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It's official: Nike is going to open a shop on Amazon.com.

Goldman Sachs hinted last week that a Nike/Amazon deal was in the works. Now, Nike (NKE) CEO Mark Parker has confirmed the companies are currently testing out a partnership. He mentioned it during a call with investors Thursday afternoon.

 

"We're in the early stages but we really look forward to evaluating the results of the pilot," Parker said.

Nike's products can already be found on Amazon (AMZN, Tech30) via unlicensed and licensed third-party vendors.

But with a direct partnership, Nike will be able to "elevate the way the brand is presented" by gaining more control over how its products are marketed on the site, Parker said.

He said the shop will include a "limited" assortment of Nike products-- at least at first.

Parker added that Nike plans to make "big shifts in the year ahead to our business," indicating Nike's partnership with Amazon is part of an effort to revamp its sales tactics as brick-and-mortar retail continues to suffer. The partnership could mean bad news for sporting good retail stores, such as Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS) and Hibbett Sports (HIBB). The Goldman report predicted that a deal could "offset" market share gains those companies expected to see after Sports Authority went out of business last year.

Nike has had a rough few months. The company said on June 15 that it's laying off more than 1,000 workers, and the company's revenues -- and stock price -- have suffered.

Investors got better news on Thursday with a favorable earnings report that showed the company's revenue was up 5% last quarter, bringing in $8.7 billion.

Nike's stock climbed nearly 4% during after hours trading.

Nike's top rival Adidas also appears to have a partnership with Amazon and seems to have a unique landing page on the site. Adidas has not confirmed to CNNMoney whether it has a relationship with Amazon.

Source:CNN.com

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03/Oct/2017

Career advice: Which jobs have the fastest wage growth?

After six months of slowing wage growth, August turned out to be a pleasant surprise.

Workers in the United States saw their annual median base pay grow by 2% year over year for the month of August, rising to $51,556, according to the Glassdoor Local Pay Reports. That's an improvement over July, when wages increased by only 1.7%, but still below January's peak of 3.4%.

"We will be watching eagerly to see if this starts a trend in the opposite direction," said Glassdoor Chief Economist Andrew Chamberlain. "We are also closely watching retail, and while the holiday season is still months away, retailers are already making preparations to fill short-term positions in time for the holiday buying rush."

Jobs in retail have experienced above-average growth at least in part because of heavy demand for workers. Glassdoor shows more than 614,000 openings on its website if you include not just in-store positions like cashiers, warehouse workers, and store managers, but also jobs that support retail like truck drivers.

 

What jobs saw the biggest increases?

Truck driver, a position which has been steadily near the top in recent months when it comes to wage growth, actually took the crown in August. It saw a 5.7% jump to $52,079. That's better than store manager (up 3.2% to $48,422) and cashiers (3.7% to $27,701).

"We continue to see pay growth rise for truck drivers, in part because of increased demand for the rapid transport of consumer retail goods that have been purchased online," said Chamberlain. "While there is some concern that in the future self-driving trucks may negatively impact truck driver jobs, it's not happening today."

 

 

Rank

Job title

% wage growth YoY August

Median base pay

1

Truck Driver

5.7%

$52,079

2

Barista

5.7%

$24,194

3

Insurance Agent

5.7%

$43,652

4

Recruiter

5.2%

$50,483

5

Bank Teller

4.9%

$28,636

6

Restaurant Cook

4.7%

$28,628

7

Pharmacy Technician

3.7%

$30,592

8

Cashier

3.7%

$27,701

9

Producer

3.5%

$52,935

10

Server

3.3%

$33,654

Data source: Glassdoor.

Not every job shows wage growth

While it's good to be a truck driver, attorneys suffered the biggest decline in wage growth in August. To be fair, even with a 3% drop, the median salary for lawyers comes in at $92,241 a year.

"There has been a huge oversupply of law school graduates in recent years compared to how many traditional positions are open, and a lot of new lawyers are not finding jobs with law firms," said Chamberlain. "Instead, many are heading into more general business management, roles with nonprofits, journalism, government, or public policy."

Loan officers also took a hit in August, seeing media wages drop by 1% to $44,832, and operations analysts saw their median salaries decline 0.1% to $53,147. In both cases, Glassdoor blames automation reducing demand for human workers.

A labor shortage may be here

The American work force may simply not have enough workers to go around. Given that the unemployment rate sat at 4.3% in July, a tie for its lowest in a decade (with May 2017 being the only other month to equal that rate), it's possible that labor shortages will force wages higher.

That could push more companies to pursue automation. In theory, that could impact everything from retail and factory workers to truck drivers (although cashier-free checkout is a bit easier to bring about than driverless trucks).

This holiday season could be very positive time for U.S. workers, but higher wages could be temporary. Automation is not quick to implement, but once it happens those jobs don't come back. It may be years or even longer before the impact truly hits, but automation is already being used by retailers including Amazon and fast food chains including McDonald's.

Rising wages and a lack of workers to hire even at higher prices might be the tipping point for automation. That could make both the turnaround in wage growth and the low unemployment rates relatively short-lived.

More:Get started: Business owners upbeat, cautious about hiring

Wiles:When money issues hit workers, then employers pay

More:7 ways to improve your chances of getting hired

Daniel B. Kline has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

The Motley Fool is a USA TODAY content partner offering financial news, analysis and commentary designed to help people take control of their financial lives. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.

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07/Sep/2017

Ecobank Ghana launches its maiden housing and mortgage fair

Ecobank Ghana Limited, a fully networked commercial bank in Ghana with branches in almost all 10 regions of the country has held its maiden housing and mortgage fair at the Aviation Social Centre in Accra.

The fair which got launched today is a 2-day event starting at 10 am to 6 pm each day and ends on Friday the 8th of September. The fair is themed “Southern edition of the maiden Ecobank Housing Fair” and It features the nation’s top property developers, high-end estate agencies and premium vendors of home and office products and services like mortgage lenders, electronics, and home décor companies.

The Executive Director of Legal, Human Resource and Compliance at Ecobank Ghana, Morgan F. Asiedu said the housing fair forms part of Ecobank’s resolve to help government bridge the 1.7 million housing deficit and in doing so, his outfit will display mortgages with highly competitive interest rates to all customers with medium to long-term financial options.

"As the biggest bank in the country today, Ecobank deems it a privilege to join forces with the government and other stakeholders in the quest to provide decent accommodation for all and to assist in reducing the housing deficit", he said.

Ghana’s population is estimated to reach 32.2 million by 2020 and with about 57 percent living in urban communities, the current housing deficit which is 1.7 million units is expected to rise to 2 million units by 2018.

Experts are therefore of the view that the country would require about 200,000 housing units every year for the next 10 years to be able to bridge the gap. A recent online survey by Jumia Homes Ghana and Hacking Adulthood has revealed that 91 percent of Ghanaians are not property owners and therefore, either live in rented accommodation or with their extended families.

He, therefore, urged all would-be home owners to approach the Ecobank Mortgage team for their experts to help access the needs by proposing various options available and the types of financial arrangements that would suit their income level.

"We believe that with our unbeatable pricing models on offer, our customers will take advantage not only to own a house but to also make huge savings in their housing budget in the long run", he stated.

Source:Ghana Web.com

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07/Sep/2017

Living on the edge: Cameroon's Baka Pygmies face an uncertain future

(CNN)Deep in the Dja Faunal Reserve in southeast Cameroon, Baka Pygmies endeavor to live as they have always done: off the forest and firmly within it.

Anthropologists estimate the Baka hunter-gatherer culture has endured for over 40,000 years, and Central Africa's Pygmy population -- somewhere in the region of 500,000 to 900,000 people -- is on a genealogical par with the San of Southern Africa. "They are, in effect, who we are all related to," explains Jerome Lewis of University College London. "These are civilizations that make ancient Egypt look like a spring chicken."
But the Baka way of life is changing -- forcibly so. Territory is shrinking for communities as alleged conservation and industrial interests create obstacles for a nomadic existence. Where the canopy was once a shelter, many Baka now live in roadside huts, pushed to the forest's edge and away from what they know.
The city lights are calling, too. Cameroon is a nation of approximately 220 ethnic groups, and the melting pot of its capital, Yaounde, promises much to young tribespeople.
Modernity, in one shape or another, is at the Baka's door. So what next?

Different worlds

Bidjima Emmanuel is 19 years old and was born into the 1,900 square mile expanse of Dja. Emmanuel is one of a handful of Baka receiving a Western education courtesy of Spanish nongovernmental organization Zerca Y Lejos. Cameroon's Pygmies are among its most discriminated against minorities, but at the fee-paying College Vogt in Yaounde, Emmanuel rubs shoulders with the sons of government ministers and the scions of high society.
"It was another world, a different world," he says, describing parents dropping their children off in cars and showering them with gifts. Emmanuel has faced prejudice from some of these city boys: "They mock you saying things like 'You're a villager ... you're poor, you're this, you're that.' It affects my mind," he admits.
But Emmanuel is excelling, say his teachers. Literature has become an outlet for the teenager, with "The Contemplations," a poem by Victor Hugo, a personal favorite:
"I know that you await me.
"I will go through the forest,
"I will go across the mountain.
"I can no longer remain away from you."
Hugo's reflections on the death of his daughter seem pertinent to Emmanuel's relationship with the Dja. The pull of the forest is strong. After nine months at boarding school, CNN followed his 155-mile journey home for the summer; one which highlights the shifting life of the Baka.

A place called home

Baka life began to change around a century ago, when missionaries made contact and were piqued by the people's adherence to monotheism. The Baka deity Komba is still followed by many, but some, like Emmanuel, have converted to Christianity.
In recent years, state policy has had a huge impact.
"The Cameroonian government made a first push to get the Baka out of the forest in the '60s," explains Lewis. "There was an initial pressure ... due to communist rebels hiding out there."
"Once they'd cleared up the insurgency, people returned to the forest. But then this process of zoning the forest -- which the World Bank promoted in the '90s -- marked the death knell of Baka hunter-gathering culture," he argues.
"So instead of the Baka having access to their forest, safari hunters have it, or miners or loggers. The result was they had nowhere to go."
 
Anthropologists estimate the Baka hunter-gatherer culture has endured for over 40,000 years, and Central Africa's Pygmy population -- somewhere in the region of 500,000 to 900,000 people -- is on a genealogical par with the San of Southern Africa. "They are, in effect, who we are all related to," explains Jerome Lewis of University College London. "These are civilizations that make ancient Egypt look like a spring chicken."
Dja, a largely undisturbed UNESCO World Heritage Site, contains an abundance of flora and fauna the Baka have relied upon to survive. The forest floor contains rodents and other mammals, the trees birds and honey.
It's not just nature's larder, but pharmacy, too. One plant, gouga, when boiled with water, is claimed to cure malaria; another, pando, purportedly soothes pain when rubbed on the skin. "The forest encloses many secrets," says Sylvain, Emmanuel's former teacher. "The forest is very rich and they know the forest."
"This way of living in the forest seems to outsiders to be primitive, but it's in fact extraordinarily sophisticated," Lewis adds. "It's almost a zen-like affluence they have, because all the resources they need for their lives are around them."
But this abundance is curtailed if territory is limited.
"(The Baka) are used to living in the forest," says Emmanuel. "Baka people don't want to be on the roadsides as they are now."
Returning to Dja, Emmanuel is welcomed in the traditional fashion, with music, perhaps the Baka's most lauded cultural export. Known as a symbol of their communality and relationship with nature, the Baka employ polyphonic singing and water drumming to create their sound -- similar to the Aka, a neighboring Pygmy people in the Congo Basin, whose oral traditions have been declared Intangible Heritage by UNESCO.
Music, food and family bring joy and comfort, but already the 19-year-old has his goals set elsewhere. "If I finish my studies in Cameroon with good grades, my wish is to travel abroad to study more," he says. "I have to discover a life far from my parents in order to know what I should do with my future."
"I am so proud of him," says his mother. "It makes me sad not to see him all the time, but I know this will give him the chance one day to get out of this poverty." It's a poverty, one must note, that has been newly found.
"I don't want Baka people to lose sight of their origins, even if they are moving towards modernity," Emmanuel argues. "We should always return to the forest; to never forget what we have always done in the past."
 
But the Baka way of life is changing -- forcibly so. Territory is shrinking for communities as alleged conservation and industrial interests create obstacles for a nomadic existence. Where the canopy was once a shelter, many Baka now live in roadside huts, pushed to the forest's edge and away from what they know.
The city lights are calling, too. Cameroon is a nation of approximately 220 ethnic groups, and the melting pot of its capital, Yaounde, promises much to young tribespeople.
Modernity, in one shape or another, is at the Baka's door. So what next?

Different worlds

Bidjima Emmanuel is 19 years old and was born into the 1,900 square mile expanse of Dja. Emmanuel is one of a handful of Baka receiving a Western education courtesy of Spanish nongovernmental organization Zerca Y Lejos. Cameroon's Pygmies are among its most discriminated against minorities, but at the fee-paying College Vogt in Yaounde, Emmanuel rubs shoulders with the sons of government ministers and the scions of high society.
 

 

 

 
 

 

"So instead of the Baka having access to their forest, safari hunters have it, or miners or loggers. The result was they had nowhere to go."
 
Lewis says forest roadsides became the only place the Baka "were allowed to be," and it is along one such roadside in Dja, in a village called Bifolon, that Emmanuel's family lives.
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27/Aug/2017

These European cities are fed up with tourists

Too many tourists can be a very bad thing.

Local residents are warning that top European vacation destinations are being ruined by hordes of tourists that generate too much noise, pollute the environment and drive up rents.

 

The backlash has been on full display this summer in cities including Barcelona, Venice, Dubrovnik and Prague, which have all seen their visitor numbers rise thanks to an increase in cheap regional flights and new travel services like Airbnb.

Tourism has boosted the local economies, but residents say their neighborhoods are being transformed into Disney-style theme parks.

"Certain European destinations are suffering under the strain of excessive tourism," analysts at Euromonitor International wrote in a recent research note. "It is obvious that strategies are needed to cope with a large tourism demand."

Here's how the cities are coping with the influx:

Venice: Please wear a shirt

Analysts say that increased tourism and higher costs have helped decimate the Italian city's population, which has dropped by roughly two thirds in 50 years.

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee has expressed "extreme concern" about the impact of the tourism boom on Venice's historical sites. Locals, meanwhile, have protested pollution from big cruise ships and the rising cost of living.

The city is now pushing back. It has boosted the number of tourist police at tourist hotspots, banned new takeaway shop and taken steps to limit the numbers of new hotel rooms.

It has also launched an information campaign which instructs tourists how to behave in no fewer than 11 languages.

Tourists have been asked not to litter, leave "love locks," wear swimsuits in town or have picnics on the steps of the city's architectural masterpieces.

Barcelona: Tourist tax to help locals

Barcelona welcomed over 8 million visitors last year.

Some locals say that number is far too high, and have taken to the streets in recent weeks to protest the influx. In the Barceloneta neighborhood, protesters have carried signs reminding tourists that the area is their home.

The city council has approved new regulations to curb hotel construction in the downtown area and capped private home rentals. Authorities have decided to spend the proceeds from a tourist tax on citizen services, rather than tourism promotion.

The number of annual visitors to Spain has increased by 20 million over the past five years to 77 million, according to Euromonitor International, and the sector contributed more than 14% of the country's GDP in 2016.

The country's prime minister has defended the industry.

"I don't know whether tourists should be welcomed with a 'Hello Mr. Tourist' poster, but what cannot happen is trying to kick the person who comes here to spend money. That's nonsense," Mariano Rajoy said earlier this month.

Officials are also worried that the recent terror attack in Barcelona could scare away visitors.

Dubrovnik: The Game of Thrones curse

Dubrovnik saw 10% annual increase in visitor arrivals in 2016, according to the country's bureau of statistics. The trend has been fueled in part by the town's prominent role as a backdrop in Game of Thrones.

But the Croatian city is feeling the squeeze. Recently, seven cruise ships with a total capacity of nearly 9,300 passengers arrived in Dubrovnik on a single day, prompting the city to issue a pedestrian congestion warning to locals. Another 25,000 visitors were already staying in and around the city.

Local authorities are seeking to cut down the number of cruise ships, and they have installed a network of security cameras in an attempt to manage the flow of tourists.

Prague: Quiet, please

Prague is among the most visited cities on the continent, welcoming 5.8 million tourists last year, according to Mastercard.

The city's beer culture makes it one of the most popular destinations for bachelor parties and pub crawls, much to the dismay of local residents.

Prague

There haven't been protests. But Prague authorities in May hired a special "anti-conflict" team, which patrols the busiest areas at night asking tourists to respect the official "night quiet time" which starts at 10 p.m.

Source:CNN.com

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27/Aug/2017

Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather Fight Unsafe for Notorious, Doctors Say

As the anticipation builds for Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr. on Saturday, the Association of Ringside Physicians believes McGregor is putting himself in serious physical danger by even stepping into the ring with the undefeated boxing superstar.

Per Joe DePaolo of the New York Times, the president of the ARP, Larry Lovelace, was stunned to see the McGregor-Mayweather fight was even sanctioned by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. 

"We were very surprised this bout was even sanctioned and was going to be permitted to carry on," Lovelace said. "The thing I really fear, truly fear, is that somebody’s going to get really hurt in this upcoming fight."

The ARP previously took issue with the NSAC even considering letting McGregor and Mayweather use eight-ounce gloves for the fight, a request initially proposed by Mayweather.

"Unless there is scientific evidence to support the view that such a change might improve the safety of this bout, we would strongly caution against allowing current regulation to be over-ruled," the ARP wrote to the NSAC on Aug. 15. "To do so would also set a precedent for future bouts. 

The commission approved the fight being contested with eight-ounce gloves at a meeting on Aug. 16.

Bob Bennett, executive director of the NSAC, told DePaolo that McGregor was approved to fight Mayweather because he's "taller, longer, stronger [and] more powerful" than Mayweather and being a southpaw "makes it a little more difficult for a conventional fighter."

DePaolo noted in 2015 the NSAC refused to sanction a light heavyweight bout between Andre Ward and Rohan Murdock because the caliber of opponents Murdock had faced to that point in his career was "vastly inferior" to Ward.

Saturday will be McGregor's first-ever professional boxing match after 24 career mixed martial arts fights.

Source:CNN.com

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27/Aug/2017

US foreign aid cuts could be a 'death sentence' to women in Malawi

Blantyre, Malawi (CNN)When the women come to him, they are desperate.

They meet the traditional healer in a sparsely furnished room, a half-hour's bumpy ride outside Blantyre, in southern Malawi.
"I mix these secret herbs with hot water," he says, gesturing to a concoction in a plastic container. "They all want a shortcut to terminate their pregnancy."
"Once a woman drinks the mixture, she starts bleeding in less than an hour," he says, adding that the whole process takes only a few hours.
The healer, who asked CNN not to be identified because abortion is illegal in Malawi, shows us where the women wait after he administers his mixture — a crumbling redbrick structure with a bamboo mat on a dirt floor.
In this wretched place, the herbs begin to work and the women start to bleed, often uncontrollably.
He dismisses the very real danger the women are in, saying that they wanted a shortcut and he can provide it.
"I tell them if they start bleeding too heavily, they should go to the hospital to seek post-abortion care," he says.
New research suggests that there were as many as 141,000 abortions in Malawi in 2015 -- most of them in clandestine situations like this. The rate of maternal deaths in Malawi is among the highest globally and illegal abortions are a significant reason.
Now public health officials, aid professionals and doctors in Malawi fear it could get even worse. The impoverished East African nation could be one of the hardest hit in Africa by proposed cuts to US foreign aid.

Funding Cuts

Earlier this year, US President Donald Trump made public a budget proposing zeroing out global family-planning assistance administered chiefly through USAID.
The proposal shocked many in the global health and foreign aid world.
"There is a lot at stake. The US is the largest provider of family planning in the world and has been a real leader in providing support for many low- and middle-income countries," said Jennifer Kates, vice president and director of global health and HIV/AIDS at the Kaiser Family Foundation.
The White House said that the proposed cuts to family planning -- and foreign aid more broadly -- were a way to save money for other budget areas like defense and to help realize Trump's "America First Policy."
And the family-planning cuts are just part of the story.
Like previous Republican presidents, Trump has reintroduced and now expanded the reach of the so-called Mexico City policy, also known as the "global gag rule," which mandates US funding withdrawals from any international non-governmental group that gives advice or helps women access abortions.
The US has also pulled all funding from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) -- a UN agency that promotes family planning -- for allegedly supporting coercive abortion in China.
The UNFPA calls the allegation "erroneous."

Politics versus real people?

In low-income countries like Malawi, family-planning cuts could be devastating.
"They are giving a death sentence to our women in this part of the world," says Chisale Mhango, an obstetrician at Blantyre's main referral hospital.
"It is a matter of women's lives. And with women's lives, they don't know what the issues are in Washington."
Mhango, a staunch advocate of women's reproductive rights, treats between 10 and 15 post-abortion cases every day at the hospital.
Though abortion is illegal -- except to save the mother's life -- it is up to the public system to treat women who suffer complications.
He says that family-planning assistance, significantly funded by USAID in the country, has helped Malawian couples and women make big strides in avoiding unplanned pregnancies -- adding that condom use is on the rise and fertility rates have dropped as a result of the educational programs.
"There are a lot of associated economic and development indicators that go hand in hand with family planning. It has a direct impact on people's lives but also has a significant impact for the country's development," Kates, from the Kaiser Family Foundation says.
But Mhango puts it more bluntly.
"If USAID says we can not provide this service, then it is almost like saying, 'Well, our women are going to die and we know they are going to die but we are not going to help you because our president says there is no more money for you'."
A USAID official noted the agency is currently the largest overall global health donor.
"While the United States will continue significant funding for global health programs, even while refocusing foreign assistance, other stakeholders must do more to contribute their fair share to global health initiatives," the official said.

Living through hell

Flora, whose real name has been changed for her protection from possible prosecution, remembers the day she visited the traditional healer -- April 5, 2005.
"I lived through hell. After I started taking the medicine I started bleeding heavily. Then things got worse. I couldn't work. They had to fetch me in an ox cart to take me to hospital and when I was in hospital they removed my uterus," she says.
Flora's unwanted pregnancy came before the current level of family-planning education and assistance was available in Malawi. She felt her only option was to get an illegal abortion.
"I had an unexpected and unplanned pregnancy. I fell pregnant when I had a very little baby. And there was no way that I could have two little babies at the same time," she says. Flora says their meager earnings as subsistence farmers would make it impossible to care for two children in quick succession.
Flora says that if the help now offered by USAID and others in Malawi were available to her in 2005, she would never have gotten pregnant again, sought out an illegal abortion or lost her uterus.

It's up to Congress

Advocates of foreign aid are still hoping to avoid the cuts because the White House doesn't set the budget -- Congress does.
But the House Appropriations Committee's latest proposal cuts 24% of family-planning aid, supports the expanded Mexico City policy, and continues to withhold all UNFPA funding.
It could come down to the US Senate to preserve funding for global family planning. Policy experts hope that the Senate will remain true to recent bipartisan calls for the importance of foreign aid.
"A lot of negotiation still has to happen. We don't know what the final picture will be. This White House has taken a very different direction from previous ones. It is a direction that appears to withdraw American Leadership from the world," said Ian Koski of the One Campaign, an international non-partisan advocacy organization.
The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that the proposed bilateral House cuts could mean more than 591,000 more abortions globally per year -- and a spike in maternal deaths.
In Malawi, they are nervous that any cuts could reverse the progress they have made.
Flora has a simple message.
"Funding for family-planning services should continue so that Malawian women can benefit."
Otherwise, she says, more women could live through the hell that she did.
Source:CNN.com
 
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06/Aug/2017

Apologise to prophets or face my wrath – Rev. Bempah to Mensa Otabil

Leader and founder of Glorious Word Power Ministry International, Reverend Owusu Bempah, has sent a strong warning to the General Overseer of the International Central Gospel Church Pastor, Dr. Mensa Otabil for calling Christians who follow some prophets, foolish.

Rev. Owusu accuses Dr Otabil of describing Christians who give huge sums of money as offering to prophets just in the name of receiving breakthroughs as fools.

According to him, it will be wise for Dr. Otabil to do the honourable thing by rendering an apology to prophets he has insulted because he (Otabil) has gone contrary to his preaching.

He said it is shocking to see a notice of specific monetary offering which promises different rewards at Dr. Otabil’s Greater Works event.

Inasmuch as he sees nothing wrong with Dr. Otabil taking special offering at his events, Rev. Bempah said, calling Christians in other churches who do same as fools and referring to prophets who take money from their followers as fake is absurd.

“I respect Mensa Otabil a lot but I won’t have him call all prophets fake, there may be some fake prophets but the same way there are fake bible teachers too, he can’t put us all into one bracket,” he fumed.

As a prophet himself, Rev. Owusu Bempah said, he has the responsible to protect the image of his colleagues, and, therefore will not tolerate them being abused.

He explains, “I wouldn’t have said anything if Mensa Otabil had said some prophets are fake but putting all of us in the same bracket, I won’t allow that.”

“Mensa Otabil has a branch of his church headed by prophet Annor, so is Mensa Otabil saying Christians in that church are foolish?” he quizzes.

“Unless Mensa Otabil tells me that he takes money collected in his church to heaven, we all use the monies collected in the church for God’s work, I am asking him to apologize to Ghanaian Christians and prophets by Monday, if not he will have me to contend with,” he cautions.

Source:Ghana Web

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30/Jul/2017

How Ghana's Bozoma Saint John intends to transform Uber

After conquering challenges at some of the world's biggest brands, US based Ghanaian marketing executive, Bozoma Saint John, has accepted the challenge to change the fortunes of Uber.

The transportation giant brought in Bozoma Saint John as its Chief Brand Officer last month to turn around the $68 billion company's image.

Uber has been hit by scandals and the resignation of CEO Travis Kalanick but is determined to put these behind them in the ever-competitive business world.

Bozoma says her focus will be on changing Uber's corporate culture.

She disclosed she will pay attention to rebuilding Uber's relationship with riders and drivers though she admits it's a mountain to climb.

"It's about trying to be the representation of what I want to see, you know, I want change. I want things to be great for people of colour and for women. For us to be able to show up at work, do our best work, and be appreciated for that work." she remarked

"So, if I can contribute to that, and it's not gonna be easy, you know, there's gonna be lots of challenges. You know, I'm sure there'll be frustrating days. I'm sure there'll be times I cry, 'cause I don't mind crying, by the way. But I'm hopeful, you know, and I think that's really what's driving me, is that I'm hopeful." she said

Saint John has established herself as one of the worlds doyens of marketing as she has previously proved her prowess in the field with some of the world's notable brands like Pepsi and Apple.

She says her task at Uber is a challenging one but hopes to make the impact desired for the transformation of Uber.

"Well, every situation is unique, you know, in this one, part of it is an evolution, you know, not such a hard change. So it means talking to people, understanding the motivations."

"stand at a cocktail party and someone will say, 'Wow, that's such a cool place to be." she stressed

Source: Ghanaweb

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30/Jul/2017

Could Boniface Mwangi stage a shock upset in the Kenyan elections?

(CNN)Boniface Mwangi is Kenya's most famous provocateur; a poverty-boy done bad -- at least in the eyes of the political elite.

He's upset the establishment in nearly every way thinkable. He was arrested for letting pigs loose in front of parliament to highlight the greed of politicians and claimed that President Uhuru Kenyatta is an alcoholic, to name a few.
Mwangi has spent the last decade ridiculing parliament and now -- not content with leading protests from the sidelines -- he wants to join it. On August 8 he will contest the Starehe constituency in Nairobi.
 
 
Recent elections around the world have given rise to anti-establishment candidates. Will Mwangi be next?
His newly created political party, Ukweli, which means truth, is standing on an anti-corruption platform and looking to encourage active participation in politics.
Mwangi faces an uphill battle to win the seat. It's held by incumbent President Kenyatta's Jubilee Alliance who this year are fielding Charles Njagua Kanyi, known as "Jaguar", a well-known pop singer. The opposition party's MP aspirant is businessman Steve Mbogo.

Who is Boniface Mwangi?

Mwangi grew up in Pangani, a suburb in Nairobi, with his mother who he helped sell books on the street. After getting kicked-out of school and failing to graduate he eventually took up photography -- and found he had an eye for it.
In 1998 Mwangi's received his first commission for photos of the bombed-out United States Embassy in Nairobi.
But it was in 2007 that Mwangi was thrusted into the world's spotlight.
His images of Kenya's post-election violence -- in which over 1200 people were killed -- spoke to a reeling nation and revealed the crisis to the world. Afterwards, he traveled the country with a public exhibition of his photography, "Pitchamtaani," to encourage reconciliation and healing after the violence.
Kenyan activist, Boniface Mwangi,  leads demonstrators during a protest against rising cases of corruption in the government, high unemployment and poverty.
 
At this point Mwangi was no longer an observer, but an active citizen.
Together with other artists and activists he launched PAWA254 in 2010, a youth movement railing against social injustice. Mwangi used PAWA254 as a vehicle to organise and protest. Their hub in central Nairobi was their action base.
Mwangi's protests are theatrical and disruptive. He's led donkeys down the streets in Nairobi to symbolise the nation's fatigue with politics, and littered the roads with polystyrene babies to call-out the immaturity of Kenya's politicians.
Can Mwangi go from activist to politician?

Mwangi's electoral chances

In Kenya the two main alliances, The Jubilee Alliance which supports incumbent President Kenyatta, and the opposition coalition, the National Super Alliance, dominate the political landscape.
These two alliances are well rooted in the public's minds. This means a startup political party, like Ukweli, has the extra challenge of introducing itself to an electoral well-versed and conscious of long-standing organisations with established party machines and financial backing.
Kenyan politics is also still largely divided along tribal lines, with groups aligned to various mainstream parties. Mwangi will have to overcome these attitudes if he's to win.
However, Mwangi's alternative approach to politics has caught people's attention. Instead of relying on wealthy individual donors, he's crowdfunding his candidacy with small donations -- and even had a truck donated to the campaign.
Mwangi also has huge reach on social media. His 700k followers on Twitter and 250k Facebook page likes could be key to tapping into Kenya's staggeringly young and social media-savvy population -- who increasingly disregard tribal identities. As ever, though, it's difficult to know if these numbers will translate into actual votes.
As is the case with change-makers, sceptics worry Mwangi's influence will be stifled by parliament, that he can be more effective on the outside. For voters, candidates have come to them before claiming to clean up corruption, only to be consumed by it.
Mwangi insists he wants to shake-up the system from the inside. Yet win or lose, he has left his mark on Kenyan politics, challenging the old order and providing some hope for those fed-up with the status-quo.
Source:CNN
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30/Jul/2017

Construction in China's 'skyscraper capital' shows little sign of slowing

(CNN)It rises like a mirage as you pass the fallow fields and fish ponds of outer Hong Kong: a wall of skyscrapers shimmering in the distance. This is Shenzhen, which has grown from a small fishing village into a major financial and technology hub in less than 40 years.

Like many other cities in China, Shenzhen is crazy for skyscrapers.
Of the 128 buildings over 200 meters tall that were completed in the world last year, 70% were in China, according to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH).
Shenzhen was responsible for 11 of them -- more than the entire United States, and almost twice as many as any other Chinese city (Chongqing and Guangzhou tied for second place, alongside Goyang in South Korea, with six skyscrapers each).
 
 

Tall by design

The city's relationship with high-rises goes back to 1980, when China's reformist leader, Deng Xiaoping, declared that a swath of farmland along the Hong Kong border would become a so-called Special Economic Zone.
The decision meant that companies could operate with fewer of the restrictions of a planned economy -- China's first major experiment with free markets since the Communist revolution of 1949. Investors from Hong Kong -- and beyond -- rushed across the border to build factories and other businesses.
From the beginning, urban planners decided that it would be a city of skyscrapers. Shenzhen's growing skyline is simply part of its DNA, according to University of Hong Kong architecture professor Juan Du, whose book, "The Making of Shenzhen: A Thousand Years in China's Instant City," will be published next year.
"In Shenzhen, (skyscrapers are) really linked to the image of the city," she said over the phone. "Between the early 1980s and the early 90s, it had more tall buildings than any Chinese city.
"The term 'Shenzhen speed' was coined from the (time of) the construction of the city's earliest skyscrapers. When Deng Xiaoping made his first visit to Shenzhen, he was really excited by the speed at which tall buildings were being built."
Today, Shenzhen has evolved beyond its manufacturing roots to become a hub for service industries -- especially technology and design. Often described as "China's Silicon Valley," the city is home to huge companies like Tencent (which itself built two skyscrapers) and a network of thousands of smaller firms.
But Shenzhen's geography plays a part, too: the city center is located in a narrow strip between mountains and the Hong Kong border. A growing network of subway lines and a new high-speed rail connection to Hong Kong have made this strip even more desirable, pushing development up rather than out.

Cities in slowdown

Shenzhen appears to be showing no signs of slowing. In addition to a current crop of 49 buildings taller than 200 meters, a further 48 skyscrapers are under construction, according to CTBUH data.
 
But as Shenzhen grows skywards, empty office space in other big cities has led market analysts to speculate that China is caught in a spiral of overbuilding. The office vacancy rate in Beijing, which stood at 8% at the end of 2016, is forecast to rise to 13% by the end of 2019, according to a report by property firm Colliers International. The report noted that "the growing office supply will still outstrip the growth in demand."
In Shanghai, the country's tallest building, the 632-meter Shanghai Tower, has sat largely empty since opening in 2015, with one of the project's lead developers, Gu Jianping, admitting at an awards ceremony last year that "the biggest challenge facing China is how to build fewer skyscrapers."
Across China, the race upwards has produced outsized landmarks (like Nanjing's Zifeng Tower which is nearly twice the height of the city's next-tallest building) in areas where there was not enough demand to justify construction. Entire new cities were built in places like Ordos, a dusty outpost in the Gobi Desert, which then sat empty for years. Tianjin built no fewer than three central business districts filled with skyscrapers -- including one unashamedly modeled on Manhattan.
Some media reports have pointed to the so-called "Skyscraper Index," an idea first proposed by economist Andrew Lawrence in 1999, which suggests that a surge of investment in skyscrapers is a harbinger of recession.

Bucking the trend

But rather than signaling a downturn, Shenzhen's spate of new skyscrapers may simply reflect its booming economy. With the highest per capita GDP of any major city in China, Shenzhen is also experiencing soaring land prices.
 
Last year, the city's property market was named the mainland's most expensive, with homes selling for an average of $6,500 per square meter, according to SouFun, which tracks house prices in 100 Chinese cities. There has been a similar trend in the office market, according to David Ji, the head of research for Greater China at property consultancy Knight Frank.
"Shenzhen has a lot of demand for Grade A office space, unlike some other mainland cities that just go for height to compete with each other," he said over the phone.
And aside from the 600-meter Ping An Financial Centre, which became the world's fourth tallest building when it opened last year, Ji said that "buildings built in Shenzhen tend not to be that tall relative to Shanghai or other cities."
In other words, Shenzhen may be building plenty of skyscrapers, but most of them aren't showstoppers.
Rather than tolerating vanity projects, urban planners encourage projects that fit in with the surrounding city, according to Hong Kong-based architect Stefan Krummeck. His firm, TFP Farrells, designed KK100, a 442-meter tower that is currently the second tallest in Shenzhen. Rather than an isolated landmark, the skyscraper is part of a former village that was redeveloped in conjunction with KK100.
"There's always a bit of an ego trip involved in super high-rises, but in Shenzhen it's more sustainable -- the towers are reasonably modest," he said over the phone. "There are only a few super-high-rise towers and they're pretty well integrated into the urban fabric.
"To the best of my knowledge, the towers are full and the streets are lively. It works quite well."
Source:CNN.com
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25/Jul/2017

Revenue fraud alert; Cotecna coming to Ghana Ports

There is a shadow of potential financial disaster hovering around Ghana as THE PUBLISHER is informed that Cotecna, an attention-grabbing Swiss company that provides Testing Inspection and Certificate (TIC) services is at the final stages of discussions to start operations at Ghana’s ports with the supposed aim of helping seal leaks in government revenue.

The company has a certain reputation around the globe and has earned a barrage of fraud-related news stories and investigations in several of the countries it has operated.

Though Cotecna has denied wrong doings in all the instances it had been accused or even some of its workers investigated over fraud related allegations, the government of Ghana may have a herculean task convincing stakeholders and the public that there is a crucial necessity to offer the company a new contract at the country’s ports and revenue points.

The news that Cotecna is proposing and lobbying to start operations in Ghana, which should ordinarily be a heartwarming one, has rather raised eyebrows and ignited silent grumblings and murmurings among key revenue stakeholders who have told THE PUBLISHER that it would be superfluous to contract a new company in addition to the work being done by the Ghana Community Network Services Limited (GCNet)

While some speculate Cotecna is lobbying to position itself in a way that it would take over the operations of GCNet, others say Cotecna would rather be taking over some of the duties of West Blue while a third group suggest Cotecna would be teaming up with Nick Danso’s Ghana Link to create a platform akin to the existing Single Window system.

In 2004, the New York Times reported that: “a Swiss company that is being investigated on suspicion of fraud and abuses in the United Nations’ oil-for-food program paid the son of Secretary General Kofi Annan more than $50,000 for consulting at United Nations meetings and other projects in the year it won a lucrative oil-for-food contract, investigators said yesterday.
“Representatives of the company, Cotecna Inspection Services, which is based in Geneva, previously said that Kojo Annan, the secretary general’s son, had no involvement in any United Nations contracts.

“But billing records from Kojo Annan, 29, and other documents provided by Cotecna to House and Senate committees investigating the United Nations program show that in 1998, he traveled to United Nations meetings in New York and Durban, South Africa, to develop “contacts” and work on unspecified “specific projects.” In December 1998, Cotecna, which is privately held, won a $4.8 million United Nations contract to monitor goods shipped to Iraq.”

In another alarming incident THE DAILY STAR of Bangladesh reported in 2008 that the system for pre-shipment inspection (PSI) of imports had become riddled with corruption, and plagued by tax dodging and money laundering, depriving the country of huge amounts of revenue to an extent that the sheer scale of the abuse forced the National Board of Revenue (NBR) to cancel the license of PSI company Cotecna Inspection SA.

“It is not the first time Cotecna has run into problems with the NBR, which has already issued several warnings to the company and dealt out several crore taka worth of fines following probes into the Swiss group’s operations. Indeed the National Coordination Committee against Grievous Offences asked the Central Intelligence Cell of NBR to take legal action against Cotecna for its alleged illegal activities back in December last year.

“However, the stern action of today mocked NBR’s decision to award about 50 percent import areas to a relatively inexperienced company like Cotecna that has no offices in many of the main cities in countries of the blocks assigned to it– a major qualification for the PSI job.

“NBR turned to the PSI system against a backdrop of massive corruption and harassment by a significant section of customs people, but its major move failed to live up to expectation as irregularities started with awarding of first license to 3 companies, dividing countries of import in 3 blocks.”

Source:Ghanian Times

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10/Jul/2017

Baby Charlie Gard's new day in court

London (CNN)The UK's High Court will reconvene Thursday to hear new medical evidence in the case of baby Charlie Gard, whose parents are fighting doctors to keep him on life support so they can take him to the United States for experimental treatment for a rare genetic disorder. The new date was set at a preliminary hearing Monday.

Charlie's parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, have until Wednesday to submit new written evidence regarding the viability of having Charlie treated abroad with experimental nucleoside therapy.
On Monday, the judge instructed Charlie's parents to cite the source of all evidence, when it was produced and what difference will it make for their son. They did not produce any new evidence during the preliminary hearing.
 
 
At several points during the hearing, Charlie's parents spoke out. Gard shouted at lawyers for the hospital where Charlie is being cared for, "when are you going to start telling the truth?"
The terminally ill 11-month-old is at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, which requested the new hearing last week. He's been there since October, when he began suffering the effects of mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome.
Charlie's parents' legal battle with doctors to prolong his life has gained international attention, with Pope Francis and US President Donald Trump among those weighing in.
On Sunday, the couple gave the hospital a petition with more than 350,000 signatures from around the world. It called for the family to be allowed to travel for the experimental treatment, though a High Court ruling blocked such a move on June 30.
That ruling was preceded by a series of legal attempts by the young couple, who have tried to make their cases to judges in the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court in London. The hospital has countered that it's in Charlie's best interest to be removed from life support, as none of the treatments are certain to help him and could cause him to suffer.
Dr. Neena Modi, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said Monday that the high-profile interventions in the case are "unhelpful."
"Only the family, the doctors treating Charlie, and now the legal teams involved, know the details of complex issues that define his situation," she said in a statement.
"These issues -- unknown to us and all those voicing opinions -- will have been considered very carefully in reaching any decision. This is why interventions by external agencies or individuals, no matter how well-intended, are unhelpful."
Charlie's condition, mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, is extremely rare. His doctors in Britain argue that he has no hope of surviving without assistance and that he should be allowed to die in dignity.
CNN
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10/Jul/2017

New York police officer fatally shot in 'unprovoked attack'

New York (CNN)A New York police officer of 12 years and mother of three was fatally shot early Wednesday as she sat in a command vehicle in the Bronx, authorities said.

Miosotis Familia, 48, was shot in the head shortly after midnight while she and her partner were in a marked police truck. She was taken to St. Barnabas Hospital, where she died, the New York Police Department said.
Familia was "assassinated in an unprovoked attack on cops" when a suspect shot through the window of the officer's vehicle, said James O'Neill, the New York police commissioner.
 
 
Police encountered a male suspect, Alexander Bonds, 34, running about one block from the scene. The suspect drew a gun as officers confronted him, and he was shot and killed by police, O'Neill said.
A silver revolver was recovered at the scene, police said. The gun was stolen more than four years ago in Charleston, West Virginia, an NYPD source familiar with the investigation told CNN. The gun had two used cartridges in it and two live rounds, the source said.
Dispatch audio of the moments after Familia was shot reveal her partner frantically calling for help.
"Shots fired!" the officer's partner says. "Give me a f****** bus!"
Familia worked in the 46th Precinct, which tweeted out a photo of the officer.

Suspect's background

The suspect, also known as John Bonds, was arrested in Syracuse in July 2005 for robbery in the first degree, the Onondaga County district attorney said.
Alexander Bonds, also known as John Bonds, in a 2013 correctional photo.
 
Bonds received an eight-year sentence, with five years of post-release supervision, and was transferred to Elmira state prison in 2006, according to a statement from the district attorney.
He also had a criminal record for sale of a controlled substance in New York state, Thomas Mailey, spokesman for the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, said.
He went to prison in March 2004 for illegal drug sales, but was out by January 2005, when he was arrested in the Bronx for entering the subway without paying a fare, Bronx District attorney spokeswoman Patrice O'Shaughnessy said.

'Pain and heartbreak'

Familia had three children, the New York City Patrolmen's Benevolent Association said.
"Fully knowing the dangers that she faced, she suited up in uniform every day and stood tall against those who threaten and terrorize the good folks of the Bronx," the union said in a statement.
A friend, Isabel Roman, said Familia had 12-year-old twins and a 20-year-old child.
"She was a very jovial, happy person," Roman said.
Carlos Corporan, Familia's brother-in-law, said she was an excellent woman and the family was "completely devastated."
In a statement, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Familia was "murdered in a cowardly, unprovoked attack," and he alluded to other recent ambush-style attacks on police such as those in Dallas and Iowa.
"This murder in cold blood is a tragedy, and sadly it is the latest in a troubling series of attacks on police officers over the past two years," Sessions said.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio praised Familia and the actions of officers who responded to the shooting.
"She was on duty, serving this city, protecting people, doing what she believed in and doing the job she loved," de Blasio told reporters. "After this sudden and shocking attack, her fellow officers came to her aid immediately."

New York police officer fatally shot in 'unprovoked attack'

Story highlights

  • Officer Miosotis Familia shot in the head while in marked vehicle in the Bronx, authorities say
  • Police says gun on suspect was stolen in West Virginia four years ago
 

New York (CNN)A New York police officer of 12 years and mother of three was fatally shot early Wednesday as she sat in a command vehicle in the Bronx, authorities said.

Miosotis Familia, 48, was shot in the head shortly after midnight while she and her partner were in a marked police truck. She was taken to St. Barnabas Hospital, where she died, the New York Police Department said.
Familia was "assassinated in an unprovoked attack on cops" when a suspect shot through the window of the officer's vehicle, said James O'Neill, the New York police commissioner.
 
 
Police encountered a male suspect, Alexander Bonds, 34, running about one block from the scene. The suspect drew a gun as officers confronted him, and he was shot and killed by police, O'Neill said.
A silver revolver was recovered at the scene, police said. The gun was stolen more than four years ago in Charleston, West Virginia, an NYPD source familiar with the investigation told CNN. The gun had two used cartridges in it and two live rounds, the source said.
Dispatch audio of the moments after Familia was shot reveal her partner frantically calling for help.
"Shots fired!" the officer's partner says. "Give me a f****** bus!"
Familia worked in the 46th Precinct, which tweeted out a photo of the officer.
An apparent bystander also was struck by a bullet during the encounter, police said. The person, who was not identified, is in stable condition at a hospital.

Suspect's background

The suspect, also known as John Bonds, was arrested in Syracuse in July 2005 for robbery in the first degree, the Onondaga County district attorney said.
Alexander Bonds, also known as John Bonds, in a 2013 correctional photo.
 
Bonds received an eight-year sentence, with five years of post-release supervision, and was transferred to Elmira state prison in 2006, according to a statement from the district attorney.
He also had a criminal record for sale of a controlled substance in New York state, Thomas Mailey, spokesman for the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, said.
He went to prison in March 2004 for illegal drug sales, but was out by January 2005, when he was arrested in the Bronx for entering the subway without paying a fare, Bronx District attorney spokeswoman Patrice O'Shaughnessy said.

'Pain and heartbreak'

Familia had three children, the New York City Patrolmen's Benevolent Association said.
"Fully knowing the dangers that she faced, she suited up in uniform every day and stood tall against those who threaten and terrorize the good folks of the Bronx," the union said in a statement.
A friend, Isabel Roman, said Familia had 12-year-old twins and a 20-year-old child.
"She was a very jovial, happy person," Roman said.
Carlos Corporan, Familia's brother-in-law, said she was an excellent woman and the family was "completely devastated."
In a statement, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Familia was "murdered in a cowardly, unprovoked attack," and he alluded to other recent ambush-style attacks on police such as those in Dallas and Iowa.
"This murder in cold blood is a tragedy, and sadly it is the latest in a troubling series of attacks on police officers over the past two years," Sessions said.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio praised Familia and the actions of officers who responded to the shooting.
"She was on duty, serving this city, protecting people, doing what she believed in and doing the job she loved," de Blasio told reporters. "After this sudden and shocking attack, her fellow officers came to her aid immediately."
US Sen. Chuck Schumer called the shooting "terrible news," and Gov. Andrew Cuomo said all New Yorkers "share in the pain and heartbreak caused by her death."
Source:CNN.com
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06/Jul/2017

Millions of student loans could be headed for a shakeup in coming months

As Courtney Minor began a master's program in vocal performance, she made sure to heed some well-known advice: Stick to federal government student loans.

In completing the two-year program at Longy School of Music of Bard College in Boston in 2009, Minor racked up $60,000 in debt using six different loans, which required her to pay a total of $800 a month for 10 years following her graduation.

Her decision to avoid private companies’ loans turned out to be a smart move. Federal loans come with a variety of benefits — such as the ability to defer payment or adjust monthly bills based on income — that are rarely available with private loans. And having gone through periods of unemployment and part-time jobs, Minor, now a mother of two, has used the benefits to lower her monthly payments to $500.

  

Her loans — and those of millions of other students — could be in for a big shakeup in the coming months as President Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress set out to remake the complex business, potentially eliminating benefits and protections that borrowers like Minor depend on.  

Lobbyists for private lenders and loan servicing companies are emboldened by the Trump administration, which reflexively disdains regulations and favors market-based solutions. Alarmed by Trump’s agenda, consumer advocates and student groups also are gearing up to fight any efforts to change the government’s role and student debtors’ rights

Source:USA today

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06/Jul/2017

Why African students are ditching the US for China

(CNN)The surge in the number of African students in China is remarkable. In less than 15 years the African student body has grown 26-fold -- from just under 2,000 in 2003 to almost 50,000 in 2015.

According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, the US and UK host around 40,000 African students a year. China surpassed this number in 2014, making it the second most popular destination for African students studying abroad, after France which hosts just over 95,000 students.
For years, these numbers have remained untranslated in the online archives of the Chinese Ministry of Education. But a recent initiative by Michigan State University researchers to translate them introduces the reports to a wider audience.
Not only have these reports revealed the growth in China-Africa ties. They also make it possible to compare China's international education trends in a global context.

China's targeted focus

Chinese universities are filled with international students from around the world, including Asia, the Americas, Europe and Oceania. The proportion of Asian international students still dwarfs the number of Africans, who make up 13% of the student body.
But this number, which is up from 2% in 2003, is growing every year, and much faster than other regions. Proportionally more African students are coming to China each year than students from anywhere else in the world.
This dramatic increase in students from Africa can be explained in part by the Chinese government's targeted focus on African human resource and education development. Starting in 2000, China's Forum on China-Africa Cooperation summits have promised financial and political support for African education at home and abroad in China.
Since 2006, China has set scholarship targets to aid African students coming to China for study. For example, at the most recent 2015 summit, China pledged to provide 30,000 scholarships to African students by 2018.
though China stopped publishing regional scholarship data in 2008, our data analysis using the 2003-2008 data to generate scholarship estimates suggests that this target is on the way to being met. China seems to be upholding the pledges made towards African education.

