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Thieves from Czech Republic Steal 10-Ton Bridge in Front of Cops

© Getty Images
photo of bridges in the Czech Republic, although not the one that was stolen
The crooks provided paperwork and did it right in front of police

Thieves in the Czech Republic are proving if you want to steal something big don't do it under the cloak of darkness, but rather in broad daylight right in front of police.

That's how they recently managed to steal a 10-ton bridge that was built in 1901 near the town of Sokolov in the country's west.

"Thieves said they had been hired to demolish the bridge, and remove the unwanted railway track to make way for a new cycle route," said railroad spokesman Pavel Halla in an Inquisitr article.

They used a crane to pick up the large pieces and put them into trucks.

At one point during the robbery, a police officer stopped the thieves, but they showed the officer paperwork stating an agreement with the country's railway service and continued working.


Ex-Canada Revenue Workers Face Corruption Charges

© CBC News
The investigation was launched in 2008 after allegations of corruption against the former employees were reported to the CRA.
Three former Canada Revenue Agency employees have been charged with corruption and fraud for allegedly trying to extort money from restaurant owners in exchange for lower tax assessments.

The RCMP-led "Project Coche" resulted in 12 charges filed against the former employees Tuesday.

"It's all the same type of pattern that they all [allegedly] did," said RCMP Cpl. Luc Thibault.

One of the accused, a 55-year-old former tax auditor who was let go from the CRA in 2011 during the RCMP investigation, allegedly offered a restaurant owner to lower his upcoming tax notice in exchange for $90,000, according to police.

The restaurant owner declined the deal.

A 50-year-old team leader, also "discharged" from the CRA 2011, allegedly received $100,000 in bribes from a Montreal restaurant owner between June 2007 and August 2008 to erase unreported income from the file.


Tsunami Motorcycle Owner Located in Japan

The Japanese owner of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle that was washed out to sea in the tsunami last April says its discovery on a remote beach on the West Coast of B.C. last week is a miracle.

The owner Ikuo Yokoyama, a 29-year-old resident of the town of Yamamoto, in Miyagi Prefecture, was tracked down by a Harley-Davidson representative in Japan who saw the story in the media.

A company spokeperson told CBC News they are now hoping to pay for the return of the bike to Yokoyama and to see if they can restore it for him.

Yokoyama told Japanese television station NHK that the discovery of the motorcycle was miraculous and he wished to thank the B.C. man who found it personally, but so far he has only been able to do so on TV.

He said he lost his home and three family members in the tsunami and is now living in temporary accommodation. The motorcycle was being kept at his house in the back section of a cube van that he was using as storage shed when the tsunami struck.


Rape in South Africa: Still All Too Common

SA Protest
© Flickr/Creative Common
South African media reported the horrifying details of the viral video that has shocked the world: a 17-year-old, mentally disabled girl being raped by seven men in a Johannesburg township.

She screams: "You are forcing me, you are forcing me."

The 10-minute cellphone video spread like wildfire until a tabloid paper alerted police on April 17. (Disclaimer: This reporter has not watched the video or searched for it online because it is child pornography. Officials have not said how many people have seen the video. Police have arrested suspects in the case.)

This is shocking. But in South Africa, it's less shocking than you might expect. A study (pdf) from the Medical Research Council found that more than 1 in 4 South African men have admitted to raping a girl or woman. More than 56,000 rapes were reported (pdf) to police, but the government group suspects that the actual incidence of rape is 25 times that number. That's 1,400,000 people -- roughly the population of Phoenix -- each year. By comparison, the U.S. Census Bureau said in 2012 that there were some 81,000 rapes or attempted rapes (pdf) in the U.S. in 2009, the last year for which the bureau gives figures -- in a country with more than six times the population of South Africa.

More worrying, the MRC's research into gender violence stretches back years, and it doesn't show that attitudes have changed much. Back in 1998 the group warned ominously (pdf) that "there needs to be a change in attitudes amongst all members in the community toward the 'normality' and inevitability of male use of force in relationships involving people of all ages."

The video drew condemnation from Lulu Xingwana, South Africa's minister for women, children and people with disabilities -- but her comments seemed to focus more on the evidence than on the crime. "This despicable crime does not belong to our free and democratic society," said Xingwana in a statement. She then reminded all South Africans that "distributing pornographic material is a criminal offense."

But women's-rights advocates say that this is not a lone incident and that the blame traces back to South Africa's potent history of repression. Lisa Vetten, executive director of the Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre, says that the position of women has not improved despite South Africa's post apartheid laws.

Comment: Please read the Sott Focus: Losing Femininity in the Elusive Search for Kansas for more information on Women's rights , violence against women and gender inequality.


Atheists More Motivated by Compassion than the Faithful

© Ary Scheffer (1795–1858).
Mary Magdalene
Atheists and agnostics are more driven by compassion to help others than are highly religious people, a new study finds.

That doesn't mean highly religious people don't give, according to the research to be published in the July 2012 issue of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science. But compassion seems to drive religious people's charitable feelings less than it other groups.

"Overall, we find that for less religious people, the strength of their emotional connection to another person is critical to whether they will help that person or not," study co-author and University of California, Berkeley social psychologist Robb Willer said in a statement. "The more religious, on the other hand, may ground their generosity less in emotion, and more in other factors such as doctrine, a communal identity, or reputational concerns."


Dark Days: Bill Nye Boo'd In Texas For Saying The Moon Reflects The Sun

bill nye
Bill Nye, the harmless children's edu-tainer known as "The Science Guy," managed to offend a select group of adults in Waco, Texas at a presentation, when he suggested that the moon does not emit light, but instead reflects the light of the sun.

