Friday, July 28, 2017

A familiar WhatsApp scam has reappeared in order to try and trick people ...

A familiar WhatsApp scam has reappeared in order to try and trick people into supplying their bank details to cyber criminals.

The scam takes the form of an official-looking message that warns people their "trial service" of the popular instant messaging app is coming to an end.

“Our records indicate that your WhatsApp trial service is exceeding the one-year period,” it reads.

“At the completion of your trial period your WhatsApp will no longer be able to send or receive message [sic]. To continue using WhatsApp without interuption [sic], we need you to subscribe for any of our subscription periods.” Full story...

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Philippine police 'dumping bodies' of drug war victims...

Philippine fishermen have revealed that they have been dumping bodies of drug suspects, killed as part of the country's so-called war on drugs, on the orders of the police.

The bodies, called "trash" by authorities, have been thrown on the sides of highways and in Manila Bay over the past year.

"Police are the ones coming to my house ordering me to take out trash," said Manuel, a local fisherman who has personally disposed off 20 bodies.

"We usually throw them out in Manila Bay," he told Al Jazeera. "Sometimes we put weights on it, so it doesn't float up." Full story...

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Calling your husband by name for the first time...

What's in a name? A lot, if you're an Indian wife and the name in question is your husband's. I learned this early on in life.

My parents were married for 73 years until my father died last year. At the time of their wedding, my mother was less than 11 and he had just turned 15.

In the decades they were together, first in a tiny village in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh and later in Kolkata (then Calcutta), she never called him by his name.

When speaking to us children, she always referred to him as "babuji" - the Hindi word for "father" that we used. When addressing him directly, she always said "Hey ho", which means roughly "Hey you".

As teenagers when we became aware of the fact, we made fun of her. We tried to trick her into saying his name just once. But she never did. Full story...

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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Doctors are prescribing DEADLY fentanyl for cash and lavish dinners, reveals report..

An opioid that is 50 times stronger than pure heroin (and 100 times more potent than morphine) is being over-prescribed by physicians nationwide as the delineation between medical ethics and personal gain fades even further. Fentanyl, a powerful prescription pain medication, is an entirely synthetic opioid initially meant to ease cancer patients to death. Even with its intended purpose, health regulation groups repeatedly warn of the drug’s deadly side effects and caution doctors to only prescribe it as a last resort. That being said, recent data reveals that more doctors are prescribing fentanyl to their patients, even for cases such as tonsillitis.

An explosive report on NJ.com showed that the number of fentanyl dispensed in the state since late 2011 is enough to allow every person who has died of cancer in New Jersey to fill a prescription for the drug eight times. Similarly, between 2013 and 2015, the number of fentanyl-related deaths in New Jersey rose from 42 to 417.

Nationwide awareness on the dangers of this prescription drug began last year, when pop music icon, Prince, died of a fentanyl overdose. Unlike other opioids listed under the same category (such as oxycodone, morphine, and hydrocodonne), fentanyl is highly-addictive and easier to source (the drug is supposedly a favorite in the black market trade other than it being readily available as a prescription). This has led to a worrisome trend of fentanyl-related deaths increasing nationwide. The latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data showed that from 2014 to 2015, fentanyl-related death shot up by around 73 percent. In the same period, deaths related to other legal prescription drugs rose by only four percent. Full story...

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Durian fruit: A smell so rotten, but a taste so sweet...

The carers who do not care: From biting and spraying deodorant in the face of dementia patients to stealing their savings, sickening gallery reveals bullies guilty of abusing the elderly...

At first glance they have little in common: men and women of disparate ages and racial backgrounds, from all four corners of the country.

But they share one utterly shameful bond; they have all mistreated vulnerable elderly people in their care, with a depravity that is truly sickening.

Two weeks ago, a Mail investigation highlighted shocking levels of abuse of the elderly by so-called carers in Britain, as well as the derisory sentences handed down to those who are caught.

The charity Action on Elder Abuse (elderabuse.org.uk; 080 8808 8141) is campaigning for a change in the law so that crimes against senior citizens are recognised as aggravated offences. Full story...

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Yemen grappling with ‘vicious’ combination of worst crises: UN

The United Nations has warned that the catastrophic situation in Yemen is turning into a combination of the world’s worst humanitarian crises amid almost daily Saudi bombardment of the impoverished Arab nation.

