Teachers being trained in trafficking in persons

Some secondary school teachers are being trained through the Ministry of Education, in preparation for the integration of the Trafficking in Persons curriculum into different subject areas for the upcoming school year.

Last year, the Ministry of Justice handed over the curriculum, developed by the National Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons, to the Education Ministry for it to be introduced at the grade seven to nine level in high schools.

The curriculum, to be rolled out in a group of pilot schools this academic year, is to promote greater awareness among students and teachers about human trafficking.

According to Assistant Chief Education Officer in the Core Curriculum Unit, Dr Clover Hamilton-Flowers, the Trafficking in Persons curriculum will be treated as support material in the new National Standards Curriculum.

“So, it means we would be identifying those areas in the National Standards Curriculum that would provide the space to strategically treat that phenomenon,” she explained.

She said the Unit has identified areas in Social Studies, Religious Education, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Physical Education and Sports, as well as in History, in which topics from the curriculum will be integrated during lessons.

“We do the training with our teachers to help them understand the focus of the curriculum, the methodology they are supposed to use and then they will (incorporate it), based on their context,” Dr Hamilton-Flowers said.

Man charged for attempting to extort woman for not wanting him

A man accused of attempting to extort money from a woman was remanded in the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate’s Court recently.

Charged with extortion is Ackeema Blackwood, 25, a security guard from Yallahs, St Thomas.

The allegations are that Blackwood and the female met in April and exchanged numbers, where they began texting each other daily.

The court heard that the complainant told the accused that she was not interested in a relationship because she had a boyfriend and Blackwood agreed to a friendship.

The complainant said the friendship soured after she asked Blackwood to take a break in their communication because she believed he was texting her excessively.

It was reported that Blackwood got angry and told the complainant that he would spread rumours about her giving him a sexually transmitted disease. The complainant denied having a sexual relationship with accused man.

It was further heard that on July 10 Blackwood told the complainant he would leave her alone if she had unprotected sex with him and gave him $10,000.

Blackwood sent a text lowering the demand to $5000 while the complainant was making an official report at the Hunts Bay Police Station.

The complainant agreed to meet the accused at Ocean Boulevard on July 15, an operation was conducted by the police and Blackwood was arrested and charged.

The complainant, a University of Technology student, told Senior Resident Magistrate Judith Pusey that she wanted the charges to be dropped because she was uncomfortable with the issue being played out in public.

But RM Pusey told her Blackwood had acted outside of the law. “I am sorry but it is no longer in your hands, men such as this should not be on the road being able to use electronic devices to terrorise women,” said RM Pusey.

The defendant’s lawyer said Blackwood had been joking when he sent the text messages but RM Pusey said an incident like that was no joking matter.

‘Northern Lights’ aurora discovered outside the solar system for the first time

An aurora with a glow resembling the Earth’s Northern Lights has been spotted outside the solar system for the first time.

Astronomers found the aurora light display around a brown dwarf 20 light years away.

Dr Stuart Littlefair, from the University of Sheffield, told the BBC it was the first confirmed sighting of such a phenomenon.
A brown dwarf is known as a ‘failed star’. It is an object too small to become a star but bigger than a planet.

But as the aurora – discovered using radio and optical telescopes – is a similar phenomenon to the Earth’s Northern Lights, the discovery provides further evidence to suggest that brown dwarfs are more similar to planets.

Dr Littlefair said: “Brown dwarfs span the gap between stars and planets and these results are yet more evidence that we need to think of brown dwarfs as beefed-up planets, rather than ‘failed stars’.”

He said it was already known that brown dwarfs had cloudy atmospheres like planets, but the discovery showed they also hosted “powerful auroras”.

The findings are reported in the journal Nature.

The aurora light display – created when charged particles enter the planet’s magnetic field and collide with gas atoms in the atmosphere – is however thousands of times brighter than the Northern Lights and more red than green in colour.

The California Institute of Technology’s Dr Gregg Hallinan, a lead scientist on the project, said: “We’re finding that brown dwarfs are not like small stars in terms of their magnetic activity; they’re like giant planets with hugely powerful auroras.”

The auroras, he said, were, “hundreds of thousands of times more powerful than any detected in our solar system”

Migrant dies as hundreds rush Channel Tunnel

One man has died in a desperate attempt to reach England via the Channel Tunnel as overwhelmed authorities fought off hundreds of migrants, prompting France to beef up its police presence.

British ministers on Wednesday convened for emergency talks on the mounting crisis, as Prime Minister David Cameron acknowledged the situation in the northern French city of Calais was ‘very concerning.’

The man, thought to be in his late 20s and of Sudanese origin, was apparently crushed by a truck as he tried, with hundreds of others, to smuggle himself into Britain, seen as an ‘El Dorado’ for migrants.

Attempts to penetrate the sprawling Eurotunnel site have spiked in recent days, with migrants trying several times a night to outfox hopelessly outnumbered security officials and police.

Another Sudanese man in his 30s who gave his name as Abraham said: ‘I tried three times tonight but it was very difficult with all the patrols. I know it’s dangerous but I’m trying.’

French authorities said there had been around 2300 attempts to sneak into the Eurotunnel premises overnight Tuesday to Wednesday, revising up a previous figure of 1500.

France’s interior ministry said there have been ‘between 1500 and 2000 attempts per night’ in the past two months.

‘The migrants’ strategy is simple,’ said Bruno Noel from police union Alliance.

‘They arrive as soon as night falls. They lie in wait then sneak onto the premises and hide. As soon as a shuttle train takes off, they try and clamber onto it,’ said Noel.

In what appeared to be a new tactic to get to Britain, an Egyptian tried to jump from the roof of a train at Paris’s Gare du Nord train station onto the London-bound Eurostar and was severely electrocuted.

The migrant killed in Calais on Wednesday was the ninth such death since June and the rising toll is creating tensions between French authorities and Eurotunnel, the firm that runs the passenger and freight service under the Channel.

‘The pressure we are now under every night exceeds that which an operator can reasonably handle, and calls for an appropriate reaction from the states’ of France and Britain, the firm stressed in a statement.

Chief Executive Jacques Gounon told French radio that the firm was up against ‘systematic, massive, maybe even organised invasions.’

He said it was more of a bid to gain media attention ‘because, in the end, no one manages to cross the Channel Tunnel.’

Britain’s interior minister Theresa May, however, acknowledged that some migrants had indeed made it to British soil, as a source told AFP that ‘more than 100′ succeeded on Tuesday alone.

‘It was over 100 on a number of trains. It’s an unusually high number, normally it’s a handful or zero,’ the British source told AFP.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve announced he would send an additional 120 police officers to Calais but stressed that the responsibility must also lie with Eurotunnel.

Israeli Convicted of Stabbings at Gay Pride Parade Attacks Again

An ultra-Orthodox Jew who was convicted a decade ago of stabbing people at a gay pride parade here repeated the crime on Thursday, this time wounding six people at the same event, witnesses and officials said.

The man, Yishai Schlissel, had been paroled only three weeks ago after his 12-year sentence for stabbing three other people and was well known in Israel for that, leading immediately to questions about why officials hadn’t been better prepared to prevent it.

The parade began, as it has every year for 13 years, with a cheerful, mellow gathering at Independence Park, across from the U.S. Consulate here, which adorned its outside wall with a banner reading “#Love Wins: The U.S. Consulate General proudly supports your right to love and live with dignity.” Scattered about were circles of drummers, crafts stands offering “pride body painting” and flags with the Star of David imposed upon the multicolored gay pride logo.

Minutes after marchers left the park for King George V street, one of Jerusalem’s principal arteries, Mr. Schlissel emerged from an alleyway and stabbed the six marchers.

A number of passersby subdued Mr. Schlissel during his attack before police arrived and arrested him. The attack left two people in critical condition—a female border police officer who was on duty and a 17-year-old girl. The others received light to moderate injuries and are being treated in two Jerusalem hospitals. After the attack, the march proceeded as planned.

Since his prison release, Mr. Schlissel has used numerous ultra-Orthodox online forums and WhatsApp groups to declare his intent to attack participants at the next gay pride parade.

In an interview after the event, Jerusalem police chief Chico Edry said the police had “no knowledge” of his intentions. He said Mr. Schlissel hadn’t been summoned by the police since his release or warned to keep away from the parade. Police weren’t immediately available to comment further.

Gay community leaders and parade participants accused Mr. Edry of overseeing a failure of intelligence.

Nick Kaufman, the Jerusalem prosecutor who prosecuted Mr. Schlissel in 2005, said on Thursday that “Schlissel argued he was divinely motivated. I was of the opinion that he was impulsively dangerous and the 12-year sentence imposed on him was an insufficient deterrent.”

Politicians of all stripes condemned the attack, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said from a visit in New York that it represented “an attack against a community, against the very special texture of Jerusalem and against the entire state.”

Economy Minister Arye Deri, the leader of the ultra-Orthodox party Shas, told Israel Army Radio, “It is a terrible thing, terrible.” Speaking as the event was still under way and ambulance sirens could be heard in the background, he added, “Nothing justifies violence.”

Asked by a reporter if he stood by his statement about a previous Jerusalem gay pride parade as being a “march of abomination,” Mr. Deri said that “followers of the Torah know the difference between words that condemn something we cannot approve of and an unspeakable act against innocent people.”

Sabi Shajylan, an antiquities dealer who attended a solidarity rally in Tel Aviv, said “this attack is a direct consequence the ongoing incitement in the ultra-Orthodox communities. Its the fruit of that tree.”

Although Israel doesn’t allow gay religious marriages, it recognizes same-sex unions. Major national institutions, including the Israeli army and all universities, don’t discriminate against gays, who enjoy the universal rights.

Hackers force Jeep to crash into ditch

Hackers took control of a car and crashed it into a ditch by remotely breaking into its dashboard computer from 16km away.

In the first such breach of its kind, security experts cut out the engine and applied the brakes on the Jeep Cherokee, sending it into a spin – all while sitting on their sofa.

The US hackers said they used just a laptop and mobile phone to access the Jeep’s on-board systems via a wireless internet connection.

They claim that more than 470,000 cars made by Fiat Chrysler could be at risk of being attacked by similar means.

The breach was revealed by security researchers Charlie Miller, an ex-staffer at the NSA, and Chris Valasek.

They worked with Andy Greenberg, a writer with tech website Wired, who drove the Jeep Cherokee on public roads in St Louis, Missouri.

Greenberg described how the air vents started blasting out cold air and the radio came on full blast when the hack began.

The windscreen wipers turned on with wiper fluid, blurring the glass, and a picture of the two hackers appeared on the car’s digital display to signify they had gained access.

Greenberg said the hackers then slowed the car to a halt just as he was getting on the highway, causing a tailback behind him – though it got a lot worse after that. He wrote: “The most disturbing manoeuvre came when they cut the Jeep’s brakes, leaving me frantically pumping the pedal as the 2-tonne SUV slid uncontrollably into a ditch.

“The researchers say they’re working on perfecting their steering control – for now they can only hijack the wheel when the Jeep is in reverse.

“Their hack enables surveillance too: They can track a targeted Jeep’s GPS co-ordinates, measure its speed, and even drop pins on a map to trace its route.”

The hack was possible thanks to Uconnect, the software that has been built into the dashboard computers of hundreds of thousands of cars made by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles since late 2013.

The feature controls the entertainment system, deals with navigation and allows phone calls. It also allows owners to start the car remotely, flash the headlights using an app, and unlock doors.

But according to Miller and Valasek, the on-board internet connection is a “super nice vulnerability” for hackers. All they have to do is work out the car’s IP address and know how to break into its systems and they can take control.

Independent security expert Graham Cluley said: “Note that the researchers believe that, although they’ve only tested it out on Jeeps, the attacks could be tweaked to work on any Chrysler car with a vulnerable Uconnect head unit.”

The incident is the latest hacking episode which shows just how vulnerable we are to modern technology.

A US hacker also recently took control of a passenger jet he was on, in the first known such incident of its kind, according to the FBI. Chris Roberts is said to have plugged into the plane’s computer systems through the electronics box under his seat – and briefly moved the aircraft sideways.

Teenager with stomach ache dies of accidental paracetamol overdose

A teenage girl accidentally killed herself with an overdose of paracetamol tablets after complaining she was ill with stomach ache, an inquest heard.
Georgia Littlewood, 17, had called in sick to the hairdressers where she worked part time as office clerk at the weekends, but was feared to have taken a quantity of pills up to three times the recommended dose.
Unaware of the dose’s deadly consequences, Georgia went to stay with her boyfriend – but her condition suddenly deteriorated and she was rushed into hospital with severe liver damage.
She died the following day, with tests showing she had 65 microgrammes of the medication in her blood. The recommended level for a dose is 20mcg. The cause of death was acute liver failure due to paracetamol toxicity.
At an inquest, Miss Littlewood’s family, of Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, condemned the ease with which she was able to buy paracetamol after a coroner said it was a “readily available medication across the counter, which can be extremely dangerous”.
In a statement, they said: “You can buy paracetamol at 19p a packet in supermarkets – yet you should only be able to buy it from a pharmacist who tells you of the dangers. You should not be able to go into the shop with no one giving any advice.”

Earlier, the hearing was told how Miss Littlewood had undertaken a beauty course before taking an administration apprenticeship in September. But she had been complaining of headaches after long hours sat in front of a computer.
Her mother, Joanne Littlewood, told the Huddersfield hearing: “Georgia really seemed to enjoy her job. She was always using a computer and had to use glasses after tests were done, only if she was using the computer. She did wear them at first, but she was not happy with how they looked so she didn’t wear them.
“She complained of having headaches on and off. There was no real pattern to them. She did not have any other health issues and did not suffer from a traumatic injury. Ages ago, Georgia complained of headaches, so I gave her liquid Ibuprofen capsules.”
Tragedy struck on March 28 when Miss Littlewood woke up at 6.30am complaining of a stomach ache. She called in sick before going back to bed. But Mrs Littlewood received a text message from her daughter later that day saying she was going to stay over with her boyfriend, Tom Keen.
The couple watched television and went out to get a milkshake and pizza. Although Miss Littlewood said she was feeling better, she was heard being sick in the bathroom at 2am. Mr Keen took her back to her parent’s house, where they rang an ambulance and tried to get her to drink water and she was taken to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.
• How a few extra tablets can cause cumulative paracetamol overdose
• Paracetamol kills mother who took a ‘few extra’ pills a day
She told doctors she had taken paracetamol tablets, but had not done so with any intention of causing herself harm. She was transferred to St James’ Hospital in Leeds and was earmarked for a liver transplant, but she sadly deteriorated with doctors unable to provide a treatment to reverse the damage. She passed away at 9pm on March 30 in the intensive care unit.
Mrs Littlewood said: “On the day she was taken into hospital she was mumbling and didn’t know who I was. I knew something was wrong straight away. I believe the overdose was a complete accident. She was a very happy girl making plans to go on holiday in July.
“I don’t think she would have known the correct doses for taking paracetamol and would have taken them for a headache. She would not have known the effect it would have had on her.”
It is not known how many tablets Miss Littlewood took, but the maximum dose to be taken over a 24-hour period is eight tablets.
• Talented student, 18, dies from overdose of pills bought online
• Paracetamol ‘should be prescription-only'; tragic woman’s family
Assistant coroner Mary Burke recorded a conclusion of accidental death and said: “It seems likely to me that Georgia was not fully aware of the apparent toxic effect of paracetamol which can develop over a relatively short period of time. I do not believe it was an intentional act on Georgia’s part to harm herself and conclude a result of accident.
“It is important to use these circumstances to highlight to members of the public the risk that are present. I hope you will agree to me highlighting in order to avoid any one else having to go through the distress and upset you as a family have had to cope with in the circumstances.
“Paracetamol is a readily available medication across the counter but can be extremely dangerous. There are doses as identified in place for a reason. If everyone does not comply with that there can be tragic circumstances evident in this case. If you take more than the recommended dose the body cannot cope with that.”

Searching for ET

Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has joined a Russian billionaire to launch a major new effort to listen for aliens in the search for extraterrestrial life.

Hawking has offered his support to tech entrepreneur Yuri Milner’s Breakthrough Initiatives project — a $100 million quest to see if extraterrestrial intelligence exists. Milner, who made a fortune through investments in companies like Facebook, said the power and innovation of Silicon Valley could be harnessed to search the entire Milky Way and 100 nearby galaxies.

“There is no bigger question,” Hawking said. “It is time to commit to finding the answer to search for life beyond Earth.”

As well as using some of the world’s most powerful telescopes, the Breakthrough Listen project will support SETI@home, a University of California, Berkeley computing platform. The project will harness computer power, having 9 million volunteers working in tandem by donating spare computing power to a worldwide network, scanning the skies and looking for life — creating one of the biggest supercomputers in the world.

The researchers say they will be able to collect as much data in one day that which was collected in a year.

“The scope of our search will be unprecedented — a million nearby stars, the galactic center the entire plane of the Milky Way and 100 nearby galaxies,” Milner said.

Hawking said it is time for questions to be answered.

“Somewhere in the cosmos, perhaps, intelligent life may be watching these lights of ours aware of what they mean,” Hawking said. “Or do our lights wander a lifeless cosmos, unseen beacons announcing that here on our rock, the universe discovered its existence?’

Brighton could become the first British beach to ban smoking, under new council proposals

Worthing Beach in West Sussex England.
Hurricane Britten

Brighton beach could become a smoke-free zone under plans being considered by the council.

Brighton and Hove City Council is meeting tomorrow to decide whether a public consultation into a proposed ban on smoking on beaches and in parks should take place. If agreed, the consultation would run on Wednesday for 12 weeks.

Smoking has been illegal in workplaces and enclosed public areas since 2006 in Scotland. England, Northern Ireland and Wales followed suit with similar bans in 2007.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of health charity Ash (Action on Smoking and Health) welcomed the idea. She said: “A growing number of local authorities and other organisations are exploring ways of providing more smoke-free public places in response to public demand.

“Smoke-free beaches could provide a safe and pleasant environment, particularly for children, but also for adults who want to avoid exposure to second-hand smoke, as well as reducing the amount of cigarette butt litter on beaches which doesn’t degrade quickly and is harmful to wildlife.”

Brighton beach is one of the most famous in the UK.

Around 400,000 tourists visit Brighton for at least one overnight stay every year, making it the most popular UK seaside destination for overseas visitors.

The Couch You Let Your Friend Sleep On Is The Grossest Place Ever

A couch is a beautiful thing.

It’s where we veg out. It’s where we watch TV. It’s where we let our drunken friends crash when they’ve downed too many shots at the bar.

It’s where we munch on our favorite snacks and enjoy a much-needed afternoon nap. It’s our main place to entertain guests, and it’s our go-to spot after a long day at the office.

Our couch follows us from apartment to apartment, from relationship to relationship, from lifestyle change to lifestyle change. It’s our constant companion.

As The New York Times puts it, “There are those who would argue that a great piece of seating lasts a lifetime.”

We don’t want to let our good old couch go. Once it’s broken in, it becomes an old friend, one who always welcomes you and is there for you. You’ve had some of your best and worst times on it (respectively: Netflix; breakdowns).

But we constantly overlook how f*cking gross our couches actually are.

I began to think about this just the other day. Bae and I have sex on our couch regularly. We eat our meals on the couch after we’ve cuddled and boned on it.

We also rent our place out to horny Airbnbers all the time. Like us, they probably have sex and eat food on our couch, too. And we’ve never cleaned it. I mean, it’s not a bed.

You don’t wash your couch in the same way that you toss your soiled sheets in the washing machine.

How often do you even clean a couch?

A survey from Hygiene Counsel found that “61% of the population has either never gotten their sofas sanitized or professionally cleaned, or have done so only once or twice in the years that they’ve owned them.”

So people’s couches get sanitized a few times during their entire residence. Or never. Cool.

THAT IS GROSS. We wash OURSELVES every single day. We wash our dishes every single day. We wash EVERYTHING every single day. Except the damn couch.

Why is the couch different? I don’t know. But we don’t wash it! I’ve had my couch for four solid years, and I have NEVER cleaned it.

I bet you’re freaking out a little bit, right? Me too, guys. That’s why we’re learning about this together.

Eating on your couch is nasty, by the way.

Eating on your couch means a few spilled crumbs. No one is a perfectly #cleaneater. But where do those crumbs go? Nowhere! They stay on the couch!

According to The Huffington Post, “Bugs will appear when there are crumbs left around. The most common creepy crawlers to show up? Ants and cockroaches.”

That’s right, everyone. Your home is full of ants and cockroaches just because you think it’s really cute to eat on your sofa like a dirty mongrel.

Your home is a vile, festering cesspool of vermin, and it’s all because of your gross couch and your gross habits.

“Honey, there’s semen all over the couch!”

Sex on the couch. Who hasn’t had sex on the couch? It’s a soft, cozy spot. It’s perfect for an impromptu sex session.

You’re snuggling with Bae and watching Conan. Suddenly, you’re naked and humping each other’s bodies. We’ve all been there. It happens.

Elite Daily surveyed 45 Millennials, and 97% of the participants confirmed that they’ve had couch sex.

Have you ever successfully had sex without getting cum somewhere (other than inside or on your partner)? Yeah, neither have we.

After all of these couch quickies, your couch is going to be covered in semen and vaginal juices. Doesn’t that sound appetizing?

So. Much. Bacteria.

You know what else is all over your couch? A whole lot of bacteria!

Time to freak the f*ck out even more, ladies and gentlemen! A new study from Express found that the average family couch has more bacteria than a toilet seat.

Let me put it this way: Where you POOP has fewer bacteria than the couch. (You know, the one where you take your glorious, refreshing, weekend naps.)

People, the place where you drop a dump is cleaner than where you and your boyfriend/girlfriend engage in coitus.


The bacteria live, grow and crawl all over while you’re watching TV on your couch.

Dr. Laura Jana, a pediatrician, told the Housekeeping Channel:

Bacteria can be found just about everywhere around the home – on both hard and soft surfaces alike… While many families take aim at bacteria on hard surfaces such as kitchen and bathroom countertops, soft surfaces tend to fly under the radar during cleaning routines.”

While you may have thought your couch was a lovely place to hang, it’s about the most unsanitary resting spot you could choose.

Soft surfaces are the grossest places EVER.

Disease-causing bacteria can survive on soft surfaces for 24 hours. Even listeria, the flu-causing bacteria, can live on your plushy, inviting couch.

Your couch is making you sick, which is cause for alarm. We all need to be washing our couches regularly.

Here is a step-by-step guide to disinfecting your couch. Please don’t get sick and die. You can even clean the couch by yourself… because we all know we’re too poor to have that sh*t done professionally.

The Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality.

Rev. Roger LaRade, of the Eucharistic Catholic Church in Canada, blesses a gay couple as they lean in to kiss each other in Havana, Cuba, Saturday, May 9, 2015. The blessing ceremony for gay couples was part of official ceremonies leading up to the Global Day against Homophobia on May 17. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)The word “homosexuality” didn’t even show up in English translations of the Bible until 1946, so why do we say the Bible condemns it?

Billy Graham’s son is terrified that President Obama and a whole host of us have chucked out our Bibles in order to support marriage equality. This week he was at it again on Facebook, railing against “the assault on biblical marriage,” referencing California lawmakers who want to amend federal law by striking gendered language pertaining to two partners in a legal marriage. Franklin, son of Billy, even goes on to make the Biblically inaccurate comment that “The One who created marriage defined it as between a man and a woman.” I wish he would read my post on this and then re-read the Bible.

Brother Franklin, even thinks that President Obama should invest in more lightning rods in case God strikes the White House in fiery wrath.

This is laughable if it weren’t so powerfully sad. Here’s the thing, Franklin: You need to read your Bible better. The sooner you do, the more and better work you can do in Africa and elsewhere with Samaritan’s Purse. We need your time focused not only on poverty but in addressing America’s original sin of racism. We need all you got for those fights. It’s time to end the culture wars and fully focus on the war against poverty, racism and injustice in our world.

Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners, a mentor in the faith, talks about the early days of gathering his new community, coming out as Evangelicals during the Vietnam crisis, going back to the Bible for help and guidance.

One of our first activities was finding every verse of scripture about the poor, wealth and poverty, and social justice. We found more than 2,000 texts that we then cut out of an old Bible. We were left with a “Bible full of holes,” which I used to take out with me to preach.

Over 2000 Bible verses on poverty. On money. On the rich and poor.

And those 2000-plus verses give us some basic instructions for life on earth, that could be summed up in the ancient wisdom of a prophet 700 years before Jesus of Nazareth:

He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? – Micah 6:8

And yet, all anyone wants to talk about these days are six Bible verses that “condemn homosexuality.” Here’s the thing  –  they don’t.

And we need to accept that so we can get back to the more important things.

Six Bullets in the Chamber?

There are six Bible verses used to defend a “traditional” view on homosexuality. However well intentioned, these verses are known as the “trouble verses” that condemn same-sex behavior. Some call them clobber verses. I like how my friend Steve Chalke in the UK describes them as “the six bullets in the gun.”

What do we do with these Bible verses? We must read them in context. And take the bullets out of the chamber. It’s time for a cease-fire.

Genesis 19:5

And they called to Lot, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, so that we may know them.’

This is the fabled Sodom & Gomorrah passage. Sodom and Gomorrah were sister cities. It’s pretty clear in Genesis 13:13 that “… the people of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord.”

What was their sin? They were ruthless in their acquisition of wealth, power and territory – and they oppressed the poor and took advantage of the weak and were terrible at hospitality.

That’s clear in the Bible, too.

The ancient Jewish Prophet Ezekiel remembered the sin of Sodom as such:

This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty, and did abominable things before me; therefore I removed them when I saw it.  –  Ezekiel 16:49,50

The sins of Sodom, Gomorrah and their sister cities was so bad, they were frequently used as examples of people not to emulate.

One of Ezekiel’s colleagues, the Prophet Jeremiah, simply put it:

As when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighboring cities, declares the Lord, so no man shall dwell there, and no son of man shall sojourn in her. – Jeremiah 50:40

When Jesus would run into conflict in cities he was ministering in, unfolding his work and vision amongst the poor, he even used Sodom as an example when he would declare “it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.” (Matthew 11:24)

Here’s the deal: the so-called “Sodomites” in Genesis are beating down the door of a man named Lot who was entertaining two messengers of God (we often hear them described as “angels” in the Scriptures.) The men of Sodom want to have sexual intercourse with them. Fair enough, you might say. But in the end, Lot offers up his two virgin daughters for the so-called Sodomites to gang rape. It’s brutal, horrendous stuff. And it has nothing to do with homosexuality. So why do we continue to think it does?

Leviticus 18:22 & 20:13

You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.

If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.

The “Levitical laws” are important, foundational commandments for a people looking to survive. For a people on the move. For a people looking to make a way out of no way.

They’re literally on the run  –  an exodus  —  out of Egypt. And these passages have nothing to do with homosexuality either.

Jeff Chu, in his incredible book Does Jesus Really Love Me?: A Gay Christian’s Pilgrimage in Search of God in America, shares a series of Twitter and email exchanges with a fellow traveller on the way, a man named Gideon Eads. In one email Gideon shares about talking with a counselor who tried to convince him of the sins of homosexuality. Gideon writes:

We moved on to the verses in Leviticus that state “lying with a man as with a woman is an abomination” (Leviticus 18: 22- 24 and Leviticus 20: 13). He began to talk about how holy and perfect the union between one man and one woman was. I agreed, but said, “This is not a verse about homosexual love, or being gay. This command is there with all kinds of connotations of adultery, promiscuity, and idol worship from the surrounding nations.”

Yep, that’ll preach.

And if we want to get all Levitical about it, the same laws dictate that shellfish cannot be eaten (there goes Boston clam chowder and Willapa Bay oysters), mixed fabric garments cannot be worn (I guess I need to burn my Portland Timbers jersey), and sex with animals is strictly forbidden (yep, I totally agree).

Romans 1:26-27

So, go ahead, throw out the Old Testament passages, some Christians might say (fool heartily  –  this was Jesus’ Bible after all). What about the New Testament? Enter St. Paul’s magnum opus, the Roman Epistle, and his “clear teaching” on same-sex behavior.

For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.

Steve Chalke makes the argument that “Idolatry, promiscuity and shrine prostitution are what Paul is addressing [here] in Romans 1  —  not same-sex relationships between faithful and committed partners.”

Steve is right. This passage is clearly not about same-sex behavior carte blanche. It’s about gross misuse of power, Roman elitist overindulgence, and misguided over-sexualized spirituality.

If you are looking to get really Biblical about this passage and all of these verses, go no further than James Brownson’s tremendous Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing the Church’s Debate on Same-Sex Relationships.

Jim is a New Testament scholar in Michigan who takes the Bible incredibly seriously. He thinks this passage is about excessive lust: the central problem with lust in Romans 1 is that it is an expression of idolatry in a specific sense: lust involves serving one’s own self-seeking desires rather than worshiping the one true God.

But more so than just excessive lust and how the early Christian communities should reject it, Brownson argues that this lust was being exhibited at a colossal scale by members of the Roman imperial court.

