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Ambani-Piramal wedding: Beyoncé sings at A-list Indian event

US singer Beyoncé has performed as part of the lavish festivities at the latest extravagant Indian celebrity wedding.

Isha Ambani, the daughter of India's richest man, is tying the knot with Anand Piramal, son of another Indian billionaire, this week.

Beyoncé was one of many celebrities flown in, along with Bollywood stars and guests like Hillary Clinton.

It comes on the heels of several recent Indian weddings competing for glamour, excess and attention.

The Ambanis themselves recently attended the wedding reception of Bollywood actors Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh.

And last weekend, Isha Ambani was a bridesmaid at the wedding of actress Priyanka Chopra to US singer Nick Jonas.

The actual wedding of the daughter of business tycoon Mukesh Ambani is on Wednesday but the festivities leading up to it kicked off over the weekend.

It is likely to be one of India's richest and most glamorous weddings, and the many guests include former US First Lady and 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, media giant Arianna Huffington, cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal.

According to media reports, guests had been flown in on 100 chartered flights.

Celebrity bloggers, entertainment writers and lifestyle magazines have been scouring Instagram to keep up with festivities. Videos of Bollywood celebrities, including Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan, dancing along with the wedding party have already begun to make the rounds, and are going viral on social media.

Beyoncé took to the stage on Sunday night for the sangeet, an evening of music and dance that typically precedes the wedding.

She shared photos on her Instagram account of her jewel-studded outfit and elaborate gold jewellery.

Her fee hasn't been made public, but would likely not have been a problem for the Ambanis. Mukesh Ambani, managing director of Reliance Industries, has a personal fortune of around $47bn (£37bn)

  • Mukesh Ambani, the father of the bride, Isha, is Asia's richest man and also the 19th wealthiest person in the world, according to Forbes
  • Ajay Piramal, the father of the groom, Anand, is the head of the Piramal family, which is valued at $5.4bn
  • Mr Ambani is the chairman of Reliance Industries Limited, one of India's richest companies. It has a wide presence across many industries, including oil and gas, petrochemicals, telecom, retail and media
  • Mr Piramal has guided his family company into industries such as real estate, pharmaceuticals and packaging. It rose to prominence in the 1930s in the textile industry
  • In 2016, Mr Ambani formally launched his telecom network, Jio, which offers high speed data at very low costs. Within two years, it has become India's largest network and is widely credited with getting more Indians online in a very short period of time
  • Mr Piramal is a member of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Council for Trade and Industry and is widely considered to be one of India's most important business personalities
  • The Ambani family lives in a 27-storey home in Mumbai city named Antilia. It is the world's most expensive home, costing more than $1bn, boasting features such as multi-level gardens and three helipads.

ruby Posted on December 10, 2018 09:19

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National Best farmer awardee dies in Tamale

One of the awardees for this year's National Best Farmers Day from the Volta Region has died, whilst attending the awards ceremony in Tamale.

The deceased, Issah Nayawu, aged 46, was one of the award winners from the Volta Region who are to receive awards at the national event at the Aliu Mahama Sports Stadium in Tamale on Friday December 7, 2018

His sudden death occurred on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 in Tamale after a short illness.

He has since been buried in line with Islamic custom and tradition.

The deceased is from Jasikan in the Volta Region and died six days after arriving in Tamale for the awards ceremony.

For today's latest Ghana news, visit Graphic Online headlines page Ghana news headlines.

The Chairman of the National Farmers Awards Winners, Mr. Davies Narh Korboe confirmed the death to the media in Tamale on Thursday, December 6, 2018

He expressed his condolence to the bereaved family and added that Mr. Nayawu would be awarded posthumously.

sarah Posted on December 08, 2018 13:15

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South Africa mob kills suspected arsonist

A man suspected of starting a fire in South Africa's Alexandra township has been killed by a mob.

He died of his injuries after being taken to hospital following the blaze that broke out on Thursday afternoon.

The fire destroyed more than 500 shacks, leaving hundreds homeless. Police are yet to determine the cause.

The BBC's Pumza Fihlani says vigilante killings are common in poor areas where crime is often high and communities feel frustrated with the police.

The densely populated township of Alexandra is north of the city of Johannesburg

Although it right by the affluent Sandton neighbourhood, which is known as Africa's richest square mile, poverty and unemployment are high there, our reporter says.

One eyewitness, who posted a video of the inferno on social media, shared a theory that the fire had broken out because of a fight.

Many people were at work when the blaze started out on Thursday. No other deaths or injuries have been reported.

Fire fighters attended the scene but struggled to contain the blaze. Johannesburg Emergency Medical Services spokesperson Nana Radebe told eNCA TV channel, "We don't have hydrants in this area."

Water in fire engines only lasts four minutes, so access to water hydrants was essential, she said, adding that residents had built over those installed for factories that were once in the area.

The water pressure in one available hydrant was so low it could not be used and a water tanker had to be brought in, Ms Radebe said.

Image copyrightEYEWITNESS NEWS

An aid worker told South Africa's TimesLIVE that 690 shacks had been destroyed, affecting 2,000 people, including a woman who had given birth on Thursday.

"We found her sitting on the side of the road. She lost everything," Emily Thomas of Gift for Givers was quoted as saying.

Image copyrightEYEWITNESS NEWS

Many people slept outside on Thursday night. As the clean-up operation continues, police are investigating the cause of the fire.

Image copyrightEYEWITNESS NEWS

Alexandra has bricks and mortar houses, but many people live in shacks made of corrugated iron and wood. They are often insulated with cardboard and plastic bags, making them highly combustible.

Image copyrightEYEWITNESS NEWS

sarah Posted on December 08, 2018 11:07

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Danger that hides in make-up


They may be reluctant to leave home without it, but make-up is putting women at risk of deadly diseases, say experts.

According to a new book, cosmetics and beauty products often contain toxic ingredients that can cause cancer and other fatal illnesses

Loopholes in Government regulations are being exploited by manufacturers to allow banned chemicals into over-the-counter products, it claims.

Authors Kim Erickson and Samuel Epstein say many ingredients in make-up have been shown to cause cancer in animals and should never be used as part of a beauty routine.

Coal tar colours, phenylenediamine, benzene and even formaldehyde are some of the toxins commonly found in shampoos, skin creams and blushers, they say.

Hormone-disrupting chemicals, which could lower immunity to disease and cause neurological and reproductive damage, may also lurk in everyday cosmetics.

In their book, Drop Dead Gorgeous: Protecting Yourself from the Hidden Dangers of Cosmetics, to be published next month, they claim the adverse effects of cosmetics build up over years of use.

Miss Erickson said: 'Modern cosmetics contain a host of dubious ingredients which would be more at home in a test tube than on our faces.

'These synthetic ingredients are inexpensive, stable and have a long shelf-life. Manufacturers love them, but the results from long-term use could be deadly.'

She said the same poisons that pollute the environment, from dioxins to petrochemicals, can be found in the average bathroom cabinet.

'Many of the same ingredients have been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals,' she added.

      The UK cosmetics industry is worth £4.5billion a year and employs more than 20,000 people. It is controlled by the Department of Trade and Industry's 1996 Cosmetic Products (Safety) Regulations. The regulations approve about 3,000 ingredients for cosmetic use, but many more find their way into the finished products.One loophole in the regulations allows cosmetics to contain banned substances if they cannot 'reasonably' be removed.

The authors say chemicals get into the bloodstream in a number of ways. Hair sprays, perfumes and powders are inhaled; lipstick is swallowed; eye make-up absorbed by sensitive mucous membranes and others taken in through the skin.

Allergy specialist Dr Jean Munro, medical director of the Breakspear Hospital in Hertfordshire, supports the claims.

In the last 20 years she has treated 8,000 women, nearly all of whom were found to have a sensitivity to beauty products

Dr Munro said: 'There is no question that people are being damaged by their cosmetics.

'So many things are put into cosmetics now that are carcinogenic, and it is allowed because cosmetics are not considered to be as serious as drugs or food.

'One of the most extreme cases I have seen was a woman whose bone marrow was affected by chemicals used in hair dye.

sarah Posted on December 08, 2018 11:01

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Soft cornbread, as well as sweet cornbread, are my absolute favourites for the winter time. With fresh cottage cheese and eggs, this is a fancier version of a well-known quick bread, proja. These lovely muffins can be served instead of dinner rolls, breakfast rolls, and they can even be grilled and toasted. Although they could be slathered with soft butter, and some tangy jam for a fantastic snack, my favourite way to serve these is with sauerkraut and soured cream.

200 grams cottage cheese
2 eggs
200 grams finely ground cornmeal
100 grams soft bread flour
100 ml oil
300 ml sparkling mineral water (carbonated water)
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt


Sift together the cornmeal, bread flour, baking powder and baking soda, add salt and whisk well, then set it aside. Break up the cheese with a fork, add the eggs and cream the mixture using an electric mixture, until smooth; add the oil and blend it on low, until creamy. Add the flour mixture and half of the water and mix it in on low, then continue mixing while pouring the rest of the water in a thin stream. Finally, mix the batter on high for about a minute, to make it completely smooth and creamy. Line a 12-count standard size muffin pan with muffin liners, divide the batter evenly and bake immediately in a preheated oven, at 200?C (400?F), for 18-20 minutes. Serve warm


Since early age, we are taught to associate baking and pastry with feelings of comfort and cosiness. With the much colder weather approaching, what better way to keep the chill away, then with a batch of crispy, golden Mozzarella rolls.

They do not take a lot of time, and they are very easy to put together – start to finish they take about an hour of your time. If you are so inclined, feel free to lightly sprinkle them with minced pepperoncini right before rolling up the dough.


200 grams Feta cheese
200 grams unsalted butter, room temperature
300 grams Graham flour
½ teaspoon salt
250 grams Mozzarella cheese, grated


Place the softened butter into a large bowl, and use an electronic whisk on a medium setting to cream the butter until it becomes smooth and lighter in colour. Add in the Feta cheese, along with the salt, and blend on a lower setting until just combined. When blended, increase the speed and whisk until completely creamy. Start gradually adding in the sifted flour, blending with the whisk at first, then with a wooden spoon or a sturdy, reliable spatula, until you get a very soft and pliable dough. Place the dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, so the butter can firm up slightly, making the further rolling and slicing easier.

Lightly flour the work surface, either with Graham or plain flour, and quickly roll out the dough to about 5 millimetres thick, then lavishly cover the whole surface with freshly grated Mozzarella cheese, making sure you leave one end of the dough bare, so the dough rolls could be sealed properly. Brush a small amount of cold water on the bare edge of the dough, and starting from the opposite side, roll it into a tight log, just as you would a Swiss roll.

Using a very sharp knife, carefully divide the dough into 16 equal rolls, and arrange them on a large baking sheet lined with baking parchment, cut side down. Although these rolls have no leavening agent in them, do space them apart generously, as they will bake crispier on the edges that way. Bake them in a preheated oven, at 200°C (400°F), for about 20-25 minutes, or until golden and fragrant. Serve them immediately, either with tomato sauce or plain. Yields 16 rolls, 8 servings.

sarah Posted on December 08, 2018 10:52

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Cohen spoke with Russian to set up Trump-Putin meeting, Mueller reveals

Trump implicated in campaign finance law violations as prosecutors allege he directed lawyer to pay off two women

One of Donald Trump’s closest advisers spoke during the 2016 election campaign with a Russian offering help from Moscow and a meeting with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, the special counsel Robert Mueller revealed on Friday.

Federal prosecutors also alleged that Trump directed the adviser, Michael Cohen, to make illegal payoffs to two women who claimed to have had sexual relationships with Trump, implicating the president in the violation of campaign finance laws. They recommended that Cohen receive a prison sentence of about four years.

The disclosures heaped new pressure on Trump, whose presidency has come under siege from Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 US election and a spinoff inquiry into Cohen, his lawyer and legal fixer for more than a decade.

They were swiftly followed by new revelations in the criminal prosecution of Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort. He was accused by Mueller of repeatedly lying about his relationship with an alleged former Russian intelligence operative and about his recent communications with Trump’s White House.

Following a week of increasingly frenzied attacks against Mueller, Trump falsely stated on Friday evening that the latest development “totally clears”him. In fact, investigations appeared to be edging ever closer to the door of the Oval Office.

Mueller said in a court filing that Cohen had provided him “useful information” on matters at the core of the Trump-Russia investigation. He also recounted details of communications with people “connected to the White House” this year and last, Mueller said, hinting Cohen may have implicated Trump and aides in additional wrongdoing.

The special counsel’s filing said Cohen’s November 2015 conversation with a Russian national was among other “contacts with Russian interests” he had while the Kremlin was interfering in the election to help Trump.

Cohen also told investigators he made efforts to contact the Russian government to propose a meeting between Trump and Putin in New York in September 2015, after discussing this with Trump.

In a separate filing, federal prosecutors in New York said Cohen “acted in coordination and at the direction of” Trump when setting up payments to buy the silence of Karen McDougal, a former model, and Stormy Daniels, a pornographic actor, who were considering making public their allegations of affairs with Trump.

Cohen and Trump paid the women to suppress their damaging stories and “to influence the 2016 presidential election”, the filing said.

The White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, told reporters the filings contained “nothing of value that wasn’t already known”, saying Cohen had “repeatedly lied” and was “no hero”.

Mueller separately alleged that Manafort falsely claimed he had had no contact with anyone in Trump’s administration since they entered office. In fact, Mueller said, he was in communication with a senior official until February this year, and asked an intermediary to talk to an official on his behalf as recently as late May.

The contacts will be of great interest to investigators. Whether Manafort’s ties to pro-Kremlin figures in eastern Europe are connected to Russia’s interference in the 2016 election remains the central unanswered question in the Trump-Russia inquiry.

While Mueller said Cohen provided significant help to his investigation, prosecutors said Cohen had overstated his overall cooperation with the government and had shown a “rose-colored view of the seriousness of the crimes”.

        Cohen was motivated by greed and “repeatedly used his power and influence for deceptive ends”, the prosecutors said in a court filing. “After cheating the [Internal Revenue Service] for years, lying to banks and to Congress, and seeking to criminally influence the presidential election, Cohen’s decision to plead guilty – rather than seek a pardon for his manifold crimes – does not make him a hero.”

           Despite his wrongdoing, Mueller said, Cohen disclosed “useful information concerning certain discrete Russia-related matters” at the core of his investigation. US intelligence agencies have concluded Russia’s interference was aimed at helping Trump and harming the campaign of Hillary Clinton, his Democratic opponent.

        Cohen previously pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about Trump’s plans to develop a building in Russia. He admitted the project continued well into Trump’s campaign for the presidency – contradicting Trump’s account – and that Cohen spoke with a Kremlin official about securing Russian government support.


On Friday, Mueller disclosed that in November 2015, Cohen separately spoke with a Russian “who claimed to be a ‘trusted person’ in the Russian Federation” and offered Trump’s campaign “political synergy” and “synergy on a government level”.

The Russian repeatedly proposed a meeting between Trump and Putin, according to Mueller, and told Cohen the meeting “could have a ‘phenomenal’ impact ‘not only in political but in a business dimension as well’”, because there was “no bigger warranty in any project than consent of Putin”.

Mueller said Cohen chose not to pursue the offer of assistance in part because he was working on the project with someone else he “understood to have his own connections to the Russian government”, a likely reference to Felix Sater, a developer who was working on the Trump Tower Moscow plans.

Cohen previously pleaded guilty in August to violating election campaign finance laws by arranging the payments to the two women. He also pleaded guilty to several financial crimes relating to his business and tax affairs.

Last week, Mueller tore up a plea deal with Manafort and told a judge he repeatedly lied to investigators even after agreeing to cooperate with the Trump-Russia investigation.



In his submission on Friday, Mueller said Manafort had continued lying about five areas of the inquiry, including his relationship with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian employee of Manafort’s political consulting firm. Kilimnik is alleged to have ties to Russian intelligence services, which he denies. Manafort and Kilimnik are accused of asking business associates early this year to lie about their past lobbying work.

Since you're here…

… we have a small favour to ask. Three years ago we set out to make The Guardian sustainable by deepening our relationship with our readers. The same technologies that connected us with a global audience had also shifted advertising revenues away from news publishers. We decided to seek an approach that would allow us to keep our journalism open and accessible to everyone, regardless of where they live or what they can afford.

More than one million readers have now supported our independent, investigative journalism through contributions, membership or subscriptions, which has played such an important part in helping The Guardian overcome a perilous financial situation globally. We want to thank you for all of your support. But we have to maintain and build on that support for every year to come.

Sustained support from our readers enables us to continue pursuing difficult stories in challenging times of political upheaval, when factual reporting has never been more critical. The Guardian is editorially independent – our journalism is free from commercial bias and not influenced by billionaire owners, politicians or shareholders. No one edits our editor. No one steers our opinion. This is important because it enables us to give a voice to those less heard, challenge the powerful and hold them to account. Readers’ support means we can continue bringing The Guardian’s independent journalism to the world.

If everyone who reads our reporting, who likes it, helps to support it, our future would be much more secure. For as little as $1, you can support the Guardian – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

sarah Posted on December 08, 2018 10:47

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Trump wrongly claims Cohen memos 'clear the president' – as it happened

The week has come to a close with a number of major developments in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. We’re ending our live coverage for the day – thanks for following along. Here’s what you need to know about the day’s news:

  • Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer and legal fixer, spoke with a Russian offering help from Moscow during the 2016 campaign, according to Mueller.
  • Cohen told investigators he made efforts to contact the Russian government to propose a meeting between Trump and Putin in 2015, after discussing this with Trump.
  • Prosecutors recommended Cohen receive a prison sentence of about four years.
  • The government for the first time implicated the president in Cohen’s campaign finance violations, saying the attorney “acted in coordination with and at the direction” of Trump.
  • Paul Manafort lied to the FBI and to the special counsel’s office, according to a separate filing by Mueller on Friday.
  • The former campaign chairman tried to conceal his contact with an “administration official” inside the White House as late as May 2018, the filing said.
  • Mueller wrote: “Manafort told multiple discernible lies – these were not instances of mere memory lapses.”
  • James Comey, the former FBI director, testified before the House judiciary and oversight committees on Friday, and later criticized the process.
  • Trump tweeted attacks on Comey and also wrongly claimed the sentencing memo “clears the president”.
  • John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, has been interviewed by Mueller’s team and is expected to quit, CNN reported.
  • George Papadopoulos, former aide to Trump’s campaign, was released from prison on Friday after serving 12 days for lying to the federal government about his contacts with the Russians.
  • Trump nominated William Barr as the next attorney general, selecting a man who served in the role under George HW Bush.

Since you’re here … we have a small favour to ask. Three years ago we set out to make The Guardian sustainable by deepening our relationship with our readers. We decided to seek an approach that would allow us to keep our journalism open and accessible to everyone, regardless of where they live or what they can afford.

More than one million readers have now supported our independent, investigative journalism through contributions, membership or subscriptions. We want to thank you for all of your support. But we have to maintain and build on that support for every year to come.

The Guardian is editorially independent – our journalism is free from commercial bias and not influenced by billionaire owners, politicians or shareholders. No one edits our editor. No one steers our opinion.If everyone who reads our reporting, who likes it, helps to support it, our future would be much more secure.

For as little as $1, you can support the Guardian – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Make a contribution - The Guardian

James Comey calls House hearing 'desperate'

James Comey, the former FBI director who was called to Capitol Hill today to privately testify before the House judiciary and oversight committees, has called his hearing a “desperate attempt to find anything that can be used to attack the institutions of justice investigating this president”:

Some Republicans have suggested that the former FBI chief should have been more cooperative in the private questioning. Democrats, however, have criticized the investigation. Via AP:

“He answered the questions he had to answer,” said Rep Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois. But he added that he was left with the impression that “we got nowhere today”.

Florida Rep Ted Deutsch said the Republican majority “wishes to only ask questions still about Hillary Clinton’s emails, all to distract from the big news today, which is what’s happening in court”.

Congressman Jerrold Nadler, the top Democrat on the judiciary panel, said he would end the investigation when Democrats take over in January.

White House: 'the media is trying to create a story'

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, has responded to the Friday night filings. On Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman accused of lying “in multiple ways and on multiple occasions”, Sanders sought to distance the claims from Trump:

The government’s filing in Mr Manafort’s case says absolutely nothing about the president. It says even less about collusion and is devoted almost entirely to lobbying-related issues. Once again the media is trying to create a story where there isn’t one.”

