December 6th, 2010

Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

WIkileaks: Chinese leaders ordered Google hack, and butthurt official is butthurt

US cable: China leaders ordered hacking on Google

Contacts told American diplomats that hacking attacks against Google were ordered by China's top ruling body and a senior leader demanded action after finding search results that were critical of him, leaked U.S. government memos show.

One memo sent by the U.S. Embassy in Beijing to Washington said a "well-placed contact" told diplomats the Chinese government coordinated the attacks late last year on Google Inc. under the direction of the Politburo Standing Committee, the apex of Communist Party power.

The details of the memos, known in diplomatic parlance as cables, could not be verified. Chinese government departments either refused to comment or could not be reached. If true, the cables show the political pressures that were facing Google when it decided to close its China-based search engine in March.

The cable about the hacking attacks against Google, which was classified as secret by Deputy Chief of Mission Robert Goldberg, was released by WikiLeaks.

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Their wealth is an exact measure of the value they have provided to society.

To the Editor:

Robert H. Frank’s article (“Taxing the Rich: It’s All Relative,” Economic View, Nov. 28), on the rationale for allowing tax cuts to expire for families’ income over $250,000, is focused on the wrong issue. It’s our spending that’s a problem, not the ability of the wealthiest to pay even more.

I want the wealthy to keep doing what they’re doing. Personally, I am happy I have spreadsheets (thank you, Bill Gates) and can order all my holiday gifts in 15 minutes (thank you, Jeff Bezos). The richest of the rich, in most cases, provide more value to the world via the items they create than any charity or government organization could dream of. Their wealth is an exact measure of the value they have provided to society.

J. Todd Larson

Bainbridge Island, Wash.,

Nov. 29


The shit, folks?

Top diplomats from South Korea, Japan head to Washington for talks

South Korea's foreign minister headed Sunday to Washington, in preparation for much anticipated talks with his U.S. and Japanese counterparts about the tense situation in and around the Yellow Sea.

Speaking shortly before his departure from Incheon International Airport, Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan said the three attendees will discuss coordinating their outreach with other nations, according to Seoul's state-run Yonhap news agency.

"How to draw cooperation from the international community and neighboring countries in dealing with the North's attack and its uranium enrichment program and, particularly, how to cooperate with China, will be the focus of the meeting," Kim told reporters.

On Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton plans to meet separately with Kin and, then, Japanese Foreign Minister Seiiji Maehra. Then all three will hold discussions together at the State Department.

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James Naughtie blames Dr Spooner after renaming Jeremy Hunt

 Radio 4 Today presenter's mangled introduction of culture secretary leaves him struggling to deliver the 8am news

The Today presenter James Naughtie was both congratulated and condemned after he accidentally introduced the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, as Jeremy Cunt live on air today.

The mistake came just before the 8am news as Naughtie trailed an 8.10am interview with the coalition cabinet member. "First up after the news, we're going to be talking to Jeremy Cunt," the Scotsman said, before swiftly correcting himself.

As the pips signalling the headlines were broadcast, Naughtie struggled to deliver the main news from around the world over what sounded like a coughing fit.

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Source: The Grauniad

Gay and lesbian teens are punished more at school, by police, study says

Gay and lesbian teens in the United States are about 40 percent more likely than their straight peers to be punished by schools, police and the courts, according to a study published Monday, which finds that girls are especially at risk for unequal treatment.

The research, described as the first national look at sexual orientation and teen punishment, comes as a spate of high-profile bullying and suicide cases across the country have focused attention on the sometimes hidden cruelties of teen life.

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~Prop 8 On Trial Live Post!~


It's airing on C-SPAN at 1pm EST. Post all relevant feeds/videos/pictures/articles here! All other posts on this issue will be REJECTED!

Useful Links
Huffington Post Prop 8 Oral Argument Liveblog

I'm Watching But I Don't Get What's Going On!?!
(*hat tip to mr_spivens for writing this*)

There's TWO separate issues being argued here:
1) The attorney general refused to defend Prop 8 because he thought it was unconstitutional. Usually the AG is the one who would defend for the state, but instead a group of people supporting prop 8 acted as defendants. Right now they're arguing about whether that's allowable, or if the defendants didn't have the legal standing to act as defendants. If the Prop 8 people lose (i.e. the judges decide they didn't have the standing), then it's all over and Prop 8 is gone.

2) If they decide that the defendants had legal standing in the previous arguments, then they get to the real question: if the previous decision by Judge Walker was correct. If the Prop 8 people lose this, then the only place they have left to appeal to is the Supreme Court.

*special thanks to bananasnrum for posting the pic used for the header*

It Really Does Get Better (And TV Helps)

If 2010 adopted a big gay slogan, surely it would be "It Gets Better." And if my email inbox is an accurate indicator, lesbian and bisexual women really want to believe that. Almost every day I get a message from an reader asking me if it really does get better. And if yes, when? And if yes, how?

Those are big questions with complicated answers. I think the answer to the main one — Does it really get better? — is yes. And I think part of the answer to the last one — How does it get better? — is, believe it or not, television.

Wait — hear me out.

A couple of weeks ago my dad asked me for the bazillionth time how old I was when I knew for sure I was gay. It's something he worries about a lot, I think, because he knew I was gay long before I knew I was gay on account of he spent a lot of sleepless nights heating up milk for me while I sat on the kitchen counter and sobbed about how my best friends would rather spend time practicing blow jobs with their boyfriends than braiding my hair. He worries about it because he is convinced I knew, but wouldn't come out; worried that he and my mom hadn't created a safe environment in which I could be myself — because, seriously, how could I not have known?

The only times I ever heard the words "gay" and "lesbian" spoken aloud when I was growing up were when people were all, "Yeah, you know those g-a-y-s, always burning in h-e-l-l." Or, like, "My cousin told me how lesbians dress in men's clothes and then take turns brushing each other's mullets after their weekly kitten sacrificing ceremony."

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The Lib Dem fees split widens, plus one resignation!

The dizzying attempt to chart the Lib Dem split on tuition fees continues. It's some measure of Nick Clegg's lack of authority that party unity has decreased, not increased, in the past 24 hours.

What looked like a three-way split has become a four-way split. After failing to reach agreement on a mass abstention, senior Lib Dem ministers including Clegg and Vince Cable will vote in favour of their own policy. They will be joined by pro-fees MPs such as David Laws and John Hemming.


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Update: Lib Dem MP Mike Crockart has said that he will resign from his post (PPS to Michael Moore) in order to vote against tuition fees. He told the Evening Standard: "I will be voting against 100 per cent. I'm not going to be pushed out. Resigning probably will be the only option." Norman Baker and at least one other Lib Dem MP are also thought to be on the verge of resigning.


See that Nick Clegg, it's called sticking to your effing principles! 

trigger warning for mentions of suicide and sexual violence

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Women's suicide risk rises sharply after military service

Young women who've served in the military face a suicide risk triple that of non-veterans. The Portland researchers who made this finding are urging medical and public health officials to find more effective ways to reverse the deadly epidemic.

"Most of the attention has focused on men -- that's why we call it a hidden epidemic," said co-author Mark Kaplan, a professor at Portland State University. "Clinicians need to be more aware of this problem. "

Kaplan's group analyzed records on every female suicide from 2004 to 2007 in Oregon and 15 other states. From 5,948 deaths, they calculated the risks faced by women who served in the military and those who did not.

Among veterans age 18 to 34, the suicide rate was 1 in 7,465, compared with 1 in 22,763 among non-veterans. Suicide rates were 78 percent higher among female veterans age 35 to 44, and 58 percent higher among those age 45 to 64. Dr. Bentson McFarland of Oregon Health & Science University, Nathalie Huguet of PSU, and Kaplan published the study Wednesday in the journal Psychiatric Services.

Reversing the epidemic won't be easy. Researches still don't know enough about what makes veterans more vulnerable. Most research on the problem has focused on men, Kaplan says.

"There needs to be more gender-specific treatment and prevention resources addressing the problems of female veterans," he says.

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Portland Rescue Mission Wants Your Winter Coats and Sweaters ... Unless You're Gay

It's the holiday season, which means the spirit of gift giving is in the air. What better way to spread some good cheer than giving back to an organization fighting homelessness?

That's exactly what some folks in Portland, Oregon wanted to do. A local performer, Jeffrey Darling, was getting ready to organize the city's fourth annual Queer Christmas Holiday Bash, and reached out to the Portland Rescue Mission to see if they might be interested in sponsoring a coat-and-sweater drive at the event. The response Darling got from Portland Rescue Mission staffer Brian Merrell?

Sorry, we don't work with queers to fight poverty or homelessness.

Darling told the Portland Mercury that the folks at the Portland Rescue Mission were worried that their donors, many of whom are religious, would stop giving to the Mission if they found out that LGBT people were involved.

"[The Mission is a] faith-based organization and there was some concern with how it might come across to some of our donors," Merrell told Darling via a voicemail.

So to keep track. The Portland Rescue Mission, which has a mission statement including "a tireless commitment to breaking the cycle of homelessness," does not want to work in partnership with LGBT festivals or organizations to break the cycle of homelessness. So fighting poverty and homelessness has now become a battle only straight people can wage?

To their credit, the Portland Rescue Mission has accepted an offer put forward by a local activist, Rev. Chuck Currie, to have a sit down meeting with Basic Rights Oregon, to discuss why their decision "might be hurtful to the gay and lesbian community." That's a start to rectifying this situation, which from all sides is pretty tragic.

The holiday season is about giving. That's exactly what the Queer Christmas Holiday Bash was hoping to do by reaching out to the Portland Rescue Mission. It's a shame they were refused the opportunity to help. Homelessness and poverty are something we should all be interested in alleviating. If we can't find common ground and work together in this space, what does that say about how committed organizations like the Portland Rescue Mission are to really living out their mission to break the cycle of homelessness and poverty?

Hungary camera

'SNL' gives WikiLeaks the TMZ treatment

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange may be one of the most controversial men in America but he helped "Saturday Night Live" score its best ratings this season, reports

This weekend's opening sketch featured cast member Bill Hader as Australian Assange, introducing his latest scandal-sleuthing project, "WikiLeaks: TMZ."

"Hello, America, I'm Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, and I've taken over your airwaves," announces Assange as he interrupts a speech by President Obama (Fred Armisen). "This week, my organization released thousands of classified cables, revealing embarrassing details about the international diplomatic community. The leaks did not inspire revolution as I had hoped so tonight I present a new WikiLeaks, where the leaks are even more embarrassing and the details are even more sordid."

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  • merig00

Egypt puzzled after string of Red Sea shark attacks

The body of a 70-year-old German woman washed up on the shore at Egypt's Sharm el-Sheikh on the Red Sea after an attack Sunday. Officials said the shark had taken a chunk out of her right thigh and bitten through her right elbow.

Egypt had just lifted a ban on swimming in parts of the area imposed after three Russians and a Ukrainian were injured in shark attacks last week.

The government has invited international experts to help locate the killer shark but officials were at loss as to what could have caused its behaviour.

"There is not one reason that will be ignored. We are seeking any reason that causes a change in shark behaviour," Ahmed el-Edkawi, assistant secretary for the South Sinai region, told Reuters.

Some said sharks had been drawn to shallow waters after cattle being shipped in for last month's Islamic feast of the sacrifice, or Eid al-Adha, had died and were thrown overboard.

Others suggested it could have been part of a secret plot by Israel's Mossad intelligence agency.

"What is being said about the Mossad throwing the deadly shark (in the sea) to hit tourism in Egypt is not out of the question, but it needs time to confirm," South Sinai Governor Mohamed Abdel Fadil Shousha was quoted as saying by state news site

Egyptians often blame neighbouring Israel for a variety of problems such as drug and weapon smuggling, or say it supports media that seek to portray Egypt in a bad light.

Local diving experts said single shark attacks are extremely rare in the area and were mystified by as to why so many people were attacked in such quick succession.

The attacks grabbed the attention of world media and raised fears of a long-term hit to a tourism sector that is a lifeline for the desert peninsula's population and the biggest foreign currency earner for Egypt.

