Bill Cosby: From TV hero to fallen US cultural icon

A celebrity’s fall from grace is always ugly, but that of Bill Cosby — a once beloved comedian who broke through racial barriers to broadcast a successful black family into white living rooms — is a true gut punch to America.

The Cosby name alone once evoked so much — a treasured father figure, a seemingly model citizen and comic with a gentle, self-deprecating style and playful voice that would go from deep to screeching in search of a laugh.

But accusations from around 60 women, many of them formerly aspiring actresses and models, that he was a calculating, serial sexual predator who plied victims with sedatives and alcohol to bed them have left his career and reputation in tatters.

On Monday the 79-year-old, Emmy-winning actor and Grammy-winning stand-up comedian goes on trial in Pennsylvania for aggravated indecent assault, accused of drugging and then assaulting a woman at his home in 2004.

Dozens and dozens of accusers have alleged that the entertainer exploited his fame to feed them sedatives and alcohol, leaving them powerless to resist his advances.

But the trial in Norristown, just outside Philadelphia is the only criminal case to stick as the vast majority of alleged abuse happened too long ago to prosecute.

Cosby insists that relations were consensual but if convicted, he risks spending the rest of his life behind bars on a minimum 10-year sentence and a $25,000 fine.

The trial cements a stunning fall from grace for an avuncular icon synonymous with squeaky clean humor and social progress, who once embodied the American dream.

Today, Cosby cuts a forlorn figure, deserted by celebrity pals and left legally blind, he says, from glaucoma.

On a pre-trial public relations offensive, he suggested that racism may have played a role, in a radio interview at times rambling and confused.

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– Self-made –

“There are so many tentacles. So many different — ‘nefarious’ is a great word,” he told Sirius XM radio, insisting he had “an awful lot to offer” in terms of writing and performing.

Born on July 12, 1937 in Philadelphia to a mother who was a maid and a father who was a Navy cook, William Henry Cosby Jr. developed a reputation as the class clown, and joined the Navy after 10th grade, finishing high school by correspondence.

He won an athletic scholarship to Temple University and started doing stand-up comedy. In his early 20s he appeared on variety programs, but got his first big break in 1965 when he co-starred in the espionage thriller “I Spy.”

It was a time when there were few major roles for black actors. He won three Emmys and went on to star in a string of successful movies in the 1970s.

Then from 1984 to 1992, he portrayed gynecologist Cliff Huxtable, the affable, funny dad of an upper middle class black family with a lawyer wife in “The Cosby Show” — so named thanks to the actor’s overwhelming star power.

The sitcom was a fabulous success, becoming one of the most popular TV shows in history and the ultimate family-oriented series, turning Cosby into a major figure of US pop culture in the second half of the 20th century.

He was heaped in awards for the show, which anchored NBC’s powerful Thursday night line-up and for the first time put an affluent African American family on prime time.

Along the way, he authored best-selling books, and was for decades a member of the Temple board of trustees until he resigned in 2014, stripped of honorary degrees as sexual assault scandals mushroomed.

Comedian friends like Whoopi Goldberg who once supported him have now denounced him. He is isolated, and has largely refused to discuss the allegations against him other than to deny them through his lawyers.

His wife of 53 years, Camille, has stood by his side. The couple have five children. Their son Ennis was shot dead in 1997 while changing a tire in California.

Source – TheJakartaPost

#Google moves to block ‘annoying’ ads in browser

Google is working to block “annoying” ads in its Chrome browser, part of a broader effort by industry players to filter out certain types of marketing messages that draw complaints.

“We believe online ads should be better. That’s why we joined the Coalition for Better Ads, an industry group dedicated to improving online ads,” said Sridhar Ramaswamy, Google’s senior vice president for advertising in a blog post Thursday.

“In dialogue with the Coalition and other industry groups, we plan to have Chrome stop showing ads (including those owned or served by Google) on websites that are not compliant with the Better Ads Standards starting in early 2018.”

Google’s move, in the works for some time, could end up reducing some ads served and impact its own revenue, but it aims to improve the overall web experience and discourage third-party ad-blockers that could have a more dramatic impact.

Ramaswamy noted that “annoying” ads prompt some people to use ad-blockers that stop all advertising content, hurting revenue for content creators.

“The vast majority of online content creators fund their work with advertising,” Ramaswamy said.

“That means they want the ads that run on their sites to be compelling, useful and engaging — ones that people actually want to see and interact with.”

