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Sun, 29 Jan 2023
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Homeland Security Manual Lists Government Key Words For Monitoring Social Media, News

© AFP/Getty Images
Ever complain on Facebook that you were feeling "sick?" Told your friends to "watch" a certain TV show? Left a comment on a media website about government "pork?" If you did any of those things, or tweeted about your recent vacation in "Mexico" or a shopping trip to "Target," the Department of Homeland Security may have noticed.

In the latest revelation of how the federal government is monitoring social media and online news outlets, the Electronic Privacy Information Center has posted online a 2011 Department of Homeland Security manual that includes hundreds of key words (such as those above) and search terms used to detect possible terrorism, unfolding natural disasters and public health threats. The center, a privacy watchdog group, filed a Freedom of Information Act request and then sued to obtain the release of the documents.

The 39-page "Analyst's Desktop Binder" used by the department's National Operations Center includes no-brainer words like ""attack," "epidemic" and "Al Qaeda" (with various spellings). But the list also includes words that can be interpreted as either menacing or innocent depending on the context, such as "exercise," "drill," "wave," "initiative," "relief" and "organization."

Arrow Up

Indoor Toilets in India? What a concept!

Toilet Revolution
© The Indian Express

Toilet humour has acquired a degree of respect in Ratanpur, a tiny village of five tribal-dominated clusters in Madhya Pradesh's Betul district. But it took a gutsy, newly-wed woman to walk out of her husband's home last year for things to come to this pass.

When Anita Narre left her in-laws' home in May last year because it had no toilet, Zitudhana, a cluster of 175-odd houses, in the village, was shocked. Defecation in the open was a norm even among those who own big houses and tractors, so the new bride's defiance made news in the community. But Anita was steadfast in her demand. If her husband Shivram wanted her back, he had to build a toilet for her. "I did not do that to become famous. I did what I felt strongly about,'' she says. The 24-year-old returned eight days later after Shivram, who was then a daily wage labourer and now a temporary teacher at a government school (where he teaches environmental sciences), constructed a toilet in their house with the gram panchayat's help.

Anita went on to script a near-revolution in sanitation in the region, doing what years of government campaigns could not achieve, when other women followed her lead and demanded toilets in their homes. More than half a billion people in rural India do not have access to latrines, even while the central government's "sanitation for all" drive has made the construction of toilets mandatory in states like Chhattisgarh. Anita's defiance earned her respect among the villagers, particularly the women. Without her precedent, they say they could never have put their foot down, despite the inconvenience of having to choose between the lingering darkness before dawn and the late evening hours.


Retired Soviet Officer Rewarded for Averting Nuclear War

Stanislav Petrov
© RT
Stanislav Petrov, former Soviet lieutenant colonel, dons his formal uniform.
Most people become heroes for doing things. Stanislav Petrov became one through having the courage to do nothing - in the face of a potential nuclear threat.

­The retired Russian Lieutenant Colonel has picked up a major humanitarian accolade, the German Media Prize, for preventing possible catastrophic all-out conflict. The previous recipients of the award include Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan, and the Dalai Lama.

­Teetering on the brink

­On September 26, 1983, Stanislav Petrov was the duty officer at an early-warning anti-nuclear center just outside Moscow.

The clock had just struck midnight, when a piercing warning siren began to wail.

It was less than a month after the USSR had shot down a Korean passenger jet, and Cold War tensions were at their highest for years.

Petrov's computer showed that the United States had launched a ballistic missile towards the Soviet Union. In seconds, several more appeared.

Star of David

Cassandra Wilson Cancels Israel Show: "I Identify With the Cultural Boycott of Israel"

© Ynet News
US jazz vocalist Cassandra Wilson has canceled her gig this weekend at the Women's Festival in Holon, following appeals by boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activists encouraging her to respect the Palestinian call for boycott. She took a public political stand just before she was due to board a plane to Tel Aviv.

Israeli daily Ynet reported (in Hebrew, translated) that Wilson announced, "as a human rights activist, I identify with the cultural boycott of Israel." The report also stated that concert promoters are considering legal action against her.

Activists from Boycott from Within, who drafted an appeal to Wilson last week, asked her not to "support selective empowerment of women under Israeli apartheid."

Comment: A recent post to Cassandra Wilson's Facebook Page stated:
Cassandra Wilson refused to sing in Apartheid Israel, and her page is being attacked by many Israeli extremists. Please click on her name below, and "like" on her page. Thanks.


Maternity Nurses "Aggressors," Not RFK Son: Doctor

© Unknown
New York - A son of Robert F. Kennedy is facing misdemeanor charges after he struggled with nurses who tried to stop him from carrying his newborn son out of the maternity ward at a hospital near New York City.

Douglas Kennedy said he was trying to take the baby out of Northern Westchester Hospital for a quick walk when a group of nurses who thought the infant should remain indoors tried to stop him.

