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Sun, 25 Sep 2022
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Green Light

Greece develops cashless, Euro-free currency in tight economy


In recent weeks, Theodoros Mavridis has bought fresh eggs, tsipourou (the local brandy: beware), fruit, olives, olive oil, jam, and soap. He has also had some legal advice, and enjoyed the services of an accountant to help fill in his tax return.

None of it has cost him a euro, because he had previously done a spot of electrical work - repairing a TV, sorting out a dodgy light - for some of the 800-odd members of a fast-growing exchange network in the port town of Volos, midway between Athens and Thessaloniki.

In return for his expert labour, Mavridis received a number of Local Alternative Units (known as tems in Greek) in his online network account. In return for the eggs, olive oil, tax advice and the rest, he transferred tems into other people's accounts.

Heart - Black

Hunger: The Real Irish American Story Not Taught in Schools

© unk
"Wear green on St. Patrick's Day or get pinched." That pretty much sums up the Irish American "curriculum" that I learned when I was in school. Yes, I recall a nod to the so-called Potato Famine, but it was mentioned only in passing.

Sadly, today's high school textbooks continue to largely ignore the famine, despite the fact that it was responsible for unimaginable suffering and the deaths of more than a million Irish peasants, and that it triggered the greatest wave of Irish immigration in U.S. history. Nor do textbooks make any attempt to help students link famines past and present.

Yet there is no shortage of material that can bring these dramatic events to life in the classroom. In my own high school social studies classes, I begin with Sinead O'Connor's haunting rendition of "Skibbereen," which includes the verse:
... Oh it's well I do remember, that bleak

December day,

The landlord and the sheriff came, to drive

Us all away

They set my roof on fire, with their cursed

English spleen

And that's another reason why I left old



Houston Teen Killed at 'Project X'-Inspired Party

US, Texas - A spring break rave in a Houston mansion that was meant to emulate a movie turned deadly early Wednesday morning after several attendees fired guns, killing one person as police tried to break up the party.

The unidentified male victim suffered multiple gunshot wounds and died at Ben Taub General Hospital, Houston police told ABCNews.com.

The party, which attracted between 500 and 1,000 guests, was meant to copy the party thrown in Project X.

The 2012 movie follows three high school students who throw the ultimate "anything goes" party that spirals out of control. While a damaged home and a bad hangover may be the only consequences partygoers faced in the movie, a string of copycat parties have caused over $100,000 in real damage, handfuls of arrests and the Houston fatality.

Daniel Menjivara, a 22-year-old college student, said Project X and the fact it was spring break were the reasons he and many others attended the Houston house party. Menjivara said he was "the exception" at the party and was surprised to find the crowd was mostly composed of teenagers.

"The house got pretty full. You could barely move around," he said.

Eye 2

Psychiatrist Says Man Who Killed His Children is Ready for Release

© The Canadian Press/Montreal La Presse/HO
Guy Turcotte holds his daughter Anne-Sophie in an undated handout photo.
Canada, Montreal - A psychiatrist says a man who fatally stabbed his children dozens of times in 2009 is fit to be released from a mental hospital.

Louis Morissette said Thursday that Guy Turcotte has changed considerably and is not the same man as before.

Turcotte was found not criminally responsible in the deaths of his five-year-old son Olivier and his three-year-old daughter Anne-Sophie.

He admitted causing the deaths in February 2009 but denied intent.

Turcotte said he was distraught over the breakup of his marriage and didn't remember commiting the act.

Morissette was testifying at hearings on whether to release Turcotte from a psychiatric hospital or keep him there for another year.


Families in Spain Face Eviction Over Stranger Loans

© Agence France-Presse
Ecuadoran homeowner Kelly Herrera waits to be evicted from her house in Madrid.
Fighting eviction for failing to pay the mortgage on his home in Spain's capital, Nelson Castillo is now grappling not only with his own debts but also those of a family he does not know.

The 39-year-old and his wife acted as guarantors of another Ecuadoran family's loan under a programme run by an agency that negotiated loans for immigrants.

In return, that family acted as the guarantor for Castillo's loan.

Now, both families are in arrears.

And each of them is legally responsible for its own loan and for the loan it guaranteed.

"We were two families and we did not know each other. Ecuadorans are like that. We had to sign the papers and that's it. Goodbye, and each side went its own way," said Castillo.

Light Saber

Millions of Syrians Demonstrate Support for Syrian Leadership

In a national scene conveying a message to the whole world of the Syrian people's commitment to national unity away from foreign interferences and dictates, millions of Syrians on Thursday streamed into the homeland's streets and squares throughout the provinces in a global march for Syria.

Waving Syrian flags and banners with national slogans on them, the jubilant participants voiced rejection of foreign interference in the Syrian people's internal affairs and support to the comprehensive reform program led by President Bashar al-Assad to build the renewed Syria.

