Suffering from ‘tattoo regret’

(From CNN)

Removing tattoos can cost up to several thousands of dollars, depending on the ink's size and location.

A few years ago I interviewed a handyman to do some work on my house.

I noticed a teardrop tattoo at the top of his left cheek. Prior to hiring him, I searched online for what this design signified. My mouth dropped when I found out.

A teardrop tattoo can mean he murdered someone.

So I hired someone else.

Plastic surgeons and dermatologists are seeing more and more people who want their tattoos removed, often because they worry that the tattoos could cause problems with employment.

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Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s first female PM, dead at 87

(From CNN)
Former Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron inside Number 10 Downing Street on June 8, 2010.
Former Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron inside Number 10 Downing Street on June 8, 2010.
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, a towering figure in post-war British and world politics, and the first woman to become British prime minister, has died at the age of 87, her spokeswoman said Monday.

Thatcher served from 1979 to 1990 as leader of the Conservative Party. She was called the “Iron Lady” for her personal and political toughness.

Thatcher retired from public life after a stroke in 2002 and suffered several strokes after that.

She made few public appearances in her final months, missing a reception marking her 85th birthday hosted by Prime Minister David Cameron in October 2010. She also skipped the July 2011 unveiling of a statue honoring her old friend Ronald Reagan in London.

In December 2012, she was hospitalized after a procedure to remove a growth in her bladder.

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A Secret Deal on Drones, Sealed in Blood

(From The New York Times)

Nek Muhammad knew he was being followed.

On a hot day in June 2004, the Pashtun tribesman was lounging inside a mud compound in South Waziristan, speaking by satellite phone to one of the many reporters who regularly interviewed him on how he had fought and humbled Pakistan’s army in the country’s western mountains. He asked one of his followers about the strange, metallic bird hovering above him.

Less than 24 hours later, a missile tore through the compound, severing Mr. Muhammad’s left leg and killing him and several others, including two boys, ages 10 and 16. A Pakistani military spokesman was quick to claim responsibility for the attack, saying that Pakistani forces had fired at the compound.

That was a lie.

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Marching to their own beat: Brass band keeps youngsters from gang life

(From CNN)

Every Friday morning 17-year-old Sarel Ramphele puts on his gold-trimmed suit, grabs his trumpet and walks the 6 kilometers from his home in Blood River to the neighboring village.

Under a makeshift iron roof in the yard of an unused house he meets with scores of other young people to rehearse for what has become an improbable musical success story in one of South Africa’s poorest regions.

Based in Limpopo, a rural region whose lifeblood is its eponymous river, Bezzi’s Youth Brass Band is one local woman’s answer to a distinct lack of youth engagement in the area.

“There are absolutely no entertainment facilities for young people around here,” says Janet Bezuidenhout, 42, who set up the band just under three years ago. “The teenagers are just idling around.”

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Judge Strikes Down Age Limits on Morning-After Pill

(From The New York Times)

A federal judge on Friday ordered that the most common morning-after pill be made available over the counter for all ages, instead of requiring a prescription for girls 16 and younger. But his acidly worded decision raises a broader question about whether a cabinet secretary can decide on a drug’s availability for reasons other than its safety and effectiveness.

In his ruling, Judge Edward R. Korman of the Eastern District of New York accused the Obama administration of putting politics ahead of science. He concluded that the administration had not made its decisions based on scientific guidelines, and that its refusal to lift restrictions on access to the pill, Plan B One-Step, was “arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable.”

He said that when the Health and Human Services secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, countermanded a move by the Food and Drug Administration in 2011 to make the pill, which helps prevent pregnancy after sexual intercourse, universally available, “the secretary’s action was politically motivated, scientifically unjustified, and contrary to agency precedent.”

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How my brother tried to kill me in ‘honor attack’

(From CNN)

It’s cold and raining in Kabul and the pothole-filled dirt roads have turned into a sea of mud. We drive up to the gateway of a high-walled compound. A soldier brandishing an AK-47 stands guard outside the building. We’ve come to a women’s shelter to meet Gul Meena — a 17-year-old girl from Pakistan who shouldn’t be alive.

My crew and I are ushered into a room and sitting on a wooden chair slouched over is small, fragile Gul Meena. Her sullen eyes turn from the raindrops streaming down the window outside and towards us as we enter the room.

Gul’s bright coloured headscarf is embroidered with blue, red and green flowers and covers most of her face. She nervously plays with it and gives us a glimpse of a frightened smile from underneath the fabric. Her guardian Anisa, from the shelter run by Women for Afghan Women, touches her head and gently moves the headscarf back. That’s when we see the scars etched deeply into her face.

This Pakistani girl’s life of misery and suffering began at the tender age of 12, when instead of going to school she was married to a man old enough to be her grandfather. She says: “My family married me off when I was 12 years old. My husband was 60. Every day he would beat me. I would cry and beg him stop. But he just kept on beating me.”

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The Damage Wrought by the Gun Lobby

(From The New York Times)

President Obama is being shouted down by the gun lobby. He and Vice President Joseph Biden Jr. have spent weeks crisscrossing the country, making a forceful case for a package of laws that would reduce gun violence. At every stop, including one on Wednesday in Denver, he has demanded that Congress require universal background checks, ban assault weapons and large ammunition magazines, and prohibit gun trafficking. He has invoked the bloodshed in Newtown, Conn., and the daily toll that adds up to 30,000 gun deaths a year.

“If there is just one step we can take to prevent more Americans from knowing the pain that some of the families who are here have known, don’t we have an obligation to try?” he asked in Denver. “Don’t we have an obligation to try?”

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