Sanders meanwhile attacked the credibility of Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney, who is potentially facing four years in prison:

The government’s filings in Mr Cohen’s case tell us nothing of value that wasn’t already known. Mr Cohen has repeatedly lied and as the prosecution has pointed out to the court, Mr Cohen is no hero.”

The Cohen filings directly implicate Trump. Cohen, who was Trump’s legal fixer, told investigators he made efforts to contact the Russian government to propose a meeting between Trump and Putin in New York in September 2015, after discussing this with Trump. More details here:

Here is some helpful analysis from the Washington Post about the implications of the special counsel’s claim that Michael Cohen’s campaign finance law violations were done “in coordination with and at the direction” of Trump:

This filing marks the first time that federal prosecutors have directly implicated Trump in the violations. That could mean serious consequences. Here’s how Lawrence Noble, the former general counsel for the Federal Election Commission, explained it to the Post:

Noble further said, “This is something that very clearly would have to be considered for criminal prosecution” of Trump – were he not president. The Post noted that DOJ guidelines suggest that a sitting president can’t be indicted. More from the anaylsis:

In order for Trump to be charged – if he weren’t president – it would need to be a ‘knowing and willful violation,’ Noble said. This doesn’t mean, though, that Trump would need to know the specific statutes that his actions were violating. It would be enough for Trump to know that campaign contributions needed to be reported and were subject to limits, which he clearly did, and that the payments were being made in order to influence the election.

Cohen sentencing memo: key quotes

Some key quotes from the Cohen sentencing memo, filed by federal prosecutors in New York:

  • “But the crimes committed by Cohen were more serious than his submission allows and were marked by a pattern of deception that permeated his professional life (and was evidently hidden from the friends and family members who wrote on his behalf).”
  • “He was motivated ... by personal greed, and repeatedly used his power and influence for deceptive ends. Now he seeks extraordinary leniency – a sentence of no jail time – based principally on his rose-colored view of the seriousness of the crimes; his claims to a sympathetic personal history; and his provision of certain information to law enforcement.”
  • “While Cohen – as his own submission makes clear – already enjoyed a privileged life, his desire for even greater wealth and influence precipitated an extensive course of criminal conduct.”
  • “While many Americans who desired a particular outcome to the election knocked on doors, toiled at phone banks, or found any number of other legal ways to make their voices heard, Cohen sought to influence the election from the shadows. He did so by orchestrating secret and illegal payments to silence two women who otherwise would have made public their alleged extramarital affairs with Individual-1 [Trump].”
  • “Cohen clouded a process that Congress has painstakingly sought to keep transparent. The sentence imposed should reflect the seriousness of Cohen’s brazen violations of the election laws and attempt to counter the public cynicism that may arise when individuals like Cohen act as if the political process belongs to the rich and powerful.”
  • “Cohen’s submission suggests that this was but a brief error in judgment. Not so. Cohen knew exactly where the line was, and he chose deliberately and repeatedly to cross it.”
  •  “After cheating the IRS for years, lying to banks and to Congress, and seeking to criminally influence the Presidential election, Cohen’s decision to plead guilty – rather than seek a pardon for his manifold crimes – does not make him a hero.”

One critical detail from the latest Mueller filing is the claim that in November 2015, Cohen spoke with a Russian national “who claimed to be a ‘trusted person’ in the Russian Federation” and offered the Trump campaign “political synergy” and “synergy on a government level”.

Trump is now tweeting about James Comey – and has not yet commented on the newly released sentencing memos about his former personal attorney. Comey was on Capitol Hill today to privately testify before the House judiciary and oversight committees.

sarah Posted on December 08, 2018 10:35

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I'm a Celebrity: Nick Knowles' kids love dad's budgie smugglers

Nick Knowles has, for many, been the unexpected star of this year's I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!

He's spent his time in the jungle walking round in a pair of rather revealing red pants, endlessly playing the guitar - and bizarrely claiming the moon landings were faked.

All things you might expect his kids to find pretty cringey - but sons TJ and Charles have told Newsbeat he's "doing them proud".

And, contrary to what you might expect - they especially love those now-infamous budgie smugglers.

"Who knows where he got them from, I think he picked them up on his way into the jungle," TJ laughs. "When he left he never had them!"

Charles is equally confused.

"We're loving the budgie smugglers - shout out to them. They're going through some serious stuff right now.

"We didn't see him packing them. But dad's just one of those people - he's proud about it, he loves it."

The DIY SOS host has also raised eyebrows by controversially claiming no human "has ever landed on the moon".

But his sons are behind him on that too - well, sort of.

"The moon thing was hilarious to me," Charles says, "me and dad both do this thing where we like throwing a bit of a curve ball out there.

"It's not that we actually believe it ourselves, but if you throw a controversial subject out and then just let anarchy take over it's actually hilarious to watch."

As well as being a TV presenter, Nick is also a musician and put out his debut album last year.

It's been a big talking point on the show - so much so that a campaign was launched to push his version of the song To Make You Feel My Love to the top of the iTunes chart.

And it worked.

"He's an unbelievable guitarist," Charles says. "We're all taken aback by it. It's a bit crazy.

"We're very shocked but we're feeling the love and so is dad right now - so shout out to anyone who did buy it."

But despite all the success, Charles admits he didn't actually want his dad to go on the show.

"Dad is a gentleman but when you put yourself on a platform that is viewed by so many, and you're just yourself, no matter how much of a gentleman you are you're always going to get negative feedback.

"As a family we're strong enough to deal with it, but it's never nice to see someone say something about your dad.

"I'm very close with dad and protective about him - but we're getting used to it and we're getting a lot of love."

ruby Posted on December 07, 2018 13:01

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France protests: Footage of students 'humiliated' by police

Footage of school students being forced to kneel with their hands behind their heads by French riot police has sparked outrage on social media.

The students were demonstrating outside a school in Mantes-la-Jolie, west of Paris, which ended in clashes with police and more than 140 arrests.

Students are angry at plans to reform the exam system, which they say will limit opportunity and breed inequality.

It comes at France prepares for further violence from "yellow vest" protesters.

Police said that those arrested at the Saint-Exupery school were suspected of taking part in an "armed gathering", adding that officers had wanted to break up a situation that was getting "out-of-control", Le Monde newspaper reported.

However, Paris Communist councillor Clémentine Autain said the images of students forced to kneel in dirt while facing brick walls were "frightening", "humiliating" and "unacceptable".

Frédérique Rolet, of France's education union the SNES-FSU, said she found the footage "unbearable", according to French radio station Europe 1.

The head of Oxfam France, Cécile Duflot, tweeted that she felt the scenes from the Mantes-la-Jolie school were "simply intolerable".

Ms Duflot also shared a report produced by former French high school students who participated in demonstrations dating back to the 1960s.

In it they state that the actions taken by authorities in response to the recent protests have been "disproportionate".

"We blocked our high schools, occupied the streets," the report reads, adding: "None of us have ever been taken into custody... we were not gassed at close range in front of our schools."Students across the country have been angered by President Emmanuel Macron's plans to change the end-of-school exam, which is known as the baccalaureate and is required for entrance to university, as well as the university admissions platform Parcoursup.

Student Louis Benzerrouk said on Thursday that he was demonstrating because young people "are not listened to".

"We are despised by [Macron and his government] ... we really have the impression that they are going in the opposite direction," he said.

Another student, Milena Arvois, said the planned reform will "kill the vocational schools", adding that she was also against an increase in fees for foreign students "because that will be a disaster".

Dozens of schools were blockaded in cities across France this week, including in Marseille, Nantes and Paris.

The "gilets jaunes" ("yellow vest") protesters, so-called because they take to the streets wearing the high-visibility yellow clothing required to be carried in every vehicle by French law, initially complained at a sharp increase in diesel taxes but the demonstrations have now widened to include other sources of discontent.

Mr Macron said his motivation for the increase was environmental, but protesters accused him of being out of touch.

The government later scrapped the plan but the yellow vest protesters have since issued more than 40 demands to government, including a minimum pension and widespread changes to the tax system.

ruby Posted on December 07, 2018 12:42

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Strictly Come Dancing: Is Ashley Roberts too good to be a contestant?

There are some things you can depend on happening every Christmas.

Mariah Carey on the radio. The Queen's speech on the TV. A chocolate orange in your stocking.

And, like clockwork, a Strictly contestant being accused of having too much dance experience.

But this year, the celebrity in the firing line arguably has a more notable dance background than any before her.

Singer Ashley Roberts is paired with Strictly pro Pasha Kovalev, but many viewers say she might as well be one of the show's professionals herself.

"There were a lot of raised eyebrows when Ashley was announced as part of this year's line-up," TV critic Emma Bullimore tells BBC News.

"Unlike previous contestants with dance experience, Ashley actually worked as a judge on another dance programme, and her role in the Pussycat Dolls was to dance more than it was to sing."

It's true that the 37-year-old has previously been a judge on ITV's Dancing On Ice.

It's true that The Pussycat Dolls were used to performing complex dance routines while Nicole Scherzinger took care of the lead vocals.

But, some have argued, it doesn't necessarily follow that she would have an advantage on Strictly.

"I'm sure Ashley's never done the Viennese waltz in her career with The Pussycat Dolls," said host Tess Daly last week, an argument anyone who's seen the video for Buttons could confirm.

"I think cut her a little slack... she hasn't necessarily danced in ballroom before."

Speaking to BBC News in September, Ashley herself argued Latin and ballroom was "just so foreign to what my body has done".

But, she acknowledged: "I do have rhythm so it might be a little bit easier for me to possibly pick up a step, but it is still a new skill that I don't know that I am going to have to learn."

Nonetheless, Ashley and Pasha's quickstep last weekend saw her end up in the bottom two (again) despite receiving high scores from the judges (again).

It was the second time in as many weeks the star had found herself in the dance-off.

Given the algorithm Strictly uses to calculate the bottom two, with judges' scores balanced against the public, it's fair to assume Ashley is receiving very few viewer votes indeed.

"It's perhaps a sign that the public feel that she may be too good and has slightly lost interest in her," suggested Ben Dowell in The Radio Times.

"It's important to have good dancers in the early stages of each series so there's something nice to watch while everyone's finding their dancing feet. But I would be quite pleased if she didn't win."

Viewers seem to agree. Throughout the series, complaints and jokes about Ashley's involvement have become commonplace on social media.

There's little doubt that, if Strictly was judged solely on dancing, Ashley would be very likely to win this year.

"She's one of the best dancers I think we've ever seen on the show," admitted judge Craig Revel Horwood last month, a point which could be made on either side of the argument.

Ashley was the first contestant to get a perfect score of 40, during the Blackpool special, with a jive that Bruno Tonioli said would go down in the show's history.

But Strictly has never really been about that.

Far more important is the "journey".

Take a look at some of the show's previous winners, like Ore Oduba, Joe McFadden, Abbey Clancey or Louis Smith.

They are celebrities from a wide range of backgrounds who had a much lower skill level on which to improve when their respective series started.

Viewers, therefore, felt they had grown with the contestants. Seen them work hard at a new discipline, and improve dramatically.

One contestant who has made it to the final five this year, Paralympian Lauren Steadman, is perhaps one of 2018's most improved celebrities.

"People want to see someone who's not brilliant to start with, and then has a bit of a breakthrough moment and gets better and better," says Bullimore.

"Lauren is inspiring a lot of people with disabilities, and without disabilities, and you forget AJ has had to adapt the choreography, because he's used to having someone with two arms.

"So it's pretty amazing to watch, and what they've achieved is incredible."

Ashley isn't the first contestant to find herself the subject of the "professional" criticism.

Denise Van Outen and Alexandra Burke have faced similar accusations in the past on account of their West End experience, while another of this year's contestants, Danny John Jules, has been dancing professionally since the 1990s.

"You'd be very, very hard pushed to find anybody who has no dance experience [to take part in Strictly]," pointed out Steps singer Claire Richards when she defended the casting of her bandmate Faye Tozer in this year's series.

Bullimore says she's "sympathetic" to viewers who object to Ashley's casting, but adds: "I don't get too het up about it because nobody with previous dance experience ever goes on to win.

"I don't think there are that many people who are furious that Ashley was booked for the show. But do I think there are a lot of people who don't want her to win? Yes."

Aside from dance experience, another reason Ashley would be unlikely to lift the glitterball trophy is that Strictly has never been won by a non-British contestant.

End of Youtube post by BBC Strictly Come Dancing

But, like Alexandra before her, she's made it this far thanks to the judges repeatedly saving her in the dance-off - as they are obliged to vote for the stronger dance on a technical level.

Whether Ashley makes it through this weekend or not, there's no doubt next week's final is going to be close.

As this year's series reaches its climax, there's only one thing we can be truly certain of - having this debate all over again about a different celebrity next year.

ruby Posted on December 07, 2018 10:33

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France protests: Tourist sites to close on Saturday amid Paris riot fears

Tourist sites in Paris are to close on Saturday amid fears of further street violence from "yellow vest" anti-government protests.

Across France, 89,000 police officers will be on duty and armoured vehicles will be deployed in the capital, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced.

Police have urged shops and restaurants on Paris's Champs-Elysees to shut and some museums will also be closed.

Paris endured some of the worst rioting in decades last Saturday.

The government has said it is scrapping unpopular fuel tax increases in its budget - the original trigger for the protests.

But broader discontent with the government has spread and protests have erupted over other issues.

What has the government said?

An official with the interior ministry told AFP news agency authorities were braced for "significant violence" on Saturday, with activists from both the far right and far left planning to converge on the capital.

In an interview with TV channel TF1, Mr Philippe said 8,000 police would be deployed in Paris as well as a dozen armoured vehicles.

He repeated an appeal for calm but added: "We are facing people who are not here to protest, but to smash and we want to have the means to not give them a free rein."

Earlier, Mr Philippe suggested further concessions to protesters, telling the Senate that the government was open to new measures to help the lowest-paid workers.

How will Paris be affected?

The operator of the Eiffel Tower said the threat of violent protests on Saturday made it impossible to ensure "adequate security conditions".

City authorities say they are stepping up protection for famous landmarks after the Arc de Triomphe was damaged last week.

Culture Minister Franck Riester said the Louvre and Orsay museums, opera houses and the Grand Palais complex were among sites that would be closed.

"We cannot take the risk when we know the threat," he told RTL radio.

Police have asked stores and restaurants along the Champs-Elysees and other major shopping streets to stay closed and to remove any outdoor items such as tables and chairs.

A series of football matches have also been postponed on Saturday. They include those between Paris and Montpellier, Monaco and Nice, Toulouse and Lyon, and Saint-Etienne and Marseille.

What other protests have there been?

On Thursday young people took to the streets, protesting over education reforms.

More than 140 people were arrested when a protest outside a school in Mantes-la-Jolie to the west of Paris ended in clashes with police. Pictures of the arrests, in which the students are made to kneel and put their hands behind their heads, sparked outrage on social media.

"Now there's a well-behaved class," a police office is heard saying.

The town's police chief told Le Monde newspaper that those arrested were suspected of taking part in an "armed gathering", adding that officers had wanted to break up a situation that was getting "out-of-control."

Dozens of other schools were blockaded in cities including Marseille, Nantes and Paris. Students have been angered by President Emmanuel Macron's plans to change the end-of-school exam, known as the baccalaureate, which is required for entrance to university.

Critics fear the reforms will limit opportunity and breed inequality.

Who are the protesters?

The "gilets jaunes" protesters, so-called because they have taken to the streets wearing the high-visibility yellow clothing that is required to be carried in every vehicle by French law, initially complained at a sharp increase in diesel taxes.

Mr Macron said his motivation for the increase was environmental, but protesters accused him of being out of touch.

The government later scrapped the plan but the yellow vest protesters were not placated. Last week, the movement - despite a lack of central leadership - issued more than 40 demands to government.

Among them were a minimum pension, widespread changes to the tax system, and a reduction in the retirement age.

The protest movement has gained momentum via social media, encompassing a whole range of participants from the anarchist far left to the nationalist far right, and moderates in between.

ruby Posted on December 07, 2018 10:03

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MSF ship Aquarius ends migrant rescues in Mediterranean

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) says it has been forced to end migrant rescue operations in the Mediterranean carried out by the vessel Aquarius.

The medical charity blamed "sustained attacks on search and rescue by European states".

Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini welcomed MSF's move. "Fewer sailings, fewer landings, fewer deaths. That's good," he tweeted.

Aquarius has been stuck in Marseille since its registration was revoked.

It has helped save migrants making the dangerous crossing to Europe from Libya and elsewhere, but has faced strong opposition, particularly from Italy.

Mr Salvini accused charities running rescue ships of collaborating with people-traffickers operating out of Libya to run a "taxi service" to Italian ports.

Italian policy is that migrants picked up at sea should be returned to Libya by that country's coastguard.

But charities and human rights groups say migrants face appalling conditions in Libya, where abuses at the hands of people-trafficking gangs are rife.

Aquarius had been the last charity rescue ship still operating.

Announcing the decision to end its operations, MSF said EU countries, spearheaded by Italy, had failed to provide enough dedicated rescue capacity of their own, then had actively sabotaged the efforts of others trying to save lives in the Mediterranean, the BBC's Europe correspondent, Damian Grammaticas reports.

In a tweet, MSF Sea said "sustained attacks" by European nations "will mean more deaths at sea, and more needless deaths that will go unwitnessed".

Aquarius has been laid up in Marseille for months, after Panama revoked its registration - citing intense political pressure from Italian authorities

A de-flagged vessel cannot legally set sail.

Italy has kept up the pressure. Last month, prosecutors called for the seizure of the Aquarius over the alleged dumping of potentially toxic waste in its ports. MSF called the move "unfounded and sinister".

Migrant numbers reaching Italy have fallen significantly this year amid moves to dismantle smuggling networks in Libya and increase coastguard patrols.

International Organization for Migration (IOM) data says more than 2,000 people have died or gone missing making crossings this year, compared to more than 3,000 last year.

The Aquarius began operations in 2015 and came to worldwide attention over the summer as Italy closed its ports to migrant rescue ships, leaving the ship stranded at sea with people rescued from the water.

Hundreds of migrants were eventually allowed to disembark in the Spanish port of Valencia in June, after being turned away by Italy and Malta.

ruby Posted on December 07, 2018 09:54

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Stair test may predict your risk of dying of heart disease, cancer, study finds

If you can do this simple test, it's a good sign of your exercise capacity. If not, you may need to exercise more.

For a glimpse into the state of your health and longevity, just head for some stairs.

How people perform on an exercise test that requires them to move very briskly can predict their risk of premature death from heart disease, cancer and other causes, a study presented Thursday at a meeting of the European Society of Cardiology found.

Those with good exercise capacity — capable of high levels of physical exertion, say, on a treadmill — had less chance of dying early of any cause.

The participants in the study underwent an exercise echocardiogram, but there’s a much easier method to check your exercise capacity in a similar way: See if you can climb four flights of stairs at a fast pace — in under a minute — without having to stop, said Dr. Jesús Peteiro, the study author and a cardiologist at University Hospital A Coruña in A Coruña, Spain.

If you can do it, you have good functional capacity. If not, it’s a sign you need more exercise, he noted. Peteiro wasn’t surprised by his study’s findings.

“Physical activity has positive effect on blood pressure and lipids, reduces inflammation and improves the body`s immune response to tumors,” Peteiro told TODAY.


For simple advice to improve your health and fitness, sign up for our One Small Thing newsletter

For the study, 12,615 participants with known or suspected coronary artery disease underwent treadmill exercise echocardiography — a medical test to see how well a person’s heart tolerates activity.


Their effort levels were measured in metabolic equivalents, or METs. One MET is equal to the energy it takes to sit quietly. Walking briskly requires about 3 METs, while jogging takes more than 6. This study defined good functional capacity as achieving a maximum workload of 10 METs.

Being able to climb four flights of stairs in about 45-55 seconds would be equivalent to 10 METs, Peteiro, estimated.

When the study participants were followed up over the next five years or so, each MET they achieved during the exercise test was associated with a 9 percent lower risk of cardiovascular death, a 9 percent lower risk of cancer death and 4 percent lower risk of other causes of death, the European Society of Cardiology noted.

