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Scary Health Symptoms You Can Relax About

Time - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 05:45

It has been nearly 20 years since I officially practiced medicine, but my friends and family consider me their frontline medical adviser. In an age when it is hard to get a doctor on the phone and can be pricey to see one, I remain really good at screening symptoms. The vast majority of the time, I can assure people that their anxiety is unfounded. Of course, every once in a while, my advice is “Yikes, worry more!” Here are some common medical worries you can set aside—along with a little guidance on when you should indulge them. MoreMen Charged With Toppling Ancient Rock Formation Avoid Jail Time Huffington PostHere's An Updated Tally Of All The People Who Have Ever Died From A Marijuana Overdose Huffington PostAuthor Holly Peterson's Love Advice: Look for a Best Friend PeopleTour Confidential: Will We See a First-Time Masters Winner This Year? Sports Illustrated'Survivor' recap: The Legend of Boobs McGee Entertainment Weekly

Don’t worry about: A single elevated blood-pressure reading Popular Among Subscribers The Taliban’s New Campaign of Fear The Virtual Genius of Oculus RiftMillennials: The Me Me Me Generation

The human body is constantly changing in response to an array of factors: stress, medications, what you eat, how you sleep. This is definitely true of blood pressure, particularly the top number in the blood-pressure measurement, the systolic blood pressure. In fact, there is a phenomenon called “white coat hypertension,” in which blood pressure goes up when the measurement is taken at the doctor’s office because you’re nervous about having it checked! A friend of mine was recently in the hospital, hooked up to a display that checked his blood pressure every 15 minutes, with tremendous variation. It nearly drove him crazy.

When to worry: If you get a high reading several times in a month, talk to your doctor; untreated high blood pressure can lead to heart disease and stroke. Extremely elevated blood pressure (systolic pressure over 180 or diastolic pressure over 110) is a medical emergency. 27 Mistakes Healthy People Make

Don’t worry about: A blood-test result that’s a little high or low

Even if the lab report says the number is out of normal range, that value is most likely normal for you. For his entire life, my husband has had a slightly low platelet count, but he has never had bleeding problems (platelets help with clot formation). No problem, no disease. Part of the reason a new doctor does routine blood work when you’re feeling good is so that she can learn what is typical for you.

Don’t worry about: Low blood pressure

You know the saying “You can never be too rich or too thin”? Low blood pressure is kind of like that. It puts less stress on your organs, so it’s generally considered a good thing.

When to worry: If low blood pressure leaves you feeling lightheaded or faint, or if you feel your heart fluttering, then you need to see a doctor.

Don’t worry about: A couple days of nausea, vomiting or diarrhea

People want to know if it’s food poisoning or a virus, but in terms of healing, it doesn’t really matter. If there is no intense abdominal pain, high fever or blood in your stool, your body will take care of it. The important thing is not to get dehydrated. I prefer that old favorite, flat ginger ale, but any clear liquid, like water or Gatorade, will do.

When to worry: If you feel faint or are vomiting up blood, get to the doctor. 15 Signs You May Have an Iron Deficiency

Don’t worry about: Painless lumps

As bodies age, they develop a wide variety of lumps. The overwhelming majority of them are not cancerous. The causes of lumps are so numerous that it is impossible to give a complete list here, but they range from benign cysts to fatty deposits under the skin (called lipomas). Make sure you show them to your doctor on your next visit, but try not to be too alarmed.

When to worry: Some lumps should be evaluated as soon as possible. Breast lumps should never be ignored. Lumps that are tender, warm and red could be from underlying infections that need treatment. Hard or fast-growing lumps should also be seen promptly.

Don’t worry about: Bleeding

In terms of species survival, it’s probably good that the sight of blood provokes panic. But most of us panic more than we should. Cuts on certain parts of the body, like the scalp, can bleed profusely, but that shouldn’t necessarily cause alarm. Put pressure on a cut for 5 to 10 minutes to see if you can get it to stop bleeding. If you can’t, or if the two sides of the slice seem widely separated, you may need stitches to help healing.

When to worry: If you’re not sure whether a cut needs stitches, it’s not wise to wait and see. Wounds need to be stitched within 24 hours or the risk of infection rises markedly.

Don’t worry about: A little rectal bleeding

The most embarrassed call I receive concerns blood on toilet paper or in the bowl. It is almost always related to hemorrhoids or small cuts in the rectal area rather than a sign of an ulcer or cancer. Try taking a stool softener, or eat more fruits and vegetables to do the same trick.

When to worry: If the bleeding persists for more than two or three days or is painful, head to the doctor. 18 Reasons Why Your Stomach Hurts

Don’t worry about: Sharp, localized chest pain

We tend to associate the chest with the heart, but there are lungs, bones, muscles and digestive organs in there, too. Sometimes chest pain that’s worse with a cough, a deep breath or movements of the torso, like lifting or twisting, can be caused by strains or irritation in the small muscles and ligaments that surround the ribs. These can be due to injury or a viral infection and generally resolve themselves; a nonsteroidal medicine like ibuprofen may help in the meantime.

When to worry: If you are also short of breath or have a fever, see a doctor. In that case, sharp, localized pain could be a sign of a lung problem. And if you have any doubt about whether you should get medical help for chest pain, it’s always better to err on the side of caution.

