‘Truth in news’ citizen offers $10,000 reward for names of PropOrNot news hoaxers behind the WashPo Russian conspiracy fabrication

(NaturalNews) A private citizen working in the public interest to increase news transparency has announced a $10,000 reward, payable in Bitcoin, for the names of the PropOrNot news hoaxers. If successful, the names will be shared with the FBI, Sen. Jeff Sessions and the Trump administration.

Last week, the Washington Post was hoaxed by PropOrNot, which tricked the Post into printing an article that falsely claimed 200 independent news websites were being run by the Russian government. Natural News demanded the Washington Post retract the fabricated story, but the Post has so far refused to issue a retraction or apology, proving the news organization has abandoned all pretense of reporting factual news.

PropOrNot, a shadowy group at the center of the story, is obviously nothing more than a cabal of disgruntled, delusional liberals wallowing in paranoid delusions and political conspiracy theories. (This is the new standard of “facts” the Washington Post now embraces, by the way.) While ridiculously accusing hundreds of websites of working for the Kremlin, the PropOrNot group hides behind anonymity, claiming they don’t want to go public with their names out of fear of a Russian retaliation (there’s that delusional paranoia kicking in again…)

The aim of the $10,000 reward is to encourage citizen researchers to uncover the real identities of PropOrNot organizers, then to disclose that information in the public interest. Some clues have already been published on the ‘net; see below for possible clues as a starting point.

Here are the guidelines of the offer, as described to Natural News:

• The reward is payable in Bitcoin.

• The reward is open to any person, anywhere on the planet, except where such an offer may be prohibited by law.

• The reward is not open to persons inside the PropOrNot organization.

• “Success” for qualifying to receive the reward Bitcoins is defined as follows:

– Names and unique identifiers (such as home addresses) must be provided for a minimum of TEN members of the PropOrNot group (which currently claims 30 or so members).

– A chain of evidence must be provided that conclusively proves the people named are behind the PropOrNot news hoaxing organization. In other words, a person can’t just make up 10 names and claim they are the founders. There must be clear, convincing evidence that conclusively links the people to the organization.

– The reward is only payable ONCE and only payable to the FIRST researcher to provide the required details. There is no reward for being second.

– If the identities of the PropOrNot group are somehow made public BEFORE this reward is issued, then the reward will no longer be offered, since the information is already public knowledge.

– Natural News intends to vet the information provided to us. The researcher must allow us three business days to vet all the information, after which time we will render a decision to the sponsor of the reward, telling them the information is either “conclusive” or “not conclusive.” If it is “conclusive” then the person offering the reward will immediately initiate the Bitcoin reward to the wallet address provided by the researchers. Natural News guarantees that we will not in any way unreasonably withhold approval of the reward. (I stake our reputation on dealing honestly with researchers who achieve the goal of accurately identifying the names of those behind PropOrNot.)

– The tax consequences of receiving $10,000 worth of Bitcoin are the responsibility of the recipient.

One clue have already been publicly published that MAY (I emphasize MAY) lead in the direction of the identities of the people behind PropOrNot.

From CounterPunch.org:

CounterPunch is listed on PropOrNot’s home page as number nine on the PropOrNot.org blacklist, under the headline: “Russian Propaganda Targets All Americans.” PropOrNot conveniently included two links to CounterPunch articles which it indicates make its case for including the site on their list. The first, under the heading “Review Article,” takes the reader to a page of a very similar looking site called ToInformistoInfluence.com and an article headlined: “Russia Useful Idiots Proliferate Russian Propaganda.” Below that snarky headline, the analyst Joel Harding gives a bylined analysis of the article, in which he questions the author’s qualifications to be a self-described part of the American left, since he identifies himself as a socialist, which Harding then tells the reader “isn’t exactly the normal American ‘left’, but the ‘remnants of the Soviet’ left.” Comically, Harding fails to notice that actually the CounterPunch author in this case isn’t even a US resident, but describes himself as a “retired aerospace worker living in British Columbia.”

If this research project is successful, Natural News intends to share this information with the FBI, Sen. Jeff Sessions, officials inside the Trump administration and our law firm that’s pursuing legal action against the group.

Secondly, Natural News intends to publicly publish the names of the PropOrNot participants so that they can no longer hide their delusional conspiracy theories behind anonymity.

Thirdly, Natural News intends to file suit against these individuals while naming the Washington Post as a co-defendant in the lawsuit.

