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Wild Australian Sheep Gets Sheared Of 78 Pounds Of Wool

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(Reuters) – A wild and ailing sheep found in a forest in Australia, named Baarack by rescuers, has yielded a fleece weighing more than 78 pounds – nearly half the weight of an adult kangaroo – after being shorn for the first time in many a year.

The sheep was found by a member of the public who contacted the Edgar’s Mission Farm Sanctuary near Lancefield, Victoria, about 60 kilometres north of Melbourne, according to the Mission’s Kyle Behrend.

“It would appear Baarack was once an owned sheep,” said Behrend, “he had at one time been ear-tagged, however these appear to have been torn out by the thick matted fleece around his face.

“Sheep need to be shorn at least annually otherwise the fleece continues to grow and grow, as happened here,” said Behrend. After his much-needed shearing, Behrend said Baarack’s fleece weighed in at 78 pounds.

“Whilst his hooves were in great condition from running over the rocks in the forest, he was in a bit of a bad way. He was underweight, and due to all of the wool around his face he could barely see.”

Baarack is now settling in with other rescued sheep at Edgar’s Mission, Behrend said, adding it “all goes to show what incredibly resilient and brave animals sheep really are and we could not love them any more if we tried.



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Singaporean who tortured and killed Myanmar maid gets 30 years in jail

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Singapore is home to some 250,000 foreign domestic workers (file picture)

A Singaporean woman found guilty of starving, torturing and killing her domestic worker from Myanmar, has been sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Piang Ngaih Don reportedly weighed only 24kg (53lb) when she died from her injuries in 2016.

Prosecutors have called the actions of Gaiyathiri Murugayan, the wife of a policeman “evil and utterly inhumane”.

It is among a series of high-profile maid abuse cases in the wealthy city-state in recent years.

Ms Murugayan, 40, had pleaded guilty to a number of charges including culpable homicide against Ms Piang.

The judge said the prosecution had painted a “shocking” picture of how the 24-year old woman was tortured, humiliated, starved and ultimately killed.

He said the case was “one of the worst cases of culpable homicide” in the city-state and that words could not accurately describe the level of abuse the young woman had to endure in the month before her death.

During the trial, the court heard that Ms Murugayan began abusing the young woman from October 2015, shortly after Ms Piang had arrived in Singapore for her first job overseas.

CCTV footage from cameras installed in the house showed the abuse she suffered in the last month of her life, often being assaulted several times a day.

Ms Murugayan also reportedly burned her with a heated clothes iron and was accused of “throwing her around like a ragdoll”.

The court heard that Ms Piang’s meals often consisted of sliced bread soaked in water, cold food from the fridge, or some rice. She lost 15kg – about 38% of her body weight – in 14 months.

The 24-year-old helper died in July 2016 after she was repeatedly assaulted over several hours by Ms Murugayan and her mother.

An autopsy report later found Ms Piang died from oxygen deprivation to her brain after being repeatedly choked.

Ms Murugayan’s lawyers had sought a sentence of eight or nine years, arguing that the defendant had been suffering from depression and obsessive compulsive personality disorder.

Her husband – who has been suspended from his job as a police officer – and her mother face several charges linked to the case.

Singapore is home to around 250,000 foreign domestic workers, typically from countries like Indonesia, Myanmar or the Philippines.

Abuse cases are not uncommon. In 2017, a couple were jailed for starving their domestic worker from the Philippines. In 2019, another couple was jailed for abusing a worker from Myanmar.

You might also be interested in:

In 2017 the BBC spoke to a Filipino housemaid who said she was abused by a rich family in Brazil.



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NYC mayoral candidate Andrew Yang doubles down on comments blaming mentally ill people for New York City’s problems

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Yang, a former presidential candidate, is facing backlash over his comments on mentally ill and homeless people. Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

  • NYC mayoral candidate Andrew Yang doubled down on his comments on mentally ill people on Monday.

  • Yang said those who were mentally ill were affecting tourism during an appearance on billionaire John Catsimatidis’s radio show.

  • Yang echoed remarks he made on mental illness and homelessness at last week’s NYC mayoral debate.

