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Haiti's amputee footballers seek glory abroad, acceptance at home

Football has long been a national obsession in Haiti, and following the devastating 2010 earthquake, which spurred the creation of a national disabled team, the country is now dreaming of World Cup glory.

A 15-member squad is in the midst of intense training for the amputee World Cup set to take place in Mexico October 24-November 6, far from the media frenzy generated by the World Cup for able-bodied footballers.

"We won against the United States at the Copa America, and we also beat Germany, Italy and Russia," coach Pierre Rochenel said.

"Since we need seven players for a game, and it's on a smaller field, amputee football is very demanding technically."

The team's participation in the World Cup next month is the latest chapter in the rise of amputee football in Haiti, which accelerated in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake that left 200,000 people dead. Of a further 300,000 people wounded, 4,000 were amputees.

Eight members of the Haiti team heading to Mexico are amputees resulting from the earthquake.

Haiti's national amputee football association was launched to help motivate the wounded, many of whom became one-legged, as they faced harsh stigmatization in society.

"Here, people still hide at home their loved ones who are disabled," said association president Ariel Valembrun, himself an arm amputee.

"But when they see the team out in the field, people can't get over themselves. Everywhere we go, the public applauds and sees that what we are doing is good for the disabled community."

"Want to live more"

© Provided by AFP Players change in the locker room

Alain Israel, who was born without part of his left leg, grew up in the country's second city, Cap-Haitien, and was often subjected to discrimination.

The 27-year-old says that playing in Haiti's football team has given him a sense of pride.

"People think about the efforts they need to make to play soccer well, so when they see me, a disabled man, they can't believe it," Israel said.

"I had enough of people's stares in the street, but when everyone is looking at me on the field, I feel proud. It really makes me want to live more."

Beyond disabled rights, the amputee players hope to promote equality among all citizens.

Among the 47 countries with an amputee football team, only two have a group of female players: Haiti and Mexico.

© Provided by AFP Football is the king of sports in Haiti, but its amputee version only emerged after the January 2010 quake that killed more than 200,000 and wounded 300,000 others, at least 4,000 of whom were amputated

Marie-Sophonie Louis is incredibly proud that his country, still dominated by a macho culture, is for once ahead of the game on the world stage.

"We have very few able-bodied women play football here," said the volunteer who trains the women's amputee football team.

"Ninety percent of our players were victims of the January 12 earthquake. It's a powerful message for all able-bodied women here and abroad: why fall back? You can do a lot and nothing is impossible."

No state support

© Provided by AFP The players are in the midst of intense training for the competition set to take place in Mexico October 24-November 6, 2018

All the players and members of the amputee football association show as much motivation as their technical and financial support is scarce.

 

"We have a few private partners, media that back us, but nothing from the state," said Valembrun, who is temporarily sharing his modest home with 18 players as they prepare for the competition.

The team and its staff are only asking the minimum: a bus to travel to the stadium on the other side of the capital and doing everything so that all the players have their passports in time.

Israel rolls his eyes when he hears talk of integration.

"We are not on the fringes of society," said the young player, who dreams of holding the winner's cup in his hands in Mexico.

"Yes, some people have deficiencies, but it's the stares and the behavior of others that makes them disabled."

https://www.msn.com/en-xl/latinamerica/sport/haitis-amputee-footballers-seek-glory-abroad-acceptance-at-home/ar-BBNC14l

khojho Posted on October 03, 2018 13:12

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Has Australia Abandoned the Salad Sandwich?

       Once a stalwart of Australian school lunches and milk bars and sandwich shops and cafes, the salad sandwich was unavoidable for decades. CreditCreditPetrina Tinslay for The New York Times.

Some foods are so ordinary and ubiquitous that we fail to even notice them. This seems especially true in Australia when it comes to our more plebeian offerings. Some, admittedly, become iconic, like the meat pie or Vegemite. But while American food writing celebrates the tater tot, ranch dressing and Hot Pockets, Australia lets many edible components of its collective childhood slip by, unsung and unexamined.

Nostalgia is only heightened when you’re homesick, which might explain my preoccupation with the minutia of Australian life of the 1970s and ’80s. I left the country in the early ’90s, and spent the last two decades in a state of constant yearning. I was surprised, upon my return, to find many of the staples of my childhood gone, and was shocked that some have slipped away or languished without mention. America’s taste for Froot Loops has diminished significantly, but their waning popularity and influence and import has not gone undocumented.

Imagine then, a symbol of American childhood as common as a PB & J — and as revealing of the economic and moral climate of its creation — that few food scholars have considered, and is virtually absent from books about the national diet.

The Australian salad sandwich is just such an item. A stalwart of school lunches and milk bars and sandwich shops and cafes, the salad sandwich was unavoidable for decades. Its basic components: sliced bread, butter or margarine and layers of shredded lettuce or alfalfa sprouts, shredded carrots, sliced or shredded cucumbers, and — the key ingredient — canned red beetroot. Magenta beetroot juice seeping through white bread is instantly recognizable as a portrait of Australian lunch.

Image

At South Dowling Sandwiches in Sydney, they make a wonderful version that’s not classic at all, full of grilled eggplant, lentils, sweet potato fries and about a dozen other things, including — of course — sliced beetroot. CreditPetrina Tinslay for The New York Times

At its best, the sandwich is a thing of strange beauty, one of those foods that somehow transcends the sum of its parts — I loved salad sandwiches long before I liked almost anything that came inside a salad sandwich. In particular, I hated canned beetroot (or beets, as they’re known in the United States), but it is their sweetness, density and slight fudginess that give the sandwich its gravitas, challenging the fresh crunch of all the other vegetables and creating balance.

“For me, they say summer,” said Donna Hay, the prolific Australian cookbook author and television personality. “Like so many other Aussies, they’re a staple for when my boys and I pack up a picnic for the beach, or to take with us on a bike ride; they’re part of that whole Australian outdoor lifestyle.” Despite all this, Ms. Hay has never published a recipe for one in any of her 27 cookbooks, or in her self-titled magazine that she ran for 17 years.

Why does nobody talk about this essential Australian lunch? How did this sandwich arise and become so commonplace? And how did beetroot get such a prominent role?

Why does nobody talk about this essential Australian lunch? How did this sandwich arise and become so commonplace? And how did beetroot get such a prominent role?CreditPetrina Tinslay

The Australian love of canned beetroot is well-documented, particularly as it relates to their prominence as a component of the Australian hamburger. This beetroot affection can be traced to the 1930s, when Australia had a canning boom, and to World War II, when the New South Wales company Edgell’s was permitted to continue canning beetroot, even as production of other canned goods halted because of wartime restrictions.

“The earliest reference I can find dates back to 1887,” said Jan O’Connell, who wrote the book “A Timeline of Australian Food: From Mutton to Masterchef.” Early references seemed to refer to a more American-style salad sandwich, she said, using “what you might call a salade composée, where the ingredients were chopped and mixed with mayonnaise, like the U.S. tuna salad sandwich.”

[Sign up for the weekly Australia Letter to get Besha’s column and more Australia coverage from the Times in your inbox.]

When I searched for recipes containing beetroot, the earliest example was in a salad sandwich recipe in 1905, while the first layered version I was able to find dates to 1945 (though it calls for ham). Ms. O’Connell admits to not having paid the sandwich much thought at all until I asked her about it. “I didn’t realize the salad sandwich was uniquely Australian,” she said.

School-provided lunches are not as much of a part of Australian life as they are in America — they were never legislated or mandated here — but “tuck shops” often operated a few days a week, run by parents, selling simple lunches to grade-school children. Since at least the 1960s, tuck shops have offered salad sandwiches: In 1964, as part of a campaign to protect children’s teeth, the Australian Dental Association suggested a menu that included a salad sandwich, along with some other meat-filled options.

 

Image

At its best, the sandwich is a thing of strange beauty, one of those foods that somehow transcends the sum of its parts.CreditPetrina Tinslay for The New York Times

Image

Its basic components: sliced bread, butter or margarine and layers of shredded lettuce or alfalfa sprouts, shredded carrots, sliced or shredded cucumbers, and — the key ingredient — canned red beets.CreditPetrina Tinslay for The New York Times

My guess is that the sandwich came about because of a confluence of things: the Briticism of tea sandwiches, that famous love of beetroot and the Oslo diet. Introduced in 1930s Norway as a nutritious way to feed school children, the Oslo diet (or lunch) became popular in Australia in the early 1940s. It called for fruit slices, buttered bread and salad items like carrots and lettuce. Add beetroot, and you have the basic building blocks of the salad sandwich.

My American mother said that when she arrived in Australia in the mid-1970s, vegetables in general — other than potatoes and peas and boiled carrots — were seen as a bit suspicious. The salad sandwich was the exception, and one that persisted for the next decade. To be a vegetarian in Australia in the late 1980s, as I was, had considerable challenges. The options were excruciatingly slim, but I found my savior. I once took a bus ride from Brisbane to Melbourne and ate nothing but salad sandwiches at the petrol stations and lunch counters along the way.

There are still a few places to get an old-fashioned version, especially in rural parts of the country. In Melbourne, I was able to find a decent one, ironically, at an American barbecue restaurant called Big Boy BBQ. In downtown Sydney, The Sandwich Shop has a classic version, with the addition of hummus. At South Dowling Sandwiches, also in Sydney, they make a wonderful version that’s not classic at all, full of grilled eggplant, lentils, sweet potato fries and about a dozen other things, including — of course — sliced beetroot.

But I was honestly shocked at how difficult it was to find this once-ubiquitous sandwich. The death of the milk bar must be a factor, and the alternative lunch options are now so diverse; Australia arguably has some of the best vegetarian food in the world these days. But it would be sad for this humble fixture of the last century to slip away unacknowledged.

Cultural cringe comes up a lot when I talk to people about Australian food — the idea that the country has been so misunderstood and undervalued by the world that we tend to want to put our best foot (and food) forward. We have serious, fancy restaurants. Why talk about the daggy old salad sandwich?

I think we’ve come far enough that it’s O.K. to relax a little. I think we can celebrate the low along with the high. I think we can be proud of all of our culinary heritage, including white bread stained pink from canned beetroot.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/26/dining/australia-salad-sandwich.html.

 

 

 

 

ruby Posted on October 03, 2018 12:22

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Catalan government accused of playing 'dangerous' game after unrest

Catalonia's separatist executive came was Tuesday accused of playing a "dangerous" game after the regional leader encouraged radical independence activists to carry out disruptive acts on the anniversary of a banned referendum that culminated in clashes.

Hundreds of separatist protesters knocked down barriers at the regional parliament in Barcelona on Monday evening, clashing with police in stark contrast with the usually peaceful nature of Catalonia's independence movement.

Analysts said this reflected the movement's divisions and lack of direction, with some pushing for direct confrontation with Madrid and others calling for moderation, while at the same time trying to keep the spirit of last year's secession bid alive.

Reacting to the clashes, Catalan government spokeswoman Elsa Artadi acknowledged it was "the first time that we are faced with this situation within the independence movement."

She told Catalan television that a "minority" took part in the unrest.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez rapped regional leader Quim Torra, asking him to "not endanger political normalisation by encouraging radicals to lay siege to institutions which represent all Catalans."

"Violence isn't the way forward," Sanchez, who is attempting to negotiate with Catalan leaders and also depends on separatist lawmakers to prop up his minority government, said in a tweet.

Very dangerous

Related : News in pictures (Provided by Reuters)

Monday's clashes forced the leader in Catalonia of anti-secession party Ciudadanos to leave the building under escort in unrest that topped a restive day in the northeastern region that remains sharply divided on independence.

Radical activists called by a group naming itself the Committees for the Defence of the Republic (CDRs), many of them hooded, cut roads and railway lines, encouraged by Torra -- a staunch independence supporter himself.

"The (independence) movement is divided between radicals and an executive that isn't sure where to go, and which is also divided," said Oriol Bartomeus, politics professor at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

"I think Torra shares the CDRs' ideas but he knows perfectly well that the independence movement will lose if it goes down that road.

"Torra is in the middle," he said, describing the situation as " very dangerous."

In an editorial, Catalonia's El Periodico daily wrote that "much has changed, it seems, in just one year," accusing Torra and his regional ministers of playing a "double game" it described as "unsustainable."

Catalonia's banned independence referendum on October 1, 2017 was marred by a violent crackdown by police ordered to stop peaceful voters from casting their ballot, in footage that went around the world.

A year later, the tables appeared to have turned with images of radical independence supporters cutting roads and railway lines, muscling their way into a government building and clashing with police.

Violence condemned

Miquel Iceta, head of the Socialist party in Catalonia, told Spanish radio the unrest "highlighted that a regional president cannot encourage mobilisation if he is then unable to guarantee security."

He said it also showed "that the Catalan government's discourse, as it is far from reality, generates frustration and violence among its most radical followers."

© Provided by AFP Chronology of Catalonia's political crisis Even former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, who is in self-exile in Belgium after last October's secession bid, condemned the violence.

"If they are hooded they're not from the 1-0," he tweeted in reference to the referendum last year, which went ahead despite a court ban and eventually led to a short-lived unilateral declaration of independence on October 27.

That prompted then conservative prime minister Mariano Rajoy to sack the regional government, dissolve the Catalan parliament and call snap local elections.

"If they use violence they're not from the 1-0. We did it with our faces uncovered and in a peaceful way," Puigdemont added.

https://www.msn.com/en-xl/europe/top-stories/catalan-government-accused-of-playing-dangerous-game-after-unrest/ar-BBNQkC9

khojho Posted on October 03, 2018 11:33

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Boko Haram exposes the cracks in Nigeria’s military strategy

For nearly three years the Nigerian government has stuck to its claim that it has “technically defeated” Boko Haram. Recently though, the terror group demonstrated its renewed audacity with strikes at hard (military) targets.

The government’s response was to reorganise its key military leadership in the troubled north-east of the country – a strategy that appears largely cosmetic. The game changer is more likely to come from dealing with several blind spots in the military’s approach to Boko Haram.

Altering military commanders each time there’s a problem has been tried before, with little impact on the counter-terrorism effort. Over the last two years, leadership has changed on four occasions.

This time the most significant reshuffle was of the Theatre Commander overseeing the campaign against Boko Haram. The new head of Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Abba Dikko, replaced Major General Rogers Nicholas who occupied the position for less than a year.

Beyond leadership, three top concerns undermine the army’s current position. First, the military must investigate why a number of its bases have suffered attacks in close succession. Second, the use of intelligence must be deepened to include closer collaboration with local community actors who are familiar with the terrain in which Boko Haram operates. Third, the grievances of soldiers must be addressed to improve morale.

With regard to attacks, on 13 July Boko Haram insurgents ambushed a military convoy in Borno state, Nigeria. Then on 19 July soldiers were attacked as they escorted traders close to Nigeria’s border with Cameroon. And on 21 July troops again fell victim to insurgents. Over a six-week period, four military bases were attacked, one of which was staffed by over 700 soldiers.

In addition to military targets, Boko Haram has launched deadly assaults on civilians. The extremist group’s offensives have been relatively sophisticated – probably executed by the faction of Boko Haram led by Abu Musab al-Barnawi who has a penchant for targeting the military. Nigeria’s army needs to investigate whether these attacks are the result of weak security at its bases, or because of Boko Haram’s growing strength and tactical advantage.

The new military commander faces long-standing challenges when it comes to intelligence. While the rights of ordinary citizens must be safeguarded, the problem posed by Boko Haram’s spies within communities should be recognised. More than ever, this issue merits attention in light of recent revelations by apprehended members of Boko Haram.

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

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Some of these individuals infiltrate townships under the guise of various professions, like taxi drivers. Countering this is not easy, as the challenge of dealing with al-Shabaab and its “Mata Hari” spy network involving sex workers in Kenya showed.

A closer working relationship is needed between the military and civilian groups who can provide critical information about Boko Haram’s tactics. The Nigerian army realised this back in 2013 when it started working with the Civilian Joint Task Force, a network of vigilante groups supporting the security forces against Boko Haram. More of such alliances are needed, with a wider range of local actors, including Islamic clerics.

The army has made some progress in regard to the recovery of territory from Boko Haram. However, much more is needed to thwart the group. To consolidate military gains, grievances among troops on the ground must be attended to.

Part of the solution lies in dialogue to understand concerns of those on the battlefront. For instance, some units lament the delays in getting weapons and supplies when their detachments are under attack. Regrettably, these have been met with warnings by the authorities against soldiers accused of abandoning their posts when faced with insurgents.

Threatening battle-worn troops is counter-productive and echoes past mistakes. At the height of the Boko Haram insurgency in mid-2014, troops staged a mutiny and fired at the vehicle of an army major general. In August this year, soldiers protested at the Maiduguri airport in Borno state. The latest demonstration was over unjust redeployment and over-extended periods of battle on the front lines.

The boldness of Boko Haram to strike military targets will gain traction as the group discerns cracks in the Nigerian army’s approach. With the emergence of a Boko Haram faction that targets the military, creative solutions will be needed that go beyond replacing army commanders. The extremist group is less concerned about who leads the Nigerian army’s efforts than about exploiting the army’s vulnerabilities.

As long as they persist, Boko Haram will exploit weaknesses in the military’s situation. With a recognition that shifting leaders won’t address the problems, and more attention to intelligence and troop morale, the army will suffer fewer setbacks.

Until then, declaring that Boko Haram has been “technically” defeated is not justifiable. DM

Akinola Olojo is a Senior Researcher, Transnational Threats and International Crime, ISS Pretoria

https://www.msn.com/en-xl/africa/top-stories/boko-haram-exposes-the-cracks-in-nigeria%e2%80%99s-military-strategy/ar-BBNQfKW

khojho Posted on October 03, 2018 10:48

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New mother told her baby’s crying is ‘unacceptable’ by United Airlines employee

© Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited A United Airlines passenger was left “beyond infuriated” when a cabin crew manager said her baby’s crying was “completely unacceptable” during a flight from Sydney to San Francisco on Tuesday 25 September.

Krupa Patel Bala was travelling with her eight-month-old son and husband in business class on flight UA 870 when the infant began to cry in his bassinet.

After five minutes, the flight attendant manager came over and, according to Bala, “yelled” at her husband, saying it was “absolutely unacceptable” for the baby to cry for so long.

The first-time mum wrote a lengthy Facebook post about the experience from the plane, paying $28.99 for inflight wi-fi to share her story.

Bala said she raised the issue with the crew member, Linda, explaining that being told to make her baby stop crying was quite stressful.

Linda said they could discuss it in economy class, where Bala claims she was told it was part of the rule book that babies are not allowed to cry for more than five minutes as it “really stresses the crew out”.

Bala wrote: “Funny; it also really stresses me out when the baby cries – I don’t actually enjoy it, go figure. 

“Oh, and we asked a few other crew members if we disturbed them and they had zero idea what we were talking about.”

Bala, who worked for Facebook before having her son, said there were more constructive ways the manager could have managed the situation: “She could have asked us to walk the baby around, tactfully shared that it was starting to disturb passengers, or really ANYTHING with a smile that acknowledged that we weren’t out to make everyone (including us) suffer.

© Getty Representational picture

“Her response to that was to tell me that it didn’t matter because it was just unacceptable for the baby to cry and as the parent, I need to control him.”

She said the family would “never fly United again”.

“Parents of newborns have it hard enough already travelling with a baby and we certainly don’t need crew managers piling on when we are doing our best to ensure we’re containing our children and their cries,” she added.

United Airlines apologised for the incident in a statement: “We’ve been in touch with our customer via social media and United representatives met the family upon arrival to apologise, offer a refund and make clear that the experience she relayed doesn’t reflect our commitment to serving our customers, including our youngest customers.

Related: What air travel will look like in 2030 (Provided by Love Exploring)

“Young families are welcome on our flights, including in business class. We are continuing to review the incident internally and the flight attendant is being held out of service pending the investigation.”

Bala updated her Facebook post after United had been in touch, saying: “Over the last day, we have spoken with numerous representatives from United. Like the captain and rest of the cabin crew, they are all lovely, kind, wonderful humans.

“(The flight attendant) is the exception and not the norm – and for what it’s worth, she remains unapologetic. From what I understand, United is handling the situation and ensuring that no one else ever has an experience like ours

where a flight attendant makes up her own rules.”

https://www.msn.com/en-xl/northamerica/top-stories/new-mother-told-her-baby%e2%80%99s-crying-is-%e2%80%98unacceptable%e2%80%99-by-united-airlines-employee/ar-BBNH8IK

khojho Posted on October 03, 2018 09:38

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The bell ringing for Zinedine Zidane to replace Jose Mourinho is getting louder at Manchester United

United were held to a drab goalless draw in the Champions League by Valencia at Old Trafford

3:08

Charlie Nicholas says there will be a growing clamour to appoint Zinedine Zidane

Jose Mourinho's days as Manchester United manager are numbered with calls to replace him with Zinedine Zidane set to get louder, according to Charlie Nicholas.

United were held to a goalless draw by Valencia in the Champions League group-stage match at Old Trafford on Tuesday, meaning Mourinho has now gone four consecutive home games in all competitions without a win for the first time in his managerial career.

There is a growing sense that Mourinho's time at United is coming to an end, and Sky Sports pundit Nicholas expects the calls for Zidane to replace the beleaguered Portuguese boss will grow in the coming days


Mourinho is coming under increasing pressure after a run of poor results

He said on Soccer Special: "Well it's a really tame, poor performance that lacked any real desire.

"Defensively they were OK, but this was another poor, boring, and dull Manchester United performance.

"Of course, all the pressure is going to come on the manager. There will be a bit that will get to [Alexis] Sanchez's door because he was taken off again, and [Paul] Pogba's door, but these players can go home tonight, they can turn up tomorrow and they'll get on with it.

