Potential New State Of Matter Discovered

Superconductivity is extensively used in MRI, particle accelerators, microwave filters (Representational)

Washington:  Scientists have discovered a potential new state of matter that may help explain phenomena like superconductivity.

Superconductivity is extensively used in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), particle accelerators, magnetic fusion devices, and microwave filters.

Researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory in the US showed that among superconducting materials in high magnetic fields, the phenomenon of electronic symmetry breaking is common.

The ability to find similarities and differences among classes of materials with phenomena such as this helps establish the essential ingredients that cause novel functionalities such as superconductivity.

The high-magnetic-field state of the heavy fermion superconductor CeRhIn5 revealed a state in which the material’s electrons aligned in a way to reduce the symmetry of the original crystal, something that now appears to be universal among unconventional superconductors.

Unconventional superconductivity develops near a phase boundary separating magnetically ordered and magnetically disordered phases of a material.

“The appearance of the electronic alignment, called nematic behaviour, in a prototypical heavy-fermion superconductor highlights the interrelation of nematicity and unconventional superconductivity, suggesting nematicity to be common among correlated superconducting materials,” said Filip Ronning of Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Heavy fermions are intermetallic compounds, containing rare earth or actinide elements.

“These heavy fermion materials have a different hierarchy of energy scales than is found in transition metal and organic materials, but they often have similar complex and intertwined physics coupling spin, charge and lattice degrees of freedom,” said Ronning, lead author on the study published in the journal Nature. 

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Boston March Against Hate Speech Avoids Charlottesville Chaos

Boston, US:  Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Boston on Saturday to protest a “free speech” rally featuring far-right speakers a week after a woman was killed at a Virginia white-supremacist demonstration.

Rally organizers had invited several far-right speakers who were confined to a small pen that police set up in the historic Boston Common Park to keep the two sides separate. The city avoided a repeat of last weekend’s bloody street battles in Charlottesville, Virginia, where one woman was killed.

Police estimated that as many as 40,000 people packed into the streets around the nation’s oldest park.

Officials had spent a week planning security for the event, mobilizing 500 police officers, including many on bikes, and placing barricades and large white dump trucks on streets along the park, aiming to deter car-based attacks like those seen in Charlottesville and Europe.

The rally never numbered more than a few dozen people, and its speakers could not be heard due to the shouts of those protesting it and the wide security cordon between the two sides. It wrapped up about an hour earlier than planned.

Protesters surrounded people leaving the rally, shouting “shame” and “go home” and occasionally throwing plastic water bottles. Police escorted several rally participants through the crowds, sometimes struggling against protesters who tried to stop them.

Some people dressed in black with covered faces several times swarmed rally attendees, including two men wearing the “Make America Great Again” caps from President Donald Trump’s campaign.

The violence in Charlottesville triggered the biggest domestic crisis yet for Trump, who provoked ire across the political spectrum for not immediately condemning white nationalists and for praising “very fine people” on both sides of the fight.

On Saturday, Trump on Twitter praised the Boston protesters.

“I want to applaud the many protestors in Boston who are speaking out against bigotry and hate. Our country will soon come together as one!” Trump tweeted. “Our great country has been divided for decades. Sometimes you need protest in order to heal, & we will heal, & be stronger than ever before!”

Arrests, Tensions
Thirty-three people were arrested, largely for scuffles in which some protesters threw rocks and bottles of urine at police dressed in riot gear, the Boston Police Department said.

“There was a little bit of a confrontation,” Police Commissioner William Evans told reporters, adding that “99.9 percent of the people who were here were here for the right reasons.”

Several protesters said they were unsurprised that the “Free Speech” event broke up early.

“They heard our message loud and clear: Boston will not tolerate hate,” said Owen Toney, a 58-year-old community activist who attended the anti-racism protest. “I think they’ll think again about coming here.”

U.S. tensions over hate speech have ratcheted up sharply after the Charlottesville clashes during the latest in a series of white supremacist marches.

White nationalists had converged in the Southern university city to defend a statue of Robert E. Lee, who led the pro-slavery Confederacy’s army during the Civil War, which ended in 1865.

A growing number of U.S. political leaders have called for the removal of statues honoring the Confederacy, with civil rights activists charging that they promote racism. Advocates of the statues contend they are a reminder of their heritage.

Organizers of Saturday’s rally in Boston denounced the white supremacist message and violence of Charlottesville and said their event would be peaceful.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Shiva Ayyadurai spoke at the rally, surrounded by supporters holding “Black Lives Matter” signs.

“We have a full spectrum of people here,” Ayyadurai said in a video of his speech posted on Twitter. “We have people from the Green Party here, we have Bernie (Sanders) supporters here, we’ve got people who believe in nationalism.”

Protesters also gathered on Saturday evening in Texas. In Dallas, where a Lee statue was vandalized overnight, about 3,000 people rallied near City Hall to demonstrate against white supremacy.

“Tear them down,” they chanted, referring to statues of Confederate figures.

A man who appeared waving a Confederate flag was quickly surrounded by demonstrators. “Shame on you,” they chanted. Police officers escorted the man away a few minutes later as the crowd cheered.

In Houston, a chapter of Black Lives Matter organized a rally to call for the removal of a “Spirit of the Confederacy” monument from a park.

While Boston has a reputation as one of the nation’s most liberal cities, it also has a history of racist outbursts, most notably riots against the desegregation of schools in the 1970s.

Karla Venegas, a 22-year-old who recently moved to Boston from California, said she was not surprised that the Free Speech rally petered out so quickly.

“They were probably scared away by the large crowd,” Venegas said.

© Thomson Reuters 2017

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Woman Dies While 'Laughing Too Hard' In US

The woman suffered multiple injuries to her body and brain (Representational)

Washington:  A US school teacher died after she accidentally fell off a rooftop balcony while laughing during a vacation in Mexico, according to a media report.

Sharon Regoli Ciferno, 50, a teacher at Charles A Huston Middle School in the US state of Pennsylvania, was with her daughter at a friend’s house in Mexico on Monday when she sat on a deck ledge that doubled as a bench.

“She started laughing very hard and when she put her head back she lost her balance and fell back,” her brother David Regoli was quoted as saying by the Fox News.

“She suffered multiple injuries to her body and brain,” he said.

“Alcohol was not a factor. The building code standards in Mexico are not as stringent as in the US. Unfortunately, there was no back on the deck,” her brother said.

Regoli Ciferno was taken to a hospital where she died of her injuries. “This was a tragic accident that has devastated our very close-knit family,” he said.

The tragedy happened just as her students were getting ready to return to school from summer break.

Regoli Ciferno was married and a mother of two

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US Jackpot Grows To A Tempting $650 Million After Nobody Wins It

The odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are one in 292 million

New York:  Nobody won a Powerball jackpot of $535 million in a draw on Saturday night, meaning the grand prize will grow to about $650 million, the second-highest level in the history of the Powerball.

The numbers drawn were: 17, 19, 39, 43, 68, with a special Powerball number of 13 and a Power Play of 4X.

With no winner of the grand prize, it will grow to an estimated $650 million ahead of the next draw on Wednesday, according to the website for the game.

The Multi-State Lottery Association runs Powerball for 44 U.S. states as well as Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The $535 million jackpot up for grabs on Saturday ranked as the fifth-largest in the game’s 25-year history.

The highest-ever Powerball jackpot was nearly $1.6 billion in a January 2016 draw, which was split between three winning tickets.

The odds of winning the jackpot are one in 292 million. The odds are always the same, regardless of the size of the prize.

The odds of winning any prize, including one as small as $4, are about one in 25, the association said.

No one has hit the Powerball jackpot in the semi-weekly drawings since June 10, when a California man won $447.8 million.

(Reporting by Peter Szekely in New York and Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Bernadette Baum, Robert Birsel)

© Thomson Reuters 2017

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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Pakistan Must Ensure Its Soil Is Not Used For Terror Activities: US

The official also underlined need to further strengthen US and Pakistani military-to-military relations.

Islamabad:  Pakistan must ensure that its soil is not used for any terrorist attack against the neighbours, a top American General has said.

US Central Command (CENTCOM) commander General Joseph Votel conveyed this to Islamabad during a visit this week. This was his third visit to Pakistan as commander.

During the visit, he called on Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Zubair Hayat and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

“In his discussions with Pakistani leaders, he emphasised that all parties must work to ensure that Pakistani soil is not used to plan or conduct terrorist attacks against its neighbours,” the US Embassy in Islamabad said in a statement.

General Votel also underlined the need to further strengthen US and Pakistani military-to-military relations as the two nations work together to ensure greater regional security and stability.

“This visit allowed the General to gain an increased understanding of the counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency efforts the Pakistani government has made over the years to achieve our shared objectives,” the statement said.

General Votel called on Prime Minister Abbasi yesterday during which the premier underscored that Pakistan had an important stake in peace and stability in Afghanistan as Pakistan has suffered the most due to conflict in that country.

PM Abbasi also raised the Kashmir issue with General Votel.

He agreed with General Votel on the importance of working closely to address issues of regional concerns. 

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In A German Village, The Bell Still Tolls For Hitler

BERLIN:  In a verdant German village, a church bell that bears a swastika tolls. Above the symbol is an inscription: “All for the Fatherland, Adolf Hitler.”

When the Nazi iconography was discovered this summer in Herxheim am Berg, some called for the bell’s removal, others for its protection as a relic of a shameful national history. The village is still deciding what to do.

Germans have a word for coming to terms with the past, “Vergangenheitsbewältigung.” The word, coined after World War II, has no equivalent in the English language, no analog that might inform the anguished American debate over Confederate monuments — whose defenders include not just torch-wielding neo-Nazis in Charlottesville but also President Donald Trump.

On a continent riven in the last century by two world wars, genocide and a battle of ideas waged across the Iron Curtain, European nations have accepted the burden of curating the tortured landscapes of their past. Symbols – insignia, flags, monuments – have become explosive at moments of regime change, as shifts in political power alter the cultural currents of the day. East-west friction particularly marks the conflict over remembrance in Europe, from de-Nazification in the Cold War era to contests today over commemoration of communism’s past.

“To some extent, Germany is an exceptional case,” said Arnd Bauerkämper, a historian at the Free University in Berlin. “Only the abandonment of Nazi ideology, and the clear break with the Nazi past, enabled integration into the West – membership in NATO, German reunification. There never was such a decisive break with Confederate ideas in the United States.”

But addressing monuments to people, parties and movements that have fallen into disrepute has not been simple in Germany, or elsewhere in Europe. And while memorials to victims now predominate, particularly here in the former capital of the Third Reich, continuing strife over names and symbols illuminates the continent’s enduring divisions.

A statue of Franz Joseph I again occupies a prominent position in Prague, a century after Czechoslovak independence made the commemoration of an Austro-Hungarian emperor unthinkable. Other figures remain unpalatable. For years, Czech officials have debated what to do with the plinth once supporting a statue of Joseph Stalin that weighed 17,000 metric tons, destroyed in 1962 as the communist party line turned against the Soviet dictator.

