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Thu, 07 Dec 2023
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At Least 44 Killed in Russian Plane Crash

© AFP / Dmitry Nikoforov
A Russian Tu-134 is seen in 2007
At least 44 people were killed when a passenger plane broke up and caught fire on coming into land in heavy fog in north-western Russia, an Emergency Ministry spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

The Tupolev-134 plane, carrying 43 passengers and nine crew, crashed near a road about 1 km (0.6 miles) from the runway at the Besovets airport outside the northern city of Petrozavodsk at about 11.40 p.m. local time (1940 GMT) on Monday.

"The preliminary information is that 44 people were killed," the spokeswoman said by telephone. "Eight people were injured." She said nine crew were on board; officials had earlier said there were five crew on board.

Photographs on the http://www.lifenews.ru Internet news website showed firemen battling with fires among the wreckage of the plane, which crashed about 700 km (430 miles) north of Moscow.

The news site, which posted a full list of the passengers, said a 10-year-old boy named Anton had survived the crash but gave no details about his condition.


Convicted Murderer at Amanda Knox's Appeals Trial in Italy Claims He Can Clear Her

© The Associated Press / Stefano Medici
Amanda Knox, second from left, walks past her lawyer Luciano Ghirga, as she arrives in court for the appeal trial in Perugia, Italy, Saturday, June 18, 2011. Knox was convicted of murdering her British roommate in Perugia, Meredith Kercher, and sentenced to 26 years in prison. Her co-defendant and ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito was also convicted and sentenced to 25 years. They both deny wrongdoing and have appealed the 2009 verdict.
A convicted child murderer testified Saturday at the appeals trial of Amanda Knox, saying that a fellow inmate had told him the American student had nothing to do with the killing of her roommate in Italy.

Mario Alessi, who is serving a life sentence for one of Italy's most shocking crimes, the kidnap-murder of an Italian toddler snatched from his home, was called by defence lawyers as a witness.

He was one of five witnesses heard Saturday, also including a police informant who testified from behind a cover and a Neapolitan mobster with a flamboyant attitude.

Knox was convicted of sexually assaulting and murdering British student Meredith Kercher in the house the two shared in Perugia, and sentenced to 26 years in prison. Her co-defendant and ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito of Italy, was also convicted and sentenced to 25 years. Knox and Sollecito, who both attended Saturday's session, deny wrongdoing and are appealing their convictions.

Rudy Hermann Guede, an Ivorian, was convicted in a separate proceeding. His conviction has been confirmed by Italy's highest criminal court. Guede also denies wrongdoing, but admitted being in Knox's and Kercher's apartment the night of the murder on Nov. 1, 2007.

Alessi is being held in the same prison as Guede. He testified that the Ivorian told him that Knox and Sollecito are innocent, speaking in prison conversations in November 2009. That was about a month before Knox and Sollecito were convicted in the first trial and while Guede had already been convicted and was appealing.

Arrow Down

Rude Behavior - Is There an Epidemic?


Why do big trucks and fancy cars think it is their right to take up two spaces?
If the authorities on social graces, Emily Post and Miss Manners (Judith Martin), define manners and etiquette as:

-- "a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter which fork you use."

-- "a little social contract we make that we will restrain some of our more provocative impulses in return for living more or less harmoniously in a community."

Then I wonder if we are in the midst of an epidemic of rude behavior? Is there an increase in appalling behavior? Is it more prevalent in certain areas, like big cities, where accountability is improbable? How widespread is this affliction?

Are we, as a society, poised on the precipice awaiting an imminent descent into a boorish abyss? Or have we already plummeted over the edge, headfirst, into the mire of a Rude Behavior Crater?

Reflecting on some of my experiences and those of close friends, coupled with evidence posted on blogs and in articles, it appears common courtesy is in rapid decline and perhaps, even out of style. Maybe those of us who would love to eradicate this manners deficit epidemic should create a "Social Graces Secret Society" and continue to practice the "rituals" of gracious living. Would we have a chance of overcoming inconsiderate behavior?

Classic examples I have encountered, sometimes on a daily basis:
On the road: The guy/gal who isn't satisfied to go the speed limit and tries to hurry you along by tailgating. Someone zipping in and out of lanes without signaling, charging ahead like they're trying to outrun a raging fire. And the ongoing battle of who "owns the road" between cyclist and motorist. I notice this most in cities like Portland.


City Government Demands All Keys to Properties Belonging to Cedar Falls Residents.

Ordinance #2740( An unfunded city-wide mandate) was passed with a resounding 6 to 1 vote, and it allows for the citizens of Cedar Falls to forcefully give the government keys to their comercial properties through universal 'lock boxes'. The intent of the program is to provide increased safety and protection to personal, private property which include businesses, apartments and some rental houses-- which by the way-- comes at the expense of furthering wayward erosion of fundamental constitutional rights.

**UPDATE** The plights and concerns of the citizens have fallen on deaf ears as the City of Cedar Falls has voted to pass the final ruling on mandatory lock boxes, again, with a 6-1 decision.


Japan's Fukushima explosion 'caused chaos and confusion', report says

Chaos followed the leak at a Japanese nuclear plant caused by a huge earthquake despite an emergency drill a week earlier, a report has revealed.

