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Fri, 23 Apr 2021
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Cellphone application creators investigated by US government for violations of children's privacy rights

The government is investigating whether software companies that make cellphone apps violated the privacy rights of children by quietly collecting personal information from mobile devices and sharing it with advertisers and data brokers, the Federal Trade Commission said Monday. Such apps can capture a child's physical location, phone numbers of their friends and more.

The FTC described the marketplace for mobile applications - dominated by online stores operated by Apple and Google - as a digital danger zone with inadequate oversight. In a report by the FTC's own experts, it said the industry has grown rapidly but failed to ensure the privacy of young consumers is adequately protected. The FTC did not say which or how many companies it was investigating.

Among 400 apps designed for kids examined by the FTC, most failed to inform parents about the types of data the app could gather and who could access it, the report said. Others apps contained advertising that most parents would find objectionable or included links to Facebook, Twitter and other social media services where kids post information about themselves.

Comment: Aside fromthe fact that these applications may pose safety risks, children should not be using cellphones because they pose much more serious problems for their health:
Growing concern over safety of cellphones for children
Cellphones and Temper Tantrums: A Possible Link
Cellphones Cause Brain Tumors, Says New Report By International EMF Collaborative
"Disconnect": Why cellphones may be killing us


Catholic priest punished by church for performing Mass with female priest

Father Bill Brennan, a Milwaukee, Wisconsin Jesuit, was recently punished by Catholic Church authorities for celebrating Mass last month with Janice Sevre-Duszynska, of the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, in violation of church rules.

Jeremy Langford, spokesman for the Society of Jesus, said that Father Brennan, 92, remains a Jesuit, can still celebrate Mass privately and hear confessions with other Jesuits, but can no longer celebrate Mass or other sacraments in public, reports the Daily Mail.

Langford added that the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and the Wisconsin Province of the Jesuits agreed on the sanctions against Father Brennan.

The Province said in a statement: "The Province did not approve or sanction the event, and regrets Father Brennan's participation in it."

Women are forbidden by the Catholic Church to become priests, but some have been ordained and celebrate Mass outside of the official church.

Black Cat

Wave of street muggings and grave robberies hits Paris

© Alamy

Police said sky-high market prices for precious metals are acting as a magnet for thieves with scant regard for the living or the dead

Austerity-struck Paris has been hit by a wave of street muggings and grave robberies with thieves prepared to exhume bodies to steal gold and jewellery.

Last week, police in the French capital arrested three people as part of a widening grave robbery investigation.

There was further public outrage after two masked intruders shot dead a 52-year old precious metal worker when he tried to stop them stealing gold from his foundry in the chic central Parisian district of Le Marais.

Police said sky-high market prices for precious metals are acting as a magnet for thieves with scant regard for the living or the dead.

In Pantin cemetery, in the north of Paris, dozens of bodies have recently been dug up, with gold teeth and jewellery stolen from them.

Police sources said the three men seized last week were gravediggers employed by the city's cemeteries.

Piggy Bank

Europe clings to scorched-earth fiscal policy as depression deepens

© Incamerastock / Alamy

The eurozone has crashed back into double-dip recession.

Like the generals of the First World War, Europe's leaders seem determined to send wave after wave of their youth into the barbed wire of tight money, bank deleveraging, and fiscal austerity a l'outrance.

The strategy of triple-barrelled contraction across a string of inter-linked countries has been the greatest policy debacle since the early 1930s. The outcome over the last three years has been worse than forecast at every stage, and in every key respect.

The eurozone has crashed back into double-dip recession. It will contract a further 0.3pc next year, according to a chastened European Central Bank. The ECB omitted mention of its own role in this fiasco by allowing all key measures of the money supply to stall in mid-2012, with the time-honoured consequences six months to a year later.

The North has been engulfed at last by the contractionary holocaust it imposed on the South. French car sales crashed 19pc last month, even before its fiscal shock therapy -- 2pc of GDP next year. The Bundesbank admitted on Friday tore up its forecast on Friday. Germany itself is in recession.

The youth jobless rate has reached 58pc in Greece, 55.8pc in Spain, 39.1pc in Portugal, 36.5pc in Italy, 30.1pc in Slovakia, and 25.5pc in France, with all the known damage this does to the life-trajectory of the victims and the productive dynamism of these economies.

