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Tue, 07 Feb 2023
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How The War on Women Opens the Door for Politics in Your Doctor's Office


Both Arizona and Kansas are considering bills giving doctors the legal authority to withhold potentially crucial information about a woman's health, and in this case her child's.


5 Deadly Threats to Our Precious Drinking Water Supply

© Shutterstock/Dragana Gerasimoski
World Water Day is a chance to stop and realize that humanity is facing a frightening water crisis.

If you brushed your teeth this morning or flushed the toilet or had a cup of coffee, consider yourself lucky. Actually, if you turned on your tap and potable water freely came out, consider yourself truly blessed. Because so many of us in the United States are in this situation it can be easy to forget that nearly 900 million other people aren't so lucky. It can be easy to forget that globally we face a frightening water crisis. And it can be hard to notice that even here in the US there are dire threats to our water supply right now.

The people hardest hit by the water crisis are in developing countries - places it is easy for many world leaders (and the rest of us) to overlook. And even the number of those without clean water - last tallied at 884 million - can be hard to grasp. Here's another way of looking at it: if you take that number and translate it into the population of developed countries, the people living in the world today without access to clean drinking water would equal all the people living in the US, Canada, Argentina, Chile, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, France, Germany, England, Italy, Spain, Japan, Australia and Norway.


New Jersey Middle School Bans Hugging

© Graeme Robertson / Getty Images
Matawan, NJ - The new policy at Matawan Aberdeen Middle School has many parents scratching their heads.

Last week, excessive hugging and physical contact by sixth and eighth graders prompted the principal to come on the loud speaker and declare a ban on hugging, according to published reports.

Alarm Clock

Schools Ban Children Making Best Friends

© Unknown
Teachers are banning schoolkids from having best pals - so they don't get upset by fall-outs. Instead, the primary pupils are being encouraged to play in large groups. Educational psychologist Gaynor Sbuttoni said the policy has been used at schools in Kingston, South West London, and Surrey.

She added: "I have noticed that teachers tell children they shouldn't have a best friend and that everyone should play together. "They are doing it because they want to save the child the pain of splitting up from their best friend. But it is natural for some children to want a best friend. If they break up, they have to feel the pain because they're learning to deal with it."

Russell Hobby, of the National Association of Head Teachers, confirmed some schools were adopting best-friend bans. He said: "I don't think it is widespread but it is clearly happening. It seems bizarre.

Comment: This attitude is spreading everywhere: New Jersey Middle School Bans Hugging


Defying Hitler - Sebastian Haffner

defying Hitler cover
© Unknown
There's a reason why the UK History channel is approximately 24 hours a day of wall-to-wall Nazi documentaries - Hitler sells. The rise of the Nazis exerts a horrible fascination; it's hard to fathom how a decent and progressive nation could suddenly become complicit in horrific acts of genocide. Sebastian Haffner's personal account, written shortly before the outbreak of WW2, takes a long hard look at the German psyche in the years between the wars, and exactly what it was that caused the country to buckle before the extremists.

Haffner's perspective on the subject is a very interesting one - a young Prussian lawyer who grew up during WW1, he was exactly the type of young patriot that swelled the ranks of the Nazi party in its early days; in fact, he'd even been in the forerunner to the Hitler Youth. In the circumstances, you might expect him to be bending over backwards to deny his involvement with all things evil, and demonstrate his own high moral standing, but in fact he is very honest about his own cowardice in his lack of opposition to the new regime. Though the book's title is Defying Hitler, there's very little defiance going on, as Haffner describes the national reaction to the dictatorship as everyone simply putting their fingers in their ears and going "la la la", almost literally, and hoping that it would all get better soon.

2 + 2 = 4

Virginia Middle-Schoolers Assigned Opposition Research on GOP Candidates

© Unknown
A Virginia middle school teacher recently forced his students to support President Barack Obama's re-election campaign by conducting opposition research in class against the Republican presidential candidates.

The 8th grade students, who attend Liberty Middle School in Fairfax County, were required to seek out the vulnerabilities of Republican presidential hopefuls and forward them to the Obama campaign.

"This assignment was just creepy beyond belief - like something out of East Germany during the Cold War," one frustrated father, who asked for his family to remain anonymous, told The Daily Caller.