Mutual Benefit - in education and business

For the Chinese government, providing education to Africans is an extension of China's soft power -- cultivating the next generation of African scholars and elites. The experience that these students get in China can translate into a willingness to work with China and view China's internal or external policies favorably in the future.
But what do African students gain in return? China-Africa scholars have found that students head to China for many reasons. Some simply go to pursue an education that is affordable, even without a scholarship, while others go for the chance to develop business connections or learn the language of a country presumed to be a rising power.
Based on several surveys, most students tend to be enrolled in Chinese-language courses or engineering degrees. The preference for engineering may be due to the fact that many engineering programs offered by Chinese universities for international students are taught in English.
The quality of education has received mixed reviews. Some studies have shown that African students are generally satisfied with their Chinese education, as long as they can overcome the language barriers. Others found that even if students were not impressed with their education, they appreciated the trade and business opportunities that a Chinese education made available to them back home.

The next generation

It's difficult to know exactly which African countries are sending the most students to China. These details are not kept by the Chinese Ministry of Education. But the statistics from Tsinghua University provide an insight. In the 2015-2016 academic year, the majority of the university's 111 African students came from Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Morocco, Eritrea, and Cameroon -- slightly favouring East Africa.
frican students in France overwhelmingly come from francophone West Africa. If Tsinghua's profile holds true for the larger African student body in China, it means China is an increasingly important player in the education of countries outside of West Africa.
Due to Chinese visa rules, most international students cannot stay in China after their education is complete. This prevents brain-drain and means that China is educating a generation of African students who -- unlike their counterparts in France, the US or UK -- are more likely to return home and bring their new education and skills with them.
It's still too early to tell how these new dynamics might be shaping geopolitics on the continent.
Source:CNN.com
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04/Jul/2017

US conducts Somalia airstrike targeting al-Shabab

CNN)The US conducted a targeted airstrike Sunday against a regional commander of the al-Shabab militant group, al Qaeda's affiliate in Somalia, according to two US defense officials.

The officials confirmed that this is the second airstrike to take place in Somalia since President Donald Trump granted military commanders in Africa Command new authorities to conduct airstrikes in support of African Union and Somali troops fighting al-Shabab.
The new authorities were bestowed in March.
A spokesperson for the Pentagon confirmed the strike on Monday.
"US forces conducted a kinetic strike operation against al-Shabab," US Army Maj. Audricia Harris told CNN.
While Harris said that the military is "currently assessing the results of the operation," officials told CNN that the commander, Ahmed Osoble, is initially believed to have been killed.
The strike took place in the Banadir region of southern Somalia, one official said.
Osoble was described as a "regional commander" of al-Shabab, with one official saying he was responsible for gathering intelligence on US forces in Somalia.
"US forces remain committed to supporting the federal government of Somalia, the Somali National Army and our AMISOM partners in defeating al-Shabab," Harris added, referring to the African Union mission there.
Al-Shabab is considered al Qaeda's third largest affiliate. The group has claimed responsibility for a number of attacks in Somalia and the wider region.
The counterterrorism strikes come as US military leaders see new opportunities to work with Somalia's newly elected president, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, a dual US-Somali citizen who has embarked on a series of aggressive military reforms amid an ongoing al-Shabab bombing campaign that has repeatedly struck the capital, Mogadishu.
About 40 US soldiers arrived in Somalia in April to help train the Somali National Army. They joined about 50 counterterrorism military Special Operations Forces advisers who have been advising local forces battling al-Shabab since 2013.
One of those advisers, US Navy SEAL Senior Chief Kyle Milliken, was killed while accompanying local troops on a counterterrorism raid during an operation in May. He was the first US service member killed in action in Somalia since 1993, when two Black Hawk helicopters were shot down and 18 American soldiers were killed in the Battle for Mogadishu.

Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, who oversees US troops in Africa, told reporters in April that the US seeks to help Somali security forces gain the ability to provide for their own security by 2021.

Source: CNN

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04/Jul/2017

Work begins on the tallest skyscraper in Africa

(CNN)The mighty peaks of Kilimanjaro and Kenya are the highest points in Africa, towering over the East Coast nations.

The mountains will soon be sharing a skyline with a man-made behemoth named simply: "The Pinnacle."
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta recently laid the foundation stone for what will be the tallest building in Africa in the Upper Hill neighborhood of Nairobi. Construction is underway at the development site, and slated for completion by December 2019.
 
 
The ambitious project will see twin glass-facade towers rise above the city, the larger standing at 300 meters tall, far surpassing the continent's current leader -- Johannesburg's 223-meter Carlton Centre.
The $200m project will be completed by the end of 2019.
 

Heavyweight backing

The Pinnacle has heavyweight backing in the shape of Dubai-based investors Hass Petroleum and White Lotus Group, which are ploughing around $200 million into the project.
The contract to build the towers has been awarded to China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC), which is among the world's largest construction firms and has delivered a string of major projects including the African Union headquarters in Ethiopia and the Beijing National Aquatics Centre.
The complex will house a 255-room Hilton Hotel, the luxury chain's third in Kenya and 50th in Africa. The towers will also include elite residences, business and leisure facilities, and a helipad on the roof of the taller tower.
Stakeholders are confident that the development has found the right location.
"Whatever happens in other parts of the world can happen in Africa as well," says Abdinassir Hassan, chairman of Hass Petroleum and managing director of the project. "Nairobi is a hub for East and Central Africa. Why would we go anywhere else?"
Hassan says there is already a clamor for properties on the site, and that this will be "the first of several developments in Kenya" for his company.
Hilton executives are also bullish, noting in a statement that the Upper Hill area is now home to offices of major international businesses and organizations including Cisco Systems and the World Bank.
"The striking new-build property...will be well placed to meet this growing demand in one of Nairobi's most exciting and colorful areas," said Patrick Fitzgibbon, senior vice president for development, EMEA, Hilton Worldwide.
The 223-meter Carlton Center in Johannesburg, South Africa, will lose its place as the continent's tallest building.
 

Slowing down?

Kenya's economy has performed steadily in recent years, with healthy GDP growth of 5.9% in 2016 according to the World Bank.
A thriving property market has underpinned this growth, particularly in Nairobi. But there are indications of a slowdown that could affect a luxury development such as Pinnacle.
Prime residential rents declined in 2016, according to a report from real estate firm Knight Frank, and prime retail rents stagnated.
"This is the first time I've seen any kind of market slowdown in Kenya," says Knight Frank Kenya Managing Director Ben Woodhams, who is also serving as a letting agent for Pinnacle.
Woodhams cites a perfect storm of contributing factors, including high interest rates that have hit borrowing and liquidity, as well as the withdrawal of oil companies from Kenya, and the uncertainty of an election year. But in the longer term he sees reasons for optimism.
"We're seeing global corporations that traditionally run Sub-Saharan Africa from Johannesburg putting regional headquarters into Nairobi...and that's a story I expect to hear more and more," he says. "An ambitious project like Pinnacle is ideal for maintaining that interest, and by the time the project comes to fruition Nairobi could be a very different place."
Whether such optimism is justified remains to be seen. But there can be little doubt that Africa's tallest tower will raise Nairobi's profile higher on the world stage.
Source:CNN.com
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02/Jul/2017

'Acts of heroism' shine amid the horror of New York hospital shooting

(CNN)They wasted little time in keeping patients safe when a disgruntled former employee opened fire Friday at Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center in New York.

Hospital staffers rushed to shelter the patients inside rooms and barricade the doors.
First responders moved to catch the gunman, put out a fire and end the threat.
 
 
And nurses and physicians risked danger to find and treat gunshot victims and move them to safety.
 
Man hides in hospital room during shooting
 
 
 

 

 

 
 
 
Man hides in hospital room during shooting 00:38
When it was over, two people, including the suspect, were dead and six others wounded. The gunman, Dr. Henry Bello, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, law enforcement officials said. He killed a physician, whom police identified as Tracy Sin Yee Tam, 32. Of the six injured, one was in critical condition, and the others were stable Saturday.
The violence could have been worse if not for the life-saving efforts of first responders and hospital employees, officials said.
"Our hospital staff responded heroically in addressing this situation," hospital spokesman Errol Schneer said.
"Many of our staff risked their own lives to save patients, and the fact that we had only one injury to a patient is truly a testament to the work that our staff did in protecting the patients at all costs."
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio paid tribute to the first responders, nurses, doctors and staff who risked their lives.
"This was a horrific situation unfolding in a place that people associate with care and comfort, a situation that came out of nowhere, but even in the midst of this horror there were many, many acts of heroism," de Blasio said.
Here are a few of those acts:

Barricaded doors

When staff members heard about the "code silver" emergency warning, they rushed into patient rooms to help them take shelter from the gunman.
Hospital staff is trained to care for patients first in shooting situations, said Patricia Cahill, the hospital's chief nursing officer.
"Those nurses took whoever they could and they put them in bathrooms with them, they huddled together and they held, they barricaded the door, they got in the safest place they could," she said.
Ruth Velazquez, an HIV counselor, said employees are ready for situations such as this.
"We locked every single door in that place, every single door was locked, and we put the patients there, we made sure that our main concern was the patients," she said.
Patients who were physically able also helped out. Krystal Rivera, 23, said she was with her hospital roommate, a visitor and a nurse when they heard gunshots.
"I barricaded the door with an IV machine, two chairs and my whole bed," Rivera said.
For hospital employee Gonzalo Corazo, keeping patients safe was his initial reaction to the emergency, he told CNN affiliate WABC-TV.
"That's when I panicked, and then all of sudden my first instinct was the patients, taking care of the patients," Corazo said.
De Blasio said that "doctors and nurses, all the personnel, responded with extraordinary bravery, with cool professionalism. They protected each other, they protected their patients even amidst this horrible situation."
Wearing a white lab coat, the suspected shooter was able to enter the hospital and go to the 16th floor, where he used to work. Once there, he began shooting an AM-15 weapon.
During the shooting, the hospital's fire alarm system went off, apparently because the suspect tried to set himself on fire, said James O'Neill, the New York police commissioner.
Both police and firefighters quickly responded to the scene, and they eventually found the suspect dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on the 17th floor, O'Neill said.
"There were many things amidst this pain to be proud of today, and God bless our first responders," de Blasio said. "They put the safety of their fellow New Yorkers first, as they always do."
Sridhar Chilimuri, the hospital's physician in chief, praised the speed and professionalism of the New York police, who came into a scene of "total chaos" and established some order.
"We don't work with them every day, but it just seemed to work like a team," Chilimuri said.

Moving the patients

Once first responders put out the fire and gave the all-clear, hospital staff rushed to treat the gunshot victims on the 16th and 17th floors.
As senior officials in the hospital, Chilimuri, Cahill and others went up to the 17th floor and pulled two patients out of the dangerous scene, "literally over dead bodies and blood and gore all over," the physician in chief said.
Staffers began moving those who were seriously injured from floor to floor, picking up doctors along the way to treat the victims' gunshot wounds.
"We had trauma surgeons already in the building, we have neurosurgeons in the building, we have hand surgeons in the building, so that obviously helped us expedite the process very quickly," Chilimuri said.
"There were physicians actively working with nursing staff on every floor, so as each patient came off we took them directly to the emergency room so we could work on them quite quickly."
The speed of their efforts "absolutely" helped save lives, Chilimuri said.
"This happening in a hospital, which is well-prepared for it, we think will end up with good outcomes at the end," he said.
Ambulance EMT Robert Maldonado, who was sheltered in a locked room, told CNN affiliate WABC-TV that he and a partner heard someone yell for EMTs. They jumped out of the room and immediately helped a doctor with a gunshot wound in his stomach.
"He was in a lot of pain obviously," Maldonado to the station.
"We carried him nine floors. The police department helped carry, I helped put pressure on the wound, the entrance and exit wound, and the police department, they all just grabbed his legs, grabbed his arms."
Staff also removed patients from the 16th and 17th floors to more established safe areas. They moved between 40 to 50 patients in less than 10 minutes, Chilimuri said.
Even security guards helped with patients and assisted nurses and doctors, going "way above and beyond the call of duty," said Schneer, the hospital spokesman.
Source:CNN.com
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02/Jul/2017

A winning formula: When small businesses give back

hird-generation entrepreneur Ciara Stockeland, 38 — the daughter and granddaughter of window salesmen — always knew she wanted to own a small business. When her pop-up overstock jeans shop in Fargo, N.D., took off about a decade ago, morphing into a storefront called MODE, she didn’t want to stop at just one store. By franchising, she could expand her brand to other communities and enable others to own small businesses, too.

From the get-go, she wanted to make it easy for franchisees not just to be successful, but also to give back. So she came up with a number of ways to weave community engagement into the very fabric of the four MODE stores, in North Dakota and Iowa. Stores regularly organize denim drives to collect jeans for the needy, hold sales where 20 percent goes to a local charity, send staff to volunteer for local nonprofits, and sell merchandise to benefit an international water charity.

“When you give back, it reminds you that small businesses are what make cities and American culture so vibrant,” Stockeland said. “There’s something fantastic about that.” Stockeland’s model of socially responsible business is just one example of the many ways small business owners embed themselves in their communities. Some are leaders in local chambers of commerce and business associations. Others stage neighborhood events such as concerts and gallery nights. And according to the Allstate/USA Today Small Business Barometer, almost half of small business owners contribute to local charities or do community service close to home.

“Everything that’s good for the community is good for your business,” said Steve Blume, 62, owner of an Allstate Insurance agency in Bellevue, Tenn., and director of membership for his area’s chamber of commerce. “It’s the responsibility of every business to be a part of the community and contribute to it.”

All together

At Jirani’s Coffee House in Manassas, Va., co-owners Ken and Detra Moorman, both age 46, have a vision that goes far beyond serving java. After all, they named their one-year-old business after the Swahili word for “neighbor” or “neighborhood.”

 

It’s all part of the plan to host book launches and open mics, set aside space for a family reading room, and let local bakers and caterers use the kitchen to prep food for their own small businesses.

“We wanted to create a space for people to gather and connect and build relationships,” Ken Moorman said.

Coffee is not the only thing that brings people together. Dave Roggeman, 41, owner of screen-printing, embroidery and design company INDYINK in Denver, Colo., uses art as the draw. The company hosts monthly art exhibitions at its 84 South retail space, giving local artists — professional and amateur — a venue to showcase their work. INDYINK sells the artwork at affordable prices, taking a lower commission from artists than traditional galleries might.

“The art shows are a way for us to be a part of the community,” said Roggeman. He supports the artists in other ways, too, for example by commissioning some to do custom designs for his products.

Down in Opelika, Ala., Jimmy Wright, 55 — owner of Wright’s Market since 1997 — is passionate about zeroing in on the specific needs of people in his town and surrounding rural areas. His 15-passenger van transports shoppers to and from the store for free. And last year he founded a nonprofit to help revitalize two neighborhoods in the city of 29,000 people and improve access to medical care.

“I’ve always lived by the philosophy that our goal was that our business would do well so then we could do good in our communities,” Wright said.

Standing out

Volunteering and promoting social issues can provide a lot of bottom-line value to companies, large or small, said Jenny Lawson, executive director of the Corporate Institute at Points of Light, a national nonprofit that promotes volunteerism across the U.S.

“Connecting your brand to social issues raises the visibility of your brand and sets you apart from other brands in the community,” she said. In addition, lending employees out for skills-based pro bono services, she said, can boost employee satisfaction and engagement and provide skills-building opportunities.

When Katie Dix, 52, along with her sister, husband and brother-in-law, opened a neighborhood ice cream shop on a tucked-away street in Mt. Prospect, Ill., the health inspector predicted her business wouldn’t succeed.

To prove him wrong and differentiate her store, Capannari Ice Cream, from corporate chains, “I knew I had to be a part of the community and let people know who we are,” Dix said.

To that end, Dix throws and supports dozens of charity events each year, including “The Coolest School,” in which 14 area schools compete to sell the most ice cream and walk away with a share of their earnings.

But even more important than bringing people into the store, Dix says, is the way the events create loyalty among customers and bolster the idea of Capannari as a neighborhood stalwart.

Stockeland, of retailer MODE, said her giveback program reinforces the company culture she’s establishing as she seeks new franchisees.

“We’ve found in visiting with prospective franchisees that the people who are going to align culturally with our brand want to be part of something bigger,” she said.

Balancing act

Giving of oneself and of one’s business brings challenges of limited time, money and staffing. But small business owners rise above those obstacles using their love and commitment to their communities as the driving force.

“Being part of the community gives me and my business that human quality that’s so important,” said Alison Doner, 37, owner of an Allstate Insurance agency in Cincinnati. She regularly volunteers with her local Rotary International Club and a children’s charity, and at any community service event Allstate hosts in the area — on top of giving her customers every minute of her working day.

Lynn Le, 28 — co-owner of Society Nine, a Portland, Ore., sports gear company that sells women’s boxing apparel — and her Boston-based partner manage their charitable commitments by focusing on nonprofits that champion the fighting spirit in women. Beneficiaries have included an organization that offers free self-defense classes to women in Oregon and other states and a Boston nonprofit that holds charity boxing events to raise money to fight cancer.

By aligning the ways they give back with their business mission, Le said, they’re able to make sure, “people register exactly what it is we’re all about.”

For small business owners, waking up every morning and loving what they do is a dream come true. And serving the community is a big reason why they feel it’s worth it.

Jirani's Ken Moorman says that the existence of a thriving coffee shop in Manassas was a dream for lots of people — something the community had desperately needed.

“For me, it’s about how we contribute to the place we live, work and play in. How do we make it better through giving back and helping others,” he said. “Ultimately, that’s what it’s about.”

Source USA today

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02/Jul/2017

Cardinal’s sex abuse charges raise questions about pope’s record

ATICAN CITY — As the Vatican reeled from news that one of its top officials was taking a leave to fight historical sex abuse charges in Australia, the spotlight quickly turned to Pope Francis, with his critics slamming him for failing to do enough to tackle the vexing issue.

Cardinal George Pell, the most senior figure in church history to face child sex abuse charges, is the Vatican’s financial czar and a trusted adviser to the pope.

Pell, 76, is facing “multiple charges in respect of historic sexual offenses,” said police in the Australian state of Victoria.

“I am looking forward to my day in court,” Pell told a packed media conference Thursday. “I am innocent of these charges. They are false.”

His controversial case has unleashed a wave of criticism from survivor groups and commentators who say the pope has not done enough to root out predators and protect children.

“There is a deep disconnect between the pope’s words and his actions,” said Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of the advocacy group Bishop Accountability.

Barrett Doyle was critical of the pope for keeping Pell in his post until now, despite knowledge of the allegations against him.

“The pope is not a reformer when it comes to the crisis,” she said. “He apologizes often and uses buzz phrases like ‘zero tolerance.’ But underneath he remains the minimizer and the defender of accused priests.”

Robert Mickens, an American editor for the French Catholic magazine La Croix, said it was significant that Pell had stepped aside but he criticized the pope’s record on clerical abuse.

“Whether Pell specifically asked for a leave from his Vatican duties to return for the trial, or whether the pope ordered him to do so, the effect is the same. And it is a development from the past,” Mickens said, when the church would have defended Vatican churchmen.

But Mickens said Francis has never made the church’s sexual abuse crisis a priority of his administration.

“It took him more than a year after his election as bishop of Rome before he even mentioned it,” said Mickens, a longtime Vatican commentator. “I think a major reason for that is his experience as a bishop in Latin America, where the issue has not been dealt with openly or effectively.”

After his election, Francis established a Vatican panel for the protection of minors to change church practices and increase awareness about abuse and education in the church.

But survivor Peter Saunders was forced to take a leave of absence from the panel after scathing criticism of Pell. Irish survivor Marie Collins resigned in disgust in March over what she called “shameful” obstruction within the Vatican.

The charges against one of his closest advisors and the architect of his economic and administrative reforms of the Holy See is not only embarrassing for the pope but brings the church abuse scandal to his door.

Paddy Agnew, an Irish commentator who has followed the Vatican for 30 years, said Francis’ record on rooting out predators is mixed.

Agnew said Francis acted quickly to remove Polish Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, who was accused of sex crimes against minors in the Dominican Republic. Wesolowski died in 2015 before he was tried for child pornography.

“On the other hand, sex abuse survivors and lobbyists argue that Francis has been shamefully irresponsible in defending Chilean Bishop Juan Barros,” said Agnew.

Barros has been accused of covering up clerical abuse in Chile in the 1980s and 1990s.

There is no doubt there has been some change under Francis. He has spoken out many times against clerical sexual abuse and late last year he urged bishops around the world to adopt a “zero tolerance” policy.

“I would like us to renew our complete commitment to ensuring that these atrocities will no longer take place in our midst,” he said in a letter to them.

This month, the pope defrocked an Italian priest, Mauro Inzoli, who was convicted of child sex crimes by an Italian court a year ago.

But Francis’ predecessor, Benedict XVI, had initially defrocked Inzoli in 2012 after he was first accused of abusing minors. Francis reversed that decision in 2014, ordering the priest to stay away from children before finally coming to the conclusion that the priest could no longer continue in his duties.

The U.S.-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests has urged the pope to send Pell home as soon as possible and hoped the Australian investigation would inspire other countries to do more.

“Sexual abuse thrives when it is allowed to flourish in secrecy,” said SNAP spokeswoman Joelle Casteix in a statement.

In the past, the Vatican, as a sovereign state in the heart of Rome, offered officials immunity from prosecution.

In the early 1980s, it refused an Italian request to hand over Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, an American who was wanted for questioning about the fraudulent bankruptcy of a private Italian bank.

And Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston escaped potential prosecution when he moved to Rome after the sex abuse scandal erupted in his diocese in 2002.

Pell, it appears, was not offered that option.

Source: USA Today

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02/Jul/2017

Angry New Jersey residents shut out of parks, state offices because of budget impasse

WOODLAND PARK, N.J. — New Jersey residents awoke Saturday to the first day of a state government shutdown, a day many had planned to use to either kick start the Fourth of July holiday at a park or run some errands at state offices.

The shutdown scuttled those plans. 

A dispute between Gov. Chris Christie, a deeply unpopular governor in the final months of his second term, and the Democratic leader in the state Assembly, Vincent Prieto, has blocked the Legislature from passing a state budget. Their fight is over a plan to overhaul control of the state’s largest health insurer, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, a non-profit that operates under special state laws. 

With no new spending plan, Christie ordered all non-essential state services halted at midnight Friday. That meant no state parks, no chance to renew a driver’s license and no work for nearly all state employees.

hree cyclists huddled in a small patch of grass figuring out what to do and where to ride after the officer at the entrance informed them that the park was closed because of the shutdown

One cyclist, Neville L’Green, said he thought it was ironic that the government shutdown occurred on Fourth of July weekend.

“My thought is the reason they’ve shut down is they haven’t got a budget,” L’Green said, leaning on his bike. “So they’ve shut down on the weekend that generates the most money for the state. So that’s pretty stupid.”

L’Green said that he usually uses the park a few times a week during the summer. 

Wendy Schoeler, who moved to Jersey City two months ago, said she would go on runs regularly at the riverside park.

“I guess Chris Christie is the problem, right?” Schoeler said. “I don’t know, it just seems like really bad timing. Fourth of July weekend. You don’t want to be in the park? And we can’t go to the beaches now, apparently.”

A flier featuring Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto outside

A flier featuring Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto outside the governor's office in Trenton. (Photo: Dustin Racioppi/northjersey.com)

 

Although many of the beaches in the state are municipal property, some beaches, like Island Beach State Park, are state-owned and are closed.

Along with providing expansive green space, the park also gives visitors on the New Jersey side access to Ellis Island. The historic landmark brings local visitors, as well as some from far away.

“This is one of Jersey City’s biggest attractions,” said Jake Hornstein. “We just saw a car with Canadian license plates. Just to see it”

For many, the weekends are the only time they can make it to local department of motor vehicle offices. 

At a Motor Vehicle Commission office in Lodi, some cars were being turned away by a police officer patrolling the lot. Others made it as far as the front door, where they were greeted by locked doors with the sign blaming Prieto.

 

“We gotta get rid of these guys,” said Tim Kosturko, as he got back into his van. “We’re paying these people. We’re paying for this motor vehicle (office). What the hell’s going on here.”

Many people who came to renew their license were wondering what would happen if they were pulled over with an expired license.

“We need it,” said Norma Villasanta of Garfield. “What are you going to do? The police are going to stop you, ticket you and send you to court.”

The Lodi office is one of the only offices in the area that has a driving test course. Carrying his driver’s permit, which he had received Friday, Julian Henao was there to complete the process and run through the course. Henao, 17, had come from Wallington.

When told he’d have to wait until a budget was approved, Henao sighed.

“You’re kidding.”

Gov. Chris Christie addresses the Legislature Saturday

Gov. Chris Christie addresses the Legislature Saturday afternoon during the government shutdown, which he ordered Friday night after reaching an impasse in budget negotiations with Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto. (Photo: Chris Pedota/NorthJersey.com)

Source: USA Today

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02/Jul/2017

Iceberg the size of Delaware to break off from Antarctica

(CNN)A large sheet of ice is set to break away from Antarctica and scientists say it will be one of the largest breaks of its kind recorded.

Larsen C -- a sprawling sheet of ice in western Antarctica -- is currently attached to its parent shelf by 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) of ice, according to UK-based research team Project MIDAS.
Once it splits, the crack will produce an iceberg around 5,000 square kilometers (1,930 square miles) -- approximately the size of the state of Delaware.
In August, researchers at MIDAS reported that a crack in Larsen C grew 22 kilometers (13.7 miles) in six months' time. In December the rift accelerated -- clocking an additional 18 kilometers (11 miles) of further movement through colder glacial ice within a month.
Although this isn't the first time the Antarctic has seen icebergs produced in this way, Larsen C's split will significantly change the landscape of the continent.
"When it calves, the Larsen C Ice Shelf will lose more than 10% of its area to leave the ice front at its most retreated position ever recorded; this event will fundamentally change the landscape of the Antarctic Peninsula," lead researcher Professor Adrian Luckman said in a statement posted to the MIDAS website.
Martin O'Leary, a researcher at MIDAS, told CNN the huge iceberg could render the remaining sheet of ice unstable -- causing sea levels to rise and to overall changes to the Antarctic's landscape.
"I think in terms of the impact that the iceberg has on the ocean, it's a very spectacular event but its not going to be a huge thing in itself -- the iceberg is big but the oceans are a lot bigger," O'Leary added.
In 2002, Larsen C's neighboring ice shelf, Larsen B, violently broke off from its parent, shattering into millions of pieces -- accelerating a mass of broken ice into the Antarctic current.
Before Larsen B collapsed, it demonstrated a pattern similar to Larsen C. In 1995, another ice shelf, Larsen A, also broke off from the same ice mass.
Since then, researchers at MIDAS have been tracking Larsen C with a close eye.
O'Leary said that Larsen A and B's breaks were "unequivocally climate change-related," but so far researchers aren't linking global warming to Larsen C's split.
The team says the break in Larsen C has likely been caused by natural geographic patterns marked in their research for decades.
"We don't think there is a strong link to change climate change in terms of the provocation of the crack in question ... but we couldn't work that out," O'Leary said.
Source:CNN.com
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07/Jan/2017

Keurig and AB InBev team up on in-home booze maker

Keurig and Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) are teaming up to build an in-home booze brewer.

The companies said Friday that they're launching a joint venture. The plan is to create an appliance that can churn out "beer, spirits, cocktails and mixers" at home, according to a press release.

 

The companies are still researching the product, so there isn't even a prototype yet, much less any other details. But an Anheuser-Busch partnership may mean that it can create home-brewed versions of beers such as Budweiser and Corona.

Keurig is best known for its single-cup coffee maker. But the new appliance will use the technology from its now-defunct cold beverage maker, the Keurig Kold, which was supposed to compete with SodaStream (SODA).

Keurig desperately needs a hit product. It was acquired in 2015 for $13.9 billion by JAB Holding, which is privately held, after the company's stock price slid 70% in one year thanks to a massive sales slump.

The Kold, Keurig's latest product launch, was a major flop. The company stopped making them in June last year after just 10 months of production, and even doled out refunds to customers who purchased the product, which retailed for a whopping $370.

SodaStream also beat Keurig to the punch with making in-home beer brewers. The company began selling the SodaStream Beer Bar in a couple of European markets last May, and it's introducing the product to more countries throughout 2017.

Source:CNN.com

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07/Jan/2017

$150 homes revive ancient techniques to fight climate crisis

(CNN)Millions of households in the Sahel region of West Africa live under a growing threat.

Deforestation and climate change have decimated the available supply of wood that is used for traditional roof construction, forcing many to use imported sheet metal.
This is both prohibitively expensive and unsuited to the climate, entrenching poverty and making homes that boil in summer and freeze in winter.
One creative enterprise is reaching back over 3,000 years for a solution, borrowing an architectural technique from the ancient Nubian civilization of latter-day Sudan to offer superior homes at minimal cost.
The NGO La Voute Nubienne (Nubian Vault) is training an army of masons to build homes from the earth, and the ancient innovation is having a profound impact.

For all seasons

The Nubian technique uses bricks and mortar produced from local earth, laid over a foundation of rocks. A home can be produced in 15 days, and the method is versatile enough to produce a range of buildings from mosques to farmhouses.
La Voute Nubienne is working in five West African countries; Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, Benin and Ghana, where around 20,000 people now live in the Nubian homes.
"We have proved our concept is viable and works for the population," says Thomas Granier, a French builder who co-founded the NGO with Burkinabe partner Séri Youlou. "There are half a billion Africans living under corrugated iron roofing and our target is to provide a strong alternative."
The earth homes offer more than expediency, as they are well adapted to the local climate.
"Nubian Vault buildings provide excellent thermal insulation, making the buildings cool during the day and warm during the night," says Nick Nuttall, spokesperson for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

A roof, a skill, a market

La Voute Nubienne believe that long term success depends on building a sustainable market, as expressed in their motto: "A roof, a skill, a market."
The NGO has trained over 500 masons, according to Granier. This new workforce can respond to increasing demand, as well as training a new generation to sustain the practice.
One-third of the new construction market is now fully autonomous, and the proportion is rising.
"When we have deployed enough capacity this won't belong to us, it will belong to the community," says Granier. "The target is push this alternative until we don't have to and it pushes itself."
The market model does not make the homes unaffordable. Granier estimates the cost of a basic building at $150, although in many cases the owner will supply some of their own labor, or barter goods for part of the mason's fee.
But despite the informal nature of the industry it is making significant contributions to the local economies, valued at over $2 million by the NGO, and this figure is set to rise.
The Nubian vault program aims to stimulate the local economy. It has trained over 500 masons and generated over $2 million.
 

Macro impact

La Voute Nubienne is now aiming to build the workforce and dramatically scale up construction.
The fledgling industry currently enjoys growth of around 30% each year, says Grenier, and he wants to reach 50%.
"With 20 points more we could house one million people by 2030," he says. "If we do that we can have a real macro impact on local economies and habitation standards."
The NGO is intensively lobbying potential government and development partners to drive the business forward and reach new markets -- and new countries. With steady growth the industry could generate over $70 million by 2030, the group projects.
Such growth could also have significant benefits for the climate, potentially slowing the deterioration that has threatened so many homes.
"Nubian Vault uses only locally available materials with a very low carbon footprint," says Nuttall of the UNFCCC. "As no wood or straw is required in this building technique, the project helps reduce deforestation. None of the buildings need to be manufactured or transported long distance, which means it also saves a lot of CO2."
With low costs, economic boosts and climate gains, the ancient Nubian technique appears built to last.
Source:CNN.com
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07/Jan/2017

Croton nuts: Africa's new biofuel that literally grows on trees

(CNN)The history of biofuel production in Africa is marked with expensive and damaging failures.

The much-hyped jatropha crop saw millions of dollars and vast tracts of land squandered, while the production of palm oil has been widely criticized for association with environmental damage and human rights abuses.
But there is a new hope for the field. The Croton megalocarpus tree is common throughout much of East and Central Africa, and until now it has been used for little more than firewood.
The nuts of the tree have been shown to contain high concentrations of oil and protein, and they are now being used to produce a fuel that could serve as a clean alternative to diesel.
With an abundant supply of croton nuts available at minimal cost, a new industry is emerging with sky-high ambitions.
The Croton megalocarpus tree is common throughout much of East and Central Africa
 

Low-hanging fruit

In 2012, serial entrepreneur Alan Paul established Eco Fuels Kenya (EFK) to explore the potential of croton, following early research that suggested promise. His company is now the driving the movement to bring croton biofuel to the mainstream.
The business took a low-key approach at first, in contrast to high-budget flops such as jatropha.
"(Paul) said we can grow organically by sourcing what is already there from one of the most common trees," says EFK Managing Director Myles Katz. "We can buy nuts from farmers so they get an income and we have a business model that does not require $10 million of funding and a big plantation to get off the ground."
EFK put out radio ads to attract local entrepreneurs into partnerships, who assembled teams of smallholders to supply the nuts. When suppliers realized their previously useless trees had become an easy and reliable source of income, the network rapidly expanded.
This has enabled EFK to double production each year, says Katz, up to 1,000 tons of nuts this year from 500 tons in 2015. The company is now in a position to scale up the operation, without having planted a single tree.
Filtering croton oil
 

New products

Producing croton nut oil is a low-tech, low-energy process compared with traditional fuel manufacturing.
"It is comparable to any other nut or oil pressing facility," says Katz. "We modify the equipment to work on croton nuts but essentially we are buying machines used with walnuts or macadamia nuts."
Much of the fuel is sold to local businesses that run generators, such as tourist camps.
The company has also branched into selling by-products of the nuts, including seedcake from the pressed nut as poultry feed, and organic fertilizer from the shells. This offers insurance at a time investors remain wary of biofuels, says Katz.
"The 'unknown' (element) is hard for investors," he says. "We are not an oil-only business, and we can stand on different parts of the business at different times."
Producing fertilizer in EFK's factory in Nanyuki, Central Kenya.
 

Grand plans, local roots

Having local networks of suppliers and agents is key to the EFK business model, and a critical challenge for the company is to maintain these networks while expanding across the country and beyond.
"We have a completely local approach," says Katz. "Everything we source, process and sell should be within 100 kilometers of the factory."
The company plans to maintain this approach while creating up to five new factories in Kenya and several more in neighboring countries such as Tanzania in the coming years.
EFK is also planning a first foray into an "orchard model" of planting its own trees on a 500-acre plot in 2017, that will allow the company to test and push the limits of croton capacity.
"There is an interesting topic of crop efficiency," says Katz. "An indigenous tree with access to normal rainfall might produce 100 kilograms of nuts a year. But the optimum trees will produce over 300 kilograms...The 'orchard model' can change outcomes dramatically."
Croton trees on village road in rural Kenya. Few farmers are aware the crop has value.
 

Ripe for success

Croton can succeed where other biofuels have failed, according to Dr. Gerald Kafuku, principal research officer of the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology, who has published several papers on the properties of croton oil.
"I can say that croton is one of the most promising sources of biofuel," he says. "It can give advantages in the form of biodiesel or straight oil, and as a 'carbon sink' for afforestation."
Kafuku believes that only a lack of funding for research and development is holding croton back from the mainstream. He adds that the region urgently needs such solutions.
"East Africa is among the areas where there is significant environmental degradation," he says. "New biofuels such as croton can add to the alternative sources of renewable energy as well as providing for more planting of trees."
Croton can also avoid the ethical pitfalls of other biofuels by benefiting local communities, according to Rodrigo Ciannella, head of the biofuels program at the World Agroforestry Centre.
"(Croton) is providing value from a natural resource that is already abundant in the country and is largely wasted," he says. "Farmers are already benefiting from receiving additional income...and they could get even more by having access to other components of the value chain such as fertilizer."
With global demand for biofuels set to increase steadily, Katz believes it is a matter of time before oil giants enter the croton market and the nut becomes a major industry that can rival fossil fuels.
"I like to tell people that croton will be a coffee or tea type of value chain," he says. "There will be lots of competitors and regional processing all over East Africa."
Source:CNN.com
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07/Jan/2017

Ghana will soon become a one-party state – Sammy Awuku

The National Youth Organiser of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Sammy Awuku has predicted that Ghana would in the near future will become a one-party state if the NPP becomes a ‘united’ party.

NPP flagbearer, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo finally secured the presidency after a third time, beating the incumbent, President John Mahama with 53.85 percent of valid votes cast.

President Mahama who ran on the ticket of the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC), secured 44.40 of valid votes cast.

The NPP also won 169 Parliamentary seats as against the NDC’s 104 seats. It also won six regions including swing regions of Greater Accra, Eastern and Western Regions.

The NPP is currently contesting the results of eleven parliamentary seats in the Brong Ahafo and Western Regions.

One of the main campaign messages of the NDC in the run up to the December polls was that the NPP was a disintegrated political party.

President John Mahama of the NDC constantly claimed that now President-elect, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo lacked the capacity to unite the country as he was leading a party which had suspended its elected National Chairman and General Secretary.

The President told chiefs in the Eastern Region that Nana Addo would destool chiefs who criticize him when he ascends the highest office of the land since he does not accept dissenting opinions.

The NPP, Sammy Awuku said recorded this ‘impressive result’ despite claims by the NDC that the NPP is not a united party.

“And this leaves me to wonder, if a divided party can win 170 (169) seats with 53.8% presidential, then if we become united, Ghana will be a one-party state," Sammy Awuku said on Peace FM's Kokrokoo Programme on Friday.

Giving reasons for the loss of the NDC, the NPP Youth Leader said the party engaged in excessive propaganda during the electioneering campaign including preying on the health of the NPP flagbearer, Nana Akufo-Addo.

“The NDC just went for the same template Goodluck Jonathan and his party used against Buhari in Nigeria…they called him sick man and ISIS candidate but still Nigerians said they like him and that was the same thing Ghanaians said to the NDC that they still liked Nana Addo…,” he said.

He further thanked the youth of the country for being vigilant on Election Day and also sacrificing their time to campaign for the NPP.

source-ghanaweb

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16/Dec/2016

Teenage girls to launch Africa's first private space satellite

(CNN)They may be teenagers, but 17-year-old Brittany Bull and 16-year-old Sesam Mngqengqiswa have grand ambitions -- to launch Africa's first private satellite into space.

They are part of a team of high school girls from Cape Town, South Africa, who have designed and built payloads for a satellite that will orbit over the earth's poles scanning Africa's surface.
Once in space, the satellite will collect information on agriculture, and food security within the continent.

Using the data transmitted, "we can try to determine and predict the problems Africa will be facing in the future", explains Bull, a student at Pelican Park High School.

"Where our food is growing, where we can plant more trees and vegetation and also how we can monitor remote areas," she says. "We have a lot of forest fires and floods but we don't always get out there in time."
Information received twice a day will go towards disaster prevention.
It's part of a project by South Africa's Meta Economic Development Organization (MEDO) working with Morehead State University in the US.
South Africa's program aims to encourage girls into STEM, particularly astronomy. Less than 10% of young women are interested in STEM subjects.
 

Ambitious first

The girls (14 in total) are being trained by satellite engineers from Cape Peninsula University of Technology, in a bid to encourage more African women into STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics).
Scheduled to launch in May 2017, if successful it will make MEDO the first private company in Africa to build a satellite and send it into orbit.
"We expect to receive a good signal, which will allow us to receive reliable data," declares an enthusiastic Mngqengqiswa, of Philippi High School. "In South Africa we have experienced some of the worst floods and droughts and it has really affected the farmers very badly."
By 2020 80% of jobs will be related to STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics), MEDO predicts, but currently only 14% of  the STEM workforce globally are women.
 
An El Niño induced drought led to a shortfall of 9.3 million tons in southern Africa's April 2016 maize production, according to a UN report.
South Africa is expected to import between 3 million and 4 million tonnes of maize to meet its shortfall this year.
"It has caused our economy to drop ... This is a way of looking at how we can boost our economy," says the young Mngqengqiswa.

Inspiring girls

The girls' satellite will have a detailed vantage point of South Africa's drought crisis which led to a shortfall of 9.3 million tons in southern Africa's April 2016 maize production.
 
Initial trials involved the girls programming and launching small CricketSat satellites using high-altitude weather balloons, before eventually helping to configure the satellite payloads.
Small format satellites are low cost ways of gathering data on the planet quickly. Tests so far have involved collecting thermal imaging data which is then interpreted for early flood or drought detection.
"It's a new field for us [in Africa] but I think with it we would be able to make positive changes to our economy," says Mngqengqiswa.
Ultimately, it is hoped the project will include girls from Namibia, Malawi, Kenya, and Rwanda.
Mngqengqiswa comes from a single parent household. Her mother is a domestic worker. By becoming a space engineer or astronaut, the teenager hopes to make her mother proud.
"Discovering space and seeing the Earth's atmosphere, it's not something many black Africans have been able to do, or do not get the opportunity to look at," says Mngqengqiswa.
The schoolgirl is right; in half a century of space travel, no black African has journeyed to outer space. "I want to see these things for myself," says Mngqengqiswa, "I want to be able to experience these things."
Her team mate, Bull agrees, "I want to show to fellow girls that we don't need to sit around or limit ourselves. Any career is possible -- even aerospace."
Source:CNN.com
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26/Nov/2016

Africa

Uganda is shutting down schools funded by Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates

(CNN)A legal tug-of-war between Ugandan authorities and a for-profit international chain of schools has led to the education provider being ordered to shut down in a matter of weeks, leaving the lives of thousands of pupils in limbo.

Uganda's High Court has described the Bridge International Academies (BIA) -- which is funded by the likes of Microsoft's Bill Gates and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg -- as unsanitary and unqualified, and has ordered it to close its doors in December because it ignored Uganda's national standards and put the "life and safety" of its 12,000 young students on the line.
The Director of Education Standards for the Ministry, Huzaifa Mutazindwa, told CNN that the nursery and primary schools were not licensed, the teachers weren't qualified and that there was no record of its curriculum being approved.
"The Ministry does not know what is being taught in these schools which is a point of concern to (the) government," Mutazindwa said.
The low-cost education provider, which has 63 campuses across Uganda, is allowed to remain open until December 8 to allow students to sit for exams and finish third term. This was after BIA secured an interim court order that restrained the government from closing its schools until its main case for stay could be heard in court.
For its part, BIA — which runs more than 400 nursery and primary schools across Africa — has continuously denied the allegations that have been made by the government.
"There's a lot of miscommunication and a lot of very serious, unfounded allegations. We would like to be given the opportunity to explain ourselves ... The Ministry has been unwilling to give us an audience to set the record straight," Uganda's BIA director, Andrew White, told CNN.
In a statement, BIA addressed eight allegations that have been made about its operations. It said it teaches the Ugandan curriculum, all schools have good sanitation facilities and that the majority of their teachers are certified and registered. Those who aren't certified and registered, it said, are attending in-service training.
Pupils from Bridge International Academies protest after Uganda's High Court ordered the closure of its low-cost private schools.
 
When asked why the allegations were made if they weren't true, White said: "We definitely feel like a lot of pressure has been applied to have a particular view of Bridge that is a negative one."
He suggested that the opposition against BIA was because the campuses competed against local state-run and private schools.
"I don't think the government is threatened by Bridge, but I think lobby groups are trying to make the government and ministry feel like they should be," White said.

A private institution 'profiting from the poor'

President of the Global Campaign for Education (GCE), Camilla Croso, told CNN that the quality of their schools is "totally inadequate and unacceptable."
"They are profit making enormously," she said. "It's very indecent because they are looking at poor people as a profitable market."
"It really is incompatible to have human rights and profit making because you are motivated and act in completely different ways."
Almost 20% of Uganda's population live below the poverty line, according to The World Bank.
 
Salima Namusobya, the Executive Director for the Initiative for Society and Economic Rights (ISER), also agreed with the closure and told CNN that BIA's intentions were insincere.
"(BIA) has come into the country and not discussed with the regulators and set up a massive project," she said, adding that privatization of education goes against human rights principles -- particularly if it targets the poor.
"I think there's some level of arrogance that comes with this and I really think they're for the profit and not to assist the children."

'Standardized' and 'scripted' education

Critics allege that BIA's education methods are not transparent, and that their approach is standardized and scripted.
"You can't call it an education that Bridge is offering," Croso said.
"You have technology -- like tablets -- often standing in place of teachers and you have very scripted classes that tell the teachers exactly what to do and when -- so you don't have any sort of autonomy and you can't improvise."
She said teachers needed to understand the topics so they could panel it.
"Education has nothing to do with that (standardization) -- it's about debating, thinking and discussions."
Croso said that instead, society should demand that governments "step into their responsibility" to ensure it is putting resources into quality education.
Critics say Bridge International Academies are indecently profiting from the poor in Uganda, who live in slums like this.
 
Namusobya from ISER said she believes BIA causes segregation between the poor and rich.
She said in government-run schools every child is treated equally, but BIA's model only targets the poor.
"(They are) only going to interact with themselves... When will they get to interact with other children?
"It's like you're saying that these children, because they are poor, they deserve to be in bad infrastructure, they deserve to sit in classes on their own and maybe one day they'll catch up with the rich."

There's no 'adequate choice of education' in Uganda

In response to the criticism it's received, BIA argues that it provides alternative education for students who would other be forced to study in state-run schools and notes that it only charges $6 a month.
"The existence of Bridge is in response to hundreds of thousands of parents who as of today don't have an adequate choice of education for their children," White said.
"The reason Bridge exists is to try and help the government address this by providing innovative and cost effective solutions."

When I transferred (my two grandchildren) to Bridge, in less than one term they had made huge improvements. They can now read and write well on their own.

Daifa Maimuna, a grandparent from BIA's Adalafu Academy

While $6 a month seems like a minute amount to some, NGOs have argued that it's a substantial amount to charge those in poverty.
But White said BIA provides an "effective and affordable service" that parents want for their children.
"The poor are individual actors who can make informed decisions on how to spend their hard earned money," he said.
"Parents have seen in the short time that their children have been with Bridge that they are incredibly engaged. Parents for the first time see their kids wanting to go to school and they have children who are actively doing their homework every day."
While BIA has not yet evaluated the performance of their children in Uganda, in Kenya BIA found that is students "outperform their peers in public schools in basic literacy and reading."
"We have a track record for academic success ... The model is very similar in Uganda and we expect in 2017 they will also excel." White said.
Bridge International Academies have said their classes are "extremely interactive" and their teachers provide their pupils with the "highest possible education."
 
He said BIA uses technology to help its teachers provide a "holistic" education.
"Bridge does not believe technology can replace a teacher ... We've spent millions of dollars to ensure our teachers have the resources and skills to make sure they can provide our pupils with the highest possible education."

When I transferred (my two grandchildren) to Bridge, in less than one term they had made huge improvements. They can now read and write well on their own.

Daifa Maimuna, a grandparent from BIA's Adalafu Academy

He said if those lobbying against the organization "came and engaged" with their teaching and learning they "would see that it is extremely interactive" where teachers engaged with their pupils and worked equally as hard on the strong and weak performers.
Co-Founder of BIA, Shannon May, also explained to CNN how its school fees and donations were invested into the academies.
"All school fees are spent on operating and supporting the academies," she said.
"In addition, Bridge has invested over $100m in education and technology research and development, capital expenses for schools, and to cover operating expenses that are greater than the fees we charge."
But Croso from GCE said that regardless, for BIA and any other private organization to benefit Ugandan education, they need to work within the country's law.
"BIA stands out and this is an opportunity to learn from the mistakes," she said.
While the debate continues in Uganda until the final hearing in December, White from BIA said it was "affirming" to see how committed parents were to BIA in the short time they had children in their classes.
"What we're doing in Uganda is positive. We can see the impact it's having and we want to continue to do whatever we can and whatever is in our power to make sure that continues."
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26/Nov/2016

Slaughter of innocents continues in battle for Mosul

Mosul, Iraq (CNN)Omar Ali stands outside his home in eastern Mosul weeping. The young father's sense of relief after being liberated from ISIS has been replaced by a feeling of unbearable loss.

Only a day earlier his 18-month-old daughter Amira was there on the pavement in the Zahraa neighborhood playing with relatives when a mortar round landed nearby. Shrapnel tore through the air and the child's skull. Amira was killed instantly. Her two cousins were seriously injured.
"Look world, this is my daughter," Omar Ali cries. "What did she do wrong? She's gone. She was just playing. She's gone from me and she's my only child."
He holds a photograph of Amira dressed in a black sweater with white hearts, her cherub face looking up rather than at the camera.
She is young and innocent like so many of the dozens of civilian victims the street-to-street battle for Mosul produces every single day.

The fight to save lives

Two kilometers away in a dusty lot behind an abandoned house turned clinic, a team of Iraqi military medics fights to save the lives of injured people who can get there.
Every day they see the terrible consequences of mortars fired into neighborhoods like Zahraa, where Amira lost her short life.
Distraught father Omar Ali holds a picture of his daughter Amira who was killed by an ISIS mortar.
 
It's a bloody, seemingly endless production line. The wounded are delivered, patched up quickly and loaded into ambulances for transport to hospitals.
"ISIS now has no course of action but to target children and civilians, because they are the easiest to attack," says Lt. Khaleel Amer, head of the triage center. "The mortar rounds have left so many civilians wounded or dead."
A wounded child is treated at a military triage center in Mosul  before being transferred to a hospital nearby.
 
The terror group's tactic of desperation as nearly 100,000 fighters advance toward Mosul is to simply lob mortars indiscriminately toward government-controlled areas.
One family arrives in the back of a Humvee belonging to the Iraqi Counter-Terror Force. Eight wounded men stumble out on their own or are gently lifted by the soldiers.
One man with leg injuries plants a kiss of gratitude on the cheek of the uniformed medic carrying him in his arms.
Suddenly an unharmed man yells: "Everything is gone because of ISIS! God damn ISIS and those who brought them upon us!"
He breaks down in tears, too distraught to give his name, and continues to tell the story of how his 21-year-old son was killed.
"A mortar fell just in front of the door. We came and he was just a piece of meat. Four or five of my neighbors were standing with him. And they are all dead."
The bodies of civilians are loaded onto a truck for transfer to burial sites.
 
What's left of his son is wrapped in a dark green blanket in the back of the Humvee.
Just across the street, parents struggle to carry their belongings and children wave white flags as they stream into a processing center for refugees
They are among the 68,000 people the United Nations estimates have been displaced by the fighting, just a fraction of Mosul's population.
"It was a terrifying night," one mother says as she gathers her children. "As soon as there was daylight we packed our belongings and left. Thank God we are safe."
Source:CNN.com
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26/Nov/2016

Daredevils race classic planes across Africa

(CNN)In 1928, Irish pilot Lady Sophie Marie Heath made history with the first solo flight across the length of Africa, an 8,000-mile journey from Cairo to Cape Town.

