One difficult area where India has a particular blind spot – Lots of words, little serious action about female rapes

India to investigate TV crew’s interview with rapist who claimed victim was responsible for what happened to her


19889Minister of Home Affairs says film will not be aired in India and accused its makers of violating ‘permission conditions’ by not showing complete unedited footage to jail officials
Aditya Kalra


Wednesday 04 March 2015

India’s Minister of Home Affairs has said that he will investigate how a film crew was able to interview a death-row convict who expressed no remorse for his part in the fatal gang rape of a woman in New Delhi in 2012, an attack that sparked outrage.

Leslee Udwin’s documentary India’s Daughter features conversations with Mukesh Singh and fellow convicts, who raped and tortured a 23-year-old woman on a moving bus in December 2012.

Minister Rajnath Singh said the film would not be aired in India and accused its makers of violating “permission conditions” by not showing the complete unedited footage to jail officials.

“It was noticed the documentary film depicts the comments of the convict which are highly derogatory and are an affront to the dignity of women,” Mr Singh said in parliament. “How was permission given to interview a rapist? It is shocking. I will get this investigated.”

British filmmaker Leslee Udwin British filmmaker Leslee Udwin (AP)
Comments released this week showed that in the film, Mukesh Singh blames the victim for the crime.

On Tuesday the home affairs minister directed Delhi police to obtain a court order prohibiting the film’s release. Ms Udwin said she was “deeply saddened” by the decision.

“I urge [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi to deal with this unceremonious silencing of the film,” she wrote in a statement published by Indian channel NDTV, which was to have aired the documentary on 8 March, International Women’s Day. Ms Udwin said she had given jail officials a chance to view hours of unedited footage, but they did not do so.

The British filmmaker, who was inspired by seeing thousands of people across India protest over the 2012 rape, said it would be released worldwide as planned.

Four men, including Singh, were sentenced to death for the crime but their execution was stayed on appeal by India’s Supreme Court.


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Even staring at the computer screen can be fatal. Just one of a number of cases

Incredible Health

Video game addict dies after 19-hour gaming session

Video game.jpg

For one computer game addict, his love for online role-playing turned lethal after he played for 19 hours straight, Central European News (CEN) reported.

Wu Tai, 24, was playing a marathon session of  World of Warcraft in an internet café in Shanghai when he suddenly began coughing violently and collapsed in his chair.

CCTV footage shows shocked fellow gamers watching as Wu turned to his left to cough violently on the floor.

“I suddenly heard him groan and when I turned to see what happened he was very pale and looked uncomfortable,” witness and fellow gamer Hsin Lo, 20, told CEN. “He was dabbing his mouth with a hankie which had blood on it.”

Witnesses asked Wu if he was okay and he said he felt better, but an ambulance was called. When medical crews arrived, they attempted to resuscitate Wu, but he was already dead.

According to a police spokesman, “An autopsy will determine the cause of death but there seems little doubt his playing on the computer for 19 hours instead of resting contributed to his death.”

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U.S.A. and RUSSIA not the only governments who played poorly with Nuclear Testing Dangers

when to hang up the keysWe recruits heard that the cycle of basic training soldiers immediately after ours was sent to New Mexico to be part of nuclear bomb testing.  Since then, that has always seemed to me to be a close call. With that in mind, here is the legacy the French left behind them.
Fr. Orthohippo

AFP/Getty Images

Algerians suffering from French atomic legacy, 55 years after nuke tests

Compensation scheme has aided very few people, as Saharan residents experience cancers, blindness and birth defects

Ahmed el-Hadj Hamadi was huddled into a building with the rest of his community by French soldiers early in the morning. They were instructed to lie down, close their eyes and cover their ears. He then remembers a sound like “the world coming to an end” and the windows turning white. A cord above their prone bodies swung erratically until the light bulb it held shattered.

“I thought it was the apocalypse. We all did,” he said. “We all thought we might die.” Later, the French military began tasking out labor to residents in the isolated desert region of Algeria. “They had built a kind of village at the explosion area, and even put animals in it,” Hamadi added. “After the blast we were sent out to gather all the rubbish. The ground was all burned, white, liquid.”

