11 Reasons To Give A Shit That It’s World Toilet Day

Everybody poos. But for some it has far more of a daily consequence. So here are 11 facts appropriate for dinner discussion:

1. Around the world 2.5 billion people lack access to improved sanitation.

The World Health Organization defines improved sanitation as facilities that hygienically separate human excreta from human contact.

2. Open defecation is practiced by 1 billion people worldwide.

3. A gram of human feces can contain 10 million viruses and 1 billion bacteria.

4. Nearly 1.5 million children under the age of 5 die every year from diarrhea globally.

Diarrhea also makes children more vulnerable to malnutrition and other infections.

5. In Subsaharan Africa, 69% of the population does not have access to improved sanitation.

6. In India, over 600 million people, or more than 50% of Indian households, do not have access to a toilet or latrine to defecate.

7. Globally, 43% of people living in rural areas lack access to improved sanitation, compared with 27% in urban areas.

8. An estimated 443 million school days are lost each year worldwide due to wash-related diseases.

9. A study in Ethiopia found that more than 50% of girls missed one to four days of school during menstruation.

10. A study in Bangladesh found that 60% of workers used dirty factory rags as menstrual cloths, likely leading to infections that caused 73% of the workforce to miss several works days a month.

11. Investing $1 in sanitation can lead to a $5 return in social and economic development.

This toilet also has something to say.

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/miriamberger/11-reasons-to-give-a-shit-that-its-world-toilet-day

Journalists Worldwide Protest Egypt’s Crackdown On The Press

Over the weekend the Tahrir News Network aired footage from Egypt’s Ministry of the Interior showing the arrest and interrogation of the Al-Jazeera television crew in the Marriott Hotel.

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The footage shows the Al Jazeera team being interrogated without the presence of a lawyer. The camera zooms in on notebooks, external hard drives, and laptops while increasingly menacing music plays in the background.

“First they came for them, and next they’ll come for the rest of us. That’s why it is so important that we make our voices heard now — while we still can.”


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Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/sheerafrenkel/journalists-worldwide-protests-egypts-crackdown-on-the-press

Mariah Carey Performs For Angolan Dictator

WASHINGTON — Legendary pop diva Mariah Carey performed for Angola’s autocratic ruler José Eduardo dos Santos earlier this week, marking the latest appearance by an American celebrity for a dictator this year.

Carey reportedly performed for two hours on Sunday in Luanda, the capital of Angola, in a performance sponsored by the phone company owned by dos Santos’ daughter, who also is president of the Angolan Red Cross.

Dos Santos, who has been the president of Angola since 1979, has been accused of many human rights abuses and restrictions on the media. “The media face a broad range of restrictions that hamper the right to free expression and encourage self-censorship,” Human Rights Watch says. “The state media and a number of private media owned by senior officials are ruling party mouthpieces in which censorship and self-censorship are common.”

In a release about the performance, Human Rights Foundation President Thor Halvorssen said that Carey received a reported $1 million for the show.

This is not the first time Carey has performed for a dictator: She apologized in 2011 for performing for Moammar Gadhafi in 2009.

A number of U.S. celebrities have performed for autocratic human rights abusers this year, including Kanye West, who performed for Kazakhstan’s president’s family, and Jennifer Lopez, who gave a show at the birthday of Turkmenistan’s dictator.

A spokesperson for Carey didn’t return a request for comment.

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/rosiegray/mariah-carey-performs-for-angolan-dictator

It Took Less Than 24 Hours To Deface The New Monument In Tahrir Square


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Cairo — More than 1,000 people marched in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Monday night ahead of larger protests planned Tuesday to condemn the violence perpetrated by Egyptian security forces.

The protesters attacked and defaced a monument that had been inaugurated just hours earlier by members of the Egyptian cabinet, who laid stones on it in a ceremony designed to symbolize a new start for Tahrir Square.

By nighttime, protesters had stormed the monument and removed its memorial plaque bearing the names of the ministers and replaced it with their own messages.

