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Tuesday, July 7, 2020

July 07, 2020

People Who Like Post-Apocalyptic Movies Are Better Equipped For Pandemics, Study Says


Pandemic movies don't just immerse you in a crisis, they might actually prepare you for one.

New research suggests post-apocalyptic movies, or 'prepper' films, may give fans a practical and mental advantage in the current coronavirus pandemic.

If it's a good movie, it pulls you in and you take the perspective of the characters, so you are unintentionally rehearsing the scenarios," Coltan Scrivner, a psychologist who specialises in morbid curiosity at the University of Chicago, told The Guardian.

"We think people are learning vicariously. It's like, with the exception of the toilet paper shortage, they pretty much knew what to buy."

The authors of the preprint study – which has not yet been peer-reviewed – say that books and movies are a "gift from natural selection", because they help us navigate real world situations through fiction.

While the world isn't about to be invaded by aliens or zombies any time soon, these imaginary narratives could give us the mental opportunity to play out dangerous social upheaval, all while sitting in comfort and safety.


But does that really translate to the real world? To find out, researchers asked 310 volunteers what movies they preferred, how prepared they felt going into the pandemic, and whether they'd experienced any levels of anxiety, depression, irritability, or sleeplessness since.

The idea was to test whether horror or pandemic films, somehow relevant to the current crisis, had prepared viewers any better. And it turns out, they kind of had.

"We found that fans of horror films exhibited greater resilience during the pandemic and that fans of 'prepper' genres (alien-invasion, apocalyptic, and zombie films) exhibited both greater resilience and preparedness," the authors conclude.

When the actual pandemic hit, those with a sense of morbid curiosity were driven to films like Contagion, and they also exhibited greater resilience during this crisis.

Even when psychologists controlled for age, sex, affinity for movies, and other personality traits, like neuroticism and conscientiousness, they found evidence to suggest these frightening imaginary events were helping some of us cope better.

By delving into the fictional world of prepper movies, we are absorbing information on how people act in the face of a pandemic, whether knowingly or not, and some psychologists think that information could be valuable in the real world.

It could, for instance, tell a person what kind of social conflicts are likely to arise amid chaos, which institutions we can truly rely on, and what the world might look like if people act selfishly or cooperatively - stuff the average person usually doesn't consider of their own volition.


In the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a massive surge in people watching the film Contagion. Far from being a form of escapism, this decade-old film is a realistic depiction of what could happen during a viral pandemic. So it might be morbid curiosity that's driving us to watch such films.

"Through a greater propensity to gather information about dangerous phenomena, morbidly curious individuals may accrue a larger repertoire of knowledge and coping strategies that would be useful in a variety of dangerous situations in real life," the authors of the new study write.

Still, we might be jumping to conclusions. While the study focuses on morbid curiosity, watching movies like Contagion at a time like this could also be a type of sensation-seeking behaviour, which is tied to a desire for greater arousal and an enjoyment of horror media.

In the study, being a horror fan was not related to greater resilience or preparedness, but horror fandom was linked to lower psychological distress.

Fans of the prepper genre, on the other hand, were more prepared for the pandemic and experienced fewer negative disruptions in their life during the pandemic.

Among those who were not deemed morbidly curious, however, there were mixed results for psychological resiliency. The authors think this is because many pandemic films are meant to scare people rather than inspire curiosity or approach the pandemic "as an intrinsically interesting phenomenon".

So whilst fans of prepper films appear more prepared, they could also be far more vigilant or frightened, and this can have mental repercussions in the long-term.

"Our findings add support to the idea that fiction can be a useful simulation of both specific scenarios - in the case of pandemic films - and generally fearful scenarios -in the case of horror films," the authors conclude.

"Experience with these simulations can be used as a form of preparation and practice of both specific skills relevant to particular situations and more general skills associated with emotion regulation."

We hope they're right.

The preprint paper was published in PsyArXiv.

Monday, July 6, 2020

July 06, 2020

Chinese City Warns Of Bubonic Plague After 2 Cases

Bubonic Plague

A city in northern China on Sunday sounded an alert after a suspected case of bubonic plague was reported, according to official media.

Bayannur, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, announced a level III warning of plague prevention and control, state-run People's Daily Online reported.

The suspected bubonic plague case was reported on Saturday by a hospital in Bayannur. The local health authority announced that the warning period will continue until the end of 2020.


"At present, there is a risk of a human plague epidemic spreading in this city. The public should improve its self-protection awareness and ability, and report abnormal health conditions promptly," the local health authority said.

