EVENTS FOR THOUGHT – At Home & Abroad
EVENTS FOR THOUGHT-AT HOME & ABROAD – UPDATE; APRIL,2015
***Evil Twin’ Embryo Removed From Woman’s Brain
SKY NEWS; THURSDAY, 23RD. 2015
Doctors have discovered an embryonic twin complete with bone, hair and teeth in the brain of a woman having surgery for a suspected tumour.
Yamini Karanam, 26, sought medical help last September after she began to struggle with conversations and reading.
Doctors were initially unsure what was causing the Indiana University PhD student’s health problems.
She had keyhole surgery deep into the brain which found a “teratoma” – the embryonic twin.
Ms Karanam jokingly told NBC Los Angeles it was her “evil twin sister who’s been torturing me for the past 26 years”.
Surgeons removed the teratoma and she is expected to make a full recovery.
Dr Hrayr Shahinian, at the Skullbase Institute in Los Angeles, told NBC it was only the second teratoma he had encountered out of up to 8,000 brain tumours he has removed.
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*** Man walks from Lagos to Abuja to celebrate Buhari’s victory
• By Editor on April 15, 2015
• THE GUARDIAN; THURSDAY, 16TH. APRIL, 2015
A man who promised to trek from Lagos to Abuja if Muhammadu Buhari wins the presidential election, Hasheem Suleiman, has begun the journey and is presently in Niger State.
Suleiman, who was in Lagos when Buhari was announced the President-elect on March 31, began the journey at about 5am the next day.
Suleiman had vowed two years ago to trek from wherever he was to the capital of Nigeria, Abuja, if Buhari emerges the winner of the poll in 2015.
The distance between Lagos and Abuja is about 700km. The Katsina State indigene, who was born in Osun on Monday received a royal welcome in Minna as he arrived Bida after 13 days on the road and covering about 573km.
He was given a royal welcome in Bida Kingdom by HRH Yahaya Abubakar and was also handed over a white envelope. Suleiman intends to reach Abuja by May 27 and celebrate with the new president at his inauguration ceremony.
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*** Some prisons in Japan becoming ‘like nursing homes’ amid surge in elderly offenders
by Kanoko Matsuyama
JAPAN TIMES; THURSDAY, 16TH.. APRIL, 2015
Most prisons spend a lot of time and effort keeping inmates from escaping, but a greater challenge is convincing some convicts to leave.
Among developed economies, Japan has one of the highest proportions of elderly prisoners. Crimes committed by senior citizens have quadrupled over the past two decades. Today, almost one in five convicts is over 60.
The soaring costs of caring for these graying jailbirds are an added pressure on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government, which is already burdened by a world-class debt load equal to roughly 240 percent of gross domestic product.
To reduce repeat offenses, the government aims to slash the number of convicts who are homeless at the time of their release by more than 30 percent by 2020, when Tokyo hosts the summer Olympic games.
Hitting such targets will be tough, particularly given the surge over the last decade in elderly prisoners, who often prefer a government-subsidized life behind bars to an isolated, destitute one on the outside.
Consider the case of a 67-year-old male inmate at Nagasaki Prison in Kyushu. (The names of prisoners interviewed for this story were omitted to protect their privacy.) Serving his 14th sentence for pickpocketing, he is due for release in December, though social workers say he is bound to relapse yet again back into prison life. He has no friends or immediate family and no place to live.
Some 1,000 kilometers north at the Fukushima Female Prison, convicts older than 60 make up 28 percent of inmates. The eldest is a 91-year-old serial larcenist, whose life in the slammer gives her free food, lodgings and medical care.
“Japan’s prisons are in poor condition, mostly without heating or air-conditioning,” says Koichi Hamai, a professor of criminology at Ryukoku University’s law school. “But they still prefer to be there, rather than outside. They have mates and food, and are well cared for.”
One of the world’s most law-abiding countries, Japan has an incarceration rate of 49 per 100,000 people that the U.S. (at 698 per 100,000) and many European nations can only envy. Yet, the world’s third-largest economy has seen its prisons evolve into something approaching nursing homes.
Elderly criminals recycle in and out of the system because they lack family and financial support. They are often disabled and treated like outcasts in their local community.
“Some prisons have become like nursing homes,” said Ryotaro Sugi, who was given the honorary title of special corrections officer by the Justice Ministry in 2008 to advocate for prisoners’ welfare after visiting jails over almost five decades.
“Many need assistance for walking, bathing and eating. Some groan at night from pain, throw their excrement or wander inside cells because they’re suffering dementia.”
Criminal offenses by those age 60 and over have quadrupled to 46,243 cases over the two decades that ended in 2014, according to the Justice Ministry.
The central government budgeted ¥230 billion ($1.91 billion) for running its jails in the year ended March 2015. It costs about ¥3.2 million to keep someone locked up for a year, according to the Justice Ministry. That is about double what a person on standard welfare can get.
Under the nation’s sentencing guidelines, repeat offenders of petty crimes, such as shoplifting, can spend as long as five years behind bars. In theory, someone stealing a ¥1,000 bento lunch box could end up costing the state ¥16 million to imprison for a maximum sentence.
“It makes no one happy to use public money like this,” said Yoshiaki Tajima, the Nagasaki-based chairman of Nanko-Airin-Kai Social Welfare Services, who has led government-funded studies on prison populations.
Prison health care expenses are also growing, fueled by the higher cost of caring for elderly inmates. Charges for drugs and medical equipment almost doubled to ¥6 billion in the nine years through March 2015, while hospital admissions reached 1,278 in 2012, almost double 2003 levels, according to the Justice Ministry.
The central government funded a study of the state of the nation’s prisons in 2006, after former politician Joji Yamamoto wrote about his stint in the clink in the award-winning book, “Gokusoki” (“Prison Life”), in 2003. His expose portrayed a penal system rife with men with mental and physical disabilities.
In 2009, the government began setting up support centers in the nation’s 47 prefectures, usually each with a ¥25 million annual budget, to help prisoners’ transition back into society.
The elderly criminal phenomenon gained national attention in 2006, when a mentally ill, 74-year-old ex-convict burned down the West Japan Railway Co.’s Shimonoseki Station. He had been released from prison eight days earlier and told the police afterward that he wanted to return because he was hungry and cold.
Many prisoners could have avoided jail had they received welfare support, said Satoru Ohashi, director of general affairs with the Justice Ministry’s correction bureau. “These people fell through the cracks,” he said.
Two-thirds of inmates suffered at least one health complaint in 2012, a Justice Ministry report found. The main culprits were cardiovascular diseases, mental illness and behavioral disorders.
Prison guards often end up doubling as nurses. At the Fukushima Female Prison, frail convicts are looked after by officers who could pass for their granddaughters. They change their adult diapers and wet underwear, clean their soiled bodies and help them to walk, director Hiromi Akama said.
The nation’s prisons are generally safer for inmates than penitentiaries in the West. Yet they are scarcely resorts.
Inmates rise at 6:45 a.m. and turn in at 9 p.m. in cells. Prisoners are grouped in lots of 10 to 20 and forced to undertake jobs from growing vegetables and cooking meals to caring for inmates with disabilities.
Signs in workrooms and bathrooms remind inmates that talking is forbidden while they are working, eating and bathing to maintain discipline. They must also ask a guard’s permission to use the restroom.
The 67-year-old serial pickpocketer in Nagasaki Prison is a typical inmate. Dressed in lime green work clothes, he shakes his head and struggles to answer simple questions from social workers about where he lives, the meaning of words written on paper or to calculate simple math problems. He suffers from diabetes, hypertension, hearing problems and a learning disability, one of the social workers said.
He held several temporary jobs at bars and on a fishing boat, he says. When he ran out of cash, he stole money to buy clothes, food and drinks from pubs. His last crime was nicking a wallet from a shopper’s basket in a supermarket.
“I imagined I might be back in prison, but I did it anyway because I was short of money,” he said. “But I want to stop.”
Many elderly prisoners have had difficult pasts, growing up in orphanages or being physically or sexually abused, said social worker Takeshi Izumaru, who works at the Nagasaki Community Support Center. An elderly man he helped years ago had said he was scared of being released because he hated life outside prison more than life inside, he said.
“His words summarized the social problems for the weak in Japan, and they bit into my heart,” Izumaru said. “We must intervene early because the longer they spend in jail, the less connected they are with society.”
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*** High-end China sex dolls offer alternative to adultery
JAPAN TIMES; THURSDAY, 16TH. APRIL, 2015
BEIJING – She lay quietly on a narrow bed, greeting potential customers with an impassive stare and a disproportionately buxom form: meet “156,” a stand-in companion for Chinese men with empty beds.
Named for her height, she is a high-quality sex doll made of thermoplastic elastomer, a rubbery material softer than silicone, with adjustable hands, a removable head and genitals, and available from specialist shops in Beijing for around $2,500.
Liu — who did not want to give his full name — has one among the few possessions in his dimly lit studio apartment, deep in an industrial suburb of the capital.
Like millions in China who leave their hometowns to work in the cities, the 29-year-old automobile designer leads a bachelor’s life during the week, returning to his wife and toddler in neighboring Hebei province every weekend.
Liu has been married for more than a decade, and does not want to be unfaithful, but still needs to satisfy his sexual appetite.
“Honestly, it is very easy to just pay a little money to find a woman in China, but I simply cannot bring myself to cheat on my wife, so I have never considered it,” he said with a nervous laugh.
But a blow-up alternative was not an option.
“There was no way I would have sex with that kind of cheap inflatable plastic,” he said.
Instead he forked out 15,800 yuan, almost a month’s pay, for his more realistic Chinese-made 156.
Her removable parts make cleaning or replacement easier, but despite lengthy prior research — Liu can explain subtle differences between an exhaustive list of Chinese and foreign doll brands — he was disappointed.
“As an industrial designer I can’t neglect the lack of realistic details,” he lamented. “So I just used it a few times.
“The only way a doll is better than a woman is that it won’t resist, so people can do whatever they want with it,” he added.
Liu bought his doll from Micdolls in Beijing, where salesman Yi Jiange said proudly: “Most people think the dolls are more attractive than real women.”
They come bald, with customers buying wigs for them according to their own preferences.
Some models are also significantly shorter — more akin to child-size — than 156, for “convenience” according to Yi.
