Friday, April 28, 2017

Massachusetts governor proposes bill protecting teen sexters from felony charges...

The Massachusetts state legislature will consider a bill that protects teen sexters from excessive prosecution while imposing harsher punishments on people who share nude photos with others without the subject’s consent. Filed by Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday, the bill would prevent prosecutors from charging teen sexters as child pornographers, recommending that they be sent to an educational program instead of prison or juvenile detention.

Current Massachusetts law allows minors caught with an underage peer’s naked photo to be charged with possession of child pornography; those who send their own naked photos to a lover could be charged with distribution. “These felony offenses are too severe a sanction for conduct that, while covered by the respective statutes, is not what lawmakers had in mind when they outlawed child pornography,” Baker wrote in a letter announcing the bill. “District attorneys and the attorney general will retain prosecutorial discretion to use the juvenile justice process in appropriate cases, but the default should be diversion rather than prosecution.”

In cases that prosecutors deem too serious for just a diversion program, Baker’s bill offers the option of a misdemeanor charge, which wouldn’t classify the minor as a “sex offender,” instead of a felony. It would also establish a requirement for schools to teach students about sexting in the context of “cyberbullying,” focusing on the effects of “harmful distribution” of sexual images, rather than the more innocuous, consensual sharing of sexts between lovers or flirtatious friends. Full story...

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Indian schoolgirls form human chain to pull bus out of mud...

A photo showing a group of Indian schoolgirls forming a human chain to pull a broken-down bus has gone viral on social media, with users calling it a testament to the strength of girl power.

The schoolgirls, from Manipur in north-east India, were on a school trip when their bus broke down on a steep, muddy hillside.

In the photos, dozens of girls can be seen dragging the bus up the narrow path using a giant rope.

Social media pundits were quick to praise their determination and teamwork.

"Hats off to these brave girls. What a spirit," commented Mr Rahjit Singh Dev on a Facebook post. Full story...

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Google and Facebook duped in huge 'scam'

Google and Facebook have confirmed that they fell victim to an alleged $100m (£77m) scam.

In March, it was reported that a Lithuanian man had been charged over an email phishing attack against "two US-based internet companies" who were not named at the time.

They had allegedly been tricked into wiring more than $100m to the alleged scammer's bank accounts.

On 27 April, Fortune reported that the two victims were Facebook and Google.

"We detected this fraud against our vendor management team and promptly alerted the authorities," a spokeswoman for Google said in a statement. Full story...

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Passenger dragged off United Airlines plane wins settlement...

The Kentucky doctor dragged off a United Airlines flight from Chicago earlier this month has received a financial settlement from the airline.

Lawyers for Dr David Dao, 69, say a condition of the payout is that the "amount remain confidential".

United boss Oscar Munoz "said he was going to do the right thing and he has", Dr Dao's lawyers said.

Dr Dao was violently removed by airline law enforcement officers after refusing to give up his seat to United staff. Full story...

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Facebook admits: governments exploited us to spread propaganda...

Facebook has publicly acknowledged that its platform has been exploited by governments seeking to manipulate public opinion in other countries – including during the presidential elections in the US and France – and pledged to clamp down on such “information operations”.

In a white paper authored by the company’s security team and published on Thursday, the company detailed well-funded and subtle techniques used by nations and other organizations to spread misleading information and falsehoods for geopolitical goals. These efforts go well beyond “fake news”, the company said, and include content seeding, targeted data collection and fake accounts that are used to amplify one particular view, sow distrust in political institutions and spread confusion.

“We have had to expand our security focus from traditional abusive behavior, such as account hacking, malware, spam and financial scams, to include more subtle and insidious forms of misuse, including attempts to manipulate civic discourse and deceive people,” said the company.

In its effort to clamp down on information operations, Facebook suspended 30,000 accounts in France before the presidential election. The company said it was a priority to remove suspect accounts with high volumes of posting activity and the biggest audiences. Full story...

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Coca-Cola to cut 1,200 jobs as consumers turn away from sugary drinks...

Coca-Cola has announced plans to cut about 20 per cent of it corporate workforce, as the company battles a drop in sales due to falling demand for its sugary drinks.

The US firm said it will cut 1,200 jobs starting later this year as it increases its cost-cutting target by $800m and is now expecting to save $3.8bn by 2019.

This represents about a 22 per cent reduction of its 5,500 corporate staff or a 1 per cent reduction in its total workforce of 100,300 employees, according to figures by FactSet, cited by AP.

