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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Samoan Economics and Time Travel

Samoa - Not ugly
Samoa is a small nation in the Oceanic continent. In order to improve its Economic prospects in the future it has decided to travel back in time, quite literally. You see the Pacific Island nation currently lies in the time zone GMT-12 or WST meaning that if right now its 12 pm in London, Samoans are only beginning their day at 12 midnight, they are however, 21 hours behind their relatively speaking neighbours in Canberra.

Samoans haven't been free from major overhauls in recent history. In 2009 the law was changed to force civilians to drive on the left hand side of the road, the same as is done in key "neighbours" Japan and Australia.

Monday, May 9, 2011

EU imposes arms embargo in Syria

The 27 state European Union has imposed an arms embargo on the beleaguered Middle Eastern Nation of Syria. Part of the so-called Arab Spring Syria has seen numerous anti-Government protests in the past few weeks, many of which have seen increasingly shocking and violent repercussions from the regime of President Assad.

Amateur video captured around the country reports troops backed by armoured tanks entering the main cities and rounding up civilians and the regime continues to block the entrance of journalists into the state. In the past six weeks, unofficial reports have stated that 3000 have been jailed and hundreds more have sacrificed their lives in the hopes of independence.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Weekend Randomness: Playmate Found Mummified

Yvette Vickers


The body of Yvette Vickers, a former playboy playmate was found severely decomposed in her Beverly Hills home this week. A neighbour of her's had claimed that the B-Movie actress had not been seen outside her home since the Summer.

It was this neighbour (Susan Savage) who noticed cobwebs forming on the Ms Vickers' letterbox. There she found the cordless phone off the hook and the electric heater still on. She claimed the body of her neighbour was barely recognisable.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Weekend Randomness: The Case of Tokyo's Oldest Man

This story is one of the site's most popular Weekend Randomness post originally posted on the 31st of July last year. Its a genuinely bizarre story and one of my personal favourites. 

The current world life expectancy average is 67.5 years with the Japanese being the most long lived population in the world with average life expectancy of 82.6 years. This contrasts with the average in Swaziland of just 39.6 years. This weekends random news comes from Tokyo, a thriving metropolis of nearly 14,000,000 people.

 So in such a long lived population there is a lot of interest in just who is the most aged resident in the city. Up until this week the record was held by one Sogen Kato a man of 111 years. The record for world's oldest man is held by another Japanese person Tamoji Tanabe in the Southern City of Miyakonojo. He is also 111 years.

Racism and the French Football Federation

Laurent Blanc
In one of the most shocking stories I have happened upon since starting this blog, a tape was uncovered this week outlining plans held to introduce an ethnic quota in the French national football team. This has spurred the Football Federation into action organising an inquiry into the origins of such a tape.


The tape implicates people as high ranking as the French national coach Laurent Blanc and Fran├žois Blaquart, National Technical Director in charge of  youth coaching strategies. The investigative website Mediapart initially broke the story and transcribed the story for the media.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Junction News: Starvation in Africa: An all too Common Tale

 The site's most popular story and undoubtedly one of its most tragic. Originally posted on the 24th of July last it details the world's continuous lack of assistance to its most vulnerable people.

Today  I read a shocking report on the current situation of food shortages in the central African nation of Niger.  Here hunger is threatening up to eight million people in the nation, half of its roughly 16 million population. The nation is in dire need of rainfall after drought has destroyed the lifestock of the largely nomadic country. The great hunger also threatens 2 million people in areas of the neighbouring countries of Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali and northern Nigeria.

The UN World Food Programme says it only has half of the $213 million people it claims it needs to up the distribution of emergency food aid. Response to the crisis has so far been quite slow. The reason given for this is both obvious and devastating.

Opinion: AV vote in Britain

Perhaps in my old (20) age I am becoming a little bit overly nationalistic as I've noticed that my last two strongly opinion driven pieces have been  tinged with a somewhat anti-British sentiment. I am in no way anti-British or indeed any nation in the world so if any of you feel this way I would like to open this piece with an apology.

However, the media's treatment of tomorrow's AV referendum has me somewhat baffled. For those of you not in the know about UK politics the country will go to the polls today to decide whether to keep the country's current first past the post electoral voting system or to adopt the Alternative Voting System. These will be explained after the page break.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Junction News Anniversary : Homosexuality in Africa

This article was one of the blog's most popular over the course of the past year. LGBT issues in Africa are still largely overlooked and LGBT Africans still face a huge amount of persecution.