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But he noted that “it’s far too common that people encounter annoying, intrusive ads on the web — like the kind that blare music unexpectedly, or force you to wait 10 seconds before you can see the content on the page.”

Google is a founding member of the Coalition, which was formed last year and aims to maintain the online advertising ecosystem while eliminating ads that many find irritating.

The group released guidelines earlier this year for ads on both mobile and desktop.

But some analysts say it will be difficult for Google and others to set standards that please all parties.

“It’s smart for Google to be part of the push for limited ad blockers even if that may seem counterintuitive, because if it can focus that activity on egregious ads rather than all ads indiscriminately, it has a much better shot at protecting its own massive ad revenue than if others take more of a blanket approach,” said Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research.

“We can be certain that none of Google’s own sites or ad formats will be affected by this filter, but we can also guess that there will be something of an outcry from publishers feeling that Google is favoring itself while disadvantaging others. It’s going to be fascinating to watch this play out over the next few months.”

According to the research firm eMarketer some 27.5 percent of US internet users will use ad blockers this year.

Source – TheJakartaPost

Read also: Google targets ‘fake news,’ offensive search suggestions

Climate science: Bad news gets worse

Paris – As President Donald Trump prepares to announce whether he will pull America out of the 2015 Paris Agreement sanctioned by his predecessor and nearly 200 other world leaders, the stakes on climate change have never been higher.

Earth’s average global temperature is scaling new heights, sea ice is retreating, extreme weather events have become more frequent and species are increasingly under threat, say scientists.

    A summary of the evidence:

    – Degrees – 

In 2016, Earth’s average surface temperature hit a record level for the third consecutive year since records began in 1880.

    The global average temperature was about 1.1 degree Celsius (1.98 Fahrenheit) higher than the pre-industrial era. This is when mankind’s mass burning of coal, and later oil and gas, started hiking levels of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

     The 21st century has already seen 16 of the 17 hottest years on record.

    Some of the world’s biggest cities may be as much as eight degrees Celsius (14.4 degrees Fahrenheit) hotter by 2100, said a recent study.

        – Melting ice

    Arctic summer sea ice shrank to 4.14 million square kilometres (1.6 million square miles) in 2016 — the second-lowest after 2012, when it reached 3.39 million km2.

The Arctic Ocean could be ice-free in summer as early as 2030.

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    In parts of Arctic Russia, temperatures were 6 C to 7 C higher than the long-term average.

    On the other extreme of the world, Antarctica, sea ice last year hit its lowest extent ever recorded by satellites.

    High-altitude glaciers, meanwhile, declined in surface area in 2015 for the 36th year in a row.

     – 400 parts per million

     The atmospheric concentrations of the three most potent greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) — all hit new highs in 2016. 

    For the first time on record, in 2015, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere averaged 400 parts per million (ppm).

    Most climate scientists agree that greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere must be capped at 450 ppm of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) for a fighting chance to limit average global warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial levels.

This is the cap enshrined in the Paris Agreement.

    Fossil fuel-generated greenhouse gas emissions are thought to have remained stable in 2016 for the third consecutive year, even as the global economy grew. But to stay on target for 2 C, they need to decline.

    Meanwhile, scientists are also worried about a rise in levels of methane, which has a far more potent warming effect than CO2. 

    The rise is so far unexplained. But one feared source is melting Arctic permafrost, which could eventually release billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide.

    – 70 millimetres

    Sea level rise, caused when ice melts and warmer water expands, appears to be accelerating, according to the latest data.

    The average ocean level was 70 millimetres (2.75 inches) higher in 2015 than in 1993, having risen as much as 30 per cent faster in the 10 years to 2015 than in the previous decade.

The pace is likely to pick up further as ice sheets and glaciers shed mass, threatening the homes and livelihoods of tens of millions of people in low-lying areas around the world.

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said in January the global average sea level could be between 0.3 and 2.5 metres (one foot to 8.2 feet) higher by 2100.

    On current trends, meltwater just from the Antarctic ice sheet could contribute to a metre of lift, according to one study.

    – Extreme events

    The WMO says there are demonstrable links between man-made climate change and some extreme events, especially heatwaves.

    The number of climate-related extreme events — droughts, forest fires, floods, major storm surges — has doubled since 1990, research has shown.

 The intensity of typhoons battering China, Taiwan, Japan and the Korean Peninsula since 1980, for example, has increased by 12 to 15 per cent.