Global sales of Coca-Cola's fizzy drinks fell by one per cent for the first three months of 2017 as health-conscious consumers across the US and Europe are increasingly shying away from drinks with a high sugar content. Full story...

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Is India losing Kashmir?

(...)

Ajaz, a 19-year-old student in Budgam, told me that hope had evaporated for his generation "in face of Indian oppression" and he and his friends did not "fear death". When I took him aside after a while to ask about his ambitions in life, he said he wanted to become a bureaucrat and serve Kashmir.

"It is wrong to say that the Kashmiri youth has become fearless. He just feels alienated, sidelined and humiliated. When he feels like that, fear takes a backseat, and he becomes reckless. This is irrational behaviour," National Conference leader Junaid Azim Mattoo told me.

Secondly, the new younger militants are educated and come from relatively well-off families.

Wani, the militant who was killed last July, headed a prominent rebel group and came from a highly-educated upper-class Kashmiri family: his father is a government school teacher. Wani's younger brother, Khalid, who was killed by security forces in 2013, was a student of political science. The new commander of the rebel group, Zakir Rashid Bhat, studied engineering in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh. Full story...

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The occult archetype called vaccination...

In many past articles, I’ve taken apart the so-called science of vaccines and shown how deceptive it is. Here I take another approach: examining the archetypes and symbols that surround vaccination and give it occult power.

Begun as a crude version of homeopathy (“treat like with like”), in which a mild injected version of a disease would supposedly protect against the actual disease, vaccination soon developed into a military outpost, with the commander ordering the appearance of his scouts: antibodies. “Line up men, now hunt!”

Today, as a revival of ancient symbology, vaccination is a conferred seal, a sign of moral righteousness. It’s a mark on the arm, signifying tribal inclusion. No tribe member is left out. Inclusion by vaccination protects against invisible spirits (viruses).

The notion of the tribe is enforced by dire predictions of pandemics: the spirits of other tribes (from previously unknown hot zones in jungles) are attacking the good tribe, our tribe. Full story...

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Eating clean, unprocessed foods is now a dangerous “cult,” declares idiotic mainstream media (with a little help from the dirty diary industry)

As more people are turning their back to dairy and other processed foods, the National Osteoporosis Society, subsidized by the milk industry, has now declared clean eating to be a dangerous “cult” and “ticking time bomb” that could leave young people with weak bones.

For decades, the milk industry has made us believe that milk is crucial for our health. Most of us have been brought up with the idea our teeth and bones will crumble if we don’t drink three big glasses of calcium-rich milk every day.

Though scientific research has linked milk consumption to cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, heart diseases, allergies, and a host of other diseases, governments and celebrity shills with thick milk mustaches keep telling us that milk is essential to our health. These celebrities, however, forget to tell you that they were paid to make these statements, hiding the dangers lurking behind these hip milk mustaches.

In their latest attempt to push antibiotic- and hormone-rich dairy products onto the people, the mainstream media is spreading fears to spook people into believing healthy dietary choices that reject processed foods are dangerous. Full story...

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Malaysian opposition figure calls PM Najib a Crook, faces suit...

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who as “Malaysian Public Official 1” is the target of what was said to be the largest single action ever brought under the US’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, is suing Democratic Action Party National Spokesman Tony Pua for calling him a thief.

The prime minister’ legal action against Pua has set off considerable derision in Kuala Lumpur, where allegations against Najib for the looting of the state-backed 1Malaysia Development Bhd. have been widely circulated for two years. The now-moribund fund, set up as an investment vehicle in 2009 guaranteed by the Finance Ministry, is believed to have lost as much as RM43 billion (US$11 billion) through mismanagement and theft, with more than US$1 billion diverted into Najib’s own accounts.

Singapore has closed the branches of two Swiss banks believed to have been conduits for the funds and jailed several private bankers. Swiss authorities are demanding that 1MDB and the Malaysian government account for US$4 billion believed to have been laundered illegally into Swiss banks.

In an April 6 Facebook posting protesting an unprecedented action by the government to allow the opposition Parti Islam se-Malaysia to introduce a bill on sharia law, Pua said the plan to introduce the bill was promoted with the political intent to hang on to power by appealing to Malay sentiment despite the fact that Najib “is the most unpopular prime minister in the history of Malaysia” and that the decision to push the PAS bill was “designed as a political scheme to distract Malaysians from the crimes that the prime minister has committed, mainly the fact that the prime minister has stolen billions of ringgit from 1mdb, the wholly owned subsidiary of the government of Malaysia.” Full story...

