Syrian boy video hoax by Norwegian filmmaker

STOCKHOLM (AFP): A viral video showing a Syrian boy rescuing a girl under gunfire, watched online by millions of viewers, was faked by a Norwegian film crew, the BBC reported. Posted on YouTube on Monday, the ‘Syrian hero boy’ video was shot on location in Malta last May with professional actors, and directed by 34-year-old Norwegian director Lars Klevberg, who hoped to create a debate on children in war zones. ‘If I could make a film and pretend it was real, people would share it and react with hope,’ Klevberg told the BBC on Friday. In the film, a young boy braves sniper fire and appears to be shot while rescuing a girl hiding behind a burned car in what seems to be war-torn Syria.

Yahoo Mail users furious over disruptions

SAN FRANCISCO (afp): Yahoo Mail users vented their anger on Twitter Friday about disruptions plaguing the free messaging service. Website Downrightnow.com, which monitors popular online services, displayed a graph showing multiple disruptions of Yahoo Mail in the past 24 hours. ‘Yahoo mail is down AGAIN,’ one Twitter user wrote, using the hashtag #yahoomail. ‘Totally frustrated.’ ‘Anyone else having constant problems with @yahoomail lately? After 15 years, I’m on the edge of abandoning it #yahoomaildown,’ said another. In an email response to an AFP inquiry, the California-based Internet firm said it was ‘working to mitigate a Yahoo Mail issue that is limited to a small segment of users.’ ‘We apologize for the inconvenience as we certainly understand email is a critical service for our customers,’ it said. The service was almost back to full functioning as of early afternoon in California, according to Yahoo. Yahoo said its email service has 110 million active daily users.

Facebook to curb promotional posts on timelines

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) - Facebook on Friday said it is making moves to reduce the number of promotional posts that pop up in timelines, in response to users’ demands for fewer advertisements. Beginning in January, people should start seeing fewer posts in news feeds urging them to do things such as buy products, download applications or enter sweepstakes, according to the leading social media titan. ‘People told us they wanted to see more stories from friends and pages they care about, and less promotional content,’ the California-based social network company said in a blog post. The change was prompted by a survey that revealed Facebook users think there are too many advertisement-like posts in news feeds. The social media giant said it discovered that a lot of pitches that came across as advertising were actually posts from pages people had ‘liked,’ according to the blog post. ‘This may seem counter-intuitive, but it actually makes sense,’

Obesity costs more than $8b in lost US productivity

WASHINGTON (AFP): Obesity among workers in the United States is costing the nation $8.65 billion a year in lost productivity, according to a study released Friday. The study by Yale University researchers is the first to give state-level estimates of the cost of worker absenteeism due to obesity. Those costs ranged from $14.4 million in Wyoming to $907 million in California, it said, adding that obesity accounts for 9.3 percent of all absenteeism costs nationwide. ‘Understanding all economic costs of obesity, including lost productivity, is critical for policymakers working on obesity prevention at any level,’ said lead author Tatiana Andreyeva. The report said overweight people often had to miss work for health reasons.

Idaho teacher sorry for killing rabbit in class

idaho (Reuters):  An Idaho high school teacher under fire for killing and skinning a rabbit in front of his students to demonstrate how animals are processed for food has apologized to children disturbed by the incident, a school official said on Friday. The part-time teacher is a farmer who raises rabbits and other livestock for food and was asked to provide a lesson on animal slaughter and processing by students in a 10th-grade biology class he taught at a high school in the Nampa School District near Boise, said district spokeswoman Allison Westfall. School administrators were not consulted about the demonstration, which happened last week but came to light in recent days after a parent called the district to complain, Westfall said.