In people with poor functional capacity, the death rate from heart disease was almost three times higher and cancer deaths were almost double compared to participants who had good exercise capacity.


Cardiologists already know a patient who has a significantly abnormal heart stress test, but shows very good exercise capacity, has a better prognosis, said Dr. Andrew Freeman, director of cardiovascular prevention and wellness at National Jewish Health in Denver, Colorado, and a member of the American College of Cardiology’s Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease Section Leadership Council.


The latest exercise guidelines for Americans say adults need at least 2 ½ hours to five hours a week of moderate intensity exercise; or 1 hour, 15 minutes to 2 ½ hours of intense activity every week.

As for stairs offering clues to a person’s heart health, doctors already ask patients whether they can go up a flight of stairs without symptoms before clearing them for major surgery, Freeman noted. Other tests found to predict longevity include being able to get back up without support after sitting on the floor.

Try walking, running, bicycling and swimming to boost your exercise capacity, Peteiro advised. Freeman just wanted people to pick an activity they enjoyed that would make them breathless.

“We know that in some ways exercise is a medicine and it has a dose response, where typically more exercise is better,” he said.

sarah Posted on December 07, 2018 09:37

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Infections and cancer: The link could be stronger than we think

Bacteria could have a bigger involvement in cancer than scientists may have realized, according to recent research.

A viral infection may be the cause of up to 20 percent of cancer cases.

A study from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore has uncovered a type of bacterial infection that can disrupt DNA repair in cells, which is a known cause of cancer.

The same type of infection could also weaken the effect of some anticancer drugs, says the PNAS report on the findings.

"Currently," comments senior study author Robert C. Gallo, who is a professor of medicine and director of the university's Institute of Human Virology, "approximately 20 percent of cancers are thought to be caused by infection, most are known to be due to viruses."

The team began by investigating infections by a family of tiny bacteria that go by the name of mycoplasmas.

These bacteria "are associated with cancers, especially in people with HIV," explains Prof. Gallo, who was one of the scientists who discovered that HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.

Mycoplasmas, DnaK, and cancer

Mycoplasmas are among the smallest "free-living microorganisms." They do not have a cell wall and, for a long time, scientists thought that they were viruses.

The tiny bacteria contain a protein called DnaK that the researchers decided to focus on "because of its ability to interact with proteins."

DnaK is a "chaperone protein" that protects other proteins from damage and ensures that they function properly by helping them to fold.

The team's efforts uncovered two main links between DnaK and cancer.

They revealed that DnaK from mycoplasmas "interacts with and reduces the activities of human proteins" that are important for DNA repair.

Also, it appears that DnaK weakens the effect of certain drugs that aim to boost the activity of the natural anticancer protein p53.

DnaK reduces p53 by binding to an enzyme called USP10 that helps to regulate p53.

Infected mice developed cancer more quickly

In their investigations, the researchers observed how quickly lymphoma developed in two groups of mice with compromised immune systems.

They infected one group of mice with a mycoplasma strain from a person with HIV.

The results showed that lymphoma developed more quickly in the mycoplasma-infected immune-compromised mice than their non-infected counterparts.

In addition, some of the cancer cells, but not all of them, contained DNA from the bacteria.

The researchers suggest that this means that the infection does not have to persist to be able to trigger cancer.

It seems that mycoplasma release DnaK and that this can enter uninfected cells that are nearby and trigger events that can lead to cancer in those cells.

Infection-cancer link may need a rethink

Finally, an analysis of amino acid composition revealed differences between DnaK proteins from cancer-associated bacteria and bacteria that researchers have not associated with cancer.

This could mean that there are other bacteria with a similar ability to promote cancer.

Prof. Gallo suggests that their research "changes how we need to think about infection and at least some cancers."

sarah Posted on December 07, 2018 09:27

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Consecrated virgins: 'I got married to Christ'

Jessica Hayes bought herself a wedding gown, a veil and a ring. But when she stood at the altar facing the bishop during a solemn religious ceremony, there was no groom by her side.

She was getting married to Jesus Christ.

Ms Hayes, 41, is a consecrated virgin - a vocation taken by women within the Catholic Church who wish to give themselves as brides to God.

Even within Catholicism, consecrated virgins are little-known - partly because the vocation was only publicly sanctioned by the Church less than 50 years ago.

During the consecration ceremony, the candidate - who wears a bride-like, white dress- makes life-long chastity vows and promises never to engage in sexual or romantic relationships.

The women also wear a wedding ring - a symbol of their betrothal to Christ.

"I often get asked: 'So, are you married?'" says Ms Hayes. "I usually just reply with a really brief explanation that I am similar to a religious sister, that there's a total commitment to Christ, but that I live out in the world."

She is one of 254 "brides of Christ" in the US, according to the United States Association of Consecrated Virgins (USACV) - whose day jobs range from nurses and psychologists to accountants, business women and fire fighters.

There are at least 4,000 consecrated virgins in the world, according to a 2015 survey, and the Vatican says there has been an upsurge of vocations "in very diverse geographic areas and cultural contexts".

Unlike nuns, consecrated virgins do not live in enclosed communities or wear special clothes; they lead a secular life, have jobs and support themselves.

There is no such male equivalent in the Catholic Church.


A little-known vocation in Catholicism


consecrated virgins in 78 countries, according to a 2015 survey

  • 1,220 of them live in France and Italy, the countries with the largest numbers of consecrated virgins

  • US, Mexico, Romania, Poland, Spain, Germany and Argentina also have high numbers

  • 5,000 is the number of consecrated virgins projected for 2020

Source: Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (CICLSAL) and USACV

"I have been a teacher for 18 years, I'm actually teaching at the same high school that I went to," says Ms Hayes, who lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana, US.

"[Before my consecration] I realised I didn't share a call to [the] community life nuns live, in a religious congregation or with a specific apostolate [a form of evangelistic activity or work] that each of these communities would have."

When she is not teaching, most of her time is devoted to private prayer and penance. She reports to a bishop and keeps regular meetings with her spiritual adviser.

"I live in a neighbourhood, I belong to the parish that's just two miles away from my home, I am available to help family and friends. And then I teach, so I am surrounded by people during the day, but still accommodate a special consecration to the Lord around that."

She has been in romantic relationships in the past but says they never made her feel complete.

"I thought I was called to married life, [which] is a very natural desire for the human person. So I did date… but never seriously."

Virgins have been part of the Church since early Christian times. In the first three centuries AD, many died as martyrs as a result.

Among them was Agnes of Rome, who was reportedly killed as a result of her devotion to religious chastity.

The practice then declined in medieval times as the popularity of monastic religious life grew, only to be revived by the 1971 Ordo consecrationis virginum, the document through which the Vatican recognised female perpetual virginity as a voluntary state of life within the Church.

Ms Hayes says she had not thought of becoming a consecrated virgin until she met a spiritual adviser who, she says, "started asking the right questions".

She made the decision in 2013, and her consecration took place two years later at the age of 36.

"Even though I have a lot of the same duties that I had before [the consecration], it's still different because to relate to the Lord as spouse is entirely different to relating to him as friend."

The choice of celibacy is a means of drawing even more closely to the following of the Lord. What I do is a gift of my body to Him"

Jessica Hayes, American consecrated virgin

Living in a society where sexuality is held in high regard can be challenging for virgins, who choose to eschew physical relationships forever.

"I think the hardest thing is being misunderstood, as our choice is seen as counter-cultural," says Ms Hayes.

"I get a lot of, 'Oh, so you're like a single person.' I have to explain that the Lord is my primary relationship, that what I do is a giving of my body to Him."

Physical virgins?

Last July, a new set of guidelines published by the Vatican caused a stir among consecrated virgins.

The issue at stake was whether women choosing this vocation needed to have remained a virgin up to the point of the ceremony.

Unlike nuns, who may take a vow of celibacy from the day they enter a religious order, these brides of Christ have been expected to be life-long virgins.

In the controversial section 88 of the document, the Vatican stated that "to have kept her body in perfect continence or to have practised the virtue of chastity in an exemplary way" is important, but not an "essential" prerequisite.

In other words, it may no longer be necessary to be a virgin.

The USACV, of which Ms Hayes is a member, found the guidelines "disappointing".

In a statement, the association said it was "shocking to hear from Mother Church that physical virginity may no longer be considered an essential prerequisite for consecration to a life of virginity."

Ms Hayes says she wishes there was "some more clarity" in the document, yet is happy that the head of the Catholic Church has focused attention on the virgins' vocation.

"And the document still says that [candidates] must not have been either married, or in public or flagrant violation of chastity," she says.

"Maybe there's one indiscriminate act in the past as a young person, or maybe a woman who was raped and so is not a virgin, but not out of choice."

Ultimately, she says, it is about encouraging this particular vocation among Catholic women.

"And maybe vocations are growing because there's a need for people living in such a radical commitment to God - that may be what the Church needs right now."

ruby Posted on December 07, 2018 09:17

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XFL, USFL, other pro football leagues that took on the NFL

Vince McMahon’s rebooted XFL is attempting to streamline the game of football ahead of its 2020 launch, marking the latest effort by an upstart league to shake the NFL’s monopoly on the sport.

XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck said the league is actively market testing potential rule changes to develop a faster, safer on-field product compared to the traditional football the NFL has played for decades. Games will use a shorter game clock than the NFL and conclude in under three hours, he added.

McMahon tried to challenge the NFL once before. The original XFL, which arose as a joint partnership between his WWE (then called WWF) and NBC, folded in 2001 after just one season. This time, XFL officials say there is a long-term financial commitment to the league.

The rebooted entity will kick off its debut season in Feb. 2020, one week after the NFL season ends, with eight teams. While Luck said the league will “complement,” not directly challenge, the NFL, the U.S. marketplace has struggled to sustain more than one major professional football league in the past.


Here’s a look at other upstart pro football leagues that have tried – and often failed – to reinvent the sport.

United States Football League (1983-1986)

Walt Michaels (L) shakes hands with New Jersey’s Generals’ owner Donald Trump at Giants Stadium 1220 after Trump named him as the USFL team’s coach. Michaels, who was turned loose by the New York Jets only two weeks after leading they to the brink of


Arguably the most successful challenge to the NFL, the USFL succeeded in luring several stars to its rosters, including future Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees Jim Kelly and Reggie White and Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker. President Trump was one of the league’s team owners, purchasing the short-lived New Jersey Generals.

The USFL famously filed an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL. A jury ruled that the NFL was in violation of some antitrust laws, but awarded a judgement of just $3 against the league. The USFL folded in 1986, shortly before it was set to play a fall season in direct competition with the NFL.

XFL (1999-2001)

Founded by WWE’s McMahon and NBC Sports, the original XFL sought to unseat the NFL by offering a rougher version of traditional football. Promoted as football with fewer rules and bigger hits, the league featured such gimmicks as scantily clad cheerleaders and nicknames on the back of player jerseys.

Initially drawing widespread publicity, the XFL’s ratings quickly plummeted and the league folded after just one season, having reportedly lost $70 million.

United Football League (2009-2012)

The UFL launched with just four teams comprised primarily of players and coaches who had spent time in the NFL. The league chose to play its schedule in the fall, competing directly with NFL and NCAA football broadcasts. The UFL’s backers reportedly hoped to capitalize on the possibility that NFL owners and players would fail to reach terms on a new labor agreement in 2011, potentially setting the upstart league up as the public’s only source of football.

Beset by financial issues almost from the start, the UFL collapsed after its 2012 seasons amid lawsuits from players and coaches who alleged they were owed back salary.

Arena Football League (1987-2008, 2010-)

Pregame celebrations during ArenaBowl XX at the Thomas

Played entirely indoors, the AFL uses a shorter field, narrower goalposts and other rule tweaks designed to create a high-scoring, fast style of play. The league enjoyed marginal success throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, securing media rights contracts and producing Kurt Warner, a quarterback who later won two Super Bowls with the St. Louis Rams.

The AFL began facing financial problems in the late 2000s, ultimately canceling its 2009 season and declaring bankruptcy. Featuring as many as 19 franchises at its peak, the league currently has four active teams.

Alliance of American Football (2019-)

The AAF is set to begin play in 2019, narrowly beating the XFL to market. The league’s season will begin in February, which would place it in direct competition with McMahon’s new venture.

Featuring eight teams, a 10-week regular season and a gambling partnership with MGM, the AAF counts tech entrepreneur Peter Thiel and the Chernin Group among its early investors. CBS has already secured television rights to the league.

XFL reboot (2020-)

The new XFL will feature eight teams in the following cities: New York, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Seattle, Tampa Bay and Washington, D.C. Executives say the league will focus on creating a fast-paced, family-friendly game with cheaper game tickets and fewer commercials.

Luke Posted on December 06, 2018 21:00

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House Democrats could revoke rule allowing lawmakers to have guns on Capitol grounds

Democrats could do away with a rule that allows lawmakers to bring firearms onto Capitol grounds – including in their offices – as they prepare to take control of the House next year.

Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., has long wanted the rule changed, but now he said he has the support of potential House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, he told The Washington Post.

“I don’t think we can just keep looking the other way or sweep this issue under the rug,” Huffman told the publication. “Our political climate is too volatile and there are too many warning signs that we need to address things like this.”

According to The Washington Post, it’s up to the Capitol Police Board to determine regulation surrounding firearms on Capitol grounds. It previously established “nothing . . . shall prohibit any Member of Congress from maintaining firearms within the confines of his office or any Member of Congress or any employee or agent of any Member of Congress from transporting within the Capitol Grounds firearms unloaded and securely wrapped.”

Rep. Jared Huffman said he's concerned about what would happen if someone nefarious got their hands on a gun that was legally in the U.S. Capitol. (Official photo)

Citing the politically-motivated 2017 shooting attack on Republican lawmakers and their staff – which left Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., seriously wounded – Huffman told the newspaper he has concerns someone would be able to gain access to a firearm legally kept in the Capitol and use it for a nefarious act.


“I hesitate to even put in print some of the scenarios that I worry the most about, because the truth is, the House chamber is a place where we occasionally have all of the most powerful government officials in the country gathered in one place,” he said.

Republican Rep. Thomas Massie, who chairs Second Amendment Caucus, chalked the proposed changes up to “theatrics.”

“It’s proposing to solve a problem that doesn’t exist,” he told The Washington Post. “[Pelosi’s] worried that members aren’t responsible enough to handle a firearm?”

In 2015, two Republican congressmen were criticized for posting a photo of the pair holding an AR-15 rifle while in the House.

Rep. Trey Gowdy said fellow Rep. Ken Buck had permission to have the “inoperable gun” in Buck’s office.

Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter: @K_Schallhorn.

Luke Posted on December 06, 2018 20:50

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Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou’s arrest may prompt China to retaliate, 'take hostages,' expert says

China could 'take hostages' and is almost certain to retaliate against the United States, experts say, after the stunning arrest of a top Chinese tech executive for allegedly trying to skirt sanctions on Iran.

Huawei Technologies' chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested Saturday in Canada and faces extradition to the U.S. Meng was taken into custody on behalf of the U.S. while she was transferring flights in Vancouver, the tech company said.


Chinese officials on Thursday blasted Meng's arrest — but experts warn more forceful actions, including the possibility of tit-for-tat detentions of high-profile citizens, could be coming.

James Lewis, the director of technology policy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Axios the U.S. should be prepared for a backlash and warned American tech executives to steer clear of China for now.



"If I was an American tech executive, I wouldn't travel to China this week," warned Lewis, who labeled Huawei "one of the Chinese government's pet companies" and charged the communist country's leaders wouldn't be afraid to "take hostages."

China on Thursday demanded Canada release a Huawei Technologies executive who was arrested in a case that adds to technology tensions with Washington and threatens to complicate trade talks. (AP)

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang on Thursday called Meng’s arrest a violation of human rights and demanded the “immediate release” of the 46-year-old executive, who also goes by the name Sabrina.

“Detaining a person without providing an explanation has undoubtedly violated her human rights,” Geng said, adding the Chinese government “has made clear our solemn positions to the U.S. and Canada.”

Geng said the U.S. and Canada haven’t provided reasons for Meng's detention. But the Wall Street Journal reported in April that U.S. authorities were investigating whether Huawei violated sanctions on Iran, leading the Chinese government to appeal to Washington to avoid any steps that might have damaged business confidence.

Meng is the deputy chairman of the company’s board and the daughter of its founder, Ren Zhengfei, a former Chinese military engineer. Her stature in Chinese culture has been compared to American tech giants such as Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg.


An editorial in the pro-government Global Times accused the U.S. of “maliciously finding fault” with Huawei.

“Washington is attempting to damage Huawei's international reputation and taking aim at the tech giant's global market in the name of law,” the editorial stated. “The Chinese government should seriously mull over the U.S. tendency to abuse legal procedures to suppress China's high-tech enterprises. It should increase interaction with the U.S. and exert pressure when necessary. China has been exercising restraint, but the U.S. cannot act recklessly. U.S. President Donald Trump should rein in the hostile activities of some Americans who may imperil Sino-U.S. relations.”

Canadian authorities said Wednesday that they have arrested Meng for possible extradition to the United States. (AP)

Meng’s arrest and detention have only amplified the already-tense state of U.S.-China relations. Though Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced a temporary truce in a tariffs war -- with Trump agreeing to suspend U.S. tariff hikes for a period -- a more permanent resolution is nowhere in sight. Trump and Xi have dug in on their respective positions and have mostly been waiting for the other party to blink. Neither has.

Huawei Technologies Ltd., the biggest global supplier of network gear used by phone and Internet companies, has previously been the target of U.S. security concerns. Under Trump and his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, Washington has pressured European countries and other allies to limit their business with Huawei, alleging the company's technology aids China's spy operations.

Huawei said in a statement Wednesday it has not been provided many details about Meng's arrest.

"The company has been provided very little information regarding the charges and is not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms. Meng," the statement said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Katherine Lam is a breaking and trending news digital producer for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @bykatherinelam

Luke Posted on December 06, 2018 20:47

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How Do Antibiotics Work? Many more to learn about it...lets take a look

Antibiotics are medications used to fight infections caused by bacteria. They’re also called antibacterials. They treat infections by killing or decreasing the growth of bacteria.

The first modern-day antibiotic was used in 1936. Before antibiotics, 30 percent of all deaths were caused by bacterial infections. Thanks to antibiotics, previously fatal infections are curable.

Today, antibiotics are still powerful, life-saving medications for people with certain serious infections. They can also prevent less-serious infections from becoming serious.

There are many classes of antibiotics. Certain types of antibiotics work best for specific types of bacterial infections.

Antibiotics come in many forms, including:

  • tablets
  • capsules
  • liquids
  • creams
  • ointments

Most antibiotics are only available with a prescription from your doctor. Some antibiotic creams and ointments are available over the counter

Antibiotics fight bacterial infections either by killing bacteria or slowing and suspending its growth. They do this by:

  • attacking the wall or coating surrounding bacteria
  • interfering with bacteria reproduction
  • blocking protein production in bacteria

Antibiotics begin to work right after you start taking them. However, you might not feel better for two to three days.

How quickly you get better after antibiotic treatment varies. It also depends on the type of infection you’re treating.

Most antibiotics should be taken for 7 to 14 days. In some cases, shorter treatments work just as well. Your doctor will decide the best length of treatment and correct antibiotic type for you.

Even though you might feel better after a few days of treatment, it’s best to finish the entire antibiotic regimen in order to fully resolve your infection. This can also help prevent antibiotic resistance. Don’t stop your antibiotic early without first talking with your healthcare provider.

The first beta-lactam antibiotic, penicillin, was discovered by accident. It was growing from a blob of mold on a petri dish. Scientists found that a certain type of fungus naturally produced penicillin. Eventually, penicillin was produced in large quantities in a laboratory through fermentation using the fungus.

Some other early antibiotics were produced by bacteria found in ground soil.

Today, all antibiotic medications are produced in a lab. Some are made through a series of chemical reactions that produce the substance used in the medication.

Other antibiotics are at least partially made through a natural but controlled process. This process is often enhanced with certain chemical reactions that can alter the original substance to create a different medication.

Antibiotics are powerful medications that work very well for certain types of illnesses. However, some antibiotics are now less useful than they once were due to an increase in antibiotic resistance.

Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria can no longer be controlled or killed by certain antibiotics. In some cases, this can mean there are no effective treatments for certain conditions.