  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

In the final hours of the New York City mayoral campaign, candidate Andrew Yang doubled down on his comments on the mentally ill and homeless.

Phoning into a radio show with billionaire John Catsimatidis on Monday, Yang complained that mentally ill people affect the city’s tourism.

Yang was responding to Catsimatidis’s statement that too many mentally ill people live on the streets instead of in hospitals. He agreed with Catsimatidis that money is better spent on building facilities to treat people.

“We need to get them the care that they need, but that will also supercharge our economic recovery because we all see these mentally ill people on our streets and subways, and you know who else sees them? Tourists. And then they don’t come back, and they tell their friends, ‘Don’t go to New York City,'” Yang said.

“We’re never going to get our jobs back and our economy back if we don’t get the mentally ill people who are on our streets in a better environment,” Yang added.

The comments Yang made on Monday were similar to those he made at the NYC mayoral debate last Wednesday, for which he received backlash on social media.

“Yes, mentally ill people have rights, but you know who else have rights? We do! The people and families of the city,” Yang said last week during the debate.”We have the right to walk the street and not fear for our safety because a mentally ill person is going to lash out at us.”

According to a New York Times report, Yang said at an event later on Monday with fellow candidate Kathryn Garcia that he stood by the comments he made to Catsimatidis. Yang also emphasized the need for “public safety.”

“There will not be an economic recovery until people feel safe walking our streets and walking our subways,” said Yang to the New York Times.

Other candidates campaigning against Yang for the mayoral seat denounced Yang’s comments on mentally ill New Yorkers.

Zack Fink from Spectrum News NY1 interviewed mayoral candidate Maya Wiley, who said that Yang and Garcia asked her to campaign with them on Monday. But Wiley told NY1 that she turned the duo down because she thought Yang’s statements during Wednesday’s debate were “highly insensitive.”

Meanwhile, the Times quoted candidate Eric Adams, who said he was “really disturbed” by Yang’s remarks.

According to a 2019 study by advocacy group the Coalition for the Homeless, around 40% of the homeless population in New York City were women and children fleeing domestic violence situations. The coalition estimates that as of April 2021, there are 53,199 homeless people in the city’s municipal shelter system, of which 16,390 are children.

Read the original article on Business Insider





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Trump, Barr can’t be held liable in Lafayette Park protesters’ lawsuits, judge rules

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A federal judge on Monday dismissed four consolidated lawsuits brought by Black Lives Matter demonstrators against former President Trump and his top administration officials over law enforcement’s clearing of protesters from Lafayette Park last year, Politico reports.

The state of play: In the aftermath of their forcible clearing from the park, the protesters sued then-President Trump and other top administration officials, including then-Attorney General Bill Barr, as well as local police forces in Washington, D.C., and Arlington, Va.

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  • U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich ruled in favor of allowing the claims against local police officers to proceed but dismissed all but one against the administration officials, Buzzfeed reports.

  • Friedrich wrote that the plaintiffs hadn’t demonstrated enough evidence that “there was a conspiracy among Trump, Barr, and other federal officials to violate” protesters’ rights, notes Buzzfeed.

  • Friedrich also denied an injunction request to ban “similar uses of force against protesters in the future,” per Politico.

What they’re saying: “The plaintiffs’ claims of impending future harm are too speculative to confer standing to seek an injunction,” Friedrich wrote in the decision.

Go deeper: Watchdog: Police did not clear Lafayette Park last year for Trump photo-op.

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Man lured to home on dating app is killed in baseball bat ambush, Indiana police say

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An Indiana man thought he was going to meet a woman he spoke with online, but instead walked into a trap that cost him his life, police said.

When Lafayette man Willie Smith, 55, arrived at the Flora home Wednesday, the woman was waiting inside for him. A young man, 22-year-old Tyrone Leftridge, was also waiting, WLFI reported, hiding with a baseball bat, Flora police said.

Leftridge had been impersonating the woman on a dating app called MeetMe, police said, and lured Smith to the home by promising to have sex with him for $80, WLFI reported.

Investigators believe Smith withdrew $120 from an ATM in Lafayette, based on a receipt found at the scene, according to the outlet.

