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The Weddings And Gowns Of The U.S. Presidents And First Ladies

You might expect the U.S. Presidents’ and First Ladies’ weddings to be lavish and over-the-top, but before they lived in the White House, many of these couples were simply young and in love. You’ll be amazed at how low-key some of these weddings were, including a woman who selected her wedding dress the day before and two future first ladies who didn’t wear white.

Eleanor Roosevelt’s Wedding Dress

In 1905, Eleanor Roosevelt, the daughter of President Theodore Roosevelt’s brother, married Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the president’s fifth cousin. They first met when she was 14-years-old and he was 18-years-old. After losing touch they reconnected four years later when they crossed paths at a horse show in Madison Square Garden.

The event was attended by Roosevelts from both sides of the family. F.D.R. proposed to Eleanor when he was 22 and she was 19. A Roosevelt-Roosevelt marriage was not uncommon. Her high collared gown had puffy fabric shoulders, and she wore an elegant hat.

Jackie Kennedy’s Last-Minute Wedding Gown

Bettmann / Contributor

In 1953, Jackie Bouvier tasked fashion designer Anne Lowe with making her wedding dress, but tragedy struck. Ten days before the wedding, a water pipe broke and caused havoc at Lowe’s studio on Madison Avenue. It ruined 10 of the dresses for the wedding, including Jackie’s gown, which had taken two months to construct.

In a panic, Lowe ordered additional ivory French taffeta and pink silk faille to remake the dress. She and her team of seamstresses were able to do it in the nick of time. The gown, with a classic neckline and bouffant skirt, is one of history’s most iconic wedding gowns.

 

Barbara Bush Wore Her Mother-In-Law’s Veil

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George H.W. Bush met his future wife, Barbara Pierce when they were teenagers in 1941. The former president talked about their first meeting in the documentary titled 41. He said,“They called it a holiday dance at Christmas time and here she was in this red and green dress. I said, ‘Who is this good-looking girl, that beautiful girl over there?’ ‘That’s Barbara Pierce from Rye, New York.’ So then a guy named Wozencraft introduced us. And the rest is history.”

The couple got married in 1945 at First Presbyterian Church in Rye, N.Y. Barbara wore the wedding veil that George’s mother donned in her own ceremony.

Laura Bush Wore A Simple Tan Dress For Her Wedding

Pinterest/@samadolan

Laura Lane Welch married George Bush on Nov. 5, 1977, at her childhood church in Midland, Texas. The newlyweds posed with the future president’s parents, George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush. Unlike her mother in law, Laura did not opt for the traditional, fancy wedding gown. Instead, she wore a simple tan dress she bought off the rack to the ceremony.

She met George at a backyard barbecue in July, and they became engaged just three months later. He was the Governor of Texas from 1995-2000 and became the President of the United States in 2001.

Hillary Clinton Got Her Wedding Dress At The Mall

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Hillary Diane Rodham met the future president, Bill Clinton, while they were both attending Yale Law School in 1971. He was staring at her in the library, so she went up to him and introduced herself. They fell in love and he proposed three years later. Bill wanted a big wedding while she didn’t even care about an engagement ring. (He gave her one anyway.)

The wedding was intimate, but she didn’t even have a dress until the day before. Hillary’s mother went to Dillard’s in the Fayetteville Mall and bought her daughter a Jessica McClintock Victorian lace gown. They wed in their living room.

Michelle Obama’s ’90s Wedding Gown

Twitter/@historyinpics

Like Hillary and Bill Clinton, future president Barack Obama met Michelle Robinson through their love of law. They connected while working at the Sidley Austin law firm in Chicago. Michelle originally opposed dating a colleague, but he convinced her to go on a date with him in 1989. Three years later, they tied the knot.

They got married at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. Michelle’s brother walked her down the aisle, and they danced to “You and I” by Stevie Wonder. Michelle opted for a pretty white dress with pointed sleeves on her shoulders and a veil.

Rosalynn Carter’s Wedding Dress Brought 70 Years Of Good Luck

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Rosalynn Carter was just a teenager when she walked down the aisle to marry Jimmy Carter, who would end up becoming the 39th president of the United States. She was 18 and he was 21 when they tied the knot on July 7, 1946, in Plains, Georgia, where they both grew up. At first, Rosalynn turned down Jimmy’s proposal. But she changed her mind after he graduated from a wartime class at the U.S. Naval Academy.

The groom wore his Navy uniform, and Rosalynn opted for knee-length dress accessorized with gloves, a hat, and a corsage. The couple celebrated their 70th anniversary in 2016.

Mamie Eisenhower Was Another Teen Bride

Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty ImagesMamie Geneva Doud married future president Dwight Eisenhower on July 1, 1916, when she was just 19 years old. She had just graduated from the finishing school Miss Wolcott’s. Dwight was 25 and an Army lieutenant. They tied the knot at Mamie’s parents’ home in Denver, Colorado, and later honeymooned at a nearby resort.

The couple had an adventurous beginning as newlyweds and moved around the world to accommodate Dwight’s various postings. They traveled everywhere from the Philippines to Panama. Once “Ike” was elected president, Mamie spent much of her time entertaining foreign dignitaries, who enjoyed her style and fashion.

http://www.trend-chaser.com/entertainment/fashion/the-weddings-and-gowns-of-the-u-s-presidents-and-first-ladies/9/

ruby Posted on November 28, 2018 16:04

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John Malkovich to play English version of Poirot in BBC Christmas special The ABC Murders: 'People may hate it'

John Malkovich is predicting that Hercule Poirot fans “may hate” his English take on the Agatha Christie detective will air on television this Christmas.

The actor will head up the BBC‘s three-part festive adaptation of Christie’s The ABC Murders, but will offer a rather different version of the character.

He will bypass the Belgian accent and waxed moustache in favour of an English diction and goatee beard, something he believes purists could detest.

Malkovich told Radio Times: “There was a certain amount of convincing the Agatha Christie estate about this version, and I was involved in some of those conversations. There was never anything unpleasant or difficult.“

He continued: “But obviously this is a very known and loved character, and there may have been some worries that we weren’t, as it were, saluting that. Poirot and Christie fans may just hate all this, I have no idea.”

According to Malkovich, it was the decision of director Alex Gabassi who he claims wanted this version of Poirot to match the Oscar-nominated actor’s own look of bald head and beard.

“I said ‘sure, that’s the way I normally look, if that’s what you want, then fine’,” Malkovich said.

The adaptation comes from Sarah Phelps, who is behind all three of the channel's previous Christie projects Ordeal By InnocenceAnd Then There Were None and last year's The Witness for the Prosecution. This one will co-star Rupert Grint, Andrew Buchan (Broadchurch) and Skins star Freya Major.

It will air as part of the BBC’s bustling Christmas lineup which also includes Doctor WhoWatership Down and a new series of Luther. Outside of the UK, it'll launch on Amazon Prime.

https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/news/john-malkovich-poirot-accent-moustache-abc-murders-christmas-bbc-agatha-christie-a8653531.html

ruby Posted on November 28, 2018 14:39

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Irishman dies after 'punch in the head' in New York's Queens

An Irishman has died after being punched outside a bar in the Queens borough of New York.

The 21-year-old was found with a head injury in the early hours of Thursday morning outside the Gaslight Bar.

Emergency services took him to Elmhurst Hospital Centre, where he was confirmed dead.

An investigation has been launched into the suspected assault.

Police say he had been "punched in the head by an unknown male".

The attacker fled the location and has not been found.

Irish authorities are helping the family of the man, who has not been named but who is understood to have been living on 41st Street in Queens.

https://news.sky.com/story/irishman-dies-after-punch-in-the-head-in-new-yorks-queens-11560997

ruby Posted on November 28, 2018 14:18

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Great Barrier Reef to be restored by 'coral IVF'

Scientists in Australia are attempting to restore the Great Barrier Reef by using IVF-style techniques on coral.

Experts will try to capture millions of coral eggs and sperm during the annual coral spawning in the Larval Restoration Project, dubbed "IVF for the Great Barrier Reef".

The tiny corals will then be grown in floating booms for around a week and when the larvae are ready they will be reintroduced to the most damaged parts of the reef.

Professor Peter Harrison, from Southern Cross University in New South Wales, one of the project leaders, called it "the largest larval restoration project that's ever been attempted not only on the Great Barrier Reef but anywhere in the world".

He said: "For the first time we are going to try on a large scale to capture literally millions of eggs and sperm during the coral spawning event. We're building spawn catchers floating off Moore Reef off Cairns.

"Our team will be restoring hundreds of square metres with the goal of getting to square kilometres in the future, a scale not attempted previously."

The annual coral spawning reportedly began earlier this week and lasts between 48 and 72 hours as many millions of coral eggs and sperm are released into the waters off Cairns, northern Queensland.

Rising sea temperatures linked to climate change, have damaged the 2,300km (1,429 miles) length of the reef, a World Heritage Area, leaving behind skeletal coral remains - known as mass bleaching.

Professor Harrison said their aim was to fix the damage done by the coral bleaching in 2016 and 2017, which some fear may be irreparable.

"On the Great Barrier Reef we've lost more than half of the corals in those recent two bleaching events," he said.

"We've lost so many corals that fewer corals are able to spawn and rates of fertilisation are going to be lower and the billions of larvae the reef needs to be replenished naturally [won't be produced]."

https://news.sky.com/story/great-barrier-reef-to-be-restored-by-coral-ivf-11565807

ruby Posted on November 28, 2018 12:38

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Storm Diana batters UK with heavy rain and 70mph winds

Roads have been closed and trees have fallen as Storm Diana brings 70mph winds to Britain.

The Met Office has issued yellow weather warnings for wind and rain in western parts of the country which remain in place until 3am on Thursday.

Forecasters also warn of potential power failures and loss of life from flying debris as high winds continue into Thursday afternoon across most of England and Wales.

Thursday's wind warning will be in place until 2pm and also affects the east coast of Scotland.

The strong winds are already affecting travel in several areas, with the Britannia Bridge on the A55 closed to all vehicles except cars and car-sided vans, and the Corran ferry off until further notice.

AA Roadwatch reported fallen trees on roads in Ireland.

Engineers from Network Rail on are standby to attend any incidents on Britain's railways as winds and rains pick up.

Network Rail explained: "Floods, high winds and landslips can destroy railway infrastructure and block lines, so our teams repair damage and clear debris to ensure trains can continue to run.

"Flood water in particular can pose problems on the railway. Water blocking the lines, as well as debris, silt and mud making its way onto the track, are only part of it.

"The lasting damage that flood water can cause to infrastructure can lead to ongoing repair work that takes days, weeks or even months."

The storm could bring between 60mm and 80mm of rain to some areas. A yellow warning is in place for southern and eastern Highlands from 12pm until 11pm.

The Met Office's wind warning covers the west coastline of Britain, including Cornwall, until midnight tonight.

From 12pm until 3am on Thursday morning, the far east coasts of Scotland will also need to be ready for strong winds.

Storm Diana is expected to move through relatively quickly, although showers are likely to persist into Thursday.

Temperatures are predicted to be mild, with highs of 15C (59F) possible in the South East today and tomorrow - around 5C (9F) above average for the time of year.

https://news.sky.com/story/storm-diana-set-to-hit-uk-with-heavy-rain-and-up-to-70mph-winds-11565457

ruby Posted on November 28, 2018 12:23

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Lion Air plane not airworthy before fatal crash, investigators say

The Lion Air plane that crashed into the sea last month - killing all 189 on board - was not airworthy on its previous flight, investigators have found.

Pilots of the Boeing 737 struggled to control the aircraft after takeoff, according to a report from Indonesia's national transport safety committee.

On 28 October, the day before the fatal crash, the same plane experienced technical difficulties as it flew from Bali to Jakarta.

The pilot should have discontinued the flight, the National Transport Safety Committee found. Instead he carried on to Jakarta.

The findings come from a preliminary report into the crash by Indonesian authorities. The report details the initial investigation but does not include analysis or a conclusion.

Authorities have recovered the flight data recorder but are still looking for the other black box - the cockpit voice recorder, which should shed more light on the cause of the accident.

The report describes the difficulties encountered by the pilots of Lion Air Flight 610 shortly after takeoff.

They repeatedly told air traffic control they had a flight control problem. They also advised that they could not determine their altitude because all their instruments were giving different readings.

The flight data recorder stopped recording 31 seconds after the pilots' last communication with control.

Based on the wreckage recovered from the crash site "the damage to the aircraft suggested a high energy impact", according to the report.

The black box data indicates irregularities in altitudes, with the aircraft rising and sinking throughout the flight.

The data also shows that the aircraft automatically tried to push the plane of the nose down, then the flight crew tried to push the nose back up. This continued during the whole the flight.

Boeing 737-MAXs contain automated systems to prevent an aircraft stalling if its nose is too high.

Investigators are exploring whether faulty sensor data might have caused the automatic system to kick in and force the plane's nose down.

