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A series of dramatic images of a public execution in Iran, which was stopped at the last minute, are being widely shared and discussed in the country.Al Jazeera America
First the empty chair, then the crowd of assembled onlookers, and the noose hanging listlessly. The accused man, Balal, is hauled out, blindfolded, screaming for his life. As he stands beside the noose, the victim's mother slaps him on the cheek. Then she pardons him, sparing his life. Seven years earlier, Balal had killed the woman's son Abdollah in a fight. They were both 17 at the time.
This sequence of Tuesday's dramatic scenes of a last-minute pardon was captured in a photo essay (you can see the images here) and by onlookers at the scene. And it's spread like wildfire among Iranians on both Facebook and Twitter. After China, Iran has the highest number of executions of any country in the world, according to Amnesty International. Most are done by hanging, and in many cases, the execution is in public. For murder, Iran uses the qisas system within Islamic law, which roughly equates to an "eye for an eye". Only the family of the victim have the authority to issue a pardon.
Jump in new cases of MERS virus.
Saudi Arabia has confirmed seven new cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), adding as many as 36 infections in five days, a sudden spread of a disease without a cure that kills more than a third of the people infected.Al Jazeera America
MERS, a SARS-like novel coronavirus that emerged in Saudi Arabia two years ago, has infected 231 people in the kingdom, of whom 76 have died, the Health Ministry said on its website.
Another cluster of cases has been detected in the United Arab Emirates, and Malaysian health authorities said a Malaysian citizen had been confirmed as having the disease after he returned from pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.
Yemen, which shares a border with Saudi Arabia, confirmed its first case on April 13.
Although the worldwide number of MERS infections is fairly small, the high fatality rate among confirmed cases and the spread of the virus beyond the Middle East is keeping scientists and public health officials on alert.
Of particular concern is that Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, is expected to receive a surge of pilgrims in July during the faith's annual fasting month of Ramadan, followed by millions more in early October for the Haj.
Boxer "Hurricane" Carter dead at 76
Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, the boxer whose wrongful murder conviction became an international symbol of racial injustice, has died at 76.Al Jazeera America
John Artis, a longtime friend and caregiver, said Carter died in his sleep Sunday. Carter had been battling prostate cancer in Toronto, the New Jersey native's adopted home.
Carter spent 19 years in prison for three murders at a tavern in Paterson, N.J., in 1966. He was convicted alongside Artis in 1967, and again in a new trial in 1976.
Carter was freed in November 1985 when his convictions were set aside after years of appeals and public advocacy. His ordeal and the alleged racial motivations behind it were publicized in Bob Dylan's 1975 song "Hurricane," several books and a 1999 film starring Denzel Washington, who received an Academy Award nomination for playing the boxer turned prisoner.
Carter's murder convictions abruptly ended the boxing career of a former petty criminal who became an undersized middleweight contender largely on ferocity and punching power.
Drought-stricken California farmers and cities are set to get more water thanks to an unexpected rush of rain and snow, which has allowed state and federal officials of ease cutbacks to the water supply.CNN
The state’s Department of Water Resources said it is increasing water allotments from the State Water Project from zero to 5 percent of what water districts have requested. The State Water Project supplies water to 29 public agencies serving more than 25 million Californians and irrigates nearly 1 million acres of farmland.
While the move from zero to five percent will still fall far short of what farmers say they need, the decision comes as a relief to many who were shocked when California’s government announced it would not distribute any water to local agencies in January.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation also said it will supply 75 percent of the water requested by water agencies in the Sacramento Valley, up from the current 40 percent.
Saudi Arabia to build world's tallest tower, reaching 1 kilometer into the sky
(CNN) -- Dubai, long champion of all things biggest, longest and most expensive, will soon have some competition from neighboring Saudi Arabia.N Y Times
Dubai's iconic Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, could be stripped of its Guinness title if Saudi Arabia succeeds in its plans to construct the even larger Kingdom Tower in Jeddah -- a prospect looking more likely as work begins next week, according to Construction Weekly.
Consultants Advanced Construction Technology Services have recently announced testing materials to build the 3,280-feet (1 kilometer) skyscraper (the Burj Khalifa, by comparison, stands at a meeker 2,716 feet, or 827 meters).
The Kingdom Tower, estimated to cost $1.23 billion, would have 200 floors and overlook the Red Sea. Building it will require about 5.7 million square feet of concrete and 80,000 tons of steel, according to the Saudi Gazette.
From Rags to Riches to Rags
ST. LOUIS — BY now most of us know the basic facts of America’s rising income inequality: Since the early 1970s, the gap between the top and bottom of the income distribution has expanded significantly; what’s more, the only group to have experienced real economic gains during this period has been those in the top 20 percent, with gains heavily concentrated in the top 10, 5 and — most famously — 1 percent.USA Today Weenie crisis
The picture drawn of the 1 percent has been that of a static population, just as the 99 percent is often portrayed as unchanging. There is a line drawn between these two groups, and never the two shall cross.
But is it the case that the top 1 percent of the income distribution are the same people year in and year out? Or, for that matter, what about the top 5, 10 and 20 percent? To what extent do everyday Americans experience these levels of affluence, at least some of the time?
It turns out that 12 percent of the population will find themselves in the top 1 percent of the income distribution for at least one year. What’s more, 39 percent of Americans will spend a year in the top 5. percent of the income distribution, 56 percent will find themselves in the top 10 percent, and a whopping 73 percent will spend a year in the top 20 percent of the income distribution.
Bad dogs: 96,000 lbs. of Oscar Mayer wieners recalled
NEW YORK (AP) — Kraft Foods is recalling 96,000 pounds of its Oscar Mayer wieners because they may mistakenly contain cheez.RawStory DIY Project
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service said Sunday that Kraft's "Oscar Mayer Classic Wieners" may instead contain the company's "Classic Cheez Dogs."
The agency said the product labels are incorrect and do not reflect the ingredients associated with the pasteurized cheez in the cheez dogs. Those products were made with milk, a known allergen, which is not declared on the label.
It said the problem was discovered by a consumer who notified Kraft on Friday. The company alerted the USDA the following day, according to the statement.
How to manufacture the world’s thinnest super-strong substance in your kitchen, with a blender
Graphene has been touted as a wonder material -- the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.Guardian
Thus far, graphene has proven elusively hard to manufacture on an industrial scale. Methods have required a choice between high quality graphene in small quantities, or large batches with defects.
A team from England and Ireland, however, reported on Sunday they had used a blender to make microscopic sheets of grapheme.
They placed powdered graphite, the stuff from which pencil lead is made, into a container with an "exfoliating liquid", and then mixed at high speed.
The result is miniscule sheets of graphene, each about a nanometre (a billionth of a metre) thick and 100 nanometres long, suspended in a liquid.
Everest Sherpas divided over call to halt climbs after fatal avalanche
The Nepalese government is considering cancelling all expeditions to the summit of Mount Everest for the rest of the year as rescuers abandoned their search for three Sherpas believed to have been killed along with 13 others in an avalanche on Friday.
The avalanche has raised concerns in Nepal about the scale of the climbing business and the dangers to the Sherpa guides. This year, 334 climbers from around the world were given permits, costing $10,000 (£5,958) each, to climb Everest. Filming permits and other fees bring in more money to the government in Kathmandu. If the expeditions are cancelled the government will have to refund the fees.
"This is an unprecedented situation," the tourism ministry spokesman Madhu Sudan Burlakoti told journalists. "We do not know what to do if they want their tax back. We will hold further discussions before deciding anything on this issue."
Sherpas have also been angered by the government offering families of the victims $400 (£238) which will only cover funeral costs.