Monday, July 25, 2016

Najib’s spectacular carnival of thievery...

Among all the questions triggered by the announcement last week that the US government had seized US$1 billion from assets stolen from 1Malaysia Development Bhd since 2009, the biggest one is perhaps this: How on earth did they think they could get away with it?

That cool billion announced by US Attorney General Loretta Lynch was only a small part of the total. Billions are gone, and gone so utterly flamboyantly. Usually stealing money is done in the dark, as quietly as possible.

Did the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak, and his merry band, especially Jho Taek Low, the Penang-born wunderkind, simply believe nobody would notice as the billions would disappear irretrievably into real estate in New York and California, into a US$35 million executive jet, into Las Vegas gambling debts, into paintings by Vincent Van Gogh and Claud Monet, into a billion or so into Najib’s personal account, into a vast outlay of personal jewelry adorning Najib’s wife Rosmah Mansor?

Nobody would remember that shopping trip aboard a private jet by Rosmah to Dubai that was disguised as a trip to collect an award in Turkey? The shopping trips to Monaco and Milan and New York and Paris? The stunningly garish wedding on the island of Langkawi last year for Najib’s daughter? It has been called one of the most lavish in history. Full story...

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Terror fears trigger Swiss run on guns...

The SonntagsBlick newspaper reported new statistics showing the number of applications increased by 17 percent last year over the previous year.

The statistics from all 26 cantons showed that there were 29,146 applications for gun ownership made in 2015.

All cantons with the exception of Jura in the northwest reported an increase. In most cases there was a double-digit jump in requests.

Demand was highest in Obwalden (plus 49 percent), Lucerne (plus 34 percent) and Zug (33 percent).

 And the trend looks set to continue this year. Figures provided by the cantons of St Gallen and Basel Country showed gun sales there were up 30 percent already this year, the paper said. Full story...

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Teacher gives up job 'to become full-time Pokemon Go player'

The Pokémon Go craze has gone global and some entrepreneurs believe there is a lot of money to be made from the game.

A British woman has told The Sun that she has given up her job as a private teacher to play the game full-time.

Sophia Pedraza, from Barnet, north London, plans to sell the accounts on eBay once she has collected the most powerful Pokémon.

Pokémon Go masters are already flipping their accounts for thousands of pounds on eBay to players who prefer to buy the Pokémon instead of catching 'em all.

One bidding war for a high-level account with an array of powerful Pokémon reached £7,300 on the online auction site. Full story...

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It's only a pair of boobs anyway...

Indian govt ‘blames’ ghosts for farmer suicides in Madhya Pradesh...

Some of the 418 suicides reported from MP’s Sehore district were due to “possession by ghosts”, the state government informed the Assembly Wednesday, prompting the Opposition to ask if the government was superstitious.

Congress MLA Shailendra Patel sought to know from Home Minister Bhupendra Singh the number of suicides in Sehore in the last three years, details of each victim and reasons behind the suicides. Singh said 418 suicides had been reported from Sehore in the last 30 months. “Possessed by ghosts’’ was listed as the reason behind a few suicides. This prompted Patel to ask if the government believed in ghosts.

Singh then said the “cause of suicide’’ was based on statements of the victims’ relatives. Ruling out suicides by farmers, he said family of none of the victims have cited loan or economic hardship as the reason.

Outside the House, Patel said: “I was surprised when the government attributed some deaths to presence of ghosts.”

Singh claimed he gave no such reply and said the government was not superstitious. Source...

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Rajinikanth, Tendulkar, Modi: Are Indians prone to 'Celebrity Worship Syndrome'?

The euphoria of epic proportions surrounding Kabali, which was released on Friday, poses one important question: Why do Indians have such an astonishing penchant for idolisation? Be it Rajinikanth or Sachin Tendulkar or Narendra Modi—or Indira Gandhi in the past—Indians, especially those who live south of the Vindhyas, stretch their adulation for their icons to extremes.

Psychologists call it Celebrity Worship Syndrome (CWS), a relatively new subject that caught their interest. The first major study on the subject was published in 2002 by American psychologists Lynn McCutcheon, Rense Lange and James Houran. This was followed in 2003 by a larger study by John Maltby, James Houran and Lynn E McCutcheon. But neither study talked of a Celebrity Worship ‘Syndrome’. The CWS they referred to was, in fact, Celebrity Worship ‘Scale’ which measured the madness.