Africa was a hotspot for pioneers during the early years of aviation, and this rich history is to receive an update.
On November 11, a fleet of 15 vintage aircraft will take off from the Greek island of Crete for an epic race across 10 countries, over 35 days, to a finish line in Cape Town. Each pilot will fly a single-engine biplane produced before 1939.
"This has never been done with this number of biplanes over this duration of time over this sort of distance," says Sam Rutherford of Prepare2Go, the logistics company organizing the Vintage Air Rally. "There could be a good reason for that! We are about to find out."
From the pyramids of Giza to Victoria Falls, the rally promises spectacular moments for the pilots.
For participating nations, the rewards could last longer.

Take off

Rutherford, a pilot himself, was inspired to create the rally when he learned that no similar event had been attempted.
"It was an intriguing mix of adventure, jeopardy, difficulty and competition combined with beautiful aircraft and beautiful places in Africa," he says.
Creating the event has been a collaborative effort, involving national governments, sponsors, charities and suppliers. The greatest logistical challenge was to provide specialist fuel for the antique planes, says Rutherford, which has been imported to several points of the route.
The racers are aviation enthusiasts from across the world from Germany to Botswana and the US. They bring a collection of classic aircraft from the 1920s to1930s, including a restored "gipsy moth" plane used by Robert Redford in the movie "Out of Africa."
"They are very different from modern airplanes," says Alexandra Maingard, who will represent Belgium and France with her husband. "Landings are quite challenging and starting the engine is an issue too -- sometimes you have to roll the propeller by hand."
Safety risks are real with such antique aircraft, Rutherford acknowledges, but they also offer advantages.
"The chance of an engine failure is greater than normal," he says. "But even at full speed the aircraft are barely doing 70 miles per hour, so the forced landing speed is very low...and survivability for the pilot is extremely high."
The rally will stop at many of the continent's most popular attractions such as Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.
 

Lasting benefits

The rally promises a range of benefits for local industries and the environment.
Prepare2go is raising money for UNICEF and endangered vultures, and each team will drop "seed-bombs" from the air to support reforestation of arid land.
Governments also see economic opportunities in the rally, particularly for their tourism industries. Participating nations are making their premium attractions and resources available, notably Egypt, which is allowing pilots to land at the pyramids of Giza for the first time in 80 years.
The rally offers a unique marketing platform, according to Givemore Chidzidzi, chief operating officer of the Zimbabwe Tourist Board.
"This is an opportunity to showcase Zimbabwe as a destination and we hope this will steer tourist traffic," he says. "We will provide services for a world-class event in terms of accommodation, catering and technical support that will show Zimbabwe is ready for business and ready for tourism."
Zimbabwe has chosen to show off Victoria Falls and the city of Bulawayo, while Kenya will display its national parks, and Sudan will host a spectacular air show at Khartoum international airport.
Events will be captured for a global audience through a documentary team, and a flight simulation company will offer gamers the chance to virtually ride in the cockpits.
Tourism ministries hope that this voyage of nostalgia will inspire a new generation to discover the treasures of the continent.
Source:CNN.com
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11/Nov/2016

The homes left behind by ISIS

(CNN)Where there is danger, where there is death, there is also responsibility.

For Magnus Wennman, it is that responsibility and drive to tell a story that has catapulted him from war zone to war zone and conflict to conflict.
In the past 20 years, the Swedish photographer has seen his share of blood and violence. But the plight of the Iraqi people -- and those ensconced in the middle of the battle for Mosul -- has taken the meaning of warfare to a new level.
"I would say this is probably the worst situation I've seen," Wennman said.
"There is no filter, no one can feel safe, and there are no safe areas. This conflict is so brutal. (ISIS militants) are not concerned if it's civilians, journalists or anyone -- they are all the enemy. It's a very, very scary situation."
Wennman, working for Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, was embedded with Kurdish Peshmerga troops on the opening day of the assault on Mosul. He was allowed to enter a number of villages that had been inhabited by ISIS troops before they were driven out by coalition forces.
He was guided past hundreds of booby traps and improvised explosive devices to homes that had housed ISIS fighters and a huge collection of bomb-making equipment.
"Everything was pretty much destroyed because of the battle the day before," he said.
"In my opinion, the people who were living there didn't really prepare for a life there. There was bomb-making equipment everywhere. It seemed that the people who had lived there were just preparing for war."
Wennman had visited Iraq a month earlier to chart the journey of refugees who were fleeing the violence. He returned to tell a story, which he says has become "the most important of the year."
His "Where the Children Sleep" series, in which he documented the struggles of Syrian refugees, touched hearts across the world and was universally lauded.
He has witnessed a number of harrowing sights and at times wrestled with the emotional side of his work, as he did during his most recent trip to Iraq.
"I think in one way you have to protect yourself from feelings," he said, "and you do that with the help of your camera and profession. But sometimes it's really hard.
"If you don't protect yourself, you're not able to work. It's something you just have to deal with."
Now back in Sweden, Wennman hopes that his photos will prick the public consciousness.
"I want those looking to remember that it's not a big group of people who are being targeted," he said.
"It's millions of different people. They could all be you and me."
Source:CNN.com
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11/Nov/2016

Walmart, Target, Best Buy roll out Black Friday deals

Walmart, Target and Best Buy have rolled out their Black Friday plans.

Target (TGT) will open its doors at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Best Buy (BBY) stores will open an hour earlier at 5 p.m. Best Buy will also close at 1 a.m. early Friday and reopen at 8 a.m.

 

And Walmart (WMT) will start a Black Friday event at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving. Most Walmart stores are open 24 hours.

All three major retailers are also announcing expanded plans for digital and in-store deals.

Walmart says the majority of its Black Friday deals will be available on its website starting at 12:01 a.m. ET on Thanksgiving. It's advertising HDTVs from $125 to $398, drones for as little as $30 and more than 750 DVDs and Blu-ray movies starting at $1.96.

Best Buy is offering hundreds of dollars in savings on Macbook Airs and DSLR cameras. The company is also selling video games for less than $30 and the Fitbit Charge 2 for less than $130, savings of $30 and $20, respectively.

Target, meanwhile, is offering a selection of deals through Thursday, including 30% off shoes and 25% off Apple TV models. The company says it is also bringing back its 10 Days of Deals and Black Friday Presale promotions.

Source:CNN.com

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11/Nov/2016

Ivory Coast: Powering Africa's fastest growing economy

(CNN)Following many years of political turmoil and civil conflict, business is back - and booming - in the Ivory Coast.

This prosperous West African country is Africa's fastest growing economy in 2016, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The country's phenomenal growth rate of 8.5 percent greatly contrasts with the rest of sub-Saharan Africa which has only seen three percent growth.
But not every Ivorian is reaping the rewards. While the economy powers ahead, many citizens have been left behind, with the World Bank estimating that nearly half of the population still lives in poverty.
Despite the reality for many on the ground, the IMF predicts the country's GDP will increase by an average of 7.4 percent between 2017 and 2020.

Investing in the Ivory Coast

After a decade of absence, the African Development Bank returned in 2014, moving its headquarters from Tunisia back to Abidjan.
"As soon as the bank came back and prior to that, the growth opportunities from peace and stability were tremendous," says African Development Bank Senior Vice President, Frannie Leautier.
In recent years, the African Development Bank has contributed to one of the biggest private infrastructure projects in the country: the impressive Henry Konan Bedié (HKB) bridge.

Bridging the gap

The HKB bridge spans across the Ébrié Lagoon, connecting the wealthy residential side of Abidjan in the north to the city's business and industrial districts in the south.
The bridge has greatly improved the quality of life in Abidjan, cutting 30 minutes off the average driver's total commute time.
Building the expressway took three years and cost a mighty $250 million. The African Development Bank contributed $65 million toward its completion. "These are usually expensive projects. You need to bring in multiple players," says Leautier.

Bringing power to the people

Further key investments in the country can be seen in the rapidly advancing energy sector. In the past 20 years, independent electricity producer, Ciprel, has invested $560 million to meet the growing demand.
"Power demand has grown by 10 percent each year for the last five years," says Ralph Olayé, Business Development Director of Ciprel's parent company, Eranove.
Ivory Coast is blessed with both natural resources to produce hydropower and gas to produce thermo-power. According to Olayé, the country "serves a powerhouse for the region".
Despite the country's extensive national grid, meaning more than 80 percent of residents live a few meters from the electricity line, only a small portion of Ivorians have access to power at home.
"Currently the number of population that is connected to the grid is in the tune of 40 percent," says Olayé.
This is owing to the fact that many Ivorians cannot afford to buy and install meters. The government is working on doing away with the initial cost of providing a meter through a program called "Electricité pour tous" (Electricity for All).
"We expect growth to become more inclusive so that the population will benefit more than what is has," says the IMF's Ivory Coast Mission Chief, Dhaneshwar Ghura.
Source:CNN.com
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07/Nov/2016

Nigeria investigates reports that officials raped displaced women

(CNN)Nigeria has launched an investigation into reports alleging that government officials raped and sexually abused women and girls who survived Boko Haram violence.

The move comes after Human Rights Watch published a report detailing accounts by dozens of women and girls who said they were sexually abused or coerced into sex.
The women said they were raped or abused by camp leaders, vigilante group members, policemen and soldiers at camps in Borno State's capital, Maiduguri. The camps were set up to offer aid to people displaced by fighting in Nigeria's northeast.
Nigeria's Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, has set up a special team "to immediately commence thorough Investigation into all cases of alleged sexual abuses, exploitation, harassments, gender-based violence and professional misconduct," a statement from the inspector general's office said Thursday.

Police: Security at camps to be beefed up

Some of the victims had escaped captivity by terror group Boko Haram, only to become victims at the camps where they sought refuge, the rights group said. Many of the women were impregnated by their abusers at the camps. Several victims were drugged before they were raped.
The inspector general called on HRW to make available to the investigation team any additional information about the 43 cases of abuse featured in the report that could assist the police inquiry.
He has taken measures to beef up security at the camps and said any acts that violate the human dignity of displaced people by individuals or groups in the camps or anywhere in the country will be handled in accordance with the law, according to the statement.

Borno State governor: 'We must act now'

Following the HRW report, Borno State Gov. Kashim Shettima has revealed plans to request law enforcement agencies to deploy female and male undercover detectives to all camps for internally displaced people in Borno State "to spy on culprits and bring them to book," according to a statement from his office.
"Sadly and very sadly indeed, the (Internally Displaced People) camps have become avenues that horrible stories of sexual slavery, prostitution rings, drug peddling and other social vices are emanating from," the governor said.
"Sexual harassment of female IDPs is a desperate situation," he said. "None of us would fold arms if his or her daughter is in position to be sexually harassed, so we must act now."

Displaced by fighting

Dubbed the world's deadliest terror group, Boko Haram has launched attacks in northern Nigeria and surrounding areas for years.
More than 20,000 people have been killed since 2009 when the conflict began. Nearly 2.5 million have been displaced.
Boko Haram, which in the local Hausa language means "western education is sin," wants to institute a strict form of Sharia law in Nigeria.
Its mass abductions and attacks on soft targets, including schools, mosques and churches, have prompted stark international condemnation.
Source:CNN.com
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07/Nov/2016

Hong Kong sadist: British banker's descent into depravity

(CNN)Rurik Jutting seemed to have it all.

He was a young, intelligent British banker earning half a million dollars a year, in the teeming metropolis of Hong Kong.
Jutting was also overweight, perpetually intoxicated and increasingly depraved.
On a balmy October evening in 2014, Jutting returned home with a 23-year-old Indonesian woman he'd met via Craigslist.
Eight days later, she was found dead in his upscale apartment, her body stuffed in a suitcase on the balcony. Another Indonesian woman lay dead with her throat slit on the floor, which was covered in blood, cocaine and torture devices.
Two years later, Jutting, now 31, is on trial at Hong Kong's High Court, charged with two counts of murder and one of preventing lawful burial.
"(These are) the narcissistic ramblings of Rurik Jutting, of the Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, newly soon to be unemployed and now a rapist and a murderer," he said in one of the many drug-fuelled, manic videos he made on his iPhone over the course of that shocking week.
The major facts of the case are agreed by both sides. But Jutting has pleaded not guilty to murder, claiming diminished responsibility, saying he wasn't in his right mind.
He has pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter, a plea rejected by the prosecution.
The jury is expected to begin deliberations on Tuesday, November 8.
The following account is based on court documents and evidence and testimony given to the jury since the trial started on October 24.
 
In order: Seneng Mujiasih, Rurik Jutting and Sumarti Ningsih
 

Cocaine, vodka and porn

"He is almost boasting about what he has done" -- Dr Richard Latham, forensic psychiatrist, at Jutting's trial
In October 2014, Jutting lived in an expensive, stylish apartment in the heart of Hong Kong's Wan Chai, a busy commercial and residential area that's home to the city's red-light district.
Like most Hong Kong apartments, it was small -- just one bedroom, a toilet and a living area with open kitchen -- but rent wasn't cheap, more than HK$20,000 (US$2,580) a month.
It was also a mess, just like its then-occupant's life. By 2014, Jutting would later tell psychiatrists in prison, he was drinking up to two bottles of spirits every day, on top of several cans of the energy drink Red Bull.
He told them he was using cocaine regularly -- up to 10 grams in a 24-hour period -- and spending large sums of money on prostitutes, especially ones who were submissive.
Rurik Jutting's former apartment building, J Residence, in Hong Kong.
 
His mother had named him Rurik, meaning "great one, special one," and when he left the UK in 2013 he seemed likely to live up to it.
But by the time he arrived in Hong Kong in 2013 everything was going downhill.
He didn't have a girlfriend, or any long-term friendships and his job was on the rocks after he was moved within the bank in 2012 when his section was deemed a "serious risk" due to "a violation of regulations," the court heard.
"(He was) boastful, had a high opinion of himself (but it was) a thin shell that can be broken. Underneath he can feel pain and despair, had a fragile sense of self-esteem," forensic psychiatrist Dr Richard Latham told the jury.
Latham diagnosed Jutting with a narcissistic personality disorder -- he didn't feel empathy like normal people -- and determined that he was developing into a sexual sadist.
First victim Sumarti Ningsih
 

Sumarti

"She was a really, really nice person," Jutting in an iPhone video after the murder
Sumarti Ningsih, known as Alice, did not want to go home with Jutting when he contacted her on October 25.
They'd had sex for money before, after Jutting found her listing on Craigslist. That time, Jutting told police, he had been rough with her -- he held her down, used sex toys on her.
Feeling uncomfortable, she asked to leave early, even though it meant she had to pay back half the money. He had agreed.
"(It was) the first time I got sexual satisfaction from hurting another person," he would tell police.
Ningsih first arrived in Hong Kong in 2011 to be a domestic helper, working for subsistence wages as maids and child minders for Hong Kong's families like tens of thousands of other Indonesian and Filipina women.
Ningsih had a young son of her own, living in Indonesia with her family. He was just five years old when he lost his mother.
Her cousin, who asked not to be named out of concerns for her privacy, told CNN she'd been like a big sister to her.
They left together for Hong Kong to make a better life for themselves. "We wanted to make a change, wanted a better life, and to help our family," she said.
Ningsih had a five year old son when she was killed.
 
The same cousin would later be called to identify her body.
Her mother told CNN Indonesia last month she had been the family's breadwinner. "I've lost my child and I won't see her again," she said.
In 2014, after a brief return to Indonesia, Ningsih flew back to Hong Kong on a tourist visa.
When Jutting contacted her on October 25, the Indonesian woman was very reluctant to see him.
She hadn't forgotten his vicious treatment of her last time -- and asked if she could bring a friend, according to what Jutting told police.
Jutting refused, offering her as much as HK$10,000 (US$1,290) to spend the night. Eventually she agreed.
Security cameras captured the two entering the J Residence apartment complex at 3.38 a.m. on October 25.

We played a bit

"Why did I kill her?" -- Jutting interrogation tape, Hong Kong police, November 2
Jutting couldn't get an erection after they took cocaine together -- he never could when using the drug -- so he took a different tack.
"We played a bit," Jutting told police. "I got rough with her in the course of that -- it went from consensual to non-consensual."
Using purple rope, he tied Ningsih up, sending photos of her to his cocaine dealer.
For three days, in escalating degrees of cruelty, Jutting tortured his captive, telling her he'd kill her if she didn't cooperate.
He filmed her on his phone as he debased her, in videos so shocking the judge at his trial wouldn't allow some of them to be shown to the public gallery.
"Do you want me to hit you?" he asked her on the tape. "If you say yes, I'll hit you once. If you say no, I'll hit you twice."
At other times, he goes from asking if she loved him, commending her for being a "good girl", to threatening her with harsher violence.
In a postmortem examination, the coroner would say there were signs he had clamped her nipples with pliers and whipped her repeatedly with a belt.
In the early hours of Tuesday morning, October 27, Jutting slit her throat, He later told police he had thought about letting her go, in his more lucid moments, but in the end he killed her in the shower, her hands tied behind her back.
Less than five minutes after he had killed Ningsih, Jutting was filming himself, flustered and shirtless. He moves the phone from his face to her motionless body on the bathroom floor.
Jutting said he hadn't planned to kill her. He thought about jumping off the balcony, then and there.
But he couldn't deny he had enjoyed the torture, the feeling of being in complete control. "She was my property and there to please me," Jutting spoke into his iPhone camera in one of his first videos after the killing. "Frankly, I am addicted."
Over the next three days, he takes more cocaine, courtesy of his dealer who was making regular visits to his apartment, and made more videos on his iPhone.
In some he details his plans for further torture and rape, in others he talks about how he is going to go to prison for life. "Don't think I should watch my videos ... I am an ugly fat f**k now. Used to be good looking but now (I'm) an utterly f**ked up loser."
At one point, he moves Ningsih's body from the shower, tying it up in cords and wrapping it in sheets before putting it in a suitcase, out on the balcony.
At some stage, he changes his automatic work email message.
"I'm out of the office. Indefinitely. For urgent enquiries, or indeed any enquiries, please contact someone who is not an insane psychopath. For escalation please contact God."
On October 31, Jutting came up with a plan -- he would leave the body in his apartment, block up the doors and then fly back to the UK. He would say goodbye to his parents before going into a police station to hand himself in.
He never booked the tickets though -- instead, he went out to buy torture instruments to use on his second victim.
Suneng Mujiasih worked as a waitress in Hong Kong.
 

Seneng

"I don't know why I chose her ... she was at that point simply prey" -- Jutting in police interviews, November 2
Jutting's first stop was a sex shop, then on the way home, he stopped off at a hardware store.
Back in his apartment, iPhone recording again, he showed off his haul.
"In this bag we have cord, zip ties, what's this, oh it's a big hammer," Jutting said while recording on his iPhone. He showed off sandpaper, pins, nails and pliers.
Seneng "Jesse" Mujiasih, 26, was working as a waitress at New Makati, a bar in Wan Chai, on that Friday night.
A friend of hers, Wan Chai bar owner Robert Van Dem Bosch, saw her. She told him she was going to have "great night."
He described her as strong, a "beautiful, happy, good-looking woman."
"She was trying to make a better life for later, the money she made here, she didn't throw away on all kinds of things," he said.
"Maybe make up and nice clothes to look good, but the rest of the money she saved and sent to her home country of Indonesia to build a house," he told CNN.
She was going to retire to Indonesia, Van Dem Bosch said.
Jutting offered her as much as HK$20,000 (US$2,580) to stay for the weekend. Security cameras captured Jutting ushering his second victim inside the apartment complex just before midnight.
After they entered the apartment she immediately commented how messy it was -- he joked she should be his regular cleaner.
She removed her clothes and they sat on the couch -- where she saw his makeshift gag, hidden under one of the pillows.
Mujiasih leaped up, shocked, yelling in Bahasa Indonesian, Jutting would later tell the police. In response, he grabbed the knife he'd hidden underneath a cushion and held it to her throat, telling her to shut up or he'd kill her.
She ignored him, continuing to yell for help.
He killed her, shoving the blade down onto her throat.

'I'm trying to surrender'

"I am just very high on coke and feel zero emotions," Jutting in iPhone video after second murder
One woman lay dead on the floor of his living room. Another was decaying in a suitcase on the balcony.
His apartment was covered in blood, cocaine and torture tools.
Jutting walked out on the balcony, where he thought he could see people looking at him. He was sure they had called the police.
Looking through the peephole in his apartment door, he saw two police officers outside. He barricaded the door with boxes. Still he could see the door handle moving.
On early November 1, Jutting called the police on his Blackberry. He'd soon hand over his iPhone, including all his recorded videos, for evidence.
"My name is Rurik Jutting, I'm sitting in my flat in Wan Chai. I'm trying to surrender myself to the multiple, I don't know if they are the police, or army, or special forces around me and I don't really know what they want me to do," he told the responder.
The responder had no idea what was happening. There were no police at Jutting's apartment. He had imagined them. He called the cops on himself.
Rurik Jutting Hong Kong murder background_00000619
 

'They weren't sex objects'

"I am sure you will never forget the reality of the horror that those women had to endure" -- defense attorney Tim Owen, closing argument
In Hong Kong's High Court, two years later, Jutting appeared largely composed.
His parents didn't attend the trial, or any family members, but it was packed with journalists, many of whom had been flown half way around the world by the British tabloid media to cover the case of Hong Kong's "American Psycho" killer.
His appearance shocked those in the public gallery -- his once curly hair has been cut short and he had lost a significant amount of weight since 2014.
When his videos of his torture of Ningsih were played to the jury -- drawing audible gasps -- he closed his eyes.
At other times, especially during his defense, he appeared more animated, chatting to and exchanging notes with his lawyers.
His defense attorney Tim Owen, told the jury their defense of diminished responsibility was "a concession to human frailty."
"I am not asking you to feel sympathy for Rurik Jutting. I am not asking you to feel sorry for him," he said in his closing remarks.
"(But by October 2014) Rurik Jutting was about as far from normal as it is possible to be."
The prosecution attorney, in his summing up, shifted the jury's attention from Jutting to the two women who had been buried in unremarkable graves in Indonesia, two years before.
"They were living human beings. They weren't sex objects."
Source:Cnn.com
Read more
07/Nov/2016

Man shot dead outside US Embassy in Kenya after knife attack

Nairobi, Kenya (CNN)A police officer shot and killed a man who stabbed him as he stood guard outside the US Embassy in Nairobi Thursday, authorities said.

"The officer fired back in self-defense and managed to kill (the attacker). My officer is in hospital in a stable condition. The victim died on the spot," Vitalis Otieno, the Gigiri division commanding officer of the Nairobi Police, told CNN.
The man killed was a Kenyan national, police said, but they are not releasing his name while the case is under investigation. His motive was not immediately clear.
The officer was stabbed in the head, Otieno said. Further details about the officer's injury weren't immediately available.
The US Embassy confirmed that a shooting had taken place outside its premises and said none of its staff members were involved.
Photos circulating on social media showed what appeared to be the man, lying lifeless next to a pool of blood as a uniformed officer looks over him, taking notes.
The US Embassy is located in Nairobi's Gigiri district among several other embassies and United Nations offices.
Source:CNN.com
 
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29/Oct/2016

FedEx cargo plane burns at Fort Lauderdale airport

(CNN)A FedEx cargo plane caught fire on the runway at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Friday afternoon, causing the airport to shut down for several hours, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

 
Video shot by an onlooker at the airport showed a fireball exploding out of the damaged aircraft and recorded the startled cries of people watching.
The pilot and copilot escaped harm using a rope ladder on the right side of the aircraft, according to Mike Jachles of Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue. No members of the ground crews were hurt, he added.
The fire occurred after the plane's landing gear collapsed as it touched ground, the FAA said. The Boeing MD-10 was operating as Flight 910 from Memphis, Tennessee, where FedEx is based.
Most of the fire damage occurred on the plane's exterior near the left wing and engine, Jachles said. The interior of the plane appeared to be undamaged
The plane was carrying FedEx shipments and US Mail, he said.
FedEx Services Senior Communications Specialist Davina Cole said the company was cooperating with authorities. Boeing has not yet responded to a request for comment.
The Florida airport's south runway reopened for air traffic at 7 p.m., according to the airport's Twitter account. The north runway remains closed while the investigation of the FedEx plane fire continues.
Source:CNN.com
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29/Oct/2016

Meet kid who got super-rare 100% in AP calculus

NDIANAPOLIS — Truman Bennet has always been good at math.

His parents, he said, placed an emphasis on math when he was young. And now, as an 18-year-old Marion High School senior, his math skills have paid off.

Bennet is one of just 18 students in the world to achieve a perfect score — earning every point possible — on the Advanced Placement Calculus AB exam, putting him among  0.006% of students who took the exam, according to the College Board.

"It’s just amazing," he said. "Just to be part of an elite group of people like that."

The AP Calculus AB is equivalent to a first semester college calculus course, according to the College Board, the organization that administers the exam. Topics covered include concepts and skills of limits, derivatives, definite integrals and the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus. AP exams are graded on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest score possible.

Bennet was notified of his perfect score on the calculus exam in July after taking the exam in May, but he received notification from the College Board late last week. He attributed his success to in-class preparation, coordinated by his teacher, Doug Porter.

"You know, something like this is a feat that I would have never imagined," Porter said. "Nothing like this happens by accident; it’s a product of a lot of hard work, and Truman does not cut any corners."

“Nothing like this happens by accident; it’s a product of a lot of hard work, and Truman does not cut any corners.”

Doug Porter, math teacher

Porter has been a math teacher for 23 years, 11 of those spent teaching AP calculus. He said he had never thought one of his students would get a perfect score, although Marion students consistently exceed national average passing results.

When Bennet took the exam, he paid to have his free response questions returned and asked Porter to grade them using online rubrics, he said.

"I looked at the rubric and I said: 'Truman, I don’t see any mistakes in this,' " Porter said. But there was still room for possible error among the 45 multiple choice questions.

But Bennet's exam was perfect. And Porter deflected the credit Bennet gave him.

"That's Truman: No matter what he does or accomplishes, he’s always quick to praise others or to build others up," Porter said. "I’m so proud of him."

Bennet said word of his score got around and that people have been congratulating him all week.

"It’s still crazy," he said. "Kids at school that you’ve probably never talked to before and probably never will talk to again, telling you congrats."

In addition to his perfect score on the calculus exam, he scored a 5 on the AP Statistics exam. He said he plans to take four other AP exams at the end of this academic year.

His advice for other students who aspire to achieve perfect scores on their AP exams? Practice and grade yourself honestly.

"See what kind of questions you’re struggling with, which ones you’re not," he said. "Really, you need to be picky with yourself so when you take the exam, you do exactly what you want."

Bennet said he hopes to study mathematics in college and earn a doctorate to become a college professor. He already has been accepted to Ball State University, has applied to Purdue University and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and plans to apply to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

"I don’t know exactly how to include it on my application yet," he said. "This definitely doesn’t hurt."

Source:USA Today.com

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22/Oct/2016

She Never Spoke of It to Her Husband. Then She Heard the Trump Tape.

In 30 years of marriage, Nancy Fagin had never told her husband about “the handling” — how, as an eighth grader volunteering at a small natural history museum in Chicago, she was sexually molested by a security guard.

That changed last week. As the couple discussed Michelle Obama’s speech condemning Donald J. Trump’s treatment of women as “intolerable,” Ms. Fagin, 62, who spent her career running a specialty bookstore in Chicago, turned to her husband and said that something had happened to her.

“I just sort of had to say that,” Ms. Fagin later said in an interview.

Her husband, Ron Weber, 75, said he responded by talking about how his former wife had also been assaulted.

“It’s widely occurring, and most women don’t bring it up,” he said.

Far from the campaign trail, the shock waves about Mr. Trump’s crude language, captured in a recording, and accusations against him of sexual assault by numerous women are reverberating through marriages and relationships across the country. Couples say they are talking to each other about the degradation of women in new ways and revealing assaults that had been buried for years.

For the first time, women say, they are telling their husbands and boyfriends about the times they were groped at nightclubs or on a subway, flashed on the street, shushed or shouted down at work.

Some men, in turn, said they were starting to see how gender could shield them from needing to defensively palm their keys as they walk to a car, from being trailed home by a stranger, from having co-workers rate their bodies.

The conversations are revelations for people who have raised children together and shared the most intimate details of each other’s lives. They have brought some couples closer but splintered others, revealing a rift in how two partners view sexual harassment and men’s and women’s places in the world.

In North Carolina, the tapes of Mr. Trump’s vulgar comments and the women’s accusations became the breaking point of a 52-year-old woman’s relationship. Her boyfriend questioned some of the women’s allegations. The woman, who was sexually abused as a child, said she believed them. They argued and argued. Then they agreed it was time to break up. They did.

The tapes of Mr. Trump had “just triggered a moment of clarity for me,” said the woman, who declined to be identified on such a private matter.

She said Mr. Trump’s remarks and the subsequent allegations were “like seeing a public service announcement warning you about abusers.”

Some men said they felt a reflected sadness and anger as they absorbed stories about what their partners had gone through.

In Deerfield Beach, Fla., Gene Goldman felt an urge to protect his wife from an assault that happened decades ago. In San Diego, a man who had told his wife over the years not to bring up pain from her past fell silent as she recounted how she had been assaulted.

In the Willamette Valley of Oregon, April Ekstrom, 49, said Mr. Trump’s words had hit such a deep nerve that she was angry at her husband, Jon, for not being angrier. He is a Republican who is supporting Hillary Clinton this year, but Ms. Ekstrom felt he needed to do more. On a drive to the Oregon coast this past weekend, she urged him to call their three daughters and tell each that he abhorred the comments.

“I have a feeling I will,” Mr. Ekstrom said.

Kristen Little, 31, a tuberculosis and H.I.V. researcher in Washington, has been incredulous over the male politicians and television commentators who rushed to say that neither they nor anyone they knew engaged in what Mr. Trump called “locker room banter.”

Photo

 

Heather Hunter and her husband, Chris Griffith, at home in Plano, Tex. Until recently, Ms. Hunter had never told her husband about being groped. Credit Brandon Thibodeaux for The New York Times

Maybe so, Ms. Little said. But nearly every day, she faces a barrage of this from strangers on the street: Hey, hottie. I wish I was your bike seat.

A 2014 survey of 2,000 people in the United States commissioned by Stop Street Harassment, a nonprofit organization, found that 65 percent of women said they had been verbally or physically harassed in public places. About one in four men said they had been harassed.

“I don’t think it’s out of the ordinary,” Ms. Little said. “I find it incredibly hard to believe that these kinds of conversations aren’t happening in groups of men, just based on what men feel free to shout on the street at me every day. Literally every day.”

On a rooftop in the U Street neighborhood of Washington, Ms. Little and a group of mostly male friends had just finished watching the second presidential debate when the conversation tilted to what she experienced every day on the street.

“They were like, ‘Whoa, those kinds of things happen to you?’” Ms. Little said. “They know from an academic perspective that sexism is a very real thing. But I don’t think they grasp the very low-level sexual harassment that women deal with day in and day out because they don’t see it. They can’t see it.”

Josh White, 29, a lawyer, was among the friends who said he was stunned by Ms. Little’s stories of being groped, heckled and followed, and he said it had shown him a blind spot.

“It was really astonishing how different our experiences are,” he said. “Guys, we don’t talk about these issues amongst ourselves. Why would we? A lot of the time you have to have someone push you in that direction or plant the seed to get you talking.”

Couples on the Republican side of America’s political divide found themselves having similar conversations that ended in the conclusion that Mr. Trump was still their candidate.

In the Denver suburb of Centennial, Jeff and Antonette Smith recalled the night six years ago when one of Ms. Smith’s colleagues dismissed her efforts to weigh in during a discussion about company balance sheets. That night, they went online together to scout out masters of business administration programs that would move her higher in the corporate world.

Neither was thrilled about having Mr. Trump as the Republican nominee, but they agreed that the tapes would not change their vote.

“He was a guy’s guy,” Mr. Smith said of Mr. Trump, noting that he had run beauty pageants. “He was surrounded by beautiful women. He shouldn’t have said them, I agree. That being said, we have so many larger problems to worry about.”

Left or right, couples said they cared less about the candidates’ own rocky personal lives and marriages than about how their policies and words would affect their lives, and their children’s.

In the Dallas suburb of Plano, Heather Hunter and her husband, Chris Griffith, were watching an MSNBC program on which two women’s accusations against Mr. Trump were being discussed when a panelist, the journalist Ana Marie Cox, paused, took a deep breath and said, “I was brought back by that statement to something that happened to me when I was a young woman.”

Out tumbled stories of what Ms. Hunter had gone through. The men who groped her on a Madrid subway when she was 19 and studying abroad. The man at a bar who stuck a camera under her skirt.

“We’ve been together for seven years, have been married for five, and we’ve never talked about these things,” Mr. Griffith said. “Guys, we kind of know that stuff is there. We do know these things are out there. But that it’s happened to Heather and there’s nothing I can do about it other than support her and talk to her — it makes me feel helpless.”

 

Source:NY times

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22/Oct/2016

P-Square meets Picasso: How DJ Moma took Afrobeat to the Guggenheim

(CNN)The undulating sounds of Nigerian sensation P-Square echo throughout the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan, as priceless art hangs on the towering white walls.

Sudanese-born DJ Moma is on the decks, churning out Afrobeats, Caribbean Soca sounds and R&B at Art after Dark, as crowds fawn over Picassos and Mondrians long after the museum's usual closing hours.
Even with the extreme global success of African music, these scenes are still a rarity in New York's nightlife - let alone a world-famous art museum, but that's all changing.
"Recently, the world has started to catch up to African sensibilities. There's been a shift, whereas before we were trying to adjust to the western world and now the western world is adjusting to us," says Mohamed Hamad, known in the industry as DJ Moma.
With a DJ career spanning 15 years and residencies at venues all over the city, Moma is serving sounds of the diaspora to the mainstream party scene. Playing parties for the likes of Drake, Rihanna, Kendrick Lamar, John Legend and J-Cole -- he is one of the select few in the business to consistently champion African music as a fixture in his set.
"Parties have become really segregated and polarised - all hip-hop, all house or all EDM [electronic dance music], there's no room for a lot of DJ's to play around. We chose to stick to our own format and just play everything," he says.
Born in Khartoum in 1976, he spent his life following his father's senior job at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) that took the family from Paris to Doha and eventually Queens, New York.
"My older sister, who worked at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, would take me to parties with her friends from work that came from international backgrounds. They would always play songs like Premiere Gaou [by Ivorian Zouglou artists Magic System] and Karolina [by Congolese musician Awilo Longomba]. Before the time of afrobeats, these were the African classics and I got to hear them from early on," he says.
A trained electrical engineer, Moma spent the next thirteen years alternating between a corporate day-job and nights spinning with the likes of DJ legend Tony Humphries, Q-Tip from renowned rap-group A Tribe Called Quest and Questlove from hip-hop and neo-soul band, the Roots.
In 2014 Moma played in Africa for the first time -djing at a series of parties in Dakar, Nairobi, Zanzibar and Dar-es-Salaam, with radio appearances in his birth-place, Khartoum.
This move followed the huge success of the signature daytime party, Everyday People, that Moma co-founded with friends and fellow East Africans, Brooklyn creative Saada Ahmed and celebrity chef Roblé Ali.
In 2015, they joined forces with Okay Africa, the largest online platform for African culture launched by The Roots and Okayplayer, Nairobi and Dakar's DJ Cortega and New York based producer Kashaka to host Everyday Afrique.
Drawing crowds of 1500 to 2000 people, the rooftop party is a celebration of African music and culture - with an unspoken dress-code of trendy prints hailing from the continent and Yoruba-inspired body-painting by Nigerian visual artist Laolu Senbanjo
"As displaced Africans, we often try to assimilate with our environment and the local culture. But now, there's this reversal where members of the diaspora sprinkled across the West are looking back to what's happening on the continent for influence, flavour, style and guidance."
Source:CNN.com
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06/Oct/2016

Fearless young Zimbabweans face up to world's oldest leader

Harare, Zimbabwe (CNN)Zimbabwe has known only one leader since independence. First as prime minister, then president, there has only been Robert Mugabe at the top for the last 36 years.

There have been challenges, opposition and violence, but the 92-year-old leader has always known how to deal with dissent and stay in power, frequently using brutal tactics.
But now there are protesters, young and leaderless, united by social media.
Erstwhile confidants of Mugabe, themselves liberation war heroes, are emerging to challenge him for political leadership.
And members of the security forces, so key to maintaining order, are no longer unquestioningly loyal. Are all of the ingredients finally in place for a change in Zimbabwe.
We're not afraid of what will come," says anti-Mugabe activist Hardlife Mzingu.
That's what the activists would have you believe. They are a new breed for Zimbabwe, growing up under Mugabe, and they seem fearless and ready to be counted.
"Let them see us," says Hardlife Mzingu of the Tajamuka campaign. Translated, the movement's name means 'we are fed up'.
Unlike previous opposition movements, they don't have a single leader to depend on, who could disappear or be discredited; instead they have social media to reach and unite thousands.
"We have a future that is being destroyed in this country. And it is our role in this country to rebuild that future," says Mzingu.
"These are young people, across the political divide, across creeds, across social divisions in the country, who have met and resolved they have to fulfill our generational mandate."
That mandate, he says, is to push Mugabe out. For weeks now they've stood up to Mugabe's security forces on the streets of the capital Harare in what are quickly becoming weekly protests.
Armed with smart phones, they capture the confrontations. There's the video of the protester dressed in bright red on the steps of the courthouse, turning briefly to face the five riot police that surround him. He raises his arms and they raise their batons, beating him from all sides.
It's videos like that, and the countless still images of abuse shared on Whatsapp, that are driving these activists. But they know, for the movement to work, it needs to take hold outside of the capital city and in the rural strongholds of Mugabe's ZANU-PF party.
As dusk approaches, we follow them away from our meeting spot at an upscale shopping center and down one of the roads leading outside of Harare.
"Wait here," says one of the activists as they slip through the gate of a nondescript cement house.
A few moments later they return and invite us in. A crowd of about 30 sits in the backyard as chickens scuttle around.
Community members plan their next demonstration against Robert Mugabe after a court ruled against a police order suspending protests.
 
All of them are wearing white "Mugabe must go" t-shirts. They say the t-shirt alone could get them beaten or arrested.
"How many people from your area can we count on tomorrow?" one of the leaders asks those gathered. "One hundred? Can we count on that? If you bring 100 people, we'll make sure to provide you with transportation."
"Tomorrow" is another protest planned over social media. The courts have just overturned a government order banning demonstrations for two weeks and the activists don't want to waste any time getting back on the streets, where they expect to face tear gas and worse.
"We are not afraid of what will come," says Mzingu.

POLICE LOYALTY WAVERS

Zimbabwean anti-riot police chase opposition activists in August in Harare.
 
The same court ruling has put Mugabe's security forces on edge. For days we've been trying to set up a meeting with a veteran Harare police officer and now that face-to-face is in jeopardy. He's been called in to another emergency meeting on how to deal with the expected fresh round of protests; he's not sure if he can make it.
For more than three decades, Mugabe has used state security to brutally crush dissent. The response from police has always been an unquestioning, unwavering loyalty to him and obedience.
But that too is changing and so are our plans. The police officer texts to say he's on his way.
He could lose his job or worse, get arrested for what he's about to tell us. But he's determined to talk. We are hiding his identity for his protection.
What he says smashes the veneer of unity in Zimbabwe's state security apparatus.
"I think people don't know what is actually happening in Zimbabwe, particularly within government institutions like the police, the army," he says. "They see us on the streets beating up people, they think it is from our own liking, but that is not the case."
He says following orders is becoming harder and harder for his fellow officers and that they are being used as political pawns. Demands from Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party trump their training, their orders.
A protester throws a street sign with  Mugabe's name on it during clashes in August.
 
"We are briefed by our superiors, we are briefed not to beat up people, but when we are on the ground, the instructions changed," he says.
Those new instructions, he says, outline a very clear order of escalation. "Eventually we are going to use live ammunition. They talk of the use of tear smoke, they talk of the use of animals, of dogs and horses and the like, and the last one is the use of firearms. In that order."
 
A presidential spokesman denied allegations that Mugabe's party is ordering the police to attack protesters.
"It's not the case," said George Charamba simply.

"LIVE AMMUNITION IS NEXT"

Anti-riot policemen surround an activist at Harare Central Police Station in August.
 
But the revelations shed a new light on the repeated allegations of abuse by state security in Zimbabwe.
Prominent human rights lawyer Harrison Nkomo says that Mugabe is running roughshod over the Zimbabwean constitution, which guarantees the right to protest.
"One would want the government to hear those voices and implement on their concerns," Nkomo says in his office, around the corner from where some of the biggest demonstrations have occurred. "But instead we are getting the opposite. We don't want you to say out your views. And how do we make sure you are not heard? We crush you before you express yourself."
When asked if he's afraid someone is going to be killed, the police officer answers without hesitation.
"If the momentum of these demonstration continues, I think eventually they are going to use live ammunition. That is my worry."

REVOLUTIONARY ONCE MORE

Protesters set up a burning barricade as they clash with police in Harare in August.
 
The government appears to be settling in for a battle with street protests, but some say the real danger for Mugabe comes from within.
We drive out into Mashonaland, about 90 minutes from the capital, past giant commercial farms growing wheat and citrus. Many of them were taken from white farmers and foreign corporations and handed to Mugabe loyalists under the government's "land reform" program after independence from white rule.
One such farm is now owned by Agrippa Mutambara. We arrive as he is giving farm hands orders, gray suit pants hitched over his blue shirt with suspenders.
During the bloody liberation struggle of the 1960s and 1970s, Mutambara called himself "Dragon" and he was a key field commander. After independence he took diplomatic posts in the critical ally nations of Cuba, Russia and Mozambique.
Agrippa Mutambara called himself "Dragon" during his days as a general. Now he supports the opposition.
 
Now, he has turned his back on Mugabe, saying he is tired of the way the ruling party used fear and intimidation as its main tools.
"We attained independence, yes. We were able to exorcise the colonial demon. In its place we also created another demon. Until there is a change in the way that government is run in Zimbabwe, the revolution must continue," he says.
It was that outspoken criticism, he says, that caused about 50 Mugabe loyalists to pile out of trucks and cars to try to invade his farm recently.
"They said 'you are a traitor,' then some of them started scaling the fence. At that time I took my pistol and cocked it. When I did that, they all went down."
Mutambara is part of a growing number of senior politicians and war veterans who are joining Joice Mujuru's Zimbabwe People First Party.
Mujuru, a former Vice President, was turfed out of ZANU-PF in 2014. Now, she hopes to exploit the divisions in the ruling party and the discontent in the country, in the belief that can lead to triumph in the 2018 scheduled elections.

A PERFECT STORM

People burn worthless note bearers' cheques in Harare in August.
 
Right now, Zimbabweans have a lot to be protesting about. Put simply, the country is running out of cash.
Since the hyperinflation of 2009, Zimbabwe depends largely on the US dollar. And the cash liquidity crunch is extreme.
Each day, long lines form at banks in the capital, as citizens try to pull out their money. Banks place a cap on withdrawals to avoid a bank run.
Former teacher Kudzai Gonorenda, waiting in line outside a bank in Harare, says that makes everyday life almost unbearable.
"If you have money in the bank, but you can't access that money, because of the cash crisis, then it is difficult," he said.
The government has been struggling to pay its civil servants -- a large chunk of the national budget -- and has paid late or less than usual when it can.
Proposals to print a so-called bond note pegged to the dollar have been met with protests and suspicion by the general public.
Though the International Monetary Fund does commend the government for making some tough reforms, it says that no more loans will be forthcoming until it clears the $1.8 billion in debt that it holds with multilateral lenders.
A deal to get emergency funding, though, is not off the table yet.

A NEW ALLIANCE

A vender sells fruit in Harare's Epworth neighborhood,the scene of several protests in recent months.
 
The macro-economic crunch is made worse by a crippling drought that will leave more than four million people in need of help, according to the United Nations.
Exacerbated by a punishing El Niño cycle, farmers in large parts of the country have been unable to grow their crops. And the cash-strapped government doesn't have the funding to provide substantial help.
One long-time Zimbabwe watcher calls it a "perfect storm."
Among the civil servants who are paid months late, if at all, is the police officer who spoke to us.
"Our bosses, they have got allowances that they can actually use to sustain themselves. But for the lower ranks, as in my case, you can't source money from anywhere," he says.
It's a thread of anger that we hear time and again in Harare. An anger between the politically powerful haves and the have-nots. And it's creating what could be a new kinship, a new alliance.
"The very same people we are beating, some of them are my schoolmates," says the police officer. "Some of them are my friends, or people we live with in the community."
Source:CNN.com
 
 
Armed with smart phones, they capture the confrontations. There's the video of the protester dressed in bright red on the steps of the courthouse, turning briefly to face the five riot police that surround him. He raises his arms and they raise their batons, beating him from all sides.
Read more
24/Sep/2016

The iPhone 7 hits stores -- but some models are already sold out

Apple fans are finally laying their hands on the brand new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

Eager customers joined long lines in cities like Sydney, Hong Kong, London, New York, Boston and San Francisco on Friday as the new models went on sale, more than a week after they were unveiled.

 

Apple (AAPL, Tech30) is releasing the phones, which are water resistant and feature beefed-up cameras, in more than 25 countries around the world. But people who haven't reserved one in advance won't be able to be too picky about the color -- or get the larger model. Apple said earlier this week that the iPhone 7 Plus is completely out of stock online.

"During the online pre-order period, initial quantities of iPhone 7 Plus in all finishes and iPhone 7 in jet black sold out and will not be available for walk-in customers," the company said in a statement.

However, some consumers who thought carriers might have the larger model in stock were disappointed as the day progressed.

"The iPhone 7 Plus is not available in stores this morning, so customers who wish to get iPhone 7 Plus should go [online] to place an order," a Verizon spokeswoman told CNNMoney.

Meanwhile, T-Mobile said its stores had "limited inventory at launch," with shipping dates as far away as the end of November for black iPhone 7 Plus devices.

Your best bet of finding an iPhone 7 Plus may be directly through Sprint. A spokesperson told CNNMoney "most of our retail stores have [the iPhone 7 Plus] going into [today]."

An AT&T spokesperson has not yet responded to a request for comment.

Many customers who couldn't get a device aired their complaints on Twitter.

If you're not in a rush and don't fancy spending your morning waiting on a sidewalk, you can order an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus online through Apple or a number of retailers.

iphone 7 london release

According to Apple's website, the jet black version of the iPhone 7 Plus won't ship until November in the U.S. All other colors, including matte black, will ship in two to three weeks if ordered online directly from Apple. Those wait times could change.

The 4.7-inch iPhone 7 starts at $649 and the 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus starts at $769.

Outside an Apple Store in Hong Kong, sports coach Kala Singh said he'd reserved his matte black iPhone 7 a week ago. "I always upgrade my phone when they change the number," he said.

iphone 7 hong kong release

Singh opted not to go for a jet black version because he said he'd heard it's easy to get finger smudges on them.

But at the same store, Tsang Yan-yee said she was "a little bit upset" that she'd had to settle for a rose gold iPhone 7 instead of a jet black one. She also said she was disappointed with Apple's controversial decision to remove the phone's headphone jack.

Source:CNN.com

Read more
16/Sep/2016

2 Muslim women, babies attacked in alleged hate crime in New York

New York (CNN)A woman yelling anti-Muslim sentiment allegedly attacked two Muslim women as they pushed their children in strollers in New York, authorities said.

Emirjeta Xhelili, 32, allegedly tried to rip the hijab from the women's heads during the attack in Brooklyn on Thursday.
She struck the women in the face and body, and repeatedly shouted, "this is the United States of America, you're not supposed to be different from us," court documents allege.
Xhelili allegedly told the women, "get the (expletive) out of America (expletive), you don't belong here."
She also attacked their children, pushing one stroller to the ground and rattling the other while two infants sat inside, according to court documents. The 11-month-old and the 15-month-old, along with their mothers, were not seriously injured.

Suspect arrested

Shortly after the incident, New York Police Department officers arrested Xhelili in Brooklyn.
During an arraignment Friday, the Brooklyn District Attorney's office described the incident as a hate crime, charging her with offenses including assault, reckless endangerment of a child and harassment, according to court documents.
The New York Legal Aid Society attorney who represented Xhelili in court could not be reached for comment.

Call for justice

The Council on American Islamic Relations of New York called for justice.
"We urge the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office to prosecute this horrific attack vigorously, sending the message that hate attacks targeting any minority group will not be tolerated," said Afaf Nasher, executive director of CAIR-NY.
"We urge mosques and Islamic institutions to increase security measures, particularly this weekend as the nation marks the solemn occasion of the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, which some may use as an excuse to attack American-Muslims."
The alleged attack comes in the wake of recent murder charges against the alleged killer of a Queens imam and his associate in August.
"CAIR has noted a spike in anti-Muslim discrimination and hate crimes in recent months, which the civil rights groups attributes at least in part to Islamophobic rhetoric used by various public figures," CAIR-NY said in a statement.
Xhelili is scheduled to appear again in court Wednesday. Bail is set at $50,000 bond or $25,000 cash.
Source:CNN.com
Read more
10/Sep/2016

15 years after 9/11, unwelcome spotlight returns to Islam

BERGEN COUNTY, N.J. — In the shock and horror that besieged the country after the attacks by Islamic terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001, many American Muslims — like everyone, mourning a lost sense of peace — withstood abuse, even assaults, and felt suddenly thrust into defending their 1,400-year-old religion.

Across the country, Muslim men were attacked, some fatally. Women in headscarves were harassed, and mosques and Muslim businesses were vandalized.

That sense of dread, reinforced by renewed bias attacks and a new, freely expressed distrust of Islam and its adherents, has returned 15 years after al-Qaida dramatically changed American culture and politics. While many political leaders decry such attacks and voice support for Muslim neighbors, others are using language that critics say stokes fear and makes Muslims feel they are not welcome here.