On July 1, state-run Xinhua news agency said that two suspected cases of bubonic plague reported in Khovd province in western Mongolia have been confirmed by lab test results.

The confirmed cases are a 27-year-old resident and his 17-year-old brother, who are being treated at two separate hospitals in their province, it quoted a health official as saying.

The brothers ate marmot meat, the health official said, warning people not to eat marmot meat.

A total of 146 people who had contact with them have been isolated and treated at local hospitals, according to Narangerel.

Bubonic plague is a bacterial disease that is spread by fleas living on wild rodents such as marmots. It can kill an adult in less than 24 hours if not treated in time, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

A couple died of bubonic plague in the western Mongolian province of Bayan-Ulgii last year after eating raw marmot meat.

Bubonic Plague

The news of bubonic plague came after Chinese researchers issued an early warning over another potential pandemic caused by an influenza virus in pigs.

Scientists from China Agricultural University, the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and other institutes detected a pig influenza virus bearing genotype 4 (G4), which is contagious among pigs and has the possibility of jumping to humans, as the G4 virus is able to bind with human cells, state-run Global Times reported last week.

The researchers are concerned that it could mutate further so that it can spread easily from person to person, and trigger a global outbreak, BBC reported.

"Controlling the prevailing G4 EA H1N1 viruses in pigs and close monitoring in human populations, especially workers in the swine industry, should be urgently implemented," Chinese researchers warned in the paper.

The new diseases were reported even as China grappled with the second attack of COVID-19 in Beijing after controlling it in Wuhan where it was first reported in December last year.

On Saturday, Beijing reported a single-digit COVID-19, local authorities said Sunday.

The number of newly confirmed COVID-19 cases reached a peak in Beijing on June 13 and 14 and then started declining in general, Xinhua quoted local officials as saying.

From June 11 to July 4, the city reported 334 confirmed locally transmitted cases, 47 per cent of whom are workers of the Xinfadi wholesale food market, the official said.

[ By NDTV ]
July 06, 2020

City In China’s Inner Mongolia Warns Of Suspected Bubonic Plague

 Bubonic Plague

Authorities in a city in the Chinese region of Inner Mongolia have issued a warning after a hospital reported a case of suspected bubonic plague - one of the deadliest diseases in history.

The health committee of the city of Bayan Nur issued the third-level alert on Sunday, the second lowest in a four-level system.

The alert forbids the hunting and eating of animals that could carry plague and asks the public to report any suspected cases of plague or fever with no clear causes, and to report any sick or dead marmots.

Bubonic Plague

Sunday's warning follows four reported cases of plague in people from Inner Mongolia last November, including two of pneumonic plague, a more dangerous variant of the disease. At least two of the cases then were diagnosed in the capital, Beijing.

The bubonic plague, known as the "Black Death" in the Middle Ages, comes from the bacterium, Yersinia pestis, and is a highly infectious and often fatal disease spread mostly by rodents via fleas.

It killed between 75 and 200 million people in the 14th century, and at least 30 to 50 million from the year 541 to 549.

According to the WHO website, the lung-based pneumonic plague is extremely contagious and "can trigger severe epidemics through person-to-person contact via droplets in the air".

 Bubonic Plague

Symptoms include fever, chills, vomiting and nausea.

The plague can be fatal in up to 90 percent of people infected if not treated, primarily with several types of antibiotics.

Plague cases are not uncommon in China, but outbreaks have become increasingly rare. From 2009 to 2018, China reported 26 cases and 11 deaths.

In 2014, a man died of the plague in northwestern Gansu province, sparking the quarantine of 151 people.

The 30,000 people living in Yumen, the town where the man died, were also prevented from leaving with police at roadblocks placed on the town perimeter.


In 2009, an outbreak also claimed the lives of several people in the town of Ziketan in Qinghai province on the Tibetan Plateau.

But China has vastly improved its detection and management of infectious diseases since the 2003 outbreak of the severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, and the latest coronavirus pandemic, which was first reported in Wuhan in late 2019.

[ By Aljazeera ]

Sunday, July 5, 2020

July 05, 2020

Company Unveils World’s Fist 3D-Printed Meatless Steak

Redefined Meat, an Israeli startup specializing in alternative meat, recently unveiled what it calls the world’s first 3D-printed plant-based steak called Alt-Steak.

