The Most Recent Topics (limited to 100)

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91
Japan’s retirees turn to crime for a better life in prison
Posted March 29, 2016, 08:18 by Mave in News
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Japan’s retirees turn to crime for a better life in prison



TOKYO — Japan’s prison system is being driven to budgetary crisis by demographics, a welfare shortfall and a new, pernicious breed of villain: The recidivist retiree. And the silver-haired crooks, say academics, are desperate to be behind bars.

Crime figures show about 35 per cent of shoplifting offences are committed by people over 60. Within that age bracket, 40 per cent of repeat offenders have committed the same crime more than six times.

There is good reason, concludes a report, to suspect the shoplifting crime wave, in particular, represents an attempt by those convicted to end up in prison — an institution with free food, accommodation and healthcare.

The mathematics of recidivism are gloomily compelling for the would-be convict. Even with a frugal diet and dirt-cheap accommodation, a single Japanese retiree with minimal savings has living costs more than 25 per cent higher than the meagre basic state pension of ¥780,000 (S$9,415) a year, according to a study on the economics of elderly crime by Mr Michael Newman of Tokyo-based research house Custom Products Research.

The surging rates of crime among the elderly disguise a darker trend than mere contempt for the law, say economists and criminologists. Retiree crime is rising more quickly than the general demographic ascent into old age that will put 40 per cent of the Japanese population over 65 by the year 2060. Mr Akio Doteuchi, a senior researcher on social development at the NLI Research Institute in Tokyo, expects the ratio of repeat offenders to continue rising.

“The social situation in Japan has forced the elderly into the need to commit crime,” he said.

Source: http://www.todayonline.com/world/japans-retirees-turn-crime-better-life-prison
92
Three-quarters of UK children spend less time outdoors than prison inmates
Posted March 28, 2016, 07:01 by Mave in News
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Three-quarters of UK children spend less time outdoors than prison inmates



Three-quarters of UK children spend less time outside than prison inmates, according to a new survey revealing the extent to which time playing in parks, wood and fields has shrunk. A fifth of the children did not play outside at all on an average day, the poll found.

Experts warn that active play is essential to the health and development of children, but that parents’ fears, lack of green spaces and the lure of digital technology is leading youngsters to lead enclosed lives.

Most of the parents polled said their children have fewer opportunities to play outside than they did when young. The new research is strongly supported by previous work, including a government report in February that found more than one in nine children had not set foot in a park, forest, beach or any other natural environment for at least a year.
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“The truth is we are enclosing our children,” said Mark Sears, at The Wild Network, which works to increase wild play. “We are stifling their ability to be free, to be at their best as children and it is having significant impacts.” He said increasing obesity and lower mental wellbeing in children was linked to a lack of physical activity.

On Wednesday, environment secretary Liz Truss announced that every schoolchild will have the opportunity to visit a national park, noting that only 10% currently have access to outdoor learning. “I want every child to know the joy and wonder of the great outdoors,” she said recently. “Our children should be climbing trees, not the walls.”

Under the plan, national park authorities will engage over 60,000 young people a year through schools visits by 2017/18. The plan is part of a government campaign expected later this year that will aim to connect children with nature and the environment.

The new survey questioned a nationally representative sample of 2,000 parents of 5-12 year olds and found 74% of children spent less than 60 minutes playing outside each day. UN guidelines for prisoners require “at least one hour of suitable exercise in the open air daily”.

The poll also found children spent twice as long playing on screens as playing outside. It was funded by Persil, as part of the detergent brand’s Dirt is Good campaign.

“Academic research shows that active play is the natural and primary way that children learn,” said Sir Ken Robinson, an educationalist and advisor to Unilever, which makes Persil. “It is essential to their healthy growth and progress, particularly during periods of rapid brain development. We must place adequate importance on play now, so that our precious children grow up into successful, well-rounded and happy adults.”

Sears said: “Parents see the value of outdoor play and still it doesn’t happen. Outdoor time is shrinking. It is a gigantic paradox.” He said fear of strangers, traffic or accidents deterred parents from allowing children to play outside, as did lack of time due to busy school and work lives. “It’s time we gave parents the tools, skills and confidence to do the things that they know are good for their children.”

A separate study from the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT), published earlier in March, found that children from poorer backgrounds were less interested in being outdoors in nature than better-off children. But WWT found this difference was overcome after just one day spent learning outside.

