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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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Did Tron Mislead Investors by Claiming Partnership with Baidu? Experts Weigh in

On October 15, a trusted cryptocurrency source in China reported that the partnership Tron secured with Baidu was not really a partnership.


CnLedger reported that according to local publications, Tron acquired the services of Baidu to launch, build, operate, and debug blockchain-based products on Baidu Cloud.


“The ‘partnership’ between Baidu and Tron is basically about Tron buying cloud computing resources from Baidu. ‘The two parties have made no contact at the blockchain business level.’ According to the ODaily, recently, Baidu Cloud and Tron have reached cooperation in the field of basic cloud business. Tron will build, operate and debug blockchain products based on Baidu Cloud in order to ensure compatibility and optimize development experience.”


Experts Comment

Tron is a client of Baidu Cloud that compensates the China-based Internet conglomerate to utilize its cloud computing infrastructure. Hence, it is not appropriate for Tron to claim that it has secured a formal partnership with Baidu.


For instance, ICON, South Korea’s most valuable blockchain project, signed an MoU with LINE, the biggest messaging app in Japan, to develop blockchain apps and integrate decentralized systems for the Japanese conglomerate. Such a relationship is considered a partnership because both parties benefit from it.

Ari Paul, the co-founder of Blocktower and a prominent cryptocurrency investor, wrote:


“Assuming the below is accurate, this deserves to be called out as misleading marketing. If I buy a computer with Microsoft Windows installed, I should not claim to have partnered with Microsoft without clarifying the limited nature of the ‘partnership.’”



Tron’s “partnership” with Baidu isn’t quite what it initially seemed.

Last month, the government of Australia and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation launched the “Red Belly Blockchain” on the Amazon cloud computing network.


“AWS Cloud provides innovative organisations of all kinds with a global network of compute power, allowing organisations like Red Belly Blockchain to quickly conduct large-scale experiments that break new ground,” Simon Elisha, Head of Solutions Architecture, Amazon Web Services Public Sector, Australia and New Zealand, said.

The CSIRO and the government of Australia directly collaborated with AWS Australia and New Zealand to test the Red Belly Blockchain and still, the Red Belly development team did not claim it had partnered with AWS as it merely obtained the services of Amazon.


Cryptocurrency analyst Boxmining further emphasized that Baidu operates its own blockchain network called Xuperchain and as such, it does not have strong motivation to rely on the blockchain protocol of external projects.


“Tron partnership is equivalent to buying cloud services and not ‘blockchain business level.’ What do expect when Baidu has their own chain ‘Xuperchain?’ Thanks to CnLedger for getting this to light.”


Which Part Was Misleading?

The Tron Foundation did not formally announce its “partnership” with Baidu. But, Justin Sun, the founder and CEO of Tron, wrote to the investors of Tron that for the first time in the company’s history, it partnered with an industry giant.


“Finally, First time to partner with tens of billions USD valuation industry giant. Guess the name.”


For transparency, it is important for blockchain projects to explicitly describe the intricacies of the partnerships they engage in, as misleading investors to purchase cryptocurrencies could be considered as a dishonest activity that could hinder the reputation of projects.

AlbertaU Posted on October 18, 2018 16:55

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China to launch ‘artificial moon’ into SPACE to replace STREET LIGHTS

CHINA is set to launch an artificial moon into space in 2020 with the aim to replace street lights, as the communist country’s space programme becomes increasingly more powerful.

China is two years away from sending a lighting satellite to space, according to Wu Chunfeng, chairman of space contractor Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Co (CASC).

The device has been designed to illuminate an area as large as 80km and works by complementing the light of the moon at night, Mr Wu explained during a national mass innovation and entrepreneurship activity held last week.

And the precise illumination range will be controlled within a few dozen metres, Mr Wu added.

The device's power of illuminating the Earth will be eight-time stronger than the one of the real moon, enough to replace the lights on the street. 

The artificial moon will focus its light on the city of Chengdu, in southwestern China.

The project was the idea of a French artist, who imagined placing a row of mirrors on the Earth to reflect the sunlight on the streets of Paris all year round.

China's plans have not been been unanimously welcomed, with some people living in the area expressing concerns about the impact a constant full moon could have on the daily routine of animals and astronomical observation, according to Chinese news outlet People’s Daily Online.

Kang Weimin, director of the Institute of Optics, School of Aerospace at the Harbin Institute of Technology, played down their worries, arguing the light of the satellite will be similar to a dusk-like glow, so it should not create any negative effects. 

China is set to launch an artificial moon to replace street lights (Image: GETTY)

CASC’s latest announcement comes after Russia and China declared they are considering joining their resources to build a base on the Moon.

Speaking earlier this month to Channel One Russia, the head of Russia’s space programme Dmitry Rogozin said: "I don’t rule out that as soon as we agree on the outlines of our lunar programme with the Americans, it is time for our manned lunar programme.

“The formation of a research station on the Moon’s surface is likely to be carried out with our Chinese partners.

“They can be equal partners already in the coming years.”

China and Russia are rushing to close the distance with the US’ achievements in space - the only country which has led a manned lunar mission. 

The artificial moon will focus its light on the city of Chengdu (Image: GETTY)

China carried out its first manned space mission in 2003 (Image: GETTY)

China carried out its first manned space mission, which lasted 21 hours and saw astronaut Yang Liwei travelling around the earth, in 2003. 

Since then, China has made incredible progress with its space programme.

From 2000 to November 2012, the country sent a total of 111 rockets and hundreds of satellites into space.

It also conducted four manned spacecraft with eight Chinese astronauts and launched one space laboratory in the sky. 

The US is the only country which has led a manned lunar mission (Image: GETTY)

CASC is a state-owned space and defence giant counting more than 170,000 employees, eight large academies and a dozen listed companies.

It was ranked 343rd in the Fortune Global 500 list in 2018, making it the fourth largest aerospace enterprise in the world by revenue after Boeing, Airbus and Lockheed Martin.

Vendy Posted on October 18, 2018 12:10

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Dominic Solomon Posted on October 18, 2018 10:52

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My cheating boyfriend gave me HIV - here's how I got justice

Diane Reeve didn't expect to find love again after her 18-year-long marriage fell apart. But in 2002, at the age of 50, she did. It turned out, though, that her new partner, Philippe Padieu, was sleeping around - and had given her HIV.

I'd kind of given up on love, but then a couple of people convinced me I was too young to do that and said I should get back out on the market - they suggested online dating. It was pretty brutal and I was just about to give up when I got an enquiry from Philippe.

It was just a brief, "I like your profile, would like to meet," but I was intrigued. He was French and very nice looking, and I thought, "OK, one last time, and that's it."

We met at my martial arts school - he was also a martial artist - and then we went over to a local restaurant and had drinks and appetisers and sat for an hour and talked. I was fascinated and I guess he was too.

He had cool stories and told me a lot about himself. That was kind of refreshing because usually it's the other way around, where the woman does all the talking, and I found that exhausting.


On that first date I was pretty interested in him, but I couldn't really tell if he was feeling the same thing. But then he made this one flirtatious comment and I thought, "Oh, OK, he is interested," and it went from there, we started dating fairly regularly.


Image caption

Diane and Philippe shared an interest in martial arts

Philippe was a security analyst for a large company but he was laid off a year after we started dating. While he was looking for a new job I asked him to help me out at the school.

When he was teaching for me we'd usually go out after work and then spend the night together. We had had the talk about being exclusive pretty early on in the relationship, so I was seeing him three or four times a week and the rest of the time I was busy with the school.

I was happy, he was happy, it was good, and we were together for four-and-half years.


In 2006 my daughter was getting married and we had a wonderful ceremony.

Philippe was there - he took a video of the big family occasion - and we were all going for a family dinner afterwards. But then he called me from his cellphone and said, "I can't go, I'm not feeling well."

Image copyrightDIANE REEVE

He didn't call from his home phone, which made me suspicious, and I was furious because the dinner was very important to me.

I went by myself, but on my way home I thought I'd go by Philippe's and check on this poor sick man who couldn't make it to my family dinner.

The door was locked, the house was dark, and his car wasn't there. I sat in the driveway and cried for a long time, and then I started to get angry.

Because I'd been paying for his cellphone I was able to get into his voicemail. Two different women had left him messages and it was obvious from the voicemails that these were women that he had plans with.

I waited for a good hour-and-a-half or more and then finally I saw him coming around the corner.

When he saw my car he immediately sped away - he knew that something was up - so I followed him up and down the neighbourhood streets until he finally got on the highway. He was going 90 mph and I was right behind him. I thought, "I can chase you all night, I got a full tank of gas."

Eventually he pulled over. I yelled and screamed and accused him of cheating. He said, "You shouldn't have hacked into my voicemail!" and it went back and forth. He was so angry and started beating on the car and that scared me, so I decided that was it.

Find out more

Diane Reeve spoke to Jo Fidgen on Outlook on the BBC World Service

You can listen again here

We broke up on a Saturday. The following Monday I had a well-woman examination and when the results came back there were some anomalies in the cervical cells.

They said it was human papilloma virus (HPV). I'd never had that before so I knew that he had given it to me. That shocked me and made me afraid - I had to have surgery to remove the abnormal cells and I didn't know if it would progress into cancer or not.

I wondered if I should warn the other two women. I went back through the nine months' of Philippe's cellphone records that I had, trying to find them again. I would call numbers and whenever a woman answered, I would ask, "Are you seeing Philippe Padieu?" and if they said "Yes," I would say, "Well, I need to talk to you a little bit."

I found nine other women who were also seeing him that way.

Some of them were angry, some of them hung up on me, some of them were very interested, and some of them were appreciative - I got all kinds of different responses.

A lady who had been seeing Philippe, who lived close to him, was so angry that she and I decided to meet with another couple of women. We had quite an interesting lunch comparing notes and we took a picture of ourselves making an obscene gesture and sent it to him.


There was another woman who I contacted later on. We met at a little jazz bar. She'd been seeing Philippe three times a week for about a-year-and-a-half.

She did not have an exclusive relationship with him, but she was waiting for that to happen, I think. I told her everything that had happened to me - how romantic things had been with us for years, how we were building a house together, how we were going to move in together but then broke up. I told her about the HPV and that I was continuing to have health problems.

She listened very intently to what I had to say.

I said, "This is your decision and if you want to continue to see him then that's your business," and I thought that would be the last time we would talk.

Three months later I got a call from the health department who said that I needed to come in for testing. I panicked because I had been having a lot of health problems in addition to the abnormal cervical smear.

I had kept Philippe's phone in case somebody called and I could warn them too. I looked at it again after I was contacted by the health department and noticed that the last person to call it was the woman that I'd met at the jazz bar.

I called her and I said, "I just got a call from the health department, what can you tell me about this?"

She said four words that I will never forget: "We need to talk."



Media captionDiane Reeve describes the moment she learned that her partner had infected her with HIV

She had continued to see Philippe after we'd met but she'd then decided to break it off. She'd started to worry about sexually transmitted diseases and had gone to get tested. Her doctor had called her and told her that there was bad news, she was living with HIV.

At that point I just knew that everything that I had gone through over the last six months - the health problems, not having any energy, things that I had attributed to getting a little bit older - all these puzzle pieces fitted together and I knew what I was facing.

The next day I had an appointment with my gynaecologist and they took some blood. The following day they called me with the results.

"Diane, I'm sorry. It's positive."

I dropped the phone and fell to my knees. I thought I was going to die.

I had not followed HIV closely - I remembered when there was no cure, and I knew that there was medicine now, but I didn't really know how effective it was. And I knew that I was really, really sick.


Image caption

Diane Reeve today

That was January 2007.

When I went for further testing I found out that I had Aids. That means that your immune system is damaged to the point that you are very vulnerable to illness. Your body just won't fight back because the virus has damaged the cells which fight off infection.

I had health insurance because I was self-employed; I had just changed policies about two months before I got the diagnosis. There was a disclaimer at the end of the policy which said, "Please be aware that we do not cover HIV," which I had signed happily, because I knew I didn't have HIV. Except two months later I found out that I did.

So I had insurance that did not pay for HIV and the medicine was about $2,000 (£1,500) a month and I couldn't afford it.

Almost immediately after getting the results I went to counselling. I really needed some help to process things. I was terribly depressed, I was very fearful and I was homicidally angry.

I decided to talk again to the woman I'd met at the jazz bar. We cried together, and we got angry together. When she had got her diagnosis she'd immediately called Philippe to let him know. He'd said: "Hey, no big deal, everybody dies of something. Why don't you just go and live your life and leave me alone?"

It was a very odd reaction for someone who should have been shocked.

We suspected that Philippe had given it to both of us and we thought there had to be something that could be done about it. We did some research and within weeks of my diagnosis we decided to file a police report.

We wanted the police to stop him. We wanted them to find out if he actually did carry the virus and we wanted to find out if there was something that we could do to keep him from hurting other women.

The police were very sympathetic and understanding but said that because there were only two of us we weren't going to be able to prove it. But if four or five women came forward, they said, then they might be able to get the district attorney to take a look.

Image copyrightDIANE REEVE

We went back through the cellphone records. The first person I called was the woman who lived in Philippe's neighbourhood that I'd met earlier. She got tested and was also diagnosed with HIV.

She helped us by watching the house and writing down licence plate numbers of cars that were in Philippe's driveway overnight. We were kept pretty busy because he was with a different woman every night, it was incredible.

I had a friend that could run the licence tags and get a name and address, and once we had that we would go and visit them.

Altogether, we found 13 women who were diagnosed with HIV.

I was devastated that this had been going on for so long. I'd been seeing Philippe since 2002, but some of the women I talked to pre-dated me and with a different car in the driveway every night countless women had been exposed.

As the case progressed, the police department and the DA started to get involved.

To try to prove that Philippe knew that he had been diagnosed the police set up what is called a pretext phone call. I sat at the police station and called him to try to get him to admit that he knew that he was living with HIV. It didn't go very well.

He said, "How the BLEEP did you get this number?" and it went downhill from there.

I said, "Hey, I heard that you weren't feeling well and I was just calling to check on you," and he hung up on me.