Each year, 2 million people are infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, resulting in at least 23,000 deaths.

When you take an antibiotic, the sensitive bacteria are eliminated. The bacteria that survive during antibiotic treatment are often resistant to that antibiotic. These bacteria often have unique characteristics that prevent antibiotics from working on them.

Some serious antibiotic-resistant infections include:

Clostridium difficile (C. diff)

The overgrowth of this type of bacteria causes infection in both your small and large intestines. This often occurs after someone’s treated with antibiotics for a different bacterial infection. C. diff is naturally resistant to many antibiotics.

Vancomycin-resistant enterococcus (VRE)

These bacteria often infect your bloodstream, urinary tract, or surgical wounds. This infection typically occurs in people who are hospitalized. Enterococci infections may be treated with the antibiotic vancomycin, but VRE is resistant to this treatment.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)

This type of infection is resistant to traditional staph infection antibiotics. MRSA infectionstypically occur on your skin. It’s most common in people in hospitals and those with weakened immune systems.

Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE)

This class of bacteria are resistant to a lot of other antibiotics. CRE infections typically occur in people in hospitals and who are on a mechanical ventilator or have indwelling catheters.

The most important cause of antibiotic resistance is inappropriate use or overuse of antibiotics. As much as 30 percent of antibiotic use is thought to be unnecessary. This is because antibiotics are often prescribed when they aren’t needed.

Several important steps can be taken to decrease inappropriate antibiotic use:

  • Take antibiotics only for bacterial infections. Don’t use antibiotics for conditions caused by viruses such as the common cold, flu, cough, or sore throat.
  • Take antibiotics as directed by your healthcare provider. Using the wrong dose, skipping doses, or taking it longer or shorter than directed might contribute to bacteria resistance. Even if you feel better after a few days, talk with your healthcare provider before discontinuing an antibiotic.
  • Take the right antibiotic. Using the wrong antibiotic for an infection might lead to resistance. Don’t take antibiotics prescribed for someone else. Also, don’t take antibiotics left over from a previous treatment. Your healthcare provider will be able to select the most appropriate antibiotic for your specific type of infection.

Antibiotics are used for treating infections caused by bacteria. Sometimes it’s difficult to determine if your infection is caused by bacteria or a virus because the symptoms are often very similar.

Your healthcare provider will evaluate your symptoms and conduct a physical exam to determine the cause of your infection. In some cases, they may request a blood or urine test to confirm the cause of infection.

Some common bacterial infections include:

Antibiotics aren’t effective against viruses, such as the common cold or flu. They also don’t work on infections caused by fungi, such as:

These are treated with a different group of medications called antifungals.

Most antibiotics have similar side effects. Perhaps the most common side effect is gastrointestinal (GI) upset, including:

  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • cramps

In some cases, these side effects can be reduced if you take the antibiotic with food. However, some antibiotics must be taken on an empty stomach. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about the best way to take your antibiotic.

GI upset usually goes away after you stop treatment. If it doesn’t, you should call your doctor. Also, call your doctor if you develop:

  • severe diarrhea
  • stomach pain and cramping
  • blood in your stool
  • fever

Antibiotics are most effective when used appropriately. This starts with ensuring that you really need the antibiotic. Only use antibiotics prescribed by your doctor for a bacterial infection.

Talk with your doctor or pharmacist about the best way to take your antibiotic. Some should be taken with food to reduce side effects but others need to be taken on an empty stomach.

Antibiotics should also be taken in the prescribed amount and for the directed length of treatment. You might feel better within a few days after starting the antibiotic but you should talk with your healthcare provider before stopping your treatment early.

sarah Posted on December 06, 2018 17:27

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Fortnite makers sued for 'stealing' Milly Rock dance move

A US rapper has taken legal action against the creators of popular video game Fortnite, claiming it uses a dance move he created without his permission.

Rapper 2 Milly - aka Terrence Ferguson - says the Milly Rock dance he created in 2011 is recreated in Fortnite as an "emote" called Swipe It.

"Emotes" are upgrades players can buy to personalise their online avatars.

In a lawsuit filed on Wednesday 2 Milly accuses Fortnite developer Epic Games of "unauthorised misappropriation".

He claims the company has "unfairly profited from exploiting [his] creative expression" and has "consistently sought to exploit African-American talent... by copying their dances and movements."

The suit follows numerous claims that Fortnite has replicated dance moves previously associated with stars like Snoop Dogg, Michael Jackson and others.Earlier this year, Chance the Rapper called on the makers of the game to recompense "black creatives" by using "the actual rap songs behind the dances".

Epic Games declined to comment on 2 Milly's legal action, which seeks unspecified damages and a restraining order.

US copyright law covers "choreographic works... fixed in some tangible medium of expression" but does not currently extend to individual dance steps.

"Individual movements or dance steps by themselves are not copyrightable... even if a routine is novel or distinctive," states the US Copyright Office in its official guidance material.

ruby Posted on December 06, 2018 14:31

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Lady Gaga up for best actress Golden Globe

Lady Gaga's performance in A Star is Born has landed her a best actress nomination at the Golden Globes.

Bradley Cooper is also nominated for his direction of and performance in the musical remake.

Olivia Colman is also up for a best actress award for The Favourite, for which Rachel Weisz is also recognised.

Rosamund Pike is nominated for best actress in a film drama, alongside Lady Gaga, for her role in the Marie Colvin biopic A Private War.

Colman, meanwhile, will compete for the best actress in a film musical or comedy award with Emily Blunt, shortlisted for playing the title role in Mary Poppins Returns.

Claire Foy is up for a supporting acting award for the film First Man, as is Richard E Grant for Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Other British talents in the running include Hugh Grant and Ben Whishaw, nominated for their roles in BBC political drama A Very English Scandal.

There are also TV nominations for Benedict Cumberbatch (for Patrick Melrose), Westworld's Thandie Newton and Sacha Baron Cohen, in contention for his satirical series Who is America?

Bodyguard star Richard Madden is up for best actor in a TV drama for his role in the BBC One thriller, which is up for best TV drama.

Vice, a film biopic of former US vice-president Dick Cheney, has the most nominations in all, with six citations including one for lead actor Christian Bale.

A Star is Born, The Favourite and Green Book have five nominations each, while Mary Poppins Returns and Spike Lee's Black Klansman have four apiece.

Comic book blockbuster Black Panther, Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody and If Beale Street Could Talk, the latest film from Moonlight director Barry Jenkins, will compete with A Star is Born and Black Klansman for the best film drama prize.

Vice, The Favourite and Mary Poppins Returns are joined in the best film musical or comedy category by Green Book and Crazy Rich Asians.

Rami Malek is nominated alongside Cooper for playing Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody.

The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story has the most TV nominations, getting four mentions in all.

Sandra Oh - nominated herself for Killing Eve - and Brooklyn Nine-Nine's Andy Samberg will co-host the 76th Golden Globe Awards, to be held in Los Angeles on 6 January.

This year's event saw Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri named best film drama and Lady Bird win the award for best film comedy or musical.

The Golden Globes will be the first main film and TV awards of 2019 and are considered a reliable indicator of which films and performances will go on to enjoy success at the Oscars.

Idris Elba's daughter Isan has been named 2019's Golden Globe ambassador by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), which organises the annual ceremony.

Lady Gaga - real name Stefani Germanotta - previously won a Golden Globe in 2016 for her role in TV's American Horror Story.

ruby Posted on December 06, 2018 14:28

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France protests: Government fears 'major violence' in coming days

The French government says it fears "major violence" in Paris on Saturday as the national "yellow vests" protest movement shows little sign of easing.

The government said it was scrapping fuel tax increases in the budget - the original spark for the protests.

But the movement has since grown into a wider expression of anger about rising living costs, and Saturday's planned rally looks set to go ahead.

Recent protests have turned violent, causing millions of euros in damage.

The government appealed for calm after making its political concessions - but on Thursday, protests continued in pockets around France as discontent spread beyond the core movement. What is the government worried about?

The protest on Saturday 1 December descended into the worst rioting seen in decades, with hundreds of injuries and arrests.

Many protesters are law-abiding French citizens, engaged in a street protest that has huge public support and is widely seen as a legitimate democratic action.

However, without any central structure or official leaders, extremists and "troublemakers" are suspected of joining the rallies and inciting violence, the interior minister said earlier this week.

Sources at the presidential palace expressed the government's concern about continued violence on Wednesday night.

French health minister Agnès Buzyn, speaking to RTL Radio on Thursday morning, said: "There is a concern about this violence, and some who do not want to find a solution."

The government is considering mobilising the military to protect important national monuments, French broadcaster BFMTV reported, after the world-famous Arc de Triomphe was damaged last week.

How are the protests spreading?

The yellow vests protests have moved beyond the initial anger about fuel taxes. Last week, the movement - despite a lack of central leadership - issued more than 40 demands to government.

Among them were a minimum pension, widespread changes to the tax system, and a reduction in the retirement age.

The government has already acknowledged some of the concerns, suggesting it may review the "wealth tax" it abolished after taking power.

An analysis of its original budget plans for 2018-2019 showed it benefited the very wealthy rather than the very poor.

Other groups, bolstered by the success of the national movement, have also begun separate actions.

Thursday saw young people take to the streets, protesting over educational reforms - including changes to exams.

In Nantes, young demonstrators overturned vehicles and bins, and set fires. On Wednesday, similar demonstrations in Bordeaux and Toulouse led to arrests.

But most of the protests have been peaceful.

Hundreds of schools were blockaded this week, but the young participants did not wear the distinctive yellow vests of the wider protest movement.

French daily Le Monde, however, drew a line between the two groups, suggesting that long-standing discontent over the proposed education reforms had been given a boost by the success of the "yellow vests".

The Union Nationale Lycéenne, representing secondary school students, has called for a "great mobilisation" of schools on Friday.

Two road transport unions, the CGT and FO, have called for a strike among its 700,000 members on Sunday, Le Monde reported, over the buying power of its members.

ruby Posted on December 06, 2018 12:06

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Spanish pigeon relocation: Cádiz to relocate 5,000 birds

Authorities in the Spanish city of Cádiz have come up with a plan for their booming pigeon population - relocating some 5,000 birds.

The city is plagued by thousands of the birds and their associated waste - but officials did not want to poison them.

Instead, the plan is to capture thousands of pigeons and relocate them hundreds of miles away in a different region - and hope they do not return.

Local officials said it was a "more respectful and sustainable" solution.

Speaking to local newspaper Diario de Cádiz, councillor Álvaro de la Fuente said "managing the population of existing pigeons does not imply the eradication of them within the urban area."

Instead, he said a "logical balance" between the birds, humans, and other city-dwelling species was the goal.

The common pigeon is known for its location awareness - the famous homing pigeon used to carry war-time messages is a variant of the species.

But unlike their trained counterparts, the wild birds are often happy to settle in one local area - and officials in Cádiz hope that will be the case when all 5,000 pigeons are placed in their new home.The thousands of birds to be relocated will be trapped, catalogued, and tested before being carried at least 170 miles (275km) away for release. Every bird will also get a health check along the way.

But pigeons breed quickly - so the city plans to print thousands of leaflets reminding the public not to overfeed the remaining flock, which helps to inflate the population.

In London's Trafalgar Square, where the tradition of deliberately feeding the birds was immortalised in Disney's Mary Poppins film, the birds flocked in great numbers until the early 2000s.

A combination of banning the feed sellers and a hefty fine on those who feed the flock anyway was part of the solution - while the introduction of hawks was another.

Today, a professional falconer accompanies a Harris hawk or peregrine falcon to Trafalgar Square several times a week - a natural predator which warns off the less welcome, smaller bird.

The same technique is used at a number of other London landmarks including BBC Broadcasting House and the Wimbledon tennis complex. It scares the birds away from one area and disperses them more widely - but does not affect the actual population much.

ruby Posted on December 06, 2018 12:02

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Port Vale v Stoke under-21s: Fans filmed smashing toilets

Police investigating "despicable disorder" at a football derby have released a video of suspects destroying a toilet block.

The footage shows men chanting, damaging sinks and smashing windows at the match between Port Vale and Stoke City Under-21s at Vale Park on Tuesday night.

More than 150 officers were deployed to the stadium and 11 people arrested.

Police said "a large section" of Stoke fans had been disruptive.

Port Vale won the Checkatrade Trophy match 4-0 and almost 4,000 Stoke fans were in a crowd of 7,940.

Staffordshire Police called the video "shocking" and appealed for information on the identity of the men.

Det Ch Insp Rob Taylor said: "We have a duty to the local community and the loyal supporters of both clubs to act swiftly.

"We will ensure that all opportunities will be taken to identify those suspected of being involved in this despicable disorder and bring them to justice."

Previously, Ch Supt Wayne Jones said his officers faced "shocking levels of hostility" on the night.

"The toilet block in the away stand was damaged badly," he said. "The cisterns and urinals were smashed off the wall, windows were damaged and there was an attempt to set fire to the toilet block."

It comes after two men were charged with using threatening or abusive language.

Six other men were released pending further inquiries.

ruby Posted on December 06, 2018 11:35

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Stonehenge site 'damaged' by engineers working on tunnel

Road workers have been accused of damaging a 6,000-year-old site near Stonehenge as part of preparations for a controversial tunnel.

Highways England engineers monitoring water levels dug the 3.5 metre deep bore hole through the prehistoric platform.

The Blick Mead site is about 1.5 miles (2.4km) from Stonehenge and believed to date from around 4,000 BC.

Lead archaeologist at the site David Jacques described it as "a travesty".

He said engineers did not consult him before carrying out the work.

But Highways England said no archaeological damage had been caused and its engineers "adhered to guidelines".

The proposed tunnel is part of a £1.6bn programme to upgrade the A303, which links the M3 from London to the M5 in the south west.

The government wants to build the 1.9-mile (3km) tunnel past Stonehenge to hide the busy A303, but campaigners claim it could destroy archaeological treasures.

Perfectly preserved hoof prints of wild cattle known as aurochs have recently been found at the Blick Mead encampment.

The prints found under the platform were preserved in what appears to be a ritualistic manner, Prof Jacques said.

Construction on the tunnel and linking flyover would lower the water table, drying out the peat and silt conditions which preserve archaeological remains, he added.

Prof Jacques, from the University of Buckingham, said: "This is a travesty. We took great care to excavate this platform and the auroch's hoofprints

"It the tunnel goes ahead the water table will drop and all the organic remains will be destroyed. If the remains aren't preserved we may never be able to understand why Stonehenge was built."A Highways England spokesman said its water table monitoring scheme "will have no significant effects on the Blick Mead area".

Inspectors are to meet Prof Jacques later to assess the work.

ruby Posted on December 06, 2018 11:22

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Grindr cheat pharmacist jailed for wife's murder

A pharmacist who murdered his wife with a Tesco carrier bag so he could start a new life with his boyfriend has been jailed for a minimum of 30 years.

Mitesh Patel, 37, strangled and suffocated Jessica, 34, and then staged a burglary at the couple's home in Middlesbrough on 14 May.

Jurors heard he had planned to claim a £2m life insurance payout and move to Australia with his lover Dr Amit Patel.

Patel was sentenced to life and told he would serve a minimum of 30 years.

Sentencing Patel, Mr Justice Goss told him: "You have no remorse for your actions. Any pity you have is for yourself."

He told the defendant that Mrs Patel "clearly loved you and was a dutiful wife" of nine years, adding: "She wanted nothing more than to have children and live a normal family life.

"The difficulty is that you had no sexual attraction to her; you were attracted to men."

He said Mrs Patel was to some extent aware of her husband's sexuality and was "lonely, often upset and controlled by you".

The judge said Patel's messages revealed him to be "needy and callous" and he used Mrs Patel "whilst indulging your own desires and whims".

Media captionGrindr cheat Mitesh Patel calls 999 after wife murder

The two-week trial at Teesside Crown Court heard Patel, who ran a pharmacy on Roman Road with his 34-year-old wife, had a series of affairs with men he met via the dating app Grindr.

Patel, who claimed his wife was his "best mate", injected her with insulin before strangling and suffocating her with the bag at their home on The Avenue.

'Rot in hell'

He then bound her with duct tape and ransacked the house in an attempt to blame burglars for her death.

Prosecutor Nicholas Campbell QC said: "The prosecution case was that a plastic shopping bag, ironically a Tesco Bag For Life, was used both as a ligature and to suffocate her."

Media captionMitesh Patel tried to hide this CCTV footage which showed him after he killed his wife

Reading a statement on behalf of Mrs Patel's sisters and cousins, her younger sister Divya told the court: "The one thing we hope and prayed for above anything else was that in her final moments she did not suffer.

"The cruel reality is that she did in fact suffer, she knew exactly who her killer was, and he mercilessly ignored her attempts to fight for her own life as he ended it.

"We can only imagine the fear and panic she must have felt knowing herself this was it. Thinking of that moment makes our hearts so heavy."Ms Patel also addressed her brother-in-law in the dock, saying: "We do not just pray, we know, she will be free from you for ever. As will she rest in heaven, you will rot in hell."

She added: "He could've divorced her, taken everything he wanted - he did not need to take her life, he had no right to take this evil, cruel and malicious step."

Patel told his boyfriend he married Mrs Patel because she was in love with him and would provide a cover for his true sexuality.

He wanted to move to Australia to be with Dr Patel and the pair had planned to raise a child conceived by Mrs Patel through IVF.

She had undergone three courses of IVF and the last cycle resulted in three embryos being created, but she was murdered before they could be implanted.

ruby Posted on December 06, 2018 11:19

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The Indian restaurants that serve only half a glass of water

While many parts of India are going through a sustained water crisis, the western city of Pune is trying to deal with the problem in a rather unusual way, writes the BBC's Geeta Pandey.

The dystopian future we worried about is already here.

Many restaurants in the city of Pune have begun serving only half glasses of water to guests.

At the pure vegetarian Kalinga restaurant, a couple have just been seated when a waiter approaches their table and asks if they want water.

"I said yes and he gave me half a glass of water," says Gauripuja Mangeshkar. "I was wondering if I was being singled out, but then I saw that he had only poured half a glass for my husband too."

For a moment, Ms Mangeshkar did wonder whether her glass was half full or half empty, but the reason why she was served less water was not really existential.

Nearly 400 restaurants in Pune have adopted this measure to reduce water use, ever since the civic authorities announced cuts in supply a month ago.

Pune Restaurant and Hoteliers' Association president Ganesh Shetty, who owns Kalinga, told the BBC that they have worked out an extensive plan to save water.

"We serve only half glasses of water and we don't refill unless asked, the leftover water is recycled and used for watering plants and cleaning the floor," Mr Shetty explained. "Many places have put in new toilets which use less water, we have put in water harvesting plants and the staff are briefed on minimising water use."

Kalinga gets about 800 customers a day and by serving only half glasses, he says the restaurant is able to save nearly 800 litres (1,691 pints) of water a day.

"Every drop is precious and we have to act now if we want to save the future."

Owner of 83-year-old Poona Guest House, Kishor Sarpotdar, shows the shorter steel tumblers he's bought to replace the earlier taller ones. His restaurant is not only serving half glasses of water, he says, they are serving them in smaller ones too.

Pune is next door to India's financial capital, Mumbai. An educational and cultural hub, it was famously described as the "Oxford and Cambridge of India" by India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

This city of four million people has been well served by the Khadakwasala dam built in 1878, and water shortages are new here.

Mr Shetty says the first major water crisis the city faced was two years ago.

"For two months in February and March, our water supply was reduced by half. We got water once in two days."

Strict guidelines were issued about what fresh water supplied by the civic authorities could - or couldn't - be used for. And people were encouraged to install bore wells to pump out ground water to meet additional requirements.

All construction in the city was stopped for two months, car garages were allowed to do only dry servicing, the city celebrated a dry Holi, clubs and water resorts were barred from holding popular rain dance events and swimming pools were ordered shut.

All misuse was checked and those who erred were made to pay hefty fines.

"It was very serious," says Col Shashikant Dalvi, Pune-based water conservation expert.

This year, he says, the situation is "worse". "Panic buttons have been pressed in October itself. How will we face the challenge in the summer months?" he asks.

According to a government report earlier this year, India is facing its worst-ever water crisis, with some 600 million people affected. The report said the crisis was "only going to get worse" in the coming years and warned that 21 cities were likely to run out of groundwater by 2020.

