Festive Satanic statue added to Illinois statehouse – BBC News
Festive Satanic statue added to Illinois statehouse 5 December 2018 These are external links and will open in a new window Close share panel Image copyright Facebook/The Satanic Temple – Chicago Chapter A satanic group has added its own statue to a series of displays in the government building of the US state of Illinois to mark the festive season.
Placed between a Christmas tree and a menorah, the four-foot sculpture depicts a snake coiled around an outstretched arm holding an apple.
It’s the first display sponsored by the Chicago chapter of the Temple of Satan.
The state government said the temple had the same right as other religious groups to have a display.
“Under the Constitution, the First Amendment, people have a right to express their feelings, their thoughts,” Dave Druker, spokesman for the Illinois secretary of state, told the State Journal-Register. “This recognises that.”
The move has been criticised on social media by Illinois Family Action, an anti-abortion pressure group. Report End of Twitter post by @ILfamilyaction
Past decorations in the statehouse rotunda, in the state capital Springfield, have included a “Festivus” pole – a reference to a fictional holiday which was the subject of an episode of the sitcom Seinfeld. You might also be interested in The seven-year-old making $22m on YouTube What is the Satanic Temple?
Founded in 2012 in Salem, Massachusetts, the Temple of Satan describes itself as a non-theistic group that aims to “encourage benevolence and empathy among all people”.
It says its uses satanic imagery to promote the separation of church and state and to campaign for “practical common sense and justice”.
It has 15 official chapterhouses in the US, the biggest of which is based in Michigan.
The temple was started by Harvard graduate Doug Mesner, known as “Lucien Greaves”, and an individual known as “Malcolm Jerry”.
In a speech, Mr Greaves said the group had had “thousands” of membership applications since the election of US President Donald Trump in 2016.
Earlier this year, members of a Satanic Temple placed a statue of Baphomet – a goat-like deity associated with Satanism – outside Arkansas’ statehouse during a First Amendment rally.
The group also settled a $50m copyright lawsuit against Netflix and Warner Bros last month over a statue of Baphomet used in the TV series The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Related Topics
New homes ‘crumbling due to weak mortar’ – BBC News
New homes ‘crumbling due to weak mortar’ By Jim Reed Reporter, Victoria Derbyshire programme 6 December 2018 These are external links and will open in a new window Close share panel Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption Vincent Fascione says he will never buy a new build-home again Hundreds of new properties have been built using weak mortar that does not meet recommended industry standards, the Victoria Derbyshire show has found.
There are reports of homes with the fault on at least 13 estates in the UK.
The full extent of the industry-wide problem is hard to measure as some homeowners have been asked to sign gagging orders to claim compensation.
The industry says mortar performance is a complex issue and can be affected by a number of factors.
One of those homes was owned by Vincent Fascione, 70. He says he was watching football on TV one evening in 2016 when he heard a loud cracking noise from the external walls of his house.
The next morning, he found a sand-like substance all over his front path and driveway. Photographs and video from the time appear to show growing cracks in the mortar holding his bricks together.
Mr Fascione, from Coatbridge outside Glasgow, bought his semi-detached property in 2012 for £112,500.
He complained to the homebuilder, Taylor Wimpey, and to the NHBC, the industry body that signs off and provides the warranty for most new-build houses. ‘Disastrous’
Under NHBC guidelines, mortar in most areas of the UK should be made of one part cement to 5.5 parts sand.
In severe weather areas such as Coatbridge, there should be even more cement in the mix to make it stronger and more durable. Image caption Mr Fascione says the mortar problem has been “a disaster” for him
Laboratory tests on samples taken from parts of Mr Fascione’s home showed the amount of sand was almost three times higher than recommended.
“I’m the guy who retired and decided to buy a new-build house,” he said. “I’ll never buy a new-build house again – never. It’s just been disastrous for me.”
After 18 months of complaints, the NHBC bought back Mr Fascione’s home at the market rate and he is living in alternative accommodation.
The organisation said it had done so because the performance of the company it had employed to repair the property had not been good enough and “in consideration of Mr Fascione’s personal circumstances”, not because of the original issue with the mortar. ‘Widespread and serious’
The Victoria Derbyshire Programme has heard about new build properties in at least 13 estates from Scotland to Sussex, built by different companies, with what appears to be a similar problem. Image caption Retired construction manager Phil Waller blogs about new homes
In one single estate in the Scottish borders, it is thought Taylor Wimpey has agreed to replace the mortar in more than 90 separate properties. The homebuilder says an assessment by engineers found “no structural issues” with the homes.
“This is both widespread and serious,” says Phil Waller, a retired construction manager who has blogged about the problem.
“It cannot be explained away by the industry as a few isolated cases.”