Jirina Siklova, a Czech sociologist active in the dissident Charter 77 movement, said the site remains indelibly linked to Stalin.

“It is stimulation for an explanation of this man,” she said. “Without this statue of Stalin, and without the liquidation of this statue, the new generation and tourists wouldn’t remember this period.”

Hungary has removed Communist-era statues from their pedestals and placed them in Memento Park, an open-air museum outside Budapest. Lithuanian’s Grutas Park is similar.

This has not quieted dispute over public memorials, however, particularly as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has pursued nationalist politics. A monument unveiled in 2014 to mark the 70th anniversary of Hungary’s invasion by Nazi Germany was dedicated to “the victims of the German invasion.” Critics said it obscured Hungary’s involvement in the annihilation of its Jewish citizens.

This year, activists threw paint-filled balloons at a Soviet memorial in Freedom Square in Budapest, in protest of perceived Russian influence in Hungarian affairs.

Jakub Janda, deputy director of the Prague-based European Values Think-Tank, said Russian influence is inseparable from a new effort by Czech communists to commemorate Communist-era border guards, who once policed the country’s frontier with West Germany and Austria. Josef Skala, vice chairman of the Czech Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, said memorializing the guards is part of an effort to demonstrate that Czechoslovakia, in addition to the Soviet Union, was a victim in the Cold War.

“I, personally, and the party I belong to do not like rewriting history,” Skala said. “We did not initiate the Cold War. We made mistakes, yes, but we were defending our interests.”

Antipathy to Russia in Poland’s ruling nationalist party, Law and Justice, has created a new row over Communist-era monuments in the former Soviet satellite state. The Polish government has set out to remove 500 Soviet monuments, as Russian senators call on President Vladimir Putin to respond with sanctions.

Statues of Stalin and Vladimir Lenin have also been toppled in Ukraine, as part of pro-Europe revolutionary activity that ousted President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014.

Still another approach is that of Romania, which last year unveiled a new sculpture – depicting three wings pointing to the sky – that honors those who died fighting Communist rule in Romania and Bessarabia.

The German capital is a tableau of conflicting impulses. An underground transit station was renamed for Karl Marx in 1946 – not in the communist east but in West Berlin. Parts of the Berlin Wall remain in place, including at Checkpoint Charlie, a major tourist destination. Two years ago, the head of a giant Lenin statue was exhumed and exhibited in Berlin.

The European Union in 2005 dropped proposals to ban both Nazi and communist symbols, due to concerns for freedom of expression as well as disagreement over the scope of the prohibition. Still, many European nations bar the use of totalitarian symbolism. In parts of Eastern Europe, bans expressly extend to communist iconography. In Germany, only the prohibition on Nazi symbols and signals is unambiguous; tourists from across the globe have recently learned that giving the Nazi salute is forbidden.

Many sites associated with the Nazis stand today as haunting museums. Other structures have been demolished to thwart neo-Nazi pilgrimages. A prison that housed Nazi war criminals was razed in 1987, its materials ground to powder and scattered in the North Sea.

But purging Germany of Nazism was not as swift as severe legal codes might suggest. Nor were the country’s motives as pure, said Jacob S. Eder, a scholar of German history and Holocaust memory at the Friedrich-Schiller-University in Jena.

“It’s important to avoid making the mistake of thinking that now because every German city has some kind of memorial or museum to the Nazi past, that this was an easy process,” Eder said. “It’s actually quite the opposite.”

Certain debates, he said, still confound the public. Parade grounds in Nuremberg where Hitler held massive rallies lie in disrepair. “The question is what to do with it and whether to let it just decay,” Eder said.

Controversy in the 1990s and early 2000s marked the conceptualization of the Holocaust memorial in the heart of Berlin.

“People considered it a mark of shame,” Eder said – an argument revived this year by Björn Höcke, a state leader of Alternative for Germany, a far-right party poised to enter the German Parliament for the first time in elections next month. “It was the government of Helmut Kohl that pushed for this monument, not out of a sense of moral responsibility but much more a political necessity, to improve Germany’s reputation abroad.”

From the beginning of the postwar era, as West Germany rebuilt under the Marshall Plan, external pressure guided de-Nazification.

“Our deliverance from the Nazi period wasn’t a development within Germany, but we were forced by the Allied forces to become a civilized nation again,” said Volker Beck, a Green Party lawmaker who heads the Germany-Israel Parliamentary Friendship Group.

The process was faltering, as ex-Nazis sometimes found their way into power, said Gavriel D. Rosenfeld, author of “The World Hitler Never Made: Alternate History and the Memory of Nazism.”

“But the thing that kept West Germany in the American orbit – and committed to de-Nazification – was fear of the Soviet Union,” he said. “There was no such fear in the American South.”

Marshall aid to reconstruct Western European economies hinged on strict conditions to adopt democratic policies. By contrast, a decade after the Civil War, as federal troops were withdrawn from the South, the decrees of Reconstruction went unenforced.

– – –

Luisa Beck contributed to this report.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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After Mosul Win, Iraq Begins Battle To Take Next Key ISIS Bastion

Tal Afar is located 70 kilometres west of Mosul, where Iraqi forces ended ISIS’s rule in July (AFP)

Baghdad:  Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced early Sunday the start of a battle to retake Tal Afar, a key Northern Iraqi bastion of the ISIS group and one of their last remaining strongholds in the region.The announcement comes a month after the capture by Iraqi forces of second city Mosul further east in a major blow to ISIS.

In a televised speech, Abadi, dressed in military uniform and standing in front of an Iraqi flag and map of the country, announced “the start of an operation to free Tal Afar”.

“I am saying to Daesh that there’s no choice other than to leave or be killed,” he said, using an alternative name for ISIS.

“We have won all our battles, and Daesh have always lost,” he said, telling the country’s troops that “the entire world is with you.”

Tal Afar is located 70 kilometres (43 miles) west of Mosul, where US-backed government forces ended ISIS’s rule in July after a months-long battle.

In June 2014, ISIS overran Tal Afar, a Shiite enclave in the predominantly Sunni province of Nineveh, on the road between Mosul and Syria.

At the time it had a population of around 200,000, but local officials said it was now impossible to know the exact number still living inside the city as most are cut off from the outside world.

However, authorities have accused the approximately 1,000 terrorists in the city of using civilians as human shields during Iraqi and coalition air strikes earlier this week in preparation for the ground assault.

Abadi said that Iraq’s paramilitary Hashed al-Shaabi forces would help various army, police and counter-terrorism units in Tal Afar.

The umbrella organisation, which is dominated by Iran-backed Shiite militias, has already been fighting to retake a number of other Iraqi cities from the ISIS.

‘Victory is near’

“In the early hours, the guns and flags turned towards their targets,” said Ahmed al-Assadi, a spokesman for Hashad.

“Victory is near” in Tal Afar, an “Iraqi city taken hostage and humiliated for years by attacks from these barbarians,” he said.

ISIS overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in 2014, but Iraqi forces have since regained much of the territory.

Once Tal Afar is retaken, Iraqi authorities intend to launch a fight to retake ISIS-held Hawija, in the province of Kirkuk, 300 kilometres north of Baghdad.

Terrorists still hold areas in Anbar, a western province that faces major security challenges.

ISIS, which declared a cross-border “caliphate” encompassing swathes of Iraq and Syria three years ago, has also suffered major setbacks in Syria, where around half of ISIS’s de facto Syrian capital Raqa has been retaken by US-backed fighters.

But divisions across political, religious and ethnic lines will again rise to the surface in Iraq after the extremist group is driven out of its last bastions, experts have said.

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Hard Brexit 'offers £135bn annual boost' to economy

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Prof Patrick Minford says dropping all tariffs after Brexit will boost the UK economy by billions

Removing all trade tariffs and barriers would help generate an annual £135bn uplift to the economy, according to a group of pro-Brexit economists.

A hard Brexit is “economically much superior to soft” argues Prof Patrick Minford, lead author of a report from Economists for Free Trade.

He says eliminating tariffs, either within free trade deals or unilaterally, would deliver huge gains.

Campaigners against a hard Brexit said the plan amounts to “economic suicide”.

In an introduction to the full report, entitled From Project Fear to Project Prosperity, which is due to be published in the autumn, Prof Minford argues that the UK could unilaterally eliminate trade barriers for both the EU and the rest of the world and reap trade gains worth £80bn a year.

The report foresees a further £40bn a year boost from deregulating the economy, as well as other benefits resulting from Brexit-related policies.

Prof Minford says that when it comes to trade the “ideal solution” would still be free trade deals with major economic blocks including the EU.

But the threat that the UK could abolish all trade barriers unilaterally would act as “the club in the closet”.

The EU would then be under pressure to offer Britain a free trade deal, because otherwise its producers would be competing in a UK market “flooded with less expensive goods from elsewhere”, his introduction says.

He argues UK businesses and consumers would benefit from lower priced imported goods and the effects of increased competition, which would force firms to raise their productivity.

However, Open Britain, a campaign group arguing for the UK to remain within the single market and the customs union, said the proposed strategy would be damaging to the UK economy.

“Unilaterally scrapping our tariffs without achieving similar reductions in the tariff rates of other countries would see Britain swamped with imports, leaving our manufacturers and farmers unable to compete,” said Labour MP Alison McGovern, a supporter of the cross-party group Open Britain, which is campaigning against a hard Brexit.

“The levels of bankruptcy and unemployment, especially in industry and agriculture, would sky-rocket.

“This is a project of economic suicide, not prosperity. No responsible government would touch this report with a barge pole as a source of ideas for our future trade policy.”

Economists for Free Trade is a group of 16 economists, including former government advisors and academics.

The group plans to release further chapters of the report in the run up to its full publication.

Andrew Walker, Economics Correspondent, BBC World Service

It is a counterintuitive idea, but actually the economics textbooks do provide some support for the idea of unilateral trade liberalisation.

This analysis suggests that removing trade barriers produces benefits for consumers and businesses buying components or raw materials that exceed the losses suffered in industries that face stiffer competition.

The downside is that it may take time, perhaps years, for the workers who lose their jobs to find new ones.

Professor Minford has expressed the view that the British economy is flexible enough to cope.

There is also the question of how the new jobs would compare with the old ones.

The mainstream view among economists is that while countries overall may gain from trade liberalisation, there are usually some specific groups that lose.

Prof Minford also directs criticism at Chancellor Philip Hammond’s current approach to Brexit, which he says amounts to “throwing away our hard-won freedom from EU rules”.

The chancellor is viewed as favouring a softer approach to Brexit, but recently co-authored an article in the Telegraph in which he proposed that the UK would leave both the single market and the customs union in March 2019, but that there would be a “time-limited” transition period to help businesses adjust.

