Can we still be friends with Facebook?

Written By komlim puldel on Senin, 30 Juni 2014 | 20.01

Social network Facebook is under fire after its covert 'emotional contagion' study left some users outraged.

Facebook has come under fire for allowing a social "emotional contagion" study. Source: AFP

THERE'S a sign up behind the counter in a cafe in Adelaide that chirpily suggests "If you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours".

The point of the old adage is that moods can be contagious, and we all have the power to spread a bit of cheer. Or gloom. But no-one likes a party pooper.

Our power to manipulate moods in real life — ours and other people's — is something we've always understood innately.

But now, scientists commissioned by social media behemoth Facebook, in the US, have revealed research they say proves our emotions can be toyed with in the virtual world, on social media, where so many of us spend so much of our time.

And their experiment has caused a hellbroth of trouble.

Over a random week in 2012, without telling them, researchers from Facebook, the University of California, University of San Francisco and Cornell University, manipulated the news feeds of 689,000 users, filtering content to tone down updates containing words considered to be "negative" for some people and words considered "positive" for other users.
The point of the study? To see if the emotions people were exposed to would have an influence over the mood of their own subsequent status updates.

They found that they did. They had proved the possibility of "emotional contagion".

"..for people who had positive content reduced in their News Feed, a larger percentage of words in people's status updates were negative and a smaller percentage were positive. When negativity

was reduced, the opposite pattern occurred," the study's authors wrote.

The findings of the study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences earlier this month, have sent shockwaves around the world — and not just because of the findings of the experiment itself, but because the guinea pigs, real people like you, had no idea they were taking part.

The researchers maintain the experiment was legal, because users must agree to Facebook's Data Use policy, when they sign up for an account.

But legal experts, academics and politicians around the world say that while the study may have been legal, it was unethical, too, because users were not able to give "informed consent".

Internet expert Clay Johnson, who co-founded the firm which managed Barack Obama's online campaign for the 2008 Presidential election called the study "terrifying" and called for someone to launch a class action against Facebook.

"In the wake of both the Snowden stuff and the Cuba Twitter stuff, the Facebook 'transmission of anger' experiment is terrifying", Mr Johnson said in a series of tweets.

"Could the CIA incite revolution in Sudan by pressuring Facebook to promote discontent? Should that be legal?"

Rachel Spencer, from the School of Law at the University of South Australia, said putting the legality of the study aside, the research appeared not to have followed the basic standards for ethical research by a university.

"Normally, when you conduct research into human subjects, you have to get permission from the Ethics Committee of a university and I would be very surprised if an Ethics Committee would approve of such a methodology," Ms Spencer said.

She said forcing people to feel happier or sadder, or withholding potentially important personal information because it was negative, such as the death of a friend or loved one, clearly could have a range of serious and worrying consequences.

"Finding out that you had been manipulated like that could also cause adverse consequences too — people with mental health issues or a fragile state of mind, for whatever reason, could be quite severely affected," she said.

"Just the thought of a company monitoring what I'm being told is a little bit creepy."

Terry O'Gorman, president of the Australian Councils for Civil Liberties agreed, saying Facebook's argument that the study was above board was "legalistic".

"Do you know anyone who's read 2000 words of Facebook's privacy policy?" Mr O'Gorman said.

"People genuinely feel they've been used by Facebook.

"If you're one of the users, and you find that your Facebook usage has been subject to some kind of emotional analysis, I think you're entitled to say that's a breach of privacy."

He said the fact tens of thousands of people still might not be aware their News Feed had been manipulated was irrelevant.

"Because people do not realise that in using Facebook, they're handing over data to be analysed by anonymous people who will never tell you what they're using it for and you'll never know the end result."

But if the whole thing feels creepy and Orwellian, what's in it for Facebook? Merely to add to the canon of psychology research?
Hardly, says Dr Karen Nelson-Field, Senior Research in the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute at UniSA.

It's all about marketing, she says, adding that she personally thinks the study adds to our understanding of the kinds of stimuli people respond to emotionally and that they share socially.

"What they've done is amazing, because it adds to the psychology literature on such a large scale," Dr Nelson-Field said.

"It would have been largely to see what content gets talked about, it would have been related around emotions.

"They've done it to understand a benchmark reaction (from users) to brands and reaction to sentiment to work out, in the future, where advertisers are best placed in terms of sending out positive and negative messages.

"It's not rocket science. If you watch a scary movie, you feel scared."

Dr Nelson-Field said people who argued the study was deceptive and unethical were "overreacting".

"If you sign up for a platform, you sign up to their privacy statements.
"You're exposing yourself to third party (agreements) constantly, so unless you turn your cookies off, you give Facebook 100 per cent rights to serve everything you do — when I say serve, I mean they can on-sell their data to a third party of their can use it themselves."

She said she accepted there may be more ethical ways to conduct the same kinds of research, particularly to filter out people who identified as having mental health issues or who were on medication for a mental illness.
But ultimately, people should know what they're getting into from the outset.

"Take some responsibility," she said.

"Sure, there's always going to be those that are less tech-savvy than others, but at the end of the day, what do you expect? And it hasn't done any harm."

Originally published as Can we still be friends with Facebook?
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Right-wing firebrand’s ridiculous soccer rant

The Netherlands have come from behind to win their knockout match against Mexico, scoring twice in the final five minutes to win 2-1.

Costa Rica have qualified for the quarter-finals of the World Cup after defeating Greece in a penalty shootout.

Conservative commentator Ann Coulter. Source: AP

WORLD Cup fever is kind of, sort of taking hold in the United States, with the American team through to the round of 16.

The USA's match against Portugal last week drew a TV audience of more than 18 million people, making it the second-most-watched game of soccer in the nation's history.

For soccer fans, that's a heartwarming statistic. But according to prominent, provocative conservative columnist Ann Coulter, America's new-found enthusiasm for the sport is an unmitigated catastrophe.

"Any growing interest in soccer can only be a sign of the nation's moral decay," Ms Coulter says.

She's written a strident column denouncing soccer as, among other things, a boring, wussy sport that is only watched by Americans with foreign blood.

We've extracted Ms Coulter's key arguments below, and rated their relative craziness using a brand new invention — the Coultometer.

NOTE: When Ms Coulter refers to "football", she's talking about gridiron. When she mentions "liberals", she means people whose politics are to the left of centre.

Ann Coulter waves to the audience at CPAC, a conservative political conference. Source: AP

1. SOCCER INVOLVES NO INDIVIDUAL ACHIEVEMENT

"Individual achievement is not a big factor in soccer," Ms Coulter writes. "The blame is dispersed, and almost no one scores anyway. There are no heroes, no losers, no accountability, and no child's fragile self-esteem is bruised. There's a reason perpetually alarmed women are called 'soccer mums,' not 'football mums.'

"Do they even have MVPs in soccer? Everyone just runs up and down the field and, every once in a while, a ball accidentally goes in."

Really? Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar ... we didn't just draw those names out of a hat and decide to make them the superstars of football. They're singled out for their freakish individual skills.

I'm sure English striker and occasional pariah Wayne Rooney would have something to say about blame being "dispersed." He single-handedly blew every game for England, right?

Coultometer: 4/5 (alarmingly crazy)

Some would say the logic in Ann's column is a bit Messi. Source: News Limited

2. IT'S EVOLUTIONARILY REGRESSIVE

"You can't use your hands in soccer," Ms Coulter says. "What sets man apart from the lesser beasts, besides a soul, is that we have opposable thumbs. Our hands can hold things. Here's a great idea: Let's create a game where you're not allowed to use them!"

Apparently, if your sport doesn't demonstrate the full extent of human evolution, it is not worth playing.

Coultometer: 2/5 (slightly crazy)

Ann Coulter attends Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People gala in 2009. Source: AFP

3. IT'S BORING

"No other 'sport' ends in as many scoreless ties as soccer," she writes. "If Michael Jackson had treated his chronic insomnia with a tape of Argentina v Brazil instead of Propofol, he'd still be alive, although bored."

Draw. It's called a draw, not a tie. Apart from that, this is actually a reasonable point. There have been five scoreless draws at this World Cup so far, and that's in an unusually high-scoring tournament.

Coultometer: 1/5 (not crazy)

Here's Ann on the cover of her book 'Godless: The Church of Liberalism'. Source: AP

4. SOMETHING SOMETHING THE METRIC SYSTEM

"Soccer is like the metric system, which liberals also adore because it's European. Naturally, the metric system emerged from the French Revolution, during the brief intervals when they weren't committing mass murder by guillotine," Ms Coulter writes.

"Liberals get angry and tell us that the metric system is more 'rational' than the measurements everyone understands. This is ridiculous. An inch is the width of a man's thumb, a foot the length of his foot, a yard the length of his belt. That's easy to visualise. How do you visualise 147.2 centimetres?"

I feel as though Ms Coulter got a little sidetracked here.

Coultometer: 5/5 (infinitely crazy)

Apparently this is relevant. Source: News Corp Australia

5. IT'S FOR WUSSES

"The prospect of either personal humiliation or major injury is required to count as a sport," Ms Coulter says. "After a football game, ambulances carry off the wounded. After a soccer game, every player gets a ribbon and a juice box."