In May, the popular Indian tourist town of Shimla ran out of water, while last year it was reported that the city of Bangalore was drying up.

Large parts of the western state of Maharashtra, where Pune is located, are water deficient and every year, at the onset of the summer season, the state makes the news for "water wars" between districts - farmers, villagers, city residents, slum dwellers, the hospitality industry and businesses all clamouring for their share of water.

This year, that talk has already started. And it's just the beginning of winter. Many areas are already staring at drought and acute water distress.

And this time, Pune too is affected. In October, the Pune Municipal Corporation announced 10% cuts in supply for everyone.

"The crisis two years ago," he says, "was because of deficient rainfall. But this year, Pune had excessive rainfall until the end of July. The dams were full. So where has the water gone?"

The monsoon rains will not come before June and eight months can be a long time. "It'll be a nightmare for the city unless we get some rains in the winter," he says.

Experts blame climate change, deforestation and the rapidly growing city population as the main reasons for the water shortage. And the fact that the Khadakwasala dam reservoir has never been de-silted, which means its capacity to hold water is reducing daily.

Col Dalvi offers a prescription to deal with the water shortage in Pune and the rest of the country, because by "2025 India will be most populous country in the world".

"Leakages must be plugged, unsustainable over-extraction of ground water must stop, rooftop rain water harvesting and recycling of water must be made mandatory, otherwise shortages would get more critical," he says.

What about restaurants serving half glasses of water to patrons? Is it just a gimmick, I ask.

"Not at all," he says. "It's not a gimmick. It's an excellent idea. A drop saved is a drop gained."

ruby Posted on December 06, 2018 11:06

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Tennessee inmate chooses electric chair over lethal injection

An inmate in the US state of Tennessee is to be executed by electric chair after arguing that a lethal injection would involve suffering.

David Earl Miller, who has spent 36 years on death row, is among an increasing number of inmates attempting to avoid lethal injection following several botched executions.

Another Tennessee inmate, Edmund Zagorski, was electrocuted last month.

Lethal injection is the state's main method of execution.

However, inmates in the state whose crimes were committed before 1999 are allowed to choose electrocution instead.

In court, both Miller and Zagorski had cited the August execution of Billy Ray Irick, who turned purple and took 20 minutes to die, AP reported.

Zagorski's execution was the second time the state's electric chair had been used since 1960.

Miller, who is due to be executed on Thursday, was found guilty of killing a 23-year-old mentally ill woman in 1981.

Why is lethal injection controversial?

Miller, 61, and Zagorski, 63, argued that the midazolam-based lethal injection used by Tennessee would lead to a prolonged and painful death.

It follows a series of executions using a variety of drug combinations where prisoners have appeared to suffer. The US constitution bans cruel and unusual punishments.

In September a doctor told a court in Tennessee that Irick felt pain akin to torture during his execution, The Tennessean reported.

Dr David Lubarsky argued that the midazolam sedated Irick but did not prevent him from feeling the effects of the other two drugs injected as part of the execution.

Proponents of lethal injection argue that the process is painless.

Miller is also one of four death row inmates who have brought a federal caseasking Tennessee to use a firing squad instead of either lethal injection or electrocution, the Tennessean reported.

In neighbouring Alabama, more than 50 inmates have chosen to be killed in the nitrogen gas chamber rather than be given a lethal injection after being given the option earlier this year, Vox reported.

Which states use the electric chair?

Electrocution is no longer the main method of execution in any US state.

Courts in Georgia and Nebraska have said the electric chair is unconstitutional.

Media captionThe five ways the US executes - in 45 secs

However, Miller has been told he cannot argue that the electric chair is unconstitutional because he himself has chosen it, AP reported.

Hanging was the most common form of capital punishment in the US until the 1890s. Then, the electric chair became the most widespread method.

In 1982, the first execution by lethal injection was carried out by the state of Texas, after which it gradually replaced the electric chair across the nation.

More on the US death penalty

Media captionExecution of Clayton Lockett (pictured): Journalist and witness Courtney Francisco describes what she saw - some may find this audio distressing.


ruby Posted on December 06, 2018 10:55

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20 Things All Couples Should Do Before Getting Pregnant

Everything In This Slideshow

Have a parenting talk

Most of the experts and real moms we spoke with agreed that it's important to chat with your partner about some of the biggie parenting issues -- like how you'll share childcare, working vs. staying home, religious traditions -- before you start trying. "But before you start freaking out over differing opinions on circumcision, public vs. private schools, or other things that are way down the road, remember that you can and will change your mind about a lot of these issues as you go along," say Odes and Morris. "The important thing is for couples to start talking about their priorities, expectations, and fears throughout the entire process, especially before you get pregnant."

If you're thinking about getting pregnant, here are 8 things you can do now to start to prepare for pregnancy.


Go off the pill

Stop your birth control a couple of months before you plan to start trying, says Robert A. Greene, MD, co-author of Perfect Hormone Balance for Fertility. This gives you a bit of time to see what your natural menstrual cycle is like -- 27 days? 32? -- so you can figure out when you're ovulating, the time of the month when you're most fertile. If you've been taking the pill for a while, your cycle could be different from what it was before you started. It can take a while for hormone levels to get back on track after you ditch the pill, but if your period's still MIA after three months, you should see your doctor.

Cut back on partying

Drinking and smoking during pregnancy? We don't need to tell you they're major don'ts. If you indulge in either, start scaling back now, says Jennifer Wider, MD, author of The New Mom's Survival Guide and medical advisor to the Society for Women's Health Research. "If you're a moderate drinker -- you have a couple of drinks on a Thursday night or over the weekend, you probably don't need to change anything, as long as you're sure you're not pregnant yet," she says. "But drinking most nights of the week or downing five cocktails in a sitting can be more of a problem." That goes for your partner, too. Excess alcohol intake has been shown to interfere with your fertility and can also lower sperm count in men. Smoking cigarettes, even socially, can affect your egg quality and your hubby's sperm -- not to mention increase your risk of birth defects, miscarriage, preterm labor, and other conditions after you become pregnant. It's estimated that up to 13 percent of fertility problems may be caused by tobacco use, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine -- and no level of smoking or exposure to smoke is safe. In fact, research shows that even women exposed to secondhand smoke have more problems getting pregnant than those who aren't. Bottom line: There's never been a better time to kick butt, and insist your partner does too.

What's more, quitting smoking or drinking cold turkey after you do become pregnant can be a shock to your system, say Rebecca Odes and Ceridwen Morris, authors of From the Hips: A Comprehensive, Open-Minded, Uncensored, Totally Honest Guide to Pregnancy, Birth, and Becoming a Parent. "Psychologically speaking, if you feel that pregnancy made you 'give up' all these things you loved, you can pile on some resentment right out of the gate," they say. "Quitting smoking or your multiple margarita habit is a great achievement, so start now and let it be something you're proud of, rather than pushed into."

Limit caffeine

If the Starbucks barista knows your order as soon as you step up the counter or you can't get through the workday without four cups of French roast, "do yourself a favor and cut back your caffeine intake now," says Dr. Wider. "Not only because studies show that too much caffeine can trigger miscarriage, but because you want to avoid withdrawal after you're pregnant."

FYI: Doctors are mixed about how much caffeine is safe once you are expecting. Most condone the equivalent in a small cup of java a day -- about 100 milligrams -- though some may recommend forgoing it entirely, especially in the first trimester. And don't forget to tally other common sources of caffeine, like soda, tea, energy drinks, and even certain pain medications. A 12-ounce can of soda or 8-ounce cup of green or black tea can pack anywhere from 30 to 60 milligrams of caffeine; two tablets of extra-strength Excedrin have 130 milligrams. If you're worried, start reading labels to see how much caffeine is in your diet.

Something magical is about to happen! Watch as the ovulation process occurs, and then millions of sperm swim upstream on a quest to fertilize an egg.

How conception really happens

Something magical is about to happen! Watch as the ovulation process occurs, and then millions of sperm swim upstream on a quest to fertilize an egg.

Step on the scale

If you can stand to shed a few pounds, now is the time to go for it. "Not only can trimming 10 to 15 pounds from your frame make it easier for overweight women to get pregnant," says Dr. Greene, "but it will help you have a healthier pregnancy and delivery with fewer risks and complications." Working an exercise regimen into your routine now -- whether it's walking a few times a week or penciling in a Pilates class -- increases the likelihood you'll stick with it during and after pregnancy, making it easier to get your body back after baby arrives. And if you're on the skinny side, check with your doctor about whether you should bulk up a bit. Being too thin -- especially if it throws your periods out of whack -- is a known fertility meddler. The get-pregnant ideal is a body mass index (BMI) between 19 and 24.

Go to the movies

Catch as many flicks on the big screen as you can. Once you're pregnant, sitting still in the same position for a couple of hours -- combined with having to pee constantly -- can get uncomfortable. And if you tend to fall asleep at the movies, it'll be that much harder to stay awake once pregnancy exhaustion kicks in.

Set up a slush fund

You know you'll have to start socking money away for college, diapers, and all that baby stuff eventually, and once you're pregnant, you definitely should. "But even pregnancy itself can be more costly than you'd anticipate," says Katina Z. Jones, author of The Everything Get Ready for Baby Book, between all those doctor's co-pays, new maternity clothes, etc. "Even if you do a little at a time, just $20 a paycheck, you'll feel better knowing you have some type of nest egg set up before you begin trying to conceive. And if you have money left over you can always spend it on nursery furniture or other baby expenses."

Pop a prenatal supplement

"Any woman thinking about getting pregnant in the next three to six months should start taking a daily multivitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid," says Dr. Wider. According to the March of Dimes, getting enough of this B vitamin before and early on in pregnancy can reduce brain and spine birth defects by up to 70 percent. And the multivitamin itself is packed with other nutrients crucial for a healthy pregnancy, like iron to prevent anemia and calcium for strong teeth and bones. Pop the pill after you brush your teeth in the morning or stash a jar at work and set an e-mail reminder to take it when you first get in. If you hate swallowing pills, they come in chewable form too. Starting the habit now will make it easier to remember once you're expecting.

Stock up on sleep

Bank those zzz's now, recommends Jackie Rose, co-author of The Newly Non-Drinking Girl's Guide to Pregnancy. "Sleep in with your husband on the weekends, nap whenever you can," she says. Most of us anticipate sleepless nights once baby arrives, but many women don't realize that it can be tough to get a decent night's rest during pregnancy -- when things like heartburn, getting up to pee, and adjusting to side-snoozing can keep some expectant moms tossing and turning. It may even help you get pregnant faster -- women who get too little sleep tend to have more problems ovulating regularly than those who don't, studies show.

Feeling the tick of that notorious biological clock is enough to turn the most patient woman into Veruca Salt -- "But I want it now!" Fortunately, there are easy steps to speeding along conception, no matter how long you've been trying.

Get pregnant faster

Dr. Alexandra Sowa suggests 6 ways to boost fertility and get pregnant faster.

Find your surefire stress remedy

Some research shows that having crazy-high stress levels can delay your ability to get pregnant (by making ovulation wacky, or by interfering with an embryo's ability to implant in the uterus). If you're an uber-Type A personality to begin with, your stress may ramp up once you're pregnant and dealing with getting your home and life ready for baby. "Take an emotional gut-check now, make sure you feel calm and prepared for this next phase of your life, and figure out what helps you relax best," says Dr. Wider. "Maybe it's sipping tea and watching old episodes of Sex and the City, going out for a three-mile run, or just unloading on your best friend. Whatever it is, if it works for you now, it will help you when you're pregnant or a new mom." Don't have a go-to stress reliever? Dr. Greene recommends keeping a journal on top of your nightstand, and scribbling down 15 minutes' worth of thoughts before bed. Studies show that writing in a journal regularly can help you feel more optimistic and less worried.

Get snap-happy

If the last time you whipped out the camera was on the honeymoon, it's time to start taking more photos now -- not just of you and your hubs, but also of your house, the place you met, and anything else that reminds you of your pre-pregnancy, pre-baby existence. "This is such a magical time in your life, when you can really be all about the two of you with no one else to take care of, and one day you'll appreciate having documented it," says Jones. "Plus, your kids will love to see the photos down the road. They'll wonder 'What was life like before I was born?' and this gives you a way to show them."

Make a restaurant checklist

Chances are you and your partner have a few local eateries you've been dying to try, so start keeping a list of your favorites, and spend your Saturday nights crossing them off. Obviously you'll still be able to dine out when you're pregnant, but meals may be a little different. For one thing, dinners just don't feel as splurgy when you can't linger over a bottle of wine. You may find some of your menu favorites off-limits -- no Caesar salad (raw eggs); swordfish (too much mercury); or unpasteurized soft cheeses, to name a few. And pregnancy issues like morning sickness, heartburn, or even weird cravings or aversions can throw your palate off-kilter. Plan on at least a few decadent dinners on the town now -- and order whatever you want without thinking twice about it!

Deal with where you want to live

Do you need to move for more space, a better location, or any other reason? Our advice: Do it soon. Getting settled -- ideally, somewhere you want to be for at least a couple of years -- and feeling good about your home will help you feel more prepared for pregnancy. It's nice not to have to deal with moves, renovations, lawyers, and closings once you're pregnant (no one wants to be packing at 8 months along).

On the other hand, if you're happy where live, don't feel like you have to move now that you're family-planning either -- you don't need a huge, multi-bedroom house in suburbia to raise a baby. Remember that many infants sleep in a bassinet or co-sleeper in their parents' bedroom for the first few months, and a baby won't be any happier just because he has his own nursery and playroom. You'll have plenty of time to make the big move later if you're satisfied with apartment-dwelling now.

Deal with your job

Though there's no law that says you can't job-hunt while you're pregnant (and in fact, it's illegal not to hire someone based only on the fact that she's expecting), now's a better time to switch jobs if you're unhappy. For one thing, you need to have been working somewhere at least 12 months to qualify for FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act -- the federal law that stipulates companies of 50 or more employees must provide 12 weeks of unpaid maternity or paternity leave). But more than that, it's important to take a 10,000-foot look at your career, says Cathy Stahl, co-author of Twin Set, and ask yourself the following questions: Are your hours okay? Is there enough flexibility for childcare after baby arrives? Can you handle the commute? Do other new parents seem happy working at your company? If you find yourself answering no, you may want to look for a new gig or see if your boss is willing to work with you to tweak your job description. Perhaps you can take on smaller clients to cut back on your hours, say, or clock in from home a couple of days a week if you have a particularly hellish ride in.

Ask your mom about her pregnancy

And your sisters, aunts, and grandmas, if you can. Did it take them a long time to conceive? Were there any complications, like preterm labor or having a breech delivery? Certain health conditions tend to run in families, and it's a smart idea to brush up on your history and share any relevant information with your doctor. But don't worry too much. Just because it took your sister a year to get pregnant doesn't mean you'll necessarily have a hard time too. Many common fertility problems, like poor egg quality (due to age) or blocked or damaged fallopian tubes, are not hereditary, but some, like fibroids or ovarian cysts, can be. Your doctor can help you understand which, if any, family issues can affect your fertility or pregnancy so you'll be better prepared to deal with them later.

Pay your doc a visit

Many experts recommend booking a pre-pregnancy checkup at your ob-gyn at least three months before you plan to start trying, says Dr. Greene, especially if you don't see the doctor regularly. You'll want to make sure you're up-to-date on vaccinations, checked for STDs, tested for heart-health issues like high blood pressure and cholesterol, and make sure that any chronic conditions, such as diabetes, asthma, or thyroid problems, are in check. (It's a good idea to send your husband to visit an internist too -- most men see doctors far less regularly than women. A regular physical can help ensure he has no chronic conditions or is taking medications that may affect sperm count or cause other fertility problems.) Depending on your ethnic background, your doctor may also recommend genetic testing. This visit is a good opportunity to make sure any medications you take are safe to use while trying to conceive, and to ask your doctor anything on your mind about getting pregnant or pregnancy.
Finally, use this visit to assess your relationship with your doc and make sure he or she is someone you'll want to continue seeing once you're pregnant. Make sure your doctor takes pregnant patients. You may be surprised to learn that your gynecologist may not be an obstetrician. Does she take the time to address your questions fully and carefully, or do you get brushed off with eye-rolls or phrases like "You don't need to worry about that"? Remember, you'll be seeing a lot of this person once you're expecting, and you'll need to be able to trust her advice during one of the most important times of your life -- make sure it's someone you totally feel comfortable with.

Don't forget the dentist

It may seem totally unrelated to fertility, but getting your teeth and gums checked out before pregnancy is another wise move, says Dr. Greene. More and more research links oral health to a healthy pregnancy; women with unchecked gum disease are more prone to miscarriage, preterm birth, and preeclampsia. "In fact, brushing, flossing, and seeing the dentist regularly can cut your miscarriage risk by up to 70 percent," he says. Having your teeth examined now gives you time to get gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) under control and get x-rays (which should be avoided during pregnancy) if you need them. If your oral health is less than stellar, your dentist may recommend you come in for cleanings every few months.

Book a girlfriend getaway

Travel, travel, travel -- we heard this tip from virtually every expert and real mom we polled. And not just with your husband on your dream vacay (African safari, Amalfi Coast, Australia, whatever), but also with your girls -- especially ones you don't see very often or who couldn't be further from the marriage-pregnancy-baby thing. "Don't forget that you need your friends' support during pregnancy as much as your husband's," says Jones. "Having one totally carefree trip is a great way to celebrate those relationships and create memories you'll savor forever."



Go back to your roots

If you've been hiding your true hair color under those honey-blond (and totally high-maintenance) locks, now's the time to reconsider your hair hue. "You don't want to be getting touch-ups every few weeks while you're pregnant," says Dr. Wider. Though there's no conclusive research that proves hair coloring is unsafe during pregnancy, most experts recommend trying to minimize your exposure to the chemicals, especially in the first trimester when your baby's major organ growth takes place. If you're concerned, talk to your colorist about how to scale back -- perhaps you can phase into highlights, which are usually less upkeep and may be safer.

Stop buying clothes

You'll grow out of those fitted tops and skinny jeans within a couple of months of pregnancy, so anything you buy now you'll get to wear only for a few months before they get packed away until after baby comes. Plus, you'll want to start stocking up on maternity clothes by your second trimester. Instead, direct your urge to splurge now on classic things like bags, shoes, and other accessories that'll fit no matter your pregnancy or postpartum stage.

All content on this Web site, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

sarah Posted on December 06, 2018 10:49

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Russia will build missiles if US leaves treaty, Putin warns

Russia will develop missiles banned under a Cold War agreement if the US exits the pact, President Vladimir Putin has warned.

His comments follow Nato's accusation on Tuesday that Russia has already broken the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

Signed in 1987 by the US and USSR, it banned both countries' use of all short and medium-range missiles.

But Mr Putin says the accusation is a pretext for the US to leave the pact.

In televised comments, the Russian leader said many other countries had developed weapons banned under the INF treaty.

"Now it seems our American partners believe that the situation has changed so much that [they] must also have such a weapon," he said.

"What's our response? It's simple - in that case we will also do this."US President Donald Trump has previously said the country would leave the treaty because of Russian actions.

Analysts say Russia sees the weapons as a cheaper alternative to conventional forces.

Arriving for talks with Nato foreign ministers, EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini urged the two countries to save the treaty, saying it had "guaranteed peace and security in European territory for 30 years now".

What has Nato said?

On Tuesday, the Western military alliance formally accused Russia of breaking the treaty.

"Allies have concluded that Russia has developed and fielded a missile system, the 9M729, which violates the INF Treaty and poses significant risks to Euro-Atlantic security," the Nato foreign ministers' statement read.

The statement said the member nations "strongly support" the US claim that Russia is in breach of the pact, and called on Moscow to "return urgently to full and verifiable compliance".

Speaking after the release of Nato's statement, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Russia had 60 days to return to compliance with the treaty, after which time the US would suspend its own compliance.

"During this 60 days we will still not test or produce or deploy any systems, and we'll see what happens during this 60-day period," he said.

Russia has repeatedly denied breaking the Cold War treaty.

What is the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty?