Unlike PropOrNot and the WashPost, Natural News will remain completely transparent throughout this entire process, openly sharing what we find with the world in the interests of journalistic integrity and news transparency.

Researchers who wish to take on this task may contact us through our contact page. Put “PropOrNot” in the subject or your email or submitted feedback message. Once a connection is established, we will provide a secure channel for further discussion.

For members of the media who are reporting on this, here are some statements you can use, which you may attribute to Mike Adams, editor of NaturalNews.com:

“The Washington Post has proven itself to be engaged in journalistic malpractice, knowingly printing a false and defamatory report from a shadowy group of delusional conspiracy theorists who have turned their hatred for Donald Trump into a vendetta against the only remaining free press in America.”

“The people of America deserve to know who is behind the defamatory accusations that claim hundreds of independent media websites are somehow controlled by the Russian government. In truth, most of the websites named by PropOrNot are pro-Constitution, patriotic sites run by the most dedicated, genuine Americans you’ll ever meet. It’s the radical leftists like those running PropOrNot who are worshippers of Fidel Castro and Soviet-style communism.”

“Natural News intends to contribute to honesty in reporting by publicly disclosing the names of the deceptive individuals behind the PropOrNot news hoaxing effort. This disclosure is necessary for a continued public debate on the abandonment of real journalism by the Washington Post and the collapsing credibility of the left-wing news media, which now spreads blatantly fake news as a matter of course.”

Stay tuned for updates…

Source Article from http://www.naturalnews.com/056198_PropOrNot_reward_fake_news.html

Standing Rock Water Protectors Vindicated as Another Pipeline Just Exploded

A pipeline explosion that caused a large fire in Platte County, just north of Kansas City, on Tuesday evening, clearly revealed exactly why the water protectors at Standing Rock are standing up against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The pipeline, operated by Mid-America Pipeline Company, thankfully ruptured in an isolated area near the Kansas City International Airport, causing a massive explosion and fire – but no injuries.

According to a report by KCTV-5:

Plumes of fire and heavy smoke were showing from the scene and lit up the sky from miles away. An hour after the fire started, it was still burning, but the flames had reduced significantly. The fire was burning itself out a short time later.

A crew from Mid-America Pipeline Company came to shut off the valves so the pipelines’ mix of ethane and propane didn’t fuel the fire.

The pipeline explosion highlights exactly why thousands have shown up in Standing Rock to support the #NoDAPL movement.

While this pipeline explosion ruptured on private property in an isolated area, if a similar incident were to occur near the Missouri River, it would decimate the water supply of the Standing Rock reservation.

Exposing the highly unreliable nature of the fossil fuel infrastructure, Mid-America Pipeline Company’s parent company Enterprise Products Partners, at the end of October 2016, shut down its Seaway Crude Pipeline, a 400,000-barrel per day conduit, after an oil leak near Cushing, Oklahoma, but did not provide an estimate of the volume of oil spilled.

“Seaway personnel continue to make progress in cleaning up the spill, substantially all of which has been contained in a retention pond at Enbridge’s facility,” the company said in a press release. EPP noted that the pipeline is a “50/50 joint venture” between Enterprise and Enbridge Inc. Enbridge, in concert with Marathon Oil, hold roughly a 37 percent stake in the Dakota Access Pipeline.

“Vacuum trucks are being used to recover the crude oil and return it to storage tanks on-site,” the statement noted. “The impacted segment of the legacy pipeline has a capacity of 50,000 barrels,” the release added, “however the actual amount of crude oil released will be significantly less and won’t be determined until recovery efforts are complete.”

These hollow words by an energy company would offer little comfort to the Standing Rock Sioux if the DAPL were to leak poison into the tribe’s source of drinking water.

Mid-American Pipeline Company was fined $1,242,000 in 2012 for an unspecified environmental violation. The cause of Tuesday evening’s explosion has yet to be determined but is under investigation.

“Oil pipelines break, spill, and leak—it’s not a question of if, it’s a question of where and when,” 13-year-old Anna Lee Rain YellowHammer, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, wrote in a petition to stop the DAPL.

“With such a high chance that this pipeline will leak,” she wrote of the Enbridge-backed DAPL, “I can only guess that the oil industry keeps pushing for it because it doesn’t care about our health and safety. The industry seems to think our lives are more expendable than others’.”

