Archive for the NEWS Category

Indian Woman Beaten to Death for ‘Witchcraft’

Posted in NEWS with tags on August 1, 2014 by Yappy Kawitarka

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Indian Woman Beaten to Death for ‘Witchcraft’

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Horrifyingly Powerful Mudslide In Japan Tears Down Trees In An Instant

Posted in NEWS with tags on July 12, 2014 by Yappy Kawitarka

Post 5621   Donate Button 1    George Dvorsky   http://io9.com/horrifyingly-powerful-mudslide-in-japan-tears-down-tree-1603507091

Horrifyingly Powerful Mudslide In Japan Tears Down Trees In An InstantHorrifyingly Powerful Mudslide In Japan Tears Down Trees In An Instant

Typhoon Neoguri slammed through Japan yesterday bringing widespread flooding. A closed circuit camera captured this jaw-dropping footage of a debris flow that levelled trees as if they were matchsticks.

The storm has left several people dead and a ton of damage in its wake. More than 500 houses in several prefectures were flooded due to the typhoon and heavy rain. Some 490,000 households have been urged to seek shelter.

Horrifyingly Powerful Mudslide In Japan Tears Down Trees In An Instant

(Japan Times)

More about this unfolding event here and here.

Top Green Beret Officer Forced to Resign Over Affair With WaPo Reporter

Posted in NEWS with tags on June 30, 2014 by Yappy Kawitarka

Post 5571  http://news.yahoo.com/top-green-beret-officer-forced-resign-over-affair-190327213–abc-news-topstories.html

Top Green Beret Officer Forced to Resign Over Affair With WaPo Reporter

ABC News

A legendary Special Forces commander was quietly forced to leave the U.S. Army after he admitted to a love affair with a Washington Post war correspondent, who quit her job to secretly live with him for almost a year in one of the most dangerous combat outposts in Afghanistan.

U.S. Army Special Operations Command never publicly disclosed that highly-decorated Green Beret Major Jim Gant was relieved of command at the end of a harrowing 22 months in combat in March 2012.

His commanders charged in confidential files that he had “indulged in a self-created fantasy world” of booze, pain pills and sex in a tribal village deep in Taliban and al Qaeda country with his “wife,” journalist Ann Scott Tyson.

“We did fall in love, I would say over the course of about a week,” Tyson told ABC News in an interview, recalling that Gant asked her to marry him within a few days of meeting each other in 2010. She laughed him off at first, but eventually he won her over.

By the time he was yanked out of Afghanistan two years later because of his relationship with Tyson, Gant also had won over three Pashtun tribes with substantial influence throughout Kunar province. Top commanders had tasked him with turning the tide of a conflict America was losing, and in his corner of the war, Gant was winning.

PHOTOS: Lawrence of Afghanistan

FULL COVERAGE: Lawrence of Afghanistan

VIDEO: Inside Jim Gant’s Briefing Room, Warning of Violence After Quran Burning in 2012

 

Despite being stripped of his Special Forces honors, busted down to captain and forced to retire in a case hushed up by the Army for two years, Gant said everything he achieved in waging an unconventional fight against the Taliban — which Tyson says she helped him to do — was worth the punishment and professional blows.

“We both knew that there was a lot of risk in doing what we did. And I would do it again,” Gant told ABC News this month in his first television interview. “It was extremely unconventional, yes, to say the least.”

As to the wrongdoing he has since admitted to, he said the results he got were proof that breaking the rules worked.

“I never left the battlefield defeated. I never lost a man. Well over 20 awards for valor for the men that I fought alongside. We went after ‘em every single day. I brought all my men home. That’s it,” Gant said.

But it was a long, hard fall for a visionary still called “Lawrence of Afghanistan” by two of the war’s now retired top commanders, Army Gen. David Petraeus and Navy SEAL Adm. Eric Olson, in honor of the British officer T.E. Lawrence who led the Arab Revolt a century ago. Gant, who idolizes Lawrence, said he’s honored by the comparison.