A government spokesman said the UK would maintain a “deep and special” relationship with the bloc after departing the EU.

“The economy has grown continuously for four years and there are more people in work than ever before.

“As we leave the European Union, we will build on this success by maintaining a deep and special partnership with the EU while embracing the wider world as an independent, open, trading nation.'”

During the referendum campaign last year Prof Minford stoked controversy by suggesting that the effect of leaving the EU would be to “eliminate manufacturing, leaving mainly industries such as design, marketing and hi-tech”.

However in a recent article in the Financial Times he suggested manufacturing would become more profitable post-Brexit.

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Pension cold-calling ban to include texts and emails

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A forthcoming ban on cold-callers who try to scam people out of their pension savings will include emails and texts, the government has announced.

Nearly 3,000 savers have been conned out of an average of £15,000 each since 2014, after fraudsters persuaded them to cash in their pensions.

Certain types of cold calls, including those involving mortgages, are already banned.

Now the law will be changed to include callers trying to sell pensions.

Companies that do not have prior permission to contact consumers, or do not have an existing client relationship with them, will face fines of up to £500,000.

But whereas the government originally proposed excluding texts and emails, it has now decided to include them within the new law.

“The fact emails and text messages will also be covered by the ban means savers can be absolutely certain that if someone they don’t know contacts them out of the blue about their pension, they simply should not engage with them,” said Tom Selby, an analyst with AJ Bell.

“That means don’t email, don’t text back and hang up the phone.”

A spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) said the legislation would be tabled “when parliamentary time allows”, raising the possibility that it could be many months before the rules come in.

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The consumer organisation Which? said that the regulator, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), would need to be strict about enforcement.

“Pension scams are costing retirees millions, so this action must lead to a crackdown on criminals stealing people’s hard-earned savings,” said Gareth Shaw, Which? money expert.

Some fraudsters have taken advantage of the new pension freedoms, which were introduced in April 2015.

Since then, anyone over the age of 55 has been allowed to withdraw money from their pension, with the ability to spend it, or invest it elsewhere.

In one case investigated by the BBC, thousands of people were persuaded to buy so-called storage pods with their pension savings.

However, most never received the returns they were promised.

Fraudsters ‘exploit loopholes’

The government will also tighten the rules to make it harder for consumers to transfer money to unregulated pension schemes, such as those investing in forest schemes or parking spaces.

Under proposals to be added to the Finance Bill later this year, trustees will have to ensure that any receiving scheme is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, is an authorised master trust, or has an active employment link with the individual.

The new measures have been welcomed by the Pensions Regulator, and by the former pensions minister, Ros Altmann.

“The sooner the government acts, the sooner we can improve protection for people’s pensions.

“We will never stop such fraudsters completely, but these measures will certainly protect the public better – about time too,” she said.

However, experts warned that fraudsters would try to find new ways of working.

“It’s important to note that this will not stop cold-calling or pension scams,” said Tom Selby.

“Fraudsters will seek to exploit any loopholes in the rules, and many of the outfits involved will simply move their call centres abroad to avoid the ban.”

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Researchers Find Wreckage Of Lost WWII Warship USS Indianapolis

USS Indianapolis sank in 15 minutes on July 30, 1945, in the war’s final days.

Naval researchers announced Saturday that they have found the wreckage of the lost World War II cruiser USS Indianapolis on the floor of the Pacific Ocean, 72 years after the vessel sank in minutes after it was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine.

The ship was found almost 3 1/2 miles below the surface of the Philippine Sea, said a tweet from Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Paul G. Allen, who led a team of civilian researchers that made the discovery.

Historians and architects from the Naval History and Heritage Command in Washington, District of Columbia, had joined forces with Allen last year to revisit the tragedy.

The ship sank in 15 minutes on July 30, 1945, in the war’s final days, and it took the Navy four days to realize that the vessel was missing.

About 800 of the crew’s 1,200 sailors and Marines made it off the cruiser before it sank. But almost 600 of them died over the next four to five days from exposure, dehydration, drowning and shark attacks. Nineteen crew members are alive today, the Navy command said in a news release.

The Indianapolis had just completed a top secret mission to deliver components of the atomic bomb “Little Boy” to the island of Tinian. The bomb was later dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima.

In a statement on its website, the command call the shipwreck a “significant discovery,” considering the depth of the water.

“While our search for the rest of the wreckage will continue, I hope everyone connected to this historic ship will feel some measure of closure at this discovery so long in coming,” Allen said in a statement. His research vessel, Petrel, has state-of-the-art subsea equipment that can descend to depths like those at which the ship was found.

The cruiser’s captain, Charles Butler McVay III, was among those who survived, but he was eventually court-martialed and convicted of losing control of the vessel. About 350 Navy ships were lost in combat during the war, but he was the only captain to be court-martialed. Years later, under pressure from survivors to clear his name, McVay was posthumously exonerated by Congress and President Bill Clinton.

The shipwreck’s location had eluded researchers for decades.

The coordinates keyed out in an S.O.S. signal were forgotten by surviving radio operators and were not received by Navy ships or shore stations, the Navy command said. The ship’s mission records and logs were lost in the wreck.

Researchers got a break last year, however, when Richard Hulver, a historian with the Naval History and Heritage Command, identified a naval landing craft that had recorded a sighting of the Indianapolis hours before it was sunk. The position was west of where it was presumed to be lying. The team was able to develop a new estimated position, although it still covered 600 square miles of open ocean.

The ship is an official war grave, which means it is protected by law from disturbances. Naval archaeologists will prepare to tour the site and see what data they can retrieve. No recovery efforts are planned.

Hulver and Robert Neyland, the command’s underwater archaeology branch head, wrote on the website that “there remains a lot we can learn.”

“From the sinking to the battle damage and site formation processes, we hope to gain a better understanding about the wreck site and how we can better protect USS Indianapolis to honor the service of the ship and crew.”

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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'Shocking' Conditions Await Civilians Fleeing ISIS In Syria

Aid workers say that at least some of camps are without basic medical services in Raqqa. (AFP file)

BEIRUT:  Fleeing terror in the Islamic State’s last Syrian strongholds, tens of thousands of civilians have become stranded in harrowing conditions across barely functional displacement camps.

As the militant group’s grip in Syria crumbles and U.S.-backed forces push through its de facto capital, Raqqa, some 40 camps across the country’s northwest now host anywhere between 2,000 and 10,000 people, with more arriving every day.

For one young couple escaping Raqqa, the journey to a displacement camp took more than 10 hours on foot through the 110-degree heat. For those with larger families – many carrying infants or parents on their backs – the voyage stretched into weeks.

“Conditions are very shocking,” said Ingy Sedky, a spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross. “Some of the worst I’ve seen.”

On arrival, newcomers in some camps said they found neither a place to sleep nor a doctor to assess their needs. They were depleted from days of dehydration on top of months of fear under Islamic State rule.

“I arrived and I just fell down. The water they revived me with was dark with oil so I just lay there on the ground exhausted and humiliated,” said one woman who arrived in the eastern al-Arisha camp Thursday. She asked that her name be withheld out of concerns of her husband’s safety in an Islamic State prison in the western province of Deir al-Zour.

Aid workers say that at least some of the nearby camps are without basic medical services. Water is limited as temperatures soar and few have electricity or toilets. The consequences can be deadly.

On a recent visit to the largest camp, Ain Issa, Sedky’s delegation met a father whose newborn baby had died due to lack of medical care in the heat. “It was heartbreaking. He kept pulling out his phone to show us photographs,” she said.

More than 200,000 people have fled Raqqa since April as a U.S.-backed offensive edged first through the surrounding countryside and then toward the city center. Tens of thousands have also fled the area around Deir al-Zour, where the U.S.-led coalition is launching heavy air strikes and Syrian-backed forces are pushing through the province’s western countryside.

To reach the larger and better equipped displacement camps, the new arrivals often move first through what are known as transit points – camps where Kurdish fighters from the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces attempt to screen out Islamic State militants by confiscating identification cards.

Aid workers say the process is chaotic and confusing. When newcomers arrive with little more than the clothes on their backs, they can be stranded for weeks without explanation.

Muhammed, a 29-year-old from the western Deir al-Zour countryside who asked that his second name not be used due to safety concerns, said he slept in the open air at the al-Karama camp for four days as his documents were checked.

Doctors express particular concern for the psychological welfare of children who have escaped. “Their faces are just frozen. They don’t cry, they don’t laugh. It’s a shocking thing to witness,” said Rajia Sharhan, a pediatrician with the United Nations’ children’s agency, Unicef.

According to Doctors Without Borders, some civilians have spent weeks nursing battle wounds behind front lines. Escapees and activists still living under Islamic State rule report that services have deteriorated as the group’s finance sources dry up and U.S.-led coalition bombing raids hit vital infrastructure, including hospitals.

Inside Islamic State-held Raqqa and Deir al-Zour, food prices are also rising rapidly, leaving many families with little to survive on. Escape often relies on a smuggler charging hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars, a price that depletes resources to a level that means those who flee often have little left.

“The people who end up in these camps have done so because they have no choice,” said Vanessa Cramond, the northern Syria coordinator for Doctors Without Borders. “The challenge is big enough when we’re treating people arriving during the summer months. We’re really struggling to meet needs now and I fear for what lies ahead when the temperatures drop.”

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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Google and UC Berkeley to create movie from eclipse images

Google and UC Berkeley are creating a movie from images of the solar eclipse. The images will also be used to study the Sun’s outermost atmosphere. The “megamovie” will premiere after the eclipse hits the US on Monday. Calvin Johnson spoke to the BBC’s Dave Lee.

Video produced by Cody Godwin.

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Donald Trump Thanks Ousted Aide Steve Bannon

Steve Bannon left White House after fallout over Trump’s response to a violent white supremacist rally.

Washington:  Donald Trump on Saturday thanked Steve Bannon for his “service” a day after the US president parted ways with his controversial former chief strategist and key campaign ally.

A champion of the nationalist-populist agenda that carried Trump to power last November, the 63-year-old Bannon left a White House reeling from the fallout over the president’s response to a violent white supremacist rally.

“I want to thank Steve Bannon for his service. He came to the campaign during my run against Crooked Hillary Clinton – it was great! Thanks,”  Trump tweeted on Saturday.

Bannon, a hero of the so-called “alt right” whose presence in the West Wing was controversial from the start, had become the nucleus of one of several competing power centers in a chaotic White House.

With Trump under fire for insisting anti-racism protesters were equally to blame for violence at a weekend rally of neo-Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, the president faced renewed pressure to let Bannon go.

The departure, capping one of the most disastrous weeks of the chaotic young administration, is a nod to members of Trump’s government and his Republican Party grown increasingly frustrated with the anti-establishment firebrand.

It remains to be seen what role the serial provocateur will continue to play from outside the White House, but Bannon himself vowed to keep pushing Trump’s right-wing agenda, as he returned to his former home at the ultra-conservative website Breitbart News.