There was a lady at the health department who was helping us track down the women. I'd asked her, "Have you ever seen this guy?" but nothing rang a bell.

Then I remembered that Philippe sometimes used an alias, the name Phil White, and she remembered that. The timeframe that she'd seen him was around the same time that I remembered sending him to the doctor because he felt like he had kidney stones.

I thought, "I wonder if that's when he got that diagnosis?"

It was 2005, about a year-and-a-half before we broke up. He had gone to the doctor and had some tests done.

I had paid for that medical treatment so I pulled those cheques and took them to the district attorney - that was the first time I ever saw her smile. The cheques gave her "probable cause" to subpoena the medical records - which she did. Without that it would have been very difficult if not impossible to obtain them, due to privacy laws - and that's how we proved that he'd been diagnosed with HIV.

Of the 13 women we found who were diagnosed with HIV only five agreed to testify in court, because of the stigma associated with the virus. We formed a support group and were able to meet at my house on a routine basis. We all got through it together.

One motive for going through with it was that the state of Texas will pay for medical care that is needed as a result of a crime, and they were prosecuting Philippe for "assault with a deadly weapon".

It was a long process, five to six months, of us tracking down women. Just about every day of the week we were on stake-out. It was exhausting - I still had Aids - but we were determined to stop him doing this to anybody else.


The trial finally began in 2009, three years after Philippe and I had broken up and two years after my diagnosis.

The district attorney had warned us that we would be raked over the coals, that anything that Philippe knew about us that was dirty laundry would be aired in public. Although I was prepared for it, I didn't know that it was going to be as brutal as it was - I was on the stand for about an hour, but I got through it.

After the sentencing, we gathered all of our friends and families together and we celebrated because we knew he was not going to be able to hurt anybody else again.

Philippe never took responsibility. He said that it was me that gave everybody HIV, which was obviously ludicrous - we found a woman in Michigan who he had transmitted HIV to in 1997. And we also did a DNA study that was very well controlled and scientifically proven that showed that the virus that was in each of us had a common source - and Philippe was the common source.

I suspect that he had knowingly been transmitting HIV to women for years before I met him, and that the 2005 diagnosis was not his first.

I have struggled with the forgiveness thing, but I'm at peace about it because, frankly, I took a lemon situation and made it into lemonade.

But one of the things that I resent most about what Philippe did to me and the other women is that he destroyed my ability to trust and that makes relationships really hard. I'm working my way past it, but it's been a long struggle.

I'm really lucky that I have a good relationship now with somebody who understands and loves me and accepts me. We first started seeing each other in 2008 and I disclosed to him on the second date. I started crying and he held me and said, "It's OK, my brother died of Aids," and that was a very healing experience for me.

The medicine has come so far that it's one pill a day now for most people - I've been on one pill a day for a long time. I have undetectable viral load which means the virus is not detectable in my blood. It's been shown that if you are a living with HIV and you have an undetectable viral load consistently over six months there is zero transmission risk - that was a game changer for all of us.

I'm still in contact with a lot of the other women. I went to the Grand Canyon on vacation with one of them last year - the woman from the jazz bar.

If I had not met her she would have never thought to get tested and if she had not given my name to the health department I would have never gotten tested. We seriously saved each other's lives.

Written by Sarah McDermott

Philippe Padieu was convicted of six counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon - his bodily fluid - and sentenced to 45 years in prison.

Standing Strong: An Unlikely Sisterhood and the Court Case that Made History by Diane Reeve is published by Health Communications.

AlbertaU Posted on October 18, 2018 10:02

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NASA Finally Shut Down Moon Landing Conspiracies Once And For All

On July 20, 1969, as he stepped onto the surface of the Moon, astronaut Neil Armstrong said ‘that’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind’.

These words are now some of the most famous in history representing just what ‘mankind’ is capable of, making the impossible seem possible as Armstrong became the first man to walk on the Moon.

A moment that changed the world, director Damien Chazelle’s (Whiplash and La La Land) latest film First Man tells the riveting story behind what is often regarded as one of the greatest events in history.

You can watch a trailer for the movie here:



Focusing on the life of Armstrong, played by Ryan Gosling, First Man looks at what drove the man who took that step onto the Moon to embark on the fateful mission.

Speaking to UNILAD, NASA’s chief historian Bill Barry, who also worked as a consultant on the film, revealed the film will give people ‘a more rounded picture’ of the true story.

He explained:

I think everybody sort of knows the Neil Armstrong story of Apollo 11 and how he was the first man on the Moon but not many people about his personality and what it was like for the families and people on the inside.

The standard narrative of how the Moon missions went is that family members were supportive and there weren’t any problems.

A movie like this gives you a much more intimate look at what was really going on and how those people handled the incredible stresses and strains. It is a reminder of the cost.


For the astronauts aboard Apollo 11, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, the mission meant they had to face great sacrifice for the sake of pushing the frontiers of science, knowledge and technology.

Embarking on the craft with ‘a very limited set of objectives’, the mission was really ‘a test run’ to see if mankind could reach the Moon.

As Barry explains, following the success of Apollo 11 NASA became ‘much more ambitious’:

With Apollo 11 there was talk about what they were planning on doing when they got to the Moon thinking one guy would get out on the surface, pick up some rocks, turn around, get back home and launch again. They found though that there was time to do some experiments, time to set some equipment up.

Things got much more ambitious afterwards. Apollo 11 had a kinda general landing area to go to. The Apollo 12 mission, which happened just a few months later, was going to try land next to something we had already put up there. They had something to retrieve so they had to handle a pinpoint landing which they did.

As things went along missions became more complex; they stayed on the Moon longer, did more moonwalks, did more research.

Things became much more ambitious once we had proved the constant distraction, you can do this and successfully operate on the Moon.


Celebrating their 60th anniversary this year, NASA has done a lot of amazing things since the organisation’s 1958 formation.

For Barry though, landing on the Moon is the agency’s ‘signature accomplishment’ becoming shorthand for what mankind is capable of – seemingly anything.

In 1961, only three years after NASA was formed, the President of the United States, John F. Kennedy said NASA will take man to the Moon within a decade, and so they did.


For Barry, this ‘defining event’ didn’t just change the way we looked at space, but also altered our understanding of our home planet too.

He said:

In the grand scheme of things it was one step along the way of what was born from the Hubble space telescope and completely redefined our view of the universe.

We have visited, with probes, every planet in our solar system and a few dwarf planets, asteroids, and comets. We underwent a reconnaissance of the solar system.

With NASA now inventing instruments which could be put on spacecraft to send to other planets, someone one said why don’t we put these on Earth and figure out how our own planet works and so we redefined our understanding of Earth and are still trying to understand how complex it is.

The first pictures of the Earth floating in space had an impact on people on a lot of different levels, the world may seem to be a big place but it is actually a small and fragile place. We all have a responsibility to make sure our spaceship is still functional.

We do indeed Barry!


Despite all the research NASA has undertaken and the evidence provided, various individuals and groups have alleged NASA, in association with other organisations, faked the Moon landings knowingly misleading the public and destroying much evidence in the process.

The conspiracists all have their different stories of what really happened and these ideas are still popular in 2018.




Asking Barry what he thinks of these conspiracy theories, he shot them down explaining NASA at the time didn’t have the technology to fake the landings.

He also added people will look back on these beliefs with embarrassment in the future:

Well the people on social media who do say that sort of stuff are going to be really embarrassed when their grandchildren are visiting the Moon and Apollo memorial landing site, the museum on the Moon in 30/40 years.

When they look at their grandparents Twitter feed they will say ‘boy, you are really stupid’. I think that will happen.

Ultimately there were 400,000 people working on the Moon programme all over planet Earth, it would have been really hard to fake it and technologically we didn’t have the capacity to do so.

Nowadays you can simulate a lot of stuff and make it look good but at the time we couldn’t. We had hours and hours of photos and 800 pounds of rock brought back to planet Earth.


Barry does understand why people may have believed in the conspiracy theories, pointing to the fact at the time much of the information surrounding the landings was classified.

As things became declassified though, it allowed us to learn more about the Apollo missions opening up our understanding of what was really going on in space during the 1960’s and 70’s.

For example, only now are we learning about how close the space race between the US and Soviet Union really was.

Barry emphasised the Soviet determination to beat the United States to the Moon to UNILAD, keeping their competitive programme very secretive.

Commissioning a robot to be built which will land on the Moon and bring back a soil sample, the first one was sent up in June 1969 which blew up.

A month later they launched their second attempt, Luna 15, which was orbiting around the Moon at the same time the Apollo 11 mission arrived.


This of course led to a very tight race to see which one could bring back a sample from the Moon first as Barry explains:

Neil and Buzz landed on the Moon, did their spacewalk, they went back to the Apollo to try to sleep before they launched the next morning and while they were sleeping the Luna 15 tried to land and actually crashed.

If it had successfully landed on the moon and brought a sample back, which later they actually did, if that one had succeeded though their samples may have got back at a similar time to ours.

They could have said ‘hey, we did it cheaper and didn’t endanger people by sending them up there’. So the race to the Moon which most people think never happened, well it was really close.

In fact it all came down to the last minute on July 20 1969 when the Soviets’ spacecraft crashed – now that must have been tense.

Since the Apollo missions, NASA’s attention has been drawn to Mars. In 2004 US President George Bush Jr. announced a plan to send humans to the Red Planet.

Although this is still NASA’s focus, Barry added that the Moon is still very much on the agency’s mind with plans to send members of the public there.

In fact, with NASA working on sending people to the Moon within the next decade, your trip may not be that far away:

We plan to send people to to the vicinity of the Moon within the next decade or so, in the 2020’s we will be orbiting the Moon working with both commercial and international partners, able to send people to the surface of the Moon.

Then it is working out everything for a trip to Mars. Depending upon budgets etc, maybe we can get to the vicinity of Mars in the 2030’s.

We will eventually have people walking on Mars and a much more robust economy with multiple space stations and people even working on the moon. That is where the US government has told NASA to go, we are talking to the UK space agency etc and they are all on board with the idea.

Honestly, I can’t wait to see where humanity goes next in space!

First Man is showing in UK cinemas now.

If you have a story you want to tell send it to UNILAD via


khojho Posted on October 18, 2018 09:32

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Stephen King Says 'The Haunting Of Hill House' Is 'Close To A Work Of Genius'

Stephen King is an icon, his books have terrified audiences of film and TV for decades - it's fair to say if he ever had something good to say about any thriller or horror it would be a HUGE compliment.

Now, imagine how the all those - the director, cast and production team - behind the Netflix series The Haunting of Hill House must feel when the man himself calls the show 'close to a work of genius'.

The 71-year-old author took to Twitter to give his thoughts on the terrifying series, saying: "THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, revised and remodeled by Mike Flanagan. I don't usually care for this kind of revisionism, but this is great. Close to a work of genius, really. I think Shirley Jackson would approve, but who knows for sure."

This is pretty mega coming from the man came up with absolute corkers like The Shining, IT, The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption.

In his tweet King references Shirley Jackson, the late author of the book the series is based on, which was published in 1959.

Along with the tweet being a massive compliment to the series, it's probably pretty accurate - not just because King said it either.

The Haunting of Hill House - which follows the story of five siblings in the Crane family, each of whom are dealing with repressed trauma, family anguish and PTSD following their childhoods growing up in the super creepy Hill House - has gained 90 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and is said to be one of the best Netflix original's to be released.

The show uses flashbacks to the past, with episodes based on individual the family members.

The Netflix show show stars Carla Gugino, Michiel Huisman, Timothy Hutton, Mckenna Grace and Victoria Pedretti, with Flanagan, the filmmaker behind Gerald's Game, Oculus and Hush, directing all 10 episodes.

khojho Posted on October 18, 2018 09:22

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Cobalt Air collapse: Thousands of Cyprus holiday plans wrecked after another budget airline ceases operations

Cobalt, the Cypriot airline, has collapsed overnight. Tens of thousands of passengers are waking up to find that their tickets for future travel to and from Cyprus and Greece are worthless.The airline told the Cyprus Ministry of Transport at 9pm on Wednesday night that it would shut down shortly after midnight on Thursday. A brief message on its website reads: “Cobalt regrets to announce that it will be cancelling all flights as of 23:50pm on October 17, 2018 due to indefinite suspension of Cobalt’s operations.“As a result, future flights or services provided by Cobalt will be cancelled and will no longer operate.“Passengers who have un-flown tickets are instructed not to go to Larnaca Airport or any departure airport tomorrow, 18 October 2018 as no Cobalt flights will operate and no Cobalt staff will be present.“For refunds, please contact your credit card provider or travel agent.”Cobalt flew from Gatwick, Heathrow and Manchester to Larnaca, its main hub, and from Gatwick to Athens. It offered connections to Beirut and Tel Aviv, and also served Frankfurt, Moscow and Paris.The airline had been flying for barely two years. It was set up with the help of Chinese investors after Cyprus Airways shut down in January 2015.The national carrier was grounded after the European Union ordered it to repay €100m (£87m in today’s money) in illegal state aid.In response to the Cobalt collapse, the Cyprus Ministry of Transport said it was hoping for a “smooth and best possible operation for the repatriation of stranded passengers”.Passengers booked to travel on Thursday were told to buy an alternative single ticket and seek reimbursement from the ministry.Travellers booked in the coming week have been told to await further announcements.