The woman told Smith she wasn’t going to have sex with him, and Leftridge rushed out from a nearby garage and hit Smith with a baseball bat, WXIN reported. The woman ran away, but saw Leftridge later on with money, a wallet and a cellphone.

Willie was discovered in the house with head injuries, according to the outlet, and was taken to a hospital.

He died Friday, according to the Flora Police Department.

Leftridge admitted to police that the plan was to rob Willie, but claimed that some other man attacked him. But in a phone call the next day between Leftridge and another inmate, he says he hit Willie because the man had a knife, the TV station reported.

The woman told police she never saw Willie holding or carrying any weapons, and when she declined to have sex with him, he wasn’t rude and he didn’t touch her, the outlet reported.

Willie was an organ donor and on Father’s Day, shortly after his death, doctors saved his organs for transplant, WXIN reported. His daughter, Jannette, said it was a final heroic act in a good man’s life.

“He was a great guy. He didn’t deserve this, but in this, he is a hero,” she told the station. “He did donate, he did save two peoples’ lives today, and hopefully he’ll be able to save a few more.”

Leftridge was arrested Wednesday on charges of robbery resulting in serious bodily injury, and aggravated battery, according to police. His bond is set at $500,000.

“Additional charges are likely, pending the results of Smith’s autopsy scheduled early this week at the Marion County Coroner’s Office,” Flora police said in a statement.

Dad loses daughters in Father’s Day wreck on way to family vacation, Michigan cops say

Police are looking for prankster who left fake ‘dead body’ by the road in Missouri

Waitress abducted after chasing customers refusing to pay check, New Jersey cops say



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Teen killed in crash with fallen tree on Midlands road, coroner says

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A teenager was killed Sunday night on a Midlands road in a crash with a downed tree, the Kershaw County Coroner’s Office said.

Roy Henry Munn died at the scene, Coroner David West said Monday morning.

The 19-year-old Lugoff resident was driving on S.C. 261 at about 8:30 p.m. when he collided with the fallen tree, according to West.

Munn was the only person inside the 2010 Chevrolet Colorado pickup truck when the wreck happened near the intersection with U.S. 521, said Cpl. Matt Southern of South Carolina Highway Patrol. That’s about 2 miles south of Exit 98 on Interstate 20.

The teen was wearing a seat belt and was entrapped inside the Chevy pickup, according to Southern.

No other injuries were reported in the single-vehicle collision.

Information on what caused the tree to fall into the road was not available, but there were multiple severe thunderstorms in the Midlands Sunday as the remnants of Tropical Storm Claudette moved through the area.

Through Friday afternoon, 451 people had died on South Carolina roads in 2021, state Department of Public Safety data shows.

There have been at least 10 people killed in Kershaw County crashes in 2021, DPS reported.



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Trump abused power for revenge and personal gain. This can’t be our new normal: Swalwell

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Almost 50 years ago, John Dean warned of “a cancer on the presidency.” For the past four years, the cancer was the president. Donald Trump had no regard for our laws, our system of justice or our democracy itself, and he was fine with destroying all of them if it served his personal purposes.

The revelation that Trump’s Justice Department secretly seized phone and email data from his critics, his perceived political enemies and people whose loyalty he doubted – including me – fits a bigger pattern of abusing the rule of law for personal gain. Trump systematically eroded nonpartisan safeguards designed to prevent abuses of power.

Remember, he pardoned or commuted sentences of his felonious cronies Roger Stone, Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn; in Flynn’s instance, his Justice Department earlier had moved to abandon the case, even after Flynn had twice pleaded guilty. Attorney General William Barr deliberately misled the public as to the contents of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia. And Trump pressured Barr and others to find nonexistent fraud in the election that ousted him.

All the wrong lessons from Nixon

Trump always treated the idea of justice with contempt and his attorneys general as his personal fixers. Just like his almost impeached predecessor and mentor, Richard Nixon, Trump sicced the power of government on his enemies with no regard for the rule of law. It appears he took away all the wrong lessons from Nixon’s time in office.

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Presidents help set the tone for America; Trump set a tone of bullying and phony machismo that lingers even after his ouster, as we see public health officials threatened, bottles thrown at NBA players and decency disappearing from campaigns – and even the House floor.

