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Several thousand march against austerity in Madrid

© Reuters / Andrea Comas
Demonstrators march with banners during a protest against public health and education cuts in Madrid October 6, 2012
Several thousand demonstrators have taken to the streets of Madrid to protest against public health and education cuts as the Spanish economy is experiencing its second recession, with the highest level of unemployment in the eurozone.

The protesters marched through central Madrid on Saturday, holding banners reading "Neither cuts nor privatizations." Many demonstrators were civil servants who will face a wage freeze next year.

"I work in a hospital, but I'm about to end up unemployed," 58-year-old nurse Victoria Gutierrez told AP. "On Oct. 30, my temporary contract will finish and it won't be extended. We have minimum cover on every floor at every hospital," she said. "This is affecting not just hospitals, also education and civil services, everything."

Bizarro Earth

How to Kill: Dutch govt aims to regulate religious slaughter

© Reuters/Ammar Awad
A ultra-Orthodox Jewish man holds a chicken over the heads of children as they perform the Kaparot ritual in Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighbourhood September 23, 2012, ahead of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. Kaparot is an ancient custom connected to Yom Kippur, where white chickens are slaughtered as a symbolic gesture of atonement.
The Dutch government is drafting a decree that would give it the power to overrule anyone aiming to practice ritual slaughter in the Netherlands. The move has received mixed reactions from Jewish communities throughout the country.

The decree, which was signed by Dutch Agriculture Minister Henk Bleker, is aimed at defining the practice's future in the Netherlands.

Ritual slaughter - which is known as 'scechitah' to Jews and 'dhabihah' to Muslims - involves making an incision across the animal's throat, allowing the blood to drain out. The slaying of conscious animals is a requirement of Jewish and Muslim law.

The declaration says that slaughtered animals still conscious 40 seconds after having their throats cut would be stunned - deeming them unsuitable for kosher or halal purposes. It also issues regulations on knife sizes and where the animal can be cut.

Both faiths maintain that ritual slaughter is humane because the animal quickly loses consciousness as it bleeds to death.

However, animal rights campaigners say the practice induces unnecessary suffering to the animal.


Germany set to debate new circumcision law

Germany's Bundestag will debate a new draft bill on male circumcisions next week. If adopted, the law will allow the ritual practice if it does not endanger the child's health and is performed "according to the standards of medical practice."

The draft bill allows circumcision to be carried out on boys up to six months old if parental consent has been given. Older children have the right to deny the procedure.

Apart from religious circumcision, the law will also allow parents to perform circumcisions for health reasons. The procedure will not require the use of anesthetic, though the qualified individual must provide "necessary and effective treatment of pain in individual cases," Der Spiegel reports.

The German cabinet is expected to adopt the 26-page bill next Wednesday, after which it will be sent to the federal parliament.

"It is a clear political signal that Jews and Muslims are still welcome in Germany," the Times of Israel cites Dieter Graumann, the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, as saying.

"We are happy that Jewish commandments and Jewish life are not being pushed into illegality."

Controversy was sparked within Germany's Muslim and Jewish communities after the Cologne district court ruled in June that a legal guardian's authority over a child does not allow them to subject them to the procedure, which the court called minor bodily harm.

Circumcision - Conditioning the Adult by Torturing the Child
Naomi Wolf: The Male Circumcision Question


Venetian protesters demand independence from Rome

© Screenshot from RT guest footage.
Protesters gather in front of the central government building in Veneto, Italy to demand independence from Rome.
Protesters have gathered in front of the central government in Veneto, Italy to demand an immediate referendum on the region's independence from Rome. The reason is mainly economic, according to the rally's organizer.

Demonstrators are presenting the local government with a resolution which demands an immediate referendum for the region to become its own country.

The new territory would include Venice, the surrounding region of Veneto, and parts of Lombardy, Trentino and Friuli-Venezia Giulia.

The rally, which was organized by the separatist Indipendenza Veneta party, drew large numbers of energetic protesters.

"The situation here is almost explosive, so today we have thousands of people who have gathered in front of the regional government and we're going to present to them a resolution signed by thousands of participants to have a referendum for independence," Chairman of the separatist Indipendenza Veneta Party, Lodovico Pizzati, told RT.

The territory would be known as the "Repubblica Veneta," and would consist of around five million people. It's a move that an overwhelming 70 per cent of local residents support, according to a poll conducted by local newspaper Il Gazzettino.

"The main reason is economic. We are in a situation worse than a colony because the tax rate in Italy is the highest the world and our services are extremely poor. We have 20 billion euros missing from our regional resources each year and that's unbearable," Pizzati said.


Troubles mount for American Airlines after it cancels more flights over loose seats

American Airlines
© Desconocido
Troubles continue to mount for American Airlines, which was forced to cancel 44 flights Friday as it scrambles to fix seats in its Boeing 757s that could pop loose during flight.

The nation's third biggest airline announced that 44 flights are canceled on Friday. Fifty flights were canceled Thursday.

Airline officials said late Thursday that they had come up with a fix for the seats, and they began pulling 48 Boeing 757s out of service to make repairs. All the planes should be back in service by Saturday.

Officials said a combination of wear, poor design and even soda spilled into the tracks can cause seats to become loose during flight.

The loose seats are one of many problems facing the troubled airline.

