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Fri, 31 Mar 2023
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Australia student ordered to pay $100,000 to music teacher for Twitter defamation

© North Queensland Register
Orange High School music teacher Christine Mickle
Music teacher in Australia wins case against former student who defamed her on Twitter and Facebook

A music teacher in Australia has been awarded £57,000 ($AUS105,000) in damages for defamation on Twitter and Facebook after she was targeted by a former student who "bore a grudge".

Andrew Farley, 20, the son of the school's head of the music and arts department, wrote defamatory messages about Christine Mickle, 58, who replaced Mr Farley's father. He had never been taught by the popular teacher but posted the messages a year after graduating, suggesting she was responsible for the fate of his father, who stood down in 2008 for health reasons.

"For some reason it seems that the defendant bears a grudge against the plaintiff, apparently based on a belief that she had something to do with his father leaving the school," said district court judge Michael Elkaim.

Arrow Down

6 reasons why America is like a third-world country

Our society lags behind the rest of the developed world in education, health care, violence and more.
US prison cell
© Michael Criswell/Getty Images
The U.S. imprisons a higer percentage of our population than countries like Russia, China and Iran
Although the U.S. is one of the richest societies in history, it still lags behind other developed nations in many important indicators of human development - key factors like how we educate our children, how we treat our prisoners, how we take care of the sick and more. In some instances, the U.S.'s performance is downright abysmal, far below foreign countries that are snidely looked-down-upon as "third world." Here are six of the most egregious examples that show how far we still have to go:

1. Criminal Justice

We all know the U.S. criminal justice system is flawed, but few are likely aware of just how bad it is compared to the rest of the world. The International Center for Prison Studies estimates that America imprisons 716 people per 100,000 citizens (of any age). That's significantly worse than Russia (484 prisoners per 100,000 citizens), China (121) and Iran (284). The only country that incarcerates a higher percentage of its population than we do is North Korea. The U.S. is also the only developed country that executes prisoners - and our death penalty has a serious race problem: 42 percent of those on death row are black, compared to less than 15 percent of the overall population.

Comment: America is not a great country. The only change we can look forward to is a rapid tumble into literal third world status:

Decline and Fall of the American Empire
U.S. already third world economy: American economist
America becomes a third-world nation in just 4 easy steps

Eye 2

Top military officer under trial for sexual assault and threatening to kill victim's family

© Ellen Ozier/Reuters
Brig Gen Jeffrey Sinclair is thought to be the highest-ranking military officer to be court-martialed on sex assault charges.
An army captain who says she was sexually assaulted by a general sobbed Friday as she testified that they had a three-year affair and that he threatened to kill her and her family - and "do it in a way no one would ever know" - if she ever told anyone.

The testimony came on the opening day of the trial of Brig Gen Jeffrey Sinclair, believed to be the highest-ranking US military officer ever court-martialed on sexual assault charges.

Eye 2

UK military allowed to investigate (or not) sexual assault cases at their own discretion

© Family handout/PA
Corporal Anne-Marie Ellement, who killed herself 23 months after an alleged rape by two colleagues, and her sister Sharon Hardy.

Military officers are being allowed to investigate allegations of sexual assaults by soldiers behind closed doors without referring the cases to the police, the Guardian can reveal.

Commanding officers are able to deal internally with more than 50 categories of what the military views as "lesser" sexual offences, including sexual and indecent assaults, voyeurism and exposure.

The officer can then, without independent scrutiny, decide the case should be dealt with by a court martial, or to take no further action.

The family of Corporal Anne-Marie Ellement, who a coroner this week found had killed herself after being bullied in the army following an alleged rape by two Royal Military police officers who were never prosecuted, said they were "shocked and appalled" by the discretion afforded to officers.

Arrow Down

Israel cuts off water supply to 45,000 Palestinians

Filling Water
© Middle East Monitor
Palestinian lady filling a water bottle in Gaza.

Some 45,000 Palestinians living in the Shuafat refugee camp and the suburbs of Ras Shehadeh, Ras Khamis, As-Salam and Anata in Jerusalem have had their water cut off for nearly three days.

The residents said Israel's water company Gihon started by gradually reducing the water supply nearly two weeks ago until it stopped entirely.

A member of Shuafat's popular committee; Khaled Al-Khalidi said on Wednesday that 23,000 refugees had no access to water for three days while the residents of Ras Shehadeh; Ras Khamis, As-Salam and Anata have been without water for 20 days.

Al-Khalidi demanded "UNRWA, the camp's service provider, to fulfil its obligations towards the refugees and prosecute the Jerusalem municipality and Gihon to oblige them to return the water supply."

Al-Khalidi pointed out that "UNRWA and Jordan signed an agreement in 1956 to provide water service to the Palestinian refugees without charge and in 1967 the Israeli Civil administration joined the Convention. However in 1988 when Israel tried to cut off the water supply to the camp residents, the refugees prosecuted the company and forced it to return the water supply."