To nomadic communities around the town of Reggane, they’re known more than half a century later as “leopard skins” — stretches of sand across Algeria’s southern Sahara that are peppered with small black clumps. People used to collect scrap metal from the charred warplanes and trucks that emerge, fossil-like, and then smelt them into jewelry and kitchen utensils.

But these Algerians were not properly warned of their danger after France’s misgoverned nuclear bomb-testing campaign of the early 1960s, which vitrified vast tracts of desert with heat and plutonium and left a legacy of uncontained radiation that is still crippling inhabitants. Estimates of the number of Algerians affected by testing range from 27,000 — cited by the French Ministry of Defense — to 60,000, the figure given by Abdul Kadhim al-Aboudi, an Algerian professor of nuclear physics.

Yet there has been little accountability for France’s disregard. A compensation scheme for victims of France’s nuclear tests exists, but it has made payouts to only 17 people. The majority of those were residents of French Polynesia, where France relocated its nuclear testing campaign after leaving Algeria and experimented with more than 190 nuclear bombs from 1966 to 1996.

An Algerian wire report recently stated that French officials will visit Algeria during the next month to strengthen ties between the two countries, with the compensation process being one point of discussion. But French officials have not confirmed the date.

Charred earth

The site of Gerboise Bleue, the first French nuclear bomb test, on Feb. 20, 1960, a week after detonation.

STF/AFP/Getty Images

Legacy of contamination

France tested its first nuclear bomb in the Tanezrouft area, a portion of the Sahara that straddles Algeria and Mali, some 30 miles south of Reggane, on Feb. 13, 1960. Named Gerboise Bleue (“blue jerboa”) after the left hue of the tricolor French flag and a small rodent living in the Sahara, it had a blast capacity of 70 kilotons — or more than four times the strength of Little Boy, the U.S. bomb dropped on Hiroshima at the end of World War II.

In a two years, the French tested four bombs aboveground in Tanezrouft. But even after Algeria’s independence from France in 1962, at the end of an eight-year revolutionary war that left hundreds of thousands dead, the French maintained a military presence in the region and tested 13 nuclear bombs underground, in a facility beneath the Hoggar mountains, 400 miles southeast of Reggane.

That angers many who point to what they see as an ongoing disaster in Algeria. “This area is still one of the most affected,” said Roland Desbordes, president of the Commission for Independent Research and Information about Radiation, who has visited the blast sites with Algerian journalists and nuclear experts multiple times. “It’s frequented by desert nomads. There’s a well that they use near Tan Afella Mountain,” a peak that rises directly above the underground testing site.

When France finally left, it buried a range of contaminated objects throughout the two areas — metal from remote-controlled towers that activated the bombs, engine parts from planes that flew into Gerboise Bleue’s mushroom cloud to gather radiation data and military-grade trucks placed in the blast radius to act as barometers of its power. But Saharan winds later swept away the sand covering these nuclear tombs.

Southern Algerians — the vast majority of whom were never informed by the French about residual radiation hazards and in some cases the testing dates — began stripping the items for resources.

“The fact that people were not aware of the dangers of this material for years is criminal,” said Larbi Benchiha, a French-Algerian journalist who was born in Algeria a year before Gerboise Bleue and has made two documentaries on Reggane and the surrounding areas. Benchiha did not learn about the nuclear tests until 1996 — 16 years after he moved to France.

“From the abandoned nuclear testing bases, people have recovered plates, beams, electrical cables and equipment of all kinds, all of which is radioactive,” he continued. “They have incorporated them into the construction of their homes.”

Residents of Reggane told Benchiha about the strange uptick of medical issues that first appeared during the 1970s and continue to this day. Babies born with atrophied limbs; cancers of the liver, stomach and skin; cases of temporary blindness among those who saw the brutal flash of light as it ripped through the Maghreb about 6:30 a.m. Some of Reggane’s faithful were in the middle of their Islamic morning prayers when it happened 55 years ago.

Compensation for exposure

The French government has remained relatively quiet on the matter, even as criticism of the country’s disregard for safe nuclear containment practices mounted in France, Algeria and abroad. Algerian nuclear energy expert Ammar Mansouri described the tests as “the most despicable crimes perpetrated by colonial France in Algeria” during a conference in the capital, Algiers, earlier this month. He demanded that France, which signed a retroactive International Atomic Energy Association treaty on radioactive waste management in 1997, face international law.