    Natural disasters drive about 26 million people into poverty every year, says the World Bank, and cause annual losses of about $520 million (463 million euros).

      – 1,688 species

       Of the 8,688 species of animals and plants listed as “threatened” on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List, 19 per cent — 1,688 species — have been negatively affected by climate change.

    Scientists warn that parts of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef may never recover from an unprecedented second straight year of bleaching.//AFP

Source – TheNation

President Duterte Kicks Rothschilds Out Of Philippines

President Duterte has vowed to “eradicate all traces of Rothschild financial criminality” from the Philippines, announcing that he will no longer respond to pressure or financial blackmail from the US government or Rothschild-controlled global banking institutions.

The president, who claims to have killed cartel bosses with his own hands, is not one to be bullied, and he has now set his sights on cleaning up the financial corruption in his country, promising to “drive them out like the scavengers they are.

Before Rodrigo Duterte assumed the office of president, the Philippines was suffering from the effects of IMF/World Bank-imposed austerity and privatization that exploited its people and resources. It was also one of Asia’s most corrupt and troubled nations.

Though the Filipino people, through strong showings of popular resistance over a period of years, were able to curb some of the most rampant crony corruption, many of the shackles imposed by these Rothschild-controlled institutions remained.

President Duterte rode into power campaigning on a ticket of major change, but unlike Western politicians who pay lip service to change before letting down their supporters, the Philippines president has delivered on his promises – in spades.

During the election campaign Duterte urged the people to kill him if he failed to resolve crime and corruption in the country during the first six months of his term.

Over one year into his term and he has delivered on his promises. He’s now famous for more than calling President Obama a “son of a whore” at a regional summit in Laos last year. Much to the Rothschild-controlled international community’s outrage, Duterte is shooting from the hip, and cleaning up his country.

In 2016, after warning those involved in the narcotics trade that “it’s either you kill me or I kill you“, an astonishing 1,007,153 narcotics criminals surrended to government, and 73 government officials were arrested for involvement in the illegal drug trade.

Billions of dollars worth of narcotics were seized, showing what can be done in a short timeframe if the problem is tackled seriously.

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Afghan security forces personnel are seen at the site of a car bomb attack in Kabul

At least 40 people killed or wounded in Kabul blast: interior ministry

KABUL, Afghanistan – At least 40 people were killed or wounded in a powerful blast in Kabul’s diplomatic quarter early Wednesday, an interior ministry spokesman said.

The spokesman, Najib Danish, said he was unable to give a breakdown of the toll. A health ministry spokesman said more than 60 wounded people, mainly civilians, had been rushed to Kabul hospitals, adding: “We don’t know the number of killed yet”.

Source – TheNation

#Indonesia – East Jakarta fire burns house, leaves owner homeless.

Another fire broke out in the capital on Friday as a house in Cakung, East Jakarta, was gutted by flames. A preliminary investigation suggested that the fire was caused by an electrical short circuit.

“There were no casualties, although the house owner lost all of his belongings,” said Gatot Sulaiman of the East Jakarta Fire Department on Friday, as quoted by beritajakarta.id.

He added that the fire started at about 2 p.m.

The fire department deployed two fire engines to extinguish the blaze. The fire was completely put out about 45 minutes later.

The incident was the second of the day as a fire had broken out in a four-story shop house in Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta, early Friday morning. The earlier fire was also allegedly caused by an electrical short circuit.

Sourse – TheJakartaPost

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#Thailand – TAO chief and four others held over Big C bombing

Suspected murder of owner of pickup used in Pattani blasts

FIVE MEN, including a Tambon Administration Organisation (TAO) chief, have been detained for questioning over their alleged involvement in the broad daylight bomb blasts in Pattani province, Fourth Army Region Commander Lt-General Piyawat Narkwanich said yesterday.

This is the first time that a state official has been identified and detained for alleged involvement in the insurgency in the deep South. Piyawat did not name the TAO chief.

The chief of Pattani’s Nong Chik district was arrested after another suspect implicated him in the alleged murder of a pickup owner and the theft of the vehicle that was used in the attack in the province’s Muang district on Tuesday.

 Evidence found at the scene and footage from the Big C department store’s security camera led to the arrest of the suspects, Piyawat said.

The five suspects allegedly stole the pickup of Yala resident Nuson Kajornkam, which was used in the car-bomb attack at the Big C outlet.

