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Labor Pains on the Farm

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© tpmartins
In 2006, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) made a now-famous declaration doubting that Americans were capable of farm labor. He dared audience members to accept a job picking lettuce for $50 per hour, insisting, even when one person accepted, "You can't do it, my friends." While that comment created an uproar at the time, I'm sure many people would secretly agree that most Americans don't have the physical stamina nor the appetite for manual labor. And now, The New York Times reports that farmers in some areas of the country are discovering that very fact for themselves.

Star of David

Walk this way! Yiddish sign orders women to move over

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© Community Newspaper Group/ Aaron Short
Hasidic women said they would obey a decree imploring them to give men the right of way on Williamsburg streets — all in the name of modesty.

Why did the Orthodox Jewish woman cross the road? Because a Yiddish sign ordered her.

A bold new religious decree was bolted to street trees this week that orders women to move to the side when a man is walking towards her on the sidewalk.

The red, yellow and white plastic sign, first noted in the Jewish watchdog blog Failed Messiah, is roughly translated, "Precious Jewish daughters, please move over to the side when you see a man come across."

Heart - Black

US: Amish Men's Beards Cut Off; Police Suspect Amish-On-Amish Violence

amish
© Getty

Sheriff's deputies are closing in on suspects from a troublemaking Amish splinter group in Ohio who have broken into homes and cut off the beards and hair of other Amish men.

Authorities tell HuffPost Crime they are planning to arrest at least four men who are followers of Sam Mullet, a bishop who Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla said has clashed with other Amish leaders for years.

At least three attacks in rural eastern Ohio since September prompted the victims -- all Amish -- to look outside their traditionalist community to seek help from local police.

In one nighttime raid in Carroll County, a group of men knocked on a door, pulled a man out by the beard and tried to chop off his facial hair, the Wheeling Intelligencer reports.

Butterfly

Arab Uprisings' Women Celebrate Nobel Recognition

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© The Associated Press/Hani Mohammed
Yemeni activist Tawakkul Karman laughs as she speaks on the telephone after the announcement of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize in Sanaa, Yemen, Friday, Oct. 7, 2011. The 2011 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded Friday to Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman of Yemen for their work on women's rights.
As demonstrations first swelled in Yemen, regime supporters distributed a photo showing Tawakkul Karman at a protest with a male colleague - cutting out others around them - to taint her for being alone with a man.

Karman's Nobel Peace Prize draws attention to the role of women in the Arab Spring uprisings; they have rebelled not only against dictators but against a traditional, conservative mindset that fears women as agents of change.

Women have participated in all the protests sweeping the Arab world, working both online to mobilize and on the ground to march, chant and even throw themselves into stone-throwing clashes with security forces - side by side with men.

The response from authorities has been quick and dirty, exploiting widespread cultural attitudes - present even in more liberal countries - that condemn such close contact between women and men as shameful.

In Egypt, women protesters detained by military troops were subjected to humiliating "virginity tests" that authorities claimed were to protect soldiers from rape allegations. To the activists, they were a clear warning: women should not take part in demonstrations. It raised such an uproar that the military promised not to conduct such tests again.

When scores of women in Saudi Arabia drove their cars in defiance of the male-only driving rule in the kingdom, ultraconservative forces lashed back, ordering one woman to be whipped before the king overturned the sentence. Conservatives depicted the driving campaign as a foreign, "corrupting" revolution, with Internet drawings showing hands with red-polished fingernails tearing the Saudi flag.

Mr. Potato

Canada: British Columbia's Christy Clark gets attention for showing cleavage, another politician for not

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© Screengrab, Hansard
A former NDP MLA caused a minor uproar on Twitter Wednesday after saying the premier was showing too much cleavage during question period.
For those looking for reasons why more women don't get involved in politics, look no further.

While watching Question Period in B.C.'s legislature Wednesday, David Schreck, political pundit and former NDP MLA, stirred up controversy when he asked: "Is Premier Clark's cleavage-revealing attire appropriate for the legislature?"

Schreck was referring to Clark's v-shaped neckline dress which he deemed too revealing.

Many of Schreck's Twitter followers were angered by his comments.

"It's sexist, David, to call out her bust line!" responded Liberal pundit Alise Mills.

Mark Marissen, Clark's ex-husband and former adviser to Paul Martin, even came to her defense.

Bizarro Earth

Nestle chief warns of new food riots

Food riots
© European Coalition for Community Living
Food riots in Bihar.
The head of the world's biggest food company Nestle said on Friday that rising food prices have created conditions "similar" to 2008 when hunger riots took place in many countries.

"The situation is similar (to 2008). This has become the new reality," the Swiss giant's chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe told the Salzburger Nachrichten daily in his native Austria in an interview.

"We have reached a level of food prices that is substantially higher than before. It will likely settle down at this level.

"If you live in a developing country and spend 80 percent of your income on food then of course you are going to feel it more than here (in Europe) where it is maybe eight percent."

In 2008, the price of cereals reached historic levels, provoking a food crisis and riots in a number of African countries, as well as in Haiti and the Philippines.

In September the UN food agency's food price index came in at 225 points, just higher than the peak it hit in June 2008. It is down from the record 237.7 points hit in February this year.

Family

US: New Age Arrives at Food Closets as More Seniors Seek Help to Avoid Hunger

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© RENÉE C. BYER
Terry Bradburn, 64, left, and her brother Vincent Venezia, 60, line up for food packages Thursday at Liberty Ministries Christian Fellowship in Sacramento.
Terry Bradburn, a 64-year-old widow, was No. 176 in line at Liberty Ministries Christian Fellowship's food pantry in North Sacramento on a recent Thursday, waiting for her allotment of salad mix, fresh pineapple, dried and canned beans, bagels and coffee cake.

"The line is short today," she said. "The big crowd already came through."

Her brother, Vincent Venezia, was right behind her, No. 177. He lost his caregiver job a year ago. Now, at 60, he lives part of the time with his sister in her Rio Linda home. And part of the time, he said, he lives on the American River.

"He went from doing good to dirt poor," his sister said.

In Sacramento and across the country, people 60 and older represent the fastest-growing demographic asking for charitable handouts of food. In the parlance of experts, they are among the "food insecure," the growing number of Americans, including 5 million older adults, for whom nutritious meals are either inaccessible or unaffordable.

Eye 2

Peru shaman murders investigated

shamans
© Reuters
Peruvian shaman Pedro Tangoa performs a ritual involving the hallucinogen ayahuasca. Some suggest that the use of such psychoactive plants may be one reason the murdered shamans were targeted.
Peruvian government sends team to remote Amazon region to look into killing of 14 shamans, allegedly at behest of local mayor

The Peruvian government is sending a team of officials to a remote region of the Amazon jungle to investigate the deaths of 14 shamans who were killed in a string of brutal murders.

The traditional healers, all from the Shawi ethnic group, were murdered in separate incidents over the last 20 months, allegedly at the behest of a local mayor.

No arrests have been made over the deaths, which took place in and around Balsapuerto, a small river port in Peru's vast Amazon region on its northern border with Ecuador, Colombia and Brazil.

Info

Swastikas Left at Joseph's Tomb in Nablus

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© Tovah Lazaroff
Birds eye view of Joseph's tomb in Nablus
Soldiers discovered the swastikas when they went to tomb to prepare for the arrival of worshipers to the tomb in advance of Yom Kippur.

Vandals painted two swastikas on Joseph's Tomb in Nablus, the IDF reported on Thursday.

Soldiers discovered the swastikas when they went to the tomb on Wednesday night to prepare for the arrival of worshipers to the tomb in advance of Yom Kippur.

Although the Palestinian Authority controls Nablus, permission has been granted for Jews to visit the tomb once a month, late at night under IDF escort. Around 1,300 worshipers visited the tomb before dawn on Thursday.

The IDF painted over the graffiti before the pilgrims arrived, but the vandalism was still evident and settlers publicized the incident, which comes after an arson attack on a mosque in the Beduin village of Tuba Zanghariya in the Upper Galilee.

In response to the vandalism at Joseph's Tomb, right-wing politicians, settler leaders and activists called on the government to take back sovereignty in Nablus, which is located on the site of the biblical city of Shechem.

Arrow Up

US, Washington: Mysterious Goo Erupts on Capitol Hill

Sound Transit officials said the substance was by-product from tunnel drilling operations


It sounds like something from a B-horror movie.

A mysterious goo exploded out of the ground on Capitol Hill along Pike Street near Boylston Avenue on October 6.

"Somebody reported that they heard a pop and they saw this geyser 20-25 feet in the air," said James Woodbury, Seattle Fire Department Deputy Chief.

The goo bubbled and itched its way across Pike Street.