"We've seen more attacks in a few days than in the previous 15 years," said Florian Herzberg, dive operations manager at the Reef 2000 centre in Dahab resort north of Sharm. "It could be a shark with behavioural problems that was deliberately fed different things and now associates humans with food."

Water sports centres said business had dried up after officials banned snorkelling and swimming, leaving tourists with little to do but speculate over the cause of the attacks.

"Egypt is full of rumours and one does not know what to believe," said Gasser Mohamed, a diving instructor at CFun Divers centre in South Sinai. "I see that there are a lot of sharks in the sea and the possible rarity of tuna fish due to over-fishing seems to be causing the attacks."


  • merig00

Muslim Publics Divided on Hamas and Hezbollah

Extremist groups Hamas and Hezbollah continue to receive mixed ratings from Muslim publics. However, opinions of al Qaeda and its leader, Osama bin Laden, are consistently negative; only in Nigeria do Muslims offer views that are, on balance, positive toward al Qaeda and bin Laden.

Hezbollah receives its most positive ratings in Jordan, where 55% of Muslims have a favorable view; a slim majority (52%) of Lebanese Muslims also support the group, which operates politically and militarily in their country.

But Muslim views of Hezbollah reflect a deep sectarian divide in Lebanon, where the group’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, is threatening violence if a United Nations tribunal indicts Hezbollah members for the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. More than nine-in-ten (94%) Lebanese Shia support the organization, while an overwhelming majority (84%) of Sunnis in that country express unfavorable views.

In neighboring Egypt and Turkey, attitudes toward Hezbollah are generally negative. Just 30% of Muslims in Egypt, and even fewer (5%) in Turkey, offer favorable views of the Lebanon-based organization. Outside of Turkey and the Middle East, many

Muslims cannot rate Hezbollah, but views are on balance positive among those who do offer an opinion of the group in Nigeria and Indonesia.

The survey, conducted April 12 to May 7 by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project, finds that the Palestinian organization Hamas, which, like Hezbollah, has been classified as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and other Western governments, also receives mixed ratings across the Muslim publics surveyed. Jordanian Muslims express the most support – 60% have a favorable view of Hamas – while Muslims in Turkey offer the least positive ratings (9% favorable and 67% unfavorable). Opinions of Hamas are nearly evenly split in Egypt and Lebanon.

In most countries, views of Hamas and Hezbollah have changed little, if at all, since 2009. In Indonesia, however, more Muslims express favorable views of both groups now than did so last year; 39% now have positive views of Hamas, compared with 32% last year, and 43% have favorable opinions of Hezbollah, compared with 29% in 2009. And among Nigerian Muslims, favorable views of both Hamas and Hezbollah are now less common than they were in 2009 (49% vs. 58% and 45% vs. 59%, respectively).


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Visit Source for graphs and full report in pdf.

Explosive-laden Calif. home to be destroyed

ESCONDIDO, Calif. – Neighbors gasped when authorities showed them photos of the inside of the Southern California ranch-style home: Crates of grenades, mason jars of white, explosive powder and jugs of volatile chemicals that are normally the domain of suicide bombers.

Prosecutors say Serbian-born George Jakubec quietly packed the home with the largest amount of homemade explosives ever found in one location in the U.S. and was running a virtual bomb-making factory in his suburban neighborhood. How the alleged bank robber obtained the chemicals and what he planned to do with them remain mysteries.

Now authorities face the risky task of getting rid of the explosives. The property is so dangerous and volatile that that they have no choice but to burn the home to the ground this week in a highly controlled operation involving dozens of firefighters, scientists and hazardous material and pollution experts.

Authorities went into the home after Jakubec was arrested, but encountered a maze of floor-to-ceiling junk and explosives that included 13 unfinished shrapnel grenades.

Bomb experts pulled out about nine pounds of explosive material and detonated it, but they soon realized it was too dangerous to continue given the quantity of hazardous substances. A bomb-disposing robot was ruled out because of the obstacle of all the junk Jakubec hoarded.

That left only one option — burn the home down.

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movies | The Sound of Music

Mod Post: Help Free Go Takayama.

