Monday, December 06, 2010


It only brings us closer to Christmas.

A Canadian resident is sentenced to die:

An Iranian-born man who is a permanent resident of Canada has been sentenced to death in Tehran in a case his supporters say is rife with torture and human rights abuses.

A website run by those campaigning for Saeed Malekpour's release from an Iranian prison says the 35-year-old was sentenced to death Saturday.

Malekpour's supporters say an Iranian judge told his lawyer the death sentence was not his decision but one made by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

Malekpour is a website developer who became a permanent Canadian resident in 2004.

His supporters, including his wife who now lives in Richmond Hill, Ont., say he was arrested in Iran in October 2008 after a trip to visit his ailing father.

He has been held in Tehran's Evin Prison in relation to a case of "Internet offences" linked to a program he made for what turned out to be an adult website.

The charges against him include "taking action against national security by designing and moderating adult content websites," "agitation against the regime" and "insulting the sanctity of Islam." His supporters say Malekpour wasn't aware the program he made would be used for an adult website.

The "sanctity of Islam". Think about that for a while.

Suicide bombers kill fifty people in Pakistan. It is unclear how many Korans were burned:

Two suicide attackers wearing police uniforms and jackets packed with explosives and bullets blew themselves up at a gathering of tribesmen to discuss the formation of an anti-Taliban militia in northwest Pakistan Monday, killing 50 people, officials said.

The meeting was being held at the main government compound in Mohmand, part of Pakistan's militant-infested tribal region. It was the latest strike against local tribesmen who have been encouraged by the government to take up arms against the Taliban.

Sharks in Egyptian waters:

A shark struck for the fifth time in a week off Egypt's most popular Red Sea resort on Sunday, killing a German woman. The victim, who was 70, was mauled as she snorkled close to the shore. The attacks are thought to be the work of at least one Oceanic whitetip shark, described as "the most dangerous of all sharks" by oceanographer Jacques Cousteau. "You never hear about sharks biting more than one person," said Samuel Gruber, an expert on sharks at Miami's Bimini Biological Field Station. Officials closed Sharm el-Sheikh's beaches and ordered a hunt on Wednesday after the first four attacks. Two sharks were caught and identified as the culprits. The beaches were then reopened, only to be closed again after yesterday's attack.
Said Mohamed Abdel-Fadil Shusha governor of South Sinai to talk of concerning the dumping of Mossad shark deadly hit tourism in Egypt is not ruled out and needs time to make sure, adding that he was taking strong action and stop swimming at beaches for 72 hours after the death of tourist German. The Shusha in a telephone call to the program Good Morning Egypt Egyptian TV on Monday that he was identified alternative locations for swimming and diving has been the use of experts from abroad and teachers from the High Institute of Marine Sciences to discuss the matter and give guidance on how to deal with this type of fish which was found after examining the teeth it type predator, noting that the rumors concerning the dumping of these fish in the Mossad, Egyptian beaches to hit its tourism is not excluded and in need of thorough research to make sure.

With laser beams on their heads.

Those who dare mention this get an earful from people whose feelings don't equate reality. The reality is that poverty, lack of stability and identity stink more than hurt feelings:

One of the study's most surprising initial findings was that the large majority--80%--of poor, unmarried couples were romantically involved at the time of their child's birth. In fact, 50% of the couples were living together. Fathers almost always visited the mothers and children in the hospital and usually gave financial support. Even better, most of these new parents said that there was a 50/50 chance that they would eventually marry each other. They spoke highly of their partners' commitment to their children and of their supportiveness. 

But within five years, a tiny 15% of the unmarried couples had actually taken wedding vows, while a whopping 60% had split up. At the five-year mark, only 36% of the children lived with their fathers, and half of the other 64% hadn't seen their dads in the last month. Onehalf to two-thirds of the absent fathers provided little or no financial support. 

A parental breakup is hard enough on kids, but the prevalence of what experts call "multi-partner fertility" is salt in their wounds. By the time the children were five, 20% of their mothers had a child by a different man; 27% of the kids were living with their mother's new live-in partner. These relationships tended to reduce father involvement: Dads are less likely to come around when a new man is in the house. In the long run, it's not even clear that the new boyfriends are good for the women involved, since mothers with children by more than one man "reported significantly less available [financial] support than those with children by one man." 

Adding to the child-unfriendly atmosphere are the many fathers who go on to have children with another woman. The journal reports that men with children in a new relationship spend less time and money on their previous children. One study also found -- no surprise -- that the quality of "co-parenting" declines when a new girlfriend or boyfriend enters the picture. Breakups turn out to be hard on men themselves, too; men living with their children worked longer hours and earned more, while those who moved out were more likely to become unemployed. 
And what do we know about the impact of all this on children? The Fragile Families kids growing up with single mothers have more behaviour problems than those with two parents; those problems worsen with every "transition," that is, every new relationship and breakup. There's even evidence that instability affects children's cognitive performance. Worst of all, children growing up with a boyfriend or stepdad in the house are at greater risk of abuse, a fact horribly demonstrated in Brooklyn recently when two-year-old Aiyden Davis died as a result of his mother's boyfriend's beatings. 

Eventually, the economy will improve. That's not likely to change much for the children in fragile families.

Another by-product of the Taliban's tyranny:

If you manage to gain entrance to the music library of a fair-sized university you will find a small number of LPs of traditional Afghan music. With a valid student or alumni library card, you will be permitted to listen to these recordings for limited time periods on turntables -- the sort that only a few short years ago were part of most middle-class households. 

The music on these records was recorded by a handful of adventurous ethnomusicologists from the early 1950s until the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. When the Taliban defeated the Russians, they declared a shariah-inspired war on music and musicians. Though considerable collecting has gone on in refugee camps and among Afghans abroad, no organized on-site survey collection of Afghan traditional music has been carried out since 1979. We are left with recorded fragments of once rich, varied traditions of music that roughly correspond with the numerous ethnic groups of the country, as well as the semi-urban and urban musical styles of that once vibrant cultural mosaic.

South Korean troops pushed ahead with naval firing drills Monday, a day after North Korea warned the exercises would aggravate tensions between the rivals following the North's deadly shelling of a front-line South Korean island.

Regional powers stepped up diplomatic efforts to head off further conflict, with President Barack Obama speaking to China's Hu Jintao by telephone Monday and top diplomats from the U.S., South Korea and Japan scheduled to hold talks later in Washington.

Obama condemned North Korea's Nov. 23 artillery shelling of Yeonpyeong Island and its pursuit of a uranium enrichment program, and urged Hu to send Pyongyang a message that its "provocations are unacceptable," the White House said.

The attack killed two marines and two civilian construction workers — the first attack on a civilian area since the 1950-53 Korean War.

Don't. Talk. To. China.

The real Titanic film (not that James Cameron crap).

Snow awesomery.

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