As even most elementary-school graduates know, the moon reflects the light of the sun but produces no light of its own.

But don't tell that to the good people of Waco, who were "visibly angered by what some perceived as irreverence," according to the Waco Tribune.

Heart - Black

Sickening: Mother suspected of putting household bleach in toddler's eyes


When a little girl arrived at the Seattle Children's ER last year with swelling in her eyes and sensitivity to light, doctors sent her to the Opthalmology department. The 13-month-old was treated for a scratched cornea and a mild infection and sent home. But she didn't get better. It was weeks before the horrible truth about her injuries was revealed.
A Pierce County woman faces possible child abuse charges for putting household bleach in her child's eye medication. A Pierce County woman is charged with assault of a child in the first degree for allegedly putting bleach in her toddler's eye drops, causing what will likely be permanent eye damage.

The 13-month-old girl arrived at the emergency room at Seattle Children's Hospital last year with swelling in her eyes, sensitivity to light, scratched corneas and a mild infection. She was sent to the Opthalmology Department, treated and sent home. But she didn't get better. It was weeks before the horrible truth about her injuries was revealed.
Over the following days and weeks, the child's parents repeatedly brought the toddler back to Children's. She was given the standard treatment, including antibiotics and eyedrops, for a common problem. Still, she didn't improve.

Childrens' chief of opthalmology, Doctor Avery Weiss says with each visit, they did more diagnostic work and even quizzed the mother. "I'm sure we asked her, 'What are you putting on the eye?'" recalled Weiss. Her answer, "The antibiotics that you prescribed."

Arrow Down

Fear as UK manufacturing slows sharply

Export orders for Britain's manufacturers have collapsed at their fastest rate in almost three years, a key survey has found, raising fresh fears about the state of the economy.
© Unknown
Manufacturing output expanded for the fifth consecutive month in April, but at the weakest pace since December.

Poor export orders pulled activity in the UK's key manufacturing industry down to its slowest rate of growth in four months in April, according to the closely-watched purchasing managers' index (PMI), as companies reported fewer orders across the board - from Europe, the US and Asia.

Foreign demand for British goods has now deteriorated for two of the past three months as export orders dropped at their fastest pace since May 2009. The sharp decline in exports caused total new order books to shrink for the first time in five months.

The overall PMI reading fell from 51.9 to 50.5 for April, worse than forecasts of a decline to just 51.5 and the slowest pace of expansion since December.
© Markit/Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply

Economists said the figures, from Markit and the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply, came as a blow following the economy's slide back into recession in the first quarter.

Light Sabers

Euro 2012 faces diplomatic crisis over Ukraine's jailed opposition leader

Germany leads west European and EU states threatening to boycott football tournament unless Yulia Tymoshenko is released

The 2012 European Championships were heading towards a diplomatic fiasco on Monday after more EU leaders said they would join Germany in a boycott of the event next month unless Ukraine freed the opposition leader, Yulia Tymoshenko.

On Sunday, Angela Merkel said that she and her cabinet would not attend any games played in Ukraine, which is co-hosting the tournament with Poland, unless the human rights situation under President Viktor Yanukovych improved.

On Monday, the president of the European commission, José Manuel Barroso, and Viviane Reding, the commissioner for justice, said they would not be travelling to Ukraine either. The Czech president, Vaclav Klaus, announced he was cancelling a visit to Yalta, while Germany's president, Joachim Gauck, called off a trip to the same central European leaders' summit last week.

An European commission spokeswoman said that "as things stand" Barroso had "no intention of going" to Euro 2012. She described Tymoshenko's predicament as "a very, very serious situation". "It gives rise to very serious concern," she added.


Censored: ISPs Ordered to Block the Pirate Bay

© Unknown
The Pirate Bay Logo
Looks like the Pirate Bay ship is sailing away from the UK.

British courts have ruled that internet service providers in the United Kingdom must block file-sharing site The Pirate Bay. Back in February, a British High Court ruling found that TPB and users of the service breach copyright on a major scale. Justice Arnold of the British High Court ruled that TPB went "far beyond merely enabling or assisting" copyright infringement. Now it seems access to The Pirate Bay will soon be blocked by ISPs across the country.

The BBC reports that today's ruling orders five major UK ISPs to block subscribers from accessing TPB. Sky, Everything Everywhere, TalkTalk, O2 and Virgin Media will all have to block The Pirate Bay while British Telecom has asked for more time to review the situation. The case is a massive win for the music and entertainment industry as a whole but particularly for the British Phonographic Industry, which requested that the ISPs voluntarily block TPB late last year.

"The High Court has confirmed that The Pirate Bay infringes copyright on a massive scale," the BBC cites BPI as saying in a statement today. "Its operators line their pockets by commercially exploiting music and other creative works without paying a penny to the people who created them. This is wrong - musicians, sound engineers and video editors deserve to be paid for their work just like everyone else."

Speaking about the decision, a spokesperson for the Pirate Party UK said that today's ruling was a step toward web censorship in the UK.

"Unfortunately, the move to order blocking on The Pirate Bay comes as no surprise," Loz Kaye told the BBC. "The truth is that we are on a slippery slope towards internet censorship here in the United Kingdom."

The order to block The Pirate Bay follows similar proceedings that saw access to another file-sharing site, Newzbin2, blocked. ISPs were last year ordered to block access to Newzbin2 following a ruling from Mr Justice Arnold, the same judge that presided over today's Pirate Bay case.