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First Man' writer tells what Neil Armstrong was like in real life

Not many people know much about the man behind the mission, but James Hansen does.

by Denise Chow / Oct. 14, 2018 / 10:52 AM GMT+1

'First Man's' portrait of Neil Armstrong gets at the man behind the myth

Oct. 16, 201805:14

He was one of the world's most famous figures, but Neil Armstrong famously shied away from the spotlight. After becoming the first person to step foot on the moon, on July 29, 1969, the NASA astronaut returned to his Ohio roots and led a low-key life as a college professor.

Not many people know much about the man behind the mission. But one who does is James Hansen, a history professor at Auburn University in Alabama and Armstrong's official biographer. His 2005 book, "First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong," is the basis of the new movie "First Man," starring Ryan Gosling as the legendary moonwalker.

Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong in "First Man," directed by Damien Chazelle.Daniel McFadden

In Gosling's portrayal, Armstrong is relentlessly focused on the task at hand and unfazed by the danger he faces as a test pilot and astronaut. Was Armstrong, who died in 2012, really that coolheaded in real life? How was he affected by his young daughter's tragic death? And what sort of relationship did Armstrong have with his Apollo 11 crewmate Buzz Aldrin?

To get the full picture, NBC News MACH sat down with Hansen on the Auburn campus to discuss Armstrong's storied life and career.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

MACH: How did you get involved with Armstrong, and how did you get his cooperation for your book?

Hansen: Neil was a very private man, and it wasn't easy to get his permission to do the book. I think the keys were that I was about 20 years into my career when I approached him, and I had been writing and teaching about aerospace history, both aeronautics history and space history. When I approached him I had a body of books and articles that I could show him. All of my books prior to approaching Armstrong had really dealt a lot with the history of engineering and how engineers think. I think Neil knew that I would take his technical side seriously. A lot of authors who had approached him before didn't have that kind of background, so I think that was really essential.

President Richard M. Nixon welcomes home the Apollo 11 astronauts who are confined in a quarantine facility aboard the USS Hornet.NASA

The movie opens with Armstrong taking an X-15 rocket plane to the edge of space. Was there something in his childhood that put him on a path to become a test pilot and then an astronaut?

I'm a strong believer that you don't understand any adult unless you understand their childhood. The biography that I wrote deals a lot with him as a boy and as an adolescent. Certainly, from an early age he was passionate about flying. He started nagging his mother when they visited dime stores in these little Ohio towns that the family lived in to get little balsa wood airplane models that he would build, and then he advanced to gasoline-powered models.

He would train his little brother and sister to toss them out the upstairs window of the house in just a certain way so they would glide the best. Neil would be outside — he would have Popsicle sticks, and he would put the Popsicle stick in the ground where that particular model airplane had landed. Even as a 10-year-old he's essentially doing test flying. He's doing research. He's studying. He had a little notebook as to how far each one of the models flew. He was kind of a proto-engineer even as a boy. Then, of course, he got his pilot's license on his sixteenth birthday. He hadn't even started to drive, or even try to drive an automobile. He was already flying airplanes.

Was he a reluctant hero?

There was nothing in Neil's personality that really tried to find the limelight. After Apollo 11 he didn't like the celebrity that went with it. Of course, he had become a global icon, the first of our species to step on another heavenly body. It was never about fame or fortune for him. It was about the flying. The most important thing to him about Apollo 11 was, "Let's fly this lander down to the successful landing and not kill ourselves." The act of stepping out onto the lunar surface was, for him, almost an afterthought and very secondary.




The 12 men who walked on the moon

Later he did everything he could to try to lead a normal life. It was kind of hard to do that once you had become first man. For a while after Apollo 11 he was getting 10,000 fan mail letters a day that he did his best, with some help from NASA secretaries, to answer. To the end of his life he was getting requests for signatures and photographs and appearances at all kinds of events. He went to many of them, so he wasn't really reclusive. He had to be kind of selective about what he agreed to do.


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Was he really as aloof as Gosling portrays him in the movie?

The movie does a good job of depicting Neil because Ryan Gosling did such a great job of portraying him. When an actor in a movie is playing a historical character, the best you can hope for is a really solidly researched role, and Ryan did that. Ryan not only read my book very carefully and had many conversations with me, but he had conversations with Neil's two sons and with Neil's sister and lots of people that knew him. As Ryan told me, he wasn't trying to mimic Neil. He wasn't trying to become Neil. He was trying to interpret some truths about Neil's character. I think he did that very well. Neil's two sons, Mark and Rick Armstrong, who are now grown up, both feel that Ryan's portrayal of Neil was the father — the man — they knew.

How did Armstrong and Aldrin come to be picked for Apollo 11?

It actually is just a matter of how the rotations of crews were put together and how the missions worked out. If Apollo 8, 9 and 10 had not worked out as well as they did, then the missions would have slipped and Apollo 12 could have been the first landing, with Pete Conrad as the commander.

Buzz Aldrin, pilot of the lunar module, poses beside the deployed U.S. flag during "Extravehicular Activity" on the lunar surface in the area called the Sea of Tranquility on July 20.NASA via AFP-Getty Images

Deke Slayton was the head of the Astronaut Office, who put the crews together, and he felt that the key thing was to pick six or seven really good commanding astronauts, and then put the crews together under those commanders. It wasn't as if Neil was from the beginning ordained to be the landing commander. It just really turned out to be that his crew was in the right place at the right time.

What kind of relationship did Neil and Buzz have?

Mike Collins, the third member of the crew, I think put it the best. He has described the Apollo 11 crew as amiable strangers. In other words, they were friendly enough, but they kind of remained strangers to one another. They did their job, they did what they had to do professionally, but when it was lunch or the end of the day they didn't go out together and drink a beer. They just sort of went their separate ways.

Buzz Aldrin descends the steps of the module ladder as he prepares to walk on the moon.Neil Armstrong / NASA via AP

I said to Mike Collins, in my interview with him: "Well, what about just Neil and Buzz, just the two of them?" Mike was very thoughtful, and had a really good sense of humor and good insight into people. Mike thought for a minute and said: "Neutral strangers." He didn't even include the amiable part.

Armstrong's two-year-old daughter, Karen, died of a brain tumor in 1962. How did that affect him?

I knew it was going to be a very private subject because there were people that knew Neil well in the succeeding years that didn't even know that Neil had a daughter, because he never talked about it. In my interviews with his wife, Janet Armstrong, I discovered he didn't talk about it with her either. I got Neil to talk about it, probably more than anybody else ever had, but I also talked to Janet about it. I talked to Neil's sister, June, about it. June really understood her brother. She told me that Neil just loved that little girl so much, and that he really never got over it.




What 'Arrival' got right about communicating with space aliens

I wanted to see what the effects might have been on him. I looked at his flying — he was still a test pilot at the time she died. I looked at his flying record over the next few months before he became an astronaut, and there was a series of troubled flights, problems that occurred in different flights that had never happened, really, in his flying career before. I really was examining whether the emotional impact of the death of the daughter, whether it affected his flying. Then, ultimately, did it affect his decision to become an astronaut? I really concluded that it did play a role.

Iin his classic way of talking about things, or avoiding talking too much about things, when I asked him about the effects of the death of his daughter on him and his career — and this is a line we built directly into the movie — Neil answered me: "Well, I think it would be unreasonable to assume that it would have no effect." It wasn't very elaborate, but he admitted that something like that has to have an effect.

Near the end of the movie, Armstrong drops his daughter’s bracelet into a lunar crater. Did that really happen?

That's a little bit of dramatic license, because we're really not sure what, if anything, he did like that. We don't know what he took to the moon with him personally. Each of the astronauts had what was called a personal property kit, a PPK. In the PPK, which was like a little pouch, they could put things like rings, jewelry, badges, different kinds of things that maybe they were taking for themselves or taking for other people. Each astronaut made a record, wrote down what they put in their PPK before they left the flight. It was kind of a manifest of the contents. Well, Neil's manifest for his PPK has never been seen. I asked to look at it during my time with him for my interviews, and he said he would find it and show it to me, but that never happened. So we're not really sure what all he took.

Another part of the mystery is the trip he made over to Little West crater, where in the movie he leaves the bracelet. That was not a scheduled visit. It was not scripted in the mission plan for him to even go over there. He didn't have a lot of time to get over there because the men in mission control were already telling Aldrin and Neil to get back in the [Lunar Module], that they had been out long enough and it was time to go back. Neil rushed over, got quite exerted. His heart rate went up to over 180. The TV camera that was on the lunar module wasn't pointing at him, so we don't know exactly what he did over there.

It's a poignant moment in the film, and I guess I just leave it with the following thought: that there are times when the power of poetry prevails over the uncertainty of fact.

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Luke Posted on October 23, 2018 05:22

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This robo-dog has better dance moves than most humans

It can shimmy, shake and even moonwalk.

by Shoshana Wodinsky / Oct. 22, 2018 / 11:05 PM GMT+1

The SpotMini from Boston Dynamics could be dancing into your home as early as next year.Boston Dynamics

In a year in which robots have done everything from flip burgers alongside fast-food chefs to perform a backflip worthy of an Olympic gymnast, it may come as no surprise that a bot is now trying to out-dance humans, too.

Last week, engineers at the Waltham, Massachusetts-based company Boston Dynamics released a short video showing its four-legged SpotMini robot shimmying, shaking and even moonwalking to Bruno Mars’ hit song “Uptown Funk.” Since it was uploaded a week ago, the minute-long clip has been watched more than 4 million times.

This is only the latest demonstration of SpotMini’s tricks. Previously, Boston Dynamics has shown the dog-like bot opening a door (as a human handler repeatedly tried to block its way); cleaning up around the house, using its telescoping, giraffe-like neck and “mouth” to gently load up a dishwasher; and even recycling.

These videos do more than delight (and sometimes terrify) us — they also highlight SpotMini’s agility and dexterity. And soon, the bot could find itself with a job beyond just showing off its rhythm. Boston Dynamics has confirmed that the robot will be commercially available as early as next year, reported CNET.


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But just because they’re for sale doesn’t mean robots like the SpotMini herald a coming robot apocalypse. “Agile robots like SpotMini may have a place in the more distant future,” John Baillieul, an engineering professor at Boston University, told NBC News MACH in an email. “Boston Dynamics has been spectacularly successful in building walking robots for DARPA [the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency], but the company is very much a newcomer to the consumer space.”

Baillieul added that “the immediate future” for robots in our homes probably won’t involve dancing dogs like the SpotMini. Rather, it’s more likely that we’ll share our living spaces with smaller, specialized bots — like the Roomba vacuuming robots — that take over household chores.



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Luke Posted on October 23, 2018 05:19

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Watch what happens when a drone smashes into an airplane wing

Dramatic experiment spotlights the growing risk of collisions between drones and other aircraft.

by Brandon Specktor, Live Science / Oct. 15, 2018 / 8:54 PM GMT+1

Here's what happens when a drone crashes into the wing of an airplane.University of Dayton

When your plane begins making its final descent from 30,000 feet (9,000 meters), you think the worst is over. Then, mere minutes before reaching the landing strip, the whole plane shudders as something heavy smashes into the wing. It's not a bird; it's not another plane. It's a drone — a tiny but nevertheless powerful object that can turn from a toy or a tool to a piece of devastating midair shrapnel in seconds.

Luckily, such a collision has not happened, yet. But according to Kevin Poormon, group leader at the University of Dayton Research Institute's impact physics lab, it's only a matter of time before an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) causes significant damage to a manned aircraft. When that day comes, Poormon wants aviators to know exactly how much damage they can expect their aircraft to sustain — which is why Poormon and his colleagues simulated a collision by launching a small quadcopter out of a cannon at 238 mph (383 km/h) directly into a small airplane's wing earlier this year. [Supersonic! The 11 Fastest Military Planes]

The results… were striking.

"While the quadcopter broke apart, its energy and mass hung together to create significant damage to the wing," Poormon said in a statement.

As you can see in the high-speed video Poormon and his team recorded, the tiny, 2-lb. (0.9 kilogram) drone disappears into the wing like a bullet into butter (yeah, we googled it). The shattered drone ripped open the wing's leading edge, burrowed inward and damaged the wing's spar — a key structural element that keeps the wing stable. In comparison, when the team shot a fake bird made of pink gel out of their cannon, it ruptured a wider hole in the wing's leading edge, but left the spar untouched.




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"All the weight of the aircraft is suspended on the spars," Poormon told Wired. "If you damage the spar enough on that side, you would not survive. The aircraft would crash."

The wing in Poormon's impact experiment came from a Mooney M20 aircraft — a small, general use airplane that seats about four people (including the pilot). While these relatively small craft aren't built with the same safety specifications of a large passenger jet, the thickness and structure of Mooney wings are pretty similar to those on a larger commercial plane, Poormon said.


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And as drones become more and more mainstream, the chances of a disastrous collision occurring grows ever greater. According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) report, pilots reported coming in close proximity to nearly 800 unmanned aerial vehicles between April and June 2018 alone. Those sightings have resulted in a few close calls, and at least one significant collision; In New York last year, a civilian quadcopter flying at about 300 feet (91 m) smashed into an Army Black Hawk helicopter, obliterating the drone and denting the helicopter's rotor.

While the FAA has rules about where and when you can fly a drone legally, most accidents — including the Black Hawk collision — probably occur because drone pilots are unaware that they're breaking these rules. Increased UAV regulation could help prevent future accidents, Poormon said, as could an effort to manufacture drones in such a way that makes them more likely to shatter on impact.

Originally published on Live Science.

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Luke Posted on October 23, 2018 05:06

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Floyd Mayweather confirms 2019 fight plans: Conor McGregor AND Khabib bouts are ON

FLOYD MAYWEATHER JR has confirmed he plans to fight both Conor McGregor AND Khabib Nurmagomedov in 2019.

Following UFC 229 earlier this month, where Khabib Nurmagomdedov defeated Conor McGregor via fourth round submission, talk has turned to who their next fights will be.

McGregor is keen on a rematch but his opponent seems set on going into the boxing ring with Mayweather.

Nurmagomdedov recently called out the undefeated boxing champion, urging him to take up the offer of a fight.

And Mayweather has now responded, saying he’ll fight Nurmagomdedov AND rematch McGregor in 2019.

fter me and Khabib lock up, me and McGregor we gonna lock up again

Floyd Mayweather

"McGregor was talking that s**t, so it ain't over," he told TMZ.

"After me and Khabib lock up, me and McGregor we gonna lock up again."

McGregor suffered a 10th-round TKO loss to Mayweather in the ring in Las Vegas in August last year in a fascinating encounter.

‘Money,’ (50-0), is keen to cash in on more paydays with the pair ready to box, although the American is keen to dictate the terms on which he fights the UFC stars in proposed negotiations.

Floyd Mayweather is willing to fight Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov (Image: GETTY)

Khabib Nurmagomedov beat Conor McGregor at UFC 229 (Image: GETTY)

"When I face Khabib, of course I am getting a nine-figure payday," he said.

"More than the McGregor fight. Probably $100m more - I'm going to say between $110m and $200m (more) guaranteed.

"We fighting. I’m my own boss, so I can't say what's going on at Khabib's end, but at my end we can make it happen.

"I'm Floyd Mayweather. I'm the A-side, you call me out you come into my world.”

Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor are set to fight Floyd Mayweather in 2019 (Image: GETTY)

Nurmagomedov is waiting to hear the full extent of his punishment from the UFC after attacking one of McGregor’s coaches in the immediate aftermath of his win in Vegas.

There are claims Nurmagomedov may quit the UFC for good - and a move to boxing would certainly suggest he will turn his back on mixed martial arts.

And it is now looking increasingly likely Mayweather will come out of retirement once again in hope of becoming the first man, at the 28th attempt, to inflict a defeat on Nurmagomedov.



Prynx Posted on October 23, 2018 04:42

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Roman Reigns reveals he has leukaemia and vacates title - WWE legends and stars react

ROMAN REIGNS stunned the WWE Universe when he revealed he has leukaemia and then vacated his Universal Championship.

Roman Reigns announced he has leukaemia (Image: WWE)

Reigns opened up about how he was diagnosed with the terrible disease when he was 22 years old at a time when his football career had come to an end and he was unemployed, had no money, no home and had a baby on the way.

The Big Dog managed to put it in remission very quickly but announced on RAW at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island that the cancer is back.

The four-time world champion made it perfectly clear that this is not a retirement speech as he is determined to beat leukaemia once more and come back stronger than ever.

Reigns said: "The reality is my real name is Joe [Anoa?i] and I'd been living with leukaemia for 11 years... And unfortunately it's back.

The reality is my real name is Joe [Anoa?i] and I'd been living with leukaemia for 11 years... And unfortunately it's back

Roman Reigns


"And because the leukaemia is back, I cannot fulfil my role. I can't be that fighting champion and I'm going to have to relinquish the Universal Championship.

"I'm not going to lie, I'll take every prayer you can send my way but I'm not looking for sympathy.

"I'm not looking for you to feel bad for me because I have faith.

"When I was 22 years old I was diagnosed with this and very quickly I was able to put it in remission. But I'm not going to lie, that was the hardest time of my life.

Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins showed their support to their Shield team-mate Roman Reigns (Image: WWE)


"I didn't have a job, I didn't have any money, I didn't have a home and I had a baby on the way. And football was done with me.

"But do you know who gave me a chance? The team that gave me a chance was the WWE.

"After I'm done whooping leukaemia's a** once again, I'm coming back home."

Roman Reigns has beaten leukaemia before (Image: WWE)

Various WWE superstars and legends immediately reached out to Reigns and expressed their love and support after his shocking announcement.

The ex-WWE Champion's Shield team-mates Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose came out and struck their famous signature fist bump pose with their brother in arms.

Many other fellow WWE superstars took to Twitter, such as five-time women's champion Alexa Bliss who tweeted: "My heart right now .... Prayers for @WWERomanReigns."

Two-time women's champion Natalya also sent her prayers as she posted: " THANKYOU, @WWERomanReigns. Praying for you and your family."

Former RAW Tag Team Champion Karl Anderson described how heartbroken he was to hear the news when he was ready to board a plane to Newark.

Anderson wrote: " About to board my flight to Newark and hearing news about my #Godbrother and one of the hardest working, strongest brothers I know @WWERomanReigns, got a pit in my stomach. My family throwing so many prayers at you.. Love you bro."

Reigns' cousins and five-time tag team champions Jimmy and Jey Uso shared a picture of all three of them when they were kids and promised him they will always be there for him.

The Usos tweeted: "We been here for u, and will stay here for u. Day one uce. We love you."

John Cena praised his former rival's courage and promised that his family in the WWE will give him all of their love and support.

Cena stated: " ‘Courage - strength in the face of pain or grief.’ You have given us your everything including a courageously vulnerable moment. We, your WWE family, give you all of our love and support."

Various WWE Hall of Famers also reached out to Reigns as 16-time world champion Ric Flair announced that he and his family are with him at this difficult time.

Flair tweeted: "My Family And I Are Thinking Of You And Are Keeping You In Our Prayers! We Are Here For You!"

Bret Hart shared a picture of him with The Big Dog and captioned it with: "Fight on to victory my courageous brother!"

Diamond Dallas Page and Booker expressed their respect and support for the Universal Champion's courage.

Brock Lesnar's advocate Paul Heyman addressed the Universal Championship situation on RAW and praised the 33-year-old grappler's stunning bravery and greatness.

Heyman said: "It is humbling to be amongst the members of that locker room tonight and to have been in the presence of such courage and such greatness."


Read More....

Prynx Posted on October 23, 2018 04:35

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Cristiano Ronaldo: Juventus star sends message to Sir Alex Ferguson before Man Utd return

CRISTIANO RONALDO has sent his best wishes to Sir Alex Ferguson ahead of an emotional return to Manchester United.

Ronaldo will play at Old Trafford on Tuesday night for just the second time when his Juventus side takes on Manchester United in the Champions League.

The Portuguese star 118 times in 292 appearances for United.

And he won three Premier League titles, one FA Cup, two League Cups and the 2008 Champions League under Ferguson.

In May, Ferguson had emergency brain surgery but has since recovered and received a standing ovation on his return to Old Trafford in September.

Speaking in his press conference, Ronaldo was asked about coming back to his former club and sent a message to Ferguson.

“Emotional, I can remember what it was like when I was at Manchester,” he told reporters.

“I won lots of trophies here. I remember the support as well, the support was fantastic.

“Here I have many memories of victories and affection and in particular with Sir Alex Ferguson, to whom I send a big hug.

Cristiano Ronaldo sent a message to Sir Alex Ferguson ahead of his Man Utd return (Image: Getty)

Cristiano Ronaldo smiles during his press conference (Image: EPA)

“He is a person who helped me so much."

Juventus are top of the group over United after two wins in the competitions.

And Ronaldo is confident of making it three from three.

"It will be a difficult game. We know Manchester United have a good team. They are playing at home," he said.

Cristiano Ronaldo is happy to be back in Manchester (Image: EPA)

"It will be tough, but we have our weapons.

"We are Juve, so we know it is going to be tough but we have chances.

"I know if we play good, if we play the way the coach wants, I think we have a good chance to win the game.

"But we have to respect Manchester United because they are a fantastic team.

"They have an experienced coach, so I expect that Juve will win the game.

Read More.......

Prynx Posted on October 23, 2018 04:23

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Moon to be colonised SOON: Astronaut says SpaceX and Nasa on brink of making dream real

HUMANS are closer than ever before to colonising the Moon, thanks to the likes of NASA and commercial partner SpaceX, according to veteran astronaut Chris Hadfield.

Colonel Hadfield, who formerly commanded the International Space Station (ISS), said commercial enterprises like SpaceX, together with governments, will push the boundaries of what’s possible.

Speaking at the IP EXPO Europe conference in London’s Royal Victoria today, the Canadian astronaut believes technology is moving forward faster than ever before.