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United Airlines switches up policy and will now offer up to $10,000 for passengers to give up their seats on overbooked flights...

After that incident involving a passenger being dragged from one of its flights, United Airlines has changed its policy to try and avoid a repeat of the PR disaster.

The airline will offer more cash (up to $10,000) to customers who volunteer to give up their seat on an overbooked flight; in the incident involving the removal of Dr David Dao, passengers were offered $800.

Read more: United Airlines will now tie executive pay to customer satisfaction

It comes after rival Delta pointedly said it will offer up to $9,950 in some overbooking situations.

As a result of the situation and its fallout, chief executive Oscar Munoz is looking to change up the culture, implementing 10 policy changes to try and spruce up United's reputation. Full story...

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The ‘silent killer’ of Africa’s albinos...

On stage, Sixmond Mdeka goes by the name Ras Six. He is a successful reggae singer in his homeland of Tanzania, yet despite his fame, he is haunted by another name – East Africa Yellow Man.

Mdeka has albinism – his skin, hair and eyes lack melanin, the pigment that gives skin its colour and helps to protect it from damage by ultraviolet light from the Sun. It is a genetic disorder inherited from parents who both carry a faulty gene that prevents the skin from making melanin properly.

Tanzania has a dark relationship with albinism. Witch doctors hunt those suffering from the condition for their body parts, which are used in potions to bring good luck and wealth. Victims can be kidnapped and then dismembered by hired killers, or even sold by unscrupulous family members, with body parts fetching up to $75,000 (£60,000). The UN estimates around 80 people with albinism in Tanzania have been murdered since 2000.

But these brutal attacks are not the greatest threat to people with albinism in Africa. They face a slower death from a disease known as the “silent killer”. Without melanin to protect them, they have a much higher risk of getting skin cancer. Full story...

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Amiens: Le Pen upstages Macron at Whirlpool factory...

(...)

Al Jazeera's Natacha Butler, speaking from Arras, said Le Pen showed Macron that "the gloves are off in the battle for the French presidency".

"He was totally upstaged by the far-right leader. It was a real campaign coup. It perhaps shows what some people have been saying that he is inexperienced," she said. "Marine Le Pen is a veteran politician. She knows how to campaign hard."

The factory operated by Whirlpool, a US multinational company, is threatened with outsourcing to Poland.

Macron was in Amiens to try to counter accusations that he had made a complacent start to campaigning for the presidential runoff on May 7.

After winning Sunday's contest with 24.1 percent to Le Pen's 21.3 percent, Macron gave an exuberant victory speech followed by a high-profile celebration at La Rotonde bistro in Paris, drawing criticism from some quarters. Full story...

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

5 things an elite banking Dutch whistleblower tells us about who rules the world...

Boy's legs amputated after alleged abuse from religious school assistant warden in Malaysia...

An 11-year-old pupil from a private religious school in Kota Tinggi here has had both of his legs amputated after he was allegedly beaten with a water hose by an assistant warden.

The boy's mother Felda Wani Ahmad, 40, claimed that her son Mohamad Thaqif Amin Mohd Gadaffi was beaten several times on both of his legs during incidents that happened in March.

She said the incidents came to light when her son begged her to take him home as he could not bear it any more.

"On March 31, I came to visit my son and decided to bring him home here in Johor Baru as he was looking very weak and worried," she told reporters when met at Sultan Ismail Hospital (HSI) on Saturday.

She added that her son had suffered from fever since his return and both of his legs swelled due to blood clots. Full story...

Macron, the power of charm...

The Grooming of a President for France has been in the making for a number of years. With Hollande’s approval consistently tanking, the shadows knew they needed to find someone younger, charismatic, a Socialist, someone whose greed and lust for power could easily be bought. And they found Emmanuel Macron.

He attended one of France’s most elite schools where he was trained in Civil Service, graduating in 2004. His biography states that in 2007, he served as deputy rapporteur for the Commission to improve French growth headed by Jacques Attali, Macron was 29. But the Commission wasn’t formed until 2008. Obviously he is a bit ‘math challenged’. The Commission report was heavily criticized for its proposal to ‘relaunch immigration’ and ‘open borders’… Attali was ridiculed and called a ‘globalist’.

Sound like anyone we know?

Macron left the Commission, which was shelved September 2010, to work for Rothschilds & Cie Banque where he became an overnight millionaire while working the Nestle acquisition of Pfizer’s nutritional outlet, which closed in 2012. Nestle is a client of Rothschilds. Macron had no experience in acquisitions and mergers whatsoever…

What does one do when one makes millions overnight? Apparently one quits.  Full story...

Read also: Macron – Groomed by Soros

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How Trump gave up on his border wall...

One reliable way to know that Donald Trump has reversed himself on an issue is if he denies having done any such thing. The pattern repeats itself: his Administration is dealt a major setback—the courts blocking his travel bans, the G.O.P. health-care bill dying in the House—and Trump responds by decreeing that “great progress” is being made and the media is neglecting to cover it. It’s easy to become inured to how bizarre this is: America has a President who denies observable reality and uses his social-media accounts to feed his supporters an alternate version of the truth. All politicians spin. Trump lies, regularly and brazenly.

It should have come as little surprise, therefore, when Trump tweeted the following on Tuesday morning: “Don’t let the fake media tell you that I have changed my position on the WALL. It will get built and help stop drugs, human trafficking etc.” Of course, he did change his position. The tweet came just a day after the White House had retreated from its stance that funding for the wall had to be included in the spending bill that Congress must pass by Friday to keep the government open.

The White House’s latest push to pressure lawmakers into funding the wall began last week. During the election campaign, of course, Trump promised that Mexico would pay for the wall. But that idea was discarded even before Inauguration. (In January, Trump insisted that the money would be “paid back by Mexico later.”) On Thursday, Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s budget director, spoke to the Associated Press about the spending bill and brought up the wall money. “We want wall funding. We want [immigration] agents,” he said. “Those are our priorities.” A top White House official—not Trump, despite the unusual use of the first person—subsequently told me, “I just want my wall and my ICE agents.” Full story...

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Switzerland maintains press freedoms in 'post-truth' era...

Switzerland is still one of the world’s top ten countries for press freedom according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), despite global media freedom in the ‘post-truth’ era being more threatened than ever.

The country places seventh in RSF’s World Press Freedom Index 2017, the same as last year, a recognition that it “still enjoys an impressive level of media freedom”, the report’s authors said.

However the RSF pointed to the “period of turmoil” facing Switzerland’s media at the moment due to the closure of two major weeklies – Schweiz am Sonntag and L'Hebdo – and a significant loss of jobs at several other titles in the past year.

The Index also highlighted the Swiss government’s current debate over the mandate of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SRG-SSR) and the future of Billag, the licence paid by the public. A potential 2018 referendum could see the end of Billag and therefore the end of SRG-SSR, it said. Full story...

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Saudi Arabia: Ahmad Al Shamri’s appeal denied, sentenced to death for atheism...

Ahmad Al Shamri, a young man in his early 20’s from the city of Hafr Al Batin has been sentenced to death after his appeal was denied by Saudi Appeals and Supreme Courts.

Many on twitter were celebrating and lauding the penalty with the hash tag #مرتد_حفرالباطن stating that it was in accord with Islam while others expressed support for Ahmad and sorrow at the state of affairs.

Ahmad was initially arrested on charges of atheism and blasphemy in April 2014. He was convicted by a local court and sentenced to death in February 2015.

Ahmad was accused of uploading content to social media including videos renouncing Islam , Mohammed and his daughter Fatima who holds special significance within the Shia sect of Islam. Full story...

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Smartphone case that allows parents to stop children becoming addicted to devices...

A Japanese company has created a smartphone case to help parents prevent their children from becoming addicted to their mobile devices.

The case, which can only be removed with a specific screwdriver, allows parents to set time restrictions on their child’s smartphone usage via an accompanying app.

Motion detectors built into the case – called OTOMOS - also deactivate the phone automatically when the child is walking, to prevent them from checking the devices while on the move.

The case, created by Momo Ltd, a Japanese venture firm based in Kobe city in west Japan, can also send automatic messages directly to parents’ phones if it senses a significant physical shock, such as an accident. Full story...

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Action demanded in South Korea over excessive overtime culture following producer suicide...

The family of a young South Korean film producer who committed suicide after allegedly working over 20 hours a day have launched a campaign against the excessive overtime culture common to Asia’s fourth largest economy.

