Friday, May 22, 2015

Arriving at school on a bicycle in Holland...



The large majority of Dutch children cycle to school. This is how they arrive at a school's bicycle parking facility in 's-Hertogenbosch (aka Den Bosch) in the Netherlands. There is nothing special about this school. All over the Netherlands schools look like this between 8 and 8.30 in the morning. Source...

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Updated NASA data: Global warming not causing any polar ice retreat...

Updated data from NASA satellite instruments reveal the Earth’s polar ice caps have not receded at all since the satellite instruments began measuring the ice caps in 1979. Since the end of 2012, moreover, total polar ice extent has largely remained above the post-1979 average. The updated data contradict one of the most frequently asserted global warming claims – that global warming is causing the polar ice caps to recede.

The timing of the 1979 NASA satellite instrument launch could not have been better for global warming alarmists. The late 1970s marked the end of a 30-year cooling trend. As a result, the polar ice caps were quite likely more extensive than they had been since at least the 1920s. Nevertheless, this abnormally extensive 1979 polar ice extent would appear to be the “normal” baseline when comparing post-1979 polar ice extent.

Updated NASA satellite data show the polar ice caps remained at approximately their 1979 extent until the middle of the last decade. Beginning in 2005, however, polar ice modestly receded for several years. By 2012, polar sea ice had receded by approximately 10 percent from 1979 measurements. (Total polar ice area – factoring in both sea and land ice – had receded by much less than 10 percent, but alarmists focused on the sea ice loss as “proof” of a global warming crisis.)

A 10-percent decline in polar sea ice is not very remarkable, especially considering the 1979 baseline was abnormally high anyway. Regardless, global warming activists and a compliant news media frequently and vociferously claimed the modest polar ice cap retreat was a sign of impending catastrophe. Al Gore even predicted the Arctic ice cap could completely disappear by 2014.

In late 2012, however, polar ice dramatically rebounded and quickly surpassed the post-1979 average. Ever since, the polar ice caps have been at a greater average extent than the post-1979 mean.

Now, in May 2015, the updated NASA data show polar sea ice is approximately 5 percent above the post-1979 average. Full story...

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Paralysed man has been able to control a robotic limb with a mind-reading chip implanted in his brain

A man has been able to control a robotic limb with a mind-reading chip implanted in his brain.

It allowed Erik Sorto, from California, to sip a drink unaided for the first time in 10 years.

The details, published in Science, reveal how complex bursts of electrical signals in his brain could be interpreted into commands for the arm.

Experts said the results made brain-controlled robotics closer to being a reality.

Mr Sorto was shot at the age of 21. The damage to his spinal cord left him paralysed from the neck down. Full story...

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U.S. and Israel have worst inequality in the developed world...

The U.S. and Israel have the worst inequality in the developed world, according to a report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The OECD found that the gap between rich and poor is at record levels in most of its 34 member countries. But the U.S. and Israel stood out from the pack.

In the U.S., the richest 10% of the population earn 16.5 times the income of the poorest 10%. In Israel, the richest 10% earn 15 times that of the poorest.

That compares with the average ratio of 9.6 times across the OECD.

The income gap has been growing steadily in recent decades. In the 1980s, the rich made about 7 times as much as the poor.

The report also reveals wealth inequality is even more extreme than income inequality. Full story...

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Hundreds of tech companies line up to oppose TPP trade agreement...

More than 250 tech companies have signed a letter demanding greater transparency from Congress and decrying the broad regulatory language in leaked parts of the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership trade bill.

The TPP would create an environment hostile to journalists and whistleblowers, said policy directors for the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Fight for the Future, co-authors of the letter. “TPP’s trade secrets provisions could make it a crime for people to reveal corporate wrongdoing ‘through a computer system’,” says the letter. “The language is dangerously vague, and enables signatory countries to enact rules that would ban reporting on timely, critical issues affecting the public.”

Among the signatories are activist, sci-fi author and Guardian tech columnist Cory Doctorow. “Democracies make their laws in public, not in smoke-filled rooms,” Doctorow wrote. “If TPP’s backers truly believed that they were doing the people’s work, they’d have invited the people into the room. The fact that they went to extreme, unprecedented measures to stop anyone from finding out what was going on – even going so far as to threaten Congress with jail if they spoke about it – tells you that this is something being done *to* Americans, not *for* Americans.”