It was in his story Do you worship the celebs? about the 2003 study that journalist James Chapman took the liberty to expand CWS to Celebrity Worship Syndrome. But no psychologist objected. When taken to ridiculous extents, it was after all a syndrome: an undesirable mental condition. Full story...

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Rio Olympics 2016: Australia refuse to move into athletes' village...

Australia are refusing to move their athletes into the Rio Olympic Village because of concerns about the state of their accommodation.

Problems include "blocked toilets, leaking pipes and exposed wiring", according to team boss Kitty Chiller.

Chiller said she had raised concerns with local event organisers and the International Olympic Committee, and was "pushing hard for a solution".

Australian staff are in nearby hotels with the first athletes due on Monday.

Alternative accommodation for team members arriving over the next three days has been arranged. Full story...

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Nigerian man facing execution in Indonesia told court police electrocuted his genitals to force him to confess to possessing heroin...among several prisoners on death row...claims they were tortured and their legal cases riddled with corruption, errors and miscarriages of justice.

A Nigerian man facing imminent execution in Indonesia tearfully told a court that police electrocuted his genitals to force him to confess to possessing heroin.

Michael Titus Igweh is among several prisoners on death row whom lawyers and human rights groups are frantically lobbying to save from the firing squad amid claims they were tortured and their legal cases riddled with corruption, errors and miscarriages of justice.

"I was constantly beaten, and my genitals electrocuted until I was helpless," the clothes importer, who was sentenced to death in 2003 for possessing 5.8 kilograms of heroin, told the Tangerang District Court in May. "In fact, I was threatened to be shot."

Sources have told Fairfax Media the third wave of executions in Indonesia could be held within days. It is understood the Nigerian and Pakistani embassies have now been notified that their nationals are among those to be killed. Full story...

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Sunday, July 24, 2016

He brought life to this Tamil Nadu village, what villagers did in return will surprise you...

A small hamlet, comprising about 45 families, in the village of Manthiyoor in the interiors of Tirunelveli district recently underwent a name change for a truly unique reason. The hamlet, which had been named Vakaikulam, is now called Vishnu Nagar.

What makes this normal-sounding name so different is that the Vishnu in Vishnu Nagar comes from the name of sub-collector Vishnu V Nair. Vishnu is credited by the villagers with bringing light to their dark hamlet, and to their gratitude, the villagers renamed their village after him.

The young IAS officer of the 2011 batch, however, reticently says he has not done anything great over and above his duty, to become a hero for these villagers.

Vishnu, a native of Kochi in Kerala who graduated from NIT Trichy, says he happened to encounter the myriad problems of this hamlet, during an inspection related to complaints over land disputes. Full story...

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A python in your swimming pool???

Turkish protesters are spray painting "8.8.8.8" and "8.8.4.4." on walls — here's what it means...

As hard as the Turkish government might try, shutting down Twitter isn't as easy as it seems. At 11:30 p.m. Thursday the Turkish government officially blocked the country's 33 million Internet users from Twitter, but clever, tech-savvy Turks are sharing a simple and effective method to help fellow citizens bypass the ban — and they're sharing it everywhere.

Just hours after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to "root out" Twitter, graffiti has been popping up around Istanbul with two IP addresses anyone can use to circumvent the government's ban. The two numbers — 8.8.8.8. and 8.8.4.4. — refer to Google's Public DNS, which can be easily utilized to maintain access to Twitter.

And it's working. Despite a short blackout, many Turks are back on Twitter, and there's nothing the government can really do to stop them.

" ... it seems that masses of ordinary citizens are learning how to use this technology," wrote Serhatcan Yurdam, a blogger who lives in Istanbul. "Everybody is teaching each other how to change their DNS, how to use VPNs ... and clearly they're catching on quickly, since so many people are still tweeting!"

Step-by-step instructions like this are being widely shared by Turkish Internet users. Full story...

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America is being divided and conquered into oblivion...

The single event that changed my life more than any other was TARP, aka the banker bailout. The unfairness, extreme greed and selfishness with which the status quo bailed out financial criminals while leaving the public high and dry changed me forever. When it comes to shaping American history, it is equal in importance to the attacks of 9/11.

