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Thu, 22 Oct 2020
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US: Norfolk principal apologizes for mock auction of black students

The principal of Sewells Point Elementary School has apologized to parents for a teacher's classroom exercise last week that cast her black and mixed-race fourth-graders as available for sale.

The apology came after the teacher separated the students from their white classmates and auctioned them, division spokeswoman Elizabeth Thiel Mather said. The exercise was part of an April 1 class on the Civil War.

In an April 6 letter sent to parents of students in the class, Principal Mary B. Wrushen wrote: "I recently became aware of a history lesson that was presented to the students in Ms. Jessica Boyle's fourth grade class. Although her actions were well intended to meet the instructional objectives, the activity presented was inappropriate for the students.

"The lesson could have been thought through more carefully, as to not offend her students or put them in an uncomfortable situation," Wrushen wrote.

Wrushen said the exercise was not supported by the school or division. "I will follow up with the classroom teacher to ensure nothing like this ever occurs again," the letter said. "In addition, the guidance counselor is available to discuss any concerns your child may still have concerning this classroom lesson."

Wrushen declined to comment Friday. Boyle, who has been with the division since 2005, did not return a call to the school. She has taught at Sewells Point for three years, and before that was at Dreamkeepers Academy, according to the division website.

Eye 1

Canada: Dementia stealing Ralph Klein's voice; wife Colleen now in caregiver role

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© Calgary Herald
Dementia stealing Ralph Klein’s voice; wife Colleen now in caregiver role
In Ralph and Colleen Klein's cosy Lakeview living room, sadness and tears mingle with occasional laughter as Colleen finally tells the full story of the ex-premier's failing health.

Colleen does almost all the talking, because Ralph can't. The quickest tongue in Canadian politics is being silenced by a progressive form of dementia.

After months of uncertainty - and long delays in seeing specialists - the Kleins learned last Friday that Ralph, 68, suffers from what's called "frontal temporal dementia, consistent with primary progressive aphasia."

To the oddly vacant man sitting beside me, that means extreme difficulty in recalling and comprehending words, as well as reading and writing. His speech, once fluid and lightning-fast, is now limited to short words and set phrases.

"Good, good," he says several times, when asked how he's doing.

Soon he announces "I'm going to work out," and heads off to the gym in a cab already ordered by Colleen. On doctor's orders, she has taken away his car keys.

To anyone who's known Klein, either as target or fan of his wit, a vital piece of him seems to be missing. The native intelligence still flickers in his eyes, but somehow it can't emerge.

Megaphone

U.S. to Issue Terror Alerts on Facebook, Twitter

alert/facebook/twitter graphic
© itportal
DHS overhauls alert system and will start using social nets

The U.S. government may start issuing terror alerts using Facebook and Twitter, according to a news service report.

The Associated Press reported Thursday that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is working to overhaul the current color-coded terror alert system. The new system, according to the report, would have only two levels of alerts -- elevated and imminent.

Those alerts would be relayed to the public in part via social networking sites Facebook and Twitter .

The AP article is based on a 19-page draft of the plan that the news service obtained.

Cloud Lightning

Divorce: Earthquake or Volcano?

Each year millions of people suffer the crippling effects of a life-shattering event --breakup and divorce. Naturally they want to understand their predicament, grasp what has befallen them, or tell the world what they are going through.

Two natural disasters come to mind when people describe their relationship failure: "It's like an earthquake," or "Now I know what it's like to be under a volcano." According to the metaphors, you cannot mend the chasm in the earth or put the lava back in the crater. Yet despite their similarities, these two phenomena are different in crucial respects. The same is true for the patterns of breakup.

Comment: Life-shattering events are so stressful that they often lead to illness - but there is one proven technique that can assist you with reducing your stress, calming and focusing your mind, creating better links between body and mind and thus improving quality of life. It will help you to have improved overall health, a stronger immune system, better impulse control, reduced inflammation, etc. It will also help you to heal emotional wounds; anything that may hinder or prevent you from leading a healthy and fulfilling life.

Visit the Éiriú Eolas site or participate on the forum to learn more about the scientific background of this program and then try it out for yourselves, free of charge.


Life Preserver

Will Financial Problems In Portugal Cause The European Debt Crisis To Spiral Out Of Control?

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Most Americans have no idea just how bad the financial problems over in Europe are right now. The truth is that the entire European financial system is teetering on the brink of disaster. Ireland and Greece have already received bailouts and Portugal, Spain, Italy, France and Belgium are all drowning in an ocean of unsustainable debt. Sovereign credit ratings all over Europe have being slashed in recent months. For example, a while back Moody's Investors Service cut Ireland's bond rating by five levels. Up until now Europe has weathered all of this financial instability fairly well, but now huge new financial problems in Portugal threaten to send the European debt crisis spinning out of control.

The Prime Minister of Portugal, Jose Socrates, resigned on Wednesday after the major opposition parties banded together to vote down the austerity measures that he was requesting. The package of budget cuts and tax increases was intended to get Portugal's horrible debt crisis under control. Prior to the vote, the prime minister warned that he would no longer be able to run the country if the austerity package was not passed.

Now there are all kinds of questions about what is going to happen to Portugal. At this point most financial authorities in Europe seem to be assuming that Portugal is going to need a bailout.