His clients — whose needs and preferences he discusses over a cup of tea — are usually professionals or business owners in their 30s and 40s, and he praises them as morally upright.
“If a married man refuses to see prostitutes and uses a doll instead, isn’t it admirable?”
Buyers include user’s wives, claimed Yi, but he admitted that many clients’ partners “don’t quite accept” such dolls.
“My own girlfriend doesn’t agree with my work that much either,” he added.
China’s puritanical Communist Party decried decadence during its first decades in power, and while conservative attitudes are still widespread, economic reforms have brought the country more sexual freedom, and a plethora of sex shops.
The Chinese sex toy market is estimated at up to 100 billion yuan per year by the business-to-business sex toy platform ChinaSexQ.com.
Currently the lifelike dolls — of which 156 is just one of many models available — represent only a fraction of that.
But Micdolls owner Zhang Han is going into production, expecting business to boom on the back of China’s severe gender imbalance.
In the face of a traditional preference for sons and the one-child policy in the world’s most populous country, sex-selective abortion is common — albeit illegal — and almost 116 boys are born for every 100 girls in China, far above the global average of 107.
As a result it has a growing shortage of women. “Many young men in China have difficulty finding girlfriends or socializing with women,” said Zhang. “That’s why they might use a doll as (a) replacement.”
“Many previously reclusive young men have made friends through the online doll community,” he added. “Having any kind of hobby is better than having none, right?”
He also plans to experiment with a male doll for women.
For some buyers, dolls are not about sex, but love. Calling themselves “friends of dolls,” anonymous individuals gather on dedicated online forums, sharing user reviews and advice.
Their numbers have risen from a few hundred to more than 20,000 in recent years.
One forum user posted a lengthy article titled “My happy life after getting a sex doll,” and another shared pictures of a doll named “Lin Lin” — who has her own account on Chinese Web message service QQ — in her new clothes.
Most people initially buy a doll for sex, explained salesman Yi. “Then they will start to dress them up in different costumes . . . and probably end up naming them like a human being. Eventually some kind of sentiment is involved.”
But for Liu, 156′s soulless heart can do nothing to fill the emptiness of his bed.
“It doesn’t satisfy me at all, nor arouse any emotion in me,” he said.
“A doll’s perfection is derived from mathematical calculations, but it will never be more beautiful than a woman because she has a soul, expresses emotions and shows reaction.
“To me it has absolutely nothing that’s better than a real woman, but I can at least try to deceive myself with it,” he said.
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EVENTS FOR THOUGHT-UPDATE;JAN-FEB 2015
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US, UK, Buhari, ACF condemn poll delay
PUNCH; FEBRUARY 9, 2015
Outrage, on Sunday, greeted Saturday’s postponement of the February 14 and 28 general elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
Among those that flayed the shift are the United States, the United Kingdom, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Maj.Gen Muhammadu Buhari (retd; the Arewa Consultative Forum, the Academic Staff Union of Universities, senators and a senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana.
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, at a news conference in Abuja on Saturday night, announced that the elections would hold March 28 and April 1, 2015.
He said that security agencies informed the commission that they would not be available to provide adequate support if the polls were to take place on February 14 and February 28 as earlier scheduled.
The US, in a statement in Washington DC by its Secretary of State, John Kerry, expressed disappointment over the development and cautioned that the Federal Government should not use security as a pretext to derail democracy.
It warned against what it described as “political interference with the duties of INEC, ” but told the Federal Government to ensure that the elections were not delayed any further than the new dates.
The US statement reminded the government that the world was watching Nigeria, adding that Washington’s interest was to see a “free, transparent, and credible electoral process in Nigeria.”
The statement read, “The US is deeply disappointed by the decision to postpone Nigeria’s presidential election, which had been scheduled for February 14.
“Political interference with INEC is unacceptable, and it is critical that the government not use security concerns as a pretext for impeding the democratic process.
“The international community will be watching closely as the Nigerian government prepares for elections on the newly scheduled dates. The US underscores the importance of ensuring that there are no further delays.
“We support a free, transparent, and credible electoral process in Nigeria and renew our calls on all candidates, their supporters, and Nigerian citizens to maintain calm and reject election-related violence.
The UK, in an electronic mail to one of our correspondents by its Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond , said the shift of the elections was a cause for concern.
Like the US, it advised the Federal Government against using the security situation in the North-East as a reason to deny Nigerians the right to exercise their democratic rights.
The email read, “The decision by INEC to postpone the presidential elections is a cause for concern. The Nigerian people have the right to credible, peaceful and transparent elections. There should be no further delay in delivering democracy and we urge all to remain calm during this period of frustration.
“While we support Nigeria in its struggle against terrorism, the security situation should not be used as a reason to deny the Nigerian people from exercising their democratic rights. It is vital that the elections are kept on track and held as soon as possible in accordance with international norms.”
INEC’s independence compromised – Buhari
The APC presidential candidate, Buhari, said by shifting the dates based on the excuse by the military, INEC had shown that its independence had been compromised.
He however added in a statement that the electoral body should not be blamed for the poll shift as it was boxed into a corner.
Buhari urged his supporters to remain calm because the ruling Peoples Democratic Party would not succeed at the polls next month.
He said it was suspicious that after the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), failed to make INEC postpone the elections based on the inability of some Nigerians to get their Permanent Voter Cards, he (Dasuki) then came up with the issue of security at the last minute.
Buhari said, “Following the decision by INEC to postpone the general elections by six weeks, I wish to appeal for utmost restraint and calm by all Nigerians, especially the teeming supporters of our great party, the APC.
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Malala calls for urgent action on Chibok girls
FEBRUARY 9, 2015; PUNCH; BY AFP
Nobel peace laureate Malala Yousafzai on Sunday called for global support to help release more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram, as they marked 300 days as hostages.
“As we mark this tragic 300th day of captivity for hundreds of kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls, I call on people everywhere to join me in demanding urgent action to free these heroic girls,” she said.
Boko Haram fighters seized 276 teenagers from the Government Girls’ Secondary School in the remote town of Chibok, in Borno state, northeast Nigeria, on the evening of April 14 last year.
Fifty-seven managed to escaped but 219 are still being held, despite military claims that they had been located but that a rescue operation was too fraught with danger to be conducted.
The girls’ abduction and subsequent claims from Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau that they have been forcibly converted to Islam or married off sparked global outrage.
The hashtag #BringBackOurGirls trended on social media and saw prominent figures, including US First Lady Michelle Obama, tweet their support, as well as global street protests.
Malala, 17, who was shot by the Pakistani Taliban for defying threats about her attending school, visited Nigeria in July last year to urge President Goodluck Jonathan to take action.
Jonathan has been widely criticised for what has been seen as a lacklustre response to the crisis and for failing to end the deadly, six-year insurgency.
On Sunday, Malala said the government in Abuja and the international community “can and must do much more to resolve this crisis and change their weak response to date”.
“If these girls were the children of politically or financially powerful parents, much more would be done to free them,” the children’s rights campaigner added in a statement.
“But they come from an impoverished area of northeast Nigeria and sadly, little has changed since they were kidnapped.”
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ISIS To Obama: ‘We Will Cut Off Your Head In The White House’
By Jeremy Bender
ISIS militants have threatened to behead Obama in the White House in a video released on Jan. 26.
The video shows ISIS militants standing in the streets of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, following an artillery barrage on the city by Kurdish Peshmerga forces. In front of the militants is seated a Kurdish soldier who is executed at the end of the video.
Prior to the Kurdish soldiers execution, the ISIS executioner delivered a message in Kurdish which was subtitled into Arabic in the video.
“Know, oh Obama, that we will reach America. Know also that we will cut off your head in the White House and transform America into a Muslim province,” the militant says a ccording to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
The militant then continues his threat against other Western nations, saying “And this is my message to France and its sister, Belgium. We advise you that we will come to you with car bombs and explosive charges and we will cut off your heads.”
The video appeared to be a response by ISIS against a multitude of setbacks it has faced in the past week. On Jan. 26, ISIS fighters withdrew from the Syrian-Kurdish city of Kobani after a failed four-month siege in which the militant group lost as many as 1,500 fighters
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Executed at age 14, George Stinney exonerated 70 years later
South Carolina electrocuted George Stinney after he was convicted of killing two white girls in 1944. The trial lasted three hours, and George’s lawyer had never before represented a criminal defendant.
By Brad Knickerbocker | Christian Science Monitor
Sky News – George Stinney was just 14 years old when the state of South Carolina electrocuted him in 1944.
At just 95 pounds and barely five feet tall, he was so small that he had to sit on a phone book.
George Stinney was just 14 years old when the state of South Carolina electrocuted him in 1944 – the youngest person executed in the United States in the 20th century. Jim Crow was the law for African-Americans. The Ku Klux Klan was a menacing presence. Lynchings still happened all too frequently in this pre-civil rights era.
It may never be known if the black boy killed two white girls in Alcolu, S.C., as police, prosecutors, and jurors – all of them white – quickly determined. Any physical evidence has long since disappeared.
But as the great Southern writer William Faulkner said through one of his characters, “The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past.” And that’s certainly true for George’s relatives, as well as the relatives of 11-year-old Betty June Binnicker and 8-year-old Mary Emma Thames, the girls killed that day.
George confessed, but there’s strong feeling that he was coerced. And the details of how authorities (and the defense attorney) handled the case leave much doubt that justice was done. For decades, the old legal maxim “Justice delayed is justice denied” seemed to apply.
On Wednesday, Circuit Judge Carmen Mullen vacated the boy’s conviction, effectively clearing his name.
Judge Mullen ruled that George’s confession (which he later denied making) was likely coerced and thus inadmissible, “due to the power differential between his position as a 14-year-old black male apprehended and questioned by white, uniformed law enforcement in a small, segregated mill town in South Carolina.”
“This Court finds fundamental, Constitutional violations of due process exist in the 1944 prosecution of George Stinney, Jr. and hereby vacates the judgment,” Judge Mullen wrote. “Given the particularized circumstances of Stinney’s case, I find by a preponderance of the evidence standard, that a violation of the Defendant’s procedural due process rights tainted his prosecution.”
