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'Visceral fear' of migrants forced from their homes and desperate to reach Europe

This Sunday, the second season of Hotspots begins on Sky Atlantic.

To mark the return of the show that takes you behind the news, Sky's special correspondent Alex Crawford reflects on one of the most her most daring assignments - the European migration crisis.

The heart surgeon from Damascus was the person who stood out to us.

He was a professional, educated man with a career, as well as being a father with daughters and a terrified wife who could not swim.

But, he told us, he had paid a string of smugglers to get his family out of Syria and was now embarking on a boat journey across the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Greece to try to find freedom and safety in Europe.

Cameraman Garwen McLuckie, producer Nick Ludlam and I joined the wave of refugees and migrants in the late summer of 2015, in what was the biggest mass movement of people since the Second World War.

The huge migration was largely prompted by the catastrophic war in Syria.

Huge numbers of people began traipsing across the world, heading for Europe, and as the images of tens of thousands of people on the move began to fill our newspapers, television screens and social media platforms, this seemed to spur others on to make the same perilous journey.

It was history in the making, aided and abetted by a mercenary, multi-pronged and multiple-nation smuggling network.

Our assignment was to try to find out more about what kind of people were making this long, dangerous and risky journey - why they were doing it and how it was arranged.

We found a complicated set-up of people smugglers, crime syndicates, naive idealists, business people and corrupt officials all facilitating what was a flourishing black market in illegally shifting human cargo.

We witnessed what was then a slick, sophisticated operation to move people from one country to the next.

We saw hundreds and hundreds of people waiting in the coastal Turkish town of Izmir to get across to Greece.

And a large number of them were in family groups. There were mothers, fathers, teenagers, toddlers and babies.

The bulk told us they were from Syria, but there were others who said they had travelled from Iraq and Afghanistan.

It was impossible to verify their stories as most did not carry documents or passports, but they spoke vividly about the war in Syria - recounting tales of bombings in their neighbourhoods and giving detailed answers about where they came from, the suburbs they lived in, and the jobs and lives they had left behind.

Because perhaps, they were in large family groups, their stories appeared genuine. Certainly their fear, terror and desperation was visceral and raw.

The dinghy we were loaded on to was designed to take 10 to 15 people and was instead crammed full of about 40 people, including the heart surgeon and his family.

The women, children and babies were all placed in the well of the rubber boat - most scared out of their wits because they could not swim. The men sat around the lip of the dinghy trying to keep it balanced during the crossing.

ruby Posted on November 26, 2018 11:32

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Russia fires at Ukrainian ships and captures three vessels off Crimea


Russia has opened fire on Ukrainian ships and captured three vessels in a major escalation of tensions off the coast of Crimea.

Three sailors have been wounded after the Ukrainian navy said two artillery boats were hit by the strikes in the Black Sea.

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko called an emergency session of his war cabinet and has asked parliament to vote on whether to impose martial law on the country for 60 days.

Throwing his weight behind the measure, which is not guaranteed to pass, he said it "in no way means that Ukraine will carry out any offensive actions".

"I want to emphasise separately that we have all irrefutable evidence that this aggression, this attack on the Ukrainian Navy's warships was not a mistake, not an accident, but a deliberate action," he added.

Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) said it used weapons after the Ukrainian ships ignored demands to stop and that it impounded three vessels which had illegally crossed the border.

The three injured sailors are receiving medical treatment and their lives are not in danger, the FSB said.

Ukraine's ambassador to the UK said Russian special forces had captured two armoured artillery boats and a tugboat in an "act of aggression".

"Today's dangerous events in the Azov Sea testify that a new front of Russian aggression is open," Ukrainian foreign ministry spokeswoman Mariana Betsa said.

"Ukraine is calling now for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council."

The FSB claimed it had "irrefutable evidence that Kiev prepared and orchestrated provocations... in the Black Sea".

"These materials will soon be made public," it added.

Earlier on Sunday, Ukraine accused a Russian coastguard vessel, named the Don, of ramming one of its tugboats, damaging its engine, hull and side railing.

Ukraine's minister of internal affairs posted footage on Twitter purportedly showing the incident.

It allegedly took place as three Ukrainian navy boats - including two small warships - headed for the port of Mariupol in the Sea of Azov, an area of heightened tensions between the countries.

Russia - which claims the waters off Crimea after annexing the peninsula in 2014 - accused Ukraine of illegally entering the area and deliberately provoking a conflict.

It placed a huge cargo ship beneath the Russian-controlled Kerch Strait Bridge to block Ukrainian boats from access to the sea.

"Their goal is clear - to create a conflict situation in the region," the FSB said in a statement.

The Ukrainian navy insisted Russia had been informed in advance about the planned journey.

"Russian coastguard vessels… carried out openly aggressive actions against Ukrainian navy ships," it said.

The European Union called on Russia and Ukraine to "act with utmost restraint to de-escalate" the situation in the Black Sea.

It urged Russia to "restore freedom of passage" through the Kerch Strait after Moscow blockaded it.

NATO also demanded Russia ensures "unhindered access to Ukrainian ports in the Azov Sea, in accordance with international law".

A 2003 treaty designates the Kerch Strait and Sea of Azov as shared territorial waters but Russia has been asserting greater control over the area since 2015.

In September, the Ukrainian navy accused Russian border guards of "acts of provocation" against its ships taking the same route.

Ukraine has increased the number of navy ships and border guard patrols in the Sea of Azov, which is reached via the Kerch Strait between Crimea and Russia.

ruby Posted on November 26, 2018 11:09

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Champions League: Is it time to sympathize with PSG's Neymar?

Updated 0947 GMT (1747 HKT) November 8, 2018


Nikola Maksimovic vies with Neymar during the Champions League match between Napoli and PSG.

(CNN)The memes of Neymar rolling in agony along high streets and motorways remain one of the enduring memories of a thrilling World Cup in Russia.

Spectacular goals and knee-knocking finishes admittedly made the footballing world smile during the summer, but so too did the #neymarchallenge on social media as fans, multinationals and even Portugal's 911 service mocked the Brazilian superstar's theatrics on the pitch.


According to Swiss broadcaster RTS, the world's most expensive player spent 14 minutes on the floor during football's most celebrated tournament. Many of those minutes would have been spent rolling around in apparent agony before getting back on his feet again to continue with the dribbles, flicks and no-look passes.

Neymar has created 17 chances in the first four Champions League games of the season.

But is Neymar more sinned against than sinning? Should the Paris Saint-Germain forward receive more protection from referees and less ridicule from the masses?

According to beIN Sports data, during the opening rounds of this season's Champions League, the forward has been awarded 20 fouls -- 14 more than his teenage teammate Kylian Mbappe, who is equally adept at bamboozling defenders with trickery and pace, and 16 more than Liverpool's Mo Salah over the same number of games.

READ: Neymar -- ridiculed for his theatrics

Barcelona's Lionel Messi, who has played just twice in the Champions League this season, has won four fouls while Juventus' Cristiano Ronaldo has won seven over three games.

If all players are treated equally, it is a striking statistic that Neymar has won considerably more fouls in Europe's elite competition than the world's other best forwards.

Neymar has scored three goals in four Champions League games this season.

Bought by the French champions in 2017 for $263 million, Neymar cut a frustrated figure in Italy Tuesday as Napoli fought back to draw 1-1 against a PSG side third in a group that also includes last season's finalist Liverpool. There is still much to do if the Parisians are to progress to the knockout stages.

Undoubtedly, a man of Neymar's talents, a player who can change a game with a moment of brilliance, is a marked man.

It would be foolish for defenses to leave such a player to roam unattended. A sumptuous pass over Napoli's defense to Mbappe early in first half at the Stadio San Paolo illustrated the danger Neymar's creativity alone poses to opponents. He is also lethal in front of goal, scoring three in the opening four group games.

Napoli wisely, though Neymar himself would probably say unfairly, paid close attention to the 26-year-old. Towards the end of the match, Neymar -- booked in stoppage time for dissent -- could be seen shouting at referee Bjorn Kuipers and appeared to be held back by Mbappe after taking issue with one of the referee's decisions.

Neymar (C) argues with Netherlands' referee Bjorn Kuipers.

The Brazilian would later accuse the Dutchman of saying something "disrespectful" to him during the match. "On the pitch, we are asked to show respect towards the referees. We should get the same in return," he told reporters afterwards.

There were those on social media who sympathized with the Brazilian. "He often frustrates me by going down too easy (imo) -- but you can see why he does on a night like this when he tries to stay on his feet and gets absolutely nothing," tweeted journalist Robin Bairner.

In another tweet, Barnier said: "Frustrating night for #Neymar. He's been on the end of numerous niggling fouls, several not given, and yet he's been booked for dissent."

Perhaps some of Neymar's problems are of his own making. Against Switzerland at the World Cup, he was fouled 10 times -- the most by one player in a game since Alan Shearer in 1998 -- but his response to such tactics was to fall, many would say, too easily to the ground.

Luke Posted on November 25, 2018 20:07

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Enter a new dimension:'s augmented reality revolution wears a lot of hats: Grammy Award-winning musician; co-founder of the Black Eyed Peas; a judge on TV's "The Voice;" headphones entrepreneur.

Meet Sophia: The robot who laughs, smiles and frowns just like us

And now he's bringing his creativity and flair for innovation into a new dimension, incorporating virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) into a variety of interactive experiences.

The Black Eyed Peas performed at the Hammersmith Apollo in London in October. Credit: Neil Lupin/Redferns

"We're doing music, (documentary), short film, long-form, graphic novel, AR, VR," says, whose full name is William Adams. "Things that we've never done. Things that the industry hasn't done."

The project that started this wave of projects was a graphic novel titled "Masters of the Sun." Produced with the publishing giants at Marvel in 2017, it tells what describes as "a heightened story on the rise and the fall of what hip-hop was meant to be." It follows a group of heroes facing off against an ancient god transforming gangsters into zombies, in an allegory for the proliferation of drugs in predominantly black communities in the 1980s.

When viewed with an augmented reality app,'s "Masters of the Sun" graphic novel reveals new elements. Credit: CNN

But to fully experience the graphic novel, readers must download an accompanying AR app: "When we put AR on it, the book comes alive, so people can experience our graphic novel in three-dimensional space," explains. As you scan the pages with your device, characters and scenes seem to jump out of the screen.

Moon Ribas: The cyborg dancer who can detect earthquakes

The graphic novel then spawned an hour-long, Oculus-backed virtual reality film scored by the Black Eyed Peas and Hans Zimmer, and starring hip-hop legends like KRS-One, Rakim and Queen Latifah.

This autumn, with their Masters of the Sun European tour promoting an album of the same name, the Black Eyed Peas are bringing their AR show on the road. During the finale, the audience is encouraged to take out their phones and watch the stage through an app that overlays the performance with colorful graphics.

With and app specially designed for the Black Eyed Peas Masters of the Sun tour, viewers can add augmented reality graphics to the finale. Credit: Courtesy @culturex_

"We're going to augment the layer between the person on stage -- us -- and the audience so that when they're watching the show through the lens of their phone, they're seeing something that's not there," said. "It's like Pokémon Go on steroids."

Luke Posted on November 25, 2018 20:02

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Indian authorities struggle to retrieve US missionary feared killed on remote island

(CNN)Authorities have started the arduous task of trying to retrieve a US missionary feared killed on a remote Indian island, careful not to trigger conflict with the islanders.

John Allen Chau was last seen last week when he traveled to the forbidden North Sentinel Island in the Bay of Bengal to try to convert the island's residents to Christianity. The Sentinelese, as they are known, have a decades-long history of repelling outsiders, a fact that is near certain to make the journey to find Chau a treacherous one.

Indian authorities along with the fishermen who reported seeing Chau's body last week, went near the island on Friday and Saturday in an effort to figure out how to recover the body.

John Chau

"We have mapped the area with the help of these fishermen. We have not spotted the body yet but we roughly know the area where he is believed to be buried," said Dependra Pathak, a top police official in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Pathak said the group spotted several tribe members carrying bows and arrows and walking around the area where the fishermen said they saw Chau's body being dragged and buried.

"The mission was done from a distance to avoid any potential conflict with the tribespeople as it's a sensitive zone," he said. "We are discussing with anthropologists and psychologists about the nature of the Sentinelese."

Pathak said there are a lot of things to consider before they enter the island, including the psychology of its residents.

"There are legal requirements as well which we need to keep in mind while carrying out the operation. We are also studying the 2006 case where two local fishermen were killed. The bodies were recovered then," he said.

The Sentinelese: World's most isolated tribe

The Sentinelese have lived in complete isolation on the remote North Sentinel Island for tens of thousands of years. The island, which is part of India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands territory, is roughly as large as Manhattan.

India has protected the island for decades to prevent the Sentinelese from contracting modern illnesses and to keep outsiders alive.

People are not allowed to go within five nautical miles of the island by Indian law and the Indian Navy patrols it day and night.

And while its residents have no contact with the outside world, they aren't too far from other civilizations.

The island is only about 50 kilometers (31 miles) west of Port Blair, the territory's capital known to tourists for its stunning emerald beaches, history and water sports.

At least 15 Sentinelese could be living on the island, according to India's census estimates from 2011.

He returned to his boat twice before vanishing

Traveling on a tourist visa, Chau arrived to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in October with one mission: preach to the Sentinelese.

Indian authorities say Chau was 27, but Mat Staver, founder of a Christian ministry that Chau was involved with as a college student, gave Chau's age as 26.

He had traveled to the remote island years ago and returned knowing that his mission was illegal and risky. Still, he wanted to get to know the islanders' way of life. He hoped to eventually share the gospel and perhaps translate the Bible, said a friend, John Middleton Ramsey.

John Allen Chau, right, was in Cape Town days before he traveled to North Sentinel Island.

He asked a local friend, an electronic engineer, to get a boat and also recruit others -- several fishermen and a water sports expert -- who could help him.

He carefully planned his expedition and used a 13-page long journal to write his strategy, the steps he would take to reach the island and, later, some of his memories.

After he paid the fishermen around $350, police said, the group boarded "a wooded boat fitted with motors" and headed to the island on the night of November 15.

They stopped a little less than half a mile away and waited in the dark. At some point in the morning, Chau "used a canoe to reach the shore of the island," Pathak said.

He returned later that day with arrow injuries, police said.

American missionary believed killed by isolated tribe knew the risks, friends say

But that did not discourage him.

He returned to the island the following day. It's unclear what happened but "the (tribespeople) broke his canoe" and he had no other option than to swim back to the boat.

On the third attempt of his mission, he didn't come back.

The fishermen said they later saw the tribespeople dragging his body around but police haven't been able to independently verify Chau's death. Authorities believe he was killed.

All seven locals who facilitated the trip have been arrested.

His diary reveals his last days

In excerpts from his journal, Chau described his time on the island and the challenges he faced. A tribesman shot at him with a bow and arrow, piercing a Bible he was carrying, he wrote in his diary, pages of which were shared by his mother with the Washington Post.

"I hollered, 'My name is John, I love you and Jesus loves you,'" he wrote. Shortly after, a young member of the tribe shot at him, according to his account.

'You guys might think I'm crazy': Diary of US 'missionary' reveals last days in remote island

In pages left with the fishermen who facilitated his trip to the island, his musings are a clear indication of his desire to convert the tribe.

"Lord, is this island Satan's last stronghold where none have heard or even had the chance to hear your name?" he wrote.

His notes indicate that he knew the trip was illegal, describing how the small fishing vessel transported him to the isolated island under cover of darkness, evading patrols.

Please do not be angry at them or at God if I get killed

John Chau in a letter to his family

"God Himself was hiding us from the Coast Guard and many patrols," he wrote.

Before he left the boat for the last time, Chau wrote one final note to his family and gave it to the fishermen.

"You guys might think I'm crazy in all this but I think it's worthwhile to declare Jesus to these people," it said. "God, I don't want to die."

"Please do not be angry at them or at God if I get killed -- rather please live your lives in obedience to whatever He has called you to and I will see you again when you pass through the veil."

He loved Jesus

Raised in Vancouver, Washington, Chau was first drawn to the outdoors after discovering a rcopy of "Robinson Crusoe" while in elementary school, he said in an article several years ago in The Outbound Collective, a website and app that helps people discover the outdoors.

He and his brother would paint their faces with wild blackberry juice and run around their backyard with bows and spears made from sticks, according to the article.

Chau graduated from Oral Roberts University, where he got involved with Covenant Journey, the Christian ministry that takes college students on immersion trips to Israel, according to Staver, who is the group's chairman.

Chau traveled to Israel with Covenant Journey, and to South Africa on missions with a group at Oral Roberts, Staver said.

"John loved people, and he loved Jesus. He was willing to give his life to share Jesus with the people on North Sentinel island," Staver said in a press release. "Ever since high school, John wanted to go to North Sentinel to share Jesus with this indigenous people."

In the Outward Collective article, Chau spoke of his earlier adventures, including hiking Table Mountain in Washington state on Christmas break while in college.

Chau said going back to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands was on the top of his adventure to-do list, the article said.

He's not the first one killed on the island

Chau is not the first person to fall victim to the Sentinelese after intruding on their island, which is illegal for outsiders to land on.

In 2006, members of the tribe killed two poachers who had been illegally fishing in the waters surrounding North Sentinel Island after their boat drifted ashore, according to Survival International.

An image of a Sentinelese tribesman aiming a bow and arrow at a helicopter in 2004, following the Indian Ocean tsunami.

In the wake of the ruinous 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean, a member of the group was photographed on a beach on the island, firing arrows at a helicopter sent to check on their welfare.

First contact was made by the British in the late 1800s, when, despite their attempts to hide, six individuals from the tribe were captured and taken to the main island of the Andaman Island archipelago. Two captured adults died of illness while the four children were returned -- perhaps also infected with illnesses that the islanders' immune systems were unequipped to deal with.

Anthropological expeditions were made to tribal groups in the island chain in the 1980s and 1990s, and "gift-dropping trips" continued until the mid-90s, but now all contact has ceased.

The Indian government has adopted an "'eyes-on and hands-off' policy to ensure that no poachers enter (North Sentinel Island)," according to India's Ministry of Tribal Affairs.

Tribe encounters are usually violent

The Andaman Island tribe is one of the last remaining isolated groups in the world.

Jonathan Mazower of Survival International, which campaigns for the protection of isolated tribes, says there are around 100 such tribes around the world. Most are found in the Amazon rainforest but there are many in New Guinea as well as in forests and islands elsewhere.

Six isolated tribe encounters: The results are usually violent

When contact does occur, it can prove fatal -- tribespeople frequently attack intruders, and can also fall victim to common diseases like the flu, for which they have no immunity. "Often, they are very fearful of outsiders -- with very good reason," Mazower said.

"Sometimes they will have in their collective memory a massacre, a violent incident, or a disease or epidemic -- so very often, there are well-founded reasons for these tribes to not want to have anything to do" with the outside world, Mazower told CNN.

While the Sentinelese are protected by Indian laws which make it illegal to intrude on their island, most uncontacted people do not have the same fortune, their habitats instead being encroached upon by unwelcome outsiders.

"The most important challenge, by far, is to protect their land," Mazower said. "That is the absolute essential. If their lands are protected, which is their right under international law, then there is actually no reason they should not continue to survive and thrive.

CNN's Sugam Pokharel, Rob Picheta, Euan McKirdy, Darran Simon and Chris Boyette contributed to this report.

Luke Posted on November 25, 2018 19:58

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British Museum's Easter Island statue reignites debate about colonial plundering

Nov. 25, 2018 / 3:02 PM GMT

By Alexander Smith

LONDON — As swarms of tourists jostle for position beneath this towering statue, its hollow eyes reveal little about its painful past.

The 7-foot-9-inch basalt figure was carved perhaps 800 years ago on Easter Island, one of the most remote places on earth.

In 1868, it was plundered by a British naval ship, sailed 11,000 miles around the world and handed to Queen Victoria.

The monarch gave it to London's British Museum, where it still stands 150 years later, scowling in the background of a thousand selfies.

Tourists love it, but the Rapa Nui people of Easter Island are begging the museum to return the statue.

Their ancestors named it Hoa Hakananai'a, or "stolen friend" according to one translation, and they believe it contains the spirits of their deified relatives.

"We came here, but we are just the body. You, the England people, have our soul," said Tarita Alarcón Rapu, the governor of Easter Island, during a visit to the British Museum this week.

Speaking through tears on the museum's grand steps, she pleaded for even a brief loan of the sacred artifact.

"You have kept him for 150 years," she said. "Just give us some months and we can have it there."

Tarita Alarcon Rapu gives a press conference outside the British Museum on Tuesday.Adrian Dennis / AFP - Getty Images

Hoa Hakananai'a is one of 1,000 iconic "moai" statues carved on Easter Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that's now part of Chile.

It's also one of countless controversial objects displayed in European museums that were taken or outright looted from abroad — in Britain's case as it expanded its empire in the 1800s.

Many of the countries are now asking for the artifacts to be returned, a trend forcing the United Kingdom to face up to the most violent days of its colonial history.

"I had no idea about this statue's backstory," said one tourist, Avijit Dasgupta, 33, who was visiting London from Bangladesh last week.