Ever seen someone's leg get broken on a football field? That certainly counts as a "major injury." And there is no greater humiliation in sport than an own goal.

Having said that, it's hard to disagree with Ms Coulter's point when you see a grown man writhing around on the ground after suffering the wrath of a light, passing breeze.

Coultometer: 2/5 (slightly crazy)

OK, she might have a point here. Source: AP

6. IT'S REALLY, REALLY LONG

"I've held off on writing about soccer for a decade — or about the length of the average soccer game — so as not to offend anyone."

That sledge comes from a woman who prefers baseball and gridiron, both of which average about three hours of slow, stop-start action per game.

Coultometer: 3/5 (crazy)

Ann Coulter does not have a long attention span. Source: Getty Images

7. IT'S MASSIVELY OVERHYPED

"I resent the force-fed aspect of soccer," Ms Coulter says. "The number of New York Times articles claiming soccer is 'catching on' is exceeded only be the ones pretending women's basketball is fascinating.

"The USA-Portugal game was the blockbuster match, garnering 18.2 million viewers on ESPN ... Run-of-the-mill, regular season Sunday Night Football games average more than 20 million viewers."

It's hard to quarrel with this argument. How many times have we been told that football has finally "arrived" in Australia? When the World Cup is over, Americans will not suddenly go nuts for Major League Soccer.

Coultometer: 1/5 (not crazy)

This American fan has clearly bought into the hype. Source: AP

8. ONLY PEOPLE WITH FOREIGN BLOOD LIKE IT

"If more 'Americans' are watching soccer today, it's only because of the demographic switch effected by Teddy Kennedy's 1965 immigration law," Ms Coulter says.

"I promise you: No American whose great-grandfather was born here is watching soccer. One can only hope that, in addition to learning English, these new Americans will drop their soccer fetish with time."

I ... I can't even.

Coultometer: 5/5 (infinitely crazy)

Originally published as Right-wing firebrand's ridiculous soccer rant
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Art, or pathetic grab for publicity?

Artwork depicting Charles Saatchi throttling his ex-wife Nigella Lawson being offered for sale on his website. Artist is D Udaiyan. Source: Supplied

LONG after the one — time ad man, renowned art collector and confirmed throttler Charles Saatchi gave his then-wife Nigel Lawson one his most memorable public performances, the simply horrendous incident is still making news.

'Artworks' — and that word is even demeaned in this context — have made their way onto, surprise, surprise, the Saatchi Art website — an American website with ties to the London gallery — 12 months after the London restaurant incident where Saatchi was photographed 'throttling' his globally renowned wife.

Of course, I'd personally love an arty piece of domestic violence/physical abuse/wedded bullying — priced from AU$266 to AU$32,000 — hanging in my little inner-city dwelling.

What a talking point! Just imagine the hours of viewing pleasure.

What a complete toss the whole notion is.

Art, or just poor taste? Source: Supplied

Saatchi was cautioned for assault last June after the appalling restaurant display. The pair went on to divorce seven weeks later.

Later that year, of course, the once-wedded pair were back in the news over a fraud case 'starring' former personal assistants. That time around, there were allegations of Lawson's drug use and Saatchi's controlling behaviour.

But back to these heartfelt and simply sensational artworks.

Wouldn't you want them to remember the good times? The great times? The very happy times of a marriage that came to an end when pictures of the couple were printed came to light after a mega physical dispute in the smart and celebrity-frequented London restaurant, Scotts?

Sure, sure, some members of the art-eratti will be claiming that pulling them down would be censorship.

They'll say that they are an exquisite symbol of free artistic speech; of 'real' life; that they are not inciting hatred but are representing love having gone seriously wrong. But to me, they are none of the above. These are two people who are still alive and both are being represented in a revolting light. Again.

Nigella Lawson's domestic goddess image has had to weather a lot of controversy. Picture: Justin Lloyd Source: Supplied

To actually see these drawings and paintings re-enacting the Saatchi-Lawson restaurant calamity is pure tastelessness.

Would anyone — including the subjects involved — really shell out $10000 for a work of a smug-looking Saatchi with a blatantly frightened Nigella, set against a jaunty, multi-hued, van Gogh-inspired background?

The photographs in the London restaurant were obviously the straw that broke the camel's back _ and the pair's marriage. And these artworks, which were painted and drawn not long after the event, shouldn't be glorified. They should be garbaged.

A report in the UK's Independent singles out certain pieces — 'Art Collector Throttling Cook' and 'Last Course', and one of the artists, Darren Udaiyan (who concocted the van Gogh inspired piece) draws an analogy that Saatchi 'throttling his wife' is akin to him 'squeezing the art market'.

Good grief. The whole thing is just tasteless.

Originally published as Art, or pathetic grab for publicity?
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Ned Kelly played centre-half back

Written By komlim puldel on Minggu, 29 Juni 2014 | 20.01

Historians believe that Ned Kelly played between June 1873 and January 1874. Source: HeraldSun

Williamstown FC president, city barrister and Ned Kelly historian Trevor Monti says the bushranger played 11 games with the squad in 1873. Picture: David Caird. Source: News Limited

AUSTRALIA'S most notorious bushranger may have been a gun centre-half back.

A keen Kelly historian has drawn fire over suggestions convicted cop killer Ned Kelly played a season of footy for Williamstown.

Seagulls president and city barrister Trevor Monti, QC, says the convicted criminal was even on track to win the club's best and fairest — only to get reported for headbutting an umpire in his last game.

"He was a tough centre-half back with unconventional tactics," Mr Monti said.

It's understood Kelly played 11 games for the squad in 1873 — seven years before the infamous Glenrowan shoot-out that earned him a page in the history books — and a spot at the gallows.

Ned Kelly was apparently on track to win the best and fairest at Williamstown Football Club. Source: News Limited

READ THE FULL STORY ON HERALDSUN.COM.AU

Originally published as Ned Kelly played centre-half back

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John has hand on his heart for Voice final

Kylie Minogue with her Voice team member John Lingard who will be singing a unique version of her hit Hand on Your Heart for this week's final. Picture: Channel Nine. Source: Channel 9

IMITATION may be the sincerest form of flattery, but for Team Kylie artist John Lingard it could also prove his last throw of the dice to be spared elimination on the live final of The Voice.

FINE BROMANCE: TEAM WILL RECRUITS ADAM GOODES

VOICE POWERHOUSES HAVE SHARED HISTORY

DELTA'S AWKWARD STRIPTEASE

While coach Minogue challenged the indie balladeer to perform Chris Isaak's Wicked Games during this week's rehearsals, Lingard blindsided the pop princess with his own reworking of her pop hit, Hand On Your Heart.

Singing 'This is what it feels like', Victoria's Jackson Thomas powers through his performance. Courtesy: The Voice

For the 26-year-old Bendigo singer, it was a risk worth taking, as team rivals Kat Jade and Robbie Balmer beat him on this week's iTunes chart.

Singing 'Happy', Victorian Johnny Rollins goes from back of the band to front man with ease. Courtesy: The Voice

"He's doing a new take on a classic and he sounds fantastic," Minogue said.

Originally published as John has hand on his heart for Voice final

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Blockhead Steve happy to kick on for Dad

Steve O'Donnell, winner of The Block, with his father Kevin who had prostate cancer and is now in remission. Picture: Mitch Bear Source: News Limited

THE Block winner Steve O'Donnell won't be able to wipe the smile off his face this week.

O'Donnell fulfils a dream Tuesday night when he plays in the EJ Whitten Legends game, and the moment is even more special being 15 years since his father Kevin was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

KARL STEFANOVIC: 'I want to kick three or four goals'

"Dad's pretty excited I get to do this and Mum (Mary) is pretty excited too,'' O'Donnell said. "It will be quite a special night for all of us. Dad went through the wars with it and I don't know too many blokes who could tolerate the pain he's been through."

While his father was fighting his cancer battle O'Donnell took over his chimney-sweep work in Geelong. He said they were now all fighting fit.

"Dad was lucky he got checked when he did and he's always been quite good with analysis,'' O'Donnell said.

"It is super important for blokes to do it and a lot have that old mentality about it but we're getting better. This game really opens a platform of discussion for men's health and makes the community aware."

O'Donnell, a Geelong supporter, is hoping to get a kick at Etihad Stadium in front of family and partner Chantelle Ford. "Of all the things I've ever wanted to do ... this is just surreal,'' he said. "It hasn't quite sunk in yet. I'm so grateful to everyone to be involved."

Originally published as Blockhead Steve happy to kick on for Dad

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This guy has one of the world’s strangest jobs

Written By komlim puldel on Sabtu, 28 Juni 2014 | 20.02

Liam Cunningham plays Ser Davos Seaworth in Game of Thrones. Source: Supplied

LIAM Cunningham has one of the world's strangest jobs. He plays a good guy in Game of Thrones.

His character, the Ser Davos Seaworth, is a modest, honourable man drowning in a sea of egotistical backstabbers. He was raised in the slums of King's Landing, and grew up to become a smuggler, but then earned himself a gig as the top adviser to would-be king Stannis Baratheon.

In short, he's a fascinating character.

Cunningham is in Sydney to attend the opening of Game of Thrones: The Exhibition on Monday. We sat down for an interview, which you will find in its full, gloriously geeky form below.

Naturally, if you haven't seen season four, there will be spoilers.