Don’t worry about: Rashes

During my medical training, I had an itchy rash on my arms and legs. It lasted two weeks and went away. I still have no idea what it was. Minor rashes are part of life, and no cause will be found for many of them. Use common sense to treat symptoms—taking an antihistamine or applying hydrocortisone cream can help with itching, for example—and think about new products or foods you’ve come in contact with so you can try to avoid a recurrence. Have you used any new shampoos? Is the rash only on the legs (in that case, think plant allergy)? Only on areas exposed to the sun? Only on areas under clothing?

When to worry: If an itchy rash comes on suddenly while taking a medicine (particularly an antibiotic) or eating a new food, seek immediate medical attention, especially if you also have shortness of breath or difficulty swallowing. It could be the start of a life-threatening allergic reaction. Also, if the itching is unbearable despite over-the-counter treatment, you might need something stronger, like a short course of steroids. 19 Signs Your Thyroid Isn’t Working Right

Should you worry more?

As I said, usually my advice involves calming unneeded anxiety. Most of my friends are worriers. But there is another type of patient—the denier—and those people should worry more. That group would include my own husband. So if you’re one of them, here are a few things that should always prompt an urgent medical visit: chest pain or pressure that you can’t localize with one finger and comes back every time you exercise; the worst headache of your life; intense abdominal pain, particularly if accompanied by fever; and shortness of breath severe enough that you have trouble finishing a sentence. This list is by no means complete, but these symptoms should set off immediate alarms. Put down this magazine and see a real doctor!

Elisabeth Rosenthal is a correspondent for The New York Times and a graduate of Harvard Medical School.

This article originally appeared on

Categories: Magazines

Chinese Lawyers Say They Were Tortured, Told They Would Be Fed to Dogs ‘Like Kim’s Uncle’

Time - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 05:41

You know the story about Kim Jong Un feeding his uncle to a pack of dogs? It was not true. But that apparently has not stopped Chinese security personnel from using it to terrorize detainees.

Three Chinese lawyers who were whisked away by plainclothes police last month say they were tortured and threatened. Tang Jitian, Wang Cheng, and Jiang Tianyong were detained while protesting a “black jail” holding practitioners of Falun Gong, a spiritual movement banned by Beijing. The trio told the New York Times they were hung from the ceiling and beaten. Guards also threatened, variously, to bury them alive, take out their kidneys and feed them to dogs “like Kim Jong Un’s uncle,” they said.

Tang, Wang and Jiang were released from a detention center in Heilongjiang province, in China’s northeast, on April 6, after spending 15 days in prison for “using an evil cult to endanger society.” In 1999, Beijing declared Falun Gong an “evil cult” and effectively banned the movement.

Rights groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International joined Chinese activists in calling for an investigation.

“The torture of human-rights lawyers in police custody isn’t just an assault against the individuals concerned, but also against the legal profession,” said Sophie Richardson, Human Rights Watch’s China director, in a statement. “Without an independent investigation and accountability for the abuse, the government’s rule-of-law rhetoric rings very hollow.”

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The Search Zone for the Missing Jet Is Narrowing

Time - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 05:41

The search zone for missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 is now at its most focused yet, as investigators continue to express hope that the hunt for the Boeing 777’s wreckage may soon be at an end, while admitting that serious challenges remain. MoreSolar Plane Will Circumnavigate Earth in 2015Search Narrows for Flight 370Men Charged With Toppling Ancient Rock Formation Avoid Jail Time Huffington PostHere's An Updated Tally Of All The People Who Have Ever Died From A Marijuana Overdose Huffington PostAuthor Holly Peterson's Love Advice: Look for a Best Friend People

Angus Houston, who is coordinating the search in distant waters off Australia’s west coast, said Wednesday that he was “optimistic” that the wreckage would be found “in a matter of days,” and Thursday saw underwater sonar systems known as sonobuoys deployed in an attempt to collect more signals from the doomed aircraft’s black boxes.

“We are still a long way to go, but things are more positive than they were some time ago,” Australian Transport Safety Board chief Martin Dolan told Reuters on Thursday.

Two signals were heard by Australian navy vessel Ocean Shield Tuesday — for five minutes and 32 seconds, and then for around seven minutes — on top of two detections over the weekend.

Now a modified Royal Australian Air Force P-3 Orion surveillance plane is deploying up to 84 sonobuoys that can transmit data to search aircraft via radio.

“What we want to do is maximize the time that may still be left on those black box batteries so we will keep searching with the towed pinger locator,” Commander Mark Williams, of the U.S 7th Fleet, which is assisting efforts, told CNN.

“We’ve done an incredible job decreasing the search area to a pretty small, defined area. But with a side-scan sonar, which works pretty slowly and methodically, it’s still pretty big.”

If the batteries fail before the black box recorders are located — and they are already three days past their 30-day standard lifespan — finding the wreckage in water 2.8 miles (4,500 km) deep becomes much more arduous.

On Thursday the search for visible debris continued on an area narrowed to 22,000 sq miles (58,000 sq km) — slightly smaller than West Virginia — with up to 10 military aircraft, four civil aircraft and 13 ships operating about 1,400 miles (2,280 km) northwest of Perth.

Aircraft and ships reported spotting a large number of objects during Wednesday’s search, but only a small number were recoverable, and none confirmed to be from MH370.