Also on the list were prominent members of the open source community, including David Heinemeier Hansson, creator of the popular Ruby on Rails web development framework, image hosting company Imgur and domain name manager Namecheap. Full story...

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

French drug dealers offer customer loyalty cards!!!

Drug dealers in the southern port city of Marseille made headlines in France on Thursday thanks to their business venture of launching loyalty cards for their customers.

When buying cannabis from the Marseille dealers, customers are given a rewards card including the product price list, opening hours (11am to midnight), and a message that says "We look forward to seeing you in the neighbourhood, thanks for your loyalty".

"I thought I was hallucinating," one buyer told regional paper La Provence.

"I thought I was at a pizzeria or something."

 Indeed, the card seems exactly like something a pizza or coffee shop would offer, with ten unstamped squares on the opposite side and another typed message explaining that customers get a discount of €10 after all boxes were filled. Full story...

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Dogs love to take a drink from the water hose...

Tourist faces jail in Dubai for MOLESTATION after tapping policewoman on shoulder...

A LOST tourist is facing six months in jail for molestation after tapping a female police officer on the shoulder in Dubai.

The tourist, from Kazakhstan, fell foul of the UAE's strict rules after asking her where the Dubai Mall was.

He then allegedly pushed two male officers who came to assist their colleague.

The 49-year-old, also known as KB, denied the charges of molestation and assault in court this week, saying he had "no criminal intention at all".

KB said: "She was talking to some other people, so I tapped her on the shoulder and she turned around and started yelling." Full story...

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Israel to ‘anti-vaxxers': No vaccination, no child support...

When United Torah Judaism inked its coalition agreement with Likud on April 29, party members triumphantly hailed the reversal of a slew of legislative measures implemented by arch-nemesis Yair Lapid, including an increase in monthly child allowances — but it came with one caveat.

Under the terms of the coalition deal, which appointed party member Yaakov Litzman deputy health minister, “the National Insurance law will be amended, such that child allowances will not be given in cases where a parent refuses to vaccinate their child.”

That condition — which did not specify which vaccines would be included — revives a six-year-old debate on the legality of linking over the past few years welfare benefits to vaccinations. It also comes on the heels of a quiet climb in the number of parents opting out of some or all vaccinations, primarily from within some segments of the ultra-Orthodox community as well as Bedouin families in southern Israel with limited access to medical treatment (another group is found among upper-to-middle class Israelis, based on ideological grounds).

The Haredim and Bedouin, among those most resistant to inoculations, are also among Israel’s most impoverished and have the largest families, so they are ultimately the most dependent on the monthly allowances. Hinging benefits on vaccinations, then, puts them in a tight spot. Full story...

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Government witch hunt to eliminate Monsanto critics...

Wonder how a federal agency as large as the USDA can keep claiming pesticides like Roundup are safe?

Wonder how the truth can be kept from leaking out?

Wonder how this agency, tasked with protecting the public from unsafe food, can turn fake science into “real science” like clockwork?

Wonder how, in Hawaii, Monsanto and Dow can defend their toxic, open-air, pesticide experiments as “approved by the USDA?”

Government scientists who believe in exposing the truth are being targeted.

Ten scientists at the US Dept. of Agriculture are on such a target list, because their research findings would harm big-corporate agriculture. Full story...

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12 of the 33 children in this 1973 class photo took their own lives after years of sexual and physical abuse at Ballarat Catholic school...

It should be a photograph filled with happy childhood memories, but instead it tells the tragedy of a community torn apart by horrific child abuse.

The picture shows the 1973 Grade 4 class of St Alipius’ Christian Brothers School in Ballarat. In the second row from the front, standing fourth from the right with his head tilted is Philip Nagle.

As he looks at the image today, instead of bringing a smile to his face, it only stirs up feelings of sorrow and rage, as he claims 12 out of the 33 pupils pictured went on to commit suicide because of the sexual and physical abuse that took place at the school.

But Mr Nagle believes that what happened to his dead classmates will not be forgotten.

The 50-year-old was the first person called on Tuesday at the opening of the Royal Commission on Institutional Child Sex Abuse a paedophile ring involving Catholic clergy in Ballarat in the 1960s, '70s and '80s.

At the end of his testimony he asked for a minute's silence to honour his 12 fellow classmates. His only hope now is that more people will go public about the heinous crimes that took place at St Alipius so that justice can still be done. More + photos...

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'Our country could become like Afghanistan': Bangladesh's bloggers are living in fear...