As someone who grew up privileged, I never really questioned the criminality of the status quo system. Like so many others who are beneficiaries of the way things are, there’s not much incentive to look behind the curtain. Nevertheless, the banker bailouts shook me to my core and opened my mind in ways that no other event could. At the time, I was happily earning a very large income at a young age while doing absolutely nothing to benefit society. As such, I couldn’t contemplate why government officials were putting so much money and energy into bailing out people like me, while ignoring everyone else. It felt irrational, unethical and dirty. I wrote about all this for over a year while still working in the financial sector, before concluding that it was time to part ways in early 2010. Even back then, I was incessantly warning that tremendous anger from the banker bailouts would ultimately bubble to the surface and create the sort of backdrop in which authoritarians, demagogues and fascists thrive.

The following years have felt like a tremendous rollercoaster ride. My emotions have vacillated significantly from pessimism to optimism, and now reside in a bizarre state in which the two inhabit an uncomfortable coexistence. I’ve previously defined the monumental struggle of our time as: Liberty and Decentralization vs. Authoritarianism and Centralization. Full story...

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More work makes you sick: Danish study...

The busier one is at work, the more likely their health is to suffer.

That’s the conclusion of a new major Danish-American study reported on by Politiken newspaper on Friday.

In what was described as the largest study of its kind to date, an economics professor at the University of Copenhagen and two colleagues from Purdue University found that when Danish production companies enjoy an uptick in business, their employees pay for it with their well-being.

The researchers said that when a production company increases its exports by ten percent and employees are made to work extra hours to carry the load, the workers suffer more illness and injuries.

 This is particularly true for female employees, professor Roland Munch told The Local on Friday. Full story...

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Huxley to Orwell: My hellish vision of the future is better than yours (1949)

In 1949, George Orwell received a curious letter from his former high school French teacher.

Orwell had just published his groundbreaking book Nineteen Eighty-Four, which received glowing reviews from just about every corner of the English-speaking world. His French teacher, as it happens, was none other than Aldous Huxley who taught at Eton for a spell before writing Brave New World (1931), the other great 20th century dystopian novel.

Huxley starts off the letter praising the book, describing it as “profoundly important.” He continues, “The philosophy of the ruling minority in Nineteen Eighty-Four is a sadism which has been carried to its logical conclusion by going beyond sex and denying it.”

Then Huxley switches gears and criticizes the book, writing, “Whether in actual fact the policy of the boot-on-the-face can go on indefinitely seems doubtful. My own belief is that the ruling oligarchy will find less arduous and wasteful ways of governing and of satisfying its lust for power, and these ways will resemble those which I described in Brave New World.” Full story...

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Singapore street stalls make dining history with Michelin star...

Hungry diners queued up at a small, modest street food stall in Singapore on Friday to get a taste of the restaurant's local delights worthy of a coveted Michelin star.

Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle and Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle made dining history on Thursday when they became the first street food stalls in the world to be awarded a star by Michelin as French critics revealed a Singapore guide of 29 establishments.

Singapore is the first Southeast Asian country and the fourth in Asia to be rated by the Michelin Guide. It has more than 100 open-air "hawker" centers and 6,000 stalls selling popular multi-ethnic meals.

 Chan Hon Meng, owner of Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle, said he was honored to receive the recognition as he cooked up treats for the extra customers. Full story...

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Valley of a Thousand Hills...

Inside the French ghettos, Muslims are fed up with being blamed for the violence of others because of a shared religion...

“I knew as soon as it happened that they would blame Muslims, say terrorists are behind it, we are used to that now; we expect nothing else from the authorities here,” declared Rachid, standing at a street corner with a group of young men. “They humiliate us and then they are surprised when there is violence.”

There were nods and murmurs of agreement among his friends gathered in a circle. Young Frenchmen, Muslims, who see the French state as an enemy, feel alienated from the rest of French society and see nothing but a bleak future of strife ahead.

The half-dozen in the group, aged between 18 and 23, were speaking in the Abbatoir district, not far from where Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel drove a 19-tonne truck into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day, killing 84 people, 10 of them children.