Here are some of those particularized circumstances:
The trial lasted just three hours, and no witnesses were called on George’s behalf. His white, court-appointed lawyer – a tax commissioner who had never represented a criminal defendant – did not cross-examine witnesses for the prosecution. The jury of 12 white men took just 10 minutes to reach a guilty verdict. When the boy was sentenced to die by electrocution, no appeal was filed.
Ray Brown, who’s producing a film called “83 Days” based on George’s execution timeline, told TheGrio.com he was overwhelmed by Wednesday’s ruling.
“It’s never too late for justice,” Mr. Brown said. “There’s no statute of limitations on justice. One of the things I can say about South Carolina and I can give them credit for – is that they got it right this time. During a period of time in our nation where we seem to have such a great racial divide, you have a southern state that has decided to admit they made a mistake and correct it.”
The past may not be dead, as Faulkner wrote, but much of South Carolina’s past no longer marks the state’s present.
In the court proceedings leading up to young George’s exoneration, the solicitor for the state who argued that the conviction should stand, was a black man, the son of South Carolina’s first African-American state Supreme Court justice since Reconstruction.
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NASA Cuts Live Video As UFO Appears To Rise Over Earth’s Horizon As Seen From Space Station — Again
A UFO was caught on the NASA video feed streamed live from the International Space Station on January 15 — but as soon as the mysterious grey object was seen rising over Earth’s horizon, the NASA live video stream suddenly cut to black.
Coincidence? UFO researchers think not.
The video was taken from a high definition camera mounted outside the space station, as part of a NASA experiment in generating HD images from space, which would be the clearest video images of our home planet ever produced.
But every so often, the HD cameras capture something else as well — something which causes NASA to become extremely tight-lipped when asked by the taxpayers who fund the agency for answers as to what they are seeing in the baffling video images.
As seen in the video above, as posted by the YouTube UFO archivist Streetcap1, the clear shot of a distant but distinct object which appears to come into view at about the same level as the space station’s 275-mile high orbit, is quickly replaced by a message informing viewers that the NASA High Definition Earth Viewing Experiment is experiencing some sort of technical difficulties.
Granted, even with today’s highly sophisticated technology, streaming live video from space is not a perfect endeavor, with glitches and outages not unexpected. But UFO watchers say that this one is not the first instance of NASA suddenly dumping a video feed moments after a UFO appears on screen.
In fact, earlier this week, a blogger claimed to have spotted a giant UFO on the NASA feed shortly before the video dropped. But that sighting, with its oversize, animated UFO looked too good to be true.
The Streepcap1 sighting appears more realistic. Watch the video above as a grey object appears to emerge from behind the Earth, then rises as if to meet the Space Station — only to have the video feed quickly cut off.
While some skeptics commented that the object may simply be Earth’s moon — hardly a mysterious UFO — the UFO archivist ruled out that possibility.
“Please bear in mind that the moon appears white when it shows,” Streetcap1 wrote. “There would be no point in me uploading a video of the moon.”
Scott Waring, editor of the popular UFO Sightings Daily blog said that NASA has a bad habit of censoring unexpected UFO sightings on its own video feed.
“NASA did it again. A UFO shows up on live public Internet cam and NASA takes it off line,” Waring wrote on Sunday. “Who here is surprised by this? If you are, you are new here. UFOs are caught by researchers on a weekly basis and NASA does cut the line when they catch them. However the eggheads at NASA are not always focused on the screen and miss a lot of very interesting and sometimes very highly detailed UFOs.”
Several commenters on the video said that they emailed NASA asking for an explanation of the UFO sighting and why the live video was suddenly cut off, but no one at the space agency granted them the courtesy of a reply.
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US and India sign space agreement
The space agencies of India and the US have signed an agreement on future co-operation at Mars and at Earth. The nations have just put satellites in orbit around the Red Planet, and plan a joint radar spacecraft to study our home world in 2020.
BBC News from RSS
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This Referendum Conspiracy Theory Video ‘Is Being Investigated By Police’
A bizarre conspiracy surrounding the result of Scotland’s referendum is being investigated by police, it has been reported. Police Scotland are said to be looking into a video posted by an internet blogger that apparently proves electoral fraud. …
The Huffington Post UK from RSS
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Death, Hunger stalk Indian Tea-Estate Workers
Death arrived soon after the Bundapani tea estate closed last year.
Deprived of health care and food rations, workers who had been scraping by on $1.50 per day were left with nothing. Bundapani’s owner failed to raise the alarm as hundreds of workers slid into catastrophe. .
– BUNDAPANI, India (AP)
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EVENTS FOR THOUGHT-At Home & Abroad UPDATE – DECEMBER 15 – 22, 2014
17 Children, others killed as Taliban storm Pakistan school
DECEMBER 16, 2014;
PUNCH – FROM- CNN 2 COMMENTS
A group of gunmen have stormed an army-run school in the Pakistani city of Peshawar, killing at least 22 people — including 17 children.
The Pakistan Taliban — Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) — claimed responsibility for the attack Tuesday.
Two teachers and an army official were also among those killed, while 47 people were wounded, according to Shehram Khan, health minister for the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The Pakistan military said a rescue operation involving its troops is currently underway at the school, with gunfire being exchanged. It added that the bulk of the students and staff have now been evacuated.
In a telephone call to CNN, a spokesman for the TTP, who identified himself as Mohammed Khurrassani, claimed that six suicide bombers entered the school compound with orders to kill older students.
He said the attack was revenge for the “Zarb e Azb, Khyber-1 military operation and revenge of dumped bodies of detained prisoners.”
For the past few months, the Pakistan military has been conducting a ground offensive aimed at clearing out militants in its restive regions along the border with Afghanistan. The campaign has displaced tens of thousands of people.
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Outrage as Okupe compares Jonathan with Jesus Christ
DECEMBER 16, 2014 BY TEMITAYO FAMUTIMI; PUNCH
Nigerians have severely criticised the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, for comparing President Goodluck Jonathan with Jesus Christ.
Speaking during a live breakfast show on Channels Television on Monday, the presidential aide said Jonathan had borne the nation’s problems and woes on his shoulders in the same way that Jesus Christ had always carried the burden of Christians all over the world.
Gesticulating widely during the programme, Okupe stated that, with regard to the Nigerian situation, Jonathan could best be likened to Jesus Christ.
Noting that Nigerians had failed to understand the troubles the President had gone through for the sake of “everybody” in the country, he said, “There are political issues. People do not understand the burden this particular President is bearing. He is like Jesus Christ. He (Jonathan) is bearing the burden of everybody.”
In view of Jonathan’s “untold burden” for the nation, Okupe said, it would be impossible for his principal to lose re-election in 2015.
The presidential aide boasted that though certain politicians had been allegedly sabotaging the Federal Government’s reforms, especially in the power sector, victory was still certain for his principal.
“Today, the Nigerian Army is in total and perfect control of the North East. I can’t see Jonathan losing this (2015) election. It’s not possible,” he added.
Reacting to his comments, many Nigerians lambasted Okupe for comparing Jonathan to Jesus Christ and asked him to withdraw the statement.
Online activists who took a swipe at Okupe urged Jonathan to publicly reject the title of “Nigeria’s Jesus Christ” which they said Okupe erroneously bestowed on him.
An angry online activist, Tayo Moore, accused Okupe of insulting Jesus Christ by comparing Him with his boss.
Noting that the development was sacrilegious, Moore advised Okupe not to hold the belief that he could “insult” Jesus Christ and go scot free.
“Okupe has just confirmed that he doesn’t know or have Christ. It is only a matter of time before he (Okupe) begins to compare Prophet Mohammed and Jonathan in the same breath.
“That will be his final undoing. I am wondering what the Christian Association of Nigeria has to say on Okupe’s sacrilege, given its current ‘leadership’ or should I say lack thereof?” Moore argued via his Twitter handle.
A Kano-based respondent, Nazir Galadanchi, cautioned the medical doctor-turned politician against uttering what he described as a blasphemous statement.
Galandanchi argued that Okupe’s latest analogy was not surprising as he had recently compared his boss with the late anti-Apartheid leader, Nelson Mandela, with a view to selling the President’s candidature to Nigerians.
“That’s blasphemy. Okupe should please seek for forgiveness,” he added in a message on Twitter.
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Brazil Olympics: Super-bacteria found in Rio sea waters.
• Tuesday, 16 December 2014 13:22
RESEARCHERS in Brazil have discovered drug-resistant bacteria in the sea waters where sailing and windsurfing events will be held during the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The “super-bacteria” are usually found in hospital waste and produce an enzyme, KPC, resistant to antibiotics.
Researchers found the bacteria in samples taken from Flamengo beach.
Nearly 70% of sewage in Rio – a city of some 10 million people – is spilled raw into the waters of Guanabara Bay.
The bacteria were found in samples taken from several locations along the Carioca river.
One sample was found at the point where the river flows into the bay on Flamengo beach.
Residents have been told to take extra care. Flamengo beach is frequently declared unfit for swimming, but many people disregard the official warnings.
The superbug can cause urinary, gastrointestinal and pulmonary infections.
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Wife Of Bill Cosby places fault with News Media
NEW YORK TIMES; TUESDAY, 16, DECEMBER, 2014
After weeks of silence as sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby have mounted, his wife, Camille O. Cosby, came to his defense Monday and faulted the news media for what she said was a failure to scrutinize the women who have made the accusations.
Mrs. Cosby, who has been married to Mr. Cosby since 1964, said in a statement that the man portrayed in recent accounts is not the “wonderful husband” whom she still loves.
“It is the portrait of a man I do not know,” she said. “It is also a portrait painted by individuals and organizations whom many in the media have given a pass.”
Mrs. Cosby added: “There appears to be no vetting of my husband’s accusers before stories are published or aired. An accusation is published and immediately goes viral.”
In recent weeks, about two dozen women have publicly alleged that they were sexually assaulted by Mr. Cosby from 1965 to 2004, some claiming that they were raped or groped after being drugged by him. Mr. Cosby and his lawyers have denied the accusations and he has never faced criminal charges. But a number of concert sites have canceled his performances and some universities have distanced themselves, most recently Spelman College, which said it was suspending its endowed professorship with Mr. Cosby.
