Categories
Crime and Punishment Politics wankers

2008 Report: Democracy Charade Undermines Rights

(Washington, DC, January 31, 2008) – The established democracies are accepting flawed and unfair elections for political expediency, Human Rights Watch said today in releasing its World Report 2008. By allowing autocrats to pose as democrats, without demanding they uphold the civil and political rights that make democracy meaningful, the United States, the European Union and other influential democracies risk undermining human rights worldwide.
States claiming the mantle of democracy, including Kenya and Pakistan, should guarantee the human rights that are central to it, including the rights to free expression, assembly and association, as well as free and fair elections. But in 2007 too many governments, including Bahrain, Jordan, Nigeria, Russia and Thailand, acted as if simply holding a vote is enough to prove a nation “democratic,” and Washington, Brussels and European capitals played along, Human Rights Watch said. The Bush administration has spoken of its commitment to democracy abroad but often kept silent about the need for all governments to respect human rights.
“It’s now too easy for autocrats to get away with mounting a sham democracy,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “That’s because too many Western governments insist on elections and leave it at that. They don’t press governments on the key human rights issues that make democracy function – a free press, peaceful assembly, and a functioning civil society that can really challenge power.”
In its World Report 2008, Human Rights Watch surveys the human rights situation in more than 75 countries. Human Rights Watch identified many human rights challenges in need of attention, including atrocities in Chad, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia’s Ogaden region, Iraq, Somalia, Sri Lanka, and Sudan’s Darfur region, as well as closed societies or severe repression in Burma, China, Cuba, Eritrea, Libya, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam. Abuses in the “war on terror” featured in France, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, among others.

2008 Report: Democracy Charade Undermines Rights (Human Rights Watch World Report 2008, 31-1-2008)

Categories
Oddities other worlds

Archaeologists find really old city – 7000 years

CAIRO (AFP) – A team of US archaeologists has discovered the ruins of a city dating back to the period of the first farmers 7,000 years ago in Egypt’s Fayyum oasis, the supreme council of antiquities said on Tuesday.
“An electromagnetic survey revealed the existence in the Karanis region of a network of walls and roads similar to those constructed during the Greco-Roman period,” the council’s chief Zahi Hawwas said.
The remnants of the city are “still buried beneath the sand and the details of this discovery will be revealed in due course,” Hawwas said.
“The artefacts consist of the remains of walls and houses in terracotta or dressed limestone as well as a large quantity of pottery and the foundations of ovens and grain stores,” he added.
The remains date back to the Neolithic period between 5,200 and 4,500 BC.
The local director of antiquities, Ahmed Abdel Alim, said the site was just seven kilometres (four miles) from Fayyum lake and would probably have lain at the water’s edge at the time it was inhabited.

Categories
cash and poverty

boy toys and sugar mamas

For the mature woman who has everything: a boy toy
By Robert CampbellWed Jan 30, 10:49 AM ET
Wanted: rich older women interested in hot younger guys. Applicants must be over 35, earn at least $500,000 a year or have a minimum of $4 million in liquid assets, entrusted assets or divorce settlement.
That’s the basis of a speed-dating event organized by a New York entrepreneur bringing together 20 “sugar mamas” and 20 “boy toys” vetted by an elite New York matchmaker.
“Symbiosis has allowed ugly rich men to attract young, gorgeous, money-hungry women for centuries; it’s now the women’s turn,” proclaims pocketchangenyc.com, the Web site that Jeremy Abelson is using to promote the event.
Set to take place at Manhattan’s 230 Fifth club on February 7, it has attracted more than just wealthy divorcees. Nancy Richards, 50, is the owner of a marketing firm and a theater producer in New York and London.
“Is it truly what I am looking for? No. Is it an option? Why not? In New York City anything goes,” Richards said with a laugh.
Speed-dating pairs up prospective couples for face-to-face meetings that last just a few minutes. The partners rotate over the course of the evening, allowing participants to make the acquaintance of many potential partners.
“I find younger guys will usually be totally into you while older guys will be looking over your shoulder at a younger woman,” said Gail Garrison, 44, a fashion designer and former model.
“Younger men expect an older woman to be more accomplished. They are looking for you because you are intelligent. They are not looking for a mother,” she said.
Abelson, 27, calls it “Natural Selection Speed Date II: Sugar Mamas & Boy Toys.” He came up with the idea after drawing criticism from feminists for organizing an event last year that paired wealthy older men with young women.
More than 5,000 men applied for a place in this year’s event. Twenty finalists were selected.
“I think for men it is an incredible fantasy (to be with an older woman),” Abelson said. “Older women are more experienced and they know what they want.”
The prospective boy toys — who had to be under 35 — were screened by Janice Spindel, billed as New York’s most exclusive matchmaker.
“I really think a lot of people will connect,” Spindel said. “Age is just a number, and some people are unlisted.”
(Editing by Daniel Trotta and Xavier Briand)