But surely nothing can justify mass murder? “We are not saying that, what he did was very bad. But the police, the media, everyone is saying he did it because he was a Muslim,” said Rachid throwing his arms up in the air. “No, he did not even go to a mosque, he did it because of whatever problem he had, it wasn’t because he was a Muslim.” Full story...

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Turkey’s Erdogan running wild, geopolitics in play...

Wannabe sultan Erdogan’s policies aren’t pretty. His reign of terror continues into its eighth day, likely lots more purging ahead.

What’s unfolding followed what looked like a stage-managed sham military uprising - sloppy, inept and stillborn when initiated, Erdogan never in danger of being toppled.

Citing “Turkish and foreign intelligence sources inside Turkey,” investigative journalist Wayne Madsen called the July 15 uprising a “ ‘false flag’ coup…limited by Erdogan’s design from the start.”

“The coup attempt was a standard ‘fly paper’ operation,” used to flush out opposition elements, seeing which ones stick, eliminating them as a threat to his absolute rule.

He’s taken full advantage, using the events of July 15 to eliminate potential challenges - cleaning house, targeting tens of thousands. Full story...

Read also: The Sultan of (Emergency) Swing

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Vietnam mulls tough measures for ‘misbehaving’ Chinese tourists...

Officials in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s financial hub in the south, are discussing plans to impose heavy fines on Chinese tourists who “disrespect Vietnam’s culture and history” and are issuing Mandarin-language dos and don'ts targeting their northern neighbors.

The move comes after footage surfaced online of Chinese travelers harassing a banana hawker in Da Nang, a South China Sea coastal retreat that's popular among Chinese visitors. The clip only fueled nationalistic sentiments, which have been surging since The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled against Beijing’s territorial claims in the disputed maritime region, to which Hanoi is a claimant.

Talking to VOA’s Vietnamese service, Mai Chi, a Ho Chi Minh-based tour guide for Chinese travelers, said intense Vietnamese reaction to the clip seems “politically motivated.”

“In the past, when Vietnam and China retained friendly relations, issues related to Chinese tourists were not reported much," Chi said. "But now, due to the political things going on, they were propagandized.” Full story...

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ENTIRE Russian team of 387 athletes will be banned from competing at the Rio Olympics as punishment for their country’s state-sponsored doping programme...

The entire Russian Olympic team will today be banned from competing at the Rio Games next month, The Mail on Sunday understands.

According to well-placed sources, the International Olympic Committee will punish all 387 Russian sportsmen and women in the strongest possible way after revelations of their country’s state-sponsored doping programme shocked the world.

The country’s corrupt track and field stars have already been banned from the Games, and last week lost a desperate legal challenge to overturn that decision.

But today’s ruling – the most momentous in Olympic history – will see Russia’s medal hopes in cycling, judo, wrestling and all other disciplines excluded from competition in the wake of the scandal.

The controversy involved President Vladimir Putin’s sports ministry handing out cocktails of steroids and covering up tainted urine samples ahead of the 2012 London Olympics. Full story...

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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Our wonderful nature - the common chameleon...

'It's just weird:' Seattle man finds stranger living in his attic...

When Davis Wahlman arrived at his Green Lake home on Monday night he noticed a couple of lights on inside that usually would be off.

"I don't immediately freak out but I'm like 'This is not ordinary,'" recalled Wahlman, who is an employee at KOMO News.

Once inside, Wahlman also found a screen from a bathroom window inside the tub, but he didn't think too much of it until the next morning when strange noises in the attic startled him.

"I am kind of jolted out of bed," said Wahlman. "I hear rummaging around above me, which I know is the attic so I'm like 'That's kind of weird.'"

As Wahlman tried to figure out what was going on he noticed a light was on in the office. The door was locked so he knocked but got no response. He then tried to find something to protect himself then knocked on the door again. It was then he heard a woman's voice. Full story...

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Political correctness goes beyond insane at this Australian public school that just BANNED applause...

A public school in Sydney has just earned the prize for the most laughably insane political correctness lunacy we’ve ever seen. Elanora Heights Public School just issued a ban on applause and cheering in order to avoid offending people who are “sensitive to noise.”

Instead of clapping and cheering, it will now be acceptable to engage in “air punching” and to “pull excited faces.” Parents and students will even be allowed to, believe it or not, “wriggle about on the spot.” (No, I’m not making this up… see the screen shot below.)

