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US: TSA Has a Question for You

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© Aram Boghosian / The Boston Globe
Andrew Timko of Andover was questioned by a TSA officer yesterday. “It’s going to get old if I have to answer the same questions every week,’’ he said.
How did Logan travelers handle the new TSA queries? Plenty welcomed the safety measure; others were nervous, self-conscious

Andrew Timko doesn't have anything to hide.

But the 29-year-old Northwestern University graduate student isn't thrilled about the enhanced-behavior detection trial program that began yesterday at Boston's Logan International Airport.

In an effort to identify potential terrorists, Transportation Security Administration officers being trained in Terminal A, home to Delta Air Lines, are now asking every passenger several questions about their travels, such as "How long have you been here?'' If the reaction - for example, profuse sweating or lack of eye contact - is deemed suspicious, the person will be tapped to undergo additional screening, such as a pat-down or bag search, after going through a metal detector or full-body scanner.

Timko, who flies from Boston to Newark every week as part of his internship at the management consulting firm Bain & Co., said he didn't mind the TSA officer's questions about his job and his Illinois driver's license. But he said his tolerance may wear thin if he has to undergo a brief interrogation every time he goes through security.

Phoenix

Canada, Alberta: Blast at Seniors Home Now Homicide Investigation

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© CBC
A suspicious fire at the Bethany Senior Citizens Home killed two people and sent seven others to hospital.
Edmonton police are investigating the explosion and fire Tuesday at the Bethany Senior Citizen Home in Old Strathcona as a homicide.

Two people died in the fire.

While police are investigating one death as a homicide, they are not looking for suspects.

One victim has been identified as Bethany resident Anna Fedorio. Sources tell CBC News the other victim was a man who also lived in the southside seniors complex.

Police believe the fire and a separate car fire in the parking lot of the complex were deliberately set.

USA

Celente: Dollar not worth its paper, Greatest depression up ahead

RT spoke to Gerald Celente from the Trends Research Institute and publisher of the Trends Journal. He believes, despite the last-minute debt deal, the U.S. is heading towards the next Great Depression.


Bad Guys

US: Israeli-Style Airline Passenger Screening Starting in Boston

airport security point
© Angela Rowlings / Boston Herald
REMOVE YOUR SHOES: Passengers at Logan International Airport form a line as they pass through a Terminal A checkpoint, where an Israeli-style screening program will begin Aug. 15.
Some skeptical of new security program

Boston's TSA screeners - part of a security force whose competency has come under fire nationwide - soon will be carrying out sophisticated behavioral inspections under a first-in-the-nation program that's already raising concerns of racial profiling, harassment of innocent travelers and longer lines.

The training for the Israeli-style screening - a projected $1 billion national program dubbed Screening Passengers by Observation Techniques - kicks off today at Logan International Airport and will be put to use in Terminal A on Aug. 15. It requires screeners to make quick reads of whether passengers pose a danger or a terror threat based on their reactions to a set of routine questions.

But security experts wonder whether Transportation Safety Administration agents are up to the challenge after an embarrassing string of blunders - including patting down a 95-year-old grandmother in Florida and making her remove her adult diaper and frisking a 3-year-old girl who screamed "stop touching me" at a checkpoint in Tennessee.

People

Somali Women Face Rape, Sexual Assault as They Flee Famine

somali women, famine
© Reuters

Internally displaced Somali women wait for food at a camp in the capital Mogadishu, July 20, 2011.

Most vulnerable women are on the outskirts of the camps

Women fleeing conflict and famine in Somalia are facing another threat to their lives, sexual assault. As they make the long journey from what was once their home to the world's largest refugee complex at Dadaab, Kenya, women have to contend with being attacked and raped by armed militants and bandits, often times repeatedly.

The violence does not stop once the women reach the camps. With the large influx of refugees, many women build shelters farther away from the center of the camps, making them more vulnerable to attacks.

However, the UN high commissioner for refugees, UNHCR says they have been working to increase security at the camps.

