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Member since: Thu May 18, 2017, 11:36 AM
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World Cup groups revealed - England to face Belgium as draw throws up mouthwatering Iberian derby

Source: The Independent

England were handed a favourable draw for the 2018 World Cup in Russia after being chosen to face Belgium, Panama and Tunisia in Group G. After avoiding Argentina, Brazil and Germany, England were the penultimate team picked from Pot 2 by Diego Maradona in the draw ceremony in the Kremlin's State Palace.

Elsewhere in the draw, hosts Russia were placed in Group A alongside Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay, with neighbours Portugal and Spain in Group B with Morocco and Iran.

France, Australia, Peru and Denmark make up Group C, with Group D perhaps the closest to a so-called 'Group of Death' as it contains Argentina, Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria.

Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia were drawn in Group E, with defending champions Germany in Group F with Mexico, Sweden and Korea. Poland, Senegal, Colombia and Japan make up Group H.

Read more: https://www.independent.ie/sport/soccer/world-cup/world-cup-groups-revealed-england-to-face-belgium-as-draw-throws-up-mouthwatering-iberian-derby-36370920.html

2018 World Cup draw results (comments? predictions?):

Nobel economics laureates warn about bitcoin

A day after Noble laureate Joseph Stiglitz said bitcoin should be outlawed, another winner of the economics prize said the digital currency will eventually repeat the U.S. stock market crash that preceded the great depression.

Robert J. Shiller, the Yale economist whose work covers the prediction of asset prices -- and the inefficiency of markets -- said the attraction of the currency was a narrative akin to a "mystery movie" that draws in people who want to outsmart the system.

"Bitcoin, it’s just absolutely exciting," Shiller said at a conference in Vilnius, Lithuania on Thursday. "You’re fast. You’re smart. You’ve figured out nobody else understands. You’re with it. And bitcoin has this anti-government, anti-regulation feel. It’s such a wonderful story. If it were only true."

Price swings in the world’s most popular digital currency are increasing amid speculation that bitcoin’s almost 1,000 percent gain this year may not continue. Bitcoin surpassed $11,000 in a matter of hours after reaching $10,000 on Wednesday. It then fell almost 20 percent before recovering.

“I don’t know where it’s going to stop," said Shiller, who won the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 2013. "It’s going to go way up, like the stock market in the 1920s. We will reach a 1929 eventually. But then it won’t go to zero, it just will come down.”

A day earlier, Stiglitz called bitcoin "a bubble" that’s going to excite people as it rides up and then drops.

“So it seems to me it ought to be outlawed,” Stiglitz said Wednesday in a Bloomberg Television interview with Francine Lacqua and Tom Keene. “It doesn’t serve any socially useful function.”

At: https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/markets/so-it-looks-like-nobel-economics-laureates-dont-like-bitcoin/ar-BBFY7wp

NGOs blocked at last minute from WTO summit in Argentina

Global Justice Now condemns the last minute decision to block dozens of civil society experts and campaigners from next week's World Trade Organisation summit in Argentina.

The decision, apparently made by the right-wing administration of Argentine President Mauricio Macri for undisclosed reasons, is unprecedented in recent WTO history.

Observers from Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America had their approved accreditation withdrawn by the WTO yesterday. Groups including Global Justice Now, Friends of the Earth International, and the Transnational Institute are among those affected.

Senior WTO officials said that they didn’t know the reason for the decision despite frequent requests for information from Argentina’s government. Many of the organisations have participated in summits since the WTO was founded.

Argentina’s civil society groups also reported on its own members being blocked from the summit and visas being denied to people duly accredited by the WTO. They rejected the “unilateral and authoritarian measures.” It is believed to be the first time in more than 15 years that a host government has taken a decision of this nature.

Trade campaigners from across the world called upon Argentina’s government to immediately reverse its decision and comply with human rights obligations. The decision also raises questions about the ability of President Macri of Argentina to host this year’s G20, also due to happen in Buenos Aires.

“If the WTO believes in the importance of civil society’s voice, we call on them to move the Summit to a country where people are able to participate freely,” Nick Dearden, Director of Global Justice Now said.

“We also call on the G20 to reconsider the location of their summit next year, as President Macri has clearly shown that his government does not respect democracy or pluralism.”

At: http://www.globaljustice.org.uk/news/2017/nov/30/ngos-blocked-last-minute-wto-summit-argentina

Argentina 'death flight' pilots sentenced for deaths including pope's friend

Two former Argentine military pilots have been given life sentences for their part in the death of a close friend of Pope Francis, who was hurled to her death from an aircraft during the country’s 1976-83 dictatorship.

The ruling on Wednesday marked the first Argentine judgement against participants in the so-called “death flights”, in which opponents of Argentina’s military regime were thrown into the freezing waters of the South Atlantic in an attempt to hide the murders.

The court heard that former coastguard pilots Mario Daniel Arrú and Alejandro Domingo D’Agostino were in the crew of the Skyvan PA-51 plane from which Esther Careaga and 11 other people were thrown to their death on the night of 14 December 1977. Careaga was a close friend of Jorge Bergoglio, who decades later became Pope Francis.