Yet if the climate sometimes feels uncomfortably similar to those trying days after 9/11, something else has changed 15 years later: Muslim Americans from diverse backgrounds and nationalities are more organized, more involved in their communities and in politics, and more outspoken in calling out bias.

That kind of mobilization has helped to steadily improve relations since 9/11, especially in New Jersey, said Mohamed Younes, a Franklin Lakes resident and president of the American Muslim Union. In 2001, people knew little about Islam, he said. Now, at least in the state, there are stronger bonds and more understanding.

Still, civil rights groups around the country are reporting an uptick in hate crimes targeting Muslims that, while not as numerous as attacks in the aftermath of Sept. 11, are stoking new unease in a growing American Muslim population.

 

There were 174 reported incidents of anti-Muslim violence last year, including shootings and bombings, up about 13 percent from the year before, according to a report published by The Bridge Initiative, a Muslim-Christian relations center at Georgetown University. The FBI in 2001 tallied 481 bias incidents against Muslims.

Khitam Mustafa, a 43-year-old Clifton woman, is convinced she was the target of spontaneous hatred in an incident in a strip mall parking lot in December. Mustafa, wearing a hijab, the headscarf Muslim women wear in an expression of modesty, was pulling into a parking space when a man she’d never seen before peered into her window. When she rolled down the window to ask what was the matter, he unleashed a torrent of verbal abuse, cursing her religion and shouting “go back to your country,” she said.

She was so rattled she called police, though no charges materialized. Mustafa reflected recently on that incident and put it into a larger context.

“All the things on TV and the way they’re making us seem — I feel like it’s a horrible nightmare,” she said. She lamented the freely spoken distrust and misinformation about Muslims and Islam — singling out Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, from doubts he has raised about their loyalty to his discredited claims that they celebrated in New Jersey on 9/11.

Making matters worse, the rhetoric comes amid a series of horrific new terrorist attacks carried out in Islam’s name in the U.S. and worldwide, from San Bernardino, to Orlando, to France.

“Everywhere you go, people look at you,” Mustafa said “It’s different. Now we have Trump bashing us on TV. We have Trump claiming he saw Muslims cheering after the Sept. 11 attacks.”

In the days after 9/11, when some Americans turned their anger toward Muslim neighbors, elected leaders came to their defense. Rudy Giuliani, then mayor of New York City, declared his respect for the city’s Muslim communities and urged residents “not to engage in any form of group blame or group hatred.”

President George W. Bush, in a speech at a mosque days after the attacks, said Muslims had made “incredibly valuable contributions to our country” and urged that they be treated with respect. Those who lash out at them, he said, “represent the worst of humankind.

“The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam,” Bush said. “That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace.”

A decade and a half later, some politicians are adopting a different tone in discussing Islam. In March, Trump told CNN that “I think Islam hates us.” He has repeatedly called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States. Also-rans in the Republican primary followed suit, with one, Ben Carson, saying a Muslim would be unfit to serve as president, and Ted Cruz calling for police patrols of “Muslim neighborhoods.”

That kind of speech has broken down taboos about expressing fear and distrust of Islam, potentially making Muslims more vulnerable to acts of violence, said Engy Abdelkhader, a professor and senior fellow at Georgetown University’s Bridge Initiative.

“[Trump] does so in such a public way that’s amplified, perhaps inadvertently, by news media, and it is impacting people around the country,” said Abdelkhader. “It falls on people’s ears in different ways. Some find it repulsive, but for others it may give them a green light that what he’s saying is right.”

There may be an unexpected consequence for purveyors of anti-Muslim speech, one expert said.

James Sues, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said harsh political rhetoric can have a reverse effect: He said he’s received reports about people “who are reaching out to Muslims they see in public with a helping hand, saying hi and being friendly.”

Those people, he said, are “hearing that kind of talk from someone running for president and are embarrassed by it and feeling empathy with Muslims.”

After 9/11, some Muslim Americans said they were so fearful that they ventured from their homes only when they had to. Not so anymore. With the scrutiny of Muslims, the diverse faith group has become organized and outspoken.

Muslim civic and religious groups are holding news conferences, staging anti-terror prayer vigils and interfaith events, and meeting with law enforcement to act against bias and show that they are as American as the next person. They’re bombarding media with condemnations of terrorism after all attacks, including those in the U.S., France, Iraq and Pakistan that targeted non-Muslims and Muslims alike.

Groups have held voter registration drives. Some have run for office. In North Jersey, both Teaneck and Prospect Park have Muslim mayors, and Muslims serve or are seeking seats on councils and school boards in Paterson, North Bergen, Passaic, Paramus and Clifton.

Americans this summer cheered a Muslim American fencer for the U.S. Olympic team, who wore a hijab beneath her wire-mesh protective mask.

The most well-known rebuke of anti-Muslim political speech came last month, when Khizr and Ghazala Khan spoke at the Democratic National Convention about their son, a United States Army captain who was killed in Iraq trying to protect other U.S. soldiers.

“Donald Trump consistently smears the character of Muslims,” Khizr Khan said. “Let me ask you: Have you even read the U.S. Constitution?”

When Trump criticized his wife’s silence and suggested she wasn’t allowed to speak, she fired back in an op-ed, and thousands of Muslim women launched a social media campaign with the hashtag “can you hear me now.”

The Khans’ speech summoned tears of pride among many American Muslims, but it also brought tremendous national empathy. This time the backlash was against Trump — even from members of his own party — as people decried his criticism of a Gold Star mom.

Some people also are more likely to say something about bias incidents. Mustafa, the woman who said she was the target of a stranger’s wrath at a Clifton shopping center, called police and visited headquarters several times to file a complaint. When police ultimately determined there was no probable cause to file charges, Mustafa complained to city officials.

Although the incident was upsetting, Mustafa said it hasn’t changed how she lives.

“Sept. 11 we had to stay home because it was so bad,” she said. “People were scared to go out of the school, especially people who wore hijab.”

She added: “[Now] I’m not scared. I go anywhere.”

Source:USA Today.com

Read more
08/Sep/2016

Child suicide attempts on the rise in besieged Syrian town, group warns

(CNN)The besieged Syrian town of Madaya has seen a "worrying increase" in child suicide attempts as the long war takes its toll, a rights group warned.

At least six children and teens -- the youngest a 12-year-old girl -- and seven young adults have attempted suicide in the past two months, Save the Children said in a statement.
There were almost no cases before the siege started, according to the nongovernmental organization.
"The children are psychologically crushed and tired. When we do activities like singing with them, they don't react at all, they don't laugh like they would normally," a teacher in the western Syrian town is quoted as saying in the report.
"They draw images of children being butchered in the war, or tanks, or the siege and lack of food."
Hundreds of people are "suffering from psychological problems and mental illness, including severe depression and paranoia, often brought on or exacerbated by the conditions they are living in," the statement said. The crisis is worsened by a lack of mental health resources.
The report comes on the heels of a UNICEF report, "Uprooted: The growing crisis for refugee and migrant children," which states that almost 50 million children around the world are refugees or migrants.
Madaya, a town of 40,000 people northwest of the capital of Damascus, has been under siege since July last year, cut off by forces of both the Syrian government and Hezbollah, its Lebanese ally. It is also peppered with landmines, thwarting aid efforts.
Alongside mental health issues, children in the town are suffering from a lack of "even basic medical treatment." The NGO adds that there are reports of a serious meningitis outbreak.
"The long siege of Madaya and other towns is taking its toll on people's minds as well as their bodies," said Sonia Khush, Syria director for Save the Children.
"The pressure of living under these conditions for years on end without respite is too much to bear, especially for children. There are more than 250,000 children living under siege in Syria and while they are resilient, we see the signs of trauma and distress every day."
Madaya came to prominence this year when dozens of residents reportedly died from hunger and malnutrition, according to local activists.
At the time, the United Nations said it had received "credible reports" of people dying of starvation and that Syria had agreed to allow aid convoys into it and other besieged cities.
For a period, aid access was opened up and convoys of food and medicines were allowed to enter. But the siege has tightened again recent months, with no humanitarian relief allowed in since April, according to the NGO.
The use of starvation as a weapon in Syria is "a war crime," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in January after U.N. convoys arrived in Syrian towns to deliver food to malnourished residents.
"U.N. teams have witnessed scenes that haunt the soul," Ban said. "The elderly and children, men and women, who were little more than skin and bones: gaunt, severely malnourished, so weak they could barely walk, and utterly desperate for the slightest morsel."
Syria's civil war is not only one of the bloodiest conflicts in the world today, it's also one of the most complicated.
It started as an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad in 2011, and later descended into a civil war that has left 400,000 people dead, according to the United Nations.
Source:CNN.com
Read more
08/Sep/2016

Israel Seeking Police Recruits: Eager, and Arab

KIRYAT ATTA, Israel — The roll call was startling for a class preparing to take Israel’s police academy exam: Mohammad Hreib, Ghadeer Ghadeer, Munis Huwari and Arafat Hassanein, dressed like a hipster and named after the Palestinian leader, whom most Israeli Jews view as a terrorist.

“How did they even let you in?” an astonished colleague asked Mr. Hassanein, 20.

The unusual roster is the result of an Israeli push to recruit into its police force Arab Muslims, who are both vastly underrepresented in its ranks and vastly overrepresented among criminal suspects and victims.

Arab Muslims are currently 1.5 percent of the 30,000-member national police force, and the right-wing public security minister seeks to increase that number in three years by adding 1,350 new ones. Many would work in Arab cities and towns, where the ministry has promised to open 12 new police stations. (There are seven in such areas now, out of 70 across Israel.)

The deep-rooted tension between Israel’s police and its 1.7 million Arab citizens — about a fifth of the population — in some ways mirrors the flaring problems over race and policing in the United States. This spring and summer, the public security minister, Gilad Erdan, traveled to London and to New York — where Hispanics make up about 27 percent of the Police Department, African-Americans 15 percent and Asians nearly 7 percent — to study those cities’ experiences with diversifying and sensitizing their forces and with using body cameras to address complaints of police abuse.

“They are not going to disappear, and hopefully we are not, either,” Mr. Erdan said in an interview, referring to Arabs and Jews.

Alongside the recruitment drive, he promoted a rare long-serving Muslim officer to deputy commissioner, the second-highest rank on the force, holding him up as an example of how high an Arab could ascend in the force. The challenge, he acknowledged, is how to enlist this new population sensitively — to do it “for them and not against them.”

Many Palestinian citizens said they felt that Mr. Erdan was pressing forward with the recruitment of Arab officers because the violence that was wreaking havoc in their communities had begun to impact the wider Jewish society. They bitterly noted that Mr. Erdan’s plan was announced only after Nashat Melhem, an Arab-Israeli, opened fire on bar patrons in Tel Aviv on Jan. 1, ultimately killing three people. But Mr. Erdan denied that was the impetus for the plan, saying it had been in the works long before the attack.

Continue reading the main story

 

Building trust is his challenge. Many Arab citizens identify primarily as Palestinian, not Israeli, and see the conservative government, especially its security forces, as hostile to their interests. They are suspicious of a broader government program to invest $3.8 billion in infrastructure, education, housing and other services in Arab communities — an effort to better integrate the residents, who suffer more poverty and unemployment, into society.

The police recruitment has unleashed a particular conundrum for an Arab population that has not quite recovered since officers fatally shot a dozen Palestinian citizens of Israel and one from Gaza during violent demonstrations at the start of the second Palestinian uprising in 2000. The feeling on the street is that the disproportionate violence afflicting Arab communities is the result of deliberate police neglect.

“The police don’t care for the Arabs,” said Amneh Freij, whose son Suhaib, 24, a professional soccer player, was fatally shot in January last year in Kafr Qasim. Adding to their sense of powerlessness, Ms. Freij’s husband, Mohammed, is the deputy mayor of Kafr Qasim, an Arab town of 22,000 in Israel. His position made no difference, they said.

Mr. Freij’s killer has not been caught. Had the victim been Jewish, Ms. Freij said as she wept in a recent interview, the police would have worked harder to find a suspect. “You would pluck him from between the eyelashes of the townspeople,” she said.

Mr. Erdan acknowledged the Freij family’s grief, and said having more Arabs on the force would help solve such cases in the future because they could better understand local crime structures and gather intelligence and evidence.

There are plenty of cases to work on. Mr. Erdan said 60 percent of Israel’s murders occurred in Arab communities, triple the Arab proportion of the population, along with more than 40 percent of traffic accidents. The Abraham Fund Initiatives, a group that promotes the coexistence of Palestinian and Jewish citizens, said an examination of prosecutions last year showed that Arabs were charged in 58 percent of all arsons, 47 percent of robberies, 32 percent of burglaries and 27 percent of drug-trafficking cases.

While Arab leaders are concerned about crime in their communities, they also complain that police use excessive force. In 2014, Arabs staged a daylong strike to protest the fatal shooting by officers of a 22-year-old as he retreated from their vehicle after banging on its windows with what looked like a knife, and this January, a young man was shot dead and his father beaten during a drug arrest.

And so the sight of an Arab in an Israeli police uniform is, still, visual shorthand for a collaborator, and many argue that the police need reform, not recruits. A popular Arab-Israeli website refused to run the police force’s recruitment commercials.

Photo

 

Jamal Hakroush, the deputy commissioner of the Israeli police, lecturing academy recruits who, like him, are Arab Muslims. Credit Rina Castelnuovo for The New York Times

“More police isn’t the solution. Changing the mentality of the police is,” said Ayman Odeh, who leads a bloc of Arab lawmakers in Israel’s Parliament.

Amnon Beeri-Sulitzeanu, a co-executive director of the Abraham Fund Initiatives, which has led its own initiative to improve relations between Arabs and the police, said there was a contradiction in a government that had been vocally hostile to Arabs while presenting a large budget to improve their lot.

“It’s this conflicting trend — very positive on one hand, very destructive on the other,” he said. The government “is unhelpful — I’m trying to be gentle here — in its rhetoric and action when it comes to the place and collective rights of the Palestinian minority.”

Since the recruitment initiative was announced in April, about 700 Arabs have applied to the police force. Jamal Hakroush, 59, the newly promoted deputy commissioner, said about 200 were expected to make it.

The first hurdle is the entrance exam, which many Arabs have struggled with because of its emphasis on Israeli civics and Hebrew, topics that often get short shrift in Arab-Israeli public school curriculums. So the police created special prep courses for potential recruits, including intensive Hebrew lessons, like the one that Mr. Hreib, Mr. Ghadeer, Mr. Huwari, and Mr. Hassanein took this summer.

These recruits will be bused together to exams, on the theory that they will do better in groups. For their physical exams, they are instructed in Arabic, not Hebrew.

The applicants in class here at an abandoned police barracks in northern Israel have a mix of motivations.

Ahmad Sarhan, 22, said he was inspired by a relative on the force. “My cousin was a shepherd. Now look at him: He has a house,” Mr. Sarhan said. “He has a future.”

Thekra Darwish, 22, said working as a policewoman would help her fight for equality for Arabs. “If we had a Palestinian state, we would serve that one,” she said with a shrug. “But we are here.”

Aisha Dahleh, 26, a social worker, wants to help resolve crimes plaguing her town. If selected, according to Commissioner Harkoush, she would be the first ever Israeli police officer who wears a Muslim head scarf.

“There will be those who say, ‘She is a girl, she is religious, she is an Arab, she is a Muslim — and she works with the state,’” Ms. Dahleh said. “But I know my goals.”

Mr. Hakroush is simultaneously leading a charm offensive with Arab mayors to raise support for the recruitment drive. On a recent day in Taibeh, a town with a particularly violent reputation, he met the mayor, Shuaa Mansour, inside his bulletproof office.

Over coffee and pastries, Mr. Mansour said he would reluctantly support the plan. “Whoever has an alternative to the police — bring it,” Mr. Mansour said. “We have no alternative.”

Guy Ben-Porat, a professor at Ben Gurion University of the Negev who has researched race and policing, said that for decades, the Israeli police and Palestinian citizens mostly sidestepped each other, with tribal elders reconciling conflicts among Arabs instead. As the influence of such elders eroded in modernizing communities, some, like Kafr Qasim, organized their own security patrols.

These volunteer patrols functioned like neighborhood watch groups, mostly cracking down on young men speeding, blasting music and harassing teenage girls. But they could not prevent the killing of Suhaib Freij, even though he was the son of Kafr Qasim’s deputy mayor.

Mr. Freij, sitting in a living room crammed with his son’s soccer medals, was dubious about the prospects for change, but still offered a small voice of support for the new police initiative because, as he put it, “you have to try and try.”

“There are police now,” he noted, referring to a newish police station in Kafr Qasim, “and the incidents happen and happen and happen.”

Source:NY Times.com

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04/Sep/2016

British woman raped before suspected 'honor killing' in Pakistan, police say

(CNN)A British woman murdered in a suspected "honor killing" incident in Pakistan was raped before her death, Pakistani police say.

And a local policeman who first investigated the 28-year-old's death has been arrested on suspicion of suppressing evidence from witnesses and allowing key suspects to flee the country, Abubakar Khuda Bux, deputy inspector general of Lahore police told CNN.
Samia Shahid, from Bradford, England, was visiting family in the Jhelum district in Pakistan's northern Punjab province in July when she was killed.
Her relatives initially told local police she had a heart attack, but a post-mortem showed she had been strangled, Punjab police spokeswoman Nabeela Ghazanfar told CNN.
Shahid's former husband, Chaudhry Muhammad Shakeel, was held on suspicion of murder, and confessed last month to having strangled her to death with her scarf, Ghazanfar said. Shakeel was also Shahid's first cousin.
The dead woman's father, Chaudhary Shahid, has also been remanded on suspicion of having been an accessory to her murder, Ghazanfar said.
He is accused of having lured his daughter to Pakistan under false pretenses when she was murdered. Both men are expected to be formally charged at a court hearing next week.

Widower: 'I want justice'

Shahid's second husband, Syed Mukhtar Kazam, told CNN he believed his wife was killed in a so-called honor killing, because her family disapproved of their marriage.
Slain Briton Samia Shahid and her second husband, Syed Mukhtar Kazam.
 
He said his late wife's father had summoned her to Pakistan from Dubai, where the couple had been living for 16 months, by claiming to have been seriously unwell.
He said he believed his late wife's immediate family were aware of the plan to murder her.
"I'm devastated," he said, "I want justice for Samia. Women have their own rights and own will. They are not prisoners. Killing a daughter is not the solution."
The slain woman's mother and sister are believed to have left Pakistan and are wanted by police for questioning, Bux said.
Samia Shahid and her second husband, Syed Mukhtar Kazam, had lived in Dubai for 16 months before her death.
 
British lawmaker Naz Shah, who was Shahid's local member of parliament, wrote to the Pakistani government in July asking for help to bring the perpetrators to justice.
On hearing that Shahid had been raped before being murdered, she told CNN: "This just adds to the depth of this crime and the levels of evilness. I'm pleased to hear the inspector in charge of the local police station has been arrested for allowing Samia's mother and sister to abscond."
Source:CNN.com
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04/Sep/2016

Police: Ithaca student fatally stabbed in 'large fight' at Cornell

(CNN)One Ithaca College student was killed and another was injured after being stabbed during a "large fight" on the nearby Cornell University campus early Sunday in Ithaca, New York, officials from both schools said.

Cornell University Police were called to the intersection in front of Olin Hall, which houses Cornell's school of chemical and biomolecular engineering, just before 2 a.m. There, they found two men had been stabbed, according to a police news release.
Police say the fight broke out after a student-organized event at Cornell, according to a statement from Ithaca College.
Several hundred college-age students attended the event at Willard Straight Hall, the student union, a short walk from the site of the stabbings, and physical altercations broke out after the event, Ithaca police said.
Police did not name the event. The only events on the student union's calendar late Saturday were movie screenings. There were no events Sunday before 8 a.m.
First responders treated the victims, and police recovered the weapon used, the news release said. Efforts to obtain information on the suspect are ongoing, police said.
One victim was sent to a local hospital for treatment of "serious injuries," while the other was flown to Upstate Medical Center, a regional trauma center, to be treated for several stab wounds.
Ithaca College President Tom Rochon confirmed both victims were students at the school, a couple of miles south of Cornell. He also confirmed that one of the students died at Cayuga Medical Center, while the student flown to the trauma center was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
Ithaca police identified the dead student as Anthony Nazaire, 19, of Brooklyn. He was a sophomore studying business administration, Rochon said.
"He graduated from Brooklyn Theatre Arts High School, and at (Ithaca College) he was a member of the executive board of Brothers4Brothers, a student organization dedicated to empowering men of color on our campus," Rochon's statement said.
Ithaca police have asked the school not to release the name of the injured student, the statement said.
The injured student was released after treatment, the Ithaca Police Department said. A homicide investigation is underway. Because there were many motorists and pedestrians in the area at the time, anyone who witnessed the fight at the Ivy League school or captured it on cell phone video is encouraged to contact Ithaca police.
"I hope you will hold these students -- along with their families, friends, classmates, and professors -- in your thoughts and prayers at this difficult and tragic time," Rochon's statement said.
A campus-wide gathering is slated for 4 p.m. on Monday in Ithaca College's Muller Chapel.
"There is nothing more important than the safety of our community; as such, this incident is deeply disturbing," said Ryan Lombardi, Cornell's vice president for student and campus life, in a statement posted online. "Please be sure to take care of yourselves and each other throughout the coming days."
Source:CNN.com
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30/Aug/2016

Mars simulation crew 'return to Earth' after 365 days in isolation

(CNN)A crew of intrepid astronauts have emerged after a year on Mars... kind of.

Six scientists spent 365 days in a geodesic dome set in a Mars-like environment 8,200 feet (2,500 meters) above sea level. The simulated habitat was located on the slopes of Mauna Loa, a volcano in Hawaii.
The experiment, the longest of its type ever conducted, was designed to test crew cohesion and performance in isolation. It forms an important part of any real mission to Mars as journeys to the red planet will take upwards of six months, before any surface missions even begin, and astronauts will have to spend long periods of time together in a claustrophobic space.

Mars simulation crew 'return to Earth' after 365 days in isolation

 
 
 
Mock Mars crew returns to civilization after one year 01:02

Story highlights

  • Six crew members spent 365 days in a Mars simulation in Hawaii
  • The experiment was intended to study the effects of isolation
 

(CNN)A crew of intrepid astronauts have emerged after a year on Mars... kind of.

Six scientists spent 365 days in a geodesic dome set in a Mars-like environment 8,200 feet (2,500 meters) above sea level. The simulated habitat was located on the slopes of Mauna Loa, a volcano in Hawaii.
The experiment, the longest of its type ever conducted, was designed to test crew cohesion and performance in isolation. It forms an important part of any real mission to Mars as journeys to the red planet will take upwards of six months, before any surface missions even begin, and astronauts will have to spend long periods of time together in a claustrophobic space.
 
"The UH research going on up here is just super vital when it comes to picking crews, figuring out how people are going to actually work on different kinds of missions, and sort of the human factors element of space travel, colonization, whatever it is you are actually looking at," Tristan Bassingthwaighte, who served as the crew's architect, said in a statement.
"We're proud to be helping NASA reduce or remove the barriers to long-duration space exploration," said University of Hawaii professor Kim Binsted, the project's principle investigator.

Future colonizers

Interest in Mars is at its highest in years, thanks in part to the success of the book and film "The Martian," and to boosting from private entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk, whose SpaceX hopes to launch a manned-mission to the planet by 2024.
The University of Hawaii experiment, which is funded by NASA, is the third so far conducted. Previous missions lasted four and eight months, respectively.
A similar experiment has also been conducted by the European Space Agency, in Concordia, Antarctica, and in Moscow, where crew members warned of sleep and psychological issues.
"I think the technological and psychological obstacles can be overcome," Cyprien Verseux said after emerging from the Hawaiian Mars.
Fellow crewmember Christiane Heinicke added she was amazed she could draw water from the "little greenhouse construct" in their simulated environment. She said that the success of this experiment suggested that it might even be possible to use similar methods to get water on Mars, which is notorious for being completely dry.
The University of Hawaii is currently recruiting for crew members to take part in its next two missions, scheduled to begin in 2017 and 2018.
Source:CNN.com
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30/Aug/2016

Investors Move Next Door, Unsettling a Black Beachside Enclave

William Pickens III has spent most of his 80 summers in Sag Harbor Hills, a beach community of modest bungalows on the edge of the Hamptons. His grade-school principal built the house across the street; his family doctor lived two doors down. Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis were his house guests. Those were the people who came to Sag Harbor Hills.

About a year and a half ago he noticed a change.

There were new buyers, and they were different. They did not mix much, and they identified themselves by names like 81 Harvest Holdings L.L.C. or 45 Hillside Holdings L.L.C.

“I don’t know Mr. and Mrs. L.L.C.,” Mr. Pickens said. “But I know the family on either side of them, because I grew up with them. But who the hell is L.L.C.?”

Photo

 

A sign at one of three entrances to the enclave, which became home to a robust African-American working class after World War II. Credit Nicole Bengiveno for The New York Times

“It’s worrisome,” he added. “May not be illegal, but it’s worrisome.”

Sag Harbor Hills and its neighboring subdivisions in the Long Island village of Sag Harbor, Ninevah and Azurest, are uncommon among American beach communities. After World War II, when Sag Harbor was home to a robust African-American working class, developers offered parcels in an undeveloped swath of town for $1,000 or less. Black families bought in, creating three adjoining communities linked by dirt roads. Two nearby subdivisions, Eastville and Chatfield’s Hill, also attracted black home buyers. As in other black enclaves of segregated communities, laborers lived next to professionals and high rollers. For many it was a world of their own, a decompression zone — home in a way that even their city residences might not be, because it had been built by people like them.

The racial makeup kept home prices down. White buyers tended to choose other parts of Sag Harbor.

That is changing. As house prices in the Hamptons soar, Sag Harbor Hills and its neighbors are now luring investors looking for bargains.

A lawyer named Bruce F. Bronster, backed by investors, has bought at least nine properties in the three communities, each registered to a different L.L.C. Others have followed. In November, residents received a mass email saying a buyer was willing to pay up to $600,000 in cash for houses — was anyone interested?

“It feels like a hostile takeover,” Beverly Granger, a retired dentist, said, adding that strangers have come onto her property to post offers to buy. “People are very aggressively buying up properties and wanting to put bigger homes that are out of character for the community. It just feels different.”

Photo

 

Beverly Granger, a retired dentist, lives in a home in Sag Harbor Hills that belonged to her parents. “It feels like a hostile takeover,” she said of the recent wave of investors. Credit Nicole Bengiveno for The New York Times

On a recent afternoon, the shaded ranch houses and small lots gave Sag Harbor Hills the feel of a quiet suburb, shaggy in a few spots, embellished with home additions in others, all leading to a ribbon of bayside beach. Neighbors waved as they passed one another on the street.

Because banks in the 1950s and 1960s would not lend money in African-American areas, the homes that went up were small. So family life took shape outdoors, among neighbors, said Ms. Granger, who has spent summers in Sag Harbor Hills since 1950s.

“There was no television,” Ms. Granger said, describing life in the hamlet. “You got a little bit of radio. And so you really went in the homes to sleep and eat, and the rest of the time you were outside doing things.” Neighbors watched one another’s children, she said. Houses tended to stay within families or among friends; turnover was rare.

With the arrival of celebrities like Harry Belafonte, Lena Horne, the restaurateur B. Smith and Allan Houston of the New York Knicks, the communities rivaled Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard as a vacation mecca for successful African-Americans. Colson Whitehead, writing about the summers of the black elite in his novel “Sag Harbor,” described an oasis apart from his white prep school. “We fit in there,” he wrote.

At a village trustees’ meeting this month, residents faced off. Mr. Bronster was seeking approval to build a house of 5,300 square feet on several combined lots, the biggest in an area where the median house size is 1,378 square feet. Neighbors, including a group called Save Sag Harbor, which formed to keep big-box stores out of downtown, came ready to oppose him.

Mr. Bronster brought backup to the small-town gathering.

“He brought his architect, he brought a land-use attorney and some other attorney, and he had aerial photographs and professionally done graphs,” said Victoria Sharp, a former director of the AIDS center at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in Manhattan.

“If Bronster was putting up a house of 4,000 square feet, people would be fine with that,” Ms. Sharp said. “But putting up a house of 53 hundred square feet represents a tipping point. The next one is 55, and the next one is 59. And he’s got big money behind him and is going to make this neighborhood what it never has been.”

Like others interviewed for this article, Ms. Sharp, who is white, said the tensions were not racial. She said that since moving to Sag Harbor Hills from another neighborhood in the village last February, she has been welcomed into her neighbors’ homes. “It’s exactly why I moved here,” she said. In 14 years in her previous house, she was never invited to a neighbor’s party. “There’s a real sense of community here. And that’s about, unfortunately, to be interrupted.”

Photo

 

A woman preparing to relax on a beach in Sag Harbor Hills. Residents spoke of close ties between neighbors and a sense of history that they fear could soon be lost. Credit Nicole Bengiveno for The New York Times

Mr. Bronster said he had no intention of changing the community’s atmosphere. He, too, was drawn by the neighborly feel, he said.

“I’m especially appreciative of the history of the neighborhood, how it was started, what it means to the residents who live there and how that has enabled the community to develop a very warm and gregarious and welcoming sense,” he said. “That’s why I want to be there.” He added that he was developing dilapidated houses to rent to “year-round families that want to be part of the community.”

An even bigger house, of 5,900 square feet, has been proposed for four combined lots that belong to Robert Kapito, the president of the investment firm BlackRock, who is also one of Mr. Bronster’s investors. Mr. Kapito earned more than $20 million last year, according to company filings. Final approval for the two houses is pending.

Renee Simons, who lives next to the site of Mr. Kapito’s proposed house, said that she felt dismissed by the newcomers, and at odds with some neighbors, who hope the new houses will raise the value of their homes.

Photo

 

Kennedy Scott (carrying hula hoop) at the beach with her family for her seventh birthday. Credit Nicole Bengiveno for The New York Times

“It feels like us versus them, which is not healthy,” Ms. Simons said. “It’s not what I come here for. There’s such an increase in contention now.”

“We’re on defense,” she said. “So then you get called a rabble-rouser.”

Dianne McMillan Brannen, a real estate agent who has lived in Ninevah for 25 years, said she worried about a domino effect: investors combining lots to build bigger houses, which drives up sales prices, which tempts more families to sell, until eventually a historically rare African-American haven looks like just another upscale beach resort. In the last year, she said, 13 houses have been sold to builders or investors, compared with the usual four or five.

“An identity is the most important thing that could be lost,” Ms. Brannen said. “This area is not always going to be African-American. You could have 250 homes, and it would be an entirely different set of people here. And those sets of people are not going to regard it as we have regarded it. And they’re not going to have a story to tell about what’s happened previously. And unless we tell that story, it’ll go away.”

Mr. Pickens, whose grandfather was an early field secretary of the N.A.A.C.P., said he welcomed newcomers, whatever their race, but not investors or people with four or five houses and no commitment to the community.

“This is sort of reverse integration,” he said. “That’s fine, that’s the American way. But there are 5,000 miles of coastline in America, and five are commanded and owned by blacks. So we treasure what we own. That begins to disappear. Think about that. So that’s what we’re dealing with. And once you leave here, you can’t afford to come back.”

Of the newcomers, he asked: “Do they really want to be here or do they want to see us out of here? I’m for integration, I’m not for elimination.”

Source: NY times.com

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26/Aug/2016

Police find missing car of 2 slain nuns

JACKSON, Miss. — Authorities said they've found a car missing from the home of the two nuns found stabbed to death in their Mississippi home Thursday morning.

Warren Strain, spokesman for the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, said the blue Toyota Corolla was found abandoned on a secluded street barely a mile from where Sister Margaret Held and Sister Paula Merrill were found dead Thursday.

Strain said police found the car, apparently undamaged, about 6:45 p.m. CT. Strain said the car was being towed to a state crime lab near Jackson for analysis. He said police hadn't determined when the vehicle was abandoned.

Jonell Payton, right, comforts Lisa Dew, outside the

Jonell Payton, right, comforts Lisa Dew, outside the Durant home of two slain Catholic nuns Thursday.The nuns worked as nurses at the Lexington Medical Clinic, where Dew was the office manager. Dew and a Durant police officer discovered their bodies inside the house after both nuns did not report for work. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis) (Photo: Rogelio V. Solis/AP)

Sister Paula Merrill, a nurse practitioner with the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth in Kentucky, and Sister Margaret Held, a nurse practitioner with the School Sisters of St. Francis in Milwaukee, helped treat thousands of patients a year at the Lexington Medical Clinic, regardless of their ability to pay.

“They were earthly angels with hearts of pure gold," said Rosalind McChriston-Williams, a nurse who worked with them at UMMC Holmes County.

The Rev. Greg Plata, who serves as priest at St. Thomas Catholic Church in Lexington, praised the pair. “These were the two sweetest sisters you could imagine. It’s so senseless.”

The clinic is expected to remain closed for several days before reopening to patients next week.

“They have touched lives all the way out to Kosciusko,” said Queen Armstrong, a registered nurse with UMMC Holmes County. “Every town, they have touched someone’s life.”

If people needed help, “they would go above and beyond, whether you needed medicine or to keep your lights on,” she said. “That’s how they cared for people. The community has lost two great ladies.”

Dr. Elias Abboud, who owns the clinic, called their deaths “a loss to the community. They were loved by everybody.”

Jamie Sample, a parishioner of St. Thomas the Apostle

Jamie Sample, a parishioner of St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Lexington, Miss., sits in the shade in Durant, Miss., and shows a smartphone photograph taken last December 2015, of Sisters Paula Merrill, left, and Margaret Held. The two nuns who worked as nurses, and lived in Durant, Miss., were found slain in their home Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. There were signs of a break-in and their vehicle was missing. (Photo: Courtesy Sample family via AP)

Poor areas, such as Holmes County, “need people with compassion,” he said. “For them, it was a passion and a love for people, a love for the needy.”

The nuns raised funds to cover the costs for poor patients and the uninsured, he said. “They would treat them for free.”

The nurse practitioners “would really go the extra mile with patients,” he said. “They would get them free samples and call the drug companies to get them insulin.”

In addition, the nuns regularly distributed books, school supplies and many other items to the needy, according to church officials.

“These sisters have spent years of dedicated service here in Mississippi. They absolutely loved the people in their community,” said Bishop Joseph Kopacz of the Catholic Diocese of Jackson. “We mourn with the people of Lexington and Durant and we pray for the Sisters of Charity, the School Sisters of St. Francis and the families left behind.”

Both nuns lived together in a house in Durant on Castalian Springs Road, and that is where their bodies were found Thursday. Authorities suspect robbery may have been the motive.

Local police officers leave the Durant home of two

Local police officers leave the Durant home of two slain Catholic nuns who worked as nurses at the Lexington Medical Clinic, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. The clinic office manager and a Durant police officer discovered their bodies inside the house after both nuns did not report for work. (Photo: Rogelio V. Solis/AP)

 

Plata said their bodies were transported to the state Crime Lab, where pathologists are expected to conduct autopsies.

Durant police and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation are investigating.

Warren Strain, a spokesman for MBI, said after the nuns failed to show up for work Thursday morning, a co-worker checked on them at 10:30 a.m., discovering their bodies and contacting police.

A native of Massachusetts, Merrill moved in 1981 to Mississippi, where she had lived and worked since.

Nun Paula Merrill, left, was a nurse practitioner in

Nun Paula Merrill, left, was a nurse practitioner in Holmes County. (Photo: From Sisters of Charity video)

 

She referred to her patients as the “communion of saints” and liked to share the quote: “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

Sister Audrey Peterson, who worked with Held and Merrill in Mississippi, said the nurse practitioners rented the little house in Durant. “They were outdoor people,” she said. “They had a garden and grew things and shared with their neighbors.”

She praised them as “two very, very special, gentle ladies whose total commitment was being present to the poor. They were working with the absolute poorest of the poor.”

In an interview with the Sisters of Charity, Held talked about treating patients in Holmes County, where more than 40% live in poverty. “What really appalls me is 60% of the children live in poverty.”

Nun Margaret Held was a nurse practitioners in Holmes

Nun Margaret Held was a nurse practitioners in Holmes County. (Photo: From Sisters of Charity video)

 

That poverty has health consequences, including diabetes and high blood pressure, Merrill explained. “Many people can’t afford the (insurance) premiums. They make minimum wage.”

Many patients come to them from surrounding counties because “we are the only ones that will see them,” she said.

Those in the Catholic community knew the two nurse practitioners as sisters, but patients referred to them as “their doctors,” Armstrong said.

Her voice began to break. “They were loved by the community,” she said. “They were loved by me and my family.”

Source:USA Today.com

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26/Aug/2016

Italian hamlets may never rebuild after deadly earthquake

ILLICA, Italy — The Italian government already has vowed to rebuild the picturesque medieval town of Amatrice after Wednesday's earthquake leveled many of the homes of its 3,000 residents. But the tiny hamlets nearby like Illica may not be so lucky.

The long valley of destruction includes more than two dozen villages with 200 or fewer residents, and they may never fully recover.

“I don’t know what will happen to a place like Illica,” said Stefano Carosi, a civil protection official working near the village, nine miles north of Amatrice. It is home to just four families, with a total population of less than 50. One house collapsed, killing two people, and most of the other buildings suffered visible structural damage from the quake.

“Some of these villages may become abandoned, just because the effort to rebuild them and make them safe will be higher than it’s worth,” Carosi said.

Government officials said Thursday they were focused on rescuing survivors and making damaged buildings secure, not on the long-term viability of the tiny hamlets.

Still, some Illica residents vowed they would stay.

“I came back to Illica 20 years ago after living 21 years in the U.S., in Indiana,” said Franco Micozzi, 54, who grew up near Illica. “The earthquake knocked me out of my bed and onto the floor, but it won’t make me leave my home.”

Source:USA Today.com

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26/Aug/2016

Texas teacher implements no-homework policy, the Internet rejoices

A second grade teacher's no-homework policy has gone viral, thanks to a student's mother posting about it on Facebook.

Last week, mom Samantha Gallagher posted a note on Facebook from her daughter's teacher reading: "After much research this summer, I'm trying something new. Homework will only consist of work that your student did not finish during the school day. There will be no formally assigned homework this year."

Godley Elementary School teacher Brandy Young told parents research doesn't prove homework improves performance. So, she said, time after school is best spent eating dinner as a family, reading together, playing outside and getting children to bed early.

Gallagher said her daughter is "loving her new teacher already!" The post has more than 67,400 shares on Facebook and started a healthy conversation on Reddit: I wish this was the homework policy when I was in school.

The response has been overwhelmingly "supportive and positive," Gallagher said. "Many who have responded are educators themselves wanting info from Mrs. Young on how to go about implementing the policy themselves."

Hosburgh said her daughter had about an hour of homework each night in first grade.

“We plan on spending more time as a family unwinding and catching up in the evenings,” she said. “Also Brooke is interested in gymnastics and this will allow more time for that.”

The National PTA and the National Education Association recommends the maximum amount of homework (all subjects combined) should be 10 minutes or less per grade level per night. So, second grade students should have 20 minutes of homework per night.

Duke University Professor Harris M. Cooper, author of The Battle over Homework: Common Ground for Administrators, Teachers, and Parents, said short and simple homework assignments are necessary.

"A creative and thoughtful teacher can make reading with parents the homework assignment or go out and play, keep track of your batting average," Cooper said.

No homework is a "bad idea," he said, because homework creates good study habits and self-discipline. He said it also allows parents to monitor their children's progress.

"Homework is a lot like medication," he said. "If you’re taking too much, it can kill you. If you take too little, it has no effect."

Source:USA.Today.com

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23/Aug/2016

Doctors remove 40 knives from man's stomach in India

New Delhi (CNN)A man in India spent two months swallowing knives and had 40 of them surgically removed from his stomach, according to the doctor who led the operation.

"He had a wild urge to consume metal. Even for us, the experienced surgeons, it was frightening," Dr. Jatinder Malhotra told CNN.
"We were so nervous... a small mistake could have taken the patient's life. In my 20 years of practice, I have never seen anything like it."
Malhotra said it took his team about two days to form a diagnosis and surgery plan.
The five-hour operation took place Friday in the northern Indian city of Amritsar, a Sikh holy city in the state of Punjab.
 
Malhotra said they found foldable knives, which when fully extended were about seven inches long.
"He [the patient] says he swallowed some knives folded, and some unfolded. When we took out the knives -- some were found folded, some were open, and some had even started rusting and were broken," Malhotra said.
The patient, a 42-year-old father of two, told CNN he's feeling much better.
"I'm sorry I let my family down. I'll be forever thankful to doctors and hospital staff for saving my life," he said.
Malhotra says the patient is now "out of danger" and is set to be discharged in a couple of days.
He won't be discharged until he's cleared by psychiatrists, which is set to happen in a couple of days, two doctors at the hospital told CNN.

'Try spinach'

But the big question remains -- why did he start eating knives?
"I don't know why I used to swallow knives," the patient told CNN. "I just enjoyed its taste and I was addicted ... how people get addicted to alcohol and other things, my situation was similar."
Malhotra believes the patient has a very rare mental disorder that most likely has not been published in any international medical journal.
The patient is currently under the continuous supervision of the hospital's in-house psychiatric team and will soon be visited by independent mental health experts, doctors said.
The patient told doctors that he has no idea why he started eating knives but that he "developed a taste for metal" and "loved the way blades tasted."
The patient even managed to keep his habit secret from his family, according to Malhotra.
Now, Malhotra says, the patient claims he won't even touch a knife anymore.
"I will never do such acts ever again," the patient said. "I'm a new person now."
If the urge does strike, Malhotra and his team gave him some advice -- "we told him if you ever feel like you need more iron in your body, try spinach."
Source:CNN.com
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23/Aug/2016

Why Did No One Tell Drivers with No Tickets in 3 Years About This New Rule?

Texas – Recent studies indicate that drivers are paying too much for car insurance.

Are you aware that you could receive a large discount just for not having a ticket or accident in the past 3 years? In addition, if you are currently insured and live in a qualified ZIP code you may get an extremely high discount.

For a long time, there was no easy way to compare quotes from all of these huge car insurance companies. You had to check one site, then jump to another and enter all of your information all over again. Drivers were stuck doing all the work to save money. Now, all that has changed. Thanks to Provide Savings™, the information you need to save can be found in one place. Just like Expedia or Orbitz saves you money on travel and flights, Provide Savings™ saves you money on car insurance.

What exactly do you need to do? Here is one easy rule to follow.

You have to compare quotes. Don’t even consider buying car insurance without doing this first. After all the results we came across, we just couldn’t believe how many drivers have been overpaying. And with free services like Provide Savings™, comparing quotes today so that you aren’t accidentally costing yourself money is a breeze.

Faces

Drivers don’t always realize that car insurance agents make money from your premiums. So, the higher your rate, the more money the agent receives. This system makes it difficult to determine if you are getting a fair price. Fortunately, a lot of smart drivers out there figured out just how to cut down their insurance bill by using free internet tools to get honest and fair quotes.

It’s really no wonder that with so many drivers saving money, services like these are gaining momentum. Provide Savings is an efficient source that tries to give consumers the lowest rates with tools you can trust.

Provide Savings helps provide an easy-to-use and free service to give drivers across the United States a convenient way to save money. Just imagine what you could do with the money you save!

Source:USA Today.com

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23/Aug/2016

No 'ridiculous' self-driving car for guitarist and hot rodder Jeff Beck

SANTA ROSA, Calif. – Sitting in the air-conditioned comfort of a luxurious tour bus, Jeff Beck, 72, is contemplating a future filled with self-driving cars.

The prospect leaves the guitar legend and lifelong hot rod aficionado steaming mad.

“There’s driverless cars all over the place right now, with drivers in them,” says Beck, cooling off before sound check on the latest stop of a tour he’s co-headlining with his blues idol, 80-year-young Buddy Guy (next stops are today at Maryhill Winery in Goldendale, Wash., and Aug. 21 at the Woodland Park Zoo Amphitheater in Seattle).

“Really, (autonomous cars are) the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. It’s the removal of the very reason for driving, for some computer. I can’t imagine wanting to buy one and those involved in building this should be locked up,” says Beck, who is just getting revved up on the heels of news this week that Ford and Uber are both pushing aggressively to deliver self-driving vehicles.

“I don’t understand taking away the general satisfaction of being in control, where the joy of driving is removed for some crikey circuitry,” he says. “And how does it know what’s going on? They already had a crash where a white van came in front of the car and it couldn’t see it. I don’t want to sit in one of those things.”

Beck’s referring to the May crash of a Tesla in which the car’s driver was killed. The car was operating on Autopilot and did not recognize the white truck that passed in front of the sedan as being a solid object and did not slow down. Regulators are investigating.

Jeff Beck hard at work on a hot rod part in his home-garage

Jeff Beck hard at work on a hot rod part in his home-garage in England. The legendary guitarist has had a love affair with American iron since his youth and owns around a dozen vintage rods. (Photo: Steve Coonan)

 

"Cruise control is bad enough,” says Beck, closing the matter. “If you can’t pay attention for long, you should not be driving.”

Self-driving car advocates argue that technologically advanced transportation will drastically reduce the country's 33,000 annual traffic fatalities.

Regardless, Beck would indeed rather be at the wheel of any one of a dozen hot rods he keeps at home in England. He’s personally worked on at least half of them, ignoring pleas from friends and insurance adjusters alike that doing so could damage his Grammy-winning fingers.

“If I worried about my fingers I’d never pick up a pair of pliers,” he says with a cackle.

Although this weekend thousands of car aficionados are descending on the Monterey Peninsula for the annual Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance - essentially Paris Fashion Week for vintage automobiles that often cost tens of millions - Beck won't be among them.

Jeff Beck, shown in concert recently in Santa Rosa,

Jeff Beck, shown in concert recently in Santa Rosa, Calif., has a passion for guitars (and blues) that is equaled only by his love of American hot rods. (Photo: Marco della Cava, USA TODAY)

 

The guitarist's car interests skew toward an era when cars were seen as mere starting points for imaginative garage tinkers who were interested in creating their own visions of automotive bliss, with a bit of whimsy and lots of horsepower thrown in. He recently chronicled that passion in a photo-laden coffee table book, Beck01.

The vast majority of Beck’s fleet consists of 1932 Ford coupes and sedans, the fabled Deuce machines that inspired plenty of ‘50s rock song. Beck became enamored early on with both American music and street racers, which today extends to a prized 2007 Chevrolet Corvette he uses to tear across the rutted country roads near his English home.

Buddy Guy, 80, is the last surviving representative

Buddy Guy, 80, is the last surviving representative of a generation of blues musicians who defined the genre and inspired legions of British musicians to dive into the blues, including Guy's friend and mentee, guitarist Jeff Beck. (Photo: Manuel Lopez, EPA)

 

For the proverbial record, Beck also owns two Land Rovers, one “outfitted like a police vehicle, so it’s great fun because people get out of the way,” and the other a “posh modern one for the missus, who also drives a PT Cruiser sometimes.”

But when the weather isn’t stormy, you’ll find Beck either in a hot rod or that Vette. “It’s like a hurricane on wheels,” he says with an evil squint. “It’s ridiculous.”

Beck likes to tell the story of when fellow guitar ace and country squire Eric Clapton harassed him years back for his love of a ‘30s Ford.

“He was mocking me, and said, ‘Do you want to see some real cars?’ So I went round his place, he opened a garage and there were two Ferraris, and I said, ‘Where are they?’” Big laugh.

“But then Eric goes to Brizio and gets a ‘32 Ford made, so there,” he says with a smile.

Brizio is Roy Brizio, a revered builder of hot rods in the San Francisco area who has built custom machines for all manner of business and celebrity titans. Brizio was on hand the other night in Los Angeles for a lavish celebration of Beck’s 50 years of musicianship at the Hollywood Bowl, where the guests included Steven Tyler and Billy Gibbons.

Looking back on his life, Beck is pleased not only with his accomplishments, but also to be on the road and making fresh music. His latest effort is the politically tinged Loud Hailer, with tunes that speak to everything from the ravages of 9/11 (The Ballad of the Jersey Wives) to a general concern for future generations (Scared for the Children).

Beck practices his Fender Stratocaster every day, even on vacation. He can’t help himself. Even though sometimes he is a bit surprised that he's still at it.

A classic 1932 Ford Deuce Coupe hot rod stands in striking

A classic 1932 Ford Deuce Coupe hot rod stands in striking contrast to the rural English scenery on Jeff Beck's property. The guitarist keeps a dozen hot rods in his garages, and works on them himself. (Photo: Steve Coonan)

 

“When I was 22, and I read it was John Lennon’s birthday at 29, I thought, ‘Knock it off pal, time to fold the tent.’ But here we are, it’s incredible,” he says. “That hit me at the Bowl. The fans are still there.”

The fans here await, as does Guy, whose “manic attack and wonderful humor” impress Beck every bit as much today as when he first got ahold of a Muddy Waters record as a teen-ager, which featured the playing of a smooth Guy.

“When I first heard about Muddy and Buddy, it’s the same as when other people say they remember first hearing Jimi (Hendrix),” he says. “Now, being on same stage with Buddy and with me on top of the bill, that seems wrong somehow.”

Maybe. But not as wrong to Beck as a self-driving car.

Source:USA Today

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23/Aug/2016

In America's prisons, ramen more precious than cigarettes

(NEWSER) – So long, tobacco: There's a new most-prized currency in America's prisons, at least according to a University of Arizona PhD candidate in sociology: ramen. Michael Gibson-Light's new study is the culmination of a year's worth of interviews with about 60 inmates at an unnamed "male state prison in the US Sunbelt," per a press release. The upshot: Where cigarettes were once king, "soup is money in here," as one convict says. But the reason behind the shift is essentially hunger. Gibson-Light explains that in the early 2000s, a new vendor began supplying the food to the prison he studied in a bid to cut costs. He was told the price per meal was slashed from $2 to $1.25 as a result—and both quality and quantity took a hit. Specifically, three hot meals a day were no more.

