BBC News, Harare
In many ways, the Lemba tribe of Zimbabwe and South Africa are just like their neighbours.
But in other ways their customs are remarkably similar to Jewish ones.
They do not eat pork, they practise male circumcision, they ritually slaughter their animals, some of their men wear skull caps and they put the Star of David on their gravestones.
Their oral traditions claim that their ancestors were Jews who fled the Holy Land about 2,500 years ago.
It may sound like another myth of a lost tribe of Israel, but British scientists have carried out DNA tests which confirm their Semitic origin.
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Still no word on those Dr Who tapes though
Defectors Say Church of Scientology Hides Abuse
By LAURIE GOODSTEIN
CLEARWATER, Fla. — Raised as Scientologists, Christie King Collbran and her husband, Chris, were recruited as teenagers to work for the elite corps of staff members who keep the Church of Scientology running, known as the Sea Organization, or Sea Org.
They signed a contract for a billion years — in keeping with the church’s belief that Scientologists are immortal. They worked seven days a week, often on little sleep, for sporadic paychecks of $50 a week, at most.
But after 13 years and growing disillusionment, the Collbrans decided to leave the Sea Org, setting off on a Kafkaesque journey that they said required them to sign false confessions about their personal lives and their work, pay the church thousands of dollars it said they owed for courses and counseling, and accept the consequences as their parents, siblings and friends who are church members cut off all communication with them.
“Why did we work so hard for this organization,” Ms. Collbran said, “and why did it feel so wrong in the end? We just didn’t understand.”
They soon discovered others who felt the same. Searching for Web sites about Scientology that are not sponsored by the church (an activity prohibited when they were in the Sea Org), they discovered that hundreds of other Scientologists were also defecting — including high-ranking executives who had served for decades.
Much more at the source, which can be found at the link in the title.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration on Friday sought to limit fallout from a U.S. resolution branding the World War One-era massacre of Armenians by Turkish forces as "genocide," and vowed to stop it from going further in Congress.
Turkey was infuriated and recalled its ambassador after a House of Representatives committee on Thursday approved the nonbinding measure condemning killings that took place nearly 100 years ago, in the last days of the Ottoman Empire.
A Democratic leadership aide told Reuters there were no plans "at this point" to schedule a vote of the full House on the measure, and a State Department official said this was the administration's understanding as well.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, facing questions about the issue while traveling in Latin America, declared Congress should drop the matter now.
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So, keeping good relations with someone useful and powerful > Justice?
Related: Turkish anger at US Armenian 'genocide' vote
Turkey recalls Ambassador after US vote on Armenia 'genocide'
By Andrew M. Potts
Italy is to open the world’s first prison facility to cater solely for transgendered people.
The 30-bed facility, in the town of Pozzale, near Florence in Tuscany, was formerly a women’s prison, but by the end of last year its population had dwindled to just two inmates despite employing a staff of 22 people.
Starting later this year, the prison will be used to house around half of Italy’s 60 transgendered prison inmates, most of whom were arrested for offences relating to sex work or drug use.
Prostitution in itself is not illegal in Italy, however, solicitation for paid sex and for brothels are both outlawed.
The medium security facility has a gym, library and outdoor recreational areas including a soccer field. A working prison farm inside its gates produces olive oil and wine for sale and provides inmates with employment.
Each prisoner will have a cell to themselves and will be offered a personal development plan to assist them in not re-offending.
Previously, transgendered prisoners were housed in women’s prisons with regular inmates. Threats and violence from other prisoners, however, mean they are often segregated within jails for their own protection, denying them equal use of prison facilities.
Those transgendered prisoners unable to find a place in the new jail will remain in the regular Italian prison system.
Italian GLBT rights advocates have welcomed the new facility and hope it will provide transgendered prisoners with support tailored to their needs.
Second older source from BBC
In the 1000th episode, which airs tomorrow night, Walsh is joined by President Obama, who declares his commitment to fund the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which would create a national sex-offender registry. Parade.com's Jeanne Wolf discovered the fire that fuels Walsh to stand up for the victims of crimes around the world.
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White House Seizes On Goldman Sachs Report Of Health Premiums Rising
The Obama administration is making a late push for health reform by seizing on a report showing that market concentration for health insurance is so monopolized that insurance companies are willing to raise prices and lose customers in an effort to help their bottom line.
In a blog post on Sunday, Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said that the findings, which were put together by Goldman Sachs and first reported by the Huffington Post, presented clear evidence that health insurer "profits will continue to soar under the status quo."
The last few days have brought even more evidence that the health care status quo is working out great for the insurance companies - at the same time as it continues to fail American families and businesses. No wonder the insurance companies are spending millions and millions of dollars to block reform." "On Wednesday, a leading insurance broker laid out in clear terms what many Americans could already guess: the insurers' monopoly is so strong that they can continue to jack up rates as much as they like - even if it means losing customers - and their profits will continue to soar under the status quo. [snip]Pfeiffer's post, an advance copy of which was provided to the Huffington Post, reflects a more aggressive effort on the part of the White House to turn news of premium hikes into political capital for the passage of health care reform. Elsewhere in the blog post, the communications director notes that a study by the Wall Street investment bank Cowen & Co. found that health insurance giant Wellpoint "would be a primary beneficiary" if health care legislation failed.
What does it mean when the insurance companies "walk away?" It means more and more American families forced to choose between the mortgage and health care bills. It means being hospital visit away from certain bankruptcy. And for Mr. Lewis's clients - business owners - it means not being able to do the right thing for their employees.
Ground breaking research by the University of Queensland has found that men show off when there’s an attractive woman around.