Pistol

Syrian Protests Turn Deadly; 32 Reported Killed

militia
© AP Photo/Hussein Malla
Beirut - A mass protest calling for sweeping changes in Syria's authoritarian regime turned bloody Friday, with the government and protesters both claiming to have sustained heavy casualties as the country's three-week uprising entered a dangerous new phase.

Human rights activists and witnesses said Syrian security forces opened fire on tens of thousands of protesters in the volatile southern city of Daraa, killing 25 people and wounding hundreds. But state-run TV said 19 policemen and members of the security forces were killed when gunmen opened fire on them.

It was the first significant claim of casualties by the Syrian government, which has contended that armed gangs rather than true reform-seekers are behind the unrest - and it could signal plans for a stepped-up retaliation.

Protest organizers have called on Syrians to take to the streets every Friday for the past three weeks, demanding change in one of the most rigid nations in the Middle East. Protests were held in several cities across the country Friday as the movement showed no sign of letting up, despite the violent crackdowns.

Syria's National Organization for Human Rights said at least 32 people were killed nationwide on Friday. That lifts the death toll from three weeks of protests to more than 170 people.

Che Guevara

Egypt: Tahrir Square comes alive with protesters again

Military the target of Egyptian demonstrations as people demand more prosecutions against Hosni Mubarak-era ministers
Tahrir Square
© Amr Nabil/AP
Tahrir Square protesters called on the field marshall to meet the demands of the people.
Protesters have packed Cairo's Tahrir Square, piling pressure on the ruling military council to meet demands including the prosecution of Hosni Mubarak in one of the biggest demonstrations since he was ousted.

By early afternoon the protest had swollen to more than 100,000. Thousands waved red, white and black Egyptian flags in scenes reminiscent of the height of the protests that toppled Mubarak and helped ignite revolts in other Arab countries.

"Oh field marshal, we've been very patient!" chanted some of the protesters, gathered in the square that was the hub of protests that toppled Mubarak from the presidency and left the army, led by Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, in charge.

"Tantawi, Tantawi get your act together or do you want a pool of blood?" chanted some of the protesters.

The military has enjoyed broad support since it took control of the country on 11 February but frustrations have grown over the pace of reform. Attention is now focused on the perceived tardiness of legal steps against Mubarak and his entourage.

Sherlock

Russia sheds light on Gagarin death mystery

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© Agence France-Presse
Yuri Gagarin was killed when his MiG jet crashed outside Moscow on a training flight
Russia on Friday declassified documents that shed light on Yuri Gagarin's mysterious death in a training flight in 1968, saying his jet likely manoeuvred sharply to avoid a weather balloon.

Top Kremlin archives official Alexander Stepanov told a news conference that a Soviet-era commission -- whose conclusions had until now been classified -- has concluded that this was the most likely cause of his death.

"The conclusions of the commission are that the most likely cause of the catastrophe was a sharp manoeuvre to avoid a balloon probe," he said. Balloon probes are often used for weather-forecasting purposes.

But he indicated that the conclusions of the commission, whose documents were de-classified to mark the half century of Gagarin's voyage into space in April 1961, had given a second possible cause for the manoeuvre.

Bizarro Earth

Scientists link oil on dolphins to BP spill

dead dolphin
© newsbythesecond.com

Biloxi, - Scientists confirmed on Thursday that they have discovered oil on dead dolphins found along the U.S. Gulf Coast, raising fresh concerns about the effects of last year's BP oil spill on sea life.

Fifteen of the 406 dolphins that have washed ashore in the last 14 months had oil on their bodies, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists said during a conference call with reporters.

The oil found on eight of those dolphins has been linked to the April 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, scientists said.

Meteor

Air France wreckage could provide answers to mysterious crash, but don't hold your breath

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© Charles Platiau/Reuters
Jean-Paul Troadec (r.), head of the Investigation and Analysis Bureau (BEA), speaks to the media after a news conference at the BEA headquarters in Le Bourget, northern Paris, on April 4.
French authorities say they have found the engine and parts of the fuselage of the Air France plane that crashed in 2009 off Brazil's coast.

Nearly two years after an Air France plane plunged into the Atlantic off the coast of Brazil, killing everyone aboard, authorities say they may have found the most important discoveries yet.

The new findings have given fresh hope to victims' families - and to the aviation industry overall - that the cause of the crash might yet be determined and thus allow authorities to take steps to prevent future incidents. The Airbus 320-303 was en route to Paris from Rio De Janeiro on a night flight in June 2009 when it crashed, killing all 228 passengers and crew members.

"From the human aspect, there is obviously a desire for closure," says Robert Mann, president of R.W. Mann & Company, an aviation consultancy in Port Washington, N.Y. "And in this case, as in numerous others, there is a really pressing need to understand what happened."

France's investigating authority said today on local French radio that the engine and parts of the fuselage have been located, while the Environment Ministry said that bodies have also been found. Until now, despite using the high-tech equipment and unmanned submarines, significant wreckage had remained elusive in a deep sea area of steep mountain terrain.

Comment: What ever happened to The Airbus 320-303 was a big tragedy, and finding an explanation including providing a needed closure is a priority. But considering what we know about authorities' ability to either ignore or distort the available data, we are a bit skeptical if the highly probable cause will ever be seriously looked into, and especially announced. Meanwhile, time is running out for another similar disaster to occur.