Sunday, July 23, 2017

German boy runs off to Switzerland over 'bad' mark on his school report!

A 10-year-old boy, apparently with high expectations of himself, has been found in Switzerland after running away from his home in northern Germany for fear of telling his parents about what he considered a bad mark in his school report, German media reported on Saturday

The local newspaper Schleswiger Nachrichten quoted German federal police as saying that the child had been afraid of showing his marks to his parents even though the worst grade on the school report was a "3" - a solid "C" in international terms.

He even had a valid ticket on him for the duration of the journey to the Swiss city of Basel, according to Spiegel Online.

Train personnel had alarmed federal police on Friday evening about a boy traveling by himself, the Schleswiger Nachrichten said. His parents had already told local police in their hometown of Schleswig that their son had gone missing.

Needless to say, the parents were grateful that their son was found and were to be reunited with him on Saturday. Source...

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A warrant to search your vagina...

As debate raged around health care and Russia-gate last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions quietly held a “national summit” of law enforcement representatives to discuss the future of policing.

Vice President Mike Pence predicted that the summit, which was largely held behind closed doors, would “impact this country for years to come.” Its purpose was to influence the recommendations — due out next week — of the Department of Justice Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety, created in response to one of President Trump’s executive orders. Drugs featured prominently on the agenda.

This should come as no surprise. This spring Mr. Sessions instructed federal prosecutors to seek the highest possible sentences in drug cases, and the administration’s proposed budget increased spending on the Drug Enforcement Administration by $150 million while cutting funds for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration by $109 million. Mr. Sessions has also signaled his intent to step up enforcement of laws targeting marijuana. All these are in contrast to recent policy shifts reflecting the growing consensus that the aggressive policing of the war on drugs has failed.

Doubling down on the drug war is likely to result in increased violence, not increased public safety. The damage these policies have done to black communities has been well documented. But less attention has been paid to the ways that women of color specifically are targeted in drug cases and are subject to abuse or assault by police officers. Full story...

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Does saffron fight cancer? A plausible biological mechanism...

The “superfood” craze is premised upon the dubious notion that some foods are so great, that eating them will bring good health and long life. For Popeye, spinach was a superfood. After gleefully swallowing a can full of the stuff, he grew big muscles and beat up Bluto.

The trouble with superfoods is that they aren’t real. That isn’t to say that some foods aren’t healthier than others; fruits and vegetables are better for you than potato chips and soda. But the notion that some foods are the secret elixir to youth or the magic cure for disease is hype.

Keeping that in mind, it is still worth investigating how food affects our bodies. Research in this area provides insights into our metabolism and physiology, which can tell us more about disease and how to prevent it. Full story...

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Saturday, July 22, 2017

To the government, Saudi Arabia is 'the kingdom whose name we dare not speak at all'

Theresa May has oddly declined to comment on the reported arrest of the mini-skirted lass who was videotaped cavorting through an ancient Najd village this week, provoking unexpected roars of animalistic male fury in a kingdom known for its judicial leniency, political moderation, gender equality and fraternal love for its Muslim neighbours.

May should, surely, have drawn the attention of the rulers of this normally magnanimous state to the extraordinarily uncharacteristic behaviour of the so-called religious police – hitherto regarded as extras in the very same kingdom’s growing tourism industry which is supported by its newly appointed peace-loving and forward-thinking young Crown Prince.

But of course, since May cannot possibly believe that a single person in this particular national entity would give even a riyal or a halfpenny to “terrorists” – of the kind who have been tearing young British lives apart in Manchester and London – she’s hardly likely to endanger the “national security” of said state by condemning the arrest of the aforementioned young lady. In any event, a woman so proper that she would not risk soiling her hands by greeting the distraught survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire has no business shedding even a “little tear” for middle class girls who upset what we must now call The Kingdom Whose Name We Dare Not Speak At All. Full story...

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Justine Damond shooting: Police chief Janee Harteau quits...