Last week saw the passing of Ireland's civil partnership bill in the two houses of the Irish Parliament which will enact some of the same freedoms enjoyed by heterosexual couples to gay people in Irish law qhen it is enacted later this year or early 2011. Considering "buggery" was only decriminalised in this country in 1993 it is fair to say that this is a milestone for the country, still impacted heavily by the Catholic Church. However, on an EU basis Ireland ranks poorly when stood next to its Western European brethren and its clear that there is a long way to go.

As a gay man I am genuinely interested in gay rights worldwide and so last night's channel 4 documentary in its populr Dispatches series was a must for me. If you live in the UK or Ireland you may watch it on 4OD here, Africa's Last Taboo. The show follows an African journalist as he travels around what he refers to as his continent visiting Kenya, Uganda and Malawi. The programme states that over two thirds of African nations have laws condemning acts of homosexuality. 17 of these countries maintain laws passed down by the British in colonial times. The programme all in all was fascinating and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in LGBT rights. It spurred me into taking a closer look into the issue on the world's most conservative continent.

Junction News Anniversary : First Cousin Marriage in Britain

Originally posted in August of last year this post dealt with the thorny issue of first cousin marriage among the Pakistani community in Britain. It was written based on information contained in Channel 4's dispatches series. 

A fascinating documentary on Britain's Channel 4 last night (available on 4OD for British and Irish residents) shed light on the common practice of first cousin marriage in the British Pakistani population. The reporter Tazeen Ahmed documents her family's story on the Channel 4 website also. Her grand-parents were first cousins. Four of her uncles were deaf and her mother was the only daughter of 6 to survive past being a toddler.

Despite making up just 1.5% of the population a third of all children born with rare genetic conditions are ethnic Pakistanis. A half of all Pakistani's in Britain marry their first cousins. A child born to first cousin parents is ten times more likely to be born with recessive genetic disorders including deafness, blindness and child mortality. Cultures in Bangladesh, West Africa and the Middle East also partake in the practice but generally to a much lesser extent.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Death of Osama Bin Laden

Obama watches real time footage of the attack


The internet and media outlets will no doubt be abuzz with the aftermath of the death of Osama Bin Laden for the coming weeks and months. His killing on the night of Sunday the 1st of May in Abbottabad has been welcomed by massive celebrations at the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and by public representatives of all political denominations across the world. 

The death raises a number of questions. Firstly, there will be retaliation from Al Qaeda, it is a question of when, not if. It is up to security forces to foil attempts as successfully as they have many times in the past. Osama Bin Laden has undoubtedly become a martyr for the cause of Islamic Fundamentalism and indeed for many he had become a spiritual figurehead for many extremists in the Church. The second question is a little more complex.

Junction News Anniversary : Child Sex Tourism in Asia

 Originally posted on the 19th of July last this post deals with the worrying phenomenon of Child Sex Tourism in Asia.  Unfortunately, it remains a problem largely ignored by the West.

Today Mikhail Pletnev, a prominent and Grammy award winning Russian pianist took to the stand for a brief court appearance In Thailand charged with the rape of a 14 year old boy in Pattaya. The conditions of his bail require him to return to the court every 12 days but between these appearances he is free to travel as he wishes internationally. The maximum sentences for the proposed crime is 20 years. Pletnev has stated he is not guilty of the charge.

This allegation, raises again the issue of child sex tourism in Asia. Recent high profile cases of paedophilia in South East Asia have been the conviction of former pop start Gary Glitter and in Ireland only roughly a year ago a lauded Irish language poet was accused of similar offenses in the same region. Its clear that this is a growing and worrying problem.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Tornadoes Ravage the South of America

Tuscaloosa, Alabama
As the world *sigh* celebrated the Royal *sigh* wedding on Friday the people of the Southern states in America were dealing with the aftermath of a multitude of terrifying tornadoes in concentration across 6 states. As of today the lives of some 340 people were claimed by the extreme weather conditions, the majority of which some from the State of Alabama.

The city of Tuscaloosa was badly effected with officials reporting 1,600 people were treated by medical personnel. 31counties among the state's  67 were effected by the storms. President Obama signed the State's state of emergency act and has ordered the mobility of federal services to supplement the local efforts.


100 Posts

Today marks the 100 post of Junction News. Thanks to everyone for the support over the past year-ish. Everyday throughout this week (Monday-Friday) I will be re-posting some of my favourite entries as well as updating you on all the latest news and current affairs. So it should be a busy week for the site but hopefully I can count on your continued support in the future!