He told “We’ll be settling the Moon really soon.”

According to Mr Hadfield, the key to human-led space exploration is the partnership between venture capitalists and government agencies.

He named SpaceX’s Elon Musk and Blue Origin’s Jeff Bezos as some of the people who are making the “impossible possible”.

But all of this is done in commercial partnership with established bodies like NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA).

He compared the entrepreneurs to the Age of Discovery where explorers including Christopher Columbus, James Cook and Portugal’s Henry the Navigator, led maritime discovery.

Mr Hadfield said: “It’s going to be a mixture and it should be. It parallels the historical precedent.

NASA and SpaceX will take humans to the Moon, said Chris Hadfield (Image: GETTY)

“We are generally limited by technology and then somebody pushes this technology in a profitable way.

“The technology becomes good enough that then it can start to become profitable and open for private business.

“If you look at the work that was done in the 1400s in Portugal and Spain, by Henry the Navigator and company, they spent a fortune.

“They created the caravel – a ship that could beat the wind and sail in shallow waters. It was their spaceship of the time.

“They didn’t want to go the spice islands without having to walk all the way there and back, but they pushed that technology for a long time and then with the combination of venture capitalists and government and businesses they started launching ships.”

We’ll be settling the Moon really soon

Chris Hadfield, Astronaut

Just like Bartholomew Diaz sailed around the southern tip of Africa in 1488, Mr Hadfield said the combination of new technology and someone managing that technology is “in the purview of government”.

He said: “Right now we’re just building the roads into space.”

The astronaut stressed unmanned spaceflight has been dominated by the commercial sector for decades but human spaceflight has just started to get off the ground.

Chris Hadfield said the commercial and public sector together will take humans into space (Image: SEBASTIAN KETTLEY/EXPRESS.CO.UK)

One of the people particularly pushing this forward is SpaceX founder Elon Musk.

Mr Hadfield said: “Elon is showy but brilliant. Hugely brilliant.”

The biggest challenge beyond colonising the Moon is sending humans further out into space, to places like Mars.

Recently, Mr Musk teased his ambition to build a Martian colony on the Red Planet as early as the year 2028.

But Mr Hadfield is not convinced the technology is here yet to allow us to efficiently travel between planets.

The astronaut said chemically propelled rockets – the kind used on a daily basis – are not the right kind.

He suggested electromagnetic acceleration or electric ion propulsion could be the key to reaching Mars one day.

During his opening keynote today, Mr Hadfield noted: “Our pace of invention is not fast, it’s accelerating. Things will never be this slow again.”


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Prynx Posted on October 23, 2018 04:18

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NASA asteroid WARNING: Asteroid big enough to WIPE OUT London headed for Earth

AN ASTEROID potentially big enough to flatten an area the size of London is headed for a Close Earth Approach, NASA warned.

The giant space rock barreling towards Earth is estimated to measure anywhere between 301.8 ft and 688.9 ft (92m and 210m) in diameter.

An asteroid on either side of the estimate could wreak absolute havoc on Earth, particularly if it hit a city the size of UK’s capital.

Past impacts of smaller asteroids have been known to level areas larger than the total area of Greater London.

The 1908 Tunguska asteroid incident, for instance, completely destroyed more than 772 square miles (1999.47 square km) of forest in Russia.

According to the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, that particular asteroid could have been as small as 196.8 ft (60m) across.

Considering Asteroid UG1 could be as tall as Big Ben’s clock tower, or larger than the Great Pyramids of Giza, the potential threat to human life is unimaginable.

Data collected by the London Data Store and Greater London Authority suggest the total area of London measures around 606.99 square miles (1,572.1 square km) – an area smaller than the Tunguska incident.

The Smithsonian Observatory said it would only take an asteroid 3,280 ft in diameter to destroy an area of land the size of an average US state.

NASA asteroid warning: A potentially destructive asteroid is headed for Earth next week (Image: GETTY)

But the good news is Asteroid UG1 will avoid the Earth with a wide berth – of about 2.48 million miles (four million km) to be precise.

NASA predicts the space rock will reach its closest distance to Earth of approximately 0.02675 astronomical units (au) or 10.41 lunar distances (LD) around 3.45am BST (2.45am UTC) next Thursday.

One astronomical distance is an average

This means the asteroid will zip by the Earth 10-times farther than the Moon is on any given night.

But there is still reason to pay attention to the asteroid because UG1 is a so-called Near-Earth Object (NEO) on a Close Earth Approach trajectory.

The European Space Agency (ESA) defines NEOs as all asteroids and comets that could “potentially hit our planet, and depending on their size, produce considerable damage.”

The ESA said: “Near-Earth Objects are asteroids or comets of sizes ranging from metres to tens of kilometres that orbit the Sun and whose orbits come close to that of Earth’s.

measurement of the distance between Earth and the Sun.

NASA asteroid warning: The giant space rock could measure up to 690 ft in diameter (Image: GETTY)

NASA asteroid warning: An impact on this scale could be absolutely cataclysmic (Image: GETTY)

“Of the more than 600,000 known asteroids in our Solar System, more than 16,000 are NEOs.”

The odds of an average NEO hitting Earth are slim but the space agency stressed the importance of tracking them to predict the possibility of future impacts.

Next week, the asteroid will speed through the void of space on its journey around the Sun at speeds of around of 30,019.6mph (13.42 km per second).

After the asteroid completes its flyby, NASA does not expect UG1 to make another close approach until December 29, 2021

A Lunar Distance is the average amount of space between the Earth and its Moon

Read More.....

Prynx Posted on October 23, 2018 04:07

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Rare 'Go Mango' 1970 Dodge Challenger 440 six-pack found in barn after owner passed away

Better keep your eyes open, because you never know what your next-door neighbor is hiding out back.

Sometimes it’s a good thing!


A Pennsylvania car enthusiast who’d rented a home in a wooded neighborhood near Harrisburg last year had no idea that the man next door had over 80 cars stored on his property until he passed away two months later.

The muscle car fan found quite a few treats, but none tastier than a 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T painted ‘Go Mango’ that was hidden under a plastic sheet in a pole barn and that he wasted no time buying from the estate.


It had been parked there for decades and was last moved outside when the barn’s roof was damaged during a storm in 1993.

The coupe was originally fitted with a 440 cubic-inch "six-pack" V8, but the owner was fond of swapping parts among his cars and the numbers-matching engine for this one was found in the basement.


The car received several other modifications over the years, but most of the original parts were still with it, save for the carburetors, which had been stolen long ago.

According to the 1970 Dodge Charger Registry, there were only 431 R/Ts painted ‘Go Mango’ in 1970, and just 22 of them had a 4-speed manual transmission like this one, making the find even more amazing.

With a fair amount of rust and a worn interior, it’s far from a perfect one, but the engine is back in and running again, the metal is mostly straight and the experts at think it wouldn’t take too much effort to get it back into top condition.


Nevertheless, the market thinks it's worth plenty as is.

The car is being offered in an eBay auction that ends Monday at 9:49 PM EST and the bidding has already reached $45,000, which is still short of the unpublished reserve price, not to mention the Hagerty Price Guide’s $108,000 value for a fully restored example.

Gary Gastelu is's Automotive Editor.

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Luke Posted on October 22, 2018 18:54

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Vodka expert and Grey Goose creator says spirit doesn't belong in freezer

Instead, put a few ice cubes in your drink before sipping, the creator of Grey Goose's original recipe says. (iStock)

For years we've been told to store our vodka in the freezer, but now one expert claims that's the last thing you should be doing.

Grey Goose creator Francois Thibault knows a thing or two about the alcoholic tipple, and he says sticking it in the freezer is the number one mistake people make.

If you're a fan of an ice-cold drink, storing it there can be a tempting idea: Vodka freezes at -27C, which means there's no chance of that happening in your household freezer.


But Thibault told Business Insider chilling it to a freezer level dulls the flavor — so it's time to put that plan on ice.

"The best temperature for Grey Goose is 0-4 degrees Celsius, which is the temperature of a slight dilution with ice in a mixing glass," Thibault said.

The creator of the original Grey Goose recipe, and even the head mixologist at Belvedere, says freezing your vodka dull its flavor. (Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Belvedere's head mixologist Claire Smith has echoed this advice in an interview with Complex. "The flavor and the personality of the raw material become more subdued" as you chill it, according to Smith.

She did add that the texture becomes thicker, but Thibault says it's no trade-off.

Having said this, vodka can be too "aggressive" as room temperature, so Thibault recommends adding a couple of ice cubes before you take a sip.


There is one exception to the rule: If you've got cheap vodka, which burns the throat, chilling will dull this effect — so pop it in the freezer before taking a shot.

This article originally appeared on The Sun. Read more content from The Sun here.

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Luke Posted on October 22, 2018 18:52

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Bizarre, 185 million-year-old Jurassic-era mammal found with 38 babies

figure representing the 38 Kayentatherium babies found with an adult specimen. They are the only known fossils of babies from an extinct mammal relative that lived during the Early Jurassic. (Credit: Eva Hoffman / The University of Texas at Austin)

New fossils of an extinct mammal relative and her 38 babies are among the best evidence that a major evolutional development for mammals occurred, allowing them to trade increased reproductive ability for bigger brains.

The discovery is extremely rare because these fossils are the only known babies of a mammal precursor on record, according to researchers at the University of Texas.


The discovery "is a once-in-a-lifetime type discovery that can have a huge impact on how we view mammal biology," Greg Wilson of the University of Washington, told Live Science.


The animal, called the Kayentatherium wellesi, was a cynodont or mammal relative that lived during the Jurassic period, some 185 million years ago. The numerous babies she had were more than twice the average size of any mammal living today, which may indicate that K. wellesi reproduced similarly to a reptile.

While no eggshells were discovered at the site, the study found the babies were likely developing inside eggs or had just hatched when they died.

The babies had very small brains, supporting the notion that as mammals developed, they traded off small brains and big litters for larger brains and smaller litters, the researchers said.

"These babies are from a really important point in the evolutionary tree," the study's lead researcher, Eva Hoffman, said in a statement. "They had a lot of features similar to modern mammals, features that are relevant in understanding mammalian evolution."

(Credit: Eva Hoffman / The University of Texas at Austin)

Discovered more than 18 years ago, the fossils were uncovered in northeastern Arizona by study co-researcher Timothy Rowe, a professor at the University of Texas. Rowe initially believed the chunk of rock he excavated contained only one specimen.

However, the sample became more exceptional when Sebastian Egberts, a former graduate student at the Jackson School, noticed a speck of tooth enamel in the slab in 2009.

"It didn't look like a pointy fish tooth or a small tooth from a primitive reptile," said Egberts, who is now an instructor of anatomy at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic. "It looked more like a molariform [molar-like] tooth — and that got me very excited."

Micro-computed tomography (CT) scans showed the rock included more than just the mother. It also contained the partial skeletons of the babies of the same species.

Since K. wellesi had a tiny brain and many babies, it also appeared that the step in which mammals traded litter power for brain power had not occurred in the early Jurassic period, the researchers said. It was not until a few million years later did mammals expand their brain size at the expense of their number of offspring.

"Our reproductive biology is such a central component to being mammal," Greg Wilson said. "This fossil gives us a snapshot of the reproductive biology of an animal that was not quite mammalian yet. It gives us a window into the transition from what it means to be reptile to what it means to be mammalian.

Luke Posted on October 22, 2018 18:40

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Giada De Laurentiis says ‘it was very intimidating’ being in front of cameras for the first time

Giada De Laurentiis didn’t always feel at ease being in front of the camera.

“In the beginning, it was very intimidating,” the Food Network star admitted to People magazine Monday. “I think I just wasn’t open enough; I wasn’t secure enough.”


The Italian-born chef was previously working as a food stylist when Food Network recruited her to host “Everyday Italian” in 2003. At the time, De Laurentiis had zero on-camera experience.

“Italian culture and Italian food were such a part of my every day that I didn’t realize other people wouldn’t understand certain things,” said the 48-year-old.

And having the spotlight on her didn’t come so naturally — at first.

Giada De Laurentiis on the Food Network show "Everyday Italian."

“Everybody cooks their pasta al dente, don’t they?” said De Laurentiis on being told to constantly explain things while filming. “I think I lost like five pounds in three days filming the pilot.”

And while De Laurentiis would quickly heat things up for the network with her popular series, it wouldn’t be the last time she broke a sweat.

De Laurentiis added she will never forget her first time on live television as a guest on the “Today” show.

“Al Roker was my host,” she explained. “I made a grilled chicken with three different pestos, but it was actually the stylist who cooked the food… we get to the point where Al says, ‘Let’s taste it’ and cuts into the chicken, and it was raw inside! I just froze, my entire body and mind froze. It’s those terrifying moments [that] end up being the things that can change your career.”


Still, that unfortunate mishap didn’t ruin De Laurentiis’ career. In fact, the sought-after celebrity chef currently co-hosts “Food Network Star” alongside Bobby Flay.

Back in 2013, De Laurentiis admitted to Fox News that it’s not always easy juggling a high-profile career, while being a hands-on parent to her daughter Jade, now 10.

“It’s not easy, to be honest,” said De Laurentiis at the time. “My number one advice is getting good help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help within your family. I have two lovely ladies who’ve helped me with Jade since she was young. I can’t do everything and be everywhere at any moment, but I can set myself up for success by asking for help, which is exactly what I do.


“And the ability to see others on the phone has really helped me. The phone is not one of my daughter’s favorite things, but if she can see me, where I am, even where my bed is in the room, she still feels connected to me while I’m on the road.”

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Luke Posted on October 22, 2018 18:38

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Wife Swap' son charged with murder of mom and younger brother in Ohio: report

A man that formerly appeared on the ABC series “Wife Swap,” has been charged with two counts of murder for allegedly killing his mother and younger brother, according to multiple reports.

Jacob Stockdale, 26, reportedly shot his mother, Kathryn, as well as his 21-year-old brother, James in 2017. According to TMZ, they died instantly and Stockdale later then turned the weapon on himself, firing one shot into his head. However, he survived and was immediately hospitalized so that doctors could repair the damage through surgery and rehab.


According to the Canton Repository, he faces 15 years to life for each of the charges which are only being brought now because authorities wanted to allow him time to heal and be coherent enough to stand trial for his alleged crimes. So far, the Stark County Sheriff’s office has not released details on a potential motive.

Kathryn Stockdale was allegedly murdered by her son, Jacob.  (GoFundMe)

The remaining Stockdale family, which includes Jacob, his father and two brothers, were known throughout the area for their bluegrass band, which performed at fairs and local venues. However, they were also known for their part in an episode of “Wife Swap” from 2008.

The Stockdale family band. (GoFundMe)

Billed as a “devoutly religious” family that was homeschooled and kept under a strict watch by their mother to ensure that they don’t succumb to the dangers of pop culture and dating, Kathryn switched places for a period of time with the mother of a different family.


According to TMZ, Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero presented the case to a grand jury, which ultimately decided not to pursue the death penalty for Stockdale.

Neither Ferrero nor Stockdale’s attorney, Wayne Graham, were immediately available to respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

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Luke Posted on October 22, 2018 18:33

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Parents And Doctors Shocked As Baby Grows 'Fang Tooth' Overnight

Jake Massey in  News

Having a newborn baby to look after is a worrisome enough experience for any parent at the best of times. Is the baby hungry, sleepy, safe, happy, freshly soiled?

But imagine if on top of these daily panics your baby also appeared to grow a 'fang tooth' overnight.

This was the situation Tara and Brian O'Byrne found themselves in on Monday after their 11-week-old baby, Oscar, spent the morning crying more than usual.

Credit: Facebook/Tara O' Byrne

Upon discovering the peculiar tooth, the couple from County Louth, Ireland, rushed him to hospital.

Speaking to the Irish Daily Mirror, Tara said: "I went in to him around 7am. I usually give him a soother and he goes back asleep for an hour, but he kept crying.

"So I took him out and changed him but when I went to feed him, I found the tooth in his mouth. It had grown overnight."

Credit: Facebook/Tara O' Byrne

Upon arriving at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, Tara and Brian found doctors were just as shocked by the Dracula-like fang.

Tara said: "They were debating whether it was a tooth or not. They kept calling other doctors in - they didn't know what to do."

The doctors ultimately had to call and get advice from Temple Street Children's Hospital, in Dublin, and from there it was arranged for Oscar to see a dentist.

Credit: Facebook/Tara O' Byrne

However, the troublesome mystery tooth continued to cause problems even after being removed.

Tara said: "The suction caused the tooth to go up his nose - I had to wind him to get it out, but he was okay.

"There were dentists coming in to take pictures of the tooth and everything. We took it home to show Oscar when he gets older.

"We were terrified at first but now we're seeing the funny side. Me and my husband were laughing about it, it's mad - especially at this time of the year."

It's good to see everything eventually turned out OK, but you can't help but wonder how that tooth could have turned out, had it been given an opportunity to flourish.

Considering the size of it after cropping up 'overnight', you'd assume it would have been truly terrifying had it been left in for Halloween.

When babies teeth first begin to emerge can vary greatly, but ordinarily they start to show between three and nine months of age. As such, Oscar's fang tooth was both unusually early and unusually shaped.

khojho Posted on October 22, 2018 17:32

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Game of Thrones: A special reunion episode has been filmed, Sean Bean has revealed

Sean Bean has revealed that a Game of Thrones special, featuring past and present cast members, has been filmed.

The actor – who played Ned Stark on the show – let slip that American late-night host Conan O’Brien will host the one-off episode, which was filmed in Belfast earlier this year.

Related Slideshow: Game of Thrones stars- Then and now (provided by photo services)

Full Screen

“It was the last episode, so we all got together,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “They decided to get all the characters together for a bit for this big show in Belfast and he kind of hosted the evening.

Game of Thrones will come to an end after the upcoming eighth season. HBO has not confirmed a release date yet, but fans think they have worked out when the final batch of episodes may begin airing.

© Shutterstock

Asked whether he keeps in contact with his fellow cast members, Bean said has “only seen them on a couple of occasions”. 

© Shutterstock

“It’s funny with work, you don’t really keep in touch,” he said. ”You do so many types of jobs in that part of the world. It’s just like whenever I see old friends or even old drama school friends, it’s just the same, we pick up where we left off last time.”

khojho Posted on October 22, 2018 13:46

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Usain Bolt has received Mariners offer, confirms A-League boss Greg O'Rourke

A-League boss Greg O'Rourke has confirmed Central Coast Mariners have offered Usain Bolt a contract, but stressed Football Federation Australia won't be contributing to his wage.

News of an offer broke on Sunday while the Mariners began their season with a 1-1 draw against Brisbane Roar, with coach Mike Mulvey revealing afterwards he had no clue about the offer.

While their own coach might need some filling in, O'Rourke admitted he is aware of an offer being made.

"I understand from Central Coast Mariners that they have tabled an offer to Usain Bolt’s management which he is considering," O'Rourke said on SEN Afternoons.

Related: Usain Bolt and the other stars who have switched sports in their careers (Readsport)

"That offer is much, much less than they were originally requesting and that’s really reflected that if Usain wants to join the club and become a footballer he should follow a journey pretty similar to any triallist - not withstanding for a minute the amount of marketing that somebody like Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world, can bring to the Central Coast and the broader A-League."


Reports suggest the offer to Bolt will see him pocket around $150,000 should he accept - a figure well short of initial claims he could stand to make $3 million in the A-League.

That significantly reduced wage offer comes after the FFA vowed they wouldn't help cover Bolt's costs with O'Rourke stressing that remains the case.

"There’s no funding from the marquee fund as we said from day one because the marquee fund has secured people like Keisuke Honda and Sam Kerr with football pedigree and Usain Bolt has yet to become a professional footballer anywhere in the world," he said.

"There were some marketing conversations about contributions towards attendances at games, appearance fees if you like, but as for funding him as a footballer then the FFA has been consistent in that they won’t fund him.

"That won’t change."

khojho Posted on October 22, 2018 13:40

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Canada earthquake: 6.8 earthquake hits Canada just MINUTES after 6.6 massive tremor

CANADA has been hit with three devastating earthquakes in quick succession on Monday morning, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said.

The first earthquake struck off at 6.39am BST, while the second one rocketed the same location less than half an hour later, at 7.16am BST. 

And a third, strong quake hit the same area less than one hour after the first one. 

The tremors hit the Canadian province of British Columbia, which lays on the notorious Ring of Fire

The first one struck at a depth of 21 miles (33 km) about 117 miles (190 km) southwest of Port Hardy, a town on the northeast end of Vancouver island, while the second struck 135 miles (218 km) southwest of Port Hardy.  

The latest, a 6.5 magnitude quake, hit 138 miles (223 km) southwest of Port Hardy at 7.22am BST. 

Reuters had initially reported the magnitude of the two earthquakes was respectively 6.7 and 7. 

Aftershocks are already following the terrifying wave of earthquakes, with a 4.9 magnitude tremor hitting the area at 7.36am BST. 

There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage from the quakes.   

And a tsunami warning hasn't been set in place at the moment.   

Seismologist Johanna Wagstaffe said three back-to-back earthquakes highlight the “complicated” tectonic environment off British Columbia.

"If any one of these quakes had hit closer to land, there would have been devastating consequences," said Wagstaffe.

"Three large ones in a row does seem unusual and I'm sure scientists will be learning as much as they can over the next couple of days about the change in stresses just off our coast." 

Related articles

Canada earthquake: Four earthquakes rocketed Vancouver Island within one hour (Image: USGS)

The Ring of Fire lies in a horseshoe shape in the Pacific Ocean, stretching from New Zealand to Chile and including the Asian and American coasts. 

There are 452 volcanoes in the 25,000-mile area.

This makes it constantly active, with tremors striking regions laying on the Ring every day. 

Six minor earthquakes hit Alaska, which also sits on the Ring of Fire, overnight.  

