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Wed, 21 Apr 2021
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Bizarro Earth

U.S. high school allows Muslims time for prayer if they earn good grades

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© AFP Photo / Stan Honda
A high school near Washington DC has taken a rare step of accommodating Muslim prayer during class hours. Parkdale High School now allows a handful of its students to be excused to pray. The decision has made some Christian staffers "unhappy".

Prince George County High School Principal Cheryl J. Logan said the initiative is in response to the "needs of the growing Muslim community," the Washington Post reported. To be able to leave class each day all you need is a parental permission and high grades, Logan said.

Currently, about 10 Muslim students have earned the right to pray, and are reportedly allowed eight minutes each day for a joint prayer on campus. Another high school student is working hard to raise his grades to join the group, all of whom belong to Muslim Students' Association, Logan said.

It is hoped that allowing prayer will motivate Muslim students to improve their overall school performance.

Black Cat

Mexican officials break up alleged U.S.-Mexico border sex-slavery cult

Mexican officials broke up a bizarre cult that allegedly ran a sex-slavery ring among its followers on the U.S. border, Mexican immigration authorities said Tuesday.

The "Defensores de Cristo" or "Defenders of Christ" allegedly recruited women to have sex with a Spanish man who claimed he was the reincarnation of Christ, according to an official of a victims' advocacy group, who spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to speak publicly about the case.

Followers were subjected to forced labor or sexual services, including prostitution, according to the National Immigration Institute that said it filed a complaint more than a year ago about the cult.

Federal police, agents of Mexico's National Immigration Institute and prosecutors raided a house earlier this week near Nuevo Laredo, across the border from Laredo, Texas, and found cult members, including children, living in filthy conditions, according to the institute official.

The institute in a statement said 14 foreigners were detained in the raid and have been turned over to prosecutors, pending possible charges.

Display

Little-known database sells millions of Americans' salary information to debt collectors

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© Shutterstock
The credit reporting agency Equifax has created a little-known database that uses employment records, often given freely by human resources departments around the country, to track detailed information on millions of Americans' pay history, in effect leading employers to help debt collectors extract money from their workforce.

An Equifax subsidiary called The Work Number, according to an investigative report at MSNBC, is often used by larger companies to automate employee work information calls, giving the firm access to human resources data.

Eye 2

Man in 'sextortion' case might have coerced 350 women

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© Shutterstock
Federal agents on Tuesday took aim at a new type of scam called "sextortion," arresting a Glendale, Calif., man on charges that he hacked into e-mail and Facebook accounts of young women and then posed as a woman to convince others to send him nude photos of themselves.

Karen "Gary" Kazaryan was named in a 30-count indictment charging him with gaining unauthorized access to e-mail, Facebook, and Skype accounts belonging to more than 100 women from 2009 to 2011.

Once he'd hacked into an account, Mr. Kazaryan would change the password and then pose as the female owner of the account, according to the indictment.

He would contact the account holder's female friends and attempt to persuade or extort them into removing their clothing so he could photograph them via their webcams.

The "sextortion" scam is a variation of the practice of "sexting," sending nude images of one's self over the Internet to others.

Pistol

15-year-old girl who performed at Obama inauguration gunned down in Chicago

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A 15-year-old girl was killed on the South Side of Chicago on Tuesday, just a week after she performed at President Barack Obama's inauguration.

Hadiya Pendleton was hanging out at Vivian Gordon Harsh Park near her high school at around 2:30 p.m., "when someone jumped a fence, ran up to them, and opened fire," according to WBBM-TV.

Pendleton was taken to University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital where she died an hour later from a gunshot wound to her back. A 16-year-old boy was also wounded in the attack.

Chicago police said that many of those in the park were gang members, but Pendleton had no known gang affiliations.