It seems crazy that a 13-year-old can have a better understanding of reality than the proponents of the DAPL, but perhaps that is due to the fact that they have vested financial interest in seeing oil flow, while she cares solely about the health and safety of her family, friends, and neighbors.

This latest explosion only serves to highlight why there is such vehement public opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline. Please share this story as a wake-up call to all of the dangers inherent to building a pipeline under this vital source of drinking water for the Standing Rock Sioux!

Source Article from http://thefreethoughtproject.com/standing-rock-water-protectors-vindicated-pipeline-exploded/

Former NIST Employee Speaks Out, Says Building 7 Investigation Bogus, Govt ‘Denied Evidence’

A former employee of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has stepped forward and criticized the government agency for ignoring the scientific errors found in its report on the collapse of World Trade Center Building 7 (WTC 7) during the September 11, 2001, attacks. Peter Ketcham, who spent almost fifteen years working at NIST, described how the flawed investigation methods were significantly different from the normal standards used by NIST, in a letter to the editor of the respected Europhysics News magazine. Ketcham’s letter was published in the November 2016 issue and comes just months after the magazine’s August 2016 report examining the Building 7 collapse in detail, which has been downloaded over 350,000 times according to the website.

Peter Ketcham was a contributor to numerous scientific papers during his 14 years as a part of the High Performance Systems and Services Division and later the Mathematical and Computational Sciences Division. Ketcham wrote that he felt compelled to speak out about the NIST WTC 7 investigation after reading the report for the first time in August 2016 and comparing the results with the conventional criticism from other professionals. The NIST report on WTC 7 was published in August 2008, more than 6 years after the attacks, and it concludes that the building collapsed after structural failure due to fires caused by damage from debris when the Twin Towers collapsed earlier in the day.

The root problem with the WTC Building 7 report is that NIST could not perform a definitive study under common standards of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) because it lacked the physical evidence. Most of the structural steel was removed and melted down beginning within days after September 11, and some beams were stolen as reported by Telegraph. NIST only had access to about 150 smaller pieces of steel, called coupons, cut from the whole sections of structural steel beams.

Due to the lack of remaining evidence, NIST instead generated computer models of the building’s structure to test collapse theories using simulated fires to recreate the conditions prior to failure. The conclusions of the report have questioned for these reasons by thousands of physicists, engineers, and architects in the 15 years since the attacks, as documented by the group Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth (AE911).

The inconclusive methods used for the report are what led Ketcham to speak out after watching documentaries which criticized the report’s conclusions. He noted in his letter that he was “furious” with himself for not knowing and also at NIST for covering up the problems. “How could I have worked at NIST all those years and not have noticed this before,” Ketcham wrote.

“The NIST I knew was intellectually open, non-defensive, and willing to consider competing explanations. The more I investigated, the more apparent it became that NIST had reached a predetermined conclusion by ignoring, dismissing, and denying the evidence. Among the most egregious examples is the explanation for the collapse of WTC 7 as an elaborate sequence of unlikely events culminating in the almost symmetrical total collapse of a steel-frame building into its own footprint at free-fall acceleration,” Ketcham wrote.

The main pre-determined conclusion which Ketcham refers to is the theory created to explain why the 47-story building fell to the ground in about 12 seconds, which suggests the building suffered catastrophic failure in a short amount of time. NIST’s WTC 7 report concludes that fires led to the thermal expansion of long-span steel beams which supported the floors, causing one beam on the 13th floor to fall off of its seat. The report claims part of the 13th floor collapsed, triggering a chain reaction of floors failing around one specific vertical support column, which caused the building to fall in on itself.

NIST used computer modeling to generate the experimental environment from Building 7’s construction plans. However, professionals have criticized NIST because they have not released the models to the public for peer review. The models and methods have been questioned in many ways. However, the initial cause of the collapse receives the most scrutiny as researchers proved NIST did not accurately model the steel’s connection at the stated point of initial failure. NIST left out multiple smaller design elements shown in the construction plans which would have built a stronger connection in the computer model.

The resulting model simulation was released in a video by NIST. However, it shows the beam that failed is twisting in ways that are different from the physical properties of the steel’s connection. Researchers have shown that the NIST theory is significantly different from the possible sequences based on the construction plans and video evidence for multiple reasons.

NIST’s report on Building 7 has generated an increasing amount of controversy in academic circles and led to AE911 funding a study using computer models, which is still ongoing at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. Researchers and activists have also been working to investigate the inconsistent methods.