Emperors Gaius and Caligula conjure up all sorts of sexual indulgence. Brownson says this, echoing the work of Neil Elliot:

Neil Elliott has called attention to the striking similarities between Paul’s language and the incredible greed, violence, and sexual excesses of Gaius Caligula, an emperor who reigned in a period not too long before Paul wrote Romans. First of all, Gaius is closely linked to the practice of idolatry. The Roman writer Suetonius reports how Gaius “set up a special temple to his own godhead, with priests and with victims of the choicest kind.” Another Roman writer, Dio Cassius, comments negatively on how Gaius was the only emperor to claim to be divine and to be the recipient of worship during his own lifetime. Gaius also tried at one point to erect a statue of himself in the Temple in Jerusalem; he was dissuaded only by a delegation from Herod Agrippa. Hence the link between Gaius and idolatry would have been well-known indeed, particularly in Jewish circles. But Gaius also serves as “Exhibit A” for out-of-control lust. Suetonius reports how Gaius “lived in perpetual incest with all his sisters, and at a large banquet he placed each of them in turn below him, while his wife reclined above.” He records gruesome examples of Gaius’s arbitrary violence, vindictiveness, and cruelty. Later, Suetonius chronicles Gaius’s sexual liaisons with the wives of dinner guests, raping them in an adjoining room and then returning to the banquet to comment on their performance. Various same-sex sexual encounters between Gaius and other men are similarly recounted. Finally, a military officer whom he had sexually humiliated joined a conspiracy to murder him, which they did less than four years into his reign. Suetonius records that Gaius was stabbed through the genitals when he was murdered. One wonders whether we can hear an echo of this gruesome story in Paul’s comments in Romans 1: 27: “Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own person the due penalty for their error.” Gaius Caligula graphically illustrates the reality of which Paul speaks in Romans 1: the movement from idolatry to insatiable lust to every form of depravity, and the violent murderous reprisal that such behavior engenders.
This is not the stuff of friends, loved ones, neighbors and colleagues who happen to be gay and celebrate marriage equality. So why do pastors continue to preach this?

1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers  –  none of these will inherit the kingdom of God. And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

This is one of the most damning, hurtful and misused passages that Christians have often used to LGBTQ people to convince them of their sin. In essence, many Christians will shoot this Biblical bullet in the heart of others to condemn people straight to hell.

This needs to stop. If not yesterday, today.

This is one of those passages that, I would argue, has a direct corollary to the rise in gay Christian suicides in the past generation.

My friend Matthew Vines shares:

I am far from the only gay Christian who has heard the claim that gay people will not inherit the kingdom of God. That message is plastered on protest signs at gay-pride parades. It’s shouted by roaming street preachers at busy intersections and on college campuses. The result is that, for many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, all that they’ve heard about the kingdom of God is that they won’t be in it.
The problem is, people have horrifically misunderstood two simple words in this ancient letter that St. Paul wrote to an early Christian community in the trade city of Corinth.
The words are: malakoi and arsenkoitai.
Matthew goes on to define malakoi as “effeminate.” It’s a Greek word that literally means “soft” and is used to describe fine clothing elsewhere in the New Testament. In a moral context, this word is actually more about “lack of self-control, weakness, laziness, or cowardice.” My friend David, a pastor who got kicked out of his church for false accusations, told me over nachos recently that this word is actually about people who were “spineless.” Soft to the point that they wouldn’t stand up for injustice or what truly matters. Irony of ironies, huh?

There were sexual connotations for “malakoi” as well, but again, it always points backs to uncontrolled acts of lust or misused sexuality  —  no matter the gender or act. The word was not understood to reference same-sex behavior in the church until after the 20th century, when Bible translations adopted a new slant.

Arsenkoitai is more bizarre and hard to grasp. Many believe that St. Paul actually invented the word, as it is extremely rare in ancient Greek literature.

The word literally is a combination of two other words in Greek: arsen (male) and koites (bed). So, arsenkoitai could be translated literally as “male-bedders.” And this word was understood by Bible translators before the 20th century to mean male-male sexual intercourse.

But when the word is used elsewhere in ancient Greek literature, it references the abuse of the poor (as in the Sibylline Oracles) or “economic exploitation and power abuses (as in a 2nd century text called the Acts of John).” The Acts of John lists arsenkoitai amongst a list of sins separate from a catalog of other sexual sins. Many believe (as Vines so cogently breaks down) that arsenkoitai is about economic abuses and exploitation.

Which is why the ancient act of “pederasty” is often brought up in relation to passages like this — the practice of Greek elite elder men who would adopt young men to use as sexual objects. Again, having nothing to do with LGBTQ loved ones, friends and colleagues who are looking to live as good neighbors.

1 Timothy 1:9-10

This means understanding that the law is laid down not for the innocent but for the lawless and disobedient, for the godless and sinful, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their father or mother, for murderers, fornicators, sodomites, slave-traders, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching…

The word asrenkoitai is used again, in this passage. Justin Lee, founder of the Gay Christian Network, describes growing up gay in the Southern Baptist Church in his book Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gay-vs-Christian Debates.

Searches through several reference books taught me that “homosexual offenders” was a translation of the Greek word arsenokoitai. To my surprise, one reference book listed the same word as appearing in another passage, 1 Timothy 1: 10. I turned to 1 Timothy 1: 10 in my New International Version Bible, and, there, saw that the word was translated simply as “perverts.” There’s quite a difference between “homosexual offenders” and “perverts.”

Justin points out what many of us have long-since discovered: the Bible is a complicated library of books with antiquated, complicated Greek terminology and social contexts. Modern day translators are bound to mess it up from time to time or even insert their own biases. To quote my seminary professor Klyne Snodgrass “the translator is always a traitor.”

So, now what?

I’ve spent the last year  —  and especially so the last month  —  hearing from LGBTQ parishioners, neighbors and friends their struggles growing up in the church. Horrible stories of anguish. Losing jobs, losing schools, losing friends and family. An unnecessary wreckage of human life in the name of faith.

It’s time to bring an end to this  —  and not just because the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Marriage Equality. It’s time to bring an end to this, for those of us trying to take the Bible seriously, because the Bible seriously doesn’t talk about homosexuality as we know it.

If you’re looking for resources to go deeper, spend a few days over at Togetherinthis.net, a tremendous online resource set up by EastLake Church outside Seattle.

I also cannot recommend the following enough:

– Vicky Beeching  –  Anything she does! Follow her on Twitter.
– James Brownson  —  Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing the Church’s Debate on Same-Sex Relationships
– Steve Chalke  –  A Matter of Integrity (watch his intro video here)
– Jeff Chu — Does Jesus Really Love Me?: A Gay Christian’s Pilgrimage in Search of God in America
– Candace Czubernat  –  Her blog!
– Broderick Greer  —  Twitter! Also his posts on Everyone Is Gay
– Justin Lee — Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate
– Colby Martin  —  Follow his exciting project “Unclobber!”
– Stan Mitchell  —  Check out his incredible sermon from GracePointe, TN
– Brandan Robertson  –  An incredible organizer, visit his website
– Matthew Vines — God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships
– Ken Wilson — A Letter to My Congregation (a must read for pastors!)

Julie Rodgers, a self-proclaimed celibate gay Christian, is incredibly courageous. She just resigned this week from her chaplaincy position at Wheaton College because she believes this: some LGBTQ people are called to celibacy and some are called to marriage.

Echoing St. Paul, the truth we find ourselves in, is that some folks are called to celibacy and some are called to marriage  –  no matter if they are gay or straight or wherever on the sexuality spectrum.

Julie closes her ground breaking post with this:

My goal now is the same as it’s always been: to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with the God who’s been my first love all along. When it comes to this conversation, my goal has been to help Christians create the kinds of communities that make LGBT people feel wanted  –  where we can worship God, use our gifts, serve our neighbors, and find a family to share in the joys and sorrows of living in a world where so many people are so lonely. That looks a little different to me now that I’ve seen so much fruit in affirming communities, but it’s a widening of my circle  –  not a move in a different direction.
If it turns out that I’m wrong, I trust God will be faithful to catch me. For now, though, I hope those of you who disagree will continue to welcome my friendship and serve alongside me. It’s not too late to call it quits on all the fighting. We could choose instead to focus on all we share in common and seek to mend what’s been broken in this fragile world.
It’s time for us to get back to the basics of the Bible and truly read it so that we might faithfully live it.
Do yourself a favor and head on over to Julie’s blog, and if you are the praying kind, pray for her and pray for all of us as we move out of this unnecessary, harmful and unbiblical mess so we can move forward to what truly matters.

Franklin, will you consider this?

Woman ‘ate herself to death’ aged just 23 due to rare condition that left her constantly hungry

A woman with a rare genetic disorder which left her with a constantly high appetite died after ‘eating herself to death’ aged just 23.

Tragic Kirsty Derry was unable to stop eating even though she understood she was harming herself, an inquest heard.

She suffered from Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) – an inherited disorder which can lead to excessive eating and life-threatening obesity in adulthood.

Kirsty was found dead in her flat at Victoria Mews, a supported living accommodation in Stone, Staffs., on July 20, 2013.

She had a Body Mass Index at the time of 42.1, a court heard.

A healthy BMI for an adult is 19-25.

Kirsty’s mother Julie Fallows told a coroner that social workers did not understand her daughter’s condition and did not do enough to help.

She told an inquest this week: “When she went there I expected one-to-one support between 8am to 10pm.

“When she first arrived, there were alarms fitted to the cupboards and fridge. But at some point that technology was removed without our knowledge.

“Often we couldn’t find any staff when we visited.

“I became aware Kirsty had no idea of portion sizes but I thought her cooking was regulated. But in 2013 her changes in weight were obvious. Her legs were swollen, she could hardly walk or get shoes on her feet. I expressed my concerns.

“I felt Kirsty should have been removed from Victoria Mews immediately. But nothing was done right up until her death.”

A social worker told the court alarms had been removed because they were annoying Kirsty.

Another said Kirsty did not believe she was unwell and refused to go to hospital.

But Julie maintained staff should have done more.

She told the court: “Kirsty was deemed mentally capable of making her own choices but how can that be if she could eat herself to death?

“Social workers handed her a death sentence by suggesting Kirsty go to Victoria Mews.”

Before her death, Kirsty had written of her frustrations at dealing with PWS, which affects just on in 15,000 people in the UK, on Facebook.

In one post she said: “My life is so miserable. Fed up of people in my face all the time when I don’t need this amount of care.

“I am quite capable, staff just need to understand me and listen to me and get to know me a little better.

“I cannot cooperate when I am in a mood, they need to understand to let me calm down.

“I just want to move to a different place, I don’t feel it’s right for me, just feel like I want to come home.”

Kirsty’s cause of death was given as a pulmonary oedema, meaning fluid had gathered in her lungs, the Stoke Sentinel reports.

Staffordshire County Council has implemented a review of PWS following the case so that lessons can be learned, the court heard.

Dog walker who brushed against toxic hogweed hospitalised for days with blisters the size of her fist

A dog walker who brushed against a toxic hogweed was hospitalised for four days with blisters the size of her fist on her leg.

Ann Quinlan said her limb looked like something from an ‘apocalyptic horror film’ after she swept past the plant on a dog walk in north London.

But the poisonous plant was only diagnosed by a junior doctor who Googled her symptoms.

The 56-year-old was left with fist-sized blisters that have turned into weeping sores doctors warn could take months to heal.

Still housebound over a week later Ann described her ordeal at home in Enfield, north London.

The dog lover had taken her rhodesian ridgeback and two chihuahuas for walkies through parkland at Forty Hall, where she has walked her pets for 18 years.

She said: “I’m quite into my gory films, this was just like when everyone catches a deadly virus. When I look back at the photos I’m just shocked.

“It was a nice day so I had my shorts on and I decided to take the route through a wooded area.

“This time of year it’s quite overgrown, I did brush up against a few plants, but I had no idea I was supposed to be looking out for anything.”

That evening she noticed her legs and hand begin to tingle and burn, but put it down to a bit of sunburn.

She went to bed at around 9pm after trying slathering her leg in Sudocrem and yoghurt to ease the heat.

She continued: “I couldn’t understand and by about 4am I was in agony, it was very red, the redness was spreading from the top of my thigh down my right leg. Then I noticed the little blisters starting to appear.”

By 5am Ann’s concern was so great she decided to go to hospital and was driven to North Middlesex Hospital by her partner.

She faced a worrying two-hour wait in A&E before being given a bed in the acute ward, although staff were puzzled by her symptoms. Her terror grew as the redness, blistering and discomfort increased.

Her burns were originally diagnosed as cellulitis, an infection of the skin.

It wasn’t until midday that hog weed was identified as a culprit – by a student doctor in her early 20s who put her symptoms into Google.
Ann was “plonked” on a monitoring ward with eight other patients and prescribed antibiotics, steroids and codeine to deal with the pain.

“It was so painful, like bad toothache but in your leg. A pulsating, throbbing pain that was enough to make me feel nauseous,” she said.

Throughout the start of the week the pustules continued to grow.

“It was worst when I had to go to the toilet, they were so big they dragged and pulled on my skin.”

She had also suffered some burns to her left leg and right hand, that left it too painful to move her fingers.

Ann has been left needing regular hospital checkups, takes 14 tablets a day and endures the pain of dressing changes on the raw wound left on her leg.

Doctors warned it may take months to heal and could be weeks before she can return to work.

Ann said she contacted Enfield Borough Council to alert them to the weed’s presence when she was discharged last Thursday.

“It’s the summer and kids want to go outside, but no-one wants to have to cover up,” she said. “We need to be aware of the plants, maybe signs showing which are dangerous would be useful.”

Have we passively contributed to Ja’s demise?

“IF we should spend our time finding fault with others our lifespan would not allow us enough time to correct our discovered flaws. We should look twice in the mirror before we condemn others.”

But when people trust you with their lives, and you willingly accept such responsibility, you are no longer exempt from criticism and accountability. If you discover you are unable to carry out such functions, it is your duty to abdicate from such responsibility.

The political landscape is pregnant with blunders and barren of ideas as to how to steer us in the right direction. Our country has been hovering on the brink of economic ruin, uncontrollable murders, corruption, lawlessness, and an inept Government who may even surrender the reins of power to an Opposition who displays impotent behaviour in carrying out their duties, leaving the ever-diminishing electorate with little choice.

We hope, since there is still some time before the next election, the contestants will do some serious retrospection as to their readiness to serve, as they might be facing a complex electorate, more disenchanted and sophisticated, and is hell-bent on using the “no vote” weapon .

One thing is sure, a delayed election beyond nine months will create avenues of advantages for one party and considerable disadvantages to the other, but then the rising voter apathy may make predicting the results more difficult than predicting the exact order of a Supreme Ventures Pick 4 draw. We have to stem the leadership erosion in our country and ensure accountability is not compromised.

We must take some blame for what has happened, as our vigilance regarding our political leaders has been comatose.


As a catalyst for improvement and redemption, we need to put to sleep our in-born political divisiveness and give birth to a dawn of unity in the best interest of Jamaica. Whose fault is it really?

By our own nonchalant attitudes, being afraid to speak up, and baked in the furnace of polarised politics, we have become steeped in a pool of corruption. Having accepted political handouts as an entitlement, we have resigned ourselves to mediocre political representation. We pass all the ills of the country on to politicians, yet many of us are beneficiaries of corrupt practices and will not raise a finger or voice to expose it. We are stewed in our own false sense of being victim, so if we buck our toes we blame the politicians.

Let’s self-examine to see where we, as people, register on the guilt barometer.

* Would you make any sacrifice, including loss of earnings, to enter representational politics?

* Have you ever conspired to evade taxes?

* Do you overcharge your customers, giving less than what the customer should get, or charge prices that include GCT, yet you are not registered under the GCT Act?

* Are you actively guided by the oath of your profession?

* Have you ever been approached by a politician offering bribe to vote for his or her party; what was your reaction; had it dawned on you to set up a sting operation to entrap the politician or did you gladly accept the bribe; have you ever thought that you were sanctioning corruption and have fertilised the breeding ground for political corruption?