The pilot of the same Boeing 737 reported similar issues the day before the Lion Air crash.

https://news.sky.com/story/lion-air-plane-not-airworthy-before-fatal-crash-investigators-say-11565794

ruby Posted on November 28, 2018 12:17

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Rising From the Desert: Luxury Living Near California's Joshua Tree

Novelist and interior designer Kristopher Dukes and her husband, Matt Jacobson, Facebook’s head of market development, live in a modern 1980s-era, Ray Kappe–designed home in Manhattan Beach, Los Angeles. But when they want to get away from it all, they head east and keep going past Palm Springs, where many of the Los Angeles elite have weekend homes, to the high desert by Joshua Tree National Park. There, Ms. Dukes says, she can truly disconnect and unwind.

"I feel like Palm Springs is more of an extension of L.A.," she says, "but the desert just has a completely different vibe that is art-driven, international, and very far away from it all."

Until a few years ago, getting away from it all for the couple meant staying in a prefab prototype home designed by the famed Marmol Radziner architectural firm, which Jacobson picked up for about US$650,000 during the home-sales slump of 2011. "You can see the horizon from this home, and the beautiful way that the nearby mountains are framed," says Ms. Dukes of the two-bedroom, 2,000-square-foot space that’s modular, sparse, and located off an unpaved road in Desert Hot Springs. "There’s a sense of expansiveness about it that I really, really love."

Then, in 2013, after a weekend spent at the Marmol Radziner home with Mr. Kappe and his wife, Shelly, the two couples decided to take a look at a second architecturally significant home in the area. This one was designed by organic architect Kendrick Bangs Kellogg and constructed over the course of two decades, beginning in 1987.

Ms. Dukes had found the property listed for sale on a real estate website and was intrigued by the otherworldly landscape and fascinating design, as the home is built into one of the boulder-strewn hillsides for which the neighboring 800,000-acre Joshua Tree National Park is known. "The online photos made it look like a rendering," Ms. Dukes says. "It didn’t seem like you could build a house that looked like that."

While her original intention was to just see the place, something else transpired after they stepped inside. "It was even more stunning in person," Ms. Dukes says. And while Mr. Jacobson originally stayed in the car, stating that he didn’t want another desert house, he was persuaded to change his mind when Mr. Kappe unequivocally told him, ‘You have to buy this house,’ " Ms. Dukes says, noting that this was totally out of character for the architect, who is typically quiet and understated. The couple bought the property for US$2.95 million in 2014.

An ‘Experimental Culture’

Featured in advertising campaigns for high-end lifestyle brands, including Calvin Klein Home and Louis Vuitton, the Kellogg house is part of a larger story about the freedom that the desert provides to architects, designers, and artists who want to create without being confined by the landscape around them. And just as Marmol Radziner and Kellogg built homes that are considered architecturally significant, others have done the same, and plan to do the same in the years ahead.

Meanwhile, buyers who are looking to buy or build a second home that’s close to nature and away from the bustle of Palm Springs still have the opportunity to do so in Joshua Tree, which has a population of about 9,000; in the hipper Pipes Canyon or nearby Pioneertown, where you can find famed music venue and barbecue spot Pappy + Harriet’s; or in other places near the national park, which attracted a record-breaking 2.8 million visitors in 2017.

"I built architecture in Joshua Tree because it has a more open landscape, and a more open experimental culture," says Los Angeles–based architect Robert Stone, who built two houses in Joshua Tree, known as the gold house (Acido Dorado) and the black house (Rosa Muerta), almost a decade ago. Today, both regularly serve as the backdrop for high-end photos featured in Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar magazines, and for the Saint Laurent fashion brand. "I wanted to build something truly new that redirects the history of architecture," Mr. Stone continues, "and I needed a blank canvas to do that. You can still find that blank canvas in Joshua Tree."

To explain how we got to where we are now, Mr. Stone, who grew up in Palm Springs, offered an abbreviated history. "If you looked at Palm Springs in the 1940s, when the very first real modern houses were built," he says, "you would see a lot of open land, a mix of run-down shacks, and just a few far-flung houses that we now consider iconic." One of those is the Richard Neutra–designed Kaufmann house, which introduced the classic Southern California indoor/outdoor living and a more reductive new style of architecture when it was built in 1946. Interestingly in the early aughts, Marmol Radziner completed a painstaking renovation of the home, which had fallen into disrepair after Barry Manilow and others owned it.

Today, Mr. Stone continues, the shacks have all since been replaced by condominiums, and the open landscape, by subdivisions. The Southern California modernism that was popular through the 1960s became watered down over the years, he says. What’s left is a playground where the wealthy can bask in the sun, but where there's no land to build on or any space where architects can try new concepts and play.

"In the past two years, there have been a lot of people priced out of Palm Springs," says Rich Nolan, a real estate agent who heads up the Coachella Valley offices for The Agency, noting that the US$649,125 median sales price in June 2018 for a single-family home in Palm Springs is 8% above the previous all-time high median price from 2006. And there’s plenty of inventory that’s much more expensive, like the 14 ultramodern units he is currently selling in a new development called Linea Palm Springs, which start at US$2.7 million.

When would-be buyers can’t get into Palm Springs—or the nearby Indian Wells, with a median sales price of US$1.07 million, or Rancho Mirage, with a median sales price of US$710,000— their natural next step is to look to Joshua Tree, Mr. Nolan says, where there is still a good deal of land available, although fewer resale properties.

One Joshua Tree resale property that is available is Mojave Rock Ranch—a one-of-a-kind dwelling on a huge piece of land that tells a story of both the area’s past and its potential for the future.

A ‘Piece of Art’ for Sale

Like the Kellogg house and Mr. Stone’s homes, Mojave Rock Ranch, which is listed for US$1.95 million, after recent price cuts (and a reduction in acreage) from US$2.9 million, and earlier, US$4.5 million, has appeared in fashion campaigns and photo shoots. But in this case, it’s not because of the home’s architecture, but because of the property’s environment, design, and landscaping, which offers panoramic views of 225 acres of mostly undeveloped desert; trinkets and treasures from around the world cemented into the walls of the many indoor and outdoor spaces; and thousands of cacti, flowers, and sculptures—sometimes esoteric, obscure, or strange—placed throughout the grounds.

The result, which was created by owners Gino Dreese, 61, and Troy Williams, 56, over the past 25 years, is meant to evoke a sense of wonder in guests, who in the past have included Hollywood insiders and other movie and music luminaries, such as the Coppolas, Ridley Scott’s family, and the Beastie Boys.

"The ranch is our pride and joy," Mr. Dreese says, noting that it started with the purchase of just an 800-square-foot homestead cabin on some 40 acres, which they added to and made their own over the years. They picked up more land and more of the cabins, originally built around the 1950s, to rent out to the Hollywood set who wanted to experience the desert. "We were kind of the forerunners in the area," he continues. "There were no rentals at all in Joshua Tree before we got here."

They sold some cabins in the early 2000s but kept their original purchase, and after an around-the-world trip in 2004, incorporated much of what they had seen, experienced, and purchased. "We used whatever we could to make it look funky and interesting," Mr. Dreese says.

This included adding colored-glass bottles in the walls and constructing a stylized branch enclosure, called an African boma, around a circular clearing meant to be used for bonfires and open-air meals.

The couple now lives in Palm Springs, where they own and run a high-end landscape-design business. They’re selling because they’re ready to slow down a little bit, Mr. Dreese says, and hope to hand off the property to someone who’s younger and can bring it to the next level. "It’s like you’re buying a piece of art," he says, adding that the property is totally secluded and could be turned into a high-end rental, or converted into some sort of artists’ residence or resort.

Preserving Art and Architecture

Ms. Dukes and Mr. Jacobson purchased the Marmol Radziner home in Desert Hot Springs and the Kellogg house in Joshua Tree in an effort to preserve the homes as works of art. But what Ms. Dukes found is that the Kellogg house, despite appearances, is also incredibly cozy and warm to live in. On trips to Joshua Tree, which they make about every other month, Ms. Dukes says they find themselves relaxing a lot of the time on the built-in, custom-made couches, or on the decks overlooking the park.

"In pictures, it can look so Gaudi-esque," Ms. Dukes says. "But when you’re there, you can just hang out and enjoy the space. There are no right angles, and it’s comfortable. The walls almost hug you when you’re inside."

And then there is the intricate design, which includes golden spirals and shell-like, nautical patterns, to discover and enjoy. Ms. Dukes says her favorite thing about the home is how the ceiling in the master bedroom is made up of what looks like fingers, with glass in between where they’d touch. "When you’re in bed at night, you can look up and see the planes and the stars," she says. "Everything is moving, and it’s really magical."

This, of course, is just a small sampling of the significant architecture and design work you can find in the region, or will be able to find soon. Currently, there’s the Lloyd Wright and Frank Lloyd Wright Joshua Tree Retreat Center, which was built in 1946 and is also known as the Institute of Mentalphysics.

Then there's the work of interior designers and artists from Joshua Tree who have gained thousands of followers on Instagram, including Cosmic American and Casa Joshua Tree. And there are several ambitious projects planned by architects for the high desert, including the Whitaker Studio Joshua Tree Residence, which will feature interconnected, stark white shipping containers rising from the boulders.

Mr. Stone’s hope is that this is just the beginning, and that there will be more homes with artistic and architectural value yet to come.

"I hope somebody will read this article and decide to build property in the area," he says. "We should use the blank canvas of Joshua Tree and make architecture that’s as ambitious and relevant to our time as the first modern architecture was to its time." This story first appeared in Mansion Global magazine, published on November 19th, 2018.

https://www.mansionglobal.com/articles/rising-from-the-desert-luxury-living-near-california-s-joshua-tree-114205?mod=mansion_global_articles_en_wsj_home&mod=mansiongl_edit_outbrain_Dec&mod=outbrain_71964&utm_source=Adrizer&utm_campaign=71964&utm_term=Sky+News+%28British+Sky+Broadcasting+Ltd%29

ruby Posted on November 28, 2018 12:03

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The stars we have said goodbye to in 2018

The Queen of Soul, the man who first broke the four-minute mile, a Hollywood legend, children's TV favourites and one of the greatest scientists of all time - here's remembering the stars we have said goodbye to in 2018.

January

'Fast' Eddie Clarke

Former Motorhead guitarist Fast Eddie (pictured left) was the last surviving original member of the band, after the deaths of frontman Lemmy and drummer Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor in 2015.

He passed away peacefully in hospital after being treated for pneumonia.

"Keep roaring, rocking and rollin' up there as goddamit man, your Motorfamily would expect nothing less!" his remaining band members said in their tribute.

Dolores O'Riordan

The Cranberries singer, who joined the Irish rock band in 1990, helped them become a household name, with hits including Dreams, Linger and Zombie.

She was found dead at a hotel in central London, aged 46, having drowned as a result of alcohol intoxication.

Her boyfriend Ole Koretsky paid tribute to the love of his life, saying: "The energy she continues to radiate is undeniable."

Mark E Smith

Born in Salford in March 1957, Mark E Smith wrote music in his lunch breaks while working on the Manchester docks as a shipping clerk.

After attending a Sex Pistols gig in 1976, he quit the docks for The Fall, and their first two albums were released three years later.

He said he decided to pursue music because "whatever I did would have to be better than most of the so-called punk s***e I was hearing at the time".

He died aged 60, after The Fall were forced to cancel a string of shows in 2017 because of his health.

February

Emma Chambers

The British actress was best known for her roles in TV comedy The Vicar Of Dibley, starring alongside Dawn French, and the Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts film Notting Hill.

"I loved her. A lot," said French following her death.

John Mahoney

The actor played one of TV show Frasier's most beloved characters, portraying Frasier and Nile Crane's cranky father Martin for 11 years.

The role earned him legions of fans and a Screen Actors Guild award, as well as two Emmy nominations and two Golden Globe nominations.

Title star Kelsey Grammar led the tributes to his co-star, saying: "He was my father. I loved him."

March

Stephen Hawking

Given just two years to live when he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease at the age of 21, Stephen Hawking went on to become one of the most renowned scientists of all time, and lived until he was 76.

As well as his incredible mind, he was known for his humour and wit, using his illness to help others believe that anything is possible. Read some of his best quotes here.

Bill Maynard

He played small parts in several Carry On films, and took on the title role in Oh No, It's Selwyn Froggitt! in the 1970s, but Bill Maynard was best known as Heartbeat's lovable rogue Claude Greengrass.

The actor, whose real name was Walter Williams (his stage name a reference to the makers of Wine Gums) died in hospital at the age of 89, after breaking his hip in a fall from his mobility scooter.

Jim Bowen

"You can't beat a bit of bully!" Jim Bowen, presenter of cult darts gameshow Bullseye, was known for his catchphrases.

The show, which ran between 1981 and 1995, was watched by more than 12 million viewers, and made him a household name.

He died with his wife Phyllis by his side after being ill for several weeks. Read Bullseye commentator Tony Green's tribute here.

Sir Ken Dodd

Master of tickling sticks Ken Dodd died just days after leaving hospital and marrying his partner of 40 years, Anne Jones. The comedy legend, who was 90, died in the same house in Liverpool that he grew up in.

Famed for his quickfire one-liners, you can read some of his best here.

Sir Roger Bannister

The record-breaking Roger Bannister ran the world's first ever sub-four minute mile in Oxford in May 1954.

When announcer Norris McWhirter declared "the time was three..." the crowd cheered so loudly his exact time was not heard.

He died peacefully, surrounded by his family, after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2011.

April

Verne Troyer

Best known for his role as the evil Mini Me in the Austin Powers series, Verne Troyer also featured in films such as Harry Potter, and Terry Gilliam's The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus.