Ann Scott Tyson and Jim Gant, who married last year, have come forward to tell their tale in her new book, “American Spartan: The Promise, The Mission And The Betrayal of Special Forces Major Jim Gant.”

Do you have information about this or a related story? CLICK HERE to send your tip in to the Investigative Unit.

One Tribe At a Time

Four years ago, some influential, high-level military officers believed that Gant held the key to winning the war in Afghanistan, but as the book lays out in excruciating detail, his heroism and vision were all but forgotten by the commanders who once praised him, save for Olsen and Petraeus.

“He clearly had grit. He had guts. He had intelligence,” Petraeus, who became the Afghan war’s commander in 2010, told ABC News in a rare on-camera interview. “He is one to whom we owe a debt of gratitude, even recognizing how things ended for him. Folks make mistakes, obviously.”

Few others have defended Gant’s war record.

Amid his 50 months of credited time in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan –- an unusual duration –- Gant received the Silver Star Medal in Iraq. It is the third-highest award for valor and has only been given to 703 others since 2001, often posthumously.

Both Gant and Tyson, one of America’s most experienced war correspondents, were in troubled marriages when they decided to live out their battlefield romance for nine months in a hotly contested Afghan mountain range along the bucolic Kunar River. They now enjoy a considerably calmer life in her hometown Seattle, where Gant still struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder as he watches both his former warzones collapsing into chaos.

He still suffers from combat injuries, the effects of the physical beating his body withstood over 20 years of special operations, traumatic brain injury from a roadside bomb in Afghanistan and the PTSD that makes him flinch noticeably at the sound of any bang.

Gant’s shaggy hair, long and bristly grey beard and blue jeans seamlessly blend into the city’s laid back coffee and music culture, hardly betraying his incredible role as an operator so bold and imaginative in waging counterinsurgency for Petraeus that Tyson’s book claims he was targeted for death by Osama bin Laden.

VIDEO: 3 Days, 3 Taliban Attacks on Special Forces Base

VIDEO: Gen. Petraeus on ‘Going Native’ to Win in Afghanistan

VIDEO: Author Ann Scott Tyson’s Guntruck Hit By Roadside IED Blast

A seasoned ground commander once put on alert in 2004 to kill the al Qaeda leader when there was a suspected sighting, Gant wrote a startlingly blunt 45-page pamphlet, “One Tribe At A time” in 2009. He declared the U.S. was “losing the war in Afghanistan” and could only succeed there by earning the loyalty of the country’s Pashtun tribes -– which meant troops had to go native.

“All the Taliban has to do is not lose,” Gant wrote, accurately predicting the inevitability of U.S. public support for the war cratering with a hasty military withdrawal to follow. He proposed “tribal engagement teams” who would live inside villages and allowed to be “American tribesmen.”

Rather than hammer Gant for his impertinence, Petraeus, Olson and other top commanders were so impressed that they changed Gant’s orders to return to Iraq and brought him back to Afghanistan in 2010 to help supervise “village stability operations.” As Gant had urged, small teams of operators would leverage the tribal honor code, Pashtunwali, by living with, eating with, fighting with and even dying with tribesmen willing to take on the insurgents.

Olson said he considered Gant one of the few in special operations who understood that progress required more than just kill/capture missions and viewed him as an antidote to an unconventional war that had taken the wrong direction with a surge of conventional troops.

Petraeus became Gant’s biggest supporter when he unexpectedly took command in Kabul in July 2010.

“There was no question that the Taliban was on the march,” Petraeus said. His solution was to send thinly-stretched Special Operations forces into villages, “thickened” by conventional U.S. Army infantry squads, in order to win the loyalty of Pashtun and wreck the Taliban momentum. Gant was superb at “going native,” Petraeus said.

Gant also fell hard for a reporter at the Washington Post who took up his case for tribal engagement. Each was in a marriage on the ropes and each had four kids.