Mrs. Cosby, in her four paragraph statement, suggested that the coverage of her husband’s detractors had not been unlike the flawed article about the gang rape of a woman at the University of Virginia that was published last month by Rolling Stone. The magazine has since acknowledged errors in how it reported the article.
“Many in the media were quick to link that story to the stories about my husband, until that story unwound,” she said. Mrs. Cosby added: “None of us will ever want to be in the position of attacking a victim. But the question should be asked: Who is the victim?”
Mrs. Cosby, who married Mr. Cosby a year after she met him while a student at the University of Maryland, said her husband “is the man you thought you knew.”
“He is a kind man, a generous man, a funny man and a wonderful husband, father and friend,” she said.
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Disguised’ Saudi woman arrested while attending soccer game.
JAPANESE TIMES/AP; TUESDAY, 16TH. DECEMBER, 2014
RIYADH – A Saudi woman arrested while attending a soccer game in the kingdom claims she did not know women were prohibited from going to the male-only stadiums, the state-linked Okaz newspaper reported on Monday.
Saudi Arabia enforces a strict segregation of the sexes and has no designated areas for women at soccer stadiums, though authorities have announced plans for “family” areas from where women can watch matches.
However, there have been exceptions for foreign women. In October, an Australian female supporter of Western Sydney Wanderers Football Club was permitted to attend a match at Riyadh’s main stadium. And in January, a group of American women traveling with members of U.S. Congress watched a local soccer club match, also in Riyadh.
The arrested woman, whose name has not been made public, said she bought a ticket online without any problems and attended Friday night’s game in the Red Sea city of Jiddah’s new al-Jawhara stadium. The game was between Jiddah’s al-Ittihad and Riyadh’s al-Shabab.
Police spokesman Atti al-Qurashi said security spotted her at the stadium “deliberately disguised” in male attire to avoid detection, reported the state-linked news website Twasul.
Okaz reported Sunday that police questioned the woman, who is in her 20s, for “impersonating” a man by wearing pants, a long-sleeve top, a hat and sunglasses. Most women in Saudi Arabia cover their hair and face with a veil known as the niqab and all women are required to wear a loose black dress known as the abaya in public.
The paper said the woman has been in police custody since Friday and is being held at a center for girls in the western province of Mecca. No charges have been raised so far.
Ultraconservative Saudi clerics shun female access to exercise and women’s teams are not part of the kingdom’s federation that oversees sports. Women often struggle to find facilities to train and are not allowed to attend matches in stadiums.
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EVENTS FOR THOUGHT – AT HOME & ABROAD: UPDATE – DECEMBER 8 – 15, 2014
*** In Seven States, Atheists Push to End Largely Forgotten Ban
By LAURIE GOODSTEINDEC. 6, 2014.
State Senator Jamie B. Raskin, a law professor, said the atheist ban in the Maryland Constitution was inconsistent with the state’s history. Credit Lexey Swall for The New York Times
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A bookkeeper named Roy Torcaso, who happened to be an atheist, refused to declare that he believed in God in order to serve as a notary public in Maryland. His case went all the way to the Supreme Court, and in 1961 the court ruled unanimously for Mr. Torcaso, saying states could not have a “religious test” for public office.
But 53 years later, Maryland and six other states still have articles in their constitutions saying people who do not believe in God are not eligible to hold public office. Maryland’s Constitution still says belief in God is a requirement even for jurors and witnesses.
Now a coalition of nonbelievers says it is time to get rid of the atheist bans because they are discriminatory, offensive and unconstitutional. The bans are unenforceable dead letters, legal experts say, and state and local governments have rarely invoked them in recent years. But for some secular Americans, who are increasingly visible and organized, removing the bans is not only a just cause, but a test of their growing movement’s political clout.
Todd Stiefel, the chairman of the Openly Secular coalition, said, “If it was on the books that Jews couldn’t hold public office, or that African-Americans or women couldn’t vote, that would be a no-brainer.” Credit David Walter Banks for The New York Times
Todd Stiefel, the chairman and primary funder of the Openly Secular coalition, said: “If it was on the books that Jews couldn’t hold public office, or that African-Americans or women couldn’t vote, that would be a no-brainer. You’d have politicians falling all over themselves to try to get it repealed. Even if it was still unenforceable, it would still be disgraceful and be removed. So why are we different?”
It would be unthinkable for such “naked bigotry” against white people or Presbyterians or Catholics to go unnoticed if state constitutions still contained it, said Rob Boston, director of communications for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, an advocacy group. “Right now we hear a lot of talk from conservative Christians about their being persecuted and their being forced to accommodate same-sex marriage. But there’s nothing in the state constitutions that targets Christians like these provisions do about nonbelievers,” Mr. Boston said.
The six states besides Maryland with language in their constitutions that prohibits people who do not believe in God from holding office are Arkansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
Mississippi’s Constitution says, “No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office in this state.” North Carolina’s says, “The following persons shall be disqualified for office: First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God.”
Pennsylvania’s Constitution contains no prohibition, but does say that no one can be “disqualified” from serving in office on the basis of religion — as long as they believe in God “and a future state of rewards and punishments” (a reference to heaven and hell).
Article VI of the United States Constitution says no “religious test” should ever be required for federal office.
And since the Supreme Court’s decision in the Torcaso case, states have clearly been prohibited from making belief in God a requirement for public office, said Ira C. Lupu, an emeritus professor at George Washington University Law School who specializes in church-and-state issues. Mr. Lupu said of the language in the state constitutions: “Of course they shouldn’t be in there. They’re all unconstitutional. They can’t be enforced.”
NEW YORK TIMES; Monday, December 08, 2014.
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*** Man eaten by an anaconda — all in the name of science
James Hider Latin America Correspondent
Updated 34 minutes ago
An American naturalist has been filmed as a 20ft anaconda weighing 250lb ate him alive in the Amazon.
Paul Rosolie, a 27-year-old TV presenter from Brooklyn, said that it almost ripped his arms out of their sockets as it first bit, constricted and then swallowed him head first.
Mr Rosolie, who has spent almost ten years studying snakes in the Amazon, wore a body suit designed to withstand the crush of the snake’s constricting coils. After finding a large anaconda, he was covered in pig’s blood and acted like prey before the snake “ate” him.
The suit had built-in cameras.
– LONDON TIMES; Monday, December 08, 2014.
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*** 2015: NMA seeks psychiatric test for politicians
December 8, 2014 by Jude Owuamanam
The Nigerian Medical Association has recommended that each of the politicians seeking political offices in the 2015 elections should be made to undergo a psychiatric test to determine their mental state.
The NMA, in a communique at the end of the National Executive Council meeting in Jos, said that all psychiatric doctors should register with the Independent National Electoral Commission to supervise such test.
The communique also clarified issues on the strike embarked upon by some doctors, saying that medical doctors were not on strike, but would not succumb to blackmail.
The NMA National President, Dr. Kayode Obembe, who read the communique on Sunday, said that such a test had become necessary because of the manner some political office holders had been conducting themselves, adding that medical doctors had also been advised to register to participate in the political process at all levels.
They were also asked to register as polling officers to assist INEC to conduct a free and fair election.
The communique said, “As the events that will culminate in the 2015 general elections in Nigeria start in different parts of the country, apprehension appears to be building up among the citizenry for so many reasons, ranging from the insecurity challenge being unleashed on the nation by the terrorist sect, Boko Haram, the face-off between the executive and legislative arms of government, the threat of impeachment being peddled by a sizeable section of the National Assembly against the President, to the economic crisis that has necessitated desperate measures from the government.
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*** Gaffe-prone Aso takes aim at young people without kids
After telling Japan’s growing ranks of elderly they should “hurry up and die,” Finance Minister Taro Aso has turned his well-oiled gaffe gun on “people who don’t give birth.”
The former prime minister said pensioners are not to blame for the spiraling social welfare costs of the rapidly aging society.
“There are many people who are creating the image that (increasing numbers of) elderly people is bad, but more problematic is people who don’t give birth,” Aso told an audience in Sapporo, local media reported Monday.
He was delivering a campaign speech ahead of next Sunday’s general election.
Japan’s birthrate — the average number of children a woman has in her lifetime — is around 1.4, far below replacement level. This gives the nation an inverted age pyramid and a falling tax base.
A dearth of child care, financial insecurity and gloom about the future have all been blamed for the lack of children.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has repeatedly pledged to boost women’s participation in the labor market with structural changes that will mean they are no longer forced to make a choice between having a career and having a family.
Aso, who is Abe’s deputy, is no stranger to offending various sections of the electorate, although he has thick skin to criticism of his gaffes.
Over the weekend, he reportedly also said businesses that do not make money are either “unlucky or incompetent.”
In July last year he said Tokyo could learn from Nazi Germany when it comes to constitutional reform.
Six months earlier, he said the elderly should be allowed to “hurry up and die” instead of costing the government money for end-of-life medical care.
– JAPAN TIMES; MONDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2014.
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*** At 6, Awaiting Hostage’s Release. After 8, Learning That He’s Dead.
By RUKMINI CALLIMACHIDEC. 7, 2014
ISTANBUL — For 18 months, a group of civilians in South Africa worked to accomplish what their government had been unable to do: negotiate the release of a South African couple held by Al Qaeda in the lawless desert of southern Yemen.
In January, the civilian negotiators succeeded in securing the release of the woman, Yolande Korkie. And in recent weeks, they received confirmation that the terrorist group had agreed to free her husband, Pierre Korkie, in return for a $200,000 ransom. On Saturday morning, a convoy of cars was set to leave the southern Yemeni city of Aden to pick up the 54-year-old hostage from the remote outpost where he was being held.
At 6 a.m. in Johannesburg, Imtiaz Sooliman, the director of the aid group that had led the long effort, sent a text message to Mrs. Korkie: “The waiting is almost over.”
At 8:03 a.m. his phone rang with incomprehensible news: Mr. Korkie was dead.
Hours before his expected release, the South African hostage was killed by his Qaeda guards when a military operation by the United States to save his cellmate — Luke Somers, an American photojournalist — went wrong. Mr. Somers and eight civilians were also killed in the raid.
United States officials say they did not know that Mr. Korkie was about to be freed, revealing the dangerous disconnect that can occur when civilians are left to negotiate hostage releases on their own. The government of South Africa — like the United States — hews to a strict policy of not paying ransoms to terrorist groups holding their citizens, maintaining that payments encourage kidnappers and perpetuate the problem.