This is an attempt to help galvanize more on-line and off-line efforts to clear photojournalist, Go Takayama, of false charges made against him by the Cambodian government.

Excerpts of the back-story:

Photojournalist Imprisoned In Cambodia

After photographing a married couple inside a home on the evening of November 23, 2010, Takayama was stopped on the street by undercover police and detained until additional police arrived, Angkor Photo Workshop organizer Jessica Lim told News Photographer magazine today. They confiscated his camera along with 78 photographs from his memory card, which have been admitted as evidence in an accusation charging Takayama with producing pornographic content. He has been under arrest and in prison since that night.

"The 78 photographs depict a couple hugging and holding each other," Lim said today. "Although there was never any nudity, the man had his shirt off and halfway through the shoot the woman took her blouse off as well. The man had on shorts and the woman had on trousers throughout the entire shoot and there was no explicit sexual activity."


When the photographer was stopped by police, Lim says, he and the couple were asked to accompany officers to a police station. There the photographer was charged with producing pornography for the purpose of distributing pornographic content. Lim and the Angkor Photo Workshops have helped to arrange for Takayama to be represented at his first hearing by local attorney Sourng Sophea.

Read FULL account of facts here.

UPDATE!!!! (December 6, 2010):
Cambodian Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith tells News Photographer magazine this morning from Phnom Penh that photojournalist Go Takayama may soon be set free, and that he is convinced of Takayama's innocence and is sending a letter to the Cambodian court requesting his immediate release. Details as this story develops.

Okay ontd_political , we should probably presume that this positive development can be helped along with the sustained support of people writing to their respective embassies, objecting to Takayama's detainment.

If you've begun writing letters, but are having a hard time coming up with what to say, copy + paste this incredibly helpful Letter To Embassies template provided via the Facebook "Free Go" campaign:

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Eowyn and Faramir; OTP

Argentina recognizes Palestine statehood

Last Updated: Monday, December 6, 2010 | 6:46 PM ET

Argentina announced Monday it recognizes the Palestinian territories as a free and independent state within the 1967 borders, a step it said reflects frustration at the slow progress of peace talks with Israel.
President Cristina Fernandez informed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of the decision, which follows a similar move by Brazil, Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman said.
Argentina is "deeply frustrated" that the goals of the 1991 peace talks in Madrid and the Oslo Accords of 1993 still have not been reached, Timerman said.
"The time has come to recognize Palestine as a free and independent state," he said.
He stressed that Argentina also "ratifies its irrevocable position in favour of the right of Israel to be recognized by everyone and to live in peace and security within its borders."

Argentina has a deep interest in seeing Israelis and Palestinians agree to a deep and lasting peace in the Middle East, Timerman said.
"Argentina's decision to recognize the Palestine state is based in the desire of its authorities to favour the process of negotiation aimed at ending the conflict."

Following Brazil

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki rejoiced at Argentina's decision, which comes three days after Brazil's recognition. He told The Associated Press on Monday he expects Uruguay and Paraguay to recognize Palestinian statehood in the next few days, followed by Bolivia and Ecuador.
"It is really symbolic, but it is important because the more countries that recognize the Palestinian state, the more pressure this will put on countries that are hesitant and on the peace process. If Israel keeps refusing to recognize the Palestinian state when other countries do, this will make a difference," Malki said.
Timerman said "it's important to note that this Argentine recognition adds to that of more than a hundred states, and reflects a growing consensus in the international community about the status of Palestine and the general interest in achieving decisive advances in the peace process."
The Palestinian Authority opened a diplomatic mission in Buenos Aires in 1996, and in 2008 Argentina installed a representative in Ramallah, the West Bank. In November 2009, Abbas visited with Fernandez in Argentina.
Malki, who had met with Argentina's president to encourage recognition, said the authority has been focusing on Latin America.
"Other countries still have doubts and we are seeing how to convince them to recognize the Palestinian state," he said.

  • xerox78

MLK advisor recommends Obama be primaried in 2012

Time to Think the Unthinkable: A Democratic Primary Challenge To Obama's Reelection

Can't tell you how it happened. All I know, it just happened.

