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Mon, 28 Nov 2022
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Owning Pigs a Felony in Michigan? Big Ag-Inspired Law Targets Small Farms

© Shutterstock/ PRILL Mediendesign und Fotografie
Owning certain kinds of pigs -- namely the ones not raised on industrial hog farms -- could land you in jail for 4 years.

The mangalitsa pig is different than other pigs. For one thing, it's covered in thick wool, like a sheep. It's got upright ears, and a flat tail. The farmers at Michigan's Baker's Green Acres are fond of the pig. The thick fur protects them from harsh Michigan winters, and their status as a 'lard' pig means that customers prize their marbled meat. They grunt, they eat, and they care for their young just like any other domesticated swine. In short, they're just regular pigs -- that happen to have black fur.

To Michigan's Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the black-furred pigs are a threat that must be eliminated. A law passed in 2010, set to go into effect on April 1, 2012, outlaws the mangalitsa, and many other pigs that don't fall within their guidelines:
"Possession of the following live species, including a hybrid or genetic variant of the species, and/or offspring of the species or of a hybrid or genetically engineered variant, is prohibited:

(b) Wild boar, wild hog, wild swine, feral pig, feral hog, feral swine, Old world swine, razorback, eurasian wild boar, Russian wild boar (Sus scrofa Linnaeus). This subsection does not and is not intended to affect sus domestica involved in domestic hog production."


Athens' Syntagma Suicide Victim

State media has reported that Dimitris Christoulas, the man who took his own life using a pistol on Syntagma Square, in central Athens, on Wednesday morning, left a suicide note.
Suicide Victim
© Reuters
People gather at the spot where Dimitris Christoulas, 77, took his own life on Wednesday morning.
"The Tsolakoglou government has annihilated all traces for my survival, which was based on a very dignified pension that I alone paid for 35 years with no help from the state. And since my advanced age does not allow me a way of dynamically reacting (although if a fellow Greek were to grab a Kalashnikov, I would be right behind him), I see no other solution than this dignified end to my life, so I don't find myself fishing through garbage cans for my sustenance. I believe that young people with no future, will one day take up arms and hang the traitors of this country at Syntagma square, just like the Italians did to Mussolini in 1945"
the note said.

Georgios Tsolakoglou was the first collaborationist prime minister during Germany's occupation of Greece during the Second World War.

The reference has been widely interpreted as a comparison between the wartime collaborationist government and the current government of Lucas Papademos.

The suicide occured shortly before 9am, as people went about their business on the square. Christoulas, 77, shot himself while standing next to a tree on one of the grassy areas on the square. He died from a single shot to the head, reports say.

He was a retired pharmacist, with a wife and a daughter. He sold his pharmacy in 1994.


Prominent French Academic Found Dead in New York Hotel Room

A prominent French academic, Richard Descoings, was found dead in a New York hotel room on Tuesday afternoon and New York police opened an investigation into the circumstances of his death.
© Agence France-Presse/Getty Images/Reuters
French academic, Richard Descoings, was found dead in the the Michelangelo Hotel in New York

New York City Police said that the body of Descoings, 53, director of the prestigious Institute of Political Studies or "Sciences Po" in Paris and a member of France's Council of State, a government advisory body, was found in his room at the Michelangelo Hotel on 51st Street in Midtown Manhattan.

A police source initially categorised the circumstances of the incident as "suspicious," in part because Descoings' room was a jumble when investigators arrived.

But later on Tuesday, Paul Browne, chief spokesman for the New York Police Department, said investigators now believe the disorder in the room was caused by rescue workers while they tried to resuscitate the Frenchman.

Police believe there is no evidence of a struggle, Browne told Reuters. "We're awaiting the medical examiner's report as well as toxicology reports," he said.

A law enforcement source said police were still looking into the possibility that an unknown person had been with Descoings in the room before his death. They are also investigating the possibility that the death was a suicide, the source said.


Thirty Students Pepper Sprayed in Santa Monica Protest Over Higher Fees

US, California - Campus police pepper-sprayed as many as 30 demonstrators after Santa Monica College students angry over a plan to offer high-priced courses tried to push their way into a trustees meeting.

Raw video posted on the Internet showed students chanting 'Let us in, let us in' and 'No cuts, no fees, education should be free.'

Marioly Gomez, 21, said she was standing in a hallway outside the meeting with several hundred other students who wanted to get into the meeting.
© unknown
Nnaemeka Alozie reacts with milk on his face after being pepper sprayed during the protest


Anti-Smoking Fascism: Harsher Smoking Ban Hits Ottawa; Limits Outdoor Smoking

© Tony Caldwell/Ottawa Sun
A man smoking shown smoking on an Ottawa patio.
Canada - Bylaw enforcement officers are warning Ottawans starting Monday not to smoke on patios and all outdoor municipal properties such as parks and beaches.

The new rules apply 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This is the beginning of the warning phase.

As of July 2, bylaw officers will have the authority to issue provincial offence notices that carry fines up to $300.

Greg Smith laughed about the changes.