Using its own patent-pending 3D-printing technology, Redefine Meat has allegedly been able to create a meatless steak that features the appearance, texture, and, most importantly, the taste of the real thing. The company was apparently to achieve all this by working with expert butchers, chefs, food technologists and Swiss flavor company Givaudan. The revolutionary Alt-Steak is created by mixing Redefined Meat’s Alt-Muscle, Alt-Fat, and Alt-Blood plant-based formulations in several layers. The end result is a sustainable, high-protein, cholesterol-free steak that looks, cooks and tastes like real meat.

“The importance of using precision 3D printing technology to achieve texture, color and flavor—and the combinations between them—cannot be overstated. By using separate formulations for muscle, fat and blood, we can focus on each individual aspect of creating the perfect Alt-Steak product,” Eshchar Ben-Shitrit, CEO and Co-Founder of Redefined Meat, said.

“Since day one of the company, we have been working on creating a tasty and affordable plant-based alternative to steaks, one of the most cherished food products and the driver of the entire meat industry,” the Redefined Meat CEO added. “To enable mass adoption, we knew that creating an alternative meat product that was both high in quality and nutritional composition would require new technologies and production processes never seen before in the food industry.”

Alt-Steak is described as an “extremely complicated food” where protein, fats, natural colors and flavors and more are arranged in a precise manner to make them perform like the equivalent elements in a cow’s muscle. However, this alternative meat product comes with the advantage that it can be produced much faster than the real thing.

To promote its alternative steak, Redefined Meat recently invited Israeli chef Assaf Granit at its offices for a tasting. Granit said that the taste of Alt-Steak was “almost identical” to the original, adding that, in his opinion, eight out of ten people wouldn’t tell the difference between a real steak and an Alt-Steak.

Redefined Meat produces both the 3D printers and the edible “inks” required to “print” alternative meat products, which it aims to sell to meat distributors around the world. The inks are made out of plant-based ingredients, proteins from legumes and grains, plant fats, and natural flavors and colors to mimic the juice and blood of an actual steak.

“It is very unique to us; we are the only ones doing this. We come very close to how the composition of meat is in nature, and our 3D printer essentially is like a very complicated robot that knows how to take each one of these ingredients and in a very accurate manner… builds a food product,” Eshchar Ben-Shitrit said.

Alternative meat is considered the future, so it’s no surprise that companies are racing to come up with the next breakthrough. In the past, we featured the now famous Impossible Burger, as well as Nova Meat’s version of a 3D-printed steak.

[ By Oddity Central ]
July 05, 2020

Indian Man Wears Gold Face Mask To Ward Off Coronavirus

Shankar Kurhade

An Indian man said he paid about $4,000 for a bespoke gold face mask to protect him from the coronavirus raging in the country.

The precious metal covering weighs 60 grams (two ounces) and took craftsmen eight days to make, said businessman Shankar Kurhade, from the western city of Pune.

"It is a thin mask and has tiny pores that is helping me to breathe," Shankar told AFP.

"I am not sure if it will be effective to protect me from a coronavirus infection but I am taking other precautions," he added.

Shankar Kurhade

When going out, the 49-year-old said he likes to adorn himself with gold jewellery weighing a kilogramme, including a bracelet, necklace and rings on each finger of his right hand.

Kurhade -- whose company makes industrial sheds -- said he got the idea for the gold face mask after seeing a media report about a man wearing one made from silver.

"People are asking me for selfies," he said.

"They are awestruck when they see me wearing the gold mask in markets."

India has made face masks mandatory in public places in a bid to control the spread of the virus in the country, which has around 650,000 confirmed cases and more than 18,600 fatalities.

[ By AFP ]

Friday, July 3, 2020

July 03, 2020

A Drink Or Two A Day Might Be Good For Your Brain, Study Says

Wine, Liquor, Drinking

Love a glass of wine with dinner? There's good news for you from a study that finds "moderate" alcohol consumption—a glass or two per day—might actually preserve your memory and thinking skills.

This held true for both men and women, the researchers said.

There was one caveat, however: The study of nearly 20,000 Americans tracked for an average of nine years found that the brain benefit from alcohol mostly applied to white people, not Black people. The reasons for that remain unclear, according to a team led by Changwei Li, an epidemiologist at the University of Georgia College of Public Health, in Athens.

Among whites, however, low to moderate drinking "was significantly associated with a consistently high cognitive function trajectory and a lower rate of cognitive decline," compared to people who never drank, the team reported June 29 in JAMA Network Open.

The study couldn't prove that moderate drinking directly caused the preservation of thinking and memory, only that there was an association.