Weekday lunches are now cold, and on the weekends only two meals are served; all portion sizes were shrunk. With inmates working and exercising throughout the day, calories—and edible ones at that—became precious. The Guardian reports an ominous anecdote from Gibson-Light: Corrections officers suggested he not eat the prison food, so as to avoid any potential food poisoning. The most popular forms of currency don't change "unless there’s some drastic change to the value in people using it," says Gibson-Light, which signals to him how much food services has degraded. In terms of value, at the prison studied, ramen cost 59 cents a pack but was worth a lot more. One telling example: Five hand-rolled cigarettes, worth $2, can be bought for just one package of ramen. (The Justice Department, meanwhile, is phasing out privately run prisons.)

This story originally appeared on Newser:

Source:USA Today

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23/Aug/2016

Misery in Louisiana as flood waters linger

LAFAYETTE, La. — Joseph Pickney took one, long look into Lafayette’s Derby Heights subdivision Monday morning and sighed.

It’s been more than a week since he’s slept in his bed in his Chadwick Drive home of 16 years. It may take much longer until he does.

Pickney is one of dozens of homeowners off Carmel Drive whose homes are unreachable because of floodwater from the Aug. 11-13 storms in south central Louisiana. Perhaps 40,000 homes have been affected by flooding that resulted from rainfall of 20-25 inches in many places between McComb, Mississippi and Jennings, Louisiana.

This week, Pickney and his neighbors were among the smaller group of residents yet unable to reach their property. Water into Derby Heights remained waist deep, he said; on Monday, he had no access to a boat to make his way through the flooded subdivision streets.

The National Weather Service reported Monday morning that the swollen Vermilion River near Derby Heights was recorded at 16.5 feet Monday morning — still above major flood stage and just a foot below last week’s crest. It’s not expected to descend to moderate flood stage until Wednesday morning and may not leave Derby Heights until at least the weekend.

“It’s a situation where the water has to go down in the Vermilion,” said State Rep. Terry Landry, D-Lafayette, who represents Derby Heights in the Louisiana Legislature.  “It’s not a matter of drainage but of capacity to drain.”

That’s true, said Donald Jones, National Weather Service forecaster in the Lake Charles office.

“The simple answer is there is just so much water,” Jones said. “It’s a physics matter. The river can only fit so much water and all of the water must drain from all of the neighborhoods.”

Landry, formerly the head of Louisiana State Police, said state and federal officials have responded as nimbly and efficiently as he can remember in his long public safety career. But the issue is not drainage, it’s river capacity. The river can only handle so much water.

Flood waters remain high along Carmel Dr. August 22,

Pickney said he has applied for Federal Emergency Management Agency aid, but it may take awhile for that. Meanwhile, he said, he’s sleeping where he can.

He travels back to the Carmel Drive every day, he says, to look into the subdivision and see if it's reachable. No such luck, not on Monday.

Debra Living, who lives across Carmel Drive, has been out of her home for more than a week. She said she applied for help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency; FEMA officials told her she is eligible for help to stay at hotels, but the hotels say she is not eligible, she said. So she sleeps where friends and family can accommodate her.

Her home is not flooded but her property is; she cannot get to the home, located deep on a flooded lot. She owns property next door, too: a trailer where her daughter lives and had to abandon and a trailer for rent, which is unoccupied. Neither is reachable.

Patricia Arceneaux was also at the water’s edge Monday, staring from Carmel Drive toward her Armenia Avenue address. The water was hardly moving, she said, but her home, perhaps a hundred yards away, was that far beyond her access.

Flood waters remain high along Carmel Dr. August 22,

Flood waters remain high along Carmel Dr. August 22, 2016. (Photo: SCOTT CLAUSE/THE ADVERTISER)

 

The flooding occurred so quickly she lost her car and some pets, she said. She said she’ll seek a FEMA voucher for a hotel; she hasn’t gotten it yet.

People tell her she’s lucky to be alive, she said, that all she has lost is material possessions. But Arceneaux, who is on disability, said if you’ve lost what you’ve owned, it hurts.

Standing along the road, she pointed to her exposed feet, marked by countless ant bites. She’s concerned about what damage might have occurred to her home, including insect infestation, as a result of the extended exposure to floodwater.

She’s right to be concerned, said Joseph Flowers, a manager at Home Depot in Lafayette. If the homes are getting no airflow, then bacteria will be enclosed and can spread all the way to the attic. That requires a lot of repair, or even rebuilding, he said.

Claudette Hanks Reichel, a housing specialist for the Louisiana State University AgCenter, said some homes can be recovered even after prolonged exposure to floodwater, but recovery becomes more problematic as days slip by. Sometimes, the cost of recovery is too dear; if affordable, it may be better to rebuild.

If the foundation is OK and construction is of solid lumber, homes are usually cleanable, she said. But if you cannot afford an expert to deal with mold remediation, it may take more time and cost than is reasonable.

“Bricks can dry. Everything porous other than solid wood needs to go. You need to gut walls, and you must go above the wicking line,” she said.

But for now neighbors must wait for nature and the water to take their course.

Source:USA Today

 

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23/Aug/2016

Helping a dad get to Rio: 5 brilliant stories this week

NEWSER) – An unexpected trip to Rio and a daughter's walk down the aisle were among the favorite stories of the week:

 

  • Woman Raises Cash for Uber Driver to Watch Son in Rio: Ellis Hill's son is competing in shot put in the Olympics next week—and thanks to one of Hill's Uber passengers, Hill will be there to watch him. Hill was driving Liz Willock from the Philadelphia airport when Hill mentioned his son's spot on Team USA. But when Willock asked whether he'd be traveling to Brazil to watch, the Uber driver said he couldn't afford the trip. One online campaign later, that changed.
  • Bride Walked Down the Aisle by Man With Her Dad's Heart: Jeni Stepien's father was murdered a decade ago in a mugging, but she still found a way for him to play a role in her wedding. Her dad's heart had gone to a stranger in New Jersey — and that led to a moving walk down the aisle.
  • Judge Lets Inmate Meet His Baby for First Time in Court: James Roeder has been in jail, charged with burglary and under orders from a judge not to see his wife, Ashley—who is charged in the same burglary. That means that when Roeder appeared in court for a hearing Friday, he had not yet met his baby son, born just 30 days prior. When the judge realized this, and saw the baby in the courtroom, she made an unusual exception.
  • Couple Married 63 Years Die 20 Minutes Apart: Henry and Jeanette De Lange lived together as husband and wife for 63 years, so perhaps it's only fitting that they died together, too. The South Dakota couple were in the same room in a nursing home when Jeanette, 87, suffering from Alzheimer's, died peacefully at 5:10 p.m. At that point, family members told her 86-year-old husband, who was battling prostate cancer, that he could follow his wife. He did, at 5:30 p.m.
  • Police Checking Up on Elderly Couple Cook Them Pasta: Someone called Rome police last week after hearing crying and yelling coming from an apartment. But when officers arrived, they found no crime taking place — just an elderly couple lonely and upset by news they were watching on TV. Police did the only thing they could: cooked a pasta dinner.

Source:USA Today.com

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14/Aug/2016

Beware: 5 steps every homebuyer needs to take

Imagine you’ve gotten the keys to your new house and you’ve moved in. You’re on a homebuyer’s high — until you discover a leaking roof or a snake infestation (true story). What do you do?

Here are some ways to avoid a costly post-closing catastrophe.

1. Look at the listing language. Some properties are listed for sale “as is,” but you should clarify if that means the seller is absolutely unwilling to address major safety issues that might come up in an inspection that would make it difficult for them to sell the house to any buyer, says Liane Jameson, a real estate broker in St. Petersburg, Fla. If a seller either can’t afford or doesn’t want to fork out any money for repairs, be prepared to move on, she says.

2. Know your lender’s requirements. Some mortgage lenders require that certain safety issues, such as high radon levels a decayed roof or dangerous structural defects, be addressed before they’ll give you a loan.

3. Check out the property and seller online. If you find a house that’s been renovated recently, check your county’s records to see if the proper building permits were pulled, says Kris Paolini, a real estate agent in Rockville, Md. You want to make sure that major renovations are up to code.

4. Get a home inspection. When you buy a house, even new construction, always hire your own inspector to do a thorough home inspection, which typically costs $300 to $500, Paolini says. While an inspector might not catch everything, particularly if a seller is hiding something intentionally, you shouldn’t skip this step — problems that pop up later could cost you big bucks.

5. Review the seller’s disclosures. Laws vary from state to state, but generally sellers are supposed to reveal any “latent defects” — problems with their property that a standard inspection can’t reasonably be expected to reveal, says Maryland real estate attorney Robert Moses. Homebuyers should always ask for repair or renovation documentation. Also, be wary of sellers who disclaim knowledge of the home’s condition; that’s a red flag, Moses says.

If you’ve moved into a home and find major problems that weren’t disclosed, you typically have two options: arbitration — mandatory or voluntary, depending on your state — or a lawsuit, Moses says. In arbitration, all parties will sit down to discuss the issue and try to come to a resolution. If that doesn’t work, suing the seller, and possibly the seller’s agent, would be your next move. Litigation, however, isn’t a silver bullet; it can cost thousands of dollars and take months to resolve, Moses says.

TIPS BOX

If you’re selling your home, you have a legal and ethical responsibility to disclose any non-visible defects before you put your home on the market. These might include:

 

  • Damaged roof, subfloor or walls.
  • Outdated electrical or plumbing systems.
  • Structural damage from flood, fire, wind, expansive soils or water.
  • Broken appliances.
  • Problems with major home systems (HVAC, furnace, water heater).
  • Structural or foundation cracks from settling.

Source:USA Today.com

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14/Aug/2016

Officials turn themselves in following Duterte's name-and-shame list

(CNN)Almost 50 Filipino officials, including mayors and police officers, have surrendered in response to being called out by the country's president as being connected to illegal drug trade Sunday.

Following the name-and-shame speech by President Rodrigo Duterte, in which over 150 officials were called out by name for alleged links, 18 mayors and 31 police officials have turned themselves in, Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesman Dionard Carlos told CNN.
Duterte had given those named 24 hours to surrender, a deadline which has now expired.
Carlos said more are expected to report in to the police later on Monday.
Duterte, who took office at the end of June, has been aggressively pursuing an anti-crime agenda -- with a special focus on ridding the country of illegal drugs.
CNN affiliate CNN Philippines named Lorna Mupas, a judge, and former mayor Rasmyiah Macabago as among those who have surrendered.

Flimsy basis?

Facing questions from reporters that there was not enough evidence against those accused, PNP Chief Ronald Dela Rosa said it was true that the basis for holding them was flimsy.
"It is true (that there is not enough evidence against them). But what can I do? The president named them and they came to me and surrendered. I can't just turn them away... So now that they're here, we'll process them."
He said the list was the result of a "workshop" by intelligence committees including the PNP, military, and the Philippines Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
"(The list) is not based on rumors or gossip. It didn't come from people whispering to the president's ear, 'Sir, this person is a political opponent, this one didn't support you in the election, so include him... the president isn't that shallow."
Former mayor of Cebu City Mike Rama released a short statement on Facebook, protesting his innocence and pledging to help authorities with anti-drug investigations.
"The news that my name was mentioned by President Duterte is saddening," the statement read, calling the accusation "untrue."
"I will fully cooperate with the authorities to immediately clear my name... My unwavering support for President Duterte's campaign will continue."
The outlet also reported that two local mayors, Cipriano "Goto" Violago Jr. and Jed Patrick Mabilog, had made statements saying that they were unconnected with the drug trade and would help Duterte's officials with their investigations.
Mabilog ensured his constituents that he is "credible and clean," saying he wants to keep his honor and integrity intact.

Name and shame

On Sunday, Duterte named over 150 government officials who he says are complicit in the country's drug trade.
Among those named in the speech in the southern city of Davao -- once Duterte's mayoral stomping ground -- were government officials, members of the judiciary, congressmen and police officials.
While some are retired, many on his list were active officers, according to CNN affiliate CNN Philippines.
All active police officers named have been suspended, but the speech did not expand on the allegations Duterte was making against the officials on the list.

Due process?

Duterte insisted those accused Sunday have access to a fair trial, although the same protection has not been afforded to many victims of the country's month-long war on drugs.
"(The accusations) might be true, it might not be true ... They should have due process, presumption of innocence," he said.
Human rights groups have repeatedly criticized the Duterte administration's heavy-handed approach and say that the methods apparently sanctioned by the government have resulted in hundreds of extrajudicial killings.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer's "Kill List," regarded as one of the most accurate records of the killings of suspected drug dealers by police and vigilantes, recorded the deaths of 524 people suspected of drug crimes between June 30, the day Duterte assumed office, and August 4.

Death toll rising in Philippines' war on drugs 02:36
During his speech, Duterte said he knew several people on his list personally, but read them out regardless as duty "compelled him to disclose their names."
Before reading the list of names, he said the accused would be suspended, any firearm permits they held rescinded, and ordered them to surrender to the Philippines National Police (PNP).
"Once you hear your name mentioned here, you are now relieved of your present assignment. Report to the PNP within 24 hours or I will order the entire armed forces and the police to hunt for you," he said. The judges he named were ordered to report to the Supreme Court.

Drug war fallout

On Tuesday, Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. surrendered after being accused of links to the illegal drug trade. "(PNP Chief) General Dela Rosa would kill me if I didn't turn myself in", he said at a news conference, CNN Philippines reports.
Espinosa's lawyer, Romeu Sterotoulas, told CNN Philippines that his client has nothing to do with illegal drug operations in his town.
The so-called "Duterte effect" has seen a massive spike in extrajudicial killings of those suspected of involvement in the drug trade.
 
Duterte and Philippines prosecutors maintain that the shoot-to-kill policies are legal and that many of the suspects died in shootouts with police.
In his speech, Duterte said there were as many as 600,000 people connected to the drug trade in the country, including both dealers and users, and blamed the high number on the complicity of "government personnel" who are "into the (illegal drug trade)."
Source:Cnn.com

 

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09/Aug/2016

Couple married 63 years die minutes apart in same room

(CNN)It's said that love is the strongest force in the world. If that's true, then a married couple from South Dakota proves that not even death is strong enough to keep loved ones apart.

A funeral will be held in Platte, South Dakota, on Monday for a couple married for more than six decades who died just minutes apart on the same day and in the same room.
Henry and Jeanette De Lange both died on July 31, just 20 minutes apart in their room at a nursing home.
The De Langes had been married for 63 years.

'A beautiful act of God'

Lee De Lange, one of their sons, told CNN affiliate KSFY there was a divine quality to having both parents pass at nearly the same time.
"We're calling it a beautiful act of God's providential love and mercy," he said. "You don't pray for it because it seems mean but you couldn't ask for anything more beautiful."
Jeanette De Lange, 87 and suffering from Alzheimer's disease, died first at 5:10 p.m. Family gathered with her was reading the Bible at the time.
"We read Psalm 103. We didn't quite get done," said Lee De Lange. "She passed away very, very peacefully. Incredibly peacefully."

'Gone to heaven'

Lee said his brother told his father, 86 and fighting prostate cancer, "mom's gone to heaven" and that he didn't have to fight anymore. He could let go and join her if he wished, the son added.
Twenty minutes later, at 5:30 p.m., Henry De Lange did just that. His children remember him briefly opening his eyes and looking at his wife before he died.

Holding hands

Of course this isn't the first time that a married couple has passed away on the same day.
Earlier this summer George and Ora Lee Rodriguez, married for 58 years, died a few hours apart at their home in San Antonio, surrounded by family -- and holding each other's hands.
Source:CNN.com
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09/Aug/2016

Fox News staff feared Roger Ailes was monitoring them

Until recently, getting Fox News employees to talk could be tough.

Before former host Gretchen Carlson accused her boss, now former-Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, of sexual harassment, and before reports started pouring forward about Ailes' alleged record of improper behavior, the network was infamous for keeping a tight lid on its inner-workings.

 

The reason for that may have had more to do with fear than loyalty: According to six current and former employees, many Fox News hosts, on-air personalities and producers have long feared that Ailes had tapped their phones and was monitoring their conversations.

"We all believe our phones are tapped and that we are monitored," one Fox News personality told CNNMoney, echoing the fears of others who asked not to be quoted.

"People definitely felt that the clicks on the line were coming from the inside," said another.

For years, the majority of Fox News sources who have spoken with this reporter have requested that correspondence be done in person, over a personal phone line or through a personal email account in order to ensure that they weren't leaving behind a trail of evidence.

Related: Fox News voice not changing despite Ailes' departure, but questions linger

Still, none of these sources said they had any concrete evidence that their phone conversations or email correspondence had been monitored. Rather, they spoke of a fear that they described as pervasive throughout the company.

The staffers' suspicions have become newly relevant after a New York Magazine report that Ailes used his company's budget "to hire consultants, political operatives, and private detectives" to go after his enemies.

Citing a senior Fox source, New York's Gabriel Sherman reported that Ailes had hired consultants "to conduct PR and surveillance campaigns against people he targeted, both inside and outside the company."

Some legal scholars believe that, if true, any money spent on Ailes' backroom operation -- known to insiders as "the Black Room" -- could represent a shareholder and even legal problem for 21st Century Fox. ("As a general rule it is an actionable breach of the fiduciary duty of loyalty for a corporate executive to use company funds for personal purposes," Lynn Stout, the Distinguished Professor of Corporate & Business Law at Cornell University, recently told CNNMoney.)

Related: Roger Ailes' alleged use of Fox funds raises liability questions

Whatever the case, the fear that Ailes was monitoring his staff helps to explain how the organization managed to keep its secrets so close to the chest, and why staffers are now starting to speak more freely following Ailes' departure.

Fox News did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Source: Cnn.com

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09/Aug/2016

Driving While Distracted: What can be done to stop it?

(CNN)Two officers come to the door in the middle of the night to tell parents the unthinkable: Their teenage daughter has been killed in an accident.

They react as you would expect, with painful, guttural cries.
They then have to go down to the morgue to identify their beloved daughter while her friends and classmates prepare to say goodbye at a funeral service.
She was killed in a car accident in which teens were drinking and texting while behind the wheel.
But, thankfully, none of this is real.
It's all part of a program called Choices, with the message that every choice comes with a price. Created by the Acadia Parish Sheriff's Office in Louisiana, the program is a community-wide effort involving all local law enforcement agencies and brings together nearly 200 high school students who participate in a mock crash and act out the consequences. The video is then shown in high schools throughout the community.

Driving While Distracted: What can be done to stop it?

distracted while driving pkg_00005514
 

 

 

 
 

 

 
Distracted while driving: Solutions beyond technology 02:01

Story highlights

  • In Louisiana, students role-play to see the consequences of distracted driving firsthand
  • 46 states ban texting and driving; 14 states ban handheld phone use behind the wheel

Check out the weeklong series "DWD: Driving While Distracted" online and watch the TV special on CNN on Saturday, August 6, at 2:30 p.m. ET.

(CNN)Two officers come to the door in the middle of the night to tell parents the unthinkable: Their teenage daughter has been killed in an accident.

They react as you would expect, with painful, guttural cries.
They then have to go down to the morgue to identify their beloved daughter while her friends and classmates prepare to say goodbye at a funeral service.
She was killed in a car accident in which teens were drinking and texting while behind the wheel.
But, thankfully, none of this is real.
It's all part of a program called Choices, with the message that every choice comes with a price. Created by the Acadia Parish Sheriff's Office in Louisiana, the program is a community-wide effort involving all local law enforcement agencies and brings together nearly 200 high school students who participate in a mock crash and act out the consequences. The video is then shown in high schools throughout the community.
 
Jennifer Smith, founder of the advocacy group StopDistractions.org, lines up speakers for the program to share their real-life stories and losses from distracted driving. She says the realistic nature of the role-play makes it incredibly impactful.
"These kids ... put everything they have into it to make it seem real and to acting out these roles," said Smith, a mother of two who lost her mother to distracted driving in 2008.
"These kids take these roles seriously ... and to them, these are their friends. This is real. They see them go through" the tragedy, she said. "It's an amazing experience, and you leave there with these youth genuinely saying they want to change and they want to do better and they're going to stop their parents."

'Wow, that's me. I'm guilty of it'

Seeing the pain caused by distracted driving is one way to try to change behavior, experts believe. That's been the motivation behind AT&T's It Can Wait campaign, which is now in its sixth year.

The campaign's latest video, called "Close to Home," moves beyond texting and driving and showcases a mother looking at a photo on Facebook before a horrific crash. The video has been viewed more than 25 million times online, according to an AT&T representative

"So many people would be able to just see themselves ... in that work and say, 'Wow, that's me. I'm guilty of it. I've done that once or twice. I'm not the person who texts and drives, but I've hit a like button on Facebook for a quick second,' " said Sandra Howard, assistant vice president, advertising at AT&T. "And the ability to see yourself in that message was important."
AT&T also takes its distracted driving simulator, which showcases how quickly things can go wrong behind the wheel when you glance at your phone or try to text, to high schools across the country. We talked to students at Walt Whitman High School in Long Island, New York, after they took a spin on the simulator.
"It puts you in a real situation," one student said. "You hear stories about it, but nothing scares you like experiencing it yourself."
According to research by AT&T, prior to spending time on the driving simulator, 42% of the participants said they text and drive, and 58% committed to never texting and driving going forward. After the driving simulator, 86% of participants said they would never text and drive.
"The biggest 'a-ha' is that as soon as you make it relevant, as soon as they understand it can happen to them or it happened to someone else just like them, just their age, just as responsible as they are, just as much of a great citizen, if you will, as they are, then that's when it really does hit home," Howard said.

The success of high-visibility enforcement

Education is one part of the solution, advocates say, so are laws against distracted driving. Currently, 46 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands have laws banning texting and driving, according to the Governors Highway Safety Administration. Four states -- Texas, Montanta, Arizona and Missouri -- do not have statewide anti-texting laws. Fourteen states, along with the nation's capital, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, make it a crime to use a handheld device while driving.
"We know that education affects some people, that they will change their behavior once they have knowledge and information about risk," said Deborah Hersman, president and chief executive officer of the National Safety Council. "We know that other people will wait until there are laws, and they'll say, 'OK, well, if it's against the law, then I won't do it,' but then there are still other folks who have to get caught and have to have the fear of getting caught so they'll move when there are high-visibility enforcement campaigns."
Hersman said the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration conducted trial programs in New York and Connecticut in which officers set up checkpoints to stop people from using their phones while driving. Both locations saw a one-third drop in cell phone use and textting behind the wheel after their pilot programs, she said.
"The enforcement folks ... are not trying to hide. They're actually trying to be very visible. They want you to see them, and if that's a deterrent, that's a benefit," she said.

Changing the stigma

What's also needed, experts and victims of distracted driving say, is changing the stigma. Decades ago, people would drink and drive and not think anything of it. That is not the same case today.
"People respect that drinking and driving is dangerous," said Matt Boeve, whose wife, Andrea, was killed by a distracted driver in 2014. "Now, we just have to know that phones are [dangerous] too and take responsibility for our actions, just like we take responsibility for buckling in our kids and not getting behind the wheel impaired."
Join the conversation

See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

Scott Tibbitts, founder of a technology called Groove, which he hopes can help bring an end to distracted driving, said we need to see a societal change where using your phone while driving is viewed as a very socially unacceptable thing to do.
"What we are looking for is: 'You are an idiot if you text and drive,' " said Tibbitts, founder and chief executive officer of the startup Katasi. "I mean, you are just a moron, a jerk, and create that context that ... the ones in high school [that] are the studs are the ones that don't ever pick up their phone when they are driving. ... It is not cool to text and drive."
Source:Cnn.com
 
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07/Aug/2016

Accused Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof beaten in jail

(CNN)Dylann Roof, accused of the racially motivated massacre of nine African American parishioners last year at Charleston's Emanuel AME Church, was attacked and beaten Thursday by a black inmate in a South Carolina jail, authorities said.

Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon Jr. said that Roof, who is white, was out of his cell and on his way to the shower when the attack happened at the Charleston County Detention Center.
Although he was in protective custody, Roof, 22, was vulnerable because only one guard was in the area and he was fetching toilet tissue for another inmate, Cannon said. That allowed another inmate, 25-year-old Dwayne Stafford, time to run down the stairs from his cell in the protective custody unit and assault Roof with his fists, the sheriff said.
No weapons were involved in the attack and Roof was able to return to his cell after being treated, Cannon said.
"The detention officer responded quickly and separated the two," Cannon said. "The injuries that Roof received are relatively minor -- some bruising around the face and the back. It appears he was struck with a fist and nothing more serious than that."
Roof, who is being kept in protective custody because the nature of his alleged crimes could make him vulnerable to assault, said he did not want to press charges, Cannon said.
The attack brought praise on Twitter with calls for donations to Stafford's jail commissary account.

Accused Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof beaten in jail

Charleston church shooter assaulted in jail
 

 

 

Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon Jr. said that Roof, who is white, was out of his cell and on his way to the shower when the attack happened at the Charleston County Detention Center.
Although he was in protective custody, Roof, 22, was vulnerable because only one guard was in the area and he was fetching toilet tissue for another inmate, Cannon said. That allowed another inmate, 25-year-old Dwayne Stafford, time to run down the stairs from his cell in the protective custody unit and assault Roof with his fists, the sheriff said.
No weapons were involved in the attack and Roof was able to return to his cell after being treated, Cannon said.
 
Charleston church gunman called a racist bigot
 
 

"The detention officer responded quickly and separated the two," Cannon said. "The injuries that Roof received are relatively minor -- some bruising around the face and the back. It appears he was struck with a fist and nothing more serious than that."

Roof, who is being kept in protective custody because the nature of his alleged crimes could make him vulnerable to assault, said he did not want to press charges, Cannon said.
The attack brought praise on Twitter with calls for donations to Stafford's jail commissary account.
Cannon gave no motivation for the beating. He said Stafford was able to attack Roof because guards had violated security procedures. Both guards weren't on the floor of the unit and Stafford's cell door was not checked to make sure it was secure before Roof was let out his cell, Cannon said.
Only one prisoner is allowed out of a cell at a time, Cannon said. Investigators are trying to determine how an electronic lock on Stafford's cell door failed to keep it locked, he said.
He said the attack is a "wake-up call" that officers must maintain vigilance in an environment where inmates can turn violent in an instant.
"We do things day in and day out and they become routine and as a result of that (officers) become complacent." Cannon said.
Roof faces the death penalty for the June 2015 shooting that killed nine people, including Rev. Clementa Pinckney, at the historic black church, known as "Mother Emanuel" African Methodist Episcopal Church. After he was captured, Roof told authorities he wanted to start a race war with the killings.
Nine churchgoers, all African-American, were shot by Dylann Roof, who killed his victims because of their skin color.
 
On Monday his lawyers filed a legal challenge to the U.S. death penalty, saying it was "arbitrary and cruel" and therefore unconstitutional. They said Roof would drop the challenge if federal prosecutors abandon their decision to seek the death penalty and allow him to plead guilty and receive a sentence of life without parole.
Roof is charged with 33 federal offenses, including hate-crime charges for allegedly targeting his victims on the basis of their race and religion.
"The nature of the alleged crime and the resulting harm compelled this decision," Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in May, regarding prosecutors' efforts to pursue the death penalty.
Source:CNN.com
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05/Aug/2016

Why Did No One Tell Drivers About This New Cheap Gas Rule?

Texas consumers beware – recent studies indicate that drivers are unfairly paying too much for auto insurance, and it's time someone took a stand.

Are you aware that your insurance could go up in the next few months just because the price of gas has dropped? In addition, if you are currently insured and live in a qualified ZIP code you may get an extremely high discount. Probably not…as car insurance companies want you to be left in the dark.

For a long time, there was no easy way to compare quotes from all of these huge car insurance companies. You had to check one site, then jump to another and enter all of your information all over again. Drivers were stuck doing all the work to save money. Now, all that has changed. Thanks to Provide Savings™, the information you need to save can be found in one place. Just like Expedia or Orbitz saves you money on travel and flights, Provide Savings™ saves you money on car insurance.

What exactly do you need to do? Here is one easy rule to follow.

You have to compare quotes. Don’t even consider buying car insurance without doing this first. After all the results we came across, we just couldn’t believe how many drivers have been overpaying. And with free services like Provide Savings™, comparing quotes today so that you aren’t accidentally costing yourself money is a breeze.

Facebook two face

Drivers don’t always realize that car insurance agents make money from your premiums. So, the higher your rate, the more money the agent receives. This system makes it difficult to determine if you are getting a fair price. Fortunately, a lot of smart drivers out there figured out just how to cut down their insurance bill by using free internet tools to get honest and fair quotes.

It’s really no wonder that with so many drivers saving money, services like these are gaining momentum. Our research found that Provide Savings™ is one of the most popular and effective services out there, giving consumers the lowest rates with trusted tools.

We want to thank Provide Savings™ for all of their help in offering an easy-to-use and free service to give drivers across the United States a convenient way to save money. Just imagine what you could do with the money you save!

Source:Yahoo.com

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02/Aug/2016

Facebook challenges Twitter with new Olympics features

Facebook announced on Monday a slew of new features tailored to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. It is an effort to play into the biggest event in global sports, of course—but it’s also a competitive play against Twitter, which has jumped all-in on sports very recently and inked deals with the four biggest US leagues to live-stream games.

The first two features relate to profile pictures. The first, called Profile Frames, allows you to show the utmost enthusiasm for your country of choice by adding a frame around your profile picture. It puts the country’s flag and the Rio 2016 logo below your photo; it basically looks like a Snapchat filter.

The second feature has to be done through the separate mobile app MSQRD, a face-swapping tool Facebook acquired in March. During the Olympics, if you use the app to share photos or live-broadcast video, the flag of your choice can appear on your face like a mask. The filters will be available starting August 3.

The flag face filter from MSQRD.
flag face filter from MSQRD

The last feature is the most extensive: From August 1-5, Facebook will serve up an Olympics-related greeting in your News Feed. The greeting gives the option to click through to a page of “dynamic Olympic content” curated by Facebook, personalized to you, including news, “conversations,” live video and more. It will send out the greetings again during the Closing Ceremony on August 21.

It will be interesting to see if users enjoy or even notice the Olympics greeting content. Facebook has been adding more sports features recently, like Sports Stadium, which was billed as a place for live sports chat but is difficult to find and has failed to generate buzz.

Despite Facebook’s efforts, Twitter in many ways, for now, is the apparent leader for live, in-the-moment sports discussion. Its new deals with the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL to live-stream games (the package details differ in each case) will only add to that reputation.

Almost every social platform has been seeking to rack up engagement around the Summer Olympics. NBC and Snapchat, for example, have partnered up to show live “stories” from Rio. But with so many logistical problems on the ground, and a number of big-name athletes dropping out, it’s unclear whether Facebook and Twitter will see as much excitement as they have in the past.

Source: Yahoo.com

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02/Aug/2016

Pope Francis creates commission to study history of female deacons

CNN)Pope Francis has created a commission to study the historical role of female deacons in the Catholic Church, the Vatican's press office said Monday.

The commission was first promised by the Pope after a meeting with a group of nuns on May 12. He said the Vatican should study the question of ordaining women as deacons, answering a call that women, particularly in the United States, have been asking the church to address for decades.
"Pope Francis expressed his intention to establish an official commission that could study the question" of the diaconate of women, "especially with regard to the first ages of the Church," the Vatican's statement said.
"After intense prayer and mature reflection, Pope Francis has decided to institute the Commission for the Study of the Diaconate of Women."
Deacons can perform many of the same functions as priests, including preach, celebrate marriages, lead funeral services and run parishes. They cannot hear confessions or consecrate the Eucharist, and only married or celibate men over age 35 are eligible for the diaconate. There are about 18,000 deacons in the United States, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
In the Bible, St. Paul mentions least one woman, Phoebe, who served the early church, possibly as a deaconess. But it's not clear how her role compares to modern deacons, a question the new commission will likely consider. The debate is controversial because it could open the door for women into the Catholic Church's all-male clergy.
This is the third church commission appointed to study the historical role of women deacons since 1992. Both commissions took several years to complete their work and neither led to changes in the church. The more recent report, released in 2002, said the question of ordaining women as deacons was a matter of discernment for church leaders, though few in the Vatican have shown a willingness to push forward.
Pope Francis himself seemed to cast doubt on whether his new commission could make major changes, either, telling journalists that he was surprised by media reports in May that suggested otherwise,
"They said: 'The Church opens the door to deaconesses.' Really? I am a bit angry because this is not telling the truth of things," Francis said in June.
Despite his popularity, the Pope has disappointed many American women by shutting down debates on women's ordination and warning them not to "fall into the trap of feminism."
To date, Francis has praised the "feminine genius" but has not carried through on vague promises to appoint more women to leadership positions.
"Francis' theological imagination makes it impossible for women to achieve equal decision-making power and sacramental authority in this church," wrote Jamie L. Manson, an editor at National Catholic Reporter. "And it's time we faced it."

An American on new commission

Pope Francis has appointed Jesuit Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer president of the new commission, is composed of six women and six men from academic institutions around the world.
 
One of the appointees, Professor Phyllis Zagano of Hofstra University, is an American who has written in favor of female deacons.
Last year, she penned a piece for the Harvard Divinity Bulletin called "Ordain Catholic Women as Deacons."
"(H)istory documents women ordained to the diaconate from the earliest centuries of Christianity to the Middle Ages, when the diaconate faded as a separate order," Zagano wrote.
"As priests absorbed the work of deacons, ordination to the diaconate became simply a step in the cursus honorum on the way to priesthood. Fewer and fewer women -- mostly monastic abbesses -- were ordained as deacons, primarily for service within their own convents."
The Women's Ordination Conference issued a statement that month saying "until women are included in all decision-making structures and as priests and bishops of the church, equality remains painfully denied."
Source:CNN.com
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02/Aug/2016

Thousands of Indian workers face 'food crisis' in Saudi Arabia

India is rushing aid to thousands of its citizens in Saudi Arabia who are running short of food after losing their jobs.

The Indian consulate in Jeddah said it distributed 15,475 kilograms (34,100 pounds) of food including eggs, spices and salt over the weekend. It said it was trying to reach all affected Indians "to help them overcome this crisis."

 

Sushma Swaraj, India's Minister of External Affairs, said that a large number Indians in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait had lost their jobs, and were owed wages by their employers. Many are now stuck in camps for migrant workers.

"I assure you that no Indian worker rendered unemployed in Saudi Arabia will go without food," Swaraj said on Twitter. She said more than 10,000 Indians in the country were facing a "food crisis" and dispatched one of her deputies to the country.

Vikas Swarup, a spokesman for the foreign ministry, said Tuesday that initial number was an approximation, and that 7,700 Indian workers in 20 camps were affected by the crisis.

There are roughly 3 million Indians employed in Saudi Arabia, which depends on foreign workers to fill jobs in its services, manufacturing and construction sectors.

Low oil prices have slashed economic growth and forced the Saudi government to cut spending. In April, the government announced an ambitious plan to break its dependence on oil but that won't happen for years.

India's representative in Jeddah, Muhammad Noor Rahman Sheikh, said 2,500 of the affected workers had been employed by Saudi Oger Company, a construction firm.

Workers at one of the camps told CNNMoney that their bosses at Oger stopped showing up to work about seven months ago, and they had heard nothing from the company since.

Conditions at the camp are bleak: Trash collection has stopped, and there's no electricity. The workers get water from the mosque across the street. Police are stationed outside after protests erupted in recent weeks.

The workers cannot leave Saudi Arabia because the company holds their passports.

Sheikh said the workers' situation became more dire after the company stopped providing food about 10 days ago.

A source familiar with the circumstances said some of the abandoned construction projects were Saudi government contracts.

Oger representatives were not immediately available for comment. Saudi government officials contacted by CNNMoney said they would look into questions about the situation, but had no immediate response.

Related: How much more oil can the Saudis really pump?

Falling oil revenue has also put pressure on the country's biggest businesses.

Earlier this year, labor protests erupted after the Binladin Group, a massive construction company founded by the father of the late al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, reportedly laid off at least 50,000 employees.

Source:Cnn.com

 

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02/Aug/2016

McDonald's to nix artificial preservatives from McNuggets

McDonald's believes it can make happier meals for its customers by removing certain ingredients from its McNuggets and hamburger buns.

The company said as of Monday it's chicken nuggets and several breakfast menu items no longer have artificial preservatives. And McDonald's plans to eliminate high fructose corn syrup from all its hamburger buns by the end of August.

 

Both changes are coming to all 14,000 of its U.S. stores, McDonald's (MCD) said.

Artificial ingredients have been targeted by consumer advocacy and regulatory groups raising flags about health risks.

The additives have been linked to health risks including cancer, hormone imbalances and infertility.

There are still artificial ingredients in other McDonald's menu items, but a spokesperson said that figuring out a way to remove it from the food chain's mega-popular chicken nuggets was a priority. The company has been developing the new preservative-free recipe since earlier this year at a lab in Seattle.

Removing high fructose corn syrup from its buns is another bid to make its meals healthier. The ingredient has long been used as a cheap sweetener in sodas, candy and other foods has been linked to obesity.

McDonald's USA president Mike Andres said there are more changes on the way, and the company recognizes that "more than ever, people care about their food -- where it comes form, what goes into it and how it's prepared."

This is the latest bid by a food company aimed at easing consumers' concerns about food safety and quality. Companies ranging from Subway and Pizza Hut, to General Mills and Tyson have promised changes like nixing meat from animals raised on antibiotics, cutting out potentially harmful ingredients and using eggs from cage-free chickens.

McDonald's promised in March 2015 to stop using meat from chickens that have been exposed to most antibiotics, and the company said Monday that initiative is now complete -- a year ahead of schedule.

It's also promised to use only cage-free eggs by 2025, and McDonald's is testing other measures like using fresh beef instead of frozen patties.

Souce:CNN.com

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02/Aug/2016

Facebook Live is changing our world. Is that a good thing?

(CNN)Facebook Live has only been available to the masses since January, and in that time we've pretty much witnessed the full scope of humanity.

We laughed along with "Chewbacca Mask Lady" and delighted in the (accidental) live stream of a childbirth. Live streams via Facebook (and Periscope and Snapchat) of House sit-ins made us feel engaged in the democratic process without the hassle of leaving home.
Recently, things have taken a serious turn, with videos of shootings, protests, beatings and more shootings served up in our feeds, often without warning.
If you feel like you're becoming inured to it all, expressing a sentence of outrage, clicking share and moving on, you're not alone. This is not Periscope or Meerkat, after all. It's Facebook, where your grandmother has an opinion on the live stream of a Georgia woman beating her teenage daughter.
Before you bemoan the demise of civilization and threaten to quit social media (never gonna happen), consider the following:

Video can be especially powerful when you cut out the middleman

Protesters from Turkey to Minneapolis sidestepped traditional media when they live-streamed demonstrations, leaving viewers to draw their own conclusions.
Or, imagine if Diamond Reynolds had called the local news station after Philando Castile was shot instead of hitting record on her smartphone. Would they have arrived in time to capture his life slipping away? Would they have come at all?
Amateur video is more personal and raw, compared to what you see in a newscast or edited video, where you're prepared for what you're going to see.

... but external information can be useful, too

We would be remiss to downplay the benefits of editorial gatekeepers like, say, CNN, which go to great lengths to vet videos for their source and context before sharing it with viewers.
Same goes for law enforcement, which evaluates the circumstances surrounding a video to form a complete picture before making an arrest.
"The technology can be used to help us understand what happened in that space and time, but it's not the end-all be-all," said CNN law enforcement analyst Cedric Alexander, the public safety director at the DeKalb County Police Department in Georgia.
"Depending on where you enter the video there's also a beginning, a middle and an end, and you have to be mindful of those circumstances."

It draws attention to potential crimes and injustice more quickly

Watching Castile's life slip away in a car after being shot by an officer may have been hard to watch. But it galvanized a social justice movement and compelled a response from government agents at various levels up to President Barack Obama.
Already, there are numerous examples of Facebook Live events leading to arrests in shootings, beatings, even in allegations of sexual harassment.
All of which is basically what Facebook hoped for when it launched the product. Here's what the company said on July 8, after the video of Castile went viral.
"Live video allows us to see what's happening in the world as it happens. Just as it gives us a window into the best moments in people's lives, it can also let us bear witness to the worst. Live video can be a powerful tool in a crisis -- to document events or ask for help," the statement said.

Too much violence on video *could* desensitize us

Research suggests that binging on televised violence can lead to apathy. While it's too early to say whether live-streamed violence on Facebook will make you antisocial, information overload is a legitimate concern, some psychologists say.
"I worry that any given live feed is getting supplanted by the next live feed and we may be getting desensitized to all of it," said Kaveri Subrahmanyam, associate director of California State University's Children's Digital Media Center, which focuses on media psychology.
"If we're watching a lot of this, you have to wonder how memorable any live video is. Do we just watch it and forget it immediately after happens? I fear that may the case."

... and cause you to retreat from society

For all the power of live video, the downside is that it can make us fearful, said psychologist Jerri Lynn Hogg, the former president of the American Psychological Association's Society for Media Psychology and Technology.
"There's a numbness that we develop to protect ourselves. We withdraw into families where we feel secure and resist engaging in the issues, rather than work with others to develop solutions," she said.

But it's a small price to pay for an open, connected society

But Hogg and others, including Facebook, say the benefits far outweigh the perceived drawbacks -- and, we're already seeing the benefits.
"When I look at recent efforts on behalf of political leaders, for example, to live-stream events like party conventions in the U.S. or debates over policy like the recent Brexit vote in the UK, I'm overwhelmingly encouraged by this technology's audience-magnifying potential," said California State University Professor Michael Germano, who teaches courses in internet law and information policy.
"It feels like an evolutionary step in media consumption and not necessarily a frightening or disturbing one. With that said, there will be disturbing bumps along the road as the discourse adapts and standards evolve. That's all part of the process."

... as long as there are standards that everyone is aware of

None of what's happening on Facebook is unprecedented or unusual when it comes to media innovation. Twitter, which Facebook leapfrogged over to become the leader in live-streaming, is dealing with similar anxieties in the form of trolling and abuse.
Developing standards is the task at hand right now for Facebook, said industry analyst Scott Kessler of S&P Global Market Intelligence, who covers Facebook.
"They have to figure out how to strike a balance between decorum and freedom," he said. "The onus is on these companies to make clear they actually have a process."

... Which there are, sort of

Facebook says the same community standards exist for all content on Facebook, including live video.
Viewers can report potentially offensive material 24/7 to real people dedicated to responding to such reports. If a live stream starts blowing up, staffers monitor it for possible violations and interrupt it if need be.
Take, for example, the recent video of a mother repeatedly slapping and hitting her teenage daughter on Facebook Live. The original video, which sparked allegations of child abuse and prompted a law enforcement investigation, is gone from the original account it was posted on. However, copies remain on Facebook, in posts condemning the violence.
As Facebook explains in their statement:
"One of the most sensitive situations involves people sharing violent or graphic images of events taking place in the real world. In those situations, context and degree are everything. For instance, if a person witnessed a shooting, and used Facebook Live to raise awareness or find the shooter, we would allow it. However, if someone shared the same video to mock the victim or celebrate the shooting, we would remove the video."
One line in their community standards hints at how far they're willing to go in the name of an open, connected society:
"Because of the diversity of our global community, please keep in mind that something that may be disagreeable or disturbing to you may not violate our Community Standards."

And, don't forget...

If you don't like watching videos of people being shot, remember that you can always look away, scroll past or otherwise avoid your feed.
In other words, put the phone down.
Source: CNN.com
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30/Jul/2016

The family behind Ghana's 'made to survive anything' car

(CNN) A pastor is perhaps an unlikely candidate to become Ghana's first car manufacturer.

But that's what Kwadwo Safo, founder of the Christ Reformed Church, and who is known locally as the "Star of Africa", has done.
And the inventor has become something of a legend in Ghana.
Safo started his family business, Kantanka, 20 years ago, making electrical devices from TVs and sound systems to musical instruments and sewing machines in a country with virtually no history of manufacturing.
As a child he'd had a knack for building things, and before becoming a pastor he'd trained as a welder.
"(My father) had ambition and foresight. He thought of everything in preparation of Kantanka," says Safo's son, Kwadwo Safo Jr.
Today, Kantanka Group is split into an electronics division and a car manufacturing company -- Ghana's first car-maker.
30-year old Kwadwo Safo Jr. is CEO of the family's car business.
 

Made in Ghana

The "made in Ghana" cars were modeled for tough local conditions -- and, to prove it, the Ghanaian police test drove them.
Safo Jr, 30, says he has learned a lot from his father.
"We are expanding our current production line to include a lower-end model which we will launch before the end of the year," he says.
"We have made quite significant sales, including a very important one to the office of the president."

Rise above the sky -- and go with the flow of change

Safo Jr. didn't always plan to be in the car business.
After studying in London, in 2006 he went to earn his pilot's license in the United States. In 2009, he returned to Ghana and earned a bachelor's degree in public administration before joining the family business.
Apprentices work at the Apostle Safo Technology Research Center in Gomoa Mpota, Ghana.
 
As for being a pilot?
"The dream changed, it's been put on hold," he said.
Safo Jr. says operating in Ghana isn't without difficulties: at times there are power cuts and getting fuel needed for back-up generators can be hard.

Believe in yourself

One of the biggest challenges is getting customers to believe in "made in Ghana".
"People think the doors will come off or the tires will blow off or something," he says.
Though the company has had positive reviews, Kantanka is still a relatively small operator competing with established foreign rivals.
The manufacturer can produce 150 cars a month, and with high production costs at home, the cheapest of its three models costs about $20,000.
"We need to be able to produce at a more affordable rate. There are high import charges in Ghana," he says.
But Safo Jr. is confident that Kantanka will grow.
"We have a plan to build sports cars, buses and really expand in Africa with more models," says Safo Jr, from his headquarters just outside the capital of Accra.
"Once you are determined and you want to do it, it's not hard," he says.
Source:CNN.com
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30/Jul/2016

Japanese media: At least 19 dead in knife attack outside Tokyo

TOKYO – At least 19 are dead and 26 injured after a former employee went on a stabbing rampage at a residential home for mentally disabled people near Tokyo, Japanese news media reported Tuesday.

It is one of the worst mass killings in Japan since World War II.

Kyodo News Service said police arrested a 26-year-old man who turned himself in at a nearby police station at about 3 a.m. Tuesday, local time.

Police said the man, identified as Satoshi Uematsu, told them “I did it,” and “It’s better that the disabled disappear,” according to Kyodo.

Police said Uematsu entered the facility at about 2:10 a.m., Tuesday, local time, by breaking a ground floor window with a hammer, then apparently went room to room stabbing anyone he saw. Police said Uematsu later drove himself to a police station where he surrendered without incident.

He had a bag full of knives and other edged tools, some with bloodstains, when he turned himself in, Kyodo reported.

Kanagawa Prefectural officials said at a news conference that Uematsu worked at the care facility from 2012 to February 2016. They did not say what job he had held or explain the circumstances under which he left.

The attack took place at the Tsukui Yamayuri En (Tsukui Lily Garden), a residential home for disabled people run by Kanagawa Prefecture, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) outside Tokyo. Officials said about 150 people, ranging in age from 19 to 75, live at the care home.

It is located in a largely residential area, with a school and amusement park nearby.

Violent crime is rare in Japan and private gun ownership is severely restricted.

Twelve people were killed and 50 injured when religious cultists released poison gas in the Tokyo subway system in March 1995.  In 2008, a man rammed a truck into pedestrians in the popular Akihabara electronics district, then began stabbing people with a knife; seven people died in that incident.

Television news footage Tuesday showed dozens of police cars and ambulances at the Kanagawa facility, along with a large orange police crime-scene tent and scores of journalists. Local  news media reported that family members and neighbors began gathering at the facility early Friday, with some complaining that they had received no information from officials.

Source:USA Today.com

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26/Jul/2016

Best friends, bound by the law, bonded by gift of life

City and suburb. Black and white. A 45-year-old man built like an offensive lineman and a 58-year-old woman who is lean like a dancer.

Best friends.

These are the two judges who meet on a Tuesday morning in a courtroom in Milwaukee. They don their robes. They pose for photos. And embrace.

In September 2014, Municipal Court Judge Derek Mosley of Milwaukee was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease. His kidneys were failing. Every night since, he has connected himself to a dialysis machine for 10 hours, the cleansing fluid removing waste products from his kidneys, sustaining him yet stealing away precious time.

And, yet, there is hope. Surgery is scheduled for Wednesday. Mosley will receive a kidney from Municipal Court Judge JoAnn Eiring of the Town of Brookfield.

In a summer filled with angst and anger, when people argue over which lives matter, there is a note of grace as one judge prepares to provide a gift of life to another.

"This just proves that no matter what you think about color or background or economic status or all those things, here's this woman from Brookfield and this kid from the south side of Chicago and I'm about to get her kidney so I can live," Mosley said. "And we are as compatible as anything else. To me, it's just amazing."

Mosley and Eiring invited the Journal Sentinel to document the surgery in hopes that it would spur others to consider organ donation, especially within the African-American community.

Nationally, around 34% of those waiting for a kidney transplant are African-American. Organs are not matched by race or ethnicity but "a greater diversity of donors may potentially increase access to transplantation for everyone," according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

To Kevin Regner, chief of nephrology at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin, the story of Mosley and Eiring "illustrates that people need to come and be evaluated for transplant. We need to think about all options. Donors can come from any aspect of your life."

Mosley and Eiring first met at a judicial seminar in Eau Claire in 2003. She was a judicial veteran, first elected in 1991. He was a former Milwaukee County assistant district attorney who had been on the bench for around a year.

"We just hit it off," said Eiring, who besides being a judge is program director for adult pretrial court services at Wisconsin Community Services in Waukesha County.

Their families connected immediately. Mosley and his wife, Kelly Cochrane, an administrative law judge for the State of Wisconsin, have been married 15 years. They have two daughters, Kallan, 11, and Kieran, 8. Eiring and her husband, Paul, a civil engineer, baby-sit the kids.

The families enjoy barbecues and birthdays. Eiring and her husband have two grown children, Sam, a program developer for the Mayo Clinic, and Katie, a marketing representative for a restaurant chain.

