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'May God help the new president': Egyptians head to polls in historic vote

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© The Associated Press/Hasan Jamali
Egyptians line up to vote in the presidential election Wednesday, May 23, 2012, outside a polling station in Cairo, Egypt.
Cairo, Egypt - More than 15 months after autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak's ouster, Egyptians streamed to polling stations Wednesday to freely choose a president for the first time in generations. Waiting hours in line, some debated to the last minute over their vote in a historic election pitting old regime figures against ascending Islamists.

A sense of amazement at having a choice pervaded the crowds in line, along with fervent expectation over where a new leader will take a country that has been in turmoil ever since its ruler for nearly 30 years was toppled by mass protests.

Some backed Mubarak-era veterans, believing they can bring stability after months of rising crime, a crumbling economy and bloody riots. Others were horrified by the thought, believing the "feloul" - or "remnants" of the regime - will keep Egypt locked in dictatorship and thwart democracy.

Islamists, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, saw their chance to lead a country where they were repressed for decades and to implement their version of Islamic law. Their critics recoiled, fearing theocracy.

"You can't tell me, 'Vote for this or else you're a sinner!"' Wael Ramadan argued with another man in line at a polling station in the impoverished Cairo neighbourhood of Basateen. "We never said that," protested the man. "Yes, you did," Ramadan shot back.

"The revolution changed a lot. Good things and bad things," Ramadan, a 40-year-old employee at a mobile phone company, said afterward. "The good thing is all this freedom. We are here and putting up with the trouble of waiting in line for electing a president. My vote matters. It is now a right ... Now we want a president that has a vision."

A field of 13 candidates is running in the voting Wednesday and Thursday. The two-day first run is not expected to produce an outright winner, so a runoff between the two top vote-getters will be held June 16-17. The winner will be announced June 21. Around 50 million people are eligible to vote.

Stormtrooper

Police State: Montreal Police Enforce Controversial New Laws to Arrest More Than 100 Protesters

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© Reuters / /Brett Gundlock
Montreal police march during a protest against student tuition hikes on the 100th day of Quebec's student strikes, in downtown Montreal May 22, 2012.
Canada, Montreal - Montreal police brought the hammer down on student demonstrators Tuesday night, enforcing a controversial law that brought tens of thousands into the streets in a protest earlier in the day that drew international support.

By the end of a cat-and-mouse operation that marked the fourth straight night of clashes, police spokesman Simon Delorme said that at least 100 people had been arrested and two police officers had been injured.

Four other people were taken to hospital but the extent of their injuries was not immediately known.

It is believed to be the first time Bill 78 and the city's new anti-mask bylaw were used by police although Sherbrooke police used the provincial law on Monday to round up 36 protesters in that city.

While the atmosphere during the day in Montreal was almost carnival-like, the mood in the evening soon turned as dark as the night that enveloped the march.

Projectiles were thrown at police and gusts of pepper spray tinged the air as riot equipped police sent people scattering.

Alarm Clock

Operation Laminar Cracks Global Child Porn Ring

An abused New Zealand child is among at least 12 removed from harm as a result of a global online child pornography investigation sparked by the Department of Internal Affairs.

The operation, code-named Operation Laminar and spanning 20 countries, has targeted 55 key suspects in the worldwide distribution of child sexual abuse pictures. Some were involved in the actual sexual abuse of the children depicted.

At least 12 abused children have been identified and removed from harm including one in New Zealand who is now in the custody of Child Youth and Family.


Chart Pie

Government Gouging: Utah School Fined $15,000 for Accidentally Selling Soda During Lunch

A Utah high school is learning the hard way that the government is serious about nudging students away from food it doesn't want them to consume. Davis High School in the Salt Lake City area is having to fork over a whopping $15,000 in fines to the Feds because it accidentally sold soda through a vending machine during lunch.

Federal law requires the school to turn off its soda machines during the lunch period, which is 47 minutes a day. And Davis High school did turn off the machines in the lunch room. However, the school didn't realize that there was another machine in the school bookstore that wasn't being turned off. And when the food police realized it, the school was hit with a $0.75 fine per student for the duration of the offense.