The reverberating echoes of pro-Syria and pro-leadership chants were heard all through the Umayyad square in Damascus, and Saba Bahrat Square in Deir Ezzor, Saadallah al-Jaberi Square in Aleppo, al-Mohafazeh Square in Lattakia and al-Raqqa, along the cornice in Tartous, the President Square in Hasaka, al-Baladieh in Misyaf, the main street of Salhab, the Post roundabout in Daraa and the neighborhoods of al-Zahra, al-Nuzha, al-Hadara and al-Sheirat in Homs.

Bizarro Earth

Appalled Ugandans Riot at Kony 2012 Screening

Joseph Kony
© AP
Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord's Resistance Army.
It has been viewed more than 77-million times around the world, but not by those who know Joseph Kony best: his victims in northern Uganda.

That changed on Tuesday night when thousands flocked to watch Kony 2012, the video made by a US charity urging a grassroots campaign against the fugitive warlord that has gone viral.

The film was projected on to an ersatz cinema screen fashioned from a white sheet, held up by metal poles, in a town park. The reaction? Puzzlement, then anger, which boiled over into scuffles and stone-throwing that sent organisers fleeing for cover.

There was particular criticism of the Stop Kony campaign's use of merchandise, such as bracelets and T-shirts, which victims said they found offensive.

"People were very angry about the film," said Victor Ochen, director of a local charity, the African Youth Initiative Network (Ayinet), which arranged the screening. "They were all saying, 'This is not about us, it does not reflect our lives'."

Ochen said he had wanted to provide an opportunity for victims to see the film made by the charity Invisible Children -- mindful that less than 2% of Ugandans have internet access.


Digital Spell-Checking May Be Killing Off Words

Computer Kids
© Lisa F. Young | Shutterstock
These kids may see fewer new words than their parents, according to a new study.

The death rate of words has apparently increased recently while new entries into languages are becoming less common, both perhaps because of digital spell-checking, according to a Google-aided analysis of more than 10 million words.

More than 4 percent of the world's books have now been digitized, a trove that includes seven languages and dates back to the 16th century. All of this text offers new opportunities to study how language evolves.

Researchers analyzed English, Spanish and Hebrew texts from 1800 to 2008 that had been digitized by Google.

"We are now able to analyze language comprising not only the common words, but also the extremely rare words, and not just for yesterday but for yesteryear, and not just for yesteryear, but back to a time before most people can track their family lineage," said researcher Alexander Petersen, a physicist at the Institutions Markets Technologies Lucca Institute for Advanced Studies in Italy.

The scientists concentrated on fluctuations of how often words were used and how often they "died," or fell out of common use.

Evil Rays

Homeless people used as mobile Wi-Fi hotspots

Clarence Jones
© Ben Sklar / The New York Times
Clarence Jones, a homeless man, works for BBH Labs as a mobile hotspot during the South by Southwest technology conference in Austin, Texas, on Sunday.
Commentator says project at technology conference was like 'something out of a darkly satirical science-fiction dystopia'

Which product at this year's South by Southwest technology conference received more attention than perhaps any other?

Homeless people as wireless transmitters.

A marketing agency touched off a wave of criticism and debate when it hired members of the local homeless population to walk around carrying mobile Wi-Fi devices, offering conferencegoers Internet access in exchange for donations.

BBH Labs, the innovation unit of the international marketing agency BBH, outfitted 13 volunteers from a homeless shelter with the devices, business cards and T-shirts bearing their names: "I'm Clarence, a 4G Hotspot."

They were told to go to the most densely packed areas of the conference, which has become a magnet for those who want to chase the latest in technology trends.

The smartphone-toting, social-networking crowds often overwhelm cellular networks in the area, creating a market that BBH Labs hoped to serve with the "Homeless Hotspots" project, which it called a "charitable experiment."


Young People Becoming More Focused on 'Me

© holbox, Shutterstock
Today's young adults are more "Generation Me" than "Generation We," according to a new analysis, which found a decline over four decades in civic engagement and concern for others, alongside increases in such life goals as making a lot of money.

"The data analyzed here suggest that the popular view of millennials (those born after 1982) as more caring, community-oriented and politically engaged than previous generations is largely incorrect," wrote the researchers, led by psychology professor Jean Twenge of San Diego State University.

While the rate of volunteerism appears to have increased among younger people, the researchers said this is probably due to schools instituting volunteer service requirements.

Twenge, who is the author of Generation Me (Simon & Schuster, 2006), and her colleagues were surprised to see that the desire to save the environment notably declined across the three generations studied - baby boomers, Generation Xers and millennials. For example, while 5 percent of boomers (born between 1946 and 1961) said they made no personal effort to help the environment, the proportion among millennials was 15 percent.