UK passengers who are stranded in Cyprus by the Cobalt failure are likely to be offered “rescue fares” by other airlines, notably British Airways and easyJet. After Cyprus Airways stopped flying, BA flew people home from Larnaca for £75 one-way.Travellers with future bookings who paid by credit card should be able to recoup the cost of tickets. But thousands of British passengers with half-term bookings to and from Cyprus will now be desperately looking for alternative flights.The cheapest return on easyJet from Gatwick to Larnaca on Saturday 27 October, returning a week later, is £350, but this fare is likely to rise sharply once news spreads of the failure.Travellers with bookings for Cobalt flights as part of a package holiday should be re-booked on an alternative airline at no extra cost.Cobalt had six Airbus A319 and A320 jets, and had announced plans to acquire wide-bodied jets to fly to China, South Africa and North America.Airlines across Europe are suffering from weak demand and the rising price of oil. Cobalt was also up against strong competition to and from the UK and on its key route between Larnaca and Athens.Reports in local media suggest that Cobalt’s chief executive, Petros Souppouris, had been seeking funds from an investor.The airline stopped flying after talks broke down. Its main asset is a pair of slots at Heathrow, which it inherited from Cyprus Airways.The Cyprus Ministry of Tourism statement ended by expressing “deep sorrow for the cease of operations of Cobaltair Ltd and for the inconvenience that will be caused for passengers”.At the start of October Primera Air collapsed, leaving tens of thousands of passengers stranded on either side of the Atlantic.

ruby Posted on October 18, 2018 09:12

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Police: Dispute over Bitcoin Account Led to Connecticut Home Invasion

Two women have been  arrested in connection with a March home invasion in Killingly, CT, where victims were not only robbed but also allegedly pistol-whipped and attacked with an electric cattle prod. The incident, police said, was the tragic culmination of a dispute involving a bitcoin account.


Incident Details

Apparently, the home invasion occurred because a female victim opened a bitcoin account for one of the alleged home invasion suspects, Monique Delannoy-Jodoin, 59, who police said is a resident of Manville, RI. Police also stated that Ms. Delannoy-Jodoin was already under investigation for narcotic sales and delivery through the postal system. The other suspect was Beatriz Viruet, 38, who is a resident of Providence, RI.


The female renter claimed to recognize two of the home invaders, who then pistol-whipped one occupant on the head, and utilized an electric cattle prod on another occupant. The female renter was able to escape to a neighbor’s house, but not one of the suspects was able to force entry into the bathroom, where the renter was hiding, using a hammer.

The suspects stole money, cell phones, and a television, according to local authorities. Allegedly, one of the suspects, told the other to “shoot the victims,” as well.


Crypto Crime

Many have criticized the fact that cryptocurrency can be used for money laundering, considering that it can often be harder to trace than fiat currency. The sector is often accused of fraud, and there are even international task forces organized to target ICOs worldwide.


This is a still-rare-but-increasingly-more-common instance where there is a violent crime associated with cryptocurrency. Indeed, it is not the only violent incident that has happened in relation to bitcoin. Earlier this year, there was a  shooting in downtown Miami in connection with a bitcoin deal gone awry.

According to police, Monique Delannoy-Jodoin wanted money and passwords related to her bitcoin account. She was ultimately charged with home invasion, risk of injury to a child, third-degree criminal mischief, second-degree assault with a weapon, second-degree breach of peace, criminal use of a weapon, and sixth-degree larceny, among other charges. Beatriz Viruet was charged with home invasion, first-degree robbery, and second-degree breach of peace.


Delannoy-Jodoin was held on a $250,000 bond, while Viruet was held on a $100,000 bond. The women are both are due to appear Monday in Danielson Superior Court.

AlbertaU Posted on October 18, 2018 08:51

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Norwegian Man Brutally Murdered Following In-Person Bitcoin Trade

A Norwegian man was brutally stabbed to death shortly after completing an in-person cash-for-bitcoin exchange, and investigators believe that the two events may be linked.


According to Norwegian news organization TV 2, the stabbing occurred on Monday morning at the 24-year-old victim’s apartment in Majorstuen, an affluent neighborhood in Oslo, likely between 7:50 am and 12:10 pm — when one of his roommates discovered the crime scene.

Sources within the Oslo police department told TV 2 that the murder victim had completed a bitcoin trade shortly before the tragic incident and that others within his social circle were aware of his cryptocurrency dealings.


Grete LIen Metlid, the leader of the Oslo police department’s head of intelligence and investigations unit, told the publication that investigators were aware of a tip involving a possible bitcoin connection, but he declined to elaborate further.


“We are familiar with a tip about Bitcoin, but at this time we will not provide more information about the investigation,” said Metlid, according to a rough translation, adding that the department investigates “widely” and that “economic motives” are always a primary area of interest for investigators.


As of the time of writing, the police did not have any suspects, nor had they made any arrests. Per local reports, forensic analysts continued to investigate the scene on Wednesday night.

AlbertaU Posted on October 18, 2018 08:43

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Unarmed brother of Facebook executive dies after being tased by police

Unarmed brother of Facebook executive dies after being tased by police

By Ray Sanchez and Stella Chan, CNN

Updated 2332 GMT (0732 HKT) October 17, 2018

Chinedu Okobi with his daughter.

(CNN)The death of unarmed black men at the hands of police is not an issue often broached in the epicenter of the technology industry.

But Ebele Okobi, Facebook's public policy director for Africa, hopes the death of her 36-year-old brother, Chinedu, can begin to change attitudes in the clubby and largely white world of Silicon Valley.

The Morehouse College graduate died earlier this month after being tased during a confrontation with sheriff's deputies near San Francisco.

"It doesn't matter what school you went to," said Ebele Okobi, 44. "You can go to Harvard. You can work in tech. Every black American will tell you they live in a state of constant anxiety. Every black man will tell you they can work at Google, they can be a senior person at Facebook or Apple but when you're driving and you're a black man, you recognize the danger that you're in."

Chinedu Okobi with his family at his 2003 graduation from Morehouse College in Atlanta.

The circumstances surrounding Okobi's death on the afternoon of October 3 remain unclear.

The San Mateo County Sheriff's Office said deputies encountered Okobi "running in and out of traffic" on a street in Millbrae, a city about 30 miles northwest of Silicon Valley.

Okobi "immediately assaulted" a deputy who got out of his vehicle, the statement said. There was a struggle with other deputies who responded.

Okobi was taken into custody and transported to a hospital, where he died. A deputy was treated for injuries at a hospital, the sheriff's office said.

Tasers were discharged at Okobi three to four times, according to San Mateo County District Attorney Stephen Wagstaff.

One or more deputies fired Tasers. It's unclear how many times Okobi was struck, he said.

An autopsy has been completed but investigators were awaiting toxicology reports, which could take four to six weeks, Wagstaff said.

The district attorney's office, which investigates officer involved deaths, was still interviewing witnesses and combing through surveillance footage in the area, according to Wagstaff.

"We have hit a period of great concern regarding Tasers," said Wagstaff, adding that Okobi's death was the county's third since December during law enforcement encounters that involved the high-voltage stun guns.

Wagstaff said it's still unclear if the Taser contributed to Okobi's death.

The district attorney said his office will release video of the incident by mid-December.

Ebele Okobi, whose family has retained an attorney, said prosecutors told her there was drone video of the encounter. She said the family's first contact with authorities was Wednesday.

Prosecutors would not tell the family whether her brother can be seen assaulting a deputy in the video, she said.

The sheriff's office said four deputies and a sergeant were involved in the incident. Deputies in "critical incidents where a death occurs are routinely placed on paid administrative leave, pending investigation," the office said.

"When the district attorney's office completes an investigation of sheriff's office staff, the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office will often conduct a separate administrative investigation in regards to compliance with our policies," the statement said.

Chinedu Okobi graduated in 2003 with a degree in business administration from Morehouse College in Atlanta.

He grew up in the San Francisco area as the youngest son of a Nigerian-American family, Ebele Okobi said.

Chinedu Okobi with his mother.

Chinedu Okobi, who has a 12-year-old daughter, spent the last decade struggling with mental health issues and may have stopped taking medications earlier this year, according to his sister.

"He was really gentle," Ebele Okobi recalled. "He was someone people connected to all his life. He was a kind person. He loved poetry. He recorded poetry. He recorded rap. He was also very spiritual and deeply religious."

She marveled at the support from executives and others at Facebook.

"There definitely something insular about tech and definitely something insular about Silicon Valley," she said.

"But my colleagues at Facebook basically organized themselves and just kept telling the story and saying, this is important. Facebook's mission and Facebook's power to do good in the world -- that's the reason I work there. I've never seen this kind of solidarity and this kind of care."

Ebele Okobi said that as a black woman she long feared losing a loved one in a violent police encounter.

In 2014, after the birth of her son, she moved her family to London.

"I think it takes a huge amount of emotional courage to raise black children here and I knew that I didn't have it," she said. "I don't have the emotional fortitude to have a black husband and a black son in America. It's not as if I could take everyone I love with me."

She said she hopes her brother's death resonates in Silicon Valley's corridors of influence and privilege.

"People who never thought this could happen to anybody they know, now know that it can," Ebele Okobi said.

"I hope this becomes a catalyst for more informed conversations" about police encounters with unarmed black men and the mentally ill as well as the use of Tasers on suspects. "My hope is that now that more people are proximate to these problems that they do something about them."

memorial fund to make donations to the Equal Justice Initiative was set up in Chinedu Okobi's name.


joewalash Posted on October 18, 2018 00:12

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Teacher accused of sex with pupil in plane toilet on school trip WON'T face retrial

A TEACHER accused of sex with a pupil on a school trip won't face a retrial after the case collapsed last week.

Former teacher Eleanor Wilson will not face a retrial over claims she had sex with a student in a plane toilet as they returned from a school trip, the Crown Prosecution Service has confirmed.

She was alleged to have had sex with the 16-year-old while coming home from an overseas camping trip in August 2015. Wilson also allegedly kissed and cuddled the boy on three other occassions.

Last week, a jury trying the case at Bristol Crown Court was discharged after the foreman said there was no "realistic prospect" they could reach majority verdicts on any of the four charges against Ms Wilson. The teacher denied all four counts of sexual activity with a child under 18 while in a position of trust.

After failing to reach a verdict after 10-and-a-half hours of deliberations the jury of six men and six women were discharged by the judge at Bristol Crown Court.

Prosecutors had asked for seven days to consider whether to seek a retrial.

Ms Wilson, who resigned after a school investigation, denied all the alleged offences and called the boy’s claims a “distorted fantasy”. She was accused of “beckoning” the boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, into a toilet where she had sex with him before the plane landed at Heathrow Airport in London in August, 2015, the court heard. The boy told police she “pulled her trousers down” and was “standing on one leg” while they had sex, jurors at Bristol Crown Court were told.

When rumours of their affair “let the cat out of the bag”, Ms Wilson told the boy she had fallen pregnant as a result of their sexual encounter, prosecutors said. 

POLICE: Eleanor Wilson told cops the claims sounded like a 'weird porn film'

In a police interview heard by the court, Ms Wilson said she met with the boy outside of school because she was "lonely" and "saw him as a mate more than a pupil".

Defence lawyers accused  the boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, of fabricating the story, suggesting the toilet was too small to have sex in.

Ms Wilson told police: "It sounds like a description of a weird porn film – it doesn't sound like something that would happen. "That amount of detail has come from his imagination. That would tell you it didn't happen."

CROWN COURT: Eleanor Wilson's trial collapsed as the jury couldn't reach a verdict

She added: "I was on my period, the last thing I would think about is 'Yeah let's take a chance with this'. "I know it's against the law. I have not broken a law or gone beyond a friendship. "I've not kissed him on the lips – it makes me feel sick thinking about it."

The boy, who bought chocolates and flowers for Wilson, “thought he was in a relationship with his teacher”, the court heard.


joewalash Posted on October 17, 2018 23:45

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Woman claims she has drunk nothing but Pepsi since 1954 and wouldn't touch water even if dying

A great-gran has declared she wouldn’t drink water even if she were dying... she’d stick to her favourite Pepsi like she has done for 64 years.

Jackie Page, 77, has had nothing else to drink but four cans of the fizzy pop a day since her first taste aged 13 in 1954.

And she insists she has always been slim, fit and healthy despite consuming the equivalent of three million sugar cubes.

“I don’t call it an addiction. It’s just something I like and I can’t help it if I don’t like anything else,” says the retired housekeeper and mum of four.

“Some people might think it’s weird and that nowadays you shouldn’t drink Pepsi. But I don’t care and I won’t settle for anything else. I wouldn’t drink water – no way. Not even if I was dying. And I won’t drink tea or coffee.”

Jackie reckons her love of the canned fizz – she won’t drink it from a bottle – hasn’t had any affect on her health over the years.

“I have always been really, really slim until about five years ago – but I think that’s because I am not as active as I was,” she says.

“Right up until I was 60 I was still doing line dancing and I was pretty fit, but I can’t get out to do that now. They say Pepsi is bad for your teeth – but I am a wartime baby and there’s not many of us without rotten teeth so I wouldn’t know.”

© Credits: Kennedy News

The craving that has led her to down more than 93,000 cans at a cost £65,800 began as a teenager. Up to then her mother had a nightmare getting her to drink anything.

“I didn’t like milk or water. My mum used to say ‘you have to drink something’. I know she used to give me lemonade or cherryade,” says Jackie, now a carer.

Ditch the Diet Coke! Artificial sweeteners in the popular drink are TOXIC to gut bacteria, study warns.

“I wouldn’t drink to enjoy it. Until I tasted Pepsi, drinking was just something I put up with.”

She reveals the only interruption to her Pepsi passion came when she was in hospital giving birth to her four children in the Sixties – because it was banned from the maternity ward. “They wouldn’t let me have it in with me so I had to go without,” says Jackie.

“But I’ve been to hospital since for some major operations and I was allowed to have it there.

“Much to their disgust, the staff even allowed me to keep my Pepsi in the kitchen fridge because I wouldn’t drink anything else. My kids used to come up to visit me in hospital with supplies of it so that I stayed hydrated.”

Now even her 11 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren are under strict instructions not to drink her stash when they visit her at her home in Carshalton, Surrey.

© Credits: Kennedy News

Jackie – who once had a dog called Pepsi and admits to hating rival brand Coca-Cola – says: “I have a cold one as soon as I wake up each day straight from the fridge.

“It’s like when someone says they want to drink a lovely cup of tea first thing in the morning. I drink up a lovely can of Pepsi instead.

“I even have it when we’re eating out as I don’t like alcohol either. If the restaurant doesn’t have it I just pull a can from my bag. Sometimes they get a bit funny about it. But I just know what I like – and that’s Pepsi.”