"The questions will be asked, and it'll be Jose who's going to have to face the music.

Zidane has been tipped as the likely replacement after leaving Real Madrid

"It's running down, I didn't expect him to finish this season but I didn't see it ending like this. I don't see this lasting.

"I think we might come back from the international break and if Jose is in the pain that he looks in, I think there'll be a deal done. Everyone is ringing this Zidane bell at the moment. It's going to get louder this week."

United are winless in their last four games in all competitions at Old Trafford, their longest such run since December 2015.

The damning statistics all point towards a group of players that are losing faith in their manager with United having run fewer miles than any of their opponents this season.

Mourinho has failed to get the best out of Alexis Sanchez during his tenure

Alexis Sanchez was once again a peripheral figure in the Valencia stalemate, losing the ball on 26 occasions - more than any other United player.

The Chilean has had just 10 shots on target in his last 20 matches, and Nicholas doesn't expect the forward to win over the United supporters.

"I always said this when he was at Arsenal," he added. "He sat on that left-hand side, and sulked and sulked and sulked. He was a street-fighter, a warrior. That's gone, those days have gone. Sanchez is no more.

"He's got to get out of Manchester United because these fans aren't interested in watching him."

https://www.skysports.com/football/news/11667/11516058/nicholas-zidane-bell-is-getting-louder

khojho Posted on October 03, 2018 09:04

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Microsoft unveils new Surface devices, smart headphones

Fall is the season for new gadgets. Apple (AAPL) recently announced its latest iPhones, Amazon (AMZN) showed off new smart speakers and even an Alexa-activated microwave, and Google is hosting its own product launch event next week.

But Tuesday is all about Microsoft (MSFT), which unveiled a slew of devices ahead of the holiday shopping season. Its lineup includes a new version of its desktop computer, called the Surface Studio 2, and its first pair of smart headphones. It also announced the Surface Pro 6 and Surface Laptop 2.

The first Surface desktop, an iMac competitor focused on creativity, was introduced in October 2016. Its successor, the Surface Studio 2, offers improved graphics performance and Microsoft says it's the fastest Surface device ever made. It has a 28-inch display and USB-C support. It's available for pre-order on Tuesday starting at $3,499.

The Surface Headphones ($349) offer adjustable noise cancellation and automatic pause and play, which will stop the video you're viewing when you take them off. Microsoft's voice assistant Cortana is built in and can read your emails aloud or start a conference call. Surface Headphones will be available later this year.

Microsoft's new Surface Studio 2 is all about creativity.

 

Meanwhile, Microsoft says the Surface Pro 6 is 67% faster than its predecessor but with the same battery life (up to 13.5 hours). Microsoft also says it's easy to toggle between laptop, studio and tablet mode. It comes in black and platinum and starts at $899.

The Surface Headphones are Microsoft's first premium and smart headphones.

 

The original Surface Pro in 2012 was marketed as a tablet. It looked kind of like an iPad, but with the addition of a keyboard cover. Microsoft (MSFT) has since shifted its pitch to a laptop with a touchscreen. This 2-in-1 format is aimed at people like doctors, pilots and students who need tablets for note-taking or reading, but a laptop for full functionality.

The Surface Pro 6 is faster than its predecessor.

The Surface Laptop 2 (starting at $999) comes with faster and quieter typing and up to 14.5 hours of battery life, according to Microsoft. It's 85% faster than its predecessor, and the Surface Laptop 2 comes in a new color (black), as well as the existing options burgundy, platinum and blue.

The Surface Laptop 2 has faster and quieter typing.

"More and more, devices are permeating your whole life. We build these things to appeal for your work and personal life," Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft's corporate VP of modern life and devices, told CNN.

The company also unveiled its next-generation Windows software -- called Windows 10 October 2018 Update -- which has a focus on productivity. For example, the Your Phone App brings texts and photos from your Android phone to your PC. (Apple allows such an integration for its iMessage service.) You can also integrate a To-Do list with Outlook.com, and drag an item into an open slot on your calendar to block time to finish it.

Microsoft's main audience for these new devices is enterprise business professionals, according to Andrew Hewitt, an analyst at research firm Forrester. Ahead of Tuesday's event, he noted Microsoft has heavily invested in productivity elements including Timeline, which lets you go back to where you left off on files and websites, and Focus Assistant, a feature that limits distractions like notifications.

"There is a sense that Microsoft is trying to compete with Apple on the creative front, with new capabilities for picture and movie editing," Hewitt said. "But the other features are much more aligned with Microsoft's mission to empower employees to be productive."

https://money.cnn.com/2018/10/02/technology/microsoft-surface-computers/index.html

khojho Posted on October 03, 2018 08:55

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Heterosexual couples to be allowed to choose civil partnerships over marriage The government's announcement comes just three months after a couple won a Supreme Court ruling to have the legal union.

Heterosexual couples in England and Wales will be able to choose a civil partnership over getting married.

Prime Minister Theresa May has announced a change to the system, which currently leaves the option open only to same-sex couples.

The move will give greater financial protection to cohabiting partners who are currently not eligible for tax reliefs and exemptions for spouses and civil partners, including the inheritance tax exemption and the marriage income tax allowance.

The decision comes three months after Rebecca Steinfeld, 37, and Charles Keidan, 41, won a legal bid at the UK's highest court for the right to have a civil partnership instead of marriage.

Mrs May said: "This change in the law helps protect the interests of opposite-sex couples who want to commit, want to formalise their relationship but don't necessarily want to get married.

"As home secretary, I was proud to sponsor the legislation that created equal marriage.

"Now, by extending civil partnerships, we are making sure that all couples, be they same-sex or opposite-sex, are given the same choices in life."

Equalities minister Penny Mordaunt said: "This is an important step forward for equality.

"There are all sorts of reasons why people may choose not to marry.

Image: Theresa May says the move will help those who 'don't necessarily want to get married'

"By giving couples this option we hope to give them and their families more certainty and security.

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"I pay tribute to all who have campaigned for this change and will introduce the change as swiftly as possible."

Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, who have two young daughters, had been prevented from having the union because the Civil Partnership Act 2004 said only same-sex couples were eligible.

The academics, from Hammersmith in west London, have "deep-rooted and genuine ideological objections to marriage" and were "not alone" in their views, according to their lawyer.

Image: Dr Steinfeld and Mr Keidan have 'deep-rooted and genuine ideological objections to marriage'

Many unmarried couples in a long-standing relationships believe that they have acquired rights similar to those of married couples but in fact there is no such thing as "common law marriage", no matter how long a couple have lived together, even if they have children together.

In addition to ineligibility for tax exemptions, surviving cohabitants have no automatic right to inherit their partner's estate, meaning they might not be able to afford to stay in the family home.

Unmarried couples also do not have a guaranteed right to ownership of each other's property if their relationship breaks down.

 

More from UK

Sign up to the leaders' debate campaign

Sky News is calling for an independent Leaders' Debate Commission to oversee and organise election debates

Same-sex civil partnerships became law in 2004, and homosexual partners have been allowed to enter into marriage since 2014.

The announcement comes as the Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced new measures to tackle forced marriage.

This includes proposals to refuse spousal entry to the UK where there is evidence one has taken place.

https://news.sky.com/story/heterosexual-couples-to-be-allowed-to-choose-civil-partnerships-over-marriage-11515166

AlbertaU Posted on October 02, 2018 17:17

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The top 15 US cities where clean energy jobs are booming.

Cities are increasingly turning to clean energy jobs, which help boost local economies and keep electricity bills low. In the United States, 50 metropolitan areas account for half of all clean energy jobs, according to a recent report by Environmental Entrepreneurs. Take a look at the top 15 areas:

Cities are increasingly turning to clean energy jobs to boost their economies and keep electricity bills low.

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In the United States, 50 metropolitan areas account for half of all clean energy jobs, according to a recent report by Environmental Entrepreneurs.

About 1.8 million clean energy workers are employed in these 50 cities, working in construction, manufacturing, and transmission and distribution — with a focus on employment in solar energy, wind energy, and advanced biofuels.

In California, the country's largest solar market and home of the top-ranked Los Angeles metropolitan area, more than 500,000 people work in the solar industry. The growth of jobs in New York City, which ranked second, is part of Governor Andrew Cuomo's statewide commitment to renewable energy. Earlier this year, the governor also announced that companies such as Granada Solar, Cypress Creek Renewables, and others would build more than 20 solar farms throughout the state.

Environmental Entrepreneurs' report features 33 states and Washington, DC. Take a look at the top 15 metro areas for clean energy jobs:

15. Phoenix, Arizona — 41,722 clean energy jobs.

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15. Phoenix, Arizona — 41,722 clean energy jobs.

(Sean Pavone/Shutterstock)


 

14. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — 45,733 clean energy jobs.

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14. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — 45,733 clean energy jobs.

(mandritoiu/Shutterstock)


 

13. Seattle, Washington — 45,820 clean energy jobs.

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13. Seattle, Washington — 45,820 clean energy jobs.

(Chris Helgren/Reuters)


 

12. Atlanta, Georgia — 49,330 clean energy jobs.

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12. Atlanta, Georgia — 49,330 clean energy jobs.

(ESB Professional/Shutterstock)


 

11. Detroit, Michigan — 53,477 clean energy jobs.

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11. Detroit, Michigan — 53,477 clean energy jobs.

(Rebecca Cook/Reuters)


 

10. Miami, Florida — 54,394 clean energy jobs.

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10. Miami, Florida — 54,394 clean energy jobs.

(Simon Dannhauer/Shutterstock)


 

9. San Diego, California — 56,291 clean energy jobs.

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9. San Diego, California — 56,291 clean energy jobs.

(Sean Pavone/Shutterstock)


 

8. Dallas, Texas — 56,484 clean energy jobs.

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8. Dallas, Texas — 56,484 clean energy jobs.

(mandritoiu/Shutterstock)


 

7. Houston, Texas — 60,088 clean energy jobs.

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7. Houston, Texas — 60,088 clean energy jobs.

(Sean Pavone/Shutterstock)


 

6. Washington, DC — 83,456 clean energy jobs.

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6. Washington, DC — 83,456 clean energy jobs.

(Sean Pavone/Shutterstock)


 

5. San Francisco, California — 87,695 clean energy jobs.

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5. San Francisco, California — 87,695 clean energy jobs.

(IM_photo/Shutterstock)


 

4. Boston, Massachusetts — 88,480 clean energy jobs.

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4. Boston, Massachusetts — 88,480 clean energy jobs.

(Galiptynutz/Shutterstock)


 

3. Chicago, Illinois — 95,287 clean energy jobs.

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3. Chicago, Illinois — 95,287 clean energy jobs.

(Shutterstock)


 

2. New York City, New York — 136,997 clean energy jobs.

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2. New York City, New York — 136,997 clean energy jobs.

(T photography/Shutterstock)


 

1. Los Angeles, California — 162,688 clean energy jobs.

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1. Los Angeles, California — 162,688 clean energy jobs.

(Chones/Shutterstock)

https://www.pulse.com.gh/bi/tech/the-top-15-us-cities-where-clean-energy-jobs-are-booming-id8928701.html

AlbertaU Posted on October 02, 2018 16:33

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Here's how much the typical worker makes at 15 retail companies, from Amazon to Walmart.

Are you underpaid? America's biggest public companies are now required to disclose their workers' median annual salary. Find out how much retail jobs pay, ranked from rank from companies with the lowest pay to highest pay.

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After a new requirement, America's biggest public companies are beginning to disclose their workers' median annual salary.

(Noah Berger/Reuters)

 

  • Amazon recently announced it's raising its minimum wage to $15.
  • The news comes the same year that America's biggest public companies are now required to disclose their workers' median annual pay.
  • The median worker pay for a job at a public retail company varies across the board.
  • Based on 2018 proxy statements, we ranked the median retail worker's pay at different companies from lowest to highest.

Amazon recently announced it's raising its minimum wage to $15 — twice the national minimum wage of $7.25.

The move comes the same year that America's biggest public companies are required to disclose their workers' median annual salary — and how it compares to the pay of their CEO — for the first time. The result is the company's pay ratio, which is the division of a CEO's annual compensation by the median employee's annual pay, in an aim to highlight the pay gap between executives and the typical worker.

While not all companies have yet to release this data, some have gotten the ball rolling — and the median worker pay is quite enlightening, especially for those in retail jobs.

We took a look at the 2018 proxy statements released this year by Forbes 500 public retail companies to see how the median retail worker's pay compares across the board.

Scroll through below to see where companies rank from lowest pay to highest pay. Note that some companies define their median worker differently than others by including part-time and seasonal employees.

15. Gap Inc.

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15. Gap Inc.

(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

 

Median annual worker pay: $5,375

GAP Inc. determined the median employee to be a part-time sales associate located in Alabama. The employee did not work the full year, but the company did not annualize employee compensation.

 

 

14. McDonald's

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14. McDonald's

(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

 

Median annual worker pay: $7,017

McDonald's identified its median employee by annualizing one month's base compensation for both full-time and part-time employees working for the company across the globe. It's median employee is a part-time restaurant worker in Poland.

 

 

13. Foot Locker

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13. Foot Locker

(Phil Long/AP Photos)

 

Median annual worker pay: $8,554

The median employee at Foot Locker is defined as a part-time sales associate who worked an average of 18 hours per week.

 

 

12. TJX Companies

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12. TJX Companies

(Paul Morigi/Shutterstock)

 

Median annual worker pay: $11,243

TJX Companies — which include TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and others — counted all full-time, part-time, seasonal, and temporary employees in its global operations and found the median employee to be a part-time hourly retail store associate.

 

 

11. Macy's

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11. Macy's

(Kena Betancur/Getty Images)

 

Median annual worker pay: $13,810

Macy's identified the median employee using 2017 Form W-2 compensation for all employees working in the US, whether employed on a full-time, part-time, seasonal, or temporary basis. More than half of their workforce is comprised of part-time or seasonal employees.

 

 

10. Advance Auto Parts

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10. Advance Auto Parts

(Mike Mozart/Flickr/Some rights reserved)

 

Median annual worker pay: $18,460

Advance Auto Parts included all team members in their analysis of the median employee, including part-time, full-time, and seasonal team members.

 

 

9. Walmart

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9. Walmart

(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

 

Median annual worker pay: $19,177

To determine the median associate, Walmart used calendar year 2017 gross earnings for wages, overtime, bonuses, and value of any equity awards. They then used statistical sampling to identify a group of associates paid within a range of .5% above or below what was estimated to be the median gross earnings amount. The median compensated associate was chosen from this group.

 

 

8. Home Depot

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8. Home Depot

(Rick WIlking/Reuters)

 

Median annual worker pay: $21,095

Home Depot based the median-paid associate upon its total workforce without regard to their location, compensation arrangements, or full-time, part-time, or seasonal status. The median-paid associate was an hourly employee.

 

 

7. Lowe's

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7. Lowe's

(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

 

Median annual worker pay: $23,905

Lowe's included full-time and part-time employees to determine the median employee and collected actual base salary, bonus or commission paid, and any overtime.

 

 

 

6. Ulta

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6. Ulta

(Jean-Marc Giboux)

 

Median annual worker pay: $27,235

Ulta identified the median employee by taking a look at all employees, calculating their individual cash compensation, and ranking the employees from high to low by compensation and selecting the median cash compensation. The company then added in the value of employer paid health care benefits.

 

 

5. Amazon

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5. Amazon

(Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)

 

Median annual worker pay: $28,466

To identify the median compensated employee, Amazon took into account salary, bonus, and grant date fair value of RSUs. They then annualized this compensation for employees who did not work the entire year, except for seasonal or temporary employees.

 

 

 

4. Nordstrom

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4. Nordstrom

(Elaine Thompson/AP Photos)

 

Median annual worker pay: $30,105

Nordstrom included full-time, part-time seasonal, and temporary employees to identify the median employee. The company used the total compensation as reported on the 2017 W-2 for all US employees, but did not annualize compensation for permanent full-time and part-time employees who weren't employed for the entire fiscal year. Roughly 56% of its workforce is part-time or seasonal.

 

 

3. Office Depot

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3. Office Depot

(Derek Richardson/AP Photos)

 

Median annual worker pay: $30,977

To identify the median employee, Office Depot compared the salary and wages paid to all employees as reflected in payroll records for the 2017 calendar year. Compensation was annualized for employees hired in 2017, excluding seasonal and temporary employees.

 

 

2. Tiffany & Co.

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2. Tiffany & Co.

(Jacopo Raule/Getty Images)

 

Median annual worker pay: $32,055

Tiffany & Co. identified a median employee from its population of all employees, including seasonal, part-time, and full-time employees, using annual cash compensation.

 

 

1. CVS

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1. CVS

(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

 

Median annual worker pay: $38,372

CVS identified the median employee by ranking total compensation based on W-2 information for all employees, including part-time, temporary, and seasonal workers. The median employee was determined to be a full-time, hourly employee.

https://www.pulse.com.gh/bi/finance/heres-how-much-the-typical-worker-makes-at-15-retail-companies-from-amazon-to-walmart-id8928719.html

AlbertaU Posted on October 02, 2018 16:26

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She wanted to be president, but ended up jailed instead

Kigali, Rwanda -- In the darkness of the Kigali night, Eric walks through a maze of cement homes crowned in corrugated metal. Using his phone he lights the road under his feet, a path of compressed red earth still drying out from the rainy season.

After nearly an hour of walking through a series of dizzying hills that make up the Rwandan capital, he reaches his safe house. Eric -- whose name has been changed for his safety -- says he's being watched by the government.

Staying more than one night is too risky. Tomorrow he'll move again.

                             "Eric" and another Rwigara supporter at their safehouse in Kigali.

          Inside a two-room house, illuminated by a single light affixed to a cement wall, he starts his story. It begins with one name: Diane.

            Diane Rwigara is a former presidential hopeful and women's rights activist who is currently in prison outside central Kigali awaiting trial.

         The 37-year-old accountant, a fierce critic of Rwandan President Paul Kagame, launched her election bid three months ahead of the August 2017 vote. She was Kagame's sole female challenger in the poll.

          But her campaign was short-lived. Electoral authorities disqualified her, claiming she doctored the number of signatures needed to qualify and accusing her of submitting the names of dead people, which she denied.

         With her presidential bid over, Rwigara launched the People Salvation Movement (Itabaza), an activist group to "encourage Rwandans to hold their government accountable." Shortly after its inception, she was arrested on charges of incitement and fraud, which her family and supporters say are politically motivated.

                            Diane Rwigara, far left, is seen in a family portrait at the Rwigara home in Kigali.

        Rwigara's supporters like Eric, who fear for their lives, say a state-sanctioned atmosphere of harassment, censorship and threat of violence make it nearly impossible to speak out against the government.

     After Rwigara's August arrest, Eric was detained overnight with around 10 other supporters. Speaking to CNN in a Kigali safe house, he molds his hand into the shape of a gun and places two fingers inside his mouth. This, he says, is how he was told by police to stop supporting her.

       Another Rwigara supporter who was with Eric at the time says he watched an officer threaten him with a gun, adding that he was beaten by another group of police also on the scene.

         Rwanda is often described as the best place in the world for women in politics, with more female lawmakers in parliament than any other country, but it's not the case if you challenge President Kagame, Eric says.

         Last year, Kagame won the presidential election Rwigara had hoped to contest with almost 99% of the vote.

     The 60-year-old -- who in 2015 cleared the way to potentially stay in power until 2034 -- has been president since 2000, but has long been an instrumental leader in the country's modern history.

           Kigali's expanding skyline. Rwanda has become more financially prosperous and stable under Kagame's leadership, but endemic poverty remains an issue nationwide, with around 51% of the population living under the international poverty line.

       In 1994, Kagame led the armed wing of the Rwandan Patriotic Front or RPF (what is now the ruling party) into Kigali.        That act helped to bring an end to a genocide that saw an estimated 800,000 people killed -- mostly from the Tutsi ethnic group -- in just 100 days. Two million people also fled the country.

      Since then, Kagame has been widely credited with the nation's remarkable turnaround. His fiscal and social policies are widely touted by supporters -- and many in the international community -- as a blueprint for success in the region.

    Part of that success has been measured by his commitment to gender parity. A post-genocide population skewed Rwanda's female population to 70%. Kagame placed value on women's roles and spearheaded many reforms to help build women's capacity in civil society.

    The most notable is a constitutional law that requires at least 30% of all parliamentary seats to be occupied by women. Today, Rwanda far surpasses that quota, with 61.3% of its parliament made up of female lawmakers (compared with the global average at 23.8%). Four out of seven Supreme Court justices are women, and the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion ensures gender representation and equality in local politics across the country.

                                     Women make their way to a morning market in Kigali.

            Female lawmakers have been praised for supporting policy changes around domestic violence, land rights and inheritance. But Rwigara's supporters say this is a veneer masking a lack of real opposition and freedoms.

        In a modern, luxurious Kigali villa only miles away from Eric's hideout, Rwigara's sister Anne and brother Arioste explain more.

           Diane Rwigara lived much of her life outside Rwanda, traveling between California and Kigali. A family photo hanging on the wall of the living room shows a young, smiling Rwigara holding onto the shoulders of her father. She, like her father Assinapol Rwigara -- a successful businessman -- were at one time strong Kagame supporters.

          "Blinded by how clean the streets are, how beautiful the city is... she thought it was the miracle country that had been talked about," Anne says.

                                "But when she got on site it was a different story."

              In 2015, Rwigara returned to Rwanda from California after her father died in a car crash in suspicious circumstances. The official police report said that a truck driver had crashed into Assinapol's car, which resulted in his death. But the Rwigaras allege that members of Kagame's party harassed Assinapol -- who was an important financier of the RPF in the early 1990s -- after he refused to allow the government to seize control of his business and that he was killed on the president's orders.