The range of drinking considered "low to moderate" in the study was set at less than eight drinks per week for women and less than 15 drinks per week for men. Drink more frequently, and any benefit to the brain begins to fade and even turn into possible harm, the researchers stressed.

Also, although the tests administered to the study participants measured cognitive attributes such as memory (word recall), overall mental status (tests of knowledge, language) and vocabulary knowledge, they were not designed to gauge whether alcohol could shield people from Alzheimer's or other dementias.

Still, the finding that moderate drinking does no harm to thinking skills, and may even provide a benefit, "could be good news for some of the alcohol-consuming public, which makes up the majority of Americans according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health," said geriatric psychiatrist Dr. Jeremy Koppel. He's an associate professor at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research, in Manhasset, N.Y.

Wine, Liquor, Drinking

But there are always downsides to drinking, including its effects on the heart, Koppel added.

"As the study authors note, the benefits of potentially enhanced cognitive performance in alcohol-consuming middle-aged Americans must be weighed against the risks of hypertension and stroke, amongst other maladies, that this exposure may confer," said Koppel, who wasn't involved in the new study.

The research used comprehensive data from an ongoing federal government health study involving almost 20,000 people tracked for an average of nine years between 1996 and 2008. The participants averaged about 62 years of age at the beginning of the study and 60% were women.

Li's team noted that the "findings are in line with previous research." Those prior studies include a major study of Californians that found that moderate alcohol consumption was tied to better cognitive function among folks averaging about 73 years of age. And data from the ongoing Nurses' Health Study found that drinking that didn't exceed more than a drink per day seemed linked to a slowing of cognitive decline for women in their 70s.

None of this means that Americans can go out and raise multiple glasses of booze to good health, however, because problem drinking is a major cause of suffering across the United States. In that regard, "public health campaigns are still needed to further reduce alcohol drinking in middle-aged or older U.S. adults, particularly among men," Li's group said.

Monday, June 29, 2020

June 29, 2020

New Swine Flu With Pandemic Potential Discovered In China

New Swine Flu

Researchers in China have discovered a new type of swine flu that is capable of triggering a pandemic, according to a study published Monday in the US science journal PNAS.

Named G4, it is genetically descended from the H1N1 strain that caused a pandemic in 2009.

It possesses "all the essential hallmarks of being highly adapted to infect humans," say the authors, scientists at Chinese universities and China's Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

From 2011 to 2018, researchers took 30,000 nasal swabs from pigs in slaughterhouses in 10 Chinese provinces and in a veterinary hospital, allowing them to isolate 179 swine flu viruses.

The majority were of a new kind which has been dominant among pigs since 2016.

The researchers then carried out various experiments including on ferrets, which are widely used in flu studies because they experience similar symptoms to humans -- principally fever, coughing and sneezing.

G4 was observed to be highly infectious, replicating in human cells and causing more serious symptoms in ferrets than other viruses.

Tests also showed that any immunity humans gain from exposure to seasonal flu does not provide protection from G4.

According to blood tests which showed up antibodies created by exposure to the virus, 10.4 percent of swine workers had already been infected.

New Swine Flu

The tests showed that as many as 4.4 percent of the general population also appeared to have been exposed.

The virus has therefore already passed from animals to humans but there is no evidence yet that it can be passed from human to human -- the scientists' main worry.

"It is of concern that human infection of G4 virus will further human adaptation and increase the risk of a human pandemic," the researchers wrote.

The authors called for urgent measures to monitor people working with pigs.

"The work comes as a salutary reminder that we are constantly at risk of new emergence of zoonotic pathogens and that farmed animals, with which humans have greater contact than with wildlife, may act as the source for important pandemic viruses," said James Wood, head of the department of veterinary medicine at Cambridge University.

A zoonotic infection is caused by a pathogen that has jumped from a non-human animal into a human.

[ By NDTV ]
June 29, 2020

TikTok Influencer Covers Herself In Her Own Poo

Allegedly, the woman started with her shtick of covering herself in her own sh*t  – according to someone on Twitter – which is wholly inappropriate, but a glance at her social media shows that she’s been at this for a while.

Not in a cool way either, I’m just genuinely feeling queazy. If you watch this video – which is shitless – she sort of explains herself but in a way I find it absolutely more menacing now…

@iamdung6 How hot is the EGO? ##BuffaloWildWings eating Mango Habanero as ##shit feces poop! Discover what you don’t know follow me! Share! ##meditation
♬ original sound - iamdung6

Now I know that this woman is actually quite calculating and on the face of it, a bit normal, but deep down she’s one of those people who eats literally shit to see if it tastes like the food that she previously ate. God sorry I actually think I feel sick again.