In 2010 administrative progress was made when the French National Assembly approved a compensation plan for victims of its nuclear testing campaigns in Algeria and French Polynesia, which set aside approximately $11 million to be divided among recipients.

Activists and nuclear experts have since derided the plan, which is governed within the framework of what’s known as the Morin law, as more of a diplomatic attempt at saving face than a motion toward recompense. Modest estimates suggest that since 1960, at least 150,000 people have lived in, near or traveled through areas where France has tested atomic arms.

“Every case is considered by a team of doctors, experts in the field, and the committee itself,” said a representative from the official Committee for Compensation of Nuclear Test Victims (CIVEN), who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. As of December 2014, 931 people have applied for compensation. The average amount issued thus far is about $80,000 per person, but that number can vary widely, he reported.

Some applicants wait a year or more before hearing results. “If submitted from France, the applications may take anywhere from eight to 12 months to process,” he said. “If submitted outside France, that process could take longer, due to the intricate review process and the distance between CIVEN headquarters and where the applicants live.”

Victims have to prove they meet a number of criteria to be approved. They need to have been diagnosed with one of 18 radiation-associated diseases, mostly cancers, and be able to demonstrate that they spent time in a specific area delineated by CIVEN with latitude and longitude coordinates. Then they have to estimate monetary values that correspond to how much the suffering has harmed their health and professional life.

Desert residents

Two men at the entrance of the nuclear bomb test site at Tan Afella Mountain in Tamanrasset, Algeria, in 2010.

Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images

A similar compensation program established by the United States has granted more monetary awards than it has denied. Like France’s National Assembly, the U.S. Congress took nearly 50 years to ratify a program recognizing those who suffer from illnesses related to nuclear testing or uranium mining, which proliferated in the western part of the country during the 1950s. Since it was established in 1990, that program, the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, has rewarded almost $2 billion to 42,000 citizens — about 70 percent of applicants.

The U.K. has faced similar criticism for failing to compensate indigenous populations in Australia, where it tested two nuclear bombs on the Monte Bello Islands and at least seven in the south, at Maralinga. In 1993 it granted nearly $30 million to the Australian government to cover plaintiffs who claimed death or injury as a result of radiation.

Yet in Saharan Algeria, France’s failure to disclose to local residents the extent of contamination in surrounding areas positioned them for decades of ignorance, and as a result, there has been little record keeping by local medical institutions to track the quiet boom of radiation illnesses.

“Doctors at the hospital Reggane have no statistics, no epidemiological studies,” said Benchiha. “It is the same in Hoggar, where several French soldiers were severely irradiated in 1962 after a bomb blast was not properly contained.”

For many who lived in Reggane the week before Feb. 13, 1960, the only record of their radiation was captured by a necklace. When French troops visited populations the day before Gerboise Bleue, they issued dosimeters on chains to be worn around the neck. A few days later, the troops returned. They collected the necklaces, wrote down who wore them and left, keeping the data for their analyses but never returning to let residents know of the invisible danger that would soon afflict them.

Hamadi, who has lived within 50 miles of France’s aboveground blast sites since before the tests, told Al Jazeera he was completely unaware of any French compensation plan.

“The French are our brothers … But we just want the protection we need,” he said. “We need proper communication, medical evaluations, protections and payment for the damages. No one has helped us.”

Additional reporting from Paris by Richard Aldersley.

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Op-ed last week in campus newspaper, “The Daily Bruin,” UCLA – Student gov’t openly says student shouldn’t serve because she’s Jewish

UCLA shocker: Student gov’t openly says student shouldn’t serve because she’s Jewish


In a debate that put the essential racism and intolerance of leftist politics on full display, a University of California, Los Angeles student was almost denied a position on a student government committee recently solely because she is Jewish.


In an op-ed last week in the campus newspaper, “The Daily Bruin,” UCLA student Rachel Frenklak recounted how some members of the Undergraduate Student Association argued that her roommate, Rachel Beyda shouldn’t be appointed a justice to the Judicial Board of the Undergraduate Students Association Council because her Jewish heritage represented a “conflict of interest.”

Her qualifications for th post, Frenklak wrote, were unquestionable.