“I used to tell her, ‘just jump.’ You know, just, ‘Come on, just jump.’ And she did. And so did I. So here we are,” Gant said.

 

Going Native: ‘I Am Trying to Win. Not Sure Everyone Is’

Once back in Afghanistan, Gant returned to Kunar province along the Pakistan border, an al Qaeda and Taliban haven that was the scene of the Navy SEALs’ 2005 disaster portrayed in the hit film “Lone Survivor,” as well as the location of the 2010 documentary “Restrepo,” by war correspondent Sebastian Junger and the late photographer Tim Hetherington. In 2003, Gant’s Green Beret team ODA 316 had fought with the Mohmand tribe in Mangwel village and he was still regarded as family by the tribal chief, Malik Noor Afzhal, nicknamed Sitting Bull.

But Gant was still skeptical of America’s resolve in halting the enemy’s momentum when he arrived at Sitting Bull’s doorstep in early 2011.

“I am living in a qalat back in Mangwel, with my tribe in the Konar,” Gant emailed a journalist, who later joined ABC News. “I am trying to win. Not sure everyone is.”

For one thing, instead of handpicked special operators, Gant got a dozen infantrymen from a Kansas unit who were untested and in some cases barely knew how to use their weapons.

“I was absolutely shocked at how unprepared they were for the mission. But they had heart,” Gant said.

He trained them literally overnight and they soon grew full beards and adopted tribal appearance, voluntarily shedding uniforms and body armor for shalwar kameez clothing, pokol caps and scarves. They had to show Sitting Bull’s tribe that they did not fear being killed by their Afghan friends, Gant argued. Their Afghan clothing, therefore, was their protection.

“It wasn’t about our weapons or our body armor… it was gonna be about how we treated them. And it worked. It worked in a big way,” he said.

But Gant painted Spartan lambdas on his humvee guntrucks to let Taliban observers know they were his, which helped him avoid ambushes by intimidated insurgents, he says. Commanders later accused him of destroying government property with the spay-painted symbols.

He didn’t fear a fight, taunting the enemy into attacking and often riding on the hood of his Humvee to use his uncanny ability at spotting and defusing roadside bombs — though one finally hit him in early 2012, launching him from the hood of his vehicle. Gant reported the incident but refused to be medevaced. On another occasion, Tyson was in a guntruck hit by an IED but no one was injured.

“Tell everyone you come into contact with, I did not come here to fight. I came here to help the people,” Gant told dozens of tribal police in one 2012 video Tyson shot. “But if someone wants to f***in’ fight, they know where I am.”

Gant said his challenge intimidated the Taliban and impressed the tribes, whose honor code demands violence for violence.

“You cannot let violence go unanswered and you have to be prepared to be more violent than they are,” Gant said. Otherwise, he said, “they’ll kill you.”

When the Taliban did attack, villagers helped the Americans fight back ferociously — and Tyson videotaped much of it with her steady hand.

“I’ll never forget the courage to fight alongside the Americans, side by side. That was what we needed to win in Afghanistan,” she said.

In 2011, Petraeus visited Mangwel, which by then had been dubbed the “petting zoo” by Special Forces commanders because so many VIPs such as Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Joseph Lieberman and Carl Levin and the leadership of U.S. Special Operations wanted to see Gant’s success up close. Gant and his men greeted visitors in full tribal attire.

“[Gant] did go native. You go native so that the natives feel that you respect them and are comfortable with them and trust them, above all. And he really was adopted as a son by Sitting Bull… there was no question about the relationship between these two individuals. And that’s what you want,” Petraeus said.

Petraeus decorated Gant with a Joint Service Commendation Medal — which Gant pinned on Sitting Bull the next day, telling his friend, “Without you, there is no me.”

“Jim had become more Pashtun than the Pashtuns,” Tyson wrote in her book.

