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Sun, 29 Nov 2020
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89% vote in favor of new Syrian Constitution

Syria's Interior Minister has announced that 89 per cent of those who took part in the referendum have voted in favor of a new constitution. The new law puts an end to five decades of one-party rule among other reforms put forward by President Assad.

Interior Minister Ibrahim al-Shaar announced the results of the referendum at a press conference on Monday.­

According to the minister, out of 14,580,000 Syrians eligible to vote some 8,376,000, or about 57 per cent, actually came to the polling stations and voted, RT's Maria Finoshina reports from Damascus.


EU grants candidate status to Serbia


"Welcome to The Club, Mr Tadić."

"Thank you Mr. President."
Last-minute objections by Romania no obstacle to final decision by EU leaders later this week.

National ministers for foreign or European affairs today (28 February) recommended granting Serbia the status of a candidate for EU membership.

The decision will have to be approved by EU leaders at their summit in Brussels on 1-2 March, a step that is seen as a formality despite reservations from Romania.

Nicolai Wammen, the EU affairs minister of Denmark, which holds the rotating presidency of the Council of Ministers, said: "I'm pleased we've been able to recommend candidate status for Serbia."

"We look forward to confirmation at the European Council," he said. "Serbia is now on its way back into our European family."

José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, said after a meeting with Boris Tadić, Serbia's president: "Serbia deserves the candidate status. That has been for some time the opinion of the European Commission."

Barroso and Tadić met this afternoon before the ministers had concluded their meeting.


Edible Bugs Could Help Fight World Hunger

© Takoradee/Creative Commons
Deep-fried insects for sale at a food stall in Bangkok, Thailand.
How to solve world hunger? The United Nations thinks bugs might help.

Meat-eating is an inefficient way to get calories, because livestock such as cows and sheep must ingest around 10 times more vegetable matter, in terms of calorie count, than they convert into meat. En route to a steak, a huge number of food calories are wasted.

And yet, humans need protein. Fortunately, insects are full of it.

There are at least 1,700 edible insect species around the world, from beetles to locusts to grubs. The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in conjunction with Wageningen University in the Netherlands, has begun a research project to determine the potential of these insects to supplement the food supply in Europe and other places. At a conference in late January in Rome, scientists began work on a plan to exploit insects as alternative sources of protein, and incorporate them into livestock feed and food products.


Mystery deepens over Swedish loner who survived the winter in 'igloo car'

© Erik Astrom / Scanpix via PA
The interior of of the snowed in car
Peter Skyllberg, the Swedish man who apparently survived more than two months of freezing winter in a snow-covered car had been living in the vehicle since last summer, when he was a regular customer at a local petrol station.

Mr Skyllberg was said by doctors to have endured temperatures of -30C (-22F) as he stayed inside the car through most of December, January and February after it was covered by heavy snow in a forest near the town of Umea in northern Sweden. He was eventually found, apparently emaciated and barely able to move or speak, by passers-by.

Mr Skyllberg was said to have survived on nothing but snow, but investigators believe that he also ate a "salve or ointment" that was found in the car in order to survive. Police initially thought he may have been a nature lover who may have become trapped while on an expedition. But a local petrol station owner, Andreas Östensson, said that Mr Skyllberg had been living in the forest and sleeping in his car since last summer and that he had regularly come into his store to buy "hot dogs and coffee".

He said the 44-year-old "loner" was apparently in good health when he had disappeared towards the end of last year.


Hysteria: Southwest Pilot Sends Cabin into Panic after Fun Announcement

© Reuters
A pilot caused momentary panic on board a flight after wishing happy birthday to the mother of an air traffic controller.

The problem was he said there was a "mom on board" and many people on the flight thought he said there was a "bomb on board."

According to the New York Daily News, many of the passengers on the Southwest flight between Baltimore and Long Island went into a panic when they heard the word "bomb".

Airline staff rushed to reassure passengers that there was indeed no bomb and the pilot got back on the loud speaker to clarify.

"He did clarify with the passengers that he was wishing the mother on board a happy birthday," said Southwest Airlines spokeswoman Brandi King to WCBS 880.