He had just been snapping photographs of Hoa Hakananai'a, which has been placed opposite the museum's gift shop. After learning of its turbulent past — not explained anywhere in the exhibit — he changed his mind.

The Hoa Hakananai'a sculpture is popular with visitors to the British Museum in London.Neil Hall / EPA

"Now I know, I'm sure that this should be returned to the ancestors of the people who created it," he said.

Another museumgoer, Margaret Robertson, 70, was aware of the controversy but had a different view.

"For me personally, which is a bit selfish, I like to experience their culture," she said. "We went on a cruise last year but we didn't make it to Easter Island. This statue means I can see it here instead."

Britain is far from alone in this debate.

France has tens of thousands of items taken from sub-Saharan Africa. A government-commissioned report is later this month expected to recommend they all be returned to countries that want them.

In the U.S., Native American groups have for decades requested the return of items taken while tribes were being moved onto reservations at the turn of the last century.

The "Moai" statues on Easter Island, which is situated 2,000 miles west of Chile.Carlos Barria file / Reuters

Unlike in Europe, however, Congress passed two laws in 1989 and 1990 compelling museums and other collections to give back Native American items upon request.

That's not to say the British Museum hasn't given back some items — but these have only been loans.

"The British Museum has, historically, been extremely reluctant to repatriate objects," said Alice A. Procter, a historian who gives "Uncomfortable Art Tours" revealing the controversial backgrounds of displayed items. "They make life very, very difficult for anyone claiming cultural heritage."

This tension was directly addressed in the film "Black Panther," when Erik Killmonger, played by Michael B. Jordan, steals a war-hammer on display at the "The Museum of Great Britain" — a thinly veiled reference to the British Museum. As he explains, it was stolen from the imagined African nation of Wakanda.

Michael B. Jordan playing Erik Killmonger in "Black Panther."null / Marvel Studios

"How do you think your ancestors got these?" Killmonger asks the museum director. "Do you think they paid a fair price? Or did they take it like they took everything else?"

The Wakandan war-hammer echos the story of the real-life Benin Bronzes. In 1897, when European powers were busy carving up Africa, British forces attacked, burned and looted Benin City, an ancient and relatively advanced citadel in modern-day Nigeria.

The "massacre of Benin" brought to an end the Kingdom of Benin, and the British troops returned with a series of ornate bronze plaques that, like Hoa Hakananai’a, are on display at the British Museum today.

The museum has discussed a possible loan with the Nigerian government — but a permanent return has never been on the table.

More infamous still are the Elgin Marbles, statues that once decorated the Parthenon temple in ancient Athens 2,500 years ago.

The Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon are on display at the British Museum.Edwin Remsberg / VWPics via AP Images file

In the early 1800s, Lord Elgin gained permission from the Ottoman Empire, where he served as British ambassador, to remove the marble statues, around half of which had been damaged by neglect and war.

The Greeks disagree. They see the Ottomans of the time as occupiers and have for decades lobbied the U.K. for the artifacts' return.

So how does the British Museum justify hanging onto these items?

Spokeswoman Hannah Boulton accepts that, at its heart, this argument is about weighing up two things: the museum's mission statement to educate the public and preserve ancient history, and those cultures' right to have their artifacts back.

"We believe that there is great value in presenting objects from across the world," Boulton said, adding that Hoa Hakananai'a is "among the most popular and most photographed exhibits with our 6 million visitors each year."

Hoa Hakananai'a.Peter Nicholls / Reuters

Others point to what can happen when items are left in less secure locations. In 2015, ISIS used bulldozers, power tools and explosives to damage and destroy several archaeological sites, including parts of the ancient city of Palmyra. UNESCO called it "an immense loss for the Syrian people and for humanity."

This week, the British Museum "had a warm, friendly and open conversation" with the Rapa Nui delegation and said "it was very helpful to gain a better understanding of Hoa Hakananai'a's significance," Boulton said. But there has been no offer of its return, on loan or otherwise.

Activists say that the reason this debate has become so difficult to navigate is that Britain has not faced up to the evils committed during its age of empire.

More than 40 percent of Brits say they are proud of their country's history of colonialism, according to a survey in 2016 by the U.K. pollster YouGov.


FROM 2013: Mysterious Easter Island 'heads' have bodies too

June 14, 201200:00

This may owe more to ignorance more than malice. Critics say British schools fails to teach the true impact their country had during that period. The history Britain teaches itself is one of victorious campaigns in World War I and II, rather than the earlier atrocities committed in the name of the empire.

"The museum conversation is only the first part of a much, much bigger debate in reconsidering the way that colonial history is represented and discussed in the U.K.," said Procter, the historian.

"Museums are very much at the forefront of that because of the repatriation debate, and as part of that, they have a duty to engage and adapt their policies to suit the time," she added.

Alexander Smith

Alexander Smith is a senior reporter for NBC News, based in London.

Reuters contributed.

Luke Posted on November 25, 2018 19:41

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Norway calling out Russia's jamming shows European policy shift

"There is a wider policy shift to call out Russia, because of the increased intensity of challenges," one expert said.

Is NATO still relevant in today's world?

Nov. 16, 201805:51

Nov. 24, 2018 / 10:07 AM GMT

By Alexander Smith

The accusation was direct and unflinching: Russian forces stationed in the Arctic Circle had been jamming NATO's GPS signals during the alliance's largest military exercise since the Cold War.

The alleged incident happened during Trident Juncture, a huge, two-week drill hosted in Norway last month, involving 50,000 personnel from 31 countries.

Last week Norway revealed that Russian forces stationed in the nearby Kola Peninsula had been jamming their GPS signals during the exercise. Finland summoned the Russian ambassador and NATO called it "dangerous, disruptive and irresponsible."

Russia denies the allegations. And experts say attempting to disrupt a military exercise on its doorstep is nothing new.

But the incident was notable because it showed how Washington's European allies are changing their tactics to deal with Moscow's alleged misdeeds.

Norway revealed that during the Trident Juncture exercise, Russian forces stationed in the nearby Kola Peninsula had been jamming their GPS signals.Jonathan Nackstrand / AFP - Getty Images file

Before, Western countries may have tried to address Russia's actions in closed diplomatic sessions. Now they are openly reprimanding them.

NATO and its partner states have shifted to a "public engagement campaign, which basically calls people out for cyber attacks, jamming and disruptive behavior to try and deter and discourage it," said Jack Watling, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), a think tank based in London.

This change was not an official one; there was no speech, written statement or policy document signalling that allies were going to take a different approach.

But analysts say that it's been clear nonetheless; a demonstrable change of tactic after the ex-spy Sergei Skripal was poisoned — allegedly on Kremlin orders — on British soil in March this year.

"There is a wider policy shift to call out Russia because of the increased intensity of challenges," ranging from military threats and spying to hacking and signal jamming, according to Gustav Gressel, a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations think tank. "That policy-shift is shared by most NATO countries."

The Europeans now feel that "it does not make sense to address these issues in closed diplomatic sessions with Russia, as Russian diplomats would only deny and outright lie," Gressel added.

With Skripal, U.K. authorities laid out in painstaking detail how two men they identified as agents with Russia's military intelligence agency, commonly known by its old acronym, the GRU, had traveled to the English city of Salisbury and poisoned their target.

Two men who used the aliases of Ruslan Boshirov, left, and Alexander Petrov, right, were accused of poisoning a former Russian spy and his daughter in Salisbury, England.Metropolitan Police / EPA

Six months of meticulous investigation allowed British police to trace the route they had taken, right down to the flights they boarded, the trains they rode and the hotels where they stayed.

That incident appeared to signal that the gloves were off.


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In April, Dutch authorities busted an alleged GRU plot to hack into the headquarters of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in the Hague.

When they revealed the sting months later, as with the Skripal case, their investigators showed in forensic detail how the four men had traveled from Moscow to the Netherlands — right down to their taxi receipts.

Hours before this information was made public, back in early October, the British government, backed by New Zealand and Australia, again named and shamed the GRU as being behind a number of "indiscriminate and reckless cyber attacks targeting political institutions, businesses, media and sport" around the world.




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The list published by the U.K. government ranged from attacks on the World Anti-Doping Agency in 2016 to the now-infamous hacking of the Democratic National Committee in the same year.

A triple whammy was capped off on the same day when the Department of Justice announced criminal charges against seven Russian military intelligence officers.

In the U.S., intelligence officials have pointed the finger squarely at Russian hacking since 2016. Europe has also called out Russia in the past, such as during the Dutch-led investigation that found Moscow responsible for downing Malaysia Airlines MH17 in July 2014.

U.S. Marines take part in an exercise to capture an airfield as part of the Trident Juncture 2018 near the town of Oppdal, Norway.Jonathan Nackstrand / AFP - Getty Images

But in recent months we're seeing something more coordinated, asserts Tate Nurkin, a military analyst and founder of the defense consultancy OTH Intelligence Group.

"I suspect this isn't the first time that Western actors have noticed Russian activities of a disruptive nature during exercises," Nurkin said. The difference, he added, is that previously we didn't hear about it.

This is all designed to put pressure on the Kremlin and associated individuals, making them think twice before engaging in behavior the U.S. and Europe are likely to punish, said Watling, the RUSI researcher.

"Are they prepared to live the rest of their lives in Russia? Are they prepared to not engage in the international financial system?" Watling said they should be asking themselves.

"The Russians for a very long time have relied on deniability as a way of doing things that otherwise wouldn't be acceptable," he said.

"Now the message is: Look, we know what you're doing, and it's not okay."

Alexander Smith

Alexander Smith is a senior reporter for NBC News, based in London.

Luke Posted on November 25, 2018 19:39

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Former al-Shabab spokesman, Mukhtar Robow, is running for office in Somalia

Nov. 25, 2018 / 9:46 AM GMT

By Gabe Joselow

For years he was the spokesman and deputy leader of al Qaeda inspired al-Shabab, Africa's deadliest terror group.

Now Mukhtar Robow is running for office in Somalia, a country struggling to emerge from decades of war.

While Robow has traded his military fatigues and black banner of jihad for the dapper look of a politician, his candidacy in the Dec. 5 elections has angered many in this war-shattered East African nation. It also raises questions about whether to emerge from decades of conflict, Somalia must also embrace some of the figures behind much of that violence.

Mukhtar Robow speaks at a press conference in Baidoa, Somalia, on Oct. 10.AP file

“There are thousands and thousands of people who have died because of his ideology, because of his beliefs, because of his involvement in the al-Shabab organization,” said Abidrizak Mohamed, a Somali member of parliament. “How do his victims feel about him being a candidate?”

While Robow’s own campaign slogan is “Security and Justice,” his new public profile appears to present a choice between the two: Embrace al-Shabab defectors for the sake of security or hold them accountable in the name of justice.

During the height of its power al-Shabab, which was founded in 2006 and is fighting to establish an Islamic state, carried out near daily suicide attacks that killed thousands. The violence reduced cities to rubble, displaced millions and exacerbated the effects of a long-running drought and famine that left around a quarter million dead in 2011.

The group has also lashed out across the region, with devastating and coordinated operations including the 2010 World Cup bombing in Kampala, Uganda, that killed 74 people, and the 2013 assault of the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, where at least 67 died.

Map shows location of Somalia.Google Maps.

In recent years the U.S. has carried out a campaign of airstrikes targeting militant training camps and al-Shabab leaders. The group has been pushed out of Mogadishu, although it continues to control rural areas in the south and central regions.

Robow, who according to American officials was born in 1959, was one of the founders of al-Shabab in 2006. Also known as Abu Mansour, he was inspired by al Qaeda and received militant training in Afghanistan where he has said he met with Osama bin Laden days before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

He was then instrumental in deploying al Qaeda’s violent insurgent strategy to fight the Somali government and international forces.

In 2008, Robow was added to the U.S. list of designated terrorists and a multi-million-dollar bounty was put on his head.

But a rift within al-Shabab, between parts of the group seeking to establish a global caliphate and others like Robow who were more focused on national issues, set him on a new path.

Smoke rises in the aftermath of explosions outside a hotel in Somalia's capital Mogadishu on Nov. 9.Said Yusuf Warsame / EPA file

Fearing for his life after a falling out with senior leader Ahmed Abdi Godane in 2013, Robow went into hiding protected by his own loyal militia, until announcing his decision to defect in August 2017.

In a public address at the time, Robow urged other fighters to leave as well.

“I left al-Shabab because of misunderstanding, and I disagreed with their creed which does not serve Islamic religion, people and the country,” he said, according to Reuters. “I urge the militants to leave al-Shabab.”

Robow’s transformation from militant leader who publicly praised successful suicide attacks to candidate for office was the result of the government’s program of encouraging al-Shabab defections.

Hussein Sheikh-Ali, a former government adviser who helped negotiate Robow’s move, said it took three years to convince him to change sides.

“It wasn’t straightforward," he said. "It was on and off and eventually we figured out something and then he just jumped.”

His defection came just months after the U.S. removed a $5 million reward for his capture and took him off its list of sponsors of terrorism. U.S. sanctions, which prohibit U.S. citizens from dealing with him, remain.




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Sheikh-Ali, who is also the director of the Hiraal Institute, a security research group in Mogadishu, believes Robow’s transformation is genuine.

“He wants to defeat al-Shabab,” he said. “He thinks that they are counter to Somali society. That is his position right now.”

Now Robow is running to become the president of South West State — one of six federal regions set up to help establish a functioning government.

And he is not alone.

A new report from the United Nations Monitoring Group on Somalia says about 20 other senior members of al-Shabab have defected “at Robow’s instigation.”

Non-Shabab commanders have also joined mainstream politics.

Ahmed Madobe, a former Islamist warlord who ran a powerful militia that fought against al-Shabab for control of the region and its lucrative port in Kismayo, reentered mainstream politics and was elected president of Jubaland State in southern Somalia in 2013.

But Robow's running for office — a move announced in October — might be a step too far. The South West State's regional assembly is set to vote on whether he is eligible for office. While local authorities cleared his candidacy, the central government has announced Robow cannot run because he remains under international sanction.

It is not clear who gets the final say because Somalia does not have a formal constitution.

And so far, Robow also has not been subject to any kind of judicial process or accounting for his past actions.

Hundreds of al-Shabaab fighters perform military exercises south of Mogadishu.Farah Abdi Warsameh / AP file

Vanda Felbab-Brown, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute in Washington and an expert on insurgencies, warned against integrating former combatants in this way.

“There is this tremendous risk that justice and victims’ rights will be sacrificed without there being any payoff in terms of reduction of violence or in terms of more effective, accountable stabilization in Somalia,” she said.

Rashid Abdi, the Horn of Africa director for International Crisis Group, acknowledged that Robow’s candidacy poses a moral dilemma. But in a country riven by conflict since the fall of the last government in 1991, it is not unheard of for former combatants to gain political power, he said.

“Of course it’s not ideal,” Abdi said. “But my argument has been, 'Look, there have been very few people in the Somali political field today who can be held to be clean.’”

Gabe Joselow

Associated Press and Reuters contributed.

Luke Posted on November 25, 2018 19:36

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Exporting pain: U.S.-made medical devices cause serious injuries, pain overseas

Nov. 25, 2018 / 5:07 PM GMT

By Andrew W. Lehren and Emily Siegel

After years in the military and playing rugby, Wolfgang Neszpor was used to his battered body making noises, but he was stunned when he heard his recently repaired shoulder squeak.

"It was loud. You could really hear it outside my body," he said.

He went to his doctor, who, when examining him, lifted up his arm.

"I nearly went through the roof," Neszpor recalled. "I can take a fair bit of pain. But it was a stupid amount of pain."

Two months earlier, Neszpor, 36, had gotten a new shoulder joint made out of carbon fiber. It was a PyroTITAN, made by Integra LifeSciences, a New Jersey company that ranks among the biggest medical device companies in the world.

Neszpor lives in Australia, where his operation was performed in 2014. He believed the Made in the USA label meant his shoulder would be fixed with state-of-the-art technology.

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What he did not know is that even though it was made in the USA, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had not, and still has not, deemed it good enough for Americans. A clinical trial is underway and the company said it hopes to get approval upon completion. But the agency has permitted its sale overseas since 2012 under an obscure provision in which the PyroTITAN was registered as an "export only" device, requiring far less FDA scrutiny than for devices that are sold domestically.

The PyroTITAN is one of more than a dozen export-only devices with troubled track records identified by NBC News, including U.S.-made implants for losing weight that instead led to emergency surgeries, stents that could cut into arteries they were supposed to save, and heart valves sold in Spain and Italy that, according to the FDA, caused severe infections and may have caused a five-year-old child to die. There may well be more. NBC News found these by analyzing and comparing databases in 10 countries, and a lack of international standards for identifying devices means it is difficult to know how many other troubled devices exist.

For U.S. companies, exporting medical devices is big business, valued last year at more than $41 billion. Currently about 4,600 devices are registered with the FDA as "export only" devices. Several executives for medical device makers said registering the devices is faster, less expensive and has involved less oversight than getting them approved for sale inside the U.S. The troubled devices identified by NBC News have been sold around the world. The destinations range from the Netherlands to Namibia, Chile to Canada, Japan to Germany.

NBC News probed export-only devices as part of a global project organized by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a news organization notable for its work on the Panama Papers, to examine the medical device industry. More than 250 reporters in 36 countries worked on stories that began publishing Sunday.

Wolfgang Neszpor, after years in the military and playing rugby, was used to his battered body making noises, but the 36-year-old was stunned when he heard his recently repaired shoulder squeak.Cheryl Goodenough / Redland City Bulletin

The FDA says its oversight for these products is limited. "The FDA does not have the authority to take action on export-only devices marketed in other countries simply because they do not meet the agency's requirements for marketing in the United States," the agency told NBC News.

The PyroTITAN already had documented problems before it was embedded into Neszpor's shoulder. The company had alerted the medical community in 2012 that some models could break. After his surgery, more flaws emerged. In 2013, Australian authorities warned that, for some, the PyroTITAN broke in its first year. A 2016 recall cautioned the device needed so much friction to snap into place that it could burn the arm bone when it was implanted. Out of an untold number of implants, at least 19 patients needed to have the PyroTITAN removed. Neszpor is one of them.

"That raises a lot of ethical and moral and health questions," said Dr. Sidney M. Wolfe, who helped establish Public Citizen, a consumer health advocacy organization, and frequently testifies before Congress on patient safety.

"It sort of also raises the question, 'Is an American life worth more than a British life or an Australian life?'" he said. "I mean that's the reason they're not being approved here, is because you're protecting an American life. So why would it be okay for another country?"

Less oversight

When Congress, in bipartisan legislation, created the framework for "export only" devices, proponents argued FDA oversight should be minimal. Other countries should decide whether a U.S.-made device was good enough for its residents.

"Why should Congress presume to forbid American manufacturers the opportunity to sell products in these countries after these governments have independently found that such products are legal to make and use?" said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, when the law was being created. "Can we not rely upon the Chinese and Russian governments to act in the best interests of [their] own citizens?"

The PyroTITAN is one of more than a dozen export-only devices identified by NBC News with troubled track records.PyroTITAN

After the law passed in 1996, the FDA proposed rules to fill in the framework of the legislation. The medical device industry pushed back on several suggested provisions.

Perhaps the most significant was in 2000. The FDA proposed that U.S. manufacturers track alleged problems overseas, in a process called postmarket surveillance. When U.S.-made devices are sold domestically, they undergo that kind of scrutiny.

AdvaMed, the medical device industry's leading trade group, protested, writing to the FDA that the rule "would impose substantial, unnecessary burdens on device manufacturers" and cast a "chilling effect" on smaller U.S. companies

Instead, AdvaMed countered, medical device makers would meet existing rules by submitting adverse event reports to the FDA. Its adverse event database, with 7.2 million entries, is a key tripwire for the agency to spot problems. But according to the FDA, companies only need to file adverse events for export-only products if they have a similar domestic version of the device. Otherwise, adverse event filings would be voluntary.

In 2002, the FDA agreed with AdvaMed and abandoned seeking postmarket surveillance.

An NBC News review found Integra LifeSciences never filed adverse event reports for the PryroTITAN. Company filings show it knew about breaks and burns. Public records in Australia document that at least 19 patients needed revision surgery to replace broken devices. Further review shows at least two other U.S. makers of export-only devices also failed to report adverse events for serious incidents. In these cases, adverse event reporting appears to have been voluntary. The firms do not yet have a domestic version of the products, though they all have indicated they hope to later bring the products to the U.S. market.

Integra LifeSciences did not respond to questions about why it did not file any PyroTITAN adverse event reports.

Black powder

For Integra LifeSciences, the PyroTITAN was once a key to success in Europe.

The company is headquartered near Trenton, New Jersey, employs about 4,400 and ranks among the world's 50 largest publicly traded medical device companies. A key to its growth is acquiring other businesses. That's how it got the PyroTITAN.

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In 2012, Integra LifeSciences told the investment trade press that it intended to expand in Europe, with the PyroTITAN part of the strategy. The device had been given a CE mark, a designation meaning it was approved for sale in Europe. A 2013 company catalog showed it was also for sale in the Middle East and Africa. Surgeons had implanted it in patients in Italy and New Zealand. The company told investors in 2014 that it hoped to soon win FDA approval for the lucrative U.S. market.