Canada earthquake: More than 1100 earthquakes rocketed earth this year (Image: USGS)

The strongest one was a 3.8 magnitude earthquake which hit 157 miles (253 km) off Kodiak. 

Professor Bill McGuire, Emeritus Professor of Earth Sciences at University College London explained to why the Ring of Fire is so dangerous.

He said: “The Ring of Fire is a girdle of volcanoes and earthquake zones that circles the Pacific Ocean, and which marks the join between some of the planet's most active tectonic plates.

“Almost all the of the world's most explosive and dangerous volcanoes are located here, along with the some of the longest and most deadly earthquake faults.  

Canada earthquake: A residential area in British Columbia, Canada (Image: GETTY)

“Many of the biggest faults in the Ring of Fire are submarine so that their rupture can trigger catastrophic tsunamis, such as those that struck Indonesia and the Indian Ocean in 2004 and Japan in 2011.” 

More than 1000 earthquakes take place around the world every year - most of them in area sitting on the Ring. 

Ben van der Pluijm, a geologist at the University of Michigan, told “On a yearly basis we have roughly 1500 magnitude 5-5.9 earthquakes around the world.

“So far we are at roughly 1100 for 2018.” 

Prynx Posted on October 22, 2018 09:08

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Massive dam threatens Egypt's portion of Nile

Is Ethiopia taking control of the River Nile?

By Sarah Lazarus, CNN

Updated 0952 GMT (1752 HKT) October 20, 2018

(CNN)Look at Egypt on Google Earth and you will see a green line snaking through a sand-colored landscape, fanning out into a triangle in the north.

This emerald ribbon is the vegetation that grows on either side of the Nile River and around its delta. It is Egypt's only fertile land -- and testament to the country's reliance on this fabled waterway.

The Nile River Basin extends to 11 African countries, but Egypt -- one of the oldest civilizations in the world -- has controlled the river and used the lion's share of its waters for millennia.

That could be about to change.

By Gul Tuysuz and Clarissa Ward, CNN

October 20, 2018


Ethiopia's very big dam

The Blue Nile River is the Nile's largest tributary and supplies about 85% of the water entering Egypt. Ethiopia is building its $5 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Blue Nile, near the border with Sudan. When completed, it will be the largest dam in Africa, generating around 6,000 megawatts of electricity for both domestic use and export.

Ethiopia's ambitious project is designed to help lift its fast-growing population out of poverty. But the new dam also puts management of the flow of the Blue Nile in Ethiopia's hands -- and that has sparked a power shift in the region.

For the Egyptians, the Nile is, literally, a lifeline. The vast majority of the country's 97 million people live along its banks.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and the Nile

Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (2017) – Once finished, Ethiopia's new dam will be the largest in Africa, measuring 1,800 meters (1.1 miles) in length and 155 meters (508 feet) high.

"It's like somebody has control over a tap. If the Ethiopian people for some reason want to reduce the amount of water coming to Egypt, it would be a great problem," says Aly El-Bahrawy, professor of hydraulics at Cairo's Ain Shams University.

Water scarcity is a serious issue in the north African nation, according to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). In 2014, Egypt had 637 cubic meters per capita, compared to 9,538 cubic meters per capita in the United States -- nearly 15 times as much.

With its population predicted to reach 120 million by 2030, Egypt is on track to hit the threshold for "absolute water scarcity" -- less than 500 cubic meters per capita -- according to the FAO.

And that's without factoring in any complications caused by the dam.

Blue and White

Although it is most strongly associated with Egypt, neither of the Nile's two sources are situated in the country. The White Nile begins at Lake Victoria -- Africa's largest lake, which sits between Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda -- while the Blue Nile originates at Lake Tana in the Ethiopian Highlands. The two rivers merge near the Sudanese capital Khartoum to form the main waterway, which flows north through Egypt to the Mediterranean.

Egypt's claim on the Nile's waters has, however, been enshrined in law for nearly 90 years, in the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of 1929, signed between Egypt and Great Britain, and the 1959 Bilateral Agreement between Egypt and Sudan. Collectively known as the Nile Waters Agreements, the treaties grant 18.5 billion cubic meters of water a year to Sudan and 55.5 billion cubic meters to Egypt.

The Nile Waters Agreements allocated no water to Ethiopia -- even though it is home to a major source -- or the other eight countries of the Nile Basin, whose rivers feed into Lake Victoria and contribute to the White Nile.

What's more, the agreements granted Egypt veto power over construction projects on the Nile River and its tributaries anywhere upstream.

"It is generally believed that Egypt received such favorable terms (during colonial times) ... because the country was very important to the United Kingdom's agricultural interests, particularly its cotton fields," says John Mukum Mbaku, professor of economics at Weber State University in Utah and co-author of "Governing the Nile River Basin."

The Blue Nile Falls -- located near the river's source, Lake Tana in Ethiopia.

Egypt not only needs the Nile waters, it believes it has a legal and historical right to them. Other countries disagree.

"The Nile River Basin's upstream riparian states argue that the Nile Waters Agreements are unfair, inequitable and unsustainable," says Mbaku. Upstream countries, including Ethiopia, maintain that "they are not bound by these agreements, because they were never parties to them," Mbaku says.

In 1999, the Nile River Basin States started negotiations to design a legal framework that would provide for a fairer allocation of the Nile's waters, but Egypt and Sudan would not compromise on the "absolute protection of their prior rights" and no consensus was reached, says Mbaku.

However, unlike the other countries that share the Nile, Egypt has only one river, says El-Bahrawy, and as the most downstream nation, it is most vulnerable to development upstream. Egypt also only gets "a few millimeters of rain per year," he says. "Compared to other countries, Egypt is very, very dry."

Lake Victoria -- source of the White Nile.

It's not just about water, El-Bahrawy adds. There's an emotional element, too.

"The Nile is extremely important in Egyptian culture -- it's in the movies and books and love songs. If Egyptians feel this river is threatened, it touches their hearts and their feelings."

The dam changes the conversation

Negotiations between the Nile River nations had rumbled on for over a decade when, in 2011, the Ethiopians made the bold decision to build the dam -- without consulting Egypt.

In 2013, Egypt's former president Mohamed Morsi was reported to have said in a televised speech that, while he was not "calling for war" with Ethiopia, Egypt's water security could not be "violated at all." If Egypt's share of the Nile diminished "by one drop," he added, then "our blood is the alternative."

When Egypt's initial threats failed to make an impact, they tried a more diplomatic approach instead, says Mbaku. "The decision by the Egyptian authorities to talk directly with Ethiopia ... represented an important but predictable shift in Cairo's attitude," says Mbaku.

In March 2015, the heads of state of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia met in Khartoum to start negotiations over the filling and operation of the dam. Numerous meetings have followed, but a settlement has not been reached. The Nile Waters Agreements have proved a particularly intractable sticking point: "While Egyptian officials say publicly that they want to talk with the Ethiopians ... they still think those agreements should be honored," says Mbaku.

In 2017, with around 60% of construction completed, talks broke down and Egypt scaled up its rhetoric again, but this year, the tide seemed to be turning.

In May, the irrigation ministers of all three countries agreed to establish a scientific study group to assess the impact of the dam on downstream flows. A month later, Ethiopia's new prime minister Abiy Ahmed visited Egypt and reassured Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi that he wanted to aid development in Ethiopia without harming the Egyptian people.

Abiy took office in April 2018 and has gained credentials as a proactive peacemaker by ending his country's cold war with Eritrea. Mbaku believes that Abiy seeks harmony rather than confrontation with his regional neighbors, but cautions that the Ethiopians know they are now bargaining from a position of strength.

The vast majority of Egypt's population live along the banks of the Nile and around its delta.

"The fact that the Ethiopians were able to get away with constructing the dam has given them a morale boost," says Mbaku. "It has shown them that the Egyptians are not as powerful as everyone thought."

Fill speed

How much time Ethiopia will spend filling the dam's reservoir is a critical issue for Egypt and has been the focus of recent negotiations. The quicker the fill, the less water will be released downstream during that time.

"Technically, they could fill it in three years," says Kevin Wheeler of the Environmental Change Institute at the UK's University of Oxford. "Egypt would prefer a longer time range of around 10 years."

The weather is another key factor. "If there's an alignment between the filling and a drought, then even a slow fill could be problematic," says Wheeler.

Calculations are complex because the variables are open to negotiation. "Ethiopia focuses on average rainfall conditions when planning. Egypt prefers to plan for worst case scenarios," says Wheeler. "The closer the two countries work together, the more safely they will be able to fill the reservoir."

"Everyone should hope for rain during those years," he adds.

Khaled AbuZeid, secretary general of the Egyptian Water Partnership, a non-governmental organization, says he is more worried about "accumulative long-term losses caused by the dam once it is in operation." At present, he says, when the river flows are high, Egypt stores water in Lake Nasser, the reservoir behind its own dam -- the High Aswan Dam -- which it then extracts during dry years.

The Abu Simbel temple complex -- seen here in 1960 -- had to be relocated when the High Aswan Dam was constructed.

"If the reservoir behind the GERD is operated at higher levels, it will result in huge losses due to seepage and evaporation," says AbuZeid. "The water lost would, previously, have found its way to the High Aswan Dam."

Losses from the GERD will be partially offset by a reduction in evaporation from the High Aswan Dam, but AbuZeid calculates that the net additional losses from the GERD could amount to 60 billion cubic meters over a 10-year period.

His research has indicated that in dry years, up to 625,000 acres of agriculture land could be put out of service, resulting in economic losses of about $2 billion per year, and leaving up to one million farmers and workers jobless. "It would also reduce hydropower generation by the High Aswan Dam by up to 40 percent," he says.

Egypt is taking steps to shore up its water supply by other means: recycling agricultural drainage water and treated wastewater, increasing the number of desalination plants that supply coastal areas, and restricting the cultivation of water-intensive crops including rice, sugar cane and bananas.

Temporary reprieve

The GERD was supposed to be finished in 2017, but due to delays, it is only two-thirds complete. In August, construction stalled when the Ethiopian government took the contract for turbine installation away from Metec, a state-owned company, in an effort to stamp out corruption.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam under construction in 2015.

But Egypt's reprieve is only temporary. Once Ethiopia's grand project is back on track, close cooperation between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt will be essential if the negative impacts of the dam are to be kept to a minimum.

A successful outcome will require political savvy, compromise and goodwill. Wheeler says that transparency over information, and the development of effective data-sharing and communication platforms, are also crucial.

No one yet knows how these mechanisms will work, but what's clear is that Egypt can no longer bank on the water allocation it has received until now and that Ethiopia's dam will grant the country a greater level of political influence.

Mbaku points out that for the first two Nile Waters Agreements, Ethiopia wasn't even consulted. "Now, Egypt is not as domineering as it used to be, and the Ethiopians are in a very strong position to dictate terms," he says.

As water becomes an increasingly scarce and contested resource in many parts of the world, all eyes will be on the test case being played out along the Nile.


joewalash Posted on October 20, 2018 17:52

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Friends of Jamal Khashoggi want his body back so they can have a funeral

By Gul Tuysuz and Clarissa Ward, CNN

October 20, 2018

Friends of Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident Saudi journalist killed in disputed circumstances in his country's consulate in Istanbul, have demanded that authorities in Riyadh produce his remains.

After nearly three weeks in which it denied anything untoward had happened on its diplomatic premises in Turkey, Saudi Arabia admitted Khashoggi had died but claimed it was the accidental result of a brawl.

Turkish officials privately believe he was dismembered, and Saudi authorities have failed to produce his body or say where they where they believe it to be. All they would admit was that officials engaged in a cover-up.

Turan Kislakci, head of the Turkish-Arab Media Association, talks to the media in front of Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

Speaking to reporters outside Saudi Arabia's Istanbul consulate Saturday, Turan Kislakci, the head of the Turkish Arab Media Association and a friend of Khashoggi, called on Saudi Arabia to hand over the journalist's body. "Give us Jamal, so we can have a funeral for him. So that all people who care about him, world leaders, can come here to Istanbul for the funeral," said Kislakci.

"Exactly 18 days ago, a brutal murder was carried out. Like Saad Hariri, we thought (Khashoggi) would walk out. Three days later we lost hope," he said, invoking the case of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri who was detained in Saudi Arabia, according to multiple sources, last November. "We want justice for Jamal. Eighteen (suspects) are not enough. We want those who ordered it."

Jamal Khashoggi speaking at a press conference in Bahrain in 2015. Photograph: Hasan Jamali/AP

A senior official in Turkey's ruling political party questioned the credibility of Saudi Arabia's explanation for Khashoggi's death.

Justice and Development Party spokesperson Omer Celik indicated that Turkey was not satisfied with the Saudi contention that Khashoggi died accidentally rather than as the result of a premeditated killing.

"We are not preemptively blaming anyone but we will also not allow a cover-up," Celik said on Saturday, in the first official Turkish reaction to Saudi Arabia's midnight statement claiming Khashoggi's death was accidental. "It is a matter of honor for us that this is uncovered. We will shed light on this using all means we have. That is the will of our president," Celik said.

In a statement released in the early hours of Saturday morning, Saudi Arabia claimed Khashoggi died in a fistfight after a discussion turned violent. A source with close connections to the Saudi Royal Palace told CNN that, in the Saudis' determination, Khashoggi's cause of death was a chokehold or strangulation, but officials provided no evidence to support the conclusion.

The altercation involved multiple Saudi officials at the country's consulate in Istanbul, according to the statement. Turkish officials say 15 Saudis traveled to Istanbul on the day of Khashoggi's disappearance, and they say privately that he was dismembered at the consulate.

The suspects later tried to cover up the incident, the Saudi statement added.

Authorities announced a purge of top Saudi officials, the detention of 18 people and an overhaul of the intelligence services that will be led by the country's de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman -- whom US officials privately believe must have been aware of the operation to target Khashoggi.

US officials say Mohammed bin Salman must have been aware of the operation to target Khashoggi.

Riyadh's statement was the first official confirmation that Khashoggi died at its Istanbul consulate, and the first admission that it had a role in his killing -- even as it maintains the death was accidental.

US President Donald Trump indicated he believed the Saudi account was credible, although he added that some questions remained. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was "deeply troubled" by the explanation, his spokesman said.

Jamal Khashoggi was concerned about absolutes such as truth, democracy and freedom.’ Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Some members of the US Congress were less accepting of the Saudi version of events. "To say that I am skeptical of the new Saudi narrative about Mr. Khashoggi is an understatement," South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican, said on Twitter.

Khashoggi went into self-imposed exile in June 2017 just as bin Salman was elevated to Crown Prince. In his first Washington Post opinion piece after he left Saudi Arabia, he described the political atmosphere in the kingdom as "unbearable."

His killing at the consulate comes amid a wave of arrests that have targeted clerics, human rights advocates and members of Saudi Arabia's intelligentsia.

The crackdown has largely been led by a powerful security apparatus, known as the State Security Presidency, created and led by bin Salman.



joewalash Posted on October 20, 2018 17:15

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Jose Mourinho fight: Man Utd boss LOSES IT at Chelsea staff member after late equaliser

In the early kick-off, Chelsea hosted the Red Devils at Stamford Bridge in a breathtaking match full of incidents. Antonio Rudiger scored in the first-half from a corner but Anthony Martial netted a brace after the break to take the lead.

However, in the dying embers Barkley converted following a goal-line fracas to steal a point right at the end. And it sparked a touchline brawl after Mourinho lost his cool at a member of Chelsea's staff.

Maurizio Sarri’s second assistant Marco Ianni ran in front of the away bench celebrating wildly. And The Special One was furious straight away, jumping out of his seat to attempt to confront the Italian. Stewards and other staff members became embroiled and even some players jumped in, including Rudiger, Cesar Azpilicueta and Olivier Giroud.

Jose Mourinho fight: The Man Utd boss lost it after Chelsea equalised (Pic: TWITTER)

Jose Mourinho was incensed by Chelsea's technical staff (Pic: GETTY)

Jose Mourinho was furious with a member of Chelsea's staff (Pic: GETTY)

Ianni, who followed Sarri from Napoli, was seen celebrating wildly at the United bench.

Rudiger said after the match: "I don't know what happened at the end, I just saw it, like a fight. "There were emotions, this is football, it continued on the pitch but it's OK. At the end if you shake hands it is OK."


jmparker Posted on October 20, 2018 15:34

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Japanese Government to Simplify Cryptocurrency Taxation Process

A committee of tax experts in Japan that is responsible for advising the government on taxation matters has called for the simplification of the country’s cryptocurrency tax filing process.


According to officials of the tax panel, the process is currently complicated and a change is required in order to enhance accuracy and compliance. Per a Japanese news publication, Sankei, the committee held a meeting earlier in the week where the proposal to change the current cryptocurrency tax filing system was discussed.

Part of the problem according to the committee lies in the fact that calculating cryptocurrency gains for taxation purposes is a complex affair and this discourages some owners of digital assets from declaring their crypto holdings when filing tax returns.


Taxing Gains and Conversion Premium

According to the tax panel, cryptocurrencies in the Asian country are taxed not only on the gains made but also on the gains accruing when one digital asset is converted into another. Other complications stem from the fact that a unified source of historical data on prices is lacking. Towards finding a solution the panel has indicated that it will hold meetings where it will seek views and opinions from various stakeholders.


As previously reported by CCN cryptocurrency investors in Japan face crypto tax rates ranging between 15% and 55% and this is classified under miscellaneous income. The amount paid as tax depends on earnings with the higher rate imposed on the high-earners. For instance, investors who generate yearly earnings of more than 40 million yen (approximately US$365,000) pay a 55% rate on their cryptocurrency income.

The view by the tax panel that simplifying the cryptocurrency tax filing process will enhance compliance is correct as it has been previously noted that a significant number of crypto investors in Japan could be evading taxes. A report released earlier this year, for instance, indicated that out of the 549 individuals who recorded a non-working or non-operational profit (income generated from investments) of US$1 million in 2017, about 331 were investors in the crypto space.


Tax Avoidance

This was however met with incredulity with some observers saying that many more evaded paying taxes on their crypto investments especially given the fact that Japan is not only the world’s third-largest economy but the level of cryptocurrency use, awareness and adoption is among the highest in the globe.


“If the rapid growth of the cryptocurrency sector in late 2017 is considered, 331 is a number that is simply too low to be true. A large portion of cryptocurrency investors probably did not declare their earnings to the government,” one analyst observed as CCN reported at the time.

KaroA Posted on October 20, 2018 14:36

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Brazil museum fire: Prized 'Luzia' fossil skull recovered

Most of the skull from a prized 12,000-year-old fossil nicknamed Luzia has been recovered from the wreckage of a fire in Brazil's National Museum.

The 200-year-old building in Rio de Janeiro burned down in September, destroying almost all of its artefacts.

But on Friday the museum's director announced that 80% of Luzia's skull fragments had been identified.

The human remains - the oldest ever found in Latin America - were viewed as the jewel of the museum's collection.

The museum staff said they were confident they could recover the rest of Luzia's skull and attempt reassembly.


"They've suffered alterations, damage but we're very optimistic at the find and all it represents," archaeologist Claudia Rodrigues was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.

Image copyrightAFP

Image caption

The remains saved from the rubble were presented to press on Friday

The skull is understood to have been stored in a metal box inside a cabinet, described as a "strategic place", which helped it resist fire damage.

Museum artefacts saved from Brazil fire

The key treasures at risk from museum fire

In pictures: Museum destroyed in blaze

Structural work to secure the historical palace in the Brazilian capital is still being carried out almost 50 days on from the fire.

The cause of the blaze - which tore through hundreds of rooms containing more than 20 million artefacts - is still under investigation.

The 2 September fire sparked criticism and protests of the country's government in its aftermath.

The museum is managed by Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, whose rector said they had known the building was vulnerable because of financial cuts.


Image caption

Luzia's face was reconstructed by a team at Manchester University in 1999

Luzia's remains were found in a cave in the 1970s in the state of Minas Gerais, north of Rio, by French archaeologist Annette Laming-Emperaire.

Tests suggest the skull and bones belonged to a woman in her 20s who was just under 1.5m (5ft tall) - and they were believed to be the oldest recovered on the continent.

Experts had produced a digital image of her face using her skull, which was used as the basis for a sculpture that was also in display on the building.

Luzia was named in homage to Lucy - the famous and important 3.2 million-year-old human remains found in Africa in 1974.

KaroA Posted on October 20, 2018 13:16

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Piece of the moon sells for $600,000 at auction

A piece of the moon sold at auction will now be on display at the Tam Chuc Pagoda Complex in Vietnam. The meteorite was blasted off the moon and traveled 384,400 kilometers to Earth.


A lunar meteorite found in northern Africa last year sold for more than $600,000 (€520,300), Boston's RR Auction House announced Friday.


The meteorite is affectionately known as "The Moon Puzzle," because it is comprised of six fragments that piece together much like a jigsaw puzzle.


The rocks, which weigh just under 5.5 kilograms, sold for $612,500, more than $100,000 higher than the estimated selling price.

RR Auction said the meteorite is the largest known complete lunar puzzle ever found and one of the most significant examples from the moon to be offered for sale.


The auction house said the meteorite was blasted off the surface of the moon in the distant past, likely by the impact of a different meteorite, then journeyed the roughly 384,400 kilometers (238,800 miles) to Earth and survived a fiery descent through the atmosphere to be found in the deserts of northwestern Africa in 2017.


The meteorite's "partial fusion crust," which can be seen on one side, was caused by heat as it passed through Earth's atmosphere.


The seller and buyer have not been identified, but the meteorite's new home will be the Tam Chuc Pagoda Complex in Vietnam, according to RR Auction.


The meteorite will be put on display in one of the pagodas and will be open to the public.

KaroA Posted on October 20, 2018 11:10

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Man survives 'head-on' bull shark attack at nudist beach in Australia

A surfer has survived a "head-first" attack by a bull shark after trying to get the best waves at a nudist beach in Australia.


