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Mon, 28 Nov 2022
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Appalled Ugandans Riot at Kony 2012 Screening

Joseph Kony
© AP
Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord's Resistance Army.
It has been viewed more than 77-million times around the world, but not by those who know Joseph Kony best: his victims in northern Uganda.

That changed on Tuesday night when thousands flocked to watch Kony 2012, the video made by a US charity urging a grassroots campaign against the fugitive warlord that has gone viral.

The film was projected on to an ersatz cinema screen fashioned from a white sheet, held up by metal poles, in a town park. The reaction? Puzzlement, then anger, which boiled over into scuffles and stone-throwing that sent organisers fleeing for cover.

There was particular criticism of the Stop Kony campaign's use of merchandise, such as bracelets and T-shirts, which victims said they found offensive.

"People were very angry about the film," said Victor Ochen, director of a local charity, the African Youth Initiative Network (Ayinet), which arranged the screening. "They were all saying, 'This is not about us, it does not reflect our lives'."

Ochen said he had wanted to provide an opportunity for victims to see the film made by the charity Invisible Children -- mindful that less than 2% of Ugandans have internet access.


Digital Spell-Checking May Be Killing Off Words

Computer Kids
© Lisa F. Young | Shutterstock
These kids may see fewer new words than their parents, according to a new study.

The death rate of words has apparently increased recently while new entries into languages are becoming less common, both perhaps because of digital spell-checking, according to a Google-aided analysis of more than 10 million words.

More than 4 percent of the world's books have now been digitized, a trove that includes seven languages and dates back to the 16th century. All of this text offers new opportunities to study how language evolves.

Researchers analyzed English, Spanish and Hebrew texts from 1800 to 2008 that had been digitized by Google.

"We are now able to analyze language comprising not only the common words, but also the extremely rare words, and not just for yesterday but for yesteryear, and not just for yesteryear, but back to a time before most people can track their family lineage," said researcher Alexander Petersen, a physicist at the Institutions Markets Technologies Lucca Institute for Advanced Studies in Italy.

The scientists concentrated on fluctuations of how often words were used and how often they "died," or fell out of common use.

Evil Rays

Homeless people used as mobile Wi-Fi hotspots

Clarence Jones
© Ben Sklar / The New York Times
Clarence Jones, a homeless man, works for BBH Labs as a mobile hotspot during the South by Southwest technology conference in Austin, Texas, on Sunday.
Commentator says project at technology conference was like 'something out of a darkly satirical science-fiction dystopia'

Which product at this year's South by Southwest technology conference received more attention than perhaps any other?

Homeless people as wireless transmitters.

A marketing agency touched off a wave of criticism and debate when it hired members of the local homeless population to walk around carrying mobile Wi-Fi devices, offering conferencegoers Internet access in exchange for donations.

BBH Labs, the innovation unit of the international marketing agency BBH, outfitted 13 volunteers from a homeless shelter with the devices, business cards and T-shirts bearing their names: "I'm Clarence, a 4G Hotspot."

They were told to go to the most densely packed areas of the conference, which has become a magnet for those who want to chase the latest in technology trends.

The smartphone-toting, social-networking crowds often overwhelm cellular networks in the area, creating a market that BBH Labs hoped to serve with the "Homeless Hotspots" project, which it called a "charitable experiment."


Young People Becoming More Focused on 'Me

© holbox, Shutterstock
Today's young adults are more "Generation Me" than "Generation We," according to a new analysis, which found a decline over four decades in civic engagement and concern for others, alongside increases in such life goals as making a lot of money.

"The data analyzed here suggest that the popular view of millennials (those born after 1982) as more caring, community-oriented and politically engaged than previous generations is largely incorrect," wrote the researchers, led by psychology professor Jean Twenge of San Diego State University.

While the rate of volunteerism appears to have increased among younger people, the researchers said this is probably due to schools instituting volunteer service requirements.