Piyawat said there was a likelihood that Nuson had been killed as one of the five detained suspects had confessed to wiping blood from the pickup.

The body of Nuson was later found in a paddy field in Pattani’s Nong Chik district. His wife earlier said that someone had telephoned Nuson on Monday, saying he wanted to buy items from him in Pattani.

She said her husband left at around 10am on Tuesday for Pattani. Nuson’s vehicle, bearing Yala licence plate Bor Jor 3303, was later packed with explosives and parked at the Big C store where it exploded at about 2.30pm, leaving more than 80 injured, including children.

Investigators have concluded that the pickup was stolen from a mosque in Ban Mai, a village in Nongchik district’s Tambon Kohpoh in Pattani.

Witnesses told police they saw four men surrounding the pickup before the owner was killed and his body was taken away in another pickup. Despite a fresh concrete floor having been laid, bloodstains were found at the spot identified by the witnesses.

Piyawat called for understanding from the public, as tighter security would mean difficulties in commuting.

“Authorities will be checking every vehicle, including ice-cream trucks because the insurgents are trying to adjust their operations, so we have to be one better than them,” he said.

The insurgents’ attack on the Big C department store in Pattani had led to great loss of support among Thai Muslim local residents, Piyawat said. The bomb attack had most affected Thai Muslims who were shopping in the store, including children, he added. About 95 per cent of the population in the area is Thai Muslim.

“The blasts have badly affected not only the Thai Muslim community but also every group of society, particularly women and children. They are just people who went to the store to buy things before going home,” Piyawat said.

Meanwhile, national police chief Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda said police had been warned about the Big C bombing about an hour before the attack.

Source – TheNation

Atlético Madrid 2-1 Real Madrid

Real Madrid defeated Atletico Madrid 4-2 on aggregate in the UEFA Champions League semifinals after a 1-2 loss in the second leg to set up a final clash against Juventus.Get highlights of Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid here.

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A match more than two years ago is keeping Atletico Madrid hopeful of a comeback against Real Madrid in the Champions League semifinals. Atletico Madrid need to overturn a 3-0 loss from the first leg tonight, but it wasn’t too long ago that fans at the Vicente Calderon Stadium witnessed the type of feat that can put Atletico in the final. It was on a Saturday afternoon in February 2015 that Atletico had one of its greatest victories over Madrid, a 4-0 rout in the Spanish league. Get live score and live football commentary of Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid here.

#Thailand – Pattani bombers targeted back-to-school shoppers.

Police forensics specialists and an Explosive Ordnance Disposal squad on Wednesday morning inspected the scene outside a Big C department store in Pattani’s Mueang district where a powerful car bomb had exploded the previous day, injuring 61 people.

Investigators believe the culprits parked a pickup truck at the store’s entrance containing two cylinders of cooking gas in its rear cab space. 

The explosion occurred at about 2.30pm on Tuesday when the store was crowded with parents and their children buying school materials for the new semester.

Source – TheNation

#INDONESIA – ASEAN lawmakers alarmed at conviction of Jakarta governor

Lawmakers across Southeast Asia have expressed concern over the sentencing of Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, to two years in prison for blasphemy on Tuesday.

“The verdict is deeply disconcerting not only for Indonesia but for the entire ASEAN region. Indonesia was thought to be a regional leader in terms of democracy and openness. This decision places that position in jeopardy and raises concerns about Indonesia’s future as an open, tolerant, diverse society,” said Charles Santiago, a member of the Malaysian Parliament and chair of ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR).

“Ahok has become a victim of rising extremism and religious identity politics. But this decision has impacts beyond justice for one individual. It is a triumph for intolerance and an ominous sign for minority rights. At a time when fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression and freedom of religion, are under increasing threat region-wide, this verdict sends the wrong signal to Indonesia’s neighbors in the ASEAN community,” he said in a written statement.

Ahok, Jakarta’s second Christian governor after Henk Ngantung (1964-1965), was convicted of blasphemy by the North Jakarta District Court and sentenced to two years in prison.

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The charges stemmed from a September speech, in which he invoked a verse from the Quran in criticizing the arguments of those who suggested that Muslims could not vote for a Christian leader.

APHR said the ruling could embolden religious hard-liners in the country and called into further question Indonesia’s harsh Blasphemy Law, which permits prison sentences of up to five years for those found guilty.

Source – TheNation