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Thu, 01 Dec 2022
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Unexplained National Grid power outage causes electricity loss to thousands in Hardwick and Ware, Massachusetts Saturday afternoon

About 5,700 customers in Ware and Hardwick lost power temporarily Saturday, after a control panel running a powerful circuit breaker at a substation failed, according to National Grid spokesman David Graves.

The outage occurred at 11:20 a.m. Saturday, affecting 5,700 customers, Graves said in a telephone interview. Crews restored power to 4,200 residents by 1:20 p.m. and the rest by 2:30 p.m., he said. Baystate Mary Lane Hospital was one of the customers, but was protected by a generator.


Two Britons killed in helicopter crash in North Russia

© RIA Novosti. Alexandr Kovalev
Three people, including two British nationals, died after a private helicopter crash landed in the Murmansk Region in north Russia, the Emergencies Ministry reported on Sunday.

Russia's aviation watchdog Rosaviatsia previously reported a Eurocopter-120 helicopter crashed during takeoff, falling on its side and killing three people on the ground.

"As a result [of the accident], three people were killed, including two British citizens," the Emergencies Ministry said in a statement.

The helicopter crashed 45 km (28 miles) from the settlement of Tumanny on the Kola Peninsula, the ministry said.


US woman steals $480,000 from Boston Bombing Fund

© Reuters/ Dan Lampariello
Runners continue to run towards the finish line of the Boston Marathon as an explosion erupts near the finish line of the race on April 15, 2013
A court in the United States charged a woman from New York with fraudulently collecting nearly half a million dollars after she claimed to be a victim of the Boston marathon bombing, Boston.com reported.

Audrea Gause, 26, collected $480,000 from One Fund Boston, the fund established to help bombing victims with a budget of over $64 million, after she claimed that she suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of the terrorist attack.

Police arrested her later after investigators established that she was not in Boston at the time of the tragic events and provided a false document verifying that she was admitted to a hospital in Boston.

Arrow Down

How poverty wages for tea pickers fuel India's trade in child slavery

Child Trafficking
© Gethin Chamberlain for the Observer
Saphira Khatun, whose daughter Minu Begum was trafficked to Delhi at the age of 12. Her sisters Munu, 20, and Nadira, 17, have not seen her since.
When the trafficker came knocking on the door of Elaina Kujar's hut on a tea plantation at the north-eastern end of Assam, she had just got back from school. Elaina was 14 and wanted to be a nurse. Instead, she was about to lose four years of her life as a child slave.

She sits on a low chair inside the hut, playing with her long dark hair as she recalls how her owner would sit next to her watching porn in the living room of his Delhi house, while she waited to sleep on the floor. "Then he raped me," she says, looking down at her hands, then out of the door. Outside, the monsoon rain is falling on the tin roof and against the mud-rendered bamboo strip walls, on which her parents have pinned a church calendar bearing the slogan The Lord is Good to All.

Elaina was in that Delhi house for one reason: her parents, who picked the world-famous Assam tea on an estate in Lakhimpur district, were paid so little they could not afford to keep her. There are thousands like her, taken to Delhi from the tea plantations in the north-east Indian state by a trafficker, sold to an agent for as little as £45, sold on again to an employer for up to £650, then kept as slaves, raped, abused. It is a 21st-century slave trade. There are thought to be 100,000 girls as young as 12 under lock and key in Delhi alone: others are sold on to the Middle East and some are even thought to have reached the UK.

Every tea plantation pays the same wages. Every leaf of every box of Assam tea sold by Tetley and Lipton and Twinings and the supermarket own brands - Asda, Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsbury's and the rest - is picked by workers who earn a basic 12p an hour.

Heart - Black

Israeli soldiers have depraved "fun" making "Rachel Corrie pancakes"

Israeli soldiers had a "fun" time making what they called "Rachel Corrie pancakes."

Photos of the event were posted on the Facebook page of the "Heritage House," a settlement in occupied East Jerusalem that houses so-called "lone soldiers," men recruited from overseas to join the Israeli occupation forces.


Nesim Pesarel, one of the “Heritage House” residents, seen in a photo from his personal Facebook page.
Above the photos of young men, some in Israeli army fatigues or apparently carrying guns, is the caption "Afternoon of 'rachel corrie' Pancakes and fun!"

Rachel Corrie is the young American woman murdered by an Israeli soldier who crushed her to death with a bulldozer as she tried to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian family home in the occupied Gaza Strip on 16 March 2003.

The depraved joke that these men were presumably making is a play on the English idiom "flat as a pancake." Their celebration and joking about Rachel Corrie's death is utterly vile and reflects the culture of dehumanization inculcated into Israeli soldiers.


Woman in Dubai reports she was raped, gets arrested

© Marwan Naamani/AFP/Getty Images
Part of the skyline of the city of Dubai
A Norwegian woman was sentenced to 16 months in jail in Dubai after she reported she was raped. The charge? Having sex outside of marriage, drinking alcohol and perjury, reports the BBC. Marte Deborah Dalelv, a 24-year-old interior designer who has lived in Qatar since 2011 was on a business trip to Dubai in March when she claims a co-worker sexually assaulted her. She reportedly ran to the hotel lobby and asked the staff to call the police. They asked her if she was sure she wanted to involve the police. "Of course I want to call the police," she said, according to her account to the Associated Press. "That is the natural reaction where I am from."


