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Epidemics Breed Public Disorder and the Breakdown of Trust

Haitians plead with riot police
© Getty
Haitians plead with riot police in Port-au-Prince after tear gas was fired into a refugee camp amid growing tensions as a result of the cholera epidemic
In the wake of major outbreaks of diseases like cholera and Aids comes violent mistrust of scientists and politicians. Historian Richard Evans looks at possible lessons for the future.
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One of the most devastating cholera epidemics of modern times is still in progress in Haiti and likely to get worse. It follows on the heels of a major earthquake early in 2010 and a hurricane, which combined to leave one and a half million people homeless by the end of the year.

The spread of the disease was accelerated by poor sanitation in the camps set up for earthquake victims. Water supplies were inadequate or unhygienic and the resources and organisation to provide proper waste removal facilities were lacking, with the result that the epidemic is continuing, with the total number of people affected expected to exceed 800,000 by the end of this year and more than 11,000 fatalities.


US Judge: an IP address is not a person

ip address person
© TechSpot.com

In what could be a landmark decision, US Judge Harold Baker has ruled that an IP address is not adequate evidence to pin a crime on someone. For years, the recording industry has sued individuals for copyright infringement based solely on their IP address. This reached a new level when lawyers began collaborating with independent filmmakers to attack large quantities of suspected BitTorrent pirates.

The lawyers logged the IPs of anyone sharing a specific item over BitTorrent. They'd get a court to force ISPs to reveal the account holders behind those IP addresses and those individuals would receive a letter requesting threatening legal action. The alleged pirates could pay a settlement fee ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, or risk being hauled to court for $150,000 plus legal fees.

Naturally, lawyers don't actually want to pursue legal action, they're just hoping to scare people into paying the settlement. This tactic has been against tens of thousands of pirates in the last year or so. In a similar case (VPR Internationale v. Does 1-1017), a Canadian adult film company sought a court's backing to demand customer data from ISPs -- a request declined by Judge Harold Baker.


Woman's bizarre behavior at Waldorf-Astoria blamed on Lyme disease

"the tick made me do it"
A Connecticut woman, who was a guest at the Waldorf-Astoria, was taken to a New York area psychiatric hospital Saturday after doing some very unusual things in the hotel's lobby.

46-year-old Marilyn Michose reportedly was roaming the lobby wearing neon pink panties outside of her pants and a .25 caliber Beretta sticking out of her jacket.

She wandered the lobby dressed like that, and according to a hotel employee, speaking gobbledygook" when security chased her down.

As cops arrived, Michose told them she had a gun and was looking to store her precious jewelry in the hotel safe. After surrendering her weapon, police discovered the jewelry was nothing but the cheap costume variety.

Her 87-year-old mother, Joy, had an explanation for the erratic behavior- Lyme disease. Or at least the medication she takes for the bacterial infection which apparently make her manic.

Michose is currently not working and on disability. She was charged with fourth degree possession of a weapon.


Thousands of Mexicans March to Protest Drug Gang Violence

Drug-related violence has claimed nearly 40, 000 lives since President Calderon launched a war against organized crime four years ago

Mexico demonstration
© AP
People carrying signs reading 'Stop the War', 'No More Violence' and Mexican flags march against gang violence in Mexico City, May 8, 2011
Thousands of people marched into the Mexican capital, Mexico City, Sunday to demand an end to the bloodshed that has claimed nearly 40, 000 lives since President Calderon launched a war against organized crime four years ago.

Mexican poet Javier Sicilia, wearing a T-shirt with the photo of his slain son, led the silent trek that began Thursday in the resort city of Cuernavaca in the central state of Morelos. Along the way, hundreds of people of all ages joined the 90 kilometer march chanting slogans to stop the violence between the government and warring drug gangs.


Leakage of Radioactive Substances Goes on in Japan

Pyongyang -- Radioactive substances are continuing to leak from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant in Japan.

The Tokyo Electric Power Co. on May 5 announced that radioactive cesium-137 of 87 000 Bq per a kilogram of earth was detected at the bottom of the waters off the area near Reactor No. 1 of the plant.

This is about 38,000 times that at the time of ordinary survey, it said. Besides, radioactive iodine-131 and radioactive cesium-134 were detected as each 52,000 Bq and 90,000 Bq per a kilogram of earth in the seabed.

It has already been confirmed that a large amount of radioactive substances are still leaking into atmosphere, according to the survey of the Cabinet Office in late April.

The work to tide over the crisis of the power plant is going through more hardship with the measurement of high level of radioactive substances in atmosphere and soil.

The work for removing contaminated water was done for several days but its amount did not decrease. There still remains 70,000 tons of contaminated water in the basements of turbine buildings at Reactors Nos. 1, 2 and 3.