At the same time the PyroTITAN was sold in the general medical market, it was undergoing a clinical trial in Sweden and another in Sweden, France, the UK and Australia. That is how Neszpor learned of the device. He had undergone previous surgeries and treatments for shoulder injuries. While Australians could get the PyroTITAN in the nation's general medical market, Neszpor's doctor encouraged him to enter the multinational clinical trial.

The doctor "persuaded and pushed towards" the PyroTITAN, Neszpor said, and minimized the risk.

When Neszpor returned after surgery because his shoulder squeaked, he recalled his doctor recommended he take fewer pain medications. "There was no sympathy at all," Neszpor said. "It was just he wanted their thing to work."

In 2014, Neszpor turned to Dr. Desmond Soares, a prominent orthopedic surgeon who has also held governmental and political posts in Australia. After looking at x-rays, Soares was skeptical that the PyroTITAN was the problem. Neszpor pressed him. Soares agreed to surgically peer inside his shoulder. He did not like what he saw.

"As we opened the shoulder implant, you could see some black powdery stuff," the doctor recalled. He spotted a crack in the device. "As I took that off, underneath in the bone, there were black powdery fragments, which is obviously the disintegrating carbon from the PyroTITAN implant."

Soares said Australia's way of evaluating a product for approval is "very broken" and questioned how the PyroTITAN was approved for general use. Australia's version of the FDA, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, issued a statement that the reason is the PyroTITAN had earned a CE mark, Europe’s version of device approval, given by independent evaluation firms.

Orthopedic surgeon Desmond SoaresTom Hancock / Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Several experts, including Wolfe, said this underscores a flaw in the U.S. export-only process, because regulators in many countries do not conduct their own rigorous evaluations.

Australian surgeon Dr. Philip Duke, who was one of several doctors in the PyroTITAN trials, defended the product and the clinical trials.

"I strive to ensure that the research is conducted in full compliance with all applicable regulations and medical ethics guidelines, and with the full disclosure of any known risks to trial participants," he said.

Within several years after Neszpor's surgery, Integra LifeSciences suspended the two clinical trials for the device. The device never lost approval for sale in the Australian and European general markets. Integra LifeSciences has since started a new trial in Australia.

"Today, the PyroTITAN device meets all regulatory, safety and performance requirements," the company wrote in a statement to NBC News, and "has enabled many patients to regain the mobility of their shoulders." The company did not say whether the device had been modified.

The company noted that Australian government data shows it is "comparable" to rivals when tabulating the number of revision surgeries, and Integra LifeSciences monitors the safety of its implant.

The new Australian clinical trial for the PyroTITAN is due to end in 2020, and if the results are favorable, Integra LifeSciences may then seek FDA approval for sale in the U.S.

Heart valves gone wrong

At least one U.S. company's export-only devices appeared to have contributed to a death.

Shelhigh Inc. of Union, New Jersey, turned cow and pig parts into heart valves for children and grafts for damaged arteries. They were marketed in the U.S., while export-only versions were sold in Germany, Spain, Japan and Italy.

In 2007, the FDA grew concerned about how Shelhigh did its work, according to court records. Company lab tests showed pathogens in some of the devices, and the FDA said Shelhigh was not taking action. The FDA said devices were made in unsanitary conditions, and that the company had refused to explain how it ensured sterilization.

The FDA seized Shelhigh's devices, arguing the company violated good manufacturing practices.

Shelhigh sued in federal court to get them back, contending the FDA did not have the right to judge its manufacturing since the devices were destined for a foreign market. Regulators in Spain and Italy had deemed Shelhigh's products good enough, it reasoned, so the FDA should not second-guess those decisions.

The case would become a landmark in the regulation of export-only devices.

A court document shows an FDA inspector found that Shelhigh failed to notify the FDA about adverse events. He stated its devices "reasonably" played a role in causing three heart infections, two emergency surgeries and the death of a five-year-old.

The FDA issued its most serious kind of recall notice because the devices posed a "reasonable probability that use of or exposure to a product will cause serious adverse health consequences or death."

The warnings spread. In Ireland, authorities warned Irish citizens who may have been medical tourists and gotten Shelhigh devices while seeking inexpensive care in Italy or Spain.

The judge sided with the FDA, and some in the medical device industry criticized the decision as a precedent permitting FDA overreach. They believed it could have opened the door for the FDA to regulate export-only devices.

In a medical law journal, three attorneys who represented device makers wrote the ruling "could have drastic consequences for the pharmaceutical and medical device industries." They argued the FDA had no right to judge manufacturing standards for products never sold in the United States, and that this was a "departure from its historic interpretation of export provisions," done without first seeking feedback from the public industry.

Shelhigh is out of business. Lea Gabbay, who was a company executive, disagreed with the FDA's portrayal of the firm. The adverse events were "never, never device-related," she contended. "The product was very much in demand and it was saving lives."

Instead, she contended, the FDA "really wanted us out" because the business had run afoul of agency "politics."

Mimicking gastric bypass surgery

One company working hard to get back in the good graces of regulators after a series of problems is the Massachusetts firm GI Dynamics.

It developed the EndoBarrier to mimic gastric bypass surgery. Instead of cutting out part of the bowels, a doctor would insert two feet of plastic tubing into the intestines. The device is designed to help those suffering from obesity and diabetes. It stays in the patient's stomach for up to a year.

The EndoBarrier was implanted in Dutch, Chilean and Australian patients beginning in 2011.

Problems emerged. Australian authorities issued two hazard warnings for complications, including cuts and bleeding in the digestive system, and concerns about bacterial infections, including pus-filled abscesses on the liver, even after the device is removed.

Ton Bogers, who lives in the Netherlands near the Belgian border, said he was debilitated by abscesses on his pancreas after implantation of an EndoBarrier device.

Ton BogersCourtesy Ton Bogers

He loves riding motorcycles, but was, by his own admission, overweight and suffering from diabetes. Through Google searching he learned about the EndoBarrier. He preferred the less-invasive implanting by a scope rather than stomach surgery. In February 2014, his EndoBarrier was implanted.

At first Bogers lost weight and was pleased. Then he fell ill and was hospitalized.

"I screamed through the entire hospital from pain," he recalled. He listed ailments including an infection and abscesses on his pancreas. The implant was removed in June 2014. He recounted being in and out of hospitals for two years. He weakened. He needed a feeding tube for a while, lost his job and had to learn to walk again.

The U.S. FDA halted clinical trials on the EndoBarrier in 2015 because of the abscess problems. The company lost its CE mark in Europe in 2017. An NBC News review of adverse event data found the company did not file adverse event reports with the FDA about the four patients who suffered infections and abscesses leading to the shutdown of the clinical trial.

"The company was doing an inadequate job," said Scott Schorer, the company president and chief executive officer brought in to overhaul GI Dynamics. He said the problems were not about the design of the EndoBarrier, but the company's quality control and oversight. He said the new team emphasizes patient safety, looks forward to re-entering the marketplace, and believes the device is safer than gastric bypass surgery.

The firm has approval to resume clinical trials and hopes to obtain a new CE mark in Europe next year.

Other troubled devices

Among the other troubled export-only devices found by NBC News are stents that could cause internal bleeding, inflatable stomach balloons that blocked bowels, and insulin pumps that could malfunction and leave diabetics uncertain if they need insulin.

Cordis, a Cardinal Health Inc. subsidiary, sells malleable mesh stents, branded as the S.M.A.R.T. Flex Vascular Stent System, in more than a dozen countries, including Armenia, Jordan, Colombia and Iran.

Last year, the stent was recalled because deploying it inside patients could cause internal bleeding. The company reported that three patients had suffered injuries. Cordis said none of the incidents "are believed to be related to the device" but it could not rule out that the stents were the cause. About 2,700 stents were recalled in Germany and elsewhere. Later in the year, the company recalled more than 500 stents because of possible cracks. The company declined to comment.

For those suffering from obesity in Europe and the Middle East, Allurion, a Massachusetts company, sells a balloon that will expand in the stomach, in the hope that patients will feel full and lose weight.

UK and Saudi Arabian authorities issued warnings in 2016 after two patients experienced malfunctions where balloons filled up too much and lodged inside patients' intestines. The company blamed two bad production lots and recommended doctors consider procedures to go inside patients and tear up the balloons to avoid the risk of blocked bowels.

The company did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Medtronic makes many kinds of insulin pumps advertised as "artificial pancreas[es]," including the MiniMed 640G. The 640G is sold around the world, including Europe, Japan, Australia, Namibia, Kenya and India.

Medtronic makes many kinds of insulin pumps advertised as an "artificial pancreas," and one is just for the foreign market, the MiniMed 640G. It is sold around the world, including Europe, Japan, Australia, Namibia, Kenya and India.MedTronic

The export-only product has been the subject of a half-dozen recalls and notifications from 2015 to 2018 for a series of problems covering more than 42,000 devices. These included mechanical malfunctions, problematic pumps, software failures and alarms that did not sound. The concern is that diabetics could become uncertain whether they were getting the proper amount of insulin, which might lead to health problems.

"Safety is our first and foremost priority, and we adhere to the highest medical, scientific, regulatory and legal standards," the company said in a statement to NBC News. "We keep careful track of our customers around the world so that if we need to notify them of a potential issue with their product, we can do so."

Back in Australia, Nezspor believes his life was diminished by the PyroTITAN shoulder, and it has hurt his family.

"I thought I was really going to get something out of it," said Nezspor, the father of six children. "You sit here and mull over it. You feel like less of a person because you can't get involved in your kids' lives and you can't do the things that you want to do."

Andrew W. Lehren

Andrew W. Lehren is a senior editor with the NBC News Investigative Unit.

Luke Posted on November 25, 2018 19:32

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Russian Billionaire Gets Green Light for Upper East Side Mega-Mansion

Good things come to those who wait, apparently — at least in regards to the construction of mega-mansions by Russian billionaires.

After ruling against his original plans to combine three homes into an 18,255-square-foot Upper East Side mansion — with a 30 foot backyard and a swimming pool in the basement — in April, the Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday approved new plans submitted by Roman Abramovich, who has a net worth of $9.3 billion and owns Chelsea F.C.

According to real estate website 6sqft, the revised plan from architect Steven Wang means that there will no longer be dramatic changes to the facades of the properties and that they will not look like one single home from outside.

Mr. Abramovich can now go ahead and create a mega-mansion out of the rowhouses at 11-15 East 75th Street between Fifth and Madison avenues, which are worth $78 million. He purchased the first of the three houses back in January 2015.

Once complete, the newly combined home will be one of the largest in Manhattan and brokers speculated that it could add around $50 million to the value of the property, although no Manhattan townhouse has ever changed hands above the $100 million mark.

This is not the first time 49-year-old Abramovich has faced opposition from preservationists to his home improvement ambitions. In London, it took him three years to win approval to create a mega-mansion in the city’s exclusive Kensington neighborhood.

Michael Bloomberg, another billionaire, and the former mayor of New York City, has been trying to create a mega-mansion on East 79th Street on the Upper East Side since the 1980s. He has been buying properties to create one big home, but is not quite there yet. He still needs one more property.

ruby Posted on November 24, 2018 16:40

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WWE SmackDown: Charlotte Flair fined £78,000 for referee attack

Charlotte Flair has been fined £78,000 by general manager Paige for her referee attacks after returning to SmackDown.

Flair was keen to toast her Survivor Series savaging of Ronda Rousey as the blue brand went back on the air on Tuesday night, in which she broke several kendo sticks on the Raw champion and stamped on a chair which was wrapped around her neck.

During the melee, she threw five match officials out of the ring and for that infraction has been fined $100,000 by Paige, who admitted she admired the fire Flair showed at the event.

The Queen did not seem concerned by the fine and was given another opportunity to again demonstrate the intensity she showed on Sunday night when Peyton Royce came out to challenge her to a match.

Royce and her friend Billie Kay then felt the Flair wrath, taking a double spear on the outside before being thrown over the commentary table.

The pair had earlier set about Flair in a two-on-one attack during which the crowd chanted for Becky Lynch. There was, however, no sign of her.

Huge loss for Miz and McMahon

Shane McMahon, fresh from his - and SmackDown's - annihilation at the hands of Team Raw at Survivor Series, was the guest on Miz TV where the host made clear his admiration for the commissioner.

Miz even went as far as convincing Shane to team up with him for an impromptu tag bout against a pair of 'local competitors', Dane and Wayne Bryant.



The Miz looks to impress Shane McMahon

The Miz tries to impress Shane McMahon in this impromptu tag team match against Wayne & Dane Bryant, but not all goes to plan!

The Miz tried to impress Shane McMahon in this impromptu tag team match against Wayne and Dane Bryant, but it didn't go to plan

The Miz dominated the match but offered to tag in McMahon, who never removed his leather jacket for the duration of the match, to record the pinfall.

That turned out to be a tactical error, as Dane Bryant rolled up Miz for a three-count and a huge upset victory.

Bryan: The Yes movement is dead

WWE champion Daniel Bryan famously said "fight for your dreams and they will fight for you" several months ago when he emotionally announced that he had been cleared to return to in-ring competition.

However, that mantra has now been completely flipped on its head, with Bryan declaring that his shocking attitude change last week was due to his dreams.



Daniel Bryan explains his actions

The new Daniel Bryan gives insight as to why he did what he did to capture the WWE Championship from AJ Styles.

The new Daniel Bryan gave insight as to why he did what he did to capture the WWE championship from AJ Styles

Bryan revealed that his dream to regain the WWE title compelled him to kick AJ Styles below the belt last week to secure his title victory.

He then said that the old Daniel Bryan and The "Yes!" Movement were dead and that we are now about to see a very different Bryan.

ruby Posted on November 24, 2018 16:26

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Fake taxi driver jailed after locking tourist couple in car and demanding huge fee

A fake taxi driver who demanded a tourist couple in Paris pay €247 (£219) for a trip from the airport has been jailed.

The Thai couple's dispute with the driver went viral when a video of the incident was posted to YouTube on 9 November.

Chakrid Thanhachartyothin and his wife wanted to take a taxi from Charles de Gaulle airport to their hotel in central Paris, which typically costs €45-55 (£39-£48).

But the 25-year-old driver - named as Enock C - aggressively insisted on a payment of €247 (£219).

When the couple refused to pay the amount, the driver locked them inside the car and refused to let them out.

At a Paris court, he was found guilty of fraud and extortion involving threats and jailed for eight months, French media reported.

According to reports, the driver said he worked for a private taxi service - known as VTC in French - called Chauffeur Prive.

In the video, he becomes angry when the tourists offer him €180 (£159).

"You pay me 200 Euro! Pay me, pay me," he shouts.

The couple demand to be let out and later accuse the driver of hitting Mr Charkrid in the face.

They paid Enock after becoming desperate to get out of the vehicle.

In an update on 10 November, Mr Charkrid wrote on his YouTube channel: "We are now back to Bangkok.

Image:Licensed taxis in Paris must have this roof sign

"One of our friend in Paris went to the police station for us today to report the case."

ruby Posted on November 24, 2018 16:11

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'Macron must resign': Furious protests at rising fuel prices across France

Police in Paris have used tear gas and water cannon to disperse protesters who are furious over rising fuel costs.

Demonstrations and road blockades have been planned nationwide as the "yellow vest" protests enter a second weekend. They have been named after the fluorescent jackets worn by protesters, which motorists must keep in their cars by law.

In the capital, hundreds descended on the Champs Elysee, where officers stopped them from advancing to the presidential palace nearby.

Some of the protesters were singing the national anthem, while others brandished placards demanding the resignation of French President Emmanuel Macron and calling him a "thief".

They are opposed to the taxes that Mr Macron introduced last year on diesel and petrol, which are designed to encourage people to use more environmentally friendly forms of transport.

The price of diesel has risen 23% in the past 12 months, while Mr Macron's approval rating has sunk as slow as 21% in recent opinion polls.

Away from the capital, highways have been blocked - with burning barricades and convoys of slow-moving trucks obstructing access to fuel depots, shopping centres and factories.

Two people have been killed in the protests so far, including a 62-year-old woman who was run over by a motorist who panicked after her car was surrounded by demonstrators.

A poll this week indicated that 73% of people in France have expressed support for the protests, which have been characterised as a grassroots movement lacking in clear leadership.

Last weekend's demonstrations attracted an estimated 250,000 people.

Mr Macron has admitted that he has "not succeeded in reconciling the French with their leaders" and had "not given them enough consideration", but is standing firm and refusing to rescind the fuel taxes.


ruby Posted on November 24, 2018 14:29

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West Ham need players of 'fantastic' Samir Nasri's quality, says Pablo Zabaleta

Pablo Zabaleta believes Samir Nasri can provide a creative spark for West Ham if he is given time to regain his fitness.

The French midfielder, who has not played competitive football in 18 months, is training with West Ham in a bid to win a contract with the club.

Zabaleta knows Nasri well from their time together at Manchester City, where both played under current West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini, and he feels the 31-year-old still has plenty to offer.

"Manuel [Pellegrini] knows Samir very well from his time at Manchester City," Zabaleta said.

"We need players with his quality, especially because also we lost two key players who brought quality into this team - Manuel Lanzini in the summer before the World Cup and then [Jack] Wilshere, who is very close to coming back to the team.

"On the ball [Nasri] is fantastic. He is one of those players who can give to the team some possession and play between the lines to help the attacking players to create chances."

Nasri was banned from football for breaching World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) rules in 2016 after he visited an intravenous treatment centre in Los Angeles, but he can play again from January 1.

"Samir needs a bit of time," Zabaleta said. "He has not been football training for more than a year but sometimes those players are technically very good so he probably needs to focus more on his fitness levels than his passing and all this.

"We know Samir and his quality. When he is fit he is on a different level. He is a fantastic player.

"Hopefully he can reach his best fitness level. He has to feel physically good because we know that the Premier League is so demanding physically."

ruby Posted on November 24, 2018 13:52

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Kylian Mbappe omitted from Golden Boy shortlist, Trent Alexander-Arnold makes the cut

French star Kylian Mbappe has been surprisingly omitted from the final five-man shortlist for the prestigious 2018 European Golden Boy award.

The award, established by Italian publication Tuttosport, is given to the best player under the age of 21 in Europe.

Mbappe, who won the award last year, has been left out despite winning the Young Player of the Tournament award at the 2018 World Cup.

Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold has made the shortlist after helping Jurgen Klopp's side reach the Champions League final and breaking into Gareth Southgate's England squad.

He is joined on the final shortlist by AC Milan's Italian forward Patrick Cutrone after a breakthrough season that saw him score 18 goals for the Rossoneri and win his first cap for Italy.

Two Netherlands internationals are included with Roma forward Justin Kluivert and Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt both named.

The final name on the list is Real Madrid's 18-year-old Brazilian forward Vinicius Junior, who joined the Spanish side from Flamengo in July.

Manchester City's Phil Foden, Manchester United's Diogo Dalot, Everton's Tom Davies and Celtic's Odsonne Edouard were each included on a shortlist of 20 finalists released earlier this month but failed to make the final five.

Former winners of the award include Wayne Rooney (2004), Lionel Messi (2005), Sergio Aguero (2007), Paul Pogba (2013), Raheem Sterling (2014) and Anthony Martial (2015).

The winner, which will be announced on December 18, will be decided by 30 journalists from media outlets across the continent.

ruby Posted on November 24, 2018 13:47

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UEFA Nations League: What happens next with England and Scotland?

England came from behind to defeat Croatia 2-1 and take their place in the UEFA Nations League finals, but what happens next?

England were trailing to Andrej Kramaric's deflected strike at Wembley but substitute Jesse Lingard equalised from close range in the 78th minute before Harry Kane netted the winner five minutes from time.

When are the finals? Which other nations have qualified? And what happens to Scotland? With the group stage now over, we answer the key questions on what comes next.

When are the finals?

The finals will take place between the 5th and 9th of June next year, with the draw taking place on Monday, December 3.

The four Group A winners will compete in two semi-finals, followed by a third-place play-off and a final.

Portugal will be the host nation having finished top of Group A3 above Italy and Poland, the other countries to have expressed an interest.

Porto's Estadio do Dragao and the Estadio D Afonso Henriques in Guimaraes are the proposed venues.

What will the finalists be competing for?

The final four teams will be battling it out to be the first side to lift the new Nations League trophy.

There will also be prize money up for grabs. The winners receive 7.5m euros, the runners-up 6.5m euros, the third-placed side 5.5m and the fourth-placed team 4.5m.

Who else has qualified?

Group A1, Virgil van Dijk's late equaliser in Netherlands' 2-2 draw with Germany ensured Ronald Koeman's side qualified for the finals ahead of France.

In Group A2, Switzerland qualified for the last four with a shock 5-2 win over Belgium in Lucerne on Sunday evening. Roberto Martinez's side had been the favourites to progress as they only needed a draw in their final game to top the group, but a Haris Seferovic hat-trick inspired the Swiss to an emphatic victory.

In Group A3, Portugal booked their place in the last four with their goalless draw away to Italy on Saturday. They had previously beaten Italy 1-0 at home and secured a 3-2 win away to Poland.