"Derek's family is my family," Katie said. "We're all very close."

Katie recalled that on her first day at Marquette University, the first email that landed in her college account came from Mosley, a Marquette Law School graduate.

"He said that if you ever appear in my courtroom here are my punishments," Katie said.

When doctors told Mosley his kidneys were failing, the news hit both families hard. For a long time, only a close circle of family, friends and court colleagues knew what Mosley was dealing with.

Mosley said his father died of kidney failure. His grandmother underwent a successful kidney transplant, one of the first in Chicago, Mosley said. Before his diagnosis, Mosley, who also has diabetes, said he didn't have any outward signs that his kidneys were failing.

"The first thing I noticed was that when I urinated, it was really bubbly. So I went in for my routine exam," he said. Tests showed he was secreting an inordinate amount of protein into his urine.

He went on dialysis immediately. Mosley sought to retain his independence and remain on the bench. He also wanted to keep a full schedule, giving speeches, volunteering on boards, officiating weddings, mentoring youngsters and coaching his older daughter's basketball team.

Mosley chose to undergo peritoneal dialysis, which he could administer at home overnight through a catheter. A dialysis machine and five-liter bags of sterile cleansing fluid were set up in the bedroom. He had to be home each day by 7:30 p.m. He had to sleep on his back.

Registered nurse Joan Zittnan talks with Derek Mosley

Registered nurse Joan Zittnan talks with Derek Mosley and his wife, Kelly Cochrane (rear), before Mosley's surgery Wednesday, July 20, 2016 at Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa, Wis. Town of Brookfield Municipal Court Judge JoAnn Eiring donated a kidney to her friend and Milwaukee Municipal Court Judge Derek Mosley. (Photo: Mark Hoffman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

 

Whenever he traveled, the machine and the fluid had to go with him, including an annual trip with a friend to attend college basketball's Final Four.

"I didn't want it to define who I am, to take over my life," Mosley said.

He was placed on a list to obtain an organ. The wait could last up to six years.

A search began for a living donor. Because of a family history of kidney failure, Mosley's sister Tiffani Desrosiers was ruled out. Friends and family stepped forward to get tested.

"For me, it's hard to do, to say, 'Can I have your kidney?'" Mosley said.

Eiring went through the process.

"I've had several friends who have had serious illness and you feel so helpless you can't do anything," Eiring said. "This is the kind of illness you can at least try and do something."

Eiring passed a first step: She and Mosley both had the same blood type, B positive. Then came other tests. Because of the size differences between them — she's 5-foot-61/2, 134 pounds and he is 6-2, 285 — there were concerns that Eiring's kidney wouldn't be a match for Mosley.

Eiring joked with the doctors, "Don't be fooled by my body size. I've got big bones, big feet. I'm pretty sure I have big organs, too."

In June, came good news from the doctors. Eiring was a match for Mosley.

"I was shocked, probably as shocked as they were," she said.

On Wednesday morning, Mosley and Eiring arrived at Froedtert & The Medical College. They were at peace with the surgery. Their families waited anxiously.

By late morning, the transplant surgical teams were ready — Michael Zimmerman would remove Eiring's left kidney and Christopher Johnson would place the kidney into Mosley's right lower abdomen.

When Johnson met with Mosley, the judge asked him: "Did you sleep well?"

A nurse, Joan Zittnan, told Mosley, "You have an awesome team. I love working with Doctor Johnson."

At 11:55 a.m., as she was being hooked up to an IV, Eiring said "cocktail time." She was off to surgery.

A few minutes later, Mosley was on his way, too.

The transplant took place in adjoining operating rooms. The surgical teams worked methodically.

"This is the most important surgery in the world right now," Zimmerman said later, explaining the attitude of doctors and nurses.

Using a video camera and instruments, Zimmerman performed laparoscopic surgery to remove Eiring's kidney. Once the organ was removed, it was placed in a small bowl and taken to a back table where Johnson inspected the kidney, flushed it with a preservation solution, and securely packed it, finally placing it in a cooler.

Eiring would soon be on her way to recovery.

The cooler, with the kidney inside, was rolled just a few feet to the adjoining operating room. Johnson and his team were ready. Eiring's kidney fit in the palm of the doctor's hand. Soon, it would be placed in Mosley and attached securely.

By 5:30 p.m., the surgery on Mosley was winding down. Later, after he awoke, he said he thought the surgery was just getting started.

But it was done. A success.

For Mosley, the surgery was just a beginning.

"Your first transplant is your best shot. Try really hard to keep that organ in place," said Ehab Saad, a nephrology specialist at Froedtert who helped oversee Mosley's care. "The journey starts after that transplant."

Once a month, Mosley will return to Froedtert to receive an infusion of Belatacept to help prevent rejection of the new kidney. Froedtert was involved in an initial trial for the medication.

"The benefit of the medication is it doesn't hurt the kidney over the long term," Saad said.

Late Friday morning, Mosley and Eiring were prepared to talk with a reporter about what they had been through. Their families were excited and relieved.

"I feel great. I do. I haven't felt like this in a long time," Mosley said.

"It's very cool, thinking about it," Eiring said of her kidney now working inside Mosley.

"We're bonded, whether you like it or not," Mosley said.

"We're like relatives," Eiring said.

"Blood relatives," Mosley responded.

How will it change their relationship?

"I owe her my life, essentially," Mosley said. "How do you ever repay something like that? All I can do is just do the best I can to keep this gift as long as I can keep it."

At last, Mosley was free of the dialysis machine.

"I can't tell you what a good feeling it is to help him out and make his life better," Eiring said. "It's so frustrating when someone is sick and you are helpless and can't do anything. So I feel just as fortunate to be able to work on this."

Mosley had to wipe away tears.

"I can't describe to you how long and laborious 10 hours a day every day of the week is," he said. "I can't imagine having that time back, being able to spend time with my family."

Source: USA Today.com

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25/Jul/2016

Two Uber drivers arrested while on duty

Uber continues to run into roadblocks when it comes to safety.

Two Uber drivers were arrested in separate incidents over the weekend.

A man in Palo Alto, California, was arrested and charged with sexual assault after a female passenger told police that he made uninvited advances and ignored her requests to stop the vehicle, according to police.

Another driver in Chicago was pulled over for not wearing a seat belt and was arrested when officers discovered marijuana and a loaded weapon in the car. Police learned the man does not have the proper license for carrying a firearm and has prior felony convictions.

Uber does not allow drivers or passengers to have firearms even with proper licensing.

The company confirmed the drivers involved in both incidents have been banned from the ride sharing service.

Uber has exploded around the world, but its ambitions have hit a number of speed bumps. The company has been slapped with government fines, sued by drivers, targeted in protests, and even banned outright in some cities. In India, an Uber driver was found guilty of raping a passenger.

Voters in Austin, Texas, passed a law that mandated fingerprinting for ride share drivers in May. Uber and competitor Lyft promptly left the city in protest. Critics argue that fingerprints are more thorough than the name-based checks that Uber currently conducts.

Uber, meanwhile, says fingerprinting is discriminatory, time consuming and is not necessarily more effective at weeding out potentially dangerous drivers.

The company said the Chicago man's felony convictions, which were weapons-related and occurred in 1995 and 2003, would not have prevented him from clearing a background check for a city taxi license either. Per a Chicago ordinance, licenses are only denied if the felony occurred within the past five years. Uber's policy bans drivers with felonies less than seven years old.

Uber, which is valued at $62.5 billion, has faced multiple lawsuits for advertising its service as the "safest ride on the road." Uber stopped making those types of claims earlier this year and has agreed to pay more than $50 million to settle the suits.

Source: Cnn.com

 

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25/Jul/2016

Jeff Bezos passes Warren Buffett to become third richest person in the world

Move over Warren Buffett. Jeff Bezos is richer than you.

The Amazon founder is worth $65.1 billion as of Thursday, according to Bloomberg's Billionaire Index, which puts him just slightly ahead of Buffett's $65 billion. Bezos moved into third place on the global index, behind Bill Gates and Amancio Ortega, the majority owner of Zara's parent company Inditex.

 

Bezos backed into his new spot on the list, after his net worth fell $136 million thanks mostly to a 0.2% decline in Amazon (AMZN, Tech30) shares Thursday. But Buffett's net worth slipped $754 million, according to the index, thanks to a 1.2% slide in shares of Berkshire Hathaway (BRKB).

Forbes still has Bezos slightly behind Buffett in its real-time billionaire's ranking, $64.8 billion to $64.6 billion.

When Forbes started this year's ranking, Bezos was much farther back in the pack: No. 5 on the list at $45.2 billion. Amazon shares are up 10% so far this year. They reached a record high earlier this month.

Source: CNN.com

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23/Jul/2016

Oldest American is 113-year-old Jersey girl

WOODLAND PARK, N.J. — There’s a new holder of the title of Oldest American — and she’s a Jersey girl.

Adele Dunlap of Hunterdon County became the oldest person in the United States after the July 8 death of Goldie Michelson of Worcester, Mass.

Dunlap, who was born Dec. 12, 1902, in Newark, is 113 years, 7 months, 1 week old.

Asked how it felt to be the most senior citizen in a nation of 320 million, Dunlap, who resides at the Country Arch Care Center in rural Pittstown, told a visitor this week: “I don’t feel any different. Just the same.”

Asked what it meant to be an American, she said: “Well, I’ve never been anything else.”

Asked how it felt to be 113, Dunlap, who wore a Christmas-y fleece to ward off the air-conditioning, looked her questioner in the eye and answered: “I’m 104.”

She’s not. The Los Angeles-based Gerontology Research Group, which tracks supercentenarians, or people 110 and older, has validated her age; its database also lists her as the world’s 10th-oldest person. The oldest is 116-year-old Emma Morano-Martinuzzi, of Italy, who was born on Nov. 29, 1899.

Further proof of Dunlap’s age emerged from a drawer in the living room of her son Earl’s home in Clinton. Her diploma from South Side High School in Newark is dated June 27, 1921 — 95 years ago. Her sheepskin from the New Jersey State Normal School at Newark, the predecessor of Kean University, bears a date of June 29, 1923.

A graduation photo of Adele from 1921.

A graduation photo of Adele from 1921. (Photo: Chris Pedota/Northjersey.com)

Dunlap, who arrived at Country Arch at 99½ and is sometimes called Ms. Adele, offered no explanation for her astonishingly long life.

Her 86-year-old son also was at a loss.

“I don’t know, it’s hard to say,” Earl Dunlap said. “She never went out jogging or anything like that. She’s not really thin, but she never weighed more than 140 pounds. She smoked, and when my father had his first heart attack, they both stopped. I think she ate anything she wanted.”

Genetics probably comes into play, he acknowledged. But he added that he never met his mother’s parents and does not know to what age they lived.

The geography of Adele Dunlap’s life reads like a zigzagging Jersey day trip. According to her son, she has lived in Newark, South Orange, Short Hills, Springfield, Spring Lake Heights, Clinton and Pittstown.

The former Adele Henderson taught in the Kearny school system for several years before marrying Earl Dunlap Sr. and settling down to run the home and raise three children. Earl Sr. worked for Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. in New York City. He died in 1963, at age 61.

Adele Dunlap stayed active as a widow, traveling with friends to Maine and Florida and attending Catholic Mass on Sundays. She was still driving when, at 87, she came to live with son, Earl, and his wife, Barbara.

Dunlap’s other son lives in Florida; her daughter died in her 40s. She has seven grandchildren (the oldest is 62), 16 great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren.

At Country Arch, Dunlap shares a room with another resident. Local newspaper clippings attesting to her longevity — “110 and going strong,” reads one headline — are taped to the wall. On the bureau is a framed letter offering 112th birthday greetings from President and Michelle Obama.

Her son said Dunlap no longer reads the newspaper because she is unable to hold it in her hands. She doesn’t watch much TV. The care center’s activities director, Susan Dempster, said Dunlap is a “passive participant” in the daily activities, “socializes minimally” and looks forward to when the Girl Scouts come to sing Christmas carols.

When news reports of Goldie Michelson’s death anointed Dunlap as the oldest American, Dempster made an announcement in the dining room about the celebrity in the Country Arch Care Center midst.

“Everyone clapped,” Dempster said. And Dunlap nodded.

“Her awareness and her ability to communicate — she’s amazing,” Dempster said.

Shaving a decade off her age apparently is Dunlap’s habit.

“Last year, when we were telling her it was her 113th birthday, she said, ‘No, no, no, I’m only 102,’” Dempster recalled.

There are believed to be a few hundred supercentenarians in the world, and New Jersey is home to at least one other. Agnes Fenton of Englewood, who turns 111 on Aug. 1, became an Internet sensation last year when she told The Record that beer and whiskey — specifically, Miller High Life and Johnnie Walker Blue — were her secret.

Adele Dunlap is not a drinker but did occasionally enjoy a martini with her husband, her son said.

And the one food this 113-year-old swears by pairs poorly with Miller High Life or Johnnie Walker Blue: oatmeal.

Source:USA Today

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21/Jul/2016

Emirates named world's best airline in 2016 Skytrax awards

Farnborough, England (CNN)The world's best airline for 2016 is Emirates, according to a survey of millions of airline passengers conducted by Skytrax.

The international airline, based in Dubai, won the top honors at Tuesday's Skytrax World Airline Awards ceremony at the Farnborough International Airshow in England.
As jet engines screamed from the Farnborough airfield and thousands of visiting aviation geeks explored the airshow, smiling flight attendants dressed in brightly colored uniforms stepped to the stage as each award was announced.
The survey underscores the consistency of the quality service among the world's top carriers, said Edward Plaisted, Skytrax CEO.
"The Middle East airlines have continued to dominate," Plaisted said after the ceremony. "Virgin America continues dominating on the customer side in North America. Turkish Airlines is a big favorite."
The awards run the gamut from 73 categories from best economy class onboard catering to best airline staff to best seats to best cabin cleanliness.
The top 10 best airlines were named as:
1. Emirates
2. Qatar Airways
3. Singapore Airlines
4. Cathay Pacific
5. ANA All Nippon Airways
6. Etihad Airways
7. Turkish Airlines
8. EVA Air
9. Qantas Airways
10. Lufthansa
 
Source:CNN.com
 
 
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21/Jul/2016

Body of children's author found buried in garden

(NEWSER) – British authorities say a children's author who disappeared in April was murdered by her partner.

The remains of Helen Bailey, known for her Electra Brown series of children's novels, were found buried in her garden on Friday, the Independent reports. According to the BBC, the 51-year-old Bailey was last seen walking her dachshund in her neighborhood on April 11. The dog's remains were also found on the property.

A post-mortem examination was scheduled for Monday. "Helen was immensely witty and talented," her family says in a statement. "We love her deeply and are immensely proud of her achievements. She is now at peace and we shall all miss her terribly.”

Bailey's partner, Ian Stewart, has been charged with her murder, as well as perverting the course of justice and preventing lawful burial. He was arrested last Monday, the Mirror reports.

Stewart, who police say reported Bailey missing, had said he was "shattered" at the time. Authorities were continuing to search their home — a 7-bedroom house worth $1.7 million — on Saturday.

Bailey's husband of 22 years drowned while on vacation in 2011, leading her to write a blog called Planet Grief in addition to her work on children's books.

Her bio there noted that "since 2013 [she] has lived in Royston, Hertfordshire, with her partner (AKA Gorgeous Grey Haired Widower)," a reference to Stewart.

Source:USA Today

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19/Jul/2016

People jump from Tappan Zee Bridge in New York after crane collapses

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — A crane collapsed onto the Tappan Zee Bridge on Tuesday, shutting down travel in both directions on the span that crosses the Hudson River in New York.

Police said people jumped from the span as a construction crane for the $4 billion new bridge crashed onto the old span around noon ET.

Workers are cutting up the crane to remove it from the bridge, which could reopen later Tuesday, said South Nyack-Grand View Police Chief Brent Newbury.

Rockland County Executive Ed Day said five people were injured — three drivers and two bridge workers.

Newbury said he expects "a traffic nightmare."

he span connects Rockland and Westchester counties. A new Tappan Zee Bridge is being constructed several yards north of the existing bridge and is expected to be completed in 2017.

In Rockland, cars were being diverted from Interstate 87 onto the Palisades Interstate Parkway. Trucks were being routed off the Thruway at Exit 12.

In Westchester, drivers on Interstate 287 were being diverted onto Interstate 87.

“One of the questions is how much if any structural damage did it cause to the bridge and how do they get the crane lifted,” said Rockland Sheriff's Chief William Barbera. “There might long term damage and might take hours to open the bridge.”

Rockland County, N.Y.-bound traffic backs up after

Rockland County, N.Y.-bound traffic backs up after a crane collapse on the Tappan Zee Bridge on Tuesday, July 19, 2016. (Photo: Michael Fibison, USA TODAY Network)

 

Drivers stuck in traffic on the New York State Thruway in Rockland County said they saw various emergency personnel, including an ambulance and fire truck. Drivers were seen leaning out their cars to take photos and videos of the traffic.

Diana Cortez, the Tarrytown, N.Y.-area director for the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, said her agency had sent two inspectors to the scene.

“It’s not going to wrap up today, that’s for sure. I have no idea" when it might, she said.

Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner  said that there obviously has to be a review as to the oversight on the massive project. “Everybody who goes over the bridge expects that they are going to be able to travel safely. ... It’s unacceptable for any accident to occur on a construction project like this.”

Source:USA Today

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19/Jul/2016

Kansas Black Lives Matter holds picnic with police instead of protest

A Black Lives Matter group in Wichita, Kan., originally planned a protest Sunday but instead had a cookout with police.

Following recent officer-involved shootings and acts of violence, the Kansas Black Lives Matter Group wanted to voice concern. Tuesday after a long discussion with the Wichita Police Department, the group decided to cancel the Sunday protest and instead come together with officers for the First Steps Cookout, a gathering in a local park aimed at taking the first step towards building a relationship between officers and the community.

Officers served hamburgers and hot dogs and played basketball with members of the community. Kids jumped in bounce-houses and blew bubbles. Officers and the community even danced together.

But, the tone wasn’t about food and fun. It was an opportunity to have difficult conversations aimed at change.

Jarvis Scott, a black man who sat at a table with a Hispanic man and a white man, next to Lt. Travis Rakestraw, told The The Wichita Eagle it was the first time since 1992 he’d sat down with a police officer. The other two said it was their first time sitting with an officer.

“It takes two parties to make a healthy relationship,” Chief Gordon Ramsay said.

During the Q&A part of the cookout, Ramsay took questions from the community about racial profiling, transparency and building relationships.

Community members weren’t shy to voice concerns. One of the first questions asked how a barbecue would help address concerns about racial profiling, and if the community was being bought off with food.

Ramsay answered questions on the spot and also offered to meet with community members later.

“I do want to challenge other police departments and communities to do the same things with first steps community cookout,” Ramsay said.

Source:USA Today

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19/Jul/2016

Men fall from cliff playing Pokémon Go

(CNN)If all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you too? What if your Pokémon took you there?

Two men in their early 20s fell an estimated 50 to 90 feet down a cliff in Encinitas, California, on Wednesday afternoon while playing "Pokémon Go," San Diego County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Rich Eaton said. The men sustained injuries, although the extent is not clear.
Pokémon Go is a free-to-play app that gets users up and moving in the real world to capture fictional "pocket monsters" known as Pokémon. The goal is to capture as many of the more than hundred species of animated Pokémon as you can.
Apparently it wasn't enough that the app warns users to stay aware of surroundings or that signs posted on a fence near the cliff said "No Trespassing" and "Do Not Cross." When firefighters arrived at the scene, one of the men was at the bottom of the cliff while the other was three-quarters of the way down and had to be hoisted up, Eaton said.
Both men were transported to Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla. They were not charged with trespassing.
Eaton encourages players to be careful. "It's not worth life or limb," he said
In parts of San Diego County, there are warning signs for gamers not to play while driving. San Diego Gas and Electric tweeted a warning to stay away from electric lines and substations when catching Pokémon.

Men fall from cliff playing Pokémon Go

Story highlights

  • Two men fell off a cliff while playing Pokémon Go
  • Law enforcement official reminds players "it's not worth life or limb"
 

(CNN)If all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you too? What if your Pokémon took you there?

Two men in their early 20s fell an estimated 50 to 90 feet down a cliff in Encinitas, California, on Wednesday afternoon while playing "Pokémon Go," San Diego County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Rich Eaton said. The men sustained injuries, although the extent is not clear.
Pokémon Go is a free-to-play app that gets users up and moving in the real world to capture fictional "pocket monsters" known as Pokémon. The goal is to capture as many of the more than hundred species of animated Pokémon as you can.
Apparently it wasn't enough that the app warns users to stay aware of surroundings or that signs posted on a fence near the cliff said "No Trespassing" and "Do Not Cross." When firefighters arrived at the scene, one of the men was at the bottom of the cliff while the other was three-quarters of the way down and had to be hoisted up, Eaton said.
Both men were transported to Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla. They were not charged with trespassing.
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Eaton encourages players to be careful. "It's not worth life or limb," he said
In parts of San Diego County, there are warning signs for gamers not to play while driving. San Diego Gas and Electric tweeted a warning to stay away from electric lines and substations when catching Pokémon.
This is the latest among many unexpected situations gamers have found themselves in, despite the game being released just more than a week ago. In one case, armed robbers lured lone players of the wildly popular augmented reality game to isolated locations. In another case, the game led a teen to discover a dead body.
Source:CNN.com
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17/Jul/2016

My job nearly drove me to commit suicide

Darryl Warren had what many consider a dream job: he sold BMWs.

Warren entered the world of luxury cars and wealthy clients at age 50. It seemed a step up from his many years in sales at pharmaceutical and food service companies. In his first year, Warren was a top seller at a dealership outside Charlotte, North Carolina. He brought home about $70,000.

 

In his second year, Warren says he sold more cars but was paid $10,000 less. The BMW sales floor was hypercompetitive with a "Hunger Games" feel. A typical day started at 9am and ended at 9pm, or whenever the last customer left. Salesmen regularly worked six days a week, sometimes seven at the end of the month.

"I don't know if it's illegal the way these companies do it, but it's immoral," Warren told CNNMoney. "They literally work people to death."

His body broke down. It started with back pain. Then came the panic attacks, the blood pressure medication and anti-depressants. Most days, life proceeded like this: work, come home late, drink a "fat glass of liquor," make small chat with fiancee, then pass out. For the first time in his life, he had suicidal thoughts. Warren quit in May at the urging of his fiancee.

"You're replaced by a 22-year-old kid who's drawn by the promise of a cheap BMW and lots of money," says Warren, who's now 54 and living off savings while working part-time at a music store.

Related: How I went from middle class to homeless

Spike in middle age suicides

Warren isn't alone in finding himself in an unexpected and depressing place during his midlife years, where he's too young to retire, but can't find a job that matches the one he lost. There's been an alarming spike in suicides and drug and alcohol abuse among 45 to 54 year-old Americans, especially white Americans.

No other rich country has seen anything like this. Nobel prize winning economist Angus Deaton was one of the first to spotlight how white "midlife mortality" in the U.S. jumped from about 381 deaths per 100,000 in the late 1990s to about 415 now.

Everyone is trying to figure out why it's happening. The leading explanation is a lack of "good" jobs, especially for workers without a college degrees.

"Many of the baby-boom generation are the first to find, in midlife, that they will not be better off than were their parents," wrote Deaton and fellow economist Anne Case. Americans with only a high school degree -- or less -- have seen the biggest surge in suicides.

"I never ever in a million years thought I would be 54 and unemployable," says Warren. Since he has a part-time job, he is considered underemployed (not unemployed) by the U.S. government. At the music store, he earns only $10 an hour, with no benefits. It's a job for now, but not liveable.

Workers over 50 -- or even 45 -- are being dubbed the "new unemployables." Unemployment soared during the Great Recession for all ages, but older workers have had the hardest time getting rehired.

Share your story with CNN: How is your job and financial situation?

Older workers: the 'new unemployables'

Olga Aguilar of Florida is worried she is one of the "unemployables." The 56-year-old from Miami was laid off two years ago. Since then, she applies and applies for jobs but hasn't landed anything.

"I want to be useful. I wanted to do something," Aguilar told CNNMoney. "I want to feel like I have contributed something for myself, for my family. It's just a matter of pride."

Despite having a college degree in accounting and many years of experience, Aguilar can't even get interviews anymore. She worked for nearly a decade at her last job for Arise Virtual Solutions, a call center firm. Her dream is to work with animals, but she says she will "try anything" at this point.

Aguilar's husband served for many years in the U.S. Air Force and fortunately has a good private sector job now. They are a proud military family. She is upbeat, but this is not the life she expected to be leading in her 50s, either.

U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez told CNNMoney this is a real problem for America.

"The over 50s, they've got talent, but they've been told hundreds of times their services are not needed," says Perez, who is on the list of possible vice presidential picks for Hillary Clinton.

Older workers have to search for jobs longer

When older workers get laid off -- or quit -- it takes them a lot longer to get rehired than their younger peers. Workers over 45 have to search, on average, over 9 months to get a new job versus about 6 months for workers ages 35 to 44, according to the Labor Department.

Some older workers simply give up looking for work when it takes too long. It's one of reasons America has the lowest level of adults working or searching for a job since the 1970s.

The struggle to find good-paying jobs has become a key issue in the election. For younger workers, the solution is usually more education and retraining, but it's not as obvious what to do to help older workers.

A possible solution: tax credits

Perez says the best tool to aid older workers who have been out of work for more than six months is the Worker Opportunity Tax Credit. Employers get tax credits ranging from about $1,000 to $10,000 if they hire these workers for a trial run. It's akin to a glorified internship program. Often, the older worker gets a full-time job offer after the trial period is over.

While Perez is glad that Congress extended the program at the end of 2015, the problem remains that not enough companies are using it. Many businesses have been flooded with job applications during the recovery. They can be choosey.

There's reason to be hopeful: American companies have been on a hiring boom in recent years. The number of Americans searching over six months for a job has fallen. Today, there are under 2 million people who are long-term unemployed, compared to a record high of 6.8 million people in 2010. Of course, to be counted as long-term unemployed, a person still has to be looking for work, so a lot of people might not be counted today.

All the talk of America being at or near "full employment" doesn't make much sense to Aguilar. She's one of the 750,000 workers over 45 who are still officially counted as long-term unemployed.

"The only conclusion I can come up with for why I can't find work is my age. I don't want to think that, but there are loopholes in everything," says Aguilar.

Source:CNN

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15/Jul/2016

In active shooter situation, don't just stand there...

Johns Creek, Georgia (CNN)A crowd of about 350 listened quietly as the recording of a teacher's eerie 911 call from Columbine High School bellowed over the church auditorium's speakers.

"Heads down under the tables! ... Oh, God! Kids, just stay down!" a panicked Patty Nielson barked at students taking refuge in the school library, her directives intermittently interrupted by gunfire.
The screen on which the closed-captioned recording was projected later morphed to a dramatization of a Columbine-style attack, as two gun-wielding young men storm through a school throwing chairs aside and shooting students hiding under tables.
Johns Creek police Maj. John Clifton had warned the audience the images might be disturbing.
The group had gathered for a Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events training held at Perimeter Church in the Atlanta suburb, one of several such events increasingly being held around the country. Jackson, Mississippi; Durham, New Hampshire; Greenfield, Indiana; Pampa, Texas; and Orem, Utah, are among the dozens of cities that have staged training sessions of late, and more seem to be popping up every week.
Beverlee Athens, 45, and her husband, John, 59, drove from nearby Alpharetta to attend the Johns Creek event. Katie, 2, bounced on her mother's lap, oblivious that she was a primary reason her parents were at the church that night.
"I'm not going to sit back and be a victim," Beverlee Athens said.
John Athens, a retired firefighter and emergency medical services instructor who's in charge of security at his own church, said he and his wife have concealed-carry permits and "believe in protection," but the state of the world has him even more vigilant.
"I just know that we've got to be prepared. ... It's the day we live in now, unfortunately, and we've got her to think about," he said, nodding to his restless, smiling daughter.

'They do it for fame'

The idea behind CRASE is that the shooters at Columbine, at Virginia Tech, at Fort Hood, at Sandy Hook, in San Bernandino and in scores of other horrific events across the country since the late 1990s aren't like muggers. They don't want your wallet or purse.
They want a body count, blood and headlines.
"They're simply monsters. They do it for fame. They do it for notoriety," Clifton told the crowd.
 
Clifton went on to explain the directives of the CRASE training: avoid, deny, defend -- similar to the instructions given to employees January 26 when some kind of shooting event was reported at the Naval Medical Center San Diego. It later turned out to be a false alarm.
"Avoid" means more than run. It's about knowing where the exits are and visualizing how you'll get out of a violent situation before one unfolds. Don't live in fear, but be vigilant, Clifton explained.
"Deny" means taking away a shooter's chance to kill you, whether it's by barricading a door, turning out lights, silencing your phone or hiding, preferably behind something that will stop a bullet.
Then there's "defend," and that's where things get tricky, because essentially it means fight. And with a few exceptions, a mass shooter's targets aren't soldiers or others who might be trained to fight. They're regular people: students, coworkers, moviegoers and the like.
"Do not fight fairly. THIS IS ABOUT SURVIVAL," a handout given to Johns Creek attendees said.

Change in tactics

Pete Blair, executive director for Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training at Texas State University, which teaches police how to respond to active shooters, says Columbine sounded a "wake-up call."
Around 2002, realizing the model used by law enforcement officers who responded to the shootings at Columbine was not effective, schools began requesting "avoid, deny, defend" training. CRASE didn't become formalized until 2013, hence the uptick in training sessions across the nation, he said.
More than 85,000 law enforcement officers have been trained in ALERRT operations, and about 5,100 have been trained to be CRASE instructors.
Blair is a self-professed "data-driven guy," and there are a couple of statistics regarding active shootings that struck him: The first is that in one out of five incidents, it's the potential victims who stop the shooters; the second is that more than half of active shooter events are over before police arrive, which, on average, takes three minutes.
"That's a long time for someone to shoot at people," he said. "It takes some time for the SWAT team to get there, and during that time, the shooter has free rein to keep murdering people."
Joel Myrick is familiar with fighting an active shooter. A career educator, he was the assistant principal in 1997 at Pearl High School in a Jackson, Mississippi, suburb when a shooting occurred at the school. The event is considered the first in the almost 20-year rash of mass shootings that continues today.
On October 1 of that year, a 16-year-old who had just stabbed and bludgeoned his mother to death drove to the school and killed ex-girlfriend Christina Menefee and classmate Lydia Dew before shooting seven other students, all in the span of a few minutes. Myrick remembers hearing the shots.
"Being an old Mississippi boy, I'd deer hunted and I knew immediately he had a deer rifle, a .30-(caliber) deer rifle," he said.
Myrick rushed to his car to retrieve a .45-caliber handgun. When the gunman got into a vehicle, Myrick cut him off at the pass, leveled his weapon and ordered him to stop. The teen swerved off the road and spun out, and the assistant principal was able to "apprehend him at that particular point till police came," he said.

'Fog of war'

Now a polymer science instructor at Hancock County Career and Technical Center in Mississippi, Myrick says he can't say for certain he'd do the same thing if a gunman attacked the kids in his charge today.
"I feel like I would, but I can't say with certainty," he said. "My DNA, I would try to do the same thing. That's my opinion, but I don't have any way of knowing."
The reason is because in the "fog of war," as the former National Guardsman of 21 years puts it, no one really knows what they'll do.
The CRASE training expands on this notion. Humans are strange, social creatures, Maj. Clifton explained. How one person reacts can dictate how others respond. Humans are also prone to habit, he said.
When the first plane hit the World Trade Center on 9/11, some people took the time to log off their computers and fetch their purses or briefcases before evacuating.
When a fire engulfed The Station nightclub in Rhode Island, where the band Great White was performing in 2003, 100 people died -- 58 of them in the main entryway or just outside it, despite there being three other exits in the club.
"If something happens, most of you would exit the door you came in," Clifton said, pointing to the entrances in the back of the church auditorium.
Another human tendency hampering response in emergency situations is denial, he said.
"The brain doesn't want to think something bad is happening," he said.
That delay can put you in greater danger, especially when you consider that as your stress level spikes, along with your heartbeat, your ability to act rationally can be diminished. Once your heart rate hits 150 beats per minute, tunnel vision and audio exclusion can follow, further exacerbating matters.

Haunting example

Reaction is key to survival. At a Marietta, Georgia, CRASE training late last year, police officers shared a diagram showing the classrooms of Norris Hall, where most of the deaths occurred during the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting.
According to the graphic: The first classroom the shooter reached, Room 206, went into traditional lockdown. When it was all over, 10 of the 14 people inside that classroom were killed, while two were wounded. In Room 211, which also went into lockdown when the shots were heard, 12 of 18 were killed and six were wounded.
In the adjacent Rooms 204 and 207, students and faculty barricaded or tried to barricade the doors, while in Room 204, 10 students jumped out of the window. In Room 207, five of 13 were killed and six were wounded, while in 204, two of 19 were killed and three were wounded.
In Room 205, where a dozen students and faculty got on the ground and barricaded the door with their feet, preventing the shooter's entry, everyone survived.
"Doing nothing doesn't work. Doing something does, and these are the statistics to prove it," Sgt. Todd Hood, a SWAT commander, told the crowd in Johns Creek. "Hide and hope? That's like a wing and a prayer. ... That's very problematic. That's not what we teach."
While you're awaiting police, look for weapons and be prepared to improvise, he said. A fire extinguisher can be a fine weapon, and there's power in numbers if a group bumrushed a shooter.
"Pens can do damage," he said. "If you poke their eyes out, can they see? Probably not."
Myrick agrees with the approach, and concurs that planning is important.
"I don't think anybody knows that they will do when it comes to that particular point," he said. "If you're not trained to defend yourself, you won't defend yourself when the fog of war sets in."
The CRASE teachings, he pointed out, are more about planning than training. Why not take it a step further? Why not tack some balloons to the wall and let kids see how many they can pop with a math book? Why not let them have a go at swinging a chair, just for muscle-memory's sake?
Myrick worries that because there's usually no warning when a gunman kicks in a door, "you've got to have something right at your fingertips that you can do. There's no time to do anything."
He'd also like to see well-trained, armed security personnel in schools. The United States spent billions on nuclear submarines and never fired a shot, he said. It was a mere deterrent. Why wouldn't we take the same approach to schools, which house "our most prized possessions as parents"?

Chances low, but on rise

To be clear, your chances of being hurt or killed in a mass shooting remain slim. Statistics from 2000 to 2013 show that you have a slightly better chance of being struck by lightning than dying in a random mass shooting.
But the largely 50-and-over audience attending the CRASE training in Johns Creek is not being reactionary when they say the world feels like it's becoming more dangerous.
From 2000 to 2007, the United States saw an average of 7.4 active shooter events per year. The number is 16.4 for 2008 to 2013.
Robert Adair, 60, an architect from Peachtree Corners, just south of Johns Creek, said he wasn't much of a gun guy until someone he knew was shot and kidnapped. While he agrees with the "avoid, deny, defend" philosophy, his primary purpose for attending the CRASE training was to understand his responsibility as a gun owner in an active shooter situation.
"I have a carry permit, and basically I want to find out what I should do or should not do if I find myself at a scene before the police arrive," he said.
Hood addressed his query during the two-hour session: "Law enforcement officers seldom tell you to grab a gun, but do it here. If they're bringing violence to you, they don't matter."
But once police arrive, Hood said, holster the weapon, get your hands up and promptly let police know that you're armed.
Source: CNN.com
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11/Jul/2016

How to talk to kids about tragic events

(CNN)After horrific events like mass shootings or attacks by terrorists, parents are faced with this dilemma: What do I tell my kids? How can I talk to them about something so senseless and indiscriminate? About something that we can't make sense of ourselves?

"When we feel ourselves bombarded by images of brutal, ruthless violence and evidence of unbridled hate, the question of how to protect our children is a complex one," said Dr. Claudia Gold, a pediatrician, infant mental health specialist and author of "The Silenced Child: From Labels, Medications, and Quick-Fix Solutions to Listening, Growth and Lifelong Resilience." "We immediately jump to ask, 'What do I say?' "
Gold and other parenting experts stress that the age of children and their temperament really determines what -- and how much -- to share.

Limiting media exposure is key

If possible, children younger than 5 do not need to be told about what happened or exposed to any of the media coverage, said Tricia Ferrara, a licensed professional counselor, parenting strategist and author of "Parenting 2.0: Think in the Future, Act in the Now." "Keeping to routine is the best way to reassure children about the safety of their immediate world," she said.
Children ages 6 to 11 need just basic facts and minimal exposure to media coverage, she said, adding that there are definite lessons from what children saw in the media following the September 11, 2001, attacks. She points to studies that found that children who had repeated and prolonged exposure to media images had more difficulty with anxiety than kids with less exposure.
In a statement after the Paris attacks, the American Academy of Pediatrics urged parents to be careful with images that children see. "As pediatricians, we know that violence can have lasting effects on children even if they are only learning about it through the media," the statement said. The organization offered more resources for parents on how to talk to children about mass tragedies.
"A child will store the event in memory based on the narrative you assign the event," Ferrara said. "For this age range, stick to basic facts and turn off the TV."
Dr. Gail Saltz, associate professor of psychiatry at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, agrees, and said parents of young children should "stick to basic broad-stroke facts" and avoid any "nitty gritty details that are disturbing."
Parents should then communicate to their children an openness and willingness to talk, answering their questions and listening to their feelings, she said.
"Make it clear you understand their feelings. In other words, don't blow them off or avoid their feelings. This can be hard when they're (being) upset makes you more upset," said Saltz, author of "The Anatomy of a Secret Life." "But expressing their feelings will help them to cope. Then be reassuring about all of the security at work protecting us, and how rare an event this really is."

How to reassure your child

Reassurance is one of the most important things parents can provide children during a time of tragedy, when they fear it could happen to them, said Dr. Glenn Saxe, chairman of the department of child and adolescent psychiatry at NYU's Langone Medical Center, in a previous interview.
"The first kind of thought and feeling is, 'Am I safe? Are people close to me safe? Will something happen? Will people I depend on protect me?' " said Saxe, who is also director of the NYU Child Study Center.
"You want to be assuring to your child, you want to communicate that you're ... doing everything you can do to keep them safe," Saxe said. "You also want to not give false assurances, too. And this is also depending on the age of the child. You have to be real about it as well."
It helps, too, for parents to acknowledge their own fears about how to keep children safe, even amid unpredictable violence, said Gold, who is also author of "Keeping Your Child in Mind: Overcoming Defiance, Tantrums and Other Everyday Behavior Problems by Seeing the World through Your Child's Eyes." It might seem counterintuitive, but acknowledging uncertainty can help parents connect with their children, and lead to a stronger sense of safety and security.
"It is frightening, but as the people of Paris who took to the streets expressed, we will not be afraid," Gold said. "When our children can sense that courage in us, they too will not be afraid. When we can manage our own anxieties, we are in a better position to listen to the responses of our children, which may differ according to their unique individual qualities."
Dr. Joe Taravella, supervisor of pediatric psychology at NYU Langone Medical Center's Rusk Rehabilitation, said parents should not be afraid to show their own emotions about tragic events. Children pick up on the "emotional temperature that's in the home," even if we think we're hiding how we truly feel, he said.
"We are our children's role models, so we should be leading by example at all times and when we're sad," said Taravella. "We talk about our sadness so we can talk about us being fearful and sad that this happened, but then, I always try and end on the positive to help them cope or deal with it, that we are a family and that we support each other as a family."
Parents should also be mindful of any changes in their children's behavior after learning about a tragedy, Taravella said.
"I would try and put their behaviors into words like saying, 'I see that you've been more cranky lately or more upset, I'm wondering if something's going on, if you feel upset about something,' " he said, which might help them communicate what they are feeling.

Helping teens open up

For teens, who will most likely have heard about the attacks through social media or news coverage, it is best to start by asking what they know, Ferrara said.
"Initially, it is possible they may not have much to say," she said, but they might revisit the topic when something connects to them personally.
"Events like this sometimes defy language, and a teen may struggle to discuss. However, remain open for these emerging adults. They need to know that they matter and that the world's complexity is in dire need of their taking the time to think about and understand what it means to be global citizens," she said.
"It is a shared responsibility that none of us, parent or young adult child, is able to avoid."
Source: CNN.com
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11/Jul/2016

Can your smartwatch give away your ATM password?

Could wearing a fitness tracker or smartwatch make it easier for scammers to exploit your private PIN? That’s the conclusion of a shocking new study released this month.

In the paper, “Friend or Foe?: Your Wearable Devices Reveal Your Personal Pin,” researchers from Binghamton University and the Stevens Institute of Technology describe how, with the help of a computer algorithm, they used data collected by these devices to crack passwords, which they managed to do with 80% accuracy on the first try and more than 90% accuracy after three tries.

Over 11 months, the researchers performed 5,000 key-entry tests on three key-based security systems, including an ATM, while 20 adults wore a variety of devices, such as activity trackers and smartwatches.

Typically, a hacker would need to install a video camera or fake keypad in order to uncover personal information, the researchers wrote.

However, they found wearable devices “can be exploited to discriminate mm-level distances and directions of the user’s fine-grained hand movements, which enable attackers to reproduce the trajectories of the user’s hand and further to recover the secret key entries.” Put in layman’s terms: The hackers could record information about your hand movements to reproduce the seemingly-secret entries.

The researchers added, “our system confirms the possibility of using embedded sensors in wearable devices, i.e., accelerometers, gyroscopes and magnetometers, to derive the moving distance of the user’s hand between consecutive key entries regardless of the pose of the hand.” So, infecting your device with malware or intercepting the Bluetooth connection that syncs your watch to your phone wouldn’t be much of a stretch.

Keeping your information safe

Though it’s too soon to tell how this will impact everyday wearers — manufacturers have yet to respond to the study — it’s yet another reason to be vigilant about how and where you share your finances, especially online. Short of using your device-free hand to code in any passwords, it’s a good idea to follow best online safety practices, which include only shopping on encrypted sites, avoiding clicking on phony emails and doing your best to keep your passwords to yourself.

It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on your accounts for common signs of fraud. This can include unfamiliar addresses, sudden drops in your credit score and mysterious accounts opening up in your name.

Source: USA Today

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11/Jul/2016

Why cheaper gas may not be that great in the long run

With gasoline prices so low, it’s no surprise that U.S. motorists are driving a lot more this summer.

In all, more than 43 million Americans planned to travel by one means or another over the Independence Day weekend, the highest volume ever for the holiday, the motor club AAA estimates.

For those on the road, the national average price for a gallon of gasoline was $2.27, a price not seen on the holiday since 2005, according to AAA. By Friday, it had fallen by another couple of pennies.

Without a doubt, for most of us, fueling up for much less has been one of the big advantages of the oil price slump.

But what’s good for the driver isn’t necessarily a sign of energy stability for the U.S. and other countries in the years ahead, as the International Energy Agency reminds us.

In a new report, IEA warns that the rundown in oil prices is taking its toll on fuel-efficiency trends.

“Consumers have moved away from energy-efficient vehicles that they favored when oil prices were higher,” said the Paris-based agency, which monitors global energy markets.

In the U.S., sales of sport-utility vehicles are 2½ times higher than those of cars and other light-duty vehicles, IEA said. In China, SUVs are selling at four times the rate of smaller vehicles.

Fuel efficiency isn’t the only casualty of lower oil prices, of course.

Much has been reported about deep cuts in capital expenditures by oil companies in the U.S. and elsewhere, a figure that IEA puts at a combined $300 billion in 2015 and 2016 and calls an “unprecedented downturn” in spending by the industry.

“North America accounted for about half the drop,” the report says. “If prices remain at current levels, a significant rebound appears unlikely in 2017.”

As of Friday, the futures price for WTI, the U.S. benchmark for crude oil, was $45.41 per barrel, down $3.58 from a week earlier and $6.24 from a year before. Since June 2014, when WTI futures traded at $107.26 per barrel, the price has dropped by 58%.

While U.S. oil production has enjoyed a resurgence in the past few years, because of technologies that reached previously untapped shale reserves, that output has tapered off in response to low oil prices, and raising it again will be difficult at prevailing prices.

Perhaps even more significant is the advantage that the situation provides to oil producers in the Middle East. In that politically unstable region, oil supply has reached historically high levels, exceeding 31 million barrels a day, IEA data shows.

“The region now accounts for 35% of global oil supplies, the highest level since 1975,” IEA said. “The growth in production, from Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran, highlights the fact that low-cost producers in the Middle East remain central to oil markets.”

That’s something to keep in mind the next time we fill the tank so cheaply.

Source: USA TODAY

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11/Jul/2016

Chipotle executive is arraigned on 7 drug charges

A Chipotle marketing executive who allegedly made repeated purchases of cocaine from a Manhattan drug ring turned himself in Tuesday morning, according to his attorney.

Mark Crumpacker, Chipotle’s chief creative and development officer, was arrested and arraigned on seven counts of possession of a controlled substance, before being released a short time later on $4,500 bail, says his attorney, Gerald Lefcourt.

As recently as May 14, and starting around Jan. 29, Crumpacker made several purchases of cocaine, according to an updated indictment.

News of Crumpacker’s indictment and subsequent arrest comes at a time when Chipotle is trying to reclaim its reputation after a series of health-related issues involving its food and employees sent its stock price plummeting. The Mexican food purveyor quickly distanced itself from Crumpacker's alleged crimes by putting him on administrative leave last week and declaring that it would continue to focus on its daily operations.

The restaurant chain's health scare woes began over a year ago. In January, Chipotle said that it was served with a federal grand jury subpoena over its handling of a norovirus outbreak five months earlier in California, which sickened more than 200 people, including 18 employees. Later, in March, a Chipotle just outside Boston was temporarily shuttered after an employee tested positive for the highly contagious norovirus.

To win back diners and investors, Chipotle has given away more than 6 million burritos or burrito bowls, launched a promotion in which customers could buy one item and get another free, and, last week began a loyalty offering dubbed “Chiptopia’’ that will reward diners for their number of visits this summer.

Source:USA Today

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06/Jul/2016

Beau Solomon, Wis. student found dead in Rome, remembered for courage

MILWAUKEE — He was the luckiest kid in the world.

That's how the family of Beau Solomon felt just over a decade ago, when the young boy from Spring Green got to meet legendary Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre through the Make-A-Wish program.

Solomon went on to survive a 10-year battle with a rare form of cancer, and became a leader on and off the football field. He graduated with high honors from River Valley High school while playing three sports all four years, and was involved in student council and other activities.

He also worked as a camp counselor for Badger Boys State and taught at youth quarterback camps around Wisconsin.

Solomon's remarkable life was cut short late last week, just hours after he arrived in Italy to study abroad. The 19-year-old University of Wisconsin-Madison student was reported missing after he went to a bar in Rome with friends on Thursday night, and his body was found Monday in the Tiber River with a head wound and blood on his shirt. More than $1,000 was charged to his credit card after he disappeared.

Italian police have arrested a 40-year-old homeless man in the case. The suspect, Massimo Galioto, was stopped by officers Monday night and is "seriously suspected of aggravated homicide," police said Tuesday in an email.

The Associated Press reported that police suspect Solomon was robbed and struggled with Galioto, who then pushed him into the river. Galioto then went back to sleep in his tent on the riverbank after his alleged crime, the Italian news service ANSA reported.

John Cabot University officials said Solomon's roommate alerted school officials that they had lost contact about 1 a.m. Friday, and was worried when he didn't see Solomon at orientation that morning.

Solomon's death has shaken the small town of Spring Green, which held a candlelight vigil Monday night at the River Valley High School football stadium to remember him.

Thomas Wermuth, district administrator for the River Valley School District, released a statement Tuesday praising Solomon as a leader and role model.

"Beau was an engaged student who made a meaningful impact at River Valley," Wermuth said. "He graduated Magna Cum Laude (High Honors), participated in three sports all four years of high school, was involved in forensics, student council, was also a Blackhawk Leader, and mentor to many students."

Solomon had battled histiocytosis, a rare, cancer-like autoimmune condition for half of his life, but refused to let it dampen his drive. He loved politics and wanted to become a lawyer, his brother Jake said.

Solomon fought the disease, which causes a person's immune cells to attack the body, for 10 years until the age of 12, enduring three rounds of chemotherapy and about 20 surgeries to remove cancerous tumors, Jake said.

It was during that fight that Solomon traveled with his parents and three brothers to Lambeau Field, where a jersey with his name on it was waiting for him in the locker next to Favre's in the Packers' locker room.

"Meeting all the players was thrilling, fun, exciting and all of the good things you can think of," Beau Solomon said at the time, according to a 2005 Packers.com article. "It was fun meeting Brett and seeing that he's just a regular guy like anybody else. My favorite part was when he was making faces at my baby brother, Max, to make him laugh while we were taking pictures."

Solomon remained especially close to Max, who's now 12.

Beau's father, Nick Solomon, said at the time that the experience was one the family would never forget.

"When your child is sick you try to think of all the positive things. For those few days that we were around the Packers, we honestly felt that he was the luckiest kid in the world. We all feel that we're the luckiest family in the world and that despite the illness, Beau is the luckiest kid in the world," he said.

"Brett identified with Beau in a way that made him feel comfortable and feel special. And the ability for him and all the other Packers that were involved to do that really made that experience very special and something our family will remember forever."

His parents, Nick and Jodi Solomon, left for Italy Sunday.

UW-Madison officials said they have been working with John Cabot University in Rome, and are focused on helping the Solomon family.

"The investigation into Beau's death remains active and we are unable to share additional information about the circumstances around his disappearance late last week," Guido Podesta, UW-Madison vice provost and dean of the international division, said in a statement.

Podesta stressed that safety is UW-Madison's priority, and said the university recently added a full-time position devoted to international safety and security.

Old photographs and memories flooded Solomon's Facebook wall as friends learned of his death.

“There are a lot of kids that didn't have the time of day for you, but not Beau.”

Carissa Dixon, substitute teacher

"There are a lot of kids that didn't have the time of day for you, but not Beau. He always said hello, he typically would compliment the cheerleaders, he was a hero to little kids," wrote Carissa Dixon, who taught as a substitute for one of Solomon's high school classes.