Malaysia Airlines says plane with 227 passengers missing

malaysia airline
© AP File photo
Malaysia Airline jetliners taxi at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia, June 4, 2011.
Malaysia Airlines said Saturday it lost contact with a plane carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Flight MH370 lost contact with the Subang air traffic control at 2:40 a.m. Saturday (18:40 GMT Friday). The flight was operated on the Boeing 777-200 aircraft. It departed Kuala Lumpur at 12:41 a.m. Saturday (16:41 GMT Friday) and was expected to land in Beijing at 6:30 a.m. Saturday (22:30 GMT Friday).

The airline said it was working with the authorities who activated their search and rescue team to locate the aircraft.

The flight was carrying 227 passengers, including two infants, and 12 crew members, the airline said.

Comment: Even though it might be a bit early to tell, it makes one wonder whether this event is similar in nature to the one from Flight 447 in 2009. That plane had also lost contact, and the evidence strongly suggests that the cause of the accident was a cometary impact.

For more information, see: What are they hiding? Flight 447 and Tunguska Type Events

Considering the amount of fireballs that have been observed recently, and the asteorids that have passed close to Earth possibly carrying smaller space rocks with them, it might not be such a far-fetched idea...


Malaysia Airlines plane missing with more than 200 passengers on board

MAS B777
© Airliners Net/Bruno Delliere
Search and rescue teams are trying to find a Malaysia Airlines plane that has gone missing with more than 200 passengers on board.

The airline lost contact with the B777-200 aircraft after it departed Kuala Lumpur shortly after 12.40am local time on Saturday.

It was expected to land in Beijing at 6.30am.

Flight MH370 was carrying 227 passengers including two infants and 12 crew members.

Malaysia Airlines said in a statement that it was working with the authorities who have activated their search and rescue team to locate the aircraft.

An unconfirmed report from a flight tracking website said the plane had plunged more than 200 metres and changed course in the last minute that it had transmitted data.

There have also been reports that it is the same type of plane involved in the Asiana crash last July in San Francisco.

The airline will provide regular updates on the situation.


Shock survey: Depraved French think disgraced Dominique Strauss-Kahn should replace Francois Hollande

Disgraced former IMF director Dominique Strauss-Kahn is the most qualified to replace France's unpopular president, François Hollande, according to a shock survey French newspaper Le Parisien chose not to publish.

Asked which French politician they trusted to run the economy, 56% of those surveyed named the 64-year-old former head of the International Monetary Fund, whose political career has been ruined by a string of sex scandals and criminal allegations.

Alain Juppé, a former foreign minister, came second with 53%, while former president Nicolas Sarkozy pooled 49%.

The startling result was revealed by France Info radio, which said the poll's commissioner Le Parisien had chosen not to publish it due to "editorial" reasons.

Le Parisien reportedly told France Info it had pulled the survey because it felt it should have included the question: "Are you for or against Strauss-Kahn's return to politics?"

French commentators said the poll was embarrassing to both Hollande's ruling Socialists and the conservative opposition.

Gold Coins

No legitimate claim to $10 million California gold find, firm says

© Kagin's, Inc./AFP
Cans filled with 19th century gold coins are seen in this undated handout photo obtained February 26, 2014 courtesy of Kagin's, Inc
The currency firm representing a California couple who found $10 million worth of rare Gold Rush-era coins buried on their property says no valid claim to the collection has emerged, despite rumors that the stash was swiped in a 1901 heist.

A sale of the treasure trove, which includes 1,400 gold pieces in nearly mint condition, will proceed as planned, said coin expert David McCarthy of currency firm Kagin's.

"To my knowledge, no legitimate claims have surfaced, and I don't think that any will," McCarthy told Reuters.

Theories about the history of the Saddle Ridge Hoard, named by the owners after an area of land where they unearthed the coins in April, have emerged since the discovery was made public last week.

Black Magic

Pregnant mom spoke of demons before driving minivan into ocean with her 3 kids inside

A pregnant mother was caught on video driving a minivan into the Atlantic Ocean with her three kids inside.

The video shows the unnamed mother driving the black minivan into the water at Daytona Beach as bystanders rush to save the kids inside.

"My friend pointed out that there was a car getting really close to the beach, and actually started driving on the water," eyewitness Taylor Quintin told CBS News. "I saw a kid in the back, like waving his arms around, like screaming, 'Help us! Help us!' and the car kept going deeper."

One witness who ran to the van said the mom dove out the window into the water while they were trying to save her young kids.

Comment: An update from USA Today:

"A pregnant South Carolina woman who drove a minivan carrying her three young children into the ocean surf off Florida had talked about demons before leaving the house, according to her sister who worriedly called police, officials said during a news conference Wednesday."

Police: Mom who drove into ocean spoke of demons