Which teams have been promoted?

From B to A: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denmark, Ukraine, Sweden

From C to B: Finland, Norway, Scotland, Serbia

From D to C: Georgia, Belarus, FYR Macedonia, Kosovo

Which teams have been relegated?

From A to B: Germany, Iceland, Poland, Croatia

From B to C: Northern Ireland, Turkey, Republic of Ireland, Slovakia

From C to D: Estonia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Albania

What does this mean for Euro 2020 qualification?

By winning their group, England have ensured they will still have a chance of reaching Euro 2020 even if they don't finish in the top two of their qualification group.

Instead of play-offs involving the third-placed teams in qualifying, the final places at Euro 2020 will be decided by a round of play-offs involving all 16 Nations League group-winners. If they have already qualified, the next-highest ranked team in their Nations League group will take their place.

From Groups A to D, those teams will then contest separate single-leg semi-finals and one-off finals for the final four places at Euro 2020.

The four teams in the Nations League final will also be placed in five-team Euro 2020 qualifying groups rather than the other six-team groups.

Scotland made it through to the Euro 2020 play-offs by topping their group

When does Euro 2020 qualifying start?

Euro 2020 qualifying starts in March 2019. The qualifying play-off draw will then take place on November 22, 2019, with the play-offs themselves happening between March 26 and 31, 2020.

How can I watch the Nations League finals?

All games will be shown exclusively live on Sky Sports.

You can also watch all of the remaining group stage games live on Sky Sports and on the red button.

When is the next UEFA Nations League?

The next Nations League will get underway in September 2020 with the finals taking place in June of 2021.

A new Nations League winner will be crowned every two years.


ruby Posted on November 24, 2018 13:44

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Jennifer Lawrence, World’s Highest-Paid Actress, is Making Real Estate Moves

Jennifer Lawrence, recently crowned the world’s highest-paid actress for the second year in a row, is still working on her real estate game.

The "Hunger Games" star—who, according to Forbes, made $46 million before fees and taxes in the year through June 1, 2016—recently sold her starter condo in Santa Monica,, Calif. Her profit: Less than $280,000.

Previously: Five Homes for the World’s Highest-Paid Actress Jennifer Lawrence

The property, identified by Varietyas belonging to Ms. Lawrence, sold last month for $1.15 million, about a month and a half after it was listed at $1.169 million by Andrew Thurm of Coldwell Banker. The actress reportedly bought the two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom townhouse for $879,000 in 2006, long before winning her Oscar for her role in the romantic comedy "Silver Linings Playbook" in 2012.

It is unclear when the 26-year-old last lived in the 1,413-square foot condo.

Her current home seems a better fit to her ascending career. In 2014, the actress paid over $7 million for a 5,550-square-foot, five-bedroom residence in Beverly Hills boasting a gym, gourmet kitchen and koi pond.

Now, Ms. Lawrence is reportedly looking at properties in Manhattan. According to the New York Post, she recently toured a duplex penthouse in Tribeca, which, with an asking price of $17.49 million, could become her most expensive real estate bet yet.

ruby Posted on November 24, 2018 11:01

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Kendall Jenner Buys Emily Blunt and John Krasinski’s Hollywood Hills Mansion for $6.5 Million

She recently complained that she did not have enough closet space for all her clothes in her $1.39 million Los Angeles condo. Perhaps that’s why 20-year-old supermodel Kendall Jenner decided to spend $6.5 million on a Hollywood Hills mansion overlooking celebrity haunt Chateau Marmont on the Sunset Strip.

According to TMZ, she has bought the home of "The Devil Wears Prada" actress Emily Blunt and her husband and former "The Office" star John Krasinski. The couple, who are expecting their second child, are reportedly looking to move to the East Coast.

Ms. Jenner also landed herself a discount for the 4,800-square-foot six bedroom home, as it was listed for $6.95 million, and that already represented a price cut from the original advertised $8 million figure back in January. The deal was to officially close Friday morning.

The Jenners are no strangers to tony real estate transactions.Last month, the new homeowner’s younger sister and fellow "Keeping Up With The Kardashians" star Kylie Jenner put her Mediterranean-style starter home in Calabasas on the market for $3.9 million. She originally bought it a year ago for $2.6 million.

The younger Ms. Jenner, at just 18, will move into a new $6.025-million house in Hidden Hills, where many other celebrities, including Jennifer Lopez, Miley Cyrus and Jessica Simpson, have homes. Her sister, Kim Kardashian West, and husband Kanye West also have a home in the area.

ruby Posted on November 24, 2018 10:57

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Migrant caravan to plea for entry and mercy at border

The entire migrant caravan hoping to gain access to the US and now numbering at least 6,000 people intends to walk to the border this weekend to "knock on the door" and plead for access that looks, at the very best, unlikely.

It's raised fears among the authorities in both Mexico and the US that there could be a sudden rush to jump the fence, that is being secured with barbed wire, border police and the US military.

The migrant camp was full days ago but more groups of people keep arriving, pitching tents and waiting for something to happen. Although few seem to know quite what.


The facilities in the small sports complex could never have coped with this number of people and it's getting pretty miserable there now.

It's smelly, everyone is coughing, children are getting sick, it's cold and it's due to rain.

We met Leticia and her three-year-old daughter Mylene from Honduras, sleeping rough outside the camp on the street. They say it is better outside than inside the camp.

Image:Some people prefer sleeping rough because of poor conditions inside the camp

Few of the migrants appear to have joined the caravan with any knowledge of asylum law, but they are preparing banners for the march to the border on Sunday basically asking for entry and mercy.

But being poor and from a country where there is no work just doesn't qualify.

El Salvadorians stand a chance because gang violence is so bad there. Hondurans, like father of two, Carlos Xavier Ramos, sleeping on the stands of the camp's baseball park, do not.

"We are waiting for what the people say, what another country may offer to us, possibly Canada, possibly Mexico," he said.

"Tijuana is a great city to work, they pay really well here. We are waiting, we are waiting for what person, what country, can offer something to us. We are waiting. All that we want to do is work."

He, like so many of the people here, are hoping some country, somewhere, could take pity and give him a chance to change his family's lives.

There have been moves to the border fence in the last few days. Hundreds sitting down outside the crossing point.

President Trump has mobilised his military and US helicopters to keep a vigilant eye from the skies. But the Mexican authorities aren't taking things easy either. Hundreds of fully clad riot police stand guard at the border and are prepared to control any sudden rush to the US.

The whole camp is hoping it can at least start the asylum process, regardless of the outcome.

Half of the caravan is made up of children. They are thousands of miles from home and sleeping rough. A little girl standing in front of the riot police looks scared and disorientated, with huge tears flowing down her cheeks.

It is miserable here and it looks likely to stay that way.

ruby Posted on November 24, 2018 10:54

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School 'bans' everything to do with Christmas because it has become 'too commercial'

A school in North Yorkshire has taken the dramatic and perhaps controversial step of banning Christmas on the basis that it has become 'too commercial'.

The exchanging of presents, cards and any form of Christmas fun is now banned until the pupils at Lady Lumley's School in Pickering can convince their teachers to bring back the festivities.

Now, this isn't a school doing their best Ebenezer Scrooge impression and sapping the joy out the season, but it is an attempt to highlight the true meaning of Christmas.

To really emphasise the point, Father Christmas made an appearance at an assembly held at the school earlier this week to tell the pupils to consider what they felt Christmas was really about, amid it being 'lost and buried under an avalanche of commercialisation'.

For the meantime, the kids will have to put aside dreams of opening an N64 or Tamagotchi on Christmas morning (that's what kids still want, right?) and contemplate a convincing argument for Christmas, which they can email to their RE teacher.

They have been informed to send their arguments by 30 November, with headteacher Richard Bramley adding that while Christmas is fun for some, it can be a time of worry and stress for others. In a blog post on the school's website he wrote: 

Christmas is a day celebrating the birth of Jesus and should be a time of good will to all, yet it can be a very stressful, expensive, argumentative and lonely time.?

In her message to students in the assemblies [RE teacher] Mrs Paul asked them to consider the true meaning of Christmas and to write to her by November 30 at with their reasons why we should still celebrate this time of year and try to persuade her to change her mind.

With practising-Christian numbers declining and the world becoming a more multi-faith based society, Christmas has arguably been hijacked by consumerism and brands eager to sell more products, so this move from the school would appear to be a thoughtful, if not unconventional, approach to Christmas in 2018.

On paper, this would seem like a logical approach to a modern-day Christmas and teaching kids about the dangers of consumerism, but some feel the move to completely eradicate Christmas from children's school lives all together is a step too far.

Others thought it was a great idea and a fresh approach to educating youngsters about awareness at this time of year.

ruby Posted on November 24, 2018 10:39

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Coin Decrypt: Setting up your Paxex Masternode! How to earn a passive daily crypto income!

Decentralized social media platforms like are the future of the internet and you can get in on the action by investing into the project, now, as an early adopter.

If we buy the right stocks we have dividends, if we buy the right crypto-coins, we have rewards. 

There are different ways to earn rewards like mining and staking but there is also a way to own a stake in a coin and it is called owning a masternode.

By owning a masternode you are able to bring features of the blockchain to the users of the coin by running an open, full copy of the blockchain 24/7.

Please watch our video on Coin Decrypt about how to set up your masternode for Paxex so that you can start earning daily deposits to your wallet.

As of right now it takes 5000 coins collateral to start your own masternode. 

You can break up your masternode and get sell your collateral at any time but as long as your coins are locked into the masternode and it is running then you will be getting block rewards, as of today that means 64 paxex per block (about 25 cents worth of crypto per day, per masternode).


Watch the video, here:

***This guide  takes place AFTER we have sent ourselves a transaction to our wallet of EXACTLY 5000 Paxex, not a satoshi more or a satoshi less.

If you are sending yourself your first Paxex from an exchange then you need to remember to include the fee in your transaction of 5000 Paxex coins. 

For example, if we were sending the coins from, then we would send exactly 5000.002 Paxex to your wallet before you begin in order to cover the transaction fee.***

This means you need to send yourself EXACTLY 5000 Paxex coins. 

Not a satoshi more or a satoshi less.

Download the Paxex wallet, here:

Get your free $100 VPS credit, here. you can host your masternode here:

(If you are having trouble getting your wallet to sync, please open wallet config file and add:








Save the wallet config file then restart your wallet.)

Follow these steps EXACTLY in order to set up your masternode. 

Please, copy and paste these lines into your VPS console, 1 by 1:

1. prepare your VPS - Ubuntu 16.04 - 64 Bit


2. Login to your vps


3. Type these commands, one line at a time:



chmod +x 2PW8Dxw




4. Choose  Y for first installation for installing dependencies package

      nb : you can choose N if you already install it before

5. Choose Y for install daemon .

6. Insert your masternode genkey and enter

"paxchange server started"

7. Type this command. 

paxchange-cli getinfo

Wait for 5 mins for vps wallet to sync.

Type command again and crosscheck with main explorer for current block

8. Go To your windows wallet , Tool  Open Masternode configuration and add this format line

(there should be an example in your config file, already):


MN1 : alias name

yourvps ip : you should know it

port : 4134

genkey : from masternode genkey

outputs and index : from 

masternode outputs

 after you send collateral


9. restart wallet after do config , wait 16 confirmation and type 

startmasternode alias false MN1


Thank you for supporting my content:

Paxex Discord:

Coin Decrypt Discord:



More crypto info (a work in progress):


Decryp70 Posted on November 23, 2018 19:49

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Mystery ‘ALIEN’ skull discovered

THE amazing discovery of an “alien” skull has sparked claims of an ancient civilisation.

The bizarre "alien" skull was discovered in China and is brownish and roughly 16 centimeters in diameter.


Li Jianmin, a science fiction author and researcher, revealed his find at a small seminar held in Beijing last month.

He claims it is not human, but rather has two “distinct layers.”

The 55-year-old said the unique skull belongs to a private collector who had acquired it from a street vendor in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

“The collector was flipping through my novel when he discovered that the skull looked very much like the one in an illustration,” Li explained.

DISCOVERY: This 'alien' skull was discovered in China (Pic: CEN)

“He asked me to confirm its origins.”

The collector got in touch with Jianmin, who set about producing a 103-page study over the subsequent four months to support claims that the skull is real.

The author said that he carried out a Raman spectroscopy and used an atomic force microscope to compare the cranium with other alleged alien skulls found in other countries.

However, Li said he needs funds to continue with further tests.

He told local media: "Paying for DNA analysis is around 100,000 RMB (11,200 GBP)."

Despite being widely mocked on social networks, Jianmin is convinced the skull is real, adding: "I welcome questions and scepticism, but if you decide to challenge me, be sure to bring along evidence.”

Some were not convinced of the discovery.

But others hailed it as proof of an ancient alien civilisation.

AMAZED: The discovery at a small seminar held in Beijing last month (Pic: CEN)

One replied on Twitter: “This is not real.”

Another said: “That is not a skull.”

But a third argued: “OMG this is amazing. This is proof we were not the first ones here.”

This isn’t the first “alien” discovery to baffle experts.

EXCITED: Li Jianmin is a prominent alien hunter (Pic: CEN)

A skeleton which has a dramatically elongated skull and an underdeveloped jaw and face was found in Chilie’s Atacama Desert in 2003.

The bizarre find sent conspiracy theorists wild – with people suggesting the bones were those of an aborted fetus, a monkey, or even an alien that had crash-landed on earth.   

But researchers concluded the skeleton belonged to a human.

And another bizarre  “cone-shaped skull” was discovered earlier this year.

jmparker Posted on November 23, 2018 16:02

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Amazon forced to DIVERT goods after workers stage Black Friday protest

AMAZON has been hit by Black Friday protests with thousands of British workers staging action over “inhumane conditions”.

Demonstrations are being held at warehouses in Rugeley, Swansea, Peterborough, Milton Keynes and Warrington today.

And in Spain, the retail giant attempted to get cops to break a strike in San Fernando de Henares, Mail Online reported.

But the request was reportedly denied because strikes are legal in Spain.

The company was forced to divert stock to its to other warehouses.

It’s not clear if the mass protests will affect delivery times for Black Friday shoppers in the UK.

In Milton Keynes today, placards jokingly suggested Amazon deserved an anti-social behaviour order.

An investigation by GMB - the union for Amazon workers - claimed workers don’t have time to go to the toilet and work in “dangerous” conditions.

It alleged ambulances were called to Amazon warehouses 600 times in the past three financial years.

PROTEST: The demonstrators took industrial action on Black Friday (Pic: GETTY)

One Amazon UK worker said: “I have repetitive strain, and spondylosis with arthritis.

“The work is dehumanising, you are a number not a person.”

They added sick workers were “paid off” and replaced with “temporary workers with less terms and conditions”.

GMB general secretary Tim Roache said: “We're standing up and saying enough is enough.

BARGAIN HUNTERS: A queue outside an Amazon Black Friday pop-up shop in London (Pic: GETTY)

“You'd think making the workplace safer so people aren't carted out of the warehouse in an ambulance is in everyone's interest, but Amazon seemingly have no will to get round the table with us.

“Working people and the communities Amazon operates in deserve better than this. That's what we're campaigning for.”

Amazon said in a statement: “Amazon has created in the UK more than 25,000 good jobs with a minimum of £9.50 an hour and in the London area, £10.50 an hour on top of industry-leading benefits and skills training opportunities.

“All of our sites are safe places to work and reports to the contrary are simply wrong.

'ROBOTS': Workers criticised the conditions (Pic: GETTY)

“According to the UK Government's Health and Safety Executive, Amazon has over 40% fewer injuries on average than other transportation and warehousing companies in the UK.

“We encourage everyone to compare our pay, benefits and working conditions to others and come see for yourself on one of the public tours we offer every day at our centres across the UK.”


jmparker Posted on November 23, 2018 15:39

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Highest Paid Nollywood Actors Of All Times

Nonso Diobi

There is a reason that Nollywood, the Nigerian film industry, serves as a pinnacle for filmmaking in Africa as a whole. While providing us with many hours of joy and emotion, from time to time it is important to discuss the stories behind the scenes, and the many talents that advocate and influence the industry to the point it is today.
Nonso Diobi is one of the busiest actors in Nollywood, having an extremely impressive and profound history since his Nollywood debut in 2001 in the film “Border Line”. Until today, Nonso Diobi has already stared in over 100 films

Mike Ezuruonye

The talented and illustrious actor Mike Ezuruonye has generated quite a social media following over the past few years. Although acting was always a dream of his, prior to making his acting debut in 2003, Mike Ezuruonye was actually a banker for a few years before gaining recognition as an actor, which led him to resign from his job as a banker.
He was nominated at the Africa Movie Academy Awards for Best Actor twice, once for supporting role and later for leading role, and despite not winning the actual award, he is still regarded as one of the best Nollywood actors today.

Kenneth Okonkwo

Known as “Andy Okeke”, Kenneth Okonkwo is not only a famous Nollywood actor but was also a politician and a lawyer before becoming an actor. His most famous role is also considered as his breakout role in Nollywood, in the film “Living in Bondage”, a two-part drama thriller released in 1992/93, and since has served as an actor in more than 50 films.

Kenneth Okonkwo received several awards for his immense contribution to the film industry in Nigeria, including the African Movie Academy’s Special Recognition of Pillars of Nollywood Award.

Desmond Elliot

Being an actor, director and a politician simultaneously is no easy feat, but it didn’t deter Desmond Elliot from carrying out such a busy lifestyle. Since he was influenced by a close friend in early 00’s to attempt a career in acting, Desmond Elliot has made several appearances in many soap operas such as “Everyday People”.

It was in mid-00’s when Desmond Elliot became a real Nollywood phenomenon and today he is considered one of the most prominent actors in Nollywood, winning numerous awards for his incredible talent.

Van Vicker

Shortly after making his Nollywood debut, Van Vicker was immediately noticed by many great names in the industry and was considered to have a real potential and was signed for many big roles, acting alongside legendary actors such as Tonto Dikeh and Mercy Johnson.
It was a real dream come true for Van Vicker, as most of his life he dreamed about making it big in Nollywood, and making a breakthrough in such incredible fashion only makes his victory sweeter. Saying that Van Vicker is a legend in the making feels like an obvious.

Ramsey Nouah

Before he made his breakthrough as an actor, Ramsey Nouah was actually interested in becoming a musician, but unfortunately didn’t find much success, and thus decided to heed a friend’s advice and attempt to become an actor. He made his debut on a TV soap opera, and since starred in several roles as the lead actor, gaining popularity and attaining the nickname “Lover-Boi”, due to starring in many romantic films. Ramsey Nouah won many awards including the African Movie Academy Award for Best Actor in Lead Role and considered to be one of the most sought-after actors in Nollywood.

Kanayo O. Kanayo

Anayo Modestus Onyekwere, more known as Kanayo O. Kanayo, has made his breakthrough alongside Kenneth Okonkwo in the two-part thriller film “Living in Bondage”. In 2006, Kanayo O. Kanayo won the African Movie Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role and since has been considered one of the finest actors in Nollywood today
Despite making such a name for himself in Nollywood, Kanayo O. Kanayo announced that he is leaving his acting career to pursue politics. He currently serves as a United Nations ambassador.

Richard Mofe-Damijo

Richard Mofe-Damijo, also known as RMD, is one of the most experienced actors today in Nollywood and is seen by many  a veteran within the industry with many young actors looking up to his charisma and skills. He is another Africa Movie Academy Award winner to join the list, winning both Best Actor in Leading Role and Lifetime Achievement Award.
Back in the 90s, RMD also did a few writing and producing jobs for various films before he decided to commit fully to acting. He also served a commissioner in Delta State, Nigeria.

Nkem Owoh

Nkem Owoh is a standout actor and is considered to be one of the most accomplished names in the Nigerian film industry. He is a natural talent and a beloved personality by many, a lot of thanks to his sense of humor and his impressive improvisation skills.
Many see him as a unique actor due to the fact that in every film he is starring, no matter the character he is playing, he always seems to find a way to make it memorable. Only a few actors manage to attain such impressive charm and capture the audience’s attention as naturally.

Pete Edochie

Pete Edochie is not only another veteran to join the list but is actually the most respected actor in this list. His immense talent and experience speak volumes as to why he is such an adored personality and looked up to by many.
Pete Edochie won many prestigious awards not only for the films he starred at but also for his legacy and influence within Nollywood, joining the ranks of few other Nigerian actors that have managed to reach such level of success. In fact, Pete Edochie might just be the greatest of them all.




ruby Posted on November 23, 2018 14:51

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SRM University erupts into protest after staff masturbates in front of student

A cleaning staff masturbated in front of a student in one of the lifts at a girl's hostel. The accused has been absconding since the girl raised an alarm and students began protesting.

Students of SRM University in Chennai's Kattankulathur area staged a demonstration inside the campus Thursday night after a cleaning staff masturbated in front of a student in a lift at a girl's hostel.

The university says the culprit ran away from the campus after the uproar. A university official told India Today that efforts are on to trace him. Terming the incident as unfortunate, the university spokesperson said the administration was reviewing security and taking steps to ensure this is not repeated. The accused will get appropriate punishment, he said. Students, however, are angry and not convinced.