                                             Arioste and Anne Rwigara, at home in Kigali.

         The Rwigaras wrote to Kagame calling the crash an assassination and asking for a full and transparent inquiry.

                       "They will come in and take over what you worked for your whole life," Anne says.

            "Next thing you know you won't have that business, you will be working for them... at best... they will kick you out of the business."

               Rwanda's National Police, the Office of the President and the RPF have not responded to CNN's request for comment.

                             Anne Rwigara looks outside, beyond the metal gates that guard the house.

        There, two stationary cars, sit for hours at a time watching the residence. Anne and Arioste say they are government surveillance vehicles.

        The 2018 World Bank Doing Business Report named Rwanda the second-best place to do business in sub-Saharan Africa and it's ranked among the least corrupt countries on the continent, according to Transparency International's 2017 Corruption Perception Index.

     But when Rwigara sought to learn more about her father's death, her family says she found a very different picture.                                      This was the "catalyst" for Diane's political awakening, her siblings say.

              She questioned what she saw as suspicious deaths and disappearances of prominent businessmen, lawyers, journalists and a former intelligence official, among others, Anne says. Groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International previously have highlighted those cases.

         Rwanda's National Police and the Office of the President have not responded to CNN's request for comment on those cases.

                       A photo of Assinapol Rwigara, who died in 2015, is displayed at the Rwigara home.

             In the lead-up to her presidential bid, Rwigara traveled outside Kigali, where most Rwandans live below the poverty line. She garnered support from many young people in rural areas and worked with volunteers like Eric to gather enough signatures to run for president.

            Her press conferences and meetings were well attended by young people and journalists alike. That support was a surprising concern to some ruling party leaders, say her family and a local journalist who attended the meetings.

          "There was a lot of fear surrounding what she was exposing about the country," Anne says. Young people who attended her meetings would "see themselves in her," she adds.

             "Diane would talk about things they'd (the ruling party) been trying to hide away from public eye: famine, persecution, etc. She could sense their pain and they wanted to support her. They were really behind her... a lot of people thought: 'enough was enough' at this point, what do we have to lose?'"

      Diane Rwigara knew her political aspirations would amount to "suicide," Anne says, referring to a political climate marred by violence and jail terms. But she was willing to risk it. When Diane told her family she was planning to run for president, they were against it. They were concerned for her safety and her future.

                   

    Diane, they say, responded: "Is this a life? Do you even think you are living?"

         Her brother Arioste Rwigara says that "in Rwanda, speaking of any injustice like that is a crime -- it's a sin," adding that Rwandans have accepted a status quo of censorship because they are afraid to voice their opinions.

           Anne Rwigara: "We don't hide... you just reach a point and stand still and face what comes your way. They use a lot of pressure and fear to just silence people. You get to a point you realize you can't take it, you can't keep running and hiding. You feel better, when you are speaking the truth."

      Arioste, like many of Kagame's critics, believes the president uses the context of the genocide to quash any dissent, using Rwanda's "Law relating to the punishment of the Crime of Genocide Ideology" -- which is designed to prohibit hate speech -- as a muzzle for any oppositional voices.

          "I think the genocide is used as a pretext, as a justification for everything they do," he says.

                    The Office of the President has not responded to CNN's request for comment.

       It came as no surprise to her family when shortly after Rwigara announced her candidacy, nude photos, allegedly of her, were spread across the internet. Rwigara and her family say the images were part of a smear campaign.

      "They are fake nudes, altered in Photoshop, and it is one of many tactics that has been used to silence me," Diane Rwigara told CNN in an August 2017 interview. A spokesman for Kagame's party at the time denied to CNN having anything to do with the photos.

  After Rwigara was disqualified, Rwanda's Revenue Authority slapped her family's business with a tax bill of 5.7 billion . Rwandan francs (approximately $6.5 million) according to Anne, the company's representative.

     "He really likes to send a message. He likes to remind people, warning them, don't even think about it," Anne says of Kagame.

     The Office of the President and the National Public Prosecution Authority have not responded to CNN's request for comment.

          Anne was initially arrested along with Diane and their mother Adeline on tax evasion charges and charged with incitement against the government. The tax evasion charges were eventually dropped, but only Anne was released and freed of all charges. Adeline now faces charges of discrimination and sectarian practices and inciting insurrection, based on WhatsApp messages exchanged between her and her sister, who lives outside Rwanda. The prosecution has called those private chats -- in which Adeline and her sisters criticized the government -- "dangerous meetings." Diane has been charged with forgery and inciting insurrection.

          The family say police bashed in this door and damaged other parts of their property when Diane, Anne and Adeline Rwigara were arrested.

         While Rwigara and her mother await trial, the government has seized the family's business, selling off their assets for more than 1.7 billion Rwandan francs (approximately $1.9 million) in auctions in March and June 2018, according to                        Anne Rwigara, the company's representative.

      With their cash flow now squeezed, a trial that has been pushed back three times and concerns over legal fees, the siblings are more worried than ever. They believe that the likelihood of the Rwigaras' release -- and a chance for a woman from the opposition to run for president of Rwanda -- are slim.

      Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International's Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes says that "criticizing the government is not a crime," and has called on the Rwandan judiciary to "ensure that this trial does not become just another means to persecute government critics."

         For now, Diane and her mother, Adeline, are in separate cells at the newly constructed Mageragere Prison, a 30-minute drive from central Kigali. There, they spend most of their days alone, with short, highly supervised visits allowed once a week, according to the Rwigara family and other supporters who have visited them.

                        Attempts by CNN to speak with Diane Rwigara have been unsuccessful.

          Most of Rwigara's supporters have stopped visiting the pair in prison, fearful of retribution. One supporter says he stopped visiting her after his phone and laptop were confiscated by authorities who, he says, beat him and told him: "I will kill you if you continue to do this."

          In June he fled Rwanda, fearful to return to imprisonment, or lethal violence, he says. Some of Rwigara's supporters have gone missing and he worries they could have been killed.

                      It is not clear how the trial, postponed until September 24, will unfold.

        Although Rwigara was seeking to run as an independent candidate and was not connected with a political party, her story is similar to other opposition politicians.

         Seven years before Rwigara attempted to stand against Kagame, lawyer and leader of the opposition FDU-Inkingi party Victoire Ingabire returned from the Netherlands, where she had been living in exile, to contest the 2010 election.

      Ingabire, a Hutu, was arrested shortly afterward on charges that included collaborating with a terrorist organization and "genocide ideology." She was initially handed an eight-year prison sentence that was later extended to 15 years.                   Kagame went on to win that election with 93% of the vote. Ingabire, now 49, is still in prison.

     A former FDU-Inkingi treasurer who lives in exile and asked to remain anonymous because of safety fears says "anyone who will come out and try to say something different will end up in a prison or dead."

                             "This is the reality of Rwanda," the former treasurer says.

 

                                            Early morning traffic near Kigali's Nyabugogo bus station.

         But many female lawmakers from Kagame's ruling coalition, including Senate Vice President Jeanne d'Arc Gakuba, do not agree.

      Gakuba believes the Rwandan political model is inclusive to all women, saying that it "absolutely" accommodates for female candidates from all backgrounds, including those with dissenting voices. She points to her own beginnings as a city councilor when she says she was supported in her bid to enter politics.

      Margaret Nyagahura, a senator in the Rwandan parliament who was personally appointed by Kagame, agrees.

           "It definitely has nothing to do with her being a woman or vying for the position of President," Nyagahora says of Rwigara's case.

         Gakuba and Nyagahura, like many others, do not even want to speak about Rwigara or her case. Some female lawmakers scoff at the suggestion that the Kagame challenger was a legitimate candidate to begin with, using "that woman," or "the young girl," dismissively.

                        Kagame himself has made his thoughts on Rwigara known.

         Shortly after he was re-elected, he spoke to an incoming group of ministers, many of them female. He referenced Rwigara.

        "Even if you have been or want to become president of the country, you are not immune from prosecution. Those who are listening better be hearing me," he said.

     In June, Anne and other members of the Rwigara family appealed to Kagame for Diane and her mother Adeline's release. They say both are in imminent danger in jail. But they believe their plea won't be heard.

    Many of Rwigara's supporters fear the same. Eric remains on the run, swapping political activism for protecting his personal safety.

                     "If you want to go to prison, you can speak the truth," he says.

        Others have fled the country, convinced that returning would eventually lead to a death sentence.

                       "She wanted everyone to feel free," one supporter, now in exile, said.

                                      "When she went to prison, we lost something."

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/08/28/africa/hfr-rwanda-diane-rwigara-asequals-intl/index.html.

ruby Posted on October 02, 2018 15:43

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Harsh reality inside hospital where hero doctor uses spare CAR PARTS to perform major surgery in war-torn South Sudan

© Credits: © UNHCR/Will Swanson Hero Dr Evan Atar Adaha is medical director at a hospital in Bunj, Maban County, in South Sudan

A hero doctor who runs a hospital in one of the most dangerous places on Earth has revealed how he's had to improvise surgical equipment using car parts to carry out lifesaving operations.

Lacking even the most basic equipment, the medical facility in Bunj, South Sudan, still manages to carry out more than 50 operations a week, and is the last hope for more than 200,000 people in the war-torn region.

It has no x-ray machines, generators regularly fail and patients are given ketamine before surgery because there is no anaesthetic.

Chief medic Dr Evan Atar Adahar, who only sees his family three times a year, sleeps in a tent on the hospital compound, and at night uses a sewing machine to make surgical thread for the following day's procedures.

Dr Atar - who goes by his middle name - told MirrorOnline that saving lives requires astonishing amount of creativity.

He said: “Even if something is missing, you still have to get the operation done.

"I've had to take the screws from cars because we had nothing to fix the top of tubes for patients during operations.

"And we've used fish hooks to make needles. We can't surrender to the lack of equipment we have.”

© Credits: © UNHCR/Will Swanson Dr Atar is set to be presented with the UN's Nansen Award in Geneva on Monday

On another occasion he had to loot an old vehicle for parts to unscrew plates on a patient's bone.

The 52-year-old medic will on Monday be presented with the UN Refugee Agency's Nansen Award - the UN's top honour given to those who help people fleeing persecution.

Speaking from the UN's office in Geneva, Switzerland, where the presentation will take place, he said he has no intention of quitting, despite the risks he and his staff face.

© Credits: © UNHCR/Will Swanson Dr Atar sleeps in a tent in the hospital compound, and at night makes thread to be used in surgery 

Providing healthcare in the world's newest country - which only gained independence from Sudan in 2011 - takes incredible bravery, with doctors and nurses regularly abducted and murdered by militias.

Even civilians in the region, where civil war has waged for nearly five years, are armed to the teeth.

More than 100 humanitarian workers have been slaughtered in South Sudan in the past five years, and last summer an armed group attempted to overrun the hospital.

© Credits: © UNHCR/Will Swanson Despite the shortage of equipment, more than 50 operations are carried out each week 

Dr Atar said: “You have to accept living in situations where there's danger, and not everyone can accept that.

“Last July there was violence from the youth of the area, they accused the agencies of not employing them.

“They came to the hospital with guns and we negotiated with them.

© Credits: © UNHCR/Will Swanson Sudanese refugees and patients rest at the Maban hospital in the town of Bunj 

“We told them that if they destroy the hospital, who will help them if they need medical help? We're here for everyone, on all sides.

“One of the leaders came and said that no one should target the hospital.”

He rarely sees his wife and four children, who live in Nairobi, Kenya – but says he has no intention of quitting the lifesaving work he does in a region where tens of thousands have been displaced.

© Credits: © UNHCR/Will Swanson Dr Atar acknowledges that his choice of work has been hard on his wife and four children

"I invited my family to come to the hospital and see what I was doing," he said.

"When my wife saw what was going on, she said it was worth the sacrifices."

Before his arrival in Bunj, he ran a hospital in Kurmuk, in Sudan's Blue Nile State, for 14 years before being forced to move because of escalating violence and bombings between rebels and the Khartoum government.

© Credits: © UNHCR/Will Swanson Dr Atar with the newborn baby of a refugee from Sudan in the maternity ward

Dr Atar set up a new hospital in a disused health centre in Bunj, where he soon realised the size of the task in hand.

"The day I arrived, on November 22, 2011, I wasn't given a chance to organise myself before a person was brought in with a gunshot wound," he said.

"The room wasn't used for surgery before, it was a pharmacy, but we looked at him and realised it was really necessary to remove the bullet. I removed the door and made it into an operating table. The patient survived, and we later employed him at the hospital."

© Credits: © UNHCR/Will Swanson

As well as treating patients for deadly conditions including malaria, typhoid and tuberculosis, medics increasingly have to save the lives of people suffering gunshot wounds.

"Civilians have their own guns, and this is the only hospital in the region," Dr Atar said.

Such are the dangers that staff do not venture outside the compound at night, and all patients and visitors are required to lay down their arms when they arrive.

The hospital, which is 600 miles from the country's capital, Juba, has 120 beds and two theatres - although at busy times patients are often forced to double up. The UN Refugee Agency - which helps fund the hospital - is expecting pressure on the facility to increase still further, with another 12,000 refugees set to arrive in the region this year due to intensified fighting across the border.

But despite the brutal civil war that has engulfed South Sudan, the medic is adamant that rival factions can lay down their arms in his lifetime.

Dr Atar, who was born in Torit in the south of what is now South Sudan, said: "Everybody should be working hard to get peace in the country, including the citizens. We need to all work for peace."

And he said his workplace is a symbol of what can be achieved, although it is not without its setbacks.

"The hospital is a neutral place, we treat everybody irrespective of who they are."

Unfortunately efforts to house members of rival factions in wards have proved fruitless.

Dr Atar said: "We tried to put them on the same wards, but they stole the property of each group," he rued.

"We later on separated them on different wards, but we continued to tell them that it's not acceptable to act in that way. We should accept each other."

On Monday he will be presented with the UN Refugee Agency's top prize in recognition of his work.

Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said: "Dr. Atar’s work through decades of civil war and conflict is a shining example of profound humanity and selflessness.

“Through his tireless efforts, thousands of lives have been saved, and countless men, women and children provided with a new chance to rebuild a future.”

https://www.msn.com/en-xl/middleeast/middleeast-life-arts/harsh-reality-inside-hospital-where-hero-doctor-uses-spare-car-parts-to-perform-major-surgery-in-war-torn-south-sudan/ar-BBNP0EP?li=BBJGEmF

khojho Posted on October 02, 2018 15:22

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Will a $5B Olympic Complex Bring a Dictatorship Its First Medal?

Few would deny the Soviet Union was a sporting powerhouse in its time. Take the multiple gold medal–winning Soviet hockey team, for instance, or the country’s national basketball squad, which bested the U.S. during the Summer Olympics in both 1972 and 1988. 

After the empire’s collapse in 1991, the Soviet legacy of strong institutional support for athletics — a key part of the Kremlin’s Cold War policy — trickled down to the 15 former republics. It’s partly why Russia remains a world leader in hockey, while Ukraine has recently cultivated some of the best boxers in the world. Even tiny Tajikistan, the poorest of the former republics, has managed to clinch two bronze medals, a silver and a gold.

One Central Asian nation, however, hasn’t been so lucky:

Since gaining independence, Turkmenistan is the only former Soviet republic that hasn’t won a single Olympic medal.

© Provided by Ozy Ashgabat olympic stadium01 Not for lack of trying though. With a population of 5.6 million, it’s fielded a team at every Summer Games since 1996. Nor is enthusiasm missing: In 2015, Turkmen officials declared April to be an annual “Health and Happiness” month, meant to coincide with World Health Day. The following year, President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov publicly berated his sports minister after Turkmenistan’s national team returned from the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro empty-handed, claiming the bureaucrat “could not justify the trust of the nation.”

Even if some secretly dream of sporting glory — the country’s sports minister has floated the idea of an Olympic bid — it’s unclear whether the government’s interested in that level of attention.

© Provided by Ozy Ashgabat olympic stadium03 Stranger still, the government has spent enormous amounts of cash to prove it’s capable of handling major sporting events. Such was the case with its Olympic complex, built — at a suspected cost of $5 billion — in time for Turkmenistan to host the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games last September. That’s in addition to the $2 billion falcon-shaped airport in its capital, Ashgabat, unveiled around the same time. “On the elite level,” says Catherine Putz, managing editor of The Diplomat, “Turkmenistan likes to behave like a country of very, very rich people.” Look no further than the white marble and golden fixtures covering Ashgabat, often described as eerily pristine.

There’s just one problem, according to democracy watchdog Freedom House: “Turkmenistan not only is a police state or country of personality cult, but also a country of selective lawlessness.” Dependent on massive deposits of natural gas, the country’s been hit by the worst economic crisis since independence thanks to slumping energy prices. To help pay for its massive infrastructure projects, the government reportedly dipped into citizens’ pockets by cutting social benefits and squeezing out “voluntary” financial contributions. Meanwhile, unemployment and shortages of basic goods have been rampant. Minimum wage is estimated to be less than $70 per month. Turkmenistan’s megaprojects, says Putz, are “not done for the average Turkmen — that’s for certain.”

© Renderings by AFL Architects Even if some in Turkmenistan secretly dream of sporting glory — the country’s sports minister recently floated the idea of an Olympic bid sometime in the future — it’s unclear whether the government’s even interested in that level of attention, says Luca Anceschi, senior lecturer in Central Asian Studies at the University of Glasgow. Just consider the paltry 1,000 tourist visas it issued in 2015, he adds, or the regime’s apparent disinterest in better integrating even within Central Asia: “Turkmenistan is unique in terms of isolation.”

o if you’re holding your breath to see a country’s green and red flag being waved under Olympic rings, you might be better off rooting for North Korea.

Related slideshow: The most beautiful Olympic Games stadiums ever (Provided by photo services)

https://www.msn.com/en-xl/europe/life-arts/will-a-dollar5b-olympic-complex-bring-a-dictatorship-its-first-medal/ar-BBNGUZ7?li=BBJGEmF

 

khojho Posted on October 02, 2018 15:18

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The 8 Most Important Steps To Start Your Own Business

France seized assets belonging to Iran's intelligence services and two Iranian nationals in response to a June plot to attack an exiled Iranian opposition group's rally outside Paris, the government said on Tuesday.

France had warned Tehran to expect a robust response after an Iranian diplomat was arrested along with two others suspected of plotting to bomb the meeting of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

U.S. President Donald Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and several former European and Arab ministers attended the rally in Villepinte.

"An attempted attack in Villepinte was foiled on June 30. An incident of such gravity on our national territory could not go unpunished," said a joint statement by the foreign, interior and economy ministries.

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

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There was no immediate response to the French move from the Iranian authorities.

The hardening of relations with France could have wider implications for Iran. France has been one of the strongest advocates of salvaging a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, which U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of in May.

https://www.msn.com/en-xl/middleeast/middleeast-top-stories/france-seizes-iranian-assets-in-response-to-foiled-bomb-plot/ar-BBNPbxL?li=BBJGzsi

khojho Posted on October 02, 2018 14:56

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Lesbian 'witches' chained and raped by families in Cameroon

During a dreary Sunday morning church service, 14-year-old Viviane - tired of wrestling with her sexual attraction to girls - resigned herself to an unhappy conclusion: she was bewitched.

At school and at church in Cameroon's capital, Yaounde, she had long been told that liking someone of the same sex was not only a sin, but could also be a sign that a sinister spell had been cast on you.

"I didn't see girls like everyone else - I thought it was a bad spirit that had invaded me," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation with a rueful laugh by phone from France, where she sought asylum last year with her girlfriend's help.

"So I started praying to make it go away."

But her prayers failed. Four years later, Viviane was chained to the wall and violently raped by a man who her family forced her to marry after discovering that she was a lesbian.

From South Africa to India and Ecuador, gay people are subjected to 'corrective rape' by their families, strangers and vigilantes who believe that homosexuality is a mental illness that needs to be 'cured'.

Sometimes it is done under the cover of darkness or when the pounding of rain on tin roofs muffles the screams, gay Cameroonians told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Related slideshow: 10 most dangerous countries to be a woman (Provided by photo services)

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Other times, it is arranged by family members who regularly take the law into their own hands, torturing, raping and murdering gay and lesbian relatives that they are convinced are witches or have been cursed.

Belief in witchcraft is widespread in Cameroon. Even though it is illegal to practice black magic, authorities do little to stop families consulting sorcerers who perform ritual sacrifices to 'cure' their relatives of homosexuality.

Same-sex relationships are taboo across Africa, which has some of the world's most prohibitive laws against homosexuality. Gay people are routinely blackmailed, assaulted and or raped, with criminal punishments ranging from imprisonment to death.

A 2017 report by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) found 33 African countries out of a total of 54 nations criminalise same-sex relations.

Homosexual acts attract a five-year jail term in Cameroon, with at least 50 people convicted for crimes ranging from cross-dressing to a man texting "I love you" to another man between 2010 and 2014, according to CAMFAIDS, an LGBT+ advocacy group.

"The (anti-LGBT+) violence is getting worse," said Michel Engama, head of CAMFAIDS, whose predecessor, Eric Ohena Lembembe was found dead in 2013, with his neck broken and his face burned with an iron, according to Human Rights Watch.

Almost 600 homophobic attacks and violations were reported in Cameroon last year, according to Humanity First Cameroon, an LGBT+ umbrella organisation, with one in five lesbians and one in 10 gay men reporting that they had been raped.

Campaigners say the true scale of the problem is likely to be much worse as most attacks go unreported.

Cleansing

Viviane's family beat and lashed her after they discovered explicit text messages she had sent to her girlfriend.