Until wreckage is found, there can be no closure for families of the 239 passengers and crew. “Things look promising but it’s nowhere near the end until we find a bit of the airplane,” David Newbery, an aircraft accident investigator, tells TIME.

Some have speculated that the lack of wreckage may indicate the plane could remain relatively intact, although Newbery believes this more to do with unpredictable currents and not knowing where to look.

“Hitting water in an airplane is like hitting concrete, so if it was a controlled ditching it is conceivable that not many bits fell off,” he says, “but anything other than that and there’s inevitably going to be wreckage.”

MH370 vanished soon after departing Kuala Lumpur for Beijing early March 8 and investigators still have no idea why it flew so drastically off-course to apparently crash in the southern Indian Ocean.

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Q&A With Jon Hamm: No, You Do Not Want to Be Don Draper

Time - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 05:30

Jon Hamm as Don Draper is a little like Superman in reverse: he puts on a suit and tie, slicks his hair back, and suddenly he’s superhuman (if somewhat more fallible). MoreWhy Is Bill O’Reilly Trying to Get Stephen Colbert David Letterman’s Job?VIDEO: Anne Hathaway Debunks Drowning Rumors on The Tonight ShowMen Charged With Toppling Ancient Rock Formation Avoid Jail Time Huffington PostHere's An Updated Tally Of All The People Who Have Ever Died From A Marijuana Overdose Huffington PostAuthor Holly Peterson's Love Advice: Look for a Best Friend People

When I visited the Mad Men set for my Time cover story on the shooting of the final season (which premieres Sunday, April 13 at 10 p.m. on AMC), I got a few minutes to speak to Hamm in Clark Kent mode–tie un-tied, hair un-slicked, taking a break between takes on the lot of the Los Angeles Center Studios downtown. (Earlier, I posted my lengthier interview with creator Matthew Weiner.) The transcript below is edited for length and clarity: Popular Among Subscribers The Taliban’s New Campaign of Fear The Virtual Genius of Oculus RiftMillennials: The Me Me Me Generation

That incredible Hershey pitch [in the season 6 finale] was a situation we’ve seen Don in so many times–he’s in a professional crisis, a personal crisis and yet he goes into a pitch meeting and reaches inside himself and saves the day. And here it was sort of the opposite; he did something that was personally important for him but it also ruined the pitch. What do you think caused him to get to that point?

Hamm: You know, I recently got to see that scene again because it was shown at the AFI, and I hadn’t really seen it since it aired. A friend of mine was saying it’s funny because you look at that scene and you kind of think–because we’ve seen him in that situation before–are [the Hershey executives] gonna buy this? Because it is moving. It’s just inappropriate. And we’ve seen something like that with Don–the Carousel or even back to the pilot when he pulls “It’s toasted” out of his ass.

So he was kind of thinking, “They might buy this. It’s unorthodox but it’s a way to go.” And, of course they don’t, but he couldn’t go in there and fake it with that particular product because it meant so much to him personally, and it just sort of spilled out in a very raw and visceral way.

We’ve seen Don repeat some self-destructive patterns in his life, and at the end of last season he seemed to be making some sort of decisive break with that. Do you feel he is capable of change?

I think part of why the character is so interesting is that he is a person that has habits, and not all of them are good, but yet he has shown the ability to surprise you every now and again. And I think events leading up to the end of last season and Don’s confession [at the Hershey pitch] I think was a watershed moment in his life–and I do think that was a big step for Don.

Now, there are repercussions that don’t have to do with just him. Being put on leave from the agency and having a tenuous situation at home are the fallout. So he’ll have to manage both of those. But I hope for for Don that he is able to find some measure of peace with not only who he is and who he was but who he wants to be.

You know we’ve been asking that question for some time on this show – who is Don Draper? He’s a different person to Roger than he is to Peggy than he is to Betty than he is to Megan than he is to Pete than he is to so many other people. But I think what we’ve been waiting for is who is he to Don.

Do you find anything admirable about him?

There haven’t been a lot of examples in recent history. He’s taken two steps back for every one step forward. What I find admirable about him is that he’s a creative guy and he sticks to his guns creatively. In his own way he’s an artist and he wants to be taken that way, even though he works in a very commercial, no pun intended, medium. That’s probably the only thing I can come up with.

We’ve seen Don for seven years telling stories about himself by telling stories about products. Is there something about the advertising business that made it an especially good vehicle to talk about American history?

You know, we started the show in 1960 in the waning of the Eisenhower era and pretty much the maximum of America’s global influence. And these guys were at the center of it and driving it basically– spreading the word about the American Dream. And the American Dream was basically the American Dream for white males. And so over the course of the decade we’ve seen that power slowly whittled away–you’re looking at the rise of feminism and women in the workplace, the rise of African Americans and civil rights and homosexuals, and all of this stuff kind of percolating underneath. And it’s placed in this incredibly vital time and place – New York City was arguably the most important place in the world in the sixties. And by the seventies was a dump. You’re like, “What happened? We had it all wired. And then it just all stopped.”

But advertisers were still selling ads and still selling this dream that had shifted and changed, so they had to change how they pitch, and it became more ironic and it became more oblique. And we have guys like Ginsberg and Peggy and Stan coming up and pitching new ideas that the older guys just don’t get. The times have changed. Music has changed. We had the scene where Don puts on “Tomorrow Never Knows” and he’s like, “I don’t like this garbage.”