Hannah Wulf, a Sussex native who just finished her first year at UW-Madison, met Solomon living down the hall from him at school. The two of them — along with friend Rowan McDonnell — were inseparable, she said.

The two spent time in the school's dining halls, dancing to Hawaiian music and hanging out with other friends, she said.

And it's because of Solomon she found passion in working with children and decided to pursue a degree in human development and family studies, Wulf said.

On the phone with Solomon the night before his departure for Italy, the two chatted over his excitement to meet new people and experience Roman culture.

"He's in such a good place," Wulf said. "I don't think it's hit me yet that I won't be seeing him ever again. He was a light in everyone's eyes."

Source: USA Today.com

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06/Jul/2016

Armour: Amid Zika, doping and sludge, Olympic Games have lost their way

The squalor and sleaze that have engulfed the Rio Games cannot be what Pierre de Coubertin had in mind.

Far from elevating the world through sport, the upcoming Games have instead illustrated everything that’s gone wrong with the Olympic movement. Russia’s track and field team is banned and other athletes in the delegation could soon follow as punishment for a widespread, state-sponsored doping program – the complete antithesis of the idea of fair play.

Rather than fostering peace and harmony, the gathering of hundreds of thousands of fans from all corners of the world might further the spread of Zika, a virus linked to birth defects in babies.

As for the host city itself, instead of being transformative, the Games will leave a trail of broken promises stretching from one end of Rio to the other. The foul water that might never be cleaned. The infrastructure that wasn’t built. The debt that now burdens an economy that can least afford it.

Years after the flame is extinguished, Rio will still be reeling.

Maybe the entire Olympic movement, too.

“The Olympics, for a long time, have been in a slow-motion crisis,” said Jules Boykoff, author of Power Games: A Political History of the Olympics. “Don’t get me wrong, the Rio organizers have been incompetent. But to blame them for the wider crisis the Olympics is experiencing is a little unfair.”

Boykoff is right. Easy as it is focus on the considerable mess in Rio, it obscures the real problem: The Olympics have lost their way.

“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well,” de Coubertin, the father of the modern Games, once said.

Nowhere in that statement is there anything about winning at any and all costs, or building the most grandiose stadiums. Yet Bigger, Richer, Craftier may as well have replaced Faster, Higher, Stronger as the Olympic motto.

And for what?

Local resident Sandra Souza overlooks mosquito-infested

Local resident Sandra Souza overlooks mosquito-infested standing water in the Vila Autodromo favela next to Olympic Park. (Photo: Sandy Hooper, USA TODAY Sports)

 

Russia may have believed its ill-gotten Olympic success would be proof of its overall superiority as a nation. But with its drug regimens and James Bond-like subterfuge exposed, it’s become the subject of international condemnation and scorn. No matter if it’s a handful or several hundred Russian athletes who march into the Maracana Stadium on Aug. 5, all will be viewed with suspicion.

It’s easy to single out the Russians, but they’re not the only ones subverting de Coubertin’s high-minded ideals. Far from it. Every team in Rio will have athletes who are hoping they’ve read their doping calendars right, crossing their fingers that their urine and blood samples will come back clean long enough to feel that medal around their necks.

And if advances in testing reveal their fraud five or eight years down the road, so be it. At least they’ll have had their moment on the medals stand.

Then there is Rio, just the latest host city to bankrupt itself – morally and financially – for a 16-day party.

Source:USA Today

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06/Jul/2016

Debt Consolidation Myths

Benjamin Franklin once said, “I would rather go to bed without dinner than to rise in debt.” Unfortunately, there are many people that rise every day wondering how to meet the monthly payments on their loans and credit cards.

When your debt starts getting out of control, you should consider debt consolidation as one of the possible solutions. You may have questions about what debt consolidation achieves and how it works, so here in this article we will demystify these debt consolidation myths.

  1. Debt Consolidation Lowers Your Debt

    Debt consolidation cannot lower the total amount that you owe! What it can do is help you lower the amount of interest that you pay on what you already owe, and reduce the amount of late fees that you may be incurring by not meeting the due dates of your monthly payments.

  2. Debt Consolidation Immediately Improves Your Credit Score

    Because debt consolidation involves taking a new loan at a lower interest rate to cover all other debts, the process immediately makes a small dent on your credit score. However, this small decrease shouldn’t discourage from taking on a project to pay down your debt faster. By making your monthly payments through a low-interest debt consolidation loan, you are taking a bigger chunk of the principal and improving your credit score little by little.

  3. Debt Consolidation is Only Possible with Good Credit

    This is a myth. The main requirement for debt consolidation is to find a lower-interest loan. Even if their credit score prevents them from qualifying for an unsecured loan, homeowners have the option to take out a secured loan using their property as collateral. Before taking a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC), homeowners should understand all the consequences from this financial vehicle.

  4. Debt Consolidation Requires Advanced Fees to Guarantee Loan

    This is a major red flag. The FTC warns customers to be weary of companies requiring pre-payment to “guarantee a loan”. No company can guarantee you a loan or even represent that a loan is likely. While fees may be due after you get the loan, they will never be due before.

  5. Interest on Consolidation Loans is Fixed

    Whether you use a HELOC, unsecured loan, or a balance transfer offer from a credit card for your debt consolidation, make sure to read the fine print. That low, low interest rate may be fixed only for a couple of years. Understand what may trigger changes in the interest rate, and take advantage of the lower-rate period to pay off most, if not all, of the debt.

Source: One Smart Penny.com

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22/Jun/2016

Jeep that killed 'Star Trek' actor Anton Yelchin was flagged for safety problems

The Jeep SUV that crushed "Star Trek" actor Anton Yelchin this weekend had been flagged by the automaker for a problem that could cause the vehicle to roll away.

Yelchin's Jeep rolled down his driveway and pinned him to a brick post in front of his Los Angeles home, according to law enforcement.

 

Los Angeles police said Monday, "The investigation is ongoing so we have not made any final determination as to the cause of the accident."

Fiat Chrysler (FCAM) filed a recall notice in April with federal safety regulators for the 2015 Grand Cherokee, the model Yelchin owned, along with 1.1 million cars and SUVs in April. More than 100 crashes have been reported due to a gear selector problem that caused confusion about whether the car was in park.

Related: Gear shift confusion causes Chrysler recall

Car owners haven't gotten an official recall notice yet, but they did receive a notice warning about the problem in May. It advised drivers to double check that the car is in park, and that the parking brake is on before exiting. Fiat Chrysler has to wait for replacement parts to become available before it can start repairs, according to its filing with safety regulators. At that point it will send a recall notice telling owners to bring the car in for free repairs.

Fiat Chrysler said it it will conduct a thorough investigation of the accident that killed Yelchin, but that it is too soon to say whether the gear problem was cause at the accident.

"FCA extends its deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Mr. Yelchin," said the company.

The cars identified in April have a gear selector that makes it hard to tell what gear the vehicle is in.

Unlike most gear selectors, which are in forward or back positions depending on whether the car is in park, reverse, neutral or drive, these cars' gear selectors always return to the upright position after a driver changes gear. If a driver gets out of a car when it's in neutral, the vehicle could roll away.

Related: New cars still being built with flawed Takata airbags

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said there have been 117 crashes allegedly associated with the problem. Of those, 28 reportedly caused injuries, including a fractured pelvis a ruptured bladder and broken ribs. But current filings show no fatalities had been tied to the problem.

2014 jeep cherokee exterior

The Jeep Grand Cherokee that killed "Star Trek" actor Anton Yelchin is due to be recalled for the very problem that cost him his life.

 

To remedy the problem, Chrysler plans to change how the gear works and to enhance the warnings a driver gets if they exit the car when it's not in park. The changes are designed to automatically prevent the vehicle from moving under certain circumstances, even if the driver doesn't select "park."

The vehicles set to be recalled are model-year 2012-2014 Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 sedans, as well as model-year 2014-2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs. Later versions of these cars and SUVs have a different type of gear selector that apparently isn't as confusing. Fiat Chrysler said it changed the design of the gear selector in part because of this problem.

Source: CNN.com

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22/Jun/2016

Prosecutors close books on 'Mississippi Burning' case

(CNN)Federal and Mississippi authorities closed the books on one of the most notorious cases of the civil rights era Monday, saying no viable prosecutions remain in the half-century-old investigation.

The decision means that no other suspects in the "Freedom Summer" murders of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner in 1964 will be prosecuted.
The three men, all civil rights workers registering African-Americans to vote, were ambushed by a gang of Ku Klux Klan members that June night on a rural road. Their bodies were found 44 days later, buried in an earthen dam after an extensive FBI investigation.
"The Justice Department has investigated this case three times over 50 years and has helped convict nine individuals for their roles in this heinous crime," said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.
The killings were among the most notorious of the civil rights era, and were the subject of the 1988 movie "Mississippi Burning."
On June 21,1964, Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner were on their way to investigate the burning of a black church in Neshoba County, Mississippi, when they were taken into custody for speeding by a sheriff deputy.
After they were released from county jail in Philadelphia, a KKK mob tailed their car, forced it off the road, and shot them to death.

Feds sought first prosecutions three years after the killings

In 1967, prosecutors convicted eight defendants for violating the federal criminal civil rights conspiracy statute, namely their right to live. None served more than six years in prison.
At the time, no federal murder statutes existed, and the state never brought charges.
That year, however, the plot leader Edgar Ray Killen, a part-time Baptist minister, avoided prison in a trial in which the jury hung 11-1 for conviction. The lone holdout said she couldn't convict a preacher.
Edgar Ray Killen, found guilty in 2005 of three counts of manslaughter in the 'Mississippi Burning,' murders, is still in prison.
 
Killen was finally convicted in a 2005 trial -- at age 80 -- based on new evidence unveiled in 2000. The wheelchair-bound man was sent to prison.
At the time, Chaney's brother Ben said that despite the verdicts, "This is not over with. ... But we'll take what we got."
Schwerner's widow, Rita Bender, added after Killen's conviction: "I would hope that this case is just the beginning and not the end."
She acknowledged the fact that the case likely became a high-profile one because Schwerner and Goodman were white New Yorkers who came to the South the summer of 1964 with hundreds of other volunteers to register black voters. Chaney was a black man from Mississippi.

Federal investigation reopened six years ago

In 2010, federal authorities reopened the investigation in search of evidence to allow them to convict the remaining suspects.
Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood said that investigation ran up against a stonewall 18 months ago when a witness backed out at the last minute after pledging to sign a sworn statement that would have implicated a suspect.
"It has been a thorough and complete investigation," Hood said Monday. "I am convinced that during the last 52 years, investigators have done everything possible under the law to find those responsible and hold them accountable; however, we have determined that there is no likelihood of any additional convictions."
Over the last 40 years, authorities have convicted people of notorious murders during the civil rights movement, including the Birmingham, Alabama church bombing in 1963 that killed four black girls and the assassination of Medgar Evers, a NAACP leader, in Jackson Mississippi in 1963 by a member of the White Citizens' Council, who was convicted more than 30 years later based on new evidence.
Recently, the Evers' family was back in the news when it showed split loyalties in the 2016 presidential election with his widow Myrlie Evers-Williams backing Hillary Clinton and his brother Charles Evers backing Donald Trump.
Source: CNN.com
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22/Jun/2016

Judith Hill Reveals She Was on Prince’s Plane the Night of Emergency Landing

Judith Hill had already endured more than her fair share of heartache and disappointment before competing on The Voice Season 4 or appearing in the Oscar-winning documentary 20 Feet From Stardom. In 2009, she lost her mentor, Michael Jackson, just as she was set to perform with him at that year’s much-hyped This Is It London concerts. She ended up singing “Heal the World” at Jackson’s memorial service instead.

Five years later, Hill found a new mentor in another legend, Prince – who produced her debut album, Back in Time – only to experience an even more devastating loss, when Prince passed away suddenly this past April 21.

Judith has laid low ever since, only addressing Prince’s shocking death in a couple of heartbreaking social media posts. But now, in a new interview with the New York Times, she has revealed that she was actually with Prince on his infamous April 15 flight from Atlanta, the one that made an emergency landing after Prince fell unconscious. 

Hill recalls that Prince’s “eyes [became] fixed” while the two were dining on vegetables and pasta and chatting about music during their flight to Minneapolis after Prince’s gig at Atlanta’s Fox Theater. “Thankfully, I happened to be looking into his face,” she says – noticing his change in demeanor – which allowed her to act quickly, even though she was “very freaked out.”

Related: ‘The Voice’ Coaches Pay Touching Tribute to Prince

The only other passenger on the private jet that evening was Prince’s friend and assistant, Kirk Johnson; when Hill and Johnson could not revive Prince (Hill says she shook Prince and shouted his name), they “knew it was only a matter of time; we had to get down. We didn’t have anything on the plane to help him,“ Hill tells NYT. They alerted the pilot, who landed the jet in Moline, Illinois, where Prince was revived on the tarmac by paramedics with a shot of Narcan (which is often used to treat opioid overdoses). Eighteen minutes later, an ambulance took Prince to Trinity Moline Hospital; by the time they arrived, he was conscious again, “which was such a relief to me, because I thought he was gone,” Hill tells NYT. Crisis was, temporarily, averted.

“He wasn’t dreary or drowsy, or anything,” Hill recalls in her NYT interview of the hospital visit. “He wanted to watch Zootopia. He loved those films. I was going to pull it up on my phone. He said, ‘No, no, no, not here. We’re going to pick a special time and place to watch that.’" Hill hoped that this was a one-off incident; Prince returned to Minneapolis the same morning of his health scare.

At the time, the press reported that Prince was merely suffering from the flu. But it turned out that his April 15 Atlanta concerts would be his final performances; six days later, he was dead from a fentanyl overdose. Hill tells NYT she had no idea that Prince was abusing prescription meds due to his hip pain, saying, “I only know what everyone knows about his pain – I read about it… He was quick on his feet. Never said anything, that this is hurting, never a sign of struggle. That’s why it’s all very shocking.”

Related: Prince Too Weak to Walk Off Plane After Emergency Landing

Hill does reveal to the New York Times that she was among the friends who were instrumental in getting Prince the help to beat his opiate addiction. “He [sought treatment] because he was concerned, and he wanted to do the right thing for his own body,” she says. “And that’s the part that breaks my heart, because he was trying. He was trying.”

Speaking to Yahoo Music last year, as she was preparing to release the Prince-produced Back in Time, Hill recalled her first meeting with her future friend and advisor. Prince unexpectedly invited Hill to his Paisley Park studio in Minneapolis after randomly catching a TV interview with Hill in which she spoke of her dream to work with him. She was floored. “He said, ‘I’d like to call Judith,’ and he reached out to my management,” Hill recalled incredulously. “He personally called me on my cell phone. It was an unknown number. Oh, they prepped me. They said, 'Prince is going to call you today.’ I was shaking.”

 

Related: Prince’s Former Mentor Pepe Willie Recalls the Star’s Early Days

Hill then joined Prince at Paisley Park in winter 2014 for a whirlwind recording process, that, true to the album’s title, was totally old-school: all-analog, the result of freeform Paisley Park jam sessions. One track on Back in Time, “Turn It Up,” even amusingly featured Prince yelling in the background, “Omigod, Judith, I saw you on The Voice!”

“It was so inspiring and refreshing, because it was like going back to the old days of just jamming… just hit 'record,’ one take, organic. Nothing was too overthought, just what we felt at the time,” Hill told Yahoo Music. “His process is really amazing, and I learned a lot… He pushes you to excellence and he just wants the best for you. And he lives in a whole 'nother world. So it rubs off on you, and you just grow so much musically.”

Related: Nigel Lythgoe Remembers Prince’s Surprise ‘American Idol’ Performance

At the time of her Yahoo Music interview, Hill noted a common thread between Michael Jackson and Prince, two of the 1980s’ greatest musical icons, when it came to work ethic. “There’s a lot of great similarities in terms of their epicness and how they approach things,” she said. “The attention to detail, being very specific about everything they want. They see the big picture and they’re very involved. I just learned as an artist that it’s so important to be hands-on.”

But “Michael was different,” she now tells the New York Times, because she only knew Jackson “as a fan and as someone that worked for him.” Prince and Hill, on the other hand, were very close. While Hill doesn’t confirm to NYT that she was romantically involved with Prince, she does say “there was a very intense relationship. I deeply cared for him… He told me that he loved me and that he would always be there for me… Now he’s gone, and I realize I was leaning on him a lot. And that’s what’s scary. I’m on my own.”

Source: Yahoo.com

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22/Jun/2016

Orlando police ID man who killed 'Voice' singer Christina Grimmie

Orlando, Florida (CNN)Florida authorities answered one of the major questions in the shooting death of Christina Grimmie, the 22-year-old singer who made her name on NBC's "The Voice."

The man who killed her was Kevin James Loibl, 27, of St. Petersburg, Florida, according to Orlando police.
But they didn't give any background on Loibl or offer a possible motive.
CNN affiliate WFTS photographed a handwritten note posted on Loibl's family home. It reads, "Deepest sorrow for lost (sic) to the family, friends and fans of the very talented, loving Christina Grimmie. No other comments."
Grimmie was signing autographs late Friday after a show at The Plaza Live theater when a man approached and opened fire, police spokeswoman Wanda Miglio said.
She was rushed to a hospital, where she died.

'More than my sister'

Loibl fatally shot himself after the singer's brother, Marcus Grimmie, tackled him, police said in a statement. About 120 people were at the meet-and-greet, and the brother's quick action may have saved other lives, police said.
Marcus Grimmie paid tribute to the singer in a Facebook post, saying he has no words.
"Christina was more than my sister. She was a partner in life," he posted. " A superstar. A goofball. Introverted. And a friend to everyone. Genuinely. But above all...she was my baby sister."
The shooter had two handguns, two additional loaded magazines and a large hunting knife, police Chief John Mina said.
Mina said investigators were going through the man's computer, phone and other belongings to see whether they can find information about a motive. There's no evidence Grimmie and Loibl knew each other, police said.
Police said the suspect drove to Orlando, apparently to commit the crime, and "then had plans to travel back to where he came from."

Theater suspends shows

It's unclear how the gunman got a gun into the venue or whether attendees were checked for weapons.
"We don't know if he was just a crazy fan that followed her on Twitter or on social media," Miglio said. "We really don't know ... it's undetermined at this point."
Security measures are in place at The Plaza Live, police say, but there are no metal detectors and people are not patted down.
"As far as security, The Plaza does have security guards who wear polo shirts. They are unarmed," Mina said. "They do check bags and purses as people enter."
The Plaza Live issued a statement extending condolences to the victims and indicating all activities and events have been suspended "until further notice."
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those lost as well as those that witnessed and aided in the recovery after this senseless act," the statement said.
Grimmie posted a video hours before her last performance in which she jovially invited fans to see her show.
She was discovered on YouTube, where she amassed more than 3 million followers. Grimmie went on to win a spot on Season 6 of NBC's "The Voice" after her show-stopping performance of Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball" during a blind audition captivated the attention of all four contestant judges.
CNN.com
 
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13/Jun/2016

USA Swimming bans Brock Turner for life

(CNN)The U.S. governing body for the sport of swimming on Friday banned ex-Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner, whose six-month jail sentence for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman has stirred widespread outrage.

Condemning Turner's "crime and actions," USA Swimming said that he is not a current organization member and is ineligible for membership.
"Brock Turner's membership with USA Swimming expired at the end of the calendar year 2014 and he was not a member at the time of his crime or since then," USA Swimming spokesman Scott Leightman said. "As a result, USA Swimming doesn't have any jurisdiction over Brock Turner."
Turner, 20, was convicted in March of the intent to commit rape of an intoxicated/unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person and penetration of an unconscious person.
Prosecutors had asked that Turner be sentenced to six years in prison for the January 2015 assault.
But Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky said Turner's age and lack of criminal history made a six-month jail sentence with probation more appropriate. Turner also has to register as a sex offender.
"A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him," Persky said last week. "I think he will not be a danger to others."
The outcry over a sentence seen as lenient by many was compounded by widely circulated letters to the judge from the victim and Turner's father.

(CNN)The U.S. governing body for the sport of swimming on Friday banned ex-Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner, whose six-month jail sentence for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman has stirred widespread outrage.

Condemning Turner's "crime and actions," USA Swimming said that he is not a current organization member and is ineligible for membership.
"Brock Turner's membership with USA Swimming expired at the end of the calendar year 2014 and he was not a member at the time of his crime or since then," USA Swimming spokesman Scott Leightman said. "As a result, USA Swimming doesn't have any jurisdiction over Brock Turner."
Turner, 20, was convicted in March of the intent to commit rape of an intoxicated/unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person and penetration of an unconscious person.
Prosecutors had asked that Turner be sentenced to six years in prison for the January 2015 assault.
But Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky said Turner's age and lack of criminal history made a six-month jail sentence with probation more appropriate. Turner also has to register as a sex offender.
"A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him," Persky said last week. "I think he will not be a danger to others."
The outcry over a sentence seen as lenient by many was compounded by widely circulated letters to the judge from the victim and Turner's father.
A Change.org petition to recall Persky, a possibility in California, where judges are elected, has been signed by more than 1 million people by Friday morning.
"Judge Persky failed to see that the fact that Brock Turner is a white male star athlete at a prestigious university does not entitle him to leniency," the petition read. "He also failed to send the message that sexual assault is against the law regardless of social class, race, gender or other factors. Please help rectify this travesty to justice."
Stanford University released a statement Monday deflecting criticism of its handling of the case. The school did "everything within its power to assure that justice was served," from immediately investigating the case to referring it to the Santa Clara County district attorney's office for prosecution, the statement said.
A probation officer has interviewed Turner because of his conviction for a felony.
Turner said he was "sorry for what he put the victim and her family through during the trial," according to the officer's report, which CNN obtained.
He told the probation officer that he "didn't want to victimize her at all," the report reads.
Turner also told the officer, "That was just my attorney and his way of approaching the case. I didn't want to degrade her in any way. I regret that. I'm sorry for her having to go through this entire process and having to even think about this for a second, all because of my actions that night. I can't believe I imposed such suffering on her and I'm so sorry."
In a searing letter read before Turner's sentencing, the 23-year-old victim described feeling "closed off, angry, self-deprecating, tired, irritable, empty" after the sexual assault.
he implored Persky not to be lenient.
"My life has been on hold for over a year, a year of anger, anguish and uncertainty, until a jury of my peers rendered a judgment that validated the injustices I had endured," she wrote.
She told of going to a fraternity party near Stanford in January 2015, drinking and then not knowing what happened to her between the time of the party and being conscious in a hospital with pine needles in her hair. She described the traumatic and humiliating experience of enduring an hours-long forensic exam for sexual assault.
A letter from Turner's father, Dan, asking the judge to go easy on his son, also has been widely shared and criticized on social media. In it, the father dismissed his son's crime as "20 minutes of action."
Source: CNN.com
 
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13/Jun/2016

Valedictorian: I am an undocumented immigrant

A Texas high school valedictorian’s tweet boasting about her impressive academic accomplishments and undocumented status landed her in the middle of an online firestorm over immigration.

Mayte Lara Ibarra shot off the polarizing tweet last Friday after graduating from Crockett High School in Austin.

“Valedictorian, 4.5GPA, full tuition paid for at UT, 13 cords and medals, nice legs, oh and I’m undocumented,” she wrote.

The tweet included several graduation pictures and a few emojis: a medal, the Mexican flag, Hook ’em horns for the University of Texas, and a graduation cap. It swiftly went viral, receiving more than 400 retweets and nearly 20,000 likes before her account (@maytelara29) was deactivated.

What was probably intended to be another innocuous graduation post proved deeply controversial — drawing censure and praise.

Conservatives, namely supporters of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, were inflamed that an undocumented immigrant was getting a free ride on the University of Texas, presumably on the taxpayer’s dime. Much of the outrage invoked Trump’s plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Source:Yahoo News.com

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10/Jun/2016

First Lady promotes OAFLA programmes in Japan

Accra, May 19, GNA – The Organisation of African First Ladies against HIV and AIDS (OAFLA), has broadened its programmes beyond eliminating the disease to controlling and preventing breast and cervical cancers, Mrs Lordina Mahama, the First Lady has said.

Other areas of campaign include reducing maternal and child mortality and ending child marriages.

 A statement copied to Ghana News Agency in Accra said Mrs Mahama, who is the President of OAFLA, was addressing the Wives of African Heads of Mission, Female Ambassadors and Leaders of Japanese Women Groups in Tokyo, Japan on Wednesday.

She said despite OAFLA broadened programmes of activities, getting new HIV infections to zero, remained the organisation’s principal objective.

 She said new HIV infections among adolescents are not declining quickly enough, as compared to other segments of the population.

 Mrs Mahama said the concern prompted OAFLA earlier this year, to hold a meeting of OAFLA members and stakeholders in Accra.

 The meeting was under the banner of the 7th Africa Conference on Sexual and Health Rights, which launched a new campaign to tackle this challenge.

 She said OAFLA members were determined to ensure an HIV free generation for the continent through education, campaigns and the provision of anti-retroviral drugs, among others.

 The OAFLA President noted that as mothers, it is their duty to prevent children from being married off to men they do not know, love and who are far older than them.

 She said Ghana’s policy, is helping in ensuring that girls stay in school “and this my office works closely with the Ministry of Gender Children and Social Protection”.

 “This Ministry does a lot of work to empower women, support and promote children's rights, and gives assistance to the poor and vulnerable.”

  Mrs Mahama said the Lordina Foundation have been providing an influential support to the Ministry and work to supplement the ministry by implementing a well-developed set of interventions, to meet the objectives of my Foundation.

  “We have been working to empower our women and equip them with the necessary resources and skills to promote their own welfare, as well as cater for the needs of their children and other dependents.

  “Over the last couple of years, the Lordina Foundation has and will continue, to provide material and financial support to orphanages in the country and also facilitating the construction of modern accommodation for toddlers in two of the orphanages.”

  She said one of the high profile programmes of the organisation is the periodic medical outreach to under-served communities in to conduct free cervical, breast cancer and HIV tests, and provide education on these diseases for the general public, especially women.  

 “One of our popular modules involves providing skills and vocational training to create opportunities for girls and women.”

    Mrs Mahama said with the support of Medshare USA, the foundation support for deprived health facilities has been most successful with the distributed of medical supplies and equipment, to more than 50 District Hospitals and Health Centres, in Ghana.

“In education, we support schools and facilitate scholarships for needy students to study in Ghana and abroad and our most acclaimed programme is our work with the Gambaga 'witches' camp in the Northern part of Ghana.

   “The Lordina Foundation is currently constructing a vocational school with improve accommodation in the camp, to teach the women, and their children, useful skills in order to be self-sustaining.”

  OAFLA was formed by African First Ladies at the height of the HIV and AIDS pandemic and was meant as a vehicle for First Ladies of Africa to mobilise time, effort, education and resources to stop the AIDS disease from ravaging their people.

Source: Ghana Web.news

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04/Jun/2016

Courts resume work after 10-day strike

Accra June 2, GNA- Courts in the country resumed work this morning (Thursday) after members of the Judicial Service Staff Association (JUSAG) called off their 10-day strike on Wednesday.

            When the Ghana News Agency visited the courts complex on Thursday, lawyers, litigants and members of JUSAG were busily attending to their respective roles.

             At the Supreme Court premises, fleets of vehicle were parked at the car park.

            Mr Prince Domena Attafuah, who had his case before one of the High Courts said his case was to be called last week however he decided to go to the court to see if it has been rescheduled.

            According to Mr Attafuah, the court clerks asked him to go and come back next week Wednesday for a date.

            Ms Abigail Asabea, a litigant was happy JUSAG members had called off their strike.

            Ms Asabea said she had been asked to come back to the court next week Tuesday for her case to take its course.

            Lawyer Edward Nana Asare was happy the strike action had been called off. He said calling off the strike would  rekindle the administration of justice and ensure that those litigants, who were using legal means to obtain justice have desires fulfilled.

            He said those who might have fallen foul of the law or otherwise would have their day in court to obtain justice or   other remedies appropriate.

            “As a nation it smacks failure for us to allow such a bastion of democracy to ground to a halt just because of government’s failure to address concerns established by the constitution to ensure the smooth administration of justice in the country.

            "Any such halt in the administration of justice makes litigation expensive to litigants and access to justice by suspects a mockery. The expense emanates from the fact that most schedules would have to be re-organised and served to other parties.

            On Wednesday, June 1, JUSAG called off their  10-day old industrial action with immediate effect to create room for the Government’s Presidential Committee to begin deliberations with their leadership.

                   Mr Alex Nartey JUSAG President at a press conference in Accra to call off the strike effect from June 1, urged members across the country to resume work immediately stressing that the association has concluded on the framework with government and management in addressing their demands.

                  He said: “In view of the above we are inclined to call of our industrial action effective June 1 to aid government’s Presidential Committee to begin deliberation; “all JUSAG leadership must see to the implementation process of our consolidated salary”.

                  The leadership on May 19 declared an indefinite nationwide strike over delays in the implementation of the consolidated salaries and emoluments for their members approved by the Judicial Council as established by law.

Source: Ghana News.com

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04/Jun/2016

Shell’s job losses now equal Facebook’s entire payroll

Royal Dutch Shell announced that it would eliminate another 2,200 positions, which means that its total job losses is roughly equivalent to the entire payroll of the tech giant Facebook.

By the end of 2016, Shell will have slashed 12,500 positions, a staggering total for one company. According to Statista, Facebook only employed 12,691 people as of 2015.

Much of Shell’s attrition is due to the collapse of oil prices, which has plunged the Anglo-Dutch oil major into a cash flow crisis. However, other job losses are due to its purchase of BG Group – synergies between the two companies will lead to the loss of around 2,800 positions, the company previously said. The combined Shell-BG company employed 94,600 people at the start of the year.

Source: USA Today.com

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30/May/2016

Why your ex is still on your credit report

In the midst of your divorce, you’ve probably discussed separating your assets, but you might be less inclined to talk about who’s going to take responsibility for shared debts.

Most courts will divide up responsibilities for these during a divorce decree, giving one individual the ownership of each debt.

However, “the decree does not change the contractual relationship that you or your spouse may have with the creditor because the creditor is not a party to your divorce,” John C. Heath, credit expert and attorney for Lexington Law, a Credit.com partner, said.

That means that while only one of you may now be legally responsible for paying the debt, the other person’s name is still attached to it unless you let the creditor know to remove it. This could be why you’re still seeing your former spouse on your credit report.

How shared accounts get separated

Rules on how to divide joint accounts vary by state, but most places consider debts acquired during the marriage as shared property. It may be a sore subject, but it’s important to make dividing up your debts a priority.

Contact your financial institutions and close or separate all shared accounts, including credit cards, home loans and mortgages.

If you don’t, you and your former spouse will continue to be tied together financially. And if an ex-spouse runs up credit card balances and fails to pay or falls behind on a mortgage that still has your name on it, the negative marks will show up on both of your credit reports.

After closing out all joint credit cards, you can ask each financial institution to re-issue you a card in your name only. You can also refinance joint installment loans such as auto and home loans.

“Be diligent in refinancing debt or selling an asset that has debt against it, and in making certain that any assets get retitled,” Rebecca Zung, Esq. Marital and Family Law attorney in Naples, Florida, said.

It could be better to make these decisions between the two of you instead of letting a third party determine your financial future.

“You can agree to divide debts and account responsibilities and then take appropriate steps to remove the non-obligated spouse from divided joint accounts,” Heath said. “You are a better decision maker than a judge who may glance at your case prior to making a decision about your financial future.”

If you have shared credit card debts, you can find free tools online, like payoff calulators, to figure out a plan to pay off your debts.

One of the most common things that impacts credit scores after a divorce is when the person responsible for settling a joint debt doesn’t pay up, Heath said.

“If this failure to pay is on a joint account, it will affect both parties, including the innocent party’s credit reports,” Heath said in an email. “Even though the innocent party is not responsible for the debt, it is still reported as delinquent on their credit report.” 

If your ex isn’t paying the debt, and it’s messing up your credit, you can dispute the delinquency with the credit bureaus, Heath said. (You can go here to learn more how.)

Also, “you can ask the court to compel or find your ex in contempt for failure to pay,” he said. “You could also ask for your attorney fees and costs to do this.”

Monitoring your credit

As you update your accounts, it’s a good idea to make sure the changes take.

“Check your credit a few months after the divorce to be sure it is accurate,” Rebecca Zung said.

To see where your credit currently stands, check your credit report online monthly — many sites (including Credit.com) offer this for free — so you can see how changes are affecting you as time goes on after your separation and if there are any other steps toward improvement that you need to make. You can generally improve your credit in the long-term by making all loan payments on time, keeping debt levels low and limiting new credit inquiries as your score rebounds.

Source: USA Today.com

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30/May/2016

U.N.: 700 migrants feared dead in Mediterranean shipwrecks

Horrific stories emerged Sunday about more than 700 migrants who drowned trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea since Wednesday, according to the United Nations refugee agency.

Rescuers saved 14,000 people at sea last week, by far the highest weekly number yet this year, said William Spindler, a spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

"This is by far the busiest week this year in terms of operations, people rescued but also in terms of casualties," Spindler said Sunday.

The rescues involved a flotilla of ships from multiple nations, including Italy, Ireland and Germany, according to The Irish Times.

One incident Thursday involved two overloaded boats, one towing another that didn't have a motor, which smugglers had cut loose when the boat began to disintegrate and take on water, Spindler said.

The motorless boat was loaded with 675 people — and 25 of them jumped off and swam to the other boat. Rescuers later saved another 79 people and pulled 15 bodies from the water, he said. About 550 were missing and presumed dead, he said.

Police in the port city of Pozzallo, Sicily, where survivors were taken, arrested a Sudanese national, Adam Tarik, 29, on smuggling and murder charges, according to Ragusa police patrol chief Nino Ciavola, the Italian newspaper La Stampa reported.

The two old fishing boats had left from the Libyan port of Sabratha, according to La Repubblica,another Italian newspaper. After eight hours at sea, one boat began taking on water, and some passengers jumped. Many drowned, and more died when the tow rope was cut a few minutes later, the newspaper reported. One woman, whose body was later recovered, was almost decapitated by the rope that whipped around after it was cut, the paper said.

Another 100 people are missing from a smuggler's boat that capsized Wednesday, Spindler said. The boat capsized as the Italian navy approached, and passengers moved to the side closest to the approaching rescue ship. Photographs and video of the disaster were captured by Italian sailors and posted to the Internet.

Rescuers also recovered 45 bodies and saved 135 people from a third wreck on Friday, where an unknown number of people are missing, Spindler said.

Survivors were taken to the Italian ports of Taranto and Pozzallo and the Greek island of Lampeduza. One survivor was a 9-month-old girl named Favour, whose mother and father died at sea when their boat capsized, Spindler said. Many Italians have offered to adopt her, he said.

The International Organization on Migration estimates that 194,611 migrants and refugees entered Europe so far this year, with more than 1,475 missing.

Source: USA Today

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30/May/2016

Fares are cheap, but airlines are trying to change that

DALLAS (AP) — Enjoy lower airfares while you can. Airlines are taking steps to push prices higher by next year.

Fares have been dropping for more than a year. Taking inflation into account, the average round trip within the U.S. in late 2015 was the lowest since 2010.

Ticket prices have fallen even further this year, according to the airlines. Not only is flying from Dallas to Denver cheap, but popular international vacation destinations like Europe are more affordable.

Fliers can thank the steep plunge in oil prices since mid-2014. As they saved billions of dollars on jet fuel, both domestic and international carriers added supply — seats — faster than travel demand was growing. The major airlines have announced steps to rein in the oversupply, but such changes can't happen overnight, so fares will remain affordable for the peak travel season.

One downside: Be prepared to spend a few more hours of your vacation standing in an airport security line.

The number of airline passengers this summer is expected to rise 4 percent over last year's record level. That, along with fewer Transportation Security Administration screeners, is expected to create long lines.

American Airlines and United Airlines say they each plan to spend about $4 million on contractors who will help TSA by handling some of the non-screening duties at airport checkpoints, like running bins and managing the lines.

Stories about horrific lines might be an opportunity for last-minute deals, according to Pauline Frommer, editorial director of the travel guide company Frommer's.

"If American Airlines is going to spend $4 million of its own money, obviously the airlines are nervous about not being able to sell last-minute seats," she said. "I wonder if this rash of bad publicity won't make getting a last-minute booking more affordable."

Signing up for fare alerts from the airlines and price-tracking websites can help consumers spot those deals, many of which lapse quickly.

Last week the price-tracking website airfarewatchdog.com spotted $688 round trips on British Airways and American leaving New York on July 6 and returning July 17. George Hobica, the site's founder, said $1,200 would be more typical for peak season. The sale was gone after one day.

If you don't have kids in school, the easiest way to save money would be delaying a big trip until at least mid-August. "After that, we see fares drop off a cliff," Hobica said.

Within the U.S., the cost of an average round trip fell about 8% last year to $363, according to government figures. Through March, the average fare per mile was down 6% from early 2015, according to the industry trade group Airlines for America. Fares have fallen faster on international routes than on domestic ones, largely because the foreign airlines added of a glut of flights.

U.S. airlines now get about $1.1 billion more from baggage and ticket-change fees than they did in 2010, although the percentage of revenue accounted for by airfares is unchanged at 75%.

Faced with fuel costs that have gone back up since February, investors are now pressuring airlines to reverse the decline in fares by growing more slowly.

Delta Air Lines said this month it will cut its planned growth more sharply as this year goes along. By the fourth quarter, Delta expects its passenger-carrying capacity will be 2.5% higher than late 2015. That would be down from 5.4% growth in the first quarter. United Airlines squeezed its planned 2016 growth by 0.5 percentage points, and American will slash its planned international growth this year to 2.5% from the original 6%.

Those moves won't make a dent in the number of seats available this summer, but they could gain traction — and boost fares — by next summer.

Meanwhile, some airports have seen security lines stretch to more than one hour. With the blessing of Congress, TSA is hurriedly adding nearly 800 screeners and encouraging travelers to sign up for expedited-screening programs to make things go faster. It is unclear how much any of that will help when summer crowds show up.

At big airports, travelers might save time by going through a checkpoint farther from their gate, said Keith Nowak of Travelocity.com. At Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Terminals A and C, where many domestic flights depart, can be crowded on weekday mornings, he said, and it could be quicker to go through security at another terminal and take the airport tram to your gate.

Source: USA Today

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26/May/2016

5 Roth IRA investing tips that could earn you thousands

The Roth IRA hasn't been around as long as its traditional IRA counterpart, but the tax-free nature of the Roth in retirement opens up some unique opportunities for those willing to add them to their overall retirement savings arsenal. In general, because you don't have to worry about paying taxes on the money you make with investments inside a Roth, it makes sense to make the most of your Roth portfolio. Below, we'll consider five more specific things to consider with your Roth IRA investing.

1. Save your Roth money for your highest-return ideas.

The big advantage of a Roth IRA over a traditional IRA is the fact that with a traditional IRA, you're still stuck paying taxes on the money you withdraw in retirement. That makes huge returns bittersweet, because you effectively have to share them with the IRS. With a Roth IRA, on the other hand, once you've got your money into your Roth account, all the gains after that belong to you. Therefore, it's worth putting your most promising investment strategies into action within a Roth IRA. When they pay off, you get to keep all the profits for yourself.

2. If you have a short-term trading opportunity, think Roth as well.

Investing for the long run makes the most sense for most investors, but occasionally, you'll find out about a special situation that requires fast action. The fact that the Roth IRA is tax-free makes it preferable to a regular taxable account for short-term investing that you expect to generate what would ordinarily be taxed as a short-term capital gain. Because your higher ordinary income tax rate applies to profits on investments sold within a year of purchasing them, making investments in a Roth IRA instead can help you maximize your gains without the tax bite.

3. Avoid municipal bonds and other investments that are inappropriate for Roth IRAs.

The tax-free nature of the Roth IRA gives you a chance to make nearly any investment a tax-free one. As a result, it's essentially a waste to put investments that already have favorable tax characteristics into a Roth IRA, because you can't get double the benefit. The best example is investing in municipal bonds, which typically carry a lower interest rate than taxable bonds of comparable quality because municipal bond interest is free of federal income tax. In a Roth, holding muni bonds means accepting a lower rate for no reason, because even the interest on taxable bonds would be free of tax. Similar arguments should have you think twice before including other investments with favorable tax attributes, such as master limited partnerships and annuities, within a Roth.

4. Don't forget the contribution rules.

In your rush to get money into a Roth IRA, it's easy to forget about the requirements. Contribution limits for 2016 are $5,500 for those younger than 50 or $6,500 for those 50 or older. However, more important, income limits apply that prevent some people from making Roth IRA contributions at all. For 2016, if you're single with income over $132,000 or a joint filer with income above $194,000, you're not allowed to contribute to a Roth at all. Phase-outs extending $10,000 to $15,000 below those thresholds allow partial contributions of less than the applicable $5,500 or $6,500 maximum.

5. Think about conversions.

With the limitations listed above, it can be hard to get your Roth IRA balance as high as you might want. One alternative is to convert money in a traditional IRA into a Roth. You'll pay income taxes on the amount converted, including it in taxable income and paying whatever rate applies to your current-year income. In the future, though, you won't have to pay taxes on any further gains. Especially if you're in a low tax bracket right now, converting money to a Roth IRA can be a smart move. Moreover, there's no income limit on being able to convert.

Roth IRAs can be a great way to grow your money as quickly as possible. By taking maximum advantage of the tax benefits at your disposal, a Roth IRA can be the foundation of a strong retirement savings strategy to provide for yourself and your loved ones in your retirement and beyond.

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Source: USA Today

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26/May/2016

Survey: Americans are pretty clueless on credit cards and scores

Financial education isn’t standardized in the United States, leading many Americans to rely on loved ones or the news media for guidance and manage their money through trial and error. As a result, they have significant blind spots about basic concepts, a recent survey by NerdWallet and Harris Poll shows.

The survey of more than 2,000 adults shows that most Americans don’t understand the effects that common actions have on their credit scores, largely underestimate how many credit scores they have, and don’t understand how credit card interest works. These knowledge gaps can be costly, resulting in high interest rates and low, or no, credit card rewards.

What Americans don’t know could be hurting their credit

The FICO score is the most widely used credit scoring model, and five factors go into it:

 

  • payment history
  • amounts owed
  • average age of accounts
  • types of credit in use
  • new credit

Financial decisions that affect these factors can improve or hurt a credit score, but many consumers aren’t sure of the impact their actions have.

For example, more than half of Americans (54%) don’t know that carrying a balance on a credit card from month to month does nothing to help a person’s credit score. Keeping and using a credit account regularly can improve your score, but the balance should be paid in full each month to avoid racking up interest charges.

Almost 8 in 10 Americans (78%) don’t know that closing an older, paid-off credit card will likely hurt their scores. In the short term, closing a credit card account increases your credit utilization, which is the amount you owe compared with your total available credit; in the long term, it lowers the average age of your accounts. Both of these can take points off a credit score.

Fewer than 1 in 10 Americans (8%) know that a late payment usually doesn’t affect a person’s credit. A late payment may result in fees and a higher annual percentage rate, but if it’s made within 30 days of the due date, it probably won’t have any impact on your credit score.

Only 9% of Americans know they have multiple credit scores

People often refer to their “credit score” in the singular, as if they have only one score. But three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — collect consumer data independently of one another, and hundreds of different scoring models use their data. In the survey, however, 91% of Americans didn’t know that there are more than three scores on which their creditworthiness may be judged.

While there are many different scoring models, they don’t all carry the same weight with lenders. Lenders most often look at FICO scores. Each of the credit bureaus generates FICO scores based on its own data. Many credit card issuers and other lenders allow customers to see their FICO scores for free. And consumers who can’t access a free score can buy them from the credit bureaus directly.

Save and earn more by learning about credit cards

Americans who want to improve their financial lives can start with a solid understanding of credit cards and credit scores. A good credit score can help consumers obtain a loan at reasonable rates, get a good price on insurance and even rent an apartment. And a credit card, when used correctly, can earn rewards and protect purchases without incurring any interest.

But more than half of Americans (55%) don’t know when their purchases start accruing interest, the survey shows. Interest doesn’t accrue until the day after a credit card bill is due, so if you pay in full before then, you won’t owe interest.

Meanwhile, only 4 in 10 of those surveyed understood when it’s worth it to obtain a credit card that carries an annual fee. The answer? When the value of the rewards or perks you get from the card outweighs the fee.

Understanding credit cards is essential if you want to use them to your advantage. Check out the study, take the quiz to see how much you know about your credit and learn how you can improve your financial life with NerdWallet’s tips for building credit.

Source: USA TODAY

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26/May/2016

The Fastest Way To Pay Off $10,000 In Credit Card Debt

What's the best way to pay down a credit card balance as quickly as possible, while paying the least in interest, and without hurting your credit? What follows is a powerful method recommended by the most astute personal finance experts* to achieve exactly those objectives. It's extremely effective, completely legal, and leverages programs created by credit card issuers to your advantage. Follow these steps and start to become credit card debt-free.

Step 1: Use A Powerful Tool To Immediately Stop Paying Interest On Your Balance

Think of someone carrying a credit card balance like a patient who enters an emergency room bleeding badly. The first thing a doctor will do is stop the bleeding. It's no different when attacking a credit card balance; the first thing you do is stop the interest charges.

There's a simple way to do this, and it's brilliance is that it actually uses the banks' marketing offers to your advantage: find a card offering a long "0% intro APR balance transfer" promotional offer, and transfer your balance to it. These are cards which offer new customers a long period of time (often as much as 18 months) during which the card charges no interest on all balances transferred to it. We constantly track all the cards in the marketplace in order to find the ones currently offering the longest 0% intro periods.

If you need more motivation, just think of this: on a $10,000 balance, $150 of a $200 monthly payment would get vacuumed up by interest charges.** That leaves only $50 of your $200 that actually reduces your balance, the rest vanishing into bank pockets. That's just brutal. Use our reviews to find a card which offers the longest possible no-interest period while charging low, or even no fees. Moving your balances to the card you choose will stop the bleeding, allowing you to move on to step two.

Step 2: Power Through Your Balance During The 0% Period.

Once you've transferred your balances and put a stop to the interest charges, it's time to capitalize on the interest-free period to really break free of the debt. The best part of this is how simple it is: just keep making the payments you used to make when you had to pay big interest payments. Going back to the $10,000 example above, if you transferred that balance onto a card like the Chase Slate (which offers 15 months of 0% intro APR with no transfer fee) and maintained the same $200 monthly payment, you can see how much faster you'll be reducing your balance in the chart below.

As you can see, without using the 0% card, the same $200 monthly payments barely make any headway. It's like swimming upstream, or walking while taking a step back for every two steps forward. That's no way to swim or walk, and attempting to pay off your cards while paying high card interest rates is no way to manage your finances. Move your balances onto one of the cards below, stop getting crushed by interest, and start making real progress toward getting rid of your card debt.

 

Top 0% Intro APR Balance Transfer Cards:

The No Transfer-Fee Card

The Chase Slate® is tied as our highest-rated balance transfer card, and for good reason. It charges no fee for transferring your balance to it in the first two months, no annual fee, and no interest on balances transferred for a full 15-month 0% intro APR period. This makes it a phenomenal tool to gain control of your credit card debt, as you can make a costless balance transfer, then use the 15-month interest grace period to pay down your balance.

The Verdict: If you don't need the entire 18 months offered by the BankAmericard, this can be efficient since it doesn't have a balance transfer fee. No transfer fee and no annual fee, combined with the 0% intro APR means that this is really free money for the 15 month term, no catches.

Most Appropriate For: Those who want a no-fee way to stop paying interest, and possibly pay off the cards during that breather. Those with good rather than excellent credit.

Least Appropriate For: Those who pay off their balances every month would be better served getting a card paying high rewards.

Recommended credit:  Just Good. The Chase card has the most lenient credit requirements of our top balance transfer cards.

More Details >


The Ultra-Long 0% Intro APR Card

The BankAmericard® Credit Card is tied as our highest rated balance transfer card, featuring an unbelievable 18 billing cycles (months) 0% APR intro period. This means that if you were to roll your balance over onto the card today, you wouldn't have to pay interest until well into 2018. The card does charge a 3% balance transfer fee*, but if you’re looking to avoid paying any interest on your credit card balances for as long as possible, the BankAmericard could be your card.

The Verdict: Getting a loan this cheaply for this long is pretty amazing. If you're carrying a balance, and realistically you know you will have to carry that balance for a while, this card becomes a no-brainer. As an example, assume you have a $10,000 balance on your current cards at a 18% rate. Over the 18 billing cycle (month) term, you would have paid $3,098 in interest.* Switching to this card would cost $300 in fees, but then nothing the rest of the way, for a net savings of $2,798. Not bad, you could do a lot with that extra cash.

Most Appropriate For: Those who have large balances and want as much interest-free time as possible to pay the principle down.

Least Appropriate For: Those who pay off their balances every month or every few months.

Credit Required: Good to Excellent

More Details >


The Cards With Long 0% Intro APR AND Cash Rewards Programs.

Pros: Chase's new Freedom Unlimited card is essentially an improved version of the old Freedom. They bumped the base cash back rate all the way up to an industry leading 1.5%, and pay that full 1.5% on all spend, with no limit or spend category restrictions. Unlike most other high paying cash back cards, you don't have to worry about categories or have to activate anything. You'll receive the full 1.5% back as you make your spend, on all spend, automatically. In addition, Chase  is temporarily offering a cash bonus to new card-members. If you charge $500 on it in the first 3 months, you'll earn a $150 cash bonus. Finally, Chase is also offering new card-members 15 months of 0% interest for the first 15 months of using the card to make new purchases. So during that period, you can use the card without paying any interest on balances you tally, while still earning cash back. The card requires good, not excellent credit, making it easier to get in.

Cons: Charges a 5% balance transfer fee. This is on the high side, so we recommend looking at the Slate or BankAmericard if your goal is to transfer a balance. The Freedom Unlimited should be viewed as a cash back card.