A police chief in the US state of Minnesota has resigned after one of her officers fatally shot an unarmed Australian woman.

Justine Damond was killed after she called the police to report a woman screaming outside her home in a quiet suburb of Minneapolis last week.

Police chief Janee Harteau had earlier said it "should not have happened".

The city's mayor accepted her resignation, saying she had lost confidence in Ms Harteau.

Ms Damond's death provoked outrage in her homeland, where Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called it "inexplicable" and "a shocking killing". Full story...

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‘Holy cow is dividing India’, French comic book features cow vigilantes to illustrate dangers of Hindutva ...

A comic book by a French journalist and author William de Tamaris has used the crackdown on beef and violence of cow vigilantes to highlight the dangers of Hindutva and the rise of Hindu nationalism in India. The 30-page comic book introduces French readers the concepts of Hindutva and the propaganda for a Hindu nation.

“Here I was, supposedly, in the land of tolerance but the hate in the discourse of so-called gau rakshaks was shocking,” the journalist de Tamaris told the Scroll. “In France, people still believe India is the land of Gandhi but that no longer holds true,” he explained the reason behind the comic.

“We were inspired to do the story after I met Vijaykant Chauhan, who calls himself a gau rakshak,” de Tamaris added.

The French journalists had visited Maharashtra, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Kerala to trace the cow vigilantes. The gau rakshak Chauhan told the French team that if he were Nathuram Godse, he would kill Gandhi all over again. More + images...

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Friday, July 21, 2017

Why do people steal cheese?

What do you think the most stolen food item is in the grocery store? I asked that question on Facebook, and most of my friends guessed items like baby formula, meat or checkout lane candy bars.

They were wrong. People love stealing cheese. And not always from grocery stores.

At the Yeovil Show in Somerset, England, two hefty blocks of cheddar cheese were declared champion and reserve champion on July 15. They were stolen that night. According to the Guardian, the blocks each weighed about 20 pounds and each would have retailed for about £800, or $1,042. That's some serious cheddar, literally.

Rich Clothier, a third generation cheesemaker and the managing director of Wyke Farms, which produced the cheeses, is offering a £500 ($651) reward for the return of the cheeses. "These cheeses could be considered masterpieces," he told the Guardian. "It's a bit like having a valuable painting stolen." Full story...

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Pregnant wife put chillis up woman’s vagina after catching husband and her having sex...

A pregnant wife who caught her husband cheating punished his mistress by putting chili peppers up her vagina.

Ly Chanel, 23, became suspicious when her husband of seven months, Chien Keo, 24, kept disappearing for hours on end.

The 23-year-old and four friends followed Chien to a motel before bursting in on him having sex with a young girl in Thai Nguyen province, northeast Vietnam.

Wearing latex gloves, Ly and the women held down the mistress and took pictures as they removed her underwear on Tuesday afternoon.

They then opened a large bag of super-hot 200,000 scoville units red bird’s eye chilies and pushed them inside the woman’s vagina causing her to be in excruciating pain from the hot spices. Full story...

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ILLUMINATI LEADERS? Now Angela Merkel makes 'that sign' with royals Kate and William...



ILLUMINATI conspiracy theorists have been left in disbelief after Angela Merkel made her "secret hand sign" in the presence of royalty.

The German chancellor was snapped making the gesture as she met Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, at chancellery in Berlin, during their official visit to Germany and Poland.

The "diamond" hand gesture, Mrs Merkel, is often seen making, is described by conspiracy theorists as a secret code to other members of the alleged Illuminati.

It is alleged by believers of the Illuminati that it is a secret organisation made up of world government and business leaders and celebrities, which actually run all world governments from behind the scenes, and intend introducing a New World Order which will see just one government running the entire world.

The conspiracy varies, but, at its most extreme, the Illuminati is allegedly a Satanic group which uses hand signals to identify members to each other. Full story...

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John Pilger: Palestine's refusal to comply...