The Bangladeshi blogger who goes by the name of Euklid fears, unsurprisingly, for his safety. But in the face of a spree of attacks on his online colleagues, what frightens him even more is the future of his country, he says. "The government should act quickly and neutralize these militant groups, otherwise Bangladesh could become like Afghanistan or Iraq."

Euklid, a 24-year-old engineering student who describes himself as an "atheist" blogger, was speaking a week after the murder of his fellow writer Ananta Bijoy Das in Bangladesh’s northern city of Sylhet, which has brought to three the number of secular citizen journalists hacked to death in the last three months. A fourth blogger was also killed in similar circumstances just over two years ago.

On Monday, Unesco director-general Irina Bokova condemned the murder of Das, and called on the Bangladesh authorities to bring those responsible to justice.

Expressing fear for safety of citizen journalists in Bangladesh, Bokova added: "Punishing such attacks is indispensable to maintain free public debate and free expression by media professionals and committed citizens alike."

 The macabre killings - involving masked men attacking the writers with machetes on the streets of two of the country’s major cities, and then glorifying in the killings in online posts - have shocked most people in this Muslim-majority but avowedly secular country. Full story...

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1,000 Indian workers dead. The grim reality of Qatar's FIFA World Cup dream...



The 2022 Qatar FIFA World Cup will kill more Indians than the numbers of players it will host. This is what Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation said last year, when news of Qatari human rights violations made headlines. A thousand Indians had already died, and a year later, we’ve only rescued Indians from the Gulf country when bombs fell, but ignored the darker, hidden world of Indian migrants in these nations.

In 2013, a Doha hospital reported that over a 1,000 workers were admitted to the trauma unit because of falling from heights, and a “significant” number of them died. Working 12 hours a day in 50 degree heat, without enough water - that’ll knock anyone out.

But their ordeal had begun much before that – many reported having lower salaries (which were rarely, or never paid), having their passports taken away, and working seven days a week. And as the 2022 deadline for the World Cup approaches, it is getting worse.

Migrant workers live in overcrowded accommodation with no air conditioning (a necessity in the scorching heat of the Middle East), and are exposed to overflowing sewage and uncovered septic tanks. Many are dumped and forgotten in squalid accommodations by companies who promised them a better life. Full story...

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Indians apologise en masse to British woman after man masturbated at her at bus stop...

A British woman left shaken after a man publicly masturbated while staring at her in India has been inundated with apologies and support.

Lucy Hemmings, 27, said Indian men and women had sent her countless messages after reading her blog post about the incident to say sorry.

“On behalf of my fellow countrymen I would like to apologise for what happened,” one man wrote.

“It is truly disheartening to know that you have had such an experience while you were in my country…I pray that you will have a safer environment from now on.”

Another Indian well-wisher wrote that they felt “ashamed and sorry”, while another said: “A bunch of people, out of a billion population, make the whole of India ashamed. Full story...

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Qatar World Cup: Campaign to boycott the 2022 World Cup underway...

The Qatar World Cup is facing an overwhelming deal of criticism after reports of the dangerous working conditions of migrant workers. The 2022 World Cup has been marred by controversy ever since it was announced that Qatar would host the biggest event in all of soccer.

Due to the scorching summer heat in Qatar, FIFA, soccer’s international governing organization, has announced that the 2022 World Cup will be the first to be played in the winter. However, the
Qatar World Cup is facing much more serious criticisms than scheduling.

A social media campaign is now putting pressure on not just FIFA but also the sponsors of the 2022 World Cup by boycotting their products.

Sponsors supporting FIFA and the Qatar World Cup include McDonalds, Adidas, Visa, Coca-Cola, Kia, Hyundai, Budweiser and Gazprom. The campaign, #FIFASlavery, aims to promote awareness of not only the deaths of South Asian migrants and their poor working conditions, but also the problem of corruption, homophobia, misogyny and harassment of journalists associated with the Qatar World Cup. Full story...

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1,400 investigated in child sex abuse inquiry, including politicians and other high-profile individuals...

Officer leading Operation Hydrant inquiry says out of 1,433 alleged offenders 76 were politicians, 43 were from music industry and 135 were from TV, film or radio

Police across the country are investigating more than 1,400 men – including 261 high-profile individuals – over allegations of child abuse in the past, a senior officer running the national operation has revealed.

