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Ghana Witch Camps: Widows' Lives in Exile

Sana Kojo
© Jane Hahn/ActionAid
Sana Kojo, alleged witch in Kukuo.
Kukuo, Northern Ghana - When misfortune hits a village, there is a tendency in some countries to suspect a "witch" of casting a spell. In Ghana, outspoken or eccentric women may also be accused of witchcraft - and forced to live out their days together in witch camps.

A rusty motorbike speeds across the vast dry savannah of Ghana's impoverished northern region, leaving a cloud of reddish dust in its wake. Arriving at a small group of round thatched huts, the young motorcyclist helps his old mother to dismount to begin her new life in exile.

Frail 82-year-old Samata Abdulai has arrived at the village of Kukuo, one of Ghana's six witch camps, where women accused of witchcraft seek refuge from beating, torture or lynching.

The camps are said to have come into existence more than 100 years ago, when village chiefs decided to establish isolated safe areas for the women. They are run by tindanas, leaders capable of cleansing an accused woman so that not only is the community protected from any witchcraft but the woman herself is safe from vigilantes.
Accused Witches
© Jane Hahn/ActionAid
Sisters Safia, left, and Samata, at Kukuo.
Today they are still run by local chiefs, and accommodate up to 1,000 women in spartan huts with no electricity or running water, and roofs that leak.

For water, the inhabitants of the Kukuo camp walk three miles each day to the River Otti, struggling back uphill with heavy pots of water. It's an intolerable way for an elderly woman to live, but it's a life they are prepared to endure so long as they are safe.

They survive by collecting firewood, selling little bags of peanuts or working in nearby farms.

Samata lived some 40km (24 miles) away in the village of Bulli. There she spent her autumn years caring for her twin grandchildren while her daughter worked in the fields.

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Manufacturing sector shrinks for third straight month

Manufacturing shrank at its sharpest clip in more than three years in August, the third month of contraction in a row, and firms hired the fewest workers since late 2009, a survey on Tuesday showed.

The Institute for Supply Management said its index of national factory activity fell to 49.6 in August from 49.8 in July.

The reading fell shy of the 50.0 median estimate in a Reuters poll of economists. A reading below 50 indicates contraction in the sector.

The index's employment component fell to 51.6, the lowest since November 2009, from 52.0 in July.

"It is without question a soft report on manufacturing and what is particularly disconcerting is that the new orders index deteriorated again," said Tom Porcelli, chief U.S. economist for RBC Capital Markets. "It has become increasingly clear that the manufacturing sector is losing momentum. This soft report leading into Friday's payrolls will only solidify additional action from the Fed if we see another soft jobs report."

New orders, a forward-looking sub-index, fell to 47.1 in August, the worst showing since April of 2009. It stood at 48 in July.

The exports index ticked up to 47 last month from 46.5 in July but remained in contraction territory as recession in parts of Europe and slower growth in Asia sapped demand for U.S. goods.

"Given everything we see internationally in terms of demand for our manufacturers, a little slowdown is to be expected, especially with the euro zone still under pressure and emerging economies experiencing relatively slow growth," said Patrick O'Keefe, director of economic research at J.J. Cohn. "Domestically, new orders for manufacturing were up a bit but not robustly so it isn't unexpected to see something a bit more cautious."

Reuters contributed to this report.

Comment: Manufacturing has been down for three or four years, not months.

We hope you're preparing for what is to come. The following will help.

Social Harmony in Times of Global Dischord


Cow Skull

Why You're a Lot Poorer Than You Thought You Were

foreclosure

You're a lot poorer than you thought you were.

According to a report by Sentier Research "real median annual household income... has fallen by 4.8 percent since the 'economic recovery' began in June 2009."

That's worse than the 2.6 percent decline that took place during the recession itself. (between July 2007 to June 2009) All told - from the beginning of the slump in 2007 until today - median household income has dropped an eyewatering 7.2 percent. ("Changes in Household Income During the Economic Recovery: June 2009 to June 2012″, Sentier Research)

Like I said, you're a lot poorer than you thought you were.

Cow Skull

Are You Better Off Than You Were In 1970?

Thoughts for a Labor Day in 2012:

The real question isn't whether we are better off than we were four years ago. It takes a long time to recover from burst bubbles and near-depressions (the Japanese have still not recovered from their burst bubble of the early 1990s). The real question is whether the working and middle classes of the United States will go on allowing themselves to be taken advantage of by our super-rich, who are gathering to themselves more and more of the national income. The top 1% owned 25% of the privately held national wealth in the United States in the 1950s, but have 38% of it today.

In contrast, real wages per hour for the average worker in the United States, adjusted for inflation, peaked in 1970. We're now down from that, with a generation and a half blocked from meaningful economic advancement.

hourlt wages chart
© Faustian urGe

Dollar

EU's Poorest Member Country Bulgaria Smacks Down Euro As it Refuses To Join Eurozone

parasitic technocrat
© unknown
When a parasitic technocrat asks to shake your hand, you refuse
If one needs a shining example of why the days of Europe's artificial currency are numbered, look no further than the EU's poorest country which moments ago said "Ne Mersi" to the Eurozone and the European currency. From the WSJ: "Bulgaria, the European Union's poorest member state and a rare fiscal bright spot for the bloc, has indefinitely frozen long-held plans to adopt the single currency, marking the latest fiscally prudent country to cool its enthusiasm for the embattled currency. Speaking in interviews in Sofia, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and Finance Minister Simeon Djankov said that the decision to shelve plans to join the currency area, a longtime strategic aim of successive governments in the former communist state, came in response to deteriorating economic conditions and rising uncertainty over the prospects of the bloc, alongside a decisive shift of public opinion in Bulgaria, which is entering its third year of an austerity program. "The momentum has shifted in our thinking and among the public...Right now, I don't see any benefits of entering the euro zone, only costs," Mr. Djankov said. "The public rightly wants to know who would we have to bailout when we join? It's too risky for us and it's also not certain what the rules are and what are they likely to be in one year or two."

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Paranormal Group Seeking Publicity

Alan Bennett
© Manchester Evening News
Keith Bennett’s brother Alan who hit out after a group of paranormal investigators claimed to have found a spade on Saddleworth Moor that may have belonged to Brady.
The brother of Moors murder victim Keith Bennett says he is 'offended and angered' by claims from a group of paranormal investigators that they may have found killer Ian Brady's spade.

The spade, which has no handle, was reportedly discovered on Saddleworth Moor by members of the Worsley Paranormal Group, which has been searching for Keith's remains.

They claimed to have found it at a spot where they believe Keith is buried.

But Keith's brother Alan Bennett said on an internet forum dedicated to finding Keith's remains: "This is complete nonsense as is the Worsley Paranormal Group's theories and activities.

"They are to be found all over the internet chasing anybody who they think will listen to them.

"They also post videos claiming to have picked up Keith on a 'ghost box' machine, all of which I find totally disgusting.

"They know my thoughts on their 'findings' and when they realised, finally, that I could not take them seriously, they got very angry to the point of being abusive.

"It seems now they, just like the other 'oddballs' in the news lately, have gone to a newspaper.

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Justice Miscarried? Shocking Fetus Dump Case to be Tried - For Soil Contamination

Dumped Fetuses
© Screen shot from NTV video
Russian prosecutors have requested a criminal investigation of a massive fetus dump in the Urals region. But the charges surrounding the gruesome incident will only look at the contamination of the soil with formalin, a chemical preservative.

­Four canisters containing a total of 248 mummified human fetuses were discovered in the forest in the Russian Urals in mid-July. The bright blue containers are though to have been discarded from a nearby road, after which their lids unlocked and many fetuses spilled out.

The investigation suggested that the fetuses, thought to have been either terminated, miscarried or prematurely born around 22-26 weeks into pregnancy, were used for scientific purposes, and the illegal dump was an apparent violation of waste control rules.

The tiny bodies were marked with labels leading police to the Urals State Medical Academy, whose director authorities ordered to find out who was behind the dumping.

Some ten days after it was made known, police declared that the incident only constitutes an administrative offense, and no criminal case will be launched.