  • Signed by the US and the USSR in 1987, the arms control deal banned all nuclear and non-nuclear missiles with short and medium ranges, except sea-launched weapons
  • The US had been concerned by the Soviet deployment of the SS-20 missile system and responded by placing Pershing and cruise missiles in Europe - sparking widespread protests
  • By 1991, nearly 2,700 missiles had been destroyed
  • Both countries were allowed to inspect the other's installations
  • In 2007, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the treaty no longer served Russia's interests
  • The move came after the US withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002.

In 2014, then US President Barack Obama accused Russia of breaching the INF Treaty after it allegedly tested a ground-launched cruise missile.

He reportedly chose not to withdraw from the treaty under pressure from European leaders, who said such a move could restart an arms race.

The last time the US withdrew from a major arms treaty was in 2002, when President George W Bush pulled the US out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which banned weapons designed to counter ballistic nuclear missiles.

His administration's move to set up a missile shield in Europe alarmed the Kremlin, and was scrapped by the Obama administration in 2009. It was replaced by a modified defence system in 2016.

ruby Posted on December 06, 2018 10:49

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German CDU: End of era as race to succeed Merkel hits climax

There is an air of finality in Germany. A sense that, as the year begins to draw to its close, so too does the era of Angela Merkel.

She will step down on Friday as leader of her CDU party and has confirmed that she won't stand again as chancellor when her fourth term ends in 2021.

There's a famous German saying: "Everything has an end - only sausages have two." It comes to mind now, as the smell of frying meat drifts from Berlin's Christmas markets and mingles with the spicy aroma of mulled wine.

Wandering through one market, a couple of pensioners disagree about her legacy.

"I must say I'm sorry to see her leave," says Ingrid. "It was bad luck for her with the refugee policy, but for me she was the chancellor."

"She's been in the job too long," Heinz argues. It would be better to have a two-term limit like they do in the US."

Can Merkel complete her term?

The race to replace Mrs Merkel as CDU leader is particularly charged. The person who's chosen to lead the party could emerge as the next German chancellor.

"Unlike the UK, the party leader does not automatically become the prime minister candidate too, but traditionally it's always been good for a chancellor to be chairperson of his or her party," says Jan Techau of the German Marshall fund.

He says that Mrs Merkel's decision to step down as CDU leader but stay on as chancellor creates friction in the system.

"The moment you announce your resignation as party chairperson, everyone's waiting for the moment when you also resign as chancellor."And so, as Germans rush about preparing for Christmas, three candidates have feverishly toured the country, holding hustings for the party faithful.

It all comes to a head at the party conference on Friday, when just 1,001 delegates will have the chance to vote.

Who wants Merkel's job?

At a hustings in Berlin, the rank and file crowd in to meet and question the three people who, whilst relatively unknown outside Germany, have become household names here.

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer - known as AKK - is the Merkel choice

The 56-year-old former prime minister of the state of Saarland was appointed general secretary of the CDU earlier this year and is the party favourite, polls suggest. Popular in Saarland and Berlin, she has an unpretentious style and a reputation for calm analysis as well as political acumen.

Her greatest strength is also her greatest weakness; she's a Merkel loyalist who's perceived as someone who will replicate much of the chancellor's style and policy.

Friedrich Merz - former top party figure, sidelined by Merkel

The millionaire businessman was a powerful player in the CDU in the early 2000s but left politics when he fell out with the chancellor.

Since then the 63-year-old lawyer - who has strong links to America - has built a career in the private sector and works for US company Blackrock. He appeals to the more conservative and business-minded wing of the party and has the official backing of ex-finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble.

Jens Spahn - young and energetic but unlikely to win

Mrs Merkel's health minister is ambitious and, aged 38, the youngest of the three candidates.

The former banker was once described by Mr Schäuble as "one of the great hopes for the future of our party".

But Mr Spahn has ruffled feathers in the party and in the cabinet. Sharply conservative, Catholic and gay, he is a divisive figure for many.

Why the candidates have one key challenge

After nearly 20 years as party leader, Mrs Merkel still commands extraordinary respect within the CDU. The candidates have to somehow embody change whilst also representing continuity.

Watching in the audience, CDU supporter Michael says he would like AKK to take over: "We are looking for someone who can keep the party together, who will encourage lively debate but who can also achieve results. And someone who will - in the medium term - be able to replace Mrs Merkel as chancellor."

Another supporter, Elke, worries that Angela Merkel is leaving a big gap. "We might need all three of them to fill that gap," she says.

Is this the beginning of the end?

What no-one is addressing openly here is the question which produces acres of speculative newspaper columns.

Those who would write Mrs Merkel's political obituary are often premature.

She says she intends to stay as chancellor and work alongside the new party chairperson until 2021.

Much depends on who that person is. But few now think that's likely - including Jan Techau.

"The moment the new chairperson is in the conservative party, her power base will erode even further, the authority will diminish and, depending on who it is, that person will seek the stand-off and will seek the decision rather sooner than later. So, sitting it out is unlikely."

In a country where leaderships last and change tends to be slow, the political season is beginning to turn.

ruby Posted on December 06, 2018 10:39

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What Are Hemorrhoids? Things to know about it

Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the lowest part of your rectum and anus. Sometimes the walls of these blood vessels stretch so thin that the veins bulge and get irritated, especially when you poop.

Swollen hemorrhoids are also called piles

Hemorrhoids are one of the most common causes of rectal bleeding. They're rarely dangerous and usually clear up in a couple of weeks. But you should see your doctor to make sure it's not a more serious condition. He can also remove hemorrhoids that won't go away or are very painful.

Internal and External Hemorrhoids

Internal hemorrhoids are far enough inside the rectum that you can't usually see or feel them. They don't generally hurt because you have few pain-sensing nerves there. Bleeding may be the only sign of them.

External hemorrhoids are under the skin around the anus, where there are many more pain-sensing nerves, so they tend to hurt as well as bleed.

Sometimes hemorrhoids prolapse, or get bigger and bulge outside the anal sphincter. Then you may be able to see them as moist bumps that are pinker than the surrounding area. And they're more likely to hurt, often when you poop.

Prolapsed hemorrhoids usually go back inside on their own. Even if they don't, they can often be gently pushed back into place.

blood clot can form in an external hemorrhoid, turning it purple or blue. This is called a thrombosis. It can hurt and itch a lot and could bleed. When the clot dissolves, you may still have a bit of skin left over, which could get irritated.

What Causes Them?

Some people may be more likely to get hemorrhoids if other family members, like their parents, had them.

A buildup of pressure in your lower rectum can affect blood flow and make the veins there swell. That may happen from extra weight, when you're obese or pregnant. Or it could come from:

  • Pushing during bowel movements
  • Straining when you do something that's physically hard, like lifting something heavy

People who stand or sit for long stretches of time are at greater risk, too.

You may get them when you have constipation or diarrhea that doesn't clear up. Coughing, sneezing, and vomiting could make them worse.

How to Prevent Them

Eat fiber. A good way to get it is from plant foods -- vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, and legumes.

Drink water. It will help you avoid hard stools and constipation, so you strain less during bowel movements. Fruits and vegetables, which have fiber, also have water in them.

Exercise. Physical activity, like walking a half-hour every day, is another way to keep your blood and your bowels moving.

Don't wait to go. Use the toilet as soon as you feel the urge.

sarah Posted on December 06, 2018 10:29

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Global alliance helping start-ups inject innovation into vaccine delivery

What do drones, smart fridges and wearable tech have in common? Apart from perhaps making your Christmas list this year, they are part of a global strategy to save millions of lives through immunisation. In Tanzania, tech start-up Nexleaf Analyticsworks with the government to combine the Internet of Things (IoT) and data analytics for the monitoring of thousands of connected fridges, ensuring vaccines are kept at an optimum temperature for viability.

Nexleaf is part of a cohort of healthcare-oriented tech start-ups that are incubated and accelerated within Infuse, an innovation hub created by global non-profit organisation Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, with the express purpose of improving vaccine delivery systems in developing countries.

Gavi, created in 2000, has helped developing countries to prevent more than 10 million potential deaths through its support for immunisation programmes and vaccination campaigns. Since 2017, 65 million children in more than 60 countries have been immunised with Gavi-supported vaccines. Part of the challenge, however, is in getting vaccines to the hardest-to-reach areas of developing countries, and ensuring that these vaccines survive extreme weather conditions.

New technologies such as drones or smart fridges can meet these challenges but they cannot be power-hungry, rely on expensive-to-replace parts, or require overly specialist technicians to regularly maintain them because – although they may be developed at cutting-edge start-ups – they must be robust enough to operate in low-income countries. Lives depend upon it.

This is why Gavi launched Infuse (Innovation for Uptake, Scale and Equity in Immunisation) at Davos in 2016: it is a beacon for tech start-ups looking to scale while helping the Vaccine Alliance tackle global health priorities. Moz Siddiqui, senior manager of strategic innovation and partnerships at Gavi, says that in conversations he has had with private investors, they say Infuse is a bit like a venture capitalist itself: “When we explain what we do they say: ‘So, you’re basically a VC for global health’, except we’re not taking equity from any of these companies; we’re providing them with mentoring, exposure and the right connections to certain organisations such as ministries of health and others that can help them navigate this space.”


Drone delivery

One of the first companies that Infuse worked with is Zipline, a drone delivery start-up. Zipline and Infuse partnered with UPS to ship blood and medication to inaccessible regions of Rwanda, where healthcare workers previously made the journey by bike, donkey or on foot in all kinds of extreme weather. Trips that had taken days and hours were cut down to hours and minutes and Zipline now delivers two-fifths of the country’s blood supply outside the capital.

“We’re paring start-ups with the private sector so there is a learning process from large corporate to start-up and, similarly, there is a value add for large corporates to be working with a start-up. We’re also looking at how to inject them with capital to get them to the point of being able to scale. So if you think about what venture capitalists do: while they take strategic bets we are making strategic decisions, already knowing what specific use cases we have in mind,” Siddiqui says.

Zipline is one of Infuse’s flagship start-ups or what is known, in Infuse vernacular, as a “pacesetter”: they create a path and set the pace for others to follow. The pacesetters set the tone and, in Nexleaf’s case, have stimulated an entire market.

“This ensures we are always getting the next iteration of that particular technology,” says Siddiqui. “We want to know if there are even more innovative sets of technologies out there because the end result is to provide countries with technology they can use to improve their own vaccine delivery systems.


“Stimulating an entire market helps reduce the time between supply and demand of vaccines. We know, given the scale, that we probably can’t find just one technology; we need to find a whole range of them. It defuses the risk but it also defuses a potential market monopoly that we might be inadvertently creating,” he explains.

Last year, Gavi took its fight for global immunisation directly to Silicon Valley. It convened a meeting in the valley with Y CombinatorSalesforce, and alongside the philanthropic community, venture funds and academia on how best to tap into the tech sector to improve vaccine delivery while benefitting the companies that come on board. is already part of this and has teamed up with Gavi and Nexleaf Analytics to help scale the start-up’s data-driven “cold chain” equipment; this is that system of thousands of connected smart fridges that ensure storage of safe and potent vaccines.

“The challenge that we face is that vaccines need to be kept between two to eight Celsius and the current method for doing that isn’t the most optimised. Nexleaf have created a sensor that allows it to get real-time data from fridges,” says Siddiqui.

“This is important because if you’re a country with around 1,000 fridges out there you want to know which of your fridges are working. When they’re not working you end up deploying your technicians, knowing that it’s quite costly, so you need to be more precise. In terms of IoT, organisations like understand how to use this data quite carefully and they are interested in asking: how do we build this out?”

Siddiqui says it is about limiting the rate of vaccine wastage to help governments save money and because the cold chain is critical, especially in hot countries, predictive data analytics, given enough sensor data, can start to make educated guesses about what fridges will fail, and when, and prevent this from happening.

Nexleaf’s ColdTrace sensor technology is attracting attention beyond Tanzania and proves that technological innovation doesn’t always have to begin in developed countries, as chief executive Keller Rinaudo has said, explaining that the combination of a readily available market and low regulatory compliance can get a product to market more quickly than in Europe or the United States.

Nevertheless, big US tech companies have left their mark: invested US$2 million in Nexleaf, as did the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has been a driving force throughout Gavi’s development. The foundation’s initial pledge of $750 million in 1999 provided the seed money to launch Gavi in the first place, with more than $1.5 billion in donor contributions and pledges to date.

Bill Gates has, in the past, said of Gavi’s importance: “One of the highest priorities of the Gates Foundation is to increase access to life-saving vaccines for children in the world’s poorest countries.”

Robust system

In terms of Gavi’s future goals, the aim is to immunise 300 million children by 2020 and, as Siddiqui says, “also leave behind a really robust system that countries can then own and operate. That is the driver of all of this innovation.”

In order to do this the Vaccine Alliance must push past global immunisation coverage, which they say has stalled at about 80 per cent for several years. Part of this problem lies in the “last mile”: lack of infrastructure or inaccessible, remote locations can stymie vaccine delivery and solving this is what led to high-tech solutions such as drones.

But drones alone don’t solve the problem. When the last mile involves ensuring vaccination is a core part of antenatal care, healthcare workers need a more human touch. Another Gavi pacesetter is Khushi Baby, an Indian company that made its debut on Kickstarter back in 2014 and has created an inexpensive digital necklace that allows the owner to wear their medical records.

When a nurse visits a rural village, equipped with an NFC-enabled mobile phone, they simply hold it close to the necklace to check if the infant’s vaccinations are up to date. The reason for designing this tech as a necklace is that Khushi Baby’s founders noticed many mothers placing amulets on a black thread around their child’s neck in order to ward off disease. Now, in conjunction with 80 healthcare workers, they have 12,000 mothers and infants in 375 villages in the Udaipur district of Rajasthan, India, wearing these devices.

“Our superpower within the vaccine ecosystem is scale. We now work across 68 countries and we purchase vaccines for 60 per cent of the world’s birth cohort,” says Siddiqui.

“We are always thinking about how to make sure we are finding some really interesting, applicable, potentially game-changing technologies that are not just disrupting industry for the better but which we can adapt to our context.”

sarah Posted on December 06, 2018 10:19

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How AI is improving the lives of children with challenges

AI is helping children with autism, deaf children and newborns suffering seizures

         For many people living with autism, social interactions can be like being in a country where you don’t speak the language. What neurotypical people take for granted – interpreting cues from body language, tones and facial expressions, establishing a rapport with eye contact – can be a challenge for people on the autism spectrum. It’s a varied thing, of course, but for those who do experience these challenges, it can be isolating.

Dr Ned Sahin may have a solution that could help with at least some of these issues, and artificial intelligence plays a large role.

“You might have a tremendous amount of power in your brain, but not be able to communicate with others. Imagine if you didn’t speak the language, everyone was yelling at you, facing backwards, you didn’t know who to listen to, and everything about you felt just a little bit off,” he said.

“Just imagine if I could give you an AI that would outsource or near source some of the complex challenges such as determining when someone is angry or bored, or help look towards someone, pay attention when they are speaking and get the right information.”

Clinical trials

It’s not a theoretical device; Dr Sahin has built one using Google Glass. The wearable device has been through clinical trials and is now on sale in schools. It uses facial detection and analysis to detect emotions and turns into a video game: the wearer gets points for making eye contact with a teacher, or for guessing correctly if someone is happy or angry.

“We’re using facial detection and analysis to decode facial emotions and turn that into a video game. We have about 10 different apps at different stages, commercialised and under development that are a wearable life coach on your shoulder, on your head, interposed between you and the rest of reality, but not blocking you from actually being part of reality,” he said.

“AI is doing the heavy lifting. When it feels like a video game, it taps into natural motivational structures that children have and teaches them the skills that will get them through the biggest two gateways in life, which is a romantic partnership and a job.”

      While Google provides the hardware, the computing behind the scenes comes through Amazon Web Services (AWS). The global giant has been doubling down on machine learning and artificial intelligence, opening up powerful tools to smaller companies and organisations at a more competitive cost than in the past. At its annual Re:Invent conference, the company announced everything from a custom designed chip to technology that can speed up the training of AI models. The end result? Amazon is hoping that it will democratise the technology, accelerating its rollout throughout every industry as it becomes easier and cheaper for companies and organisations to use the technology in their products.

       In the meantime, the movement for AI for good continues. Phone maker Huawei has also dipped its toe into the water with a new app that signs a select number of story books for deaf children, helping to teach them to read. Announced at the start of December, the app will translate a book into sign language through the the Mate 20 Pro’s camera, using an onscreen avatar to sign the story as the printed words are highlighted.

“We created StorySign to help make it possible for families with deaf children to enjoy an enriched story time,” said Andrew Garrihy, chief marketing officer, Huawei western Europe. “We hope that by raising awareness of deaf literacy issues, people will be encouraged to donate to or support one of the fantastic charity partners we are working with across Europe.”


      Closer to home, Cork’s INFANT Research Centre has been using AI to help improve outcomes for newborn babies. Researchers in the centre developed an algorithm that helps detect seizures in newborns, interpreting EEG readings at the same level as a human expert. The software can be integrated into existing bedside monitors, limiting the amount of equipment necessary around a child’s bedside and providing doctors with valuable clinical data. It has been a major win for the treatment of newborns, and looks set to be rolled out globally once the clinical trials have been published. The project won an AI award last month, one of several Irish activities in artificial intelligence that were honoured.

Careful consideration

       However, while AI has enormous potential for good, there are issues ahead and there needs to be some careful consideration about its impact.

Vasi Philomin, director of software engineering with AWS, said knowing the limitations of the services is important for effective use.

“You’ve got to understand what the capabilities of the service actually is and then try to use it appropriately in those cases,” he said.

In the case of AWS’s services that use facial recognition, for example, the results are given a confidence score that indicates the probability. The higher the score, the higher the probability.

        “In the real world when you see how these things are used,” he explained. “These services are used as sort of a filter to handle the massive amounts of data out there and narrow the field down for a human to take a look and make a decision in the end. We shouldn’t forget there’s a human in the loop, especially for things that are serious.”

AWS’s approach is to keep the models for AI and machine learning in the cloud, something Philomin said would improve them over time and perhaps even work out some of the biases that could creep in to data.


             “It’s important to have good-quality diverse data for training and that’s something we strive to do with our services,” he said. “We continuously improve the services, and customers who are using them see the improvements without having to do anything on their side.”

But requiring businesses and the tech industry to police their own actions may be a step too far in trust for some. The tech industry is littered with cases where the limitations of services were not taken into account, and there is the fear that society will bear the brunt of this.

          According to Microsoft Ireland managing director Cathriona Hallahan, AI can be a force for good – but governments need to take a hand in steering its course. “It should be a partnership between man and machine and not one or the other. Humans need to stay in control of who gets to define how that technology should be used,” she said. “It should be a coalition with industry, between public and private sectors and government to come together and say ‘how should we regulate this and who should have control?’ It shouldn’t be left in the hands of industry to do that alone.”

       Dr Sahin has a clear view of the impending impact of AI. “Every useful technology will be used for evil and for good. It’s desperately important for those of us who are doing good, unassailably, to push forward. That doesn’t mean ignore the concerns around ethics; it means take them as seriously as possible,” he said. “Consider it do good, and know what that means. If we worry about the sky falling in, about the data we give off now being used against us in the future, we won’t make progress forwards.”

sarah Posted on December 06, 2018 10:15

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Brian O’Driscoll opens up about use of legal painkillers when he was playing

The prescription painkillers Difene and co-codamol were regularly handed out  to Leinster and Ireland rugby players so they could ‘play their best game’, former Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll has revealed.

“I’d have been part of teams where the doctor would have walked down the bus on the way to games inquiring who wanted what in advance [of kick-off],” said O’Driscoll on Off The Ball. “For me, for the last couple of seasons, part of my match prep would have been a Difene and couple of co-codamol.”

O’Driscoll was speaking in the context of a International Rugby Players’ survey that revealed 45 per cent of players feel pressured by coaches and staff to play while injured.

He never felt such pressure.

“In the Leinster and Irish set-ups you could get your hands on difene. You got to fight your case a bit more now, and prove their necessity. Drug cabinets that might have been open once upon a time are very much shut and inaccessible.

“It used to be for sleepers as well. Diazepam [valium] to try and counteract what would happen with the caffeine [tablets] because they couldn’t sleep.

“I’m not saying it was the culture but it happened.”

Asked to explain the value of such drugs, by OTB presenter Joe Molloy, he replied, “Just a painkiller if I was carrying something. You know what? It almost became like habit, where it gave me a fighting chance if I wasn’t feeling 100 percent that it might have levelled it up.”