Her aunt and brothers then took her to their village where the local witch doctor forced her to drink concoctions made of chicken blood and inserted hot pepper up her anus, justifying it as a "cleansing" ritual.

Finding a husband who was a church pastor was a chance to clear the family name, she explained. The fact that he had two wives and was more than 30 years older was not a consideration.

"There was no discussion about it," she said, adding that her family received the dowry from the pastor even before they informed her of the arrangement.

"To them, I was like a necklace they sold."

Though rape is a crime in Cameroon, there was no question that such a charge could ever be levelled at her husband, Viviane said.

"A pastor in Cameroon is like a god. God can't rape. And if you accuse him of rape, you're the devil," she said.

While Viviane felt her best option was to flee Cameroon, Frederique spoke out after she was gang raped in 2016 by a taxi driver after leaving an LGBT+ workshop in Yaounde.

The driver stopped to pick up another man and took her to a deserted part of town, where they both raped her, taunting her with accusations of being a lesbian and a witch.

"They kept shouting that I deserved this punishment, that they were correcting me," said the 33-year-old, who has told her story to hundreds of girls in sexual health awareness and LGBT+ workshops in Cameroon.

"If I had reported it, I would've been seen not as a victim but rather as someone who deserved what had happened."

She believes that her decision to speak out saved her life.

"I had a friend who had also been raped, and she felt completely alone, isolated, depressed. She had almost killed herself," Frederique said, pausing to fight back her tears.

"I thought of doing the same ... But I was also so angry. I didn't want other girls to go through this, for them to be a victim like me. I wanted to denounce the perpetrators so that it stops."

It is not easy, she said. Lesbians in Cameroon live with secrecy and caution every day, communicating via code names and frequently changing the public places where they gather.

"We continue to fight on, even though we're doubly discriminated – first as women, secondly as lesbians," she said.

But Engama of CAMFAIDS knows that such precautions cannot guarantee safety, highlighting how 20-year-old Kenfack Tobi Aubin Parfait was beaten to death last month by his older brother who believed he was gay.

"It's a real war waged against us," said Engama, who regularly receives death threats.

"But we will keep fighting until they are tired ... No one will give us freedom. We have to take it." (Editing by Katy Migiro. (Please credit Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights, and climate change.

https://www.msn.com/en-xl/africa/africa-life-arts/lesbian-witches-chained-and-raped-by-families-in-cameroon/ar-BBNOSn1?li=BBKhQr3

khojho Posted on October 02, 2018 14:53

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Sierra Leone military truck flips over, killing 13

Thirteen people were killed and at least 30 more injured on Monday when a military transport truck flipped over on a major road in the Sierra Leone capital, a military spokesman said.

The open-air truck was carrying more than 40 soldiers from their barracks to a funeral in Freetown when its brakes failed as it descended a steep hill. It toppled over and slid for more than 30 meters, Captain Yaya Brima said. Eight soldiers were among the dead.  

© REUTERS/Olivia Acland Rescue workers are seen near an overturned military vehicle after a collision in Freetown

"This is a real tragedy for us," he said by telephone. "We're currently investigating what could have happened to have caused one of our own vehicles to have failed in such a catastrophic way."

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

https://www.msn.com/en-xl/africa/africa-top-stories/sierra-leone-military-truck-flips-over-killing-13/ar-BBNOQmj?li=BBKhQr3

khojho Posted on October 02, 2018 14:39

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$80 Billion Banco Santander Uses Ripple For Payments, Will Many Banks Follow?

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On October 2, Ripple Labs announced the integration of RippleNet into OnePay FX, a mobile application for cross-border payments developed by $80 billion banking giant Banco Santander.

The strategic partnership between Ripple Labs and Santander was announced in March of 2018, but at the time, the intricacies of the collaborative work between the two companies were not disclosed to the public.

What Ripple x Santander Means For XRP

Since March, the Ripple team explained in an official statement that Santander has been experimenting with RippleNet and other liquidity products available on its blockchain network. As the conglomerate started to pilot blockchain-based solutions, Santander saw a new level of transparency, certainty, and speed that was previously unseen in the traditional finance sector.

At Swell, Santander Head of Innovation Ed Metzger said the bank’s vision in the integration of Ripple is to utilize XRP to improve the lives of its customers.

Metzger said:

“We believe that financial services is moving to a world of open platforms where companies collaborate to deliver excellent customer service for their customers, and that’s at the core of what we’re doing with OnePay FX.”

During his speech, Metzger explained that the core purpose of XRP and RippleNet within the infrastructure of the OnePay FX platform is to seamlessly process cross-border transactions to ensure that international customers of Banco Santander can send and receive money with ease.

“One of our customers was in Italy on holiday and parked in the wrong place. He needed to pay a fine and didn’t have his banking card. He was able to use the app to immediately pay the fine, and stop his car from being towed away. It’s four or five clicks to do something that would have taken an awful, awful long time in the past,” he added.

Source: Santander.

In the months to come, Santander will expand OnePay FX to more countries in Europe, South America, and Asia. Currently, the Ripple-based OnePay FX app is available to customers in the UK, Spain, Brazil, and Poland.

In essence, the work Ripple has done with Santander is similar to its partnership with SBI Holdings and major banks in Japan and South Korea. By using blockchain-based liquidity solutions, Ripple allows users to send international payments, which if sent with wire transfers could take days to weeks.

“People don’t have to plan ahead. They can send an international payment when they need to. That’s really powerful,” stated Mertzger.

The integration of RippleNet by Santander’s OnePay FX presents the first real-world usage of XRP at a large commercial scale. Santander, as the biggest bank in the Eurozone, will continue to rely on Ripple to process international transactions.

Santander Partnership Will Impact Japan and South Korea

Led by SBI Ripple Asia, a consortium of over 61 Japanese banks, Ripple Labs have led pilot tests of its liquidity solutions with leading financial institutions in South Korea. Woori Bank and Shinhan Bank, two of the largest commercial companies in the country, released their plans of integrating Ripple by 2019.

The integration of RippleNet into the OnePay FX could streamline the process of banks implementing XRP-related products in Japan and South Korea, which already have shown tremendous interest in the technology.

“Too many companies have a peanut butter problem. They’ve spread themselves very thin, working on lots of different initiatives. By contrast, Ripple has gone deep in understanding how global payments problem can be addressed with blockchain technology and digital assets,” said Ripple Labs CEO Brad Garlinghouse.

https://www.ccn.com/80-billion-banco-santander-uses-ripple-for-payments-will-many-banks-follow/

AlbertaU Posted on October 02, 2018 14:02

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UPDATED: Hajj 2018: Three Nigerian pilgrims die in road accident

     An accident involving pilgrims to this year’s Hajj has claimed the lives of three Nigerian pilgrims.

The head of Nigeria’s medical team, Ibrahim Kana, who confirmed the development to PREMIUM TIMES said the accident occurred Friday morning along Madinah to Makkah highway.

      “We just received the news that the accident involving our pilgrims occurred at about 120 kilometers from Madinah to Makkah,” he said.

Mr Kana also said a team from Nigeria was on the way to the scene of the accident to meet with those already deployed by Saudi authorities.

      After visiting the scene, the doctor later said based on the names in the medical data of the Nigerian hajj commission, the dead pilgrims are “Shinkafi Mudi Mallamawa, male, born 10/02/1952, Passport number: A09413309, Abdullahi Jafaru Gidan Sambo, male, date of birth 03/07/1956, Passport number: A09413813 and Abdullahi Shugaba, male, date of birth 22/05/1963, Passport number: A50080535”.

         Mr Kana also said after a team from the National Medical Team was dispatched to the scene of the accident “the three bodies were moved to King Fahd Hospital, Madina while the remaining survivors are in a hospital near the scene, I.e 120km from Madina.”

           Also, the acting chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), in Zamfara State, Abdulrazak Kaura, who is also in Saudi Arabia said the three pilgrims confirmed dead are chairmen of local council chapters of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC), in Zamfara State.

        Mr Kaura said Jafarau Gidan Sambo is the APC chairman of Kaura Namoda Local Government, Mudi Mallamawa of Shinkafi Local Government and Abdullahi Shugabaof Maru Local Government Area.

He also said the others involved in the accident but who survived include Nasiru Anka of Anka Local Government, Tafa Nasarawa Bukkuyum of Bukkuyum Iocal Government and Garba Ziti of Gummi Local Government. The injured are receiving treatment at a medical facility at the moment.

 

sarah Posted on October 02, 2018 13:20

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Melania Trump in Africa: Can she become a fashion ambassador for Ghana?

In our series of letters from African writers, Ghanaian journalist Elizabeth Ohene reflects on US First Lady Melania Trump's first visit to the continent.

It's good that it's the female half of the current inhabitants of the White House who is making the first foray into Africa. I am not quite sure what kind of welcome US President Donald Trump would get if he were making the announced trip to Ghana, Malawi, Kenya and Egypt this week.

In Ghana, the first stop of First Lady Melania Trump's four-nation trip, there isn't exactly an atmosphere of Trump-mania.

My tentative and unscientific survey showed that there were not many people who even knew the name of the US first lady.


What is Melania Trump doing in Africa?

Melania Trump is travelling to Ghana, Malawi, Kenya and Egypt in what is her first visit to Africa and her first major solo trip abroad since becoming first lady.

"I am excited to educate myself on the issues facing children throughout the continent, while also learning about its rich culture and history," Mrs Trump said in a statement announcing her trip.

Her focus will be on maternal and newborn care in hospitals, and children's education, according to the White House.

The response to Mrs Trump's visit has so far been lukewarm. Our reporters in Accra, Nairobi and Cairo have been gauging opinion on the streets:

 

Media captionReactions to US First Lady Melania Trump's Africa trip have been mixed


I can't work out how the State Department and the White House came to decide on the four countries chosen for Mrs Trump's trip.

It used to be possible to tell these things, but these days it is difficult to tell who the Americans count as their friends. One moment, they are calling someone names and the next, that same person is being embraced as a good man and a friend.

The State Department used to cite freedom of speech and the holding of free and fair elections among the factors determining whether a country made it into their list of "friendly countries". These days you can't be sure.

What a difference from July 2009, when Barack Obama was making his first trip to Africa as president, accompanied by Michelle. We in Ghana could not resist preening ourselves for being the choice.

I remember I wrote teasing our Nigerian and Kenyan cousins in particular that they had been ignored by the Obamas.

Image copyrightAFP

Image captionMany Ghanaians were proud that former US President Barack Obama chose to visit their country in 2009

Today, I am not sure there is a constituency here in Ghana that is beating its chest for making it to the list of Mrs Trump's first visit to Africa.

But there is no danger of her not getting a warm Ghanaian welcome. Ghanaians love all things American and you can tell that not just by the queues at the visa section of the US embassy, but by the number of people here who purport to speak with American accents without ever having entered the United States.

We take it that Ghana is still considered a friend of the US even if we don't know what the current ingredients are for American friendship.

And then of course, we are presuming that even in the era of Trump, American first ladies would be travelling with "goodies" - and "goodies" are always welcome even in the era of Ghana Beyond Aid.

The first lady's trip which ended in disaster

The last time an American first lady came to Ghana by herself was in January 2006, and she chose Ghana to launch her Textbooks and Learning Materials Programme, which aimed to support African tertiary education with required resources.

I was education minister at the time, and I know that we managed to convince her and her team that taking American textbooks for our tertiary institutions was not the best option.

Instead, we received help to develop, write and print our own books for early childhood reading, from Kindergarten to Primary 4. As a librarian herself, First Lady Laura Bush was enthusiastic about our programme and the effects of her visit lasted for years.


Elizabeth Ohene:

Image copyrightELIZABETH OHENE

All the people in the photos were either in jail, or in hiding


Whilst on the subject, my mind goes back to the first time a US first lady visited Ghana by herself. It ended in disaster.

Nothing to do with First Lady Pat Nixon who came in early 1972 and captured many hearts with her business-like approach to matters.

She toured parliament hosted by Naa Morkor, the wife of Prime Minister Kofi Busia, she congratulated Ghana on her democratic practices, there were many photo opportunities and the US first lady was seen off with a lot of pomp and pageantry. Two days later, a certain Col Ignatius Acheampong staged a coup and overthrew the constitutionally elected government.

The US Information Services (Usis), a now defunct agency charged with public diplomacy, was heartbroken. There they were with all these beautiful photos from the visit that could not be used.

All the people in the photos with First Lady Pat Nixon were either in jail, or in hiding or certainly not in good standing with the new authorities - and none of the things she had come to praise Ghana for were still in operation.

Image copyrightBETTMANN/GETTY IMAGES

Image captionFormer First Lady Pat Nixon (R) was interviewed by US journalist Barbara Walters on her return from West Africa in 1972

I don't know what they ever did with those photos, but I know there were a lot of unhappy Usis officials with photos on their hands that could not be used.

But that was then, Ghana has moved on, and now has a well-grounded democracy, meaning visitors and citizens alike need not worry about coups d'etat.

Fashion ambassador?

Given her chosen headline programme on maternal and child healthcare for the visit to Ghana, First Lady Melania Trump will find a kindred spirit in our own First Lady Rebecca Akufo-Addo.

The Ghanaian first lady spent six months last year shaming everybody into giving her money to build a modern and well-equipped mother and child care unit in the second city, Kumasi, to deal with a long-standing problem.

Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Image captionElizabeth Ohene hopes Mrs Trump will make a sartorial statement with Ghanaian kente cloth

It's not unlikely that our Rebecca will find a way to convince Melania that there is a children's ward in some hospital in Accra or somewhere in the country that can be named Be Best, the Melania Trump slogan, if she would agree to refurbish it.

On my part, I wish I had had an input in drawing up the programme for this visit. I would have put Mrs Trump in touch with my dressmaker to make her a kente jacket to rival her famous "I Really Don't Care, Do U?" jacket.

We are not known here only for mother and child problems, we do a wicked turn in kente fashion which should make a lasting impression on Mrs Trump.

I wonder if protocol allows it, but I think we really should make her into a fashion ambassador for Ghana.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-45707559

Dominic Solomon Posted on October 02, 2018 11:55

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Cristiano Ronaldo rape allegation: Las Vegas police reopen case

Police in Las Vegas have reopened a sexual assault investigation from 2009 at the request of a woman who has alleged she was raped by Cristiano Ronaldo.

Kathryn Mayorga says she was attacked by the Portuguese footballer in a hotel room in the US city that year.

Juventus forward Ronaldo, 33, has dismissed the claim, first reported in Germany's Der Spiegel, as "fake news".

His representatives said he would take legal action against the magazine.

Der Spiegel said Ms Mayorga, 34, filed a report with Las Vegas police shortly after the alleged incident.

In 2010, she reportedly reached an out-of-court settlement with Ronaldo involving a $375,000 (£288,000) payment for agreeing never to go public with the allegations.

Her lawyers are now seeking to declare the non-disclosure agreement void.

Image copyrightAFP/GETTY

Image captionRonaldo, 33, is the captain of the Portuguese national team

Las Vegas police confirmed they had investigated a complaint in June 2009, but added they had no suspect in the case.

"At the time the report was taken, the victim did not provide detectives with the location of the incident or suspect description," a statement said.

"As of September 2018, the case has been reopened and our detectives are following up on information being provided," it added.

Ronaldo joined Italy's Juventus from Real Madrid for £99.2m ($128m) earlier this year.

The Portuguese international is regarded as one of the greatest players of all time.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-45712777

Dominic Solomon Posted on October 02, 2018 11:47

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A wealthy venture capitalist who fought for raising the minimum wage in Seattle is on a mission to increase pay across America

Seattle-based investor Nick Hanauer is a progressive activist who believes that the economy will start growing at a faster rate if inequality is lessened through minimum wage increases.

 

  • Nick Hanauer is a wealthy, Seattle-based venture capitalist and progressive political activist.
  • He successfully lobbied for a raise in Seattle's minimum wage, and has been outspoken about raising it throughout the country, as a means for increasing economic growth.
  • He pointed to recent research from the US Census Bureau that suggests raising the minimum wage does not eliminate jobs, as Econ 101 would suggest.
  • This article is part of Business Insider's ongoing series on Better Capitalism.

Nick Hanauer and his wife are signers of the charitable Giving Pledge, meaning that their combined net worth is over $1 billion. He's also one of the most vocal champions for raising the minimum wage across the United States.

As the Seattle-based investor explained it to Business Insider in a recent interview, it's a matter of wanting the system to work better for everyone. "I want to hold capitalism to a high standard," he said. And part of that, Hanauer said, is shedding the conventional ideas that raising the minimum wage kills jobs. "That critique is just nonsense," he said.

Hanauer made his money from both an early stake in Amazon and the $6.4 billion sale of his online advertising company to Microsoft in 2007, and he didn't waste time using his newfound wealth and influence to push for the progressive politics he had long been passionate about.

A turning point, he told me, came shortly before the financial crisis, when he studied the distribution in the IRS tax table. This led him to studying wealth and income inequality in the United States. "I was like, 'OK, that's not going to work out for anybody!' That is not going to work out for anybody."

Hanauer built a public persona outside of his venture capital firm Second Ave Partners with books like "The Gardens of Democracy," coauthored with Eric Liu, and essays with dramatic titles such as "The Pitchforks are Coming ... for us Plutocrats."

Aside from writing, he actively campaigned for a $15 minimum wage in his hometown of Seattle, a movement that successfully led to passing a bill that will gradually increase the minimum wage to $15 by 2021. (For context, the federal minimum wage is $7.25, but in 2018, 25 states and Washington, DC pay more.)

Commentators at outlets like the neoliberal think tank the Adam Smith Institute and the conservative think tank the American Enterprise Institute publicly dismissed him as a fool who doesn't understand basic economics. Moody's economist Adam Ozimek called Hanauer "America's worst minimum wage pundit."

And then last year, the University of Washington published a study, partially funded by the city of Seattle, which concluded that after the minimum wage was raised to $13 there in 2016, employers cut hours by 9% and workers made an average of $125 less per month. Hanauer told me he found the report "ridiculous" and "manufactured," referring to the use of a synthetic control group used to argue that the minimum wage increase was more harmful than if the rate had stayed the same.

A higher minimum wage could benefit everyone over the long term

But a newer report, coming from economists working for the federal government, is in Hanauer's favor.

He pointed instead to a working paper published this past March by US Census Bureau economists Kevin Rinz and John Voorheis, in which they argue that raising the minimum wage increases earnings growth, and increasingly does so over the long-term, all without declines in employment. They further argued that a minimum wage increase of 37% (same as the one Seattle enacted) in the years leading up to the Great Recession would have slowed down the increasing degree of income inequality in the United States that has been occurring for the last 45 years.

Rinz and Voorheis had access to non-public data from the Social Security Administration and linked it with data from the Current Population Survey, giving them a rich source of otherwise inaccessible information to work with. They studied data from people aged 16-64, in the years 1991, 1994, and 1996 through 2013. They found evidence that a raise in the minimum wage reduced employee turnover, benefitting both the employee and employer.

For Hanauer, it was further proof that the marginal revenue productivity theory of wages — which states that efficient firms pay employees what they are objectively worth — "is a made-up concept that has nothing to do with how the economy actually works," he said.

"People are paid what they negotiate, not what they are worth," Hanauer said. "And in a world where most workers have no power and we have let corporate power consolidate more and more, there's no reason in the world for most businesses to give ordinary workers wage increases."

If higher minimum wages do benefit the working class, then, it should be embraced by the rest of society as well, Hanauer argued, because that will spur GDP growth. As he said, "when workers are paid more, they buy more stuff, and the people they buy stuff from have to hire more workers, which creates more demand."

"If you can't show that raising wages kills jobs, then why in the world wouldn't you want to raise wages, by a lot?" Hanauer said, referring to the anti-raising the minimum wage argument that has existed for decades, which he deems a myth. "In the absence of that claim there's no morally justified reason to keep wages low."

https://www.pulse.com.gh/bi/strategy/a-wealthy-venture-capitalist-who-fought-for-raising-the-minimum-wage-in-seattle-is-on-a-mission-to-increase-pay-across-america-id8924894.html

AlbertaU Posted on October 02, 2018 11:18

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Africa's largest mobile phone firm, MTN, is planning to scrap its Nigerian IPO.

MTN CFO said the company may consider listing by introduction instead of the initial public offering due to current market conditions in Nigeria.

play Ralph Mupita and Rob Shuter, MTN Group executives (Soundplus)

Africa’s largest mobile-phone company, MTN Group Ltd, is considering scrapping its initial public offering (IPO) on the Nigerian Stock Exchange for other options.

Ralph Mupita, MTN Chief Financial Officer, in an interview in South Africa, said the firm is looking at other options of trading its shares on the Lagos bourse, Nigerian Stock Market, MyBroadband reports.

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The company's CFO said it may list by introduction instead of the initial public offering due to current market conditions.

The IPO type of listing has become challenging under current market conditions.

“We are exploring other options. The Nigerian business would not get a fair value under current market conditions. The simplest way to go forward would be an introduction on the Nigerian Stock Exchange,” MyBroadBand quoted Mupita as saying.

Mupita said the board of directors will make a final decision by the end of this year or first quarter of next year.

What is listing by introduction?

Listing by introduction is a way of listing shares of a company already in issue on another exchange.

The listing approval procedures for a new listing by introduction are the same as those for initial public offerings (IPO).

ALSO READ: All you need to know as Nigeria’s central bank and MTN go head-to-head in new forex saga

MTN is facing forex and tax tussles with Nigerian authorities

The South African company is currently battling sanctions from Nigeria's central bank and the Attorney General office over improper repatriation of forex and tax bills, amounting to $10.1 billion.

The sanctions plunged the firm's stock to its lowest although the Central Bank of Nigeria is now seeking equitable resolution.