The scale of alleged child abuse across society – both recent and non-recent – was stark, said Ch Const Simon Bailey, who runs Operation Hydrant, the national coordinating team overseeing the various inquiries.

Figures from police forces in England and Wales published on Wednesday reveal that 1,433 men have been identified in reports of alleged abuse by victims, since the operation was set up in 2014.

(...)

Of these 216 are dead, 76 are politicians, both national and local figures, 43 are from the music industry, 135 from TV, film or radio and seven from the world of sport. The cases include recent high-profile convictions, including Rolf Harris, Gary Glitter and Max Clifford. Full story...

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Brazil blogger known for reporting on corruption found decapitated...

The decapitated body of a Brazilian blogger known for denouncing corrupt politicians has been found in a rural zone in south-eastern Minas Gerais state, police said on Wednesday.

Evany José Metzker, 67, was reported missing five days before his body was found near the town of Padre Paraíso in one of Brazil’s poorest regions.

“His hands were tied behind his back and his body showed signs of torture,” a police press officer said, adding that the murder was apparently motivated by Metzker’s recent investigations into child prostitution and drug trafficking.

Metzker’s credit cards, a cheque book and his ID card were found near his body. Full story...

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Key of Awesome and "Look at your phone"

Five of the world's largest banks are to pay fines totalling $5.7bn for manipulating the foreign exchange market...

Five of the world's largest banks are to pay fines totalling $5.7bn (£3.6bn) for manipulating the foreign exchange market, US officials say.

Four of the banks - JPMorgan, Citigroup, Barclays, RBS - have agreed to plead guilty to US criminal charges.

The fifth, UBS, will plead guilty to rigging benchmark interest rates.

Barclays was fined the most, $2.4bn, as it did not join other banks in November to settle investigations by UK, US and Swiss regulators.

US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said that "almost every day" for five years from 2007, currency traders used a private electronic chat room to manipulate exchange rates.

Their actions harmed "countless consumers, investors and institutions around the world", she said. Full story...

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The dangerous militarization of our police...

As Philadelphia comes to terms with the train derailment that has left six people dead and some 200 injured, it's also worth remembering another tragic event that took place in the city exactly 30 years ago. It was an incident that claimed the lives of almost a dozen people, including five children, and destroyed 61 homes. And it was undertaken by the city's own police force.

Wednesday marks the 30th anniversary of the infamous MOVE bombing, in which police fired 10,000 rounds of ammunition into a row house on the 6200 block of Osage Avenue in West Philadelphia. The police then dropped military-grade explosives on the house, burning an entire city block to the ground.

Fast forward to today, and that deadly, violent chapter provides valuable lessons for a society that so far has decided to ignore them.

MOVE was a revolutionary black power group founded in 1972. The group had a "back to nature," almost religious element to its lifestyle -- members were vegans and animal lovers, shunned technology, and wore their hair in dreadlocks. Their appearance and way of life led to conflict and tension in the community, and in a city with a long history of racism, police brutality, corruption and framings — and surveillance and harassment of political organizations such as the Black Panthers — the Philadelphia Police Department depicted MOVE as a terror threat.

(...)

Ultimately, no one is safe if any one of us is not safe.

As in any police state, when the police become the army, they need an enemy, and the enemy ends up being us. "To serve and protect" is becoming "to suppress and control."

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Why you never saw the CIA’s interrogation tapes...

When graphic photographs of American soldiers abusing detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq surfaced in 2004, they sparked international outrage — and prompted new scrutiny of how the U.S. treats its prisoners.

Even though Abu Ghraib itself wasn’t a CIA-run facility, the agency was worried about the scandal’s ramifications.

That’s because the CIA was in possession of something that was potentially more explosive than the detainee abuse photos: hundreds of hours of videotaped “enhanced interrogations” of two Al Qaeda suspects in CIA detention, that included the use of techniques widely described as torture.

As FRONTLINE details in tonight’s new documentary, Secrets, Politics and Torture, those tapes would never see the light of day. Their destruction was ordered by Jose Rodriguez, then the CIA’s top operations officer.

“I was told, if those videotapes had ever been seen, the reaction around the world would not have been survivable,” Jane Mayer of The New Yorker tells FRONTLINE. Full story...

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Government says four cancer charities are shams...

In a rare joint action with attorneys general for each of the 50 states, the Federal Trade Commission says four cancer charities run by extended members of the same family conned donors out of $187 million from 2008 through 2012 and spent almost nothing to help actual cancer patients.

