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Mon, 25 Jan 2021
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Hugo Chávez wins Venezuelan election, securing fourth term in office

Hugo Chavez
© AFP/Getty Images/Leo Ramirez
Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez tweeted "Thank you, my God. Thanks to everyone. Thanks my beloved people!!! Viva Venezuela!!!! Viva Bolivar!!!!!
Venezuelan president retains power after 14 years in office, recording 54.5% of the vote against rival Henrique Capriles

Venezuela's Hugo Chávez has once again defied his doubters by winning a new term of office in this Sunday's presidential election after what had been billed as the closest race of his political life.

To the euphoria of supporters in and around his campaign headquarters, the National Electoral Council announced the president had secured 54.4% of the votes, while his rival Capriles was behind with 44.9%. Some votes were still to be counted, but the council said the result was not in doubt.

Chávez tweeted, "Thank you, my God. Thanks to everyone. Thanks my beloved people!!! Viva Venezuela!!!! Viva Bolivar!!!!!"

As the result was announced, his supporters burst into cheers and songs of "Viva Le Patria" and "Ooh Aah, Chávez won't go."

Heart - Black

Sexual abuse at BBC: Jimmy Savile's toxic legacy

The investigation into the DJ's alleged sexual abuse has unearthed a culture where celebrities exploited their power with impunity - and other names are cropping up

Jimmy Savile
© Rex
One senior BBC presenter at the time said: “I always thought he was a horrible man, quite frankly. We all knew he was up to something – we just didn’t know what”
When Vera McAlpine is buried on Wednesday, having died last week at the age of 90, the friends and relatives attending the service will cast their minds back to another death in the family 41 years ago. And as they gather, they will inevitably wonder why Vera went to her grave never having seen justice done over the death of her daughter.

Clair McAlpine, a dancer on Top of the Pops, was just 15 when she took her own life by swallowing two bottles of sleeping pills on March 29, 1971. Vera had discovered her daughter's body lying on the floor of her bedroom at their home in Watford in Hertfordshire.

Beside the corpse were the empty bottles and Clair's red diary; a diary that contained disturbing claims written in the girl's own hand that suggest she may have been a victim of Sir Jimmy Savile's alleged sexual predatory instincts.

Savile, almost a year after his own death at the age of 84, now stands accused by more than 40 women of rape or sexual assault. Most of his victims were at the time of the alleged offences still teenagers; young, impressionable girls whom Savile groomed and preyed upon. When he passed away last year, Savile's death was mourned by a nation.

Thousands lined the route as his coffin was driven though his home town of Leeds. In life, he had been a national treasure, one of Britain's most famous broadcasters, who had raised upwards of £40 million for charity. In death, his life and times are being properly investigated and make uncomfortable reading. There are serious questions over the role played by the BBC in possibly covering up his alleged offences and even in aiding and abetting them. The culture of the times suggests famous men like Savile and others, such as the pop star Gary Glitter and the record producer Jonathan King - in King's case he abused boys - could allow them to prey on children and, despite the rumours and innuendo, get away with it for years

Heart - Black

The documentary that should make every decent Israeli ashamed

Guy Davidi
© Tomer Appelbaum
Guy Davidi, director of 5 Broken Cameras, in Bi'lin
No moments of reprieve in the probing documentary by Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi, 5 Broken Cameras, which chronicles the struggle in the West Bank Palestinian village of Bil'in.

The soldiers arrive in the dead of night. They kick, they smash, they destroy. They break in, rudely awakening an entire house and its inhabitants, including children and babies. One officer pulls out a detailed document and declares: "This house is declared a 'closed military zone.'" He reads the order - in Hebrew and in a loud voice - to the sleep-dazed, pajama-clad family.

This young man successfully completed his officers' training course. Perhaps he even believes, deep down, that someone has to do this dirty work. And he reads out the order solely to justify why the father of the household, Emad Burnat, is forbidden to film the event on his own video camera.

There are no moments of respite or reprieve in the probing documentary by Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi, 5 Broken Cameras, which was screened, among other places, at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque last weekend after collecting a number of international prizes and having been shown on Channel 8.


Polar Opposites: Venezuela votes on its future

Venezuelans are electing a new president, choosing between incumbent Hugo Chavez and his main rival Henrique Capriles Radonski, the first opposition candidate in Chavez's 13-year-rule. No other candidate is within striking distance of a win.

­Voting is scheduled to end at 6pm (22:30 GMT). But the National Electoral Council (CNE) said the polling stations will not be closed until there are no more voters lined up, adding it will begin issuing preliminary results when they show an irreversible trend at about 9pm (01:30 GMT Monday).

Venezuelans are to choose a new leader for the six-year term beginning February 2013.


Republican congressman Paul Broun dismisses evolution and other theories

© Gregory Smith/AP
Georgia congressman Paul Broun.
Member of House science committee says evolution, Big Bang theory and embryology are 'lies straight from the pit of hell'

A Republican congressman who sits on the science committee of the House of Representatives has dismissed evolution, the Big Bang theory and embryology as "lies straight from the pit of hell".

Paul Broun, who is running for re-election as Georgia representative this November unopposed by Democrats, made the comments during a speech at a baptist church last month. A videoclip of the event was posted on YouTube on Friday.

In the clip, Broun, who is a doctor, says that "as a scientist" he has found data that shows the earth is no older than 9,000 years and was created in six days. Mainstream scientific thought holds that the earth is 4.5 billion years old, give or take the odd millennia.

Broun also says that theories regarding the origins of the universe and evolution represent "lies to try and keep me and all the folk that were taught that from understanding that they need a saviour".