In a joint statement on Wednesday, the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Program (WFP) said Yemen is grappling with “the world’s worst cholera outbreak in the midst of the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.”

“In the last three months alone, 400,000 cases of suspected cholera and nearly 1,900 associated deaths have been recorded. Vital health, water and sanitation facilities have been crippled by more than 2 years of hostilities, and created the ideal conditions for diseases to spread,” the statement said.

“The country is on the brink of famine, with over 60 per cent of the population not knowing where their next meal will come from. Nearly 2 million Yemeni children are acutely malnourished. Malnutrition makes them more susceptible to cholera; diseases create more malnutrition. A vicious combination,” the statement added.


The executive directors of the WHO, UNICEF and the WFP arrived in Yemen on Monday, visiting the southern province of Aden and the country’s capital, Sana’a. Full story...

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‘Sell your wife if you can’t afford toilet’: Indian official goes viral after insulting villager...

An Indian magistrate trying to promote cleanliness is under fire after telling a man to “sell his wife” if he can’t afford to pay for a toilet in his house.

Kanwal Tanuj, a magistrate from the district of Bihar, made the comments during an event in Jamhor Block last Friday, which was aimed at promoting the country's nationwide cleanliness campaign.

The Clean India Mission (Swachh Bharat Abhiyan) is a scheme launched by the Indian government which is aiming to raise the standards of cleanliness in cities and towns across the country.

The Indian Express reported that Tanuj opened his speech by calling on the crowd to obey the campaign’s sanitation standards in order to safeguard the dignity of women. Full story...

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Albert Einstein in Lincoln University, 1946...


The 16 years' war and its cost...

Every night on American TV you can see repeating commercials to raise money for young people who’ve had limbs blown off. It might be cruel to ask the following question in the presence of these veterans, but millions of other people have been forced to pay for all of this, and they need to be protected as well.

And so, with condolences to the young people who signed up for these wars believing they were actually defending the good, we must ask this question: What was the payoff?

Some people will evade this question by maintaining that “freedom was preserved,” but that statement rests on a nebulous and self-serving definition of freedom… a definition that boils down to, “What we have is freedom.” Or it’s variant: “It’s worse in North Korea; therefore we’re free.” These lines of reasoning, of course, are fallacious.

So, with apologies where due, I must assert that the payoff from all the bloodshed in Afghanistan and Iraq has been negligible. Both places are still a mess, and both places will likely remain a mess for a long, long time.

Almost 16 years of war have gone by in Afghanistan and more than 14 in Iraq. I think we should admit that any possibility of a “respectable win” is long past. Full story...

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The older generations are now more tech savvy and were the secret weapon behind Donald Trump’s campaign...

Yesterday I had to go to the AT&T store to activate my phone. Why? Because since the AT&T merger with DirecTV their website has become a cluttered cesspool of junk. That speaks volumes considering their website has always been bogged down with useless information. It took multiple search engine alterations to navigate their website to find the sim card activation page. After a few attempts of trying to enter my information I finally resigned myself to trudging to their store.

The only reason I even tolerate AT&T’s website is because I hate going to their store and dealing with my own age group. It might come as a surprise to many, but I can’t be bothered with Millennials working in tech stores. There’s too many haphazard sales pitches and bullshit techno worship from my own generation related to technology. I don’t care about the latest model of the exact same phone I already own because it’s a bit thinner or the screen is slightly wider.

But, this trip was different…

The AT&T store I went to was employed with middle aged women. After a quick scan I realized nobody behind the counter was under the age of fifty. The woman who entered my information was quick and efficient. There wasn’t any finger pecking on her tablet as I would’ve expected. She knew all the plans and the best way to set up my new account. I was out of the store in five minutes with no problems. Full story...

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Pakistan village council orders 'revenge rape' of girl...

Some 20 people from Multan, Pakistan, have been arrested for ordering the rape of a teenage girl, in revenge for a rape her brother allegedly committed.

Police said the families of the two girls are related.

Members of both had joined forces to decide what should be done.

"A jirga [village council] had ordered the rape of a 16-year-old girl as punishment, as her brother had raped a 12-year-old," police official Allah Baksh told AFP.

He said the village council was approached earlier this month by a man who said his 12-year-old sister had been raped by their cousin. Full story...

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Homeschool is booming, new study shows...

A report issued this week by The Pioneer Institute, a Boston-based a public policy think tank, sheds light on the rapid growth and diversity of the U.S. homeschooling population.