Relatives of Lee Han-bit, a producer at the CJ E&M entertainment company, who took his own life in October, released his suicide note last week in a bid to raise public awareness of the problem.

“I couldn’t live this way, working over 20 hours a day, sleeping only two to three hours and then going back to work,” he wrote.

In a statement, CJ E&M said “we are sad for the death of Lee and mourn with his family,” pledging to submit to a police investigation if there was one.

Activists have joined Lee’s family in starting an online petition demanding government action against work-related suicides, in a country where only about half of college graduates are able to secure full-time jobs and overwork is a chronic problem among those who do. Full story...

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'May 7th without me': Angry French voters vow to abstain in second round...

Now that the French are faced with a clear choice between anti-EU and anti-globalization Marine Le Pen and Pro-EU, pro-free market Emmanuel Macron it's unlikely there will be many, if any, undecided voters.

The battle lines between the pair could not be more clearly marked out.

But that doesn't mean everyone in France is happy with the selection of final round candidates.

In 2002 the French took to the streets to protest against the place of Jean-Marie Le Pen in the second round vote, but in 2017 they took to Twitter to protest.

 The hashtag #SansMoiLe7Mai, which literally means “Without Me on May 7th” was trending to all day on Monday. Full story...

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'Mass is cancelled because of a lack of parishioners'

They contain a treasure trove of religious art and artifacts but Venice’s churches are closing down because of dwindling congregations.

The decline in the number of faithful turning up for church services reflects the drop in the World Heritage city’s population – from around 175,000 after the Second World War to just 55,000 today.

On Le Vignole, a sparsely-populated island in the lagoon, the parish priest of Santa Maria Assunta church recently put up a poignant sign which read: “Mass is cancelled because of a lack of parishioners,” adding that he was available “on request” if a large enough congregation could be mustered.

“At the moment I manage to hold Mass once a month,” said Father Mario Sgorlon. “Nobody turns up in the winter, because it is cold and damp and everyone stays at home. One time there were just three of us.”

With the prospect of dozens of churches having to close, Catholic authorities are considering allowing them to be turned into art galleries, museums and libraries. “There are around 100 churches in Venice, which is more than the liturgical community now needs,” said Francesco Moraglia, the Patriarch or archbishop of Venice.  Full story...

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Monday, April 24, 2017

UN Watch outraged as Saudi Arabia takes place on UN Women’s Right Commission...

UN Watch, a human rights organization, monitoring the performance of the United Nations, has strongly condemned the appointment of Saudi Arabia to the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), citing Riyadh’s poor women’s rights record and widespread gender inequality.

“Electing Saudi Arabia to protect women’s rights is like making an arsonist into the town fire chief. It’s absurd,” Hillel Neuer, the UN Watch chief, said.

Every Saudi woman “must have a male guardian who makes all critical decisions on her behalf, controlling a woman’s life from her birth until death. Saudi Arabia also bans women from driving cars,” Neuer said.

Saudi Arabia was elected by a secret ballot last week by the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), having 54 nations as members. Full story...

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Milagai podi cheese, anyone? Meet the 2 women making unique, artisanal cheese in Chennai...

Say cheese and imagination takes us straight to farms in France, Switzerland and Germany, among other exotic destinations. Even as Acres Wild in Coonoor and Himalayan Artisan Cheese in Kashmir produce fine-quality cheese, there is much scope remaining in the area of developing Indian varieties of this popular dairy product. In Chennai, entrepreneurs Anuradha Krishnamoorthy and Namrata Sundaresan are not only making artisanal cheese, but also using their initiative to bring about change.

Both Anuradha and Namrata come from diverse fields. Anuradha is the founder of CAN DO, a BPO that focuses on training disabled individuals and employing them in telecalling and data/desk research services. Namrata is the founder partner of a strategy consulting firm that specializes in international trade & investment.

It was Namrata’s personal stint with cheesemaking that started the duo’s journey as food entrepreneurs. “I am passionate about artisan food and a staunch proponent of clean eating,” she says. “Doing something in the area of food was always a grand plan and I had learnt cheese-making while on a vacation.”

Namrata started cheese-making purely as a hobby and not with the idea of starting a venture. Over a discussion between her and Anuradha, the two realised that it could be one of the skills for training Anuradha’s team. Thus, began the process of testing their product before they launched the business and it was no cakewalk. Full story...