Comment: What is this, Idiocracy?! It pretty much tells us all we need to know about the direction our world is heading in when someone of this 'character' can rise to become a U.S. congressman, scientist and member of the House Science Committee.

Che Guevara

Several thousand march against austerity in Madrid

© Reuters / Andrea Comas
Demonstrators march with banners during a protest against public health and education cuts in Madrid October 6, 2012
Several thousand demonstrators have taken to the streets of Madrid to protest against public health and education cuts as the Spanish economy is experiencing its second recession, with the highest level of unemployment in the eurozone.

The protesters marched through central Madrid on Saturday, holding banners reading "Neither cuts nor privatizations." Many demonstrators were civil servants who will face a wage freeze next year.

"I work in a hospital, but I'm about to end up unemployed," 58-year-old nurse Victoria Gutierrez told AP. "On Oct. 30, my temporary contract will finish and it won't be extended. We have minimum cover on every floor at every hospital," she said. "This is affecting not just hospitals, also education and civil services, everything."

Bizarro Earth

How to Kill: Dutch govt aims to regulate religious slaughter

© Reuters/Ammar Awad
A ultra-Orthodox Jewish man holds a chicken over the heads of children as they perform the Kaparot ritual in Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighbourhood September 23, 2012, ahead of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. Kaparot is an ancient custom connected to Yom Kippur, where white chickens are slaughtered as a symbolic gesture of atonement.
The Dutch government is drafting a decree that would give it the power to overrule anyone aiming to practice ritual slaughter in the Netherlands. The move has received mixed reactions from Jewish communities throughout the country.

The decree, which was signed by Dutch Agriculture Minister Henk Bleker, is aimed at defining the practice's future in the Netherlands.

Ritual slaughter - which is known as 'scechitah' to Jews and 'dhabihah' to Muslims - involves making an incision across the animal's throat, allowing the blood to drain out. The slaying of conscious animals is a requirement of Jewish and Muslim law.

The declaration says that slaughtered animals still conscious 40 seconds after having their throats cut would be stunned - deeming them unsuitable for kosher or halal purposes. It also issues regulations on knife sizes and where the animal can be cut.

Both faiths maintain that ritual slaughter is humane because the animal quickly loses consciousness as it bleeds to death.

However, animal rights campaigners say the practice induces unnecessary suffering to the animal.


Germany set to debate new circumcision law

Germany's Bundestag will debate a new draft bill on male circumcisions next week. If adopted, the law will allow the ritual practice if it does not endanger the child's health and is performed "according to the standards of medical practice."

The draft bill allows circumcision to be carried out on boys up to six months old if parental consent has been given. Older children have the right to deny the procedure.

Apart from religious circumcision, the law will also allow parents to perform circumcisions for health reasons. The procedure will not require the use of anesthetic, though the qualified individual must provide "necessary and effective treatment of pain in individual cases," Der Spiegel reports.

The German cabinet is expected to adopt the 26-page bill next Wednesday, after which it will be sent to the federal parliament.

"It is a clear political signal that Jews and Muslims are still welcome in Germany," the Times of Israel cites Dieter Graumann, the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, as saying.

"We are happy that Jewish commandments and Jewish life are not being pushed into illegality."

Controversy was sparked within Germany's Muslim and Jewish communities after the Cologne district court ruled in June that a legal guardian's authority over a child does not allow them to subject them to the procedure, which the court called minor bodily harm.

Circumcision - Conditioning the Adult by Torturing the Child
Naomi Wolf: The Male Circumcision Question


Venetian protesters demand independence from Rome

© Screenshot from RT guest footage.
Protesters gather in front of the central government building in Veneto, Italy to demand independence from Rome.
Protesters have gathered in front of the central government in Veneto, Italy to demand an immediate referendum on the region's independence from Rome. The reason is mainly economic, according to the rally's organizer.

Demonstrators are presenting the local government with a resolution which demands an immediate referendum for the region to become its own country.

The new territory would include Venice, the surrounding region of Veneto, and parts of Lombardy, Trentino and Friuli-Venezia Giulia.

The rally, which was organized by the separatist Indipendenza Veneta party, drew large numbers of energetic protesters.

"The situation here is almost explosive, so today we have thousands of people who have gathered in front of the regional government and we're going to present to them a resolution signed by thousands of participants to have a referendum for independence," Chairman of the separatist Indipendenza Veneta Party, Lodovico Pizzati, told RT.

The territory would be known as the "Repubblica Veneta," and would consist of around five million people. It's a move that an overwhelming 70 per cent of local residents support, according to a poll conducted by local newspaper Il Gazzettino.

"The main reason is economic. We are in a situation worse than a colony because the tax rate in Italy is the highest the world and our services are extremely poor. We have 20 billion euros missing from our regional resources each year and that's unbearable," Pizzati said.


Troubles mount for American Airlines after it cancels more flights over loose seats

American Airlines
© Desconocido
Troubles continue to mount for American Airlines, which was forced to cancel 44 flights Friday as it scrambles to fix seats in its Boeing 757s that could pop loose during flight.

The nation's third biggest airline announced that 44 flights are canceled on Friday. Fifty flights were canceled Thursday.

Airline officials said late Thursday that they had come up with a fix for the seats, and they began pulling 48 Boeing 757s out of service to make repairs. All the planes should be back in service by Saturday.

Officials said a combination of wear, poor design and even soda spilled into the tracks can cause seats to become loose during flight.

The loose seats are one of many problems facing the troubled airline.