“If there’s any confusion out there, let me clear it up: I’m leaving the White House and going to war for Trump against his opponents — on Capitol Hill, in the media, and in corporate America,” Bannon said in an interview within hours of leaving the White House.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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Trump Thanks Bannon For His Role In Defeating 'Crooked Hillary Clinton'

Administration officials said Trump empowered new chief of staff to fire Bannon (AFP file image)

President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Saturday morning to thank Stephen Bannon, his ousted White House chief strategist, and took a shot at his vanquished Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, while he was at it.

“I want to thank Steve Bannon for his service,” Trump said in a morning tweet. “He came to the campaign during my run against Crooked Hillary Clinton – it was great! Thanks S”

Trump on Friday dismissed Bannon, an architect of his 2016 general-election victory and the champion of his nationalist impulses, in a major White House shake-up.

Administration officials said Trump empowered new chief of staff, John F. Kelly, to fire Bannon in an effort to tame warring factions and bring stability to a White House at risk of caving under its self-destructive tendencies.

Trump’s tweet made no mention of Bannon’s contributions at the White House. It also referenced Bannon’s arrival after the GOP primary season, a point Trump and other White House officials have made in recent weeks as they’ve tried to distance themselves from Bannon.

Having departed the White House, Bannon is returning as executive chairman of Breitbart News, the pugilistic conservative website he helped guide before joining Trump’s campaign last August, Breitbart announced Friday.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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Benjamin Netanyahu, Vladimir Putin To Meet Over Syria Conflict

Such talks have let Russia and Israel to so far avoid confrontation between their air forces (Reuters)

Jerusalem:  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will travel to Russia on Wednesday for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, mainly focussing on the war in Syria, his office said late Saturday.

The two leaders will meet in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi to “discuss the latest developments in the region,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.

Such talks have allowed the two countries to so far avoid any confrontation between their air forces, as Russia conducts airstrikes in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Israel has sought to avoid being dragged into the civil war, but has carried out strikes to prevent arms deliveries to the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, which fights alongside Assad’s forces.

Israel’s army has carried out nearly 100 strikes in the past five years on convoys carrying weapons to militant groups in Syria and elsewhere, former air force commander Amir Eshel told the Haaretz newspaper on Thursday.

In March, Russia’s foreign ministry summoned Israel’s ambassador over air strikes close to Moscow’s forces near the historic Syrian city of Palmyra.

At the time, Israel’s intelligence minister Yisrael Katz told AFP that in general, Moscow was not informed of Israeli strikes in Syria ahead of time, even though a “hotline” was set up last year to avoid accidental clashes between the two countries’ forces. 

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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Spain Hunts For Driver In Van Rampage, Says Islamist Cell Dismantled

RIPOLL/BARCELONA:  Police were searching on Saturday for the driver of a van that killed 13 people when it ploughed into a crowd in Barcelona and were trying to determine whether two other suspected terrorist linked to the attack had died or were at large.

The Spanish government said it considered it had dismantled the cell behind Thursday’s Barcelona rampage and an attack early on Friday in the Catalan seaside town of Cambrils.

Police arrested four people in connection with the attacks Barcelona and Cambrils, where a woman was killed when a car rammed passersby on Friday. Five attackers wearing fake explosive belts were also shot dead in the Catalan town.

“The cell has been fully dismantled in Barcelona, after examining the people who died, the people who were arrested and carrying out identity checks,” Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido told a news conference.

But authorities have yet to identify the driver of the van and his whereabouts are unclear, while police and officials in the northeastern region of Catalonia said they still needed to locate up to two other people.

Investigators are focusing on a group of at least 12 suspects believed to be behind the deadliest attacks to hit Spain in more than a decade.

In little more than a year, terrorists have used vehicles as weapons to kill nearly 130 people in France, Germany, Britain, Sweden and Spain.

None of the nine people arrested or shot dead by police are believed to be the driver who sped into Las Ramblas, leaving a trail of dead and injured among the crowds of tourists and local residents strolling along the Barcelona boulevard.

A Moroccan-born 22-year-old called Younes Abouyaaqoub was among those being sought, according to the mayor’s office in the Catalan town of Ripoll, where he and other suspects lived.

Spanish media reported that Abouyaaqoub may have been the driver of the van in Barcelona, but police and Catalan officials could not confirm this.

The driver in the Barcelona attack abandoned the van and fled on foot on Thursday after ploughing into the crowd. Fifty people were still in hospital on Saturday following that attack, with 13 in a critical condition.

Many were foreign tourists. The Mediterranean region of Catalonian is thronged in the summer months with visitors drawn to its beaches and the port city of Barcelona’s museums and tree-lined boulevards.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks in Cambrils and Barcelona, a statement by the terrorist group said on Saturday.


Police searched a flat in Ripoll on Friday in their hunt for people connected to the attacks, the ninth raid so far on homes in the town nestled in the foothills of the Pyrenees near the French border.

The flat had been occupied by a man named as Abdelbaki Es Satty, according to a search warrant seen by Reuters. Neighbours said he was an imam, a Muslim prayer leader. His landlord said he had last been seen on Tuesday.

Scraps of paper covered in notes were strewn around the flat, which had been turned upside down in the police search.

Three Moroccans and a citizen of Spain’s North African enclave of Melilla have been arrested so far in connection with the attacks.

Apart from Abouyaaqoub, authorities are searching for two other people though it is not certain they are at large.

One or even both of them may have been killed in Alcanar, where a house was razed by an explosion shortly before midnight on Wednesday, a spokeswoman for Catalonia’s home affairs department said.

Police believe the house in Alcanar was being used to plan one or several large-scale attacks in Barcelona, possibly using a large number of butane gas canisters stored there.

The Spanish government maintained its security alert level at four, one notch below the maximum level that would indicate another attack was imminent, but said it would reinforce security in crowded areas and tourist hotspots.

Spanish media also said that security at the border with France was being beefed up.


Of the 14 dead in the two attacks, five are Spanish, two are Italians, two are Portuguese, one Belgian, one Canadian and one a U.S. citizen, emergency services and authorities from those countries have confirmed so far.

A seven-year-old boy with British and Australian nationality who had been missing since the attack in Barcelona was found on Saturday in one of the city’s hospitals and was in a serious condition, El Pais newspaper reported.

Spain’s King Felipe and Queen Letizia on Saturday visited some of the dozens injured whose nationalities ranged from French and German to Pakistani and the Filipino. They are being treated in various Barcelona hospitals.

The royal couple are expected to take part in a Catholic mass on Sunday morning at architect Antoni Gaudi’s famous Sagrada Familia church, a Barcelona landmark, in honour of the victims of the attack.

Barcelona’s football team will wear special shirts, bearing the Catalan words for “We are all Barcelona”, and black armbands in memory of victims when they play their opening league game of the season on Sunday evening against Real Betis.

© Thomson Reuters 2017

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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ISIS Claims Russia Knife Attack Wounding 7

Unconfirmed reports identified the attacker as 19-year-old Artur Gadzhiyev

Moscow:  The ISIS terror group on Saturday claimed responsibility after a man stabbed seven people on the street in a Russian city before being shot dead by police, despite investigators saying it was probably not a terrorist attack.

“The executor of the stabbing operation in the city of Surgut in Russia is a soldier of the Islamic State,” ISIS propaganda outlet Amaq said in a statement, after the jihadists also claimed responsibility for twin attacks in Spain that left 14 dead.

The attack also comes a day after a stabbing spree in Finland, which left two people dead and eight others injured and is being investigated as a terrorist attack, although the assailant’s motive is unknown.

Russia’s Investigative Committee, which probes major crimes, said a man in Surgut had “carried out attacks on passers-by, causing stab wounds”. It said armed police called to the scene “liquidated” the attacker following the stabbing on Saturday morning. 

Regional officials said seven people were taken to hospital, with the figure confirmed by investigators, who lowered an earlier toll of eight wounded. 

A spokesman for regional police had earlier downplayed the possibility of a terrorist incident, telling Interfax news agency that the theory that the incident was “a terrorist (attack) is not the main one”.

The Investigative Committee said it had established the attacker’s identity, saying he was a local resident born in 1994, and that they were looking into “his possible psychiatric disorders”.

Opposition leader Alexei Navalny questioned the authorities’ treatment of the incident, writing on Twitter: “Someone runs round with a knife and tries to kill as many people as possible. What is that, if not a terrorist attack?” 

Investigators have opened a criminal probe into attempted murder, not terrorism, with the Investigative Committee’s chief Alexander Bastrykin taking the case under his personal control.

Regional police said officers fired warning shots at the scene before firing at the suspect, who was wearing a balaclava.

YouTube footage shown on Russia’s Ren TV television showed a black-clad man lying on a pedestrian walkway with a policeman kneeling on his back as sirens wail.

Busy area

Unconfirmed reports from the Komsomolskaya Pravda tabloid and other media identified the attacker as 19-year-old Artur Gadzhiyev, saying that his father is known to authorities for involvement in radical religious organisations and comes from the mainly Muslim region of Dagestan in the North Caucasus. 

Regional officials said four of those stabbed remained in a serious condition while another was stable in hospital. Two have already been discharged.

Russian television reported that the stabbing victims are aged between 27 and 77 and include two women.

State news agency TASS said the city’s largest shopping centre was evacuated after the stabbings, citing its director, and police posted a video of the attack site, showing it to be a busy area with traffic and blocks of flats.

The city lies some 2,100 kilometres (1,330 miles) northeast of Moscow in the oil-rich Khanty-Mansi region.

The region’s governor was flying out to the city to hold a meeting with investigators, regional authorities said.

The regional government moved to curb panic in the city, insisting the “situation is under the control of the authorities” and calling for calm.

A group suspected of links to Al-Qaeda claimed an April attack on the Saint Petersburg metro that killed 15 people and has been blamed on a Russian suicide bomber born in the Central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan.

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In California Horse Country, Trump Voters Stand By Their Man

Unites States:  In Norco, a California desert town an hour inland from Los Angeles, the joke is that there are as many horses as there are residents. 

And on a recent visit, it seemed there were almost as many Donald Trump supporters as there were horses.

This community where riding trails are used as sidewalks, and rodeo events and revolver juggling are favorite pastimes, is one of the most Republican in the deeply Democratic state.

And almost all Norco residents are standing by their candidate, even as he faces a storm of bipartisan criticism over his response to a violent white supremacist rally.

“Look at all the jobs he’s bringing, he’s working on tax reform,” said Skip Fischer, a 62-year-old contractor as he left the Saddle Sore Saloon, a Wild West-themed restaurant and bar. “I like his aggressiveness, people don’t walk on him, that’s what America needed.”

“I think he’s gonna be the one that changes the world,” said a young housewife who would not give her name.