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The 'organic' beauty goods not as green as they seem...

Beauty brands including Boots have been accused of misleading customers by falsely labelling products as organic.

Ingredients not certified as organic – and even linked to health problems – were found in a range of cosmetics apparently claiming to be all-natural.

The research for the Soil Association revealed High Street brands including The Organic Pharmacy, Dr Organic and Faith in Nature, were using the word on packaging for shampoos and sunscreens containing potentially harmful ingredients.

A survey for the food charity also revealed more than three quarters of women felt misled by the labelling on the products.

Professor Vyvyan Howard, of the centre for molecular bioscience at Ulster University, studied the contents of a range of beauty products marketed as organic and ranked them on how misleading they were.

He said: ‘I was shocked to find ingredients which could contain human carcinogens in products with labels which could misleadingly suggest that they might be organic.’ Full story...

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Rodrigo Duterte: ‘Give me salt and vinegar and I’ll eat terrorists’ livers’

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has warned that he could be “50 times” more brutal than Muslim militants who stage beheadings and said he could even “eat” the extremists if they're captured alive by troops.

Duterte has repeatedly threatened drug suspects with death, but he raised his shock rhetoric to a new level as president when he said in a speech during the opening of a national sports tournament what he could do to terrorists who have staged beheadings and other gruesome attacks.

Duterte ordered troops to kill fleeing Muslim militants behind a foiled attack in the central resort province of Bohol and not bring them to him alive, calling the extremists “animals.”

“If you want me to be an animal, I'm also used to that. We're just the same,” Duterte said. “I can dish out, go down what you can 50 times over.” Full story...

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France is now in uncharted territory and the journey is just beginning...

In the end, the sun came out and the French, despite the predictions, turned out in good numbers (around 77%) to vote in the first round of the presidential election. What is more, they voted into first place, not Marine Le Pen, but Emmanuel Macron, by around 24% to a shade under 22% (at the time of writing the final scores have not been announced).

For Le Pen, there has been no Trump effect, but rather a Wilders effect: the far-right hasn’t done as well as expected. Le Pen has often complained that opinion polls are inaccurate and misrepresent her score, but not in the way she thought. And suggestions that she might even get as high as 30% (Russian opinion polls?) have proved to be utterly unfounded.

While the 23rd April 2017 will go down as a historic moment for the French far-right, for Le Pen and within the FN, it’s a disappointment.

 She wanted to go into the second round in pole position, using that as her platform to denounce ‘the system’ for preventing the ‘real’ voice of the people from being heard, even though she knew that she had little chance of beating either Macron or the right-wing candidate, Francois Fillon. Instead she has herself only seen off Fillon by 2%. Full story...

Read also: From teacher to lover to France's next first lady? Meet 'Madame Macron'

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106-year-old cook is world’s oldest YouTuber...

In world first, Singapore court rules parents deserve kids with their genes...

Blood is thicker than water, or so the saying goes, reflecting the value we put on biological relationships. But is it something the law should recognize?

Singapore’s Supreme Court recently ruled on a case that asks this very question, and it gave a fascinating answer: parents have a strong interest in “genetic affinity” with their children, one that can merit compensation if subverted.

Genetic affinity is an entirely new legal standard. It has no clear precedent in any jurisdiction. But the court made a compelling argument that it has a sound basis in the way we value family and heredity.

Recognizing that value will be particularly important as we advance into the genomic era, which will increase our ability to not only analyze, but also alter our fundamental biological code. Full story...

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France's politicians are uniting against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen...

Two candidates in the French presidential election — centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right National Front candidate Marine Le Pen — are gearing up to face off against each other in the May 7 runoff for the presidency, and it looks promising for one of them.

The events playing out during this election seem to be mirroring those that occurred during the 2002 presidential election, during which Le Pen's father and then-leader of the National Front party, Jean-Marie Le Pen, ran against then-incumbent president Jacques Chirac. Le Pen's controversial views were denounced by many as anti-Semitic and xenophobic.

Jean-Marie Le Pen and conservative Jacques Chirac emerged the two winners in the first round of that election. As the results rolled in, the Socialist party prime minister who came in third place behind Chirac and Le Pen, Lionel Jospin, announced that he would no longer seek political office and endorsed Chirac for the presidency.