When I first went to Palestine as a young reporter in the 1960s, I stayed on a kibbutz. The people I met were hard-working, spirited and called themselves socialists. I liked them. One evening at dinner, I asked about the silhouettes of people in the far distance, beyond our perimeter.

“Arabs”, they said, “nomads”. The words were almost spat out. Israel, they said, meaning Palestine, had been mostly wasteland and one of the great feats of the Zionist enterprise was to turn the desert green.

They gave as an example their crop of Jaffa oranges, which was exported to the rest of the world. What a triumph against the odds of nature and humanity’s neglect.

It was the first lie. Most of the orange groves and vineyards belonged to Palestinians who had been tilling the soil and exporting oranges and grapes to Europe since the eighteenth century. The former Palestinian town of Jaffa was known by its previous inhabitants as “the place of sad oranges”.

On the kibbutz, the word “Palestinian” was never used. Why, I asked. The answer was a troubled silence. Full story...

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Vegans and vegetarians do not outlive meat eaters...

I am on a vegan diet to deal with my cancer. I eat no animal protein. I probably never will again. That's because I have cancer, and I have read Dr. John Kelly's book, Stop Feeding Your Cancer.

I have been researching diets for five decades. I was restored to health by Francis Pottenger in 1949-50. His diet had a lot of red meat. It had no refined sugar, no processed white flour, and lots of steamed vegetables.

I have asked myself this: Do vegans live longer? They don't. Statistical evidence is now available.

This video reports on detailed studies involving thousands of people. The studies studied longevity. It turns out that there is no difference: meat-eaters, vegetarians, and vegans. The lecture was delivered by a physician who is a vegan. He reports on facts that he found astounding. Full story...

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'Tourism is killing Venice, but it's also the only key to survival'

By the 17th century, a trip to Venice had become a rite of passage for upper class northern Europeans, who flocked to the lagoon city as part of the Italian Grand Tour. Writers and artists drank in inspiration from the city where imposing architecture was reflected in glittering waters and Venice became a symbol for Italian romance.

Fast forward to the 21st century, and the city is groaning under the weight of tourism.

Cheap flights, huge cruise ships, and the city’s Instagram appeal attract so many travellers that on a given day, there are more visitors than residents in the Veneto capital. It's the type of tourism as much as the sheer amount that causes problems: the majority of visitors don't stay overnight in the city, meaning most of them spend their time and their money in the same small areas.

Small businesses and artisans' craft shops have been replaced by identikit souvenir stalls and fast food restaurants to cater to day-tripping bargain hunters. In recent years, Venetians have staged frequent protests against the mass tourism which has pushed up rents and forced many families out of their hometown.

 But could the visitors hold the key to Venice's survival? Full story...

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Mass protests against mandatory vaccinations in Italy surpressed by the corporate media...

'Let them eat food off the floor, play in the soil!'

As parents, we can't help fret about keeping our children clean and safe from harm.

But over-sterlising their environment may be doing them more harm than good.

Exposing youngsters to microbes widespread in the great outdoors will give them a stronger, more robust immune system.

That's according to professor Jack Gilbert, co-author of 'Dirt is Good: The Advantage of Germs for Your Child's Developing Immune System'.

Indeed, the germ expert – and parent – claims that our addiction to indoor-based, uber-clean lifestyles are weakening our children's defences against illness.

'Most parents think all germs are bad, that is not true. Most will just stimulate your immune system and make you stronger,' Prof Gilbert told The Independent. Full story...

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Groundbreaking study shows cannabis can help stop HIV from becoming AIDS...

(...)

Much of that is Greek to those of us not in the medical field, but the results suggest something stunning. HIV patients taking cannabis have likely helped prevent their condition from turning into full-blown AIDS. This will open the door for medical cannabis to be used for the dual purpose of treating side effects and preventing disease progression.

According to HIV.gov, “More than 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV today, and 1 in 7 of them don’t know it.” Although many thousands become newly infected every year, the rate declined 18 percent from 2008 to 2014.