Source Article from http://thefreethoughtproject.com/former-nist-employee-speaks-tower-7/

Trump’s Latest Cabinet Pick Connected to 90 Pound Seizure of Cocaine on International Cargo Ship

Washington, D.C. – President-elect Donald Trump is set to nominate former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao – wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) – as Transportation Secretary.

Chao is a Washington insider, which runs contrary to Trump’s “drain the swamp” mantra of bringing in outsiders to form his new government – but that is just the tip of the iceberg.

One thing Trump may not have counted on was Chao’s familial connections with large-scale international drug trafficking.

Two years ago a cargo ship named the Ping May was stopped and searched before departing from Colombia. During the search, Colombian Coast Guard agents seized roughly 40 kilos — or 90 pounds of cocaine — worth millions of dollars.

The Ping May was operated by the Foremost Maritime Corporation — a company owned by the father of Elaine Chao.

According to The Nation:

The Republican Senate minority leader has the closest of ties to the owner of the Ping May, the vessel containing the illicit materials: the Foremost Maritime Corporation, a firm founded and owned by McConnell’s in-laws, the Chao family.

This connection is not only relevant because of the deep familial connections, but also because the Chao family has been the major benefactor of anti-drug crusader Senator Mitch McConnell’s election campaigns.

In fact, as we previously reported, the Chao family has been funding McConnell since the late 1980s. Years later, in 1993, McConnell married Elaine Chao and secured the Chao family as one of his primary sources for investments.

A gift worth somewhere between 5 and 25 million dollars (Senate ethics forms require personal finance disclosures in ranges of amounts, rather than specific figures) from the Chao Family made McConnell one of the richest Senators in the U.S. in 2008.

What makes this case even more interesting is that Chao’s husband, Senator Mitch McConnell, is known as a staunch prohibitionist. In 1996, McConnell sponsored “The Enhanced Marijuana Penalties Act”, a bill designed to increase the mandatory minimum sentencing for people caught with marijuana.

The Foremost Maritime Corporation currently operates 16 dry bulk cargo ships, most of which are currently still in active service, according to The Nation.

Colombian Coast Guard official, Luis Gonzales, told The Nation that the Ping May’s crew were questioned as part of the investigation, but that they have yet to file any charges in the case.

Additionally, Chao and her father have extensive personal ties with former Chinese President Jiang Zemin – contact described as “deep” and “regular,” according to WND.

With the appointment of Chao, Trump has selected an establishment globalist, whose family is seemingly connected to large-scale international cocaine trafficking.

Somehow, I don’t think this is what people thought Trump meant by “drain the swamp!”

Source Article from http://thefreethoughtproject.com/trump-cabinet-pick-connected-90-pound-seizure-cocaine-cargo-ship/

Hundreds of Injured Water Protectors Sue Sheriff’s Dept for Injuries Sustained in a Single Night

A multi-state coalition of police led by the Morton County Sheriff’s Department inflicted hours of punishing violence against peaceful Standing Rock water protectors — leaving hundreds injured and traumatized — so a coalition of lawyers has now filed a class-action, excessive force lawsuit.

“The Morton County Sheriff’s office not only violates the constitutional rights of peaceful protesters, but their actions highlight the long history of abuse against Indigenous peoples,” said Water Protector Legal Collective (WPLC) attorney Brandy Toelupe. “From the beginning, governments have used their latest technologies to take land and resources from Native nations and oppress Indigenous peoples. Sheriff [Kyle] Kirchmeier’s actions make it clear that nothing has changed.”

An initiative of the National Lawyer’s Guild called the WPLC, according to the NLG website, filed the class-action suit “on behalf of persons who were injured on the night of November 20 and early morning of November 21, seeks an immediate injunction preventing the Morton County Sheriff’s Department and other law enforcement from using impact munitions such as rubber bullets and lead-filled ‘beanbags,’ water cannons and hoses, explosive teargas grenades and other chemical agents against protesters.”

Over concerns about accessibility for first responders, on the evening November 20, a group of water protectors set out to clear a roadblock of burned military vehicles from Highway 1806 in place since October 27 and since fortified by police with with cement barriers and razor wire. Officers in military-style riot gear then began firing rubber bullets at the small group — attracting the attention of water protectors in the nearby Oceti Sakowin camp.