* Have you made substantial contribution to political party in exchange for favours?

* You will agree the country has retrogressed over the years. We have been added to the list of scamming countries, highest murder rate per capita, highest debt-to-GDP. We ranked among the fastest-depreciating currencies in the world, and now we are ranked on a world barometer study having the greatest disparity between the haves and the have-nots. Do you believe if we the citizens demanded more accountability from our Government we would be in this situation?

* Which party do you blame more for the country’s debacle?

* Do you think your party is best for governing at all times, as such the other party is a waste of time, because you will never vote for them?

* What advice would you give to the JLP and the Government regarding improving the welfare of the citizens, and is the JLP ready for Governance and is the PNP the better of the two evils?

* Will you continue to vote for your party despite the fact they have proven to be inefficient at governance and ineffective as opposition?

* Do you think your MP should live in the constituency they represent?

* You are a public servant soon to retire, are you in agreement that the prime ministers and members of Parliament should not enjoy a pension, in the case of prime ministers, equivalent to their last salary, take into consideration your pension is not realistically based on the contribution you make, but a percentage of your last salary?

* You operate a business that employ a fair amount of employees, do you feel justified that they are paid fair wages?

* Do you sexually harass your employees, pay them equally for same work?

* Have you voted more than once during any election, abstain from voting most times, do you think voting is a responsibility that you should regard as a duty?

* What would be your reaction if twice weekly cruise ships with same-sex tourists were allowed to vacation in Jamaica, with a potential earning of US$1billon per year with an employment possibility of over 5,000 people, including your relatives and friends?

* Were you approached to boycott all Independence Day celebrations hosted by the Government to send a clear message to the country’s legislature that we are not satisfied with their performance, and would you insist that they use the money for the most vulnerable in the society, and that they should spend the entire day with their constituents with no media coverage?

* Do you think that if the PNP shows remorse and apologises to the Jamaican people for the indiscretions they have committed during their tenure in office the public will accept it and reward them with an extended term in office?

* Who do you believe was the worst and best prime ministers?

* When was the last time you help someone who requested your help?

As a professional in essential services, would you go on sick-out for wage increase considering your actions could cost lives?

As a media practitioner do you at all times disseminate all information, excluding threat to national security, without bias? Does your political allegiance affect judgement to share the facts with the public?

Are you an advocate for “eat a food syndrome”?

If our moral compasses were reset, do you believe it would have positive effect on the direction in which the country would move?

Ask yourself, what can I do to help this blessed country to wrest it from slipping further into the abyss?

Out of the closet: Sexual starvation in Christian marriages

Many know of its rampancy among Christian couples but have chosen to hide or downplay it — the deliberate withholding of sexual intercourse and even romantic intimacy from one’s spouse. Women mostly, but some men as well, are guilty of this behaviour.

This troubling issue first surfaced as a matter of concern some 20 years ago during a postgraduate class I was teaching. Those who were vocal knew that I would not muzzle them, so they spoke very frankly and freely, informing me that they knew personally several couples in their churches that were involved in this behaviour. The faces of those who elected not to speak betrayed guilty knowledge suppressed by cowardice or personal pain.

Though it was not a psychology class, and thus tangential to the subject at hand, I raised questions about the possible reasons behind a spouse’s refusal to share sexually and more to the subject area in the class — the biblical perspectives on such refusal. Some of the responses were as blunt as they were insightful.

I recall one female psychology major suggesting that women refuse to share sexually when they know or suspect that their husbands have committed adultery. A male theology major could hardly wait for her to finish before urging the point: “Yes, we all know that adultery is a sin, but women forget that ‘sexual fraud’, as Paul calls it in 1 Corinthians 7, is also a sin, but who talks about that?”

He had scarcely finished his point when a very young-looking lady quickly and innocently asked: “My brother, I don’t know the Bible very well, so where exactly in 1 Corinthians 7 does Paul speak about sexual fraud, because I didn’t know such things were in the Bible?”

I still recall the mischievous glee on the brother’s face as he stood, pulled out his Bible, and proudly said: “Let me read for you all, 1 Corinthians 7: 1 – 5, not from the tame King James Version, but from the more precise and modern Contemporary English Version. Listen up. Quote.

‘Now I will answer the questions that you asked in your letter. You asked, Is it best for people not to marry?

2 Well, having your own husband or wife should keep you from doing something immoral.

3 Husbands and wives should be fair with each other about having sex.

4 A wife belongs to her husband, instead of to herself, and a husband belongs to his wife, instead of to himself.

5 So don’t refuse sex to each other, unless you agree not to have sex for a little while, in order to spend time in prayer. Then Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control.’ End quote.”

The young lady who opened the door for this revelation just as quickly asked someone to read the text from the King James Version. A mature woman obliged by pulling out her electronic reader and read. “Beginning,

‘Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.

2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.

3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.

4 The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.

5 Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.’ That’s it.”

Audible laughter came from some students, and smiles broke across every other face when the young student turned to me for help saying: “Sir, you are a Greek scholar. Is the contemporary version faithful to the original Greek?”

I had wanted to let them dialogue further, but now I was put on the spot. It became worse because before I had a chance to explain, a student requested permission to share right after me what he described as an unorthodox view he had had for years. Knowing his usual reluctance to talk in class I told him “most certainly”. I almost regretted that I had said that as I’ll explain presently.

I told the class that Paul indeed spoke of sexual fraud in the text in question, and that the main verb ‘defraud’ in the King James Version’s “defraud ye not one the other” (v 5) is a translation of a Greek verb apostereite (sound= aposterayte, with short ‘e’ as in ‘met’ both times) which suggests depriving someone of what is due to and deserved by the person, with a possible hint of deception in the process; it is ‘cooking the books sexually’.

Then I indulged my innate provocative nature by adding, “Paul, in Jamaican parlance, is here encouraging married couples to tear off each other’s garments regularly, and to break the habit only by mutual consent for a short period to give themselves to [protracted] prayer.”

By the time I was through saying this I could hear lots of “Sir, Sir…” as hands shot up across the room. The student who had sought permission to speak after me stood up and said, “Sir, I have the floor by your permission. Brethren, please brace yourselves for what I am about to say.”

The class fell silent as all eyes turned toward him. He continued: “I have pondered this business of adultery in churches for a long time, and I know many of you will write me off, but if a man — sorry ladies, we are the usual sufferers — is being sexually starved at home he must feed somewhere else.” The mixed mumblings were almost drowning him out when he raised his voice above the din and upped the ante by adding: “Here is another shocker to think about: Not all cases of adultery arise from sexual greed. Some are prompted by acute sexual need.”

He sat down to a mixture of mild clapping and boos with a worried look on his face. So I asked him if he thought sexual need made adultery excusable. He stood again, as if to underline his reply to me, and calmly said: “No, Sir, but sexual need surely makes adultery perfectly understandable for me at least.”

The amens he got were only slightly muted, and even some of those who booed him earlier nodded in agreement, slowly, as if doing so reluctantly.

I raise this very delicate and possibly explosive subject because, over the years, the issue has resurfaced time and again in small male group discussion, but it deserves wider and more public treatment.

If you know this to be a current concern in your church circles, please e-mail me, because I want to take up the matter more clinically with a few of my friends in psychology. But I need evidence that it is not just happening ‘in a corner’, or resident only in ‘the odd closet or two’.

Racism thrives because black nations fail

Racism is a global growth industry, and in America white police kill black men and the courts exonerate them as, despite the rhetoric, blacks do not count. Why should they when they can’t prosper one of the dozens of nations they rule?

Blacks are 13 per cent of the US population and account for 32 per cent of police shootings in 2012 — Trayvon Martin, Walter Scott two notches on a six-gun. The effect on black men in 2015 is as it was in 1715 — then a rope, now a gun.

Racism exists wherever there are black people. Why? In Jos, Nigeria, blacks just killed 42 blacks and we do not blink, yet we’re rabid when police kill one black youth in the USA. Recall 300 virgins taken a year ago? Silence! Is it that we expect savagery of blacks but not whites? You racist!

It was a liberal dream that, with education, laws, and cultural exchange racism would die. But it did not. They love our jazz, ladies, entertainers, athletes, tennis aces, yet racism is as in days of Jim Crow or Enoch Powell’s “river of blood” speech. Mixed marriages, integrated schools, black MPs, black president, did racism die? No way!

So, let’s go back to first principles. Is racism normal? Are species wired to prefer their own? Are blacks fighting a losing battle? So let’s deconstruct racism.

Old theories of racism and solutions don’t work, nor do set asides and quotas; what next? What fuels racism? Some say slavery caused racism. But it is dead, and despite multi-hued slaves only black racism grows. Most ethnic groups are racist to blacks, and we equally so! Racist Africa expelled Asians (UK took them) as Dom Rep does Haitians today. Our racists target Indian, Chinese using derogatory names and belittle their success as “yuh see ‘ow all a dem pack up inna on ‘ouse, an a calaloo and rice dem eat an dem av money; mi haffi eat meat!” Many envy success, live a hedonist party life, and avoid hard graft. Blacks love talk of descending from African kings and love titles, but how does living in the past help today? Quite a racist conundrum. So, what really is racism?

Racism is about power not race. Black power was good, but misguided. One black man’s success is no use as racism is not about personal power. Racism is about nation power. The day one black nation has top military, space and nuclear capability, racism goes into immediate remission. We can then dump goody-goody projects, empowerment seminars and basket weaving. Blacks will have power and get respect!

No black nation colonised a white one or other — not ever! They had no power. Many black nations exist, but none prospers. That slavery is the root of racism or the cause of black poverty is a cleverly crafted subterfuge by lazy-brained blacks; rip-off reparations and back-to-Africa scams. Racism against “Gooks” died with Japan’s prosperity; the Chinese blew it away with cash and WMDs. India (remember we dissed Coolie man?) is gone clear with technology, space and nuclear arms. African is the only major population to be universally disrespected, even here; why? They have no prosperous, potential menacing nation. Others ask: Can they make the grade? Maybe, but with no proof of concept, let’s stick it to blacks!

Racism is rife in black nations. Small Jamaica is up front with big Nigeria as having great potential but mired in ennui, corruption and racism. China, USA, Russia, Europe call the shots and back it with cash or nukes! Racism in America will wane when we stop our minstrel show and build Jamaica. Global racism will fade when rich Nigeria goes nuclear and is seated at the top table. We may change hearts, but the ability to say “or else” is the power the world respects. Black nations fail and this feeds global racism. We are our worst enemies.

Did capitalism cause racism? Marcus Garvey was on track with economic and military plans. The best capitalists were colour blind African, Arab and later European men who founded offshore slavery; and I am open to reparations from all of them. But I would like to put a lick on ‘Cudjoe’ in West Africa for selling my grandfather of the fifth power to white people. I do not forgive Africa.

Racism is not of slavery and rich blacks can’t stanch racism as it’s not personal it’s national. Whites are powerful for eons; other races got there later. Blacks are powerless victims and purveyors of racism. Black power was good but misguided. To riot in white man’s country can’t help us as it is still his land; riot in your own and build it fool! Only a prosperous black country with the fearsome trappings of WMDs can halt racism. When China was communist — known for laundries and food; and it was dissed — it built economic success, WMDs and got respect. Other races ordered their folks, scientists invented, stole or borrowed technology and got to a point where they could destroy the world — welcome to the head table! Every black nation is a satrapy. Ours, with the best brand, shames the new world negro; rich, big Nigeria shames itself and black people everywhere! Blacks can end racism but we will not apply ourselves!

Black nations produce few goods, mainly services — wrong move! They live off nature’s bounty — tourism, beach, jungle, wild animals; to sing, dance, run, preen on a stage is what we do. Blacks do not produce basics — sanitary napkin, car, gun, ship, toilet paper — yet use them with impunity. Blacks do not pull their weight globally, even in farming, and lag on all metrics — innovation, hard work, sacrifice, production, prosperity. They suffer for their performance deficits and use it to blackmail white people for aid. Prosperity and an equal capability for terror by one black nation anywhere will sound the death knell of racism everywhere. Over to you, black chiefs, kings and politicians — do it! Stay conscious, my friend!

Russia claims to have super weapon that disables western satellites and long range arms

Russia is boasting a major advance in electronic warfare technology enabling Vladimir Putin’s armed forces to zap foreign military satellites, and “switch off” enemy weapons.

The new system will muzzle the guidance systems of Western cruise missiles and other high-precision arms, it is claimed.

Its Russian makers say it is a “fundamentally new electronic warfare system” which can be mounted on ground-based as well as air- and sea-borne carriers.

Russia’s Radio-Electronic Technologies Group (KRET) deputy chief Yuri Mayevsky said: “The system will target the enemy’s deck-based, tactical, long-range and strategic aircraft, electronic means and suppress foreign military satellites’ radio-electronic equipment.”

BarcroftRussia’s deputy defense minister Tatyana Shevtsova, Russia’s president Vladimir Putin and Russia’s defense minister Sergei Shoigu
“It will not be based on satellites as this is prohibited by international rules and we comply with this rule.”

The Russian hailing of its new super weapon comes as relations with the West are at their lowest ebb since the collapse of the Soviet Union, with fears of a new Cold War.

President Vladimir Putin has invested heavily in rebuilding his country’s military might, which has lagged behind the West since the end of the Soviet era.

The new technology “will fully suppress communications, navigation and target location, and the use of high-precision weapons”, said Mikheyev, who did not give further details of the claimed military breakthrough.

BarcroftAnton Gubankov, head of the culture department at Russia’s defense ministry, Russia’s president Vladimir Putin and Russia’s defense minister Sergei Shoigu
“The system will be used against cruise missiles and will suppress satellite-based radio location systems.

“It will actually switch off enemy weapons.”

The system is due to be fully tested in the near future.

“Ground tests are now going on in workshops,” he said.

“At the end of the year, the system’s component will leave the factory gates for trials at testing ranges.”

Scientists believe universe will end with a ‘Big Rip’

The End is Nigh – but not for another 22 billion years. Scientists believe as the universe continues to expand at an increasing rate, it will eventually disintegrate, tearing itself apart in the form of a ‘Big Rip’, rather than a ‘Big Bang’.

Planets and particles will be shredded in the final seconds before all of known space and time disappears.

Experts studied distant exploding stars to examine whether the ‘Big Rip’ theory was true.

The further away they are the redder they appear, because the light has been stretched out as it travels through space to reach us.

“The idea of the Big Rip is that eventually even the constituents of matter would start separating from each other. You’d be seeing all the atoms being ripped apart. It’s fair to say that it’s a dramatic scenario” said Dr Marcelo Disconzi from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

“Mathematically we know what this means. But what it actually means in physical terms is hard to fathom,” he said.

Scientists believe ‘dark energy’, which is believed to make up about 70 percent of the universe, is dragging it towards eventual oblivion.

“You have this competition between dark energy, that tries to expand the universe, and gravity, that tends to make it collapse again. The question is who wins?” said Dr Disconzi.

If gravity wins, we face the ‘Big Crunch’, which sees the expansion slowing down until there is a reverse of the ‘Big Bang’, the episode which is believed to have kick-started the cosmos almost 14 billion years ago.

