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Brainwashing Alert!: Louisiana Keeps Getting Busted for Teaching Creationism

creationism
People have the right to believe what they want about human origins, but they have no right to use the public school system to propagate religion. Insanity, it has been said, is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

In light of that, the state of Louisiana might want to get a mental health check-up. Legislators and some education officials there keep promoting creationism in public school science classes - and they keep getting busted on it.

Here's the latest round: In 2008, Louisiana lawmakers passed a law that allows the use of "supplemental" materials in science class so long as the materials "promote critical thinking skills, logical analysis and open and objective discussions of scientific theories being studied." The law lists three scientific theories that would fall under this: the origins of life, global warming and human cloning.

By "origins of life," the legislature clearly meant evolution. Cut through the rhetorical fog about "critical thinking" and "logical analysis," and what legislators really want is to teach religion in biology class.

Attention

We Are Now One Year Away From Global Riots, Complex Systems Theorists Say

Riots
© Mother Board
What's the number one reason we riot? The plausible, justifiable motivations of trampled-upon humanfolk to fight back are many - poverty, oppression, disenfranchisement, etc - but the big one is more primal than any of the above. It's hunger, plain and simple. If there's a single factor that reliably sparks social unrest, it's food becoming too scarce or too expensive. So argues a group of complex systems theorists in Cambridge, and it makes sense.

In a 2011 paper, researchers at the Complex Systems Institute unveiled a model that accurately explained why the waves of unrest that swept the world in 2008 and 2011 crashed when they did. The number one determinant was soaring food prices. Their model identified a precise threshold for global food prices that, if breached, would lead to worldwide unrest.

The MIT Technology Review explains how CSI's model works: "The evidence comes from two sources. The first is data gathered by the United Nations that plots the price of food against time, the so-called food price index of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN. The second is the date of riots around the world, whatever their cause." Plot the data, and it looks like this:

Arrow Down

HP Increases Job Cut Forecasts to 29,000

Image
© Bloomberg
The previous forecast was 27,000

Hewlett-Packard (HP) upped its number of job cuts to 29,000 globally -- 2,000 more than the computer maker previously forecasted.

Back in May, HP predicted that it would cut 27,000 jobs around the world in its new restructuring plan dubbed the "2012 Plan." Now, HP has adjusted that figure and plans to cut 29,000 jobs.

The latest figure was reported in HP's 10-Q quarterly filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). HP plans on saving $3 to $3.5 billion by eliminating these jobs, which it will put toward Research and Development (R&D). As of July 2012, HP had already cut 3,800 jobs.

The filing noted that HP predicts charges of about $3.7 billion through the end of fiscal year 2014. About $3.3 billion of this will be the job cuts while another $400 million will be related to other areas like data center consolidation.

HP has had a pretty terrible time as of late. It had a terrible experience with former CEO Leo Apotheker, who was appointed in October 2010. Apotheker led the company to several missed financial goals and even tried to sell HP's core personal computer business.

HP then killed off its webOS mobile operating system and its TouchPad tablets last year due to overproduction, sloppy execution and slow hardware releases.

Just last month, HP suffered an $8.9 billion USD loss. However, analysts were impressed by the new restructuring plan by new CEO Meg Whitman.

Bizarro Earth

Children Who Sell Themselves

child labor India
While investigating child labor in India last month for a book, I found myself in the northern state of Bihar, an established source of children for trafficking networks.

Here, alongside the expected stories of abduction, I heard of another unexpected and heartbreaking path to servitude. Children as young as 10 had begun to directly offer themselves to traffickers because they could no longer go hungry.

I met 14-year-old Arun Kumar, who told me of his experience.

Kumar lives with his uncle and two younger siblings in Amni village, a day's journey by bus from Patna, the Bihar state capital.

Two days before we met, Kumar had been returned home by a local nonprofit organization, supported by Save the Children, from a rice mill in the state of Haryana, where he had been working 18-hour days, seven days a week. He had been paid 800 rupees (a bit less than $20) a month.

On a rare day, he said, a machine would break down and the workers would be shooed out for a "holiday." "I'd walk to the next village about an hour away," he said, "to buy biscuits."

The nonprofit organization first entreated, then threatened the factory owner with a noisy protest outside his mill. "I paid for him," the owner argued, before finally releasing Kumar.

2 + 2 = 4

High school valedictorian denied diploma over graduation speech

valedictorian
© KFOR TV
An Oklahoma high school valedictorian who used the word "hell" in her graduation speech in May has yet to receive her diploma.

Kaitlin Nootbaar graduated from Prague High School with a 4.0 grade point average, her father, David Nootbaar, told KFOR-TV. But school administrators told him that Kaitlin would have to submit a written apology in order to get her diploma.

"We went to the office and asked for the diploma and the principal said, 'Your diploma is right here but you ain't getting it. Close the door, we have a problem,'" David Nootbaar told the network.

"She worked so hard to stay at the top of her class," he said. "This is not right."

In her speech - inspired by a similar address in "Eclipse: The Twilight Saga" - Kaitlin recounted how annoying it is to be constantly asked what she wants to do as graduation approached. "How the hell do I know?" she said, according to her father. "I've changed my mind so many times."

Bizarro Earth

Palestinian Teenager Dies after Setting Self Alight over Hopeless Living Conditions

Image
© David Levene
Youths in Gaza City: the unemployment rate among 20- to 24-year-olds in Gaza is 58%.
Mohamed Abu Nada wanted to draw attention to his family's poverty in Gaza, said his father

A Gaza man has died after setting himself alight, apparently in protest over his family's dire living conditions.