Each of the charities charged were the subject of extensive reporting by CNN in 2013. And in each instance, none of the four charities would comment. We were ordered out of the building at the Cancer Fund of America in Knoxville, Tennessee, and were the object of an obscene gesture by the CEO of The Breast Cancer Society in Mesa, Arizona.

The Cancer Fund of America is run by James Reynolds Sr. His son James Reynolds Jr. is the CEO of the Breast Cancer Society. Another charity, the Children's Cancer Fund of America, is run by Rose Perkins, the ex-wife of the elder James Reynolds. He's also the CEO of the fourth charity, Cancer Support Services.

The government says the charities claimed to provide direct support for cancer patients, breast cancer patients and children with cancer.

"These were lies," the government's complaint says. Full story...

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Vampire healing: Young blood can mend old broken bones...

Why do vampires from Dracula to Angel seem to crave the blood of the young and beautiful? The undead may be onto something. Young blood, it seems, has special healing properties that have been lost in older blood.

A recent finding by scientists from the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, and Duke University challenges long-held ideas about why our bones have a harder time healing as we age. Their research discovered that old mouse bones mend like youthful bones do when they're exposed to young blood after a fracture.

“The traditional concept is that as you get older, your bone cells kind of wear out so they can't heal as well, and we thought we'd find that during this study as well,” explains study co-author Benjamin Alman, of the Hospital for Sick Children. “But it turns out that it's not the bone cells, it's the blood cells. As you get older, the blood cells change the way they behave when you have an injury, and as a result the cells that heal bone aren't able to work as efficiently.”

When a bone is fractured, significant bleeding occurs at the site. Inflammatory blood cells help spur the process by which new bone cells heal the break over time. Alman and colleagues found that the blood cells of older mice don't drive this healing the way younger blood cells do, but they also wanted to see how those older bones would heal when exposed to young blood. Full story...

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Respected French mayor forced into mental institution for ‘islamophobic’ comments...

A respected mayor in France has reportedly been committed into a mental institution against his will after he made a series of comments on Twitter that some saw as “islamophobic.”

It all started when Robert Chardon, mayor of the town of Venelles in the south of France, got involved in a Twitter debate with former French president Nicolas Sarkozy. According to Infowars, the mayor argued that France should “ban the Muslim faith in France” and instead “promote the practice of the Christian faith.”

Many were offended by his comments, and the press later reported that Chardon had been “forcibly hospitalized” for “incoherent statements” he made on Twitter.

Local officials quickly denied these reports, saying that Chardon was hospitalized for cancer treatments. However, he had been receiving these cancer treatments for months without being hospitalized.

Reports have continued to say that Chardon was hospitalized “by someone close to him for reasons of incoherent statements.” Full story...

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Saudi Arabia keeps bombing Yemen despite calls for halt...

Media reports on Tuesday said that at least four people were killed and six others sustained injuries in a Saudi airstrike in Yemen’s southwestern province of Ibb.

Saudi fighter jets also pounded the al-Seifi and Beit al-Ahmer areas in the Sanhan Directorate, located south of the capital, Sana’a.

Reports also said that Saudi warplanes targeted areas in the northwestern Yemeni province of Sa’ada.

Riyadh also launched several airstrikes on the Yemeni military bases in the southern Yemeni city of Ta’izz.

There was no immediate report on possible casualties following the strikes in Sanhan, Ta’izz and Sa’ada. Full story...

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Technology giants Apple, Facebook and Google write to Obama warning against government 'back door' to users' data...

Technology companies such as Apple, Facebook and Google have joined a group letter to President Barack Obama urging him to reject measures that allow authorities a 'back door' to users' data.

A letter written from New America's Open Technology Institute on Tuesday said that it opposed any proposal or legislation that let the government quickly get around encryption technology that companies use to protect information.

Some administration officials such as FBI director James Comey have said that encryption could make catching criminals and terrorists more difficult for law enforcement.

However, the tech companies said that encryption, which became more common after 2013's revelations about the breadth of data that intelligence organizations had access to, is the 'cornerstone of the modern information economy’s security'. Full story...

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Philippines to accept refugees stuck at sea after being rejected across south-east Asia...

The Philippines has offered refuge to the thousands of migrants who have been stranded for months on boats after being repeatedly rejected and towed back to sea by Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Marking a possible breakthrough in a crisis that has left thousands at risk of starvation on boats labelled "floating coffins" by the United Nations, Benigno Aquino, the president of the Philippines, said his nation was a signatory to the UN's refugee convention and was therefore obliged to save the lives of the migrants.