Egyptian engineers and the artists who designed the monument told BuzzFeed it was a temporary fixture that the government wanted completed before the Nov. 19 protests.

The monument, which government officials said symbolized the “rising up” of the Egyptian people in Tahrir Square, was seen by some as an attempt by the government to re-write history.

The protests planned for Tuesday mark the anniversary of the killing on November 19, 2011 of 40 protesters on Mohamed Mahmoud Street off Tahrir Square. In an apparent attempt to commandeer the protests as their own, the Egyptian government security forces announced they would also hold ceremonies and celebrations Tuesday.

At least 20 armored personal carriers belonging to the army sealed off Tahrir Square on Monday, but protesters still weaved through.

“A word in your ear, Sisi, don’t dream of being my president!” the protesters yelled. In some parts of Tahrir, supporters of the Egyptian military and of General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi began clashing with protesters.

Sisi has become wildly popular in Egypt since the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood, and many believe he would win if he ran for president in elections expected next year.

There are growing concerns that the country has descended into various warring sects. The organizers of Monday’s protests said they chose to take the streets the day before the planned Tuesday anniversary to avoid clashes with security forces. Meanwhile, rhe anti-military, anti-Brotherhood group “The Way of the Revolution Front” planned a demonstration Tuesday on Mohamed Mahmoud Street.

Both sets of demonstrators have vowed not to allow Brotherhood supporters to join their protests. Brotherhood members, meanwhile, have called for their own day of protests which will include wearing all-white in solidarity with ousted president Morsi’s white prison uniform.

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/sheerafrenkel/it-took-less-than-24-hours-to-deface-the-new-monument-in-tah

Under Pressure, Scribd Yanks Ecuadorian Spy Documents

A supporter of Edward Snowden holds a sign outside the Embassy of Ecuador in London on June 24. Luke Macgregor / Reuters

WASHINGTON — Uploading service Scribd Thursday pulled down a trove of Ecuadorian intelligence documents published by BuzzFeed in response to a copyright complaint from a Spanish firm with apparent connections to the Latin American government.

BuzzFeed received a notification from Scribd that the documents, which appear to show a deal between the Ecuadorian intelligence agency and an American broker for the purchase of spy equipment made by Israeli companies, had been removed. According to the notification, the documents were removed “because Scribd received a legally valid claim of copyright infringement pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA).”

The complaint was filed by Jonathan Palma of Spanish anti-piracy firm called Ares Rights, wrote to Scribd on behalf of Gabriel Guecelevich, Pablo Romero, Jose Miguel Delgado, Kobi Reuven, Amit Morag, Gabriel Marcos, and Carlos Diaz. Those names include two officials in SENAIN, Ecuador’s spy agency, as well as the American intermediary and two of the Israeli manufacturers.

Palma asked Scribd to

Please suspend Accounts for massive copyright Violations***

d) The name, address, telephone number and email address of the Complainant:

Referred in section “a” (Electronic Signature)

e) I have a good faith belief that the disputed use of the material or activity is not authorized by the copyright or intellectual property owner and that the information provided in the notice is accurate.

f) I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the Complainant is the copyright or intellectual property owner or is authorized to act on behalf of the copyright or intellectual property owner and that the information provided in the notice is accurate.

In an email to BuzzFeed, Palma refused to confirm that he held legitimate rights to the material and refused to identify his client.

Unaware that any of the thousands of files that regulates our company was directly related to you, with an article or news content.

I see that apparently, some sources hosted on other servers, totally unrelated to Buzzfeed have been eliminated. Obviously our action has triggered a drop of the content that you embed, so I feel your content has been affected by a violation of another person. It was not our intention.

I can’t explain the motives, strategies or identity of our clients. The reasons are part of our confidentiality agreement, our knowhow strategies, and with respect to customers, the Organic Law on Data Protection (LOPD) Spanish, prohibits the dissemination of data from our customers.