The water in the basement at Reactor No. 4 rose 25cm high in two weeks by April 26, reaching 1.15m and the concentration level of radioactive substances including cesium-137 has already reached the high level defined by TEPCO.

The remains of power plant buildings scattered by hydrogen explosion also lay obstacle to the rescuing operation. It is reported that if one works for 5-6 hours in this situation, he will lose his life as the remains were contaminated by high level of radiation.


Mother's Day: How Much Is Mom Worth?

© WENN/Newscom
Seen here is Barbara Billingsley. Billingsley played June Cleaver in the hit 1950s sitcom Leave It to Beaver. Insure.com used Bureau of Labor statistics to estimate wage figures for various jobs performed by a mom. Their estimate: $61,436 a year.
What's mom worth? On the one hand, you could say that she's "priceless." On the other? "$61,436 a year."

That's according to Amy Danise, senior managing editor of Insure.com, a website that supplies insurance information. Danise and her colleagues divided up mom's function into 14 different jobs (cook, driver, nurse, etc.), then used Bureau of Labor Statistics on hourly wages to see how much you'd have to pay if mom were outsourced.

If you didn't have her, for example, you might have to spend $6,285 a year on transportation (taxi driver or chauffeur, priced at $13.43 an hour). For cleaning, you'd have to pay a maid or housekeeper $9.40 an hour, or $7,104 a year.

You'd pay $300 a year for haircuts.

And therein lies one problem with this argument: Do you really want mom to cut your hair?

How many people, if they had a choice of using mom or a professional hairstylist or cosmetologist would use, well, mom? I mean, she's nice and all. She made your lunch for all those years. But do you really want her giving you a permanent?


Intolerable: Nato units left 61 African migrants to die of hunger and thirst

© European Press Association/Francesco Malavolta
Refugees from Libya reach Lampedusa. A Nato ship failed to rescue a boat in trouble – leaving 63 people on board to die.

Boat trying to reach Lampedusa was left to drift in Mediterranean for 16 days, despite alarm being raised

Dozens of African migrants were left to die in the Mediterranean after a number of European and Nato military units apparently ignored their cries for help, the Guardian has learned.

A boat carrying 72 passengers, including several women, young children and political refugees, ran into trouble in late March after leaving Tripoli for the Italian island of Lampedusa. Despite alarms being raised with the Italian coastguard and the boat making contact with a military helicopter and a Nato warship, no rescue effort was attempted.

All but 11 of those on board died from thirst and hunger after their vessel was left to drift in open waters for 16 days. "Every morning we would wake up and find more bodies, which we would leave for 24 hours and then throw overboard," said Abu Kurke, one of only nine survivors. "By the final days, we didn't know ourselves ... everyone was either praying, or dying."

Mr. Potato

Dick Cheney praises Obama for Osama's death, but laments end of harsh tactics

© AP
Washington: Former US Vice President Dick Cheney has praised President Barack Obama for authorizing the military operation that killed Osama bin Laden, but he lamented the end of controversial Bush-era interrogations that many conservatives believe to have contributed to America's greatest counterterrorism success.

Cheney appreciated Obama for sending Navy seals on a risky helicopter raid to Osama's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan

But he fanned the flames of a renewed debate over whether the so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" used by the Bush-era CIA were successful and lawful.


Robed Muslim clerics kicked off U.S. flight after pilot refuses to take off with them (and they were en route to conference on Islamophobia)

Two Muslim religious leaders were asked to leave a commercial airliner in Memphis - and were told it was because the pilot refused to fly with them aboard.
North American Imams
Ironically, the two men were headed to a North American Imams conference discussing Islamophobia or fears of Islam and discrimination against American Muslims.

Masudur Rahman and another imam had already been allowed to board their Delta Connection flight from Memphis, Tennessee, to Charlotte, North Carolina before they were asked to get off the plane.

'It's racism and bias because of our religion and appearance and because of misinformation about our religion.' Mr Rahman said. 'If they understood Islam, they wouldn't do this.'

Mr Rahman said he and Mohamed Zaghloul, of the Islamic Association of Greater Memphis, were cleared by security agents and boarded the plane for an 8.40am departure.

The aircraft pulled away from the gate, but the pilot then announced the plane must return, Mr Rahman said.

When it did, the imams were asked to go back to the boarding gate where they were told the pilot was refusing to accept them because some other passengers could be uncomfortable.


Mother's Day Proclamation


Mother's Day was originally started after the Civil War, as a protest to the carnage of that war, by women who had lost their sons. Here is the original Mother's Day Proclamation from 1870: