EU leaders agree to stick to Iran deal, defend European companies dealing with Tehran – Tusk

The EU will stick to the Iran deal and the bloc’s leaders have mandated their Brussels-based executive to defend the interests of European companies dealing with Tehran from US sanctions if needed, Reuters reported Thursday. “On Iran nuclear deal, we agreed unanimously that the EU will stay in the agreement as long as Iran remains fully committed to it,” said the chairman of a two-day EU leaders’ summit in the Bulgarian capital Sofia, Donald Tusk. “Additionally, the Commission was given a green light to be ready to act whenever European interests are affected.” The head of the executive European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, said that the EU was ready to start trade liberalization talks with the United States in some areas if Washington gives permanent exemptions from aluminum and steel tariffs.

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Photo: Stick insect mimics moss

Our photo of the day is a marvel of mimicry!

Stick insects got their name for the incredible ways in which they have adapted to look like, yes, sticks. But some of them can’t leave well enough alone and have to outdo everyone else.

Case in point? This moss mimicking stick insect photographed by Andreas Kay in the rain forest of Ecuador. With it’s ruffles of faux moss to better blend in with its surroundings, this master of camouflage nearly disappears in its forest environment. Is it any wonder that this order of insects is called Phasmatodea? The group’s name is derived from the Ancient Greek word phasma, meaning an apparition or phantom.

[Here’s another insect even more exuberant in its ghostliness: The crazy camouflage of a lichen katydid]

Would you like to see your nature photo featured as the TreeHugger photo of the day? Join TreeHugger’s Reader Photo Pool on Flickr and add your pictures to the group.

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School Suspends 13-Year-old for Drawing Stick Figure Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Holding Swords


CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.— (TRI) Condemning draconian zero tolerance school policies bereft of common sense, The Rutherford Institute is demanding that a North Carolina school district rescind the suspension of a middle school student for drawing a sword-wielding Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and other fanciful stick figures.

In coming to the defense of a 13-year-old student at Roseboro-Salemburg Middle School who was suspended for two days for doodling stick-figure drawings that included a Ninja Turtle holding swords in each hand, another stick figure aiming a rifle, a souped-up car, a magician, and a tower with a bow and arrow, Rutherford Institute attorneys assert that the punishment infringes on the student’s First Amendment right of expression, is excessive and is contrary to district policies guaranteeing children a right to an education.

Moreover, Institute attorneys points out that the drawings were not seen by any other student, did not cause any disruption of the school, did not threaten anyone, and had no impact on the safety of anyone.

“There are hundreds of cases like this around the nation involving young people who are being suspended, expelled, and even arrested under school policies that criminalize childish behavior and punish all offenses severely, no matter how minor the so-called infraction may be,” said constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute and author of Battlefield America: The War on the American People.

“We all want to keep the schools safe, but it is far better to see something credible done about actual threats, rather than this ongoing, senseless targeting of childish behavior that poses no threat, causes no disruption and is a creative and healthy part of childhood.”

After finishing his assignments and waiting for the rest of his class to finish, a 13-year-old student at Roseboro-Salemburg Middle School began doodling on notebook paper. He drew stick-figures that included a Ninja Turtle holding swords in each hand, another stick figure aiming a rifle, a souped-up car, a magician, and a tower with a bow and arrow.

Nothing in the drawings depicted violence toward any person. When the classroom teacher saw the drawings, they were confiscated and the student was taken to the principal’s office. Once there, the student, who had not been subject to discipline previously, was suspended for two days. School officials did not warn the student or consult with the student’s parents before imposing the suspension.

While the student handbook provides that a suspension is allowed for first-time offenses such as fighting, threatening students or staff, or possession of a dangerous object, Rutherford Institute attorneys point out that “there is simply no evidence suggesting that a drawing of individually posed stick figures with swords and a gun with no other context could rise to the same level of severity as threats of violence or actual violence against others.”

Additionally, Institute attorneys contend that the suspension violated the student’s First Amendment right to engage in expression, including drawing, that does not cause disruption in the school.

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Yorkshire Ripper needs white stick to get around jail after botched op leaves him blind

The 71-year-old, who is serving 20 life sentences for murdering 13 women and attempting to kill another seven, has been left in need of a white cane for assistance after an injection which was supposed to improve the sight in his right eye ended up blinding him completely. Sutcliffe had already lost the sight in his left eye in 1997, due to an altercation with a fellow inmate.

The Ripper told a friend: “They have f***** up my eyesight. They bodged it and I can’t see at all. I can’t watch the TV or read letters and emails. I made a cuppa but missed the cup with the milk — it’s awful,” the Sun reports. A “buddy” is now supposedly pushing the serial killer’s wheelchair around Frankland Prison, County Durham.

It comes after tens of thousands of taxpayers’ money have been spent trying to improve the Ripper’s right eye, which had worsened over recent years because of his diabetes. In August he reportedly underwent a £2,000 laser surgery operation in a bid to clear his vision. That was on top of a two-year eye treatment that had cost UK taxpayers thousands.

Neil Jackson, whose mother Emily was Sutcliffe’s second victim in 1976, said he was angry and horrified that the killer had been granted the treatment, the Sun reports. Jackson, 59, said: “They should have let him go blind. He never had any pity on anyone so why should society bend over backwards to make him happy.”

The 71-year-old was jailed 35 years ago, after police caught Sutcliffe with a 24-year-old prostitute called Olivia Reivers on January 2.

READ MORE: Yorkshire Ripper ‘no longer mentally ill, should return to regular prison’ – psychiatrists

Sutcliffe committed his murders – perpetrated mainly against prostitutes – between 1957 and 1980. Police caught him when they realized he was using false number plates. The day after catching Sutcliffe, police returned to the arrest scene, where they found a rope, knife and hammer that he had dumped there. Sutcliffe admitted to his crimes two days later.

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CNN Town Hall: Stick to the Script

CNN Town Hall: Stick to the Script

February 23rd, 2018

Via: Real Clear Politics:

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivor Colton Haab appeared on FOX News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight to talk about his saga with CNN and how they “scripted” a question for him to use at Wednesday night’s town hall event hosted by the network and moderated by CNN’s Jake Tapper.

Haab, a JROTC member who helped shepherd students to safety, was approached by the network to ask a question at the town hall. Haab showed CNN what he wanted to say but said Carrie Stevenson, an executive producer at CNN, ultimately rejected it and instead after several conversations “scripted” a question for him.

“CNN had originally asked me to write a speech and questions and it ended up being all scripted,” Haab said to a local news outlet Wednesday night.

Haab told Carlson he wanted to go “speak [his] part” and “open eyes” to a few things he thought could make the situation better. Haab said the network was dishonest and that is why he decided not to attend. He also said he was directed to “stick to the script.”

“She had actually said that over the phone that I needed to stick to the script,” Haab said of the CNN producer.



One Response to “CNN Town Hall: Stick to the Script”

  1. pookie Says:

    Veddy interesting …


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Dilemma for Kate? Does the Duchess show solidarity with #TimesUp or stick to royal rules?

The Duchess, who will attend this year’s British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) ceremony with her husband, the Duke of Cambridge, is about to be landed in a diplomatic minefield. Actresses are gearing up to don black dresses in support of the #TimesUp movement, a campaign against sexual harassment prompted by the #MeToo phenomenon.

The move comes after the Academy Awards in the US saw only a handful of women ignore the call of solidarity by wearing lighter shades. Kate is faced with a crisis: show solidarity or keep with the royal family’s policy of avoiding political statements or comment.

Kensington Palace told RT that they would not comment, but they did confirm that Meghan Markle – Prince Harry’s fiancée – would not be in attendance, only the Duchess and Duke.

A letter to BAFTA guests, published by film industry magazine the Hollywood Reporter, has laid out plans from a “collective of UK based female film and television industry leaders,”  for a “physical and visual representation of our solidarity with people across all industries who have experienced sexual harassment and abuse or have been held back due to an imbalance in power.”