Since the 1980s, over 1.2 million people have been diagnosed with AIDS, with 18,303 diagnosed with AIDS in 2015. 6,721 deaths were directly attributed to HIV in 2014.

Although HIV and AIDS cases are declining, they remain a significant problem. Now we find that the cannabis plant may have yet another miraculous benefit in the form of suppressing a deadly disease. Full story...

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High tech surveillance with 5G wi-fi...

Everyone who is enamored with smart technology probably won’t be interested in what I’m going to talk about, but I think it’s important to know what the future foreshadows and probably will entail once 5G technologies are rolled out and become the ‘norm’.

Recently, Health Impact News published the article “New 5G Cell Towers and Smart Meters to Increase Microwave Radiation – Invade Privacy” by John P. Thomas, which ought to get consumers thinking very seriously about how their lives and health will be affected when there will be nowhere to run to get away from electrosmog and the surveillance society forced upon everyone by utility companies.

The opening paragraph sets the stage:

When the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) approved the use of 5-G microwave communication technology in 2016 and approved the use of microwave frequencies in the 30 Ghz range, [1], they opened the door to even higher levels of human illness and severe disability for American children and adults.

First and foremost, consumers must realize what’s involved with 30 GHz. A Gigahertz (GHz) is a frequency equal to one billion hertz or cycles per second. Now multiply that 30 times; how many cycles per second do you get? Isn’t that 30 billion cycles per second? Now, imagine those GHz frequencies traveling over in-wall copper electric house wires that are built to take only 60 Hz! Full story...

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New sex robots with 'frigid' settings allow men to simulate rape...

It seems a new frontier has been reached in the fast-paced world of Artificial Intelligence, but as fast as technology is able to advance, it can still be reproached for moral retrogression.

This has been the subject of debate after the recent advertisement of ‘Roxxxy TrueCompanion’, a robot you can buy and simulate raping with a simple switch in setting.

One of the programmable personalities for the robot is ‘Frigid Farrah’, described as “reserved and shy” on the True Companion company website. Like ‘Wild Wendy’ and ‘S & M Susan’ whose characteristics are self-ascribed, the website says that for Frigid Farrah, if you touch her “in a private area, more than likely, she will not be to appreciative of your advance.”

In the website's description, the model lacks an attempt to reproduce consent in the real world and the company say that their robots “allow everyone to realise their most private sexual dreams." Full story...

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Japanese guy and the tablecloth...


Study finds Switzerland is a great place to retire...

Switzerland is second only to Norway as the best country to spend your retirement, a global study has found.

The country took second place in the 2017 Natixis Global Asset Management CoreData Global Retirement Index (GRI), which measures the security of people past pension age.

Iceland came third in the ranking ensuring the top three places were occupied by European countries.

The report comes ahead of a vote in September on a reform of the pension system that, if passed, would see the retirement age for women raised to 65 in line with that for men.

 The Swiss pension system is considered to be one of the best in the world with a three-pillar structure comprising state, professional and private contributions. Full story...

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Teenage girls pressured into ‘painful and coercive’ anal sex because of porn...

Straight young people are now engaging in sex acts which are often dangerous, and sometimes ‘coercive’, because of certain types of hardcore pornography.

Girls are said to be increasingly affected by the competition among teenage boys, in which they spur one another on to try and have anal sex.

One person told researchers: ‘Men wanted to tell their friends that they had had anal.’

The data collected in London, a city in the North and the rural South West, was collected for a submission to the BMJ. Full story...

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Cashless society alert: Visa will be giving up to $500,000 to restaurants that go ‘100% cashless’

The push toward a cashless society is becoming more of a shove. Before today I had never heard of “The Visa Cashless Challenge”, but after reading about it I have to say that I am quite alarmed. Visa is trying to “encourage” businesses to go cashless, and one of the ways that they will be doing this is by “awarding up to $500,000 to 50 eligible US-based small business food service owners who commit to joining the 100% cashless quest”. The food industry is still one of the last bastions where cash is used very heavily, and so it makes sense that Visa would want to target that segment. Of course the more people that use cards to pay for meals, the more money that Visa will make.

