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Meet Uruguay's president José Mujica: A human leader in a world ruled by psychopaths

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© Mario Goldman/AFP/Getty Images
José Mujica, the Uruguayan president, at his house in Montevideo.
If anyone could claim to be leading by example in an age of austerity, it is José Mujica, Uruguay's president, who has forsworn a state palace in favour of a farmhouse, donates the vast bulk of his salary to social projects, flies economy class and drives an old Volkswagen Beetle.

But the former guerrilla fighter is clearly disgruntled by those who tag him "the world's poorest president" and - much as he would like others to adopt a more sober lifestyle - the 78-year-old has been in politics long enough to recognise the folly of claiming to be a model for anyone.

"If I asked people to live as I live, they would kill me," Mujica said during an interview in his small but cosy one-bedroom home set amid chrysanthemum fields outside Montevideo.

The president is a former member of the Tupamaros guerrilla group, which was notorious in the early 1970s for bank robberies, kidnappings and distributing stolen food and money among the poor. He was shot by police six times and spent 14 years in a military prison, much of it in dungeon-like conditions.

Sherlock

Suspicious death of Lynne Spalding: British woman's body discovered in locked stairwell of San Francisco General Hospital

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British patient Lynne Spalding found dead in stairwell of US hospital 17 days after going missing

The Independent, UK - 10 October 2013
A British woman has been found dead in the stairwell of a US hospital where she went missing as a patient more than two weeks ago.

Lynne Spalding, 57, was being treated for an infection at San Francisco General Hospital after she arrived in a thin and frail condition on 19 September.

Her body was only found 17 days later, after a member of the hospital's engineering staff ran a routine check on a rarely-used external stairwell.

Officials say they are now investigating how Ms Spalding got out to the stairs unnoticed, with the door she used normally alarmed and locked from the outside. [...]

Ms Spalding was first reported missing from her room two days after she arrived for treatment. Just before she disappeared she was described as being in a fair and improving condition, although appearing disorientated, the BBC reported at the time.

Beaker

2 hurt in explosions, fire at yet another chemical plant, this time in Chicago

Chicago chemical plant explosion
© NBC Chicago
Two people were injured in a chemical plant explosion in Blue Island.

Two workers were injured in an explosion and fire at a south suburban chemical plant Friday.

Smoke billowed from Blue Island Phenol in Alsip for several hours because of a chemical leak. The cause is still under investigation, fire officials said.

"I could see some vapor," plant manager Bill Moffatt said. "I turned around to go to my office to get my coat and hard hat and other personal protective equipment. As I was walking back to my office there was a concussion. ... We have a suspended ceiling in the office building, and some of the tiles fell out."

The chemicals involved in the fire - which demolished one building and damaged a second - were propane, propylene and benzene, Alsip fire Chief Tom Styczynski said.

Family

EU High Court makes landmark ruling on homosexual workers' rights in civil partnerships

EU flag gays

Decision means employers across the EU have to grant the same employee benefits to workers in a civil partnership as their married colleagues.
The European Union's Court of Justice has ruled that homosexual couples in a civil partnership must be granted the same employee benefits as their married colleagues.

The move comes after Frederic Hay, a bank worker in France who entered into a civil partnership, was refused benefits - including paid leave and a salary bonus - which were awarded to his colleagues when they married.

Hay initially challenged his employer's position in the French courts. Then the highest appeal court in the country, the Court of Cassatio, asked the EU's Court of Justice whether the difference in treatment for persons who have entered into civil partnerships constituted discrimination.

The EU Court of Justice concluded that a refusal to grant the same benefits to employees in civil partnerships as those in marriages, constituted direct discrimination based on sexual orientation.

French law and the bank's collective bargaining agreement have changed since Hay brought his case.

The landmark decision means employers across the EU have to grant the same employee benefits to workers in a civil partnership as their married colleagues.

Question

Seattle tunnel project blocked by mystery object


The Transportation Department and contractors building a highway tunnel under downtown Seattle are trying to identify the mystery object that has blocked their tunnel boring machine - but probably won't know for sure until Friday.

The machine called Bertha ran into something last week and was shut down Saturday about 1,000 feet from the start. The $80 million machine is designed to break up boulders, so there's speculation about what it hit.

Engineers are considering drilling down 60 feet to the object as one of the ways to break up or remove the obstruction. A large crane equipped with a drill bit was brought to the site Wednesday morning.

Experts estimate it will take until Friday to identify the obstruction.

The nearly two-mile tunnel is supposed to be completed by the end of 2015, creating a four-lane replacement for the Alaskan Way Viaduct on Highway 99.

But already it has experienced at least three delays - one caused by union picketing over work assignments, another by a sinkhole near Jackson Street and now the mystery object.