(Slideshow: Famous brands that started out with different names)

khojho Posted on October 17, 2018 16:56

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Big bluefin tuna make comeback after 80-year hiatus off California coast

Large Pacific bluefin tuna not seen in California waters for decades have reappeared, to the delight of fishing enthusiasts and scientists, as global conservation efforts have proven effective for one of the ocean's priciest and most sought-after fish.

Overfishing of bluefin tuna spurred by a growing global appetite for sushi resulted in a critical decline in stocks over decades. But measures by the United States, Japan, Mexico and others to limit their take have led to population growth, though tuna populations are still below historic levels.

Gerard DiNardo, director of the Fisheries Resources Division at Southwest Fisheries Science Center, a division of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in La Jolla, California, said there has been an increase in population as well as size of the bluefin because of those efforts.

"This is management and effective management and it actually is working'" said DiNardo.

The Center for Biological Diversity said in August 2017 that the Pacific bluefin had been overfished to less than 3 percent of its historic population. The National Marine Fisheries Service announced in October 2016 that it was considering listing the Pacific bluefin, but it subsequently concluded that protections were not warranted.

Related: Species that have gone extinct in our lifetime (provided by photo services)

Full Screen

Record-breaking temperatures in San Diego this past summer and the warming of the ocean off the California coast provided a feeding ground for the bluefin, which can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. In early January, an 890-pound (403.7 kg) bluefin fetched $323,000 at the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo.

"They're here to feed," said Heidi Dewar, a fisheries research biologist at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center. "If we want to understand the dynamics of what's going on here... we really need to look at what they're feeding on."

Scientists said there have been discussions within the fishing community for years about the seeming disappearance of the fish.

But DiNardo said, "They've always been here. It's just that they've been in low numbers for a number of decades."

Local sport fisherman have welcomed their resurgence.

"When the bluefin went away our sexy fish became the sword fish and striped Marlin,' said John Talsky, manager of the Tuna Club of Santa Catalina Island. "But now that the bluefin is back, we have had to change the rules for all of our tournaments. It’s a wonderful problem to have."

In early September, Ryder Devoe, 19, who dives to spear big game fish, emerged from the deep blue waters 68 miles off the California coast in his camouflaged wet suit, shouting: "I think I got him." Devoe had speared a 200-pound bluefin as a school swam 60 feet below.

“With a rod and reel you can’t catch them if they aren’t hungry," said Ed Heller, Devoe's boat captain. "But they will always eat a spear.”

(Reporting by Mike Blake; Writing by Diane Craft; Editing by Dan Grebler)

khojho Posted on October 17, 2018 14:30

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Bernie Sanders Is Quietly Remaking the Democrats’ Foreign Policy In His Own Image

Bernie Sanders is used to being outside the mainstream. His 2016 presidential campaign was predicated on that idea, and his foreign policy positions, to the extent that they were articulated, fell into a similar pattern—the independent senator from Vermont criticized what he saw as a failure in Democratic thinking that had led the party to fall in line behind costly adventures abroad. Hillary Clinton played herself up as the foreign policy candidate in the Democratic primary, but Sanders saw an opening: “I do question her judgment,” he said at one of their debates. “I question a judgment which voted for the war in Iraq—the worst foreign policy blunder in the history of this country.”The Clinton campaign, backed by the entire Democratic foreign policy establishment, responded in kind. Listing Sanders’ foreign policy positions, Clinton adviser Jake Sullivan put it bluntly in January of 2016: “When you look at all these ideas, it’s pretty clear he just hasn’t thought it through.” A public letter signed by nearly 20 former government heavyweights railed against his “continued lack of interest in and knowledge of essential foreign policy and national security issues.” Given the bitterness of that primary contest and the extent to which Sanders’ line of critique on foreign policy was adopted by the Donald Trump campaign, one could be forgiven for assuming that bad blood persists to this day.One would be wrong. Senator Sanders, who hasn’t ruled out launching another bid for the presidency in 2020, has begun to roll out a much more robust foreign policy platform, including a speech at Johns Hopkins University last Tuesday where he argued that progressivism on the homefront is not only a moral imperative, but a crucial part of any effort to stem the international tide of authoritarianism.“In order to effectively combat the forces of global oligarchy and authoritarianism, we need an international movement that mobilizes behind a vision of shared prosperity, security and dignity for all people, and that addresses the massive global inequality that exists, not only in wealth but in political power,” Sanders said last week as he steamed to his conclusion. “Our job is to reach out to those in every corner of the world who shares these values, and who are fighting for a better world.”And over the last year and a half, according to a Sanders staffer, the senator has convened semi-regular groups of foreign policy thinkers and academics to help him develop the argument beyond mere rhetoric. Sanders’ new focus on the global dimensions of crony capitalism, corruption, and human rights has earned him some unlikely fans—one of whom is none other than Jake Sullivan.“In 2016, I would say Senator Sanders’ main focus was on the past,” Sullivan said in an interview. “When you shift the frame from the past to the present and the future, in some ways almost necessarily that shift comes with an inclination to step up, and respond to threats, and to take on the challenges out there, and I think we’ve seen that in the way he’s been dealing with foreign policy over the last two years.”Sullivan isn’t alone in his judgment. Van Jackson, a foreign policy expert and adviser to the Pentagon during the Obama administration, described Sanders’ global-minded makeover: “I’m a progressive but couldn’t bring myself to vote for Sanders in 2016 because I thought he wasn’t serious about national security. He was basically silent on it… Not only does Sanders now seem to take national security seriously—he’s literally the only politician accurately diagnosing the threat landscape America faces,” he said in an email.Strong words in favor of a politician Clinton described as having a “fundamental misunderstanding of what it takes to do… patient diplomacy.” But the authority and progressive credibility Sanders brings to his vision of a Democratic foreign policy have put him in a position to which he’s not accustomed, building a rare and tentative consensus between the progressive and “establishment” spheres. If Democrats hope to challenge Trump’s particular brand of direct, transactional, easy-to-follow world politics in 2020, Sanders’ grand unified theory may prove their best tool with which to do it.When Sanders began his 2016 campaign, those in his orbit could name off the top of their heads the number of dedicated foreign policy aides on his staff: zero. Compare this to the “several hundred” pencil-pushers the Clinton campaign deployed to flesh out the former secretary of state’s foreign policy, drowning in an endless sea of memos the goals of which would never see fruition. The Sanders campaign chose instead to consult with a looser, much more modest in size brain trust of mostly academics who were sympathetic to Sanders’ progressive worldview.“Part of the Clinton inevitability strategy was to lock down the usual suspects in left-liberal foreign policy,” said Dan Nexon, a Georgetown professor who served as one of those informal Sanders advisors. Nexon described how he, along with others like Sean Kay (who had previously assisted the 2008 Obama campaign in a similar capacity), eventually convinced the Sanders campaign to hire at least *one* full-time foreign policy staffer. That ended up being Bill French of the National Security Network, a now-defunct progressive foreign policy nonprofit. French’s mandate, according to a Foreign Policy report at the time, was to wrangle the ad hoc network of advisors and on top of their knowledge build out Sanders’ messaging. (French did not respond to a request for comment.)French departed after the end of the 2016 campaign, but was succeeded on Sanders’ senatorial staff by Matt Duss, the former president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace and left-leaning foreign policy wonk who now serves as Sanders’ official foreign policy advisor. Nexon described the transition from the campaign, and Sanders’ evolution on foreign policy more broadly, as a slow awakening to the encroaching illiberalism represented by actors like Russia.“With what we started to understand about Russia late in the campaign, you saw very quickly that while Sanders was someone who ran on a balanced foreign policy toward Russia, and who still isn’t interested in going to war, [that attitude] shifted after what we’d understood Russia had done. With the way in which those strands became highly salient and highly visible, we had more information by early 2017, and it came together quite naturally for someone concerned with domestic inequality, capital mobility and how they undermine liberal values,” Nexon said.One would be wrong. Senator Sanders, who hasn’t ruled out launching another bid for the presidency in 2020, has begun to roll out a much more robust foreign policy platform, including a speech at Johns Hopkins University last Tuesday where he argued that progressivism on the homefront is not only a moral imperative, but a crucial part of any effort to stem the international tide of authoritarianism.“In order to effectively combat the forces of global oligarchy and authoritarianism, we need an international movement that mobilizes behind a vision of shared prosperity, security and dignity for all people, and that addresses the massive global inequality that exists, not only in wealth but in political power,” Sanders said last week as he steamed to his conclusion. “Our job is to reach out to those in every corner of the world who shares these values, and who are fighting for a better world.”And over the last year and a half, according to a Sanders staffer, the senator has convened semi-regular groups of foreign policy thinkers and academics to help him develop the argument beyond mere rhetoric. Sanders’ new focus on the global dimensions of crony capitalism, corruption, and human rights has earned him some unlikely fans—one of whom is none other than Jake Sullivan.“In 2016, I would say Senator Sanders’ main focus was on the past,” Sullivan said in an interview. “When you shift the frame from the past to the present and the future, in some ways almost necessarily that shift comes with an inclination to step up, and respond to threats, and to take on the challenges out there, and I think we’ve seen that in the way he’s been dealing with foreign policy over the last two years.”Sullivan isn’t alone in his judgment. Van Jackson, a foreign policy expert and adviser to the Pentagon during the Obama administration, described Sanders’ global-minded makeover: “I’m a progressive but couldn’t bring myself to vote for Sanders in 2016 because I thought he wasn’t serious about national security. He was basically silent on it… Not only does Sanders now seem to take national security seriously—he’s literally the only politician accurately diagnosing the threat landscape America faces,” he said in an email.Strong words in favor of a politician Clinton described as having a “fundamental misunderstanding of what it takes to do… patient diplomacy.” But the authority and progressive credibility Sanders brings to his vision of a Democratic foreign policy have put him in a position to which he’s not accustomed, building a rare and tentative consensus between the progressive and “establishment” spheres. If Democrats hope to challenge Trump’s particular brand of direct, transactional, easy-to-follow world politics in 2020, Sanders’ grand unified theory may prove their best tool with which to do it.When Sanders began his 2016 campaign, those in his orbit could name off the top of their heads the number of dedicated foreign policy aides on his staff: zero. Compare this to the “several hundred” pencil-pushers the Clinton campaign deployed to flesh out the former secretary of state’s foreign policy, drowning in an endless sea of memos the goals of which would never see fruition. The Sanders campaign chose instead to consult with a looser, much more modest in size brain trust of mostly academics who were sympathetic to Sanders’ progressive worldview.“Part of the Clinton inevitability strategy was to lock down the usual suspects in left-liberal foreign policy,” said Dan Nexon, a Georgetown professor who served as one of those informal Sanders advisors. Nexon described how he, along with others like Sean Kay (who had previously assisted the 2008 Obama campaign in a similar capacity), eventually convinced the Sanders campaign to hire at least *one* full-time foreign policy staffer. That ended up being Bill French of the National Security Network, a now-defunct progressive foreign policy nonprofit. French’s mandate, according to a Foreign Policy report at the time, was to wrangle the ad hoc network of advisors and on top of their knowledge build out Sanders’ messaging. (French did not respond to a request for comment.)French departed after the end of the 2016 campaign, but was succeeded on Sanders’ senatorial staff by Matt Duss, the former president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace and left-leaning foreign policy wonk who now serves as Sanders’ official foreign policy advisor. Nexon described the transition from the campaign, and Sanders’ evolution on foreign policy more broadly, as a slow awakening to the encroaching illiberalism represented by actors like Russia.“With what we started to understand about Russia late in the campaign, you saw very quickly that while Sanders was someone who ran on a balanced foreign policy toward Russia, and who still isn’t interested in going to war, [that attitude] shifted after what we’d understood Russia had done. With the way in which those strands became highly salient and highly visible, we had more information by early 2017, and it came together quite naturally for someone concerned with domestic inequality, capital mobility and how they undermine liberal values,” Nexon said.America’s borders (and maybe those of their current political office). Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) earned herself a high-profile spot on the Senate’s Armed Services Committee after the 2016 election, and her first foreign trip as a senator in 2014 was to Israel, a politically critical U.S. ally. She even swung by Kuwait and Iraq over the Fourth of July this year, bolstering her national profile with a markedly “presidential” visit to the troops. But Warren has yet to publicly lay out a sustained foreign policy vision of her own, as Sanders has now done.Meanwhile, Sanders is making inroads even among centrists who might previously have been more intervention-minded, or at least more ambivalent about its costs. It’s a large part of the growing realization that the progressive left and the mainstream Democratic Party may have more in common on foreign policy than they think.“When progressives start talking about the defense of democratic values, it’s something that [the centrist] wing always is supportive of, and [that wing has] also realized that the stomach for some of the emphasis on military instruments in the Democratic movement just isn’t there anymore,” said Nexon. “I think there’s a sense that’s the way the wind is blowing, and for good reason—it’s hard to look back on last 16 years and feel like the use of force has wound up producing good results.”Even Sullivan agrees, with an eye on 2020, that the two wings are likely to have more in common than not regarding foreign policy after living with the hard-won lessons of the War on Terror and what’s followed.“I predict in the primary that you’re not going to see huge divides on foreign policy… the notion there’s going to be an isolationist wing and internationalist wing and they’re going to clash is, I think, not correct.”If Sullivan is correct, after laying the groundwork for a new Democratic status quo on foreign policy, Bernie Sanders might find himself in a position with which he’s quite unfamiliar—dead in the center.

ruby Posted on October 17, 2018 10:06

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Roseanne Barr's character killed off in first episode of sitcom reboot

In the first episode of the show it is revealed Barr's character died from an overdose of painkillers she took for a knee injury.

Roseanne Barr's eponymous character has been killed off in the first episode of The Connors, the rebooted version of her now-cancelled show.

Barr was fired from sitcom Rosanne after sending a racist tweet in which she compared Valerie Jarrett, a former Barack Obama aide, to an ape.

The actress later apologised and said she had written the tweet while under the influence of the sleep-inducing medicine Ambien.

Image: The Connors picks up three weeks after Roseanne's funeral. Pic: ABC

The Connors centres around the working class American family featured in Roseanne but with Barr's character written out.

In the first episode of the show it is revealed Barr's character died from an overdose of painkillers she took for a knee injury.


Video: Roseanne: I made a mistake

After the show, Barr released a joint statement with her Rabbi saying the method of her character's death "lent an unnecessary grim and morbid dimension to an otherwise happy family show".

"After repeated and heartfelt apologies, the network was unwilling to look past a regrettable mistake, thereby denying the twin American values of both repentance and forgiveness," the statement added.

Roseanne Barr: I'm not racist, I'm a creative genius

The actress posted a racist tweet comparing ex-Obama aid Valerie Jarrett to an ape

Barr also tweeted separately: "I ain't dead, b*****s!!!!"

The first episode addresses the opioid crisis in America, which in 2016 claimed 42,249 lives.

ABC initially cancelled Roseanne but then transformed it into a spin-off.

Roseanne's husband is still played by John Goodman and the action starts three weeks after her funeral.

Albert Ulebe Posted on October 17, 2018 10:00

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Maribe: I have cooperated with police, free me

In an affidavit filed in court through lawyer Katwa Kigen, Ms Maribe said she was not involved in the murder of Ms Monica Kimani, was not at the crime scene, and did not know Ms Kimani.

Further, she said, she allowed the police into her house, handed over her mobile phone, and has co-operated with the police during the investigations. She said she has not been in contact with any of the intended prosecution witnesses.


“I have co-operated with investigators and any association against me with the alleged murder, if any, is wholly weak circumstantial association,” she said in the affidavit.

Ms Maribe, 30, was arrested on September 29 over the murder of Ms Kimani, 28. She and her fiancé, Mr Joseph Kuria Irungu, have denied killing Ms Kimani, whose body was found in the bathtub at her Lamuria Gardens apartment on September 19.

Although the prosecution opposes their release on bond, Ms Maribe said she is not a flight risk and willingly availed herself on nine occasions to the police.

Related slideshow: News in pictures (Provided by photo services)

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Single mother

“I am a well-known TV journalist. Most Kenyans are conversant with my job and can easily spot me anywhere, making it impossible to jump bail,” she said.

She added that she is willing to surrender her passport to the court, adding that as single mother she is the sole provider for her child.

But prosecutor Catherine Mwiniki opposes her release on bond through an affidavit, saying several witnesses set to testify against the two need protection, and that the investigations go beyond Kenya.

The two will appear in court today for the hearing of their bail application.

Another suspect

In an affidavit filed in court, the investigating officer said investigations so far has placed Mr Irungu at the scene of crime, but they are yet to arrest a suspect who was with him in the vehicle after he allegedly committed the crime. The affidavit says that the vehicle used after the crime was Ms Maribe’s.

Further, the officer said, the investigations will go beyond Kenyan borders. Ms Kimani had just arrived from South Sudan the day she was killed.

Among the witnesses set to testify is a person who saw Ms Irungu burning some clothes on the night Ms Kimani was murdered. The clothes were allegedly burnt at Ms Maribe’s house in Lang’ata and the witness, who was in their company, positively identified the clothes.

She argues that her child will suffer if she remains in custody until the conclusion of the trial.

khojho Posted on October 17, 2018 09:50

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Anna Burns wins Booker Prize with Troubles tale 'Milkman'

LONDON — Anna Burns won the prestigious Man Booker Prize for fiction Tuesday for "Milkman," a vibrant, violent story about men, women, conflict and power set during Northern Ireland's years of Catholic-Protestant violence.

Burns is the first writer from Northern Ireland to win the 50,000-pound ($66,000) prize, which is open to English-language authors from around the world. She received her trophy from Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, during a black-tie ceremony at London's medieval Guildhall.

The 56-year-old Belfast-born novelist said she was "stunned" to have won. Burns said her books took a long time to complete, and she has often struggled financially since her first novel, "No Bones," was released in 2001.

Related: In photos- Man Booker Prize 2018 longlist (provided by photo services)

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"I just wait for my characters to come and tell me their stories, and I can't write until they do," Burns told reporters. "Also, as with a lot of writers, they don't earn much money. So that gets in the way of the creativity."

Burns said that with her prize money, "I will clear my debts and live on what's left."

The writer said the germ of "Milkman" came to her in the image of a teenage girl walking down a street in a divided city while reading the novel "Ivanhoe."

"Milkman" is narrated by a bookish young woman dealing with an older man who uses family ties, social pressure and political loyalties as weapons of sexual coercion and harassment. It is set in the 1970s, but was published amid the global eruption of sexual misconduct allegations that sparked the "Me Too" movement.

"I think this novel will help people to think about 'Me Too,' and I like novels that help people think about current movements and challenges," said philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah, who chaired the judging panel. "But we think it'll last — it's not just about something that's going on in this moment.


"I think it's a very powerful novel about the damage and danger of rumor," he added,

Burns beat five other novelists, including the bookies' favorites: American writer Richard Powers' tree-centric eco-epic "The Overstory" and Canadian novelist Esi Edugyan's "Washington Black," the story of a slave who escapes from a sugar plantation in a hot-air balloon.

The other finalists were U.S. novelist Rachel Kushner's "The Mars Room," set in a women's prison; Robin Robertson's "The Long Take," a verse novel about a traumatized D-Day veteran; and 27-year-old British author Daisy Johnson's Greek tragedy-inspired family saga "Everything Under."

Founded in 1969, the Man Booker Prize was originally open to British, Irish and Commonwealth writers. Americans have been eligible since 2014, and there have been two American winners — Paul Beatty's "The Sellout" in 2016 and George Saunders' "Lincoln in the Bardo" in 2017.

A third consecutive American victor would have revived fears among some U.K. writers and publishers that the prize is becoming too U.S.-centric. But Appiah said neither the nationality nor the gender of the authors was a factor in the judges' deliberations on the shortlist of four female authors and two men.

"If we had been drifting towards thinking that one of the men on the list was the best one, I wouldn't have said 'No guys, we're going to get in trouble for this' any more than if we'd been drifting towards an American," he said. "We picked the one ... most deserving of the prize."

The Man Booker has a reputation for transforming writers' careers, and the one who will emerge from the field to beat other finalists is always subject to intense speculation and lively betting. Previous winners include Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan, Arundhati Roy and Hilary Mantel.

It's likely to bring a big boost to Burns, who has published two previous novels, but is hardly a household name.

"Milkman" appears on the printed page with few paragraph marks, which has led some to label it experimental and challenging. But Appiah said the vivid, distinctive Belfast language in Burns' book was "really worth savoring."

"If you're having difficulty, try reading it out loud," he said. "The pleasure of it really has to do with the way that it sounds.

"It's challenging in the way a walk up (mount) Snowdon is challenging. It's definitely worth it, because the view is terrific when you get to the top."

khojho Posted on October 17, 2018 09:01

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Tether Found a New Bank, and it Might be in the Bahamas: Report

Tether, the controversial issuer of the USDT cryptocurrency, may have found a new banking partner in the Bahamas.

Tether May Have a New Bank

As first reported by The Block’s Larry Cermak, Tether — whose USD-pegged cryptocurrency has a market cap in the billions of dollars — is said to be holding its fiat reserves at Deltec Bank, which is based out of Nassau.

Those reserves, according to the company, are quite large. As of Tuesday morning, there are more than 2.25 billion USDT tokens in circulation, representing $2.25 billion in physical assets. At one point, USDT was worth nearly $2.9 billion, though hundreds of millions of dollars worth of the cryptocurrency token has been yanked out of circulation in October.

Source: CoinMarketCap

Bitfinex Unveils ‘Distributed Banking Solution’

Tether reportedly shares a management team with cryptocurrency exchange giant Bitfinex, and, concurrent with Cermak’s report on the stablecoin issuer’s new banking partner, Bitfinex introduced a “new, improved and increasingly resilient fiat depositing system” that utilizes a “distributed banking solution.”

Previously, both Bitfinex and Tether were said to be holding assets at Noble Bank, a financial institution located in Puerto Rico. However, Noble Bank is now reportedly up for sale as the result of monetary struggles of its own.

Bitfinex did not reveal any details about its new banking partner(s). However, screenshots allegedly taken from within the new fiat deposit system suggest that the exchange does not want this information to become public.

“This banking information is being provided to you for purposes of contributing good faith funding to your account on Bitfinex,” reads the message in the screenshot posted by widely-followed cryptocurrency investor WhalePanda. “This banking information is commercially sensitive and confidential. You should be very careful with this information. You are asked to keep this information to yourself and to not share it except with your financial institution. Divulging this information could damage not just yourself and Bitfinex, but the entire digital token ecosystem. Accordingly, you are cautioned that there may be serious negative effects associated with this information becoming public.”

As CCN reported, the tether price has slipped below the $1.00 mark in recent days, perhaps in part due to lingering concerns over the long-term ability to redeem USDT for physical currency. After slipping as low as $0.92 on Monday, tether’s global average had recovered to about $0.98 by the time of writing.

A Tether representative did not immediately respond to CCN’s request for confirmation on its alleged banking relationship with Deltec.

Albert Ulebe Posted on October 17, 2018 08:38

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Five Brightest Planets in the Solar System Have Aligned

For the second time this year, the five brightest planets can be seen at the same time. You can catch them by looking towards the western sky after sunset. The planets will form a line rising up from the horizon.

Mercury and Venus are low to the west, with bright Jupiter shining just above. Higher up in the northwestern sky is Saturn, and completing the set of five is the red planet Mars, high overhead.

On Friday, October 12, a beautiful crescent Moon sits just to the right of Jupiter. Keep watching the planets night after night and you can track the progression of the Moon. As the Moon zips around Earth each month, its apparent motion in the sky is much faster than the more leisurely motion of the planets in their orbits around the Sun.

By Monday October 15, the Moon will have moved higher in the sky to sit near Saturn, and a few days later, on October 18, the Moon will partner with Mars.

That will also be a perfect evening to see the planets, as Venus and Mercury will be sitting side by side. Of all the five planets, Mercury is the faintest and therefore hardest to see, so having bright Venus as a signpost to Mercury is always an advantage.

In about a week’s time, Venus, which has been the bright evening star for most of this year, will move into the glare of the Sun and out of the night sky.

Five planets, two groups

The planets have been doing a merry dance in the night sky over the past few months.

Back in July, they also came together in the evening sky, but on that occasion they were stretched right across the sky. Mercury and Venus could be found in the west, while Jupiter, Saturn and Mars were rising in the east.

© iStock As Mercury and Venus are the inner planets, orbiting closer to the Sun than Earth does, we only ever see these two low to the west after sunset, or low to the east before sunrise. They are the planets either following or leading the Sun.

In contrast, the outer planets of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn can drift right across the sky, which is exactly what they have been doing since July. The trio has moved from east to west, and now they join Mercury and Venus to put on the five-planet show.

There’s more in store

It may seem like a common occurrence, since the five planets have come together again in the space of just a few months. But it’s only possible because Jupiter and Saturn are currently on the same side of the Sun and therefore near each other, relatively speaking.

The five planets have come together twice this year and twice in 2016, but before that there was a decade when it just wasn’t possible. The two gas giants were too far apart.

Video player from: YouTube (Privacy Policy)

As Jupiter and Saturn pair up in the sky, it’s only a matter of time before the other planets fall into the right configuration to bring them all together.

The next time this occurs will be in July 2020, but it will be harder to see compared to this week. The planets will be stretched across the sky rather than all clustered together in the west as they are right now. So it’s still special to spot the five planets coming together. There’s great satisfaction in being able to tick off all five planets in a single viewing.

Up for a challenge?

Not only are the five easy-to-see planets visible in the evening sky, but they are joined by Uranus and Neptune to complete the planetary set.

© NASA Uranus and Neptune

These two ice giants that orbit beyond Saturn are modern-day planets. They were not known in ancient times because their discovery needed the aid of a telescope and an understanding of gravity to know how the Solar System works.

But while they may not be seen with the naked eye, Uranus is low in the east at sunset and Neptune is higher up, about midway to Mars.

Practised observers, viewing the sky from a dark country site, have been able to see Uranus with the naked eye by knowing exactly where to look. Through binoculars, Uranus appears like a faint star but a good telescope will show its slightly bluish disc.

Related: Coolest space discoveries (provided by photo services)

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It is best to wait until later in the evening, when Uranus has risen higher, to try to observe it. But now is an ideal time, as the planet is approaching opposition on October 24, when it will be at its best.

Neptune is about the same size as Uranus but much further away, making it harder to see. Even with a modest telescope it appears as a bluish star, while the right observing conditions and a high-quality telescope are needed to reveal Neptune’s disc.

Lastly, and not to be left out, even the dwarf planet Pluto joins the crowd. It’s much too small and distant to be seen but currently sits about midway between Saturn and Mars.

Even with a high-quality telescope Pluto only ever appears as a faint star-like object, and it will be a challenge for most to find it in its current position among all the stars near the bright Milky Way.

If you are up for the challenge, a free astronomy program such as Stellarium is ideal to help locate the planets. But it’s just as rewarding to enjoy the five bright planets, observed since ancient times, briefly coming together in the western sky.

khojho Posted on October 17, 2018 08:37

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'I wear the pants': Lady Gaga reveals reason behind oversize suit in powerful speech

© Michael Kovac Lady Gaga speaks onstage during ELLE's 25th Annual Women In Hollywood Celebration on October 15, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. © Michael Kovac Christian Carino and Lady Gaga attend ELLE's 25th Annual Women In Hollywood Celebration on Oct. 15, 2018 in Los Angeles.

Lady Gaga was making more than a fashion statement during Monday night’s Elle Annual Women in Hollywood Celebration.

Donning an oversize Marc Jacobs pantsuit, Gaga took the stage to deliver an emotionally raw acceptance speech that touched on sexual abuse, mental health and the burdening beauty standards place on women in Hollywood.

"I decided today I wanted to take the power back. Today, I wear the pants," she said onstage. 