Exactly why the weaker building material may have been used is unclear.
In some cases, the housebuilder may have simply used the wrong type of mortar. In other cases, errors may have been made mixing and laying the material on site.
Some construction experts also blame the switch to a new type of factory-mixed mortar, which might pass a different strength test in the laboratory but not always be strong enough in the real world. Non-disclosure agreements
Faced with what could be an expensive repair bill, many homeowners have been told by their own solicitors not to go public until the issue is resolved.
In some cases, customers have ultimately had their houses bought back by either the homebuilder or the NHBC.
In others, it appears repairs have been made and compensation paid as part of a deal that involves the signing of a non-disclosure agreement or gagging clause.
One homeowner in the north-west of England told the programme: “The only comment I can make is no comment. I’d like to speak out but at the end of the day I have to protect my investment.”
A gagging clause may stop the property owner talking not only to the media but also to neighbours in the estate who may be facing similar problems. Image caption Example of suspect mortar from a second estate in Scotland
“It’s going on, it’s just not being talked about,” says Mr Waller.
“Non-disclosure agreements should be banned full stop. If it’s all covered up, more victims are likely to be drawn into the net and make the same mistakes.”
An NHBC spokesman said it included a confidentiality clause in a “small number of rare circumstances” but declined to disclose the number.
He added: “We work with builders to help them improve the construction quality of the homes they build. However, it is the builder who is ultimately responsible for the quality of the new homes they build.”
Taylor Wimpey apologised to Mr Fascione for the issues experienced with his home.
A spokesman said: “We are committed to delivering excellent quality homes and achieving high levels of customer satisfaction. On those occasions where issues do arise, we endeavour to resolve those issues as soon as practically possible.”
Follow the Victoria Derbyshire programme on Facebook and Twitter – and see more of our stories here . Related Topics
Philippines’ Duterte: Kill those ‘useless’ Catholic bishops | News | Al Jazeera
Philippines’ Duterte: ‘Kill those useless bishops’ Provocative president intensifies attack on the Catholic Church, which opposes his deadly war on drugs. 05 Dec 2018 18:18 GMT Rodrigo Duterte recently threatened to have a bishop’s head cut off [File: Lean Daval Jr/Reuters] Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has said his country’s Catholic bishops are “useless fools” and should be “killed”, the latest attack by the controversial leader on the church, which has opposed his deadly war on drugs. In a speech at the presidential palace on Wednesday, Duterte was quoted in local news reports as saying in a mix of Filipino and English: “These bishops that you guys have, kill them. They are useless fools. All they do is criticise.” Addressing local government officials, Duterte also blasted the Catholic Church again, calling it “the most hypocritical institution” and saying his God is different from the one Catholics worship. 181204084154287
“I never said I do not believe in God. What I said is your God is stupid, mine has a lot of common sense. That’s what I told the bishops. I never said I was an atheist,” he said in an apparent reference to an earlier statement when he was quoted as saying God is “stupid” and a “son of a whore” .
The Philippines has more than 100 million people, an estimated 90 percent of whom identify as Catholic.
Duterte is known for making off-the-cuff remarks without much consideration for their content.
Earlier this week, he said he used cannabis to stay awake , but later retracted the statement saying he was just joking. ‘They are killing us’ Philippines’ Duterte vows to continue ‘chilling’ war on drugs (2:54)
Three Catholic priests have been killed since December last year , raising alarm in the country and prompting the church and opposition leaders to condemn the continued “culture of impunity”.”They are killing our flock. They are killing us, the shepherds. They are killing our faith. They are cursing our church,” Catholic leaders said in a strongly-worded statement earlier this year.
Archbishop Socrates Villegas also urged Duterte to “stop the verbal persecution” against the Catholic Church, “because such attacks can unwittingly embolden more crimes against priests”.
Duterte, who is a baptised Catholic, has said the church has no moral authority to criticise him, chastising the institution for the sexual abuse scandals involving priests worldwide.
He even cursed Pope Francis during the 2016 presidential campaign but later apologised.
Richard Javad Heydarian, an academic and political commentator based in the capital, Manila, said Duterte’s latest attack is an escalation of his feud with the church.
“This is a clash of two powerful institutions, the presidency and the church. So, in some ways, it’s a 21st-century struggle between the church and the state over the country’s destiny,” he told Al Jazeera.
Heydarian said there is also an “element of state crackdown” aimed at members of the clergy who are aligned with progressive groups critical of the Duterte administration.
In a statement to Al Jazeera, Carlos Conde, spokesperson for Human Rights Watch, said it is “very likely Duterte will say he was, again, joking but remarks like this are dangerous because it is clearly inciting people to commit violence against critics of the government.