Rising food prices, climate change and global 'unrest'

I don't mean to put a damper on the everyone's summer holidays, but the current heatwaves in the U.S. and Europe has me thinking back to numerous warnings issued during last summer's major drought and "record-breaking heatwave" in the U.S.

Analysts at Rabobank, a Netherlands-based bank specialising in food and agri-business financing, were crunching the numbers and predicted at the time that food prices, specifically meat prices, would soar in 2013 as a result of the U.S. drought.

Back in 2011, the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI), a research body of academics from Harvard and MIT, using data from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) Food Price Index, published a paper that correlated "outbreaks of unrest" in 2008 and 2011 with increases in food prices. They claimed to have identified the precise threshold for global food prices that leads to worldwide unrest: 210 points...


Veteran White House journalist Helen Thomas dies

Helen Thomas
© www.kruufm.com
Veteran White House journalist Helen Thomas died early Saturday morning in Washington, D.C., CBS News confirms. She was 92 years old.

A cousin of Thomas' confirmed her passing to CBS News White House correspondent Peter Maer. There are tentative plans for a funeral in her hometown of Detroit. Friends and relatives are also discussing a Washington remembrance at a future date.

During a long career in Washington, Thomas covered every president since Dwight Eisenhower. She worked for 57 years for United Press International, where she eventually became White House bureau manager. Between 2000 and 2010, she was a columnist for Hearst Newspapers.

An indefatigable presence in the White House briefing room, Thomas became a pioneer for female journalists. She was the first female member of the Gridiron Club and the first female president of the White House Correspondents' Association. As news of her death spread on Saturday, several prominent female journalists took to Twitter to hail Thomas as a groundbreaking figure.

Despite her long career, Thomas became embroiled in controversy in 2010 when she was asked about her views on the State of Israel. An Arab American who was raised as a Christian, Thomas suggested Israel was "occupying" Palestine and that Israelis should "get the hell out."

Bad Guys

Italian senator says black minister has 'features of orangutan'

© Tiziano Brodolini/Barcroft Med
Cécile Kyenge, who has faced repeated racial slurs since becoming minister for integration in April.
Roberto Calderoli is condemned after speech in which he also said Cécile Kyenge should work as minister 'in her country'.

The Italian prime minister, Enrico Letta, has condemned as unacceptable comments made by a senior rightwing senator in which he suggested the country's first black government minister had "the features of an orangutan".

Cécile Kyenge, an eye surgeon who was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo but has Italian citizenship, has faced repeated racial slurs and threats since being appointed minister for integration by Letta in April.

She was once again on the receiving end of grossly offensive comments on Saturday when Roberto Calderoli, a former minister under Silvio Berlusconi and senate vice-president of the Northern League, told a rally in the northern town of Treviglio that Kyenge would be better off working as a minister "in her country".

According to the Corriere della Sera, which reported the event, he added: "I love animals - bears and wolves, as is known - but when I see the pictures of Kyenge I cannot but think of the features of an orangutan, even if I'm not saying she is one."

The remark provoked horror from the rest of the Italian political class, especially in Kyenge's centre-left Democratic party. In a statement, Letta said the remarks were unacceptable. "Full solidarity and support to Cécile," he added.

Asked about the comments, Kyenge said it was not up to her to call on Calderoli to resign, but hoped all politicians would "reflect on their use of communication". "I do not take Calderoli's words as a personal insult but they sadden me because of the image they give of Italy," she told the Ansa news agency.


Berlusconi found guilty of paying for sex with underage prostitute, sentenced to THIRD prison term so far this year

© AFP/Getty Images
Silvio Berlusconi, left, and Karima el-Mahroug, known as Ruby Rubacuori, who both deny having 'intimate relations'.
Former Italian prime minister given seven-year jail term and banned from public office for life at Milan court.

After more than 26 months, 50 court hearings and countless breathless column inches from journalists worldwide, it took just four minutes for the sentence that Silvio Berlusconi had feared to be delivered. At 5.19pm, before a fascist-era sculpture showing two men struck down by a towering figure, the judges swept into the courtroom and pronounced their damning verdict for Italy's longest-serving postwar prime minister. By 5.23pm, it was all over.

At the culmination of a trial that helped strike the final nail in the coffin of the playboy politician's international reputation, the judges found Berlusconi guilty both of paying for sex with the underage prostitute nicknamed Ruby Heartstealer and abusing his office to cover it up. They even went beyond the prosecutors' sentencing requests, ordering him to serve seven - rather than six - years in prison and face a lifetime ban on holding public office.

Perhaps fittingly for a case that cast a spotlight on the murky nexus of sex and power that prosecutors argued was at the heart of his premiership - in which young women were procured, they said, "for the personal sexual satisfaction" of the billionaire septuagenarian - all three judges were female.

Comment: Berlusconi sentenced to 1 year behind bars in wiretap trial
Don't hold your breath: Ex Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi sentenced to 4 years in jail for tax fraud after losing appeal - Will appeal again to higher court