– NEW YORK TIMES; Monday, December 08, 2014.
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*** Seized arms belong to French mission in Chad —Russia
December 8, 2014 by Fidelis Soriwei and Adelani Adepegba
Russia has said that the arms and ammunition being conveyed by a plane that was seized at the Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano, on Saturday belonged to the French peace-keeping mission in Chad.
The Russian Embassy in Abuja, which said this on its Twitter handle on Sunday, explained that the seized aircraft had been chartered to transport the military equipment and that the crew members were not Russians.
The embassy also denied that the plane was Russian.
The Antonov Cargo Aircraft, carrying some attack helicopters and containers and arms and ammunition, was impounded by security personnel at the Kano airport on Saturday.
The embassy said it was taking all measures to ensure the departure of the plane with its military cargo.
The series of tweets from the embassy were in Russian but were translated to English.
It read, “Military equipment on board aircraft in Kano en route from the Central African Republic in Chad, allegedly owned by the French peacekeeping mission.
“The plane was chartered by the French peacekeeping mission in Chad and transporting its property.
“The Embassy is taking all measures to ensure the departure of the plane with the French military equipment on board.”
A senior security source said on Sunday that the Federal Government investigation into the mystery cargo plane would not be affected by the denial of the Russian government that the plane did not emanate from the country.
The source said that the military would ensure that the investigation into the impounded plane, its cargo and crew, was thoroughly carried out because of the diplomatic implications of the issue.
The source said, “We must ascertain where the plane took off from, its destination, its crew, why it landed in Nigeria, what it was carrying and why it was carrying what it was carrying.
“All these are things we need to know before we come out with a final statement to give to Nigerians on this sensitive issue.
“There must be a holistic investigation into the issue because it has diplomatic implications just like our incident in South Africa so we have to be careful in the investigation.”
Meanwhile, the Defence authorities have said in a statement that Nigerians would be briefed after the conclusion of the investigation into the issue.
The Deputy Director, Defence Information, Group Captain W.W. Maigida, in a statement on Sunday, said that the military had already commenced investigation into the impounded aircraft.
“An Antonov Cargo Aircraft carrying some military hardware was arrested at the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport in the early hours of Saturday, December 6, 2014.
– PUNCH, NIGERIA; MONDAY, DECEMBER 8, 2014
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*** Equipment in seized plane are ours, says France
Posted by: Yusuf Alli, Abuja and Kolade Adeyemi, Kano in Featured, News 7 hours ago
Russia said yesterday that its cargo aircraft seized by the Nigerian government at the Mallam Aminu Kano Airport in Kano, was carrying military equipment belonging to French peacekeepers.
There were also indications last night that the plane might be released after investigation.
But it had not been released as at 9.00p.m.
The Russian Embassy in Nigeria said it was working with the authorities to resolve the issue in the shortest time, the embassy’s press attache Artyom Romanov, told the Russian News Service radio yesterday: “We are working with the Nigerian side to resolve the situation as soon as possible. At the moment, we are waiting, and so are the crew,” Romanov was quoted as saying by the radio station.
He confirmed that the cargo on the plane belonged to French peacekeepers.
The press attache said the French peacekeeping mission in Chad had chartered the Russian plane with Russian crew to transport the cargo. The Russian side has nothing to do with the cargo, according to Romanov.
Another statement from the Russians said: “Military equipment on board aircraft in Kano enroute CAR (Central African Republic) via Chad, allegedly owned by the French peacekeeping mission.
“The detained Russian plane was chartered by the French peacekeeping mission in Chad and transporting its property.
“The Embassy is taking all measures to ensure the departure of the detained in Kano Russian plane with the French military equipment on board.”
France also admitted ownership of the plane.
It said that the flight was covered by a diplomatic clearance given by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abuja, noting that the Autonov 124 Russian commercial plane was forced to land at the Kano airport because of dense air traffic at Ndjamena airport, Chad.
– THE NATION, NIGERIA; Monday, December 08, 2014
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*** Court restrains Obasanjo from publishing autobiography
Posted by: Eric Ikhilae, Abuja in Featured, News 7 hours ago
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has been restrained by a court in Abuja from proceeding with plans to publish or have someone publish on his behalf, a new autobiography, titled: My watch.
Justice Valentine Ashi of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Wuse Zone 2, Abuja, made the order after listening to Alex Iziyon (SAN), who argued a motion ex-parte brought on behalf of a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Buruji Kashamu.
Iziyon said the content of the book related to issues contained in Obasanjo’s December 2, last year, letter to President Goodluck Jonathan and former PDP National Chairman Bamanga Tukur, where he (Obasanjo) claimed that Kashamu was a fugitive wanted in the United States.
He contended that since the contents of the letter was the subject of the libel suit his client filed against Obasanjo, which was pending before the court, it was wrong for the ex-president to be allowed to proceed to comment on, write books about or make publications on the issue yet to be decided upon by the court.
Justice Ashi, in a ruling, restrained Obasanjo from either publishing the book or having it published on his behalf by anybody, pending the determination of the main suit pending before the court.
“The defendant, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, whether by himself, his agents, servants, privies or any other person by whatever name called and howsoever described, is hereby restrained from publishing or caused to be published in the yet to published book, ‘My watch’ or any autobiography or biography and any extracts of same, by whatever name called or howsoever titled, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice hereof,” Justice Ashi said.
– THE NATION, NIGERIA; Monday, December 08, 2014
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*** If Israel Turns Right, Where Will It End Up?
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Tzipi Livni, his justice minister who he fired last week, along with another centrist member of his coalition government. Gali Tibbon/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ousted the two most prominent centrist ministers from his government. With new elections slated for March, he appears ready to form a government of rightist allies and religious parties. Does the prospect of a purely rightist government show how much Israel has changed? Could the coming elections transform Israel’s future, it’s place in the world and chances for peace?
Read the Discussion »
* Neither Challenges Nor Response Will Change
Jonathan Schanzer, Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Israel’s fight for survival looks roughly the same under any leadership. It’s a tough neighborhood.
* There Are No Centrists in Israel
Diana Buttu, former P.L.O. adviser
Israeli politicians who are called moderate would be considered right-wing extremists in other countries.
* Outside Threats Bring Consensus in Israel
Caroline B. Glick, author, “The Israeli Solution”
The constraints Israel operates under both regionally and globally are not of its making, and so its maneuver room is limited.
* A Reflection of What’s Always Been True
Max Blumenthal , author, “Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel”
Liberals are terrified that a more conservative government would end Israel’s claim to be the only democracy in the Middle East.
NEW YORK TIMES; Monday, December 08, 2014.
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EVENTS FOR THOUGHT – AT HOME & ABROAD – UPDATE – NOVEMBER 17 – 24, 2014.
Pandemonium at National Assembly, Police, SSS lock out Tambuwal
November 20, 2014 by John Ameh
There is pandemonium at the National Assembly as policemen and SSS operatives stopped the speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Aminu Tambuwal, from entering the premises. Amid a hail of tear-gas, Tambuwal was forcibly taken into the complex by angry lawmakers protesting the action of the security personnel.
The speaker trekked from the gates to the main complex, a distance of over 500 metres. Senate president, David Mark and several senators and many reps were also delayed for hours at the gate before they finally entered the assembly. Confusion is still ongoing…
THE PUNCH; NIGERIA; NOVEMBER 20, 2014
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[UPDATED] Mark shuts National Assembly over violence
November 20, 2014 by Punch
There was pandemonium in the National Assembly on Thursday wh armed security personnel invaded the federal parliament and locked out the senators and House of Representatives members.
The convoy of the Senate President, David Mark, who attempted to pass through the gate that links the National Assembly from the State House, was delayed for about 30 minutes.
An obviously enraged Mark, after gaining entry, openly confronted the Chief Security Officer of the National Assembly to find out who invited the police since he, as the Chairman, reserved the right to make such request.
The senate president met with his principal officers, shortly after he was allowed to enter, he also held a brief discussion with the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Emeka Ihedioha, who visited him over the development.
Mark left with Ihedioha to the lower chamber when they were informed that the Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal, was already there.
Some angry House of Representatives members, visibly angry over the treatment meted out on Tambuwal by security operatives, shouted at Mark and Ihedioha, and blamed them for the woes that befell the embattled speaker.
Mark went back to his office and left moments after to the chamber where his colleagues were already protesting their maltreatment by the security operatives.
Most of them said they were forced to treck a distance of 200 metres from the main gate to the their offices because they were not allowed to enter the premises with their vehicles.
Mark, at the resumption of plenary, ordered the shut down of both chambers of the National Assembly over the unfortunate development.
He said, Because of the very unfortunate incident in the National Assembly this morning, I have decided to shut down the National Assembly, both the Senate and House of Representatives, until Tuesday next week.
We will also invite the Inspector-General of Police (to appear before us) here on Tuesday, there will be no business in the National Assembly today. It remains shut till Tuesday ( next week).
He condemned the application of maximum force on parliamentarians and civil servants who were in their respective offices to do their duties.
Mark also hinted that the senate had asked the service chiefs billed to appear before it on Thursday, to make it on Tuesday next week as further deliberations on the emergency rule had been suspended to the next legislative date.
Senators Ali Ndume, Olusola Adeyeye and Ehigie Uzamere in an interview with journalists condemned the development describing it as a clampdown on the parliament.
THE PUNCH, NIGERIA; NOVEMBER 20, 2014
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APC leaders protest against alleged impunity, non-release of Chibok girls
ENRAGED at what they considered as the bleak lot of the kidnapped Chibok girls, impunity and discriminatory law enforcement, leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday marched on Louis Edet House, headquarters of the Nigeria Police Force in Abuja.
Meanwhile, President Goodluck Jonathan who expressed concern about the wrangling within the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the recently conducted congresses in various states has called on all party faithful to close ranks and ensure the party’s victory in the 2015 general elections.
Led by the Chairman of the APC, John Oyegun, the protesters blocked the Shehu Shagari Way from Asokoro towards the Federal Secretariat for nearly two hours, displaying placards with different inscriptions. Some of them read “It’s 219 Days that our girls are missing, bring them back alive”, “the impunity in the country is getting out of hand”, “Nigeria belongs to us all, restore Tambuwal’s security detail.”