“Here in the UK, more than half of all women and nearly two-thirds of women aged 18 to 24 have experienced sexual harassment at work,” the letter said.

“And we hope that those of us who are privileged enough to have a platform, can use it to raise awareness of the experiences of women beyond our industry, whose experiences are often silenced and marginalized.

“At this point, we are keeping things under wraps as the UK-side movement shapes up and we’ll have some exciting plans to announce soon. We wanted to personally reach out to you at this point to let you know of the colour code and we will be in touch again with more information, including talking points on why we’re wearing black.”

While stars have not publicly vowed to wear black to the BAFTAs, Harry Potter star Emma Watson all-but confirmed it with a single, simple tweet.

BAFTA CEO Amanda Berry told the Telegraph that awards organizers are braced for speeches about the Hollywood harassment scandal. “It often has (been used as a platform) in the past, I think in different years there have been different issues,” she said.

“People obviously feel it’s a very powerful platform. The film awards go out globally so that makes it even more powerful, so we never say to people don’t say anything, please just thank the crew or whatever it is. Because if somebody feels passionately about it, they are going to say it. There has been a lot of conversation to date and obviously that conversation continues, awards season shines a very bright spotlight on that conversation.”

The BAFTAs will take place on February 18 at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

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Brain damage in newborns dropped dramatically after non-stick cookware chemicals were banned

Image: Brain damage in newborns dropped dramatically after non-stick cookware chemicals were banned

(Natural News)
Great food is one that’s made naturally from preparation to serving, and it has been a been a key component on the reduction of babies born with low weight and brain damage, based on a study published by the New York University (NYU) School of Medicine.

The report, published in the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, states that eliminating chemicals that were used to make non-stick coating, like Teflon, have stymied more than 118,000 low-weight births as well as brain damage related to it. This finding was derived after a thorough examination of blood samples from women who had just given birth as part of a national health study.

Earlier studies have long connected the chemicals, which were known for making sure food does not stick to the pans, with hypertension, birth defects, and lower-than-average weights. These points were the key issues behind the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) stewardship program on the reduction of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) — one of the main components in non-stick materials — as well as subsequent efforts to eliminate production in 2014.

Researchers assess that the sharp dip in chemically-linked births have helped save the country at least $13.7 billion in health costs caused by long-term hospital stays for infants and the continued treatment for the cognitive damage sustained. This figure also accounts for future gains made when the children accomplish higher education levels and gain employment.

“The evidence is overwhelming that the EPA-industry accord to phase out chemicals once used in nonstick coatings has been a major success in protecting children’s health,” according to lead investigator and epidemiologist Dr. Leonardo Trasande, who is also an associate professor at NYU. “[The] policy designed to lessen human exposure has spared thousands of newborns from damage to their health and saved U.S. taxpayers over a billion dollars in unnecessary health care costs.”

According to the research team, The essential risk to babies and pregnant women before 2006 were from exposure to PFOA. The chemical does not occur naturally in the environment and can accumulate in the “blood of marine mammals and in most humans exposed to them.” A study indicates PFOA has a long half-life (rate of elimination from the body) after a person is exposed to it, and it is able to persist in the environment. Research has also shown that a nanogram increase in PFOA per milliliter of blood can result in an 18.9 reduction in birth weight. (Related: Chemicals From Teflon Found in Human Breast Milk.)

While the agreement between the EPA and the industry has greatly decreased PFOA levels in the blood, Trasande warns about the products that have already been sold, and are possibly still in use, before the ban came into place. Additionally, health impacts for exposure to perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), the chemical substitute for PFOA, are obscure. Both PFOA and PFC are classified as endocrine disruptors, a group of chemicals that may interfere with normal hormone and brain function. Substances under this group have been observed to cause adverse effects on both humans and wildlife, according to studies.