Categories
nakedness Travel

Fly naked on nudist holiday flight

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – German nudists will be able to start their holidays early by stripping off on the plane if they take up a new offer from an eastern German travel firm.
Travel agency OssiUrlaub.de said it would start taking bookings from Friday for a trial nudist day trip from the eastern German town of Erfurt to the popular Baltic Sea resort of Usedom, planned for July 5 and costing 499 euros ($735).
“It’s expensive, I know,” managing director Enrico Hess told Reuters by phone. “It’s because the plane’s very small. There’s no real reason why a flight in which one flies naked should be more expensive than any other.”
The 55 passengers will have to remain clothed until they board, and dress before disembarking, said Hess. The crew will remain clothed throughout the flight for safety reasons.
“I wish I could say we thought of it ourselves but the idea came from a customer,” Hess told Reuters by phone. “It’s an unusual gap in the market.”
Naturism, or “free body culture” (FKK) as it is known in Germany, was banned by the Nazis but blossomed again after the Second World War, particularly in eastern Germany.
“There are FKK hotels where you can go into the restaurants and shops naked, for example,” Hess said. “For FKK fans — not that I’m one of them — it’s nothing unusual.”
“I don’t want people to get the wrong idea. It’s not that we’re starting a swinger club in mid-air or something like that,” he added. “We’re a perfectly normal holiday company.”

Fly naked on nudist holiday flight | Oddly Enough | Reuters

Categories
Games Ink Dribblers

Sci Fi novel Enders Game could be your game

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters Life!) – “Ender’s Game,” the classic science fiction novel about a boy military genius who is trained through war games to fight aliens, is finally becoming a game itself.
Under a deal announced on Tuesday, Chair Entertainment, the game studio behind the recent hit “Undertow,” will develop titles based on Orson Scott Card’s book.
The novel, with its probing of the line between reality and games, has long been eyed by video game fans as a rich source of material for the medium.
Chair plans to make several titles based on the book, with the first one slated to be a downloadable game that should be available in 2009.
Card said he decided to move ahead with an “Ender’s Game” video game after years of wrangling to make a feature film bore no fruit.
“There is going to be a universe of ‘Ender’s Game’ games, hopefully. But that’s like someone starting a restaurant and thinking about opening 100 franchises all over the country,” Card told Reuters.
“Let’s make this one work first,” Card said.
The first game will focus on the Battle Room, the elite military academy where Ender hones his strategic and tactical skills and that provided some of the most memorable scenes in the book.

Sci-fi novel “Ender’s Game” to become video game: Scientific American

Categories
bombs critters Environment

Cow Farts Getting Corked..you're next…we hope.