A group of water protectors rushed to the scene at Highway 1806’s Backwater Bridge and angrily chastised police for the unnecessary force. These heavily and unnecessarily militarized officers — instead of responding to concerns ambulances have difficulties accessing and leaving the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation — unleashed the furious assault against the crowd as night fell. That offensive by police lasted for over six hours — unrelenting in scope and force — leaving hundreds injured, a few severely.

Eyewitnesses, medics, and independent journalists at the scene reported law enforcement targeting people’s heads heads and legs with rubber bullets, impact grenades, and exploding canisters of tear gas.

Sheriff Kirchmeier continues to defend the all-out assault — even shirking responsibility for horrific injuries suffered by the group — claiming water protectors threw empty water bottles and other items at police, leaving one officer with a minor head wound. Despite controversial use of weaponized water in sub-freezing temperatures — and parallels to the use of fire hoses against black civil rights protesters in the 1960s — Kirchmeier boasted he wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.

However, the WPLC catalogued many of the wounds in its lawsuit, and the descriptions are a striking contrast to a single injury suffered by one officer:

“The complaint describes the excessive force with which the nine class representatives were met while peacefully protesting. Five are Native, including two members of the Lakota Nation. Vanessa Dundon of the Navajo Nation was hit in the eye with a tear gas canister that was shot by police directly at the crowd of Water Protectors. Jade Kalikolehuaokakalani Wool had two grenades blow up near her head, knocking her down, burning her face and sending shrapnel into it, and causing her to be hospitalized. Crystal Wilson was shot with a water cannon, tear gassed and shot with a munition. David Demo was filming police when, without warning, they shot him with a water cannon and then in the hand with a munition. He was hospitalized with broken bones and was told he would need reconstructive surgery. Gary Dullknife III saw a Water Protector knocked to the ground by a water cannon. As police sprayed her on the ground, he tried to move her away. He was shot in the chest, stomach and leg by impact munitions. Mariah Marie Bruce was peacefully protesting when police sprayed her with water cannons. She was then hit in the genitals with a grenade, and was hospitalized. Frank Finan was taking pictures when he was shot in the abdomen and knocked to the ground by a rubber bullet. Israel Hoagland–Lynn tried to help two people who had been shot with water cannons and rubber bullets and was shot in the back of his head by an impact munition. He lost consciousness, was hospitalized, and needed 17 staples for a head wound. Noah Michael Treanor, while praying, was shot by the water hoses or cannon. Once on the ground, he was shot in the head by an impact munition. Bleeding badly, he was hospitalized.”

WPLC lawyers rightly deemed the attack “violent, unjustified, and unprovoked” in the lawsuit — which calls for an emergency order to halt police use of impact weapons, chemical agents, weaponized water, and other dangerous and putatively ‘less than lethal’ items against the peaceful protectors.

President Obama, the Justice Department, and Washington officials have been silent on the abuses occurring in Standing Rock — and Senator Cory Booker only recently officially demanded the DOJ monitor the situation and launch a civil rights investigation.

Attorneys and their clients hope the lawsuit will help end the unjustified attacks on peaceful peoples whose sole desire is to protect the precious Missouri River and its watersheds from contamination with oil by a profiteering company who cares nothing for human and Indigenous rights. Ultimately, the most imperative goal is to halt construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline permanently.

“The civil rights violations that night were deliberate and punitive,” WPLC attorney Rachel Lederman asserted. “The Morton County Sheriff’s Department’s illegal use of force against the Water Protectors has been escalating. It is only a matter of luck that no one has been killed. This must stop.”

Source Article from http://thefreethoughtproject.com/lawsuit-water-protectors-injuries/

Reddit to crack down on abuse after CEO is targeted

(Reuters) – Social media website Reddit Inc, known for its commitment to free speech, will crack down on online harassment by banning or suspending users who target others, starting with those who have directed abuse at Chief Executive Steve Huffman.

Huffman said in an interview with Reuters that Reddit’s content policy prohibits harassment, but that it had not been adequately enforced.

“Personal message harassment is the most cut and dry,” he said. “Right now we are in an interesting position where my inbox is full of them, it’s easy to start with me.”

As well as combing through Huffman’s inbox, Reddit will monitor user reports, add greater filtering capacity, and take a more proactive role in policing its platform rather than relying on community moderators.

Reddit said it had identified hundreds of the “most toxic users” and will warn, ban or suspend them. It also plans to increase staff on its “trust and safety” team.

Reddit’s moves are the latest step by social media companies to adjust their policies in the wake of a polarizing U.S. election earlier this month in which their websites played a key role.

Facebook said it is reviewing its approach to so-called ‘fake news’ – generally sensational but fictitious reports designed to attract as many readers as possible – and banning some sites which host fake news from its advertising network. Twitter is also rolling out new tools to combat abuse.

On Reddit, a channel supporting the U.S. Republican party’s presidential candidate Donald Trump, called r/The_Donald, featured racist and misogynistic comments, fake news and conspiracy theories about his Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton, along with more mainstream expressions of support for Trump.

Many of those supporting Trump were very active, voting up the r/The_Donald conversations so that they became prominent across Reddit, which is the 7th-most-visited U.S. internet site, according to web data firm Alexa.

Last week, Reddit banned Pizzagate, a community devoted to a conspiracy theory, with no evidence to back it up, that links Clinton to a pedophile ring at a Washington, D.C. pizza parlor, after it posted personal information in violation of Reddit policy.

Huffman then used his administrative privileges to redirect abuse he was receiving on a thread on r/The_Donald to the community’s moderators – making it look as if it was intended for them. Huffman said it was a prank, and that many Reddit users, including some Trump supporters, told him they thought it was funny, but it inflamed the situation.

Reddit has a more permissive attitude than Facebook and Twitter when it comes to what it allows on its site, but r/The_Donald users frequently crossed a line, Huffman said, including by trying to manipulate voting to ensure their posts appear on prominent Reddit pages.

Reddit has stepped up its efforts to combat abuse on the site over the past year, creating what it called an ‘anti-evil” team of engineers dedicated to fighting harassment.

“The fact I was saying that combating harassment was important and then letting that openly happen to me, the CEO, there’s a disconnect there,” Huffman said.

In the past, Reddit has worked with moderators of communities to try to enforce its rules.

With r/The_Donald in particular, “we haven’t found that to be particularly effective. We might see flashes of success, but things kind of revert,” Huffman said.

Under its new strategy, Reddit will take a more active role in dealing with troublemakers, who Huffman said were an “infinitesimal” portion of Reddit’s 250 million monthly visitors.

He stressed that the move was not political.

“We don’t want to be censoring political beliefs, but then they do misbehave,” he said. “That’s why we have worked so closely with the r/The_Donald community. We tell them: don’t force us to ban you.”

The first wave of bans will likely be skewed to the r/The_Donald community because “that is a catalyst for a lot of this right now. That community is stirred up,” Huffman said.

In a draft of a blog post to be published on Wednesday, Huffman said he had been asked by many Reddit users “to ban r/The_Donald outright, but he had rejected that idea, because “if there is anything about this election that we have learned, it is that there are communities that feel alienated and just want to be heard, and Reddit has always been a place where those voices can be heard.”

(Reporting By Kristina Cooke; Editing by Jonathan Weber and Bill Rigby)

Source Article from http://news.yahoo.com/reddit-launches-crackdown-abuse-ceo-targeted-185458503–finance.html

Text young Kenyan women about sex to boost HIV testing: experts

By Kieran Guilbert

DAKAR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Texting young women in Kenya with regular information about sex, contraception, and sexually transmitted diseases could encourage more to get tested for HIV in a country where stigma surrounding the virus is rife, researchers said on Wednesday.

Some 600 female college students in Kenya received monthly text message surveys about their sexual behavior, and half were also sent weekly messages about HIV prevention, for a recent study by medical researchers and mobile research firm mSurvey.

Two-thirds of the 300 women who were sent the weekly texts said they got tested for HIV within six months of the study, while among those who received the monthly surveys, only half reported going to be tested for the virus, the study found.

“Young women across Kenya lack knowledge about HIV, but many have mobile phones and love texting,” said Njambi Njuguna, a doctor and researcher at Nairobi’s Kenyatta National Hospital.

More than eight in 10 people in the East African nation own a mobile phone, up from just 10 percent in 2002, according to a 2015 study by the Pew Research Center, a U.S.-based think tank.

“Women like receiving health surveys by text message because it’s anonymous and they can do it at their convenience,” Njuguna told the Thomson Reuters Foundation ahead of World AIDS Day.