Before you scoff and say 'everyone knows that', it’s not as clear-cut as you’d imagine, according to Bill von Hippel and doctoral student, Richard Ronay, from the university’s School of Psychology.
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The arrest of Gadahn is a major victory in the U.S.-led battle against al-Qaida and will be taken as a sign that Pakistan is cooperating more fully with Washington. It follows the recent detentions of several Afghan Taliban commanders in Karachi.
Gadahn was arrested in the sprawling southern metropolis in recent days, two officers who took part in the operation said. A senior government official also confirmed the arrest.
They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.
Gadahn, who is also known by various aliases, including Yahya Majadin Adams and Azzam al-Amriki, grew up on a goat farm in Riverside County, California, and converted to Islam at a mosque in nearby Orange County.
Gadahn moved to Pakistan in 1998, according to the FBI, and is said to have attended an al-Qaida training camp six years later, serving as a translator and consultant for the group. He has been wanted by the FBI since 2004, and there is a $1 million reward for information leading to his arrest or conviction.
He has posted videos and messages calling for the destruction of the West and for strikes against targets in the United States. The most recent was posted Sunday, praising the U.S. Army major charged with killing 13 people in Fort Hood, Texas.
A U.S. court charged Gadahn with treason in 2006, making him the first American to face such a charge in more than 50 years. He could face the death penalty if convicted. He was also charged with two counts of providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization.
In the 25-minute video posted on militant Web sites Sunday, Gadahn described Maj. Nidal Hasan as a pioneer who should be a role model for other Muslims, especially those serving Western militaries.
"Brother Nidal is the ideal role-model for every repentant Muslim in the armies of the unbelievers and apostate regimes," he said.
Gadahn was dressed in white robes and wearing a white turban as he called for attacks on what he described as high-value targets.
"You shouldn't make the mistake of thinking that military bases are the only high-value targets in America and the West. On the contrary, there are countless other strategic places, institutions and installations which, by striking, the Muslim can do major damage," he said, an assault rifle leaning up against a wall next to him.
Hasan has been charged in the Nov. 5 shooting that killed 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas. The 39-year-old Army psychiatrist remains paralyzed from the chest down after being shot by two civilian members of Fort Hood's police force.
In the latest video, Gadahn said those planning attacks did not need to use only firearms. "As the blessed operations of September 11th showed, a little imagination and planning and a limited budget can turn almost anything into a deadly, effective and convenient weapon."
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Teaching visitors traditional ways
The staff of WAK Japan provides hands-on cultural experiences to foreign tourists in Kyoto
Upon meeting Michi Ogawa, who is deftly aligning the collar of a kimono that she has tucked around her guest, a few adjectives might come to mind, like "graceful" and "soft-spoken," but "feminist" or "outspoken" probably wouldn't be among them. But speak with her about her concerns and some of your preconceptions about "typical" middle-aged Japanese women may be shaken.
Ogawa, 60, is executive director of WAK Japan, a company with a mostly all-female staff offering hands-on cultural experiences to foreign visitors to Kyoto. WAK, which originally stood for Women's Association of Kyoto, was started by a group of female Japanese-language instructors to create jobs for local Japanese women.
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Mitt Romney Claims That President Obama’s Words ‘Support’ 911 Truthers Abroad
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s foreign policy mythology book tour continued on Fox News Sunday this morning. Romney started his interview saying that President Obama had engaged in an “apology tour.” This has been a standard conservative talking point in response to the massive positive shift in global attitudes toward America, as a result of President Obama’s diplomatic outreach.
However, Romney went further asserting that Obama’s words gave “support” to those saying the 9/11 attacks were a fabrication:
ROMNEY: It also adds fuel to the fire of those who are apart of the blame America crowd. I saw even Ahmadinejad is even saying 911 is a fabrication. These sorts of voices should not receive any kind of support from the words of the President of United States.
But I can tell you, that I am glad the the President reversed course in Iraq – he didn’t pull our troops out as he said during the campaign. He likewise supported our surge efforts in Afghanistan, having voted against the surge in Iraq… He has done some things right, but his apology tour was one of the things he did very very badly.
Romney’s outrageous claim that Obama’s words “support” Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also belies the reality that the President’s outreach to the Iranian people helped bolster the movement for change within Iran that is intensely opposed to Ahmadinejad.
In his short answer to Chris Wallace, Romney was able to forward two more factually false statements. Romney seems to have no idea that US troops in Iraq are being pulled out at a fairly rapid rate that fits with the timeline outlined by candidate-Obama. There are now fewer than 100,000 troops in Iraq for the first time since the invasion.
Romney also claimed that the surge in Afghanistan was a GOP idea. This is completely wrong. During the 2006 and 2008 elections Democrats campaigned aggressively on shifting the focus from Iraq to Afghanistan. Upon taking office Obama immediately authorized an increase in troop levels – something that President Bush refused to do – bringing US troop levels in Afghanistan to the highest they had ever been. He then authorized a further increase and a timeline for withdrawal with his West Point speech last fall.
Throughout my life, the phrase “speaking white” has been used to describe the way I talk. I am an African-American, but they say I “speak white.”
Since elementary school I have been teased for the way I talk. It used to hurt to know that I wasn't accepted by my race. I didn't understand what they meant by “talking white.” Worse yet, I was light-skinned. I was not accepted because of these things. I just did not fit in. I found myself hating my voice and the complexion of my skin.
Because of those two key components that say “I just can't be black,” I was constantly asked if one of my parents was white. I never had anything against Caucasians at all. But if anyone asked if I was mixed I would quickly say “no” and get a really bad attitude. The reality is I am mixed. Somewhere down the line I do have white in me. A lot of people can trace some white in them if they look deep enough. But to them my complexion and my voice were flags stating “I‘m clearly not black”.
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