His cause of death was not disclosed at the time, but the star struggled with alcoholism and had been admitted to hospital and placed on "involuntary psychiatric hold" in the days before he passed away.

Avicii

Swedish DJ Avicii, real name Tim Bergling, was best known for singles Wake Me Up, Hey Brother and Levels. He scored two UK number one singles and worked with the likes of Coldplay, Madonna and Rita Ora.

Paying tribute, his family said he was "not made for the business machine he found himself in", and that he was a "sensitive guy who loved his fans but shunned the spotlight".

He was just 28.

Dale Winton

Most famous for presenting daytime TV gameshow Supermarket Sweep from 1993 to 2000, Dale Winton, 62, also hosted Touch The Truck, Hole In The Wall and the National Lottery game show In It To Win It.

His body was found at his north London home, with his agent later confirming he died of natural causes.

TV presenter Davina McCall, chat show host Graham Norton and theatre star Michael Ball were among those who paid tribute to "a lovely, warm, kind, sensitive, generous soul with a touch of naughty".

Eric Bristow

Eric Bristow was the "Crafty Cockney" who was one of darts' first superstar players, winning five world championships and dominating the sport in the 1980s.

He was at the Premier League Darts event at Liverpool's Echo Arena when he suffered a heart attack, aged 60.

Fans burst into a rendition of "There's only one Eric Bristow" after being told of his death.

Fellow darts player and close friend Keith Deller pays tribute here.

https://news.sky.com/story/the-stars-we-said-goodbye-to-in-2018-11515154

 

ruby Posted on November 28, 2018 09:51

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Explosion near Chinese chemical plant kills at least 22 and destroys dozens of vehicles

At least 22 people have died and another 22 been injured in an explosion near a chemical factory in northern China.

The blast in the city of Zhangjiakou, 124 miles northwest of Beijing also destroyed 50 trucks and cars.

It is not yet clear whether it happened inside grounds of the Hebei Shenghua Chemical Company, or on the road outside.

The charred and smoking remains of trucks and cars were scattered on a road as firefighters worked at the scene, according to photos posted on Twitter by state broadcaster CGTN.

In a statement local officals said: "On-site search and rescue work and investigation of the cause of the accident are still under way."

Zhangjiakou is due to host the alpine skiing events at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

Industrial accidents are not uncommon in China, where safety regulations are not always rigorously enforced.

in July 19 people died in a chemical plant explosion in Sichuan province.

The company had undertaken illegal construction that had not passed safety checks, according to local authorities.

https://news.sky.com/story/explosion-near-chinese-chemical-plant-kills-at-least-22-and-destroys-dozens-of-vehicles-11565674

ruby Posted on November 28, 2018 08:51

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Sydney floods: One dead as month's worth of rain falls in single morning

A motorist has died and flights have been cancelled as a month's worth of rain fell on Sydney on Wednesday morning.

Severe thunderstorms and heavy rainfall have lashed Australia's biggest city, deluging railway stations and leaving more than 8,000 people without power.

The storm struck only hours before the city's morning rush hour, causing chaos on the city's roads.

Several stranded motorists were plucked from rising floodwaters. One person was killed in a car crash.

Two police officers were seriously injured when a tree fell on them as they assisted a stranded driver.

Police called on motorists to stay off the roads due to the "horrendous weather".

Australia's Bureau of Meteorology said Sydney received more than 10cm of rain within a few hours, with the city usually experiencing an average of 8.4cm for the whole of November.

"That's the sort of rainfall you'd expect to see once every 100 years," said Ann Farrell, the bureau's state manager.

The rains have offered a welcomed respite to farmers who have suffered through a sustained drought in recent months, but the weather caused major disruptions to the Sydney's infrastructure.

The city's airport, the country's busiest, said it cancelled at least 20 flights after closing two of its three runways.

Cait Kyann, a spokeswoman from Sydney Airport, said: "The storm is pretty intense in and around the airport.

"We are operating from a single runway so that means that there are delays and likely some flights will be cancelled."

Ausgrid, the nation's biggest electricity network, said the storm had left 8,100 customers without power around Sydney and the Central Coast area to its north.

Forecasters said the storms would last through most of the day before easing, with gale force winds whipping up four metre waves which were expected to pound Sydney's beaches.

The weather is in stark contrast to soaring temperatures nearing 40C in Queensland.

Strong winds in the northern state have exacerbated major bushfires.

Firefighters have been battling for nearly a week to contain more than 80 fires across Queensland.

https://news.sky.com/story/sydney-floods-one-dead-as-months-worth-of-rain-falls-in-single-morning-11565691

 

ruby Posted on November 28, 2018 08:49

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US border agents fire tear gas as some migrants protesting slow asylum process try to breach fence

As thousands of migrants from Central America wait in makeshift Tijuana shelters for a chance to apply for asylum in the U.S., a process that could take months, some have organized protests to pressure U.S. officials to devote more resources to speed up the process.

On Sunday, one of those protests, peaceful at first, turned chaotic when several hundred migrants broke away, overwhelming Mexican federal police officers before rushing a border fence and attempting to illegally enter the U.S.

In response, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers shut down both south and northbound traffic at the San Ysidro border crossing south of San Diego for nearly six hours. The closure disrupted one of the busiest border crossings in the world at the tail end of a holiday weekend when border crossings are typically packed with travelers.

CBP officers also fired tear gas after some migrants threw projectiles at them, U.S. officials said.

Several CBP officers were hit by the projectiles, the agency said on Twitter.

"After being prevented from entering the Port of Entry, some of these migrants attempted to breach legacy fence infrastructure along the border and sought to harm CBP personnel by throwing projectiles at them," Homeland Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement. "As I have continually stated, DHS will not tolerate this type of lawlessness and will not hesitate to shut down ports of entry for security and public safety reasons."

Photos posted on social media showed migrants running from the scene, some of them women with small children.

It was unclear if there were any injuries.

Al Otro Lado, a binational advocacy group that provides legal assistance to migrants seeking asylum, said the migrants were protesting peacefully when CBP fired tear gas.

"Women and children refugees who were peacefully demonstrating in Mexico injured by tear gas launched by US authorities," the group said on Twitter. "No one was trying to breach the border. All they wanted was an explanation as to why they were being forced to wait so long to ask for asylum."

About 500 migrants who took part in Sunday's protest and attempted to "violently" enter the U.S. were contained by Mexican authorities, Mexico's Secretary of the Interior said in a statement.

Migrants who took part in the protests and attempted to illegally enter the U.S. face deportation, the statement said, adding that they were hurting their objectives of seeking refuge in the U.S.

"These acts of provocation, far from helping achieve their objectives, are in violation of legal migration and could result in a grave incident at the border," the statement said.

CBP announced around 6 p.m. that southbound lanes at the San Ysidro port had reopened. A short while later, CBP announced that officials had begun processing travelers in the northbound lanes. 

Sunday's unrest underlined the growing tension in Tijuana, where thousands of migrants have arrived in the past week hoping to seek refuge in the U.S. but could face months of waiting to apply for asylum at legal ports. No more than 50 asylum seekers are being processed at the San Ysidro port daily. 

Sunday's protest follows a smaller protest that happened on Thursday when migrants demonstrated what they called the slow processing of asylum applications outside the El Chaparral border crossing gate in Tijuana. The gate leading into the U.S. is where migrants line up daily to apply for asylum.

Over the past week and a half, more than 5,000 migrants, mostly from Central America, have been pouring into the city, overwhelming local authorities, who have converted a sports complex into a temporary shelter to house most of the migrants, after several other local shelters filled to capacity. 

The surge of migrants has been arriving after traveling through Mexico as part of a series of caravans that began during the second week of October in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

President Donald Trump has promised to stop any migrants from entering the U.S. illegally after several thousand migrants stormed a gate on an international bridge between Guatemala and Mexico in October, raising concerns that migrants would attempt to do the same once they reached the U.S. border.

Trump has deployed over 5,000 active-duty military troops to the southern border, where they have fortified ports of entry and fencing between ports with razor wire, in addition to installing additional barriers. 

On Monday, a federal judge in San Francisco blocked the Trump administration's attempt to prevent migrants who enter illegally from applying for asylum.

Also, the Trump administration is trying to reach a deal with the incoming Mexican government to make migrants wait in Mexico while seeking asylum in the U.S.

On Thanksgiving, the mayor of Tijuana, Juan Manuel Gastelum, declared an international crisis over the arrival of the migrants, pleading with international groups for humanitarian assistance. 

In a tweet on Sunday, Gastelum criticized migrants for taking actions "outside the law" that threatened to disrupt cross-border traffic and trade.

"I will not allow our bi-national relationship to be fractured by bad actions of the migrant caravan. They are doing things outside of the law," Gastelum said in a statement posted on his official Facebook page.  "They are affecting border traffic. Many #Tijuanenses!! work, study and visit the United States safely and peacefully."

Municipal police on Sunday arrested 39 members of the migrant caravan accused of "causing riots, quarrels, disrupting public order and assaulting citizens," the mayor's office said in a statement.

The arrests occurred as migrants marched from a sports complex that has been converted into a shelter, toward the international border crossing at San Ysidro, the statement said.

 

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2018/11/25/immigrant-caravan-us-agents-fire-tear-gas-slow-migrants/2110267002/

sarah Posted on November 27, 2018 16:02

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New invention gives hope to all those suffering from chronic snoring

Millions of people are familiar with it - snoring. The number one annoyance in the bedroom at night. About one in two men and one in four women of middle age or older snores in their sleep. Previously dismissed as just an annoying disturbance of the peace, snoring is now recognized as a serious sleep and health disorder. These nightly lapses in sleep can even be life-threatening!

Let’s start from the beginning. When snoring, loud breathing noises occur in the upper airways during sleep. A full 70 decibels — as loud as a passing truck. That’s the sound many Germans fall asleep to. The causes of snoring are based on anatomical bottlenecks such as swollen tonsils, polyps, a curved nasal septum, or an excessively long uvula. Men over 50 years old, especially, snore. As many as 60 to 80 percent in this age group are affected.

Now there’s a revolutionary helper that immediately improves nasal breathing and can thereby prevent snoring.

WHAT IS THAT?

It is called the Slumber, and it’s the first small and easy-to-use device for combating bothersome snoring noises. The innovative aid consists of a soft silicone ring that’s pushed into the nose; integrated magnets prevent it from falling out during sleep.

Tens of thousands of people have already used this little wonder to sleep better and more peacefully at night. And indeed - snoring can easily be combated with this method!

HOW DOES IT WORK?

The Slumber gently widens the nostrils to reduce respiratory resistance in the nose; in other words, air can flow better into the lungs through the nose. As soon as the body registers that nasal breathing is working without restriction again, it unconsciously switches to (much healthier) nasal breathing. In contrast to things like chinstraps, Slumber does not disturb you while you sleep.

The Slumber is pushed into the nasal opening before going to sleep.

Breathe deeply again - Slumber promotes nasal breathing and combats disagreeable snoringAn effective tool against snoring for only €14.95, instead of 19,95€

https://cooool.co/en/schnarchen?gclid=Cj0KCQiA8_PfBRC3ARIsAOzJ2uqjmtY9H8rLysOg43nY3Ut4IXcEc2y9ekW0eso3fhuxI1Viz_cXIo0aAg93EALw_wcB

sarah Posted on November 27, 2018 15:52

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Property Wars: Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West Vs. Taylor Swift

The feud between Taylor Swift and Kanye West took a nasty turn last night when his wife, Kim Kardashian West, posted video clips of the rapper speaking to Ms. Swift on the phone about his song "Famous."

In the clips, she appears to approve of provocative lyrics about herself in the song, but Ms. Swift responded on social media that she had not approved of the lyrics and didn’t know the conversation was being recorded.

While it appears that Ms. Kardashian-West has the upper hand in this latest salvo in their ongoing feud, we looked at who is winning the property wars and Ms. Swift is in the lead when it comes to quantity at least, owning around five homes.

The singer owns a four-bedroom home in Beverly Hills, which set her back just under $4 million in 2011. The 2,826-square-foot Cape Cod-style home dates to 1941 and boasts a one-bedroom, one-bath guesthouse on the grounds.

Westerly, Rhode Island

Ms. Swift’s Rhode Island mansion, for which she reportedly paid $17 million in 2013, recently played host to Karlie Kloss, Gigi Hadid and Blake Lively, among others, for Fourth of July celebrations. Tom Hiddleston, Ms. Swift’s boyfriend, was also there, sporting an "I love T.S." T-shirt.

Manhattan

She is currently renting a $40,000-per-month pad in Manhattan’s West Village while her Tribeca penthouse, which she purchased in 2014 for close to $20 million, undergoes a lavish interior design transformation. She bought the Tribeca loft from "Lord of the Rings" director Peter Jackson.

Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville is where Ms. Swift’s music career took off, so it’s only fitting that she has not one, but two homes in the city. Ms. Swift, who grew up in Pennsylvania before moving to the home of country music, has a penthouse downtown as well as a large estate where her parents currently reside.

https://www.mansionglobal.com/articles/property-wars-kim-kardashian-west-and-kanye-west-vs-taylor-swift-33720?mod=mansiongl_edit_outbrain_Dec&mod=outbrain_71135&utm_campaign=71135&utm_term=Sky+News+%28British+Sky+Broadcasting+Ltd%29

ruby Posted on November 27, 2018 15:39

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Former soldier jailed for 5,160 years over massacre in Guatemala

A former soldier has been sentenced to more than 5,000 years in jail for his part in a massacre by the army in Guatemala.