We touched on that very early in the show. Season two, episode one was called “For Those Who Think Young” and it was about everything being pitched to young people. We’re still in that mode. Take a look at any movie – any movie that’s not released in December is basically for 14 year olds .

Are you surprised how much a lot of fans like Don Draper?

Well, people like Walter White, too, and the guy’s a murderer. People like Tony Soprano, another murderer. There’s a vicarious thrill to seeing these people do bad things on television and mostly get away with it. People love Omar [the stickup man from The Wire]. You like the bad guys sometimes if they’re not too bad or if you feel like there’s a heart of gold somehow.

But I’m always surprised when people are like, “I want to be just like Don Draper.” I’m like, “You want to be a miserable drunk?” I don’t think you want to be anything like that guy. You want to be like the guy on a poster maybe but not the actual guy. The actual guy’s rotting from the inside out and has to pull it together.

But, and again that’s one of the biggest themes on the show: the outside looks great, the inside is rotten. That’s New York City. That’s America in the sixties. That’s all that stuff. It all looks great and when you scratch the surface you’re like, “Oh, it’s hollow and it’s rotten.” It’s advertising. Put some Vaseline on that food, make it shine and look good. Can’t eat it, but it looks good.

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The Sriracha Factory Is a Public Nuisance, Says California City

Time - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 05:08

A city in California has declared a Sriracha plant located close to town a public nuisance for emanating spicy fumes that have prompted a ton of complaints, the Associated Press reports.

The declaration was made by the Irwindale City Council on Wednesday night. Council representatives will now enter the hot sauce factory and make changes if the factory doesn’t find a way to contain the pollution within 90 days.

Last fall, residents complained that stinging fumes emanating from the factory caused asthma problems, heartburn, headaches, streaming eyes and nosebleeds. The complaints resulted in the factory being partly shut-down, but the problems persisted.

The Sriracha maker, Huy Fong Foods, is working with the air-quality experts South Coast Air Management District on improving its filtration system and is making progress, air-quality experts said.

The hot sauce Sriracha is Thai in origin but has become a popular condiment in many kinds of restaurants in the U.S.

[Associated Press]

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Pro-Hillary Super PAC Raises $1.7 Million

Time - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 05:01

Ready for Hillary, the super PAC formed last year to lay the groundwork for a potential repeat White House bid by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, says it raised $1.7 million in the first quarter of the year, months before Clinton is expected to decided whether to mount another bid for commander in chief.

The haul brings the group’s total, two years before the Democratic primaries, to more than $5.75 million since its inception over a year ago. The sum, while lower than what has been raised by others contemplating a 2016 run, is a strong sign of support for Clinton, who has effectively locked-up the Democratic field until her decision, and is the largest war chest collected by a 2016-focused outside group. After a slow start, the group has received the blessing and support of many Clinton insiders, including Craig Smith, Harold Ickes, Ellen Tauscher, and James Carville, and is believed to have the tacit support of Clinton herself.

The group, focused on list-building and grassroots events, has set a voluntary donation cap of $25,000 and is just one element of the burgeoning pro-Clinton effort, which also includes Priorities USA, the former Obama super PAC, and Correct the Record, an offshoot of the liberal research American Bridge. Priorities USA is focusing its efforts on top-dollar donors, bringing on former Obama campaign manager Jim Messina as co-chair, but has yet to report fundraising numbers for the quarter.

Ready for Hillary has spent the better part of the last year holding events around the country in early states and outside of paid Clinton appearances to build support for the former First Lady. It brought on veterans of President Barack Obama’s campaign to manage its grassroots organizing strategy, and also maintains a robust online store selling Clinton apparel and paraphernalia, with purchases counting as donations to the organization. The group says it had more than 22,000 new donors during the quarter, with an average contribution of $53.

The organization has come under fire from some fellow Democrats for shifting the party’s focus to 2016 when the party is desperately struggling to maintain control of the Senate this fall. Ready for Hillary has said it will support candidates that Clinton has publicly backed. Clinton has said she will decide whether to pursue the Oval Office sometime this year, though a decision is not expected before November’s midterm elections.

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Pro-Russian Protesters Are Ignoring Ukraine’s Ultimatum

Time - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 04:51

Pro-Russian activists occupying state buildings in east Ukrainian cities continue to reinforce their barricades, ignoring interior minister Arsen Avakov’s ultimatum for the occupiers to enter political negotiations or face “force.”

The ultimatum has a day left to run. Separatists are openly calling on Russian President Vladimir Putin to intervene, while a popular local politician has proposed that the protesters be given amnesty as a prelude to negotiations.

Meanwhile, Russia maintains that there is no reason to worry about its troop build-up on Ukraine’s borders — a move that has drawn strong condemnation from the United States and NATO, who are considering troop deployment in Eastern Europe.

According to U.S. estimates based on satellite imagery, there are up to 40,000 Russian troops along Ukraine’s eastern border. Geoffrey Pyatt, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, illustrated the military build-up with images posted on Twitter.

proof of RU military buildup правительство #США опубликовало снимки сил #РФ, сгруппировавшихся у границы с Украиной.
Geoffrey Pyatt (@GeoffPyatt) April 09, 2014

The fresh standoff began Sunday night as hundreds of demonstrators seized government buildings in Kharkiv, Donetsk and Luhansk, chanting “Russia! Russia!” and calling for “peacekeepers” to be sent in from across the frontier. In Donetsk, protesters inside an 11-story state building have even proclaimed an independent republic.