“In the context of the death and violence we’ve seen in the Philippines since Duterte became president, many of them directed at members of the clergy, this is frightening and should be a cause for concern.”
On Thursday, Duterte’s spokesman, Salvador Panelo said that the president’s statement was just “hyperbole” meant for “dramatic effect”.
“We should be getting used to this president,” he told palace reporters. Deadly drug war opposition
Human rights advocates and an opposition senator allege the death toll in Duterte’s war on drugs has surpassed 20,000 since he assumed office in 2016.
The government, however, claims the toll is much lower. According to its latest report published in October, a total of 4,999 people have been killed since the launch of the anti-drug campaign in 2016.
Rights groups have denounced the killings as extrajudicial executions and say the crackdown is unfairly directed at the poor rather than the kingpins in the illicit trade.
The country’s Catholic Church has openly criticised the drug war and has extended help to some of the victims and survivors of the extrajudicial killings, earning the ire of the president.
Recently, Duterte threatened to have a bishop’s head cut off.
Although he did not specify the clergyman’s name, he alleged in the same speech that a certain “Bishop David” was engaged in corrupt practices.
Duterte provided no evidence to back his accusation.
Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Caloocan, outside Manila, is one of the most outspoken critics of Duterte’s war on drugs. His district has seen one of the highest numbers of extrajudicial killings in the past two years.
In response to Duterte’s allegation, the bishop was quoted in news reports as saying his parents “never taught me to steal”.
In an interview with Al Jazeera last year, Bishop David said it was his moral obligation to oppose the killing of human beings.
“With regards to the issue on drugs, I think that we will never soften on our stand because it is not about politics for us, it is about the lives of people,” he said at the time. Rodrigo Duterte: Guns, Goons and the Presidency
SOURCE: Al Jazeera News
First baby born after deceased womb transplant – BBC News
First baby born after deceased womb transplant By James Gallagher Health and science correspondent, BBC News 5 December 2018 These are external links and will open in a new window Close share panel Image caption The baby was delivered by Caesarean section on 15 December 2017 A healthy baby girl has been born using a womb transplanted from a dead person.
The 10-hour transplant operation – and later fertility treatment – took place in São Paulo, Brazil, in 2016. The mother, 32, was born without a womb.
There have been 39 womb transplants using a live donor, including mothers donating their womb to their daughter, resulting in 11 babies.
But the 10 previous transplants from a dead donor have failed or resulted in miscarriage. Given drugs
In this case, reported in The Lancet , the womb donor was a mother of three in her mid-40s who died from bleeding on the brain.
The recipient had Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome, which affects about one in every 4,500 women and results in the vagina and uterus (womb) failing to form properly.
However, her ovaries were fine. And doctors were able to remove eggs, fertilise them with the father-to-be’s sperm and freeze them.
The woman was given drugs that weakened her immune system to prevent her body attacking and rejecting the transplant. Image copyright Reuters Image caption The 10-hour transplant operation – and later fertility treatment – took place in São Paulo, Brazil, in 2016 ‘Medical milestone’
And about six weeks later, she started having periods.
After seven months, the fertilised eggs were implanted.
And, after a normal pregnancy, a 6lb (2.5kg) baby was delivered by Caesarean section on 15 December 2017. Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption “Using deceased donor organs is a viable option”, a uterus transplant surgeon tells World at One
Dr Dani Ejzenberg, from Hospital das Clínicas in São Paulo, said: “The first uterus transplants from live donors were a medical milestone, creating the possibility of childbirth for many infertile women with access to suitable donors and the needed medical facilities. ‘Extremely exciting’
“However, the need for a live donor is a major limitation as donors are rare, typically being willing and eligible family members or close friends.”
Dr Srdjan Saso, from Imperial College London, said the results were “extremely exciting”.
“It enables use of a much wider potential donor population, applies lower costs and avoids live donors’ surgical risks.” Related Topics
Facebook’s seized files published by MPs – BBC News
Facebook accused of striking ‘secret deals over user data’ 5 December 2018 These are external links and will open in a new window Close share panel Image copyright Getty Images Emails written by Facebook’s chief and his deputies show the firm struck secret deals to give some developers special access to user data while refusing others, according to MPs.
A cache of internal documents has been published online by a parliamentary committee.
It said the files also showed Facebook had deliberately made it “as hard as possible” for users to be aware of privacy changes to its Android app.
Facebook had objected to their release.
It said that the documents had been presented in a “very misleading manner” and required additional context.
The emails were obtained from the chief of Six4Three – a software firm that is suing the tech giant – and were disclosed by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee as part of its inquiry into fake news.
About 250 pages have been published, some of which are marked “highly confidential”.
Damian Collins MP, the chair of the committee, highlighted several “key issues” in an introductory note.