Mohamed Abu Nada, 20, died on Sunday from injuries sustained a few days earlier when he poured petrol over his body at the morgue of Gaza City's Shifa hospital and set himself alight.

His father told reporters in Gaza that his son wanted to draw attention to the family's poverty. "I asked my son to go and look for a job, because I don't have a job and we don't have any source for living," said Abu Mohamed Abu Nada.

Father and son reportedly argued before the incident.

The family live in al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza City. Two-thirds of Gazan families became refugees in 1948 and they are generally among the poorest in Gaza.

"This case illustrates so tragically the wider sense of desperation which the blockade has engendered," said Chris Gunness, spokesman for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, Unrwa. "The humanitarian situation in Gaza is becoming increasingly dire, with the prospects of a prosperous and dignified life dwindling with every day."

Megaphone

Palestinian Crisis Spurs Mass Protests in West Bank

Image
© AFP
Burning issue ... a young demonstrator prepares to throw a tyre during a protest against the high cost of living near Ramallah.
Cities across the West Bank are in the grip of mass protests as taxi drivers, teachers, shopkeepers and other Palestinian workers joined a strike to protest against fuel price rises and the ongoing financial crisis that is crippling the Palestinian Authority.

Threats of cuts to the electricity supply to large areas of the West Bank over at least $US125 million ($120 million) in unpaid bills are contributing to rising tensions, with protesters from Nablus to Ramallah and Bethlehem to Hebron calling on the Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, to resign over the government's economic failings.

The Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, backed his embattled Prime Minister on Saturday and blamed Israel for restrictions that he said hampered an effective response.

Mr Abbas said that he bore ultimate responsibility for government policies and that he had asked Mr Fayyad and the cabinet to meet with representatives of the public to examine ways to lower the cost of living.

Speaking at a news conference called at his headquarters, Mr Abbas said the Palestinian Authority was facing a cash crisis because of a shortfall in donor contributions, particularly from Arab states, and he warned that civil-service employees would not receive full salaries this month.

Info

Ukraine's Real-Life Anime Girl

It's official, this real-life anime trend has gotten completely out of hand. Hardly a day goes by that I don't stumble upon some photos of girls going to any lengths in order to look like real live anime characters. Today's example, Anastasiya Shpagina, an Ukrainian girl who has even taken a Japanese name - Fukkacumi. Not the most inspired choice, I must say...
Anime Anastasiya_1
© Oddity Central
Just last Friday I wrote an article about a rather creepy-looking Chinese model called Tina Leopard, who had the pointiest chin I'd ever seen and had risen to Internet fame thanks to her anime-like appearance. I had discovered there was actually a trend sweeping China, with thousands of Chinese teens posting photos of themselves with anime-style makeup and hairstyles, but apparently it's not just China that's affected by this bizarre fashion. Venus Angelic, a young Londoner who made headlines in international media for her YouTube videos where she talks and makes herself look like a living Japanese doll, and Dakota Rose(aka Kotakoti) from America, were also praised for their genuine anime looks, and now the trend has apparently hit Eastern Europe as well. After Valeria Lukyanova sparked controversy in Ukrainian and Russian media with her doll-like features a few months back, it's Anastasiya Shpagina's turn to baffle us with her realistic anime-like looks. Coincidentally, she's from the same town as Valeria, Odessa.

19-year-old Anastasiya (Nastya) Shpagina has been called "the new Barbie" by national news outlets, but she later revealed she's striving to become a real-life Japanese anime character, not a doll. She even posted "I am not like a doll, a doll is like me ..." as the tagline on her VKontakte profile page. Apparently, Nastya has been passionate about makeup even as a young child, always experimenting with it in the mirror. Over time she also developed a thing for Japanese cartoons and it was only a matter of time before she started using her make-up artist skills to transform herself into a real-life anime girl. But just putting on makeup wasn't enough to attain that coveted look, so she decided to lose weight in order to seem more genuine. At 1.58-meters-tall, Anastasiya weighs just 39 kilos and is trying to lose one more in order to look just right. She has even taken the name Fukkacumi,to sound more Japanese.

Briefcase

U.S. Mom Who Sent Boy Back to Russia Loses Lawsuit

Image
© RIA Novosti. Vitaliy Belousov
Pavel Astakhov and Artyom Savelyev
A U.S. woman who sent her adopted son back to Moscow lost on Monday a lawsuit she filed against Russian children's rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov.

A Moscow court ordered Torry Hansen to pay 50,000 rubles ($1,500) in legal costs.

Hansen had sued Astakhov over a website post in which he called her the "adoptive mother" of Artyom Savelyev. Hansen insisted she was a "former adoptive mother."

The woman has also lost her lawsuit against Russian government daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

Hansen was living in Tennessee in April 2010 when she put Savelyev, then aged seven, unaccompanied on a flight to his native Russia, with a note saying she did not want him as he was "psychotic." She had adopted the boy from a Russian orphanage in 2009.

He currently lives in a group home in Moscow.

Sherlock

Severed head recovered from canal in England

Gemma McCluskie
© Metropolitan Police/PA
Police have not confirmed if the head found in Regent's Canal is that of murder victim Gemma McCluskie
Police have recovered a severed head from a canal where the decapitated remains of a former EastEnders actress were found.

Scotland Yard said the discovery was made by a member of the public in Regent's Canal in Hackney, east London.

It comes more than six months after the headless and limbless body of actress Gemma McCluskie, 29, were discovered in the same stretch of water.

Miss McCluskie, who played Kerry Skinner in the BBC soap in 2001, had been missing for a week after attending the £650 million opening of the new Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London.

She was last seen returning to the home in Pelter Street, Hackney, that she shared with her brother Tony McCluskie.