When I go to restaurants, I almost always use cash, and I know a lot of other people that very much prefer to use cash in those situations as well. But if Visa has their way, soon all of us will be forced to use some form of digital payment instead. The following is an excerpt from the press release that Visa issued about this new “challenge”…

(...)

Visa would love to eliminate the use of cash entirely because it would mean much bigger profits for them.

And of course cashless systems hold a lot of appeal for governments as well because such systems would allow them to monitor and track the behavior of their citizens much more closely. Full story...

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Hiding vaccine-related deaths with semantic sleight-of-hand...

Vaccine scientists and the public health community cautiously and occasionally will admit that vaccines can cause adverse reactions just like “any other medication or biological product.” Although experts are less willing to openly disclose the fact that adverse reactions can and do include death, one has only to look at reports to the U.S. Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) to see that mortality is a possible outcome. From 1990 through 2010, for example, VAERS received 1,881 reports of infant deaths following vaccination, representing 4.8% of the adverse events reported for infants over the 20-year period. Moreover, analysts acknowledge that VAERS, as a passive surveillance system, is subject to substantial underreporting. A federal government report from 2010 affirms that VAERS captures only about 1% of vaccine adverse reports.

On the international frontier, the public health community—with the World Health Organization (WHO) in the vanguard—previously used a six-category framework to investigate and categorize serious adverse events following immunization (AEFI), including death. Guided by this tool, public health teams examined temporal criteria and possible alternative explanations to determine whether the relationship of an AEFI to vaccine administration was “very likely/certain,” “probable,” “possible,” “unlikely,” “unrelated,” or “unclassifiable.”

In 2013, the WHO’s Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety discarded the prior tool, ostensibly because users “sometimes [found it] difficult to differentiate between ‘probable,’ ‘possible,’ and ‘unlikely’ categories.” The WHO enlisted vaccine experts to develop a “simpler” algorithm that would be more readily “applicable” to vaccines. The resulting four-category system now invites public health teams to classify an AEFI as either “consistent,” “inconsistent,” or “indeterminate” with a vaccine-related causal association or as “unclassifiable.” Despite the patina of logic suggested by the use of an algorithm, “the final outcome of the case investigation depends on the personal judgment of the assessor” [emphasis added], especially (according to the tool’s proponents) when the process “yields answers that are both consistent and inconsistent with a causal association to immunization.” Full story...

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If junk food commercials were honest...

Chinese mahjong lovers take to the river to beat the heat...

Mahjong lovers in China have found a unique way to deal with a merciless heat wave descending on their city.

What do you do if it's way too hot but you just can't stay away from your favourite boardgame?

Well, kick your shoes and socks off, grab a chair and umbrella and head down to the river.

That's what people in the town of Dujiangyan are doing and regardless of who wins at mahjong - they certainly all beat the heat! More + photos...

Indian girl detained in Sri Lanka for Buddha image on dress...

Sri Lanka police on Monday detained and questioned an Indian tourist who was wearing a dress with a print of the Buddha on it, The Hindu reported.

Wearing the image of the Buddha remains a sensitive matter in the island where a majority practise Buddhism. In 2014, a British tourist was deported for sporting a tattoo of the Buddha on her arm.

The 26-year-old tourist was on the island on a family holiday at a resort near Bentota, along the southern coast of Sri Lanka. Before the group’s departure from Colombo on Monday, some of them were shopping at an upmarket mall in the capital.

“One of my nephews rushed to the store next door and bought a T-shirt, so my niece could wear it over the dress. But the police did not allow her to do that. They asked her to come to the police station with them,” Ms. Deepam told The Hindu over telephone, upon her return to Chennai.

Insisting that she would accompany her niece, Ms. Deepam went to the police station, where they were made to sign a statement and apologise, before being allowed to proceed to the airport for departure. Full story...

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Cashless transactions a thing of past in Andra Pradesh...

