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French organic winemaker faces prison for defying pesticide order

France - wine
© Alamy
The French agriculture ministry is prosecuting Emmanuel Giboulot for failing to apply insecticide.
Emmanuel Giboulot to appear before judge in Dijon for refusing to treat vines against insect that spreads devastating disease

A French organic winemaker could face a prison sentence and a hefty fine after refusing to spray his vines with pesticide.

Emmanuel Giboulot will appear before a judge in the city of Dijon on Monday after defying an official order to treat his vineyard against an insect suspected of transmitting a devastating plant disease.

The cicadelle, the leafhopper Scaphoideus titanus, is believed to be responsible for the spread of the grapevine disease flavescence dorée, which has affected vines in the Côte-d'Or region of Burgundy, where Giboulot produces Côte de Beaune and Hautes Côtes de Nuits wines.

Giboulot claims the pesticide is ineffective and damaging to pollinating insects such as bees, and insists the disease can be fought via more natural means.


Sochi Olympics close with breathtaking show as Russia finishes top in medals table

© Reuters / Eric Gaillard
Olympic Games mascots extinguish Olympic flame in a small cauldron in the stadium during the closing ceremony for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, February 23, 2014.
After two weeks of cheering, daring and record breaking, the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games finally bids farewell as athletes and fans gather one final time to admire a sparkling closing ceremony at the Fisht Olympic Stadium.

The closing ceremony kicked off shortly after 8 p.m., maintaining the "20:14" theme. The display was a fantastic affair in "art-house style", with spectators continuing their trip through Russian culture. Fireworks lit up the sky as a boat carrying Lyuba, Yura and Valya floated over the audience, and glittering shoals of 'fish' swarmed underneath.
© Reuters / Grigory Dukor
As the 'fish' formed the shapes of Olympic rings, one, in the top right hand corner ironically hovered in a small bud-shape, before victoriously bursting open.
© Reuters / Eric Gaillard
The Russian flag was brought into the arena by the Russian athletes who led their country to gold at the games. Russian President Vladimir Putin and IOC president Thomas Bach were among the crowds observing a subsequent rendition of the Russian national anthem sung by 1,000 children.


A world map of where children go hungry

Worldwide Hungry Children
© Per Square Mile/Tim De Chant
Half of children in the reddest countries are dangerously underweight due to malnutrition.
Few maps are more concerning than this one. Created by journalist Tim De Chant, it shows the percentage of children in each country whose weight is "more than two standard deviations below the median of the NCHS/CDC/WHO International Reference Population."

In other words, this map depicts the percentage of children in each country who are dangerously underweight on account of malnutrition. (Quantifying just how underweight these children are is difficult without knowing the variation in weight in the study population.) Data are from 1990 to 2002 and countries in blue indicate no data was available.


One dead, 27 made ill by carbon monoxide poisoning at New York mall

© AFP/File, Mira Oberman
Most of the victims of a gas leak at a New York restaurant were workers
One man died and dozens more were treated in hospitals or at the scene after suffering carbon monoxide poisoning at a mall restaurant on New York's Long Island on Saturday evening, police said.

Police responding to a call about an injured woman at the Legal Sea Foods restaurant in Huntington Station, New York, found the 55-year-old manager unconscious in the basement, Suffolk County Police said.

The manager, identified by police as Steven Nelson, died of cardiac arrest as he was being transferred by ambulance said Julie Robinson-Tingue, a spokeswoman for Huntington Hospital.

Soon after arriving, police and emergency personnel felt nauseous and dizzy and recognized the symptoms as a carbon monoxide event, Suffolk County police said.


Last of the Trapp Family Singers dies

© Kerstin Joensson, AP
This July 25, 2008 photo shows Maria von Trapp, daughter of Austrian Baron Georg von Trapp, smiling during a press conference at the Villa Trapp in Salzburg, Austria
Maria, the second-eldest daughter, was the basis for the Louisa character in 'The Sound of Music.'

So long, farewell to Maria von Trapp, the last surviving member of the Trapp Family Singers made famous in The Sound of Music. She died Tuesday, at age 99, at her home in Vermont.

"She was a lovely woman who was one of the few truly good people," her brother Johannes von Trapp said. "There wasn't a mean or miserable bone in her body. I think everyone who knew her would agree with that."

In 1938, the family escaped from Nazi-occupied Austria and performed concert tours throughout Europe and then a three-month tour in America.

Black Magic

Pennsylvania: Satanist dismisses claims of accused Craigslist killer

© Mike Staugaitis/The News Item/AP
Miranda Barbour
A Pennsylvania woman claims she joined a satanic cult at age13 and went on a murderous, 6-year rampage

At least one Satanist leader is a nonbeliever when it comes to a Pennsylvania woman's claims that she joined a satanic cult, then killed dozens of people over a six-year period.

Miranda Barbour, 19, accused of killing a man in November that she met on Craigslist, made national headlines last week when she told a local newspaper she killed at least 22 others. Barbour, in a jailhouse interview, told The Daily Item in Sunbury that she was sexually abused as a child, joined a satanic cult when she was 13 - and that the cult leader helped her pull the trigger on her first kill.