2 + 2 = 4

British Columbia Legislation to Remove Teachers' Right to Strike

© CBC News
B.C. Teachers' Federation president Susan Lambert called the government's proposed legislation the 'worst possible outcome.'
Canada, British Columbia - B.C.'s 40,000 teachers have been granted the right to strike by the Labour Relations Board, but the government has introduced legislation that could take away that right and impose a six-month cooling-off period and a mediator to settle the contract dispute.

The rapidly developing situation has left many parents wondering whether they will have to scramble to arrange child care or time off work, as both sides jockey for position in a highly polarized dispute.

The legislation is expected to take to take up to a week to pass in the legislature, meaning the teachers could legally exercise their right to strike in the meantime.

The province's Labour Relations Board ruled Tuesday afternoon that teachers can strike for three days in one week as part of their expanded job action, and then one day each subsequent week, though they must give two days notice before striking.

The strike ruling from the board came down just hours before the provincial government introduced its own legislation aimed at ending the dispute.

The legislation introduced by the government would not impose a new contract, but does include a cooling-off period that would end the current job action until Aug. 31, making the teachers' current job action and any future strikes illegal, once it has passed into law.

Heart - Black

Partial remains of 9/11 victims went to landfill

FILE - This Aug. 9, 2011, shows the closed gates at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware
© AP
FILE - This Aug. 9, 2011, shows the closed gates at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware

Washington - Partial remains of several 9/11 victims were incinerated by a military contractor and sent to a landfill, a government report said Tuesday in the latest of a series of revelations about the Pentagon's main mortuary for the war dead.

The surprise disclosure was mentioned only briefly, with little detail, in a report by an independent panel that studied underlying management flaws at Dover Air Force Base mortuary in Delaware. A 2011 probe found "gross mismanagement" there, but until Tuesday there had been no mention of Dover's role in handling 9/11 victims' remains.

Air Force leaders, asked about the 9/11 matter at a news conference, said they had been unaware of it until the head of the independent panel, retired Army Gen. John Abizaid, held a Pentagon news conference Tuesday to explain his panel's findings.


Prostitution Attractive Option for Med Students with Debt

Medical Book
© Shutterstock

An increasing portion of students in the United Kingdom looking for a way to pay for their tuition are turning to prostitution, according to a new paper by a British medical student.

The problem may be particularly acute among medical students, who generally go to school longer, accrue more debt and have less time for paid employment, according to the paper by Jodi Dixon, who is studying at the University of Birmingham.

Dixon pointed to a study of about 300 British university students, in which 10 percent reported knowing a student who had worked as a prostitute or escort in 2010. That's up from about 6 percent in 2006, and 4 percent in 2000, Dixon said, a rise that coincided with an increase in college tuition fees.

"With escalating debts, students in the United Kingdom may view prostitution as an easy way to get rich quick," Dixon wrote in her article, published today (Feb. 28) in journal Student BMJ.

Black Cat

Fifth Grade Psychopaths Try to Poison Teacher's Coffee, Cupcake

(US - California) Teachers beware: The bad apples in your classrooms may be the ones left on educators' desks.

One instructor at Balderas Elementary in Fresno, Calif., learned this lesson first-hand as three fifth grade students were expelled Saturday for attempting to poison their teacher.

According to Fresno TV station CBS47, two boys and one girl attempted to feed their teacher rat poison in a cup of coffee and, later, in the frosting of a cupcake. The CBS affiliate reported that the plot was uncovered two months after an attempt when "a parent was bragging that her son saved the teacher's life by preventing her from drinking the poisoned coffee." The boy in question was allegedly the one who came up with the idea in the first place.

Black Cat

Jim Crow for the Poor - Columnist Thinks Poor Should Feel More Humiliation and Pain

© presstv.com
I refuse to believe that this is real, and that someone is actually arguing this as a serious proposal, and that said proposal was deemed serious enough for publication by a secondary party, but it seems too earnestly argued to be parody, and nowhere is it identified as such.

A columnist at the Daily Caller writes today that people receiving food stamps should be forced to shop at government-owned stores selling sub-standard food so that they can feel the "humiliation and pain in receiving government assistance."

Oh, and they should "lose the privilege of voting."