Kenya has slashed its HIV prevalence rate among adults to six percent today from 11 percent in 1996, according to the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

Yet it remains the leading cause of death in Kenya, responsible for nearly three in 10 deaths, and 1.6 million Kenyans are infected, state data from 2014 shows. [nL5N10Z30Y]

Almost three-quarters of the women in the study had never been tested for HIV, and stigma and a lack of awareness about the risk of contracting the virus may be to blame, Njuguna said.

Most of the young women in the study who sought testing said they chose to visit health facilities far away from where they lived, in order to avoid being recognized, the researcher added.

The text messaging strategy will be expanded next year to reach up to 15,000 women in 10 counties across Kenya, having proved to be far more effective than carrying out surveys over the telephone, by email, or in person, according to mSurvey.

The Nairobi-based company said it was looking to expand beyond text messages, and had started using social media, such as Facebook, to send surveys on a variety of issues to Kenyans.

(Reporting By Kieran Guilbert, Editing by Katie Nguyen.; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit news.trust.org)

Source Article from http://news.yahoo.com/text-young-kenyan-women-sex-boost-hiv-testing-135101706.html

Re: Israel approves new, pro-settler army chief rabbi

The Israeli Supreme Court yesterday approved the appointment of Eyal Karim to the position of Israeli military chief rabbi.

Karim, who will assume the role on Thursday, was the subject of a petition by Meretz parliamentarians, in light of remarks he had previously made about women, rape, homosexuality and the rights of non-Jews.

Earlier this year, Israeli media reported that Karim, as a civilian rabbi, had declared it permissible for soldiers to rape women during wartime, in addition to separately describing “terrorists” as “animals” who should not be treated as human beings.

In response to the lawmakers’ petition, Karim submitted a written affidavit to the court, clarifying his views, and denying that he had ever thought soldiers could rape women during wartime. “I erred in often not formulating my words exactly, and some people were hurt by them,” he said.

In response to the affidavit, the Meretz MKs withdrew their petition, which was approved by the court yesterday. Supreme Court President Miriam Naor, in the ruling, said that Karim’s statements in his affidavit “are in accordance with the values of Israel as a Jewish and democratic nation.”

Karim previously taught at the Ateret Yerushalayim Yeshiva, located in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City and “affiliated with the right-wing Ateret Cohanim organisation, which seeks to Judaise [Israeli-occupied] East Jerusalem.”

Source Article from https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20161129-israel-approves-new-pro-settler-army-chief-rabbi/#comment-3028210000

Re: Netanyahu: Israel will be taken to court over settlements

Israel could be held accountable for its illegal settlements at the International Criminal Court if it passes a bill legalising them, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned.

Israel is expected to bring the Regulation Bill into law, this will retrospectively legalise outposts in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, which are deemed illegal under international law.

Netanyahu’s warning comes after the prosecutor’s office at the ICC conducted a pre-emptive examination of the disastrous situation in the occupied Palestinian Territories in an effort to determine whether or not to launch a full-scale investigation into Israeli illegal settlements.He has also warned that passing the bill would give outgoing US President Obama a final opportunity to take action against Israel on the international platform.The campaign to pass the bill is being led by the far right Jewish Home party in order to prevent the evacuation of the Amona outpost, an illegal settlement in the West Bank, which is schedule to take place on 25 December.

Source Article from https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20161129-netanyahu-israel-will-be-taken-to-court-over-settlements/#comment-3028153304

Re: Lebanon’s wall of shame should be torn down

Twenty seven years ago this month, I was in Germany hacking away at a pile of twisted metal and concrete with thousands of others who were celebrating the demise of the world’s most infamous wall. Weeks earlier, on 9 November 1989, the real heroes were German citizens from both East and West who clambered onto the Berlin Wall and set about dismantling it with chisels, hammers and their bare hands; it was a breath-taking sight to see ordinary people seize the moment as they ripped down concrete slabs which had kept them apart for decades.

Such walls are repugnant, whether built to keep people in or out. They are monuments of failure to hold dialogue and exhibit a lack of humanity within those who erect these inhuman monstrosities in the first place.

The world’s most notorious wall today is being built by Israel in occupied Palestine. When it is completed, it will have snaked its way around more than 400 miles of Palestinian lands confirming beyond doubt the status of an Apartheid structure which is at the heart of Tel Aviv’s most racist policies.

