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Sun, 11 Apr 2021
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Man bites off girlfriend's thumb in fight

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Police in Central Florida say a man bit off his girlfriend's left thumb during a fight while he was driving her to work at Taco Bell.
Police in Central Florida say a man bit off his girlfriend's left thumb during a fight while he was driving her to work at Taco Bell.

Florida Today reports that hospital officials called police after the woman arrived for treatment Wednesday.

Pistol

Gun laws in the U.S.: Seven things you need to know about the data

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From concealed carry laws to background checks, the 50 states are a patchwork of inconsistent gun regulations.
Weapons laws can vary dramatically from state to state. Here are the key findings we collected while building our interactive.

When you first encounter this interactive, it's perhaps best to know that our key finding was that gun regulation from state to state is not one-size-fits-all.

Trying to create "buckets" to classify regulations broadly among the states is a challenge because most states have not enacted comprehensive legislation. In fact, it's common to find that states regulate one area of gun control in a very isolated way. For example, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania have enacted universal background checks for prospective gun owners, which also apply to sales at gun shows. However, other states, like Virginia, have imposed other administrative requirements - many of which emphasize record-keeping over regulation - that also pertain to gun shows.

A key point about the "blue" regulation areas used to highlight gun regulations in this interactive: the law specifically regulated gun rights in those states; however, if a state's regulation area is colored "grey", we can't necessarily make the assumption that there are absolutely no gun restrictions in that locale.

Below are other key findings we encountered while wrangling the data for this interactive:

Attention

West Point center cites dangers of 'far right' in U.S.

4th of July
© Associated Press/The Gainesville Sun
A U.S. flag flies July 3, 2012, over a field during the Fanfare and Fireworks celebration at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Fla.
A West Point think tank has issued a paper warning America about "far right" groups such as the "anti-federalist" movement, which supports "civil activism, individual freedoms and self-government."

The report issued this week by the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., is titled "Challengers from the Sidelines: Understanding America's Violent Far-Right."

The center - part of the institution where men and women are molded into Army officers - posted the report Tuesday. It lumps limited government activists with three movements it identifies as "a racist/white supremacy movement, an anti-federalist movement and a fundamentalist movement."

The West Point center typically focuses reports on al Qaeda and other Islamic extremists attempting to gain power in Asia, the Middle East and Africa through violence.

But its latest study turns inward and paints a broad brush of people it considers "far right."

It says anti-federalists "espouse strong convictions regarding the federal government, believing it to be corrupt and tyrannical, with a natural tendency to intrude on individuals' civil and constitutional rights. Finally, they support civil activism, individual freedoms, and self government. Extremists in the anti-federalist movement direct most their violence against the federal government and its proxies in law enforcement."

Heart - Black

Acid thrown in face of Bolshoi ballet's artistic director

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© Yuri Kadobnov /AFP/Getty Images
Sergei Filin, artistic director of the Bolshoi ballet, in 2011.
A masked assailant threw acid into the face of the Bolshoi ballet's artistic director on Thursday in Moscow in what may have been a "reprisal for his selection of dancers in starring roles at the famed Russian company," The Associated Press reports.

Russia Today writes that 42-year-old Sergei Filin "may lose his sight." He "suffered severe burns of multiple degrees to his face and eyes," it adds. And, the news outlet reports that:
"It will take Filin at least six months to recover, Bolshoi spokesperson Ekaterina Novikova said. She added that Sergei Filin had received threats from anonymous callers before. 'We never imagined that a war for roles - not for real estate or for oil - could reach this level of crime,' Novikova said to Channel One.

"Bolshoi general director Anatoly Iksanov said he believed the attack was linked to Filin's work at the theater. 'He is a man of principle and never compromised," Iksanov said. 'If he believed that this or that dancer was not ready or was unable to perform this or that part, he would turn them down.' "

Attention

At last! Controversial 'naked image' body scanners to be removed from U.S. airports after privacy backlash from furious passengers

The federal government is pulling the plug on the airport body scanners that had ignited a nationwide controversy over the invasive nature of the body images that they capture. The Transportation Security Administration has announced that it will remove the 'naked image' scanners from U.S. airports because the machines' developers can't write software to make the images less revealing.
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When the machines were introduced into U.S. airports two years ago, they immediately became the focus of lawsuits and protests. The X-ray images they produce are so clear that opponents say they amount to pornography. Passengers can opt for a full-body pat-down if they refuse the scanner.

The TSA began removing the machines last fall from major airports including New York's LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International in an effort to speed up lines at crowded airports.

Meanwhile, in a bid to quell passengers' privacy concerns, the TSA asked the machines' developers, OSA Systems Inc., to make the scans less intrusive.

But the company failed to meet a congressional deadline to get the job done.