Twenge, who is the author of Generation Me (Simon & Schuster, 2006), and her colleagues were surprised to see that the desire to save the environment notably declined across the three generations studied - baby boomers, Generation Xers and millennials. For example, while 5 percent of boomers (born between 1946 and 1961) said they made no personal effort to help the environment, the proportion among millennials was 15 percent.

Arrow Down

Greece on the breadline: 'We are kicking homeless pregnant women on to the streets'

© John Kolesidis/Reuters
A homeless man sleeps outside the Bank of Greece in central Athens.
Jon Henley meets a woman who has decided to do something - help the unemployed improve their skills and self-confidence

As Greece enters its fifth straight year of recession, the cuts deepen and the dole queues lengthen, some people are beginning to fight back.

On Monday, in Plaka, Athens' old town, I met Katerina Kanelidou, 42, a leadership coach who decided she had to do something one night a couple of weeks ago when she saw a homeless man outside the station during one of the coldest Athens winters in memory.

"Then on YouTube, I saw someone had posted a video of a pregnant woman being ejected from a homeless shelter," she said. "I was just so shocked. I was thinking, how many unemployed people are going to become homeless? And what kind of society have we become, that we are kicking homeless pregnant women on to the streets?"

Arrow Down

Greece on the breadline: the children of Athens too hungry to do PE

© KeystoneUSA-ZUMA / Rex Features
Residents in Athens carry bags of cheap potatoes bought directly from Greek farmers at cost price, one of the burgeoning ways to cope in the worsening financial crisis.
Jon Henley is in Athens finding out how ordinary Greeks are pulling together to cope amid the financial meltdown

Dozens of readers have sent me suggestions about places to go and people to meet in my search for stories behind the headlines in Athens, and I'm following up as many as I can. Others have sent me their own contributions.

Tales of solidarity come from Victoria Prekate, an Athens secondary school teacher and psychologist, who relates how her colleagues in schools in the capital have been responding:
It has been a common secret among PE teachers for some time now that they don't expect pupils to do PE any more, because many of them are underfed and get dizzy.

They need to be discreet, as these underprivileged children don't wish to be exposed to their peers. In my previous school, the teachers arranged among themselves to give the school canteen some money, so that the canteen could give the child a snack, without embarrassing the child.

However, this was not enough. In many schools today, it is the parents' associations who come together, gather food and discreetly arrange to allocate it to those families of the school who are suffering. In co-operation with the teachers, they know which children in the school are hungry and in need of help. Again, they try to do it as discreetly as possible.

"Many families, suddenly left without work, are in shock and there is nowhere to turn. Social services are collapsing. They are not professional beggars. They are ordinary people like you and me, suddenly left with nothing. I know one area, where schools have specialised in what they gather: 1st primary school gather rice and legumes, 2nd vegetables, 3rd meat and chicken etc.


Bank of America: Too Crooked to Fail

© Victor Juhasz
The bank has defrauded everyone from investors and insurers to homeowners and the unemployed. So why does the government keep bailing it out?

At least Bank of America got its name right. The ultimate Too Big to Fail bank really is America, a hypergluttonous ward of the state whose limitless fraud and criminal conspiracies we'll all be paying for until the end of time. Did you hear about the plot to rig global interest rates? The $137 million fine for bilking needy schools and cities? The ingenious plan to suck multiple fees out of the unemployment checks of jobless workers? Take your eyes off them for 10 seconds and guaranteed, they'll be into some shit again: This bank is like the world's worst-behaved teenager, taking your car and running over kittens and fire hydrants on the way to Vegas for the weekend, maxing out your credit cards in the three days you spend at your aunt's funeral. They're out of control, yet they'll never do time or go out of business, because the government remains creepily committed to their survival, like overindulgent parents who refuse to believe their 40-year-old live-at-home son could possibly be responsible for those dead hookers in the backyard.