Other ideas have included the ‘Big Freeze’, where the universe slowly expands until it eventually becomes too cold to sustain life.

Dr Disconzi added, “What is known from current observational data is that a Big Rip scenario is possible, although the available data is far from conclusive.”

News ISPA in Britain Picks Home Secretary Theresa May for Web’s Number 1 Villain Award – See more at: http://www.biztekmojo.com/00899/ispa-britain-picks-home-secretary-theresa-may-webs-number-1-villain-award.

The Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA) in the UK has awarded home secretary Theresa May with “Web’s No. 1 Villain” title.

ISPA is a lobbying group, which represents Microsoft, Google, AOL and Internet-service providers in Britain. The group selected May for this not-so-famous award for her support to the “Snooper’s Charter” and not consulting the civil society and industry on this issue.

Tech and telecom companies in Britain are worried with May’s plans of revising the British laws to give more powers to security agencies to track terrorist and criminals. Snooper’s Charter is an investigatory powers bill that has been revised a number of times in the past. Earlier versions of this bill had provisions of asking tech companies and carriers to store more user data, including users’ browsing history as well as their social media usage data.

“With an investigatory powers bill due before parliament in the coming months, it is essential that ISPs are consulted.” the ISPA states.

The association thinks May is “forging ahead with communications data legislation that would significantly increase capabilities without adequate consultation with industry and civil society.”

May’s office has refused to comment on the ISPA’s award.

According to Andrew Kernahan, ISPA’s public affairs manager, the industry wants a debate on this issue and is interested in knowing what the government actually wants.

Kernahan thinks the Home Office doesn’t seem to be interested in that debate and has “proceeded in a pretty backroom way.”

Earlier this year, May had argued that a Snooper’s Charter is “necessary” for safety and security of the people.

“It is not possible to debate the balance between privacy and security, including the rights and wrongs of intrusive powers, without also understanding the threats.” May said last month.

Privacy advocates, however, argue that a bill like Snooper’s Charter goes too far.

Every society needs some hero too, and therefore MPs David Davis and Tom Watson were adjudged the joint winner of internet “hero” award for this year. They were considered “hero” for their legal actions against the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act.

A statement from ISPA read: “Surveillance has dominated both the hero and villain shortlists for number of years, and it was felt Davis and Watson were some of the best informed politicians on the subject.”

John Souter, chief executive of Linx, the London Internet Exchange, received a special 20th anniversary award for his long service to the UK internet industry.

Human Rights Act Proposal Prompts Queen To Give David Cameron ‘Evil’ During Queen’s Speech

The Queen is meant to be strictly neutral and her annual Queen’s Speech is written by ministers – she has no say in its contents.

But it looked like she couldn’t help but make her feelings known when she read the part about how her government will explore abolishing the Human Rights Act and replace a British Bill of Rights.

The speech was expected to include a commitment to do that but it was pulled at the last minute, to the outrage of the right-wing press, which has fought for the change, and to the presumed delight of a raft of celebrities who voiced their support for the Act.

The proposal to scrap that act is intended to reduce the influence of the European courts’ decisions on British judges but has been criticised for being vague and misguided.

In the speech, the Queen said: “My government will bring forward proposals for a British Bill of Rights.”

She then looked up, and appeared to fix her eyes on Cameron, before sighing.

Tweeters who oppose the abolition of the Act were delighted with the apparent gesture.

They variously described the brief moment as the Queen doing “a huff and an evil”, “looking horrified” and rolling her eyes.
The fact the speech only mentions “exploring” axing the Act was taken to be a significant climbdown by the government.

The Times’ headline today was “Cameron blinks first in Human Rights row”.
Former shadow home secretary David Davis told HuffPost UK: “I’m glad that they appear to have listening about the folly of abolishing the Human Rights Act in the 800th year of the Magna Carta.

“I hope that this indicates that they are thinking very carefully about the enormous constitutional ramifications of what they are planning.”

His comment reflects unease among some Conservative backbenchers about their party’s plans to axe the Act.

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Civil liberties campaigners have also opposed the plan.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said: “It is heartening that a Conservative Government committed to scrapping the Human Rights Act has at least paused for thought in its first Queen’s Speech. There is a long struggle ahead but time is the friend of freedom.

“The more this new Parliament understands the value of the Act for all of us in this United Kingdom and our reputation in the world, the more it is likely to understand how dangerous it would be to replace human rights with mere citizens’ privileges.”

Labour leadership candidate Andy Burnham defended the Act, suggesting it could have helped the families of Hillsborough, for whom he has campaigned as an MP.

Writing in today’s Daily Mirror, he said: “Of course, there have been occasions when the Act has been misused – and these have been widely reported. But there are many other examples where it has helped vulnerable people stand up for themselves against government agencies, public bodies and large corporations.

“For instance, if the Human Rights Act had been in force at the time of the Hillsborough disaster, it might have given the families more ability to fight the appalling abuse of power they have suffered for 26 years.”

Keeping Truth Legal: It Is Our Right to Film Police

Without the video from the cases of Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and Walter Scott, these cases and many others would have gone uninvestigated and unnoticed; with many holding staunchly to the belief that whatever is written in a police report is fact. Still, even with these cases, large public outcry, and overwhelming evidence, there is still mistrust and demonization of the people decrying their treatment by law enforcement. The bias is so bad, in fact, that as opposed to doing further investigation into the claims of misconduct on a larger, more comprehensive scale, such as those seen in our video above, local law makers and states have attempted to curtail the filming of law enforcement that bolsters the claims.

That’s right. Instead of admitting that the state of policing in this country is hugely problematic and working with communities to fully uncover depths of the problem, many are systematically working to cover up any trace that a problem exists. Some of the more notable attempts as of late:

Just this March, Texas State Rep. Jason Villalba(R) tried to pass a law in Texas that would make it a class B misdemeanor to film police within 100 feet if they have their handgun out.

In Missouri, State Senator Doug Libla opposed a bill that required police to wear body cameras. Instead, he proposed his own bill, that not only didn’t require body cameras, but would have exempted all footage of police encounters from state open records laws.

Twelve states have adopted what is known as a two party consent eavesdropping law that police have successfully used to confiscate and arrest anyone filming them on duty. These laws simply mean that if someone, including police, has “a reasonable expectation of privacy” when they are filmed, they have to give their consent to be recorded.

The problem, of course, is that public servants, such as police, should NOT have a reasonable expectation of privacy while performing their public duties, in public spaces, amongst the public. It IS punishable to interfere with an arrest or their work, as it should be. But if all protocol is being followed, filming should not be considered interference.

Opposition party planning country-wide protests in Guyana

GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC) – The main Opposition People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) maintaining that the May 11 regional and general elections had been flawed, says it plans to embark on country-wide protest action.

In a statement, the party is also claiming that the international observers, who all agreed that the elections were free and fair, were in fact duped, without elaborating.

“The Central Committee remains convinced that based on feedback received from its Polling Agents and Statements of Poll received, it won the majority of the votes in both national and regional elections,” the party said in a statement.

Last weekend, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) said the opposition coalition alliance had won the elections.

According to GECOM, the coalition comprising A Partnership for National Unity and the Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) received 207,200 votes as compared to 202,694 for the PPP/C.

But the PPP/C said that the results declared by GECOM failed to reflect the true will of the Guyanese people and the party also reiterated its call for GECOM’s Chairman, Dr Steve Surujbally to resign.

“Protest actions are also planned at all GECOM offices throughout the country to demand a total recount of all votes cast and the resignation of GECOM Chairman,” the PPP/C added.

The party said that it s presently compiling evidence to file an election petition with representation from local and international lawyers.

“Central Committee deliberated on ways to strengthen and rebrand the Party in order to be better positioned to defend the masses against the undemocratic imposition of the APNU- AFC coalition to the seat of Government,” the party said.

The Central Committee also recognised that the observers were duped into believing that the elections were free and fair, the statement said.

“The main aspect of the electoral process which was to observe the counting of ballots and the verification of statement of poll was left entirely in the hands of the GECOM officials many of who are activists and supporters of the APNU-AFC.”

2 babies trampled in rush at Passport Office.

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Chaos broke out at the Passport Office at Constant Spring Road this morning as a crowd gathered at the organisation in their continued effort to process passports before the fee hike takes effect next Tuesday.

Reports are that the mad rush resulted in a stampede that left at least two children injured.

“Two babies were trampled this morning about 6:00 am as a large group of customers tried to enter through the gates of the institution,” said Dayon Grey, an alleged eyewitness.

Police and members of the Jamaica Defence Force are now on location trying to maintain order.

The Passport Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) on Sunday said that as of Tuesday, May 26, the cost of a regular adult passport will move from $4,500 to $6,500, while the passport for a minor will move from $2,700 to $4,000.

In addition, replacing lost passports for adults will cost $11,500 (up from $9,500) and $7,000 (up from $5,700) for minors.

Yesterday a strong police detachment was at the office to help control the large crowd that had gathered at the gates of the institution.

People at the PICA office made it clear that they were trying to get their documents before the new fees came into effect.

One dead, 3 hospitalised after ingesting drug pellets

KINGSTON, Jamaica – The police on Wednesday reported that one of four people, who swallowed drug pellets, has died within the past month.

The lawmen have warned against the practice and cautioned that it not only will lead to their arrest but it has serious, sometimes fatal, implications for their health.

They report that a woman died suddenly at home on Sunday, April 26. Post mortem examination later revealed 20 pellets of cocaine as well as an empty plastic casing in her stomach.

Meanwhile, three passengers at the Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA) were detained and later hospitalised for drug ingestion during the period of Thursday, April 30 to Saturday, May 07.

Two of the traffickers had to undergo surgery to remove the drugs due to complications.

On Thursday April 30, 32-year-old Rohan Carr, a welder of Blacksmith Lane, Seafort in St Thomas and another passenger whose name is being withheld to facilitate the investigation, arrived at the NMIA to board an out-going flight to Curacao.

The police report that it was discovered that they had ingested packages of narcotic substance during a routine security screening.

They were interviewed and later arrested by police from the Transnational Crime and Narcotics Division (TCND) and taken to the hospital where they were admitted.

Whilst at the hospital both Carr and the other detainee complained of swelling in the stomach and had to undergo emergency surgery, where 33 and 27 ganja pellets respectively, were removed from their stomachs.

Following the surgery, Carr expelled another 40 ganja pellets taking the total to 77 pellets.

He was subsequently released and taken before the Corporate Area Court on Monday, May 11 where the matter was postponed until Wednesday, May 13. It was again postponed until June 30.

The other detainee developed complication and is currently in the intensive care unit at the hospital.

A similar incident occurred on Saturday, May 07 involving a passenger from an incoming flight.

The passenger, Owen Robinson, 48, farmer of Cave Valley district in Hanover, arrived at the NMIA on a flight from Suriname and was arrested by police from the TCND following security checks.

He was taken to the hospital where he was admitted. Robinson later expelled a total of 143 cocaine pellets weighing 1.86 kg with a street value of J$1.6 million.

He has since been released from the hospital and will appear in the Corporate Area Criminal Court on Wednesday, May 20, 2015.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, April 26 a female of a Kingston 11 address died suddenly at home.

A post mortem examination was conducted on Tuesday, May 12 which revealed 20 pellets of cocaine as well as an empty plastic casing in her stomach.

Debris burn as protest intensifies in St Thomas

ST THOMAS, Jamaica — Debris used to block the Bath main road here on Tuesday was a short while ago relit by residents in protest against Monday’s killing of 63-year-old farmer Alvin Allen by the police.

Residents, angered by the killing, which they claimed is a case of murder, blocked the main road in several sections on Tuesday morning, cutting off the thoroughfare to vehicular traffic. They also lit fire to some of the debris, which consisted of tyres and old refrigerator, among other things.

Police were maintaining a presence in the community, but there was no attempt by them, when OBSERVER ONLINE was on the scene, to remove the debris. A new blockage was mounted Tuesday night as the news team was leaving the area.

Reports are that Allen was shot dead in a section of the community around 10:00 Monday morning in an alleged shoot-out with the police. Ammunition was also reportedly seized after the incident.

However, Allen’s loved ones and residents are claiming that the elderly man was murdered by the police.

Residents told OBSERVER ONLINE that Allen was not a gunman and has never been involved in a conflict in the area. His hand was not fully functional because of an injury, they claim.

“I would like these people who murdered him to go to prison,” sister of the deceased, Dawn Allen, told OBSERVER ONLINE. “Is only sensibility why I don’t say I want them to be killed.”

Allen’s brother Junior Prussia said he wants his sibling’s hands tested as this would show that he wasn’t firing a gun.

Another sister, Shirley Prussia, said: “He’s not a criminal. He’s an old man. He’s a friendly person.”

The family is in the process of reaching out to a human rights group in their quest for justice.

The Independent Commission of Investigations is probing the shooting.

Paul Henry

Massive protest amid astonishing wire-tap scandal

Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters rally in Macedonia
to call for the resignation of the country’s prime minister amid an astonishing scandal over secretly recorded phone conversations.
Crowds gathered in front of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski’s government office calling for his resignation, something the conservative leader has refused to do.

There are concerns the anger could spill over into confrontation as Gruevski has called for his own rally on Monday. Protesters say they intend to camp out in the streets until the prime minister quits.

The small nation of just two million people has already seen bloody violence – last weekend a gun battle in the country’s north claimed the lives of eight policeman and ten ethnic Albanians, described by the government as “terrorists”.

Wire-tap ‘bombs’
The explosion of public anger has come from the leaking, by Macedonia’s leftist opposition, of a series of secretly recorded telephone conversations involving top government officials in which they allegedly discuss everything from vote-rigging to covering up killings.

Macedonia’s government says the wiretaps are the work of an intelligence organisation of some unnamed country working to topple the government. Russia has also accused the West of trying to foment a “colour revolution”.

Prime Minister Gruevski has not disputed that the voices are genuine but says that he did not order the recordings and that the tapes have been doctored.

Six people, including a former chief of the secret services, have been charged with making the tapes and the opposition leader, Zoran Zaev, who has been leaking the coversations – which the opposition call “bombs” – has been charged with threatening violence against the prime minister.

And yet the anger still rages in Macedonia.

‘Vote-rigging’ and ‘murder’
The Social Democratic Union of Macedonia, the opposition party, says it has snippets of recordings from 670,000 conversations from more than 20,000 telephone numbers.

The conversations appear to show tight government control over journalists, judges and election officials during Prime Minister Gruevski’s nine year rule.

The content of the conversations is reported to include government officials planning how to rig elections and the head of secret police talking about having a political opponent raped in prison.

Mr Zaev also says he has wire-taps concerning a notorious murder case from 2012, when five Macedonian men were shot dead at a lake near Skopje.

Political earthquake
It is the biggest political earthquake to hit Macedonia since the country teetered on the edge of civil war in 2001, when the ethnic Albanian National Liberation Army clashed with government forces.

Macedonia wants to join NATO and the European Union, but progress has been blocked for years by a long-running dispute with neighbouring Greece over the country’s name.

During that time, critics say Gruevski has shifted right, stoking nationalism and monopolising power.

