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England to ban circuses from using wild animals

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© AFP Photo
Travelling circuses in England will be banned from using wild animals from December 2015, the government announced on Tuesday, after a long campaign to end the practice.

Introducing a draft bill in parliament, junior environment minister Robert Ponsonby said circus operators had until then to adapt their shows and find new homes for their animals.

"This legislation will end the use of wild animals in travelling circuses in this country. It will also help ensure that our international reputation as a leading protector of animals continues into a new global era," he said.

Lawmakers voted two years ago to end the use of wild animals in circuses and animal rights groups have been pressing for a change, but ministers initially feared a legal challenge from operators.

"There is no place in today's society for wild animals to be used for our entertainment and we are absolutely delighted," said Peter Jones, president of the British Veterinary Association.

Prime Minister David Cameron's government has already introduced tough new regulations to safeguard animal welfare, and two circuses are currently licensed to use about 20 wild animals between them.

Airplane

American Air reservation system down, grounds 200 flights

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© Reuters/Eduardo Munoz
American Airlines said its reservation system had an outage on Tuesday, leading the carrier to halt at least 200 flights.

"American's reservation and booking tool, Sabre is offline," American Airlines spokeswoman Mary Frances Fagan said in an email to Reuters.

"We're working to resolve the issue as quickly as we can. We apologize to our customers for any inconvenience."

Bad Guys

Sweatshops on wheels: The slow death of America's mass transportation system

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© Mr. Fish
The deterioration of the nation's public transportation, like the deterioration of health care, education, social services, public utilities, bridges and roads, is part of the relentless seizing and harvesting of public resources and programs by corporations. These corporations are steadily stripping the American infrastructure. Public-sector unions are being broken. Wages and benefits are being slashed. Workers are forced to put in longer hours in unsafe workplaces, often jeopardizing public safety. The communities that need public services most are losing them, and where public service is continued it is reduced or substandard and costlier. Only the security and surveillance network and the military are permitted to function with efficiency in their role as the guardians of corporate power. We now resemble the developing world: We have small pockets of obscene wealth, ailing infrastructure and public service, huge swaths of grinding poverty, and militarized police and internal security.

The assault on public transportation, which has devastating consequences for the poor who cannot get to work or the doctor's office without it, is not new. General Motors, Standard Oil, Firestone Tire and Rubber, B.F. Phillips Petroleum and Mack Manufacturing set up companies in the 1930s - first United Cities Motor Transit and later National City Lines - in order to rip up city trolley tracks and replace them with bus and car routes. These corporations, joined by companies such as Greyhound, pushed through the national highway grid. City bus companies, as riders turned to cars, began to go bankrupt. The federal government in 1964 approved the Urban Mass Transit Act, which provided capital and operating funds for mass transit to keep it on life support. The corporations, meanwhile, pushed through huge urban renewal plans, all funded by the taxpayer, which focused exclusively on highways, tunnels and bridges and further sidelined public transportation. Jane Jacobs, who wrote the 1961 book "The Death and Life of Great American Cities," presciently understood and fought these corporate forces, led in New York City by Robert Moses, who forcibly displaced hundreds of thousands of residents and demolished neighborhoods to cater to the demands of the car and fossil fuel industries. Robert A. Caro in his biography of Moses, "The Power Broker," exposed this relentless process in depressing detail.

This process of destroying our public transportation system is largely complete. Our bus and rail system, compared to Europe's or Japan's, is a joke. But an even more insidious process has begun. Multinational corporations, many of them foreign, are slowly consolidating transportation systems into a few private hands. Of the top three multinationals that control transport in the U.S. only one, MV Transportation, is based here. FirstGroup, a multibillion-dollar corporation headquartered in the United Kingdom and a product of Margaret Thatcher's privatization of British mass transit, now owns First Student, which operates 54,000 school buses in 38 states and nine Canadian provinces and has 6 million student riders. FirstGroup also has a controlling stake in Greyhound. Veolia Transportation, a subsidiary of Transdev, a conglomerate headquartered in France, has 150 contracts to run mass transit systems in the United States. It was Veolia, after Hurricane Katrina, that took over the New Orleans bus system. And Veolia did what it has done elsewhere. It stripped bus workers of their pensions. New York's Nassau County bus service, once part of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), was turned over to Veolia after the French corporation hired former three-term Sen. Al D'Amato of New York as its lobbyist. Veolia - which when it takes over a U.S. property, as in New Orleans or Nassau County, refuses to give workers a defined-benefit plan - is partly owned by a pension fund that covers one-third of French citizens. U.S. workers are losing their benefit plans to a company created to provide benefit plans for the French. Veolia is currently lobbying Rhode Island and Atlanta to privatize their bus services.

Eye 2

Girl 'continued to say no' to Connecticut football players accused of rape, according to arrest warrants

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© Torrington, Conn. Police Dept./AP Photo
Torrington High School football players Edgar Gonzalez, left, and Joan Toribio, are charged with felony second-degree sexual assault and other crimes in February in cases involving different 13-year-old girls.
One of the 13-year-old alleged victims in the Torrington, Conn., statutory rape case told police she was "forced" to have sex with one of the 18-year-old high school football players accused of sexual assault even though she "continued to say no," according to police documents.

The arrest warrants in the case, unsealed on Friday, detail the allegations that led to sexual assault charges being filed against Torrington High School students Edgar Gonzalez and Joan Toribio, who were arrested in February and charged with second degree sexual assault, among other crimes.

Both Toribio and Gonzalez allegedly admitted to police they had sex with the girls and apologized for their actions, according to the warrants. Before the warrants were released, both pleaded not guilty to the charges.

