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Wed, 07 Jun 2023
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Struggling Caribbean islands selling citizenship

© The Associated Press
Map locates St. Kitts and Nevis and Dominica
Kingston, Jamaica - Hadi Mezawi has never set foot on the Caribbean island of Dominica, has never seen its rainforests or black-sand beaches. But he's one of its newest citizens.

Without leaving his home in the United Arab Emirates, the Palestinian man recently received a brand new Dominican passport after sending a roughly $100,000 contribution to the tropical nation half a world away.

"At the start I was a little worried that it might be a fraud, but the process turned out to be quite smooth and simple. Now, I am a Dominican," said Mezawi, who like many Palestinians had not been recognized as a citizen of any country. That passport will help with travel for his job with a Brazilian food processing company, he said by telephone from Dubai.

Turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa has led to a surge of interest in programs that let investors buy citizenship or residence in countries around the world in return for a healthy contribution or investment. Most are seeking a second passport for hassle-free travel or a ready escape hatch in case things get worse at home.

Nowhere is it easier or faster than in the minuscule Eastern Caribbean nations of Dominica and St. Kitts & Nevis.


MPs say horsemeat discoveries "tip of the iceberg"

© Tescos/sott.net
Supermarkets such as Tesco's may have been selling horse burgers for years
London - Discoveries so far of horsemeat in products sold as beef are likely to be the "tip of the iceberg", a parliamentary report into the scandal said on Thursday.

"The scale of contamination emerging in the meat supply chain is breathtaking," said Anne McIntosh, a legislator who chairs the cross-party Food and Rural Affairs Committee, which published the report. "More revelations will doubtless come to light in the UK and across the European Union."

Growing revelations about the use of horsemeat in products labelled beef have raised questions about the safety of the European food supply chain and prompted governments to send out a European Union (EU)-wide alert.

The EU's health chief said on Wednesday all companies that have handled falsely-labelled horsemeat were under suspicion, adding that the European Commission was considering strengthening EU rules on product labelling.

The British parliamentary report concluded there were strong signs horsemeat had been intentionally substituted for beef.

"British consumers have been cynically and systematically duped in pursuit of profit by elements within the food industry," it said.

The issue first came to light on January 15 when routine tests by Irish authorities discovered horsemeat in beef burgers made by firms in Ireland and Britain and sold in supermarket chains including Tesco, Britain's biggest retailer.

Concern grew last week when the British unit of frozen foods group Findus began recalling its beef lasagne on advice from its French supplier, Comigel, after tests showed concentrations of horsemeat ranging from 60 to 100 percent.


Mexico arrests six suspects for rape of Spanish tourists

© Reuters / Jacobo Garcia
Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam (L) and Guerrero state governor Angel Aguirre attends a news conference in Acapulco February 13, 2013.
Acapulco - Mexico has arrested six men who confessed to the rape of six female Spanish tourists in Acapulco, a crime that drew global attention to the popular Mexican resort.

"We have six detainees who have confessed, totally confessed," Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murillo said on Wednesday at a news conference in Acapulco.

Early on February 4, hooded gunmen forced their way into a beach house the women rented, roughed up their seven male companions and raped the women.

Murillo said one of the suspects was apprehended on Tuesday, and the other five were detained overnight. Local officials said there was physical evidence that implicated the suspects.


RCMP accused of rape in report on British Columbia aboriginal women

The RCMP says it wants to get to the bottom of abuse allegations against its officers in British Columbia involving aboriginal women and girls, but says individuals making the claims must come forward to allow police to conduct a proper investigation.

Those comments followed the release Wednesday of a report by New York-based Human Rights Watch detailing the claims - which include police threats, torture and sexual assault. The report calls on the federal government to launch a national inquiry.

© CBC News
B.C.'s Highway 16 and a complex of routes linked to it have collectively come to be known as the Highway of Tears
Two researchers - one from Canada and one from the U.S. - spent five weeks last summer in the province's north, visiting 10 communities between Prince George to Prince Rupert and hearing accounts from aboriginal women of alleged mistreatment at the hands of police.

First Nations communities they visited are all linked to B.C.'s so-called "Highway of Tears," where 18 women have disappeared over the past several decades.

Meghan Rhoad, a U.S. researcher with Human Rights Watch, told reporters in Ottawa on Wednesday she is hopeful the RCMP will take the recommendations seriously.

"We met with the RCMP yesterday, and I am encouraged by the level of seriousness in how they are reviewing this report," Rhoad said.

RCMP Chief Supt. Janice Armstrong said in a statement released Wednesday the force is taking the allegations "very seriously," but added it needs more help to investigate further.

"In a written response to a series of questions posed by Human Rights Watch in fall 2012, the RCMP emphasized the seriousness of allegations of police misconduct and that these allegations must be brought forward for proper investigation.

"We also explained that complaints could be made to the RCMP directly, to the Commission of Public Complaints against the RCMP or to other independent investigative bodies without fear of retaliation."

The researchers interviewed 50 aboriginal women and girls, plus family members and service providers in northern B.C. They heard stories of police pepper-spraying and using Tasers on young aboriginal girls, and of women being strip-searched by male officers.