“I greatly admire Rachel’s academic success and the passion and determination she has demonstrated toward her goal of becoming a lawyer,” Frenklak said of Beyda. “I have seen her accrue immense leadership skills and experience in the legal field, both at UCLA, as the current law clerk for the Judicial Board and beyond.”

And indeed, although the council members unanimously agreed with this assessment, “half of the council had strong reservations stemming from Rachel’s Jewish identity,” Frenklak wrote.

One was General Council Representative Fabienne Roth, Frenklak wrote

“My issue is — I’m going to be upfront about it — I think she’s pretty great. She’s smart, she like knows her stuff, she’s like probably going to be a really great lawyer,” Roth said, according to Frenklak. I sense a “but” coming.

“But I’m like not going to pretend this isn’t about conflict of interest. … It’s not her fault … but she’s part of a community that’s very invested in USAC. … Even if she’s the right person for the job,” claimed Roth.

Transfer Student Representative Negeen Sadeghi-Movahed put in, “For some reason, I’m not 100 percent comfortable. I don’t know why. I’ll go through her application again. I’ve been going through it constantly, but I definitely can see that she’s qualified for sure.”

The council members were ready to table the appointment for a later date. It took a faculty advisor to grease the skids: Frenklak wrote:

The initial telling vote of 4-4-1 was dismissed when Cultural Affairs Commissioner Irmary Garcia said she was “not ready” for the vote. A faculty member in attendance eventually stepped in to point out the problems with the council’s reasons for denying Rachel the position. And in the end, the council unanimously approved her appointment. However, Rachel’s justified appointment to the Judicial Board is not enough to right the wrongs.

She now demands a public apology, and it’s hard to disagree.

“Diversity” is a term that gets bandied around a lot by liberals without regard to its definition. Rather than including everyone, the left seems to believe “diversity” should only be all-inclusive so long as your beliefs match theirs.

The late conservative commentator, author and TV host William F. Buckley Jr. described this phenomenon best.

“Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.”

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Italy and Vatican on guard after threat from Islamic State

View down Via della Conciliazione to St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

ROME (RNS) The Italian government is on high alert after threats from the Islamic State called Italy “the nation signed with the blood of the cross.”

Italy is one of a handful of major Western counties that has not been victim of a large-scale terror assault since the Sept. 11 attacks in the U.S.

Italian officials fear extremists could enter the country amid the growing tide of refugees arriving by boat from North Africa. About 500 extra troops have been stationed to guard symbolic targets in Rome and monitor the streets of the capital for suspicious activity.

The video threat, released with images of 21 Coptic Christians from Egypt who were beheaded this month, warned that Islamic State forces were “south of Rome,” in Libya. At its closest point, Libya is little more than 100 miles from the Italian islands of Sicily and Sardinia.

This comes four months after the Islamic State’s propaganda magazine Dabiq ran a cover photo of the militant group’s flag flying above the obelisk in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican with the headline: “The failed crusade.”

“The risks are real,” said Sabrina Magris, president of the International University School of Rome and Florence, the only European institution that prepares negotiators for hostage and terror threats. “The goal may be an actual attack of some kind or simply using threats to create an atmosphere of fear. But the risks shouldn’t be underestimated.”

The Vatican has made no official comment about being a potential target for the Islamic State, or other extremist groups, and Pope Francis resists many security measures, delving into crowds whenever possible.

At Sunday’s Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica, extra security was evident. Police patrolled the area and were stationed around the Vatican’s perimeter.

The people on hand said they didn’t mind.

“It’s a dangerous world, and the pope and the Vatican have a very high profile,” said Karen Phifer, 44, a teacher from Philadelphia spending a year in Italy while on sabbatical. “Every step that can be taken to protect them should be taken.”

Italy responded to the latest threats by boarding up its embassy in Tripoli, the Libyan capital. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi warned extremists not to provoke Italy and threatened military action.

Within days of his initial remarks, Renzi backed away from warning of any unilateral action and called for the international community to intervene against the Islamic State in Libya.

“The last thing Italy and Renzi need right now is a foreign policy crisis,” said Sebastiano Sali, an Italian doctoral candidate with the War Studies Department at King’s College in London.

Massimo Blanco from the National Association of Public and Private Security Experts called the Islamic State’s threats against Italy and the Vatican a kind of “psychological war” that may be having its intended effect.