I just saw your second email. If the service you mentioned has sent the request to you, you are the uploader, which is very interesting and valuable information. Too I see now more sources in your post, hosted in Documentcloud and dropbox.

Ares Rights, does not have to discuss with the uploader, only to the server or service provider. If you need information, Ask him for the server or service provider.

Sorry I can’t help more, now also, I confirm that you are the author of the publication of illegal files, With Copyright Violations.

Asked directly if he had been employed by the Ecuadorian government, Palma refused to answer.

“Sorry Rosie, i dont need make any statement,” he said. “I wish you luck.”

This is not the first time Ares Rights has involved itself in matters of concern to the Ecuadorian government.

In December, Ares Rights brought a copyright complaint to YouTube and Vimeo and tried to have a documentary that was critical of Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa taken down.

On Friday, Correa alluded directly to BuzzFeed’s story on Twitter, saying that the allegations of surveillance had been a “farce” cooked up as punishment for Ecuador’s rebelliousness. At a press conference on Thursday morning, the Minister of the Interior threatened the press: “We invite the national or international press to demonstrate one single case of groundless wiretapping. You have 24 hours to do so, or you will be determined to be liars.”

BuzzFeed has re-uploaded the documents to DocumentCloud and into a Dropbox folder and has formally contested the complaint with Scribd. As of this writing, Palma had already sent another copyright claim to DocumentCloud.

Update – 1:55 p.m.: DropBox, like Scribd, also received a copyright complaint and removed the documents that BuzzFeed had uploaded.

Update – 7:55 p.m.: Legal blogger Adam Steinbaugh has dug up more examples of Ares Rights seeming to work on behalf of the Ecuadorian government, including this complaint lodged with Google that shows Ares claiming copyright on behalf of Ecuador’s communications secretary, Fernando Alvarez.

Update – July 9: DropBox decided last week to reinstate the documents, according to a notice sent to BuzzFeed after BuzzFeed sent a counter-notice to contest the copyright claim by Ares Rights.

“The DMCA notice was submitted on behalf of Ares Rights, and our email to you on June 28 identifies the allegedly infringing material,” DropBox’s July 3rd email to BuzzFeed reads. “On June 28, we received and approved your DMCA counter notice, and have unblocked your public links. However, we need to continue to block the allegedly infringing material for the time period provided in the DMCA (not less than 10, nor more than 14, business days after our receipt of your counter notice).”

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/rosiegray/under-pressure-scribd-yanks-ecuadorian-spy-documents

109 People Dead After Stampede Near India Temple

Eighty-nine people were killed in a stampede near a Hindu temple in India’s central state of Madhya Pradesh on Sunday, BBC News reported.

Crowds of pilgrims crossing a bridge over the Sindh River to the Ratangarh temple for a Hindu festival panicked when rumors spread the bridge was collapsing, resulting in dozens crushed by the crowds and many more dead after jumping from the bridge.

In the aftermath of the incident, it was unclear how many people were on the bridge at the time, but officials warned more dead could be found near the bridge. Police searched the river as loved ones looked for the missing among the bodies on the bridge — some 42 women, 30 children and 17 men were originally said to have been killed, according to the report.

“On this day of festivities, our hearts and prayers are with the victims and their families,” Singh said in a statement to press.

A witness who survived the stampede said he heard screams as the crowd rushed to get off the bridge.

“Several people could be seen flattened to the ground in the midst of the melee,” Atul Chaudhary said. “Some of the youngsters panicked and jumped into the swollen river.”

Madhya Pradesh health minister Narottam Mishra told the BBC officials are investigating the cause of the stampede as a matter of “judicial inquiry,” as other reports suggest police managing the crowd may have sparked the chaos.

In 2011, a stampede at a religious festival in northern India killed 16.

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/tonymerevick/89-people-dead-after-stampede-near-india-temple

Getting Arrested? In Egypt, There’s An App For That

Stringer / Reuters

But now, Egyptians have an app that can let friends and loved ones know as soon as they are stopped by security forces.