This is all part of the new, idiotic, mind-numbing demands of P.C. obedience coming from cognitively retarded leftists who somehow believe the best way to educate children is to turn them all into clueless, pathetic sheeple who can’t handle reality. In the name of political correctness, they are demanding that everyone in society behave like blathering idiots in order to avoid offending anyone for any reason whatsoever. They’re even demanding all gender words like “women” or “girl” be stripped from the English language!

What society really needs, as I stated in my “Dangerous Faggot of the Year” award honoring gay Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos, is a new T-shirt that reads, “I just took a dump in your stupid SAFE SPACE.” When P.C. idiocy reaches such depths of lunatic leftism, somebody truly needs to just dump all over these demands and laugh out loud at the ridiculousness of it all. (When will the lunacy end, if ever?) Full story...

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You won't believe the outrageous ways Big Pharma has bribed doctors to shill drugs...

At the 2010 meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in New Orleans, a psychiatrist from the East coast shared her anger with me about the recent clamp down on Pharma financial perks to doctors. “They used to wine us and dine us. An SSRI maker flew my entire office to a Caribbean island…but now nothing,” she lamented.

She was right. Before news organizations and the 2010 Physician Financial Transparency Reports (also called the Sunshine Act, part of the Affordable Care Act) reported the outrageous amount of money Pharma was giving doctors to prescribe its new, brand-name drugs, there was almost no limit to what was spent to encourage prescribing.

At another medical conference I attended, soon after, when it was suggested that doctors not accept free meals from Pharma reps because of indebtedness, a doctor asked in all earnestness “but what do we do for lunch?”

He was right. Doctors seldom have to go hungry at lunchtime when Pharma reps are around. Not only do reps reliably bring lunch and free drug samples, until fairly recently they wielded thousand-dollar budgets to send doctors on trips to resorts, golf vacations and to sought after sports events. No wonder the docs saw them. Full story...

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Oliver Stone links Pokémon Go to totalitarianism during privacy debate...

Film director Oliver Stone has branded the popular gaming app Pokémon Go a “new level of invasion” of privacy that could lead to “totalitarianism”.

The American reportedly voiced concerns over the game as he promoted his new movie about NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden at Comic-Con International.

After he was asked about security concerns associated with Pokémon Go, Stone said companies were carrying out “surveillance capitalism” by monitoring people’s behaviour.

According to Time magazine, he told the Comic-Con audience in San Diego: “It’s not funny. What’s happening is a new level of invasion.

“The profits are enormous here for places like Google. They’ve invested a huge amount of money in data mining what you are buying, what you like, your behaviour. Full story...

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Half of Brazilians are against the Olympics...

An estimated 50% of Brazilians are against the Olympics, according to Brazilian polling agency Datafolha. That's double the disapproval rating from June 2013.

It's a sobering reminder that Brazilians are grappling with the country's historic recession, which has shadowed the lead up to the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, which start August 5.

The poll is especially worrisome considering that there are about 1.7 million unsold tickets for the Olympics still available two weeks before the Games begin, according to figures from Rio Organizers.

 Brazilian tourism officials have anticipated that Brazilians will buy up many of the remaining tickets, insisting that locals are just waiting until the last minute. Full story...

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Why the metric system matters...


District in India Has unique penalty : Plant a tree for every time you violate a traffic rule...

Plant a tree each time you violate a traffic rule. To instill social duty, the police in Mahbubnagar district of Telangana, India have said traffic violators will have to plant a sapling in addition to other punishment and relevant fines.

The idea comes from a brainchild of Mahbubnagar district’s superintendent of police Rema Rajeshwari and became operational before 3 weeks ago

Till now minimum 2,765 violators have planted saplings throughout the district and the police are aiming at planting 1 million saplings in police stations, residential quarters, office buildings and district police office complex.

Drunk-driving along with other traffic offences along national and state highways have kept the graph of growing accident deaths in the district ever scaling upwards. Full story...

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Saudi official with diplomatic immunity 'brought personal slave to Britain'

A Saudi diplomat was accused of bringing a personal slave to Britain, Boris Johnson has told MPs.

But the official may have walked free, as they have diplomatic immunity.