The violence last weekend took place when police raided a northern ethnic Albanian neighbourhood. 18 people, including police and Albanians, died in the ensuing gun battle.

Prime Minister Gruevski has said he thwarted a terrorist plot, but critics have questioned the timing of the incident, suggesting the leader may have been trying to create a diversion.

The UN, Nato and the European Union have called for calm and an investigation into the incident.

RAF jets escort Russian aircraft

RAF Typhoon fighter jets were scrambled after two Russian military aircraft were seen flying towards UK airspace, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said.
The British jets were launched from RAF Lossiemouth after the Russian planes were spotted north of Scotland.
An MoD spokesman said: “At no time did the Russian military aircraft cross into UK sovereign airspace.”
The Russian bombers were not deemed to be a threat, he added.
The aircraft were identified as Russian “Bear” strategic bombers.
It is the latest of several similar incidents involving Russian military aircraft flying close to UK airspace.
‘Flexing military might’
BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Beale says the RAF is “pretty used to this now” and seems to be intercepting Russian planes “about once a month”.
He said: “There has been a dramatic increase in Russian encroachments – this year there have been three times as many [RAF] intercepts as previous years.
“The worry is when these Russian bombers come, there’s no signal – they don’t have their transponder, they are not ‘squawking’ – so in other words, only military radar pick them up.”
With the Russians investing heavily in their military, he said it was “another example of Russia flexing its military might”.
Warfare exercise
Russian officials have consistently denied any wrongdoing and said their planes have been complying with international rules.
Tensions between Nato countries and Russia have risen in recent months over Moscow’s role in the conflict in Ukraine and its annexation of Crimea.
In the North Sea, off the coast of Norway, Nato has been conducting its largest ever anti-submarine warfare exercise.
It is seen as a response to the growing threat from Russian submarines which have stepped up their own patrols in the area.

Kengate: Prime Minister David Cameron Personally Implicated In Scandal!

David Cameron disappears Kengate Tapes whilst Head of Corporate Communications for Carlton Television during the “Cash for Questions” scandal back in 1994. Will he be above the law as well?
The Metropolitan Police Paedophile Unit confirmed this week to me personally that there was indeed a government and Carlton Television conspiracy over the Kengate Tapes. The police confirmed that Ian Greer along with Carlton Television conspired to cover up the “Cash for Questions” scandal for John Major’s government back in 1994. So the Prime Minster David Cameron covered up a scandal of paedophilia in 1994 as a corporate “sleaze fixer” for Carlton Television, on behalf of John Major’s Conservative Government, through Ian Greer. Now as Prime Minister, David Cameron is preventing the Metropolitan Police from investigating my case against Kenneth Clarke MP, who was involved in the scandal of sexually assaulting me in Ian Greer’s office, which Cameron helped cover up!

Okay, let’s just take a breath…

A number of political scandals in the 1980s and 1990s created the impression of what was described in the British press as “sleaze”: a perception that the then Conservative Government was associated with political corruption and hypocrisy. In particular, the successful entrapment of Graham Riddick and David Tredinnick in the “Cash for Questions” scandal of 1994, the contemporaneous misconduct as ministers by Neil Hamilton, Tim Smith, and the convictions of former Cabinet Member Jonathan Aitken and former party deputy chairman Jeffrey Archer for perjury in two separate cases leading to custodial sentences damaged the Conservatives’ public reputation. Persistent rumours about the activities of the party treasurer Michael Ashcroft furthered this impression. At the same time, a series of revelations about the private lives of various Conservative politicians such as Hague, Portillo, etc, etc., made the headlines. Scallywag Magazine even accused Lord McAlpine of being a paedophile. However the investigation was stopped but McAlpine didn’t sue Scallywag Magazine as they had photographic evidence apparently which then subsequently disappeared. See the pattern? Paedophile rings all operate in the same way.

Kenneth Clarke MP who is above the law according to the Metropolitan Police

Detective Constable Ben Lambskin of the Met Police’s Paedophile Unit told me that Central Television had been bought by Carlton Television in order to shut down the Cook Report and control the now infamous Kengate Tapes. DC Lambskin said, “The possible location for the tapes is that it was taken away by a Carlton Television lawyer who was dealing with the Cook Report and that was the last time it was seen” However I have discovered that the lawyer who took the tapes was indeed operating under the direct orders of our now Prime Minister David Cameron.

Is it possible that in order to protect the Major Government from a scandal of both parliamentary corruption and paedophilia at the heart of government David Cameron, then working at Carlton Television, conspired to mislead the British public, hide evidence that is in the public interest and pervert the course of justice in order to protect paedophiles by disappearing the Kengate Tapes. David Cameron was rewarded by being made Prime Minister nominated at Bilderberg by, now Minister Without Portfolio and Chairman of the Bilderberg Steering Committee – Kenneth Clarke MP. In fact this year Kenneth Clarke MP is taking Prime Minister David Cameron to Bilderberg.

We know that Kenneth Clarke MP was in Ian Greer’s office because of the Kengate Tapes. Clarke joked that he was there so often Greer should put a parliamentary bell in his office, so he’d know when it was time to go and vote.

So now it starts to become clear how far reaching the Kengate scandal goes. It appears that the paedophile ring in Westminster is now also connected to the monarchy by Prince Charles, who had a close and intimate relationship with Jimmy Savile. Of course, if Kenneth Clarke cannot be spoken to by the Police then Prince Charles isn’t going to be spoken to about what exactly his relationship with Savile was. We know now that – “your lovely ladies in Scotland” in a note Prince Charles wrote to Jimmy Savile was actually referring to children.

The Palace is speeding up plans for the Queen to abdicate within the next few months in order to make Charles King to protect him against the Savile scandal. Originally it was planned for the Queen to abdicate before the unveiling of the Ministry of Defence’s release of the World War 2 records of the Royal’s connection to the Nazis. However, the Queen has to allow the Police to question Prince Charles now in order to keep up the pretence of democracy.

On an even more serious note; there is no separation of government and monarch if the Prime Minster is a direct relation to HRH Queen Elizabeth II, which David Cameron is. The fact that the Queen sat in on a cabinet meeting last year was indication enough of the lack of separation. So we’re not living in the democracy we thought, if the Queen can pick up the telephone to the Prime Minister and have her wishes enacted by her relative, the Prime Minister David Cameron.

HRH Prince Charles has questions to answer over the Jimmy Savile scandle

We know that HRH Prince Charles was friends with known paedophile Jimmy Savile. In fact Jimmy Savile was the Prince’s unofficial social secretary. We also know that last year for the Queen’s Jubilee Celebrations the Royals invited a known convicted paedophile onto their Thames Barge. We know that Kenneth Clarke allowed Jimmy Savile access to Broadmoor, by literally giving him a set of keys to enter the maximum security prison, in order for Savile to abuse patients and associate with imprisoned paedophiles and serial killers. Kenneth Clarke and David Cameron are obviously connected to Ian Greer as Ian Greer Associates had Carlton Television, where David Cameron was Head of Communications, as a major client in the 1990s.

So for the circle to be complete how is Prime Minister David Cameron connected to Prince Charles?

Well, it’s very simple if we understand who David Cameron is. David Cameron, is related to the Queen. He is the first Eton-educated Conservative leader since Sir Alec Douglas-Home in the early 1960s. David Cameron, Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry are all members of ‘Whites’ a private members gentlemen’s club in Mayfair – they get a family discount I guess!

David Cameron’s headmaster at Eton was Eric Anderson, who had also been Tony Blair’s housemaster at Fettes Public School, which is dubbed the Scottish Eton. After University Cameron’s first job was in the Conservative Research Department. He progressed quickly through the ranks and was soon briefing ministers such as Kenneth Clarke etc. for their media appearances. He worked with David Davis on the team briefing John Major for Prime Minister’s Questions, and also hooked up with George Osborne, who would go on to be shadow chancellor and his leadership campaign manager.

Cameron spent seven years at Carlton, as Head of Corporate Communications, travelling the world with the firm’s boss Michael Green. But Mr Cameron’s period at Carlton is not remembered so fondly by some of the journalists who had to deal with him. Jeff Randall, writing in The Daily Telegraph where he is a senior executive, said he would not trust Mr Cameron “with my daughter’s pocket money”. “To describe Cameron’s approach to corporate PR as unhelpful and evasive overstates by a widish margin the clarity and plain-speaking that he brought to the job of being Michael Green’s mouthpiece,” wrote the ex-BBC business editor. “In my experience, Cameron never gave a straight answer when dissemblance was a plausible alternative, which probably makes him perfectly suited for the role he now seeks: the next Tony Blair,” Mr Randall wrote. The Sun newspaper’s Business Editor Ian King, recalling the same era, described Mr Cameron as a “poisonous, slippery individual”.

Prime Minster David Cameron needs to answer questions regarding his direct involvement in the Kengate Tapes disappearance, the purchasing of Central Television by Carlton which he oversaw and why is he protecting what appears to be the lead players in an elite paedophile circle.

So all we need to do now is take bets on which “Clarkian” response he will give to these allegations.

A) I have no recollection of those events, what tapes? Etc, etc,.


B) It wasn’t me. They made me do it. I’ve signed a confidentiality agreement. It’s not my fault. I’ll have to look in to it. It a case of mistaken identity.

What is clear is that the Kengate scandal, whilst perhaps having a small seemingly insignificant start, is set to rock the very foundations of our society as the breakdown of this corrupt civilisation goes to the heart of government. To say what’s happening is biblical is an understatement!

What will the Police do now? Will they be investigating and talking to Prime Minister David Cameron about his involvement in hiding the truth from the British public which was in their interest to know? What will Parliament do now?

There needs to be a General Election. Prime Minister David Cameron’s position is untenable. He needs to do the honourable thing and resign his post in order for an investigation into his personal involvement with the disappearances of the Kengate tapes and the obvious paedophile ring involving politicians and members of the Royal Family to be investigated.

Paedophile Jimmy Savile

It is clear that Prince Charles, Jimmy Savile, Kenneth Clarke MP and Prime Minister David Cameron are simply the Heads of Department for the paedophile ring and it obviously involves many more people. We now know for a fact that it involves Parliament, the Royal Family, the entertainment industry and the Metropolitan Police who are all involved in protecting paedophiles, procuring children for paedophiles or being paedophiles.

When is enough, enough?

This whole situation can easily be resolved. It’s just about the Kengate tapes and there whereabouts? Find the tapes and this matter will be cleared up once and for all. The very fact that the tapes have been disappeared and the person in Carlton Television who did it just so happens to be now Prime Minister David Cameron who conducted a billion pound corporate takeover of Central Television in order to get hold of the tapes in the first place, speaks for itself.

It appears that David Cameron becoming Prime Minister was a reward by the Bilderberg elite for covering up the paedophile and “Cash for Questions” scandal in the 1990′s.

If once you’ve read this and you still think you live in a democracy…wake up and welcome to the real world.

I’ll leave you with a final word from Detective Constable Ben Lambskin of the Metropolitan Police Paedophile Unit, in attempting to explain the disappearance of the Kengate Tapes, he said “You wouldn’t want that kind of thing out there” .

Obeying the law will no longer be enough to protect you from the police

Obeying the law will no longer be enough to guarantee you are able to live peacefully in the UK without harassment from the state.

David Cameron is set to announce a string of new powers that are seen by many as a challenge to our basic civil liberties.

This sentence from the Tory leader is particularly chilling:

“For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens ‘as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone’.”

Well, in simple terms: obeying the law will no longer be enough to be enough to ensure you escape retribution by the authorities.

Even if you are not suspected of committing any crime, you could be hit by orders preventing you from speaking in public or associating with specific people.

The planned “snooper’s charter” will give the police the right to read your private messages, even if you’re not suspected of any wrongdoing. Now, it seems that if they see anything they don’t like (even if it isn’t criminal) they won’t be obliged to leave you alone.

We know that the Tory government are also planning to scrap the current Human Rights Act and replace it with one that would introduce a “threshold below which Convention [human] rights will not be engaged” – allowing UK courts to strike out certain cases.

This could leave you with no legal recourse to challenge any controls you are subject to.

Why is David Cameron doing this?

He wants to preemptively combat extremism and terrorism. But we already have a number of laws which allow police and counter-terrorism officers to monitor and arrest anybody suspected of being involved in terrorism, or in planning a terrorist attack.

Although these fundamental changes are being brought in under the guise of combating terrorism, this isn’t the limit of their application.

These new changes have the potential to be used against all of us.

The Tories Are Set to Destroy Our Country

The day after the election one BBC commentator perfectly articulated the misleading narrative that has propelled the Conservative party into victory. He suggested that voters now had to ‘make a choice between social justice and economic efficiency’, with economic efficiency apparently being the obvious choice.

The Conservatives have won this election by painting all deviations from their ‘long-term economic plan’ as absurd and dangerous, aided by a Labour Party utterly unable to form a counter narrative, a deliciously hypocritical yet depressingly successful manoeuvre. They have, just as Thatcher did, managed to convince just enough of the electorate that there are ‘no alternatives’ to austerity, privatisation, poverty and inequality to romp home to victory. This clever ploy may have boosted them to a majority in the Commons, but it’ll bring the country to its knees.

Higher levels of state spending may be sneered at by The Sun but thankfully people with actual souls and brains realise that it is both a morally right and economically sound thing to do. To continue to believe that a small state and big business, achieved by austerity, privatisation and deregulation has even the minutest ability to solve our problems is to ignore economic evidence and historical precedent. The best way out of a recession and to get the economy going is for the populace to start spending more: government cuts restrict certain sections of the public from being able to do just that. Cuts look good in the short term but help no one in the long term. The U.S spent their way out the biggest recession in history, why did we assume we couldn’t?

Even the IMF (an organisation that has been forcing austerity upon developing countries for decades) has recently admitted that it had ‘massively underestimated the effects of austerity’ and that much of the research supporting it had been discredited. Nobel Laureate and economics professor Paul Krugman described the ideology as ‘intellectually bankrupt’, deriding Cameron for following an economic approach that has long been abandoned by others. Krugman points out that the little growth the UK has enjoyed over the past parliament only came about post-2012, when the worst of the cuts were already over.

Inequality is also estimated to have kept our economy a good 20% smaller than it would otherwise have been, a problem set only to worsen under a government determined to cut top rates of tax and inheritance tax whilst slashing welfare and worker’s rights. The truth is that state spending, done properly, is an investment that can produce economic returns. Much of the economic evidence is now suggesting that the potential for state spending to fiscally multiply (i.e gain the country money in the long run) has been underestimated, meaning the damage austerity can actually do is much higher. As strange as it sounds, the best way to reduce the deficit can be at times be to spend more in the short term. This also has the minor side effect of improving, rather than ruining, people’s lives too.

The Conservative’s complete failure to grasp this has already left us with a dark legacy. Over a million using food banks per year, at least 1.4 million zero-hours contracts , almost a third of all children are living in poverty, nearly 50,000 people dying simply because they couldn’t heat their home and we have burgeoning private debt. This is on top of tripled tuition fees, cuts to legal aid, massive public sector job losses and arbitrary and unthinking welfare caps (now set to be lower than even the minimum wage).