Beyt2ebed 3alia, or, “I am being arrested,” works on Android and Blackberry phones.

After downloading the app, users are asked to make a list of emergency contacts. If, one day, they are arrested, all they have to do is press a button and their contacts are sent a message saying “I’ve been arrested” along with the GPS coordinates and time stamp.

“The main point is that it’s really simple to use. You just press the button and it sends immediately…When you’re arrested here, you don’t get to make a phone call. People need to be able to send an SMS to their family that communicates their location. We have many different police entities arresting people, so if your friends and family know your last location, they can determine which entity was managing that area and can put pressure on the government to release you. Otherwise there’s little chance you will get released” developer Badr Moharam told the Wamda news site in 2011, when the app first came into development. Now, they’ve relaunched with a new interface and design.

Users say there is more need for the app than ever before. Since the political upheaval of 2011 which ousted the regime of Hosni Mubarak, Egypt has seen a slow return to the police state, culminating in the widespread arrests of political activists this fall. Human rights groups say that Egyptian security forces have arrested thousands in the last few months, and warn that a new law that bans unapproved protests will allow them to arrest many more.

“Part of me thinks it’s sad, that Egypt has come to this,” said Yasmine Helawy, a 24-year-old student activist. “But then I know I will download it because it could be very useful if I get arrested.”

On Sunday, as an Egyptian panel was conducting its final vote on a new constitution for Egypt, Helawy was among hundreds who demonstrated in Cairo. Security forces fired tear gas at the protesters, who rallied against the law to limit protests and a law that would allow military tribunals for civilians.

“This country is not headed in the right direction. We are going to keep protesting and probably getting arrested so at least we have an app now,” said Helawy.

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/sheerafrenkel/getting-arrested-in-egypt-theres-an-app-for-that

Same-Sex Couple Wins Legal Challenge To Their Marriage In Colombia

Claudia Zea and Elizabeth Castillo Fernando Vergara / AP

In the latest twist in the legal battle over same-sex marriage in Colombia, a family law judge on Thursday threw out a challenge brought against the marriage of Claudia Zea and Elizabeth Castillo by Fundación Marído y Mujer, an organization formed this summer to fight against same-sex marriage in the country.

Mauricio Albarracín, ae lawyer with the LGBT rights group Colombia Diversa, said the judge in Gachetá, a city outside Bogota, threw out the case after saying that a third party cannot go to court to disrupt a marriage, and that the particular legal mechanism that the Fundación used to challenge the marriage was not appropriate for this kind of action.

This second point was especially important to Castillo, who is a lawyer. The Fundación had presented an acción de tutela—a special kind of lawsuit under Colombian law to get emergency relief when fundamental rights have been violated—to claim that their marriage should be invalidated.

“We are very happy,” Castillo said by phone. The judge said that the acción de tutela “is not a way to deny rights, but rather a way to recognize them.”

This is the second time a judge has ruled on an acción de tutela challenging the handful of same-sex marriages that have been granted in Colombia under a complicated Constitutional Court ruling that took effect on June 21. Another judge sided with Fundación Marído y Mujer in an October 2 ruling and annulled the marriage granted to a same sex couple on September 20.

All the same-sex marriages that have been publicized since judges began performing them this summer are facing similar challenges, said Albarracín. He expects this ruling to be appealed, along with all the others as they come before family judges.

“At the end, all of the tutelas will go to the Constitutional Court,” he said.

J. Lester Feder is a foreign correspondent for BuzzFeed and 2013 Alicia Patterson journalism fellow.

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/lesterfeder/same-sex-couple-wins-legal-challenge-to-their-marriage-in-co

7 Reasons Destroying Syria’s Chemical Weapons Will Be A Lot Harder Than You Think

1. We don’t know what kind of chemical weapons they have or how many there are.

Khaled Al-Hariri / Reuters

Middle East experts like to say that Syria has “one of the largest chemical weapons stockpiles in the world,” but estimates of how many chemical weapons Syria has vary widely between 500–1,000 tons. We also don’t know exactly what type of chemical agents they are using, though experts who have studied Syria’s military closely say its likely Sarin, mustard gas, and VX nerve agents.