She lives in a normal house. The walls are white, which is alarming and poorly thought out, but she also has a camera tripod behind her, despite opting to film things handheld.

[ By The Hook ]
June 29, 2020

Jogger Caught Pooing On The Street And Forced To Carry It With Bare Hands

 Pooing On The Street

I think if you’re so desperate for a shit that you have to do it somewhere in public then you probably deserve a pass if it’s not in the middle of a field or something because it must have been a serious situation for you to stoop so low, but apparently not everyone thinks that way judging by this video from over in Australia.

The video comes from the CCTV of some joint, where a guy is literally taking a dump in the middle of the day next to a dumpster. Unfortunately for him, he was caught by someone coming out of the door and then massively berated and forced to carry his turd home with him with his bare hands:

[ By Sick Chirpse ]

Sunday, June 28, 2020

June 28, 2020

Remember These 6 Things When Dealing With Traumatic Stress In Your Life

Traumatic Stress

Whether you’ve been affected by some sort of accident, disaster, illness or loss, any kind of traumatic event can produce physical, behavioral, emotional and cognitive changes in the way you function. Trauma can cause depression, memory loss, poor concentration, shock, numbness, gastrointestinal problems, fatigue, headaches, irritability, sensitivity and withdrawal in addition to other side-effects. Being severely affected by a traumatic event is normal and common, but you don’t have to stay silently suffering. There are steps you can take in order to effectively treat and recover from these kinds of symptoms.

1. Accept the Truth of What Has Happened

The first stage in the grieving process is typically identified as denial. You don’t want to believe the diagnosis that you’ve been given by multiple doctors, you refuse to accept that someone has passed away, you’re unwilling to admit that a relationship is over or you’d rather deny that a disaster has occurred. It’s natural to not want to face the truth, but prolonging your unwillingness to accept reality can stall your ability to actually deal with the traumatic event. In order to work through the pain and consequences from the situation at hand, it’s important to admit the undesirable truths of what changes have taken place.

2. Allow Yourself to Feel the Range of Emotions That You Feel

After something unexpected and painful happens, we generally go through a range of emotions including anger, frustration, confusion and sadness. Just like it’s common to want to deny the traumatic event ever happened, it’s also common to want to deny that you’re feeling emotionally and physically affected during the aftermath. You may be tempted to plaster a smile on your face and bottle up all of the emotions you’re feeling so that no one around you can see the hurt you’re going through.

When events affect the whole family or a circle of friends, individuals often hide their own pain so as not to bring down the group or make anyone else’s coping abilities worse. But, when we don’t acknowledge our feelings and just try to sweep them under the rug, they continue to linger like an untreated infection. Not addressing how you feel can prolong the healing process and keep you from making progress in regards to effectively recovering.

If you feel sad, admit to yourself that you’re feeling sad. If you’re frustrated and at a loss of what to do, recognize that you’ve been through a lot and it’s okay to feel frustrated and confused. You don’t need to dwell on negative and depressing thoughts, but it can be helpful to admit when you’re having a hard time and when you need some assistance.

3. Ask for Support, Lenience and Companionship

After you’ve admitted to yourself that you’re having a hard time, you’re ready to admit to others that you could use some help. Maybe you need a friend to run some essential errands that you don’t have the heart to do. Perhaps you need some time off of work right now. Maybe you just really need to not be left alone today. Whatever it is that you need, communicate your situation to your co-workers, friends and family members. You don’t have to share any details that you’re uncomfortable sharing, but you can express the basics of your circumstances in order to convey what kind of help you could benefit from.

Traumatic Stress

4. Talk with a Counselor or Other Healthcare Professional

Sometimes talking with a friend or spiritual adviser is enough of an opportunity to say what you need to say, but other times it can be valuable to talk with a counselor who is academically and clinically trained to help survivors work through the various stages of coping. Depending on your particular circumstances, consider consulting such an adviser especially if the traumatic event has happened more than a month ago and you’re still intensely suffering and unable to carry out your normal responsibilities.

5. Give Yourself Time to Heal

When effectively dealing with trauma, it’s important to remember that feelings of sadness and pain don’t go away immediately just because you want to be done with them. Be patient with yourself and understand that the time it takes you to cope may be different than others and that’s okay.