“Young kids that learn and play outside get direct experience of weather and the seasons and wildlife – things that are only possible outdoors – and they get to assess risks, solve problems and develop creativity,” said Lucy Hellier, WWT learning project manager. “The benefits may seem obvious, but in reality many children don’t get to be outdoors in a natural environment in any regular or meaningful way. And that’s even more common among kids from deprived areas.”

In 2013, the RSPB published a three-year study, which concluded that four out of five children in the UK were not adequately “connected to nature”. In 2012, a National Trust report called Natural Childhood revealed the growing gap between children and nature. Less than one in 10 children regularly played in wild spaces, it said, compared to half of children a generation ago.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/mar/25/three-quarters-of-uk-children-spend-less-time-outdoors-than-prison-inmates-survey
93
Former teacher charged with letting students smoke weed in class
Posted March 24, 2016, 07:01 by Mave in News
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Former teacher charged with letting students smoke weed in class



GLEN ALLEN, Va. (WRIC) — A former Henrico teacher is in trouble with the law for allegedly letting students get stoned in class.

Police say 23-year-old Domonic Leuzzi was doing more than just teaching shop class. They claim he was enabling students to do a little higher learning.

“Domonic Leuzzi was actually allowing students to smoke marijuana in his classroom,” said Henrico County Police Lieutenant Chris Eley.

Up until recently, Leuzzi was a shop teacher at the Academy of Virginia Randolph, a high school for academically and behaviorally challenged kids.

There is a sign in front of the school that reads it’s supposed to be a drug-free zone. But according to investigators, Leuzzi let some students feel free to light up.

“We got a call from the administration of Henrico County Public Schools saying they received information from students that a teacher was allowing them to smoke marijuana in a class,” explains Lieutenant Eley.

Now, the 23-year-old teacher faces three charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Court records show at least three teens allegedly smoked weed under Mr. Leuzzi’s watch.

8News stopped by the former teacher’s home, but no one answered the door.

A spokesperson for Henrico County Public Schools says Leuzzi is no longer employed by the school or the district.

Even police find this case unusual. “In my 18 years in police, I haven’t seen anything like this.”

“In my 18 years in police, I haven’t seen anything like this,” Eley added.

Source: http://wwlp.com/2016/03/23/former-teacher-charged-with-letting-students-smoke-weed-in-class/
94
Russia looks to buy more dolphins for combat use
Posted March 21, 2016, 07:11 by Mave in News
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Russia looks to buy more dolphins for combat use



Documents have been released in Russia indicating that the country’s military are looking to obtain and train dolphins for naval combat missions.

Reports suggest that the dolphins will take part in a new training programme and will be delivered before August to the Crimean port city of Sevastopol, which has housed a military dolphin training centre since 1965.

In July, 2014, Ukraine’s military leaders requested that Russia return 'its' dolphins, which fell into Russian hands when Crimea was annexed in March of the same year.

In 2012, the US navy announced that it would wind down its long running programme training dolphins to detect underwater mines.

Military dolphins' are confined in captivity, which can cause them extreme mental and physical stress and, as with other dolphins kept in marine parks and dolphinariums around the world, they live shorter lives than they would in the wild. They also suffer infections, gastric impaction (swallowing a foreign object), pneumonia, spinal fracture and drowning, and often die during military operations and exercises.

Source: http://us.whales.org/news/2016/03/russia-looks-to-buy-more-dolphins-for-combat-use
95
Animation software used by Futurama and Studio Ghibli will soon be free
Posted March 21, 2016, 06:42 by Mave in News
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Animation software used by Futurama and Studio Ghibli will soon be free



There are a lot of hurdles you have to be able to get over if you want to make cartoons, especially in world where the medium was already perfected by Adult Swim’s Frisky Dingo. For one thing, you need some semblance of artistic talent, or at least a style that is consistent enough that other people will assume you have talent. Second, your animation has to do something interesting. A mouse whistling while on a steamboat may have impressed everyone a century ago, but kids today have seen Akira, so audiences aren’t going to care if someone isn’t mutating into a grotesque flesh monster in your cartoon. Finally, you actually need some kind of system in order to make your little creations move. This was called “magic” back in the day, but now they just use software.