The pilots were among the 54 defendants in the massive trial, which also involved the cases of 789 victims of the Navy Mechanics Higher School, ESMA, in Buenos Aires, where up to 5,000 people are estimated to have been killed.

The victims included left-wing opponents of the regime and members of Argentina’s tiny urban guerrilla groups; but also labor leaders, human rights activists and relatives of people who had already been “disappeared” by the military. Around 22,000 dissidents were killed between 1975 and 1979.

At: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/nov/29/argentina-death-flight-pilots-sentenced-for-deaths-including-popes-friend

President Obama visiting Buenos Aires' Dirty War memorial last year. The memorial was built in 2007 near the sight of most of the death flights; some 8,000 victims were disposed of this way from 1976 to 1978.

An 84-year-old doctor who refuses to use a computer has lost her medical license

Aside from a fax machine and landline telephone, there isn't much technology in the office of physician Anna Konopka, 84.

Instead, her patients' records are tucked into two file cabinets, which sit in a tiny office next door to her 160-year-old clapboard house in New London, N.H. Records are meticulously handwritten, she said. Konopka does have a typewriter; but it's broken, and its parts have been discontinued.

With medicine in the United States becoming increasingly regulated — and as more doctors are expected to keep records electronically — Konopka's style of doctoring had attracted about 25 patients a week. Some had complicated conditions like chronic pain. Some didn't have insurance. Konopka says she would see anyone who can pay $50 in cash.

But she no longer can.

Konopka said she felt forced to surrender her medical license in September after New Hampshire Board of Medicine officials challenged her record-keeping, prescribing practices and medical decision-making, according to court documents.

She said she wonders if her license was in part taken away because of her inability and unwillingness to use technology to diagnose her patients or log her patients' prescriptions as part of New Hampshire's mandatory electronic drug monitoring program. The program, signed into effect in 2014, is an effort to reduce opioid overdoses.

Konopka, who was a licensed medical practitioner for 55 years, insists that patients prescribed painkillers were always given small dosages. If not for her prescriptions, they would be in constant pain, she said.

“The [electronic] system right now, with this opioid war, they have no common sense with what they're doing. Bureaucrats who don't know medicine — they are getting this kind of idea that they can handle this type of pain without narcotics.”

At: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2017/11/29/an-84-year-old-doctor-who-refuses-to-use-a-computer-has-lost-her-medical-license/?utm_term=.edbf967e06cc

Dead rabbits found at Iowa wind farm likely used to lure and kill eagles

A local landowner-farmer in Delaware County, Iowa, was shocked to discover over a dozen deceased rabbits, each with their necks broken, scattered beneath wind turbines on their land. The land is leased by RPM Access, a company that owns several wind farms throughout the state.

“I don’t understand who would do something like this? I really don’t,” said Linda Slobodnik, an environmental consultant for RPM Access, according to KWWL News.

Slobodnik, who has stated that this act of violence is the most disturbing incident she has seen in her 10 years in the wind industry, believes the rabbits were used to lure in eagles or other birds to the turbines, likely to kill them as well.

Why would someone seek to lure and kill eagles, using dead rabbits as bait?

There are a lot of anti-wind people. At this time, we are looking at new places for projects, and I am thinking that possibly someone would like us to not build another wind farm in the area,” said Slobodnik.

Despite some local resistance, Iowa has made enormous progress towards a clean energy economy, primarily through wind power, which provided more than 36% of all electricity used in 2016. As it stands, Iowa is the most wind-powered state in the U.S.

Although the dead rabbits were deliberately placed, it is true that wind turbines can kill local wildlife. It is estimated that 300,000 birds are killed by wind turbines each year. That may sound like a lot; but it’s important to see these numbers in context.

Wind power kills 1/15th the number of birds that fossil-fuel generated power does each year. Glass buildings in cities are also frequent bird killers. And, of course, outdoor and feral cats kill hundreds of millions of birds annually.

At: https://inhabitat.com/dead-rabbits-found-at-iowa-wind-farm-likely-used-to-lure-and-kill-eagles/

Indigenous rights protester killed by police in Argentina

An Indigenous rights protester, a member of a Mapuche tribe, was shot dead by Gendarmerie militarized police forces in Argentina.

Rafael Nahuel, 22, was reportedly shot in the back during a court-ordered eviction of the Lof Lafken Winkul Mapu protest camp. The incident took place this afternoon near the shores of scenic Lake Mascardi in Patagonia's Río Negro Province, in southwestern Argentina.

Nahuel and two other victims, a man and a woman with bullet wounds in the abdomen and shoulder, were transferred to the Ramón Carrillo Hospital in nearby Bariloche, where the protester died. Two others were detained.

Numerous demonstrations have been called in and around Bariloche, the nation's leading winter tourism destination. Protesters and supporters such as the CTA labor union blame British-born landowner Joe Lewis, who owns 46 mi² around Lake Escondido (just south of Lake Mascardi), as well as the right-wing administration of Mauricio Macri - who has vacationed at Lewis' lakefront mansion as president.