Washington has warned that Russia may be orchestrating a Crimea-style takeover of eastern Ukraine, following the organized push through police lines on Sunday — something Moscow denies.

Tensions have run high since November, when the refusal by then Ukraine President Victor Yanukovych to sign a trade agreement with the E.U. led to violent clashes between protesters and government forces that claimed over 100 lives.

The current action in eastern Ukraine is strongly reminiscent of the takeover of state buildings in Crimea by pro-Russian activists in February, which led to the Russian annexation of the Black Sea region.

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BlackBerry May Simply Ditch Those Handsets That Nobody Wants

Time - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 04:35

If BlackBerry doesn’t start making more money on its handset business, the company will consider exiting the market.

In an interview with Reuters, the company’s chief executive officer said that a decision will be made soon.

“If I cannot make money on handsets, I will not be in the handset business,” said John Shen, who took over as CEO of the struggling company late last year.

The company reported a quarterly net loss of $423 million and a 64% drop on revenues in March.

Chen said that the company is increasingly focusing on providing highly secure communications to regulated industries and financial and legal services, as the revelations about the scope of surveillance by the U.S. government has made businesses and governments focus more on security.

“We are going to be more focused on secure communications, secure messaging,” the CEO said.

“We are building an engineering team on the service side that is focused on security. We are building an engineering team on the device side that is focused on security. We will do some partnerships and we will probably, potentially do an M&A on security.”


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Israel Launches New Spy Satellite

Time - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 04:28

(JERUSALEM) — Israel’s Defense Ministry said on Thursday that it has successfully launched a new observation satellite into orbit, one which is expected to be used to observe Iran and hostile militant groups in the Middle East.

According to the announcement, the Israeli-made “Ofek 10″ satellite was launched late Wednesday in cooperation with state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries. The satellite has already begun transmitting data and visual material. It is expected to be operational within months.

Israel is expected to use the satellite to keep tabs on Iran and the region. It believes Iran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon — a charge Iran denies — and accuses it of arming militants across the region.

The Ofek 10 is the latest in a line of spy satellites built by Israel Aerospace Industries for the government.

It is a lightweight satellite that is expected to improve Israel’s reconnaissance abilities by providing sharp images at any time of day, and in any weather condition, said Ofer Doron of Israel Aerospace Industries.

“The Ofek 10 satellite should improve Israel’s intelligence capability and allow the defense establishment to better deal with threats near and far,” said Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon in a statement.

“We are continuing to strengthen our tremendous qualitative and technological advantage over our neighbors,” Yaalon added.

The satellite has the capability to direct its imaging radar on a specific target, as opposed to other satellites that perform a general sweep of territory.

“It has an incredible imaging capability…to give very precise photos,” said Doron.

Unlike other countries that launch satellites eastward in the direction of the earth’s orbit, Israel launched the satellite westward, opposite the direction of the earth’s orbit, to prevent debris following the launch to land in enemy countries east of Israel, said Doron. The satellite completes a full orbit around the earth every 90 minutes, said Doron.

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The Tennessee Senate Has Backed a Bill to Reinstate the Electric Chair

Time - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 04:11

Tennessee Senators overwhelming voted on Wednesday to reinstate the electric chair to execute capital inmates in the event that the state is unable to procure the necessary chemicals to perform lethal injections.

In a 23-3 vote, the Senate approved the Capital Punishment Enforcement Act, tabled by Sen. Ken Yager, which would provide the state’s Department of Corrections with the legal backing to kill inmates with the electric chair as an alternative, according to The Tennessean.

A similar piece of legislation has reportedly been tabled in Tennessee’s House of Representatives.

The senatorial vote follows the Volunteer State’s decision last year to use the sedative pentobarbital as the lethal pharmaceutical agent to execute. States that rely on pentobarbital are increasingly having a difficult time procuring a steady source of the drug, as European pharmaceutical firms object to supplying their products to execute inmates.

Despite the passage of the bill, activists remained hopeful that the chair will not see active duty again in Tennessee.

Executive director for the Death Penalty Information Center Richard Dieter told Reuters that execution by electrocution is “painful and torturous,” which means the use of the chair would likely be challenged in court on the grounds that such a method violates the Constitution’s protections against cruel and unusual punishment.

Tennessee currently has 81 inmates on death row.

[Reuters, The Tennessean]

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So It Turns Out That India’s ‘Bachelor’ Politician Is Technically Married

Time - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 04:01

Controversial businessman Narendra Modi, the favorite to be the next Indian prime minister, has acknowledged for the first time that he is married, confirming long-running rumors.

Many thought that BJP leader had remained alone his adult life, having come through the ranks of a grassroots Hindu nationalist organization that requires a vow of celibacy.

Previous media reports suggested he walked away from an arranged marriage when just a child, but this has never been confirmed by the ascetic 63-year-old, who would frequently extoll the merits of his single status during stump speeches.

“I have no family ties, I am single. Who will I be corrupt for?” he said during campaigning in February.

But as he filed papers Wednesday, to stand as a MP for western Gujarat state’s Vadadora constituency, he finally acknowledged, in an affidavit, that he had a wife.