“We don’t know what form they are in or how they have been mixed together. We don’t know if they are weaponized or not. All these factors mean vastly different scenarios,” said Paul Walker, director of environmental security and sustainability at Global Green and a former House Arms Services Committee staffer.

2. We don’t know how they are stored.

Goran Tomasevic / Reuters

Israeli intelligence once estimated that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had “dozens” of nuclear facilities spread across Syria. Several of those facilities used to be along the Syria-Turkey border, and near Kurdish villages near the border with Iraq. But in the last six months, weapons experts believe that Assad has consolidated the weapons into fewer, well-secured sites.

“In the last few months Russia asked Assad to transfer all chemical weapons to three to four sites,” Maj. Stephane Cohen, a former Israeli Liaison Officer to U.N. Forces along Israel’s northern border, told BuzzFeed. “We don’t know if he got them down to that number but we believe they have been consolidated to areas mostly under his control near Damascus and in Latakia.”

3. We don’t know where they are kept.

So even if some experts agree that the chemical weapons stockpiles have been consolidated, there is disagreement over where.

While the sites shown below near the capital, Damascus, and in the Latakia province are both strongholds for Assad, sites near the southern and northern borders can easily come under attack.

Experts say there could be storage sites at al-Safira, Hama, Homs, Latakia, and Palmyra. Well-known storage facilities are located al-Furqlus, Dumayram Khan Abu Shamat, and the Scientific and Research Center (Centre d’Etude et Recherche Scientifique — CERS).The CERS site, located in Damascus, is the principal facility for chemical and biological research, development and testing, and production and storage.

4. Syria is currently in the middle of a raging civil war.

Aleppo Media Center AMC / AP

Moving disarming and dismantling chemical weapons is a tricky business. The first step is for weapons inspectors to come in and assess the various stockpiles and form a plan of action. But given the current conditions in Syria, it’s nearly impossible to freely move about, much less run a complex logistical operation.

“How will we be able to assure the safety of the inspectors and then of the teams involved?” said Walker. “Their work is already dangerous without having to plan for the volatile events of the civil war in Syria.”

5. Destroying chemical weapons costs a lot and takes a long time.

A range of experts estimate that it could take more than four years and up to $2 billion to safely destroy all of Syria’s chemical weapons. Those figures are based on other countries who have destroyed their own chemical weapons capabilities, including the U.S., Russia, India, and South Korea.

The U.S. has destroyed 90% of its stockpile of 28,500 metric tons and it has taken 23 years. The Russians have destroyed 75% of their 33,000 metric tons since 2002. South Korea and India both had stockpiles of about 1,000 metric tons, which they destroyed secretly and it took them two to four years.

6. Actually destroying the weapons is an incredibly painstaking, technically complex process, involving robots.

The U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency

Once the long and complicated inspections process is complete, and all the member-states from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons agree on the size and location of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles, the actual dismantling can begin.

Walker said that in the U.S., the remaining chemical agents used for weapons are sitting around well-organized in massive barrels that “basically look like beer kegs,” and which can safely be destroyed in a chemical process. But if the chemical agents have been weaponized — which definitely seems to be the case in Syria — they first have to be separated from the “live agent” or explosive.

That task usually involved not just a robot, but a massive secure structure in which the robot can complete its work without exposing humans. The robot has to have a liquid furnace to burn the agent and a separate furnace to burn the weapon. Another option is to “drain” the weapon. That involves using hot water and an additional caustic chemical that reacts with the chemical agent to destroy it. Of course, some people have suggested getting rid of the chemical weapons the old-fashioned way — bombing and burning them to the ground.

