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Showing posts from September, 2016

Egyptian Lawmaker Calls for Virginity Tests for Women Applying for Universities

Elhamy Agina, a controversial member of Egyptian parliament who earlier called for mandatory female genital mutilation, has now declared that all women who wish to attend universities in the country must undergo a mandatory virginity test.

In an interview with Egyptian newspaper Youm7, Egyptian parliament member Agina called for the Minister of High Education to order women to have mandatory virginity tests for admission to universities. 
Results of the tests would be reviewed by the Ministry officials prior to accepting students. 
"Any [woman] who enters university, we have to check her medical examination to prove that she is a Miss. 
Therefore, each [woman] must present an official document upon being admitted to university stating she's a Miss," said Agina, with ‘Miss' indicating a woman who is a virgin.
According to the Egyptian legislator, who is also a member of the parliament's human rights committee, this measure will reduce the number of "urfi marriage…

Resistance, Solidarity Lives On at Standing Rock Against Oil Pipeline

Peaceful protests continue as Native Americans of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their allies continue to resist the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). 

Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear speaks with Dennis Banks, co-founder of the American Indian Movement, about the history of Native resistance and how it connects to the DAPL protest.
The Standing Rock Sioux are suing the federal government to halt the construction of the 1,160-mile DAPL pipeline, claiming that not only were they were not properly consulted, as treaties require, but that hallowed lands are being violated and that the pipeline, spanning four states, will have a devastating ecological impact on wildlife and the water supply in the area.
​"If the tribe doesn’t want it, then their position has to be honored,” Banks said. 
“And if any tribe feels that there are sacred sites or burial sites at risk, then they will move to protect those sites…we have the ultimate authority."
Banks added that he is &qu…

US Marines Want Tech That Can Crush Enemy Spy, Killer Drones

As unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) become a more prominent aspect of military offense, the US Marine Corps has begun searching for an effective way to combat enemy drones.

During Thursday’s Modern Day Marine expo in Quantico, Virginia, Master Sgt. Justin Olson, Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command operator, said during his presentation that the Corps is looking for technology that can neutralize UAVs sent to spy on or kill US troops. 
The new technology must be capable of tracking and detecting small UAVs and be able to discern what, if any, threat they pose. 
Once a threat level has been established there will need to be options for reducing or terminating the offending aircraft.
Military Times quoted Olson as saying, "Our focus right now is not so much counter-UAS on a larger scale, but counter-small systems," and, "Your micro, small handheld stuff, what will the enemy use." 
Staff Sgt. Nic Gagnon, MARSOC development team member, told that the M…

Don't Tell the Aliens! World's Leading Astrophysicist Issues Stark Warning

To infinity and beyond - but don't tell the aliens you've arrived, warns astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, who suggests that humans shouldn't announce their presence to any potential alien life in the future.
In the film, Stephen Hawking's Favourite Places, the world-renowned expert on practically anything space-related, takes a tour across the cosmos on his spacecraft, the SS Hawking.
During a hypothetical flyby over a planet 16 light years away —a very, very long time — Hawking warns humans not to interact with any alien civilization, if one was discovered.
"One day we might receive a signal from a planet like Gliese 832c, but we should be wary of answering back," Hawking says in the movie. 
"They will be vastly more powerful and may not see us as any more valuable than we see bacteria." ​
Hawing has been quoted telling reporters: "As I get older I am more convinced than ever that we are not alone. 
After a lifetime of wondering, I am helping lead a …

NASA Finds the Brightest of a Rare Binary Star System

Nearly 163,000 light-years away, a newly-discovered binary star is the brightest of its kind.
NASA announced the discovery on Thursday, saying that the binary star, LMC P3, was identified using the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, as well as other facilities. 
"Fermi has detected only five of these systems in our own galaxy, so finding one so luminous and distant is quite exciting," reads a statement from the space agency.
"Gamma-ray binaries are prized because the gamma-ray output changes significantly during each orbit and sometimes over longer time scales. 
This variation lets us study many of the emission processes common to other gamma-ray sources in unique detail."
The binary system rests in a region of space known as the Large Magellanic Cloud.
The system was first spotted in 2012, but LMC P3 was misidentified as a high-mass X-ray binary. 
"The [normal] star is between 25 and 40 times the sun’s mass, and if we’re viewing the system at an angle midway between f…