Santos Lopez Alonzo was accused of belonging to the Kaibiles, an elite squad of troops which murdered residents in the northern town of Dos Erres in 1982.

The 66-year-old was deported from the US in 2016 to face the Guatemalan court where he was found "responsible as author" of 171 of the killings.

He was sentenced to 30 years for crimes against humanity and another 30 years for each of the 171 people, although the sentences are symbolic as the maximum someone can serve in Guatemala is 50 years.

He had also kidnapped and adopted a five-year-old boy, Ramiro Osorio Cristales, after the boy's family had been killed in the massacre. Mr Osorio Cristales was one of those who testified at Lopez Alonzo's trial.

According to a report of the trial from the International Justice Monitor, a forensic expert told the court that 171 human remains were recovered from a well in the village, where the military had thrown many of their victims.

Forty percent of the bodies in the well had been children aged under 12, the expert said.

Prosecutors said most of the victims were killed with sledgehammers.

Former Peruvian general Rodolfo Robles testified as an expert on military doctrine and structure and he told the court that the army unit, which consisted of 60 men, had acted in a planned and coordinated manner.

There was no evidence that any of the unit's members opposed or tried to stop the killings, he said in testimony reported by the monitor.

Lopez Alonzo also testified, saying he had been at the massacre but did not take part in the killings or other crimes that took place.

The unit had been trying to find members of a guerrilla group that had ambushed a military convoy but they failed to find the guerrillas or the weapons.

The Dos Erres massacre took place during the rule of dictator Jose Efrain Rios Montt, who was indicted on charges of genocide and died in April this year.

Around 200,000 people were killed and another 45,000 disappeared during Guatemala's civil war between 1960 and 1996.

Lopez is not the first member of the unit to have been convicted over the massacre: a handful of others have received prison sentences of more than 6,000 years.

Some others are in US jails for immigration-related offences and many others are believed to be living free in the US.

https://news.sky.com/story/former-soldier-jailed-for-5160-years-over-massacre-in-guatemala-11559999.

ruby Posted on November 27, 2018 13:20

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Bus firm fined £2.3m over Coventry supermarket crash which killed two people

A bus company has been fined £2.3m after a "fatigued" driver ploughed into a supermarket and killed a seven-year-old passenger and a 76-year-old pedestrian despite "repeated" warnings about his driving.

Midland Red (South) pleaded guilty last year to two offences contrary to the Health and Safety at Work Act after allowing Kailash Chander, 80, to continue working.

The firm, based in Stockport and part of the Stagecoach Group, apologised to the families of those killed and injured ahead of the sentencing at Birmingham Crown Court for its "significant" health and safety failings.

Chander, who was previously mayor of Leamington Spa, was handed a two-year supervision order after being ruled mentally unfit to stand trial due to dementia.

A trial of facts which ended in September heard the bus driver mistook the accelerator for the brake before the deadly crash in Coventry in October 2015.

A jury ruled Chander, who was 77 at the time of the incident, was driving dangerously in the lead up to the deaths of schoolboy Rowan Fitzgerald, who was on the bus, and pedestrian Dora Hancox.

Jurors heard how the driver had been warned about his "erratic" driving by his bosses after four crashes in the previous three years.

Chander may have been suffering from undiagnosed dementia and was not showing symptoms to colleagues, an expert told the court.

During the sentencing on Tuesday, the bus driver was not present as he is now suffering from a variety of health issues.

Judge Paul Farrer QC, said the bus firm "failed to follow policy" in the run up to the crash after a driving assessment in April 2015 suggested Chander "may have been capable of driving to the satisfactory standard, if properly rested".

But the warning to maintain limited hours of work was "not enforced" and "almost immediately ignored".

The judge said: "The failings of the company were a significant cause of the events of October 3 2015.

"Over the course of a six-month period, Mr Chander was driving a bus in circumstances where he was permitted to drive while fatigued, inevitably involving a high risk of death or serious injury to the public and Mr Chander himself."

In victim impact statements read to court, Rowan's mother Natasha Wilson said her son had a "heart of gold" and "made life full of laughter".

"The pain is indescribable, some days we feel paralysed," she added. "Some days we don't want to live any more."

Ms Hancox's daughter Katrina said: "I'm heartbroken that my mother's life was taken away from us. I feel cheated as I never got to say goodbye to her."

https://news.sky.com/story/bus-firm-fined-23m-over-coventry-supermarket-crash-which-killed-two-people-11564998

ruby Posted on November 27, 2018 13:17

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Pogues singer Shane MacGowan marries partner of 32 years - serenaded by Johnny Depp on guitar

Pogues singer Shane MacGowan and his partner of 32 years have tied the knot - with Johnny Depp playing guitar at their wedding.

The 60-year-old frontman wed journalist Victoria Mary Clarke, 52, at a small ceremony in Copenhagen on Monday, surrounded by a few close friends and family.

MacGowan, who has been using a wheelchair since a fall damaged his back several years ago, met Clarke in London when she was 16, and both felt they were "destined to be together".

He has known Depp for many years, with the Hollywood star featuring on MacGowan's 1994 album The Snake - his first record as a solo artist.

Ahead of the wedding ceremony, Clarke explained in the Irish Independent why the couple have taken their time to tie the knot.

"Marriage is a scary business, a big commitment," she said. "You might know that you have met 'The One', the minute you lay eyes on them across a crowded bar. You might have been mesmerised, enchanted, and entirely convinced that you couldn't live without them. But you have to be certain."

Writing about the first time she met MacGowan, Clarke said she was "awe-struck", before going on to detail a complicated relationship that "makes the Fairytale Of New York couple from Shane's Christmas song seem tame and orderly".

She said: "When you meet 'The One', you have a choice. You can dive in, marry them while you are infatuated with each other and hope for the best. Or you can wait until you are sure that the honeymoon phase has worn off and you are seeing each other in the light of having lived, no longer young, beautiful and indestructible."

Clarke said they had chosen to get married in an "anonymous City Hall" as both she and MacGowan are introverts and did not want any fuss.

She finished by saying the nuptials would be "weird" but "lovely".

https://news.sky.com/story/pogues-singer-shane-macgowan-marries-partner-of-32-years-serenaded-by-johnny-depp-on-guitar-11564932

ruby Posted on November 27, 2018 13:09

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What are the US sanctions on Iran?

The US has reimposed a series of sanctions on Iran that it relaxed after the 2015 nuclear deal.

Here, we list those sanctions and explain the decades of diplomatic disagreement that led to how they came about.

By Philip Whiteside, international news reporter

The US has reimposed a series of sanctions on Iran that it relaxed after the 2015 nuclear deal.

Here, we list those sanctions and explain the decades of diplomatic disagreement that led to how they came about.

WHAT ARE THE LATEST SANCTIONS?

On Monday 5 November, sanctions were imposed by the US government on:

:: A list of over 700 individuals, organisations, aircraft and vessels - 300 more than were named before the sanctions were lifted in 2015 - bringing the total number to 900.

:: Some 250 people designated as "Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Person"

:: The operators of Iran's ports, ship building sector and shipping firms, with some 200 people and vessels targeted.

:: Buying from or selling to Iranian oil firms and the sale of any petrol-based products from Iran

:: Transactions by foreign finance organisations with 50 Iranian banks, including the Central Bank of Iran

:: Insuring Iranian organisations or individuals

:: Iran's energy and aviation sectors, with 67 aircraft named under the ban and sanctions on 23 people and organisations linked to the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran.

:: And anyone found to "engage in certain transactions" with any of the above.

0:37

WHAT CAUSED IRAN AND THE US TO FALL OUT?

In 1979, the Iranian Islamic revolution replaced Iran's monarchy with a system of government that was partly based on the values of Shia Islam.

Those behind the revolution say that before the fall of Iran's king, the Shah, the US provided support to the previous regime.

This was done, Iran claims, to ensure the West could continue have some control over the supply of oil from Iran's wells.

Iran maintains that the CIA was involved in helping prop up the Shah and his corrupt regime, which was accused of using violence to maintain control.

After the revolution, thousands of Iranians who had been involved in the Shah's administration and the oil companies had to flee to the West, in fear of their lives.

About nine months after the Ayatollah Khomeini came to power, students seized the US embassy in Tehran, took 52 people hostage and held them for 444 days.

The US has accused Iran of, in the years afterwards, supporting terrorist groups around the Middle East, responsible for a series of atrocities.

It also says Iran supports the governments of countries it regards as enemies - like Syria - or groups who are enemies of its allies, like Hamas and Hezbollah.

More recently it has backed the Houthi militia in Yemen, which has been accused of firing Iranian rockets into Saudi Arabia - another US ally.

Over the years, the US has broken off diplomatic contact and imposed increasing amounts of sanctions upon Tehran in response.

WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF SANCTIONS AGAINST IRAN?

For many years, the UN was the main country imposing sanctions against Iran.

In 2006, a report from the International Atomic Energy Agency raised concerns that Iran was enriching uranium in a way that suggested it was making a nuclear bomb.

The US Security Council called on Iran to stop and threatened to step up sanctions unless it did.

In the following years, as the government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad refused to comply, a series of resolutions were passed that imposed UN-wide embargoes on arms, travel, funding, shipping and banking, among others.

WHAT CHANGED IN 2015?

In 2015, a group of world powers, including the US, the UK, France, China, Russia and Germany struck a deal with Iran, in an attempt to quell its nuclear ambitions.

The effort to strike a deal was a response to the UN concerns about Iran's nuclear ambitions.

The deal was called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Iran agreed to limit the amount of Uranium it would turn into the kind of fuel that could be used to make a bomb and allow inspectors into its facilities.

In response, the UN, US and EU agreed to lift sanctions which had been slowly crippling its economy, allowing it to trade in oil and access money on the international markets.

WHY DID THE US PULL OUT OF THE DEAL?

Donald Trump said in his presidential election campaign that he did not approve of the 2015 nuclear deal - which had been struck by the Obama administration.

In May this year, Mr Trump announced at the White House: "A constructive deal could have easily been struck at the time, but it wasn't. At the heart of the deal was a giant fiction."

He claimed that he had evidence Iran was continuing to build a nuclear programme, in contravention of the deal, and said the US would be exiting the accord.

"It is clear to me that we cannot prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb under the decaying, rotten structure of the current agreement," he said.

In the following days, the US said it would be reimposing the sanctions that were in place before the deal was struck and imposing extra restrictions.

Some would be reinstated after a 90-day "wind-down" period, to give companies time to make the necessary business arrangements, with others coming into place after 180 days.

The 90-day sanctions came into place on 6 August and the 180-day sanctions were imposed at midnight (US time) on 5 November.

WHAT OTHER SANCTIONS HAVE BEEN PUT IN PLACE?

On 6 August, sanctions were imposed by the US government on:

:: The acquisition of dollars by the government of Iran

:: Iranian trade in gold and other precious metals

:: The sale or supply to or from Iran of graphite, raw or semi-finished metals, or coal for use in industrial processes, vehicles, or automotive components

:: The purchase or sale of Iranian rials outside of Iran

:: The sale of Iranian sovereign debt

:: Importing carpets and food from Iran into the US

ARE THERE ANY EXCEPTIONS?

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, when the latest sanctions were outlined, eight countries would be excluded from the sanctions on oil exports, but only because those countries were making efforts to reduce their imports of Iranian oil to zero. He didn't name the countries.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin added that, while financial messaging services would be included: "There are exceptions for humanitarian sanctions, but I want to very clear, people need to be careful that those are real humanitarian transactions".

HOW DOES THIS AFFECT EUROPE AND EUROPEAN COMPANIES?

Because the sanctions target anyone or any organisation that has been found to break them, many European and UK firms and banks have also had to take steps to make sure they do not fall foul of the new restrictions.

 

ruby Posted on November 27, 2018 12:51

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Andy Farrell to succeed Joe Schmidt as Ireland coach after 2019 World Cup

Andy Farrell will succeed Joe Schmidt as Ireland head coach after next year's World Cup, the Irish Rugby Football Union has announced.

New Zealander Schmidt had been regarded as a future All Blacks coach, but he has announced that he will end his coaching career following next autumn's tournament in Japan.

"I have decided to finish coaching and will prioritise family commitments after the Rugby World Cup in 2019," Schmidt told the official Irish Rugby Football Union website.

"I feel that Irish rugby is in good hands. The management and players have been incredible to work with and the tremendous support we have had, particularly at home in the Aviva, but wherever we have travelled has been uplifting."

Schmidt was appointed as head coach in 2013 and has overseen the most successful period in the national team's history.

During his tenure Ireland have won three Six Nations titles (2014, 2015) including a Grand Slam (2018), a first win on South African soil (2016), a first win over New Zealand (2016) and a series win in Australia (2018).

"Thank you to the IRFU for their support and patience and thanks also to so many people who have adopted my family and me, making us feel part of the community here in Ireland," Schmidt added.

"There are some inspiring challenges over the next 11 months so there's plenty of motivation for me to continue working hard, alongside the other management staff so that the team can be as competitive as possible."

