Better Believe It......Because They Actually Happen(ed) Collection 15

Compensation win for Japanese teachers forced to sing anthem


A Japanese court has awarded millions of dollars in compensation to a group of teachers who were punished for refusing to sing the country's anthem, the group said Tuesday as it condemned nationalism in education.

The Tokyo District Court ruled Monday that the capital's municipal government must pay a total of 537 million yen ($4.5 million) to 22 former high school teachers.

The group said the city refused to re-hire them under a scheme that extends employment past the retirement age, because they disobeyed orders to stand and sing the anthem at graduation ceremonies.

Some Japanese teachers refuse to sing the national anthem because of what they say are its imperial and militaristic overtones ©Rie Ishii (AFP/File)

Some critics say Japan's anthem amounts to a call to sacrifice oneself for the emperor and celebrates militarism.

Numerous battles over the years have seen teachers clash with school administrators over the issue, and today nationalist Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is accused of trying to play down Japan's war history.

In 2012, the supreme court ruled that penalising teachers for not standing to sing the anthem was constitutional, but it warned administrators to exercise care in going beyond a reprimand.

On Monday, district judge Toru Yoshida said the Tokyo government's refusal to re-hire the group was disproportionate to the offence.

Full story at Mail Online (May 2015)

College Student to Jeb Bush: ‘Your Brother Created ISIS’

Jeb Bush at a town-hall-style meeting in Reno, Nev., on Wednesday. Credit James Glover/Reuters

By Michael Barbaro

RENO, Nev. — “Your brother created ISIS,” the young woman told Jeb Bush. And with that, Ivy Ziedrich, a 19-year-old college student, created the kind of confrontational moment here on Wednesday morning that presidential candidates dread.

Mr. Bush, the former governor of Florida, had just concluded a town-hall-style meeting when Ms. Ziedrich demanded to be heard. “Governor Bush,” she shouted as audience members asked him for his autograph. “Would you take a student question?”

Mr. Bush whirled around and looked at Ms. Ziedrich, who identified herself as a political science major and a college Democrat at the University of Nevada.

She had heard Mr. Bush argue, a few moments before, that America’s retreat from the Middle East under President Obama had contributed to the growing power of the Islamic State. She told the former governor that he was wrong, and made the case that blame lay with the decision by the administration of his brother George W. Bush to disband the Iraqi Army.

“It was when 30,000 individuals who were part of the Iraqi military were forced out — they had no employment, they had no income, and they were left with access to all of the same arms and weapons,” Ms. Ziedrich said.

She added: “Your brother created ISIS.”

Mr. Bush interjected. “All right. Is that a question?”

Ms. Ziedrich was not finished. “You don’t need to be pedantic to me, sir.”

“Pedantic? Wow,” Mr. Bush replied.

Then Ms. Ziedrich asked: “Why are you saying that ISIS was created by us not having a presence in the Middle East when it’s pointless wars where we send young American men to die for the idea of American exceptionalism? Why are you spouting nationalist rhetoric to get us involved in more wars?”

Full story at New York Times (May 2015)

Meet Pakistan’s junior Scrabble geniuses

In a country traditionally obsessed with cricket, the wordy board game is fast becoming a major competitive sport.

Scenes from a Scrabble ranking tournament in Karachi. Photograph: Saba Imtiaz

By Saba Imtiaz

‘Oxyphenbutazone.” Hasham Hadi Khan spells it out. “I think it’s a drug.”

It’s also one of the highest-scoring possible plays in a game of Scrabble, a subject the 10-year-old player knows a lot about. Last year, Hasham racked up a whopping 878 points at a Scrabble championship in Sri Lanka – a higher score than the official world record.

Hasham is part of a new generation of Pakistani schoolchildren who are establishing the country as a Scrabble powerhouse. In a nation where cricket is an obsession, the board game is – perhaps surprisingly – flourishing. Scrabble clubs are popping up all over: Karachi has more than 20, and, last year, 726 people competed in a national tournament.

The Pakistan Scrabble Association was formed in the late 1980s, but players did not fare well internationally until the association began to focus on under-18 students, who went on to score triple-triple word scores at international tournaments. The Pakistani player Moizullah Baig won the World Youth Scrabble Championship in 2013. Last year, the national team placed second.

Javeria Mirza, 18, recalls reactions to the Pakistani contingent on the international circuit. “One of the kids asked us, ‘If Pakistan is a totally locked down terrorist country, how did you guys make it here?’ It was stranger for them to see me playing because I was a little girl with a scarf.”