The future looks equally as bleak. Research by Oxfam suggests that an additional 800,000 British children will live in poverty over the next decade, as well as an extra 1.5 million working age adults, and by 2018, 900,000 public sector workers will have lost their jobs: and this is just based off what the Tories have already done. The very real possibility of even higher tuition fees and student debt, £12 billion of welfare cuts (that we’ve just seen will actually hold back growth as well put many others in misery) and cuts to various government departments look set to plunge us even further into a broken ideological crusade.

Our freedom, that rally call for many on the right, is also in for a hit. The ‘Snoopers’ Charter is back on the agenda, giving the government increased powers to snoop on your calls, texts and emails even if you’re not suspected of any crime. The chilling phrase tucked away in their Bill of British Rights proposal hints of the future of our human rights too: “There will be a threshold below which Convention rights will not be engaged.” What this essentially means is that your human rights will no longer be unequivocal: this government gets to determine what they are and when they apply. Then there’s the flip side of giving more rights to corporations (highlighting the truly backward and depraved morality we must now endure) enshrined in TTIP, allowing corporations to sue governments for any potential loss of profit, effectively destroying the NHS and any chance of environmental regulation crucial to halting climate change.

This is without even getting onto deeper and systemic issues concerning spiralling national and global inequality and the degradation of the planet that continuous growth and consumerism is inflicting upon us, issues the Tories are not just ignoring but actively exacerbating.

A blind reliance on perpetual growth and deregulated business to somehow make things ok sounds dubious theoretically: in practice it has proven to be downright disastrous. The next 5 years will see our treasured public services carved up for the rich, it’ll see increasing divisions and hostility between sections of society, the most vulnerable hit harder again and again, our freedoms eroded and irreparable damage due to climate change draw ever closer.

Many have pointed out that we’ve had an election and the Tories won it (even though they obtained less than 4 in 10 of the votes), so those that don’t like it need to just get over it. This not only fails to grasp just how catastrophic the next 5 years are going to be, but also profoundly misunderstands what democracy is about. Through a media that treats us as consumers, not citizens, and an aloof and archaic political system we have been fed the message that politics is a game played by the elite, watched by us.

A true democracy is where we are constantly engaging in the political conversation: our power does not start and end on election day, we have it all year round. So I will not sit silently as thousands suffer and die and the rich obtain even more power and wealth. I will be protesting, blogging, organising, debating and fighting this government with every inch of my being because that’s what is needed to save lives, and that’s what my democracy not only allows me but implores me to do. I hope that you’ll join me

Personal attack and Politics

During the past few weeks we have seen in British Politics where a number of persons are vying to become Prime Minister.
In doing so I cannot say that there is any concrete evidence of interest untoward the majority of the public.
One thing for sure that I can see is that they are very good at attacking each other personally, but my question is what does one personal affairs got to do with dealing with the Economy of the Country.
Anyway if you are going to give a man’s job to a boy, then whenever the boy fails to produce he will always use dirty tricks against his opponent.
Politics just got stinks.

Concern over palliative care levels


Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups, those aged over 85 and people living in poorer areas are being failed in the quality of palliative care they receive, according to a report.

In all, thousands of patients are not being given sufficient pain relief and respite, the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) said.

Terminally ill patients with illnesses other than cancer are also failing to receive help from specially-trained palliative care staff and less end-of-life care from GPs and district nurses.

Despite more than 70% of deaths being due to other causes than cancer such as respiratory illness, circulatory conditions and dementia, people with non-cancer diagnoses still account for only 20% of all new referrals to specialist palliative care services.

It added that providing palliative care to those that need it could potentially generate net savings of more than £30 million in England, at least £2 million in Wales, more than £1 million in Northern Ireland and £4 million in Scotland due to the reduced need for acute care and fewer hospital deaths.
The report, commissioned by the charity Marie Curie, said some people who would benefit from palliative care do not receive any at all.

It said an estimated 92,000 people in England, 6,100 people in Wales, 3,000 in Northern Ireland and 10,600 people in Scotland who would benefit from palliative care every year but are not currently receiving it.

While those from black, Asian and minority ethnic groups were actually more likely than those of white ethnicity to receive support, they were less likely to consider overall care in the last three months of life to be ” outstanding” or “excellent”. This was the same for people in less deprived areas.

It also pointed to evidence that pain and other distressing symptoms are under-reported by older people and/or under-identified by healthcare professionals, and there is confusion about the role of geriatricians in providing palliative care.

With the number of people aged over 85 expected to more than double over the next 20 years, Marie Curie said the report was deeply concerning and exposes gaps in services along with poor communication and unclear roles and responsibilities.

Josie Dixon research fellow at LSE’s Personal Social Services Research Unit (PSSRU) and lead author, said: “Part of the problem is that palliative care has traditionally been for people with cancer and there is currently a lack of suitable models of palliative care for people with non-cancer and increasingly complex conditions.

“Palliative care can reduce symptoms and pain and help people die where they want to. It can also save money by preventing unwanted and distressing hospitalisations.

“These statistics show that care homes have a growing role in caring for people who are dying, but they need more support from GPs and specialists than currently exists.”

Marie Curie chief executive Dr Jane Collins said: “Everyone affected by terminal illness should have access to all the care and support they need, regardless of their personal circumstances. This report shows that this is not the case and some groups are getting a worse deal than others. We don’t think this is good enough.

“We hope that this compelling evidence is a catalyst for change and used by policy makers and care providers to improve how all people with a terminal illness are cared for in the UK. It has the potential to improve the lives of millions of people, as dying is the one issue that affects us all.”

NASA predicts alien life could be found by 2025

Mars is a lot more barren these days (Picture: Giphy)Bolstered by a flurry of recent discoveries, NASA scientists believe they could find evidence of alien life in the universe as early 2025.

Much of the excitement has been around the discovery of water in so many unexpected places. Several planets including Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune (and their moons) are believed to possess water in their atmosphere and interiors and the five icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn have shown strong evidence of oceans beneath their surfaces.

“I’m going to say we are going to have strong indications of life beyond earth within a decade and I think we are going to have definitive evidence within 20 to 30 years,” Ellen Stofan, NASA’s chief scientist, said at a lecture Tuesday.

“We know where to look. We know how to look,” she said. “In most cases, we have the technology and we are on the path to implementing it. So, I think we are on the road.”

Jeff Newmark, NASA’s interim director of heliophysics, predicted it was a matter of “when, not if” for the discovery of life beyond Earth.

“The pace of our discovery is amazing,” he said. “We will be visiting Pluto, the last of the planets that we haven’t seen. With Solar Probe Plus, we will be visiting our nearest star in a few years. We’re just continuing to discover what is out there.”

The optimism is also driven by what scientists are finding in distant galaxies.

Thanks to the planet-hunting Kepler telescope, launched in 2009, scientists have discovered more than 1,000 exoplanets. Among those were eight new planets announced in January, including two that scientists believe are similar to Earth.

Those two planets, dubbed Kepler-438b and Kepler-442b, are likely to be rocky, an important clue to their potential similarity to Earth. They are also of a comparable size – just 12 percent and 30 percent larger than Earth, respectively – and they orbit red dwarf stars that are “sun-like,” though smaller and cooler.

And in another positive development, scientists on Wednesday announced they had for the first time found the presence of complex organic molecules, the building blocks of life, in a protoplanetary disc – a rotating circumstellar disk of dense gas – surrounding a young star.

The study described in Nature would hint that the conditions that helped spawn the sun and Earth are not unique to our universe.

Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array telescope, the researchers found the protoplanetary disc around star MWC 480 contains large amounts of methyl cyanide, a complex carbon-based molecule, as well as hydrogen cyanide. The scientists used what is called rotational spectroscopy, a process that identifies the molecules based on the light patterns they emit.

Cyanides, and most especially methyl cyanide, are important because they contain carbon-nitrogen bonds, which are essential for the formation of amino acids, the foundation of proteins and the building blocks of life. There is enough methyl cyanide around MWC 480 to fill all of Earth’s oceans.

The molecules were found in the cold outer reaches of the star’s newly formed disc, in a region that astronomers believe is similar to the Kuiper Belt, a vast population of small bodies orbiting the sun beyond Neptune.

“Studies of comets and asteroids show that the solar nebula that spawned the sun and planets was rich in water and complex organic compounds,” said Karin Öberg, an astronomer with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and lead author of the new paper.

“We now have even better evidence that this same chemistry exists elsewhere in the Universe, in regions that could form solar systems not unlike our own.”

Öberg said the find suggests that a comet forming around this star would be similar to one that formed in our solar system and, along with asteroids, bombarded a young Earth with volatile organic compounds.

“If we find a planet in a habitable zone that looks like Earth, this study shows there is a likelihood that it’s chemistry would look much like a young Earth,” she said, adding they will now search for other molecules in this newly formed discs to better understand its chemistry and what could be up to 100 other protoplanetary discs in our galaxy “sitting around a star similar to our sun.”

MWC 480 is about twice the mass of the sun and is located 455 light-years away in the Taurus star-forming region. The star is believed to be in the early stages of formation and researchers have not thus far detected any obvious signs of planet formation it.

Astronomers have known for some time that cold, dark interstellar clouds are very efficient factories for complex organic molecules, including a group of molecules known as cyanides. Until now, it has remained unclear, however, if these same complex organic molecules commonly form and survive in a newly forming solar system, where shocks and radiation can easily break chemical bonds.

California Institute of Technology’s Geoffrey Black and University of Michigan’s Edwin Bergin, writing a piece accompanying the study, said the discovery “hints at a vast reservoir of ice and volatile species that can seed the surfaces of young rocky planets or moons.”

“This work along with recent studies, demonstrates that protoplanetary discs are active engines of chemical synthesis and that such environments are vital for building chemical complexity long before a planetary surface is created,” Black and Bergin wrote. “The potentially prebiotic chemistry traced by asteroids and comets n the solar system is therefore replicated, at least in part, in other young planetary systems – suggesting that planets are supplied with these life-bearing elements as they are born.”

Eleven-month-old shot dead

An 11-month-old infant was shot and killed on Easter Monday after a gunman invaded the yard where he had been having a bath.

Dead is Omar Lindo, whose birthday was nearing. The incident reportedly happened about 12:50 p.m. on Charles Street, in the vicinity of Chancery Lane, Central Kingston.

According to the child’s grandmother, the mother of the infant was giving him a bath outside when a man was chased into the yard by another man armed with a gun.

“A man run into the yard and another man open the gate and come in and just started shooting up the place,” the grandmother said.

She further added that during the incident, another child was shot in the leg. He was rushed to hospital. His condition could not be immediately ascertained.

Meanwhile, the police have commenced an investigation into the incident.

It is believed that the incident was gang-related, as feuds have been reported in the area.

Indian city tense after ‘barbaric’ lynching of rape suspect

NEW DELHI, India – Riot police Saturday patrolled a northeastern Indian city after the public lynching of a rape suspect, enforcing a round-the-clock curfew for a second day as the killing was condemned as “barbaric and inhuman”.

The 35-year-old suspect, accused of raping a woman multiple times and arrested in late February, was dragged out of prison in Nagaland state by a mob before being beaten to death and strung up to a clock tower on Thursday.

Hundreds of riot police patrolled the streets of Dimapur district after authorities imposed a curfew, with Nagaland Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang telling AFP that “the situation remained tense but… under control”.

Tensions had been rising in the district since February 24 when police arrested the alleged rapist, Syed Farid Khan, over the assault of a 19-year-old tribal woman.

Thousands of irate tribals on Thursday broke into a high security jail before dragging out the Bengali-speaking man, who was stripped and paraded for several miles, while men armed with sticks thrashed him to death.

Another man was shot dead by police after the mob refused to hand over his body, while 60 people were injured in the clashes, which saw attacks on properties belonging to Bengali-speaking residents.

“The act is barbaric, heinous and inhuman,” Tarun Gogoi, the chief minister of Khan’s home state of Assam, said of the lynching.

The mob as well as Nagaland’s government earlier called him a Bangladeshi migrant.

“The manner in which the youth was dragged out of police custody and killed brutally by a mob on the streets is highly condemnable,” Gogoi said in a statement.

Rights group Amnesty International also condemned the killing as a “serious lapse in the criminal justice system”.

“The Nagaland government must ensure that every person who was part of the mob is brought to justice,” said Shemeer Babu, Amnesty India’s programmes director.

Nagaland’s indigenous tribal groups, especially the largest Naga tribe, have for years accused the growing population of Bengali-speaking Muslims from nearby Assam state and Bangladesh of illegally settling on their land and usurping resources.

Nagas have previously campaigned to evict Bengali-speaking immigrants from their territory, who they claim entice local girls into marriage for getting tribal status.

Most of the India’s north eastern states are mired in decades’ old ethenic and linguistic violent conflicts between different tribes as well as non-tribals.

Scores of Bengali-speaking tea workers were killed in Assam in December by armed militants belonging to Bodo tribe, an indigenous community in northeastern India, which demands exclusive rights over local resources.

Policeman punches 10-Y-O at school

Courtesy: KSLA St Thomas policeman is now at the centre of an investigation being conducted by INDECOM after he allegedly punched a 10-year-old boy repeatedly. Information reaching THE STAR is that the incident, which occurred on February 13, has not gone down well with the child’s mother and other members of their community.

As such, the matter was reported to the Morant Bay Police station, where the officer works, and furthered to INDECOM.

The mother of the child spoke to our news team yesterday, saying, “My son was involved in a fight at school with his classmate over PATH lunch. When school was over, he and his younger sister were on their way to the taxi stand. They were approached by the other child involved in the fight and the policeman who told them to accompany him back over the school.”

Punched twice

THE STAR was told that the policeman took the child into the vice-principal’s office; however, the vice principal was on her way out to deal with another matter.

Our news team understands that while they stood in the office waiting, the officer took the child into an adjoining room, where he was allegedly punched twice in his belly.

“His class teacher was there also, but she said she was going to contact the principal, so she left the room. my son said he punched him two times and ask him if he is a bad man. When him done punch him, he tell him fi go tell his mother cause him nuh fraid a nuh body,” said the child’s grieving mother.

THE STAR was told the child could not eat when he arrived home from school as he was still reeling from the pain.

The mother told our news team that she went to the station, where she saw the policeman.

She said, “When him see me and my son coming, you could see the guilt on his face. so I said to him, ‘why did you punch my son?’ he said to me, ‘Good evening.’ I say, ‘I nah tell yuh no good evening because mi want know why him do that’.”

THE STAR was told that a brief meeting was held at the station with the officer, his superior and the child, following which an official report was made.

Our news team gathered that the cop confessed to punching the child in the presence of his superior, who in turn chastised him for his behaviour.

“Somebody weh fi a protect my son a do my son that?” questioned the child’s mother.

Both INDECOM and the Morant Bay police confirmed the incident and subsequent reports on an investigation.

Sudden cardiac death… Are you at risk?

SUDDEN cardiac death is defined as unexpected mortality from diseases of the heart that occurs shortly after symptoms are experienced (usually within 60 minutes).

