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Statue of Carla Bruni as a Worker Angers France

Image
© Reuters/Jacques Brinon
France's First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy attends a state dinner at the Elysee Palace in Paris January 26, 2012.
A French mayor's plan to erect a statue of President Nicolas Sarkozy's former supermodel wife Carla Bruni in worker's attire has angered the opposition and embarrassed the first lady.

Jacques Martin, the mayor of Nogent-sur-Marne to the east of Paris and member of Sarkozy's UMP party, commissioned the statue to honour the mostly Italian immigrant women who used to work at a feather factory in the town.

But when French daily Le Parisien on Sunday revealed the plan for the statue more than two metres (six-and-a-half feet) tall, at a cost of over 80,000 euros, the opposition and even the first lady's friends were up in arms.

A source close to Bruni-Sarkozy said she agreed to model for sculptor Elisabeth Cibot as she admires her work, but that "it was never suggested that her name would appear."

Modelling "is her former job, she no longer does it commercially, but she's often asked to do it, and she often agrees, and always without being paid," the source said.

Gear

They Must Be kidding: Steve Jobs' FBI Files Question His Honesty and Morality

Image
© Getty Images
One interviewee called Jobs "not completely forthright and honest"
The FBI files of Steve Jobs have been released, showing a man who commanded respect as an innovator but was questioned on his honesty and morality.

The file was prepared on the Apple founder as he was considered for a presidential appointment in 1991 during George H W Bush's time in office.

Documents also revealed that Jobs had been the victim of an extortive bomb threat in 1985.

Jobs' files note, too, his conversion to Buddhism and admissions of drug use.

The documents were made public on Thursday through freedom of information laws, and posted to the FBI's website.

Vader

US: Preschooler's Homemade Lunch Replaced with Cafeteria "Nuggets" State agent inspects sack lunches, forces preschoolers to purchase cafeteria food instead

chicken nuggets

Raeford - A preschooler at West Hoke Elementary School ate three chicken nuggets for lunch Jan. 30 because a state employee told her the lunch her mother packed was not nutritious.

The girl's turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips, and apple juice did not meet U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines, according to the interpretation of the agent who was inspecting all lunch boxes in her More at Four classroom that day.

The Division of Child Development and Early Education at the Department of Health and Human Services requires all lunches served in pre-kindergarten programs - including in-home day care centers - to meet USDA guidelines. That means lunches must consist of one serving of meat, one serving of milk, one serving of grain, and two servings of fruit or vegetables, even if the lunches are brought from home.

Pistol

Brazil: Anti-corruption newspaper editor Paulo Rodrigues shot dead

Paulo Rodrigues
© AP
Paulo Rodrigues was the second journalist to be killed in recent days
A Brazilian newspaper editor who campaigned against corruption in Mato Grosso do Sul state has been shot dead, police say.

Paulo Rodrigues was killed by gunmen riding a motorcycle in the city of Ponta Pora, near the Paraguayan border.

The border region is known for drug and gun smuggling, as well as political corruption.

Last week another Brazilian journalist who exposed corruption - Mario Lopes - was shot dead in Rio de Janeiro State.

Pistol

Brazil: Anti-corruption journalist and girlfriend kidnapped and murdered

Mario Randolfo Marques Lopes
© Facebook
The body of Brazilian journalist Mario Randolfo Marques Lopes was found on Thursday.
The body of a Brazilian journalist who wrote about corruption and had survived one attempt on his life was found the day after he was abducted.

Mario Randolfo Marques Lopes had been shot dead along with his companion, Maria Aparecide Guimarães.

Randolfo, editor-in-chief of the news website Vassouras na Net, was kidnapped with his girlfriend on Wednesday by three men in the city of Barra do Piraí in Rio de Janeiro state. Their bodies were found 22 hours later dumped next to a highway.

Randolfo, 50, had frequently written articles accusing local officials of corruption. His most recent article alleged that local judges and courts were corrupt. He was also being sued for defamation by a judge and a police officer.

Cult

400-year-old witchcraft trial resumes in Germany

witch
The trial of a woman burnt at the stake 400 years ago for witchcraft resumed in Germany on Monday in an effort to clear the woman's name.

Katharina Henot suffered her fiery fate in Cologne in 1627 after being found guilty of practicing black magic. Arrested, and tortured to such an extent that the right-handed woman had to scrawl her last letter of defence with her left hand, she was eventually paraded through the city in an open cart before being tied to a stake and burnt.