Her outfit offered a striking contrast to the glamorous gowns she's worn while promoting "A Star is Born," a role that has generated major Oscar buzz. The pop star said her preparation for the event, formed to honor powerful women in entertainment, began the same way.

Related: Lady Gaga career in pictures (Photo services)

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"I tried on dress after dress today getting ready for this event, one tight corset after another, one heel after another, a diamond, a feather, thousands of beaded fabrics and the most beautiful silks in the world," Gaga said. "To be honest, I felt sick to my stomach."

In that moment, Lady Gaga began to question why she cared so much about what others thought about her. 

"And I asked myself: What does it really mean to be a woman in Hollywood? We are not just objects to entertain the world. We are not members of a giant beauty pageant meant to be pit against one another for the pleasure of the public," she said. "We women in Hollywood, we are voices. ... We have the power to speak and be heard and fight back when we are silenced."

After trying on nearly a dozen designer gowns, the pressure to please others melted away when she in love with the Marc Jacobs suit that allowed Lady Gaga to be herself. 

"This was an oversized men’s suit made for a woman. Not a gown. And then I began to cry," she recalled. "In this suit, I felt the truth of who I am well up in my gut."

The singer and actress, who referred to her boyfriend Christian Carino as her "fiance" onstage, made note of current events and called her outfit an act of freedom to resist the norm.

"I had a revelation that I had to be empowered to be myself today more than ever," she said. "To resist the standards of Hollywood, whatever that means. To resist the standards of dressing to impress. To use what really matters: my voice."

khojho Posted on October 17, 2018 08:01

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5 things every girl wants her man to do for her Interestingly, they never ask for these things.

Love is of course a two way street, but here are some insights on what can help make a difference, or even change the direction of your relationship.

Ladies have high and unrealistic expectations when it comes to their view of relationships. We can thank the "Telenovelas"and their "diaries", for that. The funny thing is that they often don't even communicate most of these things because they expect their partners  to know it like their date of birth.

READ ALSO:Your guy is 'Mr. Right' if he does these 7 things

There’s a long list of things that we really want from you all and we will never ask for, but here are just a few that will really brighten our day:

1. Sacrifice your manly ego for her when need be



Girls love it when they now their men humbly succumb their ego to them and make them their out most priority.

2. A listening ear



Fully pay attention to her when she is sharing her future plans with you. Not only that but also listen to their "unnecessary" nagging an so on.

3. Gifts



Like they see in movies, girls like to be  surprised from time to time with lavish and romantic gifts like flowers, perfumes and perhaps shopping occasionally.

4. Compliments

Anyone, who has ever been in love, knows how important compliments are to ladies . Tell her she’s beautiful daily because sometimes she really needs to hear it.

5. Regular checkups

A sweet text to wake up to in the morning.

AlbertaU Posted on October 16, 2018 13:38

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Prague VS Vienna: Which One to Visit?

Prague and Vienna are both wonderful and exciting cities bristling with modern cosmopolitanism and ancient history and culture. But if you’ve got a European vacation planned in the future and are trying to decide which one of these amazing cities to visit, it can be daunting for sure.

Both have their charms as well as distinct advantages and disadvantages with regards to getting around and depending upon how much time you have.



While both cities are rich in sightseeing adventures, Prague is considered by many travel experts to be more scenic. Vienna is a hotbed of history, home to such great sites such as The Hofburg, Schönbrunn Palace and Gardens, and St. Stephen’s Cathedral.

But Prague is definitely more beautiful as a city. You can stroll along the Danube River for breathtaking views, sit in one of the many cafés that dot the urban landscape, and breath in the amazing architecture – both old and modern – that makes up this Central European metropolis.


You most likely didn’t travel all the way to Europe just to go shopping. But, if you happen to be a shopaholic, Vienna is definitely better. But be warned: fine goods you buy in Vienna will sometimes be three times more expensive than what they are in the United States or Canada.


When it comes to great dining, both cities are equally enticing. Austrians are known for their love of sweets and pastries, which is reflected in the many bakeries, cafés, and restaurants scattered around Vienna. Some restaurants in either city offer local cuisine, though you’re more likely to be eating a combination of Western European or even Americanized food. Bear in mind that Prague (being that it is in Central Europe) will be far less pricey than Vienna.


What do you hope to see on your trip? Palaces? Medieval Cathedrals? The Opera? How about museums? If you do happen to visit both cities, you’ll find that culture equally as enriching. However, Vienna has more world-class museums and showcase the rich history of the area.

Differences between the two cities

Every world-class city has its own feel, or atmosphere if you will. And Vienna and Prague are no different. Vienna feels more modern, stately and polished while Prague feels slightly undeveloped and more old-fashioned.

One thing is for certain: people in both cities are exceptionally friendly. Many speak English and will be willing to help you if you need directions.

Here is something else to keep in mind: if you plan on spending a week in either city, you might want to rent a car for some day trips. It is becoming more common for tourists to rent cars in Vienna to visit the scenic Melk and Wachau valleys. From Prague, the closest day trip is to the gorgeous Cesky Krumlov, which is part of the South Bohemian Region. Here, you’ll find many old castles and charming houses.

How much time do you have?

Are you going to be on a rushed trip? If so, Prague might be your better option. The city isn’t as spread out as Vienna and is easier to travel around in. On the other hand, if you’ve got lots of time and perhaps wish to spend more money on upscale entertainment, Vienna will be better for you.

jmparker Posted on October 16, 2018 11:57

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Brit man feared dead after VANISHING in Costa del Sol floods

A pensioner has not been seen since last Tuesday just before heavy rain forced the evacuation of residents living by a river near the Spanish town of Coin. 

The man's two dogs have been taken in by a friend, but a search for the 73-year-old involving police, locals and Civil Protection workers has so far failed to find any trace of him.

Police are understood to have tried but failed to locate him via the signal from his mobile.

Acquaintances and other expats - used to seeing him on his bicycle with his pets - have appealed for information on social media.

His home - a rustic self-made property by a bridge across the Pereila River around three miles from Coin which is a 40-minute drive north of Marbella - was washed away by last week’s floods.

Spain was ravaged by "biblical" floods last week.


CHAOS: The flash floods slammed into cars and homes


A British couple, Anthony Bernon Green and Delia Mary Green were killed in a taxi in the flash floods that rocked Majorca. 

The OAP duo died when a taxi they were travelling in was swept away.

Their cab was found turned upside down when the bodies were recovered.

And the body of their driver, Juan Grande Sillero, was found a few hours later.


HORROR: Delia Mary Green and Anthony Bernon Green


BIBLICAL: Cars were swept away by the floods

The couple are in their 70s, and it's understood they were travelling to their hotel in the fishing town of Cala Bona.

Search teams have swooped on Sant Llorenc des Cardassa after the area was hit by flash floods described as "biblical".

A boy, 5, is missing and his mum, named locally as Joana Lliteras Planas, saved his sister, 7, but was found dead after their car was caught up in the horror.

jmparker Posted on October 16, 2018 11:40

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Victoria Beckham admits Elton John is the reason she quit the Spice Girls as she poses for Vogue Australia

Victoria Beckham decided to turn her back on her pop career during the Spice Girl's ill-fated reunion tour in 2008.

The singer revealed she realised she had lost her passion for performing after watching close friend, Sir Elton John singing in his Red Piano show in Las Vegas.

The fashion designer spoke to Vogue Australia about her reasons for not agreeing to the Spice Girls reunion following months of speculation about whether the group would get back together for their 20th anniversary.

Melanie Brown frequently speaks about her wishes for all five members to reunite, despite Victoria's repeated insistence she wants to put her music career firmly in the past and focus on her fashion brand.

Gallery: What you really, really want: Fun photos of Spice Girls (Photos Services)

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It was claimed this week that Mel B told Victoria to "f**k off, you b**ch" during a heated row over the reunion concerts.

Mel B is hoping to join Melanie Chisholm , Emma Bunton and Geri Horner in an upcoming tour, but details haven't been revealed yet.

© Ian West/PA Wire/PA Images Victoria Beckham departs after her London Fashion Week SS19 show in Dover Street, London. Addressing the recent speculation about a reunion, Victoria told the November issue of Vogue Australia: "I always wanted to do fashion, so I was lucky that music was never my main passion. For the other girls it was.

"Every day someone says: 'Are you going on tour? You're the one who's stopping it.' For me, there was always something else I wanted to do. Plan B, phase two."

Victoria's interest in fashion stems back to her early Spice Girls days in the late 1990s and said she found their costumes appealed more than "getting on stage and dancing around".

After disbanding in 2000, the girl group got back together for The Return Of The Spice Girls world tour in 2007-2008.

However, they faced controversy after cutting the tour short and cancelling a string of dates in China, South Africa, Australia and Argentina, blaming "personal commitments".

While on their US leg of the tour, Victoria went to see her pal Elton in Vegas and realised she didn't have the passion that he did.

© Credits: WireImage Musician Sir Elton John and Victoria Beckham She explained: "I was with Elton John this weekend and I told him: 'You're the reason why I stopped the Spice Girls.'

"I remember sitting there very near to the front and looking at him singing those songs he'd sung time after time, year after year, and his passion and his enjoyment was incredible, even after all that time."

A few days later, while performing at Madison Square Garden in New York City, Victoria admitted she felt "it's almost like a waste that I'm given this opportunity" to perform in front of thousands.

She lamented: "There was nothing there, other than that my kids were in the audience and I wanted them to see Mummy doing the Spice Girls."

© Credits: Victoria Beckham/Instagram Eight days later, the Spice Girls performed their last concert in Toronto, Canada. They did reunite one more time to sing at the London 2012 Olympics closing ceremony.

Victoria met up with her former bandmates for lunch in February this year, prompting speculation she had changed her mind and agreed to tour.

Referring to the meeting, Victoria said: "I had a lunch with the Spice Girls a few months ago to see how everybody was, things spiralled out of control, and I had my lawyer trying to beat down stories that were completely ludicrous."

khojho Posted on October 16, 2018 10:31

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Fear grips Syria city seized from Kurds by Turkish-backed rebels

From kidnappings for ransom to armed robberies and torture: residents of Syria's Afrin region say they are suffering a litany of abuses at the hands of Turkish-backed rebels. 

They say the fear of harassment has kept them shuttered inside their homes since Ankara and its Arab rebel allies overran the then overwhelmingly Kurdish city in March after a two-month air and ground offensive.

Their testimonies, given under pseudonyms because of fear of retribution, paint a picture of a chaotic city with little protection for civilians.

"They robbed my son's house and didn't leave a thing -- not even the clothes," says 55-year-old resident Ahmad.

His own motorcycle and 20 gas canisters were seized by rebels, who also looted his family's liquor store.

Since Turkish troops and pro-Ankara Arab rebels captured the city from the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), the United Nations and human rights groups, including Amnesty International, have documented widespread abuses.

Half of the enclave's 320,000 residents fled, according to a recent report by the UN Commission of Inquiry, and most are unable to return.

© Provided by AFP Turkish-backed Syrian Arab rebels loot shops in the traditionally Kurdish-majority city of Afrin after seizing it from the Kurdish People's Protection Units on March 18, 2018

Those who have often found their homes occupied by fighters or by Arab civilians displaced from other parts of Syria, the UN said.

Other returned to homes "stripped of furniture, electrical appliances, and all decor," in large-scale looting.

Related: News in pictures (Provided by photo services)

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Ahmad and his family fled the fighting but came back recently to scenes of devastation with their property looted and their hometown barely recognisable.

"When we came back, not even our tractor was left," he said.

"They don't even let us sleep at night, with all the shooting."

Kidnap for ransom

Other residents have been forced to buy back stolen cars for up to $5,000 or pay bribes at checkpoints to access their property, according to the UN commission.

© Provided by AFP Syrian Kurdish civilians live in fear of the checkpoints manned by Turkish-backed Arab rebels around Afrin where the United Nations and human rights groups have a documented a litany of abuses, including beatings, torture and kidnappings for ransom

Salim, 50, owns several olive groves in the fertile agricultural land outside the city but he can no longer reach them without permission from the new authorities.

"If you don't get a paper from the local council, you can't enter your own land," the father of three complains.

Even with authorisation, the roads are dangerous for Kurdish civilians.

"A rebel faction could find you on the way to your land and kidnap you for a ransom," ranging from $15,000 to $50,000, he tells AFP.

"Kurds don't dare leave their homes."


Both the UN and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported cases of kidnapping for ransom.

The Britain-based Observatory said it documented at least 40 people abducted and taken to "hostage houses" in recent weeks.

Detainees are tortured and beaten, their relatives asked to pay to secure their release.

Abductions have become "a way to make money," the monitor said.

© Provided by AFP A Syrian Kurd waves the banner of the YPJ, the women's section of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) which was driven out of Afrin in March and is anathema to the city's new Turkish and Arab masters

Rebel factions have accused Kurdish residents of being loyalists of the Damascus regime, or members of the YPG or its Turkish rebel ally, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

"They accused me once of being a shabiha (pro-government militiaman), and another time of being a PKK member," says Ibrahim, an industrial worker in Afrin.

Ankara is bitterly opposed to the YPG, which also holds swathes of northern and northeastern Syria with the backing of a US-led coalition, regarding it as an extension of the PKK, which has waged a deadly insurgency against Kurdish troops in southeastern Turkey since 1984.

"They arrested me, took me to a base outside Afrin, hung me on the balango and hit me," says Ibrahim.

The "balango" is a torture method notorious across Syria, by which the victim is hoisted in the air for hours from wrists tied behind the back.

'Blood spilt for nothing'

Turkey has denied allegations of abuses, and rebels say proven offenders are punished.

© Provided by AFP A Syrian Arab who left his home in the rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta outside Damascus when it surrendered to government forces in April celebrates Eid al-Adha on August 22, 2018 in Afrin where he has taken over the home of a Kurdish family who fled

But residents say not enough is done to curb violations. And it is not only Kurds who have fallen victim to the lawlessness. 

Samia, an Arab student in Afrin, says she has been permanently scarred by her father's brutal killing by armed men trying to steal their family car.

"The first time they tried, my father kicked them out of the house. They came back a second time for revenge and killed him," she recounts.

Rebels investigated, but "the killer went to jail for just one month," she said.

"My father's blood was spilt for nothing."

The UN and Amnesty have also reported patterns of house appropriations by fighters and civilians bussed to Afrin during the April surrender to government forces of the rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta suburb outside Damascus.

Some relocated families have opened businesses in Afrin, including the Ghouta Pastryshop and Damascene Dame restaurant.

Parts of Afrin have even been renamed to reflect its new authorities.

© Provided by AFP Turkish-backed Syrian rebels demolish a statue of legendary Kurdish resistance symbol "Kawa" in a landmark square in Afrin on March 18, 2018 after seizing the northwestern city from Kurdish forces

One is a traffic roundabout formerly called Kawa, after the legendary blacksmith and Kurdish symbol of resistance whose statue once stood there but was destroyed by the rebels after their capture of the city.

© Provided by AFP Turkish-backed Syrian Arab rebels stand guard on October 9, 2018 in the same square, now called "Olive Branch Circle" after the name Turkish commanders gave to their operation to oust Kurdish forces from the city in March

Now, a banner in Arabic and Turkish identifies it as "Olive Branch Circle," after the name that Turkish commanders gave to their operation to drive Kurdish forces out of the enclave on the border with Turkey.

Another sign reads: "President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Square."

Abu Jihad, 60, misses Afrin's calmer days, before its seizure by the Turkish-backed rebels.

"Injustice, injustice, injustice, and no one is holding them accountable," he sighs.

khojho Posted on October 16, 2018 09:59

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Sorry everyone but there's no God or afterlife, according to Stephen Hawking

A new collection of Stephen Hawking's essays and articles, Brief Answers to Big Questions, have been released posthumously, and, we're sorry to say, but it's bad news for theists. 

In it, he talks candidly about the future of the human race, which is, we're sad to say, not particularly rosy. He also puts his cards on the table regards God and the afterlife. Answering these questions in the final months before his death, he said he'd come to the 'profound realisation' that there was no afterlife or supreme being. 

Writing in The Telegraph, science editor Sarah Knapton quotes Hawking as saying:

We are each free to believe what we want, and it's my view that the simplest explanation is that there is no God. 

No one created the universe and no one directs our fate. This leads me to a profound realisation: there is probably no heaven and afterlife either. I think belief in the afterlife is just wishful thinking.

It flies in the face of everything we know in science. I think that when we die we return to dust.

But there is a sense we live on, in our influence, and in the genes we pass to our children.

Hawking was forever being asked the same questions throughout his life, and Brief Answers to Big Questions aims to answer these questions. He started it in the last year of his life, but didn't finish it before he died at 76, earlier this year in March. 

His family and his academic colleagues finished it from material drawn from his large personal archives, and Lucy Hawking, his daughter, spoke at its launch at the Science Museum on Monday. Speaking to AFP, she said: 

It was very emotional. I turned away because I had tears forming.

It feels sometimes like he's still here because we talk about him and hear his voice—and then we have the reminder that he's left us.

She also explained the aim of the book: 

He was deeply worried that at a time when the challenges are global, we were becoming increasingly local in our thinking.

It's a call to unity, to humanity, to bring ourselves back together and really face up to the challenges in front of us.

Hawking's 10 big questions. 

Is there a God?

There is no God. No one directs the universe.

How did it all begin?

In a hot Big Bang.

What is inside a black hole?

Falling into a black hole is definitely bad news. If it were a stellar mass black hole you would be made into spaghetti before reaching the horizon.

Can we predict the future?

No and yes. In principal the laws allow us to predict the future but in practice it is too difficult.

Is time travel possible?

Travel back in time can't be ruled out according to our present understanding.

Will we survive on Earth?

The present world order has a future but it will be a very different one.

Is there other intelligent life in the universe?

There are forms of intelligent life out there. We need to be wary of answering back until we have developed a bit further.

Should we colonise space?

I expect within the next hundred years we will be able to travel to anywhere in the Solar System.

Will artificial intelligence outsmart us?

A super-intelligent AI will be extremely good at accomplishing goals and if those goals aren't aligned with ours we're in trouble.

How do we shape the future?

Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet.

ruby Posted on October 16, 2018 09:46

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Manchester Named The Best Place For A Night Out In The UK

The best night out in the UK? Tricky one, and no doubt people from all over the land will want to stake their city's claim.

However, it looks like we now have a concrete answer. A recent study by Ideal Flatmate Flatmate has revealed that Manchester is number one when it comes to nightlife, based on a survey of 1,000 people who rated UK hotspots out of ten.

Credit: Geograph

So you might have thought you'd have to drag yourself down (or up, depending where you reside) to the capital to embark on the night of your life - but northern outposts haven't only picked up the top spot. Second place is still above the midlands, with Sheffield getting some silverware.

In fact, London doesn't get a look-in until third place, with Camden's many boozey charms helping secure that bronze medal.

The survey not only picked the best city for a night out, but also worked out the cheapest city to drink in, the top up and coming places to drink... and five of the worst.

Credit: Wikipedia

Manchester may be the best night out, but it certainly isn't the cheapest as the average price of a pint cost around £2.35.

It doesn't sound like a lot (in fact, it sounds unfathomably cheap - this must be factoring in pound-a-pint pubs to lower this average, surely), but then if you head ever so slightly west, it turns out Liverpool is the way to go if you're looking for an affordable night out - there, the average price of a pint standing at meagre £1.67.

Of course, nights out in London are good, but drinking there may leave you out of pocket slightly more with the average price of a pint standing at a hefty £4.50 - I think I'll pass on getting the rounds in.

In order to get their stats on the up and coming places to go for a drink the study also asked 100 residents from each UK city to rate each of their local boroughs on different aspects, such as nightlife, up-and-coming areas and the setting for young professionals.

Taking the top spot - 1 out of 222 - was, once again, a win for the north with Manchester city centre scoring the highest. In second and third were Camden, in London, and Sheffield, respectively - flipping around from their spaces from before.

So what lies down at the bottom? Well, this time the bottom three spots were taken up by areas in Newcastle - ouch. Hey, don't shoot the messenger.

Yes, the north may have taken the top spot, but also the bottom - well, you can't please everyone.

kabby Posted on October 16, 2018 08:45

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Stephen Hawking Warns 'World Is In Danger' In Message Recorded before He Died

Stephen Hawking has sent a message from 'beyond the grave', warning the world about threats to science and education.

At the launch event for his posthumously released final book, Brief Answers to the Big Questions, a message was played that the scientist had recorded prior to his death in March.

Credit: PA

In the recording, the late cosmologist said education and science were 'in danger now more than ever before' and that experts were not being respected.

"We are ... in danger of becoming culturally isolated and insular and increasingly remote from where progress is being made," he said.

"What lies ahead for those who are young now? I can say with confidence that their future will depend more on science and technology than any previous generations has done."

He also urged young people "to look up at the stars and not down at your feet ... And wonder about what makes the universe exist."

Hawking continued: "It matters that you don't give up. Unleash your imagination. Shape the future."

Credit: PA

Along with his warnings, he said Donald Trump's US presidency and Britain's vote to leave the European Union were part of 'a global revolt against experts', adding: "That includes scientists."

He also recognised that science is yet to overcome some pretty major challenges - including climate change, overpopulation, species going extinct, destruction to forests and the death of the oceans.

Hawking's daughter Lucy attended the book launch and said said hearing her father's 'unmistakable voice' had been 'very emotional'.

"I turned away, because I had tears forming in my eyes," she said. "I feel sometimes like he's still here because we talk about him and we hear his voice and we see images of him, and then we have the reminder that he's left us. We think he would have been very honoured to take his place in history."

Professor Hawking lived with motor neurone disease - a condition that left him paralysed and only able to communicate through a voice-generating computer - for decades, even after he had only been given a few years to live in his twenties.

He was renowned around the world for his incredible genius but also for his self-effacing sense of humour, even appearing as himself on The Simpsons, which increased his immense popularity and respect.

After he beat the ods to live to the age of 76, Hawking's family said the physicist had 'passed away peacefully' in his Cambridge home.

kabby Posted on October 16, 2018 08:36

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Khashoggi disappearance: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrives in Riyadh

The journalist has not been seen since entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul almost two weeks ago.

The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has arrived in Saudi Arabia as pressure increases on the country's leaders over the disappearance and alleged murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Mr Pompeo was hastily dispatched to Riyadh amid signs that the current Saudi position - a flat denial that Mr Khashoggi was killed inside their consulate in Istanbul - might be about to change.

Image: Jamal Khashoggi has not been seen for almost two weeks

The renowned journalist has not been seen since entering the building almost two weeks ago.

Speaking on Monday, Donald Trump said the Saudi leader King Salman denied "any knowledge of whatever may have happened" during a phone call.

But the US president also said "rogue killers" could be behind the disappearance and that King Salman had told him Saudi Arabia is "working closely with Turkey to find answers".

Image: Mr Trump said King Salman denied 'any knowledge' of what happened to Mr Khashoggi

Speaking to reporters as he set off for Florida from the White House, President Trump said he did not "want to get" into King Salman's mind, but added: "It sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers."

Reports in the US media suggest that Saudi officials are set to admit that Mr Khashoggi was killed during an interrogation that went wrong, but neither King Salman, or his son and power behind the throne, Crown Prince Mohammed, had ordered Mr Khashoggi's death.

On Monday Turkish and Saudi officials began a search of the consulate. Turkey claims he was killed and dismembered inside the building by a 15-member Saudi "assassination squad" and say they have evidence to support their claims.

They have now completed their search.

Saudi officials have called all the allegations "baseless", but have offered no evidence the journalist left the consulate.

Image: Jamal Khashoggi enters the Saudi consulate in Istanbul

The international community has been near unanimous in demanding Riyadh provide clear answers over Mr Khashoggi's case.

Germany, Britain and France issued a joint statement over the weekend expressing "grave concern" and calling for a credible investigation to ensure those responsible for the disappearance "are held to account".

The US State Department also has urged a thorough investigation into the disappearance.

Last week, President Trump vowed to uncover the truth about what happened and promised "severe punishment" for those responsible.

However, given the close political and economic links between the US and Saudi Arabia it remains unclear what action he could take.

He has already ruled out halting a proposed $110 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia because of the impact it would have on American jobs.

AlbertaU Posted on October 16, 2018 08:33

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'She was unique': Lucy McHugh's mother on her murder

The teenager was found stabbed to death in woodland in Southampton and a family friend has been arrested but not charged.

The mother of murdered schoolgirl Lucy McHugh has vowed to never let her memory die as she described the pain of losing her daughter.

The 13-year-old's body was found in woodland at Southampton Sport Centre on 26 July. She had been stabbed to death.

Hampshire Police carried out fresh searches last week at the sports centre following a new lead as they attempt to piece together the teen's final moments.

Family friend Stephen Nicholson, 24, who was staying with the family, was arrested on suspicion of murder.

He has not been charged with that offence, but was jailed for 14 months in August for refusing to give his Facebook password to police.

Image: Lucy McHugh was found stabbed to death

Lucy's mother, Stacey White, described her daughter as "the most unique child I know" who was "always on the go...out with friends, family or simply in a club".

"In fact in her life, she did quite a lot of things others haven't done," she said.

"She was always full of smiles, whirling around like a hurricane, she would scoop the boys up and kiss them until they cried, and squeezed them and was always coming through the door and joked how she was late and it was because she was talking to someone or had to help someone do something.

"There was never a time when she can't, 'I won't' or too busy, no matter what she was doing she would make time."


Video: Hampshire Police have released new CCTV showing the last known movements of murdered teenager Lucy McHugh.

Lucy, who was a pupil at Redbridge Community School, loved playing with babies in her family and had set her heart on becoming a pro bono lawyer in the US to help people who could not afford to help themselves.

Ms White said at one stage she wanted to be a mechanic, then a fashion designer, but in the end she decided she wanted to study law.

She said: "I believe she would probably have achieved it, everything she set her mind to, she achieved.

"You should never plan for tomorrow what you can do today because tomorrow might not come just as Lucy found, all the plans that she had, all the things she wanted to do, she now can't do because someone took that away from her."

Speaking about finding out her beloved daughter was dead, she said: "It was a complete emptiness, overcoming you all at once, your whole world falling apart.

"People can pick up textbooks, they can read them until they are blue in the face, it is not as it is written, it is such a more complex layer of sorrow and heartache and... and then you have to think about the other children and explain it to them.

"Because every child is so different, each of them had to have it explained in a different way whilst you want to fall apart but you can't because you have to explain it to them before somebody else does.

"And then you have to help them so you really don't have a choice, you have to survive, you either allow it to destroy you or you fight."

Image: Stephen Nicholson was sentenced to 14 months over his refusal to hand over the password to his Facebook account

Image: A horse-drawn hearse carrying the coffin of 13-year-old Lucy McHugh

The distraught mother remained defiant, adding: "I will fight, I won't let Lucy's memories die, I won't let her be forgotten, I won't let this destroy any more people than it has already.

"The biggest smiling person in our lives has been taken and she's never going to come back.

"I won't let whoever has done this destroy anyone else, the destruction that has been caused is destruction enough.

"My little girl is the biggest destruction that has been caused within this already.

"No one else should crumble and that's why I've stayed as I have."

Image: Examples of the type of clothing worn by Lucy on 25 July. Pic: Hampshire Police

Ms White said the strength that has come from her family and friends "has been tremendous".

"I had to go and see Lucy and it was horrible. I would never wish it on anybody," she added.

A "We Love Lucy Day" is being held on Saturday in Mansel Park, Southampton, to keep her daughter's memory alive, with money being raised for bereavement charities and for the local community that she said has been so supportive.

AlbertaU Posted on October 16, 2018 08:31

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Humanity is ‘cutting down the tree of life’, warn scientists

Humanity’s ongoing annihilation of wildlife is cutting down the tree of life, including the branch we are sitting on, according to a stark new analysis.

More than 300 different mammal species have been eradicated by human activities. The new research calculates the total unique evolutionary history that has been lost as a result at a startling 2.5bn years.

Red panda / lesser panda (Ailurus fulgens) native to the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China. (Photo by: Arterra/UIG via Getty Images) Furthermore, even if the destruction of wild areas, poaching and pollution were ended within 50 years and extinction rates fell back to natural levels, it would still take 5-7 million years for the natural world to recover.

Many scientists think a sixth mass extinction of life on Earth has begun, propelled by human destruction of wildlife, and 83% of wild mammals have already gone. The new work puts this in the context of the evolution and extinction of species that occurred for billions of years before modern humans arrived.

“We are doing something that will last millions of years beyond us,” said Matt Davis at Aarhus University in Denmark, who led the new research. “It shows the severity of what we are in right now. We’re entering what could be an extinction on the scale of what killed the dinosaurs.

Golden Lion Tamarin (Leontopithecus rosalia) endangered species, Atlantic Forest, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by: Kike Calvo/UIG via Getty Images) “That is pretty scary. We are starting to cut down the whole tree [of life], including the branch we are sitting on right now.” Ecosystems around the world have already been significantly affected by the extermination of big animals such as mammoths, he said.

The new research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, did not simply add up the number of lost species, as this fails to capture how unique each species is in evolutionary terms.

Instead, the researchers added up the amount of time each lost species had spent evolving since it emerged, a measure called phylogenetic diversity. There are hundreds of species of shrew, for example, but just two species of elephant. Losing elephants would therefore be like chopping a large branch off the tree of life, said Davis, whereas losing a shrew species would be like trimming off a small twig.

© 2017 Wolfgang Kaehler MONGOLIA - 2017/09/21: A group of Przewalski's horses (Takhi), an endangered species, in Hustain Nuruu National Park, Mongolia. (Photo by Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images) From the rise of modern humans to the year 1500,2bn years of evolutionary history was lost due to mammal extinctions, the researchers calculated. Since 1500, another 500m years has been lost. If the current high rate of extinctions continues for 50 years, a further 1.8bn years of phylogenetic diversity will disappear, the scientists found.

There are still many mammal species left, but all of these would have to evolve for 5-7m years into the future to get back to the level of diversity present before modern humans arrived, the researchers estimated.

Davis said each lost species had its own intrinsic value, but the loss of the most distinct creatures was most damaging: “Typically, if you have something that is off by itself, it does some job that no other species is doing.”

The losses are already affecting ecosystems, he said, particularly the vanishing of “megafauna”. These huge creatures roamed much of Earth until humans arrived and included giant cats, deer, beavers and armadillos.

“We are now living in a world without giants,” said Davis. “So the seeds of big fruit are not dispersed any more because we don’t have mammoths or gomphotheres or giant ground sloths eating those fruits.” Another example, he said, is the widespread loss of wolves. This means smaller predators like coyotes thrive and more birds are killed, radically changing food chains.

Davis said the estimated recovery times for phylogenetic diversity are conservative: “We have no reason to assume we will ever be able to bring extinction rates back down to normal background levels.” The team only looked at mammals, as they are well studied, but extinctions in other animals are just as high.

The new work did allow the researchers to identify highly endangered species with long evolutionary histories, Davis said: “This highlights species we should try to save and could help us prioritise conservation.” The black rhino, the red panda and the indri – a large lemur – are among those highlighted.

© JOUAN/RIUS/GAMMA-RAPHO Pour signaler son territoire au groupe voisin, l'indri lance une longue plainte qui s'entend ? plusieurs kilom?tres. (Photo by JOUAN/RIUS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images) Prof Douglas Futuyma at Stony Brook University in the US, who was not part of the research team, said: “They have made a dramatic and convincing statement of how much evolutionary diversity has already been lost. The most important point is one that I believe is already widely recognised: humans are extinguishing not only many species, but many kinds of species.” He said that while overall evolutionary distinctiveness can be recovered over time, particular species – such as elephants – would never re-evolve if lost.

“We are not merely trimming the terminal twigs of the tree of life, we are lopping off entire limbs,” said Prof Stuart Pimm at Duke University, also in the US, who said the research used better data than earlier work. However, he said prioritising distinctive species was hard in practice, as it is usually overall habitats that are protected. “There’s a lot of armchair conservationists out there,” he said.

Gallery: Species that have gone extinct in our lifetime (Provided by Photo Services)

khojho Posted on October 16, 2018 07:48

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There's a good chance you're a victim of credit card scams and you don't even know it — here's what to do

Credit card fraud is on the rise — and so are the different types of credit card scams. Credit card scammers are getting smarter, employing all sorts of tricks to obtain your personal information. Here's what to do to protect yourself.


Are you a victim of a credit card scam?

(Matt Cardy/Getty Images)


  • Credit card fraud is on the rise — and so are the different types of credit card scams.
  • Credit card scammers are getting smarter — they use all sorts of tricks, from phony phone calls and emails to credit card skimmers and Wi-Fi hotspots— to obtain your personal information.
  • You could be a victim of a credit card scam and not even know it.
  • If you find a fraudulent charge on your credit card, the first thing you should do is contact your credit card company immediately.

Credit card criminals are getting smarter, and you could be at risk.

Last year, found that credit card fraud was on the rise. But it's not just the number of fraud cases occurring — the types of credit card scams are increasingly varied.

Traditionally, criminals steal credit cards or use a lost or stolen one. Now, thieves can sell authentication information like ZIP codes along with stolen card numbers on the web, according to And they're becoming more clever about how they obtain that information.

"[There is] the constant stream of phishing attacks we receive where someone is trying to lure us into providing passwords so they can steal funds or commit identity theft," Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at BankRate, the parent company of, told Business Insider.

"This includes the seemingly endless number of robocalls that we get over cell phones, fraudulently urging us to call to lower our credit card rate or answer in response to a problem with the IRS that doesn't actually exist," he said.

Other credit card scam calls, according to, can involve scammers notifying you of "suspicious charges" on your account or acting as your utility company, pretending that you're behind on your bills. You should also be wary when you're on vacation — scammers can call your hotel phone pretending that there was a problem with the hotel's computer system, asking you to provide your credit card information again.

But scams aren't just restricted to phone calls. With the rise of EMV chip-enabled credit cards, scammers are now sending emails asking you to update your information before receiving your EMV Card.

Providing your credit card details in any of these scenarios is all a scammer needs to commit credit card fraud. But they can also carry out scams without any effort on your part, unbeknownst to you.

Wi-Fi hot spots are common these days, but beware: scammers can create a free Wi-Fi hot spot without a password — if you connect to one and access your credit card online, they can steal your login details and possibly your credit card information if you make a purchase. They can also counterfeit credit cards by obtaining your credit card information with a skimmer, which often go undetected by consumers.

Once they have your personal info, fraudsters can do everything from calling your credit card company or bank posing as you and claiming the card was lost or stolen to filling out fraudulent credit card applications (a form of identity theft) and making purchases.

There's also been a rise in card-not-present fraud, according to This is when fraudsters make purchases with your name and card number, but not your actual card — think online orders. When you have your credit card in your possession, you can be completely unaware of this.

Here's what to do if you unknowingly find yourself to be a victim of a credit card scam.

1. Practice vigilance


1. Practice vigilance

(Thomas Cooper/Getty Images)


First things first, you should try to protect yourself from being scammed — or at least set yourself up with the proper tools to detect a scam early on. Vigilance is key, Hamrick says.

"One painless strategy is to download your bank's mobile apps that help us keep track of all credit and debit card transactions," Hamrick said, adding that you should avoid third-party apps. Set up mobile alerts for your transactions: "The best game plan to is to know when transactions are hitting your accounts."

He also suggests having an emergency savings account through a separate debit card or credit card. "[It] helps bridge the time gap that it takes to get a replacement card mailed if and when you have a problem with fraud on the account you use to conduct most of your personal purchases," he said.



2. Contact your credit card company


2. Contact your credit card company

(Spencer Platt / Getty Images)


As soon as you notice something's off, take action. "If you see something that doesn't look right, get in touch with your provider or financial services firm right away," Hamrick said.

Many credit card companies also have zero-liability policies, meaning you won't be responsible for fraudulent charges.

Credit cards also have great federal protection. Legally, credit-card users are only liable for up to $50 of unauthorized or fraudulent charges if the activity occurs before you report it missing, Business Insider previously reported. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, if you report a lost or stolen card before it's used, the card company can't hold you responsible.

And even if your credit card isn't linked to your bank, you should still alert them — they can help you monitor your accounts and report suspicious activity.



3. Contact the credit bureaus and FTC


3. Contact the credit bureaus and FTC

(Daniel M Ernst/Shutterstock)


If you're a victim of identity theft, in which a criminal is using your personal information to commit fraud (such as applying for a credit card in your name), you need to alert the credit bureaus and place a "fraud alert" on your credit reports before contacting your credit card company, recommends

"Fraud alerts can stop a thief from opening additional accounts in your name, and also contact you before any new account is opened or an existing account is changed," according to "Note that one call to any of the three credit bureaus will be enough to place your fraud alert. The company you call is required to contact the other two. Within twenty-four hours, all three of the bureaus will be alerted."

You should also file a police report as well as a report with the Federal Trade Commission, who "can assist you in developing a 'recovery plan' to prevent further loss and get things squared away with the police and credit bureaus as necessary," according to



4. Change online passwords and PIN numbers


4. Change online passwords and PIN numbers

(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)


To prevent further fraudulent transactions, try to control the ways criminals can use your credit card by changing your online passwords and pin numbers.

This isn't limited to your bank account and the vulnerable credit card in question — you should also unlink it from any online websites (think Amazon) or bill pay sites (think PayPal) that it's currently linked to and change all online shopping passwords.

And don't forget to check and see if those shopping accounts have been compromised.



5. Monitor activity


5. Monitor activity

(WAYHOME studio/Shutterstock)


The first sign of credit fraud may not be your last — you'll need to monitor your bank and credit card statements for a while.

"Fraudulent charges can keep appearing on your card statements months after your card information is stolen if there was any additional information, such as login credentials, that may have been compromised," according to

You can also sign up for a credit card monitoring service that will help you track credit card reports, notifying you of suspicious activity (but don't choose one without a bit of background research).

AlbertaU Posted on October 15, 2018 12:38

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Khabib calls out FLOYD MAYWEATHER in boasting clip: 'There's only one king'

Khabib forced the Irishman into submission last weekend.

The contest was marred by a wild post-fight brawl, with Khabib climbing over the Octagon to attack a member of McGregor's team.

Now the Russian wants to fight the undefeated Mayweather, who himself pummelled McGregor with a 10th round stoppage last year.

He hasn't fought since, and Khabib has demanded a mega showdown between them.

In footage, Khabib is heard saying: "Let's go Floyd we have to fight now – 50-0 vs 27-0 – two guys who never lose. Let's go, why not?

"Because in the jungle there is only one king. Only one king.

"Of course I am the king because he could not drop McGregor and I dropped him easily. Let's go."

Standing next to him is Mayweather's promoter Leonard Ellerbe, who shakes his hand and says: "You'll get some of that work, baby."


CHALLENGE: Khabib calls out Floyd Mayweather


BRUTAL: Khabib beats Floyd Mayweather

It is not clear if he was asking for a fight in the form of boxing or UFC.

Both Khabib and McGregor will await their fate from the Nevada State Athletic Commission, who have temporarily suspended both fighters.

Mayweather retired after the McGregor fight with a stellar 50-0 record, after a stunning career that spanned five weight divisions.

Rumours have swirled that he may fancy giving UFC a go, but talk has so far come to no avail.


jmparker Posted on October 15, 2018 11:33

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McDonald's lad killed by Storm Callum landslide after getting off bus to work

Corey Sharpling, 21, died when a landslide hit the A484 road in Cwmduad near Carmarthen, Wales on Saturday.

Dyfed-Powys Police confirmed his identity today.

His family said: “We are heartbroken at the tragic loss of our beautiful son.”

Corey was reported to have been watching a rescue operation during the height of Storm Callum on his way to his job at McDonald's.


FREAK ACCIDENT: Corey was hit by falling rocks and rubble in a landslide caused by Storm Callum

It comes as this month is predicted to be the wettest October ever

A woman who lived nearby said: "There was a loud rumble as some of the valley side slipped down the hill.

"This poor lad was hit by the full force of it, he didn't stand a chance.

"It was a freak accident, if he'd stayed on the bus he would have been fine."

The bus was stuck in a queue of traffic waiting for council workers to cut the fallen tree up and clear the road.


HORRENDOUS: Witnesses said there was a 'loud rumble' when part of the valley collapsed

He got off the bus after a tree came down blocking the road and causing a lorry to be swept into a nearby river.

He was watching the drama unfold when he was hit by a huge landslide of rocks and earth falling onto the road.

Corey's heartbroken girlfriend Marsha Spittle, 18, said on Facebook: "Today I lost the love of my life – he was everything I always wanted.

"You have sadly been taken from me and your family by a terrible accident earlier tonight.


SORELY MISSED: Corey has been mourned by his heartbroken girlfriend

"I want you to know that I will always love you forever and always."

The branch of McDonald's in Carmarthen confirmed a much-loved member of staff had been killed in the tragedy.

Council workers were chopping up the tree blocking the A484 at Cwmduad, Carmarthenshire, when the accident happened.

A Dyfed-Powys Police spokesman said: "Officers continue to deal with a landslide where tragically a man has died.

"His family are being supported by specially trained officers."


UNDERWATER: Fields covered in flood water after Storm Callum hit the town of Carmarthen

Storm Callum brought the worst flooding to the region in 30 years.

A search was launched yesterday afternoon after reports that a man had fallen into the swollen waters of the River Taff in Cardiff.

A helicopter, police and coastguards were at the scene.

Large parts of South and West Wales were under water and police to stay off the road unless their journeys were absolutely necessary.

The picturesque town of Crickhowell, Powys, was turned into an island as all access roads were under several feet of water when the River Usk burst its banks.

More than 100 sheep were killed in Carmarthen when the flock was swept away by torrential flood water.


jmparker Posted on October 15, 2018 11:12

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