Question

Lying on Train Tracks More Effective Than Government Healthcare, Say Indonesians

Railway Track Cures?_6
© Minyanville
"I'll keep doing this until I'm completely cured," Indonesian diabetes patient Sri Mulyati told the Associated Press as she lay down across the tracks in Rawa Buaya, "twitching visibly as an oncoming passenger train sen[t] an extra rush of current racing through her body."

"She leaps from tracks as it approaches and then, after the last carriage rattles slowly by, climbs back into position," the article, titled "Desperate, Sick Indonesians Use Railroad 'Therapy'" continues.

Marius Widjajarta, chairman of the Indonesian Health Consumers Empowerment Foundation, says "chronic funding shortages and chaotic decentralization efforts since the 1998 ouster of longtime dictator Suharto have left many disillusioned with the state-sponsored health system." Beyond the disillusionment, many Indonesians cannot afford the medications necessary to control their maladies. And some, like Sri Mulyati, insist stretching out across a railbed is a more effective cure than anything a doctor could prescribe.

Railway Track Cures?_1
© Minyanville
According to the AP, track therapy became popular among Indonesians after "a rumor about an ethnic Chinese man who was partially paralyzed by a stroke going to the tracks to kill himself, but instead finding himself cured" started making the rounds.

Sherlock

Russia dismisses key elements of Poland's Kaczynski crash report

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© RIA Novosti. Ilya Pitalev
The site of crash that killed the Polish President at Smolensk
Russian investigators have rejected some of the key findings of a Polish report into the crash that killed Polish President Lech Kaczynski in April 2010.

A Tu-154 plane carrying Kaczynski, his wife and a host of top officials crashed in heavy fog as it attempted to land at an airfield near the western Russian city of Smolensk. The delegation was flying to Smolensk to mark the 70th anniversary of the 1940 Katyn massacre of thousands of Polish officers by Soviet secret police. All 96 people on board the plane died.

Both Poland and Russia have carried out investigations into the crash, and the probe has seen a rise in the tensions that briefly subsided in the aftermath of the tragedy. Poland released its final report on the crash last Friday.

X

Crete pelican falls into coma after being forced to drink alcohol

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© RIA Novosti. Alexei Bogdanovskiy
Pelican
A pelican on the island of Crete fell into a coma on Tuesday after large amounts of alcohol was poured down its throat, local television said.

Anastasia Bobolaki, the chair of the Chania Animal Welfare association on Crete, said the bird had been found unconscious somewhere near the resort town of Georgioupolis in the southwest of the island.

Passport

Russian PM Says Unification With Belarus Possible and Desirable

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says he would support the unification of Russia and Belarus and would also be open to South Ossetia joining the common state.

He told a youth camp on Russia's Seliger Lake that the unification is possible and wholly dependent on the will of the Belarusian people. He made a similar response when asked about South Ossetia's accession to Russia.

Neither Belarus nor South Ossetia had an immediate response to Mr. Putin's statements.

South Ossetia is one of two regions of Georgia that have proclaimed independence from Tbilisi. When Georgia made a military move to assert control over South Ossetia, Russia sent troops to support the region's separatist leaders.

X

Up to six more Somalia regions may face famine: UN

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© Reuters/Omar Faruk
An internally displaced woman sits with her malnourished children at Badbado refugee camp in the south of capital Mogadishu, August 1, 2011.
The famine in the Horn of Africa is spreading and may soon engulf as many as six more regions of the lawless nation of Somalia, the U.N. humanitarian aid chief said on Monday.

Some "12.4 million people in Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti are in dire need of help and the situation is getting worse," U.N. under-secretary-general and emergency relief coordinator Valerie Amos told reporters.

The United Nations declared a famine in two regions of southern Somalia -- where 3.7 million people are going hungry -- on July 20. There is always a steady trickle of Somalis coming into northern Kenya, mostly fleeing violence, but in recent months they have also been looking for food.

"Today we are warning that unless we see a massive increase in the response, the famine will spread to five or six more regions," she said.

"Tens of thousands of Somalis have already died and hundreds of thousands face starvation with consequences for the entire region."

Amos said the African Union would hold a funding conference with the assistance of the United Nations soon to help raise money for the drought-stricken region.