"There is a secular idea that 'the devil made me do it' that has turned into 'satanism made me do it,'" says Lucien Greaves, spokesman for The Satanic Temple, among the largest such bodies nationwide with a few hundred members. Barbour is not among them, he said.

Federal, state and local authorities say they are looking into Barbour's murderous claims. Tuesday, a Pennsylvania prosecutor said there had been "no verification" of additional slayings, and North Carolina authorities expressed skepticism.

Craigslist "thrill killer" claims to have killed 22 others with Satanic cult


Letter to anyone who cares: Zahir Ebrahim on the corrupt elites in Pakistan

© Kevin Barrett
Pakistan is going through very rough times today. But these dystopic times are no more rough than the decades which preceded the partition of the Indian subcontinent. It is often said that history, especially dystopic history, repeats itself. If we can get a handle on how the current affairs of that pre-partition era were manipulated, orchestrated, aided and abetted into existence to serve a larger geopolitical agenda, then it can help us understand some of the forces doing the same today.

The most significant character of that era is "Sir" Allama Mohammad Iqbal of Sialkot. The re-examination of our political history in the essay: Sacred Cow: Allama Iqbal - marde-momin or superman By Zahir Ebrahim unmasks many of the forces that motivated this fellow into serving imperial interests in the name of serving Muslims and Islam. These forces have not perished, but similarly fabricating and orchestrating events in Pakistan today with a new retinue of stooges and mercenaries. The modus operandi, unsurprisingly enough, isn't dissimilar either (and why change it when it works so well). Chaos conditions are fabricated with terror to create social tension which is subsequently harvested as "demands" of the people. That modus operandi of recent history already out in the open, called the "strategy of tension" in Western Europe, can be studied in the article: Operation Gladio Yesterday and Worldwide Terrorism Today - Identifying the Enemy By Zahir Ebrahim.


14 Caribbean nations call for Britain to pay slavery reparations

© Alamy
Sugar cane cutters, Jamaica, 1891
Caribbean slave descendants, some of whose ancestors worked for David Cameron's distant family, are calling for an apology and billions of pounds in reparations

From his bungalow on the side of a hill in western Jamaica, Willie Thompson surveys the same lush valley that one of his great-great-grandmothers was forced to harvest for sugar cane more than 180 years ago.

"I am an African descendant," he said, whippet-thin and grizzled at the age of 78. "She came here with the chains on her feet, on a slave trade ship".

Mr Thompson knows that when Parliament voted in 1833 to abolish slavery in Britain's colonies, Earl Grey's government was made to pay out compensation worth almost £2 billion in today's money.

And after an exhausting day spent scratching out a living by farming yams, he wonders what might have been if Nana Bracket and her comrades, rather than the ancestor of David Cameron who owned them, had received £4,101 of it - the equivalent of £415,000 today.

"The English made a lot of money back then. A lot of money," he said, with a sigh almost long enough to reach Dudley, West Mids, where he worked as a labourer in the 1960s before returning home. "I think it is fair for we to get a bit of compensation for what all our people been through."

A coalition of 14 Caribbean states, including Jamaica, agrees with Mr Thompson, and is now mounting the first united campaign for reparations from Britain over its role in the Atlantic slave trade.


Dashcam video saves man from 5 years of prison, getting police indicted


Marcus Jeter
The tale of the police dashcam video has now helped clear a Bloomfield, New Jersey man who faced a multitude of criminal charges, including eluding police and assault.

Investigative Reporter Sarah Wallace obtained the dashcam tapes, and has spoken exclusively with the 30-year old DJ who was looking at years in prison.

It was quite a turnabout, all the criminal charges against Marcus Jeter have been dismissed, and two Bloomfield police officers have been indicted for falsifying reports, and one of them, for assault.

A third pleaded guilty early on to tampering. It's all thanks to those dashcam tapes. It's the video that prosecutors say they never saw when the pursued criminal charges against 30 year-old Marcus Jeter . In the video, his hands were in the air. He was charged with eluding police, resisting arrest and assault. One officer in the video can be seen throwing repeated punches.

Sarah Wallace: "It this tape hadn't surfaced?"
Marcus: "I'd be in jail."

Red Flag

The men behind the masks: The hidden world of the men who practice 'female masking'


Kerry, the "unofficial matriarch" of the female-masking scene
Julie, an immaculately made-up woman, sits down in front of a camera. She has thick, voluminous hair that frames the high cheekbones of her conspicuously crease-free face. Her elegant, arched eyebrows and extra-long eyelashes act as a counterbalance to her plump, painted lips. She looks out of frame, as if admiring herself in a mirror, before giggling and batting her eyelids.

"Oh dear," she purrs, tilting her head from side to side. "Another long day in a wig and a girdle."

She reaches up and emits a light moan as she unclips her gold earrings and gently sets them aside, one by one. She considers her image a few moments longer, then places her hands just below her ears and begins to pull her blemish-free skin off and away from her jawline. It's only now that we realize it's not human skin, but rather a mask made of soft, flesh-like silicone rubber.

Julie is one of the most visible faces of female masking, a specific subset of cross-dressing men who wear masks, and occasionally skin-tone bodysuits, to make them look more like biological women. The videos that she uploads to YouTube have received hundreds of thousands of views, attracting both fans and detractors.