Brick Wall

FBI: Strong signs border death was friendly fire

© Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
U.S. Border Patrol agent Nicholas J. Ivie.
Phoenix, Arizona - Friendly fire likely was to blame in a shooting near the Arizona-Mexico line that killed one federal agent and wounded another, the FBI said, noting the investigation was still ongoing in the case that reignited the political debate over border security.

"There are strong preliminary indications that the death of United States Border Patrol Agent Nicholas J. Ivie and the injury to a second agent was the result of an accidental shooting incident involving only the agents," FBI Special Agent in Charge James L. Turgal Jr. said in a statement Friday.

Turgal said the FBI is using "all necessary investigative, forensic and analytical resources" as it investigates the Tuesday shooting about five miles north of the border near Bisbee.

Ivie, 30, was killed after he and two other agents responded to an alarm triggered by a sensor aimed at detecting smugglers and others entering the U.S. illegally. Another agent was wounded, and released from a hospital after surgery; the third agent was uninjured.

Federal investigators used ballistic testing to determine that the shootings likely resulted from friendly fire, according to the Cochise County Sheriff's Office, which is assisting the FBI in the probe.

A spokesman for the Ivie family said how the agent died changes little.


Naked Alabama college freshman, 18, shot dead by campus police

© Facebook
Gilbert Thomas Collar (right) with his mother Doris Elisabeth Collar - the 18-year-old student was shot dead while naked and physically threatening a University of South Alabama police officer on Saturday
In a tragic and bizarre incident a University of Alabama student who was naked has been fatally shot after charging a campus police officer early on Saturday morning.

University officials said that the confrontation occurred after the officer went outside the police station to investigate a banging noise that was coming from his office window.

Confronted with 18-year-old Gilbert Thomas Collar who was acting erratically and wearing no clothes, the officer shot the student once in the chest after he repeatedly charged.

Authorities said that the officer attempted to retreat several times in an attempt to defuse the situation but that the officer was left with no choice but to shoot when Collar made one final charge.

Collar, who had only recently enrolled at the University of South Alabama was shot at 1.30 a.m. on Saturday moening outside the USA Police Department on Stadium Drive .

Keith Ayers, a university spokesman, spoke to the media to announced the student's identity, but would not speculate as yet whether the student was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Cell Phone

Chinese iPhone 5 workers strike over increased quality control demands, holiday work


Foxconn, pictured during a jobs fair in in southern China earlier this year, denies that production has been affected following reports of a mass strike over iPhone 5 manufacturing conditions
Beijing, China - A labour watch group says thousands of workers at a Chinese factory that makes Apple's iPhones have gone on strike over increased quality control demands and having to work during an extended national holiday.

New York-based China Labor Watch says several iPhone 5 production lines at Foxconn's Zhengzhou factory are paralyzed after 3,000-4,000 workers went on strike after finding the new demands difficult to meet. They're also angry they were being forced to work during the Golden Week holiday.

Taiwan-based Foxconn Technology Group manufactures iPhones in China. The iPhone 5 debuted in September.

China Labor Watch says workers beat quality control inspectors, who also carried out a work stoppage after management ignored their complaints.

Last month, a brawl involving 2,000 workers broke out at Foxconn's factory in China's Taiyuan city.

Source: The Associated Press and The Canadian Press


'I want to die': Paralysed bank manager with terminal brain cancer pleads with doctors -- but her Christian parents refuse to remove her breathing tubes

© Facebook
Bitter battle: Grace Sung Eun Lee, centre, is on breathing tubes following a seizure from a brain tumour, but her parents will not allow her to be removed from the tubes
A terminally ill bank manager with brain cancer has made her last wishes clear - she wants to die.

Grace Sung Eun Lee even managed to vocalise her wishes, telling her parents and the doctors tending to her: 'I want to die.'

But because the 28-year-old's parents are deeply religious and belong to a Korean Christian church in Queens, they believe that allowing her daughter to choose death over life is a sin.

The rift in beliefs has led to an agonising legal battle for the family.

© Facebook
Happier times: Grace, centre, pictured with her parents Manho Lee, left, and Jin-ah Lee, right; her father is a pastor at a Flushing, Queens church
Speaking with the New York Daily News, Ms Lee's mother, Jin-ah Lee, said: 'Despite all this confusion, (my daughter) wants to go to heaven. I keep telling her she can get better.'

Her daughter is currently at Long Island North Shore Hospital, hooked up to breathing tubes that are keeping her alive. She is paralysed from the neck down due to the tumour on her brain stem.

Cupcake Pink

French beekeepers blame M&M's candy for mysterious blue and green honey

© Vincent Kessler / Reuters
French apiarist Andre Frieh holds a sample of honey, left, beside coloured ones at his home in Ribeauville near Colmar Eastern France on Oct. 5. Bees at a cluster of bee hives in northeastern France have been producing honey in mysterious shades of blue and green, alarming their keepers.
Bees at a cluster of apiaries in northeastern France have been producing honey in mysterious shades of blue and green, alarming their keepers who now believe residue from containers of M&M's candy processed at a nearby biogas plant is the cause.

Since August, beekeepers around the town of Ribeauville in the region of Alsace have seen bees returning to their hives carrying unidentified colourful substances that have turned their honey unnatural shades.

Mystified, the beekeepers embarked on an investigation and discovered that a biogas plant 4 kilometres away has been processing waste from a Mars plant producing M&M's, bite-sized candies in bright red, blue, green, yellow and brown shells.