Farrell, who will step up from his current role as defence coach, said: "It is a privilege to be considered for such a prestigious role.

"I have learned a lot from Joe over the past few seasons and I will continue to learn from him over the next year as the coaching group and players focus on competing in two huge tournaments in 2019."

IRFU chief executive Philip Browne said: "Andy has world class coaching credentials and we are pleased to have a roadmap for an orderly transition post-Rugby World Cup to the 2020 Six Nations."

https://www.skysports.com/rugby-union/news/12506/11564068/andy-farrell-to-succeed-joe-schmidt-as-ireland-coach-after-2019-world-cup

ruby Posted on November 27, 2018 10:03

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NASA's InSight spacecraft successfully lands on Mars and sends back a picture of itself

NASA's InSight rover has sent back a "selfie" of itself after successfully landing on the surface of Mars.

The spacecraft took the snap of the Red planet using a camera fixed on its robotic arm.

The rocky surface of Mars can be clearly seen with the Insight rover in the foreground.

It had touched down after seven months and more than 300 million miles and at a cost of a billion dollars.

InSight had a six-minute window in which to decelerate from just under 13,000mph to 5mph - landing entirely based on autonomous and pre-programmed systems.

It withstood temperatures up to 1,500C (2,700F) - hot enough to melt steel - before deploying its parachute and 12 retro-rockets to gently touch down in an area known as Elysium Planitia.

InSight will need to wait for the dust from landing to settle before it can really get on with business.

The craft's solar array motors will warm up and prepare to unfurl the solar panels - an important activity that ensures the lander, which is completely solar-powered, has all the power it needs.

The first picture from InSight, taken with a fish-eye lens and through a dust cover, shows the planet's horizon, which NASA said suggests the landing was a success.

Congratulations flooded into the space agency following the success, including from Mike Pence, the US vice president, who celebrated the "incredible milestone" of the country's eighth successful landing on Mars.

An exuberant handshake by mission control staff was caught on camera and has gone viral on social media.

The UK Space Agency also tweeted its celebration and noted that a British-made instrument was on board.

A seismometer - which will "listen" for tremors - was designed by a team at Imperial College London.

It is so sensitive that when the engineers tested it at a lab in Oxford they were able to detect the vibrations from church bells being rung on a Sunday morning.

If the instrument establishes that Mars has the remains of a liquid core it will suggest the planet once had a magnetic field that could have shielded early life - before dramatically and mysteriously weakening.

InSight - which stands for Interior Exploration Using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport - will help scientists understand what is happening around the core of Mars.

It will help explain how all rocky planets, including the Earth, evolved.

There are significant mysteries here, because while both Mars and the Earth were formed from the same stuff more than 4.5 billion years ago, they are now very different planets.

NASA scientists have seen a lot of evidence that Mars has quakes - known as marsquakes. Unlike Earth, where quakes are caused by tectonic plates, Mars has very quiet tectonic processes.

This means marsquakes are more likely to be caused by other forms of tectonic activity, including volcanism and cracks forming in the planet's crust.

NASA said: "Each marsquake would be like a flashbulb that illuminates the structure of the planet's interior.

"By studying how seismic waves pass through the different layers of the planet (the crust, mantle and core), scientists can deduce the depths of these layers and what they're made of.

"In this way, seismology is like taking an X-ray of the interior of Mars."

Professor Tom Pike, who led the Imperial team, told Sky News: "On Earth our magnetic field is important for protecting us from radiation and also protecting our atmosphere from being swept away by solar winds.

"Mars, although it may have started off in a similar place, is now certainly very different.

"It's drier, it's lost almost all of its atmosphere and there's very little water.

"If life did ever establish itself early on, Mars has been a difficult place for it to hang on."

https://news.sky.com/story/nasas-insight-spacecraft-successfully-lands-on-mars-11564652,

ruby Posted on November 27, 2018 09:31

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Drug lord 'El Chapo' Guzman paid millions to bribe top police

Drug lord Joaquin Guzman paid tens of millions of dollars in bribes to a top police officer during his reign in Mexico, a court has heard.

Guzman, known as El Chapo, became so rich from the massive cocaine shipments arriving from Colombia that he could afford to keep the powerful police commander on side, a witness said.

Miguel Angel Martinez said he had worked for Guzman as a manager in the Sinaloa drug cartel in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

He told the jury that he had seen the Sinaloa cartel pay at least two bribes of $10m (£7.8m) to Guillermo Gonzalez Calderoni, a top law enforcement official in Mexico City.

For his part of the deal, Calderoni would feed information to the cartel "every day" and protect Guzman from getting caught.

But Calderoni was later accused of corruption and torture and escaped to Texas, where he was shot dead in a suspected hit in 2003.

Image:Security is tight outside the courthouse, as Guzman has escaped from prison twice

Mr Martinez said Guzman had been the cartel's boss and would "give all of us orders".

He described for the jury the scale of drug shipments that Guzman was involved in, saying that the largest he saw involved 10 planes, each carrying hundreds of kilograms of the drug.

He said that the shipment, which landed on a hidden airstrip, had made Guzman "very happy".

Mr Martinez said he and Guzman became so close that the drug lord became godfather to his son.

He told the court that Guzman had been born into a poor family and had gone into the drug trade because "he didn't have anything to eat".

Mr Martinez was testifying under an agreement with prosecutors and sketch artists in court were ordered by the judge not to draw him accurately for his own safety.

The trial, in its third week, has already heard that he paid many millions of dollars in bribes to other top officials.

https://news.sky.com/story/drug-lord-el-chapo-guzman-paid-millions-to-bribe-top-police-11564755.

ruby Posted on November 27, 2018 09:27

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Donald Trump tells Mexico to send migrants home, claiming 'many' are 'stone cold criminals'

Donald Trump has insisted migrants heading towards the US are "not coming in" as he demanded Mexico be responsible for sending those seeking asylum in America back to their home countries.

The US president's threat comes a day after American authorities closed the country's busiest southern border crossing and fired tear gas into crowds.

Officials reopened the crossing at the San Ysidro port of entry between San Diego and Tijuana on Sunday after shutting it down for several hours. It is the most heavily trafficked land border in the western hemisphere.

President Trump threatened to shut the 2,000-mile (3,200km) US-Mexico border down once more this morning.

He tweeted: "Mexico should move the flag waving Migrants, many of whom are stone cold criminals, back to their countries.

"Do it by plane, do it by bus, do it anyway you want, but they are NOT coming into the U.S.A. We will close the Border permanently if need be. Congress, fund the WALL!"

The tweet comes as 42 migrants were arrested on the US side of the Mexico border, according to a San Diego Sector Border Patrol official.

Chief Patrol Agent Rodney Scott told CNN "numerous" people had made it across the border on Sunday, adding that most of those who were detained were men.

Sunday's confrontation at the border occurred where there is already a physical barrier.

Hundreds of people - including women and children - had been protesting and chanting "we aren't criminals! We are hard workers".

https://news.sky.com/story/donald-trump-tells-mexico-to-send-migrants-home-claiming-many-are-stone-cold-criminals-11564376

ruby Posted on November 27, 2018 09:24

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Racing driver Sophia Floersch flies home after 170mph horror crash

Sophia Floersch has flown home to Germany after undergoing surgery on her fractured spine following a serious crash at the Macau Grand Prix.

The 17-year-old German racing driver said she "can't wait" for a new chapter to begin following the successful operation.

In the race on 18 November, Floersch appeared to lose control of her car as she approached a tight right-hand corner at 170mph.

The vehicle went airborne before crashing into fences, leaving Floersch with a spinal fracture.

In a statement on social media, she said: "Today I am flying back home. Really happy to see all my family and friends in the next days again.

"I am still overwhelmed by all the support I got from you fans all around the world.

"A big thank you goes to all people in Macau especially the guys in the hospital, Dr. Lau, Dr. Chan, Mr. Lei Wai Seng, Maria Elisa Goncalves, angel Sulanir Goncalves Pacheco and all wonderful nurses.

"The complete Macau GP organisation, Patrick, Dr. Ceccarelli, @hwaag_official and @mercedesamgf1 did a perfect job just by helping so friendly in every kind of way.

"I celebrated my 2nd birthday on the 18.11.2018 in Macau.......Now a new chapter starts and I can't wait for it to begin.
Let's focus on 2019."

Ensuring fans she will be making a racing comeback, Floersch signed off the message with the hashtags #poweredbypassion #racegirl, #season2019 and #bestteamVAR.

Floersch is expected to return to the sport after the successful operation, according to her Van Amersfoot racing team principal.

https://news.sky.com/story/racing-driver-sophia-floersch-flies-home-after-170mph-horror-crash-11564560.

ruby Posted on November 27, 2018 09:17

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Controversy as researcher claims to have created world's first 'gene-edited' babies

A researcher who claims to have helped create the world's first genetically edited babies has been placed under investigation by health authorities.

He Jiankui released five videos on Monday saying he had used a gene-editing technology to alter the DNA of embryos for seven couples during fertility treatments, with one woman giving birth this month.

The claim could not be independently verified and was met with scepticism across the scientific community.

Mr He, a researcher at the Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) in the city of Shenzhen, said the woman had given birth to twin girls, known as Lulu and Nana.

The girls had their genes edited so they can resist being infected with HIV, the AIDS virus, said Mr He, who studied at Stanford and Rice universities in the US.

The couples involved in the gene-editing technology, known as CRISPR-Cas9, refused to be identified.

If the claim, first reported by the Associated Press news agency, is found to be true, it would be a profound leap of science and ethics.

US scientist Michael Deem, who was Mr He's adviser at Rice in Houston, said he worked with him on the controversial project but there has been no independent verification yet, with no peer-reviewed journal published on his claims.

After Mr He posted the videos on YouTube, SUSTech said it had been unaware of the research project and Mr He has been on leave without pay for a number of years and will be until 2021.

The work is a "serious violation of academic ethics and standards", it said, adding that the research had been carried out outside the university.

Shenzhen's health and planning commission said they were investigating the claims; if found to be true, it would mean Mr He has broken the law.

Mr He said the babies were born through regular IVF but using an egg which was modified before being inserted into the womb.

The scientific community has engaged in a heated debate over his revelation as the controversial practice means the changes would be passed down to future generations and could eventually affect the entire gene pool.

An article published by industry journal The MIT Technology Review, referencing medical documents posted online by Mr He's research team to recruit couples, warned that "the technology is ethically charged".

A group of 100 scientists in China have released a joint statement criticising the findings and calling for better state legislation.

"It is a great blow to the global reputation and development of biomedical research in China," said the statement posted on China's version of Twitter, Weibo.

"It is extremely unfair to the vast majority of Chinese scholars who are diligent in scientific research and innovation."

Scientists from around the world backed up their indignation.

Professor Joyce Harper, professor in genetics and human embryology at London's UCL, called the case "premature, dangerous and irresponsible".

British geneticist Dr Adam Rutherford said that, even aside from the ethical implications, he was "extremely sceptical" about Mr He's claim.

Editing DNA is highly controversial and is only allowed in the US and UK in laboratory research.

In September 2017 the practice of altering human embryos' blueprint for life was successfully carried out in the UK for the first time.

Scientists at the Francis Crick Institute in London modified 41 embryos, donated by couples who no longer needed them for IVF, to help them explain what goes wrong in infertility.

Instead of altering a gene, they turned off a genetic instruction essential for early embryo development to see how that affected growth.

https://news.sky.com/story/controversy-as-researcher-claims-to-have-created-worlds-first-gene-edited-babies-11564231.

ruby Posted on November 27, 2018 09:14

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Elon Musk: Tesla was within weeks of going bust this year over Model 3 production target

Elon Musk has admitted Tesla was within weeks of going bust earlier this year as it attempted to increase its electric car production.

Tesla's chief executive said the company was "bleeding money like crazy" after he promised to produce 5,000 Model 3 vehicles a week by the end of June this year.

"Essentially, the company was bleeding money like crazy, and if we didn't solve these problems in a very short period of time, we would die," the 47-year-old entrepreneur told HBO.

"And it was extremely difficult to solve them."

At the time the billionaire revealed he was at the factory 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and only sleeping for two hours to ensure his self-imposed target was met.

"People should not work this hard. This is very painful," the South African-born tech industry leader said.

"It hurts my brain and my heart.

"It hurts. It is not recommended for anyone. I just did it because if I didn't do it... there was a good chance Tesla would die."

In the same interview Mr Musk said there was a 70% chance he will go to Mars - and expects that he would "move there".

Tesla eventually reached its 5,000 a week target for the cheaper mass market model in June, but at a cost of $739.5m (£565.2m) in cash.

Mr Musk was forced to step down as Tesla's chairman, but remains as chief executive, after he was accused by US regulators of writing "false and misleading" tweets about potentially taking the company private.

The US securities and exchange commission (SEC) fined him and his company $20m (£15m) each after he told his 22m Twitter followers in August that he might take Tesla private at $420 per share and that there was "funding secured".

But the SEC said Mr Musk had not discussed or confirmed key deal terms, including price, with any funding source.