"As the only predominantly Catholic nation in south-east Asia, it is our duty to provide succour to those in need," said Herminio Coloma, the president's spokesman.

"The Philippines has extended humanitarian assistance to 'boat people' and had even established a processing centre for Vietnamese travellers in the 70s. We shall continue to do our share in saving lives under existing and long-standing mechanisms pursuant to our commitments under the [UN] convention."

 The decision by the Philippines has raised hopes that the region would finally move closer to resolving the fates of an estimated 8,000 people who have been adrift for months with little or no supplies of food and water. Full story...

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Mother seeks groom for her son in India's first gay personals advert...

In all but one word, the advertisement was like thousands of others published in the still hugely popular matrimonial section of newspapers across India every week.

“Seeking 25-40, Well Placed, Animal-Loving, Vegetarian Groom for my son (36, 5’11’’) who works with an NGO,” it read.

Printed in a tabloid newspaper on Tuesday, it was the first advertisement for a partner in a same-sex marriage in India, where homosexuality is illegal.

The son in question was Harish Iyer, a prominent Indian activist, and it was placed, as is traditional in this conservative country, by his mother.

“I’m proud of her. It was her idea. My mum was like: ‘You don’t have a boyfriend, you’re not so young.’ She was concerned for her ageing son like any Indian mum would be, irrespective of whether he is homosexual or heterosexual,” Iyer, 36, said. Full story...

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Facebook criticised for creating 'two tier internet' with Internet.org programme...

Internet.org, Facebook’s initiative to expand internet access to the “next billion” people across the developing world, has come under attack from 67 digital rights groups worldwide for not doing enough to promote net neutrality alongside expanding access.

The signatories, which include America’s 18MillionRising.org and Europe’s Free Press Unlimited as well as India’s IT for Change and Nigeria’s Paradigm Initiative, argue that Facebook is “building a walled garden in which the world’s poorest people will only be able to access a limited set of insecure websites and survives”.

“Further, we are deeply concerned that Internet.org has been misleadingly marketed as providing access to the full internet, when in fact it only provides access to a limited number of internet-connected services that are approved by Facebook and local ISPs,” it continues.

The letter, ironically published on Facebook and addressed to Mark Zuckerberg personally, addresses eight separate areas where the signatories perceive Internet.org’s offering as lacking. Full story...

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Key Pirate Bay domains must be seized, court rules...

In keeping with a global strategy to disrupt the operations of unauthorized file-sharing sites by attacking their infrastructure, Swedish authorities have been eying two domains operated by the notorious Pirate Bay.

In 2013, Prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad, the man behind the operation that took the site down in December, filed a motion targeting ThePirateBay.se (the site’s main domain) and PirateBay.se (a lesser used alternative).

Filed against Punkt SE, the organization responsible for Sweden’s top level .SE domain, the case reasoned that since The Pirate Bay is an illegal operation, its domains are tools used by the site to infringe copyright. Noting that Punkt SE supplies and controls the domains and is therefore liable for their (mis)use, the domains should be dealt with in the same way that other criminal tools would be, Ingblad argued.

Punkt SE, on the other hand, took the position that holding a registry responsible for infringement has no basis in law. Furthermore, disabling domains is an ineffective way to deal with infringement. Full story...

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Are the homeless no better than rubbish? Four die sleeping in bins...

FOUR people were crushed to death last year after seeking shelter in industrial wheelie bins.

The victims were killed after being tipped with rubbish into lorries.

Waste collection firm Biffa also revealed yesterday that its crews had reported finding 93 people sleeping in their bins in the last year.

The company announced it would install 140 “life-saving” CCTV cameras on their 800-strong fleet to help prevent more deaths.

Speaking to the Star, homeless action group Streets Kitchen founder Jon Glackin said the deaths were “a very sad reflection on our society.

“One would have thought that even one tragic avoidable death would have spurred refuse companies to take action sooner. “We welcome Biffa’s new security mechanisms, although this will be used in less than a quarter of their vehicles, so it is not by any means a solution. Full story...

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Chinese man 'with 17 girlfriends' arrested for fraud...

A Chinese man who was caught cheating on 17 girlfriends at once has been arrested for fraud.