 

Tyson too dressed in tribal clothing made for her by local seamstresses. To show the tribe how much he trusted them, the American couple took walks together into Mangwel, where Tyson became friendly with the tribe’s women and children, invited into private areas where men did not go. Sitting Bull treated Tyson like a daughter, she wrote.

>Gant taught Tyson how to fire all of the weapons used by Special Forces and kept a spare pistol in his guntruck in case null

Explosion Rocks Nigerian Shopping Mall

Posted in NEWS with tags on June 26, 2014 by Yappy Kawitarka

Post 5560              http://news.yahoo.com/photos/explosion-rocks-nigerian-shopping-mall-1403725029-slideshow/

Explosion Rocks Nigerian Shopping Mall                                                                                  

People watch as smoke fills the sky, after an explosion, at a shopping mall, Wednesday, June 25, 2014, in Abuja, Nigeria. An explosion rocked a shopping mall in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, on Wednesday and police say at least over 20 people have been killed and many wounded. Witnesses say body parts were scattered around the exit to Emab Plaza, in the upscale Wuse 11 suburb. (AP Photo)                                                                                                                                               People watch as smoke fills the sky, after an explosion, at a shopping mall, Wednesday, June 25, 2014, in Abuja, Nigeria. An explosion rocked a shopping mall in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, on Wednesday and police say at least over 20 people have been killed and many wounded. Witnesses say body parts were scattered around the exit to Emab Plaza, in the upscale Wuse 11 suburb. (AP Photo) Nigerian emergency officials work on the scene of a bomb blast in Abuja, Nigeria, 25 June 2014. The explosion in Nigeria’s capital Abuja hit the Wusa district close to a shopping complex. According to police reports at least 21 have been killed and 17 injured. (EPA/STR)Nigerian emergency officials work on the scene of bomb blast in Abuja, Nigeria, 25 June 2014. The explosion in Nigeria’s capital Abuja hit the Wusa district close to a shopping complex. According to police reports at least 21 have been killed and 17 injured. (EPA/STR)Destroyed vehicles on the scene of bomb blast in Abuja, Nigeria, 25 June 2014. The explosion in Nigeria’s capital Abuja hit the Wusa district close to a shopping complex. According to police reports at least 21 have been killed and 17 injured. (EPA/Deji Yake)                                                                                                                                                                     A Nigerian soldier, left, stands guard, at the scene of an explosion in Abuja, Nigeria, Wednesday, June 25, 2014. An explosion rocked a shopping mall in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, on Wednesday and police say at least over 20 people have been killed and many wounded. Witnesses say body parts were scattered around the exit to Emab Plaza, in the upscale Wuse 11 suburb. (AP Photo/Olamikan Gbemiga)                                                                                                                        Nigerian police and fire officials work on the scene of a bomb blast in Abuja, Nigeria, 25 June 2014. The explosion in Nigeria’s capital Abuja hit the Wusa district close to a shopping complex. According to police reports at least 21 have been killed and 17 injured. (EPA/DEJI YAKE)Rescue services work at the scene of an explosion at a shopping mall in Abuja, Nigeria, Wednesday, June 25, 2014. An explosion rocked a shopping mall in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, on Wednesday and police say at least over 20 people have been killed and many wounded. Witnesses say body parts were scattered around the exit to Emab Plaza, in the upscale Wuse 11 suburb. (AP Photo/Olamikan Gbemiga)                                                                                                                                   A Nigerian soldier, center, walks, at the scene of an explosion in Abuja, Nigeria, Wednesday, June 25, 2014. An explosion rocked a shopping mall in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, on Wednesday and police say at least over 20 people have been killed and many wounded. Witnesses say body parts were scattered around the exit to Emab Plaza, in the upscale Wuse 11 suburb. (AP Photo/Olamikan Gbemiga)                                                                                                                                                           An injured person is assisted, after an explosion, at a shopping mall, Wednesday, June 25, 2014, in Abuja, Nigeria. An explosion rocked a shopping mall in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, on Wednesday and police say at least over 20 people have been killed and many wounded. Witnesses say body parts were scattered around the exit to Emab Plaza, in the upscale Wuse 11 suburb. (AP Photo)                                                                                                                                                                                  Nigerian troops, right, stand at the scene of an explosion in Abuja, Nigeria, Wednesday, June 25, 2014. An explosion rocked a shopping mall in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, on Wednesday and police say at least over 20 people have been killed and many wounded. Witnesses say body parts were scattered around the exit to Emab Plaza, in the upscale Wuse 11 suburb. (AP Photo/Olamikan Gbemiga)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Sailors held by Somali pirates escape after 4 years