It remains to be seen if the hateful Apartheid Wall will be overtaken in notoriety by US President-elect Donald Trump and the wall that he has pledged to build along the 1,989 mile border between the USA and Mexico. He declared several times during the election campaign that his intention is to build the wall and admitted to getting the idea from Israel. Trump has already attempted to draw parallels between the Zionist state’s Apartheid Wall and his much touted Mexican barrier.

According to Trump’s campaign team, in an hour-long meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu in the Trump Tower penthouse, the two men discussed “at length Israel’s successful experience with a security fence that helped secure its borders.” (A “fence”! Have they seen the concrete monstrosity?) More alarmingly, though, is that while this meeting was taking place in New York, thousands of miles away in Lebanon what passes for a government in Beirut was having similar discussions about building a wall around the country’s largest Palestinian refugee camp.

Almost beyond comprehension, the wall has started to be built around Ain Al-Hilweh. The Lebanese army claims that it is “merely a protective fence in some sectors that don’t oversee residential areas. The military command affirms that there is no decision to erect such a wall between the camp and its surroundings.”

But that’s exactly what is being built; a racist wall, a wall of shame with little difference in height or design between the Lebanese version and Israel’s Apartheid Wall. The terse official statement noted that intelligence officials and senior Palestinian officials from Fatah had “previously agreed on the matter.”

I can only think that if Palestinian officials agreed to such a wall then they must have done so in a moment of temporary insanity; it’s hard to imagine what the thought process of the Lebanese officials was who also dreamt up this disgraceful scheme. Thankfully, construction was halted at the weekend following outrage by the inhabitants of the camp who’ve suffered for decades in the overcrowded hell-hole which is currently home to 120,000 Palestinian and Syrian refugees. Thousands contained in the squalor of Ain Al-Hilweh gathered in protest near parts of the wall already constructed; even they called it a wall of shame.

Ain al-Hilweh is indeed an unhappy place and it does give Lebanon a security headache. I visited the camp earlier this year and it is no doubt a problem, but the refugees crowded therein are not at fault. Solving the issues there can only be achieved through dialogue and treating the residents with humanity and compassion.

Throwing a wall around the camp will only serve to increase security issues; the structure will be a clear demonstration of the failure of government policy towards a people who need a helping hand not a wall of shame to contain them. I saw with my own eyes how the Palestinian youth living there are easy prey to siren calls from ruthless gangs and Daesh-style recruiters. Ain Al-Hilweh is based on the outskirts of the port city of Sidon; its name means “sweet, natural spring” but the reality is quite different and is a testament to the failure of the United Nations, the Lebanese government and the Palestinian leadership within the camp.

Although the finger of blame can point in many directions, the roots of all of this misery can be traced back to the Nakba of 1948 with the creation of the state of Israel and the ethnic cleansing of historic Palestine. As such, the international community must accept responsibility for the millions of Palestinian lives that have been ruined as generation after generation wait for justice and their legitimate return home. The fact that they are still waiting after 67 years is a global scandal.

By long-standing convention, the Lebanese army will not enter the 12 official UN-run refugee camps around the country, leaving the Palestinian factions to handle security in Ain Al-Hilweh. The camp is also home to several armed and rival groups; tensions are high and can (and sometimes do) ignite over the slightest incident. Just a few weeks before my visit in February, for example, several people were killed when clashes erupted between rival groups, including the Jund Al-Sham Islamists and members of Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas’s Fatah movement.

The rivalry between Islamists and Fatah is ongoing. Walking through the desperately overcrowded camp I could see the different flags and emblems pinned to lamp posts as we passed through each group’s turf. With its notoriety as a refuge for extremists and fugitives, and for the settling of scores between factions, in the middle of the toxic mix that is Ain Al-Hilweh are the young people who exist without much hope.

Trying to contain all of this resentment, anger and sense of abandonment by building a “wall of shame” is not the answer. Palestinians living in Lebanon face state-imposed restrictions on their access to mainstream employment opportunities, a reality that has perpetuated poverty and fuelled militant recruitment in camps such as Ain Al-Hilweh.

Instead of building barriers, Lebanon would be better advised to tear them down and open up the property, jobs and business markets to the Palestinian refugees. Providing education, hope, security and sustenance are the real bricks upon which refugee lives should be built. Those within the Lebanese government and Fatah who thought that concrete walls are the answer should hang their heads in shame.

Source Article from https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20161130-lebanons-wall-of-shame-should-be-torn-down/#comment-3028012281