This can occur in patients without heart disease and is often devastating due to its sudden and unexpected nature, especially in the young, fit and seemingly healthy individual. However, sudden cardiac death is commonly seen in people with narrowing of the blood vessels that supply the heart by atherosclerotic (fatty) plaques, a condition termed coronary artery disease.

Approximately eight million people worldwide die from sudden cardiac death annually.


Certain factors are warning signs that may be ignored by the individual or ascribed to less important conditions. These include the heart beating fast (palpitations), chest pain, shortness of breath, fainting, excessive tiredness, and dizziness at rest or with exertion.

While healthy individuals with no prior warning signs can suffer from sudden cardiac death, risk factors include chronic illnesses such as diabetes mellitus also called “sugar”, high blood pressure, smoking, family history of early coronary artery disease, obesity, high cholesterol, excessive alcohol intake, and lack of physical activity. These factors are related to the narrowing of the blood vessels supplying the heart, resulting in heart attacks and heart disease from reduced blood flow (ischemic heart disease).

Other risk factors are patients with enlarged heart, diseases of the valves, abnormal structures, previous heart attacks and abnormal rhythms.



Physical activity that causes increase in heart rate and blood pressure such as running, climbing, swimming, and cycling may uncover and precipitate conditions that result in sudden cardiac death.


Diagnosing and predicting sudden cardiac death can be difficult. Abnormally elevated heart enzymes, thyroid hormones and electrolytes, use of certain prescription drugs and substances such as cocaine, may be predictive. Studies that may predict the risk of sudden cardiac death include chest X-ray, electrocardiogram (ECG), electrophysiologic testing (testing the electrical activity of the heart), echocardiogram, and coronary angiogram outlining the blood vessels of the heart.

Sudden cardiac death events may present with cardiac arrest where the individual is unresponsive, not breathing and has no pulse. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is then indicated and can even be performed by lay persons with minimal training. An automated external defibrillator increases the chance of survival. After resuscitation care using drugs, reversing causes, and sometimes surgery, implanting pacemakers and ablating abnormal pathways in the heart are also important as repeat arrest may occur soon after the initial event.


Preventing sudden cardiac death can sometimes be difficult and may still occur after consulting the physician and getting a clean bill of health. However, regular routine check-ups, eating a balanced diet, avoiding smoking, illicit drugs and excessive alcohol while controlling weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar are some measures that can reduce the risk.

Ex-cop jailed for buggery

Chief-Ross-600x338A former member of the defunct Island Special Constabulary Force was remanded in custody on Thursday after he was found guilty of two counts of buggery in the St Catherine Circuit Court.

The mixed jury retired for 58 minutes and returned a five-to-two verdict on both counts.

He was, however, found not guilty of rape.

High Court Judge Vivene Harris then ordered the former Special Sergeant remanded until March 13, when he is to be sentenced.

A Social Enquiry report is to be done by the Probation Department before sentencing is done.

The court heard that in 2012, the accused met the complainant at a party in the Corporate Area.

He offered her a ride, and during the journey, he reportedly made sexual advances which were spurned.

The accused allegedly held her and sexually assaulted her.

A report was made to the police, and following an investigation, he was arrested and charged with buggery and rape.

He was on bail prior to the guilty verdict.

Slice music to ‘an hour a day’

Persons ought to hear to songs for no much more than a person hour a working day to protect their listening to, the Globe Wellbeing Organization suggests.
It suggests 1.1 billion young adults and younger grown ups are at danger of permanently detrimental their hearing by listening to “too significantly, far too loudly”.

It reported audio players, concert events and bars ended up posing a “serious risk”.

WHO figures present forty three million people aged 12-35 have listening to reduction and the prevalence is increasing.

In that age team, the WHO mentioned, fifty percent of people in abundant and center-revenue nations ended up exposed to unsafe seem concentrations from personalized audio devices.

Meanwhile 40% have been uncovered to harmful stages of sound from golf equipment and bars
The proportion of US youngsters with hearing loss went from three.5% in 1994 to 5.3% in 2006.

WHO v The Who
Dr Etienne Krug, the WHO’s director for damage avoidance, instructed the BBC: “What we’re trying to do is raise consciousness of an issue that is not talked about more than enough, but has the probable to do a ton of damage that can be very easily prevented.”

The total report argued: “While it is crucial to hold the volume down, restricting the use of private audio equipment to a lot less than a person hour a working day would do substantially to minimize noise publicity.”

Dr Krug said that a superior ambition intention: “That’s a rough recommendation, it is not by the minute, to give an thought to those people spending ten hours a working day listening to an mp3-participant.

“But even an hour can be much too considerably if the volume is way too loud.”
Protected listening levels Vuvuzela Retain that vuvuzela absent from me
The louder the sound (calculated in decibels), the more rapidly it damages the ear.

The WHO’s secure listening situations are:

eighty five dB – the stage of sounds inside of a vehicle – eight hrs
90 dB – garden mower – two several hours 30 minutes
95 dB – an ordinary bike – forty seven minutes
100 dB – auto horn or underground train – 15 minutes
a hundred and five dB – mp3 player at maximum volume – 4 minutes
one hundred fifteen dB – loud rock concert – 28 seconds
120 dB – vuvuzela or sirens – nine seconds
The Planet Wellness Firm recommends trying to keep the quantity to 60% of the utmost as a fantastic rule of thumb.

For people seeking to drown out the sound of flying or train journeys, it claims noise-cancelling headphones make it possible for audio to be read obviously at a reduce volume.

And the WHO provides that ear plugs should be worn at noisy venues and advises using “listening breaks” and standing much away from speakers at gigs.

But what is the level of a live performance if you are going to stay clear of the tunes?

“We do realise this is a little bit of a struggle, like alcohol intake, so lots of danger factors joined to pleasure are not effortless to alter, but we have to make folks informed,” Dr Krug reported.

But as effectively as contacting for personal duty, the WHO claims governments and companies have a responsibility.

It suggests clubs need to deliver chill-out rooms and give out free ear plugs, headphone producers must set boundaries on the quantity, and governments have to have to undertake stricter regulations.

Paul Breckell, the chief government of the charity Motion on Hearing Reduction, mentioned: ‘When listening to loud new music, for every single three decibel improve in stage, to remain safe and sound you need to halve your listening time.

“For case in point, at 88 dB, safe allowable exposure is lower to four several hours, at ninety one dB, two hours and so on.

“I urge songs fans to take into consideration the lengthy expression hazards of listening to loud audio from their particular new music gamers in excess of the 85dB safe stage, as above exposure can cause tinnitus, and recall that a superior pair of noise cancelling headphones can make all the change.”

Bangladeshis protest after blogger is hacked to death in the street

Students and teachers protested in central Dhaka yesterday, demanding swift action by police after the author and blogger Avijit Roy, an outspoken secularist who frequently criticised Islamist tendencies in his native land, was hacked to death on a city street.

Dr Roy, of Bangladeshi origin but a US citizen, and his wife, Rafida Ahmed Banna, were walking home from a book festival at 8.45pm on Thursday when a mob armed with machetes ambushed them. Photographs posted online showed three youths, who had made no attempt to disguise their appearance, attempting to hack Dr Roy’s head from his body. Others showed him lying lifelessly, his face in a pool of blood, while his wife – her face and clothes streaked with blood – appealed for help. Bystanders stared impassively at the writer’s body.

His wife, Rafida Bhanna, who suffered head injuries and reportedly lost a finger in the attack, remains in hospital in a serious condition.
Bangladeshi Islamists quickly tweeted their jubilation at the fate of a man who had defied their death threats for several years. “Target is Down,” one wrote. Another tweeted: “Lol!! They have switched off the target’s blogsite… No prob. Target is Down & wait for the next… InshaAllah.”
According to The Daily Star, witnesses said there were police in the vicinity, but “no one came forward to resist or catch the attackers even as Banna screamed for help”.

Dr Roy had returned to his native city a week ago to attend the literary festival and was due to go back to the US.

In December, Bangladeshi media reported that Farabi Shafiur Rahman, an outspoken Islamist, had written on Facebook: “Avijit Roy lives in America and so it is not possible to kill him right now. He will be murdered when he comes back.” Subsequently Rahman and other Islamists who had made similar threats were arrested. It was not clear whether they were free at the time of Dr Roy’s murder.

Krishna Pada Roy, the deputy commissioner of detectives with the Dhaka Metropolitan Police, said police were investigating several possible motives for the killing, including extremism. The climate of intolerance against secularists has worsened dramatically in recent years in Bangladesh, a nation that is more than 90 per cent Muslim but founded on the “Four Principles” of nationalism, democracy, secularism and socialism. Exactly two years ago a new group calling itself Ansar-al-Islam (Defenders of Islam) claimed responsibility for the fatal stabbing of a sociology professor, Shafiul Islam, who was one of three Bangladeshi bloggers killed within the space of a few weeks.

Yesterday a group calling itself Ansar Bangla-7 claimed responsibility for Dr Roy’s death. It is not known if it is linked with the earlier group.

Dr Roy was the author of several books in the Bengali language, many of them dealing positively with subjects that are anathema to Islamic fundamentalists including atheism, the theory of evolution, scepticism and rationalism. His two most recent books were Obisshahser Dorhson (“The Philosophy of Disbelief”) and Biswasher Virus (“The Virus of Faith”).

Taslima Nasreen, a Bangladeshi poet and novelist who fled her homeland in the mid-1990s after threats to her life, tweeted from Delhi: “We’re living in Dark Ages.” On her website she wrote that Dr Roy “dedicated his life to enlightening people who live in the darkness of ignorance”, adding: “Bangladesh has become a secret Isis land. Islamic terrorists can do whatever they like. They can kill people with no qualms whatsoever.”

The killing occurred against a background of high political tensions in the country, with strikes and protests by the Bangladesh National Party and allies, including the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami party, against the government of Sheikh Hasina

German nurse admittedly overdosed 90 patients, killed 30

A court in Germany has sentenced a male nurse to life in prison for killing patients with overdoses of heart medication.

News agency dpa reported that the Oldenburg regional court found the 38-year-old guilty of charges including two counts of murder, and two counts of attempted murder.

Prosecutors had accused the man, identified only as Niels H in line with German privacy rules, of three murders and two attempted murders during his time working at a clinic in the town of Delmenhorst.

But H said during the trial that he intentionally brought about cardiac crises in some 90 patients because he enjoyed the feeling of being able to resuscitate them. He said 30 patients died.

He was previously sentenced to 7½ years in prison for attempted murder in 2008.

Husband of murdered T&T TV host released from hospital, declines to give police statement

Sheldon Henville, a person of interest in the murder of his wife Marcia Henville, declined last night to be interviewed by police investigators, according to his attorney.

Henville was released from hospital on Tuesday where he was treated for burns suffered the night of his wife’s death on January 23.

Henville’s attorney, Fareed Ali, said that Henville has been left in “solitary confinement” in the Maloney Police Station.

Ali said that Henville was not given a sheet or a towel, neither a toothbrush or soap to have a bath.

Ali said the cell was “dirty and the cold concrete he has been made to sleep on without the benefit of a bed was aggravating his injuries”.

Henville is also being monitored at half hour intervals.

Marcia Henville, 51, the host of TV6’s Point Blank talk/reality show was beaten, stabbed, and her throat cut, at her home at Fidelis Heights, St Augustine.

Her body was also set on fire.

Sheldon Henville was also injured in the fire, but the couple’s two children escaped without injury.

A senior investigator of the Homicide Division in Arouca has refuted the attorney’s claims.

The investigator said “Henville is being afforded all the rights and privileges of an arrested person. That includes being allowed to take a bath and brush his teeth. We are interested in human dignity, worth and pride. And we seek to maintain that.”

The senior officer said that the Maloney Police Station where Henville is being kept “is a new station, less than a year old”, and the cells are fitted with bathrooms and toilets can be used without police interference.

Young Canadians head to Syria to join IS

At least six young Canadian men and women from Montreal and its suburbs travelled overseas last month to join the Islamic State group, local media reported Thursday.

Some of them, including two young women, were students at Montreal CEGEP College de Maisonneuve.

They flew to Turkey on January 16 with the aim of crossing its border into Syria, the Montreal daily La Presse said.

It is unclear if they reached their final destination.

The father of one of the young men, fearing his son’s downward spiral since taking up religious and Arabic studies, seized his passport. But his son reported it lost and obtained a replacement from authorities.

The six are aged 18 to 19 and of Mideast and North African descent.

A spokeswoman for Montreal CEGEP College de Maisonneuve confirmed that three of them had attended the high school last semester, but did not know if they knew each other.

Their departure follows the alleged radicalization of a 23-year-old Alberta woman who left her family mid-2014 to join the Islamic State group in Syria.

Western governments are increasingly concerned about a rising number of foreign fighters travelling to Syria through Turkey to join extremist groups.

US intelligence officials warned earlier this month that more than 20,000 volunteers from around the world had gone to Syria to link up with extremists.

Norman man arrested for allegedly sharing child pornography

Originally posted on KFOR.com:

NORMAN, Okla. – A Norman man was arrested after allegedly sharing child pornography on the internet.

Authorities with the Oklahoma Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force arrested 29-year-old James Russell Clark earlier this week.

Last month, an agent with the task force searched networks for child pornography and found an IP address that shared more than 250 files with 104 of those files that were flagged as “files of interest” in other child pornography cases.

Investigators claim the IP address was linked to Clark’s home in Norman.

Officials say a computer in Clark’s bedroom was actively sharing child pornography .

He was arrested for distribution of child pornography, aggravated possession of child pornography, violation of the Oklahoma Computer Crimes Act, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of a controlled dangerous substance, possession of drug proceeds, maintaining a dwelling and use of surveillance equipment to facilitate a felony.


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Two more fascinating planets discovered orbiting other stars

Originally posted on Global News:

TORONTO – How far we’ve come. Thirty years ago, astronomers theorized that planets could orbit other stars in our galaxy. Today, we know of more than 1,800 exoplanets with more than another 5,000 to be confirmed.

Now, two telescopes — using very different methods — have discovered two more unique and intriguing worlds orbiting far off stars.

READ MORE:Water discovered on asteroid points to habitable exoplanets

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope together with the W.M. Keck Telescope in Hawaii, has uncovered a planet roughly the size of Uranus. It used a method called gravitational microlensing, where the a star in the foreground amplifies the light of a background star. If the star in the foreground has planets, the planets may also amplify the light of the background star, however, for a much shorter period.

This discovery is particularly special as most giant planets so far catalogued orbit close to their stars, whereas this Uranus-sized planet…

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Considering Newton on the Christian Life

Originally posted on Cavman Considers:

I have long been an admirer of John Newton. He has written many letters and hymns that not only address my mind but also my heart. He was not a “speculative” theologian but an practical or pastoral theologian. He is one of my “long distance” mentors- stretching across both time and geography thanks to God’s providential gift of the printing press. While I am surely not the pastor (and Christian) I want to be, I am a better pastor because of John Newton.

Tony Reinke has done people like me a great service with his contribution to Crossway’s series Theologians on the Christian Life. This is the first book I’ve read in the series. It makes me want to read more. But let’s look at Newton on the Christian Life: To Live is Christ.

As Reinke notes at the end, he doesn’t say everything Newton does, nor cover every…

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