This can’t be America’s new normal. And even Trump supporters should agree our nation can’t have a “Big Brother” who sees all and wields government against anyone who disagrees.

Political views notwithstanding, if there’s one common ground in our country, it’s that this is a line that must not be crossed. We reject dictatorship; we reject permanent one-party rule. We wouldn’t accept this kind of corrupt, abusive behavior from a mayor or governor, and we mustn’t accept it from a president.

Storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

I’m not suggesting that I – or anyone else – is off-limits for lawful surveillance if there’s probable cause to pursue it. Nobody is above the law, but that rule applies to those who enforce the law as well.

I’ve served as an Intelligence Committee member for almost seven years, and when classified information was leaked before Trump rose to power, Chairman Adam Schiff and I were never targeted because there was no good reason to do so. The difference is that once Trump took power, Chairman Schiff and I helped lead the investigations into his undeniably worrisome political, personal and financial ties to Russia. We stood up to him, so we became targets.

Finish Mueller’s work: Garland and DOJ must investigate Trump for obstruction

His weaponization of law enforcement was straight out of the playbooks of the dictators and despots he idolized, and it remains particularly concerning because he and his supporters believe he could become president again. Next time, Trump (or some other equally corrupt but more competent president) might not wait for a Justice Department investigation to yield evidence; he might just order that people be locked up, per his “lock her up” campaign mantra.

And using the Justice Department to probe his political opponents is just one more abuse among many Trump perpetrated upon our nation. He leveraged foreign aid to coerce another country into producing dirt with which to smear an electoral opponent. He refused to concede an election his own appointees had deemed free and fair, and he incited a resurrection against our democracy.

Next time democracy could crumble

In Trump’s mind, there’s nothing worse than being a loser. But he’s the biggest loser who ever sat in the Oval Office, not because he lost the election in a landslide, but because he tried so hard to undermine our democracy and rule of law. Luckily, our democracy and system of laws were too strong for him – this time.

Corruption heights: Resolve after the appalling Roger Stone commutation, don’t let Donald Trump break us or America

There must not be a next time, so what we do next is critically important. The Justice Department properly has launched an inspector general’s investigation into this abuse of subpoenas targeting Trump’s political enemies, but that won’t be enough. The inspector general can only compel cooperation from current Justice Department employees, not former Trump administration officials such as William Barr, Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein. Getting those people on the record will require congressional action.

Despite its obvious and serious imperfections, our democracy has thrived since the day President George Washington left office and gave our country its first peaceful transfer of power. This nation will be a very different place if we all don’t stand together now and demand answers and solutions for what happened – and unite in strengthening our institutions so that these abuses can never happen again.

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., is a member of the House Intelligence, Judiciary and Homeland Security committees. Follow him on Twitter at @RepSwalwell

You can read diverse opinions from our Board of Contributors and other writers on the Opinion front page, on Twitter @usatodayopinion and in our daily Opinion newsletter. To respond to a column, submit a comment to [email protected]

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump weaponized his power and targeted enemies. Restore rule of law.





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The Indian stay-at-home mum trolled for poem on Covid dead

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Parul Khakhar describes herself as a ‘homemaker first – and a poet, second’

One morning in early May, a poetess living in a nondescript town in India’s western state of Gujarat finished her chores and picked up the newspapers.

India was in the throes of a deadly second wave of the coronavirus. Disturbing pictures of India’s holiest river, the Ganges, swollen with bodies of people feared to have died of Covid-19 filled the front pages. There were reports of overflowing cremation grounds, and of patients choking to death because of a lack of oxygen.

Stirred by what she saw and read, Parul Khakhar quickly wrote a poem. She posted the mournful 14-line dirge called Shabvahini Ganga (A hearse called Ganga – the Indian name for river Ganges) on her Facebook page, where she has more than 15,000 followers.

The Gujarati-language poem speaks about the wrath of the virus, leaving a trail of death and devastation in its wake. Khakhar writes about floating corpses, funeral pyres and the crematoria chimneys melting under the load of the burning dead.