“Seriously, nobody wants to do or should do what the U.S. did in Iraq in the early 1990s,” said Walker, who noted that as the U.S. bombed Iraqi chemical weapons facilities, winds that bore the residue to surrounding areas affected hundreds of thousands of U.S. soldiers and Iraqi nationals.

“That’s a very, very dangerous scenario,” he said.

7. Given all this, experts disagree whether it’s really possible — or practical — to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles.

Stringer / Reuters

“On a scale of 1 to 10 of difficulty, I’d say it was a 10,” said Walker. In addition to all the unknowns, there’s also the question of whether all the interested parties would cooperate in the midst of a civil war that has killed more than 100,000 Syrians.

Syrian rebels, or Islamist groups that operate among the rebels, could decide to attack inspectors or those dismantling the chemical weapons. Fighting between the Syrian army and the rebels could come close to areas where chemical weapons are being held and accidentally set them off. Or, said Cohen, the former Israeli liaison officer, the Syrian regime could begin a long and complicated cat-and-mouse game with the international community to hide and maintain their chemical weapons program.

“They could easily move weapons around, hide stockpiles, or hide facilities that make new chemical weapons,” said Cohen. “We could see ourselves playing a cat-and-mouse game that lasts for years.”

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/sheerafrenkel/syria-chemical-weapons

Ugandan President Tells U.S. Activists He Will Reject Anti-LGBT Law, Seek To ‘Protect Children’ Instead

Lucas Jackson / Reuters

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has told a group of visiting U.S. human rights activists that he planned to formally reject the country’s “Anti-Homosexuality Bill,” but would seek to introduce new legislation targeting adults who coerce youth into sexual activity.

Museveni had created confusion by harshly denouncing the bill in a letter dated Dec. 28 without technically rejecting it. But according to the U.S. based Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights, which met with Museveni on Saturday, Museveni pledged to take formal action before the deadline set by the Ugandan constitution for legislation to take effect once passed by parliament, which the law did on Dec. 20. Yet confusion remains: Museveni’s comments indicated it was not entirely clear when the clock for him to act had started ticking — or whether it has even begun.

Under the Ugandan constitution, legislation passed by parliament becomes law 30 days after it is given to the president unless he refers it back to parliament for modification. The bill passed on Dec. 20, which means it could go into effect as early as this week if parliament quickly delivered the bill to his desk. It seems unclear if or when Museveni received a copy of the bill, which would impose up to a lifetime sentence for people found guilty of same-sex intercourse and require Ugandans to report LGBT people to police.

In his meeting with the RFK Center, Museveni pledged not to let the clock run out. The organization said in a statement that Museveni promised to formally reject the bill before the 30-day timeline expired, though he still left doubt about when that action would come, said RFK staff attorney Wade McMullen, who attended the meeting.

“From our conversation with the president, the timeline is still not clear, but he stated and pledged that he will be writing an additional more technical letter to send [the bill] back to parliament before the 30-day timeline ends,” McMullen told BuzzFeed. “When that timeline began — and whether it has begun [already] — we’re still not clear based on our conversation with the president.”

The RFK Center also said Museveni intended to “consult with his party and plans to introduce a new piece of legislation aimed at protecting minors from being coerced into sexual activity.” In his Dec. 28 letter, Museveni had endorsed a lifetime prison sentence for a wealthy person who “lures normal youth” into the “disgusting behavior” of homosexuality.

Despite the derogatory tone of the letter, McMullen said that Museveni’s openness to the idea that homosexuality was an innate trait for at least some people counted as progress.

“While we definitely don’t agree with the underlying analysis or understanding of sexual orientation, he did reach a point where he conveyed the concept that LGBT people were born that way—“born abnormal” are the words he used,” McMullen said. Museveni also repeatedly called the legislation “fascist,” and at one point “compared it to Hitler’s regime,” McMullen said.

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/lesterfeder/ugandan-president-tells-foreign-human-rights-activists-that