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Fri, 14 Dec 2018
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Social media firms slammed for baby ads after stillbirth

Social Media
A woman whose child was stillborn has slammed the targeted advertising of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram after she returned home from the hospital and kept getting baby-related sales pitches.

Gillian Brockell, a journalist with The Washington Post, said that if those social media giants were clever enough to know she was pregnant they should also have figured out she'd lost the baby.

She shared the bad news last month in a tweet.

"I know you knew I was pregnant," Brockell wrote to the companies in a letter posted Wednesday on The Washington Post and Twitter.

"It's my fault, I just couldn't resist those Instagram hashtags - #30weekspregnant, #babybump. And, silly me! I even clicked once or twice on the maternity wear ads Facebook served up."

"But didn't you also see me googling 'braxton hicks vs. pre-term labor' and 'baby not moving'?", Brockell added.

"Did you not see my three days of social media silence, uncommon for a high-frequency user like me?

"And then the announcement post with keywords like 'heartbroken' and 'problem' and 'stillborn' and the 200 teardrop emoticons from my friends?

"Is that not something you could track?"


Police snag thieves using Amazon packages as bait

amazon box
Police in Jersey City have been placing fake Amazon packages outside people's homes to catch thieves, reports the Associated Press. Using GPS trackers and doorbells cameras provided by Amazon, police are able to track and apprehend would-be thieves. The sting operation targets the most at-risk areas in the city identified from a combination of crime data and Amazon's own theft reports.

The operation appears to have found some success. One package spent just three minutes on someone's front porch Tuesday before it was swiped and the suspect caught by police. It's unclear, however, what crime the person was charged with. Nevertheless, the mere existence of the program might be deterrent enough once word gets out.


Middle school student named Joshua Trump forced to change last name after being bullied relentlessly

Joshua Trump bullied

Joshua's father Robert Berto is pictured walking him to middle school since he returned recently. He spent a year home-schooling the boy after removing him from elementary school because of the bullying
The daily torment of an 11-year-old boy at Delaware's Talley Middle School has gotten so bad the child's parents changed his last name to thwart his bullies.

"He said he hates himself, and he hates his last name, and he feels sad all the time, and he doesn't want to live feeling like that anymore, and as a parent that's scary," the boy's mother, Megan Trump, told WPVI.

Joshua Trump's problems started in elementary school, when the 45th president announced his candidacy, but the boy's parents thought things might be different in middle school.

"He was being ridiculed and bullied for the fact that his last name was Trump," said Bobby Berto, Joshua's father. "I pulled him out of school and homeschooled him for a year."

Comment: In this day and age there are certain forms of bullying that have become acceptable, namely anything associated with conservatism or Trump.


William Blum, anti-imperial advocate, dies at age 85

William Blum
© J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press
William Blum, a longtime critic of United States foreign policy, with his book “Rogue State.” Sales of the book surged in 2006 when a recording emerged on which Osama bin Laden said all Americans should read it.

Comment: The New York Times just can't bear to pay their respects to William Blum, which is no surprise considering they have no journalistic integrity and he did. He called out the machinations of covert intelligence and hammered repeatedly on the long history of US sponsored coups all around the world and their disastrous effects. Since the NYT is a propaganda outlet, his efforts were in direct conflict with their work, which is likely why they chose to smear him by tenuously connecting him with bin Laden. Yes, really.

William Blum, who raged against United States foreign policy in relative obscurity for decades until one of his published anti-imperialist broadsides received a surge in sales thanks to a surprise public tribute from Osama bin Laden, died on Sunday in Arlington, Va. He was 85.

His son, Alexander, said the cause was kidney failure. Mr. Blum had been hospitalized after being injured in a fall in his apartment in October.

Mr. Blum (pronounced "bloom") was a computer programmer for the State Department who aspired to become a career Foreign Service officer and "take part in the great anti-Communist crusade," he once recalled. But he became disillusioned over the Vietnam War.


Strasbourg Christmas market shooter killed by police

Strasbourg market shooting
© Reuters / Vincent Kessler
French special forces secure an area during a police operation in Strasbourg.
French police have killed the main suspect in the Strasbourg Christmas market shooting, Cherif Chekat, following a dramatic, helicopter-assisted police raid in a city-center district, the country's Interior Minister confirmed.

The French police mounted a massive operation in Strasbourg on Thursday, involving armed officers from the elite RAID police unit and the helicopter. Interior Minister Christophe Castaner confirmed that the suspect was "neutralized" in the raid.


Natalie Portman says it like it is: Israel nation-state law is 'racist'

Natalie Portman
© Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images
Natalie Portman attends premiere of Neon's 'Vox Lux' at ArcLight Hollywood on 5 December 2018 in Hollywood, California.
Hollywood actress Natalie Portman has called Israel's nation state law "racist" in an interview with London-based newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi.

"The Nation-State law is racist," the Israeli-American actress said in the interview published in Arabic yesterday. "It is a mistake and I don't agree with it."

In July, Israel adopted the so-called Nation State Law, declaring that "Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people and they have an exclusive right to national self-determination in it." The controversial law also stripped Arabic of its designation as an official language alongside Hebrew, downgrading it to "special status" despite its use by almost two million Palestinian citizens of Israel who live in the country, one-fifth of the population.

The law was lambasted by many inside Israel, with Israel's minority Druze community calling the law a "betrayal" and several Palestinian MKs resigning. Prominent Israeli figures also condemned the law, with best-selling author Yuval Noah Harari refusing an honour by the Israeli consulate in Los Angeles in protest. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin was also critical of the law, reportedly saying he would sign the document in Arabic.


Revisiting Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's Warnings to The West

Comment: December 11th 2018 marked the birth of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the great Russian thinker, writer and activist. He's famous in the West for exposing the horrors of Soviet repression. He's less well-known for his Warnings to The West...

The Russian author thought it was no coincidence that Soviet Russia shared certain common problems with the West, for he saw socialism and liberalism as kindred ideologies

With tensions between America and Russia running high, it is worth reconsidering a figure who once cast a long shadow across both lands: Nobel Prize-winning author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. As a writer, Solzhenitsyn acquired renown through works such as One Day In The Life of Ivan Denisovitch and Gulag Archipelago, whereby he not only exposed the follies, pretensions, and crimes of Marxist-Leninism but also testified to the power infused into the human spirit by its Maker. As a dissident, Solzhenitsyn proved such a nuisance to Soviet authorities that they deported him in 1974, leading him to take up residence in Montpelier, Vermont. At first regarded as a hero by Americans, he eventually found his popularity waning, thanks in part to his controversial 1978 commencement address at Harvard University.

Instead of heaping upon America the praise which might have been expected at the time from a dyed-in-the-wool anti-Communist, Solzhenitsyn used his Harvard platform to warn that he had observed phenomena in the United States disturbingly reminiscent of Soviet life:
Without any censorship, in the West fashionable trends of thought and ideas are carefully separated from those which are not fashionable; nothing is forbidden, but what is not fashionable will hardly ever find its way into periodicals or books or be heard in colleges. Legally your researchers are free, but they are conditioned by the fashion of the day. There is no open violence such as in the East; however, a selection dictated by fashion and the need to match mass standards frequently prevents independent-minded people from giving their contribution to public life.
"The press has become the greatest power within the Western countries," he also insisted, "more powerful than the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. One would then like to ask: by what law has it been elected and to whom is it responsible?"

Red Flag

Modern life is killing our children: Cancer rate in young people up 40% in 16 years

air pollution

Air pollution, obesity and a rise in electrical and magnetic fields is blamed for the surge in childhood cancer
Modern life is killing children with the number of youngsters diagnosed with cancer rising 40 per cent in the past 16 years because of air pollution, pesticides, poor diets and radiation, scientists have warned.

New analysis of government statistics by researchers at the charity Children with Cancer UK found that there are now 1,300 more cancer cases a year compared with 1998, the first time all data sets were published.

The rise is most apparent in teenagers and young adults aged between 15 and 24, where the incident rate has risen from around 10 cases in 100,000 to nearly 16.

Researchers say that although some of the rise can be explained by improvements in cancer diagnoses and more screening, the majority is probably caused by environmental factors.

Comment: The rate has increased 40% in 16 years... that's pretty much the period of "war on terror" stress AND cell phones becoming ubiquitous.


Sleepless no more in Seattle: Later school start times result in more sleep and better grades for students

teen sleeping
© Jasper Cole/Getty Images
Teens' biological clock drives them to stay up late and sleep in. Most school start times don't accommodate that drive
Many American teenagers try to put in a full day of school, homework, after-school activities, sports and college prep on too little sleep. As evidence grows that chronic sleep deprivation puts teens at risk for physical and mental health problems, there is increasing pressure on school districts around the country to consider a later start time.

In Seattle, school and city officials recently made the shift. Beginning with the 2016-2017 school year, the district moved the official start times for middle and high schools nearly an hour later, from 7:50 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. This was no easy feat; it meant rescheduling extracurricular activities and bus routes. But the bottom line goal was met: Teenagers used the extra time to sleep in.

Researchers at the University of Washington studied the high school students both before and after the start-time change. Their findings appear in a study published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances. They found students got 34 minutes more sleep on average with the later school start time. This boosted their total nightly sleep from 6 hours and 50 minutes to 7 hours and 24 minutes.


Activist detained by police and deported over RT sex-trafficking documentary about Cambodia, now faces jail

Rath Rott Mony (R) with his wife, Long Kimheang

Rath Rott Mony (R) with his wife, Long Kimheang
A Cambodian activist has been deported from Thailand and is now facing jail for helping RT make a documentary about the sex-trafficking of children. Cambodian authorities insist it included fake accounts to "defame" the country.

Rath Rott Mony, 47, helped shoot RT's viral documentary "My Mother Sold Me," which includes harrowing accounts of young women whose own parents forced them into prostitution to help feed the family.

Mony was detained in Bangkok, Thailand on Friday as he was preparing for a trip to the Netherlands, his wife, Long Kimheang told RT. He was about to retrieve his passport from the Dutch embassy that day, she said, and the police refused to let her film the arrest.

The labor activist, who is the president of the Cambodian construction workers union CCTUF, was first held in a Thai police station before eventually being deported to his home country on Wednesday. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has confirmed Mony's deportation to RT, but could not comment on the charges brought against him. Cambodian police spokesperson Chhay Kim Khoeun told Reuters that they "will send him to court," which will determine the charges.

Mony worked as a fixer for RT Documentary crew shooting "My Mother Sold Me" in October. The documentary includes an account of a poor Cambodian girl who was sold into sex work by her mother.