El Cajon Cops Release Footage Showing Alfred Olango Fatally Shot by Police

As tensions continue to boil in Southern California over the police killing of an unarmed African-American man in the throes of a mental breakdown, the department has released a video recording of the incident.
Before airing the video at the news conference, Dr. Andre Branch, president of the San Diego chapter of the NAACP, applauded the department for releasing the video in a timely fashion. 
Reverand Gerald Brown, the Executive Director of the United African American Ministerial Action Council, also spoke before the release, calling for any protests in response to the video to remain peaceful.
The presentation began with surveillance footage from a nearby fast food drive through window. 
The second video was witness footage taken on a cellphone, from just below the security camera.
Police Chief Jeff Davis also presented still photographs of evidence, including of the vape device.
No decision has been made on whether or not criminal charges will be filed against the officers involved.

Massive, Rare Dinosaur Footprint Unearthed in Mongolia

Measuring a whopping 42 inches across, an ancient dinosaur footprint has been found in the Gobi Desert.
Made between 70 and 90 million years ago, the fossilized footprint was found by scientists with Okayama University of Science working with Mongolian researchers.
"This is a very rare discovery as it’s a well-preserved fossil footprint that is more than a meter long with imprints of its claws," reads a statement from the university, according to International Business Times.
At 106 centimeters by 77 centimeters, the footprint is roughly the size of a human torso and believed to have come from a long-necked titanosaur. Some of the heaviest dinosaurs to walk the Earth, titanosaurs are estimated to have weighed up to 90 tons. 
A cast mold of a titanosaur skeleton is on display at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, since the actual bones are too heavy.
The herbivores grew to be 15 feet tall, with necks that could stretch as far as 50 feet.
Shinobu Ishigaki, pale…

Threatening ‘Body Bags’: Is All-Out War Between Russia and the US on its Way?

US State Department spokesman John Kirby has made strong statements of late regarding Russia’s involvement in Syria, claiming that if Russia will not cooperate with the US, Moscow will keep sending troops home in “body bags.”
At the daily media briefing on Wednesday, former Pentagon Press Secretary and current State Department spokesperson John Kirby said: "The consequences are that the civil war will continue in Syria, that extremists and extremist groups will continue to exploit the vacuums that are there in Syria to expand their operations, which will include, no question, attacks against Russian interests, perhaps even Russian cities, and Russia will continue to send troops home in body bags, and they will continue to lose resources — even, perhaps, more aircraft," he said.
That statement has been widely perceived as a veiled threat. In particular, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova asked on her Facebook page, "Don't you think that such ventrilo…

Breakdown of US-Russia Syria Talks to Make Solution 'Very Difficult'

The possibility of the United States and Russia suspending talks on Syria could pose further challenges in resolving the country’s ongoing crisis, Turkey's Minister of European Union Affairs Volkan Bozkir told Sputnik.
Leandra Bernstein — On Wednesday, US Secretary of State John Kerry warned that Washington would cut off ongoing engagement with Moscow, if it failed to uphold its commitments under the September 9 Syrian ceasefire.
"Under these circumstances, of course, without Russia and without the United States, it will be very difficult to find a solution there," Bozkir said on Friday of recent US threats to suspend engagement with Russia on Syria.
Bozkir, a member of Turkey’s ruling AKP party, encouraged US and Russian officials to address the "very critical issues" surrounding Syria "face to face," rather than discussing the issues through press statements.
The latest Syrian ceasefire broke down with violations on all sides of the conflict shortly aft…

Turning Tide? US Death Penalty Support Hits 4-Decade Low

A new poll conducted by Pew Research Center finds that support for the death penalty is at its lowest in 40 years, as 49 percent of respondents are in support of authorized killings in murder cases while 42 percent are against.
Disapproval of the death penalty has not been this high since the US Supreme Court banned capital punishment for four years in 1972. 
Approval reached its peak with rising crime rates in the 1980s, before beginning a descent in the 1990s.
Conducted from August 23 to September 2, the poll noted differences of opinion on the death penalty across lines of gender and race. 
"Even as support for the death penalty has declined across nearly all groups, demographic differences remain: Men are more likely to back the use of the death penalty than women, white Americans are more supportive than blacks and Hispanics, and attitudes on the issue also differ by age, education and along religious lines," Pew reported. 
The study reported only a modest difference of opi…

