Sunday, February 26, 2017

On a Sunday


A drunk driver plowed into revellers in New Orleans, injuring twenty-eight people:

Authorities on Sunday identified the man who allegedly plowed into a crowd enjoying a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans while intoxicated.

The New Orleans Police Department issued a statement identifying the man as 25-year-old Neilson Rizzuto. Online jail records showed Rizzuto was arrested on a number of charges and was being held at the city's jail.

The accident happened Saturday during one of the busiest nights of Mardi Gras when thousands of people throng the streets of Mid-City to watch the elaborate floats and clamour to catch beads and trinkets tossed from riders.

"We suspect that that subject was highly intoxicated," Police Chief Michael Harrison had said on Saturday evening.

Harrison was asked by the media if terrorism was suspected. While he didn't say "No," he did say it looks like a case of DWI.

Twenty-one people were hospitalized after the crash with five victims taken to the trauma centre in guarded condition. However, their conditions did not seem to be life-threatening, said Dr. Jeff Elder, city emergency services director.

Seven others declined to be hospitalized, he said.

The victims range in age from as young as 3 or 4 to adults in their 30s and 40s, Elder said.


British authorities are worried about ISIS attacks in the UK:

Britian's new terrorism watchdog says the U.K. is facing a level of terror threat not seen since the IRA bombings of the 1970s.

Max Hill made the comment in his first major interview since taking up the role last Monday.

Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph, he warned ISIS was planning "indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilians" and expressed "enormous concern" at the imminent return of hundreds of British jihadists who have been fighting in Iraq and Syria.

He also warned that British teenagers as young as 14 were being radicalized by extremists online.
"The sad fact is the threat in this country represented by what we now know as Daesh, so-called Islamic State, is high, is continuing and is not going to abate," Hill said.
(SEE: horse, barn, close door, run out of)

In a sign that nothing has changed between itself and the US, Iran holds naval exercises in the Persian Gulf:

Iran launched naval drills at the mouth of the Gulf and the Indian Ocean on Sunday, a naval commander said, as tensions with the United States escalated after U.S President Donald Trump put Tehran "on notice".

Since taking office last month, Trump has pledged to get tough with Iran, warning the Islamic Republic after its ballistic missile test on Jan. 29 that it was playing with fire and all U.S. options were on the table.

Iran's annual exercises will be held in the Strait of Hormuz, the Gulf of Oman, the Bab el-Mandab and northern parts of the Indian Ocean, to train in the fight against terrorism and piracy, Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said, according to state media.

Millions of barrels of oil are transported daily to Europe, the United States and Asia through the Bab el-Mandab and the Strait of Hormuz, waterways that run along the coasts of Yemen and Iran.

Navy ships, submarines and helicopters will take part in the drills across an area of about 2 million square kilometers (772,000 square miles) and marines will showcase their skills along Iran's southeastern coast, the state news agency IRNA said.

The U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet is based in the region and protects shipping lanes in the Gulf and nearby waters.

China, too, rattles its sabre:

China's navy has been taking an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and new Chinese warships popping up in far-flung places.

Now, with President Donald Trump promising a U.S. shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.

"It's opportunity in crisis," said a Beijing-based Asian diplomat, of China's recent naval moves. "China fears Trump will turn on them eventually as he's so unpredictable and it's getting ready."

Beijing does not give a breakdown for how much it spends on the navy, and the overall official defense spending figures it gives - 954.35 billion yuan ($139 billion) for 2016 - likely understates its investment, according to diplomats.

China unveils the defense budget for this year at next month's annual meeting of parliament, a closely watched figure around the region and in Washington, for clues to China's intentions.

But... but... think of all the money that will be saved:

Deck: Some doctors backing out of assisted death

Some doctors who have helped the gravely ill end their lives are no longer willing to participate in assisted death because of emotional distress or fear of prosecution if their decisions are second-guessed, according to their colleagues.

In Ontario, one of the few provinces to track the information, 24 doctors have permanently been removed from a voluntary referral list of physicians willing to help people die. Another 30 have put their names on temporary hold.

While they do not have to give a reason, a small number have advised the province they now want “a reflection period to decide whether medical assistance in dying is a service they want to provide,” according to a health ministry spokesman.
Wow. What will the government do if more doctors have attacks of conscience?

Pretend boy wins a wrestling match:

A 17-year-old transgender boy completed an undefeated season Saturday by winning a controversial Texas state girls wrestling title in an event clouded by criticism from those who believe the testosterone he’s taking as he transitions from female to male created an unfair advantage.

Cell phones do not make students smarter, safer or more savvy. They are buzzing, glowing distractions:

Researchers and educators agree that cellphones have become fixtures in Canadian classrooms, but opinion remains divided on how best to address their presence.

All agree that the presence of smartphones can be problematic if students are allowed to devote more attention to their screens than their studies.

One research paper suggests the majority of schools are still treating cellphones as a scourge and banning the devices outright both in and out of class.

But that study and a growing number of boards say they’ve had more success once deciding to stop fighting the technological tide and find ways to incorporate cellphones into schools.

Rather, teachers have given up.

Give these kids a book and film with one's self phone their struggle to turn the pages.

 South Korea's demographic crisis:

Korea is experiencing a demographic upheaval this year. The number of births plunged to 406,300 last year, a strong indication that it will further fall to below 400,000 as early as this year. 

The economically active population aged 15-64 will start shrinking for the first time this year and country will become an aged society with the proportion of people over 65 exceeding 14 percent of the population.

Only 406,300 babies were born last year, down 32,120 from a year earlier and an all-time low, according to tentative data released by Statistics Korea on Wednesday. 

The total fertility rate -- the average number of children that would be born to a woman between 15 and 49 years -- shrank to from 1.24 to 1.17 on-year. The figure is still higher than the all-time low of 1.08 in 2005. In other words, the decrease in births is largely due to the decrease in women of childbearing age.

One actor's extraordinary stroke of luck:

An obscure Korean actor appeared in American filmmaker Martin Scorsese's latest film "Silence," which is set for release here late this month. 

"Silence," an adaptation of the 1966 novel by Japanese writer Shūsaku Endō, deals with a story of a Jesuit missionary sent to 17th century Japan. Scorsese reportedly had been wanting to make the film since the late 80s, when he first read the novel.

"It's like my dreams came true when I was cast in the film," Nam said.

Nam debuted as a stage actor in 2006 and played minor parts in a couple of plays and dramas. When he heard that "Silence" was being made into a film, he sent dozens of emails to Scorsese and the casting director. He then went to New York in 2013 and visited Scorsese's office everyday for one month, but was unsuccessful in getting a role.

Two years later he went to the filming set in Taiwan and waited almost all day long with a sign saying, "I am looking for Scorsese. I will be happy with any role, be it a beggar, a passerby, or a dead man." About two weeks later he got an audition at last and was given a role as a villager.

 (Sidebar: if one has not seen "Silence", one simply must.)

Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Bill Paxton:

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