When The Guardian asked the Force Public Relations Officer, Emmanuel Ojukwu, if the police authorities were told of the party’s grievances, he said: “We don’t know their grievances, whatever they are agitating for, they should go to the regulators, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
“We don’t have issues with the political parties, they should go out there and campaign for votes, we have not received any message from them whatsoever, but they are free to do their campaigns unhindered provided they don’t disturb the peace of other law abiding citizens.”
After a heated argument with men of the Nigeria Police at the exit gate where they gathered, led by Oyegun, Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi and Dino Melaye, the protesters agreed to walk away.
Addressing the crowd, Melaye said: “We have discussed with the police authorities, they have agreed to do what we want, but by tomorrow if they don’t, we will return here and table our grievance again.”
Speaking further in Hausa, Melaye said Nigeria belongs to all and, therefore, discriminatory law enforcement would not be accepted.
In an apparent reference to the withdrawal of policemen from Aminu Tambuwal, he stressed that the interpretation of the law should be done by a competent court and not the police.
While calling on his followers, who were predominantly of the northern extraction, to maintain a peaceful stance, Oyegun said their agitation and cry for fairness would not be in vain.
At the Eagle Square, the presidential aspirant on the platform of the APC, Maj.Gen Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) urged well-meaning Nigerians to end the nearly16 years rule of the PDP-led administration.
He noted that there was nothing on ground worth cheering about the PDP other than incompetence and maladministration.
Buhari who later led the supporters on a peaceful procession along the strategic Shehu Shagari Way in the federal capital city noted: “Our concern is the record of performance of the Federal Government. I will like some of you that have the time and the capacity to reflect on what the PDP has done to this country from 1999 to date. Try and find out what was the stage of our infrastructure in 1999, what it is now and what we have earned between 1999 and now. It is then that it will dawn on you how corrupt, inefficient the PDP and its operators are.”
President Jonathan urged unity at a luncheon to wind down the Presidential Declaration Committee (PDC) set up on October 23, which prepared the ground for his November 11 declaration at the Eagle Square in Abuja.
For him, having worked conscientiously to build the PDP to the level that it is now, the time to work for its success is especially given the fact that it faces a bigger challenge from the opposition political parties. The president, however, noted that even in the face of the mounting opposition, the PDP stands out as the party to beat in any election.
THE GUARDIAN, NIGERIA; NOVEMBER 20, 2014
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More Than a Battle, Kobani Is a Publicity War
By TIM ARANGONOV. 19, 2014
Smoke rose from the Syrian town of Kobani on Monday after United States-led airstrikes against Islamic State fighters. The town is virtually deserted of all but Kurdish and Islamic State fighters. Credit Vadim Ghirda/Associated Press
SURUC, Turkey — Two months after the United States began bombing militants attacking Kobani in northern Syria, the fate of the obscure border town has become the defining battle of the broader contest with the Islamic State — to solidify, or roll back, its borders and ambitions.
For Washington, Kobani is a crucial public test of President Obama’s strategy of combining American air power with local ground forces. For the Islamic State, it is a test of its image of inevitability and invincibility, and a tool for recruiting jihadists.
But of all those with an interest in Kobani, there is arguably no party as invested as the fractious Kurdish diaspora, which has pulled together in the hope of creating a homeland among the rolling farms and pistachio orchards that are still technically part of Syria.
The town is virtually deserted of all but fighters, with Kurds holding one side of town under American air cover, and militants the other. The United States and its allies have poured more bombs into Kobani than anywhere else in the fight against the group. And the militants’ leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, reportedly sent one of his top commanders, known as the group’s “minister of war,” to Kobani, where more Islamic State fighters have died than on any other battlefield.
NEW YORK TIMES; NOVEMBER 20, 2014
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Takata’s Switch to Cheaper Airbag Propellant Is at Center of Crisis
By HIROKO TABUCHINOV. 19, 2014
The new airbag propellant was supposed to be the next big thing for Takata in 1998. An engineer for the company, Paresh Khandhadia, declared it “the new technological edge” in an interview with a trade magazine then.
Based on a compound called tetrazole, it was seen as a reliable and effective compound for inflating airbags. Yet despite the fanfare, by 2001 Takata had switched to an alternative formula, ammonium nitrate, and started sending the airbags to automakers, including Honda.
That compound, according to experts, is highly sensitive to temperature changes and moisture, and it breaks down over time. And when it breaks down, it can combust violently, experts say.
“It shouldn’t be used in airbags,” said Paul Worsey, an expert in explosives engineering at the Missouri University of Science and Technology. The compound, he said, is more suitable for large demolitions in mining and construction. “But it’s cheap, unbelievably cheap,” he added.
More than a decade later, that compound is at the center of a safety crisis involving Takata and its airbags. More than 14 million vehicles with the Takata-made airbags have been recalled worldwide over concern than they can explode violently when they deploy in an accident, sending metal debris flying into the cabin. At least five deaths have been linked to the defective airbags.
• U.S. Regulators Call for Takata Airbag Recall to Be Extended NationwideNOV. 18, 2014
• Defective Takata Airbag Grows Into Global Problem for ManufacturerNOV. 18, 2014
• Honda to Replace Airbags Throughout U.S.NOV. 18, 2014
• Takata Saw and Hid Risk in Airbags in 2004, Former Workers SayNOV. 6, 2014
NEW YORK TIMES; November 20, 2014
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Ofsted to fail ‘outstanding’ school amid fears over extremism
A leading Church of England school will tomorrow fail an Ofsted inspection for failing to protect pupils from Islamic extremism.
Sir John Cass School in Tower Hamlets, east London, is rated outstanding but it will be placed in special measures by the education regulator.
Just two weeks ago, Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, dismissed “broad brush” criticism of faith schools in the wake of the Trojan Horse affair in Birmingham, saying: “No church schools or
LONDON TIMES; NOVEMBER 20, 2014.
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Charles in ‘no rush’ to be king
For years the Prince of Wales has been portrayed as a man impatiently awaiting the moment he can inherit the throne.
According to a new profile of the Prince, however, the exact opposite is true: he conducts duties on behalf of the Queen “joylessly”, already feels “the weight” of the crown and is more interested in continuing his current work for as long as possible.
LONDON TIMES; November 20, 2014
Shimomura wants to make English classes mandatory for fifth- and sixth-graders
by Mami Maruko
Education minister Hakubun Shimomura on Thursday proposed making English a compulsory subject for fifth- and sixth-graders as part of a root-and-branch overhaul of the elementary, junior high and high school curricula.
The revision is intended to help students compete better internationally, particularly as the nation prepares to host the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The new guidelines, which Shimomura submitted to the Central Council for Education, a ministry advisory panel, propose that English classes be taught from third grade, rather than fifth grade.
They also recommend English be made mandatory in the fifth and sixth grades. Currently, English is not considered an official subject but is classified as an optional “foreign-language activity.”
English classes would be conducted exclusively in English at the junior high school level, and high school students would be encouraged to hold debates in English.
Shimomura also advised the panel to make Japanese history a compulsory subject for high school students and to review the way geography and history are taught. History is currently an elective subject at that level..
JAPAN TIMES; NOVEMBER 20, 2014
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EVENTS FOR THOUGHT – AT HOME & ABROAD – UPDATE – NOVEMBER 11, 2014.
*** 52 die, 79 injured in Potiskum school blast
A SUICIDE bomber dressed in a school uniform, burst onto the students’ assembly ground of Government Science Secondary School (GSSS), Potiskum, Yobe State and killed 52 students yesterday. Seventy-nine others were injured.
Potiskum is the largest commercial city in the state, and 100 kilometres west of Damaturu, the state capital.
According to an eyewitness, “The suicide bomber disguised as one of the students to attend the school’s morning assembly, before the back-strapped bomb was detonated. He was carrying a school bag to the assembly ground.
Many of the students were killed on the assembly ground with over seven dozens injured by shrapnel. We were terrified and scared as many of us had to run for safety, before troops and policemen rushed to the scene this morning for rescuing.”
Confirming the blast yesterday in Damaturu, the Yobe State Police Commissioner, Danladi Markus said: “It was a double tragedy this morning at one of the secondary schools in Potiskum, where a suspected Boko Haram suicide bomber dressed in a school uniform burst into the students’ morning assembly; and detonated a bomb, killing over four dozens of innocent students between the ages of 12 and 17. It is exactly one week, when a blast claimed the lives
of over 30 Muslims here in Postiskum, while celebrating their new Islamic calendar year.
THE GUARDIAN, NIGERIA; NOVEMBER 10, 2014
*** Anger as suicide bomber kills 47 schoolchildren
November 11, 2014 by Jude Owuamanam, Adelani Adepegba Olalekan Adetayo, Kayode Idowu and Godwin Isenyo
A victim of the Potiskum suicide bomb attack
| credits: Photo: Kayode Idowu
A teenage suicide bomber on Monday killed 47 schoolchildren and three teachers on the assembly ground of the Government Comprehensive School in Potiskum, Yobe State.
At least 98 other students and teachers were seriously injured in the incident which occurred hours after Northern governors called on President Goodluck Jonathan “to declare a total war and eliminate Boko Haram in our midst before the 2015 elections.”
Jonathan, who will on Tuesday(today) formally declare his intention to seek a re-election in 2015, had shortly after the news of the schoolchildren’s killing, assured Nigerians that those behind the act would be apprehended.
Although no group has claimed responsibility for the Monday attack, residents believe that the bomber must be a member of Boko Haram.
A bomber had last week attacked a procession of Shiite movement in the town, killing over 30 persons.
Our correspondents gathered that the teenage bomber beat the school’s security and joined the students and teachers who were about to have their prayer before detonating explosives strewn to his body at about 7.45am.
An eyewitness who did not want his name in print said that the bodies of “about 50, including three teachers, that died due to the attack were scattered on the assembly ground.
– THE PUNCH, NIGERIA; NOVEMBER 11, 2014
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*** Anxiety in Sambo’s camp as Jonathan declares
November 11, 2014 by Olalekan Adetayo
Anxiety heightened in the camp of the Vice President Namadi Sambo on Monday, ahead of the President Goodluck Jonathan’s declaration of interest in the 2015 presidential race.