According to the warrants, one 13-year-old girl, who is identified as Juvenile A, told a forensic interviewer at Torrington's Center for Youth and Families that while she was having intercourse with Gonzalez, he "had his hands on the back of her head," and "at one point, Gonzalez held "her arm back behind her body."

Evil Rays

New York police veteran kills toddler son, boyfriend and herself

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© WABC
New York City Police investigate the scene in the East Flatbush section of the New York borough of Brooklyn, where a an off-duty police officer shot her boyfriend, baby and herself to death on April 15, 2013.
An off-duty New York City police officer shot and killed her infant son and her boyfriend before she shot and killed herself, police said.

Police said they discovered the woman dead in the apartment with the infant in her arms. The boyfriend was found dead in the front doorway.

The three were discovered just before 9 a.m. in an apartment in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn.

Eye 2

Psychopath: Texas woman, 84, charged with hiring hit man to kill local D.A.

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© Montgomery County DA/ ABC News
Booking photo of Dorothy Canfield of Willis, Texas, who allegedly sought to have Montgomery County D.A. Brett Ligon attacked, and Assistant D.A. Rob Fryer slain
A 84-year-old Texas woman in jail for theft was charged on Monday with attempting to hire a hit man to kill the local district attorney who filed the theft charge and to make the killing look similar to the recent murder of a district attorney in Kaufman County.

Dorothy Canfield was charged with solicitation to commit capital murder after she allegedly paid an undercover officer, posing as a hit man, $5,000 to kill Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Robert Freyer.

Canfield was also charged with solicitation to commit aggravated assault on a public servant for allegedly agreeing to pay the undercover officer $2,500 to injure Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon.

"Threats against public servants are a direct threat against criminal justice system itself," Ligon said Monday during a news conference announcing the charges.

Bulb

India advised to clean up its cities to improve tourism

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© whiteindianhousewife.com
As more affluent Indians travel the world and their country's growing economy and population gain more global attention, they are increasingly embarrassed about one of India's dirtiest features: its cities.

It is not uncommon to see piles of putrefying garbage lying along the streets, in front of fancy malls and luxury car showrooms, and at the gates of many exclusive neighborhoods. But just as common is the sight of Indians walking past the smelly heaps, covering their noses with the edge of their saris or handkerchiefs and waving the flies away.

Many Indians routinely throw empty cigarette packs, plastic wrappers or cans from their car windows. Even at religious sites, waste is often dumped into rivers, lakes or the streets. Open, stinking drains in residential neighborhoods are choked with household trash.

With India's creaky municipal management system stretched thin and government response to the teeming trash patchy at best, the problem will only worsen, analysts say. More than 600 million Indians will live in cities by 2030, compared with a little more than 350 million today. Indians generate more than 55 million tons of solid waste every year, and that figure will increase to 240 million tons by 2047, according to the Energy and Resources Institute in New Delhi.

But there is a new push for change from some quarters.

Neighborhood volunteers, schools and activists in big cities are organizing like rarely before to clean up India. They are staging sporadic cleanup drives at markets, beaches and railway stations. They are urging people not to litter, asking families to separate waste from recyclables and using smartphones to photograph and report uncollected garbage to the government.

Even the federal Tourism Ministry launched a campaign to keep areas around heritage monuments clean.

Comment: Cleaning the cities would be a great idea, but changing India's culture of rape might also help tourism and the global view of India.
Swiss tourist gang raped in India, say police
Rape cases in New Delhi jump 23 percent in 2012
Ending India's rape culture


Cow Skull

The terrifying reality of long-term Unemployment in the U.S.

Long Term Unemployed
© Reuters
It's an awful catch-22: employers won't hire you if you've been out of work for more than six months

Close your eyes and picture the scariest thing you can think of. Maybe it's a giant spider or a giant Stay Puft marshmallow man or something that's not even giant at all. Well, whatever it is, I guarantee it's not nearly as scary as the real scariest thing in the world. That's long-term unemployment.

There are two labor markets nowadays. There's the market for people who have been out of work for less than six months, and the market for people who have been out of work longer. The former is working pretty normally, and the latter is horribly dysfunctional. That was the conclusion of recent research I highlighted a few months ago by Rand Ghayad, a visiting scholar at the Boston Fed and a PhD candidate in economics at Northeastern University, and William Dickens, a professor of economics at Northeastern University, that looked at Beveridge curves for different ages, industries, and education levels to see who the recovery is leaving behind.

Bizarro Earth

Free fried chicken is latest in trend of restaurant offers to gun-toting customers

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A Louisiana fried chicken joint has joined a trend of restaurants across the country offering free food or discounts to customers who agree to bring their guns to dinner - but is it turning off other patrons?

Randal Neel, the owner of Chicken Express in Bossier City, told KLVT that he was making a statement in support of gun rights as the Louisiana Legislature considers more than a dozen new gun laws, including efforts to make firearms easier and cheaper to sell.

"You don't get a chance often to be heard," Neel explained. "We've had probably our busiest Saturday we've ever had."

Attention

California man kills himself with homemade bomb after refusing medical help

bomb suicide California
© Unknown
A Costa Mesa, California neighborhood had to be evacuated Sunday night after a resident allegedly killed himself with a homemade bomb.

KTLA-TV reported on Monday that authorities found the unidentified man laying on his front lawn earlier in the evening, but refused medical attention and went back inside his home.

"Neighbors were trying to convince him to go to the hospital," one resident, Laurie Raphoon, told KNBC-TV. "An hour or two later we heard an explosion."