Heart - Black

Cardinal Peter Turkson, possible pope successor, has defended legislation like Uganda's 'kill the gays' bill

Cardinal Peter Turkson
© AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis
Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana has defended anti-gay legislation, like Uganda's "Kill the Gays" bill. Here, he poses for a photograph following an interview with the Associated Press in Rome on Feb. 2013. One of Africa's brightest hopes to be the next pope, Ghanian Cardinal Turkson, says the time is right for a pontiff from the developing world.
One of the frontrunners to succeed Pope Benedict XVI has defended anti-gay legislation like Uganda's so-called "Kill the Gays" bill.

GayStarNews notes that Cardinal Peter Turkson, 64, of Ghana is a supporter of homophobic legislation and has defended Africa's anti-gay laws on the basis of African culture.

Turkson claimed during a United Nations summit last February that such laws could be permissible in society because the "intensity of the reaction is probably commensurate with tradition," according to the National Catholic Register. "Just as there's a sense of a call for rights, there's also a call to respect culture, of all kinds of people," he said when discussing the stigma surrounding homosexuality in Africa. "So, if it's being stigmatized, in fairness, it's probably right to find out why it is being stigmatized."

Turkson also criticized U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who has called for Africa to decriminalize homosexuality and end discrimination based on sexual orientation. "When you're talking about what's called 'an alternative lifestyle,' are those human rights?" said Turkson, according to NCR. "He [Ban Ki-moon] needs to recognize there's a subtle distinction between morality and human rights, and that's what needs to be clarified."

Uganda's "Kill the Gays" bill, which would make gay relations punishable by death, might be one of the most contested pieces of proposed legislation, but it doesn't stand alone. Homosexuality is criminalized in 37 African countries.

Top Secret

Judge limits questioning in JZ Knight (aka Ramtha) suit

JZ Knight
© Ramtha.com
An attorney for a former student of Ramtha's School of Enlightenment is barred from asking the school's leader, JZ Knight, about alleged practices such as encouraging students to drink a liquid containing lye that, according to the former student's affidavit, is supposed to "accelerate our individual enlightenment."

Thurston County Superior Court Judge Gary Tabor ruled Friday in anticipation of Knight's videotaped deposition that will be part of a breach-of-contract lawsuit brought by JZK Inc. against former student Virginia Coverdale.

Tabor ruled that during Knight's deposition, Coverdale's attorney, Shawn Newman, can ask Knight only questions that are directly relevant to the lawsuit. The suit seeks damages in response to Coverdale's release of videos showing Knight making derogatory comments about Mexicans, Catholics and others last year.

Reposting of the videos by a local conservative think tank, the Freedom Foundation, prompted Republicans to call for Democratic candidates to give back campaign contributions they had received from Knight prior to the Nov. 6 election.

The suit also seeks a permanent injunction barring Coverdale from releasing any other unauthorized materials belonging to the school. The school alleges the materials are protected by a contract Coverdale signed upon enrollment.

A restraining order barring any such release of protected materials is in place pending the outcome of the lawsuit.


Swedish golfer stabs self with golf tee to extract dangerous spider venom

© via Ladies European Tour
A quick-thinking Swedish golfer has told how she used a tee to extract venom from her leg after being bitten by a dangerous spider during a qualifying tournament in Australia.

The Swedish Golf Federation reported on their website how 24-year-old Daniela Holmqvist saw a redback spider on her lower leg and then felt a sharp pain above her left ankle.

Seeing her leg swell up, Holmqvist did not seek medical attention but instead grabbed a golf tee from her bag, pierced her skin and squeezed out as much venom as possible.

Grey Alien

Remote learning course on alien life proves popular

© Scotsman.com
The hunt for ET is on at Edinburgh University.
For stargazing students, it's a course which is proving to be out of this world.

Classes in "astrobiology and the search for extra-terrestrial life" are among six modules which have seen more than 300,000 new enrolments at Edinburgh University - each taking in lessons from the comfort of their own home.

The institution's free remote learning courses have proved an international hit, with the number of people signing up rising by 50 per cent in just two months.

Professor Charles Cockell said the response to his lectures in the hunt for aliens had left him overwhelmed.

He said: "I think people are interested in the history of life on Earth and whether there could be life elsewhere, but I was surprised by the response.

"The course asks questions about how life originated and how it came to be on Earth, life in extreme environments and the possibility of the existence of life on other planets like Mars. Right at the end of the course there's a discussion about extra-terrestrials, what the consequences of detection would be and the possibility of life beyond.

"Anyone can sign up from anywhere but I have been quite astonished by the sheer diversity of people who have.

Bizarro Earth

Meth lab found in golf course portable toilet

A small methamphetamine production laboratory was discovered inside a portable toilet at a Purcell, Okla., golf course, investigators said.

After staffers at the club noticed sports drink bottles containing chemicals inside the toilet and called police, it was determined the facility was being used to make meth by the "shake and bake" method of causing a chemical reaction in a single container, KFOR-TV, Oklahoma City, reported Wednesday.


Frenchman dies after being rejected for unemployment benefit and setting himself on fire in front of jobs agency

A 43-year-old man has committed suicide by setting himself on fire in front of a French employment agency in the city of Nantes.

The man died from his wounds in front of the Pôle Emploi agency, Ouest France reported.

Earlier this week, the man sent two emails to local media, warning that he would set himself on fire after finding out that he was no longer eligible for unemployment benefits.

"Today is a big day for me because I am going to self-immolate in front of the employment agency," one of the letters read.

He also said he would use five liters of gasoline to burn himself, according to local daily Presse Ocean.

Local police attempted to contact the man earlier Wednesday morning, but said he did not answer.

Comment: A country that goes to war to sustain itself is a country that has only one place to go: down.