Rumors had been circulating for years that a 62-year-old retired school teacher in Gujurat, Jashodaben, had been married to Modi. A magazine tracked her down in 2009 but she refused to give speak to them. However, she finally gave an interview in February and confirmed that the couple separated three years into their marriage — at the ages of 17 and 18 respectively — and since then “we have never been in touch.”

The revelation was quickly seized upon by senior opposition figures, including Congress Party general secretary Digvijaya Singh.

Modi accepts his Marital Status. Can Women of this Country trust a Man who stalks a woman, deprives his wife of her right? Vote against Modi

— digvijaya singh (@digvijaya_28) April 10, 2014

Singh’s reference to “stalking” pertains to a 2009 controversy in which a female architect was put under surveillance — allegedly on the orders of Modi.

Meanwhile, Sonia Gandhi, president of the ruling Congress Party, launched a scathing attack on Modi Wednesday, accusing him of presenting a false image of Gujarat, India’s most developed state, where he is chief minister.

“Some people are talking of themselves in a big way. It is an old habit. They are projecting an image as if Gujarat is the only state that has developed,” Sonia said at a rally in this south Karnataka town bordering Andhra Pradesh, according to Indian Express. “It is another matter that the poor have made sacrifices for this development.”

More than 814 million Indians will vote over the coming five weeks, with parts of 14 states and the capital New Delhi currently casting ballots. Analysts say these may be the most important polls in four decades.

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A Survivor of the Washington Mudslide Shares Her Story

Time - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 03:36

Few who witnessed the terrifying mudslide that ravaged the small Washington community of Oso on March 22 lived to tell the story, but on Wednesday Amanda Skorjanc shared her terrifying experience, which she lived through with her infant son.

“I held onto that baby like it was the only purpose that I had,” she said from Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where she is hospitalized.

Skorjanc was watching videos at home with her son when the lights started to flicker and shake. Looking outside, she saw an enormous sludge wall pummeling through the community, launching a neighbor’s chimney in her direction.

When the horrifying deluge finally ended, Skorjanc and her baby found themselves injured but alive in a pocket formed by a damaged couch and pieces of roof.

“I started to hear sirens — the most amazing sound I ever heard,” she said, adding that she kept her eyes closed as she and her son were rescued. “I was scared and in so much pain.”

Skorjanc’s husband was out on an errand when the mudslide hit, and was unscathed.

Skorjanc, however, suffered multiple fractures, crushed ankles and injuries to an eye socket, while her son fractured his skull. While he is recovering, doctors say she will need to be off her feet for another 10 weeks — and the emotional healing will take a lot longer.

The latest death toll in the disaster is 36.


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Two Soldiers Killed as Maoists Attack Before Polls Open in East India

Time - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 01:51

Maoist rebels blew up a military jeep in India’s eastern Bihar state late on Wednesday, killing two members of the paramilitary forces and wounding three others, just hours before voting began in the third phase of India’s six-week-long national elections.

The troops were patrolling forest near a rebel stronghold in Munger district, some 145 miles (233 km) southeast of the state capital Patna, when an improvised land mine detonated at around 5:30 a.m. as they tried to cross a bridge, reports the Associated Press.

Six parliamentary constituencies of Bihar, including Jamui, where the attack took place, are heading to polls in the state’s first ballot phase on Thursday, reports PTI.

Maoists had earlier called for a poll boycott. Nevertheless, voting in the restive province commenced as planned, said police officer Jitendra Rana.

According to police in Jharkhand state’s Latehar district, six land mines also exploded in the early hours, and a gun battle erupted between Maoists and security forces, although no casualties were reported.

Many millions of people are currently heading to the ballot box in parts of 11 of India’s 28 states. Voting for the 543-seat lower house of parliament is expected to close on May 12, with results announced four days later.

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Facebook is Going to Force You to Install Its Messenger App

Time - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 01:44

Facebook is about to eliminate the message feature of its mobile app, pushing its users to install the company’s standalone app Messenger instead, TechCrunch reports.

The company has begun sending out notifications to users in Europe saying that the message service will disappear from Facebook’s main mobile app for iOS and Android in about two weeks.

“We have built a fast and reliable messaging experience through Messenger and now it makes sense for us to focus all our energy and resources on that experience,” the company said in a statement Wednesday, Reuters reports.

Users in a handful of European countries, including England and France, will be the first users forced to download the Messenger app, but eventually users in all countries will see the message service in the main app disappear, spokesman Derick Mains said to Reuters.

Criticism of the move spread across tech blogs and Twitter after the plan was announced Wednesday.


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U.N. May Approve Force for Central African Republic

Time - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 01:17

(UNITED NATIONS) — France is predicting that the U.N. Security Council will vote unanimously Thursday to authorize a nearly 12,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping force for Central African Republic, which has been torn by mounting violence between Christians and Muslims. MoreDon’t Blame The Central African Republic Conflict On ReligionCentral African Republic: Christians and Muslims Counter Ethnic CleansingMen Charged With Toppling Ancient Rock Formation Avoid Jail Time Huffington PostHere's An Updated Tally Of All The People Who Have Ever Died From A Marijuana Overdose Huffington PostAuthor Holly Peterson's Love Advice: Look for a Best Friend People

The 10,000 U.N. troops and 1,800 police would take over from more than 5,000 African Union soldiers — but not until Sept. 15.