The Pakistan Scrabble Association once had to fundraise, but, as word of its players’ success has spread, corporate sponsors have stepped up over the past couple of years.

Full story at The Guardian (May 2015)

UiTM suspends second student over onstage graduation selfie

The selfie that has gone viral in social media taken by Muhammad Hasrul Haris Mohd Radzself with UiTM Pro Chancellor Tan Sri Dr Arshad Ayub, during the university’s 82nd convocation.

KUALA LUMPUR, May 17 — Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) has suspended a diploma graduate for two years for “humiliating” the university by taking a selfie with the pro chancellor on stage while receiving his certificate.

Local daily Harian Metro reported today the public university’s Deputy Chancellor Tan Sri Prof Dr Sahol Hamid Abu Bakar as saying that the student was rude and ignorant of Malay customs.

“His actions humiliated UiTM,” Sahol told the Malay-language daily yesterday.

“Students were briefed on the guidelines before entering the hall, including a warning against taking selfies on stage. He should have respected the ceremony and the lecturers. This is an important custom that is under the spotlight,” he added.

Muhammad Hasrul Haris Mohd Radzi, the student who received a diploma in photography from UiTM Lendu, Malacca, apologised and said he “couldn’t control his excitement” after receiving the certificate, the newspaper reported.

The 21-year-old’s self portrait with Pro Chancellor Tan Sri Dr Arshad Ayub, with students in the background at UiTM’s 82nd convocation, has since gone viral.

Full story at The Malay Mail Online (May 2015)

In China, ‘Breaking Bad’ is real

Bryan Cranston (right) plays chemistry teacher Walter White in the U.S. crime drama “Breaking Bad” (AMC/Everett Collection)

By Laura He

HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — The recently concluded drama “Breaking Bad” is very popular in China. Perhaps a little too popular.

Chinese police have arrested a former Chinese college chemistry professor for joining forces with a local drug kingpin to produce the illicit drug methcathinone, a report Tuesday by Chinese Business View quoted police as saying.

The suspect, referred to only by his surname Lu, had taught chemistry at a college in the northwestern city of Xi’an before meeting the drug dealer, surnamed Chen, in 2013, the report said.

Lu allegedly provided Chen with the chemical formula and other technology to produce the methcathinone, a psychoactive stimulant sometimes known as “cat” in the U.S. and as “the zombie drug” in Chinese.

Full story at Market Watch (May 2015)

FIA arrests Axact Chairman Shoaib Shaikh in fake degree scam

KARACHI: Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Axact, Shoaib Ahmed Shaikh has been taken into custody by Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in connection with ongoing probe into fake degree scam, sources said late on Tuesday night.

Sources told Geo News that the draft of a First Information Report (FIR) has also been prepared. Sections related to money laundering and cyber crime will be incorporated in the FIR, they added.

Shaikh has been questioned by the FIA regarding the issuance of fake degrees and various bank accounts for two days in a row. Following his appearance before the federal investigators on Monday, he was again summoned at the FIA head office in Karachi on Tuesday morning.

Shaikh has not left the building since then.

Fake degrees recovered from Axact office: DG FIA

DG FIA Sindh Shahid Hayat and the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) team led by DSP Amir Hameed arrived at the Axact office in Karachi.

Speaking to the media in early hours of Wednesday, Hayat said fake degrees in the hundreds of thousands were recovered from the Axact office in Karachi.

“We received information on where Axact’s printing operation was taking place. The office was opened in the presence of the magistrate and degrees and student ID cards were found in the hundreds of thousands.”

Full story at The Sen Live (May 2015)

Muslims Demand That ‘Offensive’ Crosses Be Removed… From CATHOLIC School

A complaint that says crosses at Catholic school are “offensive”, and prevent Muslim prayers, has been filed against Catholic University in Washington, D.C.

By Jason DeWitt

It is only the latest in an endless series of demands for Sharia Law adherence by Muslims in America.

The complaint to the Washington, D.C. Office of Human Rights, filed by a leftist professor from rival George Washington University, says there are “too many crosses in every room of Catholic University” which is a “human rights violation that prevents Muslim students from praying there.”

As Belief Net reported, GWU Law School Professor John Banzhaf takes the Catholic institution to task for acting “probably with malice” against Muslim students in a 60-page complaint that cites “offensive” Catholic imagery all over the Catholic school, which he says hinder Muslims from praying.

Full story at Top Right News (May 2015)