Security video obtained by WNBC-TV shows that the nurses stopped Kennedy from using an elevator, then tried to block him from using a stairwell.


Fukushima: Official Commits Suicide After Measuring Radiation in Tokyo Park

Mizumoto Park from the air
© n/a
Mizumoto Park from the air in 1989
According to a Japanese news outlet, Iza, on July 1st, 2011 63-year-old Mr. Takashi Kabayama was found dead with a plastic bag over his head in his home office.

Kabayama was a member of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly for the Liberal Democratic Party and had been measuring radiation in an assortment of locations throughout Tokyo.

He would then upload his findings to his blog for the world to read and on the day before he died (June 30, 2011) he measured 0.25 microSv/h in Mizumoto Park in the Katsushika ward located in Tokyo.

Fukushima Diary reported on February 22, 2012 via Gendai that ludicrously high levels of cesium contamination were discovered, also in Mizumoto Park.

These levels were so high that they "turned out to be the same level of [the] 'off-limits zone' in Chernobyl."


Suicide Bombing Outside Yemen Palace Kills At Least 20 As New President Sworn In

© AP Photo
An explosion has killed at least 20 outside a presidential palace on the same day Yemen's newly elected President Abed Rabbu Mansour Hadi (pictured) is sworn in.
A suicide bomber blew up a vehicle outside a presidential palace in southeastern Yemen Saturday, killing 20 elite Republican Guards, under the command of outgoing president Ali Abdullah Saleh's son Ahmed, medics and a military official said.

"The bodies of 20 soldiers were taken to the mortuary and there are many others wounded," said a medic at the Ibn Sina hospital in the Hadramawt provincial capital Mukalla.

A military official said that "a pick-up truck driven by a suicide bomber exploded at the entrance of the presidential palace in Mukalla" as Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi was sworn in as the first new president in Sanaa since 1978.

A health official said the fatalities in the city of al-Mukalla were presidential guards. A security official said it was a suicide blast. He did not provide a death toll.

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not allowed to speak to the press.

Southern separatists and Islamist insurgents are active in the region.


Nigeria Bombers Attempt Prison Break, 12 People Dead

Gunmen set off bombs in an attempted prison break in the northeast Nigerian city of Gombe late on Friday and then blew up the local police station, triggering hours of battles that killed 12 people, the city's commissioner of police said.

Witnesses in Gombe heard multiple explosions and gunfire late on Friday in the city, which has been largely free of the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency plaguing the north of Africa's top oil producer.

"There were several explosions. They wanted to break open the prison, but the policemen on guard there repelled them," Gombe police commissioner Gandi Ebikeme Orubebe told Reuters by phone.

"So they attacked the police station and blew up everything there. Two policeman died, one soldier was injured," he said, adding that 10 other people, civilians and attackers, were also killed in the ensuing shootouts.

Three suspects were arrested, he said.

Heart - Black

Crazy World: A crazed commuter shoves 23-year-old woman on to Tube tracks

This is the shocking moment a crazed commuter launched an apparently random attack on a woman - pushing her on to the tracks of the London Underground.

The 23-year-old victim struck up a brief conversation with the thug and following a trivial row over the man's hat, he turned and shoved her on to the rails on the Northern Line at Leicester Square.

She only missed the live rail by inches, and was able to pull herself back onto the platform with the help of other travelers before the next train came down the platform.

Injuries to her side were so severe, witnesses initially thought she had been stabbed.
Crazy thug1
© British Transport Police
Tipping point: The vicious and dangerous attack was allegedly sparked by a 'trivial' row about the man's hat

Crazy thug 2
© British Transport Police
Dangerous: The man, in a fit of rage, violently shoves the woman onto the northbound Northern Line track

Crazy thug 3
© British Transport Police
The attacker risked his victim's life in two ways: She could have been electrocuted by the track's live middle wire, or she could have been hit by an oncoming train


Sears to "Unload" 1,200 Stores?

Sears logo
© Getty Images
Sears might "unload" 1,200 stores in an effort to raise money, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. A majority stakeholder in Sears Holdings Corp., which operates Sears and Kmart, is hoping to receive $770 million in cash related to the stores.

Sears Holdings Corp., based in Hoffman Estates, Ill., Thursday reported a significant loss for the fourth quarter after a difficult holiday shopping season. The company had a net loss of $2.4 billion for the quarter that ended Jan. 28, including several one-time charges, compared to a profit of $374 million for the same period last year.

Sales dropped $518 million to $12.5 billion last quarter. Officials have tried to turnaround the company as same-store sales have fallen for six straight years.

Sears describes itself as the country's "fourth largest broadline retailer with over 4,000 full-line and specialty retail stores in the United States and Canada," according to its website.