Paul Kenny was body surfing at Samurai beach in New South Wales on Saturday morning when he was bitten on the arm by the animal.


The beach had only just reopened after being shut because a whale had washed ashore - sparking fears of increased shark activity.




Paul Kenny was hit 'head-on' by the shark

The 50-year-old said he punched the shark until it let go before desperately running out of the water.


He said: "I think [my arm] got the end of his mouth because his head was bigger than [the size of the bite mark], it's not just a little head like that.


"But I think he just turned and snapped and just got the end of it and just missed an artery, thank God.


"I was coming in. So I went to move out a bit deeper to get a better wave and just put my head down and headbutted it and then it just grabbed me, and I just started punching it until it let go.

"And then started getting back out of the surf as quick as I could holding my arm because there was blood everywhere and hoping it wouldn't come back."




Bull sharks can grow up to 8ft (2.4m) long. File pic

Mr Kenny was being treated in hospital, where he was in a stable condition.


Chris Stewart, who was camping on the beach, said: "We woke up on the beach, went for a walk, saw a bloke walk down to the surf and I said to the missus 'I wouldn't go swimming out there, there's probably sharks out there' and within about two minutes he came back into the beach screaming out for help, so we've run down with a couple of other boys.


"(He was) bleeding on the bicep, bleeding on the leg, wrapped him up with some bandages and called triple 0."




The beach was closed for a few days before the attack

The latest encounter comes a month after two tourists were mauled in separate incidents at the Whitsunday Islands in Queensland state.

Experts say shark attacks are increasing as water sports become more popular and bait fish move closer to shore, although fatalities remain rare.

KaroA Posted on October 20, 2018 10:20

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If Your Bitcoin is Stolen, There’s Only a 20% Chance You’ll Ever Get it Back

If you’re ever so unfortunate as to become the victim of a bitcoin theft, there’s very little chance that you will ever see your cryptocurrency assets again.


For this reason, security experts have suggested that only a fraction of these cases ever get reported, as victims believe they are not likely to retrieve stolen cryptocurrency.  Reuters reports that the unique nature of cryptocurrencies has created a double-edged sword where investors do not expect criminals to be caught after successful crypto heists, and cybercriminals are turning to crypto in larger numbers, driven by the perception that it offers them complete insulation from the law.


Peculiar Challenges

Alluding to the unique nature of bitcoin and other cryptocurrency assets — and the peculiar security problems they pose — Patrick Wyman, supervisory special agent in the financial crimes section of the FBI anti-money laundering unit, said:


“A decentralized currency system like bitcoin or another form of virtual currency is not governed by any entity, suspicious reporting activity, and any anti-money laundering compliance.”


The cryptocurrency market is a fast-growing one, and so also is the associated crime, the data reveals. Security professionals believe the high rate of these crimes is why investigators tend to be more preoccupied with high-profile cases, while small investors are left unattended. Jaroslav Jakubcek, an analyst at Europol — the center of EU’s law enforcement cooperation, expertise, and intelligence — told Reuters that it is impossible for every law enforcement agency to commit resources to every crime.


Autonomous NEXT and Crypto Aware, a financial research firm that collaborates with victims of crypto scams, estimated that about $1.7 billion worth of cryptocurrencies, were stolen between 2012 and the first half of 2018. The data also reveals that over $800 million has already been stolen this year. Per the research, approximately 85% of crimes are never even reported.


20 Percent Recovery Rate

Quoted in the Reuters report, David Jevans, CEO of California-based CipherTrace, stated that only about 20 percent of stolen crypto ever is recovered, even when trading platforms or exchanges are hacked, owing to the ease with which tokens can move across different borders. Following protocol, getting law enforcement in several countries involved, and gathering evidence to open a case usually takes a long time, and by the time this is done, the money has been moved. The money at stake has to be huge to justify the efforts.


Moreover, the targets are just large cryptocurrency exchanges. In August, CCN reported that U.S. entrepreneur and cryptocurrency investor Michael Terpin had $24 million in crypto stolen from his mobile wallet by sim hackers, causing him to him file a $224 million suit against his service provider AT&T, who denied responsibility.

Just this week, a 24-year-old Norwegian bitcoin investor was murdered shortly after exchanging a large amount of cryptocurrency for cash. According to reports, the perpetrator may have been after those proceeds, which he was keeping in his apartment.

KaroA Posted on October 20, 2018 09:40

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Measles outbreak leaves two dead, over 300 infections

At least two people have died of measles and 313 other cases have been reported in Mandera County since February when the disease was first detected, according to the county’s health department.

The disease has affected both children under the age of five and adults, leaving a child and an elderly woman dead.


According to Mr Mohamud Mohamed, the county's health minister, the region is still battling the epidemic in parts of Banisa and Mandera West sub-counties. “We have managed the situation in Mandera East, North, South and Lafey sub-counties through emergency immunisation, but the national government will support the fight in the remaining areas,” he said.

Mr Mohamed blamed the low immunisation cover in Mandera on the nomadic nature of the communities. “Locals in Mandera are always on the move with their livestock at the expense of medical attention, but we are following them into interior grazing fields for immunisation,” said the official, adding that the low response from the national government and insecurity in Mandera were also to blame for poor immunisation coverage.

The disease was first detected in areas bordering Somalia and Ethiopia before spreading into the interior parts. Through the Rapid Result Initiative, the county aims at containing the epidemic completely within the next two months.


Mr Ibrahim Hussein, the head of the disease surveillance department in Mandera, said the highly contagious disease was first reported in Mandera East back in February. “We recorded one death of a child in February in Mandera East and another of an elderly woman in Mandera North Sub-County, but enough intervention measures were set up then and successfully managed the situation,” he said.

Since June, the disease has hit Mandera West with 182 cases recorded mostly in the remote areas. “But our medical teams are on the ground carrying out intervention measures,” he said.

Mandera North reported a measles outbreak in July and August, recording 28 cases. 

Mr Hussein blamed low immunisation coverage in Mandera for the high spread of the disease. “In addition to low immunisation coverage, we suffer from a spillover from neighbouring Ethiopia and Somalia since they have poor health infrastructure,” he said.

Symptoms of measles can include watery eyes, sneezing, a dry hacking cough, runny nose, conjunctivitis or swollen eyelids and inflamed eyes and photophobia or sensitivity to light. There is an often fever that can range from mild to severe.


It can last several days and it may fall and then rise again when the rash appears. The reddish-brown rash appears around three to four days after initial symptoms which can last for over a week and starts behind the ears and spreads over the head and neck.  After a couple of days, it spreads to the rest of the body, including the legs. As the spots grow, they often join together.

Vaccination prevents many cases of measles around the world. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 2.6 million people who have not had the vaccine die of measles every year. “We have a team of experts from the Ministry of Health in Nairobi camping in Mandera West assessing the situation before we can carry out mass vaccination,” said Mr Hussein.

Measles during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, early delivery, or low birth weight.

khojho Posted on October 20, 2018 02:44

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Jose Mourinho: Would sacking Man Utd manager be justified?

The Premier League weekend before the international break was dominated by talk Jose Mourinho was about to lose his job as Manchester United manager.

According to one national newspaper, the Portuguese's time at the club would come to an end regardless of the result against Newcastle on 6 October.

Even after United staged a remarkable late comeback at Old Trafford to win 3-2 - having trailed 2-0 after 10 minutes - callers to BBC 606 were split over whether Mourinho should keep his job.

Afterwards, the Portuguese said he could cope with the "manhunt" against him and reiterated that the contract given to him by the club ran until 2020.

So would United be justified in ending his two-and-a-bit-year tenure, or is he being judged too harshly?

As Mourinho prepares to face former club Chelsea on Saturday, we take a look at the facts...

Is Mourinho's record that bad?

Well, he has a better win ratio at United than Sir Alex Ferguson, who is the most successful manager in the history of British football.

Man Utd managers from Ferguson onwards (all competitions)
  Jose Mourinho Sir Alex Ferguson David Moyes Louis van Gaal
Games 131 1,500 51 103
Wins 79 895 27 54
Draws 28 338 9 25
Losses 24 267 15 24
Goals for 224 2,769 86 158
Goals against 102 1,365 54 98
Win % 60.31 59.67 52.94 52.43

With 20 major trophies to his name - won in four different countries - the 55-year-old is justifiably portrayed (often by himself!) as a serial winner.

He has claimed two major trophies at Old Trafford - the League Cup and Europa League, both in his debut season - and never finished lower than sixth in the Premier League, coming second in 2017-18.

There has been a dip in form this term, with three league defeats in the first eight games and elimination from the League Cup at the hands of Championship side Derby.

Mourinho's seasons at Manchester United
  2016-17 2017-18 2018-19
League wins 18 25 3
League draws 15 6 1
League losses 5 7 3
League points 69 81 10
Points per game 1.82 2.13 1.25
League GD +25 +40 -2
League finish 6th 2nd -
Trophies won League Cup, Europa League None -

However, after a frustrating summer in which he failed to land key transfer targets, Mourinho did warn of difficult times to come in 2018-19 - and he still has three-quarters of the season in which to turn things around.

Is there an issue with his tactics?

'The whole of Manchester United must share the blame'

This is the crux of the matter for many.

"Attack, attack, attack" is a now familiar refrain from the home support at Old Trafford, accustomed to successful, stylish football throughout the Ferguson era.

"With Mourinho you will always get trophies and success. It might not be a happy place but he does deliver success," former Chelsea and Scotland winger Pat Nevin told BBC Radio 5 live.

"The system he has adopted throughout his career has been very successful, but the question has now arisen as to whether he is a dinosaur and if he is outdated? I don't think he is."

Former United midfielder Paul Ince feels Mourinho should remain as manager but disagrees with Nevin, telling the BBC's Sportsweek the Portuguese must adapt to give the fans the attacking football they want.

"I'd like him to stay but he has to start changing from his methods that he used years back to understand that the game's gone forward," said Ince. "Don't be a dinosaur and start attacking teams like we have done over the years."

Mourinho's tactics noticeably differ from many of United's main top six rivals, for whom pressing is a key part of their approach.

However, amid the perception that United do not play with the dynamism of Liverpool, it is interesting to note that Mourinho's men fare marginally better than Jurgen Klopp's team when it comes to stopping opponents progressing up the pitch - albeit United are only the 10th best side in the division in this regard.

Teams are also finding it relatively easy to keep the ball against United, who disrupt opponents' play with a tackle or interception after 13.3 passes on average - only the ninth best in the division but, again, slightly better than Liverpool.

Ultimately, though, it is goals scored which will dictate whether a team is sufficiently attacking. And on this front United trail all of their main rivals in the period since Mourinho's appointment.

Have his signings failed?

Mourinho's Man Utd signings
2016-17 2017-18 2018-19
Eric Bailly (defender) Victor Lindelof (defender) Diogo Dalot (defender)
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (forward) Romelu Lukaku (forward) Fred (midfielder)
Henrikh Mkhitaryan (midfielder) Nemanja Matic (midfielder) Lee Grant (goalkeeper)
Paul Pogba (midfielder) Alexis Sanchez (forward)  

Mourinho was left frustrated by the club's inability to sign a central defender this summer, although he did start the campaign with two he brought: Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof.

However, neither has convinced Mourinho, with the manager recently suggesting his side "lacks the technical quality" to play out from the back.

Bailly even suffered the ignominy of being withdrawn after just 18 minutes against Newcastle, with former United defender Rio Ferdinand telling BT Sport he "can't see a way back" for the Ivorian at the club. Lindelof spent the evening watching from the bench.

Bailly & Lindelof Man Utd stats
  Bailly PL rank (since 2016-17) Lindelof PL rank (since 2017-18)
Appearances 43 76th 24 92nd
Win % 65.12 26th 54.17 37th
Clean sheets 19 19th 6 75th
Goals conceded 27 44th 23 36th
Pass accuracy 86.01 24th 89.96 9th
Tackle success 69.51 78th 55.56 117th
Interceptions 86 42nd 18 120th
Aerial success 60.82 50th 50 135th
Headed clearances 77 91st 55 59th
Errors leading to shots 1 46th 2 104th

Last January, United stole a march on rivals Manchester City to sign Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal, swapping him for an early Mourinho signing who had underwhelmed, Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

The Chile forward scored the winner against Newcastle but has so far failed to reach the heights he managed at Emirates Stadium, particularly with regards to goalscoring. Interestingly, though, he creates a chance slightly more often than when he was with the Gunners.

Two other strikers - Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Romelu Lukaku - have impressed under Mourinho. The Swede scored 17 goals in 28 Premier League appearances in his one full season, while Belgian Lukaku has hit the net regularly since joining from Everton in July 2017.

Midfielder Nemanja Matic began his United career superbly with an impressive campaign last season but has struggled for full fitness and form this time around, admitting that his display in the 3-1 loss at West Ham was the worst of his time at the club.

It is too soon to judge Diogo Dalot and Fred, although the latter's sizeable fee is likely to afford him a shorter honeymoon period.

Is Mourinho failing to get the best out of other big players?

Some players care more than others - Mourinho

This brings us to Paul Pogba, who Mourinho re-signed from Juventus for a world record £89m fee - but the pair have had a fractious relationship since.

The France midfielder's performances have been erratic at United, but the stats do not suggest a significant recent dip in form from the World Cup winner.

Paul Pogba at Man Utd
  2016-17 2017-18 2018-19
Minutes played 2,608 2,151 693
Mins per goal 521.6 358.5 346.5
Mins per assist 652 215.10 346.5
Mins per chance created 45.75 55.15 57.75
Pass accuracy % 85.07 85.30 83.75
Tackle success % 75.47 69.70 62.50

However, Spaniard David de Gea - one of the highest-rated goalkeepers in the world - has endured a dramatic downturn in form this campaign.

David de Gea expected goals conceded
  2017-18 2018-19
Goals conceded 26 13
Expected goals conceded 39.66 12.97
Difference 13.66 -0.03
Premier League ranking 1 16

And then there has been the public criticism of the likes of Antonio Valencia, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw, leading some pundits to suggest he has lost the dressing room.

Has he developed young players?

The club would appear to be pleased with Mourinho's work with young players, with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward saying in the announcement of his contract extension last January: "Jose has embraced the club's desire to promote top-quality young players to the first team."

Injuries have limited some players' game time in the past, notably Shaw, who has featured more heavily this campaign and now signed a new five-year contract.

Forwards Lingard, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford have all been subject to criticism from their manager, but it can be argued they have slightly improved their attacking involvement over Mourinho's tenure.

Young attackers under Mourinho
  Season Games started Goals Assists Chances created
Jesse Lingard 2016-17 18 1 2 29
  2017-18 20 8 5 26
  2018-19 4 0 0 4
Anthony Martial 2016-17 18 4 6 25
  2017-18 18 9 5 33
  2018-19 3 1 0 6
Marcus Rashford 2016-17 16 5 1 21
  2017-18 17 7 5 22
  2018-19 2 1 0 1

If he does go, who do United get in?

The Squad discuss Jose Mourinho's future at Manchester United

Zinedine Zidane? Antonio Conte? Mauricio Pochettino? Ryan Giggs?

There will not be a shortage of names in the frame should the Manchester United job become available again.

Former Real Madrid boss Zidane, who left the Bernabeu in the summer after having secured a third successive Champions League title for the club, is the bookmakers' favourite and his appointment would not be impeded by United having to negotiate his release from another club.

Ex-Chelsea manager Conte, who won the Premier League title in 2016-17, is also out of work, as is Laurent Blanc, who played for United in the early 2000s and was most recently boss of Paris St-Germain.

Of those in a job, Tottenham's Pochettino and Atletico Madrid's Diego Simeone have been linked. As has, inevitably, Giggs, who won everything there was to win during a 24-year playing career at Old Trafford, spent a brief period as interim boss in 2014 and is cutting his teeth in international management with Wales.

Whether one of those gets the chance may depend on whether Sanchez's late winner against Newcastle proves to be Mourinho's Mark Robins moment.

khojho Posted on October 20, 2018 02:13

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Mission to Mercury: BepiColombo spacecraft ready for launch

Europe and Japan are set to launch their joint mission to Mercury, the planet closest to the Sun.

The partners have each contributed a probe to be despatched on an Ariane rocket from French Guiana.

The duo, together known as BepiColombo, are bolted to one another for the seven-year cruise to their destination, and will separate once they arrive.

It's hoped their parallel observations can finally resolve some of the many puzzles about the hot, oddball planet.

One of the key ones concerns the object's outsized iron core, which represents 60% of its mass. Science cannot yet explain why the planet only has a thin veneer of rocks.

Bepi's high-resolution data should bring us nearer to an answer.

Media captionMessenger compiled this exaggerated colour map of Mercury during its first year in orbit

"Mercury doesn't really fit with our theories for how the Solar System formed, and we can't understand our planet fully unless we're able to explain Mercury as well," said Prof Dave Rothery, a Bepi scientist from the UK's Open University.

The probes' 6.4m-long, 4-tonne "stack" of parts are ready and waiting atop the Ariane launcher. Lift-off from the Kourou spaceport is timed for 22:45 local time, Friday (02:45 BST; 03:45 CEST; 10:45 JST Saturday).

How important is this mission?

It's the first time the European and Japanese space agencies (Esa & Jaxa) have gone to Mercury. The Americans have already been there, briefly with the Mariner 10 probe in the 1970s, and with the Messenger orbiter earlier this decade.

The latter provided remarkable new insights that included the amazing discoveries that water-ice is held inside some of baking Mercury's shadowed craters, and that its crust contains a lot of graphite (pencil lead).

Bepi will build on Messengers' investigations. The new mission carries twice as much instrumentation and will get closer for longer, giving scientists much more detailed information.

What will the probes do?

Europe's Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) and Japan's Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO) have different roles.

The MMO will make as its priority the study of the planet's magnetic field. It will investigate the field's behaviour and its interaction with the "solar wind", the billowing mass of particles that stream away from the Sun. This wind interacts with Mercury's super-tenuous atmosphere, whipping atoms into a tail that reaches far into space.

Europe's MPO will map the terrain, generate height profiles, sense the interior, and collect data on the surface structure and composition.

Image copyright ESA

Image caption The stack is unpacked at Mercury to enable complementary observations

What are the big mysteries?

The origin of Mercury is the question most people want answered. Today's dense body very probably does not reflect the initial form.

It's possible Mercury began life much further from the Sun and only later migrated inwards, perhaps colliding with something else on the way.

This might explain the loss of those outer layers: they got stripped away in the impact. But Messenger observed large abundances of sulphur- and potassium-containing compounds at the surface, and these should have been burnt off in a giant impact.

It's a fascinating world, says mission scientist Dr Suzie Imber from Leicester University. "It's also got huge cliffs, many kilometres tall. And those cliffs formed as Mercury shrank. We call them wrinkle ridges."

Media captionMercury: Learning from the strangest planet

Why is it such a long journey?

It is possible to go direct to Mercury in a matter of months, but the speed picked up by a spacecraft falling into the Sun's deep gravity well would make it very hard to stop at the planet.

Bepi will take a more circuitous route.

It will fly past Earth, Venus and Mercury itself, using the tug of their gravity to bleed off speed, so that by 2025 the mission can gently slot into position next to the diminutive world.

How challenging is this project?

The toughest prospect ahead is the heat. At just 58 million km from the Sun, working at Mercury is like being in a pizza oven.

The sides of the probes in direct sunlight will have to cope with temperatures over 400C. Even those surfaces facing away from the Sun have to be protected from the radiant heat coming up from the "hot potato" planet below.

Coping strategies include covering the MMO in thick blankets of insulation material made from titanium and ceramics.

"The environment is extremely hostile," explains Esa mission controller Elsa Montagnon. "At Mercury, we get 10 times the solar energy we get at Earth. But then from the illuminated side of Mercury, we get about four times what we get on the Earth. So, the spacecraft are continually in a heat sandwich."

Media captionElsa Montagnon will "drive" Bepi to Mercury

What are the key British contributions?

The major UK instrument onboard the MPO is the Mercury Imaging X-Ray Spectrometer (MIXS). It will observe the abundance of chemical elements in the planet's outer layers. This information will be integral to solving the origin puzzle.

Airbus in the UK built large parts of the MPO and the mission's propulsion unit, called the Mercury Transfer Module (MTM). The MTM hosts "electric engines" developed by QinetiQ.

Two of these engines will be fired in the direction of travel, providing a gentle force to help control Bepi's fall into the inner Solar System.

"Each of our thrusters operates at 125 millinewtons, and one way to visualise that is that it's the same as the weight of a two-pound coin," said QintiQ's Peter Randall.

Media captionUK Space Agency CEO Graham Turnock details the British contribution

How much has the mission cost?

It's expensive. Engineers have had a torrid time developing the technologies to keep Bepi safe so close to the Sun. Delays have added to the final ticket price.

It's estimated the costs borne by the European Space Agency and the Japanese space agency amount to about €1.65bn. Additionally, national space agencies in Europe have paid for the instrumentation on the MMO, taking the overall budget above €3bn.

This number covers the full lifecycle of the mission, from its approval (2007) to its termination (late 2020s). By way of comparison, the cost of Bepi would pay the salaries of the top seven football teams in the English Premier League for a couple of seasons.

khojho Posted on October 20, 2018 02:08

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Yemen 'heading into the abyss' with catastrophic famine, United Nations warn

By Alex Rossi, Middle East correspondent, in Yemen

The United Nations has told Sky News that Yemen is heading "into the abyss" - and is urging the international community to end the war before it is too late.

UNICEF - the United Nations Children's Fund - says as many as 400,000 children are at risk of dying from severe malnutrition and nearly 2.5 million need medical treatment because they are not getting enough to eat.

Yemen has been broken by nearly four years of war and is dangerously close to total collapse.