Unfortunately, animation software tends to cost money, which has created a financial barrier between the world and the next Aeon Flux or whatever. Now, though, Cartoon Brew is reporting that animation software Toonz will soon be going free and open source, making it available to anyone and everyone with a story to tell and—again—something resembling artistic talent. Toonz isn’t just some amateur garbage, though. It happens to be the software of choice for both Rough Draft (the studio behind Futurama) and Studio Ghibli (Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke), and the free version of Toonz will even include a bunch of custom features that were developed specifically for Ghibli films over the years.

Source: www.avclub.com/article/animation-software-used-futurama-and-studio-ghibli-234046
96
The world's happiest countries are also the least religious
Posted March 18, 2016, 05:44 by Mave in News
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The world's happiest countries are also the least religious

Every year, the World Happiness Index surveys numerous people from various countries around the world in search of, as the name implies, which country has the happiest population. This year’s winner is Denmark, followed closely by Switzerland, Iceland, and Norway. The US ranked 13th.

So how do the researchers come up with this list? The process is actually rather simple, as the Index's website explains: "The rankings are based on answers to the main life evaluation question asked in the poll. This is called the Cantril ladder: it asks respondents to think of a ladder, with the best possible life for them being a 10, and the worst possible life being a 0. They are then asked to rate their own current lives on that 0 to 10 scale."

In short, the researchers straight-up asked people to rank their own happiness. These answers are then weighted based on six other factors: levels of GDP, life expectancy, generosity, social support, freedom, and corruption.

Then, the results are compared to Dystopia, an imaginary place the team created where everyone is miserable. This fictional, sad realm allows all of the countries to remain positive in the six factors listed above. In other words, Dystopia is a benchmark that every country passes to make a better graph.

If you're looking for reasons to dismiss your home country's less-than-stellar ranking, one thing this index has going against it is its rather small sample size, which only surveys 2,000 to 3,000 people per country. When you consider population size, that’s not great.

However, according to the team, "a sample size of 2,000 to 3,000 is large enough to give a fairly good estimate at the national level. This is confirmed by the 95 percent confidence intervals shown at the right-hand end of each country bar."

Now that you understand where these rankings come from, let’s take a look at some of the best and worst. 



As mentioned, Denmark leads the pack with Switzerland (last year’s winner), Iceland, Norway, Finland, Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia, and Sweden rounding out the top 10. The US ranks 13th, Germany 16th, and the UK 23rd, to name a few big players.

The unhappiest countries are Afghanistan at 154th followed by Togo and Syria. Burundi comes in last at 157th.

Besides bragging rights, what do these rankings truly tell us? The team believes the report helps countries gauge how ready they are to start pursuing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, which include ending poverty and hunger, increasing healthcare and the quality of education, reaching gender equality and many other great, humanitarian goals that would benefit the world.

The team also believes that the index is helpful because it looks at more than just economic factors, like most other world polls do.

You can download the full report, and browse the entire rankings list on the World Happiness Index’s official site

Source: http://www.sciencealert.com/the-world-happiness-index-2016-just-ranked-the-happiest-countries-on-earth
97
Man stunned as wife who 'died' two years ago is spotted on TV show
Posted March 17, 2016, 07:00 by Mave in News
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Man stunned as wife who 'died' two years ago is spotted on TV show

A man who believed his wife was dead found out she was in fact still alive after she was spotted on a television programme.

Abragh Mohamed, from Azilal, Morocco, thought he had lost his spouse in a car crash two years ago.

The unnamed woman was taken to the Ibn Rochd hospital in Casablanca, where doctors said she would probably not survive - but that the family still had to pay her medical bills.

Mr Mohamed travelled four hours to his small mountain village and back, but was told on his return that she had died.

“I had to receive her body, apparently wrapped in a shroud and coffin already inside,” Mr Mohamed told Nuevo Dia.  She was given a burial in their hometown in 2014.

But recently friends watching a show which sets out to reunite 'lost' families heard a woman they were sure was Mrs Mohamed appealing to find her husband.



She apparently called in to TV programme Al Mokhtafoun, which translates as 'The Disappeared', and gave his name and address, saying they had "lost touch" two years ago.

It sparked a social media furore as it was revealed that Mr Mohamed had in fact buried a different woman at the funeral service.

"I did not know it was a different body that we buried and my wife was still alive," Mr Mohamed said.

