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Sat, 14 Dec 2019
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Haredi Jews are told that Internet causes cancer

computer
© Unknown

New ultra-Orthodox marketing campaign uses scare tactics to prevent community from Web surfing. 'Internet causes disease, adversity,' Rabbi Shmuel Wosner writes

The Internet causes draught and terminal disease - so claims a new marketing campaign publicized in the ultra-Orthodox community and aims to curb use of the world wide web.

"Where there is Internet, there are no rains," read one of the posters that were pasted in central haredi spots. "Let's remove the idolatry from among us. Hundreds of thousands of cancer patients (suffer) because of the Internet."

Gear

By one measure, federal taxes lowest since 1950

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© Associated Press
President Barack Obama waves as he leaves the stage after speaking at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Washington - Taxes too high?

Actually, as a share of the nation's economy, Uncle Sam's take this year will be the lowest since 1950, when the Korean War was just getting under way.

And for the third straight year, American families and businesses will pay less in federal taxes than they did under former President George W. Bush, thanks to a weak economy and a growing number of tax breaks for the wealthy and poor alike.

Income tax payments this year will be nearly 13 percent lower than they were in 2008, the last full year of the Bush presidency. Corporate taxes will be lower by a third, according to projections by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

The poor economy is largely to blame, with corporate profits down and unemployment up. But so is a tax code that grows each year with new deductions, credits and exemptions. The result is that families making as much as $50,000 can avoid paying federal income taxes, if they have at least two dependent children. Low-income families can actually make a profit from the income tax, and the wealthy can significantly cut their payments.

Vader

Egypt police kill three anti-Mubarak protesters in desert clashes

Three killed, several wounded in clashes between police and 3,000 protesters in western province of Egypt, which marked first sizeable anti-Mubarak gathering in the area.

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© AFP
Egyptian demonstrators use a shoe and a broom to hit a picture of President Hosni Mubarak during a protest at Tahrir Square in Cairo on January 30, 2011.

Three people were killed and several suffered gunshot wounds in clashes between security forces and about 3,000 protesters in a western province of Egypt, state TV and security sources said on Wednesday.

The clashes in New Valley, a province that includes an oasis in Egypt's western desert, erupted on Tuesday and continued into Wednesday, according to security sources. State TV said three people died in the fighting but did not provide further details.

It appeared to be the first serious clash between police and protesters since officers all but disappeared from Egyptian streets after they had beaten, teargassed and fired rubber bullets at protesters on Jan. 28, dubbed the "Day of Wrath".

MIB

Should spies spend more time on Twitter?

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© Unknown
London - With unrest and chaos apparently having taken Egypt's rulers and Western states by surprise, governments and spies are increasingly looking to social media like Twitter to detect political threats in advance.

Protesters who overthrew Tunisian President Ben Ali and brought revolution to the streets of Egypt used sites such as Twitter and Facebook to coordinate action. While few credit social media with causing the uprisings, the speed of instant communication it allows is believed to have accelerated events. The same was true for British student protests late last year and a broader, rising tide of anti-austerity actions.

With so much more human interaction taking place online, and Tunisia and Egypt proving online dissent can swiftly yield real world consequences, governing authorities are interested. "In any highly fluid situation, open source information derived from social media can provide very useful insights into where things might be headed," one U.S. official familiar with intelligence matters told Reuters.

Intelligence agencies have long focused attention on extremist websites to detect crime and militancy.

But the idea of having state spies, police and other authority figures watching mainstream Twitter and Facebook feeds closely for signs of dissent might make some people rather uneasy -- particularly in countries with a record of extrajudicial killings and other human rights abuses.

Sun

Cancer: Mum who avoided Sun dies from skin Tumor

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© Unknown
Carmel Smith always wore sunscreen and insisted on sitting in the shade on ­holidays abroad.
A Young mum who never ­sunbathed has died after developing skin cancer.

Mother-of-two Carmel Smith always wore sunscreen cream in the sun and insisted on sitting in the shade on ­holidays abroad.

Doctors initially said she had a 99.9 per cent chance of survival but they were unable to prevent the cancer from spreading.

Now her devastated joiner husband Mal has urged anyone who fears they may have skin cancer to contact their ­doctor immediately.

Mrs Smith, 44, went to her doctor 18 months ago after noticing a mole on her stomach had changed colour.

Mr Smith, 54, of York, said: "She did the right thing and got it checked out straight away. If anyone has any doubt about a mole, get it checked."

Display

Generation Net: The Youngsters Who Prefer Their Virtual Lives to the Real World

girl @ computer
© Alamy
Different life: A study has found that children are often more happy with their lives online than they are with reality, as it allows them to be who they want.
Children are often happier with their online lives than they are with reality, a survey has revealed.

They say they can be exactly who they want to be - and as soon as something is no longer fun they can simply hit the quit button.

The study also shows that, despite concerns about online safety, one in eight young people is in contact with strangers when on the web and often lies about their appearance, age and background.

Researchers for children's charity Kidscape assessed the online activities of 2,300 11- to 18-year-olds from across the UK and found that 45 per cent said they were sometimes happier online than in their real lives.

The report - "Virtual Lives: It is more than a game, it is your life" - lays bare the attitudes of children today to the internet and includes revealing insights into how they feel when they are on the web.