Government forces backed by a Saudi-led coalition are battling Houthi rebels who have taken control of several provinces, including the capital Sanaa.

Yemen: Faces of the world's forgotten war

Six people whose stories help explain why Yemenis are facing daily misery as conditions go from bad to worse

The fighting, airstrikes by the coalition and an air and sea blockade have done huge damage to infrastructure and have destroyed much of Yemen's economy.

In many areas there is simply no money - and although there is food, a huge percentage of the population cannot afford to buy it, relying instead on meagre food aid.

The country is now facing a catastrophic famine.


Video: On the frontline of world's worst humanitarian crisis

UNICEF's representative in Yemen, Meritxell Relano, says the consequences could be unthinkable if a political solution is not found.

She added: "It's definitely totally preventable and actually the cause of this near famine or pre-famine situation in which we are is obviously the war.

"If the conflict continues this country is going into the abyss further and further."

Image: Many of the children Sky News saw in Yemen were severely malnourished

In some areas, that point has already been reached.

We visited a number of refugee camps in Aslem in northern Yemen - and what we found was truly shocking.

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People who have fled the fighting are surviving by boiling leaves to keep hunger at bay.

Many of the children we saw in the camps were severely malnourished, but in the immediate area there is just one basic hospital, which has been overwhelmed.


Video: August: Crying children treated after bus airstrike

In one of the beds, we were shown a seven-year-old girl called Amal.

She is dangerously thin and her breathing was shallow - medical staff told us she was close to death.

There are more cases than there are beds.

The war has not just destroyed the economy, it has also ravaged the healthcare system.

But doctors say they are seeing more and more cases both in number and severity.

And they say the problem is getting worse.

Image: People who have fled the fighting are boiling leaves to keep hunger at bay

Dr Fatoum Mohammad Al Maktar, a paediatrician at the provincial hospital in Hajjah province, fears for the future.

khojho Posted on October 20, 2018 00:05

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$571 Million: Notorious North Korean Hacker Group Has Stolen a Fortune in Cryptocurrency

Even though blockchain technology has all sorts of security applications, one thing is for sure: cryptocurrency exchanges are vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks, and hackers have exploited these flaws for massive gains. However, no hacker crew has been quite as successful as the infamous North Korean group of hackers, dubbed “Lazarus,” which is responsible for the theft of over half a billion dollars in cryptocurrency since 2017.


Group-IB Report

The information arrives courtesy of a new report by Group-IB, widely considered one of the leading cybersecurity companies in the world. The award-winning company was founded in 2003, and is known for successfully protecting the 2014 Sochi Olympics (with regards to its brand, ticket sales, etc), as well as blocking attempts to pirate media from some of the largest media companies in the world, such as Sony Pictures, Paramount Pictures, and Fox TV.


Group IB’s report, which was first profiled in The Next Web, also points out that some of the most aggressive hacker groups will likely shift their focus to cryptocurrency exchanges instead of banks. There is no doubt that hacking cryptocurrency exchanges has been lucrative when successful, considering that over $700 million was stolen within the first half of the year. Many have questioned just how preventable some of these attacks are, with Coincheck — a Japanese cryptocurrency exchange hacked for more than $500 million — admitting that, “we didn’t have enough people working on internal checks, management, and system risk.”



Source: Group IB/The Next Web

About The Lazarus Group

The group of hackers known as The Lazarus Group (also known as HIDDEN COBRA) is notoriously elusive, and no significant tally can yet be made of how many members are involved. Regardless, they have attacks that have been attributed to them stemming from 2009. They are known for several high-profile bank attacks – most notably, the 2016 Bangladesh bank robbery, that resulted in the group successfully stealing over $80 million. They are perhaps best known for the infamous Sony Pictures Hack.


Lazarus has been focused on cryptocurrency for some time now, and recently have been utilizing a malware campaign known as AppleJesus that was especially effective with regards to Mac users. Many believe that the hacker group is targeting cryptocurrency as a result of the fact that the United States is attempting to isolate the country from the global financial system, as a result of its nuclear program, and that cryptocurrencies are an easier target, considering the fact that they are not controlled by a bank or government.

KaroA Posted on October 19, 2018 21:50

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Such Borrow, Many Loan: Crypto Lender SALT Now Takes Dogecoin as Collateral

Cryptocurrency investors have another way to access capital without having to liquidate their portfolios. SALT Lending, which has issued more than $50 million in blockchain-backed loans, is capitalizing on the liquidity in dogecoin and has begun offering loans in USD collateralized by longtime crypto darling DOGE. Dogecoin’s profile has been on the rise in recent months as investors have flocked to the altcoin while leaving others out in the cold.


SALT promoted the coin addition subtly on social media by adding Doge, a “Japanese dog breed Shiba Inu” who is the dogecoin mascot, to its Twitter profile. In addition to dogecoin, SALT also supports loans backed by litecoin (LTC), bitcoin (BTC) and ethereum (ETH).

“The majority of loans are collateralized by bitcoin, though some loans are collateralized by ethereum, litecoin or a combination of the three. We are excited to have Doge as our newest collateral type,” Jennifer Nealson, SALT’s chief marketing officer, told CCN.



Source: Twitter

DOGE boasts a market cap of $500 million and trades on many popular cryptocurrency exchanges with one notable exception, Coinbase. While rumors have been circulating that Dogecoin community leaders are pursuing a Coinbase listing, the DOGE team rebuffed those claims.



In the announcement, SALT described dogecoin as an “internet sensation,” one whose value has recovered in 2018 while other altcoins have suffered. DOGE, whose value is up approximately 80 percent since mid-August, has made its way to the top 21 cryptocurrencies, having recently surrendered the no. 20 spot to privacy coin zcash (ZEC).


According to GitHub,”Dogecoin is a cryptocurrency like bitcoin, although it does not use SHA256 as its proof of work (POW). Taking development cues from Tenebrix and litecoin, dogecoin currently employs a simplified variant of scrypt.”


SALT Lending

SALT’s Nealson explained to CCN that, depending on their jurisdiction, borrowers can use the funds either for personal or business reasons. “SALT transfers the loan amount to the borrower’s bank account to be used by the borrower,” she said.


Incidentally, earlier this month, SALT began issuing USD loans backed by litecoin, at which time it revised its interest rate model to include rates as low as 5.99 percent for loans less than $75,000 and 11.99 percent for loans up to $25 million. With the addition of dogecoin, SALT integrated a voting system for new coins that borrowers want to see on the platform.

“We’re listening to members of our community and are continuing to learn what’s most valuable to them. Currently, people can vote on ETH Classic, Monero, XRP, Cardano, Dash, Bitcoin Cash, or they can fill in their own recommendation, as we’re always working to expand our collateral offerings,” said Nealson.


Competitive Landscape

Perhaps the next area of focus will be stablecoins, which are the latest trend in the cryptocurrency community. BlockFi, which is a competitor to SALT Lending that similarly offers loans backed by cryptocurrency, in recent days announced its support for Gemini Dollar (GUSD) as collateral for USD loans. GUSD is the stablecoin that was issued by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss’ crypto exchange, Gemini. In addition to GUSD, BlockFi also added support for litecoin-backed loans, though it’s not a stablecoin.


Meanwhile, SALT has experienced rising demand for its crypto-backed loans from the “UK, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Vietnam,” and the firm recently expanded its reach in the U.S. to 35 U.S. states.

KaroA Posted on October 19, 2018 21:45

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Top Afghan General Abdul Raziq killed in Kandahar attack

Powerful Kandahar police general killed, along with intelligence chief, in shooting claimed by Taliban.

By Taimoor Shah and Mujib Mashal

Oct. 18, 2018

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — One of the most devastating Taliban assassination strikes of the long Afghan war on Thursday killed a regional police chief with a larger-than-life reputation as one of the last stalwarts against the militants. The top American commander in Afghanistan narrowly escaped injury.

The assassination, just two days before national elections already undermined by violence, took place inside the provincial governor’s compound in Kandahar City.

In what appeared to be an insider attack, at least one gunman killed the police chief, as well as the provincial intelligence chief. The governor of Kandahar and another senior police commander were also targeted; reports about their fate were conflicting.

The police chief, Gen. Abdul Raziq, had survived dozens of attempts on his life and was widely considered an indispensable American ally with influence across critical areas of southern Afghanistan, in the Taliban heartland. A fierce commander, he pacified Kandahar Province, once one of the most troubled spots of the war, and then held it secure for years even as the Taliban gained large swathes of territory all around it.

 Gen Abdul Raziq, pictured with police cadets in Kandahar province in 2012. Photograph: Renee Crisostomo/Regional Support Command-South/N

General Raziq, 39, was a survivor in a region where few have managed to evade insurgent campaigns to kill influential leaders. Often accused of having committed torture, extrajudicial killings and other serious human rights abuses, the general nevertheless was a major presence in the national psyche of a country battered and demoralized by the Taliban. His killing was bound to affect the voting not only in Kandahar, but also in wider parts of the country.

“This killing is the most significant military victory for the Taliban in recent memory,” said Graeme Smith, a consultant with the International Crisis Group who spent years as a reporter in Kandahar. “The insurgents’ main enemy has now disappeared in the southern heartland where the Taliban movement was born.”

General Raziq’s death will also complicate the mission of American forces in Afghanistan.

The United States military now stands to lose a diverse network of informants capable of monitoring threats and infiltrations from the Taliban and other groups, an American military official said. General Raziq acted as a central point of contact who helped the West contend with a region awash in different ethnic and family factions. If a capable successor does not emerge, the official said, the Americans may have to deal with exponentially more power brokers in the south.

He said that General Raziq had also been integral to shoring up the local police forces, and that without him, American forces may have to pour more resources into that effort.

The attack took place Thursday afternoon after a meeting between Afghan and American officials at the governor’s compound.

“At 3:30 p.m., after a meeting about the security of elections, when the high-ranking participants were heading to helicopters, an enemy infiltrator opened fire on them,” the Deputy Minister of Interior, Gen. Akhtar Mohammad Ibrahimi, said at a news conference. “The police chief, General Raziq, and the provincial intelligence chief, Gen. Abdul Momin, were killed.”

Gen. Austin S. Miller, center left, the head of NATO troops in Afghanistan; Gov. Zalmai Wesa of Kandahar, center right; and their delegations at a security conference in Kandahar City on Thursday. Credit Associated Press

In a statement, the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it had been aimed at General Raziq and Gen. Austin S. Miller, the top American commander in the country.

The American military released a statement saying that General Miller had not been hurt, but that three Americans had been injured. An American official, without offering details, said General Raziq had been a target, but not General Miller.

Eyewitnesses said the shooting took place as General Raziq was walking the American delegation to its helicopters. They said that a member of the governor’s compound guard had opened fire on General Raziq and that a shootout involving Afghan and American security personnel had ensued.

The eyewitnesses said General Raziq had been hit four times — twice in the leg, once in the abdomen and once in the chest.

“Today, I lost a great friend, Lt. General Raziq,” General Miller said on Twitter. “We had served together for many years. Afghanistan lost a patriot, my condolences to the people of Afghanistan. The good he did for Afghanistan and the Afghan people cannot be undone.’’

General Raziq was the third of the last four Kandahar police chiefs to be killed on the job.

Mr. Smith said he had brought a measure of calm to a city that was experiencing daily explosions when he took command of the province’s police force in 2011. But his methods, he said, often involved “a savage campaign” against the Taliban, tactics that were celebrated in the city but terrified people in the countryside.

General Raziq was 17 when he picked up a gun, and for years he was known to boast about Taliban body counts. But he mellowed in recent years, the war visibly changing him.

“I was a young man and then thought it was a good thing,” General Raziq said in an interview in 2015. “But I have come to despise it. I have come to realize this can’t be done through death and blood.”

Initially, there were conflicting reports about whether the Kandahar governor, Zalmai Wesa, and Gen. Nabi Elham, a police commander responsible for several provinces, had survived the attack. General Ibrahimi said both “are wounded but are under medical operation,” but other officials, including one of Mr. Wesa’s deputies, Agha Lalay Datagiri, said the governor had been killed. Other officials said the police commander had been injured.

In a brief televised message, President Ashraf Ghani said he had dispatched his intelligence chief and other senior officials to Kandahar to investigate the shootings. “I promise the Afghan people that soon the situation will get normal in Kandahar,” Mr. Ghani said.

The loss of General Raziq casts a further shadow on a political season already marred by bloodshed. One-third of polling stations will not open because of security concerns, and at least 10 candidates and dozens of their supporters have been killed. The Taliban have threatened to attack polling places.

General Raziq, center, during a graduation ceremony at a police training center in Kandahar last year.CreditJawed Tanveer/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Now, the attack in Kandahar has diverted the attention of the country’s security leadership to the province at a time when it is needed nationwide for the election.

Last year, another major attack inside the Kandahar governor’s office took a heavy toll on officials, killing a deputy governor, the ambassador of the United Arab Emirates and members of Parliament. The governor at the time survived with burns and wounds. General Raziq had just stepped out of the room before the attack.

General Raziq’s rise from lowly border guard to one of the most important American allies and Afghan security leaders was a story only possible in the context of the Afghan war.

He had basic literacy, and as a teenager he made money doing small trades at a border crossing with Pakistan. His friends said he had picked up arms as a 17 year old under the command of his uncle, an anti-Taliban leader, and was hardened by a sense of revenge after a large number of his family members were lost in the fight against the Taliban.

After the American invasion, he became a border guard and rose through the ranks as a skilled, if ruthless, leader. When the former police chief of Kandahar was assassinated by the Taliban in an explosion in 2011, General Raziq was appointed the provincial police chief with the immediate task of securing a city under siege.

In the initial days, General Raziq relied on a tight group of loyal border guards to reverse the Taliban’s gains, his often dirty and disheveled men roaming the center of the city providing an odd sight for residents. Over the next few years, General Raziq not only established himself as one of Afghanistan’s most important security leaders, but also grew as a major politician and power broker.

In recent years, he rarely wore his uniform and cared little about the chain of command. He frequently criticized Mr. Ghani, the Afghan president and did not mince his words. Mr. Ghani repeatedly considered firing the general for insubordination and the possibility of corruption, but was advised against dismissing him by his American allies and his own officials. They feared firing the general would bring additional instability in the south.

With the province and a major border crossing under his control, and with businesses abroad, General Raziq grew enormously rich. He spent time in Dubai and had been heavily involved in the horse trading that is part of the coalition building ahead of Afghanistan’s presidential elections next year. Because of his influence and his wealth, he was seen as an important man to be won over — and someone who could deliver the south.

Some of Afghanistan’s highest-profile assassinations have come at times when peace efforts were underway. In 2011, Burhanuddin Rabbani, a former Afghan president who led a group seeking negotiations with the Taliban, was killed by an assassin who carried explosives in his turban.

General Raziq’s death comes at a time when American officials are meeting with the Taliban to push for formal peace talks. The general was believed to have been crucial to making sure the stalemate in the battlefield, particularly in the fragile south, did not tilt in Taliban’s favor before a negotiated settlement.

Although General Raziq’s views on the Taliban may have changed in recent years, he still considered the group as a proxy fully at the mercy of Pakistan.

“If my death translates to peace, I have no problem with it,” he said in the 2015 interview. “What I fear is it won’t lead to peace. It is an illusion for the Taliban to sit down for talks. They have no control on that.”

Taimoor Shah reported from Kandahar, and Mujib Mashal from Kabul. Fatima Faizi and Fahim Abed contributed reporting from Kabul, and Thomas Gibbons-Neff from Washington.


joewalash Posted on October 19, 2018 20:11

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WhatsApp dirty tricks alleged in Brazil presidential race

Allegations of a dirty tricks campaign on WhatsApp dominated Brazil's presidential election race on Thursday, turning attention to social media manipulation following abuses uncovered in the last US election and Britain's Brexit referendum.

Trailing leftist candidate Fernando Haddad accused the far-right frontrunner, Jair Bolsonaro, of "illegal" electoral tactics after a report that companies were poised to unleash a flood of WhatsApp messages attacking him and his Workers Party.

Bolsonaro denied the allegation, tweeting that the Haddad's Workers Party "isn't being hurt by fake news, but by the TRUTH."

The exchange happened 10 days before a run-off election that polls predict Bolsonaro -- a bluff, internet-savvy, pro-gun polemicist often compared to US President Donald Trump -- will likely win comfortably.

Ordinary Brazilians told AFP they got much of their election information through WhatsApp. They said some in their families or entourage swallowed some misinformation, but denied they themselves were being influenced.

"We get a lot of news, even false news, but some true, about politics but I don't think it changes very much in terms of making decisions," said Ana Clara Valle, a 27-year-old engineer in Rio.

She said she was voting for Bolsonaro because of his Catholic, pro-family stance, not because of any "extreme right" sensibility.

Andre de Souza, a 35-year-old lawyer leaning toward voting for Bolsonaro, said he receives around 500 WhatsApp messages a day for and against both candidates.

The rumors and false information "don't make a difference to me," he said, but added: "My mother received a WhatsApp message saying Bolsonaro was doing away with (mandatory) end-of-year salary payments, and she believed it!"


© Provided by AFP Worker's Party presidential candidate Fernando Haddad claims that his rival Jair Bolsonaro is engaged in illegal campaign dirty tricks Haddad made his accusation after Brazil's widest circulation newspaper, Folha de Sao Paulo, reported it had discovered contracts worth up to $3.2 million each for companies to send out bulk WhatsApp messages attacking the Workers Party.

"We have identified a campaign of slander and defamation via WhatsApp and, given the mass of messages, we know that there was dirty money behind it, because it wasn't registered with the Supreme Electoral Tribunal," Haddad told a media conference in Sao Paulo.

Bolsonaro's lawyer, Tiago Ayres, told the financial daily Valor there was no evidence of any connection between the companies mentioned by Folha de Sao Paulo and Bolsonaro's campaign.

The row shone a light on an issue that has become a pressing one in democracies: the organized abuse of social media to sway public opinion in countries.

Facebook -- which owns WhatsApp, as well as popular image-based network Instagram -- is the most prominent company that has come under scrutiny, though Twitter has also come in for criticism.

© Provided by AFP Ordinary Brazilians told AFP they got much of their election information through the WhatsApp mobile messaging service The platforms have made an effort to clean up who uses their services after evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 US election that saw Trump triumph, and accusations Facebook allowed user data to be harvested to bolster the campaign the same year for Britain to leave the European Union.

Facebook has also shut down disinformation pages traced to campaigns believed to have ties to Iran's state-owned media and to Russian military intelligence services.

Seeking a debate

© Provided by AFP Campaign promises by Jair Bolsonaro and Fernando Haddad in the runoff round of the Brazil's presidential election There is no evidence of foreign interference online in Brazil's election.

The director of major polling firm Datafolha, Mauro Paulinho, said on Twitter that his company had detected "some shifts" in public opinion just before the first round of the election on October 7, which Bolsonaro won handily.

"Technical and factual observations" were made, he said, without drawing any conclusions.

There are 120 million WhatsApp user accounts in Brazil, whose population is 210 million. The app works as a popular social network for friends, families and work colleagues.

Both Haddad and Bolsonaro are the subject of memes, cartoons and slogans circulating online in Brazil.

Haddad, a former education minister and ex-mayor of Sao Paulo, has repeatedly tried to draw Bolsonaro into televised debates on policies.

The leftist candidate has an academic background he believes would give him an advantage if the exchanges moved away from the one-line quips and insults that characterize most social media communications.

But Bolsonaro, who skipped early debates because he was recovering from a knife stab wound after being attacked by a lone assailant while campaigning last month, has thus far shown little inclination to go head-to-head with Haddad.

khojho Posted on October 19, 2018 17:00

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Former Olympian Tasha Schwikert says she was abused by Larry Nassar, 'manipulated' into supporting USA Gymnastics

A former Olympic gymnast said in an exclusive interview with ABC News that she was sexually abused by former team doctor Larry Nassar for years, and claimed that in 2017, USA Gymnastics' then-president had manipulated her into agreeing to a statement of support for the organization.

Tasha Schwikert, 33, told ABC News that, shortly before a February 2017 "60 Minutes" interview where three former gymnasts alleged sexual abuse by Nassar, Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics at the time, called her unexpectedly, saying, "We're in some trouble."She said that he had asked whether she'd been abused by Nassar, and that in that moment she told him "no."

Schwikert, a 2000 Sydney Olympics bronze medalist, said she was caught off guard and not yet ready to come forward with her own story of abuse by Nassar.

"Up until that point... if anyone asked how my gymnastics career was, how the Olympics was, you'd smile and say it was great — life was glamorous," she told ABC News. "It kind of reminds me of social media, when everyone posts the best five percent of their life, but no one wants to talk about the other 95 percent. It's like everything is great, and you move on because it's easier to portray that your life is glamorous, [that] you're doing great and you're fine."

During the phone call, she said the USA Gymnastics head asked Schwikert to give him a statement about her "positive experience" with Nassar and USA Gymnastics. She refused to say anything positive about Nassar, but she did agree to a pre-drafted statement by USA Gymnastics, she said.

The statement read: "As a member of the National Team from 1999-2004, I firmly believe USA Gymnastics always had my health and well-being top of mind. The program provided me with the resources and experiences that helped me achieve my goals."

USA Gymnastics tweeted that statement alongside a picture of a beaming Schwikert.

Carolyn Kaster/AP

Former USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 5, 2018.

"[Penny] contacted me at probably one of the most vulnerable times of my life," she said, noting that she was days away from taking the BAR exam, pregnant, working and taking care of her year-old daughter alone, while her husband worked overseas "for months on end.""I hadn't even addressed or acknowledged my personal skeletons with Larry... I just felt indebted to [Penny]. Basically, because I was so vulnerable, he was able to manipulate me into just signing off on a statement that they drafted for me."She said that she never heard from Penny again after the statement was released. According to Schwikert, Nassar abused her for the first time when she was 16 at the Olympic Games Training Camp at the Karolyi Ranch in 2000. She said she was assaulted more than 100 times until 2005.