Mr Musk's tweets caused Tesla's stock price to jump by more than 7% on 7 August and led to "significant market disruption", the regulator said.

https://news.sky.com/story/elon-musk-tesla-was-within-weeks-of-going-bust-this-year-over-model-3-production-target-11564347

ruby Posted on November 27, 2018 09:11

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How to earn Bitcoin (BTC) and different ways to make cryptocurrency online without buying into it or mining!

How to start earning a Bitcoin income online

Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency was never meant to be something for rich people and miners to hoard and profit off of.

Bitcoin is a currency for the world that anyone should be able to have access to.

Follow my steemit blog and I will show you how ANYONE can earn Bitcoin and Crypto online, from your phone, or even the public library.

Here is one option that I suggest trying out if you have a few minutes a day and don't want to spend any money to get started earning your crypto income.

https://bit.tube/play?hash=QmdZ5d5WivZzqrJjoyRmd6mWcNVzHfbjjzqH4gych5jkEd&channel=163764

Stay tuned to learn how to re-invest your earnings into something called masternodes, learn how to trade effectively, and how to mine crypto without having expensive equipment.

Cryptocurrency was not meant to be something that only miners and people with a lot of money have access to and that is why I am even talking about this.

In this video we show you how -anyone- can earn Bitcoin (BTC) on the Cointiply platform.

We will be documenting our progress and started this mine about 3 days ago.

If you discovered about cointiply through my video or found my video helpful then please use my link to sign up so that we can get rich, together :P

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LTC: Lh48iqbZ6sQKrYgpX7XhG1XktmkjyqFxRw

Decryp70 Posted on November 26, 2018 22:27

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Former Swansea City defender Kevin Austin dies aged 45

Former Swansea City defender Kevin Austin has died at the age of 45 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

Austin was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year and passed away on Friday night.

The Scunthorpe United youth coach, who played as a central defender or at left-back, was a rock in the Swans defence when he played for them between 2004 and 2008.

In a statement on the club website, it read: "The Swans have been in touch with Kevin's family, who wished to convey that the club always had a special place in his heart.

"They wanted to thank everyone for their kind words and support, but have requested that their privacy is respected at this sad time."

Austin helped the club win promotion from League Two in their final year at Vetch Field during the 2004/05 season.

He was also part of the squad that lifted the League One title under Roberto Martinez in 2007/08 as well as the 2006 Football League Trophy.

Austin helped the club win promotion from League Two in their final year at Vetch Field during the 2004/05 season.

He was also part of the squad that lifted the League One title under Roberto Martinez in 2007/08 as well as the 2006 Football League Trophy.

In total, Austin made 150 appearances during his four-year spell with Swansea and also gained seven international caps for Trinidad and Tobago.

The London-born player also played for Leyton Orient, Lincoln City, Barnsley, Brentford, Cambridge United, Bristol Rovers and Darlington.

https://www.skysports.com/football/news/11731/11563049/former-swansea-city-defender-kevin-austin-passes-dies-aged-45.

ruby Posted on November 26, 2018 15:58

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Ex-Chelsea star Gianluca Vialli reveals year-long battle with cancer

Former Chelsea star Gianluca Vialli has revealed a year-long battle with cancer, but says he is now doing "very well".

The Italian, 54, said he had undergone eight months of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiotherapy.

He said he initially tried to hide his illness, even wearing a sweater under his shirt so nobody would notice the weight loss.

Eventually, he chose to reveal it in a new book, hoping his experience might inspire others to fight.

"I'm fine now, very well indeed," Vialli told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

"It's been a year and I'm back to having a strong physique. But I still have no certainty of how this match will end."

Vialli, who now works for Sky Sport Italia as a pundit, was one of the biggest stars of his generation.

He won the Serie A and the Champions League with the Italian powerhouse Juventus before signing for Chelsea in 1996.

Vialli won the FA Cup as a player at Stamford Bridge and was named player-manager following the sacking of Ruud Gullit in February 1998 - leading the Blues to victory in the League Cup, UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and UEFA Super Cup the same year.

Chelsea sent Vialli well-wishes in a tweet, saying; "We love this guy. Best wishes from all of us at Chelsea to Gianluca Vialli. We're all thinking of you, Luca."

In the interview, Vialli said the disease initially gave him a sense of shame.

"I knew it was going to be hard to have to tell others, to tell my family. You would never want to hurt the people who love you", he said.

"If gives you a sense of shame, as if it is your fault. I would wear a sweater under my shirt so others did not notice anything, that I would still be the Vialli they knew."

Eventually, he said, he came to consider it "a phase of my life that had to be lived with courage and from which to learn something".

He added: "Life is 10% what happens to us, 90% how we face up to it.

"I hope my story can inspire other people at difficult times in their life."

https://news.sky.com/story/ex-chelsea-star-gianluca-vialli-reveals-year-long-battle-with-cancer-11564272

ruby Posted on November 26, 2018 15:07

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What is palm oil and why is it damaging?

As the petition to release Iceland's TV Christmas advert tops a million signatures, we look at why palm oil is so controversial.

Last week, it was announced the supermarket's main Christmas advert would not make it to air.

The Greenpeace-made advert chronicles the plight of the critically endangered orangutan, whose habitat is being destroyed by the production of palm oil.

It was blocked by Clearcast - the body responsible for clearing ads before broadcast - for being too political.

Clearcast says on its website: "An advertisement contravenes the prohibition on political advertising if it is:

"An advertisement which is inserted by or on behalf of a body whose objects are wholly or mainly of a political nature."

Voiced by actress Emma Thompson, the animated short film talks about the destruction of the rainforest.

Earlier this year, Iceland committed to remove palm oil from all its own-brand foods by the end of 2018.

Claire Bass, UK executive director of Humane Society International, told Sky News: "Orangutans not only have their forest homes destroyed, but they can also be directly killed by palm oil workers in efforts to clear the land.

"We're losing these great apes at the rate of 25 every single day, so we either act now or lose them forever."

The story touched millions of people who took the time to sign the petition, started by Mark Topps.

Mr Topps told Sky News: "I first watched the advert with my five-year-old daughter and it sparked a conversation about the rainforest.

"The petition has raised awareness and spreading the message of sustainability within the palm oil trade and ensuring that companies are held accountable and that we can protect and preserve our environment and the wildlife within it."

Despite palm oil being in most of the products we use every day, not everyone is aware of what exactly it is, what the problem with it is, and why it's used so much.

What is palm oil?

It is the most popular type of vegetable oil derived from palm oil fruit.

About half of all the products you can buy in a supermarket contain palm oil.

It's in shampoos, cosmetics, chocolate, crisps, cleaning products, cereals, protein bars - to name a few.

Palm oil is not always listed as such on a product's ingredients.

A lot of products contain derivatives of the oil itself, but it's still palm oil.

Alternative names include azelaic acid, cocoa butter equivalent, glycerin and anything that contains the word "palm".

What does it have to do with the orangutan?

The mass production of palm oil is linked to deforestation, habitat loss, climate change and animal cruelty.

Orangutans have become critically endangered, as forests are bulldozed to make way for palm oil plantations.

After palm oil plantations are established, scores of orangutans are displaced.

Hungry and out of their natural habitat, they try to find food in plantation areas.

They are often killed in order to protect the plantation sites.

More than 90% of orangutan habitat has been destroyed in the last 20 years.

Ms Bass says: "Most palm oil is produced in Indonesia, home to critically endangered orangutans, as well as rhinos, tigers and their unique ecosystems.

"There is a also growing concern that palm oil production will soon expand to Africa and threaten the habitats and primate species there."

If it's so bad, why is it so popular?

It's popular because it's high yield, so it's cheap to produce.

About 80% of the world's supply of palm oil is produced by Indonesia and Malaysia.

Most of the world's palm oil is produced and exported from Indonesia and Malaysia, but to devastating effects.

It is Indonesia's third largest export earner.

So should consumers boycott products containing palm oil?

No. Palm oil can be grown without destroying rainforests, so if you opt for products which contain sustainable palm oil there is no need to boycott anything, just alter your choices.

As long as the product is certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, which has become the globally recognised standard for sustainable palm oil, it means it has been produced according to a specific criteria.

Why can't a less harmful vegetable oil be mass produced instead?

It would basically be replacing one problem with another.

 

ruby Posted on November 26, 2018 15:01

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Matthew Hedges released after being pardoned by UAE

British academic Matthew Hedges has been released from prison despite the United Arab Emirates claiming he was a member of MI6 and was spying on military systems.

Mr Hedges' whereabouts is not yet known but a UAE official confirmed his release following a news conference announcing that he had been pardoned earlier on Monday.

At the news conference, an official showed a video - seen by Sky News - purporting to show Mr Hedges confessing to the charges against him, in which he said he was a member of MI6.

The UAE claimed it had evidence he was collecting sensitive economic data and information on its military.

The official said the Durham University researcher was approaching sources as a PhD student to gain access to information but maintained that he was "100% a full-time secret service operative".

He said the data Mr Hedges collected went "far beyond" academic research.

Despite the claims, Mr Hedges, who was arrested at Dubai Airport as he tried to leave the country on 5 May, was issued a "presidential pardon" with immediate effect.

He is to be released alongside 784 other prisoners as part of the UAE's 47th National Day. Officials said he would leave the country after relevant procedures had been completed.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the pardon was "fantastic news" but said the UK did not agree with the charges lodged against the 31-year-old, who is from Exeter.

He wrote: "Fantastic news about Matthew Hedges. Although we didn't agree with charges we are grateful to UAE govt for resolving issue speedily.

"But also a bittersweet moment as we remember Nazanin & other innocent ppl detained in Iran. Justice won't be truly done until they too are safely home."

Mr Hedges' wife Daniela Tejada welcomed the news and said she "cannot wait to have Matt back home".

In a statement, she said: "The presidential pardon for Matt is the best news we could have received. Our six plus months of nightmare are finally over and to say we are elated is an understatement.

"That he is returning home to me and the rest of his family is much more than I was ever expecting to happen this week.

"I thank you all for your support. Without the involvement of the media, the overwhelming support of academics, the public worldwide, the work of the British diplomatic body in the UAE and Secretary Hunt's intervention, this would have never happened."

The presidential pardon for Matt is the best news we could’ve received. Thank you friends, family, media, academics, and the wider public for your undivided support - I’ve been brought back to life.

The release comes after Ms Tejada told Sky News she was "hopeful" a plea for clemency to the United Arab Emirates would secure his release, even though he had been handed a life sentence.

She previously spoke after the UAE's ambassador to the UK, Sulaiman Almazroui, revealed it was considering an appeal from Mr Hedges' family as he expressed the hope that an "amicable solution" could be reached.

He insisted the conviction of Mr Hedges for spying in the UAE was not the result of a show trial and argued the evidence in the case had been "compelling".

Following the pardon, the country's foreign minister, Dr Anwar Gargash, said the move would allow the UK and UAE to "return our focus to the underlying fundamental strength of the UAE-UK bilateral relationship".

According to the WAM Emirates news agency, he added: "It was always a UAE hope that this matter would be resolved through the common channels of our long-standing partnership. This was a straightforward matter that became unnecessarily complex despite the UAE's best efforts."

Professor Stuart Corbridge, vice chancellor of Durham University, said he was "absolutely delighted" at the development.

"We will continue to offer Matt's family our full support in the aftermath of this traumatic ordeal and we will be thrilled to welcome him back to the Durham University community," he added.

University of Durham's Professor John Williams told Sky News of his "great relief" and "delight" at the release of Mr Hedges.

https://news.sky.com/story/uae-claims-british-academic-matthew-hedges-confessed-to-being-a-spy-11564019

ruby Posted on November 26, 2018 14:58

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Bernardo Bertolucci: Last Tango In Paris director dies aged 77

Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci, who won nine Oscars for The Last Emperor and shocked the world with Last Tango In Paris, has died aged 77.

Bertolucci passed away at his home in Rome after illness, surrounded by his family, Italian state media agency RAI said.

His press office confirmed his death in an email to The Associated Press.

His 1987 masterpiece The Last Emperor, the story of Pu-Yi, the last emperor of China, won all nine Oscars it had been nominated for, including best movie and best director.

Bertolucci's films often explored the sexual relations of characters stuck in a psychological crisis, such as the controversial Last Tango In Paris.

He was born in the northern Italian town of Parma in 1941, the son of poet Attilio Bertolucci, and studied at Rome University and, despite winning an award for his own poetry aged 21, he decided to become a film-maker.

After working as assistant director to Pier Paolo Pasolini on the film Accattone in 1961, he directed his first movie, La Commare Secca, a year later.

Before The Revolution, which was released in 1971, received an Academy Award nomination for best screenplay.

The following year, Bertolucci earned an Oscar nomination for best director for Last Tango In Paris, starring Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider. The movie was banned in Italy and only released 15 years later.

In the film, a sexual drama, Brando's character famously uses butter as a lubricant before forcing himself on her.

Schneider, who was just 19 during filming, later said she was traumatised by the movie and that the butter scene had not been in the script and had been included without warning.

"Marlon said to me: 'Maria, don't worry, it's just a movie,' but during the scene, even though what Marlon was doing wasn't real, I was crying real tears," she told the Daily Mail in 2007.

"I felt humiliated and to be honest, I felt a little raped, both by Marlon and by Bertolucci."

A self-professed Marxist, Bertolucci did not shy away from politics and ideology and some critics consider 1970's The Conformist his best work.