“I still don’t think the Islamic world is a high enough priority for Europe and Italy,” Blanco said.

Italians say they are aware of the threats, but fear is not having an impact on their daily lives.

Alessandro Tivoli, 29, a tour guide, said, “You can’t live your whole life in fear.”

Some Italians have used social media to fight the threats with humor by using the Twitter hashtag “#We_are_coming_o_Rome” to suggest specific restaurants or sites for the would-be invaders and to predict the militants would be brought to their knees by Italian bureaucracy or oppressive traffic.

“You have to laugh,” said Raffaelle Caruso, 78, a retired technician. “It helps prevent you from being frightened.”


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See how this denomination hopes to combat membership loss

Cash requested to combat the ‘doomsday machine’


Click to enlarge

Here are insights into the Church of England trying to deal with its frame-fullimagedevastating continuing membership losses.  The view into the near future is bleak unless some way is found to break the decline.  One reason contributing to the decline is not considered is inaccurate social engineering.  Reshaping its theology and Scriptural interpretations are never, nowadays, examined to see if some or all of it is forcing members away.When it looks at itself, the C of E resembles this cat trying to draw an accurate picture of itself.

Fr. Orthohippo


BREAKING the rules on borrowing from the future is necessary to stave off the “existential crisis” of ever-declining congregations, members of the General Synod were told this week.

The First Church Estates Commissioner, Andreas Whittam Smith, said on Tuesday that for 20 years the Church Commissioners had “religiously” maintained the value of their endowment, so that the same lump sum would always be available for future generations.

But the “doomsday machine”, by which C of E membership falls year on year as the deaths of older churchgoers is not matched by the arrival of younger people, meant that the Commissioners’ rule on intergenerational equity needed to be broken.

“We know what the crisis that confronts us is,” Mr Whittam Smith said. “It is an existential crisis. If it is a crisis, I’m afraid [the inter-generational rule] is a rule we have to consider breaking. We can only finance the spending of the task group’s recommendations by borrowing from the future.”

Earlier, John Spence from the Archbishops’ Council had laid out the various working groups that had produced a range of reports on developing leaders, discipleship, ministerial education, funding future plans, and simplification.


Click to enlarge

As a screen above his head showed graphs of church membership plummeting over time, Mr Spence said that, if the current decline was not arrested, by 2057 the C of E would consist of only 200,000-300,000 people. Even were the present one-per-cent fall per year turned into a one-per-cent rise, membership would not stop declining until 2041.

“In less than ten years, we could see a threat to the presence of the Church in communities across rural England, and the Church of England eliminated from its key essential role in promoting the risen Christ,” he said.

The task groups, after consulting each diocese last year, had recommended large investment to maintain the number of clergy. This has been calculated to require a doubling of the number of ordinands, and an increase in the number of lay leaders as well.

“Out of all of this comes an application to the Church Commissioners for the potential for a significant but one-off piece of funding,” he said. “It will become clear that, if we are to have an impact, we will not be able to do it from within the pockets that are currently available to us.”

Mr Spence and Mr Whittam Smith both insisted that no emergency funding would be released by the Commissioners unless the General Synod approved the idea.

Currently, the Church Commissioners give the C of E about £200 million a year, of which half is spent on pensions; the rest is either given to parishes, or pays for bishops and cathedral clergy.

No figure was given to the Synod on how much would be asked for from the Commissioners. The Revd Amanda Fairclough, a member of the House of Clergy and a Church Commissioner herself, asked when they would see detailed and costed proposals.

Mr Spence said that the details of the request to the Commissioners had not yet been fully worked out. He warned, however, that the C of E at present “costs £1.4 billion a year to run” (about one quarter of the turnover of Waitrose), “so if you’re going to try and find a way to fund something really meaningful, you are talking about significant sums of money”.

The Revd Charles Razzall, from the Chester diocese, asked how strong a bias to the poor the funds coming from Church House would have. Mr Spence replied that around half of the money given to dioceses would be linked to deprivation – how poor the area served by the diocese is.

This would recognise that mission here was “harder and that the amount of lay support typically is less because there are less structured communities”. The other 50% would be for church growth and subject to some form of bidding process.

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