He wrote that: Facebook allowed some companies to maintain “full access” to users’ friends data even after announcing changes to its platform in 2014/2015 to limit what developers’ could see. “It is not clear that there was any user consent for this, nor how Facebook decided which companies should be whitelisted,” Mr Collins wrote Facebook had been aware that an update to its Android app that let it collect records of users’ calls and texts would be controversial. “To mitigate any bad PR, Facebook planned to make it as hard as possible for users to know that this was one of the underlying features,” Mr Collins wrote Facebook used data provided by the Israeli analytics firm Onavo to determine which other mobile apps were being downloaded and used by the public. It then used this knowledge to decide which apps to acquire or otherwise treat as a threat there was evidence that Facebook’s refusal to share data with some apps caused them to fail there had been much discussion of the financial value of providing access to friends’ data End of Twitter post by @DamianCollins
Facebook said Six4Three had “cherry-picked” the documents and claimed they had omitted “important context”. All our stories about the Cambridge Analytica data scandal
“We stand by the platform changes we made in 2015 to stop a person from sharing their friends’ data with developers,” said a spokeswoman.
“Like any business, we had many internal conversations about the various ways we could build a sustainable business model for our platform.
“But the facts are clear: we’ve never sold people’s data.”
Mr Zuckerberg has also posted a personal response on his Facebook page .
“I understand there is a lot of scrutiny on how we run our systems. That’s healthy given the vast number of people who use our services around the world, and it is right that we are constantly asked to explain what we do,” he said.
“But it’s also important that the coverage of what we do – including the explanation of these internal documents – doesn’t misrepresent our actions or motives.” Tactics revealed
The correspondence includes emails between Facebook and several other tech firms, in which the social network appears to agree to add third-party apps to a “whitelist” of those given permission to access data about users’ friends.
This might be used, for example, to allow an app’s users to continue seeing which of their Facebook friends were using the same service. Image copyright Netflix Image caption Netflix tapped into Facebook friends lists to let users see what titles their contacts had watched and rated highly
They include: the dating service Badoo, its spin-off Hot or Not, and Bumble – another dating app that it had invested in the car pick-up service Lyft the video-streaming service Netflix the home rental service Airbnb
However, others including the ticket sales service Ticketmaster, Twitter’s short-video platform Vine and the connected-cars specialist Airbiquity seem to have been denied the privilege.
Among the emails that have been published are the following extracts: Blocking Vine
The following concerns a decision to prevent Twitter’s short-form video service having access to users’ friends lists. It is dated 24 January 2012.
Justin Osofsky (Facebook vice president):
“Twitter launched Vine today which lets you shoot multiple short video segments to make one single, 6-second video… Unless anyone raises objections, we will shut down their friends API access today. We’ve prepared reactive PR, and I will let Jana know our decision.”
Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook chief executive):
“Yup, go for it.” Android update
The following is part of a discussion about giving Facebook’s Android app permission to read users’ call logs. It is dated 4 February 2015.
Michael LeBeau (Facebook product manager):
“As you know all the growth team is planning on shipping a permissions update on Android at the end of this month. They are going to include the ‘read call log’ permission… This is a pretty high-risk thing to do from a PR perspective but it appears that the growth team will charge ahead and do it…[The danger is] screenshot of the scary Android permissions screen becomes a meme (as it has in the past), propagates around the web, it gets press attention, and enterprising journalists dig into what exactly the new update is requesting, then write stories about “Facebook uses new Android update to pry into your private life in ever more terrifying ways”. Data leaks
The following is from a discussion in which Mark Zuckerberg mulled the idea of selling developers access to users’ friends’ data. It is dated October 2012, pre-dating the quiz involved in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. It was sent to Sam Mullin, who was vice president of product management.
Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook chief executive):
“It’s not at all clear to me here that we have a model that will actually make us the revenue we want at scale. I’m getting more on board with locking down some parts of platform, including friends’ data and potentially email addresses for mobile apps. I’m generally sceptical that there is as much data leak strategic risk as you think… I think we leak info to developers but I just can’t think of any instances where that data has leaked from developer to developer and caused a real issue for us.” Membership fees
The following is from an email sent by Mark Zuckerberg to several of his executives in which he explains why he does not think making users pay for Facebook would be a good idea. It is dated 19 November 2012.
Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook chief executive):
“The question is whether we could charge and still achieve ubiquity. Theoretically, if we could do that, it would be better to get ubiquity and get paid. My sense is there may be some price we could charge that wouldn’t interfere with ubiquity, but this price wouldn’t be enough to make us real money. Conversely, we could probably make real money of we were willing to sacrifice ubiquity, but that doesn’t seem like the right trade here.” Related Topics