Although you’ll hopefully be able to find a better place of acceptance down the road, you may still have an emotional reaction when certain reminders crop up here and there. With certain losses, for example, you may always feel sad when you think of a parent who has passed away or a child who was stillborn. Learning to recover from a traumatic event doesn’t mean that you can change history, but you can come to terms with the situation enough to overcome the severe and persisting side effects of trauma.

6. Establish Your New Life

When a traumatic event presents the need for serious change, you may need to move, get a job or figure out a new way to accomplish tasks, but it’s best to avoid making big life decisions when your emotional state is still drastically affected. In accordance with that, see what immediate options are available to you that don’t require serious commitments. Maybe you can stay with a friend for a few weeks or have a family member come help around the house and with the kids. While you’re grieving, simply focus on normalizing your daily routine so that you eat properly, sleep at night and find strength through your friends, family, spirituality and other sources.

When you’re feeling more composed, it may be time to determine what actions need to be taken in order for you to live on well. You may be inclined to go back to school, to find an apartment closer to your family members who you can rely on for support or to go after the job you’ve always wanted. Moving on with your life can be hard and feel like you’re turning back on a person or situation that you’ve lost, but faith and hope point to the future. You can respectfully remember what you want to remember and still take the steps needed so that you can have a meaningful existence going forward.

Monday, June 22, 2020

June 22, 2020

Swan ‘Dies From A Broken Heart’ After Teenagers Destroy Nest And Eggs

In an ‘awful’ incident, an animal activist recently took to Facebook to inform that a swan in Manchester, UK, died of a ‘broken heart’. Michael Mason, the wildlife activist, said that the swan died after her unborn cygnets were ‘killed’ and some youngsters destroyed her nest. The teenage boys were reportedly seen throwing bricks and rocks and aiming for the island where the bird had left her eggs.

Mason in the Facebook post informed that after the incident, only three of the six unhatched cygnets survived. The wildlife activist had been keeping an update on the nest and the swan. Mason noted that the male swan had left around two weeks ago and has not returned since. He also believes that the male had been driven away by stress.

Moreover, the activist also noted that more eggs had also been lost in recent days. While only one egg was left, Mason said that the female swan was found dead in her nest. Another animal activist also believes that the female swan probably died of a broken heart as her partner was also driven away by stress and then her cygnets were also killed.

RSPCA investigates the ‘distressing incident’ 
Mason, while sharing images of the swan and the nest, wrote, “I really don't want to do this post today because it comes with great sadness. I have tried to keep you updated on this Swan who laid six eggs, three were destroyed by youths”.

He further added, “Her mate left her on her own and sadly I was informed this morning she was found slumped in her nest dead. Just feel like crying as I have followed her progress for about 12 weeks”.

Since shared, several Facebook users were also left heartbroken. As they urged authorities to take action against the young boys, a spokesperson for the RSPCA said that the case is being investigated. The spokesperson reportedly said that the incident is a really sad development and it is very upsetting to hear about the death of the poor swan. The RSPCA also urged people to contact the officials if they had any information about the distressing incident. Furthermore, they also noted that swans and their nests and egg are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

June 21, 2020

Nigerian Pastor Claims It’s a Sin to Be a Tenant, Because Then You Have Two Lords

Pastor Charles Osazuwa

Pastor Charles Osazuwa, the general overseer of Rock of Ages Assembly Inc. in Nigeria, called upon his followers to build or buy their own homes, as having a landlord is tantamount to having another Lord but Christ.

During a controversial sermon that has been doing the rounds on social media over the last week, the Nigerian pastor told his congregation that being a tenant is technically a sin. He said that the first advice he always gives someone who has a job is to buy their own house, so they can liberate themselves from their landlord. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate or luxurious place, especially if it’s their first house, but as Christians they should not have two Lords…

“The tenant is always at the mercy of the landlord. The landlord can call the tenant anytime and he can request to use his apartment anytime. The Christian who is a tenant should work towards freeing himself from the second Lord which is the Landlord,” Osazuwa can be heard saying.

The clergyman went on to say that God is a Jealous God who doesn’t approve of his children having other lords beside him, explaining that landlords, whom most tenants hold in high esteem somehow degrades the might of God, relegating Him to a simple human being. I’m still trying to make sense of this…

“According to scripture, you are supposed to have only one lord so when you have a landlord you have two lords. You’ve never heard this before. So to be a tenant is a sin,” Pastor Osazuwa said.

He even took a stab at churches operating out of rented spaces, saying that “a church that operates in a rented apartment is having two lords, this should not be.”