The bombshell was revealed in a statement from the Foreign Secretary, buried in a huge cache of information dumped by the Government on the last day before Parliament's summer break.

The statement does not say whether anyone was prosecuted for the offences.

But the Mirror understands two foreign diplomats and their families were asked to leave the UK last year. Full story...

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Friday, July 22, 2016

Globalization’s few winners and many losers...

I often write about the Tyranny of Price, the rarely examined assumption that lower prices are all that matters.

Thanks to the Tyranny of Price, the quality of many goods has plummeted.Obsolescence is either planned or the result of inferior components that fail, crippling the entire product. As correspondent Mark G. has observed, the poor quality we now accept as a global standard wasn’t available at any price in the 1960s– such poor quality goods were simply not manufactured and sold.

There is another even more pernicious consequence of the Tyranny of Price: globalization, which makes two promises to participants: 1) lower prices everywhere and 2) manufacturing work that will raise millions of poor people in developing economies out of poverty.

Globalization is presented as a win-win solution: the developed countries get cheaper goods and the developing world get the benefits of industrialization.

But now a new study, Poorer Than Their Parents? Flat or Falling Incomes in Advanced Economies, finds that globalization has been a bad deal for 80% of the people in developed economies, as their income and wealth has stagnated or declined. Full story...

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Clinton and Trump are both the face of plunder and paternalism...

Whether it is Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump who stands on the steps of the Capital Building in Washington, D.C in January 2017 to take the oath of office as president of the United States, all public opinion polls suggest that that person will have among the highest unfavorable ratings for anyone beginning their time in the White House.

According to an Associated Press poll taken in early July 2016, fifty-seven percent view Clinton unfavorably and only 37 percent favorably. Sixty-three percent hold an unfavorable view of Trump, and only 31 percent are favorable. Of those planning to vote for either Clinton or Trump, only 26 percent, respectively, said they would be positively “excited” if their candidate wins. Plus, three quarters of prospective voters in the poll declared that they were making their decision based upon whom they wanted to vote against.

If there was an option on the ballot box that enabled voters to choose “None of the Above,” for president in this election year, it very will might be the case that that option would receive either a plurality or maybe even a majority. That may be why come November the Libertarian Party candidate, Gary Johnson, well likely receive the largest number of votes that the LP has every won in a presidential election. Not because a large number of voters either understand or agree with libertarian political philosophy or public policy views, but as a protest against the alternatives that are being offered to the American public by the Democratic and Republican Parties. Full story...

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Files on shady business deals involving Margaret Thatcher’s son kept secret...

Secret files detailing the shadowy Middle Eastern business activities of Sir Mark Thatcher, son of the late former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, will be kept under lock and key in government archives instead of being published as expected.

Four batches of documents on the younger Thatcher are being retained despite official legislation dictating documents should be released after 20 years unless there are good reasons to retain them in Britain’s National Archives.

Previously the rule had been that files are made public after 30 years, but this was reduced to 20 years under Labour PM Gordon Brown.

Two files, titled ‘Cementation contract: Mark Thatcher and the Omanis’ will now not be released until 2053, meaning that they will have been kept out of the public eye for 65 years by the time of their publication.

Two further files have been designated as "temporarily retained" and have been assigned no date for release. These are titled ‘Mark Thatcher and the Omanis; other allegations against Mark Thatcher’ and ‘Request by Electronic Data Systems to employ Mark Thatcher.’ Full story...

LA GOASSN and Seven Nation Army ...

Politics of rape in Kashmir...

Last year at a seminar in Srinagar, women from Kunan-Poshpora, twin villages in Kupwara district of Kashmir, publicly recounted the night of February 23, 1991, when soldiers of the Indian Army invaded their lives, privacy and dignity. Masquerading as a “cordon and search operation to catch militants,” the soldiers of 4th Rajputana Rifles, of the Army’s 68th Brigade, entered the villages and launched the most potent tool of repression used in theatres of political conflict — rape, sexual humiliation and sexual torture.

Sexualised violence in wars and conflicts is neither incidental, nor is it a question of sex. When 125 soldiers lay down a siege over a village, separate the men from the women and sexually assault more than 50 women, from ages 13 to 60, it is indicative of a systemic military practice. The intent was not only to terrorise and traumatise the people under assault — they are often accused of harbouring militants — but also sending out a message of retribution to the Kashmir resistance movement.