© AP/Kyodo News
Workers continue to clear up the debris after the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Staff at the Fukushima facility held a disaster exercise before the March 11 crisis and 'everyone was familiar with emergency exits', said the report from plant owner Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco).

But it did not help their response to the actual emergency, the report revealed.


Canada: 10-Year-Old Accidentally Shoots British Columbia Teen Dead

A 10-year-old boy was holding a loaded shotgun when it accidently discharged, killing a 17-year-old teenager on Thursday, according to RCMP in Cranbrook, B.C.

Police said six teens were hanging out in a house when they started fooling around with a shotgun owned by one of their parents. The gun went off, hitting Michael Voth, 17, who was pronounced dead at the scene, said police.

"The police investigation, to date, indicates that the shooting was an accident. A 10-year-old child was able to access a loaded shotgun, which discharged while he held it in his hands," said a statement released by Cpl. Chris Faulkner.

"Under the Criminal Code of Canada, there are no provisions for a child under the age of 12 years to face criminal charges, nor can their identity be released," he said.

Eye 1

Canada: Vancouver Police to Use Facial-Recognition Technology in Riot Investigation

The hundreds that broke windows and burned cars following Vancouver's game 7 Cup loss to Boston might want to take a cue from the handful that have already turned themselves in.

Vancouver police are combing through more than one million photos from the infamous riot, as well as thousands of hours of raw footage, using facial-recognition technology to aid in the investigation.

"Subject to receipt of a court order, the (Crown) corporation's facial-recognition technology will be able to support the identification of suspects," states a news report from Christy Clark's office in a Straight.com story.

The Insurance Corporation of B.C. has been using the technology since 2009, identifying those involved in theft or fraud by cross-referencing results with provincial driver licences.

By analyzing fixed facial characteristics such as the size/location of cheekbones and the distance between eyes, facial-recognition technology is able to extract the finite details of a person's face. Investigators then cross-reference the results with a database of photos, which can include drivers licences, health cards, passports, etc.

Better Earth

US: Library of Congress to Get Rare 120 Year Old Map of Flat Earth

© The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead
An Oregon man has given the Library of Congress a rare and unusual gift: a 120-year-old map supporting the theory that the Earth is flat.

Don Homuth, of Salem, Ore., says the map was given to him by his eighth-grade teacher. It was created by Orlando Ferguson of Hot Springs, S.D.

Homuth used to live in Fargo and was a North Dakota state senator.

Library of Congress spokesman Robert Morris told The Forum newspaper that officials checked more than 75 maps before confirming the design was one-of-a-kind.

He says the only other known copy of the map is in the Pioneer.

Source: The Associated Press

Cell Phone

US: Silence Used to be Golden at Movies, but Talking and Texting are Now the Norm

© The Associated Press / Damian Dovarganes
In this June 15, 2011 photo, moviegoers Luis Garcia, 37, left, and Elias Sanchez 26, watch movie trailers on Flixster on their iPad and iPhone, before buying their tickets at the ArcLight Hollywood cinema in Los Angeles. Theater owners have tried a variety of methods to get folks to keep quiet and stay off their phones during shows, from playing amusing messages beforehand to having ushers sweep through the auditorium during the show, said John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theatre Owners.
It seems like such a quaint notion: Folks would go to the movie theatre, buy their tickets at the box office, then sit down, shut up and pay attention for two hours to what was on the screen.

Now, the piercing glow of cellphones lights up the darkness like so many pesky fireflies, and people talk to each other in a packed auditorium as if they were sitting in the privacy of their own living rooms.

The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, Texas, did something about this trend by kicking out a patron who refused to adhere to the theatre's rule against talking or texting, then turned the ranting, profane voice message she left into a hilarious public service announcement. It's gotten over 1.75 million hits on YouTube in just a couple of weeks.

But what happened to our attention spans? Why must we talk, text and tweet in the middle of a movie? And what - if anything - can theatres do to stop this erosion of cinema civility?

Matt Atchity, editor-in-chief of the Rotten Tomatoes film review website, crafted "10 Commandments for Movie Audiences" including "Thou shalt not text." But the ubiquity of cellphones makes these sensible suggestions hard to enforce.


US: Family Says Woman Died Protecting Toddler from Cow

© Allan Baxter/Getty
60-year-old Jean Fee was fatally trampled by a cow (not pictured) that may have been defensive around its calves.
A rural Urbana woman died after a cow attacked her while she was feeding her animals, leaving people baffled.

"It's pretty unusual for a cow to become aggressive," said Terry Engelken, an associate professor at Iowa State University's College of Veterinary Medicine. "We have a few instances of (cow attacks) across the country every year - but it's uncommon. For it to result in a fatality is very uncommon."

Jean Fee, 60, died Saturday after being attacked on the family farm in rural Benton County, the sheriff's office said. She was with her 1-year-old grandson when the attack happened at about 3 p.m.

Her son Matt Fee said his parents and nephew often would go out to pasture to feed the cows ears of corn.

Jean Fee, her husband and her grandson were on such an outing Saturday afternoon. "My dad went back to the house to get my nephew a drink. The last thing he saw was my mom holding" the boy, Matt Fee said.

Matt Fee said that his dad heard screaming, came out to the pasture and saw his wife lying on the ground and the child standing beside her.