"I'll take my car and go out in a field about 10 km out of town and have a smoke," he said, "because that's where we're heading."

Jim Livingstone has been smoking for 30 years.


US Sues Royal Bank of Canada for Massive Fraud

Royal Bank
© Agence France-Presse/Alain Jocard
US regulators have announced charges against Royal Bank of Canada, accusing the major Canadian bank of "washing" hundreds of millions of dollars through fraudulent trading.

The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) on Monday said it had filed a complaint in federal district court in New York accusing RBC of "conducting a multi-hundred million-dollar wash sale scheme in connection with exchange-traded stock futures contracts."

The Canadian bank and financial services company does business in New York.

"The trading scheme was allegedly designed as part of RBC's strategy to realize lucrative Canadian tax benefits from holding certain public companies' securities in its Canadian and offshore trading accounts," the CFTC said.

CFTC also charged that the bank concealed material information from, and made material false statements to, a futures exchange.

"From at least June 2007 to May 2010, RBC allegedly non-competitively traded hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of narrow based stock index futures (NBI) and single stock futures (SSF) contracts with two of its subsidiaries that RBC reported as 'block' trades on OneChicago," it said.


Russian plane crash kills 31, exposes safety record

© Reuters/Sergei Drachev
Emergency service workers investigate the wreckage of the UTair airlines ATR 72 passenger plane that crashed near the Siberian city of Tyumen April 2, 2012.
Moscow, Russia - A passenger plane crashed and burst into flames after takeoff in Siberia on Monday, killing 31 people and putting the spotlight on Russia's poor air-safety record before Vladimir Putin's return as president.

Thirteen survivors were pulled from the wreckage but one later died after being rushed by helicopter to hospital in the city of Tyumen, some 1,720 km (1,070 miles) east of Moscow, emergency officials said.

Television footage showed the UTair airlines ATR 72, which had snapped in two, lying in a snowy field with only the tail and rear visible. Emergency workers sifted through the wreckage and cleared away the snow.

An investigative committee said the most likely cause of the crash was a technical malfunction as the 21-year-old twin-engine, turbo-prop plane carried its four crew and 39 passengers on a flight to the oil town of Surgut.

"I went out on to my porch and heard a bang, saw a small flash and smoke came out. It turned, with smoke coming out, started to lose height and came down in the field. If it had turned a bit further, it would have hit us," a local resident, identified only as Alexei, told RIA news agency.

He said he often saw aircraft fly past, and the plane appeared not to be on the usual flight path: "It should have been behind my house but it was in front of it."


French academic Richard Descoings found dead in NY hotel room

© Flickr
Richard Descoings Dec. 8 2010
A prominent French academic, Richard Descoings, was found dead in the nude in a New York hotel room on Tuesday afternoon. New York police have opened an investigation because they believe the circumstances of his death are suspicious.

A law enforcement source told Reuters that the body of Descoings, director of the prestigious Institute of Political Studies in Paris and a member of France's Council of State, a government advisory body, was found Tuesday afternoon in his room at the Michelangelo Hotel in midtown Manhattan.

Descoings was in New York to attend a conference at Columbia University but did not show up on Tuesday morning when the conference was due to begin, the source said.

Colleagues subsequently phoned the hotel. When staff members first went to his room, they believed they heard snoring and let the matter drop.


America's Smallest Town Up for Sale

Town For Sale
© Associated Press
Buford, Wyoming. Starting price? $100,000 US.

An outpost billed as America's smallest town is up for sale this week, complete with its own schoolhouse and gas station, with bidding starting at an enticing $100,000 ($121,000 NZ).

For a sum which would barely buy a one-room apartment in most places - and a lot less in big cities - the purchaser of Buford, Wyoming would get over 10 acres of land including a three-bedroom home, a garage, and a cellphone tower.

The Buford Trading Post - store - benefits from regular traffic along the I-80 interstate, with Wyoming capital Cheyenne just 50 kilometres to the east, and San Francisco 1,800 kilometres) to the west.

It once had 2,000 inhabitants, but then the railroad dropped it as a stopping point, and locals gradually moved out, until now it boasts the rare road sign: "Buford. Pop. 1. Elev 8,000."


Forget Modesty, Narcissists Best Suited for Job Interview Success

Interview Panel
© Shutterstock
Interview Panel

Modesty may be the best policy in many situations, but a job interview is not one of them. That's the finding of a new survey that looked at the way people performed on job interviews. In that survey, narcissists, who promoted themselves in the interview, were rated more highly than those who were modest.

This is because narcissists come across as being confident, and engaging when speaking. Narcissists are also able to promote themselves in the interview setting as well.

"This is one setting where it's OK to say nice things about yourself and there are no ramifications. In fact, it's expected," Peter Harms, assistant professor of management at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and co-author of the study, said. "Simply put, those who are comfortable doing this tend to do much better than those who aren't."

Narcissists were also highly rated because of their use of gestures and smiles. These gestures and actions were determined to further establish the likability and credibility of the interviewee in the eyes of the interviewer.