Now the school is going to have to cut money to fine arts programs to make up the cost.

Display

High-Paid Celebrities Cannot Save Mainstream Media

In the span of only a year, CNN lost 50 percent of its total viewers and many are wondering why audiences are abandoning major news outlets in droves. Many big name anchors are paid millions of dollars to deliver the news, but the corporations blame the on-air talent for the decline in ratings. Meanwhile, critics believe the disconnect of content found online compared to whats being talked about on TV is the reason viewers are turning off their televisions. Christopher Chambers, journalism professor at Georgetown University, joins us with more.

Health

Stroller Brigade Rolls to Capitol For Toxic Chemical Reform

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© Mike Licht/Creative Commons
Americans Want Safer Food, Often (Literally) Eating Crap.
Moms and cancer survivors parked their strollers in front of the U.S. Capitol today as part of the "Stroller Brigade" to demand that Congress take action to help regulate toxic chemicals that are found in everyday items used by children.

The group called on Congress to pass Sen. Frank Lautenberg's, D-N.J., Safe Chemicals Act, a bill to overhaul old laws governing toxic chemicals.

"As a consumer I am woefully unequipped to protect my family," said Polly Schlaff, whose son was born with a urological birth defect caused by prenatal exposure to environmental estrogen. "Worse yet, because of the utter failure of federal laws, I must rely on the chemical industry to protect my family from the hidden dangers of the more than 800,000 chemicals they produce and manufacture."

Out of 800,000 chemicals in the nation, only 200 have been reviewed for safety. Five percent of pediatric cancers are caused by exposure of toxic chemicals, while 10 percent of neurological disorders and 30 percent of childhood asthma cases are associated with hazardous chemicals from hundreds of every day products including detergents, household cleaners and baby bottles.

The Lautenberg bill would require chemical makers to prove their products are safe before they end up in children's bodies.

"Our current law allows too many untested chemicals on the market," Lautenberg said at the rally today. "We want to have a responsible oversight and regulation of the chemical industry giving the EPA the authority....so that chemical companies will be required to tell what is in the chemical and what testing has been done."

Lautenberg is pushing for a vote on his bill in the Senate Environment and Public Works committee and if it gets out of that committee it could go the full Senate for a vote.

Comment: Forum members have gathered large amounts of data about diet, health, nutrition, supplementation and detoxification, among other things. We invite you, the reader to have a gander at some of the many health topics open to discussion and further data. We only ask that you please introduce yourself and read the forum guide lines before joining various discussions.


Heart - Black

Native Americans Demand Justice over 'KKK' Scar Carved During Open Heart Surgery at Rapid City Hospital

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Hundreds of Native Americans demanded justice on Monday from Rapid City Regional Hospital in Rapid City, South Dakota for Vern Traversie.

Traversie, a legally blind member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, says the initials KKK were carved into his chest during open-heart surgery at Regional Hospital in August 2011, reports the Rapid City Journal.

An online video (below) about the scars recently went viral. However, not everyone can see the KKK lettering.

Chalkboard

People Power! As Schools Crumble: Quiet Call for Revolution in Philadelphia

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© Max Klingensmith/flickr)
The Philadelphia school district expects to lose 40 percent of its enrollment between now and 2017.
Last week, the city of Philadelphia's school system announced that it expects to close 40 public schools next year, and 64 schools by 2017. The school district expects to lose 40% of its current enrollment, and thousands of experienced, qualified teachers.

But corporate media in other cities made no mention of these massive school closings - nor of those in Chicago, Atlanta, or New York City. Even in the Philadelphia media, the voices of the parents, students and teachers who will suffer were omitted from most accounts.

It's all about balancing the budgets of cities that have lost revenues from the economic downturn. Supposedly, there is simply no money for the luxury of providing an education for the people.

Where will those children find an education? Where will the teachers find work? Almost certainly in an explosion of private sector "charter schools," where the quality of education - from the curriculum to books to the food served at lunch - will be sacrificed to the lowest bidder, and teachers' salaries and benefits will be sacrificed to the profits of the new private owners, who will also eat up many millions of dollars of taxpayer subsidies.