Been thinking and reading a lot about President Barack Obama. Lots of news commentaries about his alleged lack of leadership on this or that issue. About his disappointing the Gay and Lesbian and Transgender Community on his election pledge to end the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy in the armed services. And his disappointment by the anti-war coalition, who supported him because of his opposition to the war in Iraq, only to find that he has escalated the US's involvement in Afghanistan. Now, after the midterm election victories of the Republicans, he seems willing to compromise on his pledge to end tax breaks for the rich.

In previous blogs, I have tried to contribute to a constructive analysis and dialogue about Obama's presidential leadership. Several readers accused me of being an "apologist" for Obama. Perhaps, in artfully, but all I was trying to do was to present objectively those major issues confronting this administration, requiring decisive presidential leadership

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Obama might still be able to turn it around but he definitely won't get a second term as long as he keeps playing the kid who ditches his friends to chase the popular crowd that hates him, whether he loses in a primary or in the general to Gingrich/Palin/other.
mus | like a bird in a cage

Anniversary prompts criticism of Tory gun policy

Conservative MPs have no right to commemorate the Montreal Massacre on Dec. 6 given their efforts to abolish the long-gun registry, according to a group of former l'École Polytechnique students.

Twenty-one years ago, Heidi Rathjen heard the gunshots ring out in the halls of her school when Marc Lepine went on his deadly rampage and killed 14 of her fellow students. She escaped unharmed that day and has been at the forefront of campaigning for tighter gun laws ever since.

Rathjen, who heads a group called Polytechnique Students and Graduates for Gun Control, was on Parliament Hill on Monday at a sombre commemorative event organized by the Liberals. Representatives from the Bloc Québécois and the NDP also attended, but the Conservatives were not included in the ceremony.

"The reason I came to this was because the Conservatives were not part of it. If they would have been part of it, I would not have come," Rathjen said in an interview. "I don't think they have any right to commemorate Dec. 6 because they've done everything they can to destroy one of the main good things that came out of the tragedy, which is the gun control law."

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garf life was just toying with me

Tax Cut Deal: White House, GOP Leaders Close To Agreement

Tax Cut Deal: White House, GOP Leaders Close To Agreement

UPDATE: President Barack Obama announced "a framework for a bipartisan agreement" Monday night over the impending expiration of the Bush tax cuts.

Addressing the press after having discussed the arrangement with congressional Democratic leadership, Obama said he was unwilling to let "working families" become "collateral damage for political warfare here in Washington." He also stressed that his preference remained to let the rates for the wealthy expire. But Republicans wouldn't budge from their perch, he added. And securing a 13-month extension of unemployment benefits and other administration-favored tax credits in exchange for a two-year extension of all rates was, Obama stressed, a decent deal to make.

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Peter Donaldson - NMTD/LLL

The Oxbridge whitewash

 The Oxbridge whitewash

One college has not let in a black student for five years – a hike in fees will further entrench this bias

David Lammy

On Thursday MPs vote on whether to treble tuition fees. Ministers insist that unprecedented debt levels will not put poor students off doing degrees. But what will be asked of universities in return for their £9,000 cheque? Labour did much to widen participation to most universities, but the gates to the best remain extremely difficult to pass through. The results of my inquiries into Oxford and Cambridge admissions over the last six months reveal a system in which getting a place remains a matter of being white, middle class and southern. 

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Police 'threatened to break drugs suspect's arm'

Police threatened to break a man's arm shortly before he went into cardiac arrest and died during a drugs search, a inquest has heard.

Habib Ullah, 39, of Slough, Berkshire, was part of a group searched as they sat in a car in High Wycombe in 2008.

During the search he had breathing problems and later died in hospital.

An officer shouted "break his arm" as police tried to force a package of drugs out of his throat, the coroner heard. The inquest continues.

Emma Forbes, Mr Ullah's girlfriend who was with him at the time, told the inquest: "I could see by what was happening that it was a bit rough, the way so many of them jumped on him.

"I was hysterical, I was shouting, 'He's going blue, let go', and they were just ignoring me."

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Source: BBC