People 2

For 40 years, this Russian family was cut off from all human contact, unaware of World War II

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© Wiki Commons
The Siberian taiga in the Abakan district. Six members of the Lykov family lived in this remote wilderness for more than 40 years—utterly isolated and more than 150 miles from the nearest human settlement.
In 1978, Soviet geologists prospecting in the wilds of Siberia discovered a family of six, lost in the taiga

Siberian summers do not last long. The snows linger into May, and the cold weather returns again during September, freezing the taiga into a still life awesome in its desolation: endless miles of straggly pine and birch forests scattered with sleeping bears and hungry wolves; steep-sided mountains; white-water rivers that pour in torrents through the valleys; a hundred thousand icy bogs. This forest is the last and greatest of Earth's wildernesses. It stretches from the furthest tip of Russia's arctic regions as far south as Mongolia, and east from the Urals to the Pacific: five million square miles of nothingness, with a population, outside a handful of towns, that amounts to only a few thousand people.

When the warm days do arrive, though, the taiga blooms, and for a few short months it can seem almost welcoming. It is then that man can see most clearly into this hidden world - not on land, for the taiga can swallow whole armies of explorers, but from the air. Siberia is the source of most of Russia's oil and mineral resources, and, over the years, even its most distant parts have been overflown by oil prospectors and surveyors on their way to backwoods camps where the work of extracting wealth is carried on.

Ambulance

Man steals ambulance and 2 cars, tries but fails to steal 2 horses

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© WHNT
Boaz Police say Matthew Anderson Todd, 24, stole an Ambulance Friday, tried to steal two horses and also stole two cars.

Police say it all began when Todd was arrested for DUI after a car crash. He was taken to Marshall Medical Center South for treatment. Police say while at the hospital, he walked out, got into a running ambulance and drove away. They say he later got the ambulance stuck on Barnard Street, but that was just the beginning.

Dollar

Higher energy, food prices are hurting most Americans

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Ouch! Crude oil prices and prices at the pump are inching close to record heights, while food prices are blazing an upward trail.

Seventy-nine percent of those surveyed in a recent Gallup Economy poll said high energy/gas prices are hurting their household.

Soaring food prices are hurting 76 percent of the folks interviewed by Gallup.

Other costs of living that have hurt the average family include taxes (69 percent indicate high taxes are causing additional hardship), 68 percent say higher healthcare costs are a problem and the federal debt ceiling is adding to the woes of those persons surveyed.

Bizarro Earth

School bus driver shot and killed, child taken hostage in Alabama

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© Dothan Eagle/DothanEagle.com
Students were escorted to safety from the school bus after the driver was shot and killed on Tuesday
On January 30, the Dale County Sheriffs Department confirmed the identity of the school bus driver as 66-year-old Charles Albert Poland, Jr, who has been with the Dale County Board of Education as a bus driver since 2009. Mr. Poland was acting in his official duties when he was fatally shot.

A south Alabama child remains the victim of a hostage situation, having spent hours in an underground bunker with a man who took him from a school bus Tuesday afternoon after fatally wounding the driver.

The situation started around 3:40pm near the Destiny Church at the intersection of U.S. Highway 231 and Private Road 1539 in the small town of Midland City in Dale County.

The Dale County Sheriff's Department and a multitude of other law enforcement, including surrounding police departments, Alabama State Troopers, a SWAT team, and FBI agents converged on the community in the aftermath of the shooting and kidnapping.

Hardhat

Miner who reported unsafe working conditions fired and sued by Armstrong Coal

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© Ethan Miller / Getty Images / AFP
After a Kentucky miner blew the whistle about what he considered unsafe working conditions, he was fired from his welding job and subsequently sued by his former employer for filing the complaint.

"I've been representing miners in safety discrimination cases for more than 30 years, and this is the first time I know of anywhere in the country where a company has sued a miner for filing a discrimination complaint," said defense attorney Tony Oppegard in an interview with the Huffington Post. "We think the reason they filed [the suit] was to intimidate him and to intimidate other miners."

For Reuben Shemwell, a 32-year-old miner at the Parkway Mine Surface Facilities, the troubles began when he complained about the need for respirator protection from fumes generated during the welding process. Shemwell did not feel comfortable working in small, confined spaces overcome with fumes. Shortly after submitting his complaint with the Secretary of Labor Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) in late 2011, he was fired from his job for "excessive cell phone use" at work - an accusation that Shemwell claims is not true. Instead, the miner believes he was dismissed for blowing the whistle on the company's unsafe practices.