It's been four years since the government, in the name of preventing a depression, saved this megabank from ruin by pumping $45 billion of taxpayer money into its arm. Since then, the Obama administration has looked the other way as the bank committed an astonishing variety of crimes - some elaborate and brilliant in their conception, some so crude that they'd be beneath your average street thug. Bank of America has systematically ripped off almost everyone with whom it has a significant business relationship, cheating investors, insurers, depositors, homeowners, shareholders, pensioners and taxpayers. It brought tens of thousands of Americans to foreclosure court using bogus, "robo-signed" evidence - a type of mass perjury that it helped pioneer. It hawked worthless mortgages to dozens of unions and state pension funds, draining them of hundreds of millions in value. And when it wasn't ripping off workers and pensioners, it was helping to push insurance giants like AMBAC into bankruptcy by fraudulently inducing them to spend hundreds of millions insuring those same worthless mortgages.

Heart - Black

Philadelphia Bans Outdoor Feeding of Homeless

homeless person

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter has just announced enacted a ban on the feeding of homeless people around the Benjamin Franklin Parkway area. This includes Love Park, where outreach groups commonly offer free food to large numbers of the indigent. Nutter states that the feedings are both unsanitary and undignified, adding that "providing to those who are hungry must not be about opening the car trunk, handing out a bunch of sandwiches, and then driving off into the dark and rainy night."

Project Home's leading homeless advocate, Sister Mary Scullion, supports the measure, stating that the mayor is "between a rock and a hard place" concerning the issue of outdoor feeding. Scullion adds, "I really want to thank the mayor for this courageous... this is not an easy position. But I do think it's a great opportunity."

Though, Brian Jenkins of Chosen 300 Ministries, a homeless outreach group that does both indoor and outdoor feedings opposes the ban, and states "the fact that city of Philadelphia is saying now that the homeless don't have the right to eat on the Ben Franklin Parkway or eat around Center City is a clear violation of civil rights. It says that people that have... can eat in a certain place. But people that have not, can't."

Cell Phone

Vancouver Deputy Chief Caught Driving and Using Cellphone

© CBC News
Deputy police chief Warren Lemcke admiited he'd used his phone while driving and has urged other drivers not to follow his example.
Canada, British Columbia - Vancouver's deputy police chief was ticketed earlier this year for distracted driving after getting involved in a traffic accident while making a "work-related phone call," a police spokeswoman said this week.

Warren Lemcke was involved in the accident Jan. 4, but it wasn't made public until Wednesday, "in response to a number of inquiries," said Const. Jana McGuinness in a release late Wednesday.

"Lemcke was driving home around 5 p.m. southbound on Highway 99 just north of the 32nd Avenue exit," McGuinness said. "Traffic came to an abrupt stop ahead of him at the same time as he was looking down making a work-related phone call."

Lemcke rear-ended the vehicle in front of him, and later, "he was issued a violation ticket for driving without due care and attention," the release said.

McGuinness said there were no injuries and the couple in the car ahead drove off once the incident was resolved.


Entire Town of Buford, Wyoming for Sale by Sole Resident

© The Associated Press/Michael Smith
Lone Buford, Wyo., resident Don Sammons
US - If you've got a spare $100,000, you could potentially become the owner of a small Wyoming town that's set to be auctioned off next month by its sole resident.

After more than 30 years of residing in the unincorporated community, town "mayor" Don Sammons says it's finally time to move on.

"Don, 'The Mayor', is retiring after 20 wonderful years in his town," Sammons writes on the website for his business, the Buford Trading Post, a gas station and store. "This entire, income producing, town is for sale; the house, the Trading Post, the former school house, along with all the history of this very unique place."

Buford, located between Cheyenne and Laramie, was first founded in the 1860s and was once home to an estimated 2,000 residents before the Transcontinental Railroad was rerouted.

Sammons moved to Buford with his family in 1980. In 1992, he bought the Buford Trading Post and has continued to preside as Buford's unofficial "mayor." Over the years, members of Sammons' family gradually moved away until he was finally left as the only resident.