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Sat, 23 Mar 2019
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Building bridges: Last steel beam linking Russia-China railway bridge connected

© pexels.com
The first cross-border railway bridge between China and Russia over the Amur River has been connected from both sides. The bridge, which will be operational this year, is expected to take bilateral trade to new highs.

The 2,209-meter-long (1.4 miles) structure links Russia's Far East with China's northernmost Heilongjiang province. The full completion of the cross-border bridge (railway and highway parts) is scheduled for July.

"On the morning of March 20, the last steel beam was built in, with Russia completing construction works from its part. This means the first railway bridge between the two countries is generally successfully connected," Heilongjiang province's administration said in a statement.

The completion of the bridge will end the history when the Chinese and Russian borders did not have a cross-river railway bridge, said Li Huachao, a chief engineer of China Railway Major Bridge Engineering Group.

Heart - Black

US figure skater 'deliberately slashes Korean rival with blade' at world champs

Lim Eun-soo and Mariah Bell
© AFP / Martin BUREAU | Global Look Press / Naoki Morita
Lim Eun-soo and Mariah Bell
The World Figure Skating Championships in Japan has been rocked by claims that US star Mariah Bell deliberately injured rival and training partner Lim Eun-soo of South Korea during a practice session.

The controversial incident took place on Wednesday during the official rehearsal of the ladies' short program. Bell, 22, who was scheduled to skate right after Lim, 16, approached her Korean counterpart and allegedly cut her left leg with a skate blade.

Lim was forced to leave the rink to receive emergency treatment from medical staff following the controversial episode, which could have led to her withdrawal from the tournament.

Comment: The American figure skater's coach came to her defense, saying:
"There has never been any confrontation between them at training sessions. And by the way, look at Mariah! Do you think this girl could offend anybody? I can't even imagine who decided to write such kind of things about her."
Apparently the coach thinks that someone's size has anything to do with their ability to be cruel. It does not. Someone is not automatically friendly solely due to being petite. That is just lazy and poor logic.


US presidential candidates joke about their drug-use while thousands face life-changing arrests over weed

marijuana protest
© Reuters/Yuri Gripas/File Photo
Ahead of the 2020 election cycle, politicians are pulling out all the stops to seem relatable to voters, including joking about smoking weed. However, not everyone is laughing.

The millions of kids who had to complete the government-funded Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program might be surprised to learn that even former presidents and presidential hopefuls apparently think drugs can help you "fit in" after all. Even conservative candidate Jeb Bush tried to score some cool-points by saying he "openly admits" to smoking weed, although he immediately lost them by adding "my mom's not happy that I did."

Nonetheless, with nearly 700,000 marijuana-related arrests recorded in 2017, some feel these politicians are clearly demonstrating a two-tiered system of justice. While the rich and powerful can openly brag about using illegal drugs, many Americans' lives and careers are ruined forever after being arrested for marijuana use. Watch RT's report.

Light Saber

Palestinians to challenge Israel's illegal settlement project by suing Airbnb in US court

airbnb Israel settlements

Israeli settlement in the West Bank looms over two Palestinian villages; Airbnb; Gilad Erdan.
The challenge comes in response to a case filed by Israeli settlers against Airbnb.

Randa Wahbe is a United States citizen with West Bank residency who is studying for a PhD in anthropology at Harvard University. Over the years, the 31-year-old Palestinian-American has used Airbnb, the online vacation rental platform, to travel in Miami, Denver, Istanbul, and Tunisia. Despite the site's promise of "healthy travel that is local, authentic, diverse, inclusive and sustainable," however, Wahbe says she cannot utilize its services in large swaths of her family's own back yard: the West Bank occupied by Israeli settlers.

That's because Palestinian residents of the West Bank, even those with an American passport, are barred from living in or even visiting Israeli settlements unless they acquire a permit from Israeli authorities. Under Israel's system of military control and segregation, Wahbe does not have the ability to "live like a local" in parts of the very region she is from, or in the city of Jerusalem, where her father's family is from.


Twitter restricting account of Julian Assange's mother, Christine Assange: Unable to post - UPDATE

Christine Assange
© European Press Agency
Christine Assange
The social media giant has given no reason to Christine Assange who had turned to Twitter to campaign for the liberty of her son.

The Twitter account of Christine Assange, the mother of the arbitrarily detained founder of WikiLeaks, has been restricted, she told Consortium News on Tuesday.

"My Twitter account has been 'blocked due to 'unusual activity,'" Ms. Assange wrote in a text message. Twitter, however, has provided her no reason for its action.

Ms. Assange is a prolific user of Twitter in her campaign to free her son who has been a refugee in the Ecuador embassy in London since 2012.


UPDATE 21/03/19: Mrs. Assange's access has been restored
The Twitter account of Julian Assange's mother was restored on Wednesday night after her supporters sent a flood of messages to Twitter.

Christine Assange, the mother of WikiLeaks founder and publisher Julian Assange, had her Twitter account restored more than 24 hours after it was abruptly restricted by the social media company.
twitter assange mother
Hundreds of tweets were sent to the San Francisco-based company by supporters demanding that she regain access to her account.

Ms. Assange tweeted at 10:33 p.m. U.S. Eastern time on Wednesday: "Back on deck! Many thanks to everyone contacting @Twitter on my behalf. Thanks to @Twitter for responding with a reconnect."

Ms. Assange told Consortium News she has had no contact with Twitter and still does not know why her account was restricted and why it was restored. She was unable to post new Tweets or read anyone else's while the restriction was in place.

Outrage at the restriction was expressed by many Assange supporters in tweets to Twitter and its CEO, Jack Dorsey.
twitter assange mother restored
twitter assange mother restored
Another supporter wrote: "The only unusual activity is not seeing a mother fight for her child. It's unnatural and cowardly to think that her tweets are unusual."
twitter assange mother restored


Video shows Iran Air plane belly land then catch fire at Tehran airport, all passengers escape safely

iran air
© Twitter / @IranAir_IRI
An Iran Air medium-sized Fokker jet has caught fire after crash-landing at Tehran's Mehrabad airport on Tuesday, but emergency services managed to put out the flames and evacuate all passengers without any injuries.

The aircraft was forced to land on its belly after its landing gear did not properly deploy, authorities said after the incident, praising the skills of the pilot who managed to land the plane in one piece.

A video presumed to be of the incident posted online showed the plane shooting sparks and flames at the moment of landing.

"Thanks to the pilot's skill, it landed," Pir Hossein Kolivand, Head of Iran's Emergency Medical Services told reporters, noting that all 33 passengers managed to escape the crash-landed plane safely.

Comment: There seems to be an ongoing spate of aircraft disasters and troubles these days, from passenger jets, small aircraft, and even helicopters. While some can be explained either by criminal negligence or freak weather events many remain unsolved:


Better keep an eye on your health... apps. They share your data almost everywhere

health app
I probably give health apps way too much of my personal data. Fitness trackers know what running routes I take, pharmacy apps know what ails me, diagnosis apps know how I'm feeling, and period trackers know what birth control methods I use.

And because these apps often leak user data to third parties and beyond, Amazon, Google, and Facebook, know these things, too. Health apps can't keep a secret.

A new study out of the University of Toronto, published in The BMJ on Wednesday, highlights privacy issues around health apps by examining how medicine management apps share personal user data. The researchers found that most of the apps they tested shared sensitive information like medical history and demographics with third parties.

The researchers examined 24 of the top-rated Android apps for health medicine management in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia, including Ada, Lexicomp, Medscape, and Medicinewise. They found that 19 out of the 24 tested apps shared user data outside of the app, frequently to third-parties like Amazon Web Services, Facebook, Google, and AT&T. An app called "Pill Identifier and Drug List" shares data with the Department of Health and Human Services.

Comment: See also:


Paul Joseph Watson on the New Zealand mosque attack

Paul Joseph Watson
Paul Joseph Watson is on point in this video, calling out the regressive left for its shameless twisting of the Christchurch, New Zealand mosque attack for their own political ends. The hypocrisy is stunning .

Please donate to the victims' families here: https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/chris...

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PrisonPlanet
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PaulJosephWatson
Minds: https://www.minds.com/PaulJosephWatson

Comment: More from PJW:


Ethnicity, politics, land, religion and deadly clashes in Jos, Nigeria

Nigeria map
Over the last two decades, Nigeria has experienced at least 2,500 violent events in the form of riots, protests, terrorist attacks, and other expressions of collective brutality. In addition to the insurgency led by the Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati wal-Jihad [People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet's Teachings and Jihad], also known as Boko Haram, in the north east, the country's ethnically diverse landscape is marked by frequent indigene-settler conflicts and farmer-herder clashes in the central belt, separatist agitations in the south east and militancy in the Niger Delta. Over 40, 000 people have been killed.1 While most parts of the country have witnessed one form of violence or the other, incidents of large-scale violence are disproportionately concentrated in the central region also known as the "Middle Belt".

The media often describe these conflicts as "religious crises" and reconciliatory measures have focused on engaging Christian and Muslim leaders to broker peace. This article argues that labelling these clashes "religious" is a gross oversimplification and has motivated an intervention approach that focuses on interreligious reconciliation without paying attention to the underlying issues.

As episodes of riots in the city of Jos suggest, collective violence in the region is a culmination of several factors. In the towns and cities, violent riots stem from contestations between indigenes and settlers over rights, distributable resources and political power whereas struggles between farmers and pastoralists over land are at the heart of mass killings in the rural areas. Measures aimed at promoting peace have not yielded concrete results because they have sidestepped these factors. In addition to building links across religious divides, an effective peacebuilding strategy should address the long-running contestations over indigeneity, resource-based competition, power tussles and struggles related to land ownership and use.

Comment: After the Christchurch shooting, much of the rhetoric from the right has brought up the attacks on Christians that have been happening around the world that are not reported in the mainstream media. The situation in Nigeria is held as a particularly egregious example. While the lack of media coverage is a legitimate gripe, as we can see from the above article, the situation in Nigeria is much more complex and nuanced than the call of "they're killing Christians!" allows for. It's not a religious war, despite the fact that the lines of division between factions can be simplistically reduced to religious designations.


College Admission Scandal: Why Elites dislike standardized testing

Zoe Kazan

Zoe Kazan
On Tuesday, March 12 2019, federal prosecutors exposed a crooked college admissions consulting operation that bribed SAT administrators and college athletic coaches in order to get wealthy, under-qualified applicants into elite universities. Also charged were 33 wealthy parents who had paid for admissions bribes, including actors Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, Gordon Caplan, a co-chair of the international law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher, and Douglas Hodge, the former chief executive of Pimco.

As this story unfolds, there will be numerous takes and analyses about what the exposure of such widespread corruption in college admissions could mean. People are going to say that this scandal is proof that the meritocracy is broken and corrupt. And it's likely that many commentators will use this event as an opportunity to attack the SAT and the ACT. Progressives view test-based admissions as inequitable because some marginalized groups are significantly underrepresented among the pool of top-scoring college applicants. But millionaires and elites also hate standardized admissions tests, because their children's admission to top colleges is contingent upon test scores.

Comment: See also: