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Indian 'living god' in critical condition: hospital

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© Agence France-Presse/ Tekee Tanwar
File photo of Indian guru Satya Sai Baba (C) greeting followers. Sai Baba is in a critical condition in the intensive care unit of a southern hospital where thousand of devotees have gathered, local officials said Tuesday.
One of India's best-known spiritual leaders, famous for his apparent miracles and long list of influential followers, is on life support in a southern hospital, officials said on Tuesday.

Satya Sai Baba, 85, who has devotees in more than 100 countries, was admitted to a hospital funded by his organisation in the town of Puttaparthi with lung and chest congestion on March 28.

His condition has since deteriorated and he is now on a ventilator and is receiving kidney dialysis, the most recent health bulletin from the hospital said on Tuesday.

He remains "critical," although his "level of consciousness has considerably improved" and his vital systems are "stable", said the update from the Sri Satya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences.

Thousands of followers have begun arriving in Puttaparthi, home to Sai Baba's ashram in the southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh, with many agitated by conflicting information given out by local authorities.

Government officials have sought to play down the seriousness of his condition, while police are preventing groups from gathering in the town, according to local reports.

Handcuffs

US: Man gets prison for New York self-help speaker's death

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© The Associated Press / jefflocker.com
In this undated file photo, motivational speaker Jeffrey Locker is shown. The man who stabbed the debt-ridden motivational speaker in what he said was an assisted suicide was sentenced to prison Monday, April 4, 2011 for murder. Kenneth Minor yelled an expletive after he received a 20-years-to-life sentence for Jeffrey Locker's July 2009 death.
A man convicted of murdering a debt-ridden motivational speaker was sentenced Monday to at least two decades in prison in a case that tested the bounds of assisted suicide.

Speaking publicly for the first time about Jeffrey Locker's July 2009 death, Kenneth Minor said his own life had "ended that day" that he accepted Locker's offer to pay to be killed in a seeming robbery so his family could collect millions of dollars in insurance money.

"In the end, Mr. Locker is where he wanted to be," said Minor, 38, his voice sometimes breaking as he spoke. "I'm no animal, and I ain't got no malice in my heart."

"In the end, a life is a life. And I ask your forgiveness," he concluded - before yelling an expletive on hearing his 20-years-to-life sentence. He plans an appeal that will likely note a juror's statement that she felt compelled to convict him because of the judge's legal instructions.

The case was unusual for broaching the concept of assisted suicide in the context of strangers staging a seeming street crime.

Locker approached Minor on an East Harlem street to ask for help staging his death, both prosecutors and Minor had said. Minor didn't testify at his trial but told his account to police when he was arrested.

Attention

Germany: Knut's Berlin zoo suffers another death

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© The Associated Press
Shaina Pali, left, a six-year-old Indian elephant, has died unexpectedly at the Berlin Zoo, the same zoo where Knut, right, a four-year-old polar bear, suffered the same fate.
Another young animal has died unexpectedly at the Berlin Zoo, only two weeks after celebrity polar bear Knut passed away.

Spokeswoman Claudia Bienek said six-year-old Indian elephant Shaina Pali died at the zoo early Tuesday morning. Elephants can live up to about 80 years in captivity.

The zoo's veterinarian thinks the elephant died of an infection, Bienek said, but a necropsy is being performed to determine the exact cause of death.

Knut, a four-year-old polar bear, died March 19 at the zoo after collapsing in his enclosure's moat. Experts said his collapse was caused by a swelling of his brain brought on by an infection.

Bienek said the two deaths are unrelated: "It's simply very, very sad."

Info

Canada: Nurse accused of sexually assaulting senior

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© Toronto Police Service
Leonid Kozlov, 45, had worked at the home at 351 Christie St. for five years
Toronto police have charged a male nurse employed at a city-run long-term care facility with sexually assaulting a 70-year-old resident.

Leonid Kozlov, 45, who works at Castleview Wychwood Towers, near Christie and Dupont streets, was arrested Monday.

A woman was allegedly assaulted as she lay in her bed at about 3 a.m. ET on Monday, police said.

Another staff member reported the assault.

Kozlov has worked at the home for five years, police said.

"I felt a little sick to my stomach," said a resident who did not want to be identified because staff told her not to talk to the media.

She said she was shocked when she saw a picture of Kozlov.

"He's kind, he's nice. Never, never would I ever suspect him."

Handcuffs

Netherlands: Police arrest father of 12-year-old who gave birth

handcuffs
© unknown
Dutch police on Tuesday arrested the father of a 12-year-old girl who gave birth last month while on a school excursion, saying he is suspected of sexually abusing his daughter.

Prosecutors said they have "serious suspicions" the 52-year-old man abused his daughter, resulting in her pregnancy.

"We don't know what exactly happened. That is why we arrested this man -to hear his side of the story," prosecutor's office spokeswoman Kirsten Smit told The Associated Press.

The arrest added another shocking twist to a case that already had stunned the nation when news emerged last month that the girl gave birth during a school trip without having realized she was pregnant. The girl and her healthy baby daughter were taken into foster care shortly after the birth.

Smit said the arrest followed analysis of the DNA of the man and the baby girl by Dutch forensic scientists that showed there is a "considerable" chance he is the father. The man gave a DNA sample last week at the request of police.

Smit said it was difficult to be absolutely certain of whether the father of the 12-year-old also fathered her baby because of their close relationship.

Attention

How Ayn Rand ruined my childhood

Rand
© Salon
My dad saw objectivism as a logical philosophy to live by, but it tore my family apart

My parents split up when I was 4. My father, a lawyer, wrote the divorce papers himself and included one specific rule: My mother was forbidden to raise my brother and me religiously. She agreed, dissolving Sunday church and Bible study with one swift signature. Mom didn't mind; she was agnostic and knew we didn't need religion to be good people. But a disdain for faith wasn't the only reason he wrote God out of my childhood. There was simply no room in our household for both Jesus Christ and my father's one true love: Ayn Rand.

You might be familiar with Rand from a high school reading assignment. Perhaps a Tea Partyer acquaintance name-dropped her in a debate on individual rights. Or maybe you've heard the film adaptation of her magnum opus Atlas Shrugged is due out April 15. In short, she is a Russian-born American novelist who championed her self-taught philosophy of objectivism through her many works of fiction. Conservatives are known to praise her for her support of laissez-faire economics and meritocracy. Liberals tend to criticize her for being too simplistic. I know her more intimately as the woman whose philosophy dictates my father's every decision.

What is objectivism? If you'd asked me that question as a child, I could have trotted to the foyer of my father's home and referenced a framed quote by Rand that hung there like a cross. It read: "My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute." As a little kid I interpreted this to mean: Love yourself. Nowadays, Rand's bit is best summed up by the rapper Drake, who sang: "Imma do me."

Nuke

India Bans Japan Food Imports, Says Radiation Spreading

Japanese food
© n/a
India has imposed a three-month ban on imports of food articles from the whole of Japan on fears that radiation from an earthquake-hit nuclear plant was spreading to other parts of the country, becoming the first country to introduce a blanket ban.

The ban comes in the fourth week of unsuccessful attempts to safely secure the Fukushima nuclear power plant in central Japan crippled by an earthquake and tsunami in what could be the world's biggest nuclear disaster in a quarter of a century.

"Import of food articles coming from Japan stand suspended with immediate effect for a period of three months or till such time as credible information is available that the radiation hazard has subsided to acceptable limits," a statement from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said.

"After detailed discussions, it was concluded that since the radiation is spreading/expanding horizontally in other parts of Japan, it may result in further radioactive contamination in the supply chain of food exports from Japan," the statement added.

Nuke

'No safe levels' of radiation in Japan

Radiation Levels
© Al Jazeera
According to the US Department of Energy, no level of radiation is so low that it is without health risks [EPA]

In a nuclear crisis that is becoming increasingly serious, Japan's Nuclear Safety Agency confirmed that radioactive iodine-131 in seawater samples taken near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex that was seriously damaged by the recent tsunami off the coast of Japan is 4,385 times the level permitted by law.

Airborne radiation near the plant has been measured at 4-times government limits.

Tokyo Electric Power Company, the company that operates the crippled plant, has begun releasing more than 11,000 tons of radioactive water that was used to cool the fuel rods into the ocean while it attempts to find the source of radioactive leaks. The water being released is about 100 times more radioactive than legal limits.

Meanwhile, water that is vastly more radioactive continues to gush into the ocean through a large crack in a six-foot deep pit at the nuclear plant. Over the weekend, workers at the plant used sawdust, shredded newspaper and diaper chemicals in a desperate attempt to plug the area, which failed. Water leaking from the pit is about 10,000 times more radioactive than water normally found at a nuclear plant

Thus, radiation from a meltdown in the reactor core of reactor No. 2 is leaking out into the water and soil, with other reactors continuing to experience problems.

Yet scientists and activists question these government and nuclear industry "safe" limits of radiation exposure.

Bizarro Earth

U.S. pastor says he will put Mohammed 'on trial' next as NATO chief condemns Koran burning for starting riots

  • Killings in Kandahar follow UN attack that left up to 20 dead and 83 wounded
  • Taliban claims responsibility for UN attack
  • Hamid Karzai calls for U.S. congress to condemn controversial pastor
  • General Petraeus condemns pastor Terry Jones
  • Demonstrations against the burnings take place across the Middle East
  • President Obama appeals for calm and condemns Koran burning as an 'act of bigotry' - but does not mention Florida pastor
  • Norwegian, Romanian, Swedish and Nepalese nationals among those killed
Despite clear evidence that his actions have led to multiple murders and widespread violence in the Middle East, controversial Florida pastor Terry Jones has vowed to step up his provocative campaign against Islam.

The radical pastor said that he was considering putting Islamic prophet Mohammed 'on trial' for his next 'day of judgement' publicity stunt.

His last, in which he oversaw the burning of a copy of the Koran after a six-hour mock trial, has been directly responsible for a wave of violence that began last night and has left 30 people dead and more than 150 injured.
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© Reuters
Don't blame me: Florida Pastor Terry Jones in his office at the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida. He says his Koran-burning stunt was meant to be provocative

Ambulance

Congo: Fatal UN plane crash at Kinshasa airport

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© unknown
At least 26 people were killed when a United Nations plane crashed on landing in heavy rain at Kinshasa airport Monday, a Congolese aviation offical said. The plane was operated by the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Monusco.

A U.N. plane carrying staff members and peacekeepers crashed Monday upon landing at the airport in Congo's capital, breaking into pieces and killing at least 26 people, a top Congolese aviation official said.

The cause of the crash was not immediately known, and six other people were injured in the crash.

"A crisis task force is working at the crash site," U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said.