France, the country’s former colonial power which drafted the resolution, scheduled the vote for Thursday morning. A separate 2,000-strong French force in the Central African Republic would be authorized to use “all necessary means” to support the new U.N. force, to be known as MINUSCA.

Central African Republic has been in chaos since a March 2013 coup, when mostly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power and launched a brutal regime. Christian Anti-Balaka militiamen attacked Seleka strongholds in the capital, Bangui, in early December, and as the rebel government crumbled in January the anti-Balaka stepped up the violence, forcing tens of thousands of Muslims to flee.

The draft resolution expresses serious concern at multiple violations of human rights and humanitarian law committed by both former Seleka elements and anti-Balaka militia including killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture, sexual violence against women and children, rape and attacks on civilians, “in particular but not limited to Muslims,” and attacks on places of worship.

The draft resolution “demands that all militias and armed groups put aside their arms, cease all forms of violence and destabilizing activities immediately and release children from their ranks.”

The Security Council wants a strong mandate and the draft would authorize the new U.N. force to protect civilians and support the disarmament of combatants and the restoration of peace and law and order. It would also authorize MINUSCA to help investigate violations of human rights and humanitarian law by armed groups including former Seleka rebel and the anti-Balaka.

While U.N. peacekeepers and police will not take over until Sept. 15, the draft resolution will establish the U.N. mission, to be known as MINUSCA, immediately. It will take over all activities of the U.N. political office in Bangui, including supporting the political transition process, humanitarian assistance and human rights monitoring.

The draft welcomes Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s call for “revitalization and acceleration of the political and reconciliation process in order to lay the ground for an end to the conflict,” and it urges the transitional authorities to accelerate preparations for free and fair elections no later than February 2015.

Once MINUSCA is established, the African Union force on the ground will receive logistical support from the United Nations. Many of its members are likely to become part of the new U.N. force after being checked to ensure they meet U.N. standards.

The draft resolution stresses “that all perpetrators of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights violations and abuses must be held accountable and that some of these acts may amount to crimes under the Rome statute of the International Criminal Court.”

It would authorize MINUSCA to help investigate violations of human rights and humanitarian law by armed groups, including ex-Seleka and anti-Balaka, “and to contribute to efforts to identify and prosecute perpetrators.”

The draft notes that Central African Republic is a state party to the ICC and the court’s prosecutor has opened a preliminary examination of alleged crimes committed in CAR since September 2012.

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Hagel Seeks to Increase Ties With Mongolia

Time - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 00:09

(ULAN BATOR, Mongolia) — U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is seeking to bolster U.S. military relations with Mongolia on Thursday as he wraps up a 10-day trip to the Asia-Pacific.

Hagel’s stop in Ulan Bator put him in between China and Russia, two global powers that Washington has been sparring with over territorial disputes involving U.S. allies. And it underscored a repeated message he delivered over the past 10 days urging nations to respect their neighbors and to resolve disagreements peacefully.

Arriving in Mongolia after spending three days in China, Hagel was expected to thank the nation for its contributions to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. He will meet Mongolian Defense Minister Bat-Erdene.

The U.S. provides about $2 billion in military sales annually to Mongolia, and another $1 billion in military education and training.

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Japanese Fighter Jet Scrambles Against China Have Hit a Record High

Time - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 00:09

Japan scrambled fighter jet against Chinese planes 415 times during the last 12 months, hitting a record high, the Japanese Defense Ministry said on Wednesday.

The number of scrambles is up 36 precent from the previous year, and they come amid increased tensions between the two countries over long and bitter territorial disputes.

Akira Asai, public affairs director of the Defense Ministry’s Joint Staff, said the record number of scrambles is a response to an expansion in activities by Chinese fighter jets and other planes, Reuters reports.

“As for China, we understand they are keeping up vigorous activities,” he said.




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India’s Most Politically Important State Goes to the Polls Today

Time - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 23:32
MoreSo It Turns Out That India’s ‘Bachelor’ Politician Is Technically MarriedTwo Soldiers Killed as Maoists Attack Before Polls Open in East India

Sachin Singh, a 20-year-old driver from the village of Barola in western Uttar Pradesh, came home on Tuesday evening to tell his father that the villagers were being treated to free booze by a local political party — a typical vote-grabbing ploy during India’s election season. But this time, surprisingly, his father was not interested. “We can buy our own alcohol, thank you very much,” said Jitendra Singh. “Our votes are not for sale.”

Hopefully, that sort of political maturity will be taking root elsewhere in Uttar Pradesh (U.P.), which, with a population of around 200 million, is India’s most populous state. It goes to parliamentary polls on Thursday, with 80 out of 543 seats up for grabs. And because all the contenders for the position of Prime Minister are contesting constituencies in this state, what happens in U.P. is crucial to each party’s political fortunes.

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi is contesting the seat of Amethi. In Varanasi, there’s a David-vs.-Goliath face-off between Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Narendra Modi and neophyte Arvind Kejriwal of the populist, antigraft Aam Aadmi Party. Gandhi’s mother and Congress Party chief Sonia Gandhi is contesting the seat of Rae Bareli.