Posted in NEWS with tags on June 8, 2014 by Yappy Kawitarka

Post 5487

Sailors held by Somali pirates escape after 4 years

AFP

Nairobi (AFP) – Eleven sailors mostly from Asia held hostage for almost four years by Somali pirates escaped their captors and are safe in Kenya, mediators who helped secure their freedom said Saturday.

The sailors, who had been held in dire conditions and suffered beatings and torture, included seven men from Bangladesh, one Indian, one Iranian, and two from Sri Lanka.

John Steed, a former British army colonel who has spent years helping negotiate their release, said the men had “sneaked out a window” to escape their captors.

“It is great news that they are at least free… given what they have been through, they are all in good health,” Steed told AFP after arriving safely in Kenya with the men on a special flight from Somalia.

After escaping through a window from their pirate prison, the men were rescued by security forces from the northern Somali Galmadug region, Steed added.

Their boat, the Malaysian-flagged container ship MV Albedo was captured in November 2010 but sank in rough seas last July.

During their captivity, one Indian colleague was shot by the pirates in an argument, and four others from Sri Lanka drowned.

Seven other Pakistani crew members were released in 2012 after a businessman paid their ransom, but those remaining could not afford the hefty demands of the pirates.

“The crew members and their families have suffered unimaginable distress,” United Nations special envoy to Somalia Nicholas Kay said in a statement.

“The crew underwent the trauma of piracy, their ship sinking, and then being held ashore in very difficult conditions.”

- 38 hostages remain -

The United Nations said they had been handed over to its care, and “will be repatriated to their home countries over the coming days.”

The sailors, like 38 others from different boats who remain captive, were abandoned by their ship’s owner whose willingness to pay to free them sank along with their boat.

“While we have seen a significant reduction in piracy off the coast of Somalia in recent years, I remain deeply concerned that 38 other crew members are still being held hostage,” Kay added.

Pirate attacks off Somalia have been slashed in recent years, with international fleets patrolling the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean, as well as armed guards being posted aboard many vessels.

At their peak in January 2011, Somali pirates held 736 hostages and 32 boats, some onshore and others on their vessels.

“I call on those who continue to detain these crew members to release them without further delay so they can rejoin their families and loved ones,” Kay said.

On Thursday, three Kenyan aid workers held hostage by pirates in northern Somalia for close to two years were also freed unharmed.

The two men and a woman had been travelling in a convoy guarded by armed police, were seized by gunmen in ambush in the Galkayo area of the northern autonomous Puntland region of Somalia in July 2012.

All three Kenyans were flown back to Nairobi Saturday along with the sailors, and were welcomed at the airport by emotional families who embraced the aid workers, several in tears, Steed said.

Foreign special forces have launched raids to rescue their nationals, including one in 2012 by US elite commandos who swooped in by helicopter to free two aid workers held for three months.

Those left behind come largely from nations without the capabilities or desire to send in troops to rescue impoverished fishermen.