Without naming anyone, she writes: “The city burns as he fiddles.” In another line, she exhorts the reader: “Come out and shout and say it loud/The naked King is lame and weak.”

Within hours of her post, all hell broke loose.

The poem, which appeared to criticise Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government for inaction, quickly went viral. In no time, it was translated into half a dozen languages, including English.

Khakhar was viciously trolled and abused by supporters of Mr Modi who took it as an attack on the leader. Tens of thousands of harsh missives were also shared on WhatsApp. Some called her a “demoness” and an “anti-national”. Others used misogynistic expletives. Fellow poets and columnists panned it.

But she also received widespread support. “The poem is like an ironic satire. She does not name Mr Modi, but her anguish and anger are palpable,” said Salil Tripathi, a New York-based writer, who translated it to English. “She has used tropes and rhymes to mock the rulers.”

Funeral pyres are lit by the Ganges in Allahabad, where bodies have been washing downstream for days

Funeral pyres by the Ganges in Prayagraj (formerly Allahabad), where bodies washed downstream in May

After facing the ire of her critics, Khakhar has maintained a studied silence. When I contacted her on email, she wrote back: “I cannot talk to anyone now. I am grateful for your goodwill.”

She has since locked her Facebook page, but the poem remains. When Gujarati poet Mehul Devkala called her to congratulate her on not taking down the poem, she told him: “Why should I delete it when I have said nothing wrong?”

The 51-year-old poetess from the town of Amreli, some 200km (124 miles) south-west of Gujarat’s main city of Ahmedabad, is new to controversy. “She’s not known to be a political writer. She’s a popular, feel-good poet who writes about nature, love and God. This poem is completely out of character,” said Tripathi.

Married to a bank employee, Khakhar is a stay-at-home mum who tells her friends that she is a “homemaker first, and poet second”. Over the past decade, she has quietly marked her presence in the local literary scene. She has also written folk songs and ghazals, a form of poetry set to music, in her language.

“She is always self-effacing and quiet. A very traditional woman, really,” says Rupa Mehta, a former station head of Doordarshan, India’s state-run news network, who knows the poet well.

Shabvahini Ganga is her first openly political poem. “She writes simple poetry. But she has always been a great communicator,” says poet and writer Manishi Jani.

When Jani called her recently to find out whether she was being harassed and how a group of writers could support her right to free speech, Khakhar, sounding calm, told him: “I am facing no pressure or harassment. You do whatever you feel is right.”

Many say Khakhar is not given enough credit for her literary flair and inventiveness. When a tree with flaming orange red flowers was cut near her house, she wrote a moving elegy. In another poem, she dealt with vanaprastha (retiring to the forest), one of Hinduism’s four stages of life.

Last March, she wrote a poem where she spoke about “people losing courage”, and asking “people to stop living with a thick skin and wake up”. “I think it was a very significant poem,” said Mehta.

A man rows his boat past shallow sand graves of people, some of which are suspected to have died from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), on the banks of the river Ganges in Phaphamau on the outskirts of Prayagraj, India, May 21, 2021

A man rows his boast past graves of people, who are suspected to have died of Covid in India

It is not the first time that local writers and poets appear to have criticised Mr Modi – a Gujarati who ruled the state for more than 12 years before winning power in Delhi in 2014 – for his handling of the pandemic. A leading local literary journal Etad, for example, carried a number of anguished poems on the subject.

Vishnu Pandya, who heads Gujarat Sahitya Akademi, a government-run organisation of litterateurs and poets, said Khakhar is “very good poet”, but her “new poem is not poetry”.

“It is full of abuses and is defamatory. The rhyme is nonsensical. People who are against Mr Modi and BJP have misused the poem for their ends,” he told me. “We have nothing against her. She can write whatever she wants. We are against the misuse of her work by the left liberals and anti-national people.” More than 160 eminent people in the state have issued a statement against the Akademi’s stand against the poem.

Last week, Khakhar returned with another poem, published in a local journal. This one is more layered, said Tripathi. “She is now critical of her critics, but she is also wary of those who cheer her on.”

One of the lines read:

“The pain will get unbearable, but you shall not speak/Even if your heart screams, you shall not speak.”

Read more stories by Soutik Biswas



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