No Entry

Canada: Firefighters used chainsaw to rescue hoarder buried for at least three days under belongings

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Eleven fire fighters cut through a door and then sawed a pathway through ceiling-high mounds of garbage packed inside a small Burnaby, B.C., home to rescue an elderly man who had been pinned under debris for at least three days.

RCMP were called to the house in the city east of Vancouver Monday night after an anxious friend reported not seeing the neighbour, in his 70s, for several days.

Police sought the aid of the Burnaby Fire Department, whose members arrived later that night to help them gain entry.

Inside, they discovered "quite a mess" before uncovering the trapped man, said Assistant Fire Chief Greg Mervin.

USA

New Jersey town proposes American flag ban

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West New York Mayor Felix Roque
West New York, a town in northern New Jersey, may adopt a law that bans the American flag from being displayed.

Tucked into a proposed ordinance that would regulate window displays in businesses and televisions mounted to cars is a provision that would ban "flags, banners and pennants." Flags are included among 19 items "prohibited anywhere" in West New York, a Hudson County town across the Hudson River from New York City. The West New York Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 Wednesday to pass a preliminary version of the ordinance, scheduled for a final vote next month.

The ordinance was authored by Mayor Felix Roque (D), currently under federal indictment for computer hacking. Roque's spokesman, Pablo Fonseca, denied that the ordinance would prohibit the flying of the American flag in the town.

"That takes it to an extreme," Fonseca told The Huffington Post. "The mayor is a retired colonel in the Army."

Bizarro Earth

Western Europe gets new gas pipeline

Primda, Czech Republic -- German energy company RWE said opening the Gazelle natural gas pipeline, which connects to Russia's Nord Stream, provides a vital energy source for Europe.

RWE announced that it commissioned the Gazelle pipeline during a ceremony in the Czech Republic.

"Bringing this pipeline into service opens up the 'new northern route' for the transportation of natural gas to Western Europe," the company said in a statement. "Construction of the Gazelle pipeline is of major strategic importance for both the Czech Republic and for Europe as a whole."

The 103-mile pipeline connects to the Opal pipeline system in Germany and the Nord Stream dual pipeline system running through the Baltic Sea to Germany. The second string of Nord Stream, part of Russian energy company Gazprom's plans to diversify its export options, went into service in October.

Arrow Up

Thief writes apology letter, returns stolen gold rings 15 years later

Apology Letter
© Refreshing News
The old saying, "Better late than never," rang particularly true for the Riphagen family of suburban Chicago.

The Riphagens had four gold rings returned to them, along with an anonymous letter of apology, 15 years after they had been stolen. Margot Riphagen, 31, who now lives in Portland, Oregon, recalls exactly when the rings were stolen.

She was only 16 years old when she had a party that got a bit out of hand. A few items were stolen, most notably those four rings. "It was a long time ago and it was a pretty bad situation," Riphagen told ABCNews.com.

"I invited a few friends over and then all of a sudden there were all these people there I didn't know. We immediately noticed stuff was missing.

My parents actually turned me into the police. They always understood this wasn't my fault, but we had never recovered those rings and I still have no idea who it was.

"The anonymous note, signed by a sincerely regretful "dumb kid who wants to right a wrong," was sent to Riphagen's mother at her place of work.

The family was astonished to have the rings returned, and Margot said she doesn't even care who stole them. The only thing that matters now is that they're back.

"We don't care who it was. I was stupid when I was 16 and I'm sure they were too. Somebody did it for the thrill of it, not for money," Riphagen said.

People

Iraqi protests defy the Maliki regime and inspire hope

Anti-government demonstrations in Iraq
© STR/EPA
Anti-government demonstrations in Iraq have gained energy and focus in recent weeks.
Outside analysts view the protest movement in Iraq via the prism of sectarianism, but its demands reveal a more positive agenda

The indomitable Iraqi spirit is on display yet again, as protests against the corrupt government in Baghdad continue for the 21st successive day. This outburst of civil disobedience comes after a year in which westerners have heard relatively little about Iraq. Ever since the US claimed to withdraw its combat forces in 2011, most westerners have been oblivious to the daily struggles and hardships of Iraqis, who live under a government more beholden to foreign interests than to those of its people.

While the US has moved on, choosing to ignore the nightmare it created with war and occupation, Iraqis have gone to the streets, taking destiny in their own hands. But this should come as no surprise to those who know Iraq's history, where foreign domination has always been resisted.

Iraqis rose up to end the British mandate of their country in 1921, and after years of struggle, they overthrew the British-imposed monarchy in 1958. They carried on through yet more political turmoil when the prime minister, General Abdel-Karim Qasim, was assassinated in 1963, and succeeded by the military coup that ushered in Ba'athism. The Iraqi people endured repression from Saddam Hussein, who rose to power with help from the CIA. War with Iran lasted for most of the 1980s; the first Gulf war claimed an estimated 158,000 lives (32,195 of which were children) in 1991, and the resulting sanctions claimed an additional 1m lives.