MTN has filed a legal suit against the Nigerian authorities and it is expecting a legal protection for its Nigerian asset.

Also from Business Insider Sub-Sahara Africa:

https://www.pulse.com.gh/bi/tech/mtn-is-planning-to-scrap-its-nigerian-ipo-id8926482.html

AlbertaU Posted on October 02, 2018 11:10

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Here's everything we know about Lebron James' diet NBA star eats in a day to keep himself going. James has dropped tidbits about his diet over the years, and his social media posts reveal the different nutrition tactics he undertakes depending on wh

play Here's everything we know about Lebron James' diet (GETTY IMAGESHARRY HOW)

LeBron James is a beast, and there's plenty of information out there on the workouts that have helped him achieve G.O.A.T. status. But there's been less focus on what the 6'8, 250 lb.,

NBA star eats in a day to keep himself going. James has dropped tidbits about his diet over the years, and his social media posts reveal the different nutrition tactics he undertakes depending on what his needs are at the time.

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Here's how James evolves his diet, just like he evolves his gameplay.

LeBron James' Diet for Weight Loss

In 2014, James posted a picture in which he looked noticeably slimmer, which sparked rumors that the NBA player had switched up his diet.

 

According to Business Insider, ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported James was on a diet on a podcast with Grantland's Bill Simmons. Windhorst didn't confirm how he knew about James' diet, but the well-connected sportswriter has been covering the NBA player since his days as a high school freshman in 1999. He said James was probably in "the worst shape he's been in in a while" at the start of the 2013-14 season, and he got off to a "slow start" that season. That season came after he won the NBA Finals with the Miami Heat in June 2013 and got married to longtime girlfriend Savannah Brinson.

James himself poked fun at his diet with an Instagram post, and he opened up about it to reporters about a month later.

 

"I had no sugars, no dairy, I had no carbs," the father of three explained during an event to unveil his "LeBron 12" sneakers, as reported by Sports Illustrated. "All I ate was meat, fish, veggies and fruit. That's it. For 67 straight days."

During that time, James ate meals like lobster salad with asparagus and mango chutney, as well as an arugula salad with chicken, fruit, and nuts, topped with olive oil and lemon vinaigrette dressing

 

Dinner is served! Lobster salad with asparagus and mango chutney. #Amazing #Mykonos

 

 

He was so dedicated to his diet, he didn't eat the dessert a resort made for him when he was on vacation in Greece.

 

Some outlets reported his diet was a low-carb one, while others said it was paleo, probably due to the fact that James' former Miami Heat teammate Ray Allen started a paleo diet in 2013. Both diets have a lot of overlap, with the guiding principle of limiting processed foods and foods high in carbohydrates, and instead reaching for foods like lean meats, fish, and vegetables.

LeBron James' Training Diet

NBA games run for 48 minutes, but that doesn't count when the clock is stopped for fouls and timeouts, or when games go into overtime. That's a lot of active time, and that means athletes need a lot of calories before the big game.

In 2016, James spoke with Business Insider about how he fuels up before game time. "Before competition for me would be like a chicken breast and maybe a little pasta. The carbs help because you're going out and playing a lot of minutes," he said. "But a salad and some veggies will have me perfectly fine. And before the game I might have a protein shake and some fruit, and I'll be ready to go."

 

Comparing himself to swimmer Michael Phelps, who is known to eat massive omelets, stacks of pancakes, and full-size pizzas during training, James said he'll "wait for that after the game. I can't do that before the game." 

And as Stack reports, the NBA star slightly changes his approach when it's playoffs time. "The thing that I started cutting down is the sugars. When it comes to the playoffs, it kinda slows down the process of recovery. Throughout the regular season it's okay to have a little bit of it. But in the postseason, optimal recovery-whoever can recover the fastest from game to game is going to put themselves in position to be successful the next game, he said during a video on his UNINTERRUPTED platform. "So the sugars I kinda cut out, but the carbs I kinda ramp up. Because you're losing so many calories, you're burning so many calories, burning all your energy throughout those games. So I kinda go heavy on the carbs because it gives you energy. It's worked for me."

Post-game, James rehydrates with a combination of water and a carbohydrate-rich recovery fluid provided by his personal trainer, Mike Mancias, to replace fluids lost. As CBS Sports reports, this helps to refill his levels of glycogen, which is a stored form of carbohydrate found in the liver and muscle tissue that helps to provide the body with energy.

He then eats a meal with high quality-protein and carbs, much like his pre-game meal.

James was also known to get drinks from The Juice Spot post-workout. The now-closed juice shop was owned by his wife Savannah, and it offered juices, smoothies, and acai bowls. The "Peanut Butter Dream" smoothie that James was seen drinking on his Instagram featured ingredients like almond milk, peanut butter, whey, maca, cinnamon, and agave.

LeBron James' Cheat Day Diet

If his Instagram is any evidence, James is known to enjoy a good glass of wine. He told ESPN that he drinks wine "pretty much every day," and former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate Kevin Love mentioned that James "has a supercomputer in his brain" when it comes to wine.

While studies differ, most doctors agree that when consumed in moderation, red wine has health benefits, from increasing your levels of good HDL cholesterol to lowering your risk of heart attack, hence why James hashtagged one of his photos, "#GoodForMyHeart."

He often indulges himself at Blaze Pizza, as James is an investor, franchisee, and paid endorser of the made-to-order pizza company. In 2016, he shared a copy of his receipt when he ordered a pizza there, and his DIY pizza had a whopping 16 toppings on it - including, but not limited to, fresh basil, turkey meatballs, banana peppers, and kalamata olives.

https://www.pulse.com.gh/lifestyle/mens-health/heres-everything-we-know-about-lebron-james-diet-id8920811.html

AlbertaU Posted on October 02, 2018 11:02

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NBA plans to ban Kanye West's Yeezy basketball sneaker, report says

Kanye West is still reeling from backlash over his controversial pro-Donald Trump rant over the weekend, but the rapper could be bracing for even more bad news, according to a report.

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The NBA will likely ban Kanye West's highly anticipated Adidas basketball sneaker this season due to the shoe’s design, ESPN reported Monday.

Adidas athletes were expected to debut the new shoe on the court during the 2018-2019 season, but NBA officials are unlikely to approve the kicks without a redesign, according to the report.

 

Gonzalo Marroquin/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Kanye West attends an event during New York Fashion Week on Sept. 2018, in New York City.a

 

Citing sports industry sources, ESPN said the NBA would find the shoe’s gleaming reflective heels far too distracting for audiences in the arena and at home.

 

(MORE: Kanye West defiant amid backlash over support for Trump )

 

NBA officials must OK new designs from brands ahead of each season. The NBA hadn't formally reviewed the new Yeezy shoe as of Monday, but the design West showcased most recently would not be permitted as is, a source told ESPN.

Versions of the sneaker without the reflective design would most likely be approved, according to the source.

 

Instagram/ @kanyewest

Kanye West showcased his new Yeezy basketball shoes in an Instagram post on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018.

 

 

James Devaney/GC Images via Getty Images

Kanye West leaves a restaurant on June 15, 2018, in New York City.

 

West showcased the shoe in a handful of Instagram posts last week, accumulating more than 2 million likes and comments, collectively.

He also wore them during his appearance on “Saturday Night Live” over the weekend, when he delivered a surprise pro-Trump rant and claimed he would run for president in 2020.

The last week has been a rough one for West: The "SNL" audience booed him as he voiced support for Trump, some fans denounced him, and he pushed back the release of his new album, “Yandhi,” by nearly a month.

 

 

West offered a bizarre set of tweets on Sunday saying he supported "abolishing" the 13th Amendment. He later clarified it should be amended, not abolished. The 13th Amendment abolished slavery in the U.S., "except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted."

West, who sported a "Make America Great Again Hat," said of his appearance on "SNL": "They bullied me backstage. They said, 'don't go out there with that hat on.' They bullied me backstage. They bullied me! And then they say I'm in a sunken place."

 

(MORE: Kanye West sounds off on the dangers of social media)

 

West faced fierce backlash over the appearance, but he also scored Trump's praise.

“I don’t watch Saturday Night Live (even though I past hosted it). No longer funny, no talent or charm. It is just a political ad for the Dems," Trump tweeted. "Word is that Kanye West, who put on a MAGA hat after the show (despite being told ‘no’), was great. He’s leading the charge!”

https://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/nba-plans-ban-kanye-wests-yeezy-basketball-sneaker/story?id=58223773

AlbertaU Posted on October 02, 2018 10:44

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Amazon Fire HD 8 (2018): Specs, features, price, availability, and more Amazon will begin shipping its newest Fire HD 8 tablet on October 4

Amazon has taken the wraps off the latest revamp of its Fire HD 8 tablet range, and the improved tablets come with more storage than ever before, and complete hands-free Alexa support with a screen in standby. In addition, the new Fire HD 8 Kids Edition also comes with support for Spanish in FreeTime and FreeTime Unlimited.

Tweaked tablets

Not much has changed between this generation of Fire HD 8 tablets and the 2017 Fire HD 8, with Amazon making only small changes to the overall formula. Like most of the Fire tablets, the new Fire HD 8 is made from a hardy plastic shell that is twice as durable as the iPad Mini 4, according to Amazon. The 8-inch screen runs a 1,280 x 800 display, and the tablet should run smoothly with a quad-core 1.3 GHz processor and 1.5GB of RAM.

There’s been a slight boost in available storage over the last generation of Fire HD 8, and while the onboard storage options stay at 16GB or 32GB, the cap on expandable storage has been lifted to up to 400GB more via MicroSD card. As if that wasn’t enough, Amazon has also added the ability to save apps to expandable storage, helping to boost available storage significantly. That’s supported by a battery that Amazon claims will last for up to ten hours of mixed usage.

Alexa support is back, and she’s no longer tethered by the status of your screen. Unlike older generations of the Fire HD 8, users of the new Fire HD 8 will be able to trigger Alexa even while the screen is off, and will be able to ask her to play Audible books, answer questions, or control your smart home. Show Mode is included, too, and users will be able to set their Fire HD 8 up to show the latest news, weather, videos, and more.

A new Fire Kids Edition is also arriving, hand-in-hand with the new Fire HD 8. The improved Fire HD 8 Kids Edition comes with the 32GB model of the Fire HD 8, Amazon’s world-class parental controls, and a kid-proof case in blue, pink, or yellow. As usual, Amazon is so confident in its kid-proof case that the Kids Edition comes with a two-year worry-free guarantee that promises no-questions-asked replacements should your child break their tablet.

Pre-orders for the new Amazon Fire HD 8 range start today and will ship from October 4. The standard tablet will start at $80, while a Show Dock to use with Show Mode will set you back another $40. Amazon is also offering a bundled tablet and dock for just $95. The Kids Edition comes with a tablet and case with prices starting at $130, but you can buy two at once for just $195.

FreeTime and FreeTime Unlimited — en Español

As ever, the Kids Edition of the Fire HD 8 comes with a year’s worth of free subscription to Amazon’s FreeTime Unlimited service — but Amazon is expanding the reach of that service with the addition of over 1,000 books, apps, games, and more in Spanish, in addition to the 20,000 apps, books, and games available in English.

Whether fluent in or learning America’s second most-popular language, kids will be able to access Spanish-translated versions of popular books and games like Harry Potter, Lego Ninjago, Minecraft, and more. As with all of Amazon’s FreeTime catalog, each has been hand-picked and tested to ensure that all available content is totally age appropriate.

A subscription to Amazon’s FreeTime Unlimited service costs $3 a month for Amazon prime members, or $5 a month for everyone else.

Availability and pricing

The Kindle Fire HD 8 (2018) is available to order now. The regular model will set you back $80, while the Kids Edition comes in at $130. Amazon will begin shipping the Kindle Fire HD 8 on October 4, 2018.

https://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/amazon-fire-hd-8-2018-news/

AlbertaU Posted on October 02, 2018 10:28

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OAP Dominatrix Forces Men To Dress As Maids And Tidy Her House

 

Daisy Phillipson in  News

An OAP who goes by the name Sherry Lever has revealed how she became a dominatrix following her divorce.

The 67 year old split with her now ex-hubby six years back - but rather than dwelling on the past, she decided to move on with a rather risque new profession.

Transforming her conservatory into a 'fetish playroom', Sherry (or Mistress Sophia as she's known by her clients) charges men £120 an hour to be her slave and even gets them to clean her house in French maid's outfits while she's at it.


Credit: HotSpot Media

She said: "I've been enjoying life through my alter ego.

"Just because I'm in my sixties doesn't mean I can't make a living off dominating men while I wear PVC outfits.

"Most ladies my age have retired, but my life has only just started!"

Sherry, in fact, has retired after previously working as a chef, but decided to embark on a new career after watching a documentary about phone sex.

She first got into the industry as a phone sex worker before eventually inviting one of her clients over.

"As soon as I saw him, I was so excited," said Sherry.

"I locked him in the spare room and released him two hours later.

"Then I whipped him on the bottom and demanded he clean my kitchen.

"Watching him mop, I never felt so alive. Afterwards, he paid me £250. It was so much money - I couldn't believe it.

"And I loved being dominating, so I decided to do it full time."


Credit: HotSpot Media

And full time she went, picking up whips, blindfolds, gimp masks - the whole shebang. It's turned into quite the success story for Sherry, who says she gets clients from all walks of life knocking at her door.

"I get men aged from 19 to 84 visiting me. I've punished everyone from barristers to surgeons.

"Men visit me because they need de-stress, they just want to let off steam. For some it is their sexual fantasy, but for others they find pain relaxing.

"I provide a professional service and men love what I do for them. Some of my submissives are even married but I never feel guilty, because we aren't having sex.

"I also hate people believing that I take money off men for nothing, I'd never do that. And I'm not a prostitute, these men never touch me.

"Although sometimes they pay for foot worship which is when they play with my feet."

Speaking about her most outrageous account, Sherry said it involved a man, a lead, and a very embarrassed dog walker.

"I threw a ball for him to fetch, but a dog chased it at the same time. People were giving us funny looks, it was during school hours as I'm cautious of who sees, but the embarrassment turned him on.


Credit: HotSpot Media

"No one dared say anything to us, they must have been afraid. Afterwards I tied him to the swing and made him eat dog food out of a dog bowl. It was incredibly fun.

"I have helped numerous women in their 60's whose husbands have left them see the light again, and have inspired them to embark on dominatrix work.

"I can't imagine my life without my submissives now, I love being able to punish men.

"Even if I won the lottery, I'd still do it. There's no greater feeling than getting my whip out and making a man wince."

Well, fair dos.

http://www.ladbible.com/news/interesting-oap-dominatrix-forces-men-to-dress-as-maids-and-tidy-her-house-20180929

kabby Posted on October 02, 2018 09:32

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Wyoming Eyes Creation of Blockchain-Friendly Bank to Lure Bitcoin Startups.

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With regulations being one of the main reasons why traditional commercial banks give bitcoin a wide berth, state senators and representatives in Wyoming are eyeing a legislative fix to the problem.

Wyoming Blockchain Group Mulls Bitcoin-Friendly Bank

Legislators in the “Equality State” are currently considering drafting legislation that would allow the creation of a cryptocurrency bank to serve the needs of the digital asset and blockchain firms in the state. During a recent blockchain task force meeting, stakeholders discussed draft legislation that would see “special-purpose depository institutions” receive regulatory safe harbor. The blockchain task force is made up of state senators and representatives, as well as technical appointees including blockchain advocate and Wall Street veteran Caitlin Long.

 

Such a crypto bank would make it easy for cryptocurrency and blockchain firms to operate in the state, as they are currently shunned by traditional financial institutions.

“If a bank somehow realizes they’re dealing with crypto or blockchain currency in any way, a person’s accounts can be shut down immediately. The way I see it, that’s banks being discriminatory toward certain businesses,” Wyoming state legislator and the co-chairperson of the blockchain committee, Tyler Lindholm, told Star Tribune in an interview.

Bridge to the Old World

In essence, the task of the crypto-supporting bank would be facilitating the transactions and storage of both digital assets and traditional currency for cryptocurrency firms, allowing them to engage in a world where fiat currencies still rule and banks are hesitant to service bitcoin businesses.

The cryptocurrency depository institution would, however, not be a bank in the traditional sense of the word since it would not have the mandate to give out loans. And while traditional banks operate on a fractional-reserve basis, Wyoming’s crypto bank will be required to ensure that it maintains a cryptocurrency-to-liquid-funds ratio of 100%, essentially making it a “money warehouse” or a “transfer institution.”

Additionally, any unexpected losses made by the crypto bank would not be covered by the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Per the draft legislation, the crypto bank would fall under the regulatory authority of Wyoming’s Division of Banking.

Membership Standards

Only established businesses will be allowed to become members of the bank with $5,000 being the minimum that will be allowed for storage with the bank. The blockchain bank will not be state-owned but will be in the hands of members who will be voted on by a board composed of industry professionals.

The state of Wyoming has generally had a progressive stance with regards to blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. As CCN reported in March, the Equality State passed the HB-70 Utility ICO bill which not only offered a definition for utility tokens but also exempted them from securities laws. Wyoming’s state legislature also earlier this year enacted a law which exempts cryptocurrency miners and blockchain startups from paying property tax.

https://www.ccn.com/wyoming-eyes-creation-of-blockchain-friendly-bank-to-lure-bitcoin-startups/

AlbertaU Posted on October 02, 2018 09:19

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Singapore abolishes school exam rankings, says learning is not competition

 

 

Whether a child finishes first or last will no longer be indicated in primary and secondary school report books from next year in Singapore, – a move which Education Minister Ong Ye Kung hopes will show students that “learning is not a competition”.

Report books will not just stop showing a student’s position in relation to class or cohort. The information to be dropped includes:

  • Class and level mean
  • Minimum and maximum marks
  • Underlining and/or colouring of failing marks
  • Pass/fail for end-of-year result
  • Mean subject grades
  • Overall total marks
  • L1R5 (English plus five relevant subjects), L1R4 , EMB3 (English, maths, best three subjects) and EMB1 for lower secondary levels

The Ministry of Education (MOE) said on Friday (Sept 28) that the change is to allow each student to focus on his or her learning progress and discourage them from being overly concerned about comparisons.

From next year all examinations for Primary 1 and 2 pupils will also be removed, and whatever forms of assessment they have will not count towards an overall grade.

The MOE said that teachers will continue to gather information about pupils’ learning through discussions, homework and quizzes. Schools will use other ways like “qualitative descriptors”, in place of marks and grades, to evaluate pupils’ progress at these two levels.

For older students in primary schools and secondary schools, marks for each subject will be rounded off and presented as a whole number, without decimal points – to reduce the focus on academic scores. Parents will continue to receive information about their child’s progress in school during parent-teacher meetings.

In an address to some 1,700 school leaders earlier this week, Mr Ong said: “I know that ‘coming in first or second’, in class or level, has traditionally been a proud recognition of a student’s achievement. But removing these indicators is for a good reason, so that the child understands from young that learning is not a competition, but a self-discipline they need to master for life.

“Notwithstanding, the report book should still contain some form of yardstick and information to allow students to judge their relative performance, and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses.”

https://citinewsroom.com/2018/10/02/singapore-abolishes-school-exam-rankings-says-learning-is-not-competition/

kabby Posted on October 02, 2018 09:06

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Alleged Bitcoin Launderer Alexander Vinnik Questioned by French Investigators, Lawyer Says Charges are ‘Trumped up’

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The legal saga surrounding alleged bitcoin launderer Alexander Vinnik continues to grow more complicated, as law enforcement officials in three separate countries jockey for the authorization to extradite the alleged BTC-e administrator from Greece, where is currently in local police custody.

Russian state-operated news service TASS reports that French investigators questioned Vinnik on Monday in connection with what his lawyers have referred to as “trumped-up” charges in Paris.

“Today, on October 1, 2018, French investigators will try to question Alexander Vinnik in Thessaloniki as part of a criminal case initiated against him in Paris. It is no coincidence that the interview has been scheduled before Alexander’s extradition and aims to exert not only psychological pressure on my client, but also to obtain evidence of his guilt, which is absent in his case files,” Timofei Musatov, one of Vinnik’s attorney’s, told the publication, “judging from the questions provided by the French investigators in advance, the defense team concluded that there is no evidence of Alexander’s guilt in the case files, while the information the investigators rely on has been falsified.”

As CCN reported, Vinnik, a 38-year-old Russian national, was arrested last year at the request of the U.S. while he and his family were vacationing in Greece.

A U.S. grand jury has indicted Vinnik on 21 counts, alleging that, as operator of now-defunct cryptocurrency exchange BTC-e, he helped launder hundreds of thousands of bitcoins stolen from infamous Tokyo-based bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox.

Vinnik, who claims that he merely a technician at BTC-e — not its administrator — has also been indicted in France and Russia. French prosecutors have charged Vinnik with laundering bitcoins worth around 133 million euros ($155 million), while Russian investigators have filed lesser fraud charges amounting to 750 million rubles ($11 million).

Various Greek courts have approved extradition requests from all three countries, suspending his legal fate in year-long limbo. Most recently, the Greek supreme court approved Russia’s extradition request, though it also plans to weigh in on requests from the United States and France. It is likely that the country’s Minister of Justice will make the final judgment on where Vinnik stands trial.

Unsurprisingly, Vinnik’s defense team has repeatedly argued that he should be extradited to Russia.

According to TASS, Vinnik’s defense team has added a former Greek MP as it seeks to both defend Vinnik against the allegations that he helped launder bitcoins now worth billions of dollars, as well as orchestrate his extradition to his home country of Russia.

“Attorney Zoe Konstantopoulou, formerly the youngest speaker of the Greek Parliament, is going to pose a lot of unpleasant questions for French justice system officials, based on the premise that, according to the defense, charges against Alexander Vinnik have been falsified,” Musatov told the publication.

Notably, blockchain forensics firm Elliptic has said that Vinnik’s case could have bearing on U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. According to Elliptic, Russian operatives used BTC-e to launder bitcoins in an unsuccessful attempt to cover their tracks. If true, that could provide Russia with all the more reason to fight to extradite Vinnik to his home jurisdiction.

Earlier this year, Greek police uncovered an assassination plot against Vinnik, which Russian state-owned media outlets suggested was perpetrated by a criminal individual or organization who is “extremely interested in him not coming to Russia.”

https://www.ccn.com/alleged-bitcoin-launderer-alexander-vinnik-questioned-by-french-investigators-lawyer-says-charges-are-trumped-up/

AlbertaU Posted on October 02, 2018 09:03

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World's largest underwater restaurant nears completion.

Five meters below the surface of the North Sea, near the southernmost tip of Norway, Europe's first underwater restaurant is nearing completion. The 110-foot long structure, an oblique concrete slab that looks like a sunken periscope, was submerged in July 2018 and work is now underway to complete the interiors, in anticipation of the public opening in spring 2019.

The restaurant, called Under, is the design of Norwegian outfit Snøhetta, which has made a name for itself with projects such as the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt, the Oslo Opera House, the National September 11 Memorial Pavilion and the renovation of Times Square in New York.

When finished, the structure will accommodate about 100 guests with a total internal area of about 500 square meters (5,300 square feet) set over three levels, offering unique underwater views of the surrounding marine environment through a 11-meter (36 feet) wide panoramic window.

Under goes under

The restaurant was built in about six months on a barge near the coast, then towed into position -- about 600 feet away -- with a heavy-lift vessel. To submerge the structure, containers filled with water were placed inside, before securing it to the sea floor with a total of 18 anchoring points.

Under under construction. Credit: Aldo Amoretti

"It was a delicate operation, as the clearance to meet the bolts was just two inches," Rune Grasdal, a senior architect at Snøhetta, said in a phone interview.

The 'prefab' housing resurgence rolls on

More than half of the structure is submerged, and guests will gain access through a glass walkway that will bridge the gap between the coast and the entrance, which will be at shore level.

Under is made of reinforced concrete, to withstand the harsh conditions found in this spot of the Norwegian coastline. "The first problem is water pressure, as we're five meters (16 feet) below the surface, but the biggest challenge is the waves. Wind and waves are extreme here. To withstand all these forces, the building is slightly curved, so it can better take to the waves, and it's thick: half a meter (1.6 feet) for the concrete and about 30 centimeters (1 foot) for the acrylic windows," said Grasdal.

An artist's impression of the finished restaurant. Credit: Snohetta

A simple design

The decision to position the restaurant in an area battered by the elements was deliberate. "When the client came to us, they had already done some sketches on another site close to current one, but we convinced them to build a few hundred meters away, where the sea is actually rougher. We thought this would better capture the nature of the area and I think that's also what makes this more spectacular compared to other underwater restaurants in the world, as they are in very controlled areas," said Grasdal.

Architect creates 'prehistoric' dining experience in downtown Tokyo

The client, developers Gaute and Stig Ubostad, also operates a hotel a short distance from the restaurant. They both sit in the Lindesnes region, home to Norway's oldest lighthouse, a popular tourist attraction located at the southernmost tip of of the mainland. Getting here isn't too easy: the best way is to hop on a short flight from Oslo to Kristiansand, the closest airport, which is about an hour's drive away. Grasdal said that a boat service is in the works.

Inside the world's quietest room

The design of the structure was also subject to several revisions. "Initially, we spent a lot of time on very complicated designs, but after a long discussion and many different models we ended up doing things in a much simpler way. It's just a concrete tube that brings people from the land down to the sea, it's so simple. When we reached that conclusion, it was a actually relief," said Grasdal.

A detail of the construction site. Credit: Aldo Amoretti

A light touch

To guarantee the safety of the guests, an analysis has been performed to study the propagation and load of the waves, and the 2,500-ton structure is designed to withstand the most extreme events. The data will also be fed back to visiting research teams that study marine biology and fish behavior. Work has been done to restore the conditions that were in place prior to the disturbance created by submerging the structure, and the concrete shell is designed to invite mussels to cling onto it and blend into the surrounding nature.

The tasting menu, created by Danish head chef Nicolai Ellitsgaard Pedersen, is still under wraps but will rely heavily on local seafood, although mushrooms, berries, various seabirds and wild sheep from the surrounding landscape will also be on offer.

From the main window in the dining area, which is 4 meters (13 feet) tall, guests will be able to observe a variety of fish and sea creatures including seals and lobsters. Crucial to this view is the lighting, which has been carefully designed for both the interior and the sandbank just outside. "Outside lighting is very important because in the wintertime and in the evenings it will be dark, and without any light you would just see the reflection of the restaurant on the window," said Grasdal.

An artist's impression of the dining area. Credit: Snohetta

Interior lighting is muted and discreet to avoid such reflections, and colors are chosen accordingly, with oak wood and fabric covering the walls to avoid glaring white spots.

The most remote fine dining experience in the world?

"It's a magic feeling to be down in a big room like this and see out into the sea through the huge window And what's surprising is that some of the renderings we did illustrate very closely what it's going to be like," said Grasdal.

The restaurant is accepting reservations starting in April 2019, although availability is already limited well into the summer. According to Grasdal, however, the best way to plan a visit is looking at the weather forecast. "I think the most exciting experience will be visiting the restaurant during rough weather," he said.

"It will be fantastic to see the sea surface broken up by the big waves and the rain, making for a very dramatic view -- although you will still feel safe and relaxed inside the restaurant."

https://edition.cnn.com/style/article/snohetta-underwater-restaurant-construction/index.html

khojho Posted on October 02, 2018 08:53

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Death toll in Indonesian quake at 1,234, including at least 34 children at Bible camp

The bodies of more than 30 children who were attending a Christian Bible camp on a northern Indonesian island were discovered Monday amid wreckage brought to the region by Friday’s magnitude 7.5 earthquake and ensuing tsunami, a Red Cross spokesperson told ABC News.

The tragic discovery marks the latest reported deaths in the catastrophe. As of Tuesday, the  death toll increased to at least 1,234. Indonesian rescue workers said a mudslide caused by the earthquake engulfed the church. Red Cross spokeswoman Aulia Arriani said 34 bodies of the Bible camp attendees have been found, while another 52 remained missing.

 

The camp is located on the island of Sulawesi, about 170 miles south of Palu, a city of 380,000 residents which received the brunt of destruction. The magnitude 7.5 earthquake struck at dusk Friday, generating a tsunami as high as 20 feet in some places.

Lack of heavy machinery in the region has hampered rescue efforts. In some places, roads have been torn away all together, making travel to other areas virtually impossible. Nearly 50,000 people have been displaced from their homes in Palu alone, and hospitals were overwhelmed, according to reports.

FILE: People survey the damage following a massive earthquake and tsunami at Talise beach in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia.

A representative for an aid organization told ABC News that planes have been unable to land at Palu’s airport because it is overrun with desperate residents waiting for aid.

“There was a fear of the crowd mobbing the plane; people are so desperate for aid,” the representative said.

In Donggala, a region north of Palu with 300,000 people and close to the quake’s epicenter, communication has been cut off entirely, Reuters reported.

BURIALS BEGIN IN QUAKE- AND TSUNAMI- HIT INDONESIAN REGION

Volunteers in Palu prepared mass graves through the weekend to accommodate the high death toll. Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency said a mass burial would take place soon “as soon as possible for health and religious reasons. The majority of Palu’s inhabitants are Muslim.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

https://www.foxnews.com/world/death-toll-in-indonesian-quake-at-1234-including-at-least-34-children-at-bible-camp

khojho Posted on October 02, 2018 08:04

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Hunter Fighting For His Life After Bear He Shot Lands On Him

Deposit Photos

A hunter from Alaska is now fighting for his life after a bear he had shot landed on top of him.

28-year-old William McCormick was struck by the bear on the afternoon of September 29, after the shot animal fell down a slope at Carter Lake. McCormick, who is a soldier stationed at Alaska’s Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, was also hit by a rock which had become dislodged during the bear’s fall, according to police reports.

Respondents at the scene came from the Alaska State Troopers, Bear Creek Fire Department, Moose Pass Volunteer Fire Department, and LifeMed.

McCormick was taken by helicopter to a hospital in the city of Anchorage where he is now fighting for his life, having sustained ‘life-threatening injuries’.

As reported by the Department of Public Safety, McCormick had been out hunting with fellow solider, 19-year-old Zachary Tennyson, who was uninjured during the incident.

Both soldiers reportedly serve with the base’s 4th Brigade Battle Workforce, 25th Infantry Division. McCormick serves as a specialist, while Tennyson is a private first class as reported by CBC.

According to the Department of Public Safety dispatch:

On 9/29/18 at approximately 1208 hours, Soldotna Public Safety Communications Center received notification via an in reach device about two individuals in distress above Carter Lake.

The pair were hunting in the area and shot a bear above them on a ridge. The bear rolled down the slope dislodging rocks in the process.

One hunter, identified as William McCormick, age 28 out of JBER, was injured when he was struck by both a rock and the bear.

His hunting partner, Zachary Tennyson, age 19 of JBER, was uninjured. Alaska State Troopers, Bear Creek Fire Department, Moose Pass Volunteer Fire Department, and Lifemed all responded to the scene. McCormick was hand carried to a Lifemed helicopter and transported to Anchorage Providence with life threatening injuries.

Sad news hope the bear pulls through #karma

— chris pledge (@pledge80) October 1, 2018

 

Here's hoping the bear survived.

— Peter Singh (@Smarmalat) October 1, 2018

 

It has not been stated whether or not the bear has been killed, or what type of bear it is. There are several species of bear in Alaska; with an estimated 30,000 brown bears and 100,000 black bears.

According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, this is the time of year when bears are ‘waddling fat just prior to denning’:

At this time most mature males weigh between 500 and 900 lbs (180 – 410 kg) with extremely large individuals weighing as much as 1,400 lbs (640 kg). Females weigh half to three-quarters as much.

The National Park Service is currently planning to relax hunting regulations in the national parkland of Alaska, overturning practices which were banned by the park service back in 2015.

Under these relaxed regulations, a hunter would be able to use a dog to hunt black bears; harvest brown bears over bait; take black bears over bait; and take any black bear, including cubs and females with cubs, using artificial light at den sites.

According to the National Parks Traveller, Alaska regional director for the parks advocacy group Jim Adams said:

This assessment clearly states that wildlife viewing opportunities on national parklands are likely to be diminished. It admits that baiting bears on these lands could increase conflicts, if bears become habituated to human food,

And it admits that the new rule would reduce natural diversity on national preserves. With such clearly identified conflicts, why is the Park Service proceeding with this unnecessary, wasteful process of replacing commonsense regulations with war on park bears and wolves?

Bear’s revenge!

— Kathie Anderson (@Detguza) October 1, 2018

 

Almost 1,500 brown bears each year are hunted in Alaska.

https://www.unilad.co.uk/animals/hunter-fighting-for-his-life-after-bear-he-shot-lands-on-him/

kabby Posted on October 02, 2018 07:46

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Scott Pritchard murder: Woman jailed for life for 2004 killing

A woman has been jailed for life for bludgeoning a man to death with a baseball bat more than 14 years ago.

Scott Pritchard, 19, was found with serious head injuries outside his home in Lindsay Close, Sunderland in January 2004 and died in hospital.

His murder remained unsolved until Karen Tunmore, 36, from Killingworth, handed herself in to police in July.

Tunmore admitted murder and was jailed for life with a minimum of 17-and-a-half years at Newcastle Crown Court.

Mr Pritchard died after suffering what police described as a vicious attack outside his home.

In 2005 his father Robert Stacey was charged with murdering his own son and spent 16 weeks on remand before the case against him was dropped.

In a statement read out in court, Mr Stacey said people had continued to shout abuse at him even after he was cleared, and he was scared to walk around Sunderland city centre "for fear of being accused of a crime I did not commit".

Hundreds of officers were involved in the investigation, which remained unsolved until Tunmore walked into Middle Engine Lane police station and confessed.

Image copyrightFAMILY HANDOUT

Image captionScott Pritchard died in 2004 of head injuries after being attacked in the street

Tunmore told police she had travelled to Sunderland in order to collect a financial debt from Mr Pritchard, who was not known to her.

After it became clear to her he could not pay she said she "saw red" and attacked the teenager, who was on crutches at the time, with an 18in (46cm) baseball bat before discarding the weapon.

Tunmore confessed to a friend in July that she had murdered someone and voices in her head were telling her to do it again.

With the friend's support, she confessed to police that she had attacked Mr Pritchard and gave them an account that only someone at the scene could have known.

Det Ch Insp John Bent, of Northumbria Police, said after sentencing: "Karen Tunmore has had to live with her horrifying secret for 14 years and she has finally been overcome by her guilt.

"She says she could not live with it any further, she repeatedly plays it over in her mind and that's why she made the disclosures.

"The chilling level of detail she told us gave us reason to believe she was responsible.

Justice at last

"She said she disposed of the bat that was used, washed the car mats and sold the car she used, which was blood-stained from the weapon."

Tunmore, who had a history of convictions including drunk and disorderly, public order offences, affray and carrying a blade, was genuinely remorseful, according to Stuart Graham, defending.

He said: "Perhaps something in her of a redeemable nature made her come forward and wish to have justice and be punished for her offending."

Det Ch Insp Bent added: "A murder investigation is never closed until the conviction of those involved, and Scott's parents deserved to see justice at long last."

Related Topics

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-tyne-45707524

seth Posted on October 01, 2018 20:30

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Yemen rebel court 'sentences Baha'i trio to death'

Three followers of the Baha'i faith in Yemen have reportedly been sentenced to death by a court controlled by the rebel Houthi movement.

The Baha'i community in the UK said the unnamed individuals had been convicted of espionage and apostasy.

They were being tried alongside 21 other people by a judge who sentenced a Baha'i man to death last January.

Baha'i representative Diane Alai said they had been "falsely and maliciously accused under absurd pretexts".

She urged the international community to "condemn these baseless actions in the strongest possible terms and call for the immediate release of all detained Baha'is".

In a speech in March, rebel leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi denounced the Baha'i faith as "satanic" and claimed it was "waging a war of doctrine" against Islam.

The Baha'i faith was founded in Iran in the mid-19th Century by Mirza Husayn Ali, a man known as "Baha'ullah" ("Glory of God").

Baha'is believe that all the founders of the world's major religions have been manifestations of God and agents of a progressive divine plan for the education of humanity, and that Baha'ullah is the most recent manifestation of God.

Today, there are an estimated five million Baha'is worldwide. There are only a few thousand in Yemen, where 99% of the 27 million population is Muslim.

The Houthi movement has cracked down on Baha'is since its supporters drove the Western-backed government of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi out of the capital Sanaa and seized control of much of western Yemen in 2015.

The UN has said Bahai's living in rebel territory have faced a "persistent pattern of persecution", including harassment and arbitrary detention.

In January, UN human rights experts urged the Houthi-led authorities to annul a death sentence handed down against a Baha'i man, Hamid Kamali bin Haydara, who was accused of "compromising the independence of the Republic of Yemen" and spreading the Baha'i faith in the country.

A number of trials against Mr bin Haydara, including the one during which the death sentence was imposed, took place without him being present, and his lawyer was not given the opportunity to contest the evidence presented against him.

The Baha'i Community of the UK said the judge who convicted Mr bin Haydara had also sentenced to death the three other Bahai's on Saturday.

They were among 24 Bahai's, including eight women and a teenage girl, who went on trial last month on the charges of spying for a foreign state and apostasy.

There was no immediate confirmation from the Houthi authorities, but on Saturday the rebel-run Saba news agency reported that a court in Sanaa had sentenced three men to death for "collaborating with a foreign country".

It said one man was accused of seeking to recruit people to fight for Saudi Arabia, which is leading a coalition of Arab states supporting Yemen's government in its war with the Houthis, and that the other two allegedly provided military information.

Related Topics

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-45709322

seth Posted on October 01, 2018 20:19

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Contaminated bootleg alcohol kills at least 42 in Iran

At least 42 people have died after drinking contaminated bootleg alcohol in Iran, a government spokesman said.

Health ministry spokesman Iraj Harirchi said 16 people had gone blind and 170 had undergone dialysis after trying the tainted drink.

In the past three weeks, at least 460 people across five provinces have been hospitalised, with the youngest victim a 19-year-old woman.

Alcohol is illegal in Iran but bootleg booze is widespread.

However, ethanol is sometimes reportedly replaced with toxic methanol in the contaminated drink.

Police in the southern city of Bandar Abbas last week arrested a couple for allegedly producing home-made alcohol.

BBC Persian's Rana Rahimpour says it is not unusual for tainted alcohol to cause injuries or deaths in Iran, but what is surprising is the significant numbers of deaths and the spread of the problem to a number of provinces.

Analysts spoken to by the BBC's Persian service believe the economic impact of the US pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal may be playing a part.

With the collapse in the value of the Iranian currency against the dollar, people may be turning to cheap, homemade alcohol over expensive foreign imports.

Iranian anti-drugs officials believe that every year 80 million litres of alcohol worth $730 million (£559m) is smuggled into Iran.

 

Media captionIran gripped by despair as country faces economic turmoil, drought

Iranian Muslims have been barred from drinking alcohol since the country's revolution in 1979.

Article 265 of Iran's Islamic penal code states that the punishment for consumption of alcohol by a Muslim is 80 lashes.

There is however an exemption for non-Muslim citizens to produce alcohol for their own consumption or for religious purposes, like the Eucharist.


More on life in Iran:


Related Topics

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-45709203

seth Posted on October 01, 2018 20:17

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Passengers stranded as airline collapses

A budget airline that began offering long-haul flights from UK airports including Stansted to the US earlier this year has collapsed.

Primera Air said it was ceasing all operations at midnight on Monday after 14 years of operations.

Two flights to Washington and New York due to leave Stansted on Monday night have been grounded.

The Civil Aviation Authority confirmed that Primera had ceased operations.

Three Primera flights were in the air on Monday night, including one from Birmingham to Malaga, according to Flight Radar.

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The Icelandic-owned airline said it had failed to secure long-term financing, meaning it had "no choice" but to file for bankruptcy.

Primera's decision to start competing with other low-cost long-haul operators such as Norwegian and Wow appears to have led to its demise.

Signs that the airline was in trouble came in August, when it said short-haul flights from Birmingham to seven European destinations would end on 3 September.

It also blamed the late arrival of new aircraft from Airbus that forced it to cancel flights and lease planes.

"Weighting the potential losses due to future delivery delays ... and bearing in mind the difficult environment that airlines are facing now due to low prices and high fuel costs, we have decided to cease operations now," the company said.

When it began longhaul operations from Stansted in May, Primera was offering flights to New York's Newark airport, Boston, Washington DC and Toronto starting at £149 each way.

Most of the airline's business involved taking Scandinavian holidaymakers to destinations such as Spain, Greece, Italy, Egypt and Turkey.


Do you have a flight booked with Primera? Have you been left without a flight? Share your experience by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

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https://www.bbc.com/news/business-45712063

seth Posted on October 01, 2018 19:30

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Hackers Are Selling Botnets and Stolen ‘Fortnite’ Accounts Over Instagram.

Instagram isn’t only for exotic travel, pet, or food photos. Communities of hackers are also using the social network to sell stolen Spotify and Fortnite accounts, as well as access to botnets designed to launch distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.

The accounts highlight social media companies’ continuing issues with content moderation. In this case, Facebook, which owns Instagram, is having trouble preventing illegal content from being distributed on its platforms.

In particular, some people on Instagram are advertising botnets they claim to be associated with Mirai, a network of internet of things-based devices that have been repurposed to attack websites and servers by spamming them with traffic. Some are selling botnets based on other code.

“There is a lot of people in the community on Instagram,” Root Senpai, who sells various hacking-related goods on Instagram, told Motherboard in a message on Discord, a messaging platform popular among gamers.

Caption: A screenshot of one of the Instagram posts advertising a botnet. Image: Instagram Screenshot

The hackers themselves and their wares appear to be unsophisticated. One Instagram post, which includes an apparent photo of the hacker’s screen, claims to be selling access to a Mirai-based botnet, likely for attacking websites or other online services to try and slow them to a crawl. Several other users Motherboard found are selling access to other botnets, with one post advertising subscription-style plans for $5 to $80 a month (it is not immediately clear how powerful, or lackluster, these particular botnets may be.)

When asked how they obtained this botnet, perhaps by hacking into computers themselves, Root Senpai declined to elaborate for “security reasons,” they said.

Another account, using the name ghostttzzz, includes a screenshot of their botnet control panel, with the text “hmu [hit me up] for spots.”

Some of the hackers are advertising these tools in normal Instagram posts, others are advertising them using the network’s Stories feature.

Got a tip? You can contact Joseph Cox securely on Signal on +44 20 8133 5190, OTR chat on jfcox@jabber.ccc.de, or email joseph.cox@vice.com.

Stolen accounts do generate interest from customers, “especially Fortnite accounts,” Root Senpai added. As the game skyrocketed in popularity, hackers have continually cracked into Fortnite accounts to sell, some of which come with rare character skins. As Kotaku reported in March, some hackers break into accounts to use the victim’s payment information to buy game upgrades, and then transfer them to other accounts.

Indeed, much of the activity from the Instagram hacker accounts overlaps with gaming communities. Some accounts, as well as posting photos of their botnet control screens, share images from Fortnite or other online games. Some of the hackers appear to be young; Root Senpai said that “there are a lot of kids on Instagram that is [sic] willing to buy botnet spots, mostly kids that play on console.”

“For me I just sell spots for fun and money because I am still to [sic] young to get a full job that can make a decent amount of money,” they added.

Finding various accounts selling access to botnets and stolen accounts was fairly trivial. Many of them follow each other, making some form of hacker community on the platform. The scale of the issue is unclear, however: Motherboard focused on one particular collection of accounts that appear to interact with and follow each other. Root Senpai did describe people in the trade of these botnets and accounts as the “ig community.”

Caption: A screenshot of one of the Instagram posts advertising Fortnite accounts. Image: Instagram Screenshot

Instagram’s terms of service says users cannot “do anything unlawful, misleading, or fraudulent or for an illegal or unauthorized purpose.” That, an Instagram spokesperson confirmed to Motherboard, includes selling access to hacked computers or accounts. The spokesperson added that Instagram is investigating the issue and will take steps to remove content violating its terms.

Motherboard did not share specific account names with Instagram. As we’ve argued before, it is not journalists’ job to act as content moderators for some of the world’s most powerful technology companies. Motherboard did share redacted screenshots with Instagram so it could see the sort of posts being shared by the hackers and provide a response.

Instagram has to deal with all sorts of offensive or illegal content on its platform. Internal Instagram documents previously obtained by Motherboard showed some of the company’s enforcement strategies and policies for combating such content.

“These are high intensity, prevalent abuse types that have led to PR fires on Instagram,” one of the documents for training moderators obtained by Motherboard reads, referring to terrorism and drug sales on its platform.

At the time of writing, all of the accounts Motherboard found selling stolen accounts or access to botnets are still online.

https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/43843w/hackers-are-selling-botnets-and-stolen-fortnite-accounts-over-instagram

AlbertaU Posted on October 01, 2018 14:48

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Prisoners ‘Used Drone’ To Get Chinese Takeaway Delivered

Pixabay

Prison officers believe inmates are using drones to get takeaways, and other items, delivered into the facility.

At a prison in Dublin, staff found fast food containers from a well-known restaurant in a bin in the yard of Wheatfield Prison, leading them to believe the food was delivered by a drone.

Drones are reportedly used regularly to make drop-offs over the prison walls, with bosses now investigating new ways to prevent it happening.

Google Maps

According to the Mirror, a source said:

There’s no other conceivable way a Chinese takeaway could get into the prison other than by a drone. That’s what the staff in the jail believe anyway.

The food containers were found about six weeks ago. Prison staff were left scratching their heads as to how it got there and a drone was the only possible explanation.

It goes to show inmates will go to great lengths to get what they want.

However, a spokesperson for the Irish Prison Service said they ‘have not heard of any such delivery/incident’.

The entire exercise yard at the prison is covered by nets, although inmates are apparently using ‘human pyramids’ to collect contraband delivered by drone.

The prison spokeperson added:

I won’t, for obvious reasons, go into details about the size of the holes in the nets but I can tell you they cover all the yard.

Drones aren’t just used for food deliveries, as many items of contraband are known to have been dropped off, such as mobile phones and drugs.

The source stated:

It would appear drones are being used a lot more than they ever were, it’s a regular occurrence now.

A lot of the drugs appear to be getting in that way. There’s a running joke it’s like dial-a-drug service as you just get word of what you want, cocaine, spice or whatever, and it’s delivered in by a drone.

Not all shipments get through but the vast majority of those looking for the drugs are willing to take the chance.

The use of drones to try and drop drugs into the jail yard has many staff questioning if it’s possible to get a no-fly zone about the prison.

The spokesperson for the Irish Prison Service ensured measures are in place to combat this current problem, commenting:

Existing measures include regular patrols by staff, monitoring of cameras, exercise yards have netting fitted to prevent contraband being dropped or thrown into that area.

Most areas in Wheatfield are fitted with specially designed windows which cannot be opened like a traditional window.

This assists in the prevention of contraband entering the prison, the remaining areas will be fitted with this style of window shortly.

In addition the installation of infrared and motion sensor cameras will commence shortly. The Irish Prison Service is also exploring a number of technology options to deal with the problem.

Not sure why the inmates opted for a Chinese takeaway though, they’ll only be hungry again in an hour or so.

https://www.unilad.co.uk/news/prisoners-used-drone-to-get-chinese-takeaway-delivered/

 

kabby Posted on October 01, 2018 12:02

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Nobel Prize Given To Scientists Who Have Discovered New Way To Attack Cancer

PA

The Nobel Prize for Medicine has been awarded to two scientists who have discovered a ‘revolutionary’ way of treating cancer.

James P Allison and Tasuku Honjo, American and Japanese respectively, found that the body’s immune system could be turned on cancers.

Professor Allison researched a protein that operates as a brake on the immune system.

He realised the prospect of of releasing the brake and the immune cells in order to attack tumours. Allison believes it could be a new avenue to treating terminally ill patients.

The Nobel committee wrote, as per the Independent:

[Professor Honjo] discovered a protein on immune cells and revealed that it also operates as a brake, but with a different mechanism of action. Therapies based on his discovery proved to be strikingly effective in the fight against cancer.

Cancer kills millions of people every year and is one of humanity’s greatest health challenges. By stimulating the inherent ability of our immune system to attack tumour cells this year’s Nobel Laureates have established an entirely new principle for cancer therapy.

They added:

For more than 100 years scientists attempted to engage the immune system in the fight against cancer.

Until the seminal discoveries by the two laureates, progress into clinical development was modest. Checkpoint therapy has now revolutionised cancer treatment and has fundamentally changed the way we view how cancer can be managed.

Professor Allison said in a statement that he had made the discovery while simply looking to expand human knowledge.

He explained:

I’m honoured and humbled to receive this prestigious recognition. A driving motivation for scientists is simply to push the frontiers of knowledge. I didn’t set out to study cancer, but to understand the biology of T cells, these incredible cells that travel our bodies and work to protect us.

The first Nobel Prizes are awarded in Stockholm, Sweden, in the fields of physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and peace.

The ceremony came on the fifth anniversary of the death of Swede Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite. In his will, he directed the majority of his huge fortune be placed in a fund in which the interest would be ‘annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind.

While Nobel offered no concrete reason for the creation of the awards, it’s believed he did so out of moral regret following the savage use of his inventions in war.

https://www.unilad.co.uk/news/nobel-prize-given-to-scientists-who-have-discovered-new-way-to-attack-cancer/

kabby Posted on October 01, 2018 11:56

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Cryptocurrency and blockchain events: 8 to 14 October.

Find out what's coming up in the world of crypto and whether it's actually worth being there when it occurs.

News breaks at cryptocurrency conferences. Staying ahead of the curve often means staying on top of events.

Cryptocurrency and blockchain events often showcase game-changers before they go mainstream and present valuable networking opportunities with some of the best-known names in cryptocurrency. Even if you can't make it in person, it's often worth keeping an eye out for live streams and other ways of telecommuting there.

Here's what's coming up next week, from 8 to 14 October.

Looking for other dates? Get the comprehensive list of crypto expos

PayExpo

9-10 October 2018

London

United Kingdom

XBlockchain Summit

9–10 October 2018

Bali

Indonesia

BLOCKCON 2018

10-11 October 2018

Santa Monica

United States

FSBDAC 2018

10-11 October 2018

Portsmouth

United States

Blockchain Fair Asia

11 October 2018

Taguig

Philippines

Blockchain Unbound

14-16 October 2018

Tokyo

Japan

PayExpo

Returning for its sixth year, the United Kingdom's largest payments expo is an event to share knowledge and meet with the disruptors and innovators driving change in the ever-expanding payments sector.

There will be panel discussions and keynote addresses on open banking, the essentials of cryptocurrency, enterprise-ready blockchains, and what it will take to make consumers believe that cash is no longer king.

Retailers and merchants, gaming operators, MNOs, startups, investors and transport operators attend free.

XBlockchain Summit

This event will be held at an exclusive resort in the Nusa Dua area, on one of Bali's most famed beachfronts, adjacent to the 2018 annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group.

Some of the topics to be covered; the Internet for payments, blockchain in the face of economic change, the mainstream accessibility and future of cryptocurrencies, making blockchain real for business, financial inclusion in the age of automation, value of fans and why AI and blockchain need each other.

Speakers include Stellar Development Foundation co-founder Jed McCaleb, Republic of Lithuania Minister of Finance Vilius Šapoka, Republic of Mauritius Minister of Financial Services and Good Governance Dharmendar Sesungkur, NEM.io Foundation Council Member & Regional Head of SE Asia Stephen Chia and many more.

BLOCKCON 2018

This event, taking place in Los Angeles, will analyze and expand upon the importance of digital privacy, break down crypto baskets as investment vehicles, tackle tokenization and how to balance opportunities and challenges, consider what a young Warren Buffet would have used to manage his crypto, decentralization, AirBnB on the blockchain, ICOs, as well as discussing ways to eliminate loan sharks of the 21st century.

There's also the potential to win a free ticket to BLOCKCON 2018 by answering a Hotjar survey question.

FSBDAC 2018

Free State Blockchain Digital Assets Conference (FSBDAC) 2018, will take place in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. This exclusive conference brings together the financial sector, commentators, researchers, financial innovators and other blockchain enthusiasts to explore the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for a future of tokenised assets. This year's event will also play host to the first annual New Hampshire Ravencoin Meeting.

You can check out a recap of last year's speakers here.

Blockchain Fair Asia

This event's theme is "Looking Beyond Blockchain Hype". The conference aims to explain how the latest blockchain developments prove that a major revolution is imminent. Speakers will discuss practical use cases beyond speculative investment, how to avoid cryptocurrency disasters, investment opportunities in the Philippines, the road to mainstream adoption and blockchain beyond the constraints of the financial industry.

There will be 10 venture capital firms, 20 exhibitors, 30 speakers and 1,000 attendees.

Blockchain Unbound

Early adopters, innovators and investors who have helped to shape the current landscape of the blockchain community will share the stage in Tokyo. Blockchain Unbound events are designed to drive social impact, spark business development and inspire attendees to forge meaningful relationships with fellow collaborators.

A core aspect of every Blockchain Unbound event is a focus on altruism. This year, the conference partners with Mama Hope, an international non-profit advocating for global societies. A portion of the event's proceeds will be donated to support community-led projects. Additionally, Blockchain Industries will announce a Women of Blockchain Foundation designed to aid other women around the world, specifically in emerging markets.

https://www.finder.com.au/cryptocurrency-and-blockchain-events-8-to-14-october

AlbertaU Posted on October 01, 2018 10:16

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Mysterious Cosmic Rays Shooting from the Ground in Antarctica Could Break Physics.

NASA went searching for micro black holes in Antarctica. Instead, it detected cosmic rays shooting from the ground and some physicists think it could be evidence of a supersymmetric particle.

There’s something strange happening beneath the surface of Antarctica and it’s got nothing to do with Nazi UFOs. Rather, researchers are arguing that a decade-old experiment may have furnished the first evidence of a new type of particle that has evaded detection by some of the most sophisticated particle accelerators for years. If they turn out to be correct, it would change physics as we know it.

In 2006, NASA-affiliated researchers launched Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna (ANITA), a balloon experiment meant to observe high energy particles that shower the Earth from space, also known as cosmic rays. During ANITA’s flight, however, its instruments observed something that physicists couldn’t explain. In addition to detecting cosmic rays from space, ANITA also detected cosmic rays shooting from the ground as the high altitude balloon drifted over the Antarctic ice sheet.

Physicists have long known that high energy particles can penetrate deep into Earth, but none of the particles predicted by the Standard Model—the most accurate model of physics that has ever existed—should be able to pass all the way through the planet.

On Tuesday, a group of researchers led by the Pennsylvania State University physicist Derek Fox posted a new theory of these upward-shooting cosmic rays to arXiv that suggests they could be evidence of a particle that lies beyond the Standard Model. If Fox and his colleagues are correct, it would be the first evidence of a particle beyond the Standard Model of physics, the most accurate description of the universe humans have ever known.

What Did ANITA See In Antarctica?

The ANITA-IV experiment was launched in 2016 . Image: Wikimedia Commons

The first ANITA mission launched from the McMurdo base in Antarctica in December 2006. The experiment flew to an altitude of about 120,000 feet where it spent a month drifting over Antarctica. It was equipped with sensors designed to detect pulses of radiation produced when ultra high energy neutrinos—a nearly massless particle with no electric charge—interact with the Antarctic ice sheet.

In the early 60s, the Soviet physicist Gurgen Askaryan theorized that when a high energy particle interacted with a dense dielectric medium—a type of insulating material that doesn’t conduct electricity—it would produce a shower of secondary charged particles whose radiation can be detected by standard radio antennas. This interaction, now known as the Askaryan effect, allows physicists to detect particles that hardly interact with normal matter (like neutrinos) by observing their secondary effects.

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The goal of the ANITA mission was to use an array of antennas to detect the Askaryan radiation produced from high energy neutrinos interacting with the Antarctic ice sheet. Unlike photons, neutrinos don’t lose their energy as they propagate through the universe. This means that they can carry information from beyond the photon horizon (the limit that photon sources are still detectable from Earth) and provide a window onto the farthest reaches of the universe.

Furthermore, some models of physics that are “Beyond the Standard Model” predict the existence of incredibly small extra dimensions. Some of these theories predict that when cosmic rays interact with ice this produces micro black holes that open into these dimensions, which could be detected via the Askaryan effect.

The launch of the first ANITA mission in 2006. Image: UC Irvine

Although the first ANITA mission didn’t detect any evidence of micro black holes, it did detect the Askaryan effect, the first time this had ever been observed from neutrino interactions with ice. Yet the researchers working on ANITA also got more than they bargained for when they also detected cosmic rays that appeared to be shooting out of the Antarctic ice sheet.

The first ANITA mission detected two “upward-pointing cosmic ray-like events” during its month-long sojourn above Antarctica. Unlike the cosmic rays that come from space and are reflected off the Antarctic ice sheet, which produce vertically polarized pulses of radiation, the two anomalous cosmic rays had nearly horizontal planes of polarization. This suggested that they either didn’t originate in space—or if they did, the radiation was produced by particles that had traveled all the way through Earth. In either case, this type of cosmic ray had never been observed before.

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A second mission ANITA mission in 2009 as well as a third mission in 2014 detected another strange upward-pointing cosmic ray. The source of these cosmic rays remain a mystery, but a number of theories have been proposed. Some physicists think these upward-pointing cosmic rays are evidence of the decay of dark matter that exists in the Earth’s interior. Others have suggested that these cosmic rays can be explained with sterile neutrinos, a type of high energy particle that hardly ever interacts with ordinary matter.

At first, physicists attempted to explain these strange events as the result of a type of particle called a tau-neutrino decaying as it passed through Earth. This would produce an elementary charged particle called a tau-lepton, which would produce the type of signature observed by the ANITA balloons.

There was just one problem. ANITA observed the particles coming in at extreme angles—27 degrees and 35 degrees—that aren’t permitted within the Standard Model of physics. This suggested that either the Standard Model would have to undergo “significant” revisions to account for the observation—or, as Derek Fox and his colleagues recently suggested, ANITA may have observed the first evidence of a supersymmetric particle.

A penguin in Antarctica. Image: Daniel Oberhaus

What is Beyond the Standard Model of Physics?

The Standard Model of physics was cobbled together over the course of the past century and currently serves as the most accurate model of the physical universe ever created. It describes most of the fundamental forces and classifies elementary particles.

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Although the Standard Model has proven remarkably successful for making experimental predictions over the last few decades, it’s not able to explain everything. Some phenomena, such as gravity, the accelerating expansion of the universe, and neutrino oscillations are not incorporated in the model.

These deficiencies in the model have led some physicist to begin thinking about physics beyond the Standard Model (BSM). You may have heard of some of these exotic theories, such as string theory or M-theory, but so far there isn’t much evidence to support one theoretical version of BSM physics over another.

Inflating the balloon for the first ANITA mission in 2006. Image: UC Irvine

According to the paper posted to arXiv this week, however, there are strong reasons to believe that the anomalous cosmic rays seen by ANITA could be evidence of a BSM particle.

This theory relies on a version of BSM physics called supersymmetry. Unlike string theory, which is a so-called “theory of everything” that overhauls the Standard Model, supersymmetry merely extends the Standard Model by adding a new class of massive particles into the mix.

“We argue that if the ANITA events are correctly interpreted then they require some beyond the Standard Model particle,” Fox told me on the phone. “The likely properties of the particle seem consistent in at least some ways with the predicted properties of the stau in some supersymmetric models.”

In supersymmetry, each of the elementary particles in the Standard Model has a heavier “superpartner.” Thus, leptons are matched with sleptons, electrons with selectrons, quarks with squarks, and so on. None of these theoretical supersymmetric particles, or sparticles, have been produced in a lab so far, which may be because the particles require too much energy to be made by contemporary particle accelerators such as the Large Hadron Collider. Thus some physicists hope to detect them by looking to astrophysical sources, which can produce the requisite amounts of energy to produce these more massive particles.

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In the case of the upward-pointing cosmic rays, Fox and his colleagues argue that they are consistent with some of the predicted characteristics of the “stau,” the supersymmetric partner of the tau, which cannot be explained using the Standard Model of physics. The supersymmetric models predict that as a stau passes through Earth from space, it decays into a tau lepton and an as yet undetected lowest-mass supersymmetric particle before emerging on the other side of Earth—where the tau lepton could be registered by instruments like ANITA.

To arrive at this conclusion, Fox and his colleagues first demonstrated that the events observed by ANITA are not interpretable within the Standard Model. In the first place, the trajectories of the particles are “highly improbable” under the Standard Model. As Fox and his colleagues argue, to produce these trajectories using the Standard Model would require neutrino fluxes, or the number of neutrinos hitting a certain area in a certain amount of time, “well in excess” of those that have been cataloged by various cosmic ray observatories. Furthermore, they argued that the steepness of the angles of the cosmic rays are also highly improbable within the Standard Model.

A penguin colony in Antarctica. Image: Daniel Oberhaus

Earlier this year, a team of researchers from Ohio State University’s Center for Cosmology and Astrophysics posted a paper to arxiv in which they detailed simulations of staus passing through the Earth to see if they would produce the same sort of signatures observed by ANITA when emerging on the other side. In particular, the researchers were interested in seeing whether simulations of high energy neutrinos interacting with nuclei in the Earth to create staus would reproduce the steep-angled particle trajectories detected by ANITA.

“Any proposed model for new physics would need to explain why such steep events are observed in the absence of a larger number of events near the horizon, and this turns out to be quite difficult to do,” Amy Connolly, the physicist at Ohio State University who led the research, told me in an email. “Our simulations found that even ultra-high energy neutrinos capable of propagating 10,000 km through the earth still do not give a preference for steep events. You still would expect even more such events from near the horizon.”

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Nevertheless, Connolly and her colleagues argued that searching for staus with ANITA is a promising new research direction, but she cautioned against jumping to conclusions about the significance of the anomalous events seen by ANITA.

“Anytime an experiment has observed only two events of interest, there is a possibility that as more data is taken, the anomalous events may be found to be a background not previously anticipated,” Connolly told me. “Although it is exciting that ANITA can be sensitive to beyond the Standard Model physics, we must exercise caution and carry on assuming that the most likely possibility is that these events are an as yet unexplained background.”

This was a conclusion echoed by Fox, who said that it is difficult to make strong claims about anomalous events based on data from only one location. If what ANITA detected was actually evidence of a supersymmetric particle, researchers would expect to see similar signatures at other neutrino laboratories. Fox said this is why most physicists were hesitant to make any claims about the anomalous events when they were first published in 2016.

Antarctica. Image: Daniel Oberhaus

“If it was confirmed that this was evidence of a beyond the Standard Model particle then there would’ve been a lot of physicists working through the consequences right away,” Fox said. “That’s not what happened. It doesn’t feel right for a lot of people and some of them prefer to be more conservative and wait for confirmation from other facilities.”

Fox and his colleagues took the first step in this direction by examining observations from the IceCube Neutrino Observatory in the Arctic to see if similar phenomena was hidden among the available observational data. After adjusting for differences in the IceCube detection system and ANITA, Fox and his colleagues identified three distinct events among the data that were analogous to the upward-pointing cosmic rays observed in Antarctica.

For now, Fox and his colleagues’ theory is just one interpretation of the ANITA data among many, and more data analysis needs to be done. The researchers are hopeful that the data from the fourth and latest ANITA mission, which launched in 2016 and is now in its data analysis phase, might reveal more examples of these upward-pointing cosmic rays.

Even more tantalizing is the data from a decade of continuous observations at IceCube, which has registered far more neutrino events than all the ANITA observations combined and thus may have several upward-pointing cosmic ray events hidden among the data.

“The stau is a particle that physicists have been searching for since they first turned on the Large Hadron Collider,” Fox said. “ They’ve been looking for it, but they just haven’t seen it. What makes this so exciting is that it potentially forges a direct connection between cosmic rays and the LHC.”

https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/d3jdmk/mysterious-cosmic-rays-shooting-from-the-ground-in-antarctica-could-break-physics

AlbertaU Posted on October 01, 2018 09:10

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Tupac Estate Wins Back Unreleased Music After Five-Year Legal Battle

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The estate of Tupac Shakur has won back unreleased Tupac music after a gruelling five-year legal battle against Entertainment One.

Tupac Shakur, considered by many to be the greatest rapper of all time, was shot in a drive-by on 7 September 1996 and died in hospital six days later on 13 September. He was just 25.

Since his untimely death, there has been much speculation:

After he died in the prime of his career, the recording artist’s unreleased masters have been the source of much bad blood between his family and the company.

However, the estate has now settled its lawsuit against Entertainment One, the company it accused of withholding royalties to the tune of seven figures, TMZ has learned.

Sources with direct knowledge claim Entertainment One will pay the estate a substantial 6-figure amount.

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More importantly, the settlement is said to include unreleased music too, said to be worth a fortune. But rather than focus on the fiscal value, this settlement is an emotional win for the family also.

Tupac’s mom, Afeni Shakur Davis, had been the administrator of the artist’s estate when she decided to sue Entertainment One to reclaim her deceased son’s unreleased master recordings back in 2013.

Afeni died in May 2016, aged 69, but the lawsuit continued, until it was finally settled this week.

It is not uncommon for record labels to monetise tragedy, in the deaths of their talented clients, and keep unreleased recordings which the artists themselves may not have wanted the public to hear.

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Speaking to UNILAD about the myth – and business – of The 27 Club, Jennifer Otter-Bickerdike recalled her own experience of Tupac’s unreleased work.

The music academic specialising in fandom and the cult of dead celebrity said:

I worked at Interscope for a long time and every f*cking year it seemed we had a new Tupac record. Stuff he’d done in studio but remixed and backed – stuff that he probably wouldn’t have even wanted out in the public forum.

While the music industry is a business, and a lucrative one at that, it is only right and just for the collection of unreleased master recordings made by the late, great Tupac to be returned to his estate so his nearest and dearest can continue enjoying his talents.

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Entertainment One also have had to give a six-figure settlement for unpaid royalties from posthumous releases they had managed. What his estate plans to do with the rare recording remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, a biopic documenting the life of the legendary rapper was released in the US on his birthday, (June 16). All Eyez On Me traces Shakur’s life from his rocky upbringing in East Harlem to his rise in hop-hop and Hollywood.

You can watch the trailer for the biopic, dubbed the ‘real deal’ below:

It also shines light on his connections with the Black Panther party and his relationship with his deceased mother, who was a member and eminent activist.

https://www.unilad.co.uk/sound/estate-wins-unreleased-tupac-music/

kabby Posted on October 01, 2018 07:55

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Air Traffic Controller Dies Helping Hundreds Escape Tsunami-Hit Island

AirNav Indonesia/Twitter

An air traffic controller has died after he stayed behind to help people escape a city in Indonesia which has been hit by a tsunami. 

The life-threatening wave hit the city of Palu on Sulawesi island on Friday (September 28), following a magnitude 7.5 earthquake. Anthonius Gunawan Agung was working at Palu airport at the time.

21-year-old Anthonius saved hundreds of people during the horrific events by remaining in the control tower even after his colleagues fled the airport.

AirNav Indonesia/ Twitter

The courageous man waited in the tower until the last plane carrying those fleeing from the disaster was in the air.

Just moments after the last plane took off the control tower began to crumble to the ground and Anthonius was forced to jump from a fourth story window to try and escape.

He suffered a broken leg from his jump and was rushed to hospital, but sadly died from internal injuries on Saturday morning.

AirNav Indonesia/Twitter

The Indonesian Air Navigation Twitter account has been explaining Anthonius’ story and honouring him for his bravery.

One tweet read (translated):

[Anthonius] has died while carrying out his duties as a flight navigation service personnel, Brother Anthonius Gunawan Agung, Air Traffic Controller (ATC) AirNav Indonesia Palu Branch on Saturday (29/09).

Telah wafat saat menjalankan tugasnya sebagai personel layanan navigasi penerbangan, Saudara Anthonius Gunawan Agung, Air Traffic Controller (ATC) AirNav Indonesia Cabang Palu pada Sabtu (29/09).#RIPAgung #DoaUntukSulteng#PrayforDonggala #PrayforPalu pic.twitter.com/6Wpobp3R7m

— AirNav Indonesia (@AirNav_Official) September 29, 2018

 

The thread continued:

He had not been able to get off because the plane has yet to take-off. He waited until the plane was airborne. After the aircraft was airborne, condition of the quake already getting stronger.

He finally decided to jump from the cabin tower (4th floor). As a result, he suffered a broken leg.

Soldiers carried Anthonius’ body as it was transported for burial.

#RIPAgung pic.twitter.com/hLLaLRDCCC

— AirNav Indonesia (@AirNav_Official) September 29, 2018

 

In honour of his bravery and selflessness, Anthonius’ ranking was raised two levels.

The tweets explained (translated):

AirNav Raise Rank ATC Alm. Anthony the Great Gunawan two levels as a form of appreciation outstanding dedication towards the deceased.

 

The pilot of the final plane Anthonius cleared for takeoff shared a tribute to the 21-year-old on Instagram, writing:

‘Batik 6231 runway 33 clear for take off’. This was his last transmission to me then we replied. Thank you for keeping me and guarding me till I’m safely airborne.

Then he jumped out of tower broke his leg and arm. Wing of honour for Anthonius Gunawan Agung as my guardian angel at Palu. Rest peacefully my wing man. God be with you.

Speaking at a press conference, disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said 384 people were killed in the city of Palu alone.

#Indonesia Bridge At #Palu #sulawesi before and after the #earthquake and after the #tsunami that followed #PrayForDonggala #PrayForPalu #PrayForIndonesia pic.twitter.com/IXGLDCZ7h7

— Andrea Legarreta (@AndeaLegarreta) September 28, 2018

 

Speaking to reporters, he added:

The deaths are believed to be still increasing since many bodies were still under the wreckage while many have not able to be reached.

Many bodies were found along the shoreline because of the tsunami.

When the [tsunami] threat arose yesterday, people were still doing their activities on the beach and did not immediately run and they became victims.

The tsunami didn’t come by itself, it dragged cars, logs, houses, it hit everything on land.

Sending my prayers to Indonesia as strong earthquake followed by tsunami hit its https://t.co/BYtSX6gGOw least 384 people died& more to follow.I wish recovery at the earliest hours to those injured & pray for eterneal peace those who deceased! #IndonesiaEarthQuake pic.twitter.com/jKwCgftyJe

— Rinku Sheoran (@Rinku_Sheoran_) September 29, 2018

 

Rescue efforts are still underway for dozens of people trapped in the collapsed ruins of an eight-storey hotel in Palu, where voices could be heard from the wreckage.

Nugroho explained:

There are 50 people under the rubble of the building. Heavy equipment is needed for evacuation.

Our thoughts are with all of those suffering from the horrific events.

https://www.unilad.co.uk/news/air-traffic-controller-dies-helping-hundreds-escape-tsunami-hit-island/

kabby Posted on October 01, 2018 07:51

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Romantic marriage proposal up US mountain goes badly wrong

A man's dream proposal turned into more of a nightmare after he and his girlfriend got lost on a mountain.

 

Joshua Mason and Katie Davis, both from Texas, hiked up Jasper Peak in Colorado on Saturday.

 

They walked about eight miles - more than 3,000ft up the 13,000ft summit.

 

Mr Mason had been seeking a scenic and isolated spot for the couple's special moment and Ms Davis happily accepted his surprise proposal, according to CBS.

 

But it was late, getting dark and, with no clear track to follow, the couple lost their way.

 

They had no cold weather gear and only a little water, according to Boulder County Sheriff's Office.

 

When they were found by a man camping nearby, Mr Mason, 27, and Ms Davis, 28, were showing signs of altitude sickness and dehydration.

 

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The man and his friends gave them water, food and allowed them to warm up in their tent.

 

One of the women in the group, concerned about the couple's health, hiked back down from Diamond Lake to her vehicle and then drove far enough to get mobile phone reception before calling for help in the early hours of Sunday.

 

Rescuers found the campers at about 4.30am.

 

The sheriff's office said the couple were immediately moved to a lower altitude, adding: "By that point they had recovered enough that they were both able to walk down to the trail head, assisted by Rocky Mountain Rescue Group personnel.

 

More from Colorado

 

Huge hailstones kill animals in US zoo

FBI agent who dropped gun while dancing charged

Mother scares off black bear attacking daughter, five, in Colorado

Supermassive black hole 'double burps' light - then has a nap

Gay wedding cake row reaches US Supreme Court

Man arrested after three killed in Denver Walmart shooting

"Mason acknowledged that he did not allow enough time to complete the hike before dark, and they did not carry enough water or food.

 

"Deputies determined that the couple's engagement was still on, despite the memorable ordeal."

https://news.sky.com/story/romantic-marriage-proposal-up-us-mountain-goes-badly-wrong-11513908

Albert Ulebe Posted on September 30, 2018 22:18

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Fortune cookie's numbers help man win $1m jackpot

A US man has won $1m (£767,500) in a lottery using numbers from a fortune cookie he opened years ago.

 

Ronnie Martin, from Long Pond in Pennsylvania, is a regular lottery player but bought the lucky ticket for the New Jersey Lottery's draw on 24 July.

 

Instead of choosing birthdays or other important dates, as many players do, he placed his trust in the numbers from the fortune cookie: 1, 2, 4, 19 and 29.

 

Even though he had opened the cookie years ago, he had liked the numbers and stuck with them, hoping they would indeed bring him a fortune.

 

The day after the draw, Mr Martin stopped at the gas station where he had bought the ticket on his way to work in New Jersey.

 

When he placed the ticket under the scanner, it instructed him to go to the counter, where he was told that he had the million dollar ticket.

 

More from New Jersey

 

New Jersey could have an official life-saving microbe

Police officers investigated after woman punched in head on Jersey Shore beach

Drunk man hit with $1,635 Uber bill after 300-mile trip from West Virginia to New Jersey

'Emotional support' peacock turned away from flight

Babies born one day apart in same Burger King car park

Land Rover sinks in sand at New Jersey beach 'as driver tries to take photos'

The store worker had to scan the ticket again to prove to a disbelieving Mr Martin that he had won the million dollars (£767,500).

 

Mr Martin and his wife Shirley plan to use the money to pay off their house and bills before saving the remainder.

https://news.sky.com/story/fortune-cookies-numbers-help-man-win-1m-jackpot-11513687

Albert Ulebe Posted on September 30, 2018 18:14

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Malta PM at UN General Assembly: Crypto is the Inevitable Future of Money

At the UN General Assembly, Malta Prime Minister Joseph Muscat stated that blockchain technology will allow crypto to inevitably become the future of money.

 

He stated:

 

“I passionately believe technology revolutionizes and improves systems. This is why in Malta, we have launched ourselves as the blockchain island. By being the first jurisdiction worldwide to regulate this new technology that previously existed in a legal vacuum. Blockchain makes cryptocurrencies inevitable future of money. More transparent it helps filter good business from bad business.”

 

Prime Minister Muscat emphasized that recognizing the potential of the blockchain, Malta has openly embraced the crypto market and businesses within it, leading the global cryptocurrency sector with favorable regulations and practical policies.

 

Blockchain Island’s Success

Since early 2018, Malta has focused on building an ecosystem that significantly improves the businesses of crypto and blockchain-related companies.

 

Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange with around 10 million users and $200 million in quarterly profit, openly praised the efforts of Malta to lead cryptocurrency regulation, relocating its headquarters to the region.

 

 

 

Changpeng Zhao, the beloved CEO of Binance better known to the cryptocurrency community as CZ, stated in March that the company is dedicated to investing in Malta  and its local cryptocurrency market to assist the growth of the local blockchain industry.

 

“After reviewing a proposal bill, we are convinced that Malta will be the next hotbed for innovative blockchain companies and a centre of the blockchain ecosystem in Europe. Binance is committed to lending our expertise to help shape a healthy regulatory framework as well as providing funds for other blockchain start-ups to grow the industry further in Malta,” said CZ.

 

Shortly after the relocation of Binance to Malta, Tron, another billion dollar company based in Beijing that oversees the development of the Tron blockchain network, disclosed its intent to establish an office in the country and invest in the local cryptocurrency market of Malta, moved by the forward-thinking approach and regulation of the government.

 

 

 

Within such a short period of time, the ambitious plan of Malta to become a leading region in the global cryptocurrency and blockchain space allowed the country’s economy to grow rapidly, solidifying the position of Malta at the forefront of blockchain development.

 

Most recently, regional governments of Seoul, Busan, and Jeju Island, three major cities of South Korea, the fourth biggest economy of Asia, announced their intent to replicate the success of Malta after being inspired by its success.

 

Taking Blockchain Further

In his speech, Prime Minister Muscat further explained that the local government remains passionate about the potential of the blockchain and its ability to eliminate third party service providers to provide users complete freedom over information and money.

 

He explained that the blockchain will eventually produce solutions that can replace existing infrastructure in major industries like healthcare and charity.

 

 

 

“Blockchain can provide solutions to health care systems where patients have real ownership of their medical records. Emissions trading systems can be taken to the next level. We can help verify that humanitarian assistance is reaching its intent destination. We can make sure that nobody is deprived of their legitimate property because of compromised data,” Prime Minister Muscat noted.

https://www.ccn.com/malta-pm-at-un-general-assembly-crypto-is-the-inevitable-future-of-money/

Albert Ulebe Posted on September 30, 2018 18:11

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Micronesia plane crash: Man declared missing - one day after aircraft sinks

One man is missing after a plane crashed into a Pacific lagoon in Micronesia.

 

The Air Niugini Boeing 737-800 plane hit the water while trying to land at Chuuk Island airport in the Micronesia archipelago on Friday.

 

Initially, the airline had said all 47 passengers and crew had managed to evacuate the sinking aircraft safely - but on Saturday afternoon, it confirmed that one passenger was unaccounted for.

 

His age and nationality is unknown, but Air Niugini says it is working with local authorities, hospitals and investigators to try and find him.

 

 

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The Air Niugini plane overshot a runway in Micronesia and ended up in the ocean

Footage has emerged of US navy sailors embarking on a rescue mission in the aftermath of the plane crash - using an inflatable boat to shuttle people ashore before the plane sank in about 100ft (30m) of water.

 

The clip shows sailors using the aircraft's right wing as a makeshift mooring for the boat. The rescuers entered the plane via its emergency door, and some of the men were wearing swimming shorts and goggles.

 

They waded through waist-deep water in the flooded cabin in search of survivors, ensuring everyone had gotten out safely.

 

After making the short journey back to the inflatable dinghy by carefully walking on the wing, just below the water's surface, one rescuer said: "They got everybody!"

 

 

Image:

Rescue operation in Micronesia around crashed plane in Pacific lagoon

Following the crash on Friday, officials said that seven people had been taken to hospital.

 

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It added that six of them, all in a stable condition, remained at the hospital on Saturday.

 

The cause of the crash and the exact sequence of events remains unclear.

 

The airline and the US navy both said the plane landed in the lagoon short of the runway.

 

 

Image:

Boats and locals come to the rescue of all passengers and crew from a plane which crashed into a Micronesia lagoon

Some witnesses thought the plane overshot the runway.

 

Bill Jaynes, one of the passengers, said the plane came in very low.

 

He said: "I thought we landed hard. Until I looked over and saw a hole in the side of the plane and water was coming in.

 

"And I thought, well, this is not the way it's supposed to happen."

 

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Air Niugini is the national airline of Papua New Guinea and has operated since 1973.

 

According to data from the Aviation Safety Network, 111 people have died in crashes of Papua New Guinea-registered airlines in the past two decades, though none involved Air Niugini.

https://news.sky.com/story/micronesia-plane-crash-man-declared-missing-one-day-after-aircraft-sinks-11513407

Albert Ulebe Posted on September 30, 2018 14:27

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Infantino has 'support of Africa' in FIFA re-election bid

African nations would support Gianni Infantino for re-election as FIFA president, the head of the continental football federation Ahmad Ahmad said on Sunday.

 

» more FIFA President Gianni Infantino is standing for re-election next year  (AFP)

African nations would support Gianni Infantino for re-election as FIFA president, the head of the continental football federation Ahmad Ahmad said on Sunday.

 

"I feel it is my duty... to announce this support from Africa," Ahmad said at a special meeting of the Confederation of African Football Executive Committee, which Infantino attended, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

 

Infantino, a former deputy head of UEFA, was first elected in 2016 to succeed Sepp Blatter, when the scandal that engulfed the governing body of world football was at its height.

 

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The next presidential election will be held in Paris in June 2019 and Infantino has said he will stand.

 

Infantino expressed his gratitude for the African backing.

 

"It means a lot to me," said the Swiss. "Since long before my election, I had said, and since I have done everything, to make sure that the future really is Africa."

 

Infantino is believed to have supported Ahmad when he ousted the long-time CAF president Issa Hayatou in March 2017.

 

Infantino described the election as a "vote of change".

 

"It's about taking football forward, it's about making progress together," Infantino told CAF delegates, calling for "a real impact."

 

According to reports, Infantino was investigated by the FIFA ethics committee for interfering in the CAF election when he removed leading members of the committee. He later sacked the chairman and members of the ethics committee, effectively ending the probe.

 

Ahmad said that despite the failure of African nations during the World Cup in Russia, where none of the five African nations made it to the last 16, the continent needed "regular and increased" participation.

 

"Deep analysis" makes it possible to "see more clearly the various problems that undermine African football," he said.

 

Ahmad said that participation (in the World Cup) "stabilises some of the national teams of our continent... and gives them experience."

https://www.pulse.com.gh/sports/football/infantino-has-support-of-africa-in-fifa-re-election-bid-id8919724.html

Albert Ulebe Posted on September 30, 2018 13:34

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Cristiano Ronaldo denies rape claim as 'fake news'

Cristiano Ronaldo has dismissed as "fake news" accusations by a US woman who alleges she was raped by the Portuguese footballer in 2009.

In an Instagram video, Ronaldo said: "They want to promote [themselves] by [using] my name. It's normal."

Ronaldo's lawyers say they will sue Germany's Der Spiegel magazine, which originally reported the allegations.

The magazine wrote that Kathryn Mayorga had claimed Ronaldo, 33, raped her in a hotel room in Las Vegas.

Ms Mayorga, 34, is reported to have filed a rape report with Las Vegas police shortly after the alleged incident.

In 2010, she reportedly reached an out-of-court settlement with Ronaldo involving a $375,000 (£288,000) payment for agreeing never to go public with the allegations.

Her lawyers are now seeking to declare the non-disclosure agreement void.

In a statement, Ronaldo's lawyer Christian Schertz said "the reporting in Spiegel is blatantly illegal".

He added that he had been instructed to seek compensation for "moral damages" over "probably one of the most serious violations of personal rights in recent years".

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Ronaldo joined Italy's Juventus from Real Madrid for £99.2m earlier this year.

The Portuguese international is regarded as one of the greatest players of all time.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-45698134

Albert Ulebe Posted on September 30, 2018 13:30

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Crypto Startups Move to Hong Kong Skyscrapers While Major Banks Check Out.

The real estate market of Hong Kong is said to be one of the most expensive in the world, alongside New York, London, and Sydney. Yet, crypto startups are moving into the most valuable skyscrapers in the city.

 

On August 22, CCN reported that BitMEX, a popular cryptocurrency exchange that facilitates Bitcoin and Ethereum margin trading, moved its headquarters to Cheung Kong Center’s 45th floor, renting out 20,000 square feet at $28.66 per square foot.

 

 

 

Its old headquarters were based in Victoria Harbor, a region within Hong Kong that is known for expensive residential properties. In Victoria Harbor, BitMEX paid around $3.18 per square foot and in Cheung Kong Center, BitMEX is paying $573,200 per month, at a rate of $28.66 per square foot.

 

BitMEX will operate its office in the most valuable skyscraper with Hong Kong alongside major financial institutions such as Bank of America Corp, Barclays Plc, Bloomberg LP, Goldman Sachs Group Inc and the Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong.

 

Banks are Moving Out of Skyscrapers

According to a report released by SCMP, a mainstream media outlet in Hong Kong, even major banks like Goldman Sachs and BNP Paribas have started to explore cheaper locations for their offices in Hong Kong due to rising rental fees.

 

Annual office rental costs in Hong Kong Central average around US$307 per square foot a year, a rate that easily surpasses London’s West End and Beijing’s Finance Street.

 

 

 

BitMEX and Diginex Global, two crypto startups based in Hong Kong, are renting out 72,000 square feet in total, paying around $1.3 million per month.

 

“Blockchain companies show no signs of slowing their expansion in Hong Kong. These firms are leasing space in top-tier office buildings to attract and retain talent.” Philip Pang, an associate director of office services at Colliers,  told SCMP.

 

The local publication reported that Goldman Sachs is relocating from Hong Kong Central to Causeway Bay in the next few months to save 30 percent on rent. BNP Paribas has also relocated its office to Swire Properties’ Taikoo Place.

 

While JPMorgan has leased the Quayside in Kwun Tong near Victoria Harbor, the cost of rent comes nowhere close to the rent BitMEX will be paying throughout the years to come.

 

Landlords Not Confident in Crypto

Over the past nine months, despite the 80 percent drop in the valuation of the crypto market, cryptocurrency-related businesses have prospered. Specifically, exchanges have continued to generate large revenues.

 

However, local publications have reported that Cheung Kong Center demanded BitMEX to pay a year’s rent upfront, which is estimated to be around $6.8 million, demonstrating the lack of confidence in crypto-related businesses by major landlords in the Hong Kong real estate market.

 

 

 

“It’s pretty common for landlords to ask for larger deposits from tenants with weaker covenant strength. Landlords are always open to taking on new tenants, it’s just a matter of balancing rent against flight risk,” said Denis Ma, head of research at Jones Lang LaSalle.

 

With the one year’s rent at Cheung Kong Center, it is possible to purchase multiple story buildings in many major cities like Kuala Lumpur, Ho Chi Min, Tokyo, and Busan.

https://www.ccn.com/crypto-startups-move-to-hong-kong-skyscrapers-while-major-banks-check-out/

Albert Ulebe Posted on September 29, 2018 14:53

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