Comment: One of the reasons there is not enough money for education is that the elites do not want the masses to be able to think critically. It is much easier to control a population that has been dumbed down, does not ask any questions and just follows orders.
The Assault on Public Education
Who Controls Our Children ? (Public Education Dumb Down Kids)


People

Most Americans, Even Catholics, Say Birth Control Is Moral

Birth Control Pills
© Tomas Daliman, Shutterstock
A provision of the health care reform package is intended to increase access to contraception.
Despite recent political battles over contraception, the vast majority of Americans believe that birth control is morally okay, a new poll finds.

Eighty-nine percent of American adults say birth control is morally acceptable, according to a Gallup poll taken May 3 through May 6. Notably, 82 percent of Catholics are fine with birth control, the survey found. Catholic groups have been the most outspoken against the mandatory birth control coverage included in the 2010 Affordable Care Act. (A 2011 study by the Guttmacher Institute found that 98 percent of sexually active Catholic women use or have used unnatural birth control.)

The new finds are based on phone surveys with a random sample of 1,024 U.S. adults, weighted to represent the general American population. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Gauging morals

Gallup pollsters asked participants about the acceptability of a variety of behaviors. Birth control topped the list as the most morally acceptable, with only 8 percent of people calling contraception "morally wrong." The least acceptable behavior was married men and women having affairs, which only 7 percent of Americans said was okay.

Divorce was deemed acceptable by 67 percent of Americans, and gambling was considered okay by 64 percent. Just over half, or 54 percent, said that gay and lesbian relationships were morally okay, the same number who approved of having a baby outside of marriage.

After affairs, human cloning and polygamy rounded out the least-accepted behaviors, with only 10 percent and 11 percent of Americans okaying those two issues, respectively.

Other hot-button issues included:
  • sex between unmarried men and women, deemed acceptable by 59 percent of people
  • the death penalty, deemed moral by 58 percent of people
  • abortion, deemed morally acceptable by 38 percent of people
  • pornography, deemed morally acceptable by 31 percent of people

Gear

'Twilight' Stands In For Religion for Some Teens

Twilight
© Summit Entertainment
Rumors have flown about how the young adult novel Breaking Dawn (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2008) will translate to the big screen. The book, part of the popular Twilight series, includes references to rough sex and bloody supernatural childbirth.
Twilight and other supernatural tales may give some non-religious teens a place to grapple with the big questions of life, according to a Danish researcher.

In Denmark, where religion is not a large part of daily life, teens seem to use media - often, American media - to explore questions of good and evil, life after death and destiny, Line Nybro Petersen of the University of Copenhagen's film and media studies department has found. The communal experiences of hardcore fans of the series can even echo religious communities.

"Being a Twilight fan allows the teenagers to engage in very intense emotional experiences," Petersen told LiveScience. "You can almost get the sense that these are transcendental emotions, the feeling that you are part of something bigger than yourself in a semi-religious way."

Vampires and spirituality

Vampires may seem an odd icon in which to find spiritual experiences, but Twilight, True Blood and other supernatural series are part of a well-worn process of film and media turning old ideas into new stories. Media studies researchers call this process "mediatization."

For example, religious symbols such as the cross and holy water show up frequently in the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but they're largely stripped of their Christian. Instead, they're simply weapons against vampires with little mention of theology.

Vampires undergo a similar transformation in Twilight. Instead of evaporating when they step into the sun, for example, they sparkle - a more effective convention for a romantic hero compared with turning into a pile of dust.

As part of her doctoral dissertation, Petersen surveyed and interviewed Danish teens with an interest in supernatural TV shows or movies, from Twilight to Ghost Whisperer, in which Jennifer Love Hewitt portrays a woman who can communicate with the dead. She found that while many of these teens rejected organized religion, they still grappled with the big questions of life.

"You don't have any clear answer to what happens [when you die], so perhaps when you read different things and watch different movies, then it gives you something," Katja, a young Twilight fan, or "fanpire," as these teens called themselves, told Petersen. "Perhaps not a clear answer, but more like, 'Oh, it happens like this,' and then you can choose to believe it."

Petersen reported these interviews in the journal Mediatization and Religion: Nordic Perspectives in 2012.