Seven months after the wealthy businessman was sworn into office, Trump has seen his popularity plunge to 36 percent, according to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll. And yet 61 percent of Trump supporters said they could not see the president doing anything that would make them disapprove of him, according to a Monmouth University poll.

Everyone interviewed by AFP in Norco applauded his reaction to the recent deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, where several hundred neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other far-right extremists had gathered for a rally. They clashed with counter-demonstrators and a young woman was killed by a neo-Nazi sympathizer who rammed his car into a crowd.

‘They’re all racists’ 

Trump has come under fire from Republicans and Democrats alike after he drew an equivalency between the far-right demonstrators and the counter-protesters, saying there were “very fine people on both sides.”

“I think his reaction was absolutely correct,” Fischer said. “President Obama would come up and without any facts he’d say these guys were wrong, the police was wrong. President Trump waits until he has the facts.”

Lana James, 70, who was running errands with her granddaughter, said the reaction to Trump’s comments has been too extreme.

“He certainly did mean to condemn the supremacists and he did,” she said. “When you have two groups that are so radical, either to the left or to the right, there are hateful people and extreme on both sides.”

Mark Birdwell agreed with James’ assessment.

“I think they’re all wrong, everybody needs to take a big breath and relax,” said the 48-year-old who works in industrial refrigeration. “I don’t agree with Black Lives Matter, I don’t agree with the KKK… they’re all racists.”

For him and all the Norco residents who spoke with AFP, public statues of Confederate leaders — who fought to preserve slavery during the US Civil War from 1861 to 1865 — should remain standing.

“I had members of my family fighting on both sides during the Civil War, taking down symbols of the country is wrong, it’s part of history,” Birdwell said.

He’s not alone — nearly two out of three Americans feel Confederate statues should remain in place.

Immigration ‘problem’ 

Many in Norco are quick to echo Trump’s own words on the topic, after he rhetorically questioned whether statues of early American presidents would have to come down too, since several were slave owners.

“You had your presidents that had slaves, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, what are you gonna do? Get rid of their statues just because some people got their feelings hurt that this was in the past?” Fischer said.

Some African Americans say “we’re still affected by slavery. Well, no, you’re not. You’re free now, you can do whatever you want,” he added.

Beyond Charlottesville, the fervent Trump supporter also approves of the president’s war rhetoric aimed at the authoritarian regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

“Sometimes you have to be more aggressive instead of passive like Obama was, otherwise people take advantage of you,” Fischer said.

Fellow Trump fan Buzz Riebschlager said he’d like to see more achievements in tax reform and in repealing Obamacare, the health care reforms that Republican lawmakers have been pledging to tear up for years.

But on immigration, he’s on the same page as the president.

“If you don’t live here, you shouldn’t get a job. I’m not being racist,” he said. 

“This is America, it’s 2017, everybody’s welcome here. The problem is when they come here and start doing bad things.”

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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Donald Trump, First Lady Won't Attend Kennedy Center Honors: White House

The White House said Donald Trump and Melania Trump will not take part in the Kennedy Center Honors.

Washington:  U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump will not attend the Kennedy Center Honors in December, the White House announced on Saturday, after several honorees said they would boycott a White House reception before the show.

The Kennedy Center also said in a statement the White House reception “will no longer take place.”

The White House said the president and first lady would not take part in the Kennedy Center Honors “to allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction.”

The announcement came after television producer Norman Lear, singer Lionel Richie and dancer Carmen de Lavallade said they would not attend the White House reception that was set to take place prior to the Dec. 3 annual gala event. The other honorees are singer Gloria Estefan and rapper LL Cool J.

The awards are presented each year in December to recognize honorees for their lifetime contributions to the arts.

All five honorees are expected to attend a Dec. 2 dinner and awards ceremony at the State Department, the Kennedy Center’s chairman, David Rubenstein, and its president, Deborah Rutter, in a statement.

The Kennedy Center “respects” the decision made by the Trumps, they said.

“In choosing not to participate in this year’s Honors activities, the administration graciously signaled its respect for the Kennedy Center and ensures the Honors gala remains a deservingly special moment for the honorees,” Rubenstein and Rutter said.

De Lavallade, an African-American actress, dancer and choreographer, said in a statement on her website that she was honored to receive the award and would attend the show.

But, she said that she would not go to the White House “in light of the socially divisive and morally caustic narrative that our existing leadership is choosing to engage in.”

Her comments come after the president blamed “both sides” for violence that erupted last week between counter-demonstrators and neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan members and white nationalists holding a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va.

Trump’s comments prompted a slew of resignations from presidential councils, including all 17 members of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities.

In a New York Times article on Aug. 3, Lear was quoted as saying that he would forgo the White House reception because, “This is a presidency that has chosen to neglect totally the arts and humanities – deliberately defund them – and that doesn’t rest pleasantly with me.”

The Kennedy Center Honors is the second annual Washington event that Trump decided not to attend.

The U.S. President, who called the U.S. news media as “enemies of the American people,” also withdrew from the annual White House Correspondents Dinner.

(Reporting by Jonathan Landay; Editing by Toby Chopra and Diane Craft)

© Thomson Reuters 2017

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Thousands Take To Streets In Boston Protest Against Hate Speech

A large crowd of people gathers ahead of the “Free Speech” rally in Boston, United States

BOSTON:  Thousands of people in Boston protested a “Free Speech” rally featuring right-wing speakers on Saturday, with hundreds of police mobilised to prevent a recurrence of violence that left a woman dead at a Virginia white-supremacist protest last week.

In historic Boston Common park alone, hundreds of protesters who believe the event could become a platform for racist propaganda dwarfed the few dozen rally participants.

The number of protesters was poised to swell exponentially as a march with thousands more people bore down on the park.

Some 500 police officers placed barricades to prevent vehicles from entering the park, the nation’s oldest. To keep the two groups separate, they also built a cordon around the site of the rally.

Last weekend’s clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, where one woman was killed in a car rampage after bloody street battles, ratcheted up racial tensions already inflamed by white supremacist groups marching more openly in rallies across the United States.

White nationalists had converged in the Southern university city to defend a statue of Robert E Lee, who led the pro-slavery Confederacy’s army during the Civil War, which ended in 1865.

A growing number of US political leaders have called for the removal of statues honoring the Confederacy, with civil rights activists charging that they promote racism. Advocates of the statues contend they are a reminder of their heritage.

Duke University removed a statue of Lee from the entrance of a chapel on its Durham, North Carolina campus, officials said on Saturday.

Organisers of Saturday’s rally in Boston have denounced the white supremacist message and violence of Charlottesville and said their event would be peaceful.

“The point of this is to have political speech from across the spectrum, conservative, libertarian, centrist,” said Chris Hood, an 18-year-old Boston resident who stood among a crowd of a few dozen people who planned to join the Free Speech rally. “This is not about Nazis. If there were Nazis here, I’d be protesting against them.”

Last weekend’s violence sparked the biggest domestic crisis yet for US President Donald Trump, who provoked ire across the political spectrum for not immediately condemning white nationalists and for praising “very fine people” on both sides of the fight.

Two male rally participants wearing Trump’s red “Make America Great Again” campaign hats attempted to enter the protest pen that police had set up to keep the two sides separated. They were swarmed by black-clad protesters, some with their faces covered, as the crowd screamed “go home” and “no hate” at them.

Beyond the Boston rally and march, protests are also expected on Saturday in Texas, with the Houston chapter of Black Lives Matter holding a rally to remove a “Spirit of the Confederacy” monument from a park and civil rights activists in Dallas planning a rally against white supremacy.

Boston authorities had roadblocks in place to avert car attacks like the deadly one carried out in Charlottesville by a man said to have neo-Nazi sympathies against counter-protesters and a similar spate of attacks by Islamist extremists in Europe, most recently Barcelona.

Protesters Reject Plea

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh had asked protesters to avoid Boston Common, saying their presence would draw more attention to the far-right activists. He joined the crowd of thousands assembling in Boston’s historically black Roxbury neighborhood early on Saturday.

“These signs and the message so far this morning is all about love and peace,” Walsh told reporters. “That’s a good message.”

Monica Cannon, an organizer of the “Fight White Supremacy” march, said it was a necessary move.

“Ignoring a problem has never solved it,” Cannon said in a phone interview. “We cannot continue to ignore racism.”

The Free Speech rally’s scheduled speakers include Kyle Chapman, a California activist who was arrested at a Berkeley rally earlier this year that turned violent, and Joe Biggs, formerly of the right-wing conspiracy site Infowars.

Antonio Vargas, a 20-year-old student at Gordon College, joined the protest march.

“I believe in equality,” Vargas said. “I believe race shouldn’t define the pattern of your life or the result of your life.

“There also is a time to stand up and not be silent.”

© Thomson Reuters 2017

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Lele Tao: The 'online goddess' who earns $450k a year

Meet 24-year-old Lele Tao, who chats and sings to her 1 million fans, mostly young men.

China’s internet showgirls: watch more episodes

Part 2. How much of a cut should her manager get?

Part 3. Internet showgirls: A tale of unrequited love

A film for BBC Trending by

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending, and find us on Facebook. All our stories are at bbc.com/trending.

Producer: Megha Mohan

Executive producer: Mukul Devichand

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Silk Road: Google search unmasked Dread Pirate Roberts

You could buy any drug imaginable, wherever you were in the world, on the Silk Road website.

Hidden on the dark web, it made millions of dollars every week. The US government had been trying to shut it down for more than two years when tax agent Gary Alford was brought in to try to trace the money which passed through the site.

In his spare time, Gary started searching Google to try to find the mysterious mastermind behind the site: Dread Pirate Roberts.

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ISIS Claims Responsibility For Russia Stabbing Attack

A man stabbed seven people on the street in Surgut in Russia.

Cairo:  Islamic State claimed responsibility for a stabbing attack in the in the Siberian city of Surgut that injured eight people on Saturday, the group’s AMAQ news gency said.

Russian law enforcement said they had killed the attacker and is investigating the incident as attempted murder.

(Reporting by Nadine Awadalla; Editing by Toby Chopra)

© Thomson Reuters 2017

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State Funeral For 'Pakistan's Mother Teresa'

German-born nun Ruth Pfau, known as ‘Pakistan’s Mother Teresa’, was given a state funeral (Reuters)

Karachi:  Pakistani soldiers on Saturday carried the flag-draped coffin of German-born Catholic nun Ruth Pfau to a state funeral where she was honoured after devoting her life to eradicating leprosy in the country.

Widely known as Pakistan’s Mother Teresa, Pfau died last week in the southern city of Karachi at age 87. She is to be buried in her adopted homeland.

Mourners paid their last respects as Pfau’s coffin was carried to the Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre that she founded before being taken on to St. Patrick’s Cathedral for the official service.

Pfau had been living in Pakistan since 1960, and her leprosy centre in Karachi was Pakistan’s first hospital dedicated to treating the disease. She later opened treatment centres across the country.