U.P. politics have been traditionally polarized on the basis of caste, but since the 1992 demolition of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya by Hindu zealots — an act that sparked widespread communal rioting around the country leading to 2,000 deaths — communal tensions, not caste, have taken center stage. At the end of last year, rioting broke out between Hindu Jats and Muslims in Muzaffarnagar, which killed around 49 and displaced almost 50,000 people. Thousands of Muslims are still languishing in refugee camps.

An India Today Group-CVoter Mood of the Nation opinion poll predicts that the Hindu BJP, riding high on Modi’s popularity, will increase its seat tally by at least 10% this year. It also predicts that the Congress Party will be the biggest loser, winning just four seats. The role of regional parties like the Samajwadi and the Bahujan Samajwadi will meanwhile be crucial in determining the electoral outcomes of India’s most politically important state.

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California Man Confesses to 40 Killings

Time - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 23:26

(FRESNO, Calif.) — A suspected contract killer charged in Central California with killing nine people confessed to investigators that he carried out up to 40 slayings in a career spanning decades, a prosecutor said Wednesday. MoreMexican National Executed for 1997 Texas SlayingOrlando Police Launch Manhunt to Arrest Suspect Behind Daycare TragedyMen Charged With Toppling Ancient Rock Formation Avoid Jail Time Huffington PostHere's An Updated Tally Of All The People Who Have Ever Died From A Marijuana Overdose Huffington PostAuthor Holly Peterson's Love Advice: Look for a Best Friend People

Errek Jett, the district attorney in Lawrence County, Ala., said that Jose Manuel Martinez, 51, told investigators he carried out the crimes working as an enforcer for a drug cartel. Jett said they believe Martinez because of the details he gave investigators. Popular Among Subscribers The Taliban’s New Campaign of Fear The Virtual Genius of Oculus RiftMillennials: The Me Me Me Generation

Martinez was arrested last year shortly after crossing the border from Mexico into Arizona and sent to Alabama, where he awaits trial on one murder charge. Once word got out, a steady stream of investigators from across the country came to question Martinez, Jett said.

Defense attorney Thomas Turner, who represents Martinez in that lone case, said his client is eager to start a June trial in Alabama, so he can return to California. Turner said Martinez maintains his innocence to the charge there and doesn’t seem to be a hardened killer.

“I’ve found him to be polite and a likable individual,” Turner said. “He has a good personality as far as talking with him.”

Prosecutors in California say otherwise.

Martinez targeted victims in Tulare, Kern and Santa Barbara counties between 1980 and 2011, said Tulare County Assistant District Attorney Anthony Fultz, who filed charges Tuesday.

Investigators have released details of their case, saying six of the victims were killed in Tulare County, two in Kern and one in Santa Barbara. They ranged in age from 22 to 56, investigators said.

One man was shot dead in 1980 driving to work in the morning, while two men were shot in 1982 working on a ranch, one surviving. The same year, another man went missing before being found two days later by ranchers shot and stabbed to death. Yet another was found in 2000 shot to death in bed with his four children at home.

In addition to the nine murder counts, Martinez was charged in California with one count of attempted murder and the special circumstances of committing multiple murders, lying in wait and kidnapping. Four murder charges include the allegation he committed the crime for financial gain, the criminal complaint says.

The California charges would make Martinez eligible for a death sentence, if he is convicted.

Martinez has lived on and off in Richgrove, a small farming community in Central California about 40 miles north of Bakersfield. He’s being held in Alabama, awaiting trial in a 2013 slaying, and Fultz said he’s also wanted in Florida on suspicion of two killings there in 2006.

Fultz declined to comment on any connection Martinez may have with drug cartels, saying he did not want to damage the case at this early stage. Fultz said that too will remain under investigation.

Fultz said he is confident Martinez committed at least the nine killings he’s charged with, but he has heard higher figures from across the nation.

“We’re actually not sure what the full scope is,” Fultz said. “It will depend upon what the investigation shows.”

Martinez has spent brief stints in state prison following a 2007 conviction on theft and drug charges, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Acting Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said his deputies came in contact with Martinez while investigating a rash of home-invasion robberies in late 2012 and early 2013.

Martinez was at a home they searched and was questioned by Sgt. Christal Derington, but not considered a suspect.

From his cell in Alabama, Martinez requested a meeting with Derington, who flew across country three times, because Martinez said “he wanted to talk to her,” Boudreaux told The Fresno Bee. The cases in California came together, he said.

“As a result of Detective Derington’s initial investigations and interviews, we began working on new leads,” Boudreaux said. “While this case has been filed, there is plenty of work to be done.”

Meanwhile, Martinez’s mother told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday that she was completely overwhelmed by the news of her son’s alleged crimes.

“This is hard for me – really hard,” Loreta Fernandez said in Spanish. “I’m still shaking. I’m not in a condition to deal with this.”

Fernandez told the paper that the last time she spoke with her son was in June, when he was detained while crossing the Mexican border because there was a warrant for his arrest in Alabama.

She said she didn’t believe he committed the murders.

“All I can say is God bless him and that not everything he’s saying is true,” Fernandez said.

Chandler reported from Montgomery, Ala.

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'The Americans' Recap: Information Highway to Hell

RollingStone - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 23:15
Hindsight is always 20/20 isn't it Philip? If only those computer nerds and Professor Falken erm Rosenbloom had put it in terms you understood maybe you wouldn't feel so guilty about killing your 575th victim I mean don't you realize that all those "X's and O's on a virtual highway" a...

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