Now the panel on the city council whose predecessors found her guilty of witchcraft hundreds of years ago will review the evidence. It is suspected that Henot, head of the city's post office, fell foul of a deadly game of political intrigue orchestrated by her rivals and detractors.

Bizarro Earth

9/11 Cognitive Dissonance: Why People Are Afraid of 9/11 Truth

Leading Psychologists explain why so many Americans refuse to listen or believe in the overwhelming evidence that the official story of 911 cannot be true. Excerpt from Architects & Engineers for 911 Truth DVD Experts Speak Out


Comment: This concept of congnitive dissonance can be expanded to nearly every action taken by the PTB. They count on the fact that normal people are not able to conceive of committing such heinous crimes, creating the social paralysis that allows them to get away with it. By educating oneself, gathering facts and considering them, sets one free from that paralysis.

The question is whether one loves the truth more than a comfortable, "safe" worldview.


Attention

Why scientists are boycotting a publisher

The scientific community finds itself at the beginning of its own Arab Spring. At stake are values that all Americans hold dear: the free flow of information and the continued betterment of human life. Success is by no means guaranteed, but it's an important protest movement in which Boston should play a special role.

The central character in this emerging drama may seem an unlikely villain: Elsevier, an Amsterdam-based publisher of scientific journals, including the prestigious titles Cell and Lancet, which give researchers a platform to share their most important advances.

But Elsevier has settled on a business strategy of exploitation, aligning itself against the interests of the scientific community. Most of the intellectual work that goes into Elsevier's journals is provided for free, by scientists whose salaries are largely paid for by taxpayers. Then Elsevier charges exorbitant rates for its journals, with many titles running in the thousands of dollars a year. This sharply curtails the sharing of results - the fuel of scientific discovery - and makes it prohibitively expensive for the public to read what appears in its pages. Yet for Elsevier, this looks like success: In 2010 Elsevier reported revenues of about $3.2 billion, of which a whopping 36 percent were profit.

Family

How Swedes and Norwegians Broke the Power of the '1 Percent'

nordic flag
© Christopher Neugebauer
Scandinavian workers realized that, electoral "democracy" was stacked against them, so nonviolent direct action was needed to exert the power for change.

While many of us are working to ensure that the Occupy movement will have a lasting impact, it's worthwhile to consider other countries where masses of people succeeded in nonviolently bringing about a high degree of democracy and economic justice. Sweden and Norway, for example, both experienced a major power shift in the 1930s after prolonged nonviolent struggle. They "fired" the top 1 percent of people who set the direction for society and created the basis for something different.

Both countries had a history of horrendous poverty. When the 1 percent was in charge, hundreds of thousands of people emigrated to avoid starvation. Under the leadership of the working class, however, both countries built robust and successful economies that nearly eliminated poverty, expanded free university education, abolished slums, provided excellent health care available to all as a matter of right and created a system of full employment. Unlike the Norwegians, the Swedes didn't find oil, but that didn't stop them from building what the latest CIA World Factbook calls "an enviable standard of living."

Neither country is a utopia, as readers of the crime novels by Stieg Larsson, Kurt Wallender and Jo Nesbo will know. Critical left-wing authors such as these try to push Sweden and Norway to continue on the path toward more fully just societies. However, as an American activist who first encountered Norway as a student in 1959 and learned some of its language and culture, the achievements I found amazed me. I remember, for example, bicycling for hours through a small industrial city, looking in vain for substandard housing. Sometimes resisting the evidence of my eyes, I made up stories that "accounted for" the differences I saw: "small country," "homogeneous," "a value consensus." I finally gave up imposing my frameworks on these countries and learned the real reason: their own histories.

Heart

The Seedy, Scandalous History of Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day
© Wikimedia Commons
St. Valentine's Day. John Callcott Horsley (1817–1903).

Forget roses, chocolate boxes, and candlelight dinners. On Valentine's Day, this is rather boring stuff - at least according to ancient Roman standards.

Imagine half naked men running through the streets, whipping young women with bloodied thongs made from freshly cut goat skins. Although it might sound like some sort of perverted sado-masochist practice, this is what the Romans did until 496 A.D.

Indeed, mid-February was Lupercalia (Wolf Festival) time. Celebrated on February 15 at the foot of the Palatine Hill beside the cave where according to tradition the she-wolf had suckled Romulus and Remus, the festival was essentially a purification and fertility rite.

Directed by the Luperci, or "brothers of the wolf," the festival began with the sacrifice of two male goats and a dog, their blood smeared on the faces of Luperci initiates and then wiped off with wool dipped in milk.

As thongs were cut from the sacrificed goats, the initiates would run around in the streets flagellating women to promote fertility.