The elaborate declaration is billed to hold on Tuesday (today) at the Eagle Square, Abuja.
Investigation by our correspondent showed that there was heightened anxiety in the Vice President’s camp over whether the President would retain him as his running mate or not.
There have been media reports that there was pressure on Jonathan, who has been adopted as the sole candidate by all organs of the party to drop Sambo as his running mate in the election.
Those who were putting the pressure had hinged their position on the fact that although the Vice President is loyal to the President, he lacks the required electoral value to deliver his North-West zone to the Peoples Democratic Party.
Political figures, such as Governor Ibrahim Shema of Katsina State and Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State, have so far been mentioned as people interested in Sambo’s job.
Lately, the name of the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu, also cropped up. Mu’azu had however denied nursing such an ambition.
Multiple Presidency sources, who spoke with our correspondent, said the fear of the unknown was real in Sambo’s camp.
– PUNCH, NIGERIA; NOVEMBER 11, 2014
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*** B’Haram parades captured town, preaches to residents
November 10, 2014 by Agency report 336 Comments
A screen grab from a new video released on Sunday by Boko Haram showing its members patrolling the streets of one of its captured towns in the North-East.
| credits: AFP
The Boko Haram sect on Sunday released a new video which showed the insurgents parading an unnamed captured own on an armoured tank.
The Boko Haram video, obtained by the AFP, also showed the group’s leader Abubakar Shekau preaching to residents of the captured town.
It was not possible to tell whether the footage was staged for propaganda purposes, especially scenes of residents cheering Islamist fighters.
The message appeared to be aimed at reinforcing Shekau’s claim that he has created a caliphate within Nigeria.
THE PUNCH, NIGERIA; NOVEMBER 10, 2014
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*** Richest persons list: Dangote slides to 37th in 24 hours
November 7, 2014 by Remi Latinwo with agency report 55 Comments
Billionaire business mogul, Aliko Dangote, slid down 14 places to 37th position in the World Richest Persons list within 24 hours.
Dangote, the President, Dangote Group, who remains Africa’s richest person, was ranked 23rd on Thursday by Forbes.
A check on Forbes website on Friday, however, revealed that the business mogul, who is said to be worth about $21bn, is now ranked 37th richest person.
Before Thursday’s ranking as the world’s 23rd richest person, Dangote, the first black person to be so ranked, occupied the 43rd position in the world.
THE PUNCH, NIGERIA; NOVEMBER 10, 2014
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‘*** America let Nigeria down in fight against Boko Haram’
NIGERIA has expressed dissatisfaction with the United States (U.S.) over its refusal to help it procure military weapons to strengthen combat against the Islamist terrorist group, Boko Haram, stating that the American Government let the nation down at its hour of need.
Speaking yesterday while receiving a delegation of the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations, Nigeria’s Ambassador to that country, Prof. Ade Adefuye, said that both the Nigerian people and government feel abandoned by America.
“I am sad to inform you that the Nigerian leadership – military and political, and even the general populace – are not satisfied with the scope, nature and content of the United States’ support to us in our struggle against terrorists,” he said.
“We find it difficult to understand how and why, in spite of the U.S. presence in Nigeria with their sophisticated military technology, Boko Haram is expanding and becoming more deadly.”
– THE GUARDIAN, NIGERIA; NOVEMBER 10, 2014
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*** China suspected of breaching U.S. Postal Service computer networks
By Ellen Nakashima November 10 at 9:40 AM
Chinese government hackers are suspected of breaching the computer networks of the United States Postal Service, compromising the data of more than 800,000 employees — including the postmaster general’s.
The intrusion was discovered in mid-September, said officials, who declined to comment on who was thought to be responsible. The FBI is leading the investigation into the hack.
The news, announced by U.S. Postal Service, came as President Obama arrived Monday in Beijing for high-level talks with his counterpart, President Xi Jinping, as well as for an economic summit.
– WASHINGTON POST, USA; NOVEMBER 10, 2014
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*** Governments, groups striving to become as agile as Ebola virus
By Lena H. Sun, Brady Dennis and Joel Achenbach November 10 at 12:13 PM
Archie C. Gbessay, coordinator of the Active Case Finders and Awareness Team in West Point, a large slum in Monrovia, Liberia, discusses efforts to combat the disease with his team in a school classroom in September. (Michel du Cille/The Washington Post)
The news out of West Africa in recent days — good and bad — has demonstrated a fundamental challenge in the fight against Ebola: The virus is more nimble than the human response to it. The landscape of infection and disease has changed dramatically in recent weeks, even as institutions have largely stuck to blueprints drafted months ago.
The looming question now is whether governments and other organizations can find a way to become as agile as the virus, which has vanished suddenly in some hard-hit places while erupting just as quickly in new locations.
The first Ebola Treatment Unit built in Liberia by the U.S. military is expected to open in the coming days, nearly two months after President Obama announced that he would send troops to supplement the civilian effort against the disease. But even before that first ETU has become operational, Liberia has seen a sharp drop in new infections and has empty beds in Ebola wards. The new ETUs, which are temporary structures that can’t easily be used for anything else, may not treat many patients.
Up the coast of West Africa, Sierra Leone has had far less progress in the fight against Ebola. The country had three times as many new infections as Liberia in the most recent three-week monitoring period, according to the World Health Organization. The United States has sent troops to Liberia but not to Sierra Leone.
– WASHINGTON POST, USA; NOVEMBER, 10, 2014
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*** Chaos as rebels take Cameron to the brink
Sam Coates and Lucy Fishe
David Cameron came within nine votes of losing the support of the Commons over his attempts to push through a key renegotiation between Britain and Europe last night. With the floor of the House descending into chaos and acrimony, the prime minister narrowly avoided defeat over the European arrest warrant, which allows straightforward extradition of suspected criminals between EU countries. As the vote looked to be at risk of derailment and government whips appeared briefly to lose control, Mr Cameron raced to the Houses of Parliament in white tie from the lord mayor’s banquet. Theresa May, the home secretary, had to filibuster for an hour as Tory whips ordered MPs to attend to win a series of crucial votes.
LONDON TIMES, UK; NOVEMBER 10, 2014
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*** Obama, Putin circle each other warily in China
BEIJING – On the surface, President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin are all niceties — a pat on the back here, a pleasantry there. But away from the cameras, the two leaders are circling each other warily at a global summit in China, coming face to face just as relations between their countries continue to deteriorate.
Despite a handful of encounters so far, it was unclear whether the leaders had broached any of the tough issues — such as harsh U.S. sanctions that have damaged Russia’s economy, or a fragile cease-fire in Ukraine that appears at risk of collapse. Officials said Obama and Putin didn’t delve into substance during a brief run-in Monday night, and in public appearances Tuesday, the two kept their deep-seated disagreements out of sight.
Just outside of Beijing, where leaders from 21 nations were gathered for economic talks, picturesque Yanqi Lake became the venue for an awkward pas de deux between two of the most powerful leaders in the world.
Entering an ornate, wood-paneled room for the start of the summit, Obama and Putin looked a bit like sidekicks to Chinese President Xi Jinping. The summit’s host led the way, with the American on one side and the Russian on the other.
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” Putin said in Obama’s direction. Yes, it is, concurred a reticent Obama, avoiding eye contact with Putin and addressing his response to no one in particular.
As the three presidents came to a stop at the head of the table, Putin reached out to give Obama a slap on the back. But Obama had turned in a different direction, and it didn’t appear that the Putin’s hand landed on its intended target.
A few hours later, the two again found themselves in close quarters under an overcast sky as leaders planted trees in honor of their counties. Putin strode confidently up to his tree, ahead of Obama, who clasped his hands behind his back before picking up a shovel and greeting a Spanish TV crew with a wave.
Away from the cameras, Obama and Putin did have a chance to speak privately, said a senior Obama administration official who wasn’t authorized to comment by name and demanded anonymity. But it wasn’t clear how thoroughly the leaders used that opportunity to address the vexing issues that have raised the specter of a return to a level of chilliness between the U.S. and Russia unseen since the Cold War.
Putin’s spokesman said only that the two had spoken a few times during the summit, touching on “bilateral relations, the situation around Ukraine, Syria and Iran.”
JAPAN TIMES; NOVEMBER 11, 2014
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*** Japanese team unveils blood test regimen to detect Alzheimer’s before symptoms appear
A group of Japanese experts announced Tuesday they have developed a blood test measure to detect signs of Alzheimer’s disease before patients show symptoms.
The discovery by a team led by Koichi Tanaka, a Nobel laureate in chemistry and a senior fellow of Kyoto-based Shimazu Corp., and the Aichi-based National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology, was announced in a journal published by the Japan Academy.
One of the causes of Alzheimer’s disease is abnormal accumulation of the protein amyloid beta inside the brain. With the newly developed test, the team will examine how the protein builds up and how it harms a person’s cognitive functions, as there are some people who accumulate the protein but do not suffer from the disease.
“The accumulation of amyloid beta is the start of Alzheimer’s disease. So we’d like to develop medicines or treatment to deal with it,” said Katsuhiko Yanagisawa, vice director of the center.
The team is monitoring the brain conditions of 62 male and female examinees aged 65 to 85 by using positron emission tomography (PET). They analyzed their blood after confirming that their amyloid beta had accumulated.
Using a device for quality and quantity analysis developed by Tanaka and other experts, the team can detect small amounts of a protein related to amyloid beta that had never been detected before.
They are able to judge with high accuracy whether amyloid beta is accumulating by checking the ratio of this related protein as well as another type of related protein.
In the past, the only way to check if amyloid beta had built up was via PET, which is costly, or an examination of cerebrospinal fluid taken from a patient’s spinal cord.
– JAPAN TIMES; NOVEMBER 11, 2014
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– UPDATE: NOVEMBER 3 – 10, 2014
Boko Haram: Lamentation of a Nigerian solider
Posted by: our reporter in News Update, Online Special 13 hours ago
We recently received an anonymous message from a supposed Nigerian solider presently among the troops battling the Boko Haram insurgents.
In this slightly edited message of despair, he gives an insight on the why Nigerian soldiers may not win the battle against the terrorists in North East.
It is time the pen pushers pick up their pens bcos the corruption in the system. More to self and less for National interest.