According to a third-year software engineering student who took part in the protest, a second-year undergraduate student of the university was allegedly sexually harassed by a man working as sanitation worker inside a women's hostel lift on Thursday afternoon around 3 pm.

"The man masturbated in front of the woman student in the hostel lift, following which she reported the issue to the authorities," the student told PTI.

According to another protester, the hostel warden, with whom the student had raised the issue, allegedly delayed access to the CCTV footage of the elevator and the registering of a complaint by over two hours.

Students have alleged that the director of the university has maintained that such "things happen to girls because they are north Indians who dress dirty, and smoke and drink".

"The employee was identified by the student in the CCTV footage. However she was asked to stay mum about the incident by the authorities," the protester said, adding that the hostel authorities allegedly blamed the victim.

The students of the university have taken to both the streets as well as social media to express their anger at the inaction on the part of the university administration. Videos of large groups of students breaking through barricades, demanding justice are flooding the Twitterverse.

SRM University Vice-Chancellor Sandeep Sancheti, however, denied the allegations of inaction and said the administration would look into the complaint.

"Students are discussing with us. Whatever the matter is, it will be taken care of. If there is a matter, it will be inquired," Sancheti told news agency PTI.

Local police officials who reached the protest spot told PTI that the protesters dispersed after assurances from the university administration to look into the matter.

However, they added that no complaint had been registered yet.

ruby Posted on November 23, 2018 14:28

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This 5-Month-Old Baby Will Lose His Life Without Urgent Treatment


Little Gowtham has just turned 5 months and started to crawl on his own. It gave his parents, Narender and Kalyani, immense joy to see their little one grow up. Gowtham was the happiest when his elder brother Dhanush (8) played with him and would happily clap his hands every time Dhanush sang songs to him. Gowtham was so happy and healthy that no one ever imagined anything terrible happening to him. Narendra and Kalyani only prayed for his good health. However, last month, baby Gowtham fell terribly sick.

“ In just a day, my baby's life changed drastically. He started vomiting everything he ate and drank. We didn't understand what was happening to him or why despite medicines, he wasn't getting better. Now, it's been one month and my son hasn't been able to eat any solid food or even drink milk because of his severe disease. Every time I try to feed him, he instantly throws it up. The doctors said that even a slight delay in the treatment can worsen my son’s condition and eventually kill him. I want to save my son from this dreadful disease. But we have no money left.”  - Kalyani, mother

Every day that he goes without treatment, he risks complete dehydration, or worse, death 

Little Gowtham is suffering from chronic diarrhoea, a condition due to which Gowtham has uncontrollable loose motions and vomiting every day. His condition is so critical that he has been passing loose watery stools 30 times a day for the past one month. He loses all the essential minerals and proteins because of this, and he's growing weaker with each passing day. He has been in the ICU for one month now, and needs to stay for 14 days more to recover from this fatal condition.

“He cries uncontrollably every day. The only time he doesn't cry is when he sleeps. Day after day his condition is only worsening and all I can do is just pray for him to recover soon. Every day my elder son calls me and asks me about Gowtham. I lie to him saying that he’s fine now and we’ll come home the next day. I couldn’t tell Dhanush that we cannot afford his little brother’s treatment and he might not survive.”- Kalyani, mother

Little Gowtham playing with his elder brother Dhanush

After exhausting all the money that he borrowed, Narender is struggling to save his son

With the little income that Nagender earns by working in a private company as an agent, he could not afford the treatment that his son needs. He borrowed money from relatives and even sold his wife’s jewellery just to look after his son’s treatment and save him. He has spent 3 lakhs so far for little Gowtham's life-saving treatment. Unfortunately, Kalyani and Nagendra have exhausted all the money they had borrowed and now with no resources left, the poor parents are constantly living in the fear that they might lose their son.

How you can help

Nagender and Kalyani tried everything they could to save their son. But now with no money left for the treatment, they fear that their son might breathe his last. Little Gowtham needs 15 more days of ICU stay to recover and only your help can save him.

ruby Posted on November 23, 2018 14:22

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Mathematics is the highest studied subject around the world: Cambridge

Our childhood is engulfed with books based on calculations and numbers, for our parents know already the relevance and difficulty level of the subject.

On one hand, some of the students love to play with numbers, while on the other hand students just fail to understand this subject at all.

Whether you like it or not, you always have to go through chapters like algebra, trigonometry, probability, word problems and what not.

A lot of students fear this subject and can't score well in it. But believe it or not, a study has recently found out that globally, mathematics is the most commonly studied subject.

Mathematics ranks highest

This study has been published in the Global Education Census 2018 by Cambridge Assessment International Education (Cambridge International).

The most commonly studied subjects across the world are consistent with mathematics (cited by 88 per cent) ranking highest in every one of the ten countries surveyed.

ruby Posted on November 23, 2018 14:13

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Nicaraguan police surround, attack anti-government stronghold.

MANAGUA/GENEVA (Reuters) – Nicaraguan security forces on Tuesday moved to clear barricades in a suburb of Masaya, a stronghold of protests against President Daniel Ortega, with rights groups reporting gunfire as police and armed civilians surrounded the area.

A pro-government supporter sits in a barricade after clashes with demonstrators in the indigenous community of Monimbo in Masaya, Nicaragua July 17, 2018. REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas

Masaya’s chief of police, Ramon Avellan, said he had orders from Ortega to remove roadblocks protesters use to protect themselves in clashes with pro-government groups in the suburb of Monimbo.

“We’re going to fulfill that order, at whatever cost,” he told reporters. “Masaya is ours.”

At least 275 people have been killed in Nicaragua since protests erupted in April over a plan by Ortega’s government to trim pension benefits. The government’s heavy-handed response sparked a wider protest against Ortega’s rule.

Ortega is a former Marxist guerrilla leader who has held elected office since 2007 and also ruled the country from 1979 to 1990. The current violence comes after years of calm in Nicaragua and is the worst since his Sandinista movement battled U.S.-backed “Contra” rebels in the 1980s.

A pro-government supporter stands near a barricade after clashes with demonstrators in the indigenous community of Monimbo in Masaya, Nicaragua July 17, 2018. REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas

In an apparent attempt to clear the protesters main strongholds, authorities have tightened the clamp-down ahead of the 39th anniversary of the Sandinista revolution on Thursday.

Over the weekend, gunmen in civilian dress fired automatic weapons to clear student protesters from a church and university.

At least one student died in the church, triggering an international outcry, including from the U.S. State Department and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

On Tuesday, Vice-President Rosario Murillo called the protesters a “hate-filled minority” saying authorities were working to recover “security and peace” for residents.

Marlin Sierra, director of Nicaraguan human rights organization CENIDH, said she feared more deaths.

“Paramilitaries and police have practically surrounded the neighborhood and since the morning have been continually attacking it,” she said.


Nicaraguan police and authorities have killed and imprisoned people without due process and committed torture, the U.N. human rights office said on Tuesday, calling for an end to violence.

“A wide range of human rights violations are being committed including extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary detentions, and denying people the right to freedom of expression,” U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville told a news briefing.

The toll included at least 19 police officers, he said, adding that the reports come from human rights staff on the ground and the backdrop is the absence of the rule of law.

“The great majority of violations are by government or armed elements who seem to be working in tandem with them,” Colville told Reuters, adding that the protesters were mainly peaceful though some were armed.

On Monday, Guterres said that groups linked to Nicaragua’s government were using “unacceptable” lethal force against citizens, and urged an end to the violence.

The U.N. rights office called on the government to provide information on two activists missing since they were detained at the airport last week and to open all prisons to monitors.

Two activists, Medardo Mairena and Pedro Mena, were detained by police at Managua airport on Friday and authorities have not told their families where they are despite judicial requests, Colville said.

ruby Posted on November 23, 2018 12:34

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Child injured in gunfire exchange at Alabama shopping mall

A 12-year-old girl was among two people injured after a gunman opened fire at a mall in Alabama in the run up to Black Friday.

A fight between two teenagers, including an 18-year-old, led to an exchange of gunfire at Riverchase Galleria in Hoover, a suburb of Birmingham, police said.

As the incident unfolded, several shoppers were seen with their guns drawn, according to

One of the teens was confronted by police officers after trying to flee.

An officer "did engage that individual, shot him and he is dead on the scene," Captain Gregg Rector said.

The second teenager was taken to hospital in a serious condition.

Mr Rector said the young girl, who was struck by gunfire, was also admitted for treatment.

The shooting happened at about 9.30pm on Thursday, just ahead of Black Friday.

Witnesses told TV station WRBC they heard two separate outbreaks of gunfire between a JCPenney store and a Footaction inside the shopping centre.

Management at the mall said it would be closed until further notice.

ruby Posted on November 23, 2018 12:17

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US missionary John Allen Chau killed after telling islanders 'Jesus loves you'

An American who was fatally shot with arrows by tribespeople when he visited a forbidden island sang worship songs and told them "Jesus loves you" as he arrived, it has emerged.

John Allen Chau was shot with arrows when he stepped ashore India's remote North Sentinel Island, which tourists are forbidden to visit.

The 27-year-old was a self-proclaimed adventurer, but the latest revelations back up claims he travelled to the island, which is off the coast of the Andaman Islands, as a missionary.

Indian police officials in the Andamans have launched a murder investigation.

They said a local electronics engineer simply named Alexander, who was a friend of Mr Chau's, a local watersports instructor and five fishermen who allegedly aided last Saturday's visit have been arrested for violating the terms of the island protection laws and for causing Mr Chau's death.

The Washington Post said his mother had shown it a journal that Mr Chau wrote in his final days in which he describes visiting men in huts with yellow paste on their faces who reacted angrily when he tried to speak their language and sing "worship songs" at them.

The journal said: "I hollered, 'My name is John, I love you and Jesus loves you'."

He said one of the boys in the tribe fired an arrow which pierced his waterproof Bible.

Mr Chau told his family in his last note to them on 16 November: "You guys might think I'm crazy in all this but I think it's worthwhile to declare Jesus to these people... God, I don't want to die."

His family has confirmed he was involved in missionary work and called for the release of those who tried to help him.

A family statement posted on Mr Chau's Instagram page said: "Words cannot express the sadness we have experienced about this report.

"He was a beloved son, brother, uncle and best friend to us. To others he was a Christian missionary, a wilderness EMT (emergency medical technician), an international soccer coach, and a mountaineer.

"He loved God, life and helping those in need, and he had nothing but love for the Sentinelese people. We forgive those reportedly responsible for his death.

"We also ask for the release of those friends he had in the Andaman Islands. He ventured out of his own freewill and his local contacts need not be persecuted for his own actions."

The Post said a fellow missionary told his mother Mr Chau's plan was "not to tell anyone" what he was up to so he could avoid putting friends in danger.

Dependra Pathak, the police chief in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, said officials are struggling to figure out how to recover his body and are consulting anthropologists, tribal experts and scholars to figure out a way.

Oral Roberts University - Mr Chau's Christian higher education college in Tulsa, Oklahoma - said it was not surprised he had been involved in missionary work at the time of his death.

A statement by Dr William Wilson, the university's president, said: "Oral Roberts University alumni have gone to the uttermost bounds of the earth for the last 50 years bringing hope and healing to millions.

"We are not surprised that John would try to reach out to these isolated people in order to share God's love. We are deeply saddened to hear of his death."

There had been nothing to indicate Mr Chau had been planning to undertake his trip to North Sentinel Island on his extensive Instagram feed about his travels, or that he planned missionary work, other than his clear love for adventure.

In one of his most recent posts he talked about his plans to visit Diglipur, a town in North Andaman Island and in another he wrote: "Adventure awaits. So do leeches."

Several years earlier, when interviewed by an adventure travel website called The Outbound, he also did not mention his missionary work but he spoke of his desire to return to the Andaman Islands.

Asked what was top of his "must-do adventure list", he said: "Going back to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in India is on the top - there's so much to see and do there!"

But he had recently been involved in coaching football for a number of NGOs (non-governmental organisations) with religious links, which claim to help those who are in need.

On his Twitter feed, he spoke about his involvement in Ubuntu, a South African football coaching organisation which also uses Bible studies to help children "growing up without a father".

His local paper in Vancouver, Washington, The Columbian, said when he was younger he received the Royal Rangers Gold Medal of Achievement at Mountain View Christian Center in Ridgefield, organised by a group called the Assemblies of God.

Several of his earlier Twitter posts referred to verses from the Bible and featured pictures he had taken in the "Holy Land", but in his interview with The Outbound, he said he had been working for Americorps, a non-religious voluntary organisation.

ruby Posted on November 23, 2018 11:57

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Sexy female soldiers share HOT pics from front lines

HOT army servicewomen have shared pictures of themselves in their combat gear alongside snaps of them in sexy civilian wear to show off both sides of their personality.

Female soldiers from Ukraine posted the pics as part of an online campaign called "heels versus army boots".

The stunning troops are fighting a bitter war against pro-Russia rebels in the east of Ukraine.

There are reported to be more than 10,000 women fighting in the armed conflict.

Many have taken to social media to show off their femininity with snaps of themselves wearing dresses and going-out gear.

VOLUNTEERS: More than 10,000 female troops such as Mariia Loik are fighting pro-Russia rebels (Pic: CEN)

Alongside those pictures they shared snaps of themselves revealing their battle-ready toughness, posing with weapons.

Many of the women are captured posing in flowing gowns and high heels in the going-out pictures — which they swap for assault rifles in the army shots.

Some of the women taking part in the campaign added short bios about themselves.

Olena Bilozerska wrote: "I was a journalist before the war.

CONTRAST: The pictures reveal the human, civilian side of the servicewomen (Pic: CEN)

TALENTED: Katya Lutsky used to be a medic before going off to war in 2015 (Pic: CEN)

"In 2014 I took off my heels and put on a pair of army boots to join the volunteers on the front line."

Katya Lutsyk said: "I was a medic before the war. I replaced heels with army boots in 2015.

"Now I can cook borscht (a traditional Ukrainian dish) and shoot different types of firearms."

She went on: "I am wearing army boots more often than heels. I am mostly wearing a bulletproof vest, but I always keep a cute dress on my shelf."


VIRAL: Many female soldiers such as Anna Viktorovna took part in the 'heels v army boots' trend (Pic: CEN)

ARMED AND DANGEROUS: Ruslana Nechaeva totes an assault rifle in one picture (Pic: CEN)

Ukraine's war in Donbass has been raging since March 2014 when pro-Russian anti-government groups seized control of eastern Ukraine following the country's revolution.

A pro-European government took charge in the country, angering those who want the country to have stronger links with Vladimir Putin.

Most of the fighting is in the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblast regions of the country.

Tensions between Kiev and Moscow are high, and this week a Ukrainian general warned of a big war with Russia over a shipping row in the disputed Sea of Azov.

jmparker Posted on November 23, 2018 11:45

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'I've never got my full deposit back'

Campaigners say new laws going through parliament will not go far enough to stamp out all hidden fees and charges for renters.

Charlotte Von Crease, a 27-year-old renter, says: "When we moved into our last property we were hit with nearly £3,500 worth of fees, before we even got the keys."

However, those pre-tenancy fees are just one of the hidden costs.

Tenant campaign groups say banning them will not solve the problem.

There were the usual costs for Charlotte, such as one month's rent in advance and six weeks' rent as a deposit. But she tells BBC 5 live's Wake Up To Money there were "also £875 worth of letting agent fees, £600 were admin fees, £120 for employers' references for both me and my partner, and £155 for an inventory check-in fee as well".

Charlotte is one of the estimated 11.5 million people who live in private rented homes in England.

Many renters complain of high upfront costs to secure a property and the Tenant Fees Bill passing through Parliament will effectively cap or ban these extra, unavoidable charges for tenants in England.

Wales has similar legislation under way and Scotland outlawed pre-tenancy fees back in 2012.

In Northern Ireland it's a more complicated picture. A judge recently ruled that tenants could not be charged upfront costs, but without a sitting assembly to bring in new rules, tenants there are still paying them.

'Frustrating experience'

But those pre-tenancy fees are just one part of the hidden costs for renters and a number of tenant campaign groups, including Shelter and Generation Rent, have expressed concern that banning them will not solve the problem.

When the new rules eventually come into force, they will not stop landlords and letting agents from charging default fees, such as cleaning costs or those for repairs. While those are often for work needed after tenants leave a property, some tenants report being charged huge amounts for tiny jobs. Some tenants say they feel ripped off.

"I've just ended 10 years of renting [and] each property was its own frustrating experience," says 30-year-old former renter Jen Eastwood.

"Never once have I received a full amount of deposit back, despite every property being returned in a better condition than when it was given to me. Twice I paid for professional cleaning and gave the receipts as proof, and still I was charged for cleaning."


Ask any group of renters about their experiences and at least some of them will have similar stories. Private renting has more than doubled in the past 20 years and home ownership among middle-earner millennials has collapsed.

Shelter has said tenants are routinely being overcharged. It lists examples of tenants paying as much as £20 an hour for their landlord's time, £45 for procuring a replacement dustpan and brush - and even £100 for removing cobwebs. None of those charges will be banned by the Tenant Fees Bill.

Polly Neate, chief executive of the charity, says she will welcome the new rules but tells BBC 5 live's Wake Up To Money it must go further.

"What we need is clearer guidelines on what tenants can and can't be charged for, otherwise agents and landlords could keep finding additional things that they can charge tenants for so we want it to be a bit tighter," she says.

"Letting agents are running a business and their business is managing properties. So they ought to be able to calculate the general costs that they will incur in the course of their business and not charge people surprise fees for things that you might think either are too petty and shouldn't be charged for - or should be part of the totally predictable cost of managing a property."

'Reasonable balance'

Tenants may feel ripped off by these fees but letting agents and landlords argue they genuinely reflect the cost of the work.

One letting agent, who did not want to be named, said: "To get anyone to show up at your door no matter what they do is £50 or something in that region. So, if a tenant is to leave a bit of fluff somewhere, someone still has to take an hour to go there, do it and come back and you have to hire a professional.

"I used to own a property and I wouldn't just run out to clear up a bit of fluff or change a bulb, I'd say it's my tenants' responsibility."

His comments were echoed by housing minister Heather Wheeler. "I genuinely think that you have a responsibility when you take on a property - you expect it to be in good order when you arrive, it's your job to make it in a good order when you leave. It's your money, it's your deposit. If you want it back then you leave it in a good state."

Richard Lambert, chief executive of the National Landlords Association, said the new rules will curb abuses. "Default fees will have to be a reasonable charge for a defined purpose. But if I have to come to you to change a lightbulb then I have to drive for half-an-hour, plus petrol, to carry out the work. I wouldn't be charging you anything more than what it cost me.

"The government has tried to strike a reasonable balance with tenants and landlords to ensure they can carry out their business reasonably, while also stopping any abuse of the system.

"What the tenant fees bill does address is a particular abuse that has grown up over the last 10 years where some agents - not all - have taken every opportunity to squeeze every penny out of the sector."

ruby Posted on November 23, 2018 11:32

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Martin Lewis Black Friday 2018

BLACK Friday is finally here and to help you pick out the best deals, Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis has revealed his simple tips.

Shoppers are expected to blow a staggering £8 billion on discounts during the biggest shopping event of the year, Black Friday.

Martin Lewis, founder of Money Saving Expert discussed his best deals and discounts on the Money Show earlier this year.

Ahead of the sale, the 46-year-old spoke out on what deals are genuine and what Brits can expect today.

He told ITV viewers: “Black Friday has become the pre-Christmas discount bonanza." 

Martin added: “Yet the most important thing to remember is it’s only a saving if you were going to buy it anyway.

“If stores tweak your spending nipples and make you buy unplanned things, it’s a loss.

“Remember my money mantras – before you buy anything, ask yourself: ‘Do I need it, is it worth it, have I checked whether it’s cheaper elsewhere? If the answer to any of those is no, don’t buy it. And even if it’s yes, ensure you can afford it.”

Firstly, Martin warned shoppers to only buy something they need, to avoid falling victim to tactics brands use to lure people in.

Then, he outlined the best Black Friday deals over the past few years.


Black Friday offers include the Echo Dot, which is now £20, usually £50.

The retailer launched nine days of deals which started November 16 and includes discounts on dozens of branded and in-house products.

Amazon will also be updating Deals of the Day and Lightening Deals.


If you buy a £25 Christmas tree, you’ll receive a £20 voucher. It only works in store.

Norman firs, Nobel firs and Norway spruce trees are among the items included in the offer.

The wintry staples are being sold for just £5 across stores.

TREE-MENDOUS: Get more bang for your buck with this Ikea hack (Pic: GETTY)


The health and beauty retailer has a range of star gifts and weekly offers this Christmas.

Also, the best deals include more than half price off Benefit make-up.


If you’re a huge fan of fast food, KFC are giving away free fries today.

All you have to do is make sure you download the KFC app – if you haven’t already – on either Android or Apple.

To access the offer, which can be redeemed in your local participating restaurant, then show it to the cashier.

YUMMY: KFC will be handing out free fries to anyone who downloads their app (Pic: KFC )

Marks & Spencer

Although the store announced it was not taking part in last year’s Black Friday, they did end up discounting many items.

Find out their best Processo and supermarket deals here.

John Lewis

The department store will be price matching with one-off items discounted.

During the week of December 10, Martin predicts the department store will offer half-price decorations and wrapping.


The online fashion store usually offers 50% off on hundreds of items from around December 17 – just in time for Christmas.

But for Black Friday, ASOS has launched 70% off branded clothing.



jmparker Posted on November 23, 2018 11:25

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GMB viewers champion Kate Garraway over on-air clash with Mayor Sadiq Khan: 'You tell him'

GOOD Morning Britain played host to Mayor of London Sadiq Khan today.

Kate Garraway, 51, and Ben Shephard, 43, served as co-anchors on Good Morning Britain, in the absence of Susanna Reid, 47, and Piers Morgan, 53.

The TV duo welcomed London's Mayor Sadiq Khan, 48, via video link for an interview discussing the new plans to ban junk food adverts in many public places.

Former Tooting MP Sadiq spoke about his efforts to combat the rising rates of obesity among children, by establishing healthy eating programmes in London and banning certain ads on public transport.

However, the conversation took a slightly awkward turn when Kate pulled him on the government's proposed plans, questioning if they would work, as junk food brands healthier options from their menu.

Holding up a McDonald's promo in a newspaper, she said: "Here's an advert that might appear, that's a healthy one, you'll recognise the brand. It's a meal that's under 600 calories. It looks very much like an ordinary chicken burger.

"You're still connecting people with those brands. What Amsterdam did is get rid of all the junk food advertising altogether. You're not removing the restaurants from some stations, are you?"

Interjecting, Sadiq remarked: "Well, hold on a sec." but Kate continued with her point.

She said: "The smell of a burger is often the biggest advertising at all. So if you really want to get serious, maybe get rid of all of those outlets altogether."

Clearly taken aback, Sadiq commented: "Well, hold on a sec. On the one hand, I'm being criticised because advertising bans don't work, on the other hand I'm being criticised for not going far enough. Which one is it?"

To which Kate replied: "I know it's a tough situation, but it's the one you've got to try and unravel, isn't it?"

GOOD MORNING BRITAIN: Kate Garraway and Ben Shephard had tough questions for Mayor Sadiq Khan (Pic: ITV)

UNIMPRESSED? Sadiq was noticeably taken aback by Kate's critiquing of his plans (Pic: ITV)

Taking to Twitter, viewers were quick to show their support to Kate.

One fan tweeted: "GMB. Tell him, Kate," alongside a laughing face emoji.

Poking fun at Sadiq's reaction to the line of questioning, another wrote: "Poor Mayor. 'Stop criticising me, Kate.'"

They added: "No carry on, Kate. It's her job, Mr Khan," followed by a thinking face emoji.

However, other viewers were outraged that Sadiq's interview was focused on junk food ads, rather than the shocking knife crime rates in the capital city.

One critic tweeted: "Sadiq Khan’s interview on GMB about banning fast food adverts is not worthy as the main talking point of the interview.

"What about telling the nation what you plan to do to combat knife crime? People are scared to leave their homes, I think that is more important than fast food?"

Kate and Ben appeared to be in tune with viewers' concerns, as they steered the conversation onto the topic of knife crime.

Once again getting straight to the point, Garraway said: "You've talked about the appalling record in London, 120 deaths this year, more than the whole of last year already."

The presenter then made reference to the fact Sadiq had previously said on the show that London would be following Glasgow's lead, with the Scottish city clearing up their knife crime over a decade.

Kate urged: "The people that talk to us say they need emergency measures now, children are terrified walking home from school."

SERIOUS ISSUE: The GMB duo also tackled Sadiq about how he plans to combat London's knife crime (Pic: ITV)

BACKLASH: Many GMB viewers were less than enthralled by the Mayor of London's responses (Pic: ITV)

In response, Sadiq said: "I didn't exactly say it was ten years [for London], that's how long it took in Glasgow."

Khan then went on to detail that London has lost over 3,000 police officers "over the last seven years" and that more resources are needed to combat the problem.

He also boldly stated that the government needs to stop "talking the talk" as opposed to "walking the walk".

But many viewers found the Mayor of London's responses to be less than satisfactory, with some even accusing the politician of deliberately avoiding outspoken Piers by appearing on the show on the presenter's day off.

One fan wrote: "Khan happy to talk about junk food... Mood changes when topic changes to knife crime."

Another said: "Khan running scared of serious questions from Piers Morgan. Stop the Khanage."


jmparker Posted on November 23, 2018 11:22

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Anderson's wife on heartbreak over losing baby

THE wife of top England cricketer Jimmy Anderson has opened up about the devastating heartbreak of losing their first child.

The bowler rushed home to partner Daniella from a Test match in India when doctors failed to find a heartbeat at 13 weeks.

When James got the call he jumped on the first flight home to be with his wife as she went through the painful experience of miscarriage over several days.

But, once he reached her bedside, she was shocked by the reaction of medics - and the moment is etched in her mind.

"The midwife was asking for James's autograph while I was in the middle of losing our baby," Daniella recounts. "It was deeply inappropriate."

FAMILY: James Anderson of England with his wife Daniella and daughters Lola Rose and Ruby Luxe (Pic: Philip Brown/Popperfoto/Getty Images)

And although they've gone on to have two healthy daughters since - Lola, nine, and eight-year-old Ruby - the pair still live with the devastating loss every day.

"It was life-shattering for us," she says. "James was away in India and I couldn't even call him because he was in the middle of a match."

When he did finally arrive at the hospital, Daniella says: "He was absolutely devastated.

"He was trying to support me through it and be sensitive to me but of course he was going through it too. It's hard for the guys, they don't have the same hormones and you don't know how to expect them to be. I felt for him.

"He didn't know how to handle me in my grief or for him to grieve.

"We talked a lot. He is a really sensitive soul and he was really upset.

"Physically it took me around eight months to recover."

And while many marriages are rocked by miscarriage, Daniella says talking about the baby they lost has brought the couple closer together.

"James was very vocal in expressing pain and grief," she says.

"He was always open. He's a modern man. Men are allowed to be human too."

Of that time James, 36, remembers: "In situations like this, when you're thousands of miles away and a loved one needs you, you feel pretty hopeless as a husband. I wished away every minute of the 10-hour flight.

"What she had to endure, and my absence so far from home, highlighted the downside to being an international sportsperson. That was one of the most painful experiences of my life."

And opening up about life with one of the world's most famous cricket stars, former model Daniella explains: "I was modelling, travelling, living in London but going all over Europe. It was a good life.

"I met James in London in a nightclub in 2004. It was love at first sight."

Daniella admits she knew very little about what life as a cricket WAG would entail.

"He was well known, but not by me," she says. "I wasn't a huge cricket fan but I didn't know who he was. My dad did. I didn't know much about cricket full stop.

"I knew there was something special about him when I met him. He was living up in Manchester and I was in London so we'd travel back and forth and then it progressed. It happened pretty quick.

"We'd been dating less than a year when he popped the question. But we knew we had something special. When you know, you know. I didn't listen to the naysayers."

TOGETHER: Daniella and Jimmy Anderson (Pic: Dave M. Benett/Getty Images)

The pair married in February 2006 in the Lowry Hotel in Manchester.

Speaking to Zoe Clark-Coates, CEO of charity Mariposa Trust, on her Soul Tears programme for TBN UK, Daniella bravely opened up about her heartbreaking experience.

"We'd been married two years or so when we decided to start a family," she says. "At my 12-week scan everything was normal. A week later I had another scan before we were going to go away on holiday.

"Sadly at that scan there was no heartbeat. So I was transferred to hospital and given drugs to take.

"When you first get that news you don't believe it. You think that can't be right, I need a second opinion. It didn't seem real.

"I know 13 weeks isn't very far into a pregnancy but 13 weeks in a pregnancy is a really long time. We'd made plans and our future and all our hopes and dreams came tumbling down."


CHAMPION: Anderson in Sri Lanka (Pic: Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Daniella's brother died tragically when she was just 16, so she acknowledges it wasn't her first experience of loss. And she says the couple, who live in Hale, Cheshire, struggled through their second and third pregnancies living in fear that it would happen again.

She admits: "I worried about James being away a lot. I worried about being on my own and us grieving alone.

"It did work out fine in the end but I can see how for a lot of couples it's hard, it's hugely traumatic to go through. I was preparing myself for it to happen again.

"I didn't want to be that vulnerable again because I didn't want to be in the position of such shocking pain.

"I wish I'd known it was so common though. As far I was aware it hadn't happened to anyone I knew. I just didn't know so many people went through it."

Daniella grew up on the Isle of Man before moving to Monmouth in Wales when she was 11. She was spotted aged 16 at the Clothes Show Live in Birmingham and joined the models1 agency in London.

She says modelling saved her from going down a bad path after the sudden death of her brother Nick, who was 18 at the time.

"My brother was my idol," she explains. "He had just finished his A-levels when he went out for the evening with some friends and they were all in the car and for some reason he stuck his head out of the window and struck a telegraph pole.

"He went to hospital and was on a life-support machine and they had to make the decision to turn it off because he was brain dead. I didn't believe it at first. At 16 I was very naive and innocent. It will never make sense to me. I started looking through the meaning of life books.

"I didn't want to carry on with my A-levels. At the time I wanted to be a lawyer but I lost my ambition.

"I turned to my friends and partying as a release. There didn't seem to be any support.

ASCOT: James Anderson and Daniella Lloyd attend day 4 of Royal Ascot (Pic: Kirstin Sinclair/Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse)

"I saw a counsellor once who put me on Prozac after half an hour and I decided that wasn't for me. I was 16 and grieving. I spent years after partying instead."

Poignantly she says she and James have wanted a baby boy in memory of Nick, but the tragic loss of their first baby has meant they've maybe hesitated too long.

"We did think about having more," she adds. "I'd lost a little boy. And I had a brother, so that magnified the grief. I felt like I didn't deserve a boy. We would like to have a little boy.

"If I did get pregnant again I would be happy with either sex. But I don't want to risk that now, I have put it off now and I am perhaps running out of time. I don't know whether we will do that or not.

"I know I have a beautiful family now, beautiful kids. But we constantly deal with the heartbreak. It will always be there."


jmparker Posted on November 23, 2018 11:02

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I'm a Celeb Noel Edmunds INSULTS

COCKY Noel Edmonds has set his sights on becoming jungle top dog.

The late arrival launched a stunning attack on the show's two favourites just before he entered the show in last night's episode.

The Deal Or No Deal star insulted Harry Redknapp by saying he did not think the football boss could "rough it".

And he thought John Barrowman would "dominate proceedings".

Noel, 69, is intent on being crowned King of the Jungle and appears keen to unsettle alpha males Harry, John and Nick Knowles.

LUXURY: Noel and adviser Harry get tasty treat (Pic: James Gourley/ITV/REX/Shutterstock)

The celebs were stunned when the telly legend was unveiled by Holly and Dec as an "emperor".

Walking out in full toga to greet them during a storm, Noel said: "Hail literally. And rain."

But they had no idea he had already bitched about them before he arrived.

Noel said: "Harry, I don't know why, I feel might not be the greatest with the outdoors. Does he look like the sort of person who can rough it? No, he doesn't."


GOT IT LICKED: Fleur with her tongue out during the trial (Pic: James Gourley/ITV/REX/Shutterstock)

He added: "John Barrowman is one of those people you feel you know. I expect him to sit on the throne and dominate proceedings and we will all be his loyal subjects."

Emperor Noel's first decision was to make Harry his "adviser" - meaning the 71-year-old will not have to do any trials or duties.

They will sleep in a "palace" with proper beds.

And he made Fleur East and Sair Khan members of his "inner circle", meaning they get the same privileges.

Only Noel, Harry, Sair and Fleur enjoyed a feast of buffalo wings.

TRIAL: Sair (Pic: James Gourley/ITV/REX/Shutterstock)

The rest had to make do with rice and beans.

Noel made Nick and Emily camp chefs and put Rita and John in charge of wood and the fire.

Anne, Malique and James are in charge of maintenance, including dunny clearance.

He also upset John by telling him to "stop scratching his groin" when he spoke to him.

jmparker Posted on November 23, 2018 10:46

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Silver is the shiftiest of colours. It never knows if it’s coming or going. We give silver spoons, beakers and bangles at the start of life to commemorate a newborn’s arrival into the world, while at the same time silently dreading the inevitable silvering of our hair as we fade out into old age. Silver may be forward-looking and futuristic in its space-age sartorial sense, yet it remains forever wistful in its nostalgic stare backwards into the past in the mottled sheen of vintage photos. Silver is never now, but always yesterday and tomorrow.

Reflective yet guarded, silver is as elusive as it is evocative. Across cultures, continents and centuries the colour has served as code for a secret reality only the imagination can descry. Esoteric talk of silver threads and silver cords runs through both Vedic and Kabbalistic teachings. The seventh and highest of the coloured stories of the ancient and now fragmented Babylonian ziggurat, Etemenanki – thought by some to be the prototype for the story of the Tower of Babel – is silver and was dedicated to the moon. To occultists, like the poet William Butler Yeats, who sang of stars “dancing silver-sandalled on the sea”, the colour is the very melody of the sleepless soul.

In Still Life with a Silver Jug (1655-60), Willem Kalf does not portray the objects in much detail, instead using them to reveal reflected light.

Since antiquity, artists have seized upon silver’s evasive verve, keen to tap into its metallic mysteries. Silver flasks, jars, and tureens, marooned amid heaps of overripe fruit and flowers, glint back at us like shipwrecked vessels from a million meditative natures mortes, symbolising our being stranded in a strange and estranging world. From the 17th-Century Dutch artist Willem Kalf’s Still Life with a Silver Jug (1655-60) to the crumpled beauty of Cornelia Parker’s contemporary installation Thirty Pieces of Silver (1988-89) – which consists of over a thousand teapots and trombones, candlesticks and cutlery, steamrolled and bundled into 30 levitating clusters of precious junk – the colour has proved indispensable to the inscrutable weave of art history.

Knowing it will always run second to gold in the fleeting competitions of this world, silver has developed a psychological complex as a colour. Unlike gold leaf, which stays true over time, silver has a tendency to turn on you. The cold and clanking armour that once flashed dazzlingly from the three poplar panels that comprise Florentine painter Paolo Uccello’s resplendent depiction of the Battle of San Romano (the 1432 clash between Florentine and Sienese cavalries) has been blunted by oxidation over the centuries.

Paolo Uccello’s The Battle of San Romano (circa 1438-40) depicts part of a battle that was fought between Florence and Siena in 1432 (Credit: National).

The burnished blaze of silvery gauntlets and helmets, cuisses and cowters, has slowly dulled itself to a dingy low. A scene that once seemed sharp and cutting-edge to contemporaries – futuristic in its polished shimmer – now feels murky and mired in the tarnish of history. Silver, the betrayer, sold its soldiers out.

Good as gold

In 1628, an aspiring Dutch artist by the name of Rembrandt van Rijn, still in his early twenties, wagered courageously that silver is trustworthy and could be as good as gold to the valuation of his own budding reputation. It paid off. In painting his extraordinary religious drama Judas Repentant, Returning the Thirty Pieces of Silver (finished in 1629), young Rembrandt scatters across the warm grain of oak floorboards in the foreground of his oil-on-panel a fistful of silver doubloons. Our eyes scramble to count the loose change and to measure the change of heart etched into face of the apostle who had brutally betrayed Christ for a jangle of cold coins.

Constantijn Huygens praised Rembrandt for his representation of emotions in a history painting with Judas Repentant, Returning the Thirty Pieces of Silver.

A tour-de-force of mingled shine and shadow, Judas Repentant, Returning the Thirty Pieces of Silver was intended as a kind of calling card in the artist’s native town of Leiden to impress potential patrons who might be willing to part with their own cold cash for Rembrandt’s paintings. It worked. The constellation of silver coins attracted the attention of the Golden Age poet and composer Constantijn Huygens, who hailed Rembrandt as a genius whose talent surpassed even the artists of antiquity. The painting, often regarded as the artist’s first true masterpiece, soon caught the eye of the Prince. It would be the first of many royal purchases that helped establish the painter.

Elsewhere in 17th-Century Europe, silver was wrapping itself tightly around the emergent myth of another indisputable master. In Madrid, Diego Velázquez found himself carefully cocooning in silver threads those subjects he most admired. His glittery portrait of his patron, Philip IV of Spain, the so-called ‘Silver Philip’, is a mesmerising mesh of metallic finery that manages to glimmer with an aura of the King’s inner integrity and kindness rather than engulf him, as it might easily have, in repellent opulence.

Diego Velázquez expressed his admiration for his patron by painting him in silver for the Portrait of King Philip IV of Spain in Brown and Silver (circa 1631-32).

Placed alongside Francisco Goya’s later full-length send-up of Philip’s 19th-Century successor, Ferdinand VII of Spain (a caricaturing canvas that drips with gaudy golds that hint at Ferdinand’s egregious ego), Velázquez’s portrait of Philip reveals the subtleties of silver as a colour of inner lustre rather than perishable worldly gleam.

In contrast, Francisco Goya’s portrait of Philip’s 19th Century successor, Ferdinand VII of Spain (1784 – 1833) decked the king out in gaudy golds.

Velázquez’s adoring portrait of Philip’s daughter, Infanta Margarita in a White and Silver Dress (1656), painted the same year as Las Meninas and mirroring Margaret Theresa of Spain’s pose in that more famous work, is further proof of Velázquez’s miraculous ability to alchemise warmth and affection from an ostensibly cold colour.

Shimmer and shine

And so the story of silver goes from age to age, generation to generation – a hue capable of echoing beyond its surface chill to a deeper brilliance. In demonstrating his conviction that the optical rhythms of line, form, and colour in painting were comparable to the invisible cadences of night music, James McNeill Whistler reached first for silver. His seminal Nocturne: Blue and Silver – Chelsea (1871) (his inaugural ‘nocturne’), relies for its hypnotic power on silver’s ability to pivot from a superficial chilliness in the here-and-now to an introspective incandescence that knows no time or place.

Nocturne: Blue and Silver – Chelsea (1871) was the first of Whistler’s Nocturnes, aiming to convey a sense of the beauty and tranquillity of the Thames by night.

In Whistler’s painting, a ghostly fisherman who stands on the banks of Battersea, London, is all but vaporised into memory before our very eyes by a buried luminosity that embers deep below the dusky surface of air, water, and sand – elements that have melted into a single mystifying silvery substance.

Nor has the colour lost any of its lustre in the minting of Modern Art. Pop Artist Andy Warhol, who famously painted his studio (and hair) silver, reflected on the poignancy of the colour when he insisted that the pivotal 1960s were indeed “the perfect time for silver”. “Silver was the future,” he said, “astronauts wore silver suits. And silver was also the past – the silver screen – Hollywood actresses photographed in silver sets.”

Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster) was part of Andy Warhol’s Death and Disaster series.

In Warhol’s weird world of celebrity regard, everything worth thinking seems artificially shellacked with a silvery sheen. From his woozy Eight Elvises (1963) – in which a silkscreen shuffle of the pop icon, clad in cowboy garb and drawing a pistol, replicates itself like lab-grown cells in a Petri dish of silver solution – to his stark and unsettling serigraph Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster), created the same year, Warhol saw silver as the very colour of our inexplicable existence – the theme music that plays us in and plays us out.

ruby Posted on November 23, 2018 10:04

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Five years ago I stood in a room containing nothing but White Albums. For his installation We Buy White Albums, the Californian artist Rutherford Chang had filled a small gallery in Manhattan with 693 vinyl copies of the ninth Beatles album, some on the walls, some in racks.

Rutherford Chang filled a gallery in Manhattan with 693 vinyl copies of the ninth Beatles album (Credit: We Buy White Albums by Rutherford Chang).

The sleeve, designed by Pop artist Richard Hamilton, is famously blank but every one of these copies was faded, stained, torn, illustrated, signed or otherwise altered in some unique way, whether by a human hand or simply by the passing of time. As I studied them, I listened to multiple copies of side one playing simultaneously and slowly drifting out of sync, rendering these exceptionally famous songs eerie and strange.

There’s something about The White Album that invites listeners to mess around with it. Joan Didion stole its title for her 1979 essay collection, an elegy for the dreams of 1960s California. The producer Danger Mouse chopped it to pieces and recombined the fragments with vocals from Jay-Z’s The Black Album to create his 2004 mash-up The Grey Album. The jam band Phish covered all 30 songs on stage on Halloween night, 1994. Charles Manson, notoriously, had his own theories. Even the title has been rewritten: The Beatles called it The Beatles but their fans had other ideas.

The sleeve, designed by Pop artist Richard Hamilton, was famously blank.

The new reissue defamiliarises the album yet again, with 27 demos, 50 outtakes, and a thorough digital reconstruction by Giles Martin, the son of Beatles producer George Martin. The White Album is the only record by the most analysed group in the history of popular music that still retains considerable mystery, because there’s just so much of it. Whether or not you consider it the best Beatles album (I do), it’s certainly the most Beatles album.