Co-authored by William Heuer and William Donovan, the comprehensive white paper explains that despite a paucity of support from government officials--and outright opposition by the nation's largest teachers’ union--homeschooling has gained in both popularity and reach over the past several decades.

According to the latest 2012 National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) data, there are over 1.8 million homeschoolers nationwide, representing 3.4 percent of the overall U.S. K-12 school-age population. More recent data place the number of homeschoolers at well over 2 million children, placing it on par with the number of children currently enrolled in U.S. public charter schools.

The report highlights that "there is no typical homeschooler or homeschooling family," as the "one size fits all" prototype of conventional public schools does not apply to homeschooling families who tailor their educational approach to the needs and values of their family and their children. The report states: Full story...

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French police blasted for 'routinely' using pepper spray on migrants...

French police are regularly using pepper spray against migrants in Calais, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Wednesday, an accusation denied by authorities.

In a report entitled "Like living in hell" the use of pepper spray against migrants massed in the northern coastal city is described as "routine".

"Police use of pepper spray in Calais is so common that many asylum seekers and migrants had difficulty recalling precisely how many times they had been sprayed," the report said.

Of 61 migrants questioned by the prominent international human rights group between the end of June and the beginning of July, 55 said they had been sprayed during the two weeks before the interview, and some said they had been sprayed every day, the author of the report, Michael Garcia Bochenek, told AFP. Full story...

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Did antidepressants help make this man a mass-murderer?

He slumps wild-eyed across the desk from detectives, with a mess of badly dyed red hair, his clothes hanging off him.

James Holmes looks every inch the monster who coldly executed 12 innocent people and injured dozens more at a midnight screening of the Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises.

Holmes had carried out the killings with an arsenal of weaponry he had accumulated in the preceding weeks. He had planned the shootings down to the tiniest detail, even booby-trapping his own apartment with home-made bombs to divert police resources while he launched the attack.

Watching a recording of his interview at the police station, conducted just hours after he carried out one of the worst mass shootings in recent US history, who could feel anything but loathing for this callous 24-year-old graduate student? When asked how to spell his surname, Holmes cockily replies, “Like Sherlock”. Full story...

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Coffee leads to longer life...

What would you find if you followed three quarters of a million people and took notes on their longevity in light of their coffee drinking habits? That was the premise of two huge studies that lasted nearly 16 years in 10 European countries. What they concluded at the end — that a “moderate” three cups a day is perfectly fine — should be encouraging to people who’ve decided they don’t really care about the outcome; that’s just how dedicated they are to that cup of liquid energy.

But the outcome was this: Coffee may not keep you from dying, but it may impact how soon it occurs. As Reuters reported, men were about 12 percent less likely to die during the follow-up period if they were coffee drinkers compared to men who didn’t indulge at all. Similarly, coffee-drinking women were about 7 percent less likely to die during the same period.1

So the next logical question is, what’s the reason? Well, researchers found that while people differ in numerous ways in those 10 countries, they had one thing in common: For all the participants, coffee was associated with a decreased rate of death from digestive diseases.2,3 For women there was a lower risk of death from circulatory and cerebrovascular diseases. Medical News Today noted: Full story...

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Amazon accused of raising prices on Prime Day deals to dupe customers into bogus bargains...

A manufacturer says Amazon has been raising prices of products to double their actual recommended retail price, before artificially "lowering" the cost to create a fake "discount" during its Prime Day promotion.

Remodeez is a startup based in Charlotte, North Carolina that has invented non-toxic, odourless foot and bag deodorisers. The recommended retail price of one of its deodoriser products is $9.99 (£7.67), as agreed between Remodeez's founder Jason Jacobs and Amazon since 2015.

However, according to Jacobs, during the recent Prime Day event held on 10-11 July, Amazon said that the product usually retails at $15.42, but that it had been dropped down to the bargain price of "$9.99 for Amazon Prime Day".

Even worse, by the end of the 30-hour-long promotion, Remodeez says that the recommended retail price of the deodoriser product had for some reason been bumped up to $18.44. Full story...

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The trolls on Sunny Leone’s photo with adopted child show exactly how prejudiced we are...

Sunny Leone posted a photo on Facebook with her husband Daniel Weber and the little girl they adopted. The family looks happy with Nisha, the newest addition, and Sunny would have posted the picture to share the news with her fans.