The story of a sexually confused would-be fascist trying to fit in in 1938 Rome inspired many film-makers, including modern cinema giants such as Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese.

He in turn was inspired by Italian predecessors Michelangelo Antonioni and Federico Fellini, and his releases also bore the imprint of his own experiences in psychoanalysis.

His other credits include The Sheltering Sky, featuring Debra Winger and John Malkovich; Little Buddha, with Keanu Reeves as Siddharta; Stealing Beauty starring Liv Tyler.

Bertolucci's work was famous for its lush and vivid visuals, thanks in no small part to his regular director of photography, Vittorio Storaro, who also worked on Coppola's Apocalypse Now and Warren Beatty's Reds.

Bertolucci often described movie-making as his way of communicating with the audience. It was his personal language.

"Maybe I'm an idealist, but I still think of the movie theatre as a cathedral where we all go together to dream the dream together," he said.

Unusually for his chosen field, he enjoyed critical success for most of his career and in 2011 he was honoured for lifetime achievement at the Cannes Film Festival.

https://news.sky.com/story/bernardo-bertolucci-last-tango-in-paris-director-dies-aged-77-say-italian-media-11564066

ruby Posted on November 26, 2018 14:47

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Sniffer dogs retire early in the US as drug dealers find loophole

North America's increasing legalisation of cannabis is forcing sniffer dogs into early retirement.

As more states in the US and provinces in Canada legalise cannabis, dogs trained to sniff out narcotics are becoming redundant.

The highly-trained canines are causing more trouble than its worth for police forces because they cannot distinguish between cannabis and illegal drugs.

If the dogs sniff out drugs such as meth and heroin, a case can be thrown out of court if there was also cannabis in the stash.

All dealers have to do to get away with having illegal drugs is place a bag of marijuana among the narcotics and their arrests can be deemed illegitimate.

At the beginning of November Michigan became the 10th US state to legalise recreational cannabis, while medical marijuana is now legal in 33 out of America's 50 states.

On 17 October Canada legalised recreational cannabis, with different laws on whether it can be smoked in public or only in private, depending on the province.

Canadian police said in July that 14 narcotics dogs were being eased into early retirement ahead of legalisation day.

Colorado and Washington were the first two states to legalise recreational cannabis in 2012, and a current court case against a sniffer dog has prompted forces to retire their dogs early.

Kilo, a drug-detection dog in Colorado, found drug traces in a man's truck, which turned out to be methamphetamine residue in a pipe.

Because Kilo was trained to find multiple drugs, including cannabis, judges said Kilo's nose was no longer reliable - even though there was no marijuana in the truck - so there was no legal ground to search it.

The Colorado Supreme Court is reviewing the decision but some departments in the state have decided they need to be ahead of the game so are retiring the dogs early.

New sniffer dogs are being trained to not detect cannabis, but each puppy costs about $6,000 (£4,670) to buy and $3,790 (£3,000) to train, which can take two to three years.

Tommy Klein, police chief in Rifle, Colorado, said Tulo, a yellow Labrador retriever has had to be retired, despite helping with more than 170 arrests in the town of 9,000.

"A dog can't tell you, 'Hey, I smell marijuana or 'I smell meth,'" he told The New York Times.

"They have the same behaviour for any drug that they've been trained on.

"If Tulo were to alert on a car, we no longer have probable cause for a search based on his alert alone."

Some states are deciding to not change their approach and take their chances in court.

https://news.sky.com/story/cannabis-legalisation-forcing-sniffer-dogs-into-early-retirement-in-us-and-canada-11564093

ruby Posted on November 26, 2018 14:43

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Cucumber wonders is beyond improving men’s libido

I REMEMBER that about eight to ten years ago in the office, cucumber and groundnut snack was the favourite of many men. I often wondered why almost all the men in the Newsroom took to that menu. On asking,  I was told that it had been discovered that the combo worked magic for men’s libido. As usual for Nigerians, it was embraced but after a few months, it faded out. Only a few still follow the menu.

Today, research has moved cucumber beyond men’s libido to many other health benefits. You are probably familiar with the phrase “cool as a cucumber”, which speaks directly to the soothing and cooling nature that cucumbers have when eaten. Cucumbers are extremely beneficial for overall health, especially during the dry season since they are mostly made up of water and important nutrients that are essential for the human body.

According to research, the flesh of cucumbers is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, and folic acid while the hard skin of cucumbers is rich in fiber and a range of minerals including magnesium, molybdenum, and potassium. Additionally, cucumber contains silica, a trace mineral that contributes greatly to strengthening our connective tissues. Cucumbers are known to heal many skin problems, under eye swelling and sunburn. Cucumbers also contain ascorbic and caffeic acids which prevent water loss, therefore cucumber is frequently applied topically to burns and dermatitis. Cucumbers originated in India almost 10,000 years ago, but are now cultivated in many different countries and continents and it is found in abundance all year long. Cucumber benefits range from preventing acidity to keeping skin well toned. Cucumber has high alkaline levels, thus regulating the body’s blood pH and neutralizing acidity. Patients with gastric issues should consume cucumbers frequently. It regulates blood pressure and contributes to the proper structure of connective tissues in our body, including those in the muscles, bones, ligaments, cartilage, and tendons.

During the summer, cucumbers help to normalize body temperature. Cucumber juice is diuretic, so it is able to prevent kidney stones. Cucumbers also counter the effects of uric acid, which prevents inflammations and conditions like arthritis, asthma, and gout. You will be quite surprised to know that this squash also promotes healthy hair growth and can treat skin ailments like psoriasis, eczema, and acne.

https://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/07/cucumber-wonders-beyond-improving-mens-libido/

sarah Posted on November 26, 2018 14:15

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'I didn't like anybody' - Sarri blasts 'disastrous' Chelsea performance

The Italian suffered the heaviest defeat of his tenure at Stamford Bridge and was left frustrated by his side's failure to adapt their game plan

Maurizio Sarri admitted Chelsea’s performance was “a disaster” as he was caught out by Tottenham's tactics in a bruising 3-1 defeat at Wembley on Saturday.

Spurs were rampant for much of the Premier League clash, with Dele Alli, Harry Kane and Son Heung-min all notching to get on the scoresheet before Olivier Giroud netted a late consolation for the Blues.

The visitors were unable to keep possession against a free-flowing attack from the hosts and Sarri, handed the largest defeat of his tenure at Stamford Bridge so far, admitted that his side failed to adapt accordingly to the game.

“After five minutes, the situation was very clear,” the Italian told his post-match press conference. “We lost a lot of balls and, against Tottenham, it's very dangerous to lose the ball in your half.

“In short counter-attacks, they are one of the strongest teams in Europe. It was a disaster and, after 20 minutes, 2-0 was the minimum.

“I am disappointed because we played very badly. I think we played very badly in all directions — physically, mentally, technically and tactically.

"Today I didn't like anybody."

Alli and Son in particular combined effectively to foil Chelsea midfielder Jorginho, effectively neutralising the orchestrator of the Blues’ fine form across the opening half of the season.

“After five minutes, the situation was very clear,” the Italian told his post-match press conference. “We lost a lot of balls and, against Tottenham, it's very dangerous to lose the ball in your half.

“In short counter-attacks, they are one of the strongest teams in Europe. It was a disaster and, after 20 minutes, 2-0 was the minimum.

“I am disappointed because we played very badly. I think we played very badly in all directions — physically, mentally, technically and tactically.

"Today I didn't like anybody."

Alli and Son in particular combined effectively to foil Chelsea midfielder Jorginho, effectively neutralising the orchestrator of the Blues’ fine form across the opening half of the season.

Sarri identified that ploy as key to the midfield battle that was evidently won by Tottenham, and offered no softened criticism of his team’s performance.

“It was clear after five minutes of the match that it was very difficult to use Jorginho as usual,” the 59-year-old stated.

“We had to get the ball from the centre-backs to the opposite full-backs, that was the only way to have one or two seconds of playing the ball.

“We were surprised because they normally play with a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3, but they played 4-3-1-2.”

However, opposite number Mauricio Pochettino was a little bemused by Sarri's analysis, insisting his side consistently alters its shape in each match.

“The plan was to win the game and we won,” said the Argentine.

“We don't use a fixed formation. If you follow us in all the games we play in the Champions League, cup and Premier League, we don't talk about formation, we talk about tactics or animation.

“We talk about how we play in a different way with possession in the opposite half, how we organise the team in a defensive situation when we don't have the ball.

 

https://www.goal.com/en-gh/news/i-didnt-like-anybody-sarri-blasts-disastrous-chelsea/1f6o6l9ho241e1w6o7gfw4syll

 

 

sarah Posted on November 26, 2018 14:08

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Migrant caravan won't get much sympathy

They started to gather from before daylight.

Men, women and children, sleeping rough in a sports ground that is over full and overstretched, peering out of tents or emerging from under plastic sheets, preparing to move once again.

It was billed as a march to the border and a "knock on the door" of the United States, by the asylum caravan, whose numbers are swelling by the day.

But the Mexican authorities, egged on by the US government, were in no mood to allow the travellers all the way to the border and the march was brought to a standstill at one of the bridges leading to the border terminal by riot police.

It's a tactic that has worked before. It did not today.

Within minutes the marchers began running at and around the police lines.

A collective cry emboldened them and they pushed their way through the riot shields.

Small groups of police attempting to hold their ground were simply run over. They couldn't cope with the surge.

Hundreds streamed up and down the steep banks of a huge, nearly dry, sewage canal. They jostled over a walkway, ignoring the stinking water beneath.

Men and women carrying children and anything else they could bring.

In the distance you could see pedestrians in the official glassed walkway to America begin running, knowing the border would close.

"We want to make our point at the border not on a road," a man running beside me shouted.

"I want asylum and I want it heard in court," he said, disappearing as a police unit closed in on us.

In minutes one of the busiest crossing points between Mexico and the US was sealed shut with huge metal sheets drawn across the multi-lane highway into America.

The migrants couldn't get to the terminal so they picked up their run in the searing Mexico sunlight, sweat dripping off them as they smashed their way through a fence and up a sandy and rocky embankment to the main rail crossing between the two countries.

Babies and prams passed up the line over their heads as they scrabbled to the top.

Running along the rail lines they spotted a weakness in the fence and pushing the metal apart swarmed in to the United States.

Their success lasted moments.

Directed from US military helicopters swooping above, border police opened up with tear gas; a tannoy warning the migrants that lethal force would be used if they continued.

They fled back through the fence some clutching their arms, struck by canisters or plastic bullets.

The US officers patrolled the fence waiting for the Mexican police to restore order.

Scrambling for reinforcements the riot police finally reached the frontier and slowly pushed the migrants back into Tijuana.

Fights broke out between the migrants and locals, angered that their border businesses were shut down again, before the police swooped, arresting men and telling them they are on the deportation list immediately.

https://news.sky.com/story/migrant-caravan-wont-get-much-sympathy-11563949

ruby Posted on November 26, 2018 13:57

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145 pilot whales die after stranding off NZ coast

More than 100 pilot whales have died after becoming stranded in a remote part of New Zealand.

A hiker found the 145 whales in two pods just over a mile apart on Stewart Island, a small island to the south of the country's South Island.

They had been half-buried in the sand and around half of them were already dead.

The rest were in very bad health and were euthanised, due to the lack of potential rescuers and the difficulty they would have faced in reaching the location.

The whales had been 22 miles from Oban, the main town on Stewart Island, which only has around 400 people.

Image:The whales were in a very remote location. Pic: Dept of Conservation

Ren Leppens, Rakiura operations manager at the Department of Conservation, said it had been a "heart-breaking decision to make".

He added: "Sadly, the likelihood of being able to successfully re-float the remaining whales was extremely low.

"The remote location, lack of nearby personnel and the whales' deteriorating condition meant the most humane thing to do was to euthanise."

He thought they had probably been there for a day before being found.

Image:Half of the whales were dead when they were found. Pic: Dept of Conservation

The department is talking with the local Maori people of Stewart Island, also known as Rakiura, about what to do next.

But there is still hope for most of the 10 pygmy killer whales stranded on 90 Mile Beach, at the northern end of the country.

They were found on Sunday.

Two died but there will be attempts to re-float the others as soon as they can be gathered more closely together, something that will increase their chances of survival.

Whale strandings are quite common in New Zealand and the Department of Conservation responds to around 85 of them every year. Many of those are involving single animals.

Possible reasons include sickness, navigational errors, geographical features that confuse the animals, fast-falling tides, being chased by predators or the effects of extreme weather.

In February last year, just over 400 pilot whales beached themselves off the South Island, followed by a second pod of 240 at the same spot the next day. More than half of the group died.

The world's largest whale stranding on record was in 1918, when about 1,000 pilot whales came ashore on New Zealand's Chatham Islands.

https://news.sky.com/story/145-pilot-whales-die-after-stranding-off-nz-coast-11563939

ruby Posted on November 26, 2018 13:11

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California wildfires '100% contained' - but now there's flood risk

The deadliest wildfires in California's history are now "100% contained" after burning for more than two weeks - but heavy rain is set to bring a new risk of flash flooding and mudslides.

At least 85 people have been killed since the devastating fires started on 8 November, while rescuers are searching for hundreds who remain unaccounted for.

