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US: DC Museum Closed after Anti-War Protest; Pepper Spray Used

© The Associated Press/Jose Luis Magana
One demonstrator helps another flush her eyes with water after after police pepper-sprayed a group of protestors, who were trying to get into the National Air and Space Museum in Washington Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011, as part of Occupy DC activities in Washington.
The National Air and Space Museum in Washington was closed Saturday after anti-war demonstrators swarmed the building to protest a drone exhibit and security guards used pepper spray to repel them, sickening a number of protesters.

Smithsonian spokesman John Gibbons said a large group of demonstrators, estimated at 100 to 200 people, arrived at about 3 p.m. and tried to enter the National Mall museum. When a security guard stopped group members from entering, saying they could not bring in signs, he was apparently held by demonstrators, Gibbons said. A second guard who arrived used pepper spray on at least one person and the crowd dispersed, he added.

A number of groups have been demonstrating in the city in the past week. The group that arrived at the museum Saturday included individuals taking part in the October 2011 Stop the Machine demonstration in the city's Freedom Plaza, which has an anti-war and anti-corporate greed message. The group also included protesters affiliated with Occupy D.C., a group modeled on the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York City. Occupy D.C. has been holding marches and meetings in Washington's McPherson Square.


US, Washington: Hertz: Muslim workers failed to follow break rules

© Reuters/Rebecca Cook
A Hertz sign is seen outside a rental car office in Ferndale, Michigan May 9, 2011.
Hertz rental car company, which was met with protests for suspending 34 Muslim shuttle drivers in Seattle in a dispute over prayer breaks, said it would reinstate the workers if they agreed to clock in and out.

Hertz said the Somali Muslim employees at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport were suspended not for praying but for failing to clock in and out for 10-minute breaks as required under a collective bargaining agreement.

Washington state law allows employees two 10-minute breaks during an eight-hour shift.

"This issue arose when breaks for prayers were extended for unacceptably long periods beyond 10 minutes for nonreligious activities, Hertz spokesman Richard Broome said in a written statement issued on Friday night.


US: California allows college aid to illegal immigrants

© Reuters/Lucy Nicholson
California Governor Jerry Brown speaks after vetoing the budget passed the day before by state legislators in Los Angeles, California June 16, 2011.
California Governor Jerry Brown on Saturday signed a bill giving illegal immigrant college students access to state-funded financial aid, the second half of two-part legislation known as the "Dream Act."

The controversial measure, which passed the Democrat-controlled legislature on a party-line vote in September, represents a victory for immigrant-rights activists ahead of the 2012 presidential election. California is the nation's most populous state.

Only two other states, Texas and New Mexico, allow illegal immigrants to qualify for state financial aid for college, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

"Going to college is a dream that promises intellectual excitement and creative thinking," Brown said in a written statement issued by his office.

"The Dream Act benefits us all by giving top students a chance to improve their lives and the lives of all of us," he said.


2 US soldiers accused of raping teenagers in Korea

© The Associated Press/Ahn Young-joon
Two U.S. soldiers stationed in South Korea are accused of raping two teens. There are 28,500 American troops stationed in the country.
Two U.S. soldiers have been accused of raping teenage girls in South Korea in separate incidents, prompting U.S. military officials to apologize Saturday as they tried to ease growing public anger.

Army Brig. Gen. David Conboy, who supervises the U.S. garrison in Seoul, issued a statement apologizing for "pain" caused by allegations that a U.S. soldier raped a girl in her rented room in Seoul on Sept. 17. That solider - a private in his early 20s - is being questioned by police but has not been arrested.

Another U.S. private has been arrested on suspicion of raping a teenage girl on Sept. 24 in a city north of Seoul.

The top U.S. diplomat for East Asia, Kurt Campbell, apologized Friday for what he called a "tragic and inexcusable rape that took place about a week ago." It was not clear which of the two incidents he was referring to.


Labor Pains on the Farm

© 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

© 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

© 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.


Arab Uprisings' Women Celebrate Nobel Recognition

© 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

© 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.