‘Perfectly legal’

“Which might have been most of the time?” asked Molloy.

“Which was probably a lot of the time. That is the reality of it. I wouldn’t have been the only one doing that. It was usually the older players, just to get you to balance the equilibrium, almost of feeling okay.


“I’m sure at times in my subconscious I would have taken it where maybe I could have done without it,” O’Driscoll continued. “If it is perfectly legal there is no need for TUEs [Therapeutic Use Exemptions] , give yourself a chance of playing your best game.

“I also had caffeine before games. I’d have three little tablets of caffeine, like chewing gum. You’d get into a routine where I knew exactly what I was doing, I had it down to the final seconds. As soon as I ran out on the pitch I’d bash it away and do my pre-warm up before we got together with the team.

“That was part and parcel of the last four or five years of my career.”

Difene, co-codamol and Diazepam all require prescriptions to purchase in a pharmacy.

On the related issue of player welfare, O’Driscoll added: “This definitely comes into the realms of player welfare where they won’t protect [players] from themselves, from taking these things.

“You play games, you make money, you’ve a better quality of life. It’s a simple pyramid; you’ve more chance of success the more you play.

No adverse effects

“I wouldn’t change a whole lot, now . . . I haven’t felt any adverse effects. Ask me at 75 and see what the state of my insides are like. I didn’t take so many Difene that I’m concerned but there would be players out there taking them every single day, that can’t be good for you. “

Also during the interview on Wednesday Night Rugby concerns were raised about the damage Difene does to a person’s insides.

“I’d never take Difene on an empty stomach. That would absolutely pull your stomach apart. I was always very conscious not to take it with orange juice or a cup of coffee. You’d need to eat and make sure you’ve a full stomach and I never had an issue.”

O’Driscoll, Ireland’s most capped player and record try scorer, retired from rugby in 2014.

“It’s always something that stayed with me,” said the 39 year old. “I’d have some Difene in my golf bag now. Might not take one before I tee off but stiffen up on the round I might take a Difene.”

sarah Posted on December 06, 2018 10:08

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Will Opec defy Trump's call for low oil prices?

Initially it is difficult see what President Donald Trump and Usman Ahsan, a taxi driver in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, have in common.

One is the leader of the US, with an estimated personal fortune of $3.1bn (£2.4bn), the other is struggling to support his wife and eight-month-old daughter.

Yet both are this week hoping that the Opec oil producers' cartel doesn't decide to cut production in an attempt to increase global crude prices.

Representatives of Opec's current 15 member states meet at its headquarters in Vienna, Austria on Thursday, 6 December, for their latest biannual meeting, where they will set production levels for the next six months.

The expectations are that at the urging of Opec's de facto leader, Saudi Arabia, output will indeed be cut to help boost prices, which fell to their lowest levels in more than a year at the end of November

Saudi Arabia argues that output needs to be trimmed because it fears that otherwise prices could fall further next year due to a predicted slowing in demand for oil.

Both Mr Ahsan and President Trump will not be happy if Opec - which accounts for more than a third of oil supplies - does indeed cut production.

"The price of petrol is already way too high," Mr Ahsan, 28, tells the BBC over the telephone. "I sometimes have to work 16 hours a day, for 30 days in a row, to provide for my family."

Meanwhile, President Trump tweeted last month: "Hopefully, Saudi Arabia and Opec will not be cutting oil production." In another tweet in November in response to falling oil prices he wrote: "Thank you to Saudi Arabia, but let's go lower!"

Like the rest of us Mr Ahsan doesn't have any clout with Opec, but President Trump certainly does. And he wants petrol prices to stay low to help US drivers and the country's economy.

So what exactly should we expect to be announced following the Opec meeting and why?

And what are the other issues that Saudi Arabia and Opec have to consider?

If we look at the current oil prices and how they compare with the past decade, they are undeniably low. Brent Crude, widely used as a benchmark for global oil prices, fell to $58.76 a barrel on 28 November, its lowest level since October 2017.

Even though the price has subsequently risen above $63, on growing agreement among analysts that Opec will announce some production cuts, this is still less than half the highs reached in March 2012 of more than $128. Prices soared then due to fears over supplies from Iraq because of continuing instability in the country.

Opec wants to cut production because it forecasts that the rate of growth in the worldwide demand for oil will slow in 2019 as the global economy cools slightly.

It said last month it now expects worldwide demand for crude will increase by an average 1.29 million barrels per day in 2019, compared with 2018, to a total of 100 million barrels a day. Earlier, in July it was predicting an increase of 1.45 million barrels a day.

Ann-Louise Hittle, vice president in charge of oil at research group Wood Mackenzie, agrees demand will cool next year. Like many she predicts that Opec will announce production cuts, but only modest ones due to pressure from President Trump.

"We expect a production restraint agreement to emerge from the meeting and have had this in our base case 2019 forecast. We have expected this for some months because without it, there will be a large scale oversupply."

But by how much is Opec likely to cut supplies? Ms Hittle suggests around 800,000 barrels a day, that would "stabilise prices and prevent further declines". She adds that a cut of one million barrels a day would mean price rises of "several dollars a barrel".

Fellow oil industry analyst Rachel Ziemba from the Center for a New American Security predicts a cut of "up to 500,000 barrels a day".

However, she cautions that "this meeting is still tricky to call". She says that as the US and China now appear to be trying to patch up their trade dispute, the global economy may actually be stronger than previously predicted next year.

Other commentators speculate that Saudi Arabia may be more willing than usual to pay heed to President Trump's call, after the reputational damage it suffered following the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the country's consulate in Istanbul.

Saudi Arabia has actually already increased its production slightly since the summer, in response to urging from Mr Trump.

This was to make up for a fall in global supply following the US reinstating sanctions on Iran, and led to the recent yearly lows.

Jim Krane, energy research fellow at Rice University's Baker Institute in Houston, says that an Opec production cut is "looking likely" despite the pressure from President Trump.

"A lot of producers need $60-80 [per barrel of] oil to balance their national budgets," he says. "When oil falls much below $60, they get nervous."

He adds that what has strengthened Opec's hand is the organisation's close ties with Russia, and that if Opec trims production, Russia will probably do the same.

What has brought Opec and Russia together in recent years has been their mutual concern at the vast group wth of the US shale oil industry. The resulting rise in its oil production means the US is now the world's largest oil producer, according to some estimates. This puts it ahead of Saudi Arabia and Russia in second and third place.

So despite President Trump's tweets, Opec is widely predicted to announce a production cut, if only a small one, to try to raise global oil prices.

For Mr Ahsan, in Islamabad, it won't be welcome news. "Life is tough, if I try to do normal hours of driving, like eight hours, I don't make a profit because of the cost of fuel," he says.

ruby Posted on December 06, 2018 10:07

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Believe in dreams: step inside Wonderland with Tiffany & Co. this Christmas

A gift from Tiffany & Co. is cherished at any time of year, but there is something particularly magical about receiving the Tiffany blue box at Christmas. Classic, elegant and truly special, a gift from Tiffany & Co. is one to fall in love with forever.

The New York jewellers, Tiffany & Co. - made famous by the movie Breakfast at Tiffany's, where Audrey Hepburn’s Holly Golightly gazes longingly inside the Fifth Avenue store - has an inspiring range of extraordinary gifts for your loved ones.

This festive season, to showcase the many treasures to be found at Tiffany & Co., the jewellers have launched a new chapter in their “Believe in Dreams” campaign, with a delightful film filled with magic, fashion icons and even a Mad Hatter style tea party.


Viewers go behind the scenes of a Tiffany workshop for a journey into dazzling, madcap adventures, a whimsical tea party and all with a star-studded cast. It begins at Tiffany & Co.’s Fifth Avenue flagship store, where musician, actress and style icon Zoë Kravitz plays a Tiffany sales person working late into the evening.

Kravitz drifts into a spectacular daydream and leaves reality for a Tiffany Blue dreamscape which is alive with bursts of neon colour. She enters a creative wonderland where she finds an underground holiday workshop with model Xiao Wen Ju as the quirky manager of the craftspeople. She sees the exquisite workmanship and artistry of Tiffany & Co. brought to life in a series of joyous, witty vignettes featuring cameos from models including Karen Elson (pictured below) and Maye Musk.

Kravitz’s journey culminates in a “madcap tea party” hosted by Naomi Campbell where guests dine on delicious pastries from The Blue Box Cafe and crockery and table settings from the Home & Accessories collection.

At the end of the film, Kravitz discovers the magic of Tiffany & Co. is where creativity and craftsmanship come together.

The “Believe in Dreams” campaign showcases both Tiffany & Co.’s classic and new collections, including Tiffany Paper Flowers and Tiffany T, as well as their classic diamonds and gems. There is magic and beauty in every single Tiffany piece and there is nothing quite like a Tiffany Blue Box under the tree, to make your beloved’s Christmas perfect this year.

Tiffany T

Tiffany T Square Bracelet in 18k gold, €6,050

The magic of the Tiffany T collection is in its unapologetic modern and bold look as well as its timeless sophistication. The Tiffany T jewellery is an arresting collection with graphic T shapes and is inspired by New York’s energy, architecture and endearing honesty. Its graphic angles and clean lines combine beautifully to makes confident, unique pieces of jewellery. This collection's bracelets, necklaces, rings and cuffs all have a distinctive minimalist look and come in rose, white and yellow gold and sterling silver. The pieces work beautifully on their own, or stacked together. You will find some pieces with a sprinkle of diamonds to represent the twinkle of lights in the city that never sleeps.

Tiffany Paper Flowers

Tiffany Paper Flowers Diamond and Tanzanite Open Cluster Necklace, €8,650

The Tiffany Paper Flowers collection is inspired by the iris flower and full of feminine, romantic, beautiful jewellery. Designed by chief artistic officer Reed Krakoff, it honours the extraordinary craftsmanship of Tiffany & Co. with a little playfulness in the design. Krakoff wanted these pieces to dismantle the rulebook that fine jewellery is only for special occasions and this collection can easily become part of what you wear everyday. Krakoff’s inspiration came from an 1881 watercolour of an iris which he found in the Tiffany & Co. archives. He wanted to capture the romance and poetry of flowers, and botanical motifs feature throughout this stunning collection. Mirror-polished platinum is set with exquisite diamonds and the collection features rings, bracelets, earrings, and necklaces that would be a joy to receive on Christmas morning.

Classic diamonds and gems

There is nothing quite like a Tiffany & Co. stone. As well as their classic diamond, they have a stone to suit every heart’s desire including everything from emerald to aquamarine, amethyst to yellow sapphire. To make it even more personal, Tiffany & Co. offers a personalisation and engraving service, too.

The inspiration for the Tiffany Victoria collection, which is distinguished by a flower made from four hand-cut diamond petals, was from the fire of the diamonds they source.

Tiffany Victoria Alternating Ring, €16,700

These romantic, feminine pieces are handcrafted with a delicate intricacy and a unique combination of cuts.

If you are seeking something sensual, feminine and utterly wearable, go for a piece from Elsa Peretti’s Diamonds by the Yard collection.

Tiffany Elsa Peretti Diamonds by the Yard earrings, €1,300

Florence-born Peretti is a jewellery designer, style icon and philanthropist as well as a former fashion model. Her understated approach to diamonds revolutionised the way gemstones are worn.

In the Tiffany Metro collection you will find a delicate but dazzling brilliance as its key feature is its extensive use of diamonds.

Tiffany Metro Five-row Hinged Bangle, €16,400

There is a unique shimmer to this sleek, modern collection as the diamonds seem to go on forever. Initially, this collection featured pavé diamonds set in a single row, but soon after it was expanded to include pieces with multiple rows of elegant, sparkling gems to give more options to customers.

The very essence of the Tiffany Soleste collection comes from its name taken from “sol,” the Spanish word for sun.

Tiffany Soleste Ring, €8,650

At the heart of each piece from this collection is a magnificent gemstone. You will find violet-hued tanzanites, stunning sapphires and coloured diamonds encricled by two bead-set halos of diamonds. Light is gathered and mirrored throughout the design, and it makes for a spectacular engagement ring. The collection features pendants, earrings and rings.

The Tiffany Blue Box

No gift would be complete without the signature Tiffany Blue Box that wraps each piece. It is as much a part of Tiffany’s legendary style as the jewels that come within it. Its characteristic blue hue is synonymous with luxury and is sure to be the perfect gift for anyone to find under the tree this Christmas.

sarah Posted on December 06, 2018 10:00

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Boy dies after allergic reaction to cheese ‘forced’ on him at school

A 13-year-old boy with a dairy allergy has died in London after suffering a severe reaction to a piece of cheese allegedly forced on him, prompting a murder investigation by the Metropolitan Police Service.

Karanbir Cheema was taken to hospital in a life-threatening condition on June 28th after becoming unwell during a school break. He died on Sunday after 10 days at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, devastating his family and school friends.

Officers from Ealing borough police, in the west of the British capital, were initially called to the school after it “became apparent that an incident had occurred which led to the boy coming into contact with the allergen”, the Met said in a statement.

Another 13-year-old boy was arrested and released on bail pending further inquiries, and the case has been passed to homicide officers.

Karanbir’s father, Amarjeet, told the London Evening Standard newspaper he was heartbroken. “We were in hospital. I had to watch him die. No parent should have to go through that. While he was in hospital we were fully concentrated on his condition. Now we want answers. How could this have happened?” he said.

“My son had allergies, but he was very careful. He had an allergy to dairy products but was good at avoiding them. I don’t see how a piece of cheese hitting him could have killed him. It doesn’t make any sense. We have been told very little.”

A postmortem has been scheduled for Wednesday to establish the cause of what the Met described as “an unexplained death”.

The head of William Perkin C of E High School, where Karanbir was a pupil, said he was treated immediately in the school before paramedics arrived. “He had a full care plan, and all the normal steps you would expect with a child with an allergy were in place. We provided these medications, and they were delivered,” Alice Hudson, executive head teacher, told the Evening Standard. “Everything that should have been done was done. Very, very tragically in this situation this was not effective.”


She told the Daily Mirror that Karanbir, known as Karan, had come to tell staff he was having a bad reaction. “He was able to come to the school office to indicate that he thought he was having an extreme reaction, and they were able to immediately administer the normal treatment, which was kept in the office for his care.”

Hudson added: “He had many friends, who are devastated at his death, as are the staff. He was a bright and keen student who excelled in maths. Our thoughts and prayers are with Karan’s family.”

sarah Posted on December 06, 2018 09:54

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Anger over pork sausages at Germany Islam event

Germany's Interior Ministry has said it regrets serving pork sausage at a conference on Islam in Berlin earlier this week.

The ministry said the food selection had been designed for the "diverse religious attendance" at the German Islam Conference in Berlin.

But it apologised "if individuals felt offended in their religious feelings".

The event was led by Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, who in March said Islam "does not belong in Germany".

Most of the attendees at the Islam conference were Muslims, local media reported. Under Islamic law, Muslims are forbidden to eat pork.The type of sausage on offer was blutwurst - or "blood sausage" - which is made of ingredients including pig's blood, pork and bacon.

German journalist Tuncay Özdamar wrote on Twitter: "What signal does Seehofer's interior ministry want to send? A little respect for Muslims, who don't eat pork, is needed."

At the start of the conference, Mr Seehofer reportedly said that he wanted to see a "German Islam".

But Özdamar added that Mr Seehofer's "elephant in a china shop" behaviour "would never gain the support of a majority of Muslims in Germany".

In its response the Interior Ministry added that it had served 13 dishes, including halal, vegetarian, meat and fish dishes and said that all food in the buffet had been clearly marked.

Some German media reported that pork in the form of ham had been served at the first German Islam Conference in 2006.

In his March comments, which were seen as an attempt to win back voters from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, M Seehofer said Islam did not belong to Germany because "Germany is shaped by Christianity".

"The Muslims who live among us naturally belong to Germany... That of course does not mean that we should, out of a false consideration for others, give up our traditions and customs," he said.

However last month Mr Seehofer's Christian Social Union (CSU) party suffered big losses in the Bavarian elections, with the BBC's Germany Correspondent Jenny Hill saying its attempt to harden its tone and policies on immigration appeared to have backfired.

ruby Posted on December 06, 2018 09:44

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Merkel plane technical failure leaves German leader late for G20

German Chancellor Angela Merkel missed the opening of the G20 summit in Argentina after her plane was forced to land shortly after leaving Berlin.

The plane carrying Mrs Merkel's team turned back while flying over the Netherlands late on Thursday, because of a communications failure.

The Airbus made a safe but unscheduled landing in Cologne.

Mrs Merkel flew to Madrid on Friday then boarded a scheduled Iberia airlines flight to Buenos Aires.

Among her fellow passengers on board the Iberia flight was Agustín Agüero, who tweeted a picture of the chancellor on board.

On Thursday evening the captain of Mrs Merkel's plane told those on board that he had decided to turn back after the "malfunction of several electronic systems".

The plane's communications system went down and the crew had to use a satellite phone to contact air traffic controllers, Germany's Spiegel website reported.

The problem is thought to have been with an electronic distribution box, which controls both the radio and discharge of aviation fuel. At no time was there any risk to the lives of passengers, a spokeswoman for Mrs Merkel stressed.

The German air force denied suggestions that the plane's electronics could have been sabotaged. "There's is absolutely no indication of a criminal background," a spokesman said.

'Overheated braking system'

An added problem for the plane was that Cologne airport's longer runway was unavailable, Spiegel added. As the A340 had to slow down quickly and it was still fully laden with fuel, its braking system overheated and the fire brigade met the plane on the tarmac.

The German delegation was kept on the plane for some time before officials decided to travel by bus to a hotel in Bonn.

The chancellor and a smaller delegation including the finance minister travelled to Madrid on an air force plane on Friday morning before leaving for Argentina on an Iberia plane, a spokesman said.

Mrs Merkel's husband was among those on the initial flight who remained in Germany.

Although there is a standby government plane for long-haul flights, no crew was available to fly it, German media report.

Organising an alternative route proved a headache for the German government, as Mrs Merkel's entourage had to include several security officials.

Merkel misses key talks

The chancellor missed the "family photo" at the start of the G20 summit and officials were trying to reschedule planned bilateral meetings with national leaders.

German TV's satirical Heute Show tweeted an image showing three other G20 leaders arriving alongside an airport baggage hall, with the caption: "Merkel decided on an alternative arrival."

The chancellor had been due to have talks on Friday with President Donald Trump and China's Xi Jinping but was due to arrive in Buenos Aires only by early evening.

Amid the continuing crisis over Russia's seizure of 24 Ukrainian sailors, a spokeswoman in Berlin said the chancellor's meeting with Russia's Vladimir Putin on Saturday would go ahead as planned. President Trump has cancelled a meeting with the Russian leader.

The Airbus A340-300 hit by technical failure is named Konrad Adenauer after West Germany's first post-war chancellor.

For finance minister Olaf Scholz, the plane's technical problems are nothing new.

In October he was on a trip to Indonesia when the plane was grounded because rodents had gnawed through electrical cables during an annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Last month, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier arrived late for a trip to South Africa because one of the plane's engines would not start.

ruby Posted on December 06, 2018 09:01

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‘Today’ Third Hour Leaving NBC Studio That Housed Megyn Kelly’s Broadcast

NBC News is taking another step to make the third hour of its venerable “Today” look more like the first two in the wake of Megyn Kelly’s exit from the franchise.

The third hour of “Today,” which has been broadcast from Studio 6A since Kelly began hosting the time slot in the fall of 2017, is moving to Studio 1A, the facility from which the program’s flagship two hours originate,  NBC News confirmed. The move is being made to streamline the production process and make the division between the two broadcasts more seamless, the spokeswoman said. The last broadcast of “Today” from Studio 6A will take place on January 4, NBC News said, and the show will hold forth from Studio 1A starting January 7.

The maneuver is the latest from the network as it works on the fly to recalibrate the 9 a.m. broadcast of the program in the wake of the cancellation of Kelly’s tenure. Kelly left the third hour of the broadcast in October after a controversy erupted when she held an on-air discussion about the use of blackface in Halloween costumes. Her broadcast was a bet on something different for the storied NBC A.M. mainstay – a live audience and a more opinionated host.