The number of missing dropped from 475 to 249 on Sunday after people were found in shelters, hotels or friends' homes.

Many of those found were unaware they were on the missing list, officials said.

Image:Rescuers are searching for nearly 250 missing people

Nearly 14,000 homes were destroyed in the wildfires which have burned nearly 154,000 acres - an area five times the size of San Francisco.

But in a statement on Twitter on Sunday, California's fire department said they were now "100% contained".

View image on Twitter

Rescuers have a few more days of dry weather to search for missing people before heavy rain is forecast.

Another 2-5in (5-13cm) of rain is expected to drop on the Sierra Nevada foothills between Tuesday and Sunday, renewing fears of flash floods and mudslides, forecasters said.

"The fear is that the rain will drop in intense bursts," meteorologist Brian Hurley said.

"All the vegetation has burned away, and that's a dangerous recipe for mudslides.

Last week, 2-3in (5-8cm) of rain fell, turning the ash from thousands of destroyed homes into slurry and complicating the effort to find bodies

Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea has warned that the remains of some victims may never be found.

0:36

 

 

Video:Crews battle California wildfires

Officials said most of the victims of the fire identified so far have been of retirement age.

The California town of Paradise - which was destroyed by the wildfires - was a popular destination for retired people, with a quarter of its 27,000 residents aged 65 or older.

Investigators have yet to determine the cause of the fire.

US President Donald Trump - who visited Paradise to see the devastation - was mocked for suggesting California should follow the example of Finland and rake forests to prevent wildfires.

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto later said he had no recollection of discussing the subject of raking when he met Mr Trump.

https://news.sky.com/story/california-wildfires-100-contained-but-now-theres-flood-risk-11563540

 

ruby Posted on November 26, 2018 12:53

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Copa Libertadores final suspended again hours before kick-off

The biggest game in South American club football has been called off again - a day after violence forced the match to be postponed.

Fans had already begun filling the stadium for the rearranged second leg of the Copa Libertadores final in Buenos Aires when the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) confirmed it had again been suspended.

The match had been rescheduled for 5pm (8pm UK time) on Sunday after River Plate fans attacked the team bus of fierce rivals Boca Juniors on Saturday.

It is unclear when the second leg of the final will go ahead, with the Argentinian capital set to host South America's first G20 summit on Friday.

Boca Juniors had called for the game - South America's equivalent of the Champions League final - to be postponed after several of their players were injured on Saturday.

The club said in a statement that the two Buenos Aires teams would not be playing under equal conditions after the attack.

Team captain Pablo Perez injured his eye from shattered glass and was likely be ruled out of the match.

Boca also said it wants CONMEBOL to consider River's disqualification from the tournament because of the ugly scenes near the Monumental de Nunez stadium.

Several Boca players reportedly vomited after inhaling pepper spray during the attack on the team bus.

After the incident, organisers were said to be pressing for the game to go ahead before it was eventually suspended.

Former Manchester United and City striker Carlos Tevez, who was among the injured Boca players, reportedly said on Saturday: "We are not in condition to play. They're forcing us to play the game."

The driver of the Boca team bus told local media that he fainted during the attack and the club's vice-president was forced to take the wheel.

The rivalry between River Plate and Boca Juniors is one of the biggest in football - with both sides originating from the La Boca neighbourhood before River relocated to a different district of Buenos Aires.

Three years ago, a Copa Libertadores last-16 tie between the two rivals was abandoned at half-time after Boca fans attacked the River players with pepper spray in the tunnel.

This year's Copa Libertadores final is finely poised at 2-2 after the first leg in Boca two weeks ago.

https://news.sky.com/story/copa-libertadores-final-called-off-again-hours-before-kick-off-11563620

ruby Posted on November 26, 2018 12:49

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Brexit tensions add to Gibraltar's 'tumultuous' relationship with Spain

Tough talk from Spain on Gibraltar in the Brexit negotiations surprised no one on The Rock.

But there is concern that the UK's plan to leave the European Union will be used by Madrid to cause problems for this tiny strip of British territory off Spain's southern coast.

Keith Azopardi, leader of Gibraltar's opposition party, said he is disappointed the Spanish government is threatening to vote against the Brexit deal this weekend unless the wording in draft texts is changed to give Madrid greater control over the territory's future.

"Anything that Spain does to upset the apple cart at the 11th hour is worrying, especially when Spain talks about excluding Gibraltar from a future relationship [between Britain and the EU]," Mr Azopardi, who heads the Gibraltar Social Democrats, told Sky News.

"We will hold the line… It is very disappointing to see things like this happen at such a late hour in very long negotiations where we were - up until last week - focused on whether the detail [in the deal] was good or bad for Gibraltar.

"Now we are focused also on the added dimension of Spain trying to pull a last-minute fast one."

Home to 30,000 people, Gibraltar voted overwhelmingly against Brexit in 2016, with 96% of the population wanting to remain a member of the EU.

Many still hope Britain's departure will never happen but are bracing themselves for if it does.

The territory and its economy will be particularly affected because of the border Gibraltar shares with Spain.

Goods and people flow back and forth between the two sides, but Madrid could choose - as it has done in the past - to close the border, cutting off a key lifeline for its British neighbour.

Although such a move would also affect the livelihoods of thousands of Spaniards who commute to The Rock daily for work.

"It's a very delicate time," said Marlene Hassan-Nahon, Gibraltar's only independent member of parliament and one of only two women among a total of 17 MPs who represent the territory.

"We find ourselves being dragged out of the EU overwhelmingly against our will and on top of everything we are one of the only places that has this geographical gateway to Europe through Spain."

There is a suspicion among Gibraltarians that Spain is using Brexit to try to re-exert long-standing sovereignty claims to Gibraltar, which has been British territory for more than 300 years and is home to an important UK military base.

"Our relationship with Spain has historically been very tumultuous," said Ms Hassan-Nahon.

"We know that Spain has always retained this sovereignty claim over us so at a time like this when we are leaving [the EU] it is extremely important and crucial to find a good agreement for the future and for cross-border fluidity and trade and [the] economy."

Fabian Picardo, Gibraltar's chief minister, has signalled he believes an accommodation can be made between the UK and Spain.

https://news.sky.com/story/brexit-tensions-add-to-gibraltars-tumultuous-relationship-with-spain-11560799

ruby Posted on November 26, 2018 12:45

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Former Australian judges call for anti-corruption body to restore confidence in democracy

Dozens of former Australian judges are calling for an anti-corruption body to be set up as they believe public confidence in the democratic process has been shattered.

In a letter to prime minister Scott Morrison, 34 ex-judges, including Sir Gerard Brennan, the former chief justice of the High Court of Australia, say there is public suspicion that corruption is behind many government actions.

The letter says "secrecy is at the core of corrupt conduct", adding: "Existing federal integrity agencies lack the necessary jurisdiction, powers and know-how to investigate properly the impartiality and bona-fides of decisions made by, and conduct of, the federal government and public sector.

"A national integrity commission is urgently needed to fill the gaps in our integrity system and restore trust in our democracy."

The letter comes as an increasing number of Australians say they believe government corruption is rife.

Transparency International Australia, an anti-corruption organisation, carried out a survey in June that found 85% of people believe at least some members of the national parliament are corrupt, and two-thirds of Australians support the creation of a national anti-corruption body.

A minister in the state of New South Wales was jailed last year for wilful misconduct in public office, after awarding a mining licence without a competitive tender.

AJ Brown, professor of public policy at Griffith University and board member of Transparency International, said there have also been concerns over senior public servants winning lucrative consultancies or board positions from firms which then win contracts from their previous departments.

The judges' letter was coordinated by progressive think-tank The Australia Institute, which worked with legal experts to design an anti-corruption body.

Australia Institute researcher Hannah Aulby said their goal was to support transparency in the political process.

Independent MP Cathy McGowan plans to table a bill to establish a national anti-corruption body in the federal parliament.

The Labour opposition supports a national anti-corruption body but the ruling conservative minority government is against the move.

https://news.sky.com/story/former-australian-judges-call-for-anti-corruption-body-to-restore-confidence-in-democracy-11563177

ruby Posted on November 26, 2018 12:39

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Cost of sneaking into America is huge - and higher still for women

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 chief correspondent Stuart Ramsay looks back on the high-risk assignment of crossing borders illegally with migrants.

It's a cold misty morning and we are on the back of a truck with a group migrants illegally crossing from Guatemala to Mexico on a secret mountain road.

Among them two girls, Daniella, 16, and Karla, 14, they are heading to the United States - they hope.

Karla sings as we make our way across the mountains; she is dressed in the clothes my daughter would wear, she has her sunglasses on and her pink back pack, all she owns, lies at her feet.

The girls seem unaware of how dangerous this trip is. Young women are the most vulnerable; they risk abduction and forced sexual slavery. But everyone on the truck faces danger. Rape, robbery and murder are common but this is what thousands risk every single day.

The quest to get to the United States has become a global phenomenon and showing these dangers and investigating the methods and the gangs who move this human cargo was our assignment, and how we cover this story the subject of the Sky News programme Hotspots.

What was not previously known is just how global the movement of people by trafficking gangs has become.

Tapachula, a moody trafficking town in southern Mexico is now full of Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis trying to get to America. There are five curry houses in one street.

They are mainly young men wanting to claim asylum from political persecution at home.

Whether that is true or not is difficult to prove. But what is an undoubted fact is the horror of their journeys. They all talk of migrants, unable to keep up with group, being murdered on the side of the road and bodies strewn along jungle paths.

The gangs and the cartels move people along the same routes as they move drugs.

The crime syndicates that operate this business aren't just in Central and South America, they stretch around the world and they charge people $30,000 (£23,000) to $50,000 (£39,000) each.

One young man who started his journey in Delhi says he has been handed over dozens of times to different gangs as he travelled through Ethiopia, Peru, Brazil, Equador, Honduras, El Salvador, Panama, Guatemala and into Mexico. The level of organisation is astonishing.

We met the gang Members who move the people and the drugs on the Northern Mexican border with the US using "Coyotes" or guides who know how to cross and deliver their human cargo to America.

https://news.sky.com/story/cost-of-sneaking-into-america-is-huge-and-higher-still-for-women-11562953

ruby Posted on November 26, 2018 12:35

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Ricky Jay: 'Master' magician and Boogie Nights actor dies aged 72

The "greatest", a "genius" and "truly remarkable" are just some of the words magicians, actors and directors have used to describe Ricky Jay, who has died aged 72.

The American star - known as one of the most compelling figures in magic - also appeared in films such as Boogie Nights, Magnolia and James Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies.

Jay's manager Winston Simone called him "one of a kind", adding "we will never see the likes of him again".

Jay was one of the first magicians to open for rock bands in the 1960s and used to hold the world record for throwing a playing card the furthest - a distance of 190ft (58 metres) at a speed of 90mph.

His act often featured him hurling a card with such power that it pierced a watermelon.

A profile in The New Yorker in 1993 called him "the most gifted sleight of hand artist alive" and Jay was also known for his card tricks and memory feats.

Actor Steve Martin, with whom he appeared in The Spanish Prisoner, described Jay in the New Yorker profile as "the intellectual elite of magicians".

Martin added: "He's expertly able to perform and yet he knows the theory, history, literature of the field."

Jay played a cinematographer in Boogie Nights, about the porn industry, a cyber terrorist in Tomorrow Never Dies and provided narration for Magnolia as well as appearing in the film.

He was also in TV shows including Deadwood and The X-Files and was a consultant on several films like Ocean's Thirteen, The Prestige, The Illusionist and Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation.

Jay's partner in their Deceptive Practices consulting firm, Michael Weber, tweeted: "I am sorry to share that my remarkable friend, teacher, collaborator and co-conspirator is gone."

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation director Christopher McQuarrie attributed the success of the film's opera sequence to Jay.

He said: "An off-handed comment he made inspired the climax of the opera sequence. It's safe to say it would not be the same scene without him.

"He was the greatest of a vanishing breed."

The scene features Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and Benji (Simon Pegg) searching for a suspect at the Vienna Opera House.

Various other spies are also in the sequence in what feels sometimes like a dance, sometimes like a fight, to either kill or protect the Austrian leader.

And this all happens during a performance of Turandot, an Italian opera by Giacomo Puccini.

Penn Jillette, one half of magic duo Penn and Teller, tweeted: "Oh man, Ricky Jay. Just a genius. One of the best who ever lived. We'll all miss you, Ricky. Oh man."

Fellow magician and actor Neil Patrick Harris wrote: "Master magician and historian Ricky Jay has passed away.

"The breadth of his knowledge and appreciation for magic and the allied arts was truly remarkable. Such sad news, such a profound loss."

Jay, who was born Richard Jay Potash in Brooklyn, was introduced to magic by his grandfather.

https://news.sky.com/story/master-magician-and-hollywood-actor-ricky-jay-dies-aged-72-11563486

ruby Posted on November 26, 2018 12:31

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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.

https://news.sky.com/story/visceral-fear-of-migrants-forced-from-their-homes-and-desperate-to-reach-europe-11561445.

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.

https://news.sky.com/story/russia-fires-at-ukraine-ships-in-black-sea-11563775

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: Will.i.am's augmented reality revolution

Will.i.am 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 Will.i.am, 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 Will.i.am 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, Will.i.am'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," Will.i.am 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," Will.i.am 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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