This was the second such case in Argentina in three months.

News of Nahuel's death arrived just hours after the burial of 28 year-old artist and activist Santiago Maldonado, whose disappearance on August 1 during a similar Gendarmerie raid on a Mapuche protest camp further south garnered international attention.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances have criticized the Macri administration for their handling of the case.

An autopsy performed after Maldonado's body was found on October 20 revealed that he had drowned; but that he had died sometime in late August rather than during the August 1 incident, and that his body had been in the water for about a week rather than the 80 days that had elapsed since his disappearance.

His being located nearly a mile upstream from where he was last seen moreover has led his family and rights groups to suspect he may have died in custody, and his body later planted.

"It's very strange that the body was found where it was, when we have searched those same places and there was nothing," his brother Sergio Maldonado pointed out. "We want to know the truth."

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pagina12.com.ar%2F78435-otra-vez-persecucion-y-muerte-en-la-patagonia

Rafael Nahuel

Lake Mascardi

Hopes dashed, relatives of Argentine submarine crew turn to grief and anger

For more than a week, as the days passed with little news, relatives of 44 sailors aboard an Argentine Navy submarine that went missing on Nov. 15 hoped for a miracle.

On Thursday morning came the crushing news: An explosion had been recorded deep in the Atlantic Ocean near where the submarine was traveling, only a few hours after the vessel’s last communication. Some relatives fainted. Some screamed at the naval officers. Others sobbed loudly.

“The commander of the Mar del Plata base confirmed that they are all dead,” Luis Tagliapietra, father of one of the missing crew, Lt. Alejandro Tagliapietra, said. “The explosion was at a depth of over 200 meters (656 ft). There is no human being that can survive that.”

There was also anger. Families said the navy had mismanaged the situation by waiting to start a full-scale search and by dangling reports of possible satellite phone calls from the ship, which turned out to be false.

As if to add insult to injury, the explosion came to light only after analysts from the United States government and an international nuclear weapons monitor detected it and told the Argentines.

Vessels from 11 nations, including the United States, have been combing the seas as part of the search; the Argentine Navy’s four P3-B maritime patrol aircraft have been grounded and unavailable for deployment.

While the Navy has not formally given up hope of finding the crew, relatives began referring to their loved ones in the past tense. If the sailors perished, it would be the deadliest submarine catastrophe since the sinking of the Kursk — a Russian vessel brought down by a misfired weapon in 2000 — and the Argentine military’s largest loss of life since the Falklands War of 1982.

The disappearance and likely loss of the vessel, the ARA San Juan, could turn out to be the greatest national tragedy to unfold under President Mauricio Macri, who came into office nearly two years ago vowing to invest in Argentina’s underfunded armed forces.

Argentina's $5.5 billion defense budget was 4% of federal spending in 2017, and 0.9% of GDP.

At: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/23/world/americas/argentina-submarine-explosion.html

Starbucks Is Criticized for Its Holiday Cups. Yes, Again.

Source: New York Times

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, which means it is time to embark on a modern American holiday tradition: over-analyzing seasonally available Starbucks cups for signs of liberal nefariousness.

Starbucks has produced holiday cups for 20 years. Some have come and gone with little commotion, but others have drawn the ire of conservatives for what some have seen as a secular design scheme that failed to show proper respect for Christianity.

This year’s cup features nods to Christmas tradition, including a decorated Christmas tree, and was introduced by an online video that proclaimed “the holidays mean something different to everyone.”

But that big-tent approach wasn’t enough to avoid controversy. This year, critics wonder if Starbucks is using its holiday cups to promote homosexuality.

Read more: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/starbucks-is-criticized-for-its-holiday-cups-yes-again/ar-BBFneLF?OCID=ansmsnnews11

"No, sir. We have no cups with a blonde Jesus carrying an AR-15 with a bump stock."

Della Reese, singer and actress in 'Touched by an Angel,' dead at 86

Source: Fox News

Della Reese, the actress and gospel-influenced singer who in middle age found her greatest fame as Tess, the wise angel in the long-running television drama "Touched by an Angel," has died at age 86.

"She was the most consistently positive and optimistic person I have known," a family representative said. "And she touched so many people with that beautiful energy. She always resonated at such a high frequency. That was the gift she gave you when you were in her company. She truly personified being 'Touched by an Angel.'"

Before "Touched by an Angel" debuted in 1994, Reese was mainly known as a singer, although she had costarred on "Chico and the Man," ''Charlie and Company" and "The Royal Family" and hosted her own talk show, "Della."

She appeared on numerous shows such as "Night Court," ''L.A. Law," and "Designing Women," but wrote in her 1997 autobiography that she had difficulty being typecast until she landed her "Touched by an Angel" role.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2017/11/20/della-reese-singer-and-actress-in-touched-by-angel-dead-at-86.html

Della Reese, 1931-2017.
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