southeastern city of Chittagong. Full story...

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