June 5th, 2013



NEW YORK (AP) — A mom sits at her kitchen table writing something down when her grade schooler saunters up with a big box of Cheerios.

"Mom," says the girl. "Yes, honey?" mom responds. "Dad told me Cheerios is good for your heart. Is that true?"

Mom glances at the box, noting that it says the whole-grain oats inside are "heart healthy."

Cut to dad napping on the living room couch. He stirs and starts to sit up, sending a pile of Cheerios on his upper chest (where his heart is) crunchily cascading to cushions and floor.

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NSA collecting phone records of millions of Americans daily

The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America's largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.

The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an "ongoing, daily basis" to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.

The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.
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OP: Welp, that's kind of goddamn terrifying.

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/06/nsa-phone-records-verizon-court-order?CMP=twt_gu

 Full Court Order: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/interactive/2013/jun/06/verizon-telephone-data-court-order

Köln roter Himmel

Europe Under Water: Record Floods Hit Eastern Germany

Image source: A poor soul on Twitter, whose house seems to have remarkably tight windows

As flooding continues across Central Europe, the eastern German city of Dresden is bracing for near record high water levels. Some residents have already evacuated their homes.

Though some areas reported improved conditions, flooding continued across Europe on Wednesday, with the eastern German city of Dresden bracing for near record water levels.

Officials in the baroque city said that they expect the Elbe River to continue to swell, though it is unlikely exceed levels seen in the disastrous flood of 2002, which caused widespread damage in eastern Germany and neighboring countries. Authorities are preparing for evacuations all along the Elbe, and some residents have already been forced leave their homes in Dresden, where electricity was shut off as a precautionary measure in some places.

Northwest of Dresden, the Saale River has reached its highest level in 400 years, said officials in Halle, where volunteers are working to stabilize a weakened dam with sandbags. Flooding has also reached a critical point in nearby Dessau, which has been put on the highest level of flood alert.

In the neighboring Czech Republic, some 19,000 people have reportedly been forced to leave their homes due to the flooding. High water arrived unexpectedly quickly overnight and is expected to continue rising in the industrial city of Ústí nad Labem, according to reports. In Melnik, where the Elbe meets the Vltava River, water levels have come within just centimeters of breaching a dike, where people have been feverishly stacking sandbags to stave off the deluge. In the capital of Prague, the subway system remained closed on Wednesday due to flooding, though water levels had begun to recede. On Tuesday, officials there were also forced to evacuate the Prague Zoo and closed the famous Charles Bridge as a precaution.

Emerging from a Catastrophe

Elsewhere in Europe, flooding caused by sustained heavy rains has been reported in Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary, with the overall death toll rising to at least 10 on Tuesday.

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It looks absolutely terrifying in many German regions, and it's almost a miracle that the death toll has been so low, particularly as there have been reports of people not taking things seriously enough. There have been cases of people absolutely refusing to leave their houses when asked to evacuate and then calling for emergency rescue when they realised that they could not in fact stop the floods, or of people trying to use roads that were marked as unsafe. One woman drowned when riding her bicycle over a flooded street that had been shut down, as she fell and was pulled into the river by the current.

Dams have broken near a small Bavarian town. We used to go there on holiday a lot - it's awful not even to be able to recognise the landscape features, and to see houses where only the roofs now look out of the water.

So far they haven't even tried to estimate the financial damages. The 2002 floods seem to have cost something between 11 and 15 billion €. This one is worse in a number of regions, and in addition to the direct destruction, it has hit agriculture, tourism, and industrial production quite hard.
  • chaya

Michelle Obama Responds to Heckler

(CNN) – First lady Michelle Obama had a rare run-in with an audience heckler Tuesday during a fund-raising event in Washington for the Democratic National Committee.

The outburst from the crowd distracted Obama from her prepared remarks, prompting her to threaten to leave if the woman wanted to keep speaking.

“One of the things I don’t do well is this,” she said, according to a pool reporter who attended the event. Television cameras were not allowed inside.

Obama walked toward the protester, saying she could “listen to me or you can take the mic, but I’m leaving. You all decide. You have one choice,” according to the pool report.

The protester was identified as Ellen Sturtz of the gay rights group GetEQUAL. She was calling on President Barack Obama to sign an executive order barring discrimination based on sexual orientation by federal contractors.

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Al-Rahma Islamic Centre destroyed in hate crime fire

Al-Rahma Islamic Centre destroyed in 'hate crime' fire

An Islamic centre in north London has been destroyed by a fire in an apparent hate crime attack.

The Met Police said the fire, which happened at the Al-Rahma Islamic Centre in Muswell Hill in the early hours, is being treated as suspicious.

A spokesman said the letters EDL (English Defence League) were sprayed on to the building, used by the Somali Bravanese Welfare Association.

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For those who don't know, EDL is the English Defence League. You get one guess who they are 'defending' England against. >_>

Should Parents of Bullies Pay? Wisconsin Town Thinks So

The Wisconsin town of Monona has taken a big step in the effort to fight bullying with an unusual new law, threatening to fine both the bully and his or her parents upward of $114.

“We don’t have a bullying problem any more than anywhere else, but it’s been escalating nationally, we just want to try to take an extra step to fight it,” Monona Police Sgt. Ryan Losby told Yahoo! Shine. “It’s for the parents out there who either won’t do anything to try and stop their kids from bullying, or for those who encourage it.”

Losby, who drafted the law after being inspired by a similar, 2010 law in nearby Milton, said the new ordinance is meant only as a last resort when dealing with parents of bullies who refuse to cooperate with the school and police. The part that targets moms and dads, called the “parental responsibility” piece of the law, can fine the parents of a bully $114 for a first offense and $177 for subsequent ones, but only after sufficient warning, in writing.

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I'm not much a fan of this. For one, I kinda doubt the good it will do. Those who have money but don't care their kids are bullies can just pay the fine and that's it. Those too poor to afford it and don't care their kids are bullies are just going to be angry at their kids. The parents who do care, it seems like there are better ways to get their attention. And also, my opinion isn't an overly popular one, but I've seen enough studies stating that bullies are often victims themselves that I'm very uncomfortable with (entirely unconnected) punishment being the primary solution used to stop bullying.

*Not sure if it was needed, but added a trigger warning for suicide because there is a brief mention of a suicide due to bullying (no graphic details)