"Never in a million years would I think the doctor who is supposed to be treating me, and helping me, is telling me this medical advice, which is really just manipulation... to get me to believe that what he's doing is legit," she said.

Tasha Schwikert talked about her experience Thursday for the first time in an interview with ABC News. She hopes to speak out against what she described as an "environment of fear" that she said pervaded life at the Karolyi Ranch. She is now an attorney living in Las Vegas with her husband and two children.

She was joined Thursday by her sister, Jordan Schwikert, 31, also of Las Vegas, who was also a USA Gymnastics team member. Jordan Schwikert told ABC News that she was first abused by Nassar when she was 14, and that she had been assaulted more than 15 times.

"To even think about it, it just makes me so disgusted inside. I don't even want to imagine that it even happened," Jordan Schwikert said. "But when I was little, I would try to put it past me.

AFP/Getty Images, FILE

Former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar stands in Ingham County Circuit Court on Nov. 22, 2017 in Lansing, Mich.Jordan Schwikert said she was happy to have the opportunity tell her story with her sister, and that "it would be a lot harder to come out by myself."

"It's nice to have Tasha come out together... we just want to make a big impact and make change. We never want anyone to go through this. Coming out publicly, it's about helping other people."

Penny was arrested Wednesday in Tennessee for allegedly tampering with evidence in the case of Nassar.He allegedly removed documents from the Karolyi Ranch, the former U.S. gymnastics' training facility in Huntsville, Texas, related to Nassar's activity at the gym.

"The indictment further alleges that the removal of the documents was done for the purpose of impairing the ongoing investigation by destroying or hiding the documents," the U.S. Marshals said in a press release.

He allegedly ordered the documents be sent to him at USA Gymnastics headquarters in Indianapolis. Those documents have never been recovered, authorities said.Penny resigned as USA Gymnastics president in March 2017 amid allegations of sexual abuse against Nassar.

U.S. Marshals Service

The U.S. Marshals Service shared a photo of former USA Gymnastics President Steve Penny being arrested in Gatlinburg, Tenn., on Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018, for allegedly tampering with evidence in the Larry Nassar case.Nassar pleaded guilty in 2017 to seven counts of child molestation, but more than 130 women and girls, including Olympic gold medalists Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman, have accused him of assaulting them.

Many of those accusers testified at a hearing in January when he was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison. He pleaded guilty in two other cases — one pertaining to assault and another possession of child pornography — as well.In a statement from his attorney, Penny said that when the facts are known, it will be shown he did nothing criminal. He faces up to 10 years in prison. The attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Tasha Schwikert from ABC News.

On Thursday, USA Gymnastics also released a statement, saying that it had learned about the charges filed against Penny.“We support law enforcement’s efforts and have fully cooperated with the investigations by the Texas Rangers, Congress and others, and will continue to do so to help the survivors and our community heal from this tragedy.”

ruby Posted on October 19, 2018 16:32

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Chelsea vs Man Utd prediction: Sky Sports pundits deliver verdict on Premier League clash

After eight games, the Blues remain unbeaten and sit joint top of the league on 20 points with champions Manchester City and Liverpool. New boss Maurizio Sarri has already made his mark on the players, who are playing with a new found swagger that was lacking somewhat last season under Antonio Conte. The Red Devils on the other hand have endured a torrid time so far this season, losing three of their eight Premier League games.

Those losses, against Brighton, Tottenham, and West Ham, have led to calls by some for manager Jose Mourinho to be sacked. United did at least manage to beat Newcastle in their last game before the international break, coming from 2-0 down. No matter where the two teams are in the table, this fixture is always a fiercely contested one. Last season the spoils were shared, with Chelsea winning 1-0 at home and United winning 2-1 at Old Trafford.

Chelsea vs Man Utd: Alexis Sanchez has failed to shine since moving to United (Pic: GETTY)

And former United defender turned Sky Sports pundit Danny Higginbotham has had his say on how he sees the game going. “I’m going to go for a draw,” he told Sky Sports. “I think it will be a close game and I think United will try and play on the counter attack. “Chelsea will give everything they have got but I am going to go for a score draw.” And former Chelsea goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer thinks that Sarri’s team will have too much for United.



Man Utd

Saturday 20th October

12:30 on Sky Sports

English Premier League

Chelsea vs Man Utd: Eden Hazard is the top scorer in the Premier League (Pic: GETTY)

“I think that Chelsea are going to be too strong,” he said. “All over the park, the understanding and the performance levels at the moment from all of their players is top class.

“At the moment United, they are just not firing on all cylinders. There are players who are playing well below par so I think Chelsea will win.”

A win for Chelsea would put them ten points above United after just nine games, and see them top the table outright, at least for a few hours. The contest is the early kick-off in the Premier League (12.30) with Liverpool and City playing later on in the day. Chelsea can extend their unbeaten run to nine games, a feat they achieved in title-winning campaigns of 2005-06 and 2014-15. United have managed only five away victories in 52 Premier League meetings with Chelsea.

jmparker Posted on October 19, 2018 12:52

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GOP war room blasts endless stream of criticism at Democrats, with Warren its latest target

GOP war room blasts endless stream of criticism at Democrats, with Warren its latest target

By Michael Scherer

National political reporter covering campaigns, Congress and the White House

October 18 at 8:28 PM

The war room Wednesday at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington. (Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post)

The Republican Party’s research director, Mike Reed, found out about Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s DNA test before he got out of bed Monday. From his bedroom, the GOP attack machine started whirring.

At the White House, President Trump and his aides initially played down the news. Adviser Kellyanne Conway told reporters “that doesn’t interest me” and Trump said “Who cares?” when asked about the new evidence that the Massachusetts Democrat had Native American heritage.

But the Republican story began to change at 9:46 a.m., when Reed blasted out his first email to thousands of reporters and allies, laying out new talking points for his side — that Warren’s test result showed a “minuscule” percentage of native heritage in her DNA and would not end the political problems that had beset her since opponents suggested she had advanced her career by claiming such ancestry.

“Having as little as 1/512th Native American ties does not give you the right to claim minority status,” he wrote — a quote that soon started showing up on Twitter feeds and in news stories across the country.

It was just the beginning of a week-long anti-Warren onslaught that the Republican National Committee worked to orchestrate from its headquarters in Washington, an effort that helped blunt what Warren had hoped would be a moment of vindication before her likely 2020 presidential campaign.

Mike Reed, 34, the Republican Party’s research director and deputy communications director, confers with Michael Ahrens, 29, its rapid-response director. (Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post)

And it was another trophy for a team of about 60 GOP researchers, bookers and attack dogs who spend their time churning out the ammunition that conservative media and Trump supporters use daily to pummel the president’s foes.

The relentless stream of carefully curated — and sometimes misleading — political hits has been throwing Democrats off message for months while steadily stoking the daily fires of conservative outrage that power Trump’s political movement.

“I understand their weaponry, and frankly I don’t underestimate it at all,” said one aide to a Democrat considering a 2020 campaign, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss strategy. “They are really effective when they want to be. Within an hour, they are all on the same message and they are all pushing it.”

The party operation — which includes a research shop of 15 and a 10-person war room that scans news and video streams for Democratic slip-ups — has established itself with a broad mandate that not only includes the midterm elections and the coming 2020 contest but also seeks to attack former Trump administration officials who criticize the president.

“We average over 1 million views a week on Twitter, and we have 15 million views on our YouTube page this cycle,” Reed said of the video component of the operation. “We have an extremely large megaphone.”

War Room analysts monitor news sites and social media at the Republican National Committee. (Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post)

Some Democrats have watched the operation with trepidation. They worry that Republicans have doubled down on online rapid response focused on protecting Trump and attacking his potential challengers while Democrats have refocused their resources, for the moment, on the midterm elections.

Recent improvements in Trump’s approval rating and the release this week of a new national television ad from the group Future45 attacking Democrats as a group highlighted the concern that the party has become too focused on particular midterm races.

“Whose job is it exactly in the center-left ecosystem to take on Trump directly?” Simon Rosenberg, a Democratic strategist who runs the think tank NDN, asked in a blog post Wednesday. “Imagine if $50m had been directed against him in recent months. . . . Would it have made a difference in the coming elections? Of course it would have.”

This cycle, Democrats have made a strategic decision to channel money to candidates in an effort to empower them in specific races, usually with ads that focus on issues. There are plans in the works on the Democratic side to shift resources after November. Priorities USA, a Democratic super PAC that has focused on digital ads in the 2018 midterm elections, plans to join the Democratic National Committee next year in standing up a rapid-response operation focused on highlighting Trump’s behavior.

“Priorities will be devoting significant resources in 2019 and 2020 to bridging the gap between traditional press outreach and traditional digital advertising to communicate directly with voters and conversation drivers to hold Trump accountable on a daily basis,” said Josh Schwerin, a spokesman for the group.

“Democrats don’t have the benefit of the conservative media echo chamber emanating out from Fox News, so it will always look a bit different on our side,” he added.

The Democratic Party’s rapid-response operation also plans to increase its output on Trump after the midterm elections, after a campaign season that has focused heavily on driving issues that favor midterm Democrats, including health-care costs, the Republican tax bill and education.

“We’ve been making our case to the American people on the issues that matter most to them, but we’re very excited to hear that the RNC is so pleased with its rapid-response operation,” said Adrienne Watson, a spokeswoman for the DNC. “The Affordable Care Act is more popular than ever, GOP candidates can’t even talk about the tax cuts that were supposed to be their signature campaign issue, and most Americans want to counter Trump’s agenda by electing a Democratic Congress. So whatever it is they’re doing over there, we hope they stick with it.”

Democratic consultants expect the public attacks on Trump over social media to increase dramatically after the midterms. “Come November 7, it will fall on the shoulders of the Democratic Party to run interference for its field of potential nominees,” Brad Woodhouse, who was the communications director for the party in the 2012 cycle, said in an email. “Daily, relentless and no holds barred.”

Those adjectives fit the Republican operation as well. About one hour after Reed’s first blast Monday morning, the Republican Party’s rapid-response director, Michael Ahrens, sent out a tweet pointing to a 2014 New York Times story that listed the average European American share of Native American genomes as being higher than the report released by Warren. The tweet took off on conservative social media and was shared more than 7,000 times, getting more than 1 million “impressions,” or deliveries into Twitter streams. Later in the day, the tweet was read on Fox News.

That point was underscored when the Boston Globe, which broke news of the DNA test, corrected its own story to report that Warren’s test suggested that as little as 1/1024 of her genome might come from Native American heritage.

“We went from shrugged shoulders to raised eyebrows,” Conway said. “What our rapid response has been able to do is break through the noise.”

By the afternoon, broader questions about the import of Warren’s tests began to spread through the media, aided by a criticism from the Cherokee Nation about Warren’s decision to publicize the DNA tests.

“My goal primarily is to put out material that I think could persuade a left-of-center member of the press,” Ahrens said. “If I can change your mind, the base is going to like it, too.”

So will one influential reader: Posted on a wall in the war room is a copy of one missive pushing back on the Russia investigation. “Michael, so true. A witch hunt. Thank you,” reads a note scribbled in unmistakable thick black marker by Trump.

In recent weeks, the Republican operation, which includes a partnership with the Republican tracking firm America Rising, an independent political action committee, has created storms of controversy over former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr.’s metaphorical contention that Democrats should kick Republicans when they “go low” and the claim by Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) that those who supported the Supreme Court nomination of Brett M. Kavanaugh were “complicit in the evil.” Both clips became staples of prime-time Fox News programming.

That was typical of how the Republican effort is aided by an ecosystem of conservative media that is fueled by outrage over Democratic behavior. “It is totally normal to see a video go up on our YouTube page, and then within an hour there be a post on a Daily Caller, or Washington Free Beacon, or Breitbart, or the Washington Examiner, and then it goes from there,” Ahrens said.

The party often tries to produce material with the goal of going viral, including fake book covers of the latest tell-all White House insider accounts. Departed officials such as former FBI director James B. Comey and former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman have also become targets of the operation. Clips of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), a favorite Republican target, are also regular features of the operation.

The president in January retweeted a fake RNC-made cover of Michael Wolff’s book “Fire and Fury,” with the mocking title “Liar and Phony.” The cover image was later flashed on NBC’s “Meet the Press” during an interview with Wolff.

Democrats positioning themselves for likely presidential runs have begun to adjust their strategies to provide a viral counterbalance to Trump and the GOP infrastructure.

While her DNA release stumbled, Warren in particular has tried to prepare for online fisticuffs, hiring an experienced video and social media team into her Senate campaign that can transfer to a presidential effort if she runs.

As the Globe story came out, she released a well-produced video that earned millions of impressions, telling the story of her family’s story about Native American heritage, with interviews from officials who hired her explaining that her heritage gave her no advantage in getting her academic jobs.

After Trump shifted tack and went on offense Tuesday, repeating his racially tinged nickname for Warren, “Pocahontas,” and calling her DNA test “bogus,” she seemed to welcome the challenge, responding with a string of tweeted attacks on the president. She accused him of making “creepy physical threats about me” and denounced his use of “nicknames,” “racial slurs” and “conspiracy theories.”

In the wake of the suspected assassination of Washington Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey, allegedly by a team with links to Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Warren’s Senate campaign posted a 21-second video with 2016 campaign footage of Trump praising Saudis as his business customers. “Who are you really working for @realDonaldTrump?” the Warren campaign asked.

Reed responded with a new email, listing dozens of news stories about backlash to Warren’s DNA test results. His subject line: “Elizabeth Warren refuses to apologize after brutal 72 hours.”

Both sides were playing to separate political audiences in an early preview of the online warfare to come.


joewalash Posted on October 19, 2018 12:50

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Imam discovers everyone in mosque 'had been praying in wrong direction' for 37 years

Congregants at a mosque in Turkey had been praying in the wrong direction for nearly four decades before its new imam realised the error, according to reports in Turkish media.

The mosque in Sugoren, in the country’s western Yalova province, had a key flaw in its construction that meant faithful Muslims – who are instructed to kneel in the direction of Mecca during prayers – had misaligned themselves by as much as 33 degrees, the Daily Sabah reported.

Hurriyet, citing the Demiroren News Agency, said imam Isa Kaya was appointed last year and that, following rumours about the alignment of a niche in the mosque’s wall indicating the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca, he decided to ask the advice of local muftis.

The officials confirmed the niche, or mihrab, had been constructed in the wrong place when the mosque was built in 1981, it was reported.

Rather than tear down the niche immediately, Mr Kaya used a temporary measure to point people in the right direction – placing arrows made of white tape on the mosque’s carpet.

“We have explained the situation to our congregation and most of them have reacted positively to our solution,” the imam told Demiroren News Agency.

An architect will be given the task of redesigning the structure.

ruby Posted on October 19, 2018 12:50

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How 2018 Became the ‘Year of the Black Progressive’

It’s too soon to award the moniker, but 2018 may well be remembered as the political “Year of the Black Progressive,” much as 1992 was the “Year of the Woman.”Black women are taking office as mayors in major cities such as San Francisco and New Orleans. Record-breaking numbers of black candidates are running for office at the state level. No fewer than three black candidates are being seriously discussed as presidential nominees. And with gubernatorial candidates Stacey Abrams in Georgia, Andrew Gillum in Florida and congressional candidate Ayanna Pressley in Boston, among others, Democrats have nominated young, black, progressives where they typically would nominate white moderates.How is this happening, and why now? Simply put: White Democrats are becoming more liberal, and black candidates are running savvy, progressive campaigns that win the support of white Democrats while building a coalition with more pragmatic black voters.Taken together with the results of the 2016 presidential primaries—in which Bernie Sanders managed to win half of black voters younger than 30, and nearly a third overall—some could interpret this rising wave of black candidates as a sign that the notoriously pragmatic black electorate is moving leftward politically. But a deeper look at the numbers and the candidates themselves suggests that something else is at play.According to the Pew Research Center, since 2000, Democrats who identify as liberal has increased by 70 percent. But those gains came almost exclusively from white Democrats, 55 percent of whom identified as liberal in 2017, up from 28 percent in 2000. Over that same time span, the percentage of liberal black Democrats increased only marginally, growing from 25 percent in 2000 to 28 percent in 2017, with a slight drop-off following the election of Donald Trump.For more than five decades, black voters have exhibited historic uniformity, supporting Democratic candidates in the lion’s share of presidential, congressional and statewide contests. Even so, just 1 in 4 black Americans identifies as liberal, while 71 percent say they’re moderate or conservative. The black electorate today remains just as steady and politically heterogeneous as ever, while white Democrats are becoming more liberal.And yet, though white and black Democrats do not share the same politics, they are uniting behind black candidates in races where white moderates would typically win the nomination—in gubernatorial contests in Florida, Georgia and Maryland, and congressional races in majority- or plurality-white districts in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Texas.Put another way: Skilled black candidates are winning Democratic nominations not despite being progressive, but precisely because they’re running to the left of their competition to have a shot at winning white liberals.This is what Gillum, Abrams and Pressley did in their races. (It’s what Collin Allred did in Dallas, and Ben Jealous did in Maryland, too.) Abrams and Pressley adopted bold progressive platforms after spending previous years practicing a more moderate form of Democratic politics. Abrams cut her teeth in Georgia’s General Assembly, where she was known for her pragmatism, ability to negotiate compromises and willingness to break party ranks to resolve conflicts. Pressley was a Hillary Clinton supporter in 2016 who accused Bernie Sanders of pandering to voters with unrealistic progressive proposals. But both Abrams and Pressley understood that pragmatism wouldn’t mobilize voters or win party primaries.But this isn’t a phenomenon confined to the Democratic Party. Minority Republican candidates must run to the right of the other contenders to have a shot at a primary victory. A recent study found that voters in the GOP’s base are “more supportive of minority Republicans who are viewed as the most conservative candidates,” particularly in gubernatorial and senatorial elections. Ideological purity muted the effects of any racial prejudice held by these voters, so racial minorities running as Republicans had to have more conservative platforms to have any shot at securing the party nomination. This approach has benefited several nonwhite Republican candidates in congressional and gubernatorial elections—from former Rep. Allen West in Florida to current U.S. Senate nominee John James in Michigan—since the Tea Party burst on the scene ahead of the 2010 midterms.But whereas white conservatives can generally determine the Republican nomination, white progressives cannot generally determine Democratic primary outcomes on their own. How, then, can black progressive candidates get over the hump?Enter the black electorate.In present-day primaries, if an aspiring Democratic nominee—especially a newcomer—can pair white progressives with black voters, she or he has the inside track to victory. For that to happen, black voter turnout must be high. Though race alone isn’t enough to garner the support of black voters, there is nevertheless a desire by those voters to elect people who understand the experience of being black in America. Studies have shown that black support for Democratic candidates increases when those nominees are black, and it’s further bolstered when an historic “first” is in play, like Barack Obama in 2008.Political scientists who study black voting behavior have noted the importance of both linked fate—the sense that group interest should govern one’s politics more than self-interest—and social incentives to mobilize voters. While a shared lived experience may be sufficient to activate linked fate in black voters, scholars have found that it’s an insufficient motivation in and of itself to increase turnout because of the act of voting comes with costs, such as time, travel and information gathering. That is, voters will turn out when the benefits of doing so outweigh the costs.So where is the motivation to turn out coming from? For black voters, it’s Trump.A recent Quinnipiac Poll shows that 92 percent of black Americans disapprove of the job the president is doing, 97 percent disapprove of his handling of race relations, and 79 percent believe he is racist. The prospect of defeating Republicans who practice Trump’s brand of politics energizes black voters—a phenomenon that was on national display in last year’s special election in Alabama, where black voters turned out at a historic rate to defeat Trump-proxy candidate Roy Moore.Black progressive candidates are betting that Trump’s high disapproval rating among black voters coupled with the chance to make history will be sufficient motivation to increase turnout. This electoral strategy of pairing progressive policies with black voter appeals proved effective in winning Democratic primaries this year, but whether it can win general elections is an open question.Some of these nominees are moderating their campaign rhetoric for the general election in order to shift the focus away from race—typically an electoral handicap in majority-white constituencies—and toward broader appeals to more voters.Gillum offers an instructive example.“When people see my face and hear our story, there’s a different level of passion and drive to go out and vote,” he told The Washington Post ahead of his August 28 primary. “Voters have an appetite for a candidate who is going to reflect them.”Yet on the night of Gillum’s primary win, CNN’s Don Lemon asked him whether it had sunk in that he could be Florida’s first black governor, to which he responded in a manner reminiscent of Obama, “I am [vying] to be the next governor of the state of Florida, and it just so happens I’m black.” After alluding to the tremendous racial progress in the South, Gillum concluded, “The way we are going to win this race is making sure that voters know that I am going to be the governor for everybody and not just some, but for all.”This isn’t duplicity; it’s just sound politics. The strategies that win primaries don’t necessarily win general elections. This new cast of progressive black Democrats has realized success because they are good politicians, too; they have managed to find common ground with various blocs within the Democratic electorate by reading their audience and playing to their strengths. And just as they adjusted their campaigns to emerge from the primary, they must now calibrate their approach to the broader electorate.The polling suggests that Abrams, Gillum and Allred are in tight races (Pressley is running unopposed in the general). If they win, Democrats will need to rethink their rush to focus on white working-class voters and find candidates who will run on a progressive platform while connecting with the party’s base and the working class, writ large.But if these nominees are unsuccessful, it would suggest, rightly or wrongly, that black progressive candidates may still be a bridge too far for too many Americans, just as Jesse Jackson was in 1984. And it may very well disrupt the white liberal-black voter coalition within the Democratic Party and push the party to redouble its efforts to woo the white working class.No matter the outcome, this November’s election results will give us a taste of what to expect in the next presidential race. Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, as well as former Governor Deval Patrick, will be watching how black progressives fare this year very closely before making their decisions on whether (and how) to embark on a presidential run. Trump and the Republican Party will be paying attention, too. The nation will be tuned in to see if this is truly the year of black progressives, or if they’re just the flavor of the month.

ruby Posted on October 19, 2018 12:31

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ISIS hate preacher Anjem Choudary RELEASED from jail for 'good behaviour'

Choudary, 51, was jailed for inviting support for ISIS in 2016. The preacher was driven away from Belmarsh this morning under cover of darkness at around 4am. He was freed under automatic release after reaching the halfway point of a five-and-a-half year sentence when time in remand is taken into account.

He will be under strict supervision for the rest of his sentence.

Police and MI5 are expected to be involved in keeping tabs on him. Other measures are expected to be electronic tagging, a night-time curfew, requirements to stay within a set area and only attend approved mosques. He is banned from contacting people charged or convicted with extremist-related offences without prior approval and he will be restricted on his internet and mobile device usage.

The preacher was driven away from Belmarsh this morning under cover of darkness at around 4am (Pic: GETTY)

The preacher was previously a solicitor (Pic: PA)

Police and MI5 are expected to be involved in keeping tabs on him (Pic: GETTY)

Theresa May said authorities are equipped to monitor the hate preacher after his release, saying: "The police, the prison, the probation service, and other agencies have a range of powers available to them.

"They also have significant experience in dealing with such offenders."

Last week, security minister Ben Wallace said: "We are alert to the threat people like him pose and we will make sure we do what steps we need to mitigate it."

The preacher was previously a solicitor and before being banned was the spokesman for Islam4UK.

He was once a leading figure of the now banned group al-Muhajiroun (Pic: GETTY)

The ISIS lover has been branded as despicable by fellow Muslims (Pic: GETTY)

Choudary did not personally organise or carry out any terrorist attacks, but he influenced others to do them for him. Terrorism researcher Hannah Stuart said his Al-Muhajiroun network was a factor in the lives of at least a quarter of those who carried out terrorist attacks. Khurram Butt, one of the three men who carried out the London Bridge in 2017, was part of the network – but not in the inner circle. Others include Lee Rigby murderer Michael Adebolajo, but Choudary claimed he had left the group.

Choudary influenced the London Bridge attackers and the murderers of Lee Rigby (Pic: GETTY)

Choudary claimed Michael Adebolajo left the Al-Muhajiroun network (Pic: GETTY)

He was once a leading figure of the now banned group al-Muhajiroun. But he has been branded as despicable by fellow Muslims. His name has been added to a UN sanctions list, which means he is subject to an assets freeze and travel ban.

jmparker Posted on October 19, 2018 12:18

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Young mum told to BREASTFEED newborn baby in ‘stinking’ restaurant toilet

Ellie Webster claimed when dining at W2 World Buffet she needed to feed her one-year-old daughter Lottie.But she claims staff at the venue in Middlesborough told her she would have to use the disabled toilet instead of feeding in front of fellow diners. The furious 23-year-old said she “cried all the way to the toilet” and then shared her experience on Facebook. Ellie wrote on Facebook: “Never in my life felt so humiliated and embarrassed about breast feeding my 1 week old daughter in W2 world buffet telling me I am not allowed to feed my daughter unless I go sit in the disabled toilets.

“Having to walk through the full restaurant in tears to go out the back in to a toilet that STUNK the toilet was broken making a noise that put the s*** up her.

“I’m sure now a days you are allowed you breast feed wherever and whenever needed!!!” The mum told the Evening Gazette staff informed her it was policy. “I got to the toilet but it was brutal,” she added. “There was no away I was going to breastfeed her in there – it’s not hygienic.

SHAMED: Ellie Webster said the experience at W2 World Buffet left her feeling 'humiliated' (Pic: FACEBOOK)

SUPPORT: Ellie's Facebook post has gone viral (Pic: FACEBOOK)

Her Facebook post has gone viral and sparked what has been described as a “nurse in” protest outside W2 in 11.30am today.

"The event description on Facebook reads: "Tomorrow, we will stand and show the people of W2 that we will not stand for bullying breastfeeding mother’s in our town. “Please join us and show your solidarity. "Bring food, picnic blankets, cushions, camping chairs, toys for little ones. “Remember some change for a cup of tea if you can. “Feed your lo’s if you want or just stand with us and show your support.

SORRY: W2 World Buffet has apologised and blamed an inexperienced staff member (Pic: EVENING GAZETTE)

W2 has since blamed “inexperienced” staff members and said it “apologises to all parties involved". A statement read: “ It is not our company policy to tell mothers where they can breastfeed. "We have also spoken to the Middlesbrough Council and we have signed up to show our support of breastfeeding anywhere in our premises. “We can't change what happened but we will do everything to ensure it doesn't happen again including evaluating our staff training and informing all staff members of what has occurred

jmparker Posted on October 19, 2018 11:36

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Examples Of Double Standards In Our Society That You’re Likely Guilty Of.

Below are some images illustrating a few of the common double standards we face in today's society that you're likely guilty of.









But never forget:

You are the Universe; it’s pronounced ‘YOU’niverse for a reason.

Thanks for reading!




paxex Posted on October 19, 2018 10:48

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Russian historians use Nazi photo to locate Stalin-era mass graves

A team of Russian historians and archaeologists have used a Nazi bomber pilot's photograph to help them pinpoint the location of mass graves in Moscow containing the remains of thousands shot by Stalin's secret police.

The existence of a mass grave in the Kommunarka district in southwestern Moscow first came to light in the dying days of the Soviet Union when the KGB opened up its archives.

It was one of three killing fields in the city used by Stalin's NKVD secret police in the 1930s.

Historians believe at least 6,609 people were shot and thrown into mass graves in Kommunarka between 1937 and 1941.

The gated forested area was once used by NKVD chief Genrikh Yagoda, who had a holiday cottage there.

Related: The Blitz in World War II (provided by photo services)

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But he fell foul of the regime and was removed from his post in 1936 and shot in 1938 -- with his body most likely also disposed of in Kommunarka.

Until recently, the mass graves were believed to be located in one area of the forest, where victims' relatives put up a memorial.

But historians now believe the graves' location was misidentified.

© Getty A photo taken on September 28 shows the forested area near Moscow known as Kommunarka where historians belive Stalin's NKVD secret police killed and burried more than 6000 people in 1937-41. - A team of Russian historians and archaeologists have used a Nazi bomber pilot's photograph to help them pinpoint the location of mass graves in Moscow containing the remains of thousands shot by Stalin's secret police. Historians believe at least 6,609 people were shot and thrown into mass graves in Kommunarka between 1937 and 1941. The gated forested area was once used by NKVD chief Genrikh Yagoda, who had a holiday cottage there. (Photo by Andrei BORODULIN / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANDREI BORODULIN/AFP/Getty Images)

Using a Luftwaffe photo

No serious archaeological work has been done before in Kommunarka, said Roman Romanov, director of Moscow's Gulag History Museum, who co-led the investigation.

"There was nothing (in Kommunarka) before, people used to pick mushrooms there."

The area remains much less investigated than a larger Stalin-era killing field in Moscow's Butovo district, Romanov said.

But with a planned opening of a new memorial at Kommunarka, he said historians wanted to check exactly where the bodies were.

Romanov said they used ground-penetrating radar and historic photos to examine the area.

"We had volunteers working to clear the area and a geo-radar following us looking for anomalies in the ground," he said.

An aerial shot of Kommunarka taken by a Nazi pilot flying over Moscow in 1942 -- when the graves were "fresh" -- was key to the investigation.

Crucially, it showed the height of the trees in the area at the time.

Historians came to the conclusion that some of the trees had been planted over fresh graves -- a tactic often used by the NKVD to cover up its executions.

The next step, Romanov said, is to identify in which specific pits the bodies of victims were placed.

"In a small one there could be 30 people and in another there could be 100 -- we want to know who is buried where."


Mongolian government

Yan Rachinsky, a senior member of rights group Memorial that documents Stalinist crimes, estimates that around 30,000 people were shot in Moscow alone during Stalin's Great Terror between 1937 and 1938.

During a brief period of openness during the Perestroika era in the 1980s, the KGB sent files on Stalin-era victims to journalists and Memorial, Rachinsky said.

In some, the NKVD gives the place of execution as Butovo or Moscow's Donskoye cemetery. Others simply say that the victim's body is "in a pit".

"We believe those with no (marked) place of execution are in Kommunarka," Rachinsky said.

High-ranking officials and scientists were among those shot and hastily buried in Kommunarka.

"Almost the entire Mongolian government is there," Rachinsky said. Mongolia was a Soviet satellite country.

Many officials from the Baltic states of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia were also executed there after their countries were occupied by the USSR in 1940.

Missing names

Rachinsky said that over a thousand of those believed to be buried in Kommunarka remain unidentified after the Russian security services closed access to Soviet-era files.

"Suddenly, they stopped sending us the files," he said, accusing the present-day authorities of a lack of interest in uncovering Soviet-era crimes.

"Our country is still not ready to declassify the materials of another country: the USSR," he said.

"The state is responsible for what happened here and it struggles to define its position," said historian Sergei Bondarenko, whose great-grandfather was shot in Kommunarka.

He predicted that only a "middle-ranking" government official would attend the opening of a new memorial this month.

"In my view it should be the president, because this was one of the biggest killing fields in Moscow," he said. 

© Getty A photo taken on September 28 shows the forested area near Moscow known as Kommunarka where historians belive Stalin's NKVD secret police killed and burried more than 6000 people in 1937-41

'Necessary' process

But Gulag museum director Romanov was more optimistic.

The opening last year of a memorial to victims of political repressions in central Moscow was attended by President Vladimir Putin, he pointed out.

Romanov said he wants other regions to follow the "positive precedent" of Kommunarka to find the "exact borders" of their Stalin-era mass graves.

"These places are still secret. People don't even know where (the bodies) are. Often all they know is that they are inside a huge forest," he said.

The aim, he said, is to identify exactly "who is buried where in all Russian regions."

"This might sound a bit Utopian. But it is necessary."

khojho Posted on October 19, 2018 10:10

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'A police bullet killed our precious daughter'

Amal Umer, a 10-year-old Pakistani girl, was shot in the head on 13 August by a police officer who was targeting an armed robber at a busy Karachi intersection. Her parents have mounted a campaign to change what they say is a broken and unaccountable system - and they are starting to see results, as BBC Urdu's Saher Baloch writes.

It would have been easy for Beenish Umer and her husband Umer Adil to be overwhelmed by grief. 

A joyous family trip to an orchestral concert on the eve of Pakistan's independence day turned into a nightmare when their car was caught in the cross-fire of a confrontation between police and a street mugger.

But the couple are not allowing their sorrow to keep them silent. They do not want Amal's death to be forgotten and to be seen by authorities as acceptable "collateral damage" in a violent police war against street crime.

"Our child won't come back to us. We are coming to terms with the reality of it," says Beenish in an interview at the couple's home in Karachi, a mega-city of more than 20 million in Pakistan's south. "But if by opening up we can bring about a change in how incidents [like this] are treated around here then it would be a success."

They believe that both the police and health system failed their daughter, and want to challenge what they say is a prevailing culture of impunity among Pakistani law-enforcers.

Laid out on the table in front of the couple is a large poster covered with pictures of Amal and the family. In the middle, in marker pen, it says: "We Miss You."

© BBC Beenish and Umer

Aanya, their youngest daughter, has been trying to come to terms with her sister's absence. "She can't express what she is going through as is the case with any six- or seven-year-old," says Beenish.

The couple gained a significant victory on 25 September when the Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered an investigation into Amal's death and criticised a private hospital and police for their actions.

It was around 22:00 on 13 August that the family stopped at a traffic light on a side road leading to a major avenue in the south of Karachi.

They saw that an armed man was threatening drivers and asking them to hand their phones over at gunpoint. He was making his way towards them.

They rolled down the window and calmly offered Beenish's purse and Umer's mobile to the mugger, who was growing increasingly agitated. He snatched the items but to their relief, moved on to another car behind them.

"We thought the worst was behind us until we heard multiple gunshots and a bullet went through our car's windscreen [from behind]," says Beenish.

Aanya, in the backseat, began screaming.

After the gunfire stopped, Beenish, in a panic, turned to check on her daughters. Aanya was in shock and crying. But Amal was quiet. Beenish reached out to touch her youngest daughter, who was bleeding. She had been shot in the head.

Umer sped to the nearest hospital, frantically yelling at cars out of his window to move out of the way.

From that moment on, they describe a night of agony and frustration. "Right from the moment we arrived at the National Medical Center, the hospital staff, as well as the police officers we dealt with, made us feel as if it was our fault that we were on that road that night," says Umer.

Beenish said that the hospital staff intubated Amal while Aanya sat on a stool outside, covered in her sister's blood. She says the staff then asked them to take Amal to another hospital.

"We said fine, we'd take her there. But can you at least arrange for an ambulance? To which their answer was to make the call ourselves," says Umer. "They also refused to give us the ambu bag [a manual resuscitator] or the tubes that were enabling her to breathe."

The hospital administrator disputes this account. Dr Omer Jang told the Dawn newspaper that doctors did all they could to save Amal but that she was already "clinically dead" by the time she was put on the ventilator.

Umer and Beenish say they spent another 15 minutes arguing with an ambulance service provider from a charity, by which time their precious daughter was gone.

'Unintentional death'

© BBC Umer family

The initial investigation by the police tried to exonerate its officers. Multiple police accounts were given - the thief was running away and that is why the police fired; he had opened fired at the police; Amal was hit by a bullet from the thief's gun, and so on.

Beenish and Umer argued the bullet came from behind their car, fired by a policeman.

A few days later, a deputy inspector general in the Sindh province police, Javed Odho, admitted that Amal had died after being unintentionally shot by a police officer, who he said was responding to fire from one of two armed thieves who had been mugging drivers. A one-inch bullet hole was found in the boot of Umer's car. According to Mr Odho, the policeman responsible was suspended and one of the thieves was killed.

Mr Odho has since asked the higher command to stop issuing AK-47 assault rifles, or Kalashnikovs, as standard to police officers in Karachi. 

© BBC Amal (right) was in the backseat of her parents' car when she was hit by a policeman's bullet

In recent years, street crime such as mugging and theft has surged across Karachi, with major roads and traffic lights a particular danger zone.

The city's newly appointed police chief, Ameer Ahmed Sheikh, defended the police's historic use of assault weapons, arguing that criminals have long had easy access to such arms.

The police have said the thief who robbed the family was part of a larger gang that had already carried out a spate of muggings on the same evening.

It's clear that the couple are still grappling with the reality of what has happened but they say they want to give voice to a silent majority who are continually let down by "the system of impunity".

"We belong to a culture where coming out with the truth and crying openly is seen as a weakness," says Beenish. "But if it brings about a change within our desensitised system and the officers working for it; if it begins a debate about making hospital staff and doctors accountable for their actions and lack of ethics, then in that case we don't see it as a weakness."

Their efforts are bearing fruit. As part of its inquiry, the Supreme Court has called the director of the National Medical Center to appear before it.

The couple are filmmakers and say they have received an outpouring of support. But they also faced criticism for being an urban, wealthy family with easy access to the police and media.

Critics say millions of Pakistanis with stories of hardship have no such opportunity. But such arguments can hurt.

"If we were really that privileged, we wouldn't have had to beg hospital staff to arrange an ambulance for us… while seeing [one of] our children fighting for her life and another sitting on a stool outside drenched in her sibling's blood," says Umer.

Their voices are clearly being heard, but Beenish and Umer fear that once the dust settles, nothing will really change. "My daughter is not coming back and I have to live with this reality every day," says Beenish. "But I want to make sure I keep speaking out, [so] it doesn't happen to another Amal."

khojho Posted on October 19, 2018 09:55

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She wanted to study at Hebrew University, but Israel is blocking her

An American student with Palestinian roots is fighting for the right to participate in a graduate program at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. 

Lara Alqasem, 22, was accepted to a master's program. She got a visa at the Israeli consulate in Miami. But when she arrived at the airport in Tel Aviv last week, Israeli authorities refused to allow her to enter the country.

Israel put a law in place last year that allows the government to ban entry to foreign activists who support BDS, the campaign calling for an international boycott, divestment, and sanctions against the Jewish State. BDS activists say they want to pressure Israel to promote Palestinian independence. But the Israeli government sees the movement as an anti-Semitic campaign to delegitimize the country.

When Alqasem was at the University of Florida, she served as president of a group called “Students for Justice in Palestine.” For Israel’s minister of strategic affairs, Gilad Erdan, that’s a smoking gun of sorts. Erdan says he will reconsider letting Alqasem into Israel if she apologizes for her activism and renounces her support for BDS. 

So far, she refuses. 

© REUTERS/Amir Cohen U.S. student Lara Alqasem (C) enters the courtroom before the start of a hearing in her case at the district court in Tel Aviv, Israel October 11, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Cohen Alqasem appeared in Tel Aviv district court on Thursday morning, wearing a long black cardigan, gray turtleneck, and black plastic glasses. She did not say a word.

One of Alqasem's lawyers, Yotam Ben Hillel, spoke in court today, explaining that she left the student activist group a year and a half ago. And, in any case, the group only has eight members. Hillel said Alqasem never called publicly for a boycott of Israel, and that Israeli officials are relying on Facebook and a dossier from a dodgy anti-Palestinian group to make their case against this American student. 

“Pick your hands up from the keyboard and your heads from the screens,” Hillel said in court. “How is it possible that a 19- or 20-year-old in college was a central boycott activist?”

State’s attorney Yossi Zadok painted a very different picture of Alqasem. He described her as a committed BDS activist who demonstrated against Israel and in support of a terrorist. Zadok also pointed out that Alqasem deleted her social media accounts before she arrived in Israel, suggesting that this is a common tactic among anti-Israeli agitators.

“We’re looking at actions, we have clear criteria and we believe Ms. Alqasem meets those criteria, based on her action and the actions of the organization of which she was a senior leader over several years,” said Asher Fredman, an advisor with Israel’s strategic affairs ministry.

But another of Alqasem’s attorneys, Leora Bechor, said her client will not apologize.

© Mostafa Alkharouf /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - OCTOBER 11: 22-year-old U.S. citizen Lara Alqasem, who has been held by Israeli authorities for a week appears in court in Tel Aviv, Israel on October 11, 2018. Lara Alqasem has been in Israeli custody since arriving at Ben Gurion International Airport last Tuesday with a valid student visa hoping to study law, human rights and freedom of travel at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Israeli officials are denying Alqasem entry based on allegations that she supported the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which urges businesses, educational institutions and celebrities to cut ties with Israel. (Photo by Mostafa Alkharouf /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images) “The fact that Erdan is asking that of her, he’s asking to penalize her thoughts, and to humiliate her, and to claim that BDS is illegitimate,” Bechor said. 

Alqasem planned to study at Hebrew University, which has itself been targeted by BDS activists. But the university is supporting Alqasem's petition. Pepi Yekireveich, a legal advisor at Hebrew University, asked the judge to allow this American student to study in Israel, where she will see for herself it this is a democratic state, not an apartheid state.

“This is just the person who will improve Israel’s reputation,” Yekirevich said.

The Israel district court judge did not give a ruling today. 

Alqasem left the room, and she will return to detention at a facility near Tel Aviv airport. The US Embassy says it is providing consular assistance including welfare visits, according to an official there. 

Israeli lawmaker Mossi Raz from the left-leaning Meretz Party said he and two colleagues visited Alqasem. Raz said her situation is unbearable and she must be allowed to stay and study in Israel.

“I am afraid that the pressure the right wing is [putting on the system], pressure the court, again and again, make some problems to the court to decide and make a just decision,” Raz said. 

© JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images US student Lara Alqasem sits for a hearing at the Tel Aviv district Court on October 11, 2018. - The student was refused entry for alleged support of a pro-Palestinian boycott of goods from Israel has chosen to stay and fight the ban in court. Immigration authority spokeswoman Sabine Haddad told AFP that Lara was being held at an immigration facility but was not under arrest. (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP) (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images) One man came to the trial on Thursday as a spectator. Aharon Gottlieb wore a suit and sat in the corner, with a blue and white Israeli flag draped around his shoulders. Aharon Gottlieb is a Brazilian Jew who just moved to Israel — and as a Jewish person, he is entitled to citizenship under the law of return.

“We need to make sure that our enemies don’t come into the country,” Gottlieb said. 

That is a view held by many Israelis. Across the street from the court, Malka Weinstein sipped a cappuccino with friends.

“All the Western countries don’t let such people into their countries,” Weinstein said. “If you speak against this country, don’t enter there. Go somewhere you believe in, not a place that you think is bad,” Weinstein said.  “It’s not Israel that’s so racist or against, countries should defend themselves.” Classes at Hebrew University begin next week. 

The program that Alqasem was accepted to is called, “Human Rights and Transitional Justice.” A political cartoon in the liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz today pictured Alqasem sitting in her detention cell. A guard is saying to her, “This is the practical part of the course.”

khojho Posted on October 19, 2018 09:41

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MPs call for 'clear target' to ban new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2032

A ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans should be brought forward by eight years to 2032 to encourage the take-up of electric vehicles , MPs have said.


Under current plans, the government's goal is for all new cars and vans to be "effectively zero-emission" by 2040.


But the parliamentary business committee warned that the government's targets were "vague and unambitious" and criticised cuts to subsidies as well as the lack of charging points.


The 2040 target puts the UK behind a range of countries including Norway, which is aiming for an end to combustion engine cars in 2025, and India, China, the Netherlands and Ireland with a 2030 goal and Scotland with a target of 2032.


A clear UK target is needed for new cars and vans to be "truly zero-emission" - and it should be brought forward to 2032 to make the UK a world leader, not left in the passenger seat on electric vehicle (EV) development, the MPs said.

The committee criticised the government for leaving delivery of a national charging network to local authorities and private companies, and called for regulations to provide an extensive, reliable and standardised public system.


Committee chairwoman Rachel Reeves said: "The government cannot simply will the ends and leave local government, or private companies, to deliver the means.


"The government needs to get a grip and lead on co-ordinating the financial support and technical know-how necessary for local authorities to promote this infrastructure and help ensure that electric cars are an attractive option for consumers."






Air pollution 'causes huge reduction in intelligence'

Ministers also came under fire in the report for the recently announced "sudden and substantial cuts" to grants for plug-in vehicles, and the committee calls for current levels of support to be maintained.

With grants and tax incentives on electric cars mostly only available to wealthier drivers, more creative support should be explored so all motorists can benefit from EVs, such as car clubs and the second-hand market.


Ms Reeves said: "Electric vehicles are increasingly popular, and present exciting opportunities for the UK to develop an internationally competitive EV industry and reduce our carbon emissions.


"But, for all the rhetoric of the UK becoming a world leader in EVs, the reality is that the government's deeds do not match the ambitions of their words."






Report: There is no safe level of pollution

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: "We understand the rationale behind wanting to bring forward the end of the sale of conventionally fuelled vehicles to 2032, but this would have to be matched with bold and decisive action from the government that actually makes hitting the new date possible.


"There are still significant barriers that are putting drivers off alternatively fuelled vehicles - these include the upfront cost, access to charging infrastructure, and ease and time to charge a vehicle."


But industry body Energy UK's chief executive Lawrence Slade said: "We firmly support the Committee's call for greater ambition and believe that an accelerated timetable for the rollout of Electric Vehicles (EVs) is both desirable and feasible."


A government spokesman said: "Our Road to Zero Strategy outlined our ambition for the UK to be the best place in the world to build and own an electric vehicle.

"As part of this, we want between 50% and 70% of new car sales to be ultra low emission by 2030, and for all new cars and vans to be effectively zero emission by 2040.


"And we also outlined measures to bring forward a major uplift in electric vehicle charging infrastructure, paving the way for the widespread adoption of ultra-low emission vehicles."

AlbertaU Posted on October 19, 2018 08:29

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Africa’s Leading Bitcoin Platform Has Launched a Paxexcoin Market.

Africa’s Leading Bitcoin Platform, Cofred Company Limited (Cofredcoin) has announced that will list the first physically-settled bitcoin futures contracts and form a new company intended to make Paxexcoin a mainstream financial asset.

“In bringing regulated, connected infrastructure together with institutional and consumer applications for digital assets, their aim is to build confidence in the asset class on a global scale, consistent with their  track record of bringing transparency and trust to previously unregulated markets.

Cofred has launched its new trading Platform (Paxexcoin) today, 7th of August 2018. Adding;

Paxexcoin is a cryptocurrency that enables the creation of powerful applications that combines the world of social media, investment, marketing empowering everyday internet users to make money by doing what they love. Moreover, Paxex is a long and medium term Investment that can rescue people from financial difficulties.

You can link your website to the PAXEX platform, create polls, voting etc. on your website and your users can only participate by sending fix amount of PAXEX coins to vote. All earning goes straight to the admin. Perfect for large forum, election survey on website, sport voting. Continue:

Where you will be able to create multiple PAXEXCOIN. Wallets that you control on your website. The admin settings will be able to make deposits, creating polls with special voting addresses, create vote events with special addresses, admin (website owner, blogger, forum admin) will be able to control money and check status of voting and cash out to exchanges.

The Launching told place at Premises of Cofred Company Limited, opposite Gongo-Villa Bus stop, off Kasoa Ofaarkor road.

Developing… will continue to update this story, so check back for more information.


Prynx Posted on October 19, 2018 04:00

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U.S. commander in Afghanistan survives deadly attack at governor’s compound that kills top Afghan police general

U.S. commander in Afghanistan survives deadly attack at governor’s compound that kills top Afghan police general

By Pamela Constable and Sayed Salahuddin

October 18 at 1:51 PM

Niyaz Mohammad Amirii (R), governor of Logar province, chats with U.S. Army Gen. Scott Miller, commander of Special Operations Joint Task Force Afghanistan, following a shura in the governor's office on March 26, 2014 ,in Pul-e Alam, Afghanistan. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

KABUL — A gunman wearing an Afghan army uniform opened fire Thursday on participants in a meeting with the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, killing three top southern provincial officials and wounding at least three Americans. But Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller, the target of the attack claimed by the Taliban, escaped unharmed.

Among those killed in the attack inside the governor’s compound in southern Kandahar province was the region’s top police general, Abdul Raziq, who was seen as the most powerful man in southern Afghanistan.

U.S. military officials confirmed that a U.S. soldier, a contractor and another civilian were wounded in the attack, which occurred shortly after a high-level meeting attended by Miller.

In a news conference later Wednesday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani confirmed that Abdul Raziq and the Kandahar provincial intelligence chief “were martyred” in the attack. He said he has sent security authorities from Kabul to assess the situation.

The Afghan Interior Ministry said the provincial governor, Zalmai Wessa, was wounded in the shooting and was rushed to a local hospital, where he was later reported to have died of his wounds. The ministry said Miller was not hurt and returned to Kabul.

A Taliban spokesman, Qari Mohammad Yusuf Ahmadi, said in an email to journalists that the group carried out the attack and that Miller was among the main targets. Ahmadi asserted that Miller had been killed, a claim also denied by U.S. military officials. He claimed that in addition to Abdul Raziq, whom he described as “the savage commander of Kandahar,” the dead included Wessa and the Kandahar intelligence chief, Abdul Momin.

The attacker opened fire as the officials were in the governor’s compound following a security meeting about crucial parliamentary elections on Saturday, officials said.

The lone attacker was killed after fatally shooting Abdul Raziq and wounding several of his bodyguards, Afghan and U.S. security officials said. He was reported to be a member of the provincial governor’s security team.

Several current and former officials lamented the death of Abdul Raziq, 39, a close U.S. ally and fierce anti-Taliban fighter.

“It is a big loss for Afghanistan,” Shakeba Hashimi, a legislator from Kandahar, said by cellphone as she was en route to his funeral at a hospital there. “We have security in Kandahar that we don’t have in the capital. It is because of this honorable general.”

In this photo taken on Jan. 2, 2018, Afghan Lt. Gen. Abdul Raziq, police chief of Kandahar province, speaks during a news conference in Kandahar. (Jawed Tanveer/AFP/Getty Images)

Amrulleh Saleh, a former Afghan national intelligence chief, tweeted that Abdul Raziq had been “an architect of stability” in Kandahar who had established “deep political networks” in support of the government. “This is a pan-Afghan loss,” he wrote.

Afghanistan’s ambassador to Pakistan, Omar Zakhilwal, tweeted that Abdul Raziq’s death was “a dark day” for the country and that he was “shocked and heartbroken by the demise of close friend, great patriot & national hero.” He said Abdul Raziq had “single-handedly restored stability to a volatile Kandahar and the greater south.”

Abdul Raziq, a lieutenant general in the Afghan National Police, was a controversial official who had been repeatedly accused of torturing detainees and other abuses during his rise to power in Kandahar. At the same time, he earned a reputation as a ferocious opponent of the Taliban and gained the respect of successive American and NATO military officials in Afghanistan.

He had survived a number of assassination attempts, including suicide attacks, but had managed to strengthen security in Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban militants.

A slight and youthful-looking man, Abdul Raziq earned a reputation for brutality and corruption in the border police beginning a decade ago. But in recent years, as a top police official and ruthless anti-insurgent fighter, he was widely praised for bringing Kandahar and the surrounding region under government control. His forces received Western training and funds, and U.S. military officials often consulted him.

Last year, a United Nations report said the worst torture in Afghanistan took place in police jails in Kandahar, and the U.N Committee Against Torture called for the investigation and prosecution of Abdul Raziq. A decade earlier, a 2006 U.S. State Department study found that he had been removed from his post with the border police for arresting and tormenting a group of men from a rival clan. In 2011, the Atlantic magazine quoted two men who described being tortured with electric shocks in a prison operated by Abdul Raziq, who by then had been promoted to a senior police post. He categorically denied any wrongdoing.

Miller, 57, took over last month as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, replacing Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr. A veteran of some of the U.S. military’s most secretive combat units, he formerly served as commander of the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command and participated in numerous combat operations, including in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993 and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001.

The brazen attack followed a spate of insurgent and political violence during the run-up to parliamentary elections scheduled for Saturday. The Taliban has threatened to “severely disrupt” the elections and warned Afghans against participating in what the radical Islamist group regards as a pretext for perpetuating U.S. intervention in the country.

The Taliban warned students and teachers in particular to stay away from voting places, many of which are located in schools. But the group said it would seek to avoid harm to civilians.

The attack in Kandahar narrowly targeted senior U.S. and Afghan security officials, as well as the provincial governor and intelligence chief. The lone attacker reportedly opened fire at close range as those officials were finishing a meeting in the government compound.

But the lethal shooting seemed likely to have a chilling effect on voter participation Saturday, especially in the south, where several candidates have been assassinated.

On Wednesday, a prominent candidate, former army general Abdul Jabar Qahraman, was killed in neighboring Helmand province by a hidden bomb that exploded while he was holding a meeting at his campaign headquarters in the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah. Qahraman, an ardent opponent of the Taliban, was the 10th candidate killed during the campaign in the past two months.

In a suicide attack later Wednesday near the largest U.S. military base in Afghanistan, a bomber killed two Afghan civilians and wounded at least five Czech soldiers belonging to the U.S.-led NATO coalition in the country, officials said. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing near Bagram air base about 30 miles north of the capital, Kabul.

William Branigin in Washington contributed to this report.


joewalash Posted on October 18, 2018 23:35

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Is Africa starting to choke on China's lending glut?

It was a time for smiles and handshakes as the delegations from Sierra Leone and China Exim Bank sealed a loan to provide the impoverished West African state with a new airport.


Just months later, the much-trumpeted Mamamah International Airport scheme, estimated to cost $400 million (347 million euros), has gone up in smoke.


Sierra Leone's new government has scrapped the contract, bluntly declaring it "uneconomical". Instead it will use an existing, underused airport and improve access to it.


The decision coincides with concern internationally about Africa's mounting debts with China -- fears that are sometimes voiced by individual Africans, but rarely their governments.


"We need Chinese development, but not at the expense of our unborn children who will be paying the debts," said Hassan Dumbuya, a taxi driver using a partly-completed Chinese-built toll road between Freetown and Masiaka.


No revolt


So is Sierra Leone's U-turn on the airport the dawn of an African revolt against Chinese-funded projects?


Not so fast, say analysts.


"It's not a revolt because African countries cannot revolt -- they are seeking finance," said Ivorian political analyst Jean Alabro in Abidjan.


Michael Kottoh, managing partner at Konfidants, an international consultancy firm, explained that the airport cancellation had a limited, local, context.

True, it could be seen as "yet more evidence that many African governments are rushing to grab Chinese deals without seeking serious transaction advice to guide their negotiations," he told AFP.


"That said, this particular airport project cancellation is more about local politics and less about any major policy shift on China by the new government."


During the campaign for presidential elections in March, opposition champion -- and eventual victor -- Julius Maada Bio blasted Chinese-funded schemes as a "sham" that yielded "no economic and development benefits".


In this light, scrapping the airport may simply be a prelude to deals with China which align with Bio's electoral promises, Kottoh told AFP.


"The country's China portfolio mix will merely change; the portfolio itself will not shrink significantly," said Kottoh. "It might even increase in size and value in the long run."


China is likely to be in pole position if Sierra Leone opts to built a bridge to the older airport, which lies across an estuary -- a scheme the press have said could cost more than $1 billion.




China's role in Africa has expanded with its stratospheric rise as an economic giant over the last two decades.


According to data compiled by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a conservative thinktank and economic research organisation, Chinese foreign investment and construction between 2005 and 2018 totalled $1,870 billion.

Of this, $298 billion were placed in sub-Sahara Africa, placing the continent third behind Asia and Europe.




That made China the single largest bilateral financier of infrastructure in Africa, exceeding the combined total of the African Development Bank (ADB), the European Union, International Finance Corporation, the World Bank and the Group of Eight (G8) countries.


China's biggest investment targets were Nigeria ($49.2 billion), Angola ($24.5 billion) and Ethiopia ($23.6 billion).


Transport infrastructure -- roads, railways and bridges -- and energy each accounted for a third of the total, followed by mining.


The surge was given a $60-billion boost, including $15 billion in "free assistance and interest-free loans," at a China-Africa summit in Beijing in September.


With China now accounting by itself for around of fifth of all of African debt, some voices, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), have worried whether repayment is sustainable.


But Alabro said such fears would be seen by many African governments as overblown, bordering on the hypocritical.


African leaders, he said, realise that their countries can tap a competitive globalised market for funds -- and China today is by far the best bet compared with the IMF or bilateral western partners.


Even so, Alabro said, that should not exclude searching questions about these massive deals.


They include contract transparency; legal, technical and ethical safeguards in poor countries; and China's dominance in managing completed schemes and repatriating the profit.


Cost vs benefit


Are the Chinese-funded schemes financially viable? And, to address Bio's criticism, do they benefit the population as a whole?


Analysts say that the cost benefits of infrastructure projects are typically evaluated over the medium or long term.


This makes it hard to assess a scheme that has only been operational for a few years.


But on the first point, an analysis published last week by France's ministry of economy and finance said the glut of Chinese funding "increased the risk that economically unviable projects" get financed.


Downturns in economic activity and productivity add to the risk these schemes become white elephants, it said.


On the second point, AidData, an innovative research project at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, used satellite images of Africa at night, using light as an indicator of economic growth, to see how Chinese projects fared.


The results, it said, were encouraging.


Chinese development projects -- especially "connective infrastructure" such as roads and bridges -- promote equality of growth in areas where they are located.


And they also help to reduce, rather than widen, economic disparities between regions, the study said.

AlbertaU Posted on October 18, 2018 22:32

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Crimea attack: Teenage girl becomes 20th college victim

Students have been left with horrific injuries after a nail bomb went off at a college in Crimea and a gunman opened fire with a rifle.

By Steve Rosenberg, BBC News, Moscow

The death toll rose to 20 on Thursday when a teenage girl died of her wounds aboard an emergency helicopter.

Russia named the killer as Vladislav Roslyakov, 18, who shot himself after the rampage at Kerch technical college.

Fifteen students and five teachers died. Ten victims are in intensive care. Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.

Some victims have had limbs amputated and the bomb blast injured 74 in total, Russian media report.

Crimea's Russian-backed leader, Sergei Aksyonov, said on Thursday that the gunman had acted alone but must have had help in advance.

"The way me and my colleagues see it, the preparations could not have been done by this villain on his own," he said.

'People have lost limbs'

A huge nail-bomb blast ripped through the college's cafeteria, before the killer stormed through the building, shooting people at close range with a pump-action hunting rifle.

Russian Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova said the explosion from a home-made device had showered people with shrapnel. "Some victims' internal organs were ruptured, we're finding washers and ballbearings in their livers, intestines, blood vessels."

"Limbs have been amputated - people have lost feet and shins," she said.

Some of the critically injured were being transferred to hospitals as far away as Moscow.

The authorities in Crimea have declared three days of mourning. A prayer service was held for the victims at a makeshift shrine near the college.

Prayers were said for the victims near the college in Kerch

The rampage is the deadliest attack to have taken place in Crimea since Russia annexed the peninsula from Ukraine in 2014. That annexation was condemned by many Western powers.

It marked the start of a conflict pitting Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine against Ukrainian government forces.

What happened at the college?

The perpetrator is said to have run from room to room as he fired. Minutes earlier he had left a rucksack containing the nail-bomb in the cafeteria on the ground floor and detonated it remotely, Russian Channel One TV reported.

Photos later emerged in Russian media purportedly showing his body in the college library.

The TV report described a scene of devastation and mass panic after the blast. It said doors and windows were shattered in the entrance hall and on the first floor, above the cafeteria. Some students leapt out of the building from a height of 5m (16ft 5in).

Investigators later said they found a second explosive device among the gunman's possessions and that it had been disarmed. He was also reported to have several packs of bullets and home-made petrol bombs.

BBC Russian spoke to witnesses, including Igor Zakharevsky. "I was at the epicentre of the first explosion, at the entrance, near the buffet," he said.

"I was in complete shock and one of my classmates started pulling me away. Then I heard several shots at intervals of two or three seconds. After a while there was another explosion."

Marina, an 18-year-old student at the college, said there was "a massive explosion, the windows began to rattle and everyone started screaming".

"We bolted out of the classroom and ran. There was complete pandemonium in the corridor," she said. "I saw a girl lying near the wall in an unnatural position, others lying on the floor covered in blood. Shots were being fired every five or six seconds."

The incident was first described as a "terrorist act", but Russia's investigative committee later reclassified it as "mass murder".

President Vladimir Putin said the attack was a "tragic event" and expressed condolences to the victims' relatives.

Fresh flowers for Kerch at Moscow's World War Two Hero Cities memorial

Spate of attacks

Until now, if you had told people in Crimea there had been a mass school shooting, most would have thought you were talking about the United States. Now all that has changed.

The shooting spree in the Kerch Polytechnic has left the peninsula, annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014, in shock. But should it come as such a surprise?

There have been five attacks in schools in Russia this year where a number of children were injured.

In Kerch, questions are already being asked: how did Vladislav Roslyakov manage to obtain a licence for a hunting weapon? And how was he able to launch such a deadly attack on his college?

What do we know about the alleged gunman?

His precise motives remain unclear. But there are suggestions the fourth-year student had developed a hostile attitude to the college.

Russia's RBC TV interviewed a friend who said Roslyakov "hated the technical school very much" and had vowed "revenge" on his teachers.

Russian soldiers were deployed outside the school

It has emerged that he obtained a gun licence when he was 17. His parents are divorced.

Classmates said Roslyakov was very reserved and had long ago stopped using social networks.

College teacher Olga Mikhailichenko said he was "a hard-working student, very quiet". A neighbour was quoted as saying "he had no friends".

The college prepares students for engineering jobs and is reportedly well-equipped. But some students spoke of lax security there.

What is the political situation in Crimea?

The peninsula remains a flashpoint between Russia and Ukraine.

Kerch is situated at the point where Russia built a new bridge joining Crimea to Russia.

In a reminder of how poor relations are between Russia and Ukraine, the speaker of the Crimean parliament, Vladimir Konstantinov, suggested Kiev might have been behind the attack.

"The entire evil inflicted on the land of Crimea is coming from the official Ukrainian authorities", he said.


joewalash Posted on October 18, 2018 18:06

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10 Celebs Who Are Freshly Single In 2018

When you’re a celebrity, your relationship status is always public. That probably doesn’t feel nice. But you know what’s worse? When you’re going through a breakup – it’s also very public. So today, while we talk about celebs that are newly single in 2018, let’s try to sympathize, yeah?

1. Nicki Minaj
Nicki has been dating rapper Nas for about 7 months and they seemed as happy as ever. We saw them celebrate his birthday together, and at some point they even dressed up in matching outfits. However, due to their schedules they weren’t able to see each other very often and that spark just fizzled out, leaving Nicki single again.

2. Kourtney Kardashian
Kourtney’s relationship with Younes Bendjima ended recently. The couple split after being together for almost two years. On one hand we’re sad for Kourtney and hope that she eventually finds the right man for her, on the other hand we didn’t expect them to last even this long.

3. Jennifer Aniston
Who knew that in 2018 we would still be rooting for Jennifer to find the love that she deserves. First she had that huge heartbreak with Brad Pitt, and now her marriage with Justin Theroux came to an end. That girl just has the worst luck with men, but we’ll keep our fingers crossed for her.

4. Lena Dunham
It’s hard to believe that Lena Dunham and Jack Antonoff split up. Those two seemed like they were perfect together from the moment they met on a blind date. They just looked so in love and they always talked about how comfortable they were with each other. They were together for six years, which is like an eternity for celebs but it looks like they didn’t get the happy ending we were all hoping for.

5. Ben Affleck
Ben Affleck is back on the market, ladies. His year long relationship with Lindsay Shookus just didn’t work out no matter how much they tried, so in the end they called it quits. But it seems like they’re both happy with the decision and ready to mingle with some new people.

6. Lucy Hale
Lucy Hale and her co-star Riley Smith are no longer together. They basically broke up soon after their show Life Sentence was cancelled after just one season. Turns out their love wasn’t a lifelong thing either, since Lucy Hale has already been seen cosying up with a different guy.

7. Usher
Usher and his wife of two years Grace Miguel split up this year too. It’s the second divorce for Usher and we’re sure that’s taken a toll on him, but their joint breakup announcement stated that it was a mutual decision and they still have a lot of love and respect for each other. So you know, at least it ended peacefully.

8. Channing Tatum
Listen, we know Channing is a very attractive guy and millions of fangirls wished he was single so they would have a chance, but we never actually thought it would happen. It was like his marriage to Jenna Dewan was part of his appeal, he as taken, he was a family man, which made him even more dreamy. But the day has come and the couple chose to end their 9 year marriage. They did it in a very positive and peaceful way, announcing it on social media and saying they still love each other deeply and they will remain best friends.

9. Cheryl Cole
When Cheryl Cole first started dating Liam Payne from One Direction we all thought it would be a fling, a short lived romance that we’ll all remember with a laugh. But then they had a child together and no matter how shocking and unexpected it was we took that as a sign that they’re serious about this relationship. Well, after 2 years together they broke up. However they’ll always have that connection of having a son together.

10. Harry Styles
Speaking of former One Direction starts, Harry Styles is newly single in 2018. His relationship with Camille Rowe came to an end after the end of his tour. I guess it wasn’t meant to be.

ruby Posted on October 18, 2018 17:14

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