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Stormtrooper

Treetop tents, tear gas: French protest turns ugly

Image
© The Associated Press/Laetitia Notarianni
An anti-airport protester looks down at police from a makeshift shelter in the trees during the evacuation of protestors on land that will become the new airport in Notre-Dame-des-Landes, western France Saturday Nov. 24, 2012.
Paris - Protesters squatting in treetop tents and makeshift shelters are battling French riot police trying to expel them from the site of a planned airport in western France.

Officers hurled tear gas projectiles and protesters responded with gas bombs and stones, as the two sides went head to head for a second day over a project that critics say will destroy woodland and cause pollution.

Eight people were arrested Saturday and three were hurt in the fighting, according to the Sipa news agency.

The issue has split the Socialist-led government of Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, which includes some Green Party members. Ayrault is the longtime mayor of the nearby city of Nantes and has championed the airport plan.

Bad Guys

Seaside Heights gives victims 15 day notice on demolitions; threatens fines

demolition notice
© Unknown
This weekend, Vice President Joe Biden visited Seaside Heights, a Jersey Shore community hit hard, not only by Hurricane Sandy. After the storm hit, many borough residents found their cars missing and had to deal with price gouging from the the town's only authorized towing service, APK Towing of Toms River.

This weekend, Joe Biden visited this oceanfront community in Ocean County, but local residents, some who saw their homes for the first time, were also greeted by demolition notices.

Dated November 13th, one noticed by a resident who wishes to remain anonymous, stated "Your structure has possible structural of footing failures."

It went on to say the structure would be demolished by November 30, 2012, just 17 days from the notice. The order allowed the residents to request a hearing, but also threatened by fines of up to $2,000 per week if they did not comply with the order and fix their homes before the 30th.

Extinguisher

Four injured in fire at U.S. State Department in Washington

A fire broke out during routine maintenance at the U.S. State Department on Saturday, injuring four maintenance workers, officials said.

The fire began inside ductwork on the building's eighth floor at about 11 a.m. (1600 GMT) as workers were replacing insulation, State Department and fire officials said.

Workers doused the fire with hand-held extinguishers before fire department personnel arrived, District of Columbia Battalion Chief Edward Mills said.

Mills, who was one of the first responders to the scene, told Reuters TV the cause of the fire remained under investigation but did not immediately appear suspicious.

As firefighters tackled the fire, State Department personnel were evacuated to a nearby facility, where around-the-clock operations continued, spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

"The fire was quickly extinguished and the main building has been reopened for normal weekend operations," Nuland said in a statement.

The firefighters' association Facebook page said three of the injured were taken to Medstar Georgetown University Hospital. A hospital spokeswoman could not immediately provide details about the conditions of the injured.

Washington Fire and EMS spokesman Lon Walls said the injured were all maintenance workers, and that one suffered serious injuries, according to the Washington Post. Walls did not immediately return a call for comment.

Light Sabers

Florida Palm Beach student and teacher get into fight

Student Teacher fight
© Unknown
A fight between a student and a substitute teacher at Palm Beach Lakes High School in Palm Beach, Florida has gone viral on the web, reports WPTV-TV (video below).

On the video, an unidentified student and the substitute teacher, who is called Mr. Smith or "Smitty" by students, stand face-to-face when the student shoves and punches the teacher. The teacher chases the student around the classroom until the teen runs out.

Darrel Phillip told WPTV-TV: "A teacher should, you know, stand up for himself, but not to go on ahead and you know. I'm speechless right now."

School officials say that the substitute teacher has been fired and the student was expelled.


Megaphone

No Twinkies please, we're dying

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© Bellatrix Nutrition
Surely you must see. Surely you must understand. Don't you know rockets are falling all over Gaza and Israel? Do you not read that more than 100 people have died already in brutal and insidious fighting that's been going on since God was knee-high to a bogus misconception?

Jesus Christ, quit whining about Twinkies already. Stop anonymous commenting about your little pet peeve social issue tech glitch culture itch fashion bitch. You do not have it so bad. You have never, comparatively speaking and with the proper sort of lens in place, had it so bad.

Don't you understand the planet is ever at peril? Surely you're aware that we've had 332 straight months that were warmer than average, and even the notoriously heartless World Bank is a nervous wreck about it?

Surely you know diseases and wars are ravaging Africa, that factory pollution in China is causing cancer rates to skyrocket, that it is just slightly pathetic that American teenage girls hate on each other so violently on Facebook, when a 14-year-old girl in Pakistan just got shot in the face for suggesting that teenage girls are actually human in the first place?

Question

Perse School pupils let off punishment for clever excuses

School
© BBC News
Pupils who have intelligent excuses are escaping punishment.
Witty pupils at a Cambridge school are being let off for minor offences if they can conjure up quick and clever excuses for what they have done.

Ed Elliott, head of the independent Perse School, told his pupils they could escape punishment if they could explain themselves in 10 seconds.

He said "out-and-out falseness" would not be allowed but "white lies" may be.

Mr Elliott said: "It's a great lesson in life to talk your way out of a tight corner in a very short period of time".