“It is a big loss to this hospital and to humanity. It is very hard to find a person like her in today’s era,” said Yasmeen Morris, a staff member at the centre.

“She led a very simple life and she loved humanity.”

In 1996, the World Health Organisation declared that leprosy had been controlled in Pakistan, which led Pfau to the more challenging task of eliminating the disease.

Last year, the number of patients under treatment for leprosy fell to 531 from over 19,000 in the 1980s.

© Thomson Reuters 2017

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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Luxury Flights To The Eclipse: $10,000 A Seat, Plus A Lawn Chair

Passengers will be offered expert commentary by an astronomer on solar flares through a telescope.

For the well-heeled looking for a last-minute plan to see next week’s solar eclipse, a U.S. private-jet operator is offering an option for $10,000 a seat.

Million Air is whisking customers to remote airports where the moon will totally block the sun’s rays for a time on Aug. 21. Passengers will watch from lawn chairs near the wings of the plane while an astronomer offers expert commentary and views of solar flares through a telescope.

“Our idea is that, instead of tailgating at a ballgame, we’re going to wing-gate under the path of total eclipse,” said Roger Woolsey, chief executive officer of the Houston-based company. “We’ll load the jet up like a pickup truck, with the picnic baskets and the Dom Perignon and the snacks.”

The flights reflect the solar show’s bonanza for private-plane operators, which is on a par with major holidays and sporting events. The Federal Aviation Administration is putting up temporary air-traffic control centers in Oregon, where the total eclipse will begin over the U.S. as it sweeps toward South Carolina along a 70-mile band. Jackson Hole, Wyoming, a hot location for the luxury-jet set that’s in the path, is out of aircraft parking spots.

‘Super Bowl’

“The magnitude has a Super Bowl feel,” said Brad Stewart, CEO of XOJet, which owns a fleet of 41 aircraft. “The idea of the eclipse has captured the imagination.”

The coast-to-coast total solar eclipse, a phenomenon that last occurred 99 years ago, is giving an extra boost to a private-jet charter industry that already enjoyed a 6.7 percent increase in charter activity in July from a year earlier. XOJet, based in Brisbane, California, will handle about 60 flights to eclipse areas, Stewart said.

At Jet Linx, bookings to see the eclipse began a couple of months ago after a customer broached the idea, Chief Executive Officer Jamie Walker, said. Now the Omaha, Nebraska-based company has 16 flights planned. The average cost to rent out a light jet is about $4,000 an hour and $8,000 for a heavy jet such as a Gulfstream 450, Walker said.

NetJets, the private-jet company owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., has about 500 bookings to and from the eclipse zones. That puts demand on par with the busiest holiday times around Thanksgiving and Christmas, Kristyn Wilson, a spokeswoman for the company, said in an email.

“We do, on occasion, experience peaks related to popular events. But demand of this nature, especially on a Monday in August, is truly out of this world,” she quipped.

‘Cosmic Cocktails’

Commercial carriers are also getting into the mix. Alaska Air Group Inc. is operating a charter flight that takes off from Portland, Oregon, for select astronomy enthusiasts and eclipse chasers. Southwest Airlines Co. is providing special viewing glasses and offering “cosmic cocktails” on flights most likely to experience the eclipse’s maximum effects.

Pilots flying during the event will have to keep an eye out for about 100 high-altitude balloons that students in coordination with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration will launch to capture live footage of the eclipse, the FAA said.

People outside the path of totality will still be able to see dramatic partial eclipses with no help from private-jet operators charging thousands of dollars. But the fever to pack up the family and fly off to a place in the path of complete darkness has been increasing as the natural phenomenon nears, said Ron Silverman, U.S. president for VistaJet in New York.

“The biggest challenge right now is finding an airport that we can get into,” Silverman said.

(To contact the reporter on this story: Thomas Black in Dallas at tblack@bloomberg.net
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Case at bcase4@bloomberg.net Tony Robinson)

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How To Safely Watch An Eclipse

Only specially certified sunglasses should be used before watching a solar eclipse (File)

Miami, US:  Everyone who plans to look skyward when the solar eclipse sweeps across the United States on Monday should have the proper protective eyewear, or risk lasting blind spots, experts warn.

Regular sunglasses will not do, the US space agency says. 

Only eclipse glasses that have a certification with “ISO 12312-2 international standard” are safe for use, according to NASA.

Other options are number 14 welder’s glass, or making a pinhole projector that allows a user to project the image of the Sun on paper or cardboard.

But with the Great American Eclipse’s shadow set to envelop the entire nation, educating more than 300 million people in its path is a tall order.

Already, the US Fire Administration is warning of scams, such as counterfeit glasses being promoted as suitable for an eclipse when they are not. 

And of the handful of US wholesalers that make legitimate eclipse glasses, some sold out well over a week ahead of the event.

Dangers Are Real

“The dangers of looking at the Sun are real and serious,” said Dr Vincent Jerome Giovinazzo, director of ophthalmology at Staten Island University Hospital, Northwell Health.

“The damage can really be permanent and right smack in the center of their vision.”

Many may recall a childhood experiment of using a magnifying glass to focus sunlight on a leaf or a sheet of paper and set it on fire.

“The same thing can happen to your eyes,” said Dr Giovinazzo.

Dr Jules Winokur, an ophthalmologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, has seen the damage in patients who stared at the Sun.

“They get a kind of macular degeneration where they are burning into their retina and they can lose vision and it can be permanent,” he told AFP.

“You can be left with a scar from where you were staring at the Sun and that can be right in the center of your vision.”

Most people don’t want to look at the Sun because it hurt. But during an eclipse, the pain and discomfort are not there.

“It is actually not as uncomfortable to stare at the Sun but the damaging effects are the same,” Dr Winokur explained.

“And what you can do is you can burn your macula the same shape of whatever crescent the Sun is showing. You wouldn’t necessarily feel uncomfortable.”

There is one exception to the rule of not staring directly at an eclipse.

Those in the path of totality, where the Sun is completely blocked by the Moon, can take off their protective eyewear for the short period of time when the sky is completely dark and no circles of sunlight are visible around the Moon.

In the United States, this 70-mile (113-kilometer) wide path of totality will pass briefly through 14 states.

Other options

Other options are available for those unable to buy eclipse eye wear.

According to NASA, more than 6,800 libraries across nationwide are distributing safety-certified glasses.

The old-school way of watching via a pinhole projector is also inexpensive and easy to do.

“With this method, sunlight streams through a small hole- such as a pencil hole in a piece of paper, or even the space between your fingers- onto a makeshift screen, such as a piece of paper or the ground,” NASA said on its website. 

“It’s important to only watch the screen, not the Sun. Never look at the Sun through the pinhole — it is not safe.”

For those interested in seeing the eclipse from afar, or from places that may be clouded out, the US space agency is planning a live broadcast on August 21 starting at 1600 GMT on https://www.nasa.gov/nasatv.

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Wheelchair-Bound Stephen Hawking Slams 'Profit-Making' Healthcare Model

Stephen Hawking accused the UK government of cherry-picking evidence to justify health policy (Reuters)

London:  Physicist Stephen Hawking has criticised the British government for causing a crisis in the state-run National Health Service (NHS), saying it had to be protected from becoming a profit-making U.S.-style system.

Writing in the Guardian newspaper, the British cosmologist, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease aged 21, also accused Britain’s health minister of cherry-picking scientific evidence to justify policies.

“The care I have received since being diagnosed with motor neurone disease as a student in 1962 has enabled me to live my life as I want, and to contribute to major advances in our understanding of the universe,” wrote Hawking, author of the bestselling book ‘A Brief History of Time’.

Founded in 1948, the NHS is a source of huge pride for many Britons who are able to access free care from the cradle to the grave, but in recent years tight budgets, an ageing population and more expensive, complex treatments has put the system under huge financial strain.

Hawking, a supporter of the opposition Labour Party, said the NHS was “a cornerstone of our society” but was in crisis created by political decisions.

It was also facing a conflict between the interests of multinational corporations driven by profit and public opposition to increasing privatisation, he said.

“In the U.S., where they are dominant in the healthcare system, these corporations make enormous profits, healthcare is not universal, and it is hugely more expensive for the outcomes patients receive than in the UK,” he wrote.

“We see the balance of power in the UK is with private healthcare companies, and the direction of change is towards a U.S.-style insurance system.”

Last year, English doctors staged their first strikes in four decades over government plans to reform pay and conditions as part of moves to deliver what it said would be a consistent service seven days a week as studies showed mortality rates were higher at weekends when staffing is reduced.

However, Hawking, who communicates via a cheek muscle linked to a sensor and computerised voice system, said Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt had cherry-picked research to justify his arguments.

“For a scientist, cherry-picking evidence is unacceptable. When public figures abuse scientific argument, citing some studies but suppressing others to justify policies they want to implement for other reasons, it debases scientific culture,” he wrote.

Hunt responded on Twitter saying no health secretary could ignore the evidence.

“Stephen Hawking is brilliant physicist but wrong on lack of evidence 4 weekend effect,” Hunt wrote.

© Thomson Reuters 2017

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8 Injured Knife Attack In Russian City, Shot By Police

A knife attacker stabbed eight people in Russia’s city Surgut. (Representational)

Moscow, Russia:  A knife attacker stabbed eight people on the street in Russia’s far northern city of Surgut before being shot by police, investigators said Saturday.

The male attacker “carried out attacks on passers-by, causing stab wounds to eight” while “moving along central streets of the city” at around 11:20 am local time (0620 GMT) said Russia’s Investigative Committee, which probes major crimes.

It said that armed police then arrived and used their weapons on the attacker and “liquidated” him.

The incident took place in a city some 2,100 kilometres (1,330 miles) northeast of Moscow in the oil-rich Khanty-Mansi region.

Two of those stabbed are in a serious condition while five more are in a stable condition, the government of the Khanty-Mansi region said in a statement, calling the attacker so far “unidentified.”

It called for calm over the incident, saying that “in the interests of public calm and also of the investigation, citizens and media are recommended to use reliable information in assessing the situation until all the circumstances are established.”


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Six US Police Personnel Shot In Same Night, One Dead

Six police officers were shot in one night in the states of Florida and Pennsylvania (Representational)

Washington:  Six US police officers were shot in one night in the states of Florida and Pennsylvania, one fatally, prompting President Donald Trump to tweet his support for the slain officer’s department early Saturday.

In the central Florida city of Kissimmee- close to the Walt Disney World Resort and other amusement parks- Officer Matthew Baxter was killed and Sergeant Sam Howard was left in “grave critical condition and the prognosis does not look good,” police chief Jeff O’Dell said at a news conference early Saturday.

The officers had been checking on suspicious people in an area known for drug activity around 9:30 pm Friday (0130 GMT Saturday). Five minutes later, authorities received a call that officers had been shot. 