Question

Thai Group Says Steve Jobs Reincarnated as Warrior-Philosopher

Steve Jobs
© Fox News
When Apple Inc. founder Steve Jobs died after a long fight with cancer last year, software engineer Tony Tseung sent an email to a Buddhist group in Thailand to find out what happened to his old boss now that he's no longer of this world.

This month, Mr. Tseung received his answer. Mr. Jobs has been reincarnated as a celestial warrior-philosopher, the Dhammakaya group said in a special television broadcast, and he's living in a mystical glass palace hovering above his old office at Apple's Cupertino, California headquarters.

Mr. Jobs's death unleashed a wave of grief across the world when he died last October. From Shanghai to Sydney to New York, admirers of his iconic devices laid flowers and lit candles to mourn his passing. Some commentators described the outpouring as an homage to a kind of secular prophet whose innovations changed the ways millions of people live their lives, strengthening the appeal of a brand which already was approaching cult-like status.

Some of Mr. Jobs's admirers in Malaysia later gathered on a tropical island and in a religious ceremony each took a bite from an apple before flinging the fruit into the sea in a bid to speed up his reincarnation.

Now, Phra Chaibul Dhammajayo, abbot at the Dhammakaya Temple here just north of Bangkok, claims Mr. Jobs has already been reborn.

"After Steve Jobs passed away, he was reincarnated as a divine being with a special knowledge and appreciation for science and the arts," the Dhammakaya leader said in the first of a series of sermons beamed to hundreds of thousands of the group's followers around the world.

Phra Chaibul's claims are impossible to corroborate, and his sermons have unleashed significant criticism, including from some skeptics who suspect he is just trying to get attention to help with fundraising. Among other things, he has said the reincarnated Mr. Jobs spends much of his time lounging in a glass palace resembling an Apple store. Phra Chaibul also has said the being formerly known as Steve Jobs is attended by 20 servants, who seem to resemble the Apple store 'Geniuses' who help customers set up their iPhones and other devices here on earth.

Senior monks at the Dhammakaya Temple declined requests for comment.

Star of David

Promised land: Travel advisories describe Israel as country of criminals and bad drivers

Israel has a new reason to be concerned about is image abroad, if the official travel advisories issued to tourists by governments from Australia and Japan to the US are anything to go by.

Extracts from the stark warnings issued to would-be visitors compiled by the liberal daily Haaretz last week paint an unflattering picture which the paper summarizes as that of "a primitive crime-ridden country, full of bad drivers, religious extremists and even undrinkable water."

The US State Department in its advice to would-be travellers to the Holy Land lays heavy but - for now at least - arguably somewhat out of date emphasis on the need for its citizens to "use good judgment and exercise caution when visiting public areas and using transportation facilities in order to minimize exposure to possible terrorist attacks." Austria even advises against using public transport throughout the country.

USA

America is Not the Greatest Country in the World

American flag
I have been on this earth for 19 years, and not once had I ever felt that the United States was the greatest country in the world. All my life, I have never experienced a time of peace, prosperity, and freedom. I live in an era of recession, restricted freedoms, and war. To many, my sentiment towards the country I call home may seem unpatriotic. This is not true. I am an outspoken critic of the United States because I am a lover of my birth country. I care for it. I speak up when we do wrong. I speak up when we do wrong, because I want us to do better. I want us to succeed; indeed, I want us to become the greatest country in the world. I am patriotic. Before my time, we used to be the leaders, the revolutionaries, and the free; the land we call home used to be the path to opportunity, prosperity, and liberty - but we have lost the way.

They have taken away our literature, our ability to let our minds interpret freely and gave us propaganda, and force-fed our brains to accept policies that harm our interests. They have taken away our family members and sent them far off to a foreign land to fight a war based on twisted lies and hidden truths. They have taken away our right to property and prosperity, and they have tricked us to believe that capitalism is not only equated to corporatism, but that it's the root of our economic recession. They have taken away our vested powers to make the decisions for our country and gave those powers to failed organizations made up of leaders of foreign nations. They have taken away our ability to love whoever we were destined to love and have distracted us from realizing that marriage is a fundamental liberty that can never be interfered with. They have prohibited us from the victimless use of marijuana and have imprisoned many peaceful, productive members of society. They have taken away our belief that we can make a change and have sadly proven that our vote no longer counts.