Mr Elliott, whose independent school caters for pupils aged three to 18, said he wanted to help create a "quick-thinking, communication-savy generation" and stated many pupils had risen to the challenge.

He believes such skills could help create the next generation of British entrepreneurs and "wealth creators".

"There are lots and lots of children out there who have got wonderful academic skills, but some of those academic skills can be under-utilised if they don't know how to communicate the message effectively," said Mr Elliott.

Brick Wall

Innocent man spent years in jail for sexual assault that never happened


Norfolk, Virginia - Johnathan Montgomery spent the past four years in a Virginia state prison saying the same thing a lot of inmates do: He was innocent.

Convicted in 2008 of molesting a 10-year-old girl outside her grandmother's Hampton home when he was 14, he insisted the alleged 2000 assault never happened. Turns out, he was telling the truth.

After the woman recently recanted her story, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell on Tuesday issued a conditional pardon to Montgomery, allowing him to be freed in time for Thanksgiving at his father's home in Vale, N.C.

"The truth sets you free," Montgomery, now 26, said Tuesday night, shortly after being released from the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarrat, Va., where reporters awaited him.

It's not exactly clear why the woman, Elizabeth Paige Coast, recanted her story, but she was working as a clerk for the Hampton, Va., police department at the time.

The Associated Press does not typically identify alleged victims of sexual assault. However, Coast is being identified because authorities say she admitted fabricating the story and because she has been charged with perjury.

According to media reports, prosecutors say that Coast told investigators that her parents caught her looking at pornographic websites in 2007 when she was 17, so she concocted a story of prior sexual abuse to explain her behavior. When the alleged assault occurred, Montgomery lived across the street from Coast's grandmother in Hampton, Va. The two had previously played together.

Light Saber

Judge stops school from expelling girl who refused to wear tracking device

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© Youtube user WeAreChange San Antonio
A Texas high school student will be allowed to continue going to class for now despite her refusal to cooperate with a program that forces pupils to be mandatorily tracked with computer chips.

Andrea Hernandez was told she'd be expelled from John Jay High School's Science and Engineering Academy in San Antonio starting next week if she insists any further on disobeying a new policy that requires students to wear ID badges equipped with tiny Radio Frequency Identification ("RFID") chips. Now attorneys with the Rutherford Institute say Hernandez has been granted a temporary restraining order that will prohibit the Northside Independent School District from relocating the student to another facility.

"The court's willingness to grant a temporary restraining order is a good first step, but there is still a long way to go - not just in this case, but dealing with the mindset, in general, that everyone needs to be monitored and controlled," Rutherford Institute President John Whitehead says in a statement.

"Regimes in the past have always started with the schools, where they develop a compliant citizenry. These 'Student Locator' programs are ultimately aimed at getting students used to living in a total surveillance state where there will be no privacy, and wherever you go and whatever you text or email will be watched by the government."

Eye 1

Electronic tracking: New constraint for Saudi women

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A Saudi woman gets out of a car after being given a ride by her driver in Riyadh.
Denied the right to travel without consent from their male guardians and banned from driving, women in Saudi Arabia are now monitored by an electronic system that tracks any cross-border movements.

Since last week, Saudi women's male guardians began receiving text messages on their phones informing them when women under their custody leave the country, even if they are travelling together.

Manal al-Sherif, who became the symbol of a campaign launched last year urging Saudi women to defy a driving ban, began spreading the information on Twitter, after she was alerted by a couple.

The husband, who was travelling with his wife, received a text message from the immigration authorities informing him that his wife had left the international airport in Riyadh.

"The authorities are using technology to monitor women," said columnist Badriya al-Bishr, who criticised the "state of slavery under which women are held" in the ultra-conservative kingdom.

Women are not allowed to leave the kingdom without permission from their male guardian, who must give his consent by signing what is known as the "yellow sheet" at the airport or border.

House

Home amid Chinese highway a symbol of resistance

Image
© The Associated Press
In this Nov. 22, 2012 file photo, people stand near a house sitting in the middle of a new main road on the outskirts of Wenling city in east China's Zhejiang province.
Beijing - In the middle of an eastern Chinese city's new main road, rising incongruously from a huge circle in the freshly laid pavement, is a five-story row house with ragged edges. This is the home of the duck farmer who said "no."

Luo Baogen and his wife are the lone holdouts from a neighborhood that was demolished to make way for the main thoroughfare heading to a newly built railway station on the outskirts of the city of Wenling in Zhejiang province.

Dramatic images of Luo's home have circulated widely online in China this week, becoming the latest symbol of resistance in the frequent standoffs between Chinese homeowners and local officials accused of offering too little compensation to vacate neighborhoods for major redevelopment projects.

There's even a name for the buildings that remain standing as their owners resist development. They are called "nail houses" because the homeowners refuse to be hammered down.

Nail house families occasionally have resorted to violence. Some homeowners have even set themselves on fire in protests. Often, they keep 24-hour vigils because developers will shy away from bulldozing homes when people are inside.