Faster, Higher, Stronger and not Russian

The International Paralympics Committee has imposed a blanket ban on Russian athletes competing in the Rio Paralympic Games. IPC president Sir Philip Craven said the Russian system was so “broken, corrupted and entirely compromised” that it must face the ultimate sanction. That is just so wrong.

The decision affects about 267 Russian athletes across 18 sports. Far from demonstrating a determination to clamp down on drugs, it further damages the credibility of the IPC and the IOC. Not only does it send a worrying message about the rights of disabled people, but it also threatens to undermine the Olympic ideal. Although athletes compete at the Games under their country’s flag, an indiscriminate ban is a blunt instrument that distorts the vision of gathering the best athletes in the world to compete against one another in pursuit of excellence (Faster, Higher, Stronger).

A Russian sports ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, described the sanction as inhumane. “The decision to bar the entire Russian Paralympic team from the Paralympic Games is strikingly filthy and inhumane,” she wrote on social media. “It is a betrayal of those high human rights standards the modern world is resting on.”

Egregious as the sins of the Russian sports ministry have been, no individual athlete should be made to answer for them if he or she is clean.

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Wall of Shame

Wall of Shame

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The Beast of Bodmin

The Beast of Bodmin

The Beast of Bodmin Moor was a black panther-like creature believed to inhabit Bodmin Moor in Cornwall. Since 1983, around sixty big cat sightings were recorded in the mid-Cornwall area and these were supported by numerous reports of mutilated livestock. The “beast”, supposedly three to five feet long and sporting white-yellow eyes, was one of Britain’s most feared animals.

The truth behind the legend is now emerging. In the wake of the escape from Dartmoor Zoo of Flaviu, a rare lynx, it has emerged that three pumas are believed to have been released into the wild by Mary Chipperfield, whose family owned Plymouth Zoo. Obliged to transfer the animals when the family zoo closed down, she is alleged to have released her favourite breeding pair along with a young male to keep them company rather than see them go into a new home.

Click here for the full story.

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Flying Ant Day

Like smoke from shafts of the abyss, like drizzling rain flipped into reverse gravity, the spiralling cones of flying ants pour tentatively skywards. Each individual ant appears at first to be frail and bewildered but quickly becomes absorbed into the wider context – a delirious, hypnotic choreography of love and death. Today is the day the queen ants are emerging from the nest to begin their nuptial flight.

flying antsMost ants in a colony are infertile females (workers). The queen is the only fertile female and all the ants are her offspring. Every year, some of her eggs produce winged ants (alates). The male alates (drones) and female alates (queens) all leave the nest at the same time and the queens release pheromones designed to attract a partner. Smaller and less conspicuous, the drones fly up alongside and mount the queens in the air, but the actual mating process often takes place on the ground.

The sole function of the drone is to mate with a queen in nuptial flight. He enjoys the briefest moment of passion before his genitalia gruesomely explodes in the female (he quickly dies after mating). The queens lose their wings and attempt to start a new ant colony.

The phenomenon occurs when the time of year (usually July) and weather conditions such as temperature, humidity and wind speed are just right. Flocks of birds can often be seen gorging on the airborne feast.

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DB Cooper probe abandoned

DB Cooper

Yesterday, the FBI finally abandoned its investigation into the case of DB Cooper following one of the longest, most exhaustive probes in its history. The bundles of crumbling $20 bills, Cooper’s black tie and a parachute will remain preserved for historical purposes at FBI headquarters in Washington.

Click here for the full story.

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Repel the invaders?

Theresa May
By the power vested in me by Thor, er, law…

Theresa May’s refusal to guarantee the rights of EU nationals living in the UK is ridiculous and disgraceful. EU immigrants who complied with the laws and rules that applied at the time in good faith should not be bargaining chips in any Brexit negotiations. Whatever controls we decide to impose on immigration, they must not be applied retrospectively. What next? Have we all got to prove pure bloodlines to remain in the UK?

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Through The Wormhole, Literally (ebook)

If the Voyager 1 space probe was picked up by extraterrestrials, what would happen? Here’s your opportunity to find out. Voyager 1 was launched in 1977 to study interstellar space. It carried a gold-plated audio-visual disc in the event that it might be found by intelligent life-forms from other planetary systems. It was picked up by two itinerant spacecombers from a planet called Morys Minor…

Use the coupon code GM97L at checkout to get this book for 99p during Smashwords July promotion!

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ANTidote (ebook)

Neil, an avid aquarium hobbyist, is visited by an extraterrestrial who warns him that a species evolved from ants is bent on overthrowing humankind. He must act to save his fish…

Use the coupon code SFREE at checkout to get this book for FREE during Smashwords July promotion!

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Woke up, fell out of bed …

English football fans embrace continental cafe culture
English football fans embrace continental cafe culture

Reuters, Friday 10th Jun 2016
French police stepped in to break up small groups of English and Russian football fans who squared up and hurled taunts at one another in Marseille on Friday, ahead of the opening match of the Euro 2016 football tournament. TV footage showed one bare-chested supporter in the back of a police van and a handcuffed English supporter being frogmarched by two officers along the edge of Marseille’s old harbour.

WUFOOB Archive

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An attack on democracy and humanity

Jo Cox

A man who fatally attacked and shot Labour MP Jo Cox outside her constituency office reportedly shouted “Britain First”. The incident has occurred against a backdrop of an ugly public debate on the EU referendum.

Well, yes, it does matter what we’re for or against. But not this much.

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