Lifted this straight from Gizmodo

Sure, Hummers are bad for the environment, but do you know what else is? Cow farts. Yep, the methane in cow farts contributes to a surprisingly-high 5% of all global warming gasses out there, with methane being 22 times more potent at capturing atmospheric heat than carbon dioxide. The good news? A couple of Japanese scientists seem to have stumbled upon a way to neutralize this problem.
Costing about $1 per day per cow, some simple food additives that include a blend of nitrates and the amino acid cysteine could greatly suppress the methane production in a cow’s stomach, making their emissions much more earth-friendly. No word on how earth-friendly it’ll make your emissions, but I think it’s safe to say your friends and family all have their fingers crossed for a successful crossover. [Times Online; image via Treehugger]

Categories
nakedness

Tantric Master Breaks Ice Record in NYC

A man who calls himself a tantric master broke his own world record by standing engulfed in ice for 72 minutes.
Wim Hof, 48, stood on a Manhattan street in a clear container filled with ice for an hour and 12 minutes Saturday.
Hof said he survives by controlling his body temperature through tantric meditation. Tantra is an Eastern tradition of ritual and meditation said to bring followers closer to their chosen deities.
Hof set the world record for full body ice contact endurance in 2004, when he immersed himself in ice for an hour and eight minutes.
Hof’s feat kicked off BRAINWAVE, a five-month series of events in New York exploring how art, music, and meditation affect the brain.

Tantric Master Breaks Ice Record in NYC

Categories
critters

Honour sought for 'Soldier Bear'

A campaign has been launched to build a permanent memorial to a bear which spent much of its life in Scotland – after fighting in World War II.
The bear – named Voytek – was adopted in the Middle East by Polish troops in 1943, becoming much more than a mascot.
The large animal even helped their armed forces to carry ammunition at the Battle of Monte Cassino.
Voytek – known as the Soldier Bear – later lived near Hutton in the Borders and ended his days at Edinburgh Zoo.
He was found wandering in the hills of Iran by Polish soldiers in 1943.
They adopted him and as he grew he was trained to carry heavy mortar rounds.
When Polish forces were deployed to Europe the only way to take the bear with them was to “enlist” him.
So he was given a name, rank and number and took part in the Italian campaign.
He saw action at Monte Cassino before being billeted – along with about 3,000 other Polish troops – at the army camp in the Scottish Borders.
The soldiers who were stationed with him say that he was easy to get along with.
“He was just like a dog – nobody was scared of him,” said Polish veteran Augustyn Karolewski, who still lives near the site of the camp.
“He liked a cigarette, he liked a bottle of beer – he drank a bottle of beer like any man.”
When the troops were demobilised, Voytek spent his last days at Edinburgh Zoo.
Mr Karolewski went back to see him on a couple of occasions and found he still responded to the Polish language.
“I went to Edinburgh Zoo once or twice when Voytek was there,” he said.
“And as soon as I mentioned his name he would sit on his backside and shake his head wanting a cigarette.
“It wasn’t easy to throw a cigarette to him – all the attempts I made until he eventually got one.”

BBC NEWS | UK | Scotland | South of Scotland | Honour sought for ‘Soldier Bear’

Categories
critters stranger than LOST

Ewe must be kidding


There were strange goings on at the farm today when a flock of sheep made their own version of a crop circle.
About 100 of the woolly creatures formed an orderly ring – baffling the farmer and passers-by.
But after hearing the roar of the boss’s tractor the animals scattered like a group of naughty schoolboys.
Forget crop circles – now we’ve got a mysterious SHEEP circle | the Daily Mail

Categories
Politics

Kucinich drops out of U.S. presidential race

Well, it just figures. The only candidate I’ve been really excited about in years…. Interesting that he isn’t going to endorse anyone. I would have expected him to endorse Obama after he threw his support that way in Ohio.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democrat Dennis Kucinich told a newspaper on Thursday he would end his race for the U.S. presidency after registering little voter support in the early state contests.
Kucinich, 61, a liberal member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Cleveland, Ohio, told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer he would make his withdrawal announcement in that city on Friday.
“I want to continue to serve in Congress,” he said.
His campaign issued a statement saying he would announce plans on Friday for “transitioning out of the Democratic presidential primary race.”
Kucinich is an outspoken Iraq war critic who has consistently voted against funding the war and led anti-war efforts in Congress.
He said he would not endorse another candidate in the race for the Democratic nomination to contest November’s presidential election.

Kucinich drops out of U.S. presidential race | Politics | Reuters