Heart - Black

US guards 'did nothing' to stop adult prisoners from raping juveniles

jail
© Reuters / Jessica Rinaldi
Michigan prison officials needlessly housed juvenile inmates with adult convicts, where the guards then ignored allegations that the young inmates were sexually abused and essentially used as currency inside the facility, according to a new lawsuit.

Brought forth by seven unnamed juvenile prisoners, the case hinges on the idea that the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) has consistently failed to keep prisoners under the age of 18 apart from the more hardened adult inmates. It alleges that at least two of the plaintiffs were repeatedly raped because their older cellmates were selling access to the younger ones. It goes on to implicate corrections officers for allowing the rape to continue.

"MDOC staff was aware of the assaults and aware that male adult prisoners were paying John Doe 5's cellmate access for access to John Doe 5 for purposes of sexually assaulting him," the suit claims.

Deborah LeBelle, an attorney based in Ann Arbor, told MLive.com that she was aware of the suit when it was initially filed in October, but decided to bring it back to light because of the seriousness of the allegations. When the suit was re-filed, it was classified as a violation of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, a Michigan law that forbids differential treatment based on religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status, or marital status.

Info

Firm that employed fake interpreter for deaf at Mandela memorial service has 'vanished'


A South African deputy minister said Thursday that the man who turned out to be faking sign language as an interpreter for the deaf during Tuesday's memorial event for Nelson Mandela did not speak English very well and worked for a company that has "vanished into thin air."

Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, deputy minister of women, children and people with disabilities said at a news conference at the state-owned South African Broadcasting Co.: "I don't think he comes from the streets. He comes from a school for the deaf."
The interpreter, Thamsanqa Jantjie, who stood on stage beside the world's most powerful leaders, including President Obama, earlier told the Johannesburg Star that he was schizophrenic and hearing voices but said he had no choice but to remain on stage and motion with his arms.

Bogopane-Zulu suggested that even if he does know sign language, Jantjie's English-language skills still weren't adequate, especially for an internationally broadcast event with hundreds of visiting dignitaries from South Africa and abroad.

"For you to be able to interpret, you must understand the language that's being spoken at the podium," she said. "He is Xhosa-speaking as his first language; the English was a bit too much for him. So, yes, he could not translate from English to sign language."

2 + 2 = 4

School drops sexual harassment claim against 6-year-old who kissed girl

Hunter Yelton
© KRDO
Hunter Yelton
Amid a tidal wave of negative publicity, a Colorado school system has let a 6-year-old boy return to school and said it won't classify his kissing a girl on the hand as sexual harassment.

The story of first-grader Hunter Yelton made national news and spurred outrage this week after word spread that his school near Colorado Springs suspended him for the kiss and accused him of sexually harassing the girl.

On Wednesday night, CNN affiliate KRDO reported that Canon City Schools Superintendent Robin Gooldy met with Hunter's parents. The superintendent then changed Hunter's disciplinary offense from "sexual harassment" to "misconduct."

The boy has also returned to school at the Lincoln School of Science & Technology.

Boy's mom: An innocent crush

The boy's mother, Jennifer Saunders, told KRDO the whole thing stemmed from an innocent crush Hunter had on a girl in the class. He kissed her on the hand during reading group. That landed him a two-day suspension from school and an entry of sexual harassment in his school files.

Saunders admitted Hunter had problems at school before, getting suspended for rough-housing and for kissing the same girl on the cheek.

But the label of sexual harasser outraged her.

Comment: Hunter is a normal 6-year old who is being punished and criminalized for behaving like a 6-year old. Sickening.


Syringe

Belgian Senate votes to extend euthanasia to terminally ill children who are in great pain and want to die

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© AFP
Jean-Jacques De Gucht of the Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats spoke in favour of the bill
The Belgian Senate has voted in favour of extending its euthanasia law to terminally-ill children.

The Senate voted 50-17 in favour of the legislation, which is opposed by religious leaders in Belgium.

The bill seeks to allow children to ask for euthanasia if their illness is terminal, they are in great pain and there is no available treatment.

It will now go before the lower house of parliament, where correspondents say it is likely to be approved.

Belgium passed a law decriminalising euthanasia for terminally-ill people over the age of 18 in 2002.

The latest bill proposes to make Belgium the first country in the world to remove any age limit on the practice.

Pistol

Colorado school shooting: Boy shoots 2 students, kills himself, officials say

colorado shooting
© KDVR/AP
Students gather just outside of Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., as police responded to reports of a shooting.
A student at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., opened fire at the school, then killed himself, officials said Friday.

At a televised news conference, County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said the student entered the building armed with a shotgun looking for a specific teacher. At least one student was injured in the shooting, he said.