Cashless transactions are fast becoming a thing of the past. People are reluctant to use cashless facilities, which has made the government’s much-hyped campaign a failed episode.

The AP Government has decided to cancel the cashless system and restore cash transactions at ration shops. Causes for the failure of the cashless system include slow internet facilities, difficulties in connecting to the server, repeated failure of the iris and fingerprint recognition system, and the failure of transactions. The hassle involved has made the system non-viable for traders. In many shops, the ePose machines have already been kept aside and a majority of the sales are conducted via cash transactions.

After demonetisation, the AP government had introduced the Aadhaar-enabled Public Distri-bution System (AePDS) under which ration cards were linked to the bank accounts of ration card-holders. There are 1,38,67,107 ration card-holders across the 13 districts of AP; of these, the iris’ of 76,412 cardholders have successfully been scanned in the month of July, while the iris scans of 85,038 persons have failed. Full story...

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The future of artificial intelligence: why the hype has outrun reality...

A panel of experts at the recent 2017 Wharton Global Forum in Hong Kong outlined their views on the future for artificial intelligence (AI), robots, drones, other tech advances and how it all might affect employment in the future. The upshot was to deflate some of the hype, while noting the threats ahead posed to certain jobs.

Their comments came in a panel session titled, “Engineering the Future of Business,” with Wharton Dean Geoffrey Garrett moderating and speakers Pascale Fung, a professor of electronic and computer engineering at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology; Vijay Kumar, dean of engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, and Nicolas Aguzin, Asian-Pacific chairman and CEO for J.P.Morgan.

Kicking things off, Garrett asked: How big and disruptive is the self-driving car movement?

It turns out that so much of what appears in mainstream media about self-driving cars being just around the corner is very much overstated, said Kumar. Fully autonomous cars are many years away, in his view.

One of Kumar’s key points: Often there are two sides to high-tech advancements. One side gets a lot of media attention — advances in computing power, software and the like. Here, progress is quick — new apps, new companies and new products sprout up daily. However, the other, often-overlooked side deeply affects many projects — those where the virtual world must connect with the physical or mechanical world in new ways, noted Kumar, who is also a professor of mechanical engineering at Penn. Progress in that realm comes more slowly. Full story...

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Taking a stand: 22,000 nurses refuse “mandatory” vaccinations...

Over 22,000 nurses are a part of Nurses against Mandatory Vaccines (NAMV), a movement that wishes to create awareness of the current oppressive vaccine stance the hospitals and the government are taking.

Nurses who have refused the flu vaccine are being forced to wear face masks when working on the wards, they are claiming this is an infringement of their constitutional rights.

The flu vaccine’s integrity has been called into question on numerous occasions, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) even admitting that it sometimes doesn’t work.

Some nurses feel so strongly against the vaccine stance that they are choosing tho lose their jobs to stand up for their constitutional rights. Full story...

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Ufologist ‘confirms with scientific evidence’ that aliens lived with humans on Earth...

The paranormal journalist who claims to have discovered alien remains near the Nazca lines of Peru says the extraterrestrial beings once lived in harmony among humans.

At a press conference last week, Mexican paranormal journalist Jamie Maussan claimed the five mummified bodies discovered over the last two months appear “closer to reptiles than humans.”

Now, Maussan, who has devoted much of his life to investigating extraterrestrial phenomenons, says x-ray, DNA and carbon 14 analysis of the remains further points to the presence of intelligent life.

“We confirmed with scientific evidence the existence of beings from another world,” said Maussan to RT en Español.

“Before it was a possibility, now it is a reality,” he added when speaking about the existence of aliens on Earth. Full story...

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USA: tear gas, guns and riot squads: The police state’s answer to free speech...

Forget everything you’ve ever been taught about free speech in America. It’s all a lie. There can be no free speech for the citizenry when the government speaks in a language of force. What is this language of force?