US Authorities Must Get Better at Identifying Terrorists Before Attacks

The US government must do more to identify terrorists before they launch attacks, as demonstrated by the man suspected in recent bombings in the states of New York and New Jersey, US Senator Ted Cruz said in letter on Friday.
In his letter, Cruz also sought answers to a number of questions about how authorities screen individuals returning from regions where Islamic extremists are present.
"It is clear that the federal government's law enforcement and counterterrorism agencies are not as effective as they could be in spotting and monitoring potential terrorists,” Cruz wrote in the letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey.
Cruz asserted that the case of Ahmad Rahami presented numerous red flags, including frequent travel to areas with a "significant terrorist presence," a 2014 complaint to the FBI from Rahami’s father that his son was a terrorist, and Rahami’s marriag…

Movement of Over 80% of UN Aid Convoys Blocked, Delayed in Syria

More than 80 percent of UN convoys carrying humanitarian aid have been delayed or blocked in Syria, media reported on Friday.
According to The Guardian newspaper, only six out of 33 approved deliveries managed to reach their destination in September until attack on a convoy interrupted relief supplies to war-torn Syria leading to their suspension.
On September 19, a UN-Syrian Arab Red Crescent convoy carrying humanitarian aid for Aleppo province was hit by a strike, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). 
As a result, 18 of 31 trucks were destroyed and at least 21 individuals were killed. 
A number of US military officials claimed that Russia was responsible, while Moscow called for a thorough investigation into the incident.
The incident took place amid intensified fighting in Aleppo escalating after nationwide ceasefire regime valid since September 12 broke down.

Published time 20:04 Toronto

Italian police clear out Via Cupa migrant camp in Rome

Activists have criticized Rome's city council for not providing alternative housing for migrants displaced after police cleared a camp in the Italian capital. Italy is on the front line for irregular migration to the EU.

Italian police on Friday cleared out a migrant camp in Rome known for housing an estimated 60,000 migrants over the past year.
The Baobab center, an NGO that ran a shelter in Rome's Via Cupa, criticized the police and the city council for failing to provide an alternative option to house migrants transiting through the Italian capital.
"Shutting down the camp doesn't solve the problem. There will still be migrants looking for a place to sleep tonight," Baobab co-founder Andrea Costa told the Reuters news agency.
Volunteers are searching for alternative buildings to house those displaced by the police operation, including an abandoned school, Costa added.
"The tents you are carrying away were those donated by citizens, the food you're throwing…

Germany cordons off motorway after finding pipe bomb materials in car

Four men have been arrested after police found bomb-building materials in a car on the German-Austrian border. Authorities are investigating whether the Polish driver was smuggling migrants and weapons across the border.

German authorities uncovered three pipes, explosive materials and potential detonation devices in a car during a routine border control stop in the Bavarian district of Kiefersfelden, said a police spokesman on Friday.
Additionally, police found a narcotic substance and several knives in the vehicle, which was stopped on the German-Austrian border at 10:30 p.m. (20:30 GMT) on Thursday.
Following the discovery, both the German and Austrian authorities cordoned off a section of the highway to examine the car.
The operation lasted over seven hours with traffic resuming normally at 5:45 a.m. on Friday.
Police said although the materials could have been used to create pipe bombs, no immediate explosion risk existed.
German authorities arrested a Polish man, a Guinean man, and t…

Yuan finds place behind dollar and euro

China's yuan is becoming part of the International Monetary Fund's currency basket, joining a club of the world's most important currencies. DW examines what this means for the yuan.

The International monetary Fund (IMF) decided at the end of last year to include the Chinese currency yuan - also known as the renminbi - in its currency basket, called the special drawing rights (SDR). 
The SDR was introduced by the IMF as a unit of account in 1969, as an artificial currency for the world's central banks. It initially composed of five currencies: the US dollar, the Japanese yen, the British pound, the German deutschmark and the French franc.
The share of these currencies within the SDR basket reflected the size and clout of each country's economy.
That meant the dollar accounted for over 40 percent of the SDR basket.
While the share of the deutschmark in the basket grew over time, that of the franc and the pound declined.
The Japanese yen's share, meanwhile, went th…