Air Canada seizes passenger's Mexican pinata as potential security risk

© unknown
Watch out! It's the latest high tech terrorist weapon!
Airline security seems to be entering the realm of the absurd: Witness an Air Canada flight attendant confiscating a pinata from Nova Scotia resident Robert Braunschweig.

QMI Agency reports Braunschweig was returning from Mexico earlier this month when he bought the papier-mache animal figure at a gift shop in Toronto's Pearson International Airport during a connection stopover.

As Braunschweig boarded his flight home, a flight attendant spotted the toy in his carry-on bag and confiscated it, claiming it was a threat to security.

"My eight-year-old daughter was seriously disappointed," he told QMI. "She insisted that I bring her something from Mexico so I bought her a small pinata."

Leaving aside Braunschweig's thinking behind buying a Mexican souvenir for his daughter in Toronto, the pinata seems an unlikely threat.

Mexican pinatas originate with Christmas festivals and can be made of paper-covered clay. Today they're mostly associated with children's parties, with blindfolded kids whacking suspended pinatas to break them and disgorge the treats inside.

Eye 1

Wife: 'Kony 2012' director suffers from psychosis, expected to be hospitalized for weeks

Jason Russel
Jason Russel meltdown
US, California - The director of a wildly popular video about brutal African warlord Joseph Kony has been diagnosed with brief psychosis and is expected to stay in the hospital for weeks, his wife said Wednesday.

Jason Russell, 33, was hospitalized last week in San Diego after witnesses saw him pacing naked on a sidewalk, screaming incoherently and banging his fists on the pavement. He was in his underwear when police arrived.

His outburst came after the video's sudden success on the Internet brought heightened scrutiny to Invisible Children, the group he co-founded in 2005 to fight African war atrocities.

Russell's family said that the filmmaker's behaviour was not due to drugs or alcohol. He was given a preliminary diagnosis of brief reactive psychosis, in which a person displays sudden psychotic behaviour.

"Doctors say this is a common experience given the great mental, emotional and physical shock his body has gone through in these last two weeks. Even for us, it's hard to understand the sudden transition from relative anonymity to worldwide attention - both raves and ridicules, in a matter of days," Danica Russell said in a statement.


Wal-Mart Fined $120K in Teen's Death

© unknown
Wal-Mart Canada has been fined $120,000 in connection with the death of a teenaged employee last year in Grand Falls, N.B.

Patrick Desjardins, 17, was electrocuted while using a floor buffing and polishing machine on the wet floor of a garage at the Wal-Mart outlet in the northwestern New Brunswick community on Jan. 5, 2011.

Wal-Mart pleaded guilty Tuesday in Grand Falls provincial court to three charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, while supervisor Denis Morin pleaded guilty to two charges under the act.

Crown prosecutor Karen Lee Lamrock said Desjardins' death was neither deliberate nor intentional on the part of Wal-Mart or Morin. It was an accident, resulting from imprudence, not malice or corner-cutting, she said.

"We did not find they have put profit ahead of safety concerns in this case," Lamrock said.

Wal-Mart has taken several remedial steps, the court heard.

Still, the Crown asked the court to consider imposing a fine of $100,000 for Wal-Mart, plus a $20,000 victim fine surcharge.

The highest fine ever imposed in New Brunswick for a violation under the act was $30,000, the court heard. But the legislation was changed in 2008, increasing the maximum fine per count to $250,000.


Cold case break: Father, stepmom charged in death of teen found in suitcase in 1994

© Toronto Police supplied photo
Melonie Biddersingh, 17, was found dead north of Toronto on Sept. 1, 1994.
Canada, Toronto - A major break in a cold case involving human remains found in a burning suitcase in 1994 has resulted in first-degree murder charges against the victim's father and stepmother.

Toronto police say even the identity of the victim remained a mystery until a "person of conscience" phoned investigators.

That tip allowed them to identify the victim as 17-year-old Melonie Biddersingh after visiting the girl's biological mother in Jamaica and obtaining a DNA sample.

Det.-Sgt. Steve Ryan says the teen's stepmother, Elaine Biddersingh, and father, Everton Biddersingh, were arrested on March 5 and charged with first-degree murder.

Ryan wouldn't comment on reports that Melonie had been a victim of ongoing abuse, saying only that based on the information he'd gathered, "her life in Toronto wasn't pleasant."