Militarized police. Riot squads. Camouflage gear. Black uniforms. Armored vehicles. Mass arrests. Pepper spray. Tear gas. Batons. Strip searches. Surveillance cameras. Kevlar vests. Drones. Lethal weapons. Less-than-lethal weapons unleashed with deadly force. Rubber bullets. Water cannons. Stun grenades. Arrests of journalists. Crowd control tactics. Intimidation tactics. Brutality.

This is not the language of freedom. This is not even the language of law and order.

Unfortunately, this is how the government at all levels—federal, state and local—now responds to those who choose to exercise their First Amendment right to peacefully assemble in public and challenge the status quo.

Recently, this militarized exercise in intimidation reared its ugly head in the college town of Charlottesville, Va., where protesters who took to the streets to peacefully express their disapproval of a planned KKK rally were held at bay by implacable lines of gun-wielding riot police. Only after a motley crew of Klansmen had been safely escorted to and from the rally by black-garbed police did the assembled army of city, county and state police declare the public gathering unlawful and proceed to unleash canisters of tear gas on the few remaining protesters to force them to disperse.

To be clear, this is the treatment being meted out to protesters across the political spectrum.

The police state does not discriminate. Full story...

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NY NY Times rewrites history of Iraq war, painting U.S. as noble democracy-lover, Iran as sinister imperialist

The New York Times’ Tim Arango took what could have been an interesting topic for war journalism—Iran’s increased role in Iraq—and morphed it into a revisionist history of American and Saudi involvement in the Middle East. In doing so, Arango paints the U.S. as a noble, freedom-loving nation on a mission to improve the lives of average Iraqis, and Iran as a sinister imperial force working to expand its sphere of influence across the region.

Arango sets the table by citing examples of Iranian influence in Iraq, framing the disparate motives at work. He suggests that the U.S. invaded Iraq for pro-democratic purposes, while Iran’s response to this unilateral invasion (which its government, of course, vehemently opposed) is portrayed as sinister and plotting:

When the United States invaded Iraq 14 years ago to topple Saddam Hussein, it saw Iraq as a potential cornerstone of a democratic and Western-facing Middle East, and vast amounts of blood and treasure — about 4,500 American lives lost, more than $1 trillion spent — were poured into the cause.

From Day 1, Iran saw something else: a chance to make a client state of Iraq, a former enemy against which it fought a war in the 1980s so brutal, with chemical weapons and trench warfare, that historians look to World War I for analogies. If it succeeded, Iraq would never again pose a threat, and it could serve as a jumping-off point to spread Iranian influence around the region. Full story...

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Social networks 'lead to anxiety and fear in young'

Research from anti-bullying charity Ditch the Label suggests social media is making youngsters more anxious.

Forty per cent said they felt bad if nobody liked their selfie and 35% said their confidence was directly linked to the number of followers they had.

One in three said they lived in fear of cyber-bullying, with appearance cited as the most likely topic for abuse.

One expert said children were growing up in "a culture of antagonism".

The survey, of more than 10,000 young people aged 12 to 20, suggested that cyber-bullying is widespread, with nearly 70% of youngsters admitting to being abusive towards another person online and 17% claiming to have been bullied online. Full story...

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Philip Morris takes aim at young people in India, and health officials are fuming...

S. K. Arora spent more than three years trudging through the Indian summer heat and monsoon rains to inspect tobacco kiosks across this sprawling megacity, tearing down cigarette advertisements and handing out fines to store owners for putting them up.

But as fast as he removed the colorful ads, more appeared.

The chief tobacco control officer at the Delhi state government, Arora asked the major cigarette companies to put a stop to the cat-and-mouse routine. In official letters and face-to-face meetings, he told them India’s tobacco control laws barred such public advertising and promotion of cigarettes.

That included the Indian arm of Philip Morris International Inc, the world’s largest publicly traded tobacco company. Early last year, Arora said, he met with a Philip Morris director for corporate affairs in India, a man named R. Venkatesh, and told him the signs were an unequivocal violation of Indian law.

Like other tobacco companies, Philip Morris kept up its ad blitz. Full story...