The man from Hunan province made headlines last month when all 17 women discovered each other when they rushed to his hospital bedside.

The allegation of fraud relates to sums of money which he regularly took from the deceived women, according to the South China Morning Post (SCMP).

The women set up an online chat group called "revenge alliance", SCMP said.

It was on this chat group that they discovered he would ask some of his girlfriends for money every month, the paper said. Full story...

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Australia's worst paedophile priest 'molested every boy' at school in Victoria...

A unfrocked clergyman regarded as Australia's worst paedophile priest has been accused of molesting every boy aged 10 to 16 at a school in a small town where he served as parish priest.

A royal commission into child sex abuse heard that Father Gerald Ridsdale abused more than 50 children over three decades, including all of the boys at the school in Mortlake, which is in the state of Victoria and has a population of about 1,000.

Ridsdale, along with two other notorious child sex abusers, operated a paedophile ring for years in and around the city of Ballarat, near Melbourne.

The commission heard that, in 1971, each of the male teachers and the chaplain at the St Alipius primary school was molesting children.

 Philip Nagle, who was abused at the school, held up a photograph of his fourth grade class and said that twelve of the 33 boys had since committed suicide. He said he was abused by a teacher named Brother Stephen Francis Farrell and that he knew the molesting was going to begin whenever he saw Mr Farrell remove his glasses. Full story..

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The philosopher who studies the experience of coffee...

It’s like I’m drinking the dying embers of a log-fire – smoky and tinged with the tang of creosote. As I concentrate harder, I notice its smooth, viscous texture that seems to mask a sharper undertone – like a blade cloaked in velvet.

I’ve never paid so much attention to a cup of coffee in my life. I’m not sure I’ve grasped its secrets just yet. But if I do, I’m told it might just offer me a glimpse of some of the big questions in life.

My guide on this journey is David Berman at Trinity College Dublin – a philosopher who has spent many hours studying the intricacies of the mind’s inner working and the senses. Now he’s turned his attention to his favourite drink, and the profound answers that might be lurking at the bottom of our coffee cup. The result will be a new book, The Philosophy of Coffee-tasting.

Armed with a strong Americano – and an open mind – I ask him to lead me through some of his thoughts. The conversation that follows will explore the values of introspection and why coffee and tea drinkers are fundamentally different people. Full story...

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FIFA slammed over migrant workers abuse in Qatar...

A prominent campaigning group has criticized soccer's international governing body FIFA for its inaction over the plight of migrant construction workers in Qatar who are busy preparing venues for the 2022 World Cup in the Persian Gulf state.

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the world’s largest trade union federation, urged FIFA sponsors, including Coca-Cola, Visa and McDonald’s, to use their position and address the maltreatment of hundreds of thousands of migrant laborers at the hands of their Qatari employers.

The FIFA sponsors have the power to pressure both FIFA and Qatar into improving the horrific working conditions in the Arab country.

“Qatar is a slave state,” said Sharan Burrow, the ITCU secretary general, on Monday, adding, “FIFA knows Qatar is a slave state. Qatar could fix it. It is not about poverty. It is about greed. If FIFA were serious, they could turn it around. But they choose not to.” Full story...

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Paul Krugman drops epic truth bomb on latest round of lies about Iraq war...

Surprise! It turns out that there’s something to be said for having the brother of a failed president make his own run for the White House. Thanks to Jeb Bush, we may finally have the frank discussion of the Iraq invasion we should have had a decade ago.

But many influential people — not just Mr. Bush — would prefer that we not have that discussion. There’s a palpable sense right now of the political and media elite trying to draw a line under the subject. Yes, the narrative goes, we now know that invading Iraq was a terrible mistake, and it’s about time that everyone admits it. Now let’s move on.

Well, let’s not — because that’s a false narrative, and everyone who was involved in the debate over the war knows that it’s false. The Iraq war wasn’t an innocent mistake, a venture undertaken on the basis of intelligence that turned out to be wrong. America invaded Iraq because the Bush administration wanted a war. The public justifications for the invasion were nothing but pretexts, and falsified pretexts at that. We were, in a fundamental sense, lied into war.

The fraudulence of the case for war was actually obvious even at the time: the ever-shifting arguments for an unchanging goal were a dead giveaway. So were the word games — the talk about W.M.D that conflated chemical weapons (which many people did think Saddam had) with nukes, the constant insinuations that Iraq was somehow behind 9/11. Full story...

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