 The survivors, who appeared in front of a large gathering in Srinagar, for the first time since the incident, were accompanied by Syed Mohammad Yasin, the Deputy Commissioner of Kupwara in 1991. Yasin broke down when he said: “I was shocked to see the plight of the women … A woman told me that she was kept under jackboots by the soldiers while her daughter and daughter-in-law were being raped before her eyes. A pregnant woman was not spared either….” The message of retaliation, humiliation and shame was palpable. Full story...

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Malaysia orders special prayers to cancel Selena Gomez concert...

Selangor religious affairs executive council member Ahmad Yunus Hairi has called on mosques throughout the state to hold solat hajat (special prayers) to pray for the cancellation of Selena Gomez's upcoming concert in Shah Alam.

"All mosques in Selangor have been ordered to hold solat hajat after Friday prayers or whenever it is appropriate, before the concert is held to pray to Allah in hopes that the concert will be cancelled.

"(May) our beloved Selangor not be struck with disasters, and the concert organisers enlightened by Allah," the PAS leader said in a statement today.

Ahmad Yunus said Muslims would not condone excessive forms of entertainment, including Gomez's concert, which he said would court Allah's wrath.

The concert is slated to be held this coming Monday in Stadium Melawati.

Ahmad Yunus' order is in conflict with Selangor Menteri Besar Azmin Ali's remarks that there is nothing wrong with the concert as long as it gets the proper clearance.

PAS had protested the concert claiming that Gomez is too sexy. Source...

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Edward Snowden co-designs an iPhone case that alerts user to surveillance activity...

Whistleblower Edward Snowden has co-designed a new iPhone case that helps protect the user from surveillance by showing when the device is transmitting information.

Mr Snowden and co-designer Andrew “Bunnie” Huang, a well known hardware hacker who holds a PhD in electrical engineering from MIT, have presented the mock up of the case via video link to an event at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on Thursday.

The initial mock up of the "introspection engine" looks, and functions, like a battery case with an added display showing whether the device is "dark" or transmitting.

Additionally, the system would also feature an audible alarm that can be set to trip in case any activity is seen on any set of radios, the pair explained in a paper released alongside the presentation. Full story...

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Vibrant Gujarat? 98% Dalits have to drink tea in separate cups...

This is the taluka where Tata Motors has parked its small car project. Nano has become a symbol of Gujarat's pride and became a centre of attraction at the last Vibrant Gujarat investment summit in January 2009. .
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 But scratch the surface, and the scene is gloomy beneath this economic boom in the state. Bhikhabhai Solanki, 50, a native of Lodariyal village, has never shaken hands with non-Dalits in his life. Bhikhabhai, an agricultural labourer, is Valmiki by caste - the lowest of the socially downtrodden. "We are untouchables and nobody touches us here," he says. .
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The farmer he works for keeps a tea-cup outside his house. Whenever Bhikhabhai arrived for work in the morning or leaves after finishing in the evening, tea is poured into the cup. Strangely, this form of untouchability goes in the name of religion. These cups are called 'Ram patra'.

The practice thrives across Gujarat, without exception, and has been documented extensively in a first-of-its-kind study on a large scale, representing 98,000 Dalits across 1,655 villages in Gujarat. The study has been carried out by Ahmedabad-based Navsarjan Trust with three US-based organisations - the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, Dartmouth College at the University of Michigan and Robert F Kennedy Centre for Social Justice and Human Rights, Washington, D.C. Full story...

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

German police raid 60 homes for "xenophobic" Facebook posts...

German Police raided the homes of 60 people suspected of writing ‘hate’ speech on social media in Germany. Coordinated by the Federal Criminal Police (BKA), the operation saw officers from 25 departments search across 14 states.

The police raids took place as part of the government’s fight against “verbal radicalisation”, which it said has increased in the wake of Europe’s migrant crisis. BKA President Holger Münch said attacks on migrant shelters were the result of “radicalisation” on social media.

Forty of the defendants whose homes were raided were wanted in connection with a secret Facebook group focused on Kempten, in Bavaria. The search took place across 13 provinces. Bild reported that xenophobic and Nazi material was distributed on the group’s Facebook page between July and November last year.

Attorney Bernhard Menzel, from the prosecutor’s office in Kempten, said that during the raids, police seized storage devices such as laptops and mobile phones.

In Berlin, 11 men had their houses searched as part of the anti-‘hate’ speech operation. Berlin police reported that suspects had, independently from one another, written negative messages about migrants and politicians on social networks. Full story...

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The girl who lives in a bowl...


Disappointed, French Jews leave Israel, return to France...

(...)

There is another side to this story that is rarely told: among those who do leave France for Israel, many return home disappointed.

In an in-depth look at the issue this week, the Paris newspaper Le Monde cites estimates that somewhere around 15-30 percent of French emigrants to Israel eventually return home.

Exact figures are unavailable because the question of returning to France is subject to a “double taboo,” according to historian and Israel specialist Frédérique Schillo: it’s seen as a failure both for the returnee as well as for Israel.

“It’s political,” Schillo told Le Monde, “Israel is a refuge for the world’s Jews. If it’s revealed that the big emigration from France is a failure, what would people say? The Jewish Agency has no interest in talking about it.”

Le Monde profiled several individuals – some only by first name because of the stigma attached to speaking out – who illustrate the different reasons why integration in Israel has failed. Full story...

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How the Clinton Foundation got rich off poor Haitians...

In January 2015 a group of Haitians surrounded the New York offices of the Clinton Foundation. They chanted slogans, accusing Bill and Hillary Clinton of having robbed them of “billions of dollars.”

Two months later, the Haitians were at it again, accusing the Clintons of duplicity, malfeasance, and theft. And in May 2015, they were back, this time outside New York’s Cipriani, where Bill Clinton received an award and collected a $500,000 check for his foundation.

“Clinton, where’s the money?” the Haitian signs read. “In whose pockets?” Said Dhoud Andre of the Commission Against Dictatorship, “We are telling the world of the crimes that Bill and Hillary Clinton are responsible for in Haiti.”

Haitians like Andre may sound a bit strident, but he and the protesters had good reason to be disgruntled. They had suffered a heavy blow from Mother Nature, and now it appeared that they were being battered again — this time by the Clintons. Their story goes back to 2010, when a massive 7.0 earthquake devastated the island, killing more than 200,000 people, leveling 100,000 homes, and leaving 1.5 million people destitute.

The devastating effect of the earthquake on a very poor nation provoked worldwide concern and inspired an outpouring of aid money intended to rebuild Haiti. Countries around the world, as well as private and philanthropic groups such as the Red Cross and the Salvation Army, provided some $10.5 billion in aid, with $3.9 billion of it coming from the United States. Full story...

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Pokémon Go and the coming zombie apocalypse...

I don’t need simulated drama in my life. When you stand up and speak out, more of the real thing will find you than you could possibly want.

Since I stopped working in the corporate world, I don’t even carry a mobile phone. I have one, but it is permanently in airplane mode, has no sim card, and I don’t take it anywhere. I use it as an alarm clock.

When I go for a walk, I actually look where I am going.

I’m used to being walked at by apparently brainwashed automata oblivious to their surroundings tapping furiously into their phones. I make no attempt to walk round these zombies. If one walks into me I stop and I stand there till it enters consciousness sufficiently to move around me. Full story...

What if Hillary Clinton...

What if the folks who run the Department of Political Justice recently were told that the republic would suffer if Hillary Clinton were indicted for espionage because Donald Trump might succeed Barack Obama in the presidency? What if espionage is the failure to safeguard state secrets and the evidence that Clinton failed to safeguard them is unambiguous and overwhelming?

What if President Obama never really liked his former rival whom he appointed as his secretary of state? What if he had no real interest in seeing her succeed him because he and his wife simply could never trust her?

What if, when Clinton suggested to the president that the U.S. wage a secret undeclared war against Libya, the president went along with it as a no-lose proposition? What if he assumed that if her secret war succeeded he’d get the credit and if her secret war failed she would get the blame?

What if the means of fighting the secret war consisted of employing intelligence assets rather than the U.S. military? What if Clinton concocted that idea because the use of the military requires a public reporting to the entire Congress but the use of intelligence assets requires only a secret reporting to a dozen members of Congress? Full story...

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