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Saudi Arabia: Woman in mini skirt arrested for showing bare legs in video...

A WOMAN who was filmed walking around a conservative Saudi village wearing a short skirt and black crop top has been arrested.

The video, which quickly went viral, sparked a backlash in the deeply conservative kingdom with many accusing the woman of violating the country’s strict Islamic dress code.

Saudi police said the woman has been detained in the capital Riyadh for wearing “immodest clothes”.

“She admitted to visiting the site in question with a male guardian, and that the viral videos were published by an account attributed to her without her knowledge,” a police spokesman said. More + photos...

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Prison, hell, concentration camp: 547 boys abused in German Catholic choir school...

At least 547 boys at a German Catholic choir school suffered sexual or physical abuse in what victims have likened to "prison, hell or a concentration camp", said an investigator releasing a final report on Tuesday (July 18).

The Regensburger Domspatzen ("Cathedral Sparrows"), a 1,000-year-old cathedral choir in Bavaria, was in 2010 dragged into the massive sexual abuse scandal plaguing the Catholic Church in recent years.

Many victims remembered their time in the choir school as "the worst time of their lives, marked by fear, violence and helplessness", said lawyer Ulrich Weber, who was commissioned by the diocese to look into the cases.

Presenting his final report on abuses between 1945 and the early 1990s, Mr Weber said he had uncovered 67 cases of sexual abuse and 500 cases of other physical violence, with some former singers having fallen victim to both. Full story...

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Indian soldier shoots dead major in Kashmir for objecting to using mobile phone...

An Indian soldier in the restive state of Kashmir reportedly shot dead a senior officer after the latter caught him using a mobile phone while on duty.

The deceased officer was identified as Major Shikhar Thapa who was posted with the 8 Rashtriya Rifles, the Indian army's elite counterinsurgency unit. The identity of the suspected shooter has not been released. Police and army officials are investigating the incident which took place in a sensitive area known as Uri sector close to the Line of Control, the de facto border with Pakistan.

According to local reports, the soldier pumped five bullets into the army officer using his AK-47 rifle following an altercation. Thapa was killed on the spot. Thapa had pulled up the soldier for using his mobile phone in the sensitive border area and threatened to report him to senior army officials.

Investigating officials have recovered a damaged cellphone from the crime scene. The Indian army is yet to officially issue a statement on the matter.

In September 2016, a terror attack on the Indian army base in Uri by four heavily armed militants left 17 soldiers dead. It was said to be the deadliest attack on Indian security forces in Kashmir in nearly 20 years. Source...

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Bodies of Swiss couple missing for 75 years found on glacier...

The frozen bodies of a Swiss couple who went missing 75 years ago in the Alps have been found on a shrinking glacier, Swiss media said.

Marcelin and Francine Dumoulin, the parents of seven children, had gone to milk their cows in a meadow above Chandolin in the Valais canton on 15 August 1942.

“We spent our whole lives looking for them, without stopping. We thought that we could give them the funeral they deserved one day,” their youngest daughter, Marceline Udry-Dumoulin, 75, told the Lausanne daily Le Matin.

 “I can say that after 75 years of waiting this news gives me a deep sense of calm.” Full story...

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What could possibly go wrong when Google releases millions of “Lab-Made” mosquitos in Fresno?

Sometimes you have to think that scientists don’t ever read science fiction, and thus have not even contemplated all the things that could go wrong when they do something like creating 20 million mosquitos in a laboratory, infecting them with a bacteria, and then releasing those mosquitos in Fresno, California.

First of all, did you even know that Google had a bio-lab? They do and it’s called Verily. Which, I dunno, sounds rather biblical. “Verily, I say unto you…we are the purveyors of all that is The Truth.”

But I digress.

Verily plans to create 20 million mosquitoes and infect them with a bacteria in their laboratories. Then, the mosquitos will be released on the unsuspecting populace of Fresno, California, a city with over half a million people.

Why? Because, Zika. Full story...

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