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Thu, 06 May 2021
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27 killed, dozens injured as suicide bombing hits Baghdad cafe - police

© Reuters/Saad Shalash
The city of Baghdad.
At least 27 people have reportedly been killed and dozens injured in Iraq after a suicide bomber attacked a cafe in Baghdad, Reuters reported citing a police source.

No one claimed responsibility for the Thursday attack so far, however, Al Qaeda's Iraq branch has shown an increase in suicide-attack activity since the start of 2013 in what is seen as an attempt to ratchet up widespread tensions between the country's Shia and Sunni Muslims.

It has only been four days since a series of bombings had taken 55 lives and injured 300 across the country. All of this takes place as Iraqis prepare to head for the polls on April 20 to hold provincial elections - their first since the withdrawal of US troops, following a decade-long occupation of the country.

Comment: The mainstream media has been parroting for years the idea that the so-called branch of "Al Qaeda in Iraq" is seeking to divide the country. This is a nonsensical explanation, as the existence of such a branch is a mere assumption, and no one has more to benefit from a weakened and divided Iraq than the US, Israel and their allies. If there is such a branch of Al Qaeda, it is putting a lot of effort into doing the job of the global bullies.

Bad Guys

Teacher claims she couldn't have fondled black student because she's racist


Esther Irene Stokes - Northwest Preparatory Academy Charter School
A teacher in Texas has invoked her own racism in a defense against charges that she fondled an African-American student in her first grade class at Northwest Preparatory Academy Charter School in Humble.

According to a criminal complaint obtained by the Houston Chronicle, the 7-year-old girl said that 61-year-old Esther Irene Stokes sent all of the other students out of the room on March 1 and then touched her "private part" on the outside of her clothes.


Rangers sight pygmies in Way Kambas National Park

Way Kambas National Park
© Siesfund Org
Rangers patrolling the Way Kambas National Park (TNWK) in Lampung claim to have sighted dozens of pygmies in a number of areas across the park.

According to them, the pygmies sport dreadlocks, measure no more than 50 centimeters tall and do not wear any clothing.

"A number of rangers claim the pygmies grow their dreadlocks down to their waist. The first sighting by the rangers was on March 17 at 6:40 p.m. local time," said TNWK spokesman Sukatmoko.

He added that several rangers patrolling the park claimed the pygmies were seen moving to the PT Nusantara Tropical Fruit (NTF) plantation. They were seen running from the TNWK forest to the plantation.

"Apparently, many fruit trees, such as banana, guava and dragon fruit, are grown in the NTF plantation area. If the pygmies like fruit, they might have entered the plantation for food," said Sukatmoko.

Forest rangers have secured a number of points at the border between TNWK and PT NTF, concerned that the safety of the pygmies is at stake due to the presence of many workers at the plantation.

"We will try to anticipate the situation with the help of local residents and PT NTF employees. If they come across the pygmies, they should not harm them," he said.

Sukatmoko said that based on information conveyed by forest rangers, the group of pygmies consisted of around 15 individuals. When the rangers spotted them, the pygmies, believed to be an isolated group of people, were walking through a swamp.

Arrow Down

Goat sacrificed for Chicago Cubs curse

Chicago Cubs
© Henryk Sadura / Shutterstock
Wrigley Field in Chicago, Ill., home of the Chicago Cubs.
Forest Preserve police in Cook County, Ill., found a grisly discovery this week: a decapitated white goat tied to a tree near the Indian Boundary Golf Course. That was strange enough, but last Wednesday an unknown man delivered a smelly box addressed to Tom Ricketts, the owner of the Chicago Cubs baseball team. Inside was a decaying goat's head.

Officials are investigating whether the headless goat is connected to the goat head delivered to Wrigley Field last week.

Who would send a severed goat head to Wrigley Stadium? A confused Satanist? An angry mobster trying to send a threat but unable to find a horse?

No, it is a response to a supposed "Billy Goat" curse that dates back to 1945 when a man named Bill "Billy Goat" Sianis had a pet goat (named Murphy) that was refused entry to a Cubs game. Offended by the affront, according to legend he cursed the club with the words, "The Cubs ain't gonna win no more!"

Sure enough, the Cubs lost the next game and have not won a World Series in over a century despite many fan attempts over the years to lift the curse (some of them involving goats). While some regard the curse as merely a silly superstition, many longtime fans take it very seriously.


Gallup: Only 4% of Americans think gun control is an important problem

© AP Photo/Charles Krupa
A rack of AR-15 rifles stand to be individually packaged as workers move a pallet of rifles for shipment at the Stag Arms company in New Britain, Conn., Wednesday, April 10, 2013.
Only 4 percent of Americans think guns and gun control are an important problem facing the country, according to Gallup, and far more Americans are concerned about the economy, unemployment and the federal debt.

In its poll from Apr. 4-7, Gallup surveyed 1,005 adults by telephone and asked, "What do you think is the most important problem facing the country today?"