Source & more: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/al-mokhtafoun-morocco-husband-abragh-mohamed-man-stunned-as-wife-who-died-two-years-ago-is-spotted-a6924756.html
98
Italy changes law to make all supermarkets give unsold food to needy
Posted March 15, 2016, 07:03 by Mave in News
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Italy changes law to make all supermarkets give unsold food to needy



Italy is set to pass a law that will make supermarkets donate their waste food to charities.

It will become the second European country to pass such laws after the French introduced a bill in February which bans supermarket throwing away or spoiling unsold food.

The bill has recieved widespread bipartisan support and is expected to pass the lower house of the parliament on Monday before a final vote in the Senate of the Republic.

Unlike France, which fines supermarkets found wasting food, Italy wants to give businesses incentives to donate food and help tackle the country's €12bn waste problem.

At the moment - any Italian bar, restaurant or supermarket looking to donate food must declare donations in advance.

The new law would instead offer reductions in rubbish taxes, which would vary depending on how much businesses give to charity, The Local reports.

In addition, 17 articles in the bill look to amend food safety regulation allowing businesses to donate food after its 'best before' date is expired.

Italy's Agriculture Minister, Maurizio Martina, told La Repubblica: "We are making it more convenient for companies to donate than to waste.

"We currently recover 550 million tonnes of excess food each year but we want to arrive at one billion in 2016."

Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/italy-food-waste-law-supermarkets-a6931681.html/
99
America’s airlines are introducing a class below economy
Posted March 15, 2016, 07:01 by Mave in News
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America’s airlines are introducing a class below economy



AS THE candidates in America’s presidential race pontificate on the growing divide between the haves and the have-nots, the country’s airlines are busy segmenting customers between the haves, the have-lesses, the have-somewhats, the have-nots and, now, the have-nothing-at-alls.

Airlines have long seen profitability in investing heavily in first- and business-class while degrading the flying experience in coach to cut costs. But why stop there? Coach, they have discovered, can itself be subdivided, and then subdivided again. First there was the creation of premium economy, which charges passengers extra for what used to be a standard amount of legroom, and for the exit-row seats that were previously the dominion of in-the-know flyers. Now there is a new class, a cut below standard economy. Please welcome “basic economy”, known to some as “last class”.

Delta was the first big airline to introduce basic economy, and it refined it last year as one of its five fare classes. Now United and American have both announced that they will be debuting their versions of basic economy later this year.

So what is basic economy? For frugal travellers, it’s shorthand for giving up some of the few remaining comforts of flying economy. The biggest sacrifice is losing the ability to reserve a seat when booking a flight (so be prepared for a middle seat in the back row). If you are travelling with family or colleagues, forget about sitting together. Passengers flying basic economy also forfeit their right to upgrade their seats and to change or cancel their reservations more than 24 hours after booking.

From the airlines’ perspective, last class is an effort to compete with the profitability of no-frills competitors such as Spirit and Frontier. Airlines can cut costs by limiting the things to which passengers are entitled. Eliminating upgrades and standby flying for certain passengers reduces administrative overheads. And forcing some passengers into the seats no one else wants could reduce the risk that they will remain vacant.

But some people suspect a more nefarious motive: Delta and its rivals are making basic economy so unpleasant that people will pay extra to “upgrade” to standard economy. Indeed, when you try to book a reservation on Delta’s basic economy, a screen pops up warning you of all the downsides and requiring you to check a box stating “I agree to the restrictions” before you can proceed.

Source: http://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2016/02/bottom-class
100
Hamas lights 15 tons of Snickers on fire after recall
Posted March 11, 2016, 04:39 by Mave in News
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Hamas lights 15 tons of Snickers on fire after recall



Fifteen tons of Snickers chocolate bars have met a sticky end in Gaza.

Islamic Hamas authorities hurled boxes of the peanut chocolate candy bar into a bomb crater Thursday, dousing them with diesel and lighting them in a crackling bonfire following a company recall.

Confectionary giant Mars recalled sweets from its Netherlands factory last month after "a small piece of red plastic" was found in a Snickers bar.

Three children from a nearby Bedouin encampment managed to snatch some of the chocolate bars before they melted away.

Israel has maintained tight restrictions on imports to the Gaza Strip since the militant Islamic group Hamas violently took over the enclave in 2007. Chocolate is exempt from the restrictions and Gaza should be able to restock its Snickers supply soon.

Source: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2016/03/10/hamas-lights-15-tons-snickers-on-fire-after-recall.html



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