Who is behind book haram? how come helicopters will come to Nigeria airspace to supply book haram equipment and nobody is saying anything?
People are dying every day. Money that is supposed to be used for development we are using it for war. Let those who love this nation pick up their pen, like the Journalists who fought for our independence in the 60s.
My eyes have seen a lot. We still need to pray for Nigeria.
All members of book haram use anti-aircraft to fight. Let all who love Nigeria forget about religion and put National interest first.
If you are in the field you will cry because the more you see the less you understand this battle.
Things will come to light if my ogas on top tell the truth. Everybody is after money.
A day after sallah we took over Bazza, our own Airforce refuse to come for support and our commanding officer Lt Col Jones Emem called them but they did not come until this helicopters came to drop snappers and weapons for Bokoharam.
Who is behind them? Why the army still using unserviceable equipment is when we were told new equipment were bought to fight insurgent. . .
– THE NATION, NIGERIA, NOVEMBER 3, 2014’
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Eight jailed in Egypt for appearing in ‘gay wedding video’
Posted by: Agency Reporter in News Update 1 day ago
A court in Egypt has sentenced eight men to three years in prison for appearing in a video alleged to show a gay marriage.
All eight had denied charges of inciting debauchery and offending public morality, the BBC reports.
The video, which was posted to YouTube in September, shows two men exchanging rings on a boat in the Nile.
Though homosexuality is legal in Egypt, it remains a taboo. Police raids on gay venues have risen in recent months.
The sentence was met with uproar from the families of the defendants, the Reuters news agency says.
The BBC reports that Islamists had led the chorus of outrage against the video, saying that it proved moral standards had dropped since Islamist President Mohammed Morsi was removed from power last year. . .
– THE NATION, NIGERIA; NOVEMBER 3, 2014.
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Dangote slashes cement price to N1,000 per bag
BY OUR REPORTER ON NOVEMBER 3, 2014TRENDING
In a move that will raise the stakes in the rapidly evolving Nigerian cement market, leading cement manufacturer, Dangote Ce¬ment Plc, has announced huge cuts in the price of the essential product.
The new price regime an¬nounced by the Group Manag¬ing Director of Dangote Cement, Mr. Devakumar Edwin, pegged the Dangote 32.5 cement grade at N1,000 per 50 kg bag, while the higher 42.5 grade is to sell for N1,150 per bag.
The new prices exclusive of the Value Added Tax (VAT), represents about 40 per cent dis¬count on the prevailing market price of the product which is currently sold for N1,700 irre¬spective of the grade, across the country.
Edwin said the move was in line with the company’s com¬mitment to the nation’s need for the development of infrastructure and to boost the federal and state governments’ ongoing efforts to reduce the near 20 million hous¬ing deficit in Africa’s largest economy. . .
THE SUN, NIGERIA; NOVEMBER 3, 2014
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In Mexico, a New Lead on Missing StudentsOCT. 28, 2014
“It was not only about the academic stuff but the political side of it, the risk of the activities they did and the sense of belonging,” said Ricardo Jacinto, a student there, explaining why he and his brother Israel, 19, as well as two uncles have attended the school.
Now, Ricardo and his family are awaiting word of Israel, one of the students missing since Sept. 26.
Israel was part of a large group of students who went to the industrial city of Iguala, about two hours away and 120 miles south of Mexico City, to collect money for school activities and to steal two buses to help transport them to demonstrations on Oct. 2 commemorating a 1968 student massacre in Mexico City.
The appropriation of the buses — routine and temporary, students here say — was a function of the threadbare life and revolutionary ferment running through the school, where portraits of Che Guevara and other socialist figures line the walls and students are taught to push the boundaries in their protests.
They have routinely blocked highways and these days have regularly taken over tollbooths on superhighways in southern Mexico, asking for donations while federal police officers sit nearby, apparently unwilling to risk a confrontation.
Such tactics have often put them at odds with the local authorities, who have viewed them suspiciously and question their ties to leftist guerrilla and political groups in the state, Guerrero, one of the most violent and prone to social and criminal upheaval. In the search for the students, the authorities have uncovered several mass graves containing a total of 38 bodies, though initial tests indicate that none are the missing students.
The school’s students, in turn, often rage over what they consider to be shortfalls in state financing, job placement and other support for the school, 70 miles northeast of the resort city of Acapulco. . .
– NEW YORK TIMES, NOVEMBER 3, 2014.
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One Day in an Elevator With Obama, Then Out of a Job
By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDTNOV. 2, 2014
ATLANTA — Kenneth Tate toiled for years as a construction worker and corrections officer, and he has no doubt that his last job — working as a $42,000-a-year private security guard at theCenters for Disease Control and Prevention — was the best he ever had.
The high point was an afternoon seven weeks ago when he was assigned to accompanyPresident Obama, who was visiting the agency’s headquarters here for a briefing on the Ebola epidemic. It was not only that Mr. Tate’s bosses had entrusted him with staying close to such an important dignitary. It was that, as an African-American born in Chicago, he was going to meet the nation’s first black president, a man he deeply admired.
But by the time Mr. Obama’s visit was over, Mr. Tate was on the way to losing his job.
As Mr. Obama’s motorcade was preparing to leave the C.D.C., Mr. Tate tried to take a picture on his cellphone as a memento. Angry Secret Service agents told him that he had gotten too close to the Beast, as the presidential limousine is known. When the agents relayed to Mr. Tate’s bosses what had happened, they reacted angrily.
“This was unjust and has been a nightmare,” Mr. Tate, 47, said in an interview last week. “I’ve tried to rationalize it. It won’t go away.”
But it took several weeks before the full consequences of the incident became clear. An investigation conducted shortly after Mr. Obama’s visit revealed that Mr. Tate was carrying a C.D.C.-issued firearm, a violation of Secret Service protocols — and a security lapse that the agency’s director at the time, Julia Pierson, never mentioned to the White House. . .
. . . Mr. Tate said the C.D.C. and the contractor still had not provided him with an explanation about why he was fired. Making matters worse, his 27-year-old son — who had worked at the C.D.C. as a contractor for seven years — was unexpectedly dismissed two weeks after the incident for “downsizing” reasons, Mr. Tate said.
Now unemployed, he looks back with sadness on the day he met the president.
“It was something to tell my mom — if I meet him everything will be complete,” he said. “I didn’t know it was going to be my job.”
– NEW YORK TIMES; NOVEMBER 3, 2014
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Block all benefits for migrants, No 10 urged
Sam Coates, Deputy Political Editor and David Charter in Berlin
Last updated at 12:01AM, November 3 2014
Migrants from the European Union would no longer have their wages subsidised through tax credits, under plans being considered in Downing Street.
No 10 is examining a further migrant benefit clampdown after a furious Angela Merkel forced a retreat on the imposition of quotas on EU arrivals.
The German chancellor told David Cameron at last month’s EU summit that he was in danger of crossing a “point of no return” with his promise to limit migration from other member nations, it emerged yesterday.
If he continued with plans for an emergency brake on migrant numbers, Germany would no longer fight to keep Britain in the EU, Mrs Merkel is understood to have said. . .
– THE TIME, LONDON, NOV 3, 2014.
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Boy, 16, admits classroom murder of teacher Ann Maguire
A 16-year-old boy has pleaded guilty to murdering the schoolteacher Ann Maguire.
The teenager stabbed Mrs Maguire, 61, as she taught a class at Corpus Christi Catholic College, in Leeds, in April, when he was 15.
He admitted murder when he appeared at Leeds Crown Court today.
Paul Greaney, QC, for the prosecution, told the court: “It is important that we should record that it is clear from the evidence that the parents (of the boy) are decent people and responsible parents. . .
LONDON TIMES; NOV 3, 2014
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Burning billions of trees ‘will avert climate disaster’
Carbon dioxide will have to be extracted from the atmosphere and stored underground to prevent “severe, pervasive and irreversible” impacts of climate change, according to the UN’s scientific advisory body.
The intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) said that within the lifetime of today’s children, net emissions would have to fall below zero to have the best chance of preventing a dangerous temperature rise.. . .
– LONDON TIMES, NOV 3, 2014.
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Man stabbed on Saitama street; suspect turns himself in at koban
CRIME NOV. 03, 2014 – 05:00PM JST ( 11 )
A 37-year-old man was stabbed in the back by a man who then turned himself in at a koban (police box) near JR Omiya Station in Saitama, police said Monday.
According to police, the incident occurred at around 7:30 p.m. Sunday. NTV reported that the victim was walking near the station when he was suddenly attacked from behind.
The man suffered stab wounds to his back but his condition is not life-threatening, police said, adding that that the victim said he did not know his attacker.
A few minutes after the attack, a 24-year-old man walked into the koban, holding a knife, and said “I’m sorry to bother you, but I have just stabbed someone. . .
– JAPAN TODAY; NOV 3, 2014
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Bill Gates to give $500 million to fight malaria, other diseases
WORLD NOV. 03, 2014 – 01:06PM JST ( 5 )
Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, talks about the Ebola crisis in West Africa on September 29, 2014 in Washington, DCAFP
U.S. philanthropist Bill Gates on Sunday announced he will donate over $500 million to fight malaria and other infectious diseases in the developing world, saying the Ebola outbreak is a call to action.
The former Microsoft CEO told the 63rd annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in New Orleans that his Gates Foundation is committing more than $500 million in 2014 “to reduce the burden of malaria, pneumonia, diarrheal diseases, and an array of parasitic infections that are leading causes of death and disability in developing countries,” a statement said.
Gates also said that in addition to that pledge, his foundation has boosted its annual funding for malaria by 30%.
Gates described the Ebola epidemic that has killed more than 4,900 people in West Africa since the beginning of the year as a “critical moment in the history of global health,” and said the world’s largest outbreak of the hemorrhagic fever underscores the need for stronger efforts to stay ahead of disease threats such as drug-resistant malaria and dengue fever.
“The Ebola epidemic has shown, once again, that in today’s interconnected world, health challenges anywhere create health challenges everywhere –- and the best way to overcome those challenges is to dedicate ourselves to the great cause of reducing the global burden of infectious disease,” Gates said in his prepared remarks. . .
– JAPAN TODAY; NOV. 3, 2104
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Last updated at 2:34PM, October 9 2014