The Verdict: One of the strongest cards available to those with good (but not perfect) credit. The card combines industry leading cash back rates (1.5% on everything) with a strong 15 months of 0% interest on new purchases combined with a $150 cash bonus when you use the card to make $500 in spend in the first 3 months.

Most Appropriate For: Those with good credit seeking a daily-use card offering great cash back rewards and 0% intro APR. Best for new charges.

Least Appropriate For: Balance transfers, as it charges the 5% fee while offering no more free term than the Slate (which has no transfer fee).

Credit Required: Good to Excellent

More Details >

Pros: Capital One's Quicksilver card makes things simple: you earn 1.5% cash back on all your purchases, with no limit and no category restrictions or games. We included the card in our balance transfer list because it offers 0% intro APRuntil February 2017 on all balances transferred.

Cons: Does charge a 3% balance transfer fee. Requires good credit to get in.

The Verdict: If you're looking to transfer a balance and make some purchases, you can use this card to avoid paying interest during the intro period AND earn cash rewards.

Most Appropriate For: Anyone who might make some large purchases in the near future, or regularly charges a lot on their cards. Making the charges on the Quicksilver  would earn cash back but not require any interest during the intro period.

Credit Required: Good to Excellent.

Source:E news online.com

 

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14/May/2016

Royal Caribbean cancels seven more sailings out of Miami

Royal Caribbean has canceled seven more voyages of Empress of the Seas, which has been undergoing a major overhaul in dry dock since February.

The line said the 2,020-passenger ship needed more work than it originally envisioned when it scheduled the overhaul, which was supposed to be done by late March.

Royal Caribbean previously canceled six sailings of Empress scheduled to take place between March 30 and April 25. The new cancellations extend the ship's absence from service through late May.

Unveiled in 1990, the 48,563-ton Empress is rejoining the Royal Caribbean fleet after sailing for Spanish line Pullmantur the past eight years.

Royal Caribbean said it had discovered a need for significant infrastructure and physical improvements to Empress' galleys and provisioning areas that were not part of the original overhaul plans.

"We decided that instead of simply repairing the five galleys, we would completely rebuild them, starting from scratch with entirely new infrastructure and all new equipment, at a cost of $10 million," the company said in a statement.

Passengers on the affected voyages can choose to receive a full refund or switch to an Empress sailing later in the year. They also can switch to a similar sailing on Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas. Those who reschedule will receive an on-board credit.

“We sincerely apologize to our guests and travel partners for the inconvenience, and hope they understand that more time was needed to ensure Empress of the Seas meets the standards for quality our guests expect from Royal Caribbean,” Royal Caribbean president and CEO Michael Bayley said in a statement.

When it rejoins Royal Caribbean's fleet, Empress will operate four- and five-night trips to Nassau, The Bahamas; Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico; Grand Cayman and Key West, Florida. Some of the stops in Cozumel will be overnight stays.

The overhaul of Empress is bringing some new features that have debuted on Royal Caribbean's latest ships such as the one-year-old Anthem of the Seas.

USA TODAY Cruise in 2015 was among a handful of U.S. media outlets to get early access to Anthem ahead of its christening in Southampton, England. For our 'first look' tour of the ship's pool decks, public areas and swankiest suites.

Source; USA Today

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11/May/2016

Want to know which foods are healthy? So does the FDA

The growing divide between what's considered healthy food and what can legally be labeled as healthy is on its way to reconciling.

In response to pressure from the health community, elected officials and the public, the Food and Drug Administration is taking steps to redefine the term "healthy" as it's used on food labels, the agency confirmed Tuesday.

Current regulations, crafted more than 20 years ago during the advent of low-fat diets, allow products like fat-free pudding cups and sugary cereal to be labeled as healthy, but not whole foods such as nuts, avocados and salmon, which have come to be considered sources of nutritious fats. The government's current MyPlate guidelines recommend including nuts, seeds and fish as part of a balanced diet — making decades-old nutrition labeling guidelines confusing.

"In light of evolving nutrition research ... we believe now is an opportune time to reevaluate regulations concerning nutrient content claims, generally, including the term 'healthy,'" says FDA spokeswoman Lauren Kotwicki.

The FDA will ask the public to weigh in on how healthy should be defined given the modern understanding of nutrition and a well-rounded diet, which as some note, is a big deal.

"It’s pretty huge," says David Katz, director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center. "They recognize this is really a problem for public health nutrition. It was never intended to say 'don’t eat almonds.' But that effectively is what it’s saying in this instance."

Katz is referring to a warning letter the FDA sent to the snack company Kind last year. The letter said Kind's fruit and nut bars couldn't claim to be healthy due to their amount of saturated fat, which primarily came from almonds, the main ingredient in the bars. While Kind removed the term from its labels, it filed a citizen petition with the FDA in December, asking the agency to update its labeling requirements in light of new dietary recommendations. Katz served as a nutrition adviser to Kind over the past year.

Currently, companies can use the term "healthy" as a nutrient content claim if the food fits certain criteria for levels of fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium and sugar. Generally, snacks like Kind's bars can't have more than 3 grams of fat and 1 gram of saturated fat per serving.

The company got word last month that it would be allowed to continue using the phrase "healthy and tasty" on its bars, because the FDA concluded that it was not a nutrient content claim, according to emails obtained by USA TODAY. Kind is considering whether it will put the term back on its bars, which could be a costly move.

"We're not in a hurry to do it," says CEO Daniel Lubetzsky, adding that the fact that the FDA is reconsidering how healthy is defined is more significant than what Kind puts on its packaging. "It’s very energizing to feel that our voices were heard, and the FDA recognizes that the regulation didn’t really make sense."

Kotwicki notes that the FDA isn't reconsidering how healthy is used because of Kind, but a variety of factors including upcoming new rules on the Nutrition Facts panel, new nutrition research and the citizen petition, which received backing in February from four Democratic senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, both of Oregon; Cory Booker of New Jersey and Chuck Schumer of New York.

On the FDA's part, re-evaluating the term shows the evolving understanding of nutrition in the U.S., a conversation that's become more focused on overall health and well-being than specific nutrient levels, Katz says.

"The world of nutrition is increasingly saying, enough with nutrients let’s talk about food," he says. "An avocado is extremely high in fat but it’s a really nutritious food."

Source: USA Today

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11/May/2016

Walmart sues Visa over chip transactions with debit cards

Walmart is suing Visa for allowing customers to verify chip-enabled debit card transactions with a signature instead of a PIN.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday in New York Supreme Court says that Visa requires Walmart to accept signature-based transactions for chip debit cards, which Walmart says are a less secure method of payment than PIN-based payments and more expensive to conduct over Visa's network.

"PIN is the only truly secure form of cardholder verification in the marketplace today, and it offers superior security to our customers," says Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove. "Visa has acknowledged in many other countries that chip-and-pin offer greater security. Visa nevertheless has demanded that we allow fraud-prone signature verification for debit transactions in our U.S. stores because Visa stands to make more money processing those transactions."

Visa declined to comment.

Retailers were required to adopt payment terminals last year that accept chip-based debit and credit card transactions or else face liability for any subsequent fraud. The cards are embedded with a computer chip where account information is stored instead of in a magnetic strip.

The chip cards are considered much more difficult to hack because they create one-time codes to process every transaction. Transactions can be verified with either a signature or a PIN, though the retail industry has long argued that requiring a PIN is more secure.

Walmart automatically prompts customers to enter a PIN when they use a chip debit card, but customers can override it and enter a signature instead. Debit card transactions account for more than 70% of the dollars spent on credit and debit cards at Walmart.

The lawsuit says that because Visa allows a signature for debit card payments, it requires Walmart to route those payments through Visa's network rather than a competitor that might be less costly.

Source: USA Today

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11/May/2016

Chip and PIN cards and what you need to know

SAN FRANCISCO — That authoritative sstpp sound that comes from swiping a credit card through a reader is going away, to be replaced with the snick-snick of a card dip. It's the aural confirmation that after decades, the United States is entering the 21st century and finally embracing chip and PIN cards.

And that, in turn, means headaches but also, hopefully, security for millions of small businesses.

The new cards encode the user's account information not in the magnetic stripe along the card's back, but in a computer chip embedded in it. The chip generates a unique, one-time code for each sale.

"When chip data is stored in a merchant's system, that data cannot be used to create counterfeit cards," said Stephanie Ericksen, vice president of risk products for Visa.

"That makes merchants less of a target for criminals, because once they've mostly got chip data, there's not a lot the fraudsters can do with it," she said.

The PIN part of "chip and PIN" is something of a misnomer. In the rest of the world, when people buy with a credit card they dip their card in the reader and then input a Personal Identification Number, or PIN, much as Americas do when we use cash machines.

Here, most banks are issuing cards that allow a signature, rather than a PIN, as confirmation. Some banks are requiring PINs right away. Eventually it's expected all will.

The actual name for the new card system is EMV, for Europay, MasterCard and Visa standards. Though most people seem to be settling on "chip cards" as shorthand.

The actual name for the new card system is EMV, for

The actual name for the new card system is EMV, for Europay, MasterCard and Visa standards. Though most people seem to be settling on "chip cards" as shorthand. (Photo: Visa)

 

Once they're in widespread use, big data breaches like those that hit Target and Home Depot should become less common, because merchants won't be storing anything useful to thieves in their systems.

According to a report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Mo., the chip cards could reduce credit card fraud by 40% in the United States.

But getting to that happy day will require money, work and expense on merchants' part. And there's a deadline.

Currently, credit card companies and banks bear the liability for fraudulent purchases on credit cards. But beginning in October, merchants who haven't switched to readers that can take the new cards will be liable for fraud if there's a problem.

Though if your bank and credit union hasn't issued you one, they, not the customer or the merchant, are still liable.

Merchants aren't required to make the switch, but the cards are coming and they need to be prepared. While new cards will still have magnetic stripes, businesses are being encouraged to shift over quickly.

That means buying new credit card machines and software capable of reading both chip cards and magnetic stripe cards.

"It's not going to be without cost," said Todd McCracken, president and CEO of the National Small Business Association. "Depending on the size of the establishment, replacing all their card machines is going to cost a pretty penny."

About 30% of credit card terminals on the market today already have the hardware necessary to accept chip cards, though they don't necessarily have the right software, said Visa's Ericksen.

Merchants need special credit card machines capable

Merchants need special credit card machines capable of reading a micro chip credit card. (Photo: Visa)

 

Costs will vary depending on how big a merchant is. For mom-and-pop operations, "We're seeing some of the new card readers at the warehouse buying clubs that are under $100," she said.

Credit card companies plan to spend the first part of the year in an all-out push to get companies to upgrade.

For example, American Express will begin offering $100 in reimbursement to small merchants that switch to the chip card readers in February.

"We've allocated up to $10 million for upgrades," said Anré Williams, president of global merchant services at American Express.

The idea is to give merchants encouragement to make the shift, knowing that, "they're busy; they've got a lot of things going on," Williams said.

Sooner will be better than later because security experts are predicting a wave of data breaches as the window is "closing for hackers to easily profit from point-of-sale attacks on brick-and-mortar retailers," according to Experian's 2015 Data Breach Industry Forecast.

The biggest question for McCracken, with the National Small Business Association, is whether the savings on fraudulent charges the credit card companies will see end up being translated into lower rates for merchants.

"They've been telling us for years that the reason small businesses pay such high fees for taking credit cards is fraud," he said.

If the liability is moving to the merchant, and if the new chip cards are so much more security in the first place, the credit card fees small merchants pay should go down. Those typically run between 0.5% and 2% per transaction.

The association will be watching fees carefully, McCracken said. "If the fees don't go down, we'll see about pursing a legislative solution."

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11/May/2016

Back On? Idris Elba Walks the Red Carpet with Naiyana Garth 3 Months After Split Rumors

What breakup?

Idris Elba reunited with former girlfriend Naiyana Garth on the red carpet at the 2016 BAFTA TV Awards in London on Sunday.

The tuxedo-clad actor wrapped his arm around Garth, who wore a glittering black and gold dress. In February, reports surfaced that the couple had split but Elba never confirmed the rumors. Either way, the two looked pretty chummy when they walked the red carpet together on Sunday.

Elba, 43, and Garth, who works as a makeup artist, share 23-month-old son Winston. He has one other child – daughter Isan, 14 – with his ex-wife Kim Norgaard.

Of course, turning up with Garth wasn’t the only big news from Elba from the award show – he had also apparently lost his voice! The actor told BAFTA’s red carpet show hosts that he had lost his voice two days ago and was “nervous” about attending the award show, where he was up for the best actor trophy against Wolf Hall’s Mark Rylance.

Elba wasn’t the only A-lister at the BAFTA TV Awards. Justin Timberlake, Anna Kendrick and Tom Hiddleston also dropped by the show.

Source: yahoo.com

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11/May/2016

North Carolina transgender battle could expand civil rights law

The legal battle over transgender rights between the state of North Carolina and the U.S. government has moved the country closer to settling one of the last frontiers in civil rights law.

At issue is whether transgender people deserve the same federal protections that have been extended to groups such as blacks and religious minorities.

Backers of the North Carolina law, which requires people to use public bathrooms that correspond with the sex on their birth certificate rather than their gender identity, say it will protect women and girls from predators. Transgender advocates say that claim is unfounded and ignores a modern understanding of people who identify with a gender other than the one assigned at birth.

The next step is likely to be a federal judge's decision on whether to impose an injunction, or temporary ruling, to void the North Carolina law pending a trial. Regardless of how a judge might rule on an injunction, the case stands to add to a growing body of legal decisions that have tended to side in favor of transgender rights but not enough to dissuade states like North Carolina.

A handful of U.S. states and cities have attempted to enact measures affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, but North Carolina is the first state to focus on transgender people's use of public bathrooms.

"This is absolutely a critical moment in terms of the focus and the answers that will come through these cases about the established scope of protections for transgender people," said Jennifer Levi, a lawyer with the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders.

The North Carolina law is the subject of four lawsuits in federal court, two on each side.

The U.S. Justice Department and an advocacy group, the American Civil Liberties Union, have each sought to strike it down, saying the law violates the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, which jolted a divided nation into applying full rights to African-Americans a century after the abolition of slavery.

North Carolina's governor and legislature both sued on Monday to protect their law, saying the Justice Department was trying to strike down a "common sense privacy policy" meant to protect the state's public employees. State officials also said if the Obama administration wants protections for transgender people, it should appeal to Congress to amend existing laws.

 

GENDER AND LAW

At least two provisions of federal law ban discrimination on the basis of sex -- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which covers and employment, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

The issue before the courts is whether "sex" also applies to gender identity. The Obama administration has taken a firm stance that transgender people are protected, a point that Attorney General Loretta Lynch emphasized on Monday.

"The entire Obama administration wants you to know that we see you; we stand with you; and we will do everything we can to protect you going forward," Lynch told transgender people in remarks at a news conference.

Lynch also threatened to withhold federal funding to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety and the University of North Carolina while the legal case proceeds.

North Carolina stands to lose $4.8 billion in funds, mainly educational grants, if it does not back down from the law, according to an analysis by lawyers at the University of California, Los Angeles Law School.

Unless North Carolina backs down, any ruling by a trial judge would likely be challenged and end up in a Virginia-based federal appeals court that only weeks ago issued an important ruling in favor of transgender rights.

That court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, said a transgender teen from Virginia could sue his high school for being barred from using the boy's bathroom. The court noted that federal education officials have interpreted Title IX to apply to transgender people but did not directly rule on the issue.

So far, only one appeals court has explicitly ruled that the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination against transgender people, in a 2005 case brought by a police officer. At least five other appeals courts have suggested that they agreed, some in cases involving other federal discrimination laws.

The U.S. Supreme Court could help settle the matter, but experts said it was unlikely to take up any precedent-setting case any time soon.

Source: yahoo.com

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11/May/2016

Gilead to pay Merck $200 million in damages for infringing two Merck hepatitis C drug patents

On Thursday, a federal jury ordered Gilead Sciences Inc to pay $200 million to Merck & Co in damages for infringing two Merck patents linked to a profitable hepatitis C cure. Merck had demanded $2 billion but the damage awarded to the company is quite less. The same jury in San Jose, California, supported the validity of the patents, on Tuesday, which are at the heart of the dispute related to Gilead's main drugs Sovaldi and Harvoni. As a whole, both the medicines had over $20 billion in US sales last year and a year prior to that.

Merck is trying to offer tough competition to Gilead, which dominates the market with its latest generation of hepatitis C drugs that can very well cure more than 90% patients suffering from the liver disease. However, the cost of treatment is extremely high in the United States.

In January, Merck’s hepatitis C drug Zepatier received approval. Merck has also asked for 10% royalty on the sales of Gilead, growing at a fast pace. This matter will be discussed in another non-jury trial in the front of US District Judge Beth Labson Freeman, kicking off coming week.

Gilead spokeswoman Michele Rest said that as per the company, Merck wasn’t entitled to any kind of damages. She mentioned that in case the judge goes by the jury's verdict, they would appeal.

Merck said in a statement, “We are pleased that the jury recognized that patent protections are essential to the development of new medical treatments”. Merck shares dropped 50 cents to $52.5 in after-hours trading, and Gilead shares climbed slightly after the news.

The list prices of the latest drugs have been criticized by insurers, politicians and patient groups. At $1,125 a pill before discounts, for Harvoni treatment, patients will have to pay $94,000 for a 12-week regimen.

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08/May/2016

Swarm of earthquakes strikes Mount St. Helens

(CNN)In the past eight weeks, more than 130 small earthquakes have trembled beneath the surface of Mount St. Helens.

At this point, "there is absolutely no sign that it will erupt anytime soon, but the data we collect tells us that the volcano is still very much alive," the U.S. Geological Survey said.
Seismologists reported that there are no anomalous gases, and no signs that the collection of magma, which is the molten rock beneath the surface of the Earth, is getting inflated in the recent swarm of earthquakes at the volcano.
Although there are no signs of an imminent eruption, the volcano is recharging, scientists say.
Mount St. Helens is in Washington state, 95 miles south of Seattle and about 55 miles northeast of Portland, OR.
The earthquakes have been measured at a magnitude of 0.5 or less and the largest was at 1.3. They've been measured about 1.2 to four miles underneath the surface. With such small magnitudes and such depths, you wouldn't be able to feel the earthquakes on the surface.
But it's not the magnitude that has gotten scientists attention -- it's the frequency.
They've become increasingly common since March 14, "reaching nearly 40 located earthquakes per week," according to the USGS.
The eruption of Mount St. Helens: Mount St. Helens erupted in Washington state on May 18, 1980, triggered by an earthquake.
 
The USGS says the volcano's collection of magma is re-pressurizing. The process can continue for years without an eruption. Scientists have seen similar patterns of small earthquake swarms in 2013, 2014 and in the 1990s, according to the USGS.
Mount St. Helens erupted on May 18, 1980, blowing off more than 1,000 feet from the top of the mountain, leaving a huge crater and spewing hot ash across the Northwest. It killed 57 people, ignited forest fires from the scattering of hot ash and caused floods as the snow melted from mountain tops.
Since then, Mount St. Helens is one of the closely monitored volcanoes on the planet.
Source: CNN.com
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08/May/2016

Coast Guard helps rescue man after 2 months adrift in Pacific

(CNN)He spent two months adrift in the Pacific and saw three of his companions die -- and the Coast Guard is calling him "fortunate."

That's the story of a 29-year-old Colombian mariner who arrived in Honolulu on Wednesday, according to a U.S. Coast Guard press release.
The Coast Guard said the man, whose name was not given, was picked up on April 26 by a Panamanian freighter about 2,150 miles southeast of Hilo, Hawaii.
The man told the crew of the 618-foot-long bulk carrier Nikkei Verde that he and three companions had set out from Colombia's Pacific coast more than two months earlier in a 23-foot skiff.
When the motor on the small vessel died, the men drifted, catching and eating fish and seagulls to survive, the Coast Guard said the man reported.
He said the other three died at sea and turned over their passports, but their bodies were not on the skiff when it was found by the merchant ship, the Coast Guard said.
A Coast Guard vessel met the Nikkei Verde off Hawaii and took the survivor to Honolulu.
The fact that he was found at all was lucky, said Lt. Cmdr. John MacKinnon of the Coast Guard's 14th District in Honolulu.
"The Pacific is vast and inherently dangerous," MacKinnon said. "This mariner had great fortitude and is very fortunate the crew of the Nikkei Verde happened upon him, as the area he was in is not heavily trafficked."
Speaking through a Coast Guard interpreter, the survivor said he "thanked God that he has life" and lamented the deaths of his companions, saying he "would have loved it if his friends were here with him."
The Coast Guard said it would not be investigating the man's story, "as the circumstances fall outside Coast Guard purview," according to the press release.
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08/May/2016

‘You heard wrong, cowboy’: Donald Trump and Joe Scarborough get into a Twitter fight

The friendly relationship between Donald Trump and Joe Scarborough publicly frayed Friday afternoon as the two exchanged blows on Twitter.

Trump, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, called Scarborough’s MSNBC show “rapidly fading” and accused Scarborough of supporting two of his former primary rivals.

“Not much power or insight!” Trump tweeted of Scarborough.

“Define ‘rapidly fading,’ Donnie boy,” Scarborough shot back while touting the viewership of Morning Joe.

Trump said he heard that Scarborough was “pushing hard” for a third candidate to enter the presidential race, which the real estate magnate said would guarantee a Democratic victory.

“You heard wrong, cowboy,” Scarborough responded.

The back-and-forth between Trump and Scarborough was especially striking because Morning Joe is frequently criticized for giving Trump favorable treatment compared with other candidates.

At last weekend’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, comedian Larry Wilmore even joked that “Morning Joe has their head so far up Trump’s a**, they bumped into Chris Christie.” (New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had endorsed Trump’s campaign.)

Trump has praised the morning show, which is also hosted by Mika Brzezinski. During one interview, Trump created an awkward moment by saying, “It was great seeing you, and you guys have been supporters and I really appreciate it.”

Scarborough, responding to critics, had previously rejected the suggestion that his show treats Trump with kid gloves.

Source: Yahoo.com

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07/May/2016

Fort McMurray: Fire could double in size, Canadian official says

(CNN)The Fort McMurray wildfire in Canada is massive. And it could get a lot worse.

Dry, windy conditions are fueling the blaze, which has already raged over 1,010 square kilometers (389 square miles). By Saturday, it might be twice as big.
"It's extremely dry out there. Wind continues to push from the southwest, to push the fire to the northeast into the forested areas," Alberta Wildfire official Chad Morrison said Friday afternoon. "There is a high potential that this fire could double in size by the end of the day tomorrow."
The monster fire -- which is the size of Hong Kong and is almost 25% bigger than New York City -- has displaced about 88,000 people and wiped out 1,600 structures.
The city of Fort McMurray has been devastated, damage witnessed by thousands of people who drove through Friday in evacuee convoys headed to Edmonton and other cities. More than 1,200 vehicles headed south down Highway 63, the lone road open for people relocating to emergency shelters and the homes of friends or family.
The convoys will continue as long as it's safe to run them, which for about an hour on Friday it wasn't.
One of the fleeing residents told CNN near Fort McMurray that the past few days have been like "hell on Earth. Just like hell."
Other residents had already made it to safety at the Edmonton Expo Centre.
Morgan Elliott and fiancée Cara Kennedy fled first to the Syncrude oil sands camp north of Fort McMurray with their baby, Abigail, but not much else. Then Friday it was time to try for Edmonton.
What they saw along the way was jaw-dropping.
"It was something like Armageddon," Elliott says. "Everything was burnt, houses gone. Leaving the city, it was like a scene out of a movie. It reminded me of the TV show 'The Walking Dead' where you're going on the highway, and there's just abandoned vehicles everywhere; hundreds of cars, just abandoned vehicles."
Edmonton resident Bill Glynn, who was working in Fort McMurray when the fire broke out, was in a convoy and told the Edmonton Journal newspaper that the scene was "like a war zone."
"There were times you came over the hill and you couldn't see anything and just hoped the person ahead knew what they were doing," the newspaper quoted Glynn as saying.
"We had only gone two or three klicks," he said, using a term for a kilometer, "and there was the fire right at the side of the road. It was coming towards us."
Canadian military helicopters hovered overhead to look out for smoke and flames along the evacuation route, while emergency gas stations were set up to keep the convoy moving.
CNN partner CTV posted photos it said were taken as the convoy drove through the northeastern Alberta city. Flames and towering columns of smoke filled the sky.
Other people likely wil be airlifted out of the fire zone, as 7,000 were Thursday, according to authorities.
Some 15,000 people remain stranded north of the devastated city, but not all will leave, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said.

Some remain behind

Some hardy souls working for the oil industry will remain behind to tend to facilities there, authorities said. The region is known for its massive oil reserves -- the third-largest in the world.
But officers are going into accessible areas and looking for signs of others, Sgt. Jack Poitras, a spokesman for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, told reporters Thursday.
"We still have some people who have been hanging around," he said.
Overnight, the fire's footprint grew, racing up to the doorstep of the community of Anzac before firefighters beat it back.
Winds were expected to shift and push the fire away from developed areas.
Morrison warned of "extreme fire behavior" in the following days as the blaze pushes into heavily forested areas.
The fire will likely burn for "weeks and weeks," he said.
"There's no tankers we can put at this thing to stop it," he said, noting the fire was so large and aggressive it's jumped a 1-kilometer wide river and created its own lightning.
The cause remains unclear, Morrison said.
But the region is in the midst of a drought, he said. Two months without appreciable rain has left vegetation dangerously dry.
Forecasters think Saturday will be dry and windy again, but there is a 40% chance of showers on Sunday and Monday.
Source: CNN.com
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07/May/2016

Walk the Talk: Global Education for All.

Now more than ever, K-12 students need quality cross-cultural and language learning opportunities for success in the 21st Century workplace.

The joke about Americans abroad — that they speak louder in English when they don’t speak the language — isn’t so funny anymore. There is a real and growing deficit in foreign language skills and cross-cultural competence in the American work force. So critical is the problem that in a rare act of bipartisan, bicameral unity, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences has established the Commission on Language Learning with support from the Andrew W. Mellon and Luce Foundations.

Both of our organizations, Qatar Foundation International and VIF International Education, applaud Congress’ and the Academy’s strong support for advancing American students’ competitiveness and the skill sets at the core of being good global citizens. Our organizations implement complementary programs to advance the cause of global education through our respective global schools networks and related program activities that connect young people in the Americas with those elsewhere including the Middle East. Global Leadership Week offers a platform for discussing and advancing these critical issues with educators across the country.

Since 2009, Qatar Foundation International (QFI) has connected students and educators, through language and exchange, to peers from differing socio-economic and cultural backgrounds with programs focused on Arabic language, Arab culture, STEM plus Arts (STEAM) and Youth Engagement. Like VIF, we have seen first hand, the transformative power of language learning and cross-cultural exchange, whether in-person or virtual — inside and outside of classrooms. Is it a coincidence that QFI’s DC partner Washington Latin Public Charter School, the three students to receive the prestigious Trachtenberg Award, full 4-year scholarships to George Washington University, all studied Arabic?
Arabic fluency has helped US students pursue careers in business, journalism, diplomacy, national security, and much more. QFI’s #ISpeakArabic campaign, which launched in November 2015, delivers an open resource platform ispeakarabic.com, that provides open education resources and an advocacy kit for the learning and teaching of Arabic, and includes a series of documentary-style videos that highlight inspirational individuals around the world who are proof positive of career success through Arabic fluency. QFI sees language as a fabric to connect cultures, and has partnered with a number of K-12 public and public charter schools across the country, to provide opportunities for Arabic language education and cultural immersion so that American students can gain a global eduction from a young age.
Using the P21 Framework for State Action on Global Education, an ACTFL and ISTE standards aligned framework, we wanted to share moments that prove the effectiveness and power of providing these opportunities and fostering connections in defining global leadership.
Source: CNN.COM
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07/May/2016

Mars and Earth are getting closer (for now)

We haven't seen Mars like this in more than a decade.

The red planet will soon be closer to Earth that it has been in 11 years: On May 30, Mars will be about 46.8 million miles (75.3 million kilometers) from Earth. Yes, that's still a long way off, but sometimes Mars is 249 million miles (400 million kilometers) from Earth.
What does this close approach mean for sky watchers? It means Mars will appear bigger and brighter from May 18 until June 3, according to NASA.
But you don't have to wait. Mars already is putting on a spectacular show in the early morning sky. And you don't need a telescope or binoculars to see it.
In fact, you'll probably be able to find it without a star chart or an astronomy app.
In the United States, the best time to look for Mars during its close approach will be around midnight Eastern time, according to NASA. It will be the brightest "star" that you'll see in the southeastern sky and it will appear a bit reddish.
 
To find out when Mars is visible in your neighborhood, you can go to timeanddate.com/astronomy and pop in your location. It will give a list of times that the sun, moon and planets rise and set.
Also, both CNN partners Astronomy and Sky & Telescope.com offer online tools to help you track what's going on in the night sky.
After you have seen Mars shining bright in the morning sky, you may want to get an even better view. You can hook up with your local astronomy club to see Mars through a telescope.
If you miss this year's close approach, Earth and Mars will be even closer on July, 31 2018. They'll come about 35.8 million miles from each other.
Back in August 2003 they were closer still: The two planets were only 34,646,418 miles (55,758,006 kilometers) from center to center. That was the nearest Earth and Mars have been in almost 60,000 years, according to NASA.
 
Scientists calculate they won't get that close again until August 28, 2287.
Source: CNN.com
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07/May/2016

N. Korea claims successful test of submarine-fired missile

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea said Sunday that it successfully test-fired a ballistic missile from a submarine and warned of its growing ability to cut down its enemies with a "dagger of destruction." South Korea couldn't immediately confirm the claim of success in what marks Pyongyang's latest effort to expand its military might in face of pressure by its neighbors and Washington.

Hours before the announcement, South Korean military officials said the North fired what appeared to be a ballistic missile from a submarine off its eastern coast. The South's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the projectile traveled about 30 kilometers (19 miles) Saturday evening. That's a much shorter than the typical distance of a submarine-launched ballistic missile, which can fly at least 300 kilometers (186 miles).

A successful test from a submarine would be a worrying development because mastering the ability to fire missiles from submerged vessels would make it harder for outsiders to detect what North Korea is doing before it launches, giving it the potential to surprise its enemies.

While South Korean experts say it's unlikely that North Korea currently possesses an operational submarine that can fire multiple missiles, they acknowledge that the North is making progress on such technology.

In a typical example of overblown rhetoric, the North's Korean Central News Agency said leader Kim Jong Un observed from a test facility as the ballistic missile surged from a submarine and spewed out a "massive stream of flames" as it soared into the sky. It said the missile met all technical thresholds.

The KCNA report said that after the test Kim declared that the North now has another strong nuclear strike method and also the ability to stick a "dagger of destruction" into the heads of its enemies, South Korea and the United States, at any time.

The KCNA report didn't say when or where the recent test-firing took place. South Korean officials said the launch on Saturday took place near the North Korean coastal town of Sinpo, where analysts have previously detected efforts by the North to develop submarine-launched ballistic missile systems.

The North last test-launched a submarine-launched ballistic missile on Dec. 25, but that test was seen as failure, the South's Joint Chiefs of Staff said. The North first claimed of a successful submarine-launched missile test in May last year.

U.S. Strategic Command, headquartered at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, said its "systems detected and tracked what we assess was a North Korean submarine missile launch from the Sea of Japan." A statement from Strategic Command added that the missile launch "did not pose a threat to North America."

U.S. military forces "remain vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations and are fully committed to working closely with our Republic of Korea and Japanese allies to maintain security," it said.

The U.S. State Department said that in response to Saturday's launch, it was limiting the travel of North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong and his delegation to U.N. functions in New York, where they are attending a U.N. meeting on sustainable development. The U.S. noted "launches using ballistic missile technology are a clear violation of multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions."

"We call on North Korea to refrain from actions that further destabilize the region and focus instead on taking concrete steps toward fulfilling its commitments and international obligations," said State Department spokesman John Kirby.

The U.N. Security Council issued a press statement that "strongly condemned" the firing of the submarine-launched ballistic missile, saying it constitutes "yet another serious violation" of council resolutions.

The Security Council members reiterated that North Korea should "refrain from further actions in violation of the relevant Security Council resolutions and comply fully with its obligations under these resolutions, including to suspend all activities related to its ballistic missile program."

North Korea has recently sent a barrage of missiles and artillery shells into the sea amid ongoing annual military drills between the United States and South Korea. Pyongyang says the drills are a preparation for an invasion of the North. The firings also come as the North expresses anger about toughened international sanctions over its recent nuclear test and long-range rocket launch.

North Korea's belligerence may also be linked to a major ruling party congress next month meant to further cement leader Kim Jong Un's grip on power. Promoting military accomplishments could be an attempt to overshadow a lack of economic achievements ahead of the Workers' Party congress, the first since 1980.

Source: Yahoo

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25/Apr/2016

Eight family members killed in Ohio gun rampage

At least eight people have been killed in "execution-style killings" in four places near each other in rural Ohio.

It is believed the victims - seven adults and one teenager - are from the same family, the state's attorney general said in a statement.

They were all shot to death in the head and any suspects are still at large, police said.

More than a dozen officials from multiple agencies were sent to crime scenes in Piketon, south of Columbus.

A pastor at the scene said the violence may have been the result of a "domestic situation".

All of the victims are members of a family called Rhoden, said Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader.

Three young children survived the shootings. The boy who was killed was 16 years old.

"There is a strong possibility that any individual involved in this is armed and incredibly dangerous," Mr Reader said.

Police have not determined a motive or identified the dead, and have not determined whether the killer is among the deceased.

Scene in Pike County, Ohio

Piketon, Ohio

All of the victims were found in homes along Union Hill Road in Pike County. The Pike County Sheriff said there are four active crime scenes spanning about 30 miles (48km).

Sheriff Charles Reader said he would "suspect the family was being targeted".

Ohio Attorney General Mike Mike DeWine said it is possible some of the victims were shot overnight because they were found in their beds.

"One mom was apparently killed in her bed with [the four-day-old child] right there," said Mr DeWine. "It's hard to believe."

Authorities do not believe any of the deaths were suicides and are urging residents of the county to come forward with any information they might have.

Local schools Peebles Elementary and Peebles High School were earlier on "lockout" - no-one went in or out - due to the ongoing situation in Piketon, a spokesperson for Adams County Ohio Valley Schools said.

The FBI in Cincinnati tweeted that they are "closely monitoring the situation".

Ohio Governor John Kasich and Republican presidential candidate tweeted that the situation is "tragic beyond comprehension".

Source:BBC

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22/Apr/2016

Texas campus slaying suspect said family made him leave

AUSTIN, Texas –  A 17-year-old runaway who's been arrested in the campus killing of a University of Texas student claimed he left home in August because his grandmother's religious beliefs demanded that teenagers his age go "make their own way in the world," according to court records obtained by The Associated Press.

The records shed more light on the troubled upbringing of Meechaiel Criner, the homeless teenager who authorities say will be charged with murder in the death of 18-year-old Haruka Weiser, a dance student from Oregon whose body was found in a creek at the 50,000-student campus on April 5.

Criner was in the custody of Child Protective Services before being reported as a runaway March 24.

Criner's family had an "extensive history" with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, according to records filed by the agency in August, when the state asked a judge to take over his care and separate the teenager from relatives. The state had investigated various allegations of abuse and neglect involving members of his family over the years.

According to the court documents, Criner told authorities in August that he been living with his grandmother at a home where his aunt also occasionally lived and that he'd been taken away from his mother when he was 2.

Criner's mother wanted to take him back in 2011, according to the documents. When Criner refused, his mother allegedly threatened him, according to an affidavit from a child welfare investigator.

"I am going to make sure you go to foster care," Vivian Criner told her son, according to the affidavit.

A phone number for Vivian Criner could not be found Thursday. Meechaiel Criner's grandmother, Mary Wadley, did not return a phone message seeking comment.

Criner told police that in August he hitchhiked and walked the 300-plus miles from Wadley's home in Texarkana, along the Texas-Arkansas border, to Austin because Wadley kicked him out, according to the affidavit. "The child reported the grandmother's religious beliefs, when a person turns 17 years of age, they must leave home and make their own way in the world," the affidavit says.

Wadley reported her grandson as a runaway that same month. She told authorities she was Criner's guardian and that the report needed to be made so that she wasn't held responsible when he wasn't in school, according to Texarkana police.

Authorities have not released a motive in the slaying of Weiser, who was last seen leaving the campus drama building the night of her death. Her body was found two days later in Waller Creek near the campus alumni center and the massive football stadium, which is typically an area humming with activity day and night.

Criner was arrested April 7 at a shelter near campus and was found to have a number of Weiser's belongings, including her blue duffel bag. Police have said Weiser was assaulted but have not released further details about her death, citing the ongoing investigation.

Criner is being held on $1 million bond.

Criner's arrest affidavit said campus surveillance video showed a man thought to be Criner watching a female thought to be Weiser as she walked toward her dorm with her head down, looking at her cellphone. As she passed, the affidavit said, the man produced "what appeared to be a shiny rigid object" and followed her. The pair dropped from view as they reached the bank of Waller Creek. The man wasn't seen on video again for two-plus hours.

Source: Fox News

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18/Apr/2016

Google is paying off its angry smart home customers

A backlash is brewing against Nest, the smart home company owned by Google's parent company.

To defuse the situation, Nest is offering to pay off its aggrieved customers.

 

Nest has decided to shut down Revolv, a company that it bought in 2014. Though the Revolv Hub smart home gadget wasn't a big seller, its customers are furious. Next month, anyone who bought the Revolv Hub will basically have a dead device on their hands.

The Revolv Hub is like a central control unit for household gadgets that can be controlled through Wi-Fi and other wireless technologies.

A spokeswoman for Nest said that the company is working with customers "on a case-by-case basis to determine the best resolution, including compensation."

But it's not about the money to some customers. The bigger problem is that the link between big software platforms and devices means there's an on-off switch that tech companies can control with potential widespread consequences to customers.

"Imagine if you bought a Dell computer and Dell then informed you that when your warranty ends your computer will power down," Arlo Gilbert, CEO of mobile software company Televero, wrote on Medium. "Is the era of IoT bringing an end to the concept of ownership? Are we just buying intentionally temporary hardware? It feels like it."

Related: Dropcam founder regrets $555M sale to Nest

Google (GOOGL, Tech30) paid $3.2 billion for Nest two years ago. Now that Revolv is part of Nest, the companies feel that it's better to work on Nest products only.

"Revolv was a great first step toward the connected home, but we believe that 'Works with Nest' is a better solution and are allocating resources toward that program accordingly," a spokeswoman told CNNMoney.

Source: CNN

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18/Apr/2016

Two 14-year-olds charged with murder after 2 bodies found in UK home

 14-year-olds have been charged with murder after two bodies were found in a house in the UK town of Spalding, police said Sunday.

Lincolnshire police said they had not officially identified the bodies found Friday.
Preliminary reports indicate the victims are Elizabeth Edwards, 49, and her daughter Katie, 13, according to police.
The two teens have been arrested and are scheduled to appear at the Lincoln Magistrates Court on Monday.
A detective in charge of the investigation said authorities want to talk to anyone who may have seen activity at the home between Wednesday and Friday.
"Post mortem examinations will be carried out in due course but again I still need to speak to anyone with any information that might be relevant," Detective Chief Inspector Martin Holvey said.
The deaths sent shock waves through the small market town with a population of 29,000, Superintendent Paul Timmins said in a statement.
"The events that unfolded in Spalding yesterday have understandably generated a great deal of local concern and upset," he said.
"I would like to make clear that this type of crime is extremely rare and not something we often see. Indeed, we believe this is a completely isolated incident."
Police are conducting forensic investigations at the scene.
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18/Apr/2016

Panama papers: Iceland names PM replacement

Iceland's ruling coalition has named Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson as the new PM, with early elections to be held in the autumn.

Mr Johannsson, 53, is agriculture and fisheries minister and deputy leader of the Progressive Party (PP).

The move comes after PM and PP chairman Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson stepped down in the wake of the leaked Panama Papers.

The leaks, from Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca, showed Mr Gunnlaugsson owned an offshore firm with his wife.

It was not declared when he became an MP. Mr Gunnlaugsson says he sold his shares to his wife and denies any wrongdoing. But he is accused of concealing millions of dollars' worth of family assets.

Protester prepares to throw egg - 6th April

At the scene: Paul Adams, BBC News, Reykjavik

With protesters keeping up a steady drumbeat of pots and pans outside parliament, for the third day in a row, members of Iceland's political parties held lengthy discussions inside.

The demonstrators sensed a deal was in the offing, and hurled eggs and fruit at the building as a mark of disgust. For many of them, nothing less than the resignation of the entire government would do.

But eventually came word that the two coalition parties, the Progressives and Independents, had reached agreement.

Opposition parties don't like the deal and some are vowing to go ahead with a vote of no confidence. The government has a comfortable majority and it seems the crisis may be over, for now.

But polls suggest the Progressive Party has lost much of its support and that the tiny Pirate Party, founded just over three years ago, stands to make significant gains. Unless this government's fortunes change, it could be out of power in a few months' time.


Mr Gunnlaugsson is one of dozens of high-profile global figures mentioned in the 11.5 million leaked financial and legal records, which were first published on Sunday.

Pressure on Mr Gunnlaugsson to step down had been building since then, with thousands of people protesting outside the parliament building in the capital Reykjavik on Monday and opposition parties tabling a confidence motion.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Gunnlaugsson had asked President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson to dissolve parliament and call an early election, although the president said he would need to talk to parties.

Screengrab taken from video showing Iceland's Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson walking down stairs after a meeting in parliament (5 April 2016)

Iceland's prime minister stepped down ahead of a confidence vote in parliament

But later on Wednesday, Mr Johansson said: "We expect to have elections this autumn," adding that in the meantime the government had work to do.

"We will continue to lead a good government and keep up the good work we have worked on for the last three years and get finished with all those good works we have started on," he said.

Pirate Party leader Birgitta Jonsdottir also told reporters in parliament that early elections would be held in the autumn.

Mr Gunnlaugsson has put out a statement insisting he has not in fact resigned and that Mr Johannsson will take over the post "for an unspecified amount of time".

The documents leaked from Mossack Fonseca show that Mr Gunnlaugsson and his wife bought the company Wintris in 2007.

He did not declare an interest in the company when entering parliament in 2009. He sold his 50% of Wintris to his wife, Anna Sigurlaug Palsdottir, for $1 (£0.70) eight months later.

Mr Gunnlaugsson maintains no rules were broken and his wife did not benefit financially.

In his statement, Mr Gunnlaugsson said he had no wish to stand in the way of further government work, such as reform of the financial system.


Panama Papers - tax havens of the rich and powerful exposed

  • Eleven million documents held by the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca have been passed to German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, which then shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. BBC Panorama is among 107 media organisations - including UK newspaper the Guardian - in 76 countries which have been analysing the documents. The BBC does not know the identity of the source
  • They show how the company has helped clients launder money, dodge sanctions and evade tax
  • Mossack Fonseca says it has operated beyond reproach for 40 years and never been accused or charged with criminal wrong-doing
  • Tricks of the trade: How assets are hidden and taxes evaded
  • Panama Papers: Full coverage; follow reaction on Twitter using #PanamaPapers; in the BBC News app, follow the tag "Panama Papers"

Source: BBC.COM

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06/Apr/2016

Case On Appointment Of Judges, EC Chair Adjourned To March 2

The Supreme Court has adjourned to March 2 2016, the petition brought before it by the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) challenging the appointment of two judges to the nation’s apex court, and two others, also challenging the appointment of a chair for the Electoral Commission.

The case has been adjourned to allow all the parties to file a joint memorandum for the court to make a determination on the cases. 

A Ghanaian citizen, Richard Dela Sky, has also filed a writ at the Supreme Court asking the court to interpret provisions of the 1992 Constitution on the appointment of an Electoral Commission chair. 

Mr. Sky is hopeful that a positive outcome of the case will define a clear path that President John Mahama, and all future Presidents, must navigate in making appointments to the Electoral Commission.

Mr. Danso Acheampong,  has also filed a suit seeking interpretation on some appointments to the EC.

Source: citifmonline.com

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10/Feb/2016

We´re Breaking Away From Ghana – Volta Group

A group known as the Homeland Study Group Foundation based in Ho is demanding the secession of the Volta Region and parts of the Northern and Upper East Regions from Ghana to become the Western Togoland state as soon as possible.

The demand runs contrary to the prevailing international order of globalisation which rather facilitates the integration of states and nations into political and economic blocs.

In an argument, the group claimed that residents of the Western Togoland voted to become a union with the Gold Coast (now Ghana) but the union had not been established up till now and that Ghana opted to be a unitary state under the plebiscite in 1956 [referendum] to be in union with a common constitution with the WesternTogoland and the Gold Coast but there had been no unionized constitution up to date.

The group further claimed that the Western Togoland was not incorporated in the act establishing the Gold Coast by Queen Elisabeth of the United Kingdom.

The need for sovereignty

It therefore called for the declaration of Western Togoland which is perceived as stretching from Kulungugu in the Upper East Region to Keta in the Southern coast by the Atlantic ocean as a sovereign state.

According to the group the Gold Coast voted to be a unitary state on July 12, 1956 while the Western Togoland voted to be in union with Ghana on July 9, 1956 and that the union had not been established till now.

The group claimed that the size of Eastern Togoland was 22,000 square miles and the Western Togoland as 12,600 square miles.

Speaking exclusively to Graphic Online at the sidelines of the annual congress and lecture of the homeland study group at the auditorium of the Volta Regional House of Chiefs in Ho, the chairman and convenor of the secessionist group , Mr Charles Kormi Kudjordjie, said the group had no intention of creating any turmoil in the country and that the agitation was to be pursued in a peaceful manner.

”This is the beginning of the united effort of exerting final pressure to extricate ourselves from over 50 years span of un-established union with Ghana which has not yielded any benefits - social, economic and financial security to the common people of the land," Mr Kudjordjie stated.

“The time is now to execute a common plan of action to come out of serfdom as some wise men and women did before under various autocracies the world over. Our wise men and women are again ready to strategise for the formula for coming out of the serfdom sooner than later. This congress is the launch pad for the missile attack at all fronts for independence. Whether it is here now, today, tomorrow is matter of choice that must not be delayed, but pursued vigorously”, Mr Kudjordjoe declared.

He said the group was positioned to avoid all errors of misrule of former affiliation and assured that there was enough capital, human and material resources to plan policies towards better technological skilled manpower development for brighter economic attainment of the new state.

Mr Kudjordjie said the people of Western Togoland had no legal basis to be part of Ghana and that the time to act was now to save the future generation.

In a welcoming address, the vice chairman of the homeland study group, Mr Gotthold Yao Agra, said the Western Togoland was clandestinely removed at all levels of education in Ghana with the view to creating a vacuum that will consume the identity as a state among United Nations, African Union and the Economic Community of West African States(ECOWAS ) and other international organisations.

He, therefore, said the restoration of the state of Western Togoland was in tandem with the restoration of history and subsequent restoration of the legitimate state which had lingered over the years that had remained for over 100 years.

More than 35 delegates came from Adidome, Kpando, Tsito, Dzodze, Ho, Juapong, Amedzofe, Lume, Wheta, Klikor, Damabai, Aflao and Kadjebi.

Source: Graphic.com.gh

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09/Feb/2016

Obama climate initiative: Supreme Court calls halt

President Barack Obama's plans to regulate emissions of carbon dioxide from US power plants have been stalled by the US Supreme Court.

The court ruled that the president's Clean Power Plan could not go forward until all legal challenges were heard.

Designed to cut US emissions by 32% by 2030, the scheme put huge emphasis on a shift to renewable energy.

It formed the key element of the US pledge at UN climate negotiations held in Paris in December last year.

Introduced by the president last August, the plan set carbon reduction goals for each state and it was up to the states themselves to come up with proposals to meet those goals.

A group of 27 states, utilities and coal miners sought to block the proposal in the courts. They argued that the plan was an infringement on states' rights.

An initial attempt to halt the implementation of the plan until legal challenges were heard was thrown out by a US appeals court in Washington in January.

However the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to suspend the plan pending the outcome of the litigation.


White House 'disagrees' with ruling

White House spokesman Josh Earnest put out a statement following the decision:

"We disagree with the Supreme Court's decision to stay the Clean Power Plan while litigation proceeds.

"The Clean Power Plan is based on a strong legal and technical foundation, gives states the time and flexibility they need to develop tailored, cost-effective plans to reduce their emissions, and will deliver better air quality, improved public health, clean energy investment and jobs across the country, and major progress in our efforts to confront the risks posed by climate change.

"We remain confident that we will prevail on the merits."


The ruling could have significant implications for the president's attempt to cut down on carbon.

Under the Clean Power Plan, individual states were due to submit their proposals on how to meet the CO2 restrictions by September this year. That date will be missed.

It is unlikely that all the legal questions over the future of the Clean Power Plan will be resolved before President Obama leaves office next January.

Bar chart showing the 10 states in the US most dependent on coal for their energy

West Virginia's Attorney General Patrick Morrisey called the high court's action a "great victory".

"We are thrilled that the Supreme Court realized the rule's immediate impact and froze its implementation, protecting workers and saving countless dollars as our fight against its legality continues," he said in a statement.

Supporters of the Clean Power Plan were confident that the courts would ultimately upheld its legality.

"The electricity sector has embarked on an unstoppable shift from its high-pollution, dirty-fuelled past to a safer, cleaner-powered future, and the stay cannot reverse that trend," said David Doniger, from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

"Nor can it dampen the overwhelming public support for action on climate change and clean energy."

The ruling will be seen as a major embarrassment for President Obama, who helped craft a new global agreement on climate change at UN sponsored talks in Paris in December.

What will worry the White House more is the division of the court along ideological lines, with conservative justices all supporting the stay while the liberal justices opposed.

If these divisions hold, the Clean Power Plan may suffer further setbacks in the Supreme Court which may ultimately render it useless.

If that was to happen, the ability of the US to live up to its commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement would be in serious doubt.

Source: bbc.com

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09/Feb/2016