One told researchers: 'It's easier to be who you want to be, because nobody knows you and if you don't like the situation you can just exit and it is over.'

Another said: 'You can say anything online. You can talk to people that you don't normally speak to and you can edit your pictures so you look better. It is as if you are a completely different person.'

One teenager admitted the only place he or she felt comfortable admitting they were gay was on anonymous internet forums.

Camera

The TSA Wants to Feel Up Your Mind

face illustration
© Gordon Studder
The feds' new airport security plan: porno-scanning your face to read your mind.

Update: Stranded travelers could face a new homeland security toy this week. On Tuesday, the Transportation Security Administration announced that it's begun "testing new software" on select airport body-scanning machines in Las Vegas, Atlanta, and Washington DC. The new imaging technology "auto-detects" suspicious material, boosting privacy by presenting potential threats on a generic human outline rather than a passenger-specific image. "If no potential threat items are detected, an 'OK' will appear on the monitor," notes the TSA press release.

If you're unhappy with the choice between having the Transportation Security Administration "porno-scanning" you or touching your junk, this might also freak you out: The TSA is trying to read your mind. Since June 2003, it's been monitoring travelers' facial expressions and body language for signs that they might be hiding something. As of March 2010, the TSA's Screening Passengers by Observational Techniques (SPOT) program had 3,000 "behavior detection officers" in more than 150 airports. Their job is to strike up conversations with passengers at security checkpoints, checking for what one TSA official describes as "behaviors that show you're trying to get away with something you shouldn't be doing." People who don't display "normal airport behavior" may be stopped for questioning.

SPOT is based largely on the work of Paul Ekman, a behavioral scientist who has spent his career identifying "microexpressions" - twitches lasting between one-fifteenth and one-twenty-fifth of a second that reveal intentionally concealed emotions. Ekman's methods have been used by the animators of Toy Story and Shrek and celebrated by Malcolm Gladwell, and they inspired the Fox TV series Lie To Me, whose main character is a human lie detector who thrives on confrontations with psychopaths and murderers. That's a far cry from Ekman himself, an unassuming 77-year-old who makes no claims of infallibility. "I'm never absolutely certain," he says, sitting in his San Francisco loft. "I can't tell you what triggers an emotion. I can only tell you to recognize an emotion even when someone doesn't want you to recognize it." Nonetheless, he says that had he been stationed at an airport security checkpoint on the morning of September 11, 2001, he probably could have plucked Mohamed Atta out of a crowd.

Bomb

Egyptian bomb drops - Interior Minister threw it!

Interior Minister el-Adly

Interior Minister el-Adly
A story is developing that will bring a decisive end to the old regime in Egypt, and leave decades of Middle Eastern policy in flames.

The cynicism and the horror will blow you away. Sadly, it did in fact blow 26 innocents away.

Some backstory is necessary. Most of you know that these protests began two weeks ago, with the march of Tuesday, Jan. 25th, and then the Day of Rage on Friday, Jan. 28th.

But many will not remember the first upswelling of the Egyptian populace - provoked by an awful thing - the bombing on New Year's Day of the Coptic Church (Coptic just means Egyptian, and this is an ancient denomination of Christians in Egypt.) The reaction to the bombing shocked many people, both in the Mubarak regime and in the west.

Attention

CRTC plan to lift ban on false news prompts political investigation

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© Sean Kilpatrick / The Globe and Mail
CRTC chairman Konrad von Finckenstein is seen through a camera monitor during a hearing in Gatineau, Que. on April 8, 2008.
A CRTC proposal that could make it easier to broadcast false or misleading news has prompted confusion and criticism among opposition MPs and consternation in at least one of the unions that represents Canadian journalists.

It has also led to allegations of interference by the Prime Minister's Office and a hastily called investigation by federal politicians, who were caught off guard by the move.
  • CRTC appointment smacks of cronyism, NDP says
  • Majority scoffs at usage-based Internet billing in poll
  • CRTC gives green light to Sun TV
A little-watched committee of Parliament has been pressing the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission for many years to do something about a regulation that bans the broadcast of false or misleading news because the wording appears to contravene the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Andrew Kania, the rookie MP who is the chairman of the joint committee for the scrutiny of regulations, said on Monday the committee has been asking the CRTC about the regulation for a decade.

Blackbox

UK: I Don't Give A Monkey's ... But Someone Has to Say Something About Julian Assange's 'Black Box'

Assange
© Unknown
Julian Assange
If you watch CNN or just about any other 'news network' you will now have heard Julian Assange's statement after the first day in court, in London, yesterday. I've heard it perhaps more than most since I watch three different news channels (at once) - no easy feat, but I digress.

I was taken aback by Assange's use of what I suspect he thought was 'cryptic' language (read: flowery) and as most will recognise, cryptic language and masturbation have a lot in common - but something about what he said and how he said it just doesn't add up for me.

Firstly, if the United States really wanted to 'grab' him, they'd pull him off the street in London (or any other place he might travel to) or from his posh country home and yes, even in Australia... Anyone familiar with current events will already know that the U.S. government is one of the most prolific terrorist organisations in the world - regularly snatching people off the streets and using torture to justify their actions around the globe (but don't get me started).