NOTE: Liam hasn't read the books. I haven't either. So we're both scratching around in the dark here regarding the future plot of the show. Book readers, please keep the spoilers in check.

MORE: We review the Game of Thrones finale

MORE: Our interview with the actor who plays Podrick Payne

Liam is listed as a starring character in the Game of Thrones cast. Source: Supplied

SAM: So your character, Davos. He's had a big season, and really proved his worth, I think. It was his idea to go to the Iron Bank in Braavos, it was him who argued the case when it was going so badly. Do you think he's wrestled back Stannis's attention from Melisandre? Is he back to being the top adviser?

LIAM: If I was in Stannis's position, I would be taking advice wherever I could get it. But yeah, at the end of season three, Stannis wanted to have me killed. It was the Red Priestess that saved my arse. So to come back with this — with the help of Shireen (Stannis's daughter) of course, who gives me the idea — to come back and do this, I mean it's a step forward.

As George Martin said in an interview, what Stannis originally wanted to do was save the realm by becoming king. Now the idea was, let's save the realm, then become king, which is why he does what he does north of The Wall.

So it looks like it's a step in the right direction, but in Game of Thrones, this could go anywhere.

"You're right ... this could go anywhere." Source: Supplied

SAM: But has he grown in influence? I mean, he was locked in a dungeon last season. Has he become the top man again, the guy Stannis relies on?

LIAM: Well, I think he's always gone to him. My sort of ... metaphor for him, and the way I've always thought of him is — for those of your readers who know their movies — I've always thought about him as the Robert Duvall character in The Godfather. He's kind of the Tom Hagen, consigliere. Not quite part of the family, but his advice and his counselling are highly respected. And Stannis has always kind of respected that, you know, hard truths have to be listened to, and Davos is not afraid to say them.

Stannis says to him, "You don't have much regard for your life, do you?" And he says, "No, not really." He wants to do the right thing. He's a principled man. He's decent. He's got honour. Not because that's the right thing to do, but because that's who he is. He's a great man to have in your corner.

Davos has come a long way in the last two seasons. Source: Supplied

SAM: He's extremely loyal, and Stannis has done quite a few things that Davos would not agree with throughout the series so far. What would Stannis have to do to shatter that loyalty, to convince Davos not to follow him? Could he do anything?

LIAM: I don't think Davos would think like that. It's not, "If he does this, if he does that, I'm finished with him." There's never a question of that. I think Davos feels a responsibility. Davos considers Stannis a good man and the right man for the job, because he is. I mean, if you look at it on paper, Stannis should be there.

Even with Stannis attempting to put him to death ... Davos would see that as Stannis making a mistake, and a mistake that needs rectified, as opposed to taking it personally.

Davos (left) with Stannis. Source: Supplied

SAM: As an aside ... back at the end of season three, we saw Gendry going off in a row boat. We haven't seen him since. Where the hell is Gendry?

LIAM: It's funny you should say that, because Joe Dempsie (who plays Gendry) tweeted from his personal account about a week ago. I retweeted it actually, and he put down two words: "Still rowing." I thought it was very clever! Still rowing. Don't fall out of the boat.

SAM: That relationship with Gendry might have been a short one for Davos, but I think it revealed quite a lot about his character. And particularly how much his son meant to him. Their conversation down in the dungeons was big.

LIAM: Yeah there is a bit of that, and both of them are from Flea Bottom. From the hood. But you know what? He didn't even do it (let Gendry escape) so much for Gendry. It wasn't a personal thing, it's the principle of the thing. It's like Davos says to Stannis: "If you're killing an innocent, then you're just the same as the rest of the bastards we were trying to get out." It's like the old cliche, isn't it? It's better a thousand guilty men go free than one innocent man be put to death.

Again, it's back to the honour. Davos, in a way, sees Stannis as being an honourable leader, as being a man who won't take advantage. Unlike the Lannisters, who have no respect for their subjects.

I suppose, in a sense, Davos sees Stannis as a Solomon character. He feels he's been led astray, but this woman is using magic and using dishonourable methods to get where they want to get him. They have two methods of getting him there. Davos sees Stannis as being slightly corrupted in his methods of getting there, and that corruption will continue if that woman stays by his side.

Melisandre, otherwise known as the Red Priestess. Source: Supplied

SAM: There's a scene — it might be the one in which Melisandre saves his life — in which Stannis is standing, looking out over the bay, and you've got Davos behind one of his shoulders and Melisandre behind the other. That's quite biblical, where you have, sort of, the angel and the devil behind him. Is that the symbolism the writers were going for?

LIAM: It is. That's what's been played between them, this triangle. And bizarrely, they all want the same thing, but it's their methods that differ. Stannis thinks because he didn't, at the time, have the resources to get there, that he can do it by any means necessary, and then take care of business once he gets into the position of being king. Then he can start behaving himself. But Davos doesn't see it like that. It's the old thing ... absolute power corrupts absolutely.

SAM: Has the death of Davos's son changed his character at all, in a way that you've noticed?

LIAM: You could tell there was a fantastic relationship between the two of them, and I think the relationship with Shireen has developed because he's lacking his one son, which I think was seven sons in the book.

I think what's great is that, in the show, we're able to show that this guy's a good dad, and he's probably the only dad that Shireen has, and she's comfortable around him. I remember Alex Graves, one of our esteemed directors, saying it's extraordinary that we have these sweet scenes in this show — this hardcore, sexy, violent show — and we've got these sweet scenes between Davos and Shireen. And they fit quite beautifully into the tapestry of this show, and I think they're really valuable, they really build the characters. And I think they're one of the reasons the fans really like Davos. He's one of the few decent characters in it, who isn't out for himself.

Shireen Baratheon, Stannis's daughter, has a close relationship with Davos. Source: Supplied

SAM: George R.R. Martin has spoken several times about how he's used Tolkien and Lord of the Rings as an inspiration. I think something that is very different between Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones is the way they deal with religion. There is no religion explicitly in Lord of the Rings, it's all subtext, whereas it's a real motivation for characters in the show. Do you think that adds depth to it?

LIAM: I think so. I definitely think Game of Thrones is a modernised, and more grown-up and sophisticated version. I mean, we all know how beautiful and complex that world that Tolkien painted is.

One of the reasons George wrote the complexity into this story is that he was, and obviously still is, a television writer, but was so constrained by budgets — with producers saying, "Yeah, we like the idea of this war, but can we make it two guys and a horse?" - that he decided to write these books and letters with his imagination just free, because he thought it would never be filmed.

He wrote about what's near and dear to him. Obviously, religion doesn't play a huge part in George's life, I would imagine, and to have that tussle between faith and lack of faith ... maybe he's of the same opinion as Karl Marx, that religion is the opiate of the people. And I think that sort of comes across in the show to a certain extent.

There appears to be no explicit religion in Tolkien's Middle Earth. Source: Supplied

SAM: How does Davos deal with religion as a character? He's an atheist who sees Melisandre performing these magical acts, how does all that conflicting information compute in his head?

LIAM: I think he views her as a witch. He views Melisandre the same way as the dragons. They weren't supposed to be there, but they are there. She has powers, yes. But he doesn't see her as having any god-given powers. He says that he thinks gods were made up to help children sleep at night. I tend to agree.

SAM: You. The actor. Liam. If you're giving Davos advice for next season, what are you telling him?

LIAM: Well I haven't seen what's coming up, I haven't seen the new scripts yet and I haven't read the books ...

SAM: That's what makes it interesting!

LIAM: Yeah, that's what I like about it. You know, if you're doing movies, on a set ... many times I've shot the end of a movie in the first week of shooting. Because of locations, or budgets, or actors' availability. But this, by its very nature, has to be shot in more or less consecutive order.

So there's a certain amount of joy in playing a character in the moment, and not knowing what's going to roll out as it goes on. It's a bit like life, in a way. And it's much more interesting, because the surprises are there, and I don't know my death is going to happen in whatever episode or series. I'm playing him as being alive and in the moment. For an actor, that's much more healthy, I think.

Liam Cunningham at the season four premiere earlier this year. Source: Getty Images

SAM: So put yourself in the moment now. What should Davos do next?

LIAM: Well I think the next thing, after the battle, is that King's Landing is in our sights. How we get there, I presume, is the next journey. And who we're going to come across, and who we're going to battle, or outmanoeuvre. And that's what's interesting. The boys have it all down, the gods of the show, and I'll be getting the scripts in the next two or three weeks.

SAM: Excited?

LIAM: Yeah, very excited. I love getting them. When you get 10 scripts, it's just great. And seeing everbody's story is interesting, because we operate in cells. It's like paramilitary units, the way we work. So to see everybody's story rolled out and to see where everybody's going to go is fantastic. I read them like a fan. And when I see the show, I watch it like a fan. Everybody does, because we're only in certain sections.

You bump into actors, and they're like, "Man, you've got some really cool stuff coming up," and "I wasn't expecting that, oh he's dying, she's dying, somebody new is coming in." It's a very cool show to work on.

You can check out the Game of Thrones Exhibition website here.

Where does Ser Davos Seaworth rank among your favourite Game of Thrones characters? Talk to us on Twitter: @SamClench | @liamcunningham1 | @newscomauHQ | @GameOfThrones


20.02 | 0 komentar | Read More

The bizarre case of Charlie Bothuell V

An 11-day search for a missing Michigan boy came to a bizarre conclusion Wednesday when he was discovered alive and well, hidden in the basement of his fathers home in Detroit.

Charles Bothuell IV shocked by his son's reappearance. AP Photo/Detroit Free Press, Eric Lawrence Source: AP

THE bizarre case of Charlie Bothuell V, found hiding in his parent's basement this week, has become even stranger as disturbing details of his home life are revealed.

The world was mesmerised this week by the reaction of Charlie's father when he was told on live television that his son had been found alive — hiding in the basement after being missing for almost two weeks.

Since then mystery has deepened over why Charlie went missing and whether someone had been helping him to hide.

Why did he hide? Charlie Bothuell V, 12, of Detroit, was missing for almost two weeks. AP Photo/Courtesy Detroit Police Department Source: AP

When Detroit police found the boy in the basement of his family's multiple-unit condo building, he was surrounded by chicken, softdrinks, cereal and gatorade. He was also barricaded behind a dresser and a 55-gallon drum.

"There's no way he could have erected this makeshift area of concealment, I'll call it. He certainly was excited to see us," Detroit Police Chief James Craig said.

Officers had searched the home at least three times before they found him on Wednesday afternoon. They do not believe he was there the whole time.

The basement was connected to other apartments via a tunnel that also provided access to the outside world.

In a petition filed by Child Protective Services for the removal of Charlie's half-siblings, the boy told investigators that his stepmother Monique Dillard-Bothuell put him in the basement and told him not to come out.

When the boy got hungry he would sneak upstairs to get food when no one was home.

Accusations of abuse have also emerged.

"He was very skinny, and almost looked like a cancer patient. He had marks all over his arms and chest," one of Charlie Bothuell's grandmothers told investigators.

A half circular scar was discovered on his chest, and the boy told investigators his dad drove a PVC pipe into his chest, according to the court records.

Old scars were reportedly found on Charlie's buttocks and were also believed to be caused by the pipe.

Other documents provided at a Friday afternoon custody hearing over Charlie, contained accusations that Charlie had bruises and marks after allegedly being abused by his father and stepmother Monique Dillard-Bothuell.

Denies abusing his son: Charlie Bothuell IV. AP Photo/Detroit News, Clarence Tabb Jr. Source: AP

"I read this petition. It says that Monique took (Charlie) into the basement and hid him and told him not to come out," Mark Magidson, the attorney for Charlie Bothuell's father and stepmother said. "Why would she do that? I don't understand that. It makes no sense. This is the same woman who then got the police involved and brought all of this on. None of this make sense."

There were reports that Charlie was often beaten with a PVC pipe that was reportedly found covered in blood at the home.

He was also home schooled and his father Charles Bothuell IV was strict about his workouts, forcing him to walk 4,000 steps daily on an elliptical machine. The average person does about 3,500 to 5,000 steps a day.

His stepmother told police the boy didn't complete his daily exercise routine and she had reported this to his father. Worried about his reaction, Charlie took off.

Monique Dillard-Bothuell was charged for a parole violation. AP Photo/Michigan State Police Source: AP

The boy's father, who made tearful television pleas for help while his son was missing, has said he had no idea the boy was in the basement. Charles Bothuell IV reported his son missing on June 14. The boy had been working out at home about 9pm, went to use the rest room and never returned, Bothuell told police.

There were also reports that Charlie may have been worried about being sent to military school later this year.

He has not been released into his father's care, instead he is staying with his mother and police have barred Bothuell from having any contact with his son.

Meanwhile Charlie's stepmother has since been arrested on a parole violation unrelated to the boy's disappearance. She was previously convicted of buying a gun without a permit.

Dillard-Bothuell has been ordered to wear a tether and a judge set personal bond at $5,000. She's due back in court July 11.

Her four-year-old son and 10-month old daughter have been placed in the custody of Child Protective Services.

Despite accusations that she had instructed the boy to go to the basement, both parents deny they had anything to do with Charlie's disappearance.

"My client, Mr Bothuell and his wife, had no participation in this. They would have not brought this entire media circus, ... FBI, all of this — for what purpose? For what gain?" Mr Magidson said.


20.02 | 0 komentar | Read More

Son left in kindy shed has ‘ruined us all’

Debbie Williams is angry about the treatment of son Brock, 5, at the Parafield Gardens Children's Centre. Picture: Calum Robertson. Source: News Limited

Debbie Williams' son Brock, 5. Source: Supplied

DEBBIE Williams is angry and is looking for answers.

The Parafield Gardens mother wants to know just how her five-year-old son Brock became locked inside a shed at his local kindy.

She wants to know how long he was trapped and why none of his teachers ever noticed he was missing — despite the class leaving the grounds of the kindergarten.

Last September's incident has left the lively youngster with severe psychological conditions that have forced Ms Williams, 43, to abandon her thriving business to care for him full time.

It has now placed her family under severe financial strain.

Despite the admitted negligence of staff at the Parafield Gardens Childcare Centre, the Education Department has just refused her plea for financial assistance and the family now faces losing its home within months.

Ms Williams has now hired a lawyer to formulate a claim against the department.

Unless settled it is likely to lead to District Court action.

A distraught Ms Williams on Friday said the incident has shattered their lives and their lifestyle has been "turned upside down.''

"I feel a lot of blame for putting an innocent little boy in such a situation. Some days every time I think about it I am reduced to tears,'' she said.

Ms Williams, who has four children, was alerted to the incident when she arrived to pick Brock up on September 2 last year. She vividly remembers the director of the centre approaching her and profusely apologising before telling her what had actually occurred.

"The director said: 'First I want to say this has never happened before' and then she told me Brock had been locked in the shed on the playground,'' Ms Williams said.

She was told he had been found when another parent heard muffled cries when walking past the shed. When released Brock was sobbing uncontrollably, had soiled himself and had removed all of his clothing because of the heat inside the shed. The temperature that day was 28 degrees.

Ms Williams said when Brock came over to her he was still hot and could hardly talk because his voice was so hoarse.

"He still had a deep sob going he was so distressed,'' she said.

"I just grabbed his stuff and walked out. I didn't want to open my mouth because I didn't know what would come out. I didn't want to explode in front of the other children.''

Ms Williams said she was initially told Brock may have been locked in the shed "for between 10 and 15 minutes'' but now cannot get any further answers and believes he may have been trapped for much longer, given his state when found.

"I am sorry, that is not true. You are not going to pack off 40 kids for 15 minutes play. I think it was more like 10 to 15 minutes from when they first knew he was there until they got him out after finding someone with a key,'' she said.

"I would suggest it would have been an hour or two to get that distressed.''

Ms Williams said she withdrew Brock from the kindy the next day, but did not speak to the director for several days. When this occurred she was again assured this type of incident had never occurred before and the director she was "really sorry'' and understood if she did not want Brock to return.

Ms Williams advised her he would not be returning, but that she wanted a full report on the incident detailing exactly what happened including "who, what, where, how and when'' to enable her to comprehend it.

"I was so angry about not getting any information I then sent an email to the Minister of Education and the department,'' she said.

"They have told me policies are now in place, but still will not tell me how this happened in the first place.''

Ms Williams said last October she had been forced to give up the lease on her thriving business, the Wiggly Worms indoor play cafe at Glenelg North, to care for Brock full time. Husband Justin, a cabinet-maker, now works 50 hours a week to try and meet their commitments.

While the Education Department has paid around $2000 in doctors expenses for Brock's ongoing treatment, she approached it on March 13 requesting financial support for loss of income, supplying three years tax returns as evidence. Last month she was formally advised there would be no settlement and advised to engage a lawyer.

"I am only requesting what is fair and reasonable,'' she said.

"It is not fair. Just because someone can't count how many kids there are in the class we are going to lose everything. We are going to lose our house, everything.''

Ms Williams said Brock now attends school four hours a day, four days a week "at best'' and medicated to deal with psychiatric conditions he has developed as a result of the incident.

Her lawyer, Tim Downie, of Slater and Gordon, said she had attempted "to deal with a very difficult situation on her own for many months''.

"This is a unique case, created by a terrible incident involving a vulnerable little boy.

"The Education Department should take into account there are exceptional circumstances involved and assist Ms Williams in relation to her significant economic loss which is directly attributable to her son's injuries and has compounded the family's distress.''

Education Minister Jennifer Rankine on Friday said: "It is most regrettable this incident occurred.''

"In my letter to Ms Williams last year, I advised her that I had arranged for a senior officer to contact her to assist with any medical expenses incurred as a result of this incident,'' she said.

"I advised Ms Williams that any request for further compensation — including loss of income — would need to go through a formal process. The State Government's insurer SAICORP is handling this matter''.


20.02 | 0 komentar | Read More

Missing boy found alive in basement after 11 days

Written By komlim puldel on Kamis, 26 Juni 2014 | 20.02

An 11-day search for a missing Michigan boy came to a bizarre conclusion Wednesday when he was discovered alive and well, hidden in the basement of his fathers home in Detroit.

AN 11-day search for a missing boy has local police and the FBI stunned, after he was strangely found hidden in his dad's basement alive.

When Charlie Bothuell, 12, of Detroit went missing, his father Charles Bothuell IV called police to help him find his son.

The FBI even stepped in and searched everywhere they thought the boy could be, including the basement of their family home.

Now, more questions are being raised about how the boy could have possibly been found alive and well while "barricaded in the basement, behind boxes and a large five-gallon drum".

Detroit Police Chief James Craig told CNN affiliate WXYZ it was a first.

"I've never seen anything quite like this," he said.

"We found him barricaded in the basement, behind boxes and a large five-gallon drum. There's no way he could have erected this makeshift area of concealment."

Charlie's father first heard of his son's location when he was doing a live TV interview.

When he found out his boy was alive, Bothuell became visibly upset, looking dazed and bewildered, breathing hard and clutching at his chest, Fox 8 WGHP reports.

He said he had no idea how his son could have turned up in his house.

"I checked my basement," Bothuell said.

Missing boy found ... young Charlie Bothuell from Detroit. Source: Supplied

"The FBI checked my basement. The police checked my basement. My wife checked my basement. I've been down there several times. We've all been checking."

Charlie disappeared on June 14, after he suddenly walked out of the house.

"He had — you know, not done some of his chores and instead of arguing at him or fussing or anything, my wife just said okay," his father told Nancy Grace in an earlier TV interview "I got a call back from my wife at 9:45 saying that Charlie was gone."

"I've been going door to door since he disappeared," he added.

"We didn`t sleep. We did flyers. We called family members. And we have been doing everything we can since to get the word out to get our son back home."

Craig, the Detroit police chief, said investigators searched the family home four times, including once with a cadaver dog.

"We're not certain Charlie was here during those visits," he said.

Craig added they were not ruling out the possibility that an adult was responsible for hiding him.

"We're not ruling that out," he said.

"It would be hard for me to sit here and tell you that someone didn't know Charlie was there, but I can't say definitively."


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Qantas flight attendant dishes the dirt

Owen Beddall with Katy Perry.

SHARING gossip with A-list celebrities such as Katy Perry, Lily Allen, Russell Brand and Cate Blanchett was all in a day's work for Qantas flight attendant Owen Beddall.

Now the one-time trolley jockey has launched his book Confessions of a Qantas Flight Attendant, which reveals all the dirty little behind-the-scenes secrets during his time at the Flying Kangaroo.

In fact, it was pop star Katy Perry who inspired Beddall to write about the weird and wacky world of a flight attendant.

"I was chatting to Katy in 2008 and telling her about my stories," he said.

"We got on so well and had such a connection, she encouraged me to write the book and turn it into something magical."

There's more to him than meets the eye, says former flight attendant Owen Beddall of Russell Brand. Source: Supplied

Beddall has worked with Qantas since 2001, becoming a first-class flight attendant in 2005.

Travelling to more than 40 countries meant he has looked after countless celebrities in first-class from Perry and Brand to Kylie Minogue, Cate Blanchett, Kelly Osbourne, Venus Williams, Lisa Raymond, Owen Wilson, Caroline Wozniacki, plus bands Franz Ferdinand and Oasis.

Have you been privy to first class hijinks? Let us know in the comments

Beddall said although the life of a flight attendant seemed glamorous, the reality was at times completely different.

"All sorts of things happen on a plane. I once looked after a man who was wearing an adult nappy," he said.

"Then there were the people taking sleeping pills, who would walk around the plane like zombies and not realise what they were doing.

"You're also trying to stop people from smoking in the toilets, and teenagers from having relations in there."

Former Qantas flight attendant Owen Beddall. Source: Supplied

The his tell-all book Confessions of a Qantas Flight Attendant. Source: Supplied

While Beddall said he was fortunate to work in one of the only jobs in the world that was "completely gay friendly", his most horrendous day was when he organised to work on board his boyfriend's flight as a surprise — only to find him travelling with his wife.

Beddall breaks down many of the illusions of a glamorous life in the air, all there are plenty of cabin crew adventures and misadventures in and out of uniform in far flung places.

His many mishaps include breaking his jaw in London and being bitten by snake in Bangkok.

The worst, however, was a career-ending spinal injury in 2011 during a training exercise.

Beddall said the ensuing fight to keep his job gave him time and incentive to finish the book.

"It was done during such a dark time in my life, because I was fighting through the pain, to keep my job and struggling to live in Melbourne away from my family," he said.

"Writing the book was cathartic and when I finished it, it wasn't long before Random House picked it up."

Beddall said initial reaction to the book had been overwhelmingly positive, however he was yet to hear from his former employer.

"I thought my grandmother would hate it, but she couldn't put it down," he said.

"Women are drawn to the book because the element of gossip, which they are drawn to.

"I haven't heard from Qantas yet, but I know their publicity department has contacted Random House for a copy of the book.

"Current employees have called me a traitor on social media, but that's fine because they're promoting the book for me."

For more about the book visit the Random House website.


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Where nature photographers roam

Jasper Doest from the Netherlands will share his reflections of time spent on Rottumeroog at the 2014 International Nature Photography Festival. Picture: GDT International Nature Photography Festival 2014/Jasper Doest Source: Supplied

WELCOME to Rottumeroog - the last piece of untouched wilderness in the Netherlands.

This otherwise uninhabited island, in the Wadden Sea off the Dutch coast, became home to photographer Jasper Doest for 50 days as he documented its landscapes and wildlife for National Geographic magazine.

For decades, Rottumeroog has been off-limits to the public, and only a handful of researchers and bird counters have been given permission to enter the island.

"Due to its inaccessibility and unspoilt beauty, the island has gained almost mythical status," Doest explains.

So imagine this intrepid photographer's surprise when he landed on the deserted island and happened upon a message in a bottle, which had washed ashore after being "posted" to sea by an 11-year-old Dutch schoolgirl, Meike.

He began writing back, sharing his reflections on solitude and his experiences in the wilderness during his stay at the remote destination.

"Meike, tell all your friends about this uninhabited island and dream about your bottle washed up here. Tell your children and grandchildren about this special place," he wrote.

Doest will be using his letters to Meike to reflect on his experiences as one of the guest speakers at the 2014 International Nature Photography Festival, being hosted by the Society of German Nature Photographers (GDT).

Doest is just one of many eye-opening experiences to be shared by some of the world's most talented nature photographers during the event.

For more details about the festival, visit gdtfoto.com

International Nature Photography Festival highlights


20.02 | 0 komentar | Read More

Gore and Palmer team up on climate

Written By komlim puldel on Rabu, 25 Juni 2014 | 20.01

Unlikely allies, former US Vice President Al Gore and Clive Palmer announce the PUP's stance on the carbon tax repeal bill.

He's one of our more colourful politicians, but how did he get there? And how will Clive Palmer's party vote on the contentious carbon tax repeal bill?

Clive Palmer arriving at the House of Representatives doors at Parliament House in Canberra. Source: News Corp Australia

THERE is a saying that politics makes strange bedfellows as was seen by the latest odd coupling in Canberra this afternoon.

Former US vice president Al Gore, who is a climate change activist, teamed up with mining magnate and newly minted MP Clive Palmer as he announced Palmer United Party members would support a bill to abolish the carbon tax.

But there were conditions attached, with Mr Palmer saying all savings had to be passed on to consumers and he also wanted the Abbott Government to replace its direct action plan with an emissions trading scheme.

However, he said he only wanted the ETS to become active when Australia's major trading partners also moved to establish an ETS.

PUP senators will not support government legislation abolishing the Climate Change Authority and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

Nor will they support any change to the Renewable Energy Target until after the next election.

Mr Palmer said $15 billion was already in the renewable energy investment pipeline.

"It's not the position that makes a leader. It's his actions and examples which others can follow," Mr Palmer said.

"Others that are maybe less capable, like me, can see the light shining out of the darkness."

Mr Gore was pleased about the discussions he'd had that led to the "extraordinary moment" of Mr Palmer's announcement.

The supporter of carbon pricing and global action on climate change was in Australia for a Climate Reality Leadership Corps Training Program in Melbourne.

Mr Palmer flew him up to Canberra today for discussions, the press conference and dinner.

After outlining how other countries are moving on climate change, Mr Gore congratulated the Palmer United Party "on this outstanding statement".

Who would have thought Al Gore and Clive Palmer would be political buddies. AAPImage/Alan Porritt Source: Supplied

During the press conference Mr Gore said it was significant that Mr Palmer supported the continuation of the emissions reduction target.

He said he was also extremely hopeful that Australia would continue to play a leading global role in fighting climate change.

Following Mr Gore's statement, Mr Palmer declined to take questions from journalists saying: "We have to go now to an urgent dinner".

Mr Gore came to international prominence after the release of his Academy Award-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth in 2006.

He served under President Bill Clinton and has received a Nobel Peace Prize for his work in climate change activism.

EARLIER

Much of the reaction to the Palmer/Gore pair up has been incredulous.

Mr Palmer hinted this morning at a big announcement, promising that it would offer "hope to mankind".

"Wednesday night we'll have an announcement to make on what we think is a solution for Australia and the world," Mr Palmer told the ABC.

"It's going to be a very exciting time I think."

He says it will be a "big day — massive day".

"We'll be very clear about a number of things and offering hope for mankind," he said.

The PUP senators — Glenn Lazarus (Queensland), Jacqui Lambie (Tasmania) and Dio Wang (WA) — who have an arrangement with the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party's Ricky Muir (Victoria) will hold key votes in the new Senate.

The government will need the support of six out of eight crossbenchers to get legislation passed.

Mr Palmer told 2GB Radio on Wednesday that he would spell out how the PUP will vote on the carbon and mining tax repeal bills as well as budget legislation, ahead of a meeting with Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Thursday.

Glenn Lazarus means business. Picture: Adam Armstrong Source: News Corp Australia

"We are all worried about fairness," Mr Palmer said.

"Australians regard fairness as being very important." Mr Palmer said one of the party's first actions would be for senator-elect Lazarus to move a motion setting up an inquiry into alleged corruption in Queensland Premier Campbell Newman's government.

"This is about cronyism," Mr Palmer said.

"What you've got is a whole different culture where the Liberal National Party are cronies." The inquiry could cover such issues as the appointment of the state's new chief justice and favouritism of LNP-linked companies in the awarding of government contracts.

Other issues to be pursued by PUP would be cutting back the national broadband network to an $8 billion project covering only rural and regional areas, a national gas reservation policy and encouraging superannuation funds to invest in infrastructure.

- with AAP


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Top aide quits over penis tweet

Mr Former porn star Jennifer "Ruby" Roubenes Allbaugh Source: Facebook

A SENIOR aide to a US Republican politician has resigned after his porn star ex-girlfriend tweeted at least one picture of his genitalia as revenge for breaking up with her.

Adam Kuhn, chief-of-staff to Ohio congressman Steve Stivers, quit after his former lover Jennifer "Ruby" Roubenes Allbaugh, posted "at least one photo" of Mr Kuhn's penis to Mr Stivers' Twitter account over the past week.

Revenge: Ms Allbaugh, who is married with children, destroyed Mr Kuhn's career after he ended their affair but says she's sorry now. Source: Facebook

In a statement to the press, Mr Kuhn said he was the victim of an attack by a woman with whom he had a personal relationship.

"I realise and apologise that I had used poor judgment in my personal life regarding this relationship," he said.

"The woman who posted this has reached out to me to apologise."

Mr Stivers appears to have accepted the resignation of his long-term adviser without so much as a "goodbye and good luck", despite the fact Mr Kuhn was a loyal employee for six years and did nothing illegal; Ms Allbaugh is married but Mr Kuhn is single.

Reaction to the penis post scandal on Twitter Source: Twitter

Mr Kuhn's genitalia continued to generate discussion today Source: Supplied

While Mr Kuhn has received a significant amount of support from social media users and within online forums. Many say he got what he morally deserved.

Ms Allbaugh told Washington newspaper POLITICO, which broke the story, that she tweeted the photos "to teach the pompous a..hole a lesson" after he ended their affair.

"I hate you, AJK, you selfish pompous a...hole," Ms Allbaugh tweeted on June 21 (Mr Kuhn's middle name is Joshua).

"Now we're even."

Ms Allbaugh has reportedly made a whopping 500 pornographic films Source: Facebook

Describing herself as "a disgruntled former girlfriend", Ms Allbaugh told POLITICO she was sorry for the stunt and claimed she was in love with Mr Kuhn and her husband at the same time.

"I was trying to make him hate me, I guess," she said.

Gawker reported that Ms Allbaugh deleted her Twitter account, "The Pornstar Pundit", after Mr Kuhn secured a cease-and-desist order against her.

That may be as far as he can take the matter; nine US states have introduced legislation against revenge porn but Ohio is not one of them.

A spokeswoman for Mr Stivers, Courtney Whetstone, said the congressman had accepted Mr Kuhn's resignation and would not comment on his personal life.


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Inside Greste’s horror Egypt prison

Vision smuggled from Egyptian prisons paints a bleak picture for Peter Greste, but colleague Montaser Marai, who filmed the the 2011 uprising says Al Jezeera won't give up on its journalists

SHOCKING video images of the decaying conditions inside the Egyptian prison now holding Australian journalist Peter Greste have added greater urgency to the global media campaign pushing for his release.

Secret vision leaked by prisoners show darkened cells, where prisoners are sleeping on dirt floors, shoulder-to-shoulder under blankets, beside open dirty and rusting 'pit' toilets.

Watch the video above.

'YOU DECLARED WAR': Australians react to Greste's jailing

WHY AUSTRALIA: Should really care about Peter Greste

Awful conditions ... prisoners sleep in same room as open 'pit' toilets and shower cubicles in Tora prison. Source: Supplied

Montesar Marai, a senior producer for Al Jazeera, told News Corp the images had been smuggled out of the jails by inmates desperate for the world to see the "bad conditions."

"They are suffering and it's like small rooms, no light, not enough oxygen...it's very very bad conditions. All the Egyptian prisons I think are like this because I have seen many videos from different prisons...they are all the same."

Leaked video stills .... inside an Egyptian prison where Australian journalist Peter Greste is held. Source: Supplied

Marai, who filmed the Arab Spring uprising back in early 2011, is now too fearful of media treatment in Egypt to risk returning.

The Palestinian-born, now Doha-based camera man and documentary filmmaker braved the protests which brought down Hosni Mubarak to bring the world vision of the public unrest three years ago.

Hiding in an empty apartment above Tahrir Square, he shot the revolution unfolding below, with the rolling coverage later seen by millions around the world.

Horrific inside .. the prison in Egypt where Peter Greste is being held. Source: Supplied

In Sydney to campaign on behalf of his three jailed colleagues, including Greste, Marai told News Corp: "the battle between the journalist and they people who they are challenging is not easy and will not end with this issue."

While many journalists had, unsurprisingly, been terrified by the treatment of Greste and his co-workers as criminals and terrorists, Marai said the world's media must not be cowered and continue to stand united against injustice.

Caged .... Peter Greste, appears in a defendants' cage in a courthouse near Tora prison in Cairo, Egypt. Picture: Hamada Elrasam Source: AP

"We have to be patient and to keep fighting, stand together and keep this issue alive all the time. It's what we've done with our colleagues, who have been (jailed) in Guantanamo and Spain or wherever."

Greste and his Al Jazeera co-accused Egyptian-Canadian bureau chief Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were this week sentenced to seven years imprisonment on charges of "aiding the Muslim Brotherhood and reporting false news."

SIGN THE PETITION TO SUPPORT PETER GRESTE HERE

The trio were arrested in their makeshift offices in an upscale hotel suite back in December, and swiftly dubbed "the Marriott terror cell'' by their captors.

Despite diplomatic pleadings from governments around the world, including Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and foreign minister Julie Bishop, the Egyptian President has refused to intervene in the court's decision.

Marai said those who believed in democracy should campaign to help free his colleagues, keeping the story and their hopes "alive."

"We don't want to see Peter and our colleagues stay in prison for seven years...we will keep fighting, we won't give up. I'm afraid people will forget quickly. Sometimes the news coverage will be hot for a few days then everyone will go back and forget. I hope all the media and the people (public) stands up for our colleagues...not just for Al Jazeera but for all journalists in the world, because today is Al Jazeera, next time it could be someone else."


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Euthanasia bill to reignite debate

Written By komlim puldel on Selasa, 24 Juni 2014 | 20.01

Doctor Philip Nitschke demonstrates the use of his suicide machine to cancer sufferer Cath Ringwood while in Tasmania for the euthanasia debate in parliament.

A DRAFT bill to legalise euthanasia tabled in the Senate is set to spearhead a controversial new campaign about dying with dignity.

The draft bill would make it legal for doctors to prescribe and administer an end of life substance.

Two doctors and a psychiatrist would have to sign off on the prescription of the drug to people dying of terminal diseases who wish to end their lives.

Greens health spokesman and medico Senator Richard Di Natale tabled the bill eighteen years after a law making euthanasia legal in the Northern Territory was overturned by federal parliament.

"I think we haven't got the numbers right now," Senator Di Natale said.

"We're starting from a fair way back but that's because people haven't heard from the people in this room, haven't heard their stories."

The former GP said opinion polls showed there was 80 per cent popular support for this reform.

The draft bill relies on Section 51 of the Australian Constitution which gives the federal parliament the power to legislate regarding medical services.

Putting euthanasia back on the table ... Richard Di Natale introduces a new bill. Source: Supplied

The bill sets up a "dying with dignity medical service" and authorises medical practitioners to prescribe, prepare and/or administer a substance that would assist a terminally ill person to end their life in a humane manner.

Under the bill the federal government would pay for this service as it would for other medical services and also indemnifies doctors from prosecution by the states.

Should euthanasia be legalised in Australia?

Euthanasia advocate ... Dr Philip Nitschke pictured with a Euthanasia Drug Test Kit and an empty bottle of "Pentomax" known also known as Nembutal Source: News Limited

He is planning to set up a Senate inquiry into the issue which will consider the draft legislation tabled yesterday.

A group of terminally ill patients met with MPs from all major parties in Canberra on Tuesday to plead for the legalisation of euthanasia.

Max Bromson whose cancer has spread to his bones and left him in a wheelchair says he has made the choice to end his life when the pain gets too great.

"I am now at peace with knowing that when I can't handle the pain any more I've discussed it with my family and the decision is made," he told MPs in Canberra.

Cath Ringwood who suffers from leukaemia says she feels a "sense of relief" after opting for euthanasia.

"I've gained a feeling of regaining control that a terminal illness robs you of," she told the meeting.

Wanting to go with dignity ... Euthanasia Party supporter Max Bromson, who is dying of cancer. Source: News Limited

Peter Short, nephew of former Victorian Senator Jim Short, told politicians he wanted them to take the lead in the euthanasia debate.

"You guys have got to drive it from the top … I voted for people to put them in this crystal palace to do stuff," he said.

Liberal MP Kevin Andrews, who is now the minister for Social Services, authored the Euthanasia Laws Bill 1996 to overrule Northern Territory legislation that legalised euthanasia.


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The cheap car you can afford to run

Cheap and also affordable ... the Suzuki Alto. Source: Supplied

ONE of Australia's cheapest cars is also the most affordable to own and operate — even though it must use premium unleaded petrol which can cost up to 20 cents a litre more than regular fuel.

The Suzuki Alto hatchback, which starts from just $11,990, has topped the Australian Automobile Association's annual "running costs" survey for the third year in a row.

According to the data which takes into account the purchase price, interest on loan repayments, registration, insurance, fuel consumption, servicing costs, and depreciation, the Suzuki Alto costs just $6237 a year to run, or $120 per week.

By comparison, the most expensive vehicles to own and operate in the survey of more than 100 of Australia's top-selling cars were the Nissan Patrol and Toyota LandCruiser heavy-duty four-wheel-drives, which cost more than $21,000 a year to keep on the road, or more than $400 a week.

The Suzuki Alto might be a bargain hunter's dream but the car is dearer in some states compared to others.

The Suzuki Alto with automatic transmission — which accounts for more than four out of every five cars sold — costs $13,990 drive-away in Queensland but is currently $12,990 drive-away in every other state and territory.

REVEALED: Carsguide 's best June 30 deals

THE SUV SHAME FILE: Who's on it and who's not?

Attractive price ... the Suzuki Alto starts from under $12,000. Source: Supplied

There is a $1000 price difference even though the cars come from the same factory because Suzuki cars are sold through an independent distributor in Queensland, while the other states are represented by a subsidiary of the Japanese parent company.

There is nothing stopping Queensland car buyers crossing the border to get the better deal.

However, when asked why Queenslanders should pay more for the same car, a statement from the distributor, Mayfairs Wholesale, said: "Different distributors and retailers of the same brands, often offer marketing specials, purchase price incentives and a myriad of other variations which can make any product less expensive or more expensive in different areas, at any given time."

Suzuki also topped the Light Car class with the Swift hatchback ($7030 per year or $135 per week to run) ahead of the other top-sellers, the Hyundai i20 ($7092 per year or $136 per week), Toyota Yaris ($7280 per year or $140 per week) or Mazda2 ($7549 per year or $145 per week).

The Holden Cruze Equipe ($8459 per year or $162 per week) scored an unexpected win in the small car class, rated as cheaper to own and operate than Australia's top-selling car the Mazda3 ($8632 per year or $166 per week).

Last year's top-seller, the Toyota Corolla, ranked eighth in the small-car category ($8788 per year or $169 per week) behind the Volkswagen Golf ($8774 per year or $168 per week).

Anyone considering a hybrid car to save money may want to think again. The Toyota Prius hybrid cost a staggering $10,216 per year or $196 per week to own and operate, while Honda Civic hybrid was dearer still, at $10,733 per year or $206 per week.

Popular ... the Toyota Corolla ZR sedan. Source: Supplied

The Toyota Camry may be Australia's top-selling medium-size car for the past 20 years, but it costs more to run ($11,544 per year or $222 per week) than the Volkswagen Jetta ($9798 per year or $188 per week).

In other upsets, the Holden Commodore 3.0-litre V6 ($12,453 per year or $239 per week) was cheaper to own and operate than the four-cylinder Ford Falcon ($12,848 per year or $247 per week) because the Ford was hit hard by a bigger depreciation cost and is dearer to buy.

The figures show that, as a general rule, the less money you spend on a car the less money you lose.

An upset to Ford ... the Holden Commodore SV6 Storm. Source: News Corp Australia

Smaller cars are also more affordable, more fuel efficient and cheaper to service because parts don't wear out as quickly. But that advice is of little help to families who need a big car.

The new Honda Odyssey topped the people mover category ($11,764 per year or $226 per week) while the Toyota Tarago flunked as the dearest in its class ($14,091 per year or $270 per week).

The Holden Captiva 7 diesel was the cheapest of the family-sized SUVs to own and operate ($11,873 per year or $228 per week) while the Ford Territory diesel was among the dearest ($12,965 per year or $249 per week).

This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling


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After an F-bomb, Curtis gets cheeky

Celebrity chef Curtis Stone gives slow cooking tips.

Back in Australia ... MasterChef guest chef Curtis Stone. Picture: Channel 10 Source: Channel 10

MOVE over Gordon Ramsay, Australia's nice guy chef Curtis Stone has turned into Cursey Stone after getting sweary with Sharon Osborne and her cohorts on US chat show, The Talk.

The TV chef and hottie took his female hosts by surprise when he told one of his kitchen inquisitors to "shut the f#$k up" after she kept interrupting his recipe recital.

CURTIS STONE: About to be a dad again

Getting curesy ... MasterChef guest chef Curtis Stone on the US chat show, The Talk. Picture: Supplied Source: Supplied

The blue outburst was met with laughs and applause from the studio audience, who cheered on the affable chef.

WATCH IT HERE: Curtis Stone drops the F bomb on The Talk.

Ahead of his appearance on Wednesday night's episode of MasterChef Australia — where the contestants cook for a Starlight fundraiser — Stone was in the same cheeky mood, praising the show for "raising a sh#t load of money" for such a worthwhile cause.

Stone mentors the remaining finalists who must create a six-course tasting menu, all based around citrus fruit.

Popular ... MasterChef guest chef Curtis Stone. Picture: Channel 10 Source: Channel 10

He said the renewed success of the Channel 10 series came down to getting the casting right this year — with a mix of "chef nerds" as he calls those on the culinary professional path; and those who "just really love good food."

"(Producers) went right back to what made the show a success in the first place ... being encouraging and getting people who had a real passion for food and cooking. It certainly felt, as someone on the sideline, that it was really coming together."

While he knows how to bring out the best in the cooking hopefuls on MasterChef, Stone admits, in his private life that he's struggling to convince his toddler Hudson to get excited about the family's looming new addition.

Dad duties ... Aussie chef Curtis Stone with son Hudson in Los Angeles. Picture: Nathan Richter Source: News Limited

As he and actress wife Lindsay Price count down to the birth of their second child, the idea of becoming a big brother is not exactly to their two-year-old's tastes, he told NewsCorp.

"We're stoked. We're super excited about it but I think he's pretty happy with the current arrangement. Every time we bring it up he sort to says `yeah, nah I'm not going to have a brother or a sister, thanks'."

MasterChef airs weeknights at 7.30pm on Channel 10.


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The My Family sticker angst

Written By komlim puldel on Senin, 23 Juni 2014 | 20.01

The My Family car stickers have made their way overseas. Source: News Limited

OPINION: IF YOU want your dinner party to run smoothly, never question someone's politics, religion or attitudes to sex, the theory goes. But here's a friendly warning: there is one other question it's best to leave alone.

"How do you feel about those My Family stickers, an Australian invention I just read are selling massively in the US?"

You may think barbecue dad, shopping mum and sporty kids plus stick pets, have been around long enough for us to get over all the My Family rage. But don't be fooled; unless you have your stab vest on, don't ask your friends this if you want to remain friends.

After seeing an article titled, Stick family feud: Trivial but powerful, what those cartoon family decals, and the backlash against them, says about us, in a Canadian online news magazine, I asked the crew on my Facebook page The Perch for their thoughts — and the sparks still flew.

My family stickers seen on a Landcruiser. Source: News Limited

"I hate them, but I saw one last week with a big dinosaur saying, 'Your stick family was delicious'. THAT was funny,'' wrote one.

Another said: "I can't stand them, my hubby laughingly says they're for people who want to boast about their fertility. I don't understand the point of them."

Other reactions were: "They make me cringe", "hideous and distracting" and "they give the finger to all those people who can't have children".

What do you think of the My Family stickers? Tell us below

A news.com.au reporter snapped this stick figure parody. Source: NewsComAu

Up popped pictures of the many My Family parodies: a T-Rex chasing a stick family, a woman with three kids and two pets and an empty space with the words "position open". I've seen single dad ones too and a set with dad in jail.

One person posted a picture she'd taken in a carpark of a sticker featuring the head of grumpy Agnes Brown, of the hit TV show Mrs Brown's Boys, with the slogan "Feck your stick figure family".

Another wrote: "I liked them, but our dilemma is we are both on second marriages and have kids and some have partners but not married, so do we put them (on) or not? So much angst over cartoon characters, LOL."

And for many, that seems to nail their problem: we don't like to be told what a real "family" looks like or that you have to have one that resembles the standard set to be successful at life.

Each to their own ... We're not sure how the driver sees out of this ute! Source: News Limited

Though the Gold Coast couple who invented My Family were also on their second marriages and both had children, the ongoing backlash seems to be about the fact family is so fluid now that the nuclear model is too limited.

We take our domestic status so seriously that those stick figures cause more tongue-poking even than the posh private school coats of arms you see on BMWs, or the stickers featuring the postcode of the exclusive seaside town where your spare house is at "the beach".

The article that caught my eye suggested the backlash that has followed the stickers to the US is because that "conga line of figures ... provides smug proof of affluence, busyness and procreative prowess". It went on: "Few trends reveal shifting family values in a mobile, personal-branding-obsessed society as do family stick figures."

The author noted a "quiet but visual culture war" raging between drivers, as seen in the big variety of send-ups, put-downs and even abusive sticker collections dissing Your Family.

One of the My Family parodies going around. Source: Supplied

A picture shared on The Perch. Source: Supplied

They do have their defenders: "We have them on our car and it's not to boast about my fertility ... It just so happens that my children think they are cute and fun," wrote one of my page pals. "I didn't realise there were so many sensitive people out there who spend their time imagining what other people do with their lives."

Another said: "I don't quite understand why people are worried about what sticker a complete stranger has on their car. I must have missed something somewhere.

"My theory is that it comes back to either a 'mummy wars' mentality or a 'keeping up with the Joneses' mentality. A bizarre combination of guilt/pride/jealousy ...???"

Whatever your stance on their quiet symbolism, or potentially annoying message, you can't disagree with this: "I may not be a fan, but I wish I had invented them."

The now-wealthy creators of the My Family stickers, Monica Liebenow and Phil Barham Source: News Limited

What do you think of the My Family stickers? Share your thoughts in the comments below


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How to turn your cooking fails into works of art

The Struggle Plate is an online safe haven for average cooks. Source: Instagram

IT'S the ultimate 21st century dilemma: you cook a meal, it tastes delicious, but it looks bloody awful.

There's no way you can post a photo of your creation on Instagram. Everyone on the #foodporn hashtag would make a mockery of you.

Enter The Struggle Plate — an awesome Instagram account and online safe haven for average cooks everywhere.

Users submit photos of their gross-looking meals using the #struggleplate hashtag and the worst offenders are posted on the Instagram account. Its mantra? "Bad food + confidence = the struggle plate".

Here's how Urban Dictionary defines this hilarious food trend:

"A dish of food that either looks like nasty, unappetising slop or is simply ugly in presentation, even if it might actually taste good," it reads.

"Term even applies to when one posts a picture that exposes his or her lack of culinary savvy.

"Person who prepared said food is usually quite delusional, really believing they just threw down like a gourmet chef."

Here are some shining examples of the ultimate #struggleplate. A warning: These might gross you out.

Do you have a Struggle Plate photo you'd like to share? Tag news.com.au on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #struggleplate.


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Ex-fashion magnate to sue over ‘sex slave’ case

Ex CEO and founder of American Apparel Dov Charney is set to sue the company after being ousted. Source: Supplied

CALL IT "The Case of the Smutty Blog: Part 2."

A short-lived blog from spring 2011 that showed naked pictures of an ex-American Apparel employee is at the centre of another looming lawsuit — this time from Dov Charney, who is fighting back against his sudden ouster as CEO by the board.

The controversial founder is expected to sue the retailer in the coming days, charging he was wrongfully terminated last week over trumped-up charges related to the blog, sources told The Post.

His ousting is related to the case of Irene Morales, who had unsuccessfully accused Charney of making her his "sex slave."

The board cited allegations that Charney had allowed a former employee to create a 2011 blog with nude pictures of Morales purported to be authored by her, sources said.

American Apparel has made a name for itself with racy advertising. Source: AFP

But Charney is expected to argue that he had no knowledge of the blog before it was published, and therefore isn't responsible for legal liability cited by the company, insiders said.

Moreover, Charney's lawyers note that the board renewed his employment contract in April 2012, more than a year after the allegations surfaced.

As reported by The Post, American Apparel's liability in the Morales case has been well short of the $260 million she had originally sought in her sensational lawsuit.

In fact, it was Morales this spring who was ordered by an arbitration judge to pay American Apparel $800,000 in damages for appearing on NBC's "Today" to accuse him of sexual harassment, sources said.

Morales' case appeared to get complicated after The Post revealed that she had been sending filthy photos of herself to Charney long after she left the company, coupling them with saucy come-ons, according to company lawyers.

Clothing on display inside a store in New York. Source: AFP

At the same time, however, American Apparel this spring was ordered to pay $1 million to Morales on charges that the blog had violated a 2010 California law that prohibits the public impersonation of another person, sources said.

Charney's lawyers are expected to argue the $200,000 difference falls well short of the "material" liability that the board has claimed, although insiders said American Apparel may also be liable for about $500,000 in legal fees.

Charney's lawyers also will likely counter that several board members as well as the company's legal counsel had been aware of the strategy to fight Morales' case by publishing the provocative photos she had e-mailed to Charney, undermining her allegations of harassment.

In this 2003 file photo, Dov Charney announces he will shutter his manufacturing plant to observe an economic strike by Latinos. Source: AP

One source close to Charney said the T-shirt magnate has characterised his surprise ouster as a "power grab" in which the board has attempted to cheat him out of a $23.8 million severance called for under his contract.

Last week, sources said the board instead offered him a four-year consulting gig worth $1 million a year — an offer that Charney refused.

Reached Sunday, co-chairman Allan Mayer said, "We remain confident that we did the right thing, for the right reasons, in the right way."

This article originally appeared on The New York Post and is republished here with permission.


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The ten ways men text women

Written By komlim puldel on Minggu, 22 Juni 2014 | 20.01

Teenage girl text messaging on her phone Source: ThinkStock

LET'S be honest — dating in the modern age is nothing short of a minefield.

And the fact that the majority of men don't know how to text doesn't make things any easier for women.

According to writer and life coach Jeff Wilser, despite the fact that we are ten years into the Texting Revolution, most guys still haven't mastered the fine art of text tone.

Texting, Wilser writes in New York Magazine, is an awkward medium.

Stripped of the nuance of eye contact and body language, he says, there's a blurred line between banter and downright insult.

Wilser — the co-author of the upcoming book It's Okay to Sleep With Him on the First Date: And Every Other Rule of Dating, Debunked — says men don't do themselves any favours.

Unlike women, blokes don't use tools such as as exclamation marks and emoticons, which can lighten the tone and change a sarcastic text into a playful one.

For his New York Magazine article, Wilser has listed the ten ways men text. None of them, he writes, are ideal.

The right tone ... this woman has just received a text from a guy and is smiling ... for now. Source: News Limited

1. The Tweener

This bloke, says Wilser, is so afraid of sounding abrupt that he overcompensates by throwing in "LOL" and "OMG". Not cool.

2. The Passive-Aggressive Texter

Ladies, most of you will be able to relate to this one. Mr Passive Aggressive sends those terse responses that seem to say so much by saying so little. You know the ones: "OK"; "that's fine"; "if you want". For the oblivious men who send them to women, Wilser writes, these texts are used as default and are not meant to cause offence. But the recipient can be left feeling cold and thinking: have I done something wrong?

Terse or straight to the point? ... passive-aggressive texts leave the recipient feeling confused. Source: News Limited

3. The Cliffhanger

Wilser says he often applies this tactic in order to avoid sounding passive aggressive. Cliffhanger texts such as "sounds good ..." and "hope you have a good night ..." can strike the right tone by sounding friendly. But there's a downside, he says. The recipient can be left feeling bewildered due to the multiple layers of subtext.

4. The Gusher

This guy often thinks his life is more interesting than it actually is and will bombard the recipient with mammoth texts that go on forever. The Gusher, writes Wilser, hates talking on the phone and fails to grasp that texts should be used primarily for logistics, banter and flirting.

Information overload ... the Gusher hates the phone and can't stop texting. Source: News Limited

5. The Buy-a-Voweller

Time is of the utmost importance to this bloke who texts like we used to in pre-smartphone era and forces the reader to decipher his shorthand. Sample texts, says Wilser, include "C u l8r", Ur 2 funny" and "K".

6. The Vanisher

For this man, texts are for business — not chitchat. If you're trying to engage this guy in some conversational back and forth, forget it, says Wilser. We've all been there. You text someone a joke or a quirky observation and all you get is ... silence. As a recipient you're left wondering — is he blowing me off or does he think I'm just not that funny?

Time waster ... don't even try to work out where The Vanisher's head is at — it may take years. Source: News Limited

7. The Exclaimer!

This one, says Wilser, sprinkles exclamation marks everywhere in a misguided attempt to sound friendly!

8. The Shouter

Sample texts: "SEE YOU SOON"; "SOUNDS GREAT". Enough said.

Sexting ... what's hot for some could be lukewarm for others. Source: ThinkStock

9. The Carver

This guy, says Wilser, models his texts after the short stories of American writer Raymond Carver. Sample texts: "Movie. I'll get tickets. 8pm see you there."; "I had fun."; "I liked meeting your parents. good people."

10. The Sexter.

Sample texts, says Wilster, include "What are you wearing" and "What are you doing right now? (at 2.07am). This guy reveals too much too soon and is borderline creepy. Of course, says Wilser, if the recipient likes the guy, it's game on. But if you're lukewarm, the exact same text will be viewed as slightly, well, ew.


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