A lot of fans congratulated her, but things took an ugly turn when some people proved they just could not go past their prejudice.

If you see the post now, most of the comments are overwhelmingly positive, supportive and congratulatory. But do a little digging in the comments section and it’s not difficult to find people making fun of Nisha’s dark complexion and even slut shaming Sunny.

Take a look at this man’s comments, who took to reiterating multiple times how Sunny should have her own children so she can pass on her ‘beauty’. Some people even suggest that the child should be ‘returned’ because she is dark skinned, and hence, ugly. Full story...

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Gaza in context...

The billion-dollar palaces of Apple, Facebook and Google...

We know by now that the internet is a giant playpen, a landscape of toys, distractions and instant gratification, of chirps and squeaks and bright, shiny things – plus, to be sure, ugly, horrid beasties lurking in all the softness – apparently without horizon. Graphics – rounded corners, lower case, Google’s primary colours, Twitter’s birdie, Facebook’s shades of blue – enhance the innocence and infantilism. It is a world, as Jonathan Franzen once said, “so responsive to our wishes as to be, effectively, a mere extension of the self”. Until we chance on the bars of the playpen and find that there are places we can’t go and that it is in the gift of the grown-ups on the other side to set or move the limits to our freedom.

We’re talking here of virtual space. But those grown-ups, the tech giants, Apple, Facebook, Google and the rest, are also in the business of building physical billion-dollar enclaves for their thousands of employees. Here too they create calibrated lands of fun, wherein staff offer their lives, body and soul, day and night, in return for gyms, Olympic-sized swimming pools, climbing walls, basketball courts, running tracks and hiking trails, indoor football pitches, massage rooms and hanging gardens, performance venues, amiable art and lovable graphics. They have been doing this for a while – what is changing is the sheer scale and extravagance of these places.

For the tech giants are now in the same position as great powers in the past – the bankers of the Italian Renaissance, the skyscraper-builders of the 20th century, the Emperor Augustus, Victorian railway companies – whereby, whether they want to or not, their size and wealth find expression in spectacular architecture. As Deyan Sudjic, formerly of this parish and now director of the Design Museum, wrote in his book The Edifice Complex, the execution of architecture “has always been at the discretion of those with their hands on the levers of power”. Having as much sense of their own importance as those previous powers, tech companies probably don’t mind commissioning structures that define their time. Full story...

Can pills for depression turn you into a killer?

David Carmichael, 59, calmly and methodically describes the events leading up to the day he killed his 11‑year-old son Ian.

He maintains his composure right up to the point when he describes his boy: ‘Oh man, he was the most loving child.’

His face clouds and he rocks with pain. ‘We spent so much time together and we got along great. He was a beautiful boy, a beautiful gift. I miss him so much.’

Ian had epilepsy and very mild dyslexia, but had no problems other than being a little behind with his reading. David was a nurturing and devoted dad, a sports coach from Toronto, Canada, who’d spent his entire professional life working with children.

But when David took Ian’s life during a psychotic episode, he was convinced that his wife Beth and daughter Gillian would thank him for getting rid of the ‘intolerable’ burden Ian had become. Full story...

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Amnesty calls on Saudi Arabia to halt execution of 14 dissenters...

Human rights group Amnesty International has called on Saudi Arabia to halt the executions of 14 individuals who were sentenced to death following a “grossly unfair mass trial” as part of the kingdom’s “bloody execution spree.”

“By confirming these sentences Saudi Arabia’s authorities have displayed their ruthless commitment to the use of the death penalty as a weapon to crush dissent and neutralize political opponents,” said Amnesty’s director of campaigns for the Middle-East, Samah Hadid, on Monday.

The 14 individuals were convicted over charges of “armed rebellion against the ruler” by, among other things, “participating in shooting at security personnel, security vehicles," “preparing and using Molotov Cocktail bombs," “theft and armed robbery” and “inciting chaos, organizing and participating in riots."

Legal documents show that the men were subjected to lengthy pre-trial imprisonment and had been tortured and ill-treated during their interrogation in which they confessed. Full story...

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The real John McCain..

As soon as John McCain had been diagnosed with brain cancer, Democrats and Republicans in Washington and the press spared no opportunity to lavish praise upon this lifelong government employee.

The truth, though, is that in exchange for the billions and billions of dollars that McCain has confiscated from them for well over three decades, taxpayers have received an ever-burgeoning administrative state, relentless illegal immigration from the Third World, and, of course, war—and all while McCain has pretended to be a “conservative.”

Thanks to his labors, hundreds of thousands of human beings, both foreign and American alike, are now dead.

And hundreds of thousands more are traumatized, orphaned, homeless, maimed, and continually besieged by those murderous terrorist organizations, like ISIS, that have taken over their countries after McCain’s policies prevailed. Full story...

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Ants among Elephants: The defiance of an 'untouchable' New York subway worker...

In Sanskrit, the main language used by scholars in ancient India and sometimes referred to as the language of gods, her first name means one of noble birth.

The irony is laid bare by Sujatha Gidla whose recent memoir speaks of her life and her family and the plight of 300 millions Dalits ("oppressed" in Sanskrit), formerly known as untouchables in India.

An expressive personal examination of her life, her parents, especially her mother, grandparents and Satyamurthy, a Maoist uncle who hoped revolution would help improve the caste discrimination his people suffered, Ants Among Elephants has quickly become the toast of critics and readers in America.

The New York Times said the "unsentimental, deeply poignant book" gives "readers an unsettling and visceral understanding of how discrimination, segregation and stereotypes have endured throughout the second half of the 20th Century and today".

Reviewer Michiko Kakutani wrote that Gidla's family stories reveal how "ancient prejudices persist in contemporary India, and how those prejudices are being challenged by the disenfranchised". Full story...

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Couple jailed total of 124 months for talisman scam in Singapore...

An elderly couple who swindled victims of more than S$800,000 (RM2,512,467) over 10 years, by selling talismans touted to have “special powers”, was sentenced to jail yesterday by a district court judge.

Ng Kim Yew, 62, was sentenced to 69 months’ jail, while her husband Ong Choon Lin, 67, was sentenced to 55 months’ jail.

They were each convicted of 20 charges, involving three victims, of abetment by conspiring to cheat from 2005 to October 2015.

The judge took into consideration 23 charges in sentencing Ng and 18 charges in sentencing Ong.

The total amount involved in Ng’s case was S$816,868, while that for Ong was S$734,068.

 During the 23-day trial, the court heard that the couple cheated three victims, who cannot be identified, of S$486, 268. Full story...

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Madness in the Med: how charity rescue boats exacerbate the refugee crisis...

Following the EU’s deal with Turkey over people smuggling, the issue of migrants trying to cross, and quite often drowning in, the Mediterranean has largely disappeared from the British media. There have been no more images like that of three-year-old Alan Kurdi, washed up on a Turkish beach after the rubber dinghy in which his family were trying to reach the Greek island of Kos capsized in August 2015.

Now, people smugglers and migrants know there is little point in trying to make the crossing from Turkey to Greece because they will only be sent back, in return for the EU taking refugees directly from camps in Turkey. The deal has successfully curtailed the activities of criminal gangs operating in the eastern Mediterranean: in the first six months of this year arrivals in Greece had fallen by 93 per cent compared with a year earlier.

But the problem hasn’t gone away; it has shifted westwards to Italy, where things just go from bad to worse. Last year a record 181,000 migrants arrived there by sea, nearly all from Libya, and this year there are sure to be many more: over 90,000 have so far been ferried across the Mediterranean from near the Libyan coast to Sicily, 300 miles away, according to the latest figures from IOM, the UN migration agency. Earlier this week IOM reported that 2,359 migrants have died trying to cross the Mediterranean already this year, on top of 5,083 deaths last year and 2,777 in 2015. Full story...

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Monday, July 24, 2017

There's a reason you should be terrified of iris scanners and iPhone facial recognition – but it's not the reason you think...

I hate passwords. I forget them, I lose them, I agonise over someone stealing them. At work, I don’t change them when the system prompts me to. I get locked out of my computer and spend hours trying to regain access. The helpdesk hates me.

I’m a queen of the caps lock blunder too: not knowing I’ve struck the pesky key, I type in my password agonisingly – two, three, four times – only to be told to “please contact a system administrator”. And that usually happens last thing on a Friday. When my patience resembles a tissue that’s been through the washing machine. Twice.

So, as someone who likes to consider themselves relatively tech-savvy and reasonably receptive to new gadgets, you may therefore think that I would take to the idea of biometric identification like a duck to water. You’d be wrong. I’m terrified. And I’m going to tell you why you too should be afraid.

Last week, high street lender TSB announced that it was becoming the first bank in Europe to introduce iris recognition on its mobile banking app, allowing you to transfer money, check your balance and make payments, quite literally, in the blink of an eye. Full story...

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Handy way to pay: US firm plans to fit employees with microchip implants...

A US vending business is entering a new era of ‘convenience’ by implanting microchips in employees that will allow them access to basic workplace amenities.

At least 50 staff at Wisconsin firm Three Square Market have volunteered to have a microchip, similar to one in a contactless credit card, inserted into their hand, according to the company.

Three Square Market say the volunteers will be able to use the tiny electromagnetic device to bypass login requirements and buy food on their lunch breaks.

Implanted between the thumb and forefingers, the microchip uses radio-frequency identification (RFID) and near-field communication technology [NFC] to read information stored on external objects or products. Full story...

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Cracks in the firewall: China’s VPN game of cat-and-mouse...

Many of China’s internet users are accustomed to circumventing their government’s so-called ‘Great Firewall’. Early this month, however, one avenue of accessing the “real” World Wide Web was denied to them, as one of the country’s most popular Virtual Private Network service providers, Green VPN, was ordered to stop operating from July 1.

Chinese authorities have been playing a game of cat-and-mouse with VPNs for many years. However, web users are increasingly concerned that individual users may be targeted following recent VPN shutdowns and the government’s reassertion of its internet rules.

By redirecting their web traffic through a server abroad, VPN technology allows Chinese internet users to appear as though they are connected to the web from elsewhere and to access the wider web undetected. They have been a breakthrough tool in allowing citizens to skirt the restrictions imposed by the government on internet access. Blocked sites include Google, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, in addition to many western media organizations.

Vasyl Diakonov, Chief Technology Officer for KeepSolid, a New York-based VPN developer whose flagship VPN Unlimited, has over 6.3 million users worldwide, believes China is fighting a losing battle. “There are really no technical ways to remove all the VPNs and build walls for one country,” he says. “The only way is like North Korea, which whitelists only a few domains [for its people to access].” Full story...

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Pitching up...


Kenyans of Indian descent now recognized as 44th tribe...

Kenya said Saturday it had granted formal recognition to citizens of Indo-Pakistani origin, with President Uhuru Kenyatta making them a 44th tribe.

"I do hereby recognise, proclaim and order, 1. That Kenyans of Asian Heritage constitute a Community that is one of the Tribes of Kenya; 2. That from now henceforth the Community of Kenyans of Asian Heritage are Kenya's 44th Tribe," declared Kenyatta in a proclamation which appeared in the official presidential journal made public on Saturday.

The term "Asian community" in Kenya generally designates those of Indo-Pakistani origin who made their homes in the country from the late 19th Century as the then British colonial power was constructing a first railway link from the port of Mombasa to Kampala in Uganda.

According to Kenya's most recent census of 2009, the South Asian community numbers some 46,000 people. Estimates suggest there are a further 35,000 in the country who do not have citizenship. Full story...


Uruguay’s capital runs out of marijuana after 1 day...

Pharmacies in the Uruguay’s capital Montevideo have run out of cannabis stock just one day after it was fully legalized in the country.

The four pharmacies licensed to sell marijuana ran out of stock three hours before closing time on Wednesday.

Pharmacy owners in the capital have already asked for more supply from the Uruguayan Institute of Cannabis Regulation and Control and can expect a delivery within 15 days.

Sixty percent of registered cannabis users are in Montevideo.

In other parts of the country, legal marijuana is also selling quickly. A government source told Nodal that departments with only one pharmacy have seen “a very good pace of sales and it is likely that places like Flores or Artigas will also sell out.” Full story...

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Bolivia's president declares 'total independence' from World Bank and IMF...

Bolivia's President Evo Morales has been highlighting his government's independence from international money lending organizations and their detrimental impact the nation, the Telesur TV reported.

A day like today in 1944 ended Bretton Woods Economic Conference (USA), in which the IMF and WB were established," Morales tweeted. "These organizations dictated the economic fate of Bolivia and the world. Today we can say that we have total independence of them."

Morales has said Bolivia's past dependence on the agencies was so great that the International Monetary Fund had an office in government headquarters and even participated in their meetings.

Bolivia is now in the process of becoming a member of the Southern Common Market, Mercosur and Morales attended the group's summit in Argentina last week. Full story...

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Sunday, July 23, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A warrant to search your vagina...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Saturday, July 22, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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