First responders found the officers “gravely wounded” in the road, O’Dell said.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the @KissimmeePolice and their loved ones. We are with you!” President Trump, a staunch supporter of US law enforcement, tweeted early Saturday.

In the northern Florida city of Jacksonville, sheriff’s officers responding to an attempted suicide call late Friday were confronted by a suspect firing a high-powered rifle, Director Mike Bruno told a news conference.

Two officers were shot in the exchange of gunfire, one hit in both hands and the other in the stomach, Mr Bruno said. The suspect was killed.

And two Pennsylvania state troopers were shot Friday night, the agency said. 

“Two state troopers shot and [the] suspect is deceased,” Pennsylvania State Police spokeswoman Melinda Bondarenka told ABC News. “We are not releasing any more details at this time.”

Both troopers are expected to survive, ABC said of the shooting in the community of Fairchance, about 60 miles (97 kilometers) south of Pittsburgh.

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Why LA Is Coating Streets With Material Hiding Planes From Spy Satellites

Climate change conjures up distant images of rising seas and cracking ice sheets, but in cities nationwide, the effects of global warming are apparent as soon as you step outside.

Known as the “urban heat island effect,” it refers to the pockets of intense heat captured by the concrete, asphalt, dark roofs and dearth of foliage that define many American cityscapes.

Los Angeles — surrounded by desert and encased in thousands of miles of asphalt — is the poster child of the heat-island effect, experts say, which explains why city officials are exploring innovative ways to combat record-breaking, rising temperatures. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, D, wants to reduce the city’s average temperature by three degrees over the next 20 years, according to the Los Angeles Times.

One tactic may involve coating city streets in a substance known as CoolSeal, a gray coating designed to reflect solar rays that city officials say has already shown promising results. The coating was first tested in 2015 on a parking lot in the San Fernando Valley, one of the hottest parts of town, said Greg Spotts, assistant director of the Bureau of Street Services, which oversaw the testing. Summer temperatures in the area, which average in the upper 80s, have climbed above 100 degrees multiple times over the past year.

“We found that on average the area covered in CoolSeal is 10 degrees cooler than black asphalt on the same parking lot,” Spotts said. “We thought it was really interesting. It’s almost like treated asphalt warms at a lower rate.”

City officials claim Los Angeles is the first U.S. city to test “on-road use” of cool pavement to fight urban heat.

The hope, they say, is that cooler streets will lead to cooler neighborhoods, less air-conditioning use, and fewer heat-related deaths. The metropolis is one of the nation’s only cities that experiences heat-related deaths in the winter, a phenomenon expected to rise alongside temperatures, Spotts said. Complicating matters, experts say, is the fact that many Los Angelinos live in multifamily dwellings without air conditioning.

“Not everyone has the resources to use air conditioning, so there’s concern that some low-income families will suffer,” Alan Barreca, an environmental science professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, told Agence France-Presse. “That bothers me on a moral dimension. The pavement would provide benefits to everyone.

“It can protect people who have to be outdoors,” he added.

Officials believe treated streets are more comfortable for pets as well, as Fox affiliate KTTV asked when they tested whether pets were more amendable to a treated roadway vs. typical asphalt. (Spoiler alter: they were!)

To determine whether CoolSeal is cost-effective and how it influences drivers, Spotts said, his agency has applied the product to designated streets in 14 of the city’s 15 council districts, where it will be monitored and studied through the fall.

“We think that more than 10 percent of the city is asphalt — that’s 69,000 city blocks,” Spotts said. “There’s been estimates that suggest covering a third in the city’s pavement with a cooler materials might be able to move the needle on the city’s temperature.

“We’re not ready to do that, but we do want to explore what it might take to go big and take this thing to scale,” he added.

The coating costs about $40,000 per mile and lasts seven years, officials said.

Street Services is carrying out their pilot program with GuardTop LLC, a California-based, asphalt coating manufacturer. The company began working with the defense industry to develop cool pavement for military spy planes, according to Jeff Luzar, GuardTop’s vice president of sales.

Luzar said the officials were interested in lowering the temperature of taxiways so that sensitive aircrafts would be less easily seen by spy satellites using infrared cameras, which form images using thermal energy. Years later, the product being applied to Los Angeles streets is largely similar but has been refined over the years to make it even more solar-reflective.

Since news about the pilot program broke, GuardTop has received inquiries from all over the world, including China, Israel, Australia and Saudi Arabia.

Spotts said the attention the pilot program has received shows Los Angeles is ahead of the curve when it comes to combating global warming. The city began using natural gas-fueled trash trucks and commuter buses ahead of other cities, he said.

“We’ve done things over and over again that people said couldn’t be done, and this time is no different,” he said.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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Elderly Couple Got 'Deepest Wish'-To Die Together In Rare Euthanasia Case

Nic and Trees Elderhorst knew exactly how they wanted to die.

They were both 91 years old and in declining health. Nic Elderhorst suffered a stroke in 2012 and more recently, his wife, Trees Elderhorst, was diagnosed with dementia, according to the Dutch newspaper, De Gelderlander.

Neither wanted to live without the other, or leave this world alone.

So the two, who lived in Didam, a town in the eastern part of the Netherlands, and had been together 65 years, shared a last word, and a kiss, then died last month hand-in-hand – in a double euthanasia allowed under Dutch law, according to De Gelderlander.

“Dying together was their deepest wish,” their daughters told the newspaper, according to an English translation.

The Netherlands became the first country to legalize euthanasia in 2002, allowing physicians to assist ailing patients in ending their lives without facing criminal prosecution.

Euthanasia, in which a physician terminates a patient’s life at his or her request, is legal in a few countries, including Belgium, Colombia and Luxembourg. Physician-assisted suicide, in which a doctor prescribes lethal drugs that a patient may take to end his or her life, is permitted in a few others, including in certain states in the United States, according to ProCon.org, a nonprofit organization that researches countries’ legislation on the issue.

“We are pleased that we have in the Netherlands this humane and carefully executed legislation that allows the honorable wishes of these two people whose fate was painful and hopeless,” Dick Bosscher, of the Dutch Association for a Voluntary End of Life (NVVE), said in a statement to The Washington Post. He said the Elderhorsts belonged to NVVE, a 165,000-member organization for euthanasia and assisted suicide in the Netherlands.

In recent years, apparent double-suicides and murder-suicides have been capturing worldwide attention amid an emotional right-to-die debate – couples from Florida to Paris reportedly ending their lives together.

Assisted suicide has summoned up deep religious and ethical concerns among critics.

In the United States, the subject was widely debated in 2014, when a 29-year-old woman who had a fatal brain tumor moved from California to Oregon, where she could legally seek medical aid to end her life. California has since enacted its End of Life Option Act, joining a small number of states where it is legal.

Even in the Netherlands, according to Bosscher with NVVE, the Elderhorsts’ case is rare in that both of them were able to meet the criteria for euthanasia under the Dutch Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide (Review Procedures) Act. Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide can be carried out only when the patient’s request is voluntary and well thought-out, the patient is in “lasting and unbearable” suffering and there are no other solutions, among other things.

Research published this month in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that euthanasia and physician-assisted suicides accounted for 4.5 percent of deaths in the Netherlands in 2015, up from 1.7 percent in 1990, before it was legal. The 25-year review found that most patients who received assistance had serious illnesses.

“It looks like patients are now more willing to ask for euthanasia and physicians are more willing to grant it,” lead author Agnes Van der Heide, of Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, told the Associated Press.

However, Bosscher said that there are more than 15,000 requests for euthanasia each year in the Netherlands and that only about 6,000 of them are granted.

The Elderhorsts discussed their options and submitted requests for euthanasia – a year-long process their daughters called an “intense” time, according to De Gelderlander.

The couple, who had even planned their own funerals, died July 4.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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Sale Of Drones Worth $2 Billion To 'Cement' India-US Bilateral Ties

A US MQ-9 Reaper drone sits armed with Hellfire missiles and a 500-pound bomb (Representational)

Washington:  The US decision to sell 22 Sea Guardian drones to India at an estimated cost of USD 2 billion will create around 2,000 jobs in the US and “cement” bilateral ties, an American executive involved in the deal has said.

“This should be viewed as a significant step in cementing the US-India bilateral defence relationship,” Vivek Lall, chief executive US and international strategic development, General Atomics, told the Atlantic Council yesterday.

Mr Lall echoed Senator John Cornyn, Co-Chair of the Senate India Caucus, who tweeted, “Drone Sale Would Cement US-India Ties.”

The announcement in this regard was made by Trump in June when he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House. This prospective purchase of drones manufactured by General Atomics marks the first of its kind from the US by a country that is not a member of the NATO, Mr Lall said.

With China focused on South China Sea, Mr Lall hopes that India has an opportunity to help create and lead a regional balance of power to protect its interests in the Indian Ocean region by building maritime engagements with regional and extra-regional partners.

The Sea Guardian is a variant of the tested MQ-9 platform which allows for greater interoperability with the US and allied forces, in a way other platforms do not permit demonstrating the centrality of General Atomics’ products to India’s defence needs, he said.

“This platform has 4 million hours in combat, will be able to certifiably fly in Indian civilian airspace and can remain airborne more than a record setting forty hours.

Additionally, it has a 40,000-hour design life demonstrating its unique resilience. General Atomics maintains that this platform and its proven performance stands independently of and is unaffected by Israel’s Heron sales to India,” he said.

This summer, India received 10 advanced Heron drones from Israel for USD 400 million, making Israel a weapons supplier competitor to the United States.

According to Mr Lall, use of the Sea Guardian drones by the Indian Navy will also develop India’s credible capabilities, which is significant for Indian maritime security and naval power projection.

“Additionally, India faces a several complex security challenges in this domain such as piracy, terrorism, environmental degradation and narcotics trafficking. Maritime domain awareness would allow the Indian Navy an advantage in patrolling the Indian Ocean, and in tackling its pressing security challenges to achieve grander Indian strategic objectives,” he said.

Responding to a question, Mr Lall said at least 2,000 jobs directly related to the sale, and countless indirect jobs, will be created or saved in the US.

Mr Lall noted that this is the first major defence deal announced since the designation of India as a major defence partner.

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On This Planet Solar Eclipses Are Practically A Daily Event

Mars’s moon Phobos’s close, fast orbit makes it cross paths with the sun fairly often – near-daily.

If you think solar eclipses on Earth are cool, wait till you get a load of an eclipse on Mars.

Earth typically experiences anywhere from four to seven eclipses in a year, counting partial solar eclipses (when the moon doesn’t fully obscure the sun) and lunar eclipses (when the earth’s shadow partially obscures the moon).

On Mars, however, solar eclipses are practically a daily event. Mars has two moons – tiny, potato-shaped satellites named Phobos and Deimos, after the Greek deities of fear and dread, respectively. For a sense of how small they are, here’s a NASA illustration comparing them with the size of Earth’s moon.