Red Flag

North Korean reveals cannibalism is common after escaping starving state


Starving orphans in North Korea
Sung Min Jeong, 44, claims that in Chongjin - a city at the tip of the North Korean coast - a shopkeeper serves up human meat.

"One of his strongest thoughts is ... if he didn't take steps to leave North Korea, he would've become a North Korean who ate human flesh," an interpreter for Mr Jeong told news.com.au.

The thought that he would have to one day eat a fellow human being is what drove Mr Jeong to leave his homeland behind and to escape to Sydney in March 2011.

It is not the first time reports of cannibalism have emerged from the secretive state.

Fears that famine-stricken North Koreans are being forced to eat human flesh heightened earlier this year following claims a man was executed for murdering his two children for food.

"While his wife was away on business he killed his eldest daughter and, because his son saw what he had done, he killed his son as well. When the wife came home, he offered her food, saying: 'We have meat,'" a source told The Independent.

Arrow Down

The secret history of the Vietnam war

Vietnam War
© Vice.com
If you thought you knew all there was to know about the Vietnam War, you were wrong. For example: ever heard of the "Mere Gook Rule," a code of conduct the US military came up with in order to make it easier for soldiers to murder Vietnamese civilians without feeling too bad about it? ("It's only a mere gook you're killing!")

Well, few people knew about this bit of history either until author Nick Turse discovered it in secret US military archives, which he used as the primary sources for his new(ish) book, Kill Everything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam.

The book is based on Turse's discovery of theretofore secret internal military investigations of US-perpetrated atrocities alongside extensive reporting in Vietnam and among American veterans, and it reminds us that the most significant fact about the Vietnam War is its most overlooked: massive and devastating Vietnamese civilian suffering.

The debate over the US's war in Vietnam continues to hang over this country's most recent and techno-futuristic imperial adventures. Nick's book makes for timely if extraordinarily painful reading, and I sat down with him recently to talk about the ongoing relevance of Vietnam, massacres, and secretly photocopying whole US government archives.


'It was like an atomic bomb': First daylight images reveal shocking devastation caused by Texas fertilizer plant explosion

Heartbreaking daylight images have revealed the extent of the devastation inflicted on the small community of West, Texas when a fertilizer plant exploded on Wednesday night, killing as many as 15 people - including three or four volunteer firefighters - and injuring hundreds more. The blast, which was felt 50 miles away and registered as a magnitude 2.1 earthquake, destroyed as many as 75 homes and buildings, leveled an apartment complex, forced a nursing home to evacuate its residents and blanketed the area in a cloud of toxic fumes.

The missing volunteer firefighters were attending a blaze at the plant at 7.50pm local time when it suddenly exploded into a fireball - thought to be caused by dangerous anhydrous ammonia igniting in the heat of the fire. Some witnesses likened the explosion and damage to that of an atomic bomb.

As many as 179 people have been treated for injuries in hospitals, but Sergeant W. Patrick Swanton from Waco's police department warned that he expects the total number of deaths and injuries to rise as emergency teams conduct a proper search. Today, as the dust settles on the small community of 2,800 people, photographs reveal decimated homes, debris-strewn roads and a massive charred crater where the West Fertilizer Co. once stood.
© AP


Caught on video: Fertilizer plant explosion near Waco, Texas

Explosions rocked a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, Wednesday evening as firefighters were battling a fire, causing multiple injuries, authorities said.

Dani Moore, dispatcher with the Texas Department of Pubic Safety, said she did not know how many were injured or the extent of their injuries.

"The fertilizer plant was on fire. Firefighters were on the scene. There was an explosion ... followed by a second explosion,'' she said.

She said there were multiple damages to structures and vehicles. She said she had no information on the cause of the blasts or fire.

WFAA.com reported at least 10 structures were on fire, including a school which is next door to the plant. An emergency triage center was set up at a high school football field.

Alarm Clock

Multiple casualties in Texas fertilizer plant explosion

texas explosion
© Photo from instagram.com user andybartee
West Texas Explosion
A massive explosion has rocked a fertilizer plant near Waco, Texas. Hundreds of people were likely injured, state official says. A nursery home was destroyed by the blast and numerous buildings were damaged.

The explosion occurred around 7:50pm local time in the town of West, north of Waco. A fireball of nearly 100 feet high has been reported along with a massive power outage.

A spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, D.L. Wilson, told Reuters the explosion had resulted in "probably hundreds of casualties," saying he did not know if any of those were fatalities.

An official number of fatalities has yet to be confirmed but 60 people have been admitted to Hillcrest Hospital in Waco, just one of the multiple emergency facilities in the area.

The explosion destroyed a nearby nursing home, where it is thought that people may still be trapped inside.

Roughly 150 survivors from the damaged nursing home had been evacuated and sent to a community center outside of town, while doctors and staff of the Hillcrest Hospital have been taking in the first wave of burn victims. Fire units were draining water from community pools to douse the flames.