It’s been a while since we’ve featured the exploits of African so-called holy men, but this story is part of a growing collection of offbeat news involving pastors from the African continent. Who could forget the man who claimed to have God’s phone number, the one who “brought a man back to life” in a ridiculous resurrection ritual, or the pastor who claimed to cure followers by spraying them in the face with insect repellent.

[ By Oddity Central ]

Friday, June 19, 2020

June 19, 2020

India Fighters, Warships Moved To Forward Bases After Bloodiest Day In Ladakh

NEW DELHI: The government has given powers to the armed forces to make emergency procurements to stock up its war reserves in the wake of escalating conflict with China along the Line of Actual Control.

While India has initiated dialogue to contain the conflict in Ladakh, sources said, the government did not want to leave anything to chance at this stage, especially after the violence on Monday night.

ET has learnt that Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat has been asked to coordinate with the three services on prioritising the requirements, where necessary.

Those familiar with the details told ET that the Navy has also been given the go-ahead to deploy its assets near the Malacca Strait and, if needed, anywhere else in the Indo-Pacific to counter Chinese action.

Air Force assets, including fighters, too have been moved up to forward locations. The first signs of discomfort in the Indian camp started when the Chinese side a few days ago began pressing hard for another round of Corps Commander-level meeting to kickstart talks on the Pangong Tso.

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) even moved a request for a Corps Commander-level meeting on June 16. The Indian side, however, declined and had conveyed to their Chinese interlocutors that a higher-level meeting would only be possible after complete disengagement from Galwan.

This decision was taken at the highest levels, added sources. The issue on the table from an Indian standpoint were two semi-permanent structures with tents on PP (Patrolling Point) 14 in Galwan.

The Chinese troops had moved back some distance following local commander-level talks but had refused to remove these structures. At PP 17, China had apparently raised objection to some Indian hutments.

In the recent past, sources said, Chinese troops have acted in a pattern where they move up, build tented structures and then move back after talks without demolishing what they had made.

It’s learnt that this was flagged off by the Army as a way to make reoccupation easier at these heights. However, pending resolution of these issues on Galwan, China was keen to start conversation on Finger areas of Pangong Tso.

At that stage, sources said, a high-level meeting took place in Delhi last Friday where it was decided that India will insist on complete resolution of dispute in Galwan before moving on to Pangong Tso

The turn of events on Monday night took the top brass by surprise. South Block was, in fact, gearing up for a more protracted conversation on getting Chinese troops to move back from Finger 4 in Pangong Tso. It was felt that Chinese PLA would be more belligerent there as it had moved into advantageous ground.

[ By India Times ]

Thursday, June 18, 2020

June 18, 2020

North Korea Took A Stick Of Dynamite To Inter-Korean Detente

On Tuesday, North Korea blew up the inter-Korean joint liaison office based in Kaesong that once facilitated communication and cooperation between the two Koreas. Moreover, Pyongyang also declared it has scrapped the inter-Korean military agreement signed in 2018 and appears to have begun deploying some of its soldiers to the demilitarized zone. North Korea has claimed that the measures are just the beginning and has vowed to take further action, opening up a new round of hostilities that threaten regional security.

While North Korea argues that the latest series of actions were countermeasures against South Korea’s slow response to stop anti-Pyongyang leaflets airdropped by certain civic organizations, Pyongyang’s true rationale is much more complex.

As is often the case, North Korea’s actions are based on three intertwining factors: the leadership’s legitimacy, inter-Korean relations, and the United States. In this case, North Korea argues that both America and South Korea failed to do their part in lifting sanctions as well as ending their hostile postures despite Kim Jong-un’s acts of goodwill for “peace” that included participation in summits, signing of the aforementioned inter-Korean military agreement, and the self-imposed ICBM and nuclear testing moratorium. Based on these factors, North Korea sets the narrative within the country (and with anyone sympathetic to Pyongyang) that it has been betrayed, and that the slow progress towards peace and its current economic troubles are all because of the United States and South Korea.

Certainly, North Korea was interested in rapprochement, but for reasons much different from the South. For North Korea, the reconciliatory events in 2018 were avenues towards negotiations with the United States for an advantageous peace treaty and the lifting of international sanctions. Moreover, Pyongyang wanted to milk out unconditional economic, security, and political concessions and compromises that benefit the totalitarian regime. Yet since 2019, North Korea felt that none of the above were achieved, thereby judging that relations with South Korea are now sacrificeable. North Korea’s message to South Korea is clear: “Until you give us all we the things we want, you’ll pay the price.”