Father finds heartbreaking note from daughter days after she died of cancer

Posted in NEWS with tags on June 6, 2014 by Yappy Kawitarka

Post 5481       Dylan Stableford, Yahoo News

Father finds heartbreaking note from daughter days after she died of cancer

‘Maybe it’s not about the happy ending, maybe it’s about the story’                                                                                                                                        Athena Orchard's note behind the mirror      Athena Orchard's note behind the mirror

Athena Orchard’s note behind the mirror

A 12-year-old girl who died following a battle with cancer left a heart-wrenching secret message hidden on the back of her mirror. Athena Orchard died last Wednesday (May 28) after losing her fight with the terminal disease. Just days after her death, Athena’s dad, Dean, was stunned to discover a giant heartfelt note written in marker pen on the back of his daughter’s mirror. The message was written after Athena was diagnosed with cancer, which she discovered after finding a tiny lump on her head last December. Before she died, she penned the lengthy message, which remained undiscovered until days after her death. (Caters News Agency)Athena Orchard's note behind the mirror

     

The father of a 12-year-old girl who lost her battle with cancer last week says he was shocked to find she had left behind a long, handwritten message on the back of a mirror.

“It was a stand-up mirror in her room, and it was always lent up against the wall so we never saw behind it,” Dean Orchard, of Leicester, England, told the Leicester Mercury. “She never mentioned it, but it’s the kind of thing she’d do.”

Athena Orchard was diagnosed with cancer in December after discovering a lump on her head and collapsing in her home. She died on May 28.

“She was a very spiritual person, she’d go on about stuff that I could never understand — she was so clever,” Dean recalled.

Dean was moving things around in Athena’s room when he discovered the message.

“When I moved the mirror after she died, I couldn’t believe it,” the 33-year-old said. “I saw all this writing — it must have been about 3,000 words.”

Here are just some of them:  Happiness depends upon ourselves.

 Happiness depends upon ourselves.
Maybe it’s not about the happy ending, maybe it’s about the story.

The purpose of life is a life of purpose.

The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra. Happiness is a direction, not a destination.

Thank you for existing. Be happy, be free, believe, forever young.

You know my name, not my story.

You have heard what I’ve done, but not what I’ve been through.

Love is like glass, looks so lovely, but it’s easy to shatter.

Love is rare, life is strange, nothing lasts and people change.

Life is only bad if you make it bad.

Remember that life is full of ups and downs, without the downs the ups don’t mean anything.

I’m waiting to fall in love with someone I can open my heart to.

Love is not about who you can see spending your future with, it’s about who you can’t see spending your life without.

Life is a game for everyone, but love is the only prize.                                                                                                     

“When I first saw it, it just blew me away,” Dean Orchard said. “I started reading it but before long I had to stop because it was too much — it was heartbreaking.”

The message, written in marker, also makes reference to her cancer diagnosis:

Every day is special, so make the most of it. You could get a life-ending illness tomorrow so make the most of every day.

Athena’s funeral is scheduled for June 12.

“She was the bravest person I know,” her mother, Caroline, told the paper. “She was always trying to make sure other people were OK before worrying about herself. She was always being positive.”

   

Boy tied to bus stop highlights struggle for disabled Indians

Posted in NEWS with tags on May 25, 2014 by Yappy Kawitarka

Post 5442

Boy tied to bus stop highlights struggle for disabled Indians

AFP

Mumbai (AFP) – The nine-year-old boy dressed in blue lay listlessly on the pavement in the scorching Mumbai summer afternoon, his ankle tethered with rope to a bus stop, unheeded by pedestrians strolling past.

 

Lakhan Kale cannot hear or speak and suffers from cerebral palsy and epilepsy, so his grandmother and carer tied him up to keep him safe while she went to work, selling toys and flower garlands on the city’s roadsides.

 

“What else can I do? He can’t talk, so how will he tell anyone if he gets lost?” said homeless Sakhubai Kale, 66, who raised Lakhan on the street by the bus stop shaded by the hanging roots of a banyan tree.

 

Lakhan’s father died several years ago and his mother walked out on the family, his grandmother told AFP.

 

A photograph of him tied up appeared in a local newspaper this week, sparking concerns among charities and the police, and he has since been taken into care at a government-run institution.