‘A shambling mansion’

It therefore attracts two kinds of fan: the editor and the sprawler. The editor trims and tweaks the tracklisting to create a more consistently satisfying record. The sprawler accepts it for what it is, with all its imperfections. I once toyed with being an editor (goodbye Wild Honey Pie, so long Savoy Truffle) and ended up with a tight playlist of impeccably great songs. But it wasn’t The White Album, any more than Moby-Dick minus all the chapters about the whaling industry would still be Moby-Dick.

The Beatles entered Abbey Road Studios to start recording on 30 May, and administered the finishing touches on 14 October 1968.

The White Album’s working title was A Doll’s House, and it could be compared to a shambling mansion, with ballrooms, bedrooms, nurseries, cellars, and rooms full of junk that are rarely visited. It starts with a joke and ends with a lullaby. Between those two points, this omnivorous record takes bites out of folk, blues, rock’n’roll, ska, country, doo-wop, psychedelia, Tin Pan Alley, musique concrete and easy listening, while offering previsions of prog-rock and heavy metal. Happiness is a Warm Gun alone is three songs in one. Songwriting inspirations include a box of chocolates, a gun magazine, a Little Richard movie, Mia Farrow’s sister, monkey sex and, on the barbed wind-up Glass Onion, The Beatles’ own history.

The White Album was the first major release to deploy incoherence as a deliberate artistic strategy. It contains space-fillers even though there’s no space that needs filling, and is sequenced in such a way as to accentuate its jumbling together of the archaic and the avant-garde, the meaningless and the profound, the generous and the toxic, the ragged and the luminous, the spiritual and the profane, the desperately moving and the too silly for words. Many of John Lennon’s cryptic contributions are an assault on rationality itself. To be an editor is to presume that somehow The Beatles got it wrong and would rather have released 45 minutes of bangers. To be a sprawler is to embrace that rare, intoxicating quality that you might call everythingness. Perhaps that is why they called it The Beatles. This is what The Beatles is in 1968, the title implied. All of it. The whole damn mess.

Over the years we’ve learned almost everything there is to know about the circumstances of its creation. We know that due to various rows, sulks and walkouts, the first stage of the band’s disintegration, all four Beatles appear on fewer than half the songs. We know about Yoko Ono’s contentious presence, Ringo’s huffy absence from Back in the USSR, John’s contempt for Paul’s “granny music shit”, and so on. We know that they were less than a year away from the last time that they all stood in a studio together, although in the newly released demos we can also hear that there was still plenty of fun to be had, despite those fissures. Even at the time, I imagine, one could hear pop’s quintessential gang of mates splintering into four individuals, and their musical fusions unravelling into discrete genre exercises. Listening to it is like watching an explosion in slow motion.

‘Wild, whirling spirit’

The White Album therefore made a fitting capstone for one of the most wildly eventful years of the 20th Century. The Beatles entered Abbey Road Studios to start recording on 30 May, and administered the finishing touches on 14 October. In that year, Charles de Gaulle quelled the student protests in Paris; Warsaw Pact tanks rolled into Prague; Robert F Kennedy was shot dead in Los Angeles; James Earl Ray was arrested for the murder of Martin Luther King; the Democratic National Convention in Chicago was marked by violence and chaos to the delight of Republican candidate Richard Nixon; the Ba’ath Party seized power in Iraq; the Tet Offensive concluded in Vietnam; the Troubles began in Northern Ireland; Andy Warhol mounted his first exhibition in Britain (and survived an assassination attempt); feminists protested the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City; censorship in British theatres came to an end, prompting the cast of Hair to take to the stage naked; Britain’s first abortion clinic opened its doors; and Nasa launched the first manned mission to the moon. It was an everything-at-once kind of year.

While The White Album was being recorded, second-wave feminists protested the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City.

If you felt that things were falling apart and the centre could not hold, then, boy, did The Beatles have the perfect record for you

The White Album explicitly acknowledges almost none of this. On the rare occasions that it is political, it is muddled, petty or vague. John Lennon was so conflicted about that spring’s wave of protests that he hedged his bets on Revolution 1 (“Don’t you know that you can count me out… in”), and his inscrutable Stockhausen-inspired sample collage Revolution 9 obscured more than it revealed. Only decades later did Paul McCartney reveal that Blackbird was meant to be an ode to the women of the civil rights movement. George Harrison’s Piggies is a sour pellet of misanthropy fired at anyone foolish enough to be ordinary. Most of the songs were written during a Transcendental Meditation course in India, a long way from the barricades of Paris or Prague.

Most of the album’s songs were written during a Transcendental Meditation course in India.

Some ‘68 radicals resented The Beatles’ distance from the frontlines (and scolded Lennon to his face) but The White Album didn’t need to describe the year’s events in order to capture its wild, whirling spirit. Like Radiohead’s OK Computer or the Specials’ Ghost Town, it is one of those records where a band’s internal turmoil mingled with the unrest of the wider world: by being true to their own tensions and insecurities, The Beatles connected powerfully with those of their listeners. To many people, 1968 felt exciting, infuriating, liberating, terrifying, funny, sad, depressing, exhausting and bewildering.

Between the tumbling madness of Helter Skelter, the helpless spectatorism of While My Guitar Gently Weeps, the suicidal grind of Yer Blues, the macabre whimsy of Rocky Raccoon, the defeated sigh of I’m So Tired, the hallucinatory swoon of Dear Prudence, the sonic maelstrom of Revolution 9, and the gentle stoicism of I Will, here was an album that expressed every emotion and its opposite. If you felt that things were falling apart and the centre could not hold, then, boy, did The Beatles have the perfect record for you. In the Sunday Times newspaper, Derek Jewell wrote that The Beatles were “created by, created for, their age”.

In the Sunday Times newspaper, Derek Jewell wrote that The Beatles were “created by, created for, their age” .

In a far less enduring review, New York Times critic Mike Jahn dismissed the album as “hip Muzak, a soundtrack for head shops, parties and discotheques,” and unfavourably compared it to jazz-rock group Blood, Sweat and Tears. Oops. But I can sympathise with anyone tasked with reviewing The White Album the week it came out, because even now it’s impossible to summarise. That’s what keeps it alive. Its illustrious predecessor Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band can feel, decades later, like a snow globe of 1967: exquisite, of course, but sealed tight, impermeable to new interpretations. The White Album feels roomy, unguarded and, in some peculiar way, malleable. Every time I hear it, there’s always something I’ve forgotten or can’t pin down.

On the face of it, one of the busy, dissonant Pop Art collages that made Richard Hamilton famous might have been a more apt sleeve design for such a teeming album, but his blank-slate minimalism sends a different message: make of this what you will. As EM Forster said of Herman Melville’s novel, “Moby-Dick is full of meanings: its meaning is a different problem.” Fifty years later, in another era of upheaval, dislocation, paranoia and confusion, The White Album remains pop music’s great white whale: forever enthralling, forever elusive.


ruby Posted on November 23, 2018 09:51

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D&G: China shopping sites pull products in ad backlash

Dolce & Gabbana products have been pulled from Chinese e-commerce sites as the backlash against a controversial ad campaign grows.

The firm posted videos this week showing a Chinese model struggling to eat pasta and pizza with chopsticks.

The campaign was accused of trivialising Chinese culture and promoting unflattering stereotypes.

The controversy risks alienating Dolce & Gabbana from one of the world's biggest luxury markets.

Local celebrities have called for a boycott of the brand.

The brand crisis deepened when messages allegedly written by co-founder Stefano Gabbana, which included offensive comments about Chinese people, went viral.

The firm apologised for any offence but said it and Gabbana's Instagram accounts had been hacked.

It offered a fresh apology on Friday. The South China Morning Post published a video showing Gabbana and co-founder Domenico Dolce appealing for their "misunderstanding of Chinese culture" to be forgiven.

A brand that 'knows China'

The Italian firm cancelled its fashion show in Shanghai earlier this week.

But the backlash has continued as retailers in China retreated from the brand.

On Friday, Dolce & Gabbana products were not available in China on major e-commerce sites Taobao and, as well as smaller platforms Kaola and Secoo.

Alina Ma, associate director of research at market insights firm Mintel, said the advert left Chinese consumers confused and appeared to show the company did not understand them.

"They want a brand that knows them, that makes them feel that they are important," Ms Ma said.

It is a crucial market for luxury firms. A 2018 report by consultancy Bain & Company forecast the luxury goods market in mainland China will grow by up to 22% this year.

ruby Posted on November 23, 2018 09:38

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Bitcoin mining operations in the US and China are facing closures after the plummeting price of bitcoin means they may no longer be profitable.

The world's most valuable cryptocurrency is currently trading at around $4,500, having lost almost a third of its value in the space of a week.

Bitcoin mining – the process of generating new units of the cryptocurrency by solving complex puzzles – requires vast amounts of electricity to power the computers performing the calculations.

This means that the profitability of mining falls when bitcoin's price drops, and if the price falls too far  then operations may no longer be economically viable.

The biggest casualty so far may be the US-based mining firm Giga Watt, which was forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this week after it was unable to pay debts of around $7 million.

"The corporation is insolvent and unable to pay its debts when due," the filing stated, according to CoinDesk. 

"The corporation and its creditors would best be served by reorganisation of the corporation under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code."

Bitcoin has suffered two major price falls in less than a week, following months of market stability (CoinMarketCap)

The majority of bitcoin mining operations are based in China, where electricity costs are some of the lowest in the world.

Yet despite the cheap electricity, images and videos of mining operations shutting down in the country have been spreading across social media.

Hon Kong-based mining platform Suanlitou announced this week that it was unable to cover electricity fees for a 10-day period in November, according to the South China Morning Post. 

Another group of Chinese cryptocurrency miners also reportedly shut down 20,000 mining rigs due to the fall in profitability.

It is not clear what the future holds for the price of bitcoin, with some analysts predicting more falls, while others expect the market to turnaround before the end of the year.

ruby Posted on November 23, 2018 08:57

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Man pulled over for driving with shattered windscreen

Police have expressed disbelief at pulling over a driver on the motorway who was trying to peer through a severely damaged windscreen at night.

The male Volkswagen driver was stopped by the Central Motorway Police Group (CMPG) at about 22:30 GMT on Wednesday.

He was travelling southbound on the M6 between junctions 14 and 13 for Stafford.

Officers ordered the owner to take his unroadworthy vehicle off the highway until the damage had been repaired.

The force posted a photo of the windscreen on social media expressing their surprise: "We've just stopped this vehicle in @Policingstoke he didn't think it was too much of a problem.

"Vehicle prohibited from being driven any further, driver reported. Nope still can't believe it."

Other social media users were quick to quip that the driver should have removed the windscreen altogether and worn driving goggles, others wondered what the driver had hit to cause such damage.

Four hours later, CMPG was still shocked and made another reference to what happened, when dealing with another driver.

An officer tweeted: "Vehicle stopped in the @Policingstoke area driver had no licence or insurance, (but it did have a intact windscreen). Car seized and driver reported."

ruby Posted on November 22, 2018 16:04

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Tax fraudster who used multiple identities jailed

A tax fraudster who used a string of identities to spend nearly a decade on the run has been jailed.

John Dalton, formerly of Canterbury, committed a £3.8m VAT fraud before fleeing the country in 2007.

The 54-year-old resurfaced in Spain, where he was detained and extradited to the UK in 2017.

He was sentenced to five years and four months after he admitted being concerned in the fraudulent evasion of VAT.

Inner London Crown Court was told Dalton, who was born Paul Kemp, had used at least 12 different names throughout his life.

The court heard Dalton and another man were the main offenders in a conspiracy to falsely claim VAT repayments from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

They did this by setting up a number of sham companies and using forged documents, the court was told.

Dalton was first arrested in 2007 but failed to answer bail after fleeing to France.

'Career criminal'

The 54-year-old was later prosecuted for fraud offences in France but left the country before his prison term could be started.

In November 2017, Dalton was detained in Spain under a European Arrest Warrant.

He was brought back to the UK in January after officers from Kent Police travelled to Madrid.

Det Sgt Steve Payne, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said Dalton was a "career criminal" who had "cheated his way through life".

He said: "I hope this case demonstrates crime does not pay and that we do not forget about people who try to escape justice, no matter how many years have passed."

Three other members of Dalton's criminal enterprise were jailed in 2010 for a combined total of nine years and 10 months.

ruby Posted on November 22, 2018 15:58

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Tekashi 6ix9ine: What the latest charges could mean for the US rapper

Tekashi 6ix9ine is facing jail time, again. This time, it's for his involvement with a violent US gang.

The rapper was arrested on Sunday night and faces 32 years in jail for racketeering and other offences, according to a prosecuting US attorney.

The sentence would be for life in prison and stems from his involvement with the Nine Trey Bloods.

The Nine Trey Bloods are a New York gang and also known as TreyWay which Tekashi69 has mentioned on Twitter.

But now his involvement could cost him his freedom.

"In the history of the US, the one thing that seems to get someone locked up is racketeering, money-laundering or tax evasion," UK hip hop and culture writer, Jesse Bernard tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

"This could be what takes him to prison."

'Multiple acts of violence'

Tekashi69 has evaded jail time on previous charges, including child sex offences in 2015, but experts believe the racketeering charges could mean a lengthy jail spell for the star.

Racketeering is when people use criminal actions to repeatedly take money from others, and most likely associated with protection rackets.

"This defendant participated in multiple acts of violence," said assistant US attorney Michael Long at a court hearing on Monday night, reports Rolling Stone.

According to US reports, the new arrest relates to a five-year federal investigation and Tekashi69 is also facing a number of other charges including drug dealing, involvement in an armed robbery and a conspiracy to commit murder charge.

Tekashi69's most recent arrest caps a turbulent year in which the rapper rose to international fame with a string of hit singles, but so did his legal history.

In 2015 he pleaded guilty to an incident involving a "sexual performance" with a 13-year-old girl and is currently serving a four-year-probation sentence following legal problems that followed the case.

He has previously spent time in jail for assault and drug offences.

'There's not enough vetting taking place'

But none of Tekashi69's previous charges have stopped his fame from growing. He's even due to release his debut album later this week - which features both Kanye West and Nicki Minaj.

But Jesse believes these collaborations are "an industry thing" and says record labels should spend more time considering the behaviour of the stars they sign.

"There's not enough vetting taking place, when these artists are being signed, maybe someone is turning a blind eye, who knows. But it's not just that," he says.

"There does need to be more vetting because when the mainstream itself is becoming littered with these conveyor-belt artists that really don't have much longevity."

ruby Posted on November 22, 2018 15:40

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Tupac ALIVE? Cryptic post on rapper's Instagram fuels theory 'he's coming back from Cuba'

A CRYPTIC post shared by Tupac Shakur’s instagram account has fuelled a bizarre conspiracy theory that the rapper is alive and living in Cuba.

The estate of the American rapper and actor, who was shot dead aged 25 in 1996, teased fans with an ambiguous announcement on his Instagram page.

The oblique post, containing a black-and-white picture of the late musician overlaid with the date “1998 – Saturday 11/24”, was shared to the account on Monday.

“Sign up to be the first to know. Link in bio. #2PAC #Tupac,” the caption to the post, shared with his 3.3 million followers, reads.

The date in the picture is thought to refer to the upcoming anniversary of his posthumous “Greatest Hits” album, which was released on November 24, 1998.

In the comments section, many fans excited about the prospect of a newly remastered album paid tribute to All Eyez On Me artist, the also known as Makaveli.

But among the comments a wacky conspiracy theory about has Tupac reared its home once more.

Fans with active imaginations interpreted the post as a hint Tupac is about to announce his return having faked his death and moved to Cuba in the 1990s.

Conspiracy theories have circulated the internet for years despite the death of the Harlem-born rap icon, who was killed in a drive-by shooting by an unknown assailant in Las Vegas on September 7, 1996.

“He’s alive,” many commenters wrote on the post.

"He's coming back," another hopeful fan posted. 

CRYPTIC: Tupac's estate has posted to Instagram about an imminent announcement (Pic: INSTAGRAM)

“We already know he ain't dead,” one person explained matter-of-factly. 

Pedding the theory, one wrote: “I’m tellin y’all he’s alive.”

Another added: “Watch them say Tupac is alive. I would be so f***ing mad at him for hiding his death this whole time."

One infamous theory claims the rapper faked his death and moved to Cuba to live out the rest of his life in solitude. 

“Bro when are you leaving Cuba?” one commenter asked, referring to the theory.

A second added: “I told y’all he’s in Cuba, now he’s coming back to America to run for president.”

GREATEST HITS: Greatest Hits is a posthumous double-disc greatest hits album by Tupac (Pic: WIKIPEDIA)

Most fans, however, came to the obvious conclusion, that, because the date in the post matches with the release date of Tupac’s Greatest Hits, the announcement probably refers to that.

One posted: “20 years since the greatest hits release.”

Another wrote: “24 november 1998: Greatest Hits.”

Others hailed the rapper, with on writing: “RIP always remember this great man and king of rap.”

LEGEND: Hip hop star Tupac was shot at the age of 25 (Pic: GETTY)

There have been multiple claims Tupac never died but none of them have ever been been credible.

Retired Las Vegas Police sergeant Chris Carroll was the first officer on the scene of Tupac’s shooting and said his body fell out of the car “like he was leaning against the door”.

“I grabbed him with my left arm, and he falls into me,” he said.

“He’s covered with blood, and I immediately notice that the guy’s got a ton of gold on – a necklace and other jewellery – and all of the gold is covered in blood. I didn’t realise that this is Tupac Shakur.”

PALS: Tupac was popular among some, but had heated feuds with others (Pic: GETTY)

The Los Angeles Police Department believe “it was a gang retaliation murder”.

His killer has never been found.

Tupac rose to fame with his debut solo album 2Pacalypse Now.

With hits like Dear Mama, California Love and All Eyez on Me, he was one of the biggest rappers of the 1990s.

jmparker Posted on November 22, 2018 15:35

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‘King’ Didier Drogba HAILED on Twitter as he retires at 40

FOOTBALL fans united to hail Chelsea legend Didier Drogba online after he announced his retirement from the sport.

The striker, 40, announced his retirement yesterday, calling time on a 20-year career in which the bullish centre forward won four Premier League titles and the 2012 Champions League.

Ivorian Drogba, who had been playing in the United States for Phoenix Rising, had two spells at Chelsea, scoring 164 goals in 381 games having spearheaded the west London club's revival under owner Roman Abramovich.

After announcing the retirement on Twitter, fans flocked to comment on the news.

One Chelsea fan said: “Thank you for everything you did in football and for charities all these years. Good luck in the future Didier. I hope to see you back at Chelsea soon.”

FAMOUS: Drogba scores the winning penalty in the Champions League final 2012 (Pic: GETTY)

Another added: “Legend. Was a pleasure seeing you on the pitch in person, a dream come true. Thank you for getting me into this great sport. I love you. Please come back to Chelsea soon.”

Numerous others simply wrote “king”.

And one declared: “Just one king in London.”

He shared the retirement news on his Instagram and Twitter accounts with a picture from 1989 of him playing football as an 11-year-old.

GUSHING: A fan had only praise for the former Chelsea striker (Pic: TWITTER)

LOVED: Numerous fans took to Twitter to say thank you (Pic: TWITTER)

WINNER: Drogba won the Premier League four times with Chelsea (Pic: GETTY)

He wrote: “When I think of the last 20 years of my professional career, looking at this picture can’t make me more proud of what I’ve achieved as a player but most importantly how this journey as shaped me as a man.”

“If anyone tells you your dreams are too big, just say thank you and work harder and smarter to turn them into reality. 

“I wanna thank all the players, managers, teams and fans that I have met and made this journey one of a kind!”

Drogba began his career at French side Le Mans in 1998, but did not play top-tier football until he was 23 when he was signed by Guingamp in 2002.

He moved to Olympique de Marseille in 2003 and a year later was signed by Chelsea.

The star became the attacking focal point of the team under Jose Mourinho and helped the club win their first top flight English title in 50 years.

He went on to win three Premier League titles in his first eight years at Chelsea as well as four FA Cups and two League Cups.

His first spell in west London ended on a high as he scored the winning penalty in the Champions League final shootout against Bayern Munich having also equalised with a thumping header to force extra time.

ICONIC: Drogba got an incredible ovation from Chelsea fans when he returned with Galatasaray (Pic: GETTY)

INTERNATIONAL: Drogba made more than 100 appearances for African nation Ivory Coast (Pic: GETTY)

He had spells in China and Turkey before returning to Chelsea where he won a fourth Premier League title and a third League Cup, leaving the club as their fourth highest scorer of all time.

Drogba, who made more than 100 appearances for the Ivory Coast and was voted African footballer of the year twice, ended his playing days with Phoenix Rising where he was a player-owner.

"It's the best way to end, helping some young talent to develop," Drogba told the BBC.

"To give something back to the game was the best way to finish as I have learned so much in the game."


jmparker Posted on November 22, 2018 15:20

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Carlos Ghosn: Nissan sacks chairman over cash scandal

Carlos Ghosn has been ousted after nearly two decades at the helm of Japanese carmaker Nissan, following allegations of financial misconduct.

He has been accused by Nissan of under-reporting his salary and using company assets for personal use.

But some see it as part of the firm's attempt to rebalance power in its alliance with Renault and Mitsubishi, which Mr Ghosn also chairs.