 Soon after, politicians from the left began calling for their supporters to — if reluctantly — cast their ballots for Chirac as a vote of opposition to Le Pen. Rallies leading up to the runoff garnered over 1 million protesters who demonstrated against Le Pen's vision. Some held signs comparing him to Hitler. Full story...

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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Chinese beggars accept mobile payments using QR codes...

Beggars in Jinan in China’s eastern province of Shandong use QR codes, the technology used by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s  Alipay and Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s  WeChat Wallet, in hopes of getting money transferred to them by passersby with smartphones.

One panhandler in Jinan’s Wangfu Chizi held a basket with a QR code on it, China.org.cn report, citing accounts from internet users.

The basket-bearer reportedly suffers from mental illness and the QR code was given to him by his family. When reporters’ search for him failed, local business owners said that the beggars might not be ‘working’ due to the rain, but are always around when the weather is good.

Residents living in areas frequented by tourists, such as Qushuiting Street and Wangfu Chizi, said that some local beggars use WeChat — and some even have a POS (point of sale) machine. Source...

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Why the world needs to sit up and take notice of India's war on meat...

(...)

And yet, it is hard to not to think back to Walter Mondale, or even to Wendy’s. Just as they used the phrase to refer to a lack of substance, so it is in contemporary India. The beef campaign addresses no real or direct threat to Indian society. But used as a symbol of exclusion, it could have lasting effects on the future of a nation founded on secular principles.

The current anti-beef campaign has two origins, both rooted in a conception of Hinduism. The first is the view that because the cow is sacred to Hindus, it should never be slaughtered. The second is a more general proposition: good people are, almost by definition, vegetarians, and all meat eating is fundamentally evil.

As the beef-ban is slowly being recognised as a fact of modern Indian life, it is the vegetarian-only campaign that is gathering momentum.

The anti-cow slaughter campaign has played an annoying if not particularly constructive role in Indian politics over the last century. Observant Hindus do not eat beef because the cow is venerated.

When the Indian constitution was written, a section of Hindus called for a ban on cow slaughter. The demand was opposed by liberals who said that if independent India was to be a Hindu nation then, yes, such a ban would be justified. But the idea of India was that it would be a secular nation where the state played as little a role as possible in religious matters. Every Indian citizen – whether he was a Hindu, a Muslim, a Christian, a Sikh – would have exactly the same rights. Full story...

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Parents' mobile use harms family life, say secondary pupils...

An overuse of mobile phones by parents disrupts family life, according to a survey of secondary pupils.

More than a third of 2,000 11 to 18-year-olds who responded to a poll said they had asked their parents to stop checking their devices.

And 14% said their parents were online at meal times, although 95% of 3,000 parents, polled separately, denied it.

The research was carried out by Digital Awareness UK and the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference. Full story...

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While my guitar gently weeps...

Questions remain over Champs-Élysées attacker’s links to IS group...

The Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility about two hours after the attack, which took place on Paris’s Champs-Élysées avenue. A statement published by the terrorist group’s progaganda agency identified the attacker as “Abu Yussef the Belgian”.

However, French authorities on Friday identified the attacker, who was killed in the assault, as Karim Cheurfi, a 39-year-old French citizen who lived in the suburbs of Paris and was known to French authorities.

The discrepancy in the reports led to speculation about who really carried out the attack. Was there a second attacker? If so, were they on the loose?

Rumours had spread on Twitter Thursday night that a Belgian man named Youssouf el Osri, who was wanted by Belgian authorities, had travelled on a Thalys train to Paris. Some Twitter users implied that he was linked to the Champs-Élysées attack. Was this the “Yussef the Belgian” that the IS group later referred to? Full story...

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Chances of imminent war with North Korea ‘wildly overblown,’ U.S. experts say...

The cartoon on the cover of this week’s Der Spiegel, the German newsmagazine, captures the prevailing public mood. It depicts Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un as shouting babies in diapers, teetering on an atomic bomb.

The mercurial new president of the United States and the belligerent leader of North Korea are engaged in a war of words. These exchanges, and their respective personalities, have stoked international fears of an imminent shooting war.

Yet three U.S. experts on North Korea say not much has changed between the Obama era and the Trump era. The widespread perception that there is a dramatically elevated possibility of imminent conflict, they said, is not supported by the facts.

“Wildly overblown,” said William Brown, a Georgetown University adjunct professor who worked on Korean issues for the CIA, the National Intelligence Council and the Commerce Department. “There’s an incredible amount of hype here.” Full story...

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