But activists say his plight on the streets comes as little surprise in India, where those with disabilities face daily stigma and discrimination and a lack of facilities to assist them.

 

Kale said Lakhan “tends to wander off” and that there was no one else to stop him walking into traffic while she and her 12-year-old granddaughter, Rekha, were out making a living.

 

At night she would tie him to her own leg as they slept on the pavement so she would know if he tried to walk away.

“I am a single old woman. Nobody paid attention to me until the newspaper report,” she said.

“He was in a special school, but they sent him back.”

Social worker Meena Mutha has since managed to place Lakhan in a state-run south Mumbai home, which takes in a range of needy children from the disabled to the destitute.

“Residental homes are very, very few. There’s a major need for the government to do something, a social responsibility to provide residential centres for children like Lakhan,” said Mutha, a trustee at the Manav Foundation helping people with mental illness.

She said government-run centres that put together children with different needs did not always have the range of facilities required.

 

“They don’t have the infrastructure, the staff,” said Mutha. Conversely, non-government organisations “have expertise, but not the space,” she said, highlighting the squeeze on land in the densely-packed city.

Across India, the 40 to 60 million people with disabilities often face similar struggles to get the help they need, activists say.

“There’s no collective responsibility. You have a disabled child, you look after it,” said Varsha Hooja, chief executive at ADAPT, another charity working with disabled young adults and children.

- No state support -

Hooja said she had seen other cases of parents locking up children with disabilities while they go to work.

“The state gives no support,” she said.

A long-awaited bill was introduced into the Indian parliament in February aiming to give disabled people equal rights — including access to education, employment and legal redress against discrimination — but it has yet to be passed.

Lawyer Rajive Raturi was on the committee that began drafting the bill five years ago, and said the Congress party-led government which has just lost power had pushed through a “complete dilution” of the original, especially on sections regarding women and children with disabilities.

Raturi, who handles disability cases at the Human Rights Law Network, said he hoped the new parliament elected this month, dominated by incoming prime minister Narendra Modi’s right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party, would “listen to the stakeholders and then make a decision”.

“We can’t change attitudes with an act but if the bill has the right provisions, people will think twice,” he said.

Back by the Mumbai bus stop, Kale squatted on the pavement drinking chai and eating bread on the morning after bidding a tearful goodbye to her grandson.

She was hopeful she would get to see him regularly once she acquired an official identity card that would allow her to visit the centre.

“I am very happy,” she said. “What else would I want other than for him to be looked after?”

 

Woman Beaten to Death After Being Accused of Witchcraft on Facebook

Posted in NEWS with tags on May 13, 2014 by Yappy Kawitarka

Post 5400

Woman Beaten to Death After Being Accused of Witchcraft on Facebook

Annalee Newitz  http://io9.com/woman-beaten-to-death-after-being-accused-of-witchcraft-1575347280

Woman Beaten to Death After Being Accused of Witchcraft on Facebook

At last Facebook has brought us back to the middle ages, just as we knew it would. A woman in the Brazilian city Guarujá, near São Paolo, was beaten to death last week after Facebook rumors circulated that she was a witch.

A local news outlet, Guarujá Alerta, posted a rumor on its Facebook page that Fabiane Maria de Jesus was kidnapping children for black magic rituals. They included a picture of the woman, who was subsequently beaten to death by people who had read about her online. One of them even filmed the beating (you can see the video here — but be warned that it is very disturbing).

De Jesus was a housewife in her early thirties, and police say she has no criminal record and has not ever been reported for kidnapping. Guarujá Alerta has taken down the post about her from their Facebook page, but page administrators told the Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo that they were merely passing along the story as a “rumor” and that they couldn’t be held responsible.

This is just an extreme example of how the social relationships made possible online are in many ways the same as the old ones. Rumors on Facebook can result in a lynching — just the way rumors in villages resulted in lynchings during the Inquisition. If you’re still convinced that social media will create a more beautiful and egalitarian future for humanity, just remember that the wisdom of crowds sometimes ends in the  wisdom of crowds sometimes ends in the public beating of an innocent woman for witchcraft.