But Mars’s moons orbit at a much closer distance than our own Moon orbits ours. While the moon is about 238,000 miles away from Earth (give or take), Phobos is only about 6,000 miles away from the surface of Mars.

Among other things, that proximity causes it to rotate incredibly fast, circling around Mars in under eight hours. A person standing on Mars would see it cross the sky twice in one day. Because of its small size, it appears smaller than our own moon does to us.

Phobos’s close, fast orbit makes it cross paths with the sun fairly often – near-daily. But because the moon is so small it never fully occludes the sun to create a total eclipse. Part of the sun’s disc is always visible.

“Because this eclipse occurred near midday at Curiosity’s location on Mars,” NASA explains, “Phobos was nearly overhead, closer to the rover than it would have been earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon. This timing made Phobos’ silhouette larger against the sun – as close to a total eclipse of the sun as is possible from Mars.”

What about the other Martian moon? Deimos orbits more than twice as far away from Mars and is smaller to boot, making it much less visible in the Martian sky. When Deimos crosses paths with the sun, it’s more properly called a transit, rather than an eclipse.

Other planets experience eclipses, too, although we haven’t observed any of them from the ground up. Here, for instance, is a Hubble telescope image of Jupiter’s moon Io casting a shadow on Jupiter’s surface.

From Jupiter, the sun appears much smaller than it does in our own sky. A number of the planet’s moons obscure it completely, creating not an eclipse but an occultation – an astronomical term for when one object is completely hidden by another one of much larger apparent size. Because Jupiter has at least 69 moons, it sometimes experiences multiple eclipses and occultations simultaneously.

A similar situation holds on Saturn, Uranus and even faraway Neptune. Eclipses can happen on Pluto, too.

But our own total eclipses on Earth are one-of-a-kind. Because of the similarity between the apparent sizes of the moon and sun when viewed from Earth, our total eclipses block out the entirety of the sun’s disc while leaving the luminous corona – the sun’s fiery atmosphere – plainly visible in the darkened sky.

That event happens nowhere else in the solar system – not even on Mars.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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In Barcelona, Five Minutes Of 'Pure Panic' And 'Absolute Terror'

It was another mellow summer afternoon on a world-renowned boulevard, a site of teeming crowds and bustling cafes. Then there was a flash of white.

A rented Fiat van swung onto La Rambla, a broad, tree-lined pedestrian thoroughfare, and the driver pressed down hard on the gas. Almost immediately, he began to maim and kill.

“The van was just plowing down people,” said Carlos Tena, 34, a native of the city who was leaving work with two colleagues.

He watched as the van streaked by, “zigzagging right and left,” and then he saw what the driver was leaving in his path.

“I saw a little boy, in really, really bad shape, just lying there with his mother. He was not moving. His mother asked me with her eyes if I could help,” Tena said.

“My heart split in two,” he said. “I still don’t understand what I saw.”

The attack on Las Ramblas, as the district featuring Barcelona’s scenic, Belle Epoque promenade is known, was the worst terrorist attack in Spain since March 2004, when 192 people were killed and nearly 2,000 were injured in a coordinated series of bombings on the Madrid rail system. In this latest attack, which was claimed by the Islamic State, 13 were killed and more than 100 injured. A separate vehicle attack south of Barcelona early Friday left another person dead and six injured.

The carnage in Barcelona on Thursday provided yet another example of a chilling new reality of urban life in Europe: ordinary vehicles suddenly transformed into weapons of mass murder.

Since July 2016, European cities such as Nice, Berlin, Stockholm and London have all suffered vehicle attacks, often impromptu operations designed to kill as many as possible with minimal preparation. Preventing these attacks has proven to be a major challenge for local authorities across Europe, who insist they cannot police everyone who gets in a car and drives near a crowded area.

For many who witnessed Thursday’s carnage, it was the image of the van – even more than the image of the driver – that remains most haunting.

Jose Moya, 51, was tending to a customer in his flower shop on the avenue, where he has worked for the last three decades.

On Friday morning, he was still shaking with emotion as he recalled the moment he first sensed, and then saw, the van.

“It passed so close to me,” he said. “It was a hand’s width from me.” Moya paused to hold his fist a few inches from his belly. He recounted that time did not slow down, but seemed to speed up. “It was moving so fast – really, really fast. . . . It took the people and dragged them.”

“The people were flying!” he said.

“Look at me, I am still in shock,” Moya added, trembling with emotion.

Raquel Perez, 27, works at the Carrefour grocery stores in Las Ramblas. She was on her break Thursday afternoon, eating in a little square at the end of a side street.

“First, I saw a lot of people running from Las Ramblas, and then suddenly stop. Then I saw a second wave. Police followed and yelled, ‘Hide wherever you can!'”

So Perez, too, began to run.

“I was just running. I didn’t know what had happened. But then I started to see videos on social media, and there were all these rumors that there were guys with guns running around all over the place.”

It turned out that some of those initial rumors were not true. Initial news reports mentioned a possible hostage scenario, with a group of men holding others in a store. But the driver of the van appears to have vanished. While Spanish authorities have detained four others, the driver himself remains at large.

Perez and the crowd she was running with found an open door, a bar closer to the sea. She and her friends jumped over the counter, hiding behind the bottles and glasses for hours.

“Today I was more afraid than yesterday,” Perez said. “I don’t know if something might happen again. And I fear that it will.”

Thousands of visitors shared the same experience.

The flash of white. The screams and confusion. The running and the hiding, often for hours, with no idea what was happening.

Many assumed that armed men were stalking more victims on the streets, as terrorist attackers did in Paris in November 2015.

“I was at home with doors and windows open, because of the heat. I heard a lot of shouting in the street. I thought it might have been celebration,” said Xochtl Martinez, 31, who has lived in the neighborhood all her life.

It wasn’t a party. “It was a stampede,” she said.

“What I remember most are the faces. They were faces of pure panic. They were running in absolute terror.”

Spanish plainclothes and uniformed police shouted at the crowds to get indoors and stay in place.

Paulina Sanchez Avila, 18, was visiting from Mexico. She and a friend dashed into a Burger King at the top of the boulevard. Inside, panicking patrons tried to erect a barricade to prevent assailants from entering.

“People were throwing tables and chairs. Look at my shoulder,” she said, revealing a large, dark bruise. She and her friend stayed in the restaurant for five hours, then made their way to the Mexican Consulate, which kept them there until 3.am., at which point they were taken to a hostel. They came to the city’s memorial service later, red roses in hand.

Marga Soler, 46, was one of many merchants and small-business owners who sheltered tourists and pedestrians in their establishments. She said as many as 30 people pressed together in a small single room.

Rajesh Kumar Sadhani, 48, was another. From India originally, he has lived in Barcelona for 18 years, working for the past six in a jewelry store in Las Ramblas.

When the attack began, he was helping clients who were looking at a watch on display in a case next to a window looking out onto the boulevard, he said. He heard a loud noise, but by the time he looked up, all he could see was a mass of people running by. Then, he said, there were the bodies left behind in their wake.

He and his colleagues sheltered 15 people for roughly five hours, until police released them around 10 p.m. He insisted that he was unafraid to be back at work on Friday. “I feel very well today,” he said.

That sentiment was seemingly shared by many others. By midafternoon, cars were allowed to access the street, and Las Ramblas was again teeming with tourists and locals. Except for makeshift memorials of candles and flowers – as well as camera crews and armed police – it was difficult to tell that there had been a terrorist attack on the boulevard less than 24 hours earlier.

Writing in the early 20th century, the Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca wrote that Las Ramblas was “the only street in the world which I wish would never end.” Many of the locals here insisted that it wouldn’t.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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'Pick City, Choose Weapon', A Glimpse Of ISIS's Cyber Terrain

A few weeks before Thursday’s attack in Barcelona, the Islamic State’s main online magazine posted an illustrated article with advice on acquiring a special kind of truck – specifically, the kind best suited for mowing down large numbers of pedestrians.

The “ideal vehicle,” the article in Rumiyah said, would be “large in size, heavy in weight,” and with a raised chassis that can clear curbs and barriers. It also should be “fast in speed, or rate of acceleration,” the magazine said, to ensure maximum momentum before striking.

Whether the men behind Thursday’s attack in Barcelona saw the article is unknown, but they appear to have tried to follow the advice to the letter. The suspects sought to rent a large, heavy truck – later opting for a cargo van only because they lacked the required permits – and then drove to a plaza crowded with pedestrians, precisely as the article instructed.

Spanish authorities are still investigating whether the killings in Barcelona were directed by the Islamic State, but terrorist experts say that the group’s still formidable propaganda machine, with its detailed prescriptions on how to kill large numbers of innocent people, remains a principal driver of terrorist acts around the world, even as the militants suffer crippling losses on the battlefield.

Although the Islamic State has lost more than half of its former sanctuary in Iraq and Syria, its Internet presence remains strikingly robust, analysts say. In the weeks preceding the Barcelona attack, the terrorist group issued at least a dozen new videos or online articles a day, most of them aimed at rallying supporters or encouraging sympathizers to kill and maim in its name. Many of the recent postings have explicitly urged followers to turn trucks and vans into weapons of terror.

Attacks like the one in Barcelona are painful reminders that the Islamic State is “more than a collection of territories,” – it is also a virtual network that inhabits swaths of cyber-terrain that are “just as consequential as the spaces it holds in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere,” said Rita Katz, founder of the SITE Intelligence Group, a private company that monitors jihadist websites around the world.

“It cannot be stressed enough how much ISIS needs the Internet to push its propaganda out to the world,” said Katz, using another name for the Islamic State. “The world can win all the military battles it wants in Iraq and Syria, [but] the group will persist until its propaganda machine is effectively blocked.”

The Islamic State quickly claimed responsibility for this week’s attacks along Spain’s popular northeastern coast, hailing “soldiers” of the caliphate who killed at least 14 people in separate attacks in Barcelona and the nearby resort town of Cambrils. Operational links with the assailants, however, had not yet been independently established. Islamic State officials have occasionally sought to take credit for strikes by lone wolves who were inspired by the group’s propaganda but received little or no practical support.

A new posting on Friday on a pro-Islamic State social media channel urged more such attacks, appealing to supporters to create Barcelona-like mayhem in cities around the globe.

“No need to travel the world,” stated the posting on the social media messaging service Telegram. “Just pick the main city. Find a hub spot for tourists. Choose you (sic) weapon.”

The continuing incitements defy years of efforts to silence the group’s propaganda efforts online. Indeed, U.S. officials say the Islamic State’s information networks have suffered steep losses in recent months, because of military attacks and improved policing by social media companies to block jihadists’ messages.

With the fall of former Iraqi strongholds such as Mosul and Fallujah, the group has lost studio and production facilities as well as at least a half-dozen key officials who helped direct propaganda campaigns, U.S. counterterrorism officials say. As a result, the number of social media channels used by the militants has plummeted in the past two years, from 40 active sites in 2015 to just 19 by this past spring.

Still, even