Serving 25 years for a crime that never happened

The US media seems to regularly go through periods of hysteria when one particular crime grabs their imagination and suddenly they see widespread evidence of it everywhere. There have been many notorious cases where innocent people were wrongfully prosecuted and convicted for crimes committed by others. But what is even worse is doing so when there was no crime in the first place. This was the case during the period that some of you may remember from a few decades ago when it seemed like there was an epidemic of cases involving children’s day care centers that seemed to be hotbeds of all manner of abuse. It seemed like we saw a parade of day care providers being hauled off in handcuffs and sent to prison.
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Shaming poor children through food

In the US, it seems people believe that we should never let the poor forget that they are not only poor but that it is also their fault for being so. Even children must be made to feel ashamed for essentially having poor parents. For example, about 20 million children in US schools (about 40% of all US students) qualify for free or reduced cost lunches at school because the family income is too low. This is quite a stunning figure for one of the richest countries in the world and is a stark reminder of how skewed wealth and income is here.
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More on the ignored Yemen war

The forgotten war in Yemen where the US and its Saudi Arabian proxy are mercilessly pounding that country because of the belief that the Houthi rebels are backed by Iran continues apace. Iona Craig of The Intercept continues her excellent reporting on that ignored conflict and her latest report provides a capsule summary of the nature of the conflict that led to the latest attack by the US a few days ago on the region of al Adhlan.

One of those killed in the May 23 raid, Al Khader Saleh Salem al Adhal, was a soldier in the Yemeni army currently fighting on the U.S.-supported side in the country’s complex civil war. Yemen’s conflict pits military units loyal to former president and previous U.S. ally, Ali Abdullah Saleh, along with the predominantly Shia Houthi rebels, against a local Yemeni resistance and anti-Houthi military units backed by a Saudi Arabian-led coalition of regional nations. The coalition is in turn aided by the United States, which has been providing weapons and crucial logistical support to the Saudi Kingdom and its allies in their fight against the Houthi-Saleh forces since March 2015. The Saudis, who view the Houthis as an Iranian proxy, have been the main financial backer and weapons supplier to the military and local tribes fighting in Mareb, including in al Adhlan.

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The new ‘arms’ race

It appears that French president Emmanuel Macron’s domination of Donald Trump in the handshake wars was carefully planned by him.

As handshakes go, it was unusually intense: a fierce and protracted mano a mano of white knuckles, crunched bones, tightened jaws and fixed smiles that sent the internet and the world’s media into a spin.

It was also, Emmanuel Macron has revealed, entirely intentional. At his first major appearance on the world stage, the 39-year-old French president displayed a relaxed confidence and steely purpose that altogether belied his youth and inexperience.
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Why are people so afraid?

The first time I heard about what later became known as the case of the elderly man who was randomly selected and shot dead on the street and whose killer posted it on Facebook was when my wife got a telephone alert from the university where she teaches telling people that a shooter was on the loose and asking people not on campus to stay away and those on campus to get into lockdown mode. The puzzling thing was that the message mentioned the location of the shooting and it was several miles away from the university and there was no indication that it had anything to do with the university nor that the shooter was heading towards it. So why the warning?
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The paperfuge alternative to the centrifuge

The centrifuge is a vital tool in medical diagnostics because it enables laboratories to separate different components that are mixed in a sample. It works by spinning the sample around at very high rotational frequencies and the differential centrifugal forces on the different masses results in the separation. But centrifuges are bulky and expensive and require electricity to operate and that makes them not easily available to medical personnel in remote areas.
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Sporadic blogging for the next week

I will be visiting with my grandson for the coming week and am finding him so fascinating that it is hard to find the time to blog. It turns out that being a new grandfather is all that it is cracked up to be. So blogging will be sporadic for the next week.

But what I can report is that even though he is just one month old, he acts more rationally than the current president of the USA.

Calling all grammar pedants!

Are you, like me, somewhat of a grammar pedant and struggling to find gifts to give certain friends and relatives of yours who consistently say things that annoy you? Mark Frauenfelder has found just the thing. If the recipients spot the typo on the mug, they get a pardon. That error, he tells me, is an example of something called Skitt’s Law that says that “any post correcting an error in another post will contain at least one error itself.”
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