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Portugal's government fights for survival amid unpopular measures to ease financial crisis

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© The Canadian Press
Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates, right, looks at Pedro Passos Coelho, leader of the main opposition party the center-right Social Democratic Party, PSD, as they meet Monday March 21, 2011
Lisbon, Portugal - Just as Portugal appeared to have dodged a bailout like those taken by Greece and Ireland, a domestic political spat was set Monday to worsen its financial troubles and possibly spoil Europe's efforts to put the sovereign debt crisis behind it.

Portugal's main opposition parties told the beleaguered minority government they won't budge from their refusal to endorse a new set of austerity measures designed to ease a huge debt burden that is crippling the economy.

The new steps are likely to be rejected in a parliamentary vote expected Wednesday and the timing could not be worse. A defeat in the vote, Prime Minister Jose Socrates warned, would trigger his government's resignation, consigning Portugal to at least two months of political limbo just as officials were hoping to boost investor confidence in the country's future.

"At this point, a political crisis is a big push towards the country resorting to outside help," Finance Minister Fernando Teixeira dos Santos said.

Heart - Black

Libyans offer new graves as proof of civilian dead

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Tripoli - At a clifftop cemetery overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, Libyans buried their dead, killed, government officials said, by Western bombs.

At an event for escorted foreign reporters, pro-government Libyans raged against western warplanes and missiles they said had spewed death over the Libyan capital at the weekend.

The mourners themselves spoke in quieter tones and the conflicting accounts they gave for the circumstances surrounding the deaths of their loved ones made it difficult to assess the veracity of the official version.

USA

US: Mother Sues Preschool for Damaging Daughter's Shot at the Ivy League

colorand shapes
© Wikimedia commons

Think the rush to get your kids into Ivy League schools starts in high school? Think again.

Nicole Imprescia is suing York Avenue Preschool, a private preschool in New York, claiming that they may have damaged her four-year-old daughter's chances of getting into an elite private school.

Imprescia also alleges that the school may have hurt her daughter's chances of acceptance at an Ivy League institution such as Harvard, "citing an article that identifies preschools as the first step to The Ivy League, the New York Daily News reports.

Sherlock

Muammar Gaddafi calls on Libyans to resist colonialists

Defiant Libya leader promises to wage long war as officials in Tripoli say 64 people died in coalition air strikes

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© Mohamed Messara/EPA
Libyans loyal to Muammar Gaddafi shout slogans during the funeral of people who, according to authorities, died after air strikes.
Muammar Gaddafi has pledged to arm the Libyan people to resist what he called a "crusader colonialist" onslaught after UN-mandated forces used missiles and bombs to destroy the country's air defences and, according to Tripoli, killed up to 64 people it called "martyrs" to foreign aggression.

Gaddafi, defiant from the moment the attacks began on Saturday night, said Libyans had the patience to wage a "long war" against a coalition that includes Britain, France, the US, Italy and Arab states.

"We will fight if you continue your attacks on us," he vowed in a radio address. "It is now necessary to open the arsenals and arm all the masses with all types of weapons to defend the independence, unity and honor of Libya."

Explosions and anti-aircraft fire were heard again shortly after darkness fell over Tripoli, though there were no air-raid sirens. Traffic continued to move normally and there was little sign of panic.

Comment: With all the Human tragedy (Earthquakes, Hunger, Tsunami's..) going on in the world, it's a sad state of affairs when supposed elected leaders do nothing about those tragedies and instead go to war. It is blatantly obvious the world needs a better understanding of Psychopathy.


Phoenix

Koran burnt in Florida church

Koran Burnt
© The Raw Story

A controversial US evangelical preacher oversaw the burning of a copy of the Koran in a small Florida church after finding the Muslim holy book "guilty" of crimes.

The burning was carried out by pastor Wayne Sapp under the supervision of Terry Jones, who last September drew sweeping condemnation over his plan to ignite a pile of Korans on the anniversary of September 11, 2001 attacks.
Sunday's event was presented as a trial of the book in which the Koran was found "guilty" and "executed."

The jury deliberated for about eight minutes. The book, which had been soaking for an hour in kerosene, was put in a metal tray in the center of the church, and Sapp started the fire with a barbecue lighter.

Book

Book review: Moral Landscape examines science behind human values

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© Sam Harris
The goal of this book is to begin a conversation about how moral truth can be understood in the context of science. There is an epidemic of scientific ignorance in the United States. This isn't surprising, as very few scientific truths are self-evident and many are deeply counter-intuitive."

So writes Sam Harris in his latest best-seller, "The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values." Harris is co-founder and CEO of Project Reason, a nonprofit foundation that advocates for science and secular values; he has degrees in philosophy and neuroscience from Stanford University and UCLA. His previous books include "The End of Faith," which won the PEN Award for Nonfiction in 2005, and "Letter to a Christian Nation."

At the heart of "The Moral Landscape" is the notion that all human values have their genesis in the natural order and, as such, we do not need "God" or anything else to define concepts of right and wrong or to otherwise make judgments about the inherent efficacy of different behaviors. To illustrate this point, he examines a number of values that tend to be common to people in most societies. For instance, acting in one's own self-interest has often been characterized as being beneficial from an evolutionary perspective. Conversely, most religions tend to articulate, in one way or another, that cooperation and empathy for others are higher-order aspirations that allow us to transcend our more primal tendencies.

Stormtrooper

Bahrain hospitals under siege as soldiers maintain Manama crackdown

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© Hamad I Mohammed / Reuters
We can just imagine the meeting that took place between the psychopaths-in-chief of Bahrain: "So, they keep meeting at this landmark monument... even though we shoot at them, they keep returning... what can we do to prevent it turning into another Tahrir Square?... We could blow it up?... That's a brilliant idea!..."
Doctors arrested or prevented from working as martial law in tiny Gulf state approaches second week

Bahrain's two main hospitals remain surrounded by masked soldiers despite demands from America that the kingdom must ease its violent crackdown on demonstrators and the medical workers treating them.

Soldiers also continue to patrol all main roads in the capital Manama and have cordoned off access to the former hub of the protest movement, Pearl Roundabout, which was destroyed under government orders on Friday, denying the restive demonstrators a focal point.

The tiny Gulf state has the feel of a nation under siege as it approaches a second week of martial law imposed for three months by its besieged rulers. In addition to the troop presence, neighbourhoods remain largely empty; large, glitzy shopping malls have been virtually abandoned and helicopters regularly buzz over the debris-strewn scenes of recent street clashes.

Hospitals, particularly the Salmaniya medical clinic near the centre of town, have received extra attention, largely because of the significance they have taken on since the protests began in January.

As well as being used to treat hundreds of casualties, nearly all of them unarmed protesters, the hospitals served as rallying points for protesters, who took refuge from riot police in the relative safety of their grounds.

Salmaniya was one of several hospitals attacked by security forces during the week. Their entrances clearly show scuffs from rubber bullets and teargas canisters, as well as sound grenades were found well inside hospital grounds.

Pistol

Musician Wyclef Jean shot during Haiti election campaign

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© Guillermo Arias/AP
Wyclef Jean was shot in Delmas, just outside Port-au-Prince, while campaigning in the Haiti election.
Hip-hop star suffered wound to his hand while campaigning for one of the contenders in Sunday's presidential vote

Hip-hop star Wyclef Jean has received a gunshot wound to the hand while campaigning for a fellow performer who is running for president in Haiti.

The shooting happened in the Delmas area near the capital of Port-au-Prince on Saturday night, said Joe Mignon, senior programme director for Jean's Yele Foundation. Jean was treated at a hospital and later released, Mignon said.


Info

Japan Earthquake: Calm After the Storm

Japan's nuclear crisis has brought a meltdown of morale to parts of the country. What the people have to fear is fear itself, says Andrew Gilligan.

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© AFP / Getty Images / EPA
Left: The stern of the grounded cargo ship Asia Symphony breaches the port wall and juts out onto a road in Kamaishi. Right: A girl rides her bicycle past the wreckage of burnt out vehicles in the town of Yamada
Nine days after Japan's tsunami, the remarkable truth is this. The people who have lost absolutely everything are coping far better than the people who have lost absolutely nothing.

For 200 miles along the coast, the scene is an exact copy of an earlier Japanese horror. In the flattened towns, with their isolated skeletons of buildings and their hectares of rubble, Hiroshima is the only possible comparison.

But at the evacuation centres in north-eastern Japan, survivors hold doors open for each other and bow politely to visitors. Postal service has resumed. The relief effort is going full blast, with even visiting foreigners offered food because there is so much. There's not much of anything
else, admittedly. But across the disaster area, journalists have searched in vain for a single case of violence, looting, panic - or even queue-jumping.

Time and again, you hear of lives saved by calmness, organisation and discipline. At one low-lying secondary school half a mile from the sea, the children lined up in the playground for a post-earthquake headcount; surely hundreds must have perished.

But the instant they saw the tsunami coming, and with little more than seconds to spare, the staff got 450 teenagers to a pre-planned fall-back site on higher ground. The school is utterly wrecked, but every single pupil in it that day lived. Now, even the teachers who have homes to go to sleep alongside their students on evacuation-centre mattresses to make sure they're looked after.

Question

Why can't we just let the Libyans fight it out ( and then make friends with the winners)

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© Reuters
Who are the Libyan rebels? What do they want? Why do we love them so?

Politics seems to have become a sort of mental illness. We have no bloody business in Libya, and no idea what we hope to achieve there.

We are daily told that we have no money to spare. We have just scrapped a large part of our Navy.

Our Army is stuck in an Afghan war whose point nobody can explain. And now we have set out on a course that could drag us into a long, gory brawl in North Africa.

And yet, when the Prime Minister announces this folly he is praised. Why? Partly it is because we all watch too much TV. Its reports simplify, then exaggerate.

Reporters, much like politicians, like to feel they are helping to make history, and get excited by subjects they knew nothing about until last Wednesday.

Before we know where we are, we are taking sides in quarrels we don't understand. Who are the Libyan rebels? What do they want? Why do we love them so?