EU policy elites blame "labour rigidities". The United Nation's economic arm UNCTAD counters that the EU demand for "wage compression" is itself perpetuating the crisis.

The labour share of total income has fallen to a 60-year low, eating away at demand. This is a formula for perma-slump. In a thinly veiled attack on Berlin, Frankfurt, and Brussels, the UN decried the "political blockade" against any solution to the crisis. It mocked the "discredited mantra" of flexible labour markets. Well, at least somebody is exposing the lie.


$600 Million Dilemma: NYC Subway-Station-Turned-Fish-Tank

© Metropolitan Transportation Authority/AP Photo
The South Ferry subway station after it was flooded by seawater during superstorm Sandy is shown on Oct. 30, 2012.
In March 2009, Elliot Sander stood in Lower Manhattan outside South Ferry, New York's newest subway station. Addressing a crowd, the head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority hailed it as the first major transit project to open downtown since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"This artistically beautiful and highly functional station is a tangible reminder that when the MTA is provided with adequate capital funding, we build monumental works that will benefit generations of New Yorkers for many decades to come," Sander said that day.

Three-and-a-half years later, the station lies in ruins. A tidal surge from Hurricane Sandy Oct. 29 turned it into what current MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota called a "large fish tank." Dispatch equipment was destroyed, tiles ripped from the wall and surfaces coated with East River muck. The state agency pegs the rebuilding cost at $600 million, making it one of the most expensive items on its $5 billion damage list. The price tag doesn't include fortifying against future flooding.

What to do about South Ferry, eight stories underground and only 400 feet (122 meters) from the river, is at the center of a debate over the prudence of rebuilding in a flood zone. For some mass-transit advocates, the destruction shows the importance of investing in new flood protection now in order to save money down the road. Others question if the MTA, the biggest U.S. transit agency, should rebuild at all.


Palestine's next step

palestine sign
© roitov.com
Sign in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem
December 9, 2012
Donors Reverse Netanyahu's Financial Attack

Predicting things in the Middle East is dangerous and foolish. A zillion parameters clutter the equations transforming any such an attempt into an exercise in futility. Yet, the day after the acceptance of Palestine as an observer state by the UN, I predicted in Israel and Palestine go to War that this time Palestine will circumvent the fiscal blockade imposed by Netanyahu. I dared to publish that, not because of having received a new supercomputer capable of analyzing the event, but because of the sheer stupidity of Netanyahu's decision. The day after the UN vote, Netanyahu stopped the transfer of $100 million, the tax revenues of the previous month; at the same opportunity, he declared that the Palestinian statehood campaign was "a gross violation of the agreements signed with the state of Israel," adding "the government of Israel rejects the U.N General Assembly decision." Moreover, he announced the construction of 3,000 houses in E1, a terrain between Jerusalem and Ma'aleh Adumim, an attempt to bisect the West Bank and transform Palestine into a non-viable state. A few days later, on December 9, 2012, Arab states agreed to provide Palestine with $100 million monthly as a "financial safety net." Palestine got a bit more independent; Israel got a lot more irrelevant.

Black Cat

'Fen Tiger' is back - and this time there are two of them

Fen Tiger
© Cambridge News
Fen Tiger sighting in Girton, 1998
The mysterious "Fen Tiger" has been reported prowling the Cambridgeshire countryside again - but this time it had a friend.

A cyclist claims to have spotted two large black "panther-like creatures" in the snow, on his way to work at the Imperial War Museum Duxford.

Gavin Elliott-Turner was cycling down Fowlmere Road towards Melbourn at about 5.45am on Wednesday when he saw two pairs of eyes glaring at him.

He said: "They were as clear as day, just 30m away, I thought 'Jesus, there are two huge black cats in front of me'.

"They were very clear because of the contrast with the bright snow.

"They looked at me for a couple of seconds, then they ran off across the fields.

"They then stopped, looked around, then took off at a tremendous pace. I saw the footprints they had left.

"I didn't want to hang around as I felt very uncomfortable, and taking a picture would have meant lingering.