Read more in Folha de São Paolo

President Obama Asked to Block BBC Show ‘Top Gear’ That Allegedly Used Racist Term

Posted in NEWS with tags on May 5, 2014 by Yappy Kawitarka

Post 5378   https://tv.yahoo.com/news/barack-obama-asked-block-bbc-show-top-gear-112959964.html

President Obama Asked to Block BBC Show ‘Top Gear’ That Allegedly Used Racist Term

Variety

LONDON — President Obama has been asked to consider blocking broadcast in the U.S. of BBCmotoring show “Top Gear” after its star, Jeremy Clarkson, was accused of allegedly using racist language.

A firm of lawyers, Equal Justice, is to write to Obama and the ambassadors of more than 200 countries in which “Top Gear” airs to ask them to consider the evidence, and then decide if the series should continue to be broadcast in their countries, the Guardian has reported.

The firm was referring to footage from the show in which the nursery rhyme “eeny, meeny, miny, mo” was recited, and in which it has been alleged the n-word was used. The footage was not broadcast, but the Daily Mirror has put the footage on its website. Clarkson claims he mumbled something that sounds like the offending word, but not the word itself.

Lawrence Davies, director of Equal Justice, said: “Clarkson claimed he ‘did everything in my power to make sure that that version did not appear in the program that was transmitted’ … The obvious thing that any non-racist would have done is to not use the rhyme at all or failing that to simply substitute another word such as ‘tiger’ in the take. There was never any need to mumble the N-word repeatedly.”

Davies added that the BBC should have sacked Clarkson and his team for alleged “gross misconduct,” but won’t because “they are making money out of the show.”

It is not the first time the show has been accused of using racist language.

Equal Justice repped Indian-born actress Somi Guha when she filed a complaint to the BBC about “Top Gear” after Clarkson used the word “slope” when referring to an Asian man.

 

The firm also repped Iris de la Torre, who complained about the use of racial stereotypes in an episode about Mexican vehicles.

 

US Treasury sounds alarm over student loans

Posted in NEWS with tags on April 30, 2014 by Yappy Kawitarka

Post 5360

US Treasury sounds alarm over student loans

AFP

People walk on the Columbia University campus on July 1, 2013 in New York City (AFP Photo/Mario Tama)

Washington (AFP) – Deputy US Treasury Secretary Sarah Bloom Raskin sounded the alarm Tuesday on student loans in the US, where the number of people defaulting is on the rise.

At least 40 million people have taken out a student loan, Raskin said, and by the time students graduate, the average amount of loans is $30,000, and they will spend ten years or more repaying.

And many never manage to repay them at all, Raskin said during a speech at the University of Maryland.

“While delinquency rates on many other types of debt have fallen in recent years, delinquencies on student loan debt are rising,” said the Treasury Department number two, noting that some seven million Americans had defaulted on their student loans.

At the end of 2013, the total amount of US student loans approached $1.1 trillion, well above the total amount of credit card debt in the country.

And the percentage of students graduating with debt is on the rise — 60 percent of graduates in 2012, compared to just 30 percent in 1993.

“These numbers are daunting; to what extent should we be concerned?” Raskin asked, emphasizing that such figures could have an impact on the rate of economic growth in the country.

Late payments and defaulting on student loans could later hinder the borrower from being able to get other loans, including mortgages and car loans.

Number of Students Graduating With Debt Rises

And sometimes, she said, defaulting on a student loan could hinder a candidate from getting a job, because employers often check credit history and consider past problems to be a sign of irresponsibility.

The large majority of student loans in the United States are financed by the federal government, but distributed by agents or private banks.

Raskin, who left the Federal Reserve to join the Treasury Department last month, called on these lenders to make it easier to modify payment plans for borrowers who find themselves struggling to meet their obligations.

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