Since her departure, NBC News has presented a more buttoned-down version of the program, led by “Today” anchors including Craig MelvinAl Roker Sheinelle Jones, and Dylan Dreier. On some days, Savannah Guthrie or Hoda Kotb, the lead anchors of the first two hours, take part. And on other days, there are surprises: an appearance by “NBC Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt, for instance, or even a cameo by Natalie Morales, the former “Today” newsreader who once played a more prominent role in the 9 a.m. broadcast.

While Kelly’s hour relied on a studio filled with a live audience, the new third hour will make use of smaller in-studio crowd, NBC News said.

Editorial and tech staffers assigned to the 9 a.m. broadcast will remain with the hour, NBC News said. Some freelancers who worked on the broadcast could be affected, though the news unit is working to find these employees other duties.

NBC News is likely eyeing new “Today” changes with some degree of caution. Ratings for both the third hour and the 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. broadcast have been on the rise in recent weeks. The show’s first two hours have long generated the most viewers among people between 25 and 54 – the demographic most coveted by advertisers. But for the past six weeks, the have also scored more morning viewers overall, allowing for victories over the show’s main rival, ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

The studio change will bring another benefit: easier logistics.  When Guthrie and Kotb take part in the third hour, they won’t have very far to travel. Studios 1A and 6A are not situated close to each other, and the two co-anchors often have to do updates after signing off at 9 a.m. for viewers on the U.S. west coast.

sarah Posted on December 06, 2018 08:59

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Cuba offers 3G mobile internet access to citizens

Cuba's population is to be offered internet access via a 3G mobile network from later this week.

Telecom provider Etecsa said citizens would be able to start subscribing to the service from Thursday.

Until now, locals have mostly relied on wi-fi hotspots and internet cafes and the 3G service has been restricted to state-employed journalists and foreign businesses among others.

This will change - but many will still be unable to afford the new contracts.

Etecsa's packages range from a month's use of 600MB of data for 7CUC ($7; £5.50) to 4GB for 30CUC.

Users get a bonus 300MB use of local .cu domain websites.

But the average state wage for the island's 11.2 million residents is the equivalent of about $30 per month.

Looser limits

The launch marks a further relaxation of the government's restrictions on online activity.

Until five years ago, access was largely limited to tourist hotels and state-operated clubs.

But in 2013, the authorities began opening internet cafes.

In 2014, they began allowing mobile phone owners access to the state's Nauta email service at a charge of 1CUC per megabyte - the price has since fallen to the same charge for 50MB.

In 2015, the first wi-fi hotspot opened at a cultural centre. Hundreds of other public spaces then followed.

And then in 2017, Etecsa began offering a limited number of home connections.

Access to the new 3G service will be rolled out over a three-day period in order to reduce the risk of it being overwhelmed with demand.

The order in which existing subscribers will be invited to join will be determined by the first two digits of their mobile phone number.

However, Etecsa has not ruled out the possibility of glitches.

"Incidents could be experienced in certain areas," it has warned.

"If customers experience any problems, they should inform the company."

Nearly half of Cuba's population own a mobile phone although not all are compatible with the radio frequency the service will use.

Analysis: Will Grant, Cuba correspondent

Cubans have long wanted to catch up with the rest of the world when it comes to internet access.

Since Raul Castro stood down and was replaced as president by Miguel Diaz-Canel, that has looked increasingly likely - at least on their mobile phones.

The new president has an active Twitter account and several members of the Council of State followed his lead recently.

Still, based on their experience, most Cubans are distrustful of major announcements and unveilings until they can see real change for themselves.

The last time a 24-hour pilot for 3G was run, for example, other mobile services such as SMS messaging went down.

They will want to see that mobile internet works well and is dependable before deciding whether they can afford the packages.

Still the desire is there, especially among young people who never considered it fair that they lagged so far behind their cousins elsewhere in the world.

One electrical engineer told me he was exhausted with having to sit in hot public squares to get online.

"Why did we have to be the offline island?" he said.

Internet censorship

To date, Cuba has generally allowed users to interact with most of the internet if they could gain access.

A report by the US think tank Freedom House last year noted that the US government-backed news site Marti Noticias and local blog 14ymedio were blocked.

However, it added that foreign news sites - including the BBC and Spain's El Pais - were available, as were social networks including Facebook and Twitter.

Citizens can also use video chat services that allow them to keep in touch with family members who have emigrated abroad.

ruby Posted on December 06, 2018 08:55

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Huawei finance chief Meng Wanzhou arrested in Canada

The daughter of the founder of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei has been arrested in Canada and faces extradition to the United States.

Meng Wanzhou, Huawei's chief financial officer and deputy chair, was arrested in Vancouver on 1 December.

Details of the arrest have not been released but the US has been investigating Huawei over possible violation of sanctions against Iran.

China's embassy in Canada protested at the arrest and demanded her release.

Huawei said it had little information about the charges and was "not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms Meng".The arrest comes at a sensitive time for US-China relations. The nations are engaged in a trade war that has seen both impose duties of billions of dollars on one another's goods.

The arrest will not help the 90-day tariff truce the nations agreed after President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping met at the G20.

It also coincides with moves to restrict the use of Huawei technology in Western countries. The US, Australia and New Zealand have blocked the use of the Chinese firm's equipment in infrastructure for new faster 5G mobile networks.

The UK has not blocked firms from using Huawei, although BT, which dominates the UK's telecoms network, said this week it would not use the Chinese firm's equipment in its "core" 5G infrastructure.

What has Canada said about the arrest?

Canada's ministry of justice confirmed the date and place of Ms Meng's arrest and added: "She is sought for extradition by the United States, and a bail hearing has been set for Friday."

It said it could not say more as Ms Meng had sought a ban on the publication of details and this had been ordered by the courts.

A spokesman for the US justice department in the Eastern District of New York - which Huawei said had brought the charges - declined to comment.

What could be behind it?

US media have reported that Huawei is under investigation for potential violations of US sanctions against Iran.

One report in the New York Times said the US commerce and treasury departments had subpoenaed the firm over suspected violation of sanctions against both Iran and North Korea.

US lawmakers have repeatedly accused the company of being a threat to US national security, arguing that its technology could be used for spying by the Chinese government.

Reacting to the arrest, US Senator Ben Sasse told Associated Press that China was aggressively engaged in undermining US national security interests, often "using private sector entities".

"Americans are grateful that our Canadian partners have arrested the chief financial officer," he added.

How have China and Huawei responded?

Huawei said Ms Meng, the daughter of founder Ren Zhengfei, was detained while transferring between flights.

In a statement, it said it had complied with "all applicable laws and regulations where it operates, including applicable export control and sanction laws and regulations of the UN, US and EU.

"The company believes the Canadian and US legal systems will ultimately reach a just conclusion."

A statement from the Chinese embassy in Canada was far angrier.

It said that Canada, at the request of the US, had arrested a Chinese citizen "not violating any American or Canadian law".

"The Chinese side has lodged stern representations with the US and Canadian side, and urged them to immediately correct the wrongdoing and restore the personal freedom of Ms Meng Wanzhou."

Why is Huawei a concern to the West?

The company is one of the largest telecommunications equipment and services providers in the world, recently passing Apple to become the second-biggest smartphone maker after Samsung.

Some Western governments fear Beijing will gain access to fifth-generation (5G) mobile and other communications networks through Huawei and expand its spying ability, although the firm insists there is no government control.

Security concerns recently led BT to bar Huawei equipment from the heart of the 5G network it is rolling out in the UK.

New Zealand has blocked Huawei equipment over national security concerns, after Australia imposed a similar ban on both Huawei and fellow communications firm ZTE.

The US has brought a number of legal cases against Chinese technology firms, with accusations such as cyber-security theft and violations of Iran sanctions.

Earlier this year, it barred US companies from exporting to ZTE, effectively shutting down the firm. The US later replaced the ban with a fine and governance changes.

The US has also restricted US firms from selling parts to Chinese chipmaker Fujian Jinhua.

What are the Iran sanctions?

Donald Trump last month reinstated all the US sanctions on Iran that had been removed under a 2015 nuclear deal.Mr Trump had been fiercely opposed to the deal, which saw Iran limit its controversial nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief.

The re-imposed sanctions hit oil exports, shipping and banks - indeed all core parts of Iran's economy.

Although there are some waivers, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said the US will "aggressively" target any firm or organisation "evading our sanctions".

ruby Posted on December 06, 2018 08:50

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Missing woman may have been recorded in dashcam footage

Police have made a renewed appeal for help to trace a missing woman.

Jade McGrath, who is 19 and from the Aviemore area, was last seen in the Leachkin Road area of Inverness on Wednesday afternoon.

Police said she may have been recorded in vehicle dashcam footage while she was in Leachkin, General Booth or King Brude road from about 13:30.

Ms McGrath is described as being about 5ft 1in tall and of slim build, with platinum blonde hair and blue eyes.

She was wearing a light grey turtle neck top, parka jacket, black leggings and black and white Nike trainers.

Police said she was considered to be vulnerable.

Searches involving police, mountain rescue teams, the coastguard, dogs and a helicopter were made over the weekend, and continued on Monday.

Insp James Rice said: "Extensive efforts are still ongoing to find Jade including CCTV and house-to-house enquiries alongside intelligence-led work to piece together her movements.

"We have received numerous sightings from the public - all of which I am grateful for and we continue to work through all information provided by the public.

"Our last confirmed sighting is still at Leachkin Road last Wednesday and I would urge anyone who saw Jade on this day or since then to please get in touch as soon as possible."

The officer urged residents of Inverness to check their sheds and outbuildings for Ms McGrath in case she had sought shelter.

Insp Rice said: "We are still keeping in close contact with Jade's family who are well aware of the challenges of some of the woodland areas we have been searching.

"To Jade - I still appeal for you to come forward if you see this appeal. You are not in any trouble - we all just want to make sure you are OK."

ruby Posted on December 05, 2018 14:53

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Woman's Botox party warning after lip filler swelling

A woman's lips swelled up so much they touched her nose after she had filler injected at a Botox party.

Rachael Knappier, from Leicestershire, said she "shouted out in pain" after she was given the treatment by a beautician at her friend's house.

She rushed to A&E when her lips swelled dramatically, later seeking private treatment to fix the problem.

The 29-year-old warned others against having lip fillers from someone not medically trained.

After agreeing to Botox on her forehead, Miss Knappier said the beautician noticed a lump on her lip - an injury she sustained when a fire door hit her at the age of 13.

"That lump is my number one insecurity. As she pointed it out, I was just drawn in," she said.

After returning home, Miss Knappier said she felt unwell. Later that night, she woke up and couldn't feel her lip.

"My lips were a size I had not seen before," she said.

She contacted the beautician on FaceTime, who Miss Knappier said was "gasping and holding her hand over her mouth".

"She told me to put an ice pack on and take an antihistamine but my lips were growing," she said.

"Then she kept repeatedly shouting, 'get to A&E'."

'Left traumatised'

At the hospital, doctors told Miss Knappier the NHS would not dissolve lip filler and would only check she was not in any immediate danger.

She said she was vomiting and shaking and did not leave the house for seven days.

After first seeing a local aesthetic nurse, she went to the Consultant Clinic in London where they dissolved the filler and, 72 hours later, her lips were back to normal.

"It's left me traumatised. I would not wish it on my worst enemy," she said.

She has since started a petition calling for aesthetic medical treatments to only be performed by doctors, nurses and dentists.

Miss Knappier, from Broughton Astley, also believes the aesthetic medical industry should be regulated.

Dr Marc Pacifico, a consultant plastic surgeon from the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), said dermal fillers are a "complete wild west in the UK".

"We are one of the few western countries who regard [fillers] as a device not a medicine," he said. "There have even been cases of blindness.

"It was really about time stronger regulation was brought in."

ruby Posted on December 05, 2018 13:57

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Spain 'wolf pack' sex attack gang not rapists, say judges

A Spanish court's controversial decision to clear five men of gang rape has been upheld by five appeal judges, and the group are now set to go to jail for a lesser offence of sexual abuse.

There were protests across Spain when the men, who became known as La manada(the wolf pack), were acquitted of rape and then later freed on bail.

The appeal judges agreed that the 18-year-old victim was not assaulted as no intimidation or violence was involved.

The case now goes to the Supreme Court.

"We don't like it," the teenager's lawyer said, after the five judges in the northern Navarre region upheld the nine-year jail terms for abuse.

Under current Spanish law, an offence of rape has to involve sexual assault, which includes violence or intimidation.

Significantly, two of the five judges said that the attackers had used intimidation to carry out a "continuous offence of sexual assault" and called for 14-year jail terms. But they were outvoted by the other three judges.

The case sparked such a wave of revulsion that a committee of experts was formed to reform Spain's penal code on sexual violence.

Among those outraged by the verdict was Pedro Sánchez, who has since become prime minister and has promised to introduce a new law on sexual consent.

What did the "wolf pack" do?

During the San Fermín bull-running festival in July 2016, in the crowded streets of Pamplona, the 18 year old was led to a basement where five men in their late 20s surrounded her and had unprotected sex.

Some of the men filmed the attack on their phones and sent it around their WhatsApp chat group entitled "La manada". A police report said the victim maintained a "passive or neutral" attitude throughout the scene, keeping her eyes closed at all times. But, crucially, the ruling states that abuse of a situation of manifest superiority does not itself constitute intimidation, nor was any act of violence committed.

The ruling describes the victim's role as one of "passive suffering" but finds no firm evidence of acts or threats designed to intimidate her.

In their words: "The key is the actual nature of the intimidatory act carried out by the active party, rather than the reaction of the victim to it."

Essentially, the judges are saying that the men cannot be blamed for her reaction to the situation, even though they were happy to take advantage of the teenager's weak position.

Supporters of reform will say the ruling shows why a consent-based rape law is required.

ruby Posted on December 05, 2018 13:04

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Georgia woman jailed as 'cops mistake candy floss for meth'

A Georgia woman spent three months in jail after her bag of candy floss was mistaken for methamphetamine owing to a defective drug test, says a lawsuit.

Dasha Fincher, 41, is suing Monroe County, the police and a drug test company over the alleged mix-up during a traffic stop on New Year's Eve 2016.

The 41-year-old was held in custody because she could not afford her $1m (£780,000) bond.

The legal action argues the county violated her civil rights.She was arrested and charged with meth trafficking and possession of meth with intent to distribute, according to the lawsuit.

The court documents say she was improperly detained from 31 December 2016 until 4 April, when her charges of drug possession and trafficking were dropped.

A state crime laboratory had already tested the bag of light blue candy floss - known as cotton candy in the US - and determined on 22 March it contained no drugs.

Ms Fincher says she missed important life events due to the unlawful jailing, including the birth of her twin grandsons and the chance to care for her daughter after a miscarriage.

In addition, the arrest remains on her record despite her innocence, according to the lawsuit.

Ms Fincher is seeking damages for negligence and wrongful actions, as determined by a jury, from Monroe County, the two officers who arrested her and the test manufacturer Sirchie.

County officials and Sirchie did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A 2016 ProPublica investigation found that cheap roadside drug tests "routinely produce false positives" that result in tens of thousands of Americans being wrongfully jailed.

According to a list compiled by the Washington Post, roadside tests have labelled cookies, mints, deodorant, and tea, among other harmless materials, as drugs.

ruby Posted on December 05, 2018 12:44

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Priyanka Chopra: Bollywood star reveals 75ft wedding veil

What's white, sheer and 75ft long? Priyanka Chopra's wedding veil.

The Bollywood star, who married US singer Nick Jonas in Rajasthan state over the weekend, unveiled her intricately-detailed wedding dress in an Instagram post on Wednesday.

The Ralph Lauren-designed dress had more than two million mother-of-pearl sequins sewed into it, but it was the veil that stole the show.

Jonas and Chopra got engaged in the summer after a whirlwind romance.

Naturally, the internet had a lot to say about her veil, which was so large it needed a small team of people to carry it.

And some people made some striking comparisons.

While others pointed out that it trumped the Duchess of Sussex's wedding veil, which was 16ft long.

Chopra donned the hand-beaded Ralph Lauren dress in a ceremony on Saturday on the lawn of the Umaid Bhawan Palace in the city of Jodphur.The ceremony was officiated by Jonas' father Paul Kevin Jonas, a pastor.

The couple's three-day wedding extravaganza also included a traditional Hindu ceremony on Sunday, which saw the couple exchange vows again.

Speaking to People magazine, Chopra said the wedding was a "religious mash-up", adding that they "took beautiful traditions that we both grew up with and personalised them in a way that makes sense for us".

Jonas, 26, and Chopra, 36, got engaged in the summer, not long after news of their romance became public.

They have since said in an interview that they first started exchanging texts in September 2016. They appeared together at the Met Gala in May 2017 as they had both been dressed by Ralph Lauren, and their relationship started making headlines around a year later.

Chopra is one of Bollywood's highest-paid actresses, having won the Miss World pageant in 2000 and going on to make more than 50 films in India.

She broke into acting in the US with a part in the TV series Quantico and film roles in Ventilator, Baywatch and A Kid like Jake.

ruby Posted on December 05, 2018 11:32

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one simple reason we aren't acting fsater on climate change

We’ve all seen how powerful images can make abstract crises feel concrete. Think of the photographs of a Chinese man blocking a column of tanks a day after the Tiananmen Square massacre, a naked Vietnamese girl fleeing from napalm in 1972 or of 7-year-old Amal Hussain wasting away from hunger in Yemen. When done well, photographs help people around the world make sense of unseen disasters.

Now close your eyes and try to picture climate change – one of our generation’s most pressing crises. What comes to mind? Is it smoke coming out of power plants? Solar panels? A skinny polar bear?

That’s problematic, says psychologist Adam Corner, director of Climate Visuals, a project that aims to revitalise climate imagery. “Images without people on them are unable to tell a human story,” says Corner.

Researchers have found that images like this one lack a humanising element that makes them compelling.

…compared to a photograph like this, which shows the local, human impact of pollution.

And that kind of imagery might be a big part of why so few of us are prioritising climate action.

Climate change has an inherent image problem. While you can clearly visualise plastic pollution or deforestation, climate change has a less obvious mugshot: the gases that cause global warming, such as carbon dioxide and methane, are colourless, while impacts are slow-paced and not always visually striking.

So in the 1990s, reporters, politicians and others began using the sort of imagery that would help us begin to grasp the situation. That idea helped us understand the subject then. But it now needs revamping. For one thing, climate impacts are more evident now: take the frequency of wildfires, coastal flooding, droughts and heat waves.

Because most people aren’t that familiar with how coral should normally look, researchers found that an image like this one, of coral bleaching, had less impact.

…than an image like this one, which shows a real person doing research on climate change’s impact on the coral.

But another reason to update climate change’s visuals is that, for the general public, ‘traditional’ climate images aren’t that compelling.

Wondering if there was a better way to tell climate change stories, Climate Visuals tested what effect iconic climate images – like that lonely polar bear – really had.

Although iconic, an image of an animal most people have never seen, living in a place they have never been, may not be as effective.

…as this image of the search for Hurricane Katrina survivors, which shows the impact of climate change in a more recognisable environment. After asking people at panel groups in London and Berlin and through an online survey with over 3,000 people, the team concluded that people were more likely to empathise with images that showed real faces – such as workers installing solar panels, emergency respondents helping victims of a typhoon or farmers building more efficient irrigation systems to combat drought.

The researchers found that images like this one often don’t make as much of an impact on the viewer.

…as this kind of image, which participants thought was an intriguing take on solar energy that encouraged them to want to know more.It also helped when photographs depicted settings that were local or familiar to the viewer, and when they showed emotionally powerful impacts of climate change.

Respondents in their study were also cynical of ‘staged’ pictures… and of images with politicians.

Climate Visuals’ quest is not entirely new. For over a decade, scholars have analysed the way NGOs and governments represent climate change visually, examined how the public reacts to different types of images and come up with new approaches. What it’s done differently, though, is to create the world’s largest climate image library based on those lessons.

Researchers found that a picture like this one, which highlights an individual behaviour, can create a defensive reaction in the viewer.

..while a striking image like this, which shows high-emissions meat production at scale, was more effective.

And for better or for worse, it’s no longer that difficult to find human-led photographs of the consequences of climate change.

“The stories we need to tell are all around us in a way they were not 20 years ago when the polar bear became an icon,” says Corner.

ruby Posted on December 05, 2018 11:15

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