For the study, researchers looked at PFOA levels in blood samples of people who took the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) — which has assembled data about the prevalence and risk factors to chronic illnesses through an annual survey of five thousand volunteers. Of the survey, they found that blood PFOA levels in women ages 18 to 49 steadily increased from 2003 to 2008, with the highest average level noted to be 3.5 nanograms per milliliter. This pattern, however, switched in 2009, a couple of years after the agreement was imposed, and danger levels of PFOA dipped from an average of 2.8 nanograms per milliliter to 1.6 nanograms per milliliter by 2014.

The level of low-weight births from PFOA that were potentially averted was run through a computer model and was used to calculate potential health costs and lost income that would result if PFOA was still used. The results showed a significant drop in the number of low-birth babies due to PFOA exposure: from 17,501 births in 2008, it plummeted to 1,491 in 2014.

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EU Commission urges all sides to stick to Iran nuclear deal

An international deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program struck in 2015 is working and all sides should stick to their commitments, the European Commission said on Friday. “We are following very closely all the developments on the deal…reminding that it is a non-proliferation deal, which has been endorsed by the UN Security Council, that it’s working, delivering as it has been verified eight times by the international agency for atomic energy,” a commission spokeswoman told reporters in Brussels. The agreement “gives all sides the necessary assurances,” she added, as cited by Reuters. US President Donald Trump is expected to announce his decision soon on whether to remain engaged in the deal with Iran.

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‘Stick to deal’: Kremlin on reports US plans to curb Russian control flights over its soil

The announcement is expected during the meeting of the Open Skies consultative commission in Vienna, the newspaper said. Russian officials said they were aware of the imminent restriction.

According to the WSJ, the US military see a diminishing value of the treaty, which was negotiated in the early 1990s and came into force in 2002, due to advances of satellite imaging technology.

The treaty allows member states to schedule observation flights over each other’s territory to monitor military deployments and is part of a crumbling framework for building trust between Russia and NATO members.

Commenting on the expected announcement, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said treaty members “should strictly follow its terms and raise any complaints through mechanisms of the treaty.”

The American delegation is expected to accuse Russia of breaching the treaty, the newspaper reported citing a senior US State Department official. It is to cite restrictions imposed by Russia on Open Skies flights over its territory over the past few years and announce “reciprocal countermeasures,” which main include limitation of Russian flights over Alaska and Hawaii.

In particular the US is irritated by restrictions imposed on observation flights over the Kaliningrad Region, the report said. The restrictions force two flights to be taken instead of just one to cover the entire territory of the Russian exclave in the Baltics.

“There have been reports about all kinds of sophisticated radar systems – air defense, area denial capabilities – designed to keep NATO warships and airships away,” Michael Carpenter, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense with responsibility for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia, told the newspaper. “If they have that sort of weaponry, we would like to have more transparency about what is there.”

Aleksandr Peresypkin, a retired Russian Major General and member of the Russian delegation in Vienna, told the WSJ that the US itself was “resourceful in reducing access to its airspace.”

“We have serious claims that a number of participating states are interfering with observation flights,” he said. “Our partners, in an attempt to ‘balance’ mutual claims, often just come up with small problems, elevated to the rank of big ones.”

The Open Skies treaty currently has 34 members, most of them European nations, but also including the US, Canada, Ukraine, Georgia, Russia and Belarus. Footage shot form observation planes during flight is shared among member states, but NATO members agreed not to inspect each other, which, the Russian Foreign Ministry remarks, “creates a certain misbalance of information and… violates the spirit of the treaty.”

Ukraine and its allies over the past few years scheduled some two dozen Open Skies flights over Russia along the two countries mutual border. The flights were meant to prove Kiev’s allegations that Russia had deployed large forces along the border and was providing military hardware to separatist entities in eastern Ukraine. The flight failed to provide such evidence.

The treaty last came into public attention in August after a Russian observation plane flew over the White House, the Pentagon, the CIA HQ and a military base in Maryland. Coming amid a period of high tension in US over alleged Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election, the flight sparked media frenzy in America.

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