The 64-year-old was the architect of the tie-up between the three firms.

The board also voted to remove senior executive Greg Kelly.

Nissan's board issued a statement which said the decision to dismiss the two men was unanimous. The board's mission was "to minimise the potential impact and confusion on the day-to-day cooperation among the Alliance partners", it added.

Mr Ghosn and Mr Kelly remain in custody in Tokyo.

What are the accusations?

Nissan has accused Mr Ghosn of "significant acts of misconduct", including under-reporting his pay package and personal use of company assets.

On Monday, the firm said it had been conducting an internal investigation for several months, prompted by a whistleblower.

Nissan also accused Mr Kelly of having been "deeply involved" in the misconduct.

Mr Ghosn is accused of filing annual securities reports containing fake statements, which could mean up to 10 years in prison, or a fine of 10m yen, or both.

Broadcaster NHK has also reported, citing unnamed sources, that Nissan spent millions of dollars on luxury homes in four countries without legitimate business justifications.

Millions of dollars had been spent to purchase and renovate the homes in Brazil, Lebanon, France and the Netherlands, NHK said.

Mr Ghosn has not been charged.

What happens next?

Japanese news agency Kyodo is reporting that Nissan's chief executive Hiroto Saikawa will take over as interim chairman. He promised earlier this week that Nissan would try to "stabilise the situation, and normalise day-to-day operations" for staff and business partners.

Nissan's board said it would establish a committee to look at appointing a permanent successor to Mr Ghosn.

Mitsubishi Motors will meet to discuss Mr Ghosn's role there next week. Two days ago Renault's board said it was appointing a temporary deputy chief executive to take over the running of the French car firm.

Who is Carlos Ghosn?

  • His hero status was so big that his life was serialised in one of Japan's famous cartoon comic books
  • The Brazilian-born boss of Lebanese descent and a French citizen says his background left him with a feeling of being different, which helped him adapt to new cultures
  • In France he was known as Le Cost Killer, a comment on the deep cuts he made to revive Renault
  • He was once tipped as a potential president of Lebanon, a move he eventually dismissed because he already had "too many jobs"
  • In a 2011 poll of people the Japanese would like to run their country Mr Ghosn came seventh, in front of Barack Obama (ninth)

Will the Alliance survive this?

The future of the Nissan-Mitsubishi-Renault partnership remains unclear in the aftermath of the allegations.

Before his arrest Mr Ghosn was seeking to strengthen it, according to the according to the Financial Times. The paper reported that he had been planning a merger between Renault and Nissan - a deal which Nissan's board opposed.

But sources told the BBC that a full merger - to create a single company - "was never on the cards".

Despite selling fewer vehicles, Renault has a 43% shareholding in Nissan, while Nissan's stake in Renault is only 15%.

Prior to Thursday's board meeting, Nissan boss Mr Saikawa insisted the partnership would "not be affected" by the arrest of Mr Ghosn and Mr Kelly.

But Mitsubishi Motors chief executive Osamu Masuko said the alliance would be difficult to manage without Mr Ghosn.

ruby Posted on November 22, 2018 14:54

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Palm oil was meant to help save the planet, but has unleashed an environmental catastrophe instead

The fields outside Kotawaringin village in Central Kalimantan, on the island of Borneo, looked as if they had just been cleared by armies. None of the old growth remained — only charred stumps poking up from murky, dark pools of water.

In places, smoke still curled from land that days ago had been covered with lush jungle. Villagers had burned it all down, clearing the way for a lucrative crop whose cultivation now dominates the entire island: the oil-palm tree.

The dirt road was ruler straight, but deep holes and errant boulders tossed our tiny Toyota back and forth. Trucks coughed out black smoke, their beds brimming over with seven-ton loads of palm fruit rocking back and forth on tyres as tall as people. Clear-cut expanses soon gave way to a uniform crop of oil-palm groves: orderly trees, a sign that we had crossed into an industrial palm plantation.

Oil-palm trees look like the coconut-palm trees you see on postcards from Florida — they grow to more than 60 feet tall and flourish on the peaty wetland soil common in lowland tropics. But they are significantly more valuable. Every two weeks or so, each tree produces a 50-pound bunch of walnut-size fruit, bursting with a red, viscous oil that is more versatile than almost any other plant-based oil of its kind. Indonesia is rich in timber and coal, but palm oil is its biggest export.

Around the world, the oil from its meat and seeds has long been an indispensable ingredient in everything from soap to ice cream. But it has now become a key ingredient of something else: biodiesel, fuel for diesel engines that has been wholly or partly made from vegetable oil.

Finally we emerged, and as we crested a hill, the plantations fell into an endless repetition of tidy bunches stretching for miles, looking almost like the rag of a Berber carpet. Occasionally, a shard of an old ironwood tree shot into the air, a remnant of the primordial canopy of dense rain forest that dominated the land until very recently.

This picture taken on 23 January 2016 shows a worker harvesting palm fruit at a palm oil plantation in Aceh Jaya, Aceh province (Chaideer Mahyuddin / (AFP/Getty Images))

Our driver, a 44-year-old island native and whistle-blower named Gusti Gelambong, had brought us here to show us the incredible destruction wrought by the growing demand for palm oil. The oldest male among nine siblings, he was modestly built but exuded a wiry strength. His father, he told us, was a king of one of Borneo’s dozens of Dayak tribes, the sixth descendant of the sultan of Old Kotawaringin, and his mother came from a line of warriors who served in the Indonesian special forces.

In 2001, he said, he took part in a brutal ethnic cleansing of Indonesians who had moved in from the nearby island of Madura. He macheted his way through the nearby town of Pangkalan Bun, slaughtering dozens of people. He felt no remorse about the violence. But the palm-oil companies, Gelambong said, were much stronger than the Madurese. As we approached an intersection, we could see two plantation guards lying back in a shack, rifles propped against their knees. He sped past the guards, averting his eyes.

Most of the plantations around us were new, their rise a direct consequence of policy decisions made half a world away. In the mid-2000s, Western nations, led by the US, began drafting environmental laws that encouraged the use of vegetable oil in fuels — an ambitious move to reduce carbon dioxide and curb global warming. But these laws were drawn up based on an incomplete accounting of the true environmental costs.

Despite warnings that the policies could have the opposite of their intended effect, they were implemented anyway, producing what now appears to be a calamity with global consequences.

The tropical rain forests of Indonesia, and in particular the peatland regions of Borneo, have large amounts of carbon trapped within their trees and soil. Slashing and burning the existing forests to make way for oil-palm cultivation had a perverse effect: It released more carbon. 

Photo taken 24 September 2014 during aerial survey mission by Greenpeace, East Kotawaringin, Central Kalimantan, Borneo shows cleared forest trees being developed for palm oil plantation (Bay Ismoyo / (AFP/Getty Images)

A lot more carbon. NASA researchers say the accelerated destruction of Borneo’s forests contributed to the largest single-year global increase in carbon emissions in two millenniums, an explosion that transformed Indonesia into the world’s fourth-largest source of such emissions. Instead of creating a clever technocratic fix to reduce Americans' carbon footprint, lawmakers had lit the fuse on a powerful carbon bomb that, as the forests were cleared and burned, produced more carbon than the entire continent of Europe.

Scientists and lawyers who study environmental impact often deploy “carbon-life-cycle analysis” to determine just how much carbon a given product is removing from, or introducing to, the environment over the course of its production and consumption. When a truck burns biodiesel, the carbon emissions that come from its tailpipe aren’t much different from those of a truck burning petroleum. But a part of the biodiesel emissions aren’t counted, because — in theory — they have been balanced out: Plants absorb carbon from the atmosphere when they grow, and fuel experts subtract that sequestered carbon from the tailpipe emission, completing a transaction that they say balances at zero.

Indonesian firefighter looks towards a fire engulfing peatland in Sambung Lihung district, southern Kalimantan, Borneo on 23 September 2015 (Romeo Gacad / (AFP/Getty Images)

In ideal circumstances — un-vegetated land planted for the first time — this balancing out really happens. When corn grows, it soaks up carbon, and when it is consumed (whether as food or fuel), it releases that carbon back into the air. But the analysis breaks down when faced with the reality of land use. Almost everywhere in the world, planting more corn or soy for biofuel would involve creating more farmland, which in turn would involve cutting down whatever was already growing on that land. And that would mean releasing a huge amount of carbon into the air, with nothing to balance the books. As Searchinger watched Bush’s call for an unprecedented increase in biofuel production, his hunch was that the biofuel balance sheet would turn out to be tragically shortsighted.

The law had a profound effect. Biodiesel production in the United States would jump from 250 million gallons in 2006 to more than 1.5 billion gallons in 2016. Imports of biodiesel to the United States surged from near zero to more than 100 million gallons a month. As fuel markets snatched up every ounce of domestic soy oil to meet the American fuel mandate, the food industry also replaced the soy it had used with something cheaper and just as good: palm oil, largely from Malaysia and Indonesia, which are the sources of nearly 90 per cent of the global supply. Lawmakers never anticipated that their well-intentioned plan — to help the climate by helping American farmers — might instead transform Indonesia and present one of the greatest threats to the planet’s tropical rain forests. But as Indonesian palm oil began to flood Western markets, that is exactly what began to happen.

A protected area of the Rawa Singkil wildlife reserve is burnt in preparation for a palm oil plantation, March 3 2018 .

“We saw great promise,” Waxman told me recently, sitting in a glass conference room at Waxman Strategies, the Washington lobbying firm of which he is chairman. But he is no longer so hopeful. He is now also the chairman of the environmental organisation Mighty Earth, which lobbies food and agriculture companies to deploy more climate-friendly production methods. In 2007, he and other lawmakers were focused on the benefits of biofuels and the bridge they promised to even greener technologies. Now the soft-spoken Waxman is far more concerned about the other side of the equation. “We didn’t think we were going to pay such a heavy price,” he said.

The central problem, of course, is that the goals of Paris — slowing planetary warming just enough to allow humans time to adapt to excruciating and inevitable changes, including flooding coastlines, stronger hurricanes and perpetual famine and drought — are unlikely to ever be achieved without stopping deforestation. The planet’s forests have the potential to sequester as much as a third of the carbon in the air. Right now deforestation globally contributes 15 per cent of the planet’s total emissions, the same as all the cars and trucks and trains across the globe. On paper, biodiesel is a way to make all those modes of transportation produce less carbon. But in the world as it is, that calculation is far more likely to lead to catastrophe.

ruby Posted on November 22, 2018 13:09

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Transfer news LIVE: SHOCK Man Utd talks, £70m Chelsea demand, Liverpool’s January plan

TRANSFER NEWS is coming thick and fast with the January window approaching and Starsport is on hand to bring you all the latest football gossip.

- Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri wants to sign Milan Skriniar in January

- Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea’s agent has reportedly held talks with Juventus

- Simon Mignolet’s agent has been discussing the Liverpool star’s future

- Arsenal have been told not to pursue Borussia Dortmund’s Julian Weigl

Mourinho ‘felt very undermined’

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho ‘felt very undermined’ during last summer’s transfer debacle - and is hoping the club avoid a repeat performance in the new year.

And ahead of the January transfer window, the Manchester Evening News have shed further light on Mourinho’s feelings.

A source close to the Portuguese boss claims he ’felt very undermined’ at the club ignoring his requests for further signings, which was described as an ‘absolutely huge issue’.

But there are no guarantees the Red Devils will change their approach in January.

The MEN claim United’s board are of the view they will only attempt to sign a new centre-back in the upcoming window if the right player becomes available.

Transfer news: Jose Mourinho remains on the hunt for a new defender (Pic: GETTY)

De Gea’s agent in shock Juve talks

Manchester United face another fight on their hands to keep hold of David de Gea with his agent reportedly holding talks with Juventus.

Italian newspaper Tuttosport claim De Gea’s agent, Jorge Mendes, has even held talks with the Serie A champions over a potential switch.

De Gea is currently under contract with the Red Devils until the end of the season, although the club have the option of a 12-month extension.

However, with De Gea yet to commit his future to the club it seems his agent is already exploring alternative opportunities.

Mendes has a strong relationship with Juve chiefs having helped oversee Cristiano Ronaldo’s summer transfer from Madrid.

Tuttosport say Mendes is regularly in contact with the club, and a recent meeting with Juve sporting director Fabio Paratici saw De Gea’s name discussed, along with James Rodriguez and Ruben Neves.

Transfer news: David de Gea is under contract with United until the end of the season (Pic: GETTY)

Liverpool star’s agent speaks out

Simon Mignolet’s agent has been discussing his client’s Liverpool future.

The Belgian, who is under contract until 2021, has made just one appearance for the Reds this season.

“We have to be realistic,” Mignolet’s representative Nico Vaesen told ESPN. “There are not many good possible transfers in January, especially not for a goalkeeper.

“Circumstances have to be right for everybody. If something is to happen in January, it will be very difficult to do something. If Simon goes or could go in January, Liverpool have to look for a replacement as well.

“So I understand from a club’s point of view that it’s not easy to do. In that respect, we know each other’s problems. We’ll see how and when we can solve them.”

Despite Vaesen's comments, the Liverpool Echo claim the Reds don't plan to lose Mignolet in the new year.

Transfer news: Should Arsenal make a move for Julian Weigl? (Pic: GETTY)

Arsenal’s Weigl warning

Arsenal have been urged not to sign Borussia Dortmund midfielder Julian Weigl.

The north London side have been heavily linked with a move for the German international this week, as the club looks at potential replacements for Aaron Ramsey.

Weigl is struggling for gametime at Dortmund this season and is being tipped to head for the exit in the coming months.

But former Arsenal star Stewart Robson doesn't want his former side to make a move for the 23-year-old.

“Well Ramsey’s not getting in the side,” Robson said.

“So they’ve got [Granit] Xhaka, they’ve got Guendouzi as well, they’ve got Torreira as you said.

"Weigl is a good player.

“At the moment, I don’t think Arsenal need him.

“So I’m going to have that as a miss.”

Transfer news: Miian Skriniar could cost in excess of £70m (Pic: GETTY)

Sarri wants Skriniar

Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri has requested the club sign £70m-rated Inter Milan defender Milan Skriniar, according to reports.

According to The Sun, Sarri has added the highly-rated centre-half to his January wishlist and asked the board to pursue his signature in the new year.

The Slovakia defender has been strongly linked with a move to Manchester United with Jose Mourinho keen to land a centre-back in the upcoming transfer window.

Sarri has told the Chelsea board he is happy with the players he has for now but believes his defence is an area he could strengthen if given the opportunity.

Skriniar is under contract with Inter util 2022 but sources in Italy claim he is growing frustrated at the club’s decision not to pay him the wages he wants.

jmparker Posted on November 22, 2018 12:56

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Mum HEARTBROKEN after 13-year-old daughter begs to change her ‘old fashioned name’

CHOOSING the perfect name for your child can be difficult, but what would you do if they ended up hating it?

Picking baby names can be a daunting task for parents, but how would you feel if your child wanted to change their moniker? 

One mum explained how her 13-year-old daughter begged her to change her name. 

Posting on popular parenting website Mumsnet, the anonymous user explained how her teenage daughter asked to change her “old-fashioned” name to something “more modern”.

The teenage girl – who is called Rose – instead wants to be called “Ava” or “Evie” but can’t legally change her name herself until she is 16.

She said: “I’m heartbroken as it is a name we picked for her because we loved it. I just can’t get my head around calling her something else.”

Asking fellow Mumsnetters for advice, the mum concluded: “Am I being unreasonable to keep calling her by her name?”

Unsurprisingly, the dilemma has divided opinion on the parenting forum.

One user defended her daughter’s right to change her name, writing: “I could see why you would be upset, but it’s her name and her opinion is equally valid.

“I’m sure she would understand if you still called her by her first name.”


Another parent added: “I think you have to suck it up really. Chances are it’s a phase she will get over, but I would imagine the best way to get her to change it is to make her feel you are controlling her.”

But other parents told the mum to stand her ground with the matter.

One wrote: “Of course it’s ‘about you’ when your child rejects the name you carefully chose for them.

“I really do think it’s a typical teen rebellion. If she feels the same way at 16 she can change it officially but I bet she won’t.”

Another commented: “Rose is a gorgeous name. I’d follow the parenting path of smiling and nodding. Let her friends call her Evie if she wants.”

DILEMMA: The woman is heartbroken her daughter wants to change her name (Pic: GETTY

Are you struggling to find the perfect baby name?

Here are the most popular winter-inspired baby names to choose from.

Snow, Aspen and Alaska are among the most used monikers for girls.

As for boys, Frost, Crispin and Yukio made the list.

jmparker Posted on November 22, 2018 11:30

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JFK’s missing BRAIN stolen by Robert Kennedy

JFK’S missing brain was swiped by his brother Robert Kennedy after the autopsy into his assassination, it is claimed is shocking US government documents.

President John F. Kennedy was shot dead in Dallas, Texas, while riding in his motorcade sitting alongside his wife Dallas.

He was hit twice – once in neck, and once in the head – in the last successful assassination of a US President, and with today marks the 55th anniversary of his death.

Kennedy’s brain mysteriously vanished from the US National Archives where it was stored along with other key pieces of evidence from the autopsy.

Daily Star Online can now reveal bombshell US Government documents which actually pin the blame on JFK’s younger brother RFK for swiping the brain.

Documents compiled by the House Select Committee on Assassinations – which probed the murders of JFK and Martin Luther King – suggest the brain may have pinched to “prevent future display”.

FK’s brain was present at the initial autopsy after the killing in 1963, but later disappeared in 1965.

Its whereabouts has been subject to much speculation, and conspiracy theorists often link its disappearances to allegations of there being more to the assassination.

US government documents acquired by the Daily Star Online reveal the efforts by officials to track down the brain.

And in rare documents from its final conclusion, the 1976 probe names RFK – who was also assassinated in 1968 – as the one for swiping the brain.

RFK ordered his secretary Angela Novello to remove the locker containing the autopsy materials from the National Archives, the report claims.

The locker containing the brain was being overseen by Evelyn Lincoln, JFK’s assistant, who was transferring the US President’s documents to the archive.

Ms Lincoln was then telephoned by RFK who told her he was sending Ms Novello to move the locker in 1965.

She arrived at her office along with Herman Kahn, archivist for the Presidential library, and took the locker containing the brain – which was never seen again.

KENNEDYS: John and Robert were American political royalty and both were gunned down (Pic: GETTY)

GRASSY KNOLL: JFK was shot twice while riding in his motorcade in Dallas (Pic: GETTY)

The document reads: "The material was then either kept in another part of the Archives, probably a Robert Kennedy courtesy storage area, or removed from the building to a location designated by Robert Kennedy.

"The circumstantial evidence would seem to indicate that Robert Kennedy then decided to retain possession of all physical specimen evidence and transferred only the autopsy photographs and X-rays to the Government."

Ms Lincoln was interviewed by investigators, and told them she “wondered what happened” to the brain after the assassination of RFK.

The committee notes it has no “direct evidence”of the whereabouts of the brain, but points to it being seized by RFK.

ASSASSINATED: RFK moments after he had been shot as he campaigned to be US President (Pic: GETTY)

JFK’s brain is believed to have been taken by RFK to prevent “misuse”of the organ – along with other tissue sections and blood smears.

“Circumstantial evidence tends to show that Robert Kennedy either destroyed these materials or otherwise rendered them inaccessible,” the doc reads.

It notes the RFK would have wanted to keep hold of the brain to prevent “public display”.

And also it says the US President’s brother may have quietly disposed of the brain.

US PRESIDENT: JFK's brain notoriously went missing after the autopsy (Pic: GETTY)

RFK was also never ordered by the justice department to hand over the tissue samples.

He was asked by officials to pass on to them autopsy photos and reports on the killing which were also stored in the locker.

JFK’s brain’s whereabouts remains unknown despite efforts by the US government of ind them.

US assistant attorney general Burke Marshall told the investigators: "Robert Kennedy obtained and disposed of these materials himself, without informing anyone else.”

BROTHERLY LOVE: RFK may have stolen the brain to prevent its 'misuse' (Pic: GETTY)

The report states Marshall added: "Robert Kennedy was concerned that these materials would be placed on public display in future years in an institution such as the Smithsonian and wished to dispose of them to eliminate such a possibility.

“[He] emphasized that he does not believe anyone other than Robert Kennedy would have known what happened to the materials and is certain that obtaining or locating these materials is no longer possible.”

RFK served as the US attorney general under his brother, and then under his successor Lyndon B. Johnson.

He was shot dead while mounting a US Presidential bid on June 5, 1968, by a young Palestinian allegedly over his support of Israel during the Six Day War.

MOURNING: RFK and Jackie Kennedy at the funeral of the US President (Pic: GETTY)

JFK and RFK’s murders and the mysteries following them – such as the missing brain – continue to be subject of conspiracy theories.

Claims over the killing of JFK have ranged from the involvement of the Soviet Union, the mafia, and the CIA.

RFK’s death has been rocked with claims of a second gunman and also alleged involvement by the CIA.

Daily Star Online revealed claims Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone the attack on JFK.

jmparker Posted on November 22, 2018 10:59

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