"My instincts said get the hell out of here. I thought they may want me as breakfast."

Heart - Black

The Sexxxtons, mother and daughter duo, create porn together

A mother and daughter from Florida were recently stuck in a financial rut that had them thinking of ways to make money. The daughter then suggested they create porn together.

According to the Daily Mail, The Sexxxtons, which includes mother Jessica Sexxxton and daughter Monica Sexxxton, have been creating porn videos for their website since last year. They also recently released a DVD.

They were prompted to create and sell their own porn when Jessica's family, which includes a younger son and daughter Monica, were about to be evicted from their home three years ago.

At first, Monica worked as a bartender and dancer before she suggested to her mother that they give porn a try.

It seemed like the perfect fit for Monica as she had "always been an exhibitionist" and "sex just oozed out" of her.

"It was my idea. The money was part of the reason, but so was fun, and having sex with hot guys," Monica, 22, explained.

The mother-daughter duo do not actually touch each other during sex scenes due to legal reasons, but they usually have sex at the same time on camera and have the same sexual partners.

Jessica, 56, said they have "no problem doing two-on-one" but they are careful to "not interact with each other."


Doomsayers await the end of the world - in 12 days' time

But governments try to reassure their citizens not to panic.

Last count: Cubans at a Mayan ritual last week
The end of the world is nigh, or so apocalypse observers would have you believe. The Mayan and Hopi Mesoamerican Long Count calendar may have begun in 3114BC and continued unerringly ever since, but it comes to an abrupt halt on 21 December 2012. Hence, the belief gaining ground among those who fall for this kind of thing that the cosmos will cease to exist in 12 days' time.

Although it may not yet have taken root in Britain's Acacia Avenues, the idea of an approaching cataclysm is troubling folk from Moscow to France, and the US to Brazil. The New York Times has reported that some spooked Russians have been panic-buying matches, fuel and sugar to prepare for the post-apocalypse. And they are not alone. A poll by Ipsos recently found that one in seven people believe the world will end during their lifetime (or, presumably, just after it). The same poll suggests that one in 10 people have experienced fear and/or anxiety about the eschatological implications of Friday week.

But reassurance is at hand. Governments around the world are taking the prophesied threat seriously enough to inform their citizens that they are not taking it seriously at all. Here in the United States, for example, an official government blog entry was posted on Monday, reassuring Americans that "Scary rumors about the world ending in 2012 are just rumors".

Nasa itself has waged a campaign of facts to combat the fear-mongering, releasing a 6.5-minute YouTube video, in which David Morrison, astronomer and Nasa scientist, personally debunked the Doomsday theories. Last month, the space agency published detailed rebuttals of five separate apocalyptic scenarios on its website, including a meteor strike, a solar flare and the so-called polar shift, whereby the Earth's magnetic and rotational poles would reverse, with devastating consequences. While magnetic reversals do take place approximately every 400,000 years, admits Nasa, "As far as we know, such a magnetic reversal doesn't cause any harm to life on Earth. Scientists believe a magnetic reversal is very unlikely to happen in the next few millennia."

The 2012 Collective Shift & the Secret History of End-Times Prophecies
John Major Jenkins, the Mayans, 2012 and All That Jazz
2012 - On The Eve Of Destruction?
How is the World Going to End in 2012?
Chaos and Consent: The Logistics of the One World Government

Christmas Lights

San Jose teen stabbed at Christmas in the Park event

© CBS News
Christmas in the Park at Plaza de Cesar Chavez, San Jose
A 14-year-old boy was injured in a stabbing at San Jose's Christmas in the Park event on Saturday night, a police spokesman said. Officers responded to reports of a stabbing at Plaza de Cesar Chavez near Almaden Boulevard and Park Avenue at about 8:50 p.m., San Jose police Officer Albert Morales said.

Arriving officers found a teenage boy who had been stabbed at least once, Morales said.

The victim was taken to a hospital with injuries that were not expected to be life threatening, he said.

Witnesses told police that three suspects in their teens or early 20s were seen fleeing the area.

No one was arrested.

The incident is being investigated as gang related, Morales said. Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact the San Jose Police Department gang investigation unit at (408) 277-4165.