Given that the joint liaison office and the military agreement were some of the key icons of the 2018 inter-Korean exchanges, the demolishment of the facility and trashing of the agreement is propagated as a victory for North Korea. In particular, there was emphasis on the role played by Kim Yo-jong—Kim Jong-un’s younger sister and First Deputy Director of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea. For Kim Yo-jong, spearheading the initiatives to gain the upper hand over South Korea was not just about achieving North Korea’s strategic interests, but also to shore up legitimacy by demonstrating her strong, unrelenting leadership as the second-in-charge and as the potential successor to Kim Jong-un.

North Korea actions are certainly heartbreaking and humiliating for the progressive Moon Jae-in government and the ruling party that often gives Pyongyang the benefit of the doubt and pursues unconditional reconciliatory gestures rather than addressing security interests and human rights abuses by the Stalinist state. However, there are now growing questions among South Koreans about the credibility of engagement with North Korea, not just due to Pyongyang’s bellicose words and actions, but also the fact that it was Seoul that paid approximately USD 15 million to cover all the costs of building and renovating the de facto embassy that has now been demolished.

The South Korean government has vowed to “strongly respond” against any further hostile actions and has put its armed forces on higher alert. Yet North Korea well understands the dilemmas faced by the Moon Jae-in administration and the ruling party. Pyongyang believes that Seoul’s toughness will be limited and that it will eventually return to appeasement. Even if South Korea does take tougher measures, North Korea will simply use it as an opportunity to up the ante.

Indeed, the demolition of the joint liaison office is different from Pyongyang’s past provocations. After all, the facility was in North Korean territory and had virtually ceased to operate for several months. Yet still, North Korea has not only unilaterally gutted the efforts for reconciliation to date, but is now remilitarizing the inter-Korean relations, putting the Korean peninsula and the region at greater risk.

Combined with the series of short-range missile tests and the continued production of various weapons systems over the past year, North Korea’s recent actions and statements toward South Korea and the United States clearly proves the insufficiencies of the strategies to date. Pyongyang will not give up nuclear arsenals, nor stop its bellicose, extortive, and manipulative practices simply in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. Rather, prematurely lifting sanctions or making any compromises will only set a bad precedent, giving North Korea further opportunities to push the envelope to make more gains. While peaceful solutions are undoubtedly vital, it is also critical to reconfigure the means and ends to adequately deal with the threats posed by North Korea once and for all.

Ryo Hinata-Yamaguchi is a visiting professor in the Department of Global Studies at the College of Economics and International Trade, Pusan National University, and an Adjunct Fellow at the Pacific Forum.​ You can follow him on Twitter: @tigerrhy.

Image: Reuters

June 18, 2020

North Korea Vows To Send Troops To Border Areas

North Korea on Wednesday vowed to redeploy troops to front-line areas to resume military exercises and reinstall guard posts as tensions with South Korea continue to escalate.

The country’s military units will be deployed to the Diamond Mountain resort and the Kaesong industrial complex just north of the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), The Associated Press and Reuters reported.

The North will also open sites for flying propaganda balloons toward South Korea. The move is a direct response to defectors from North Korea reportedly sending propaganda leaflets with anti-Pyongyang sentiments back across the border by balloon or by sea.

The announcement comes just one day after North Korea blew up a joint liaison office set up along the border as part of a 2018 peace agreement.

North Korea’s Central News Agency (KCNA) said that destruction of the building was a “reflection of the zeal of our enraged people to punish human scum who challenged the noblest dignity and prestige of our country and those who sheltered the scum, perpetrators of shuddering crime.” 

South Korea had offered to send special envoys to North Korea to ease tensions but the effort was rejected by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's government, Reuters reported.

“The solution to the present crisis between the North and the South caused by the incompetence and irresponsibility of the South Korean authorities is impossible and it can be terminated only when proper price is paid,” KCNA stated.

South Korea warned that North Korea will face consequences if it violates a 2018 deal that halted live-firing exercises, removed some land mines and destroyed guard posts along the DMZ.

The escalation also comes as denuclearization talks with the United States remain stalled since last year.

North Korean leaders said last week that they see little reason to maintain ties with President Trump two years after the leaders’ first summit in Singapore.

“Never again will we provide the U.S. chief executive with another package to be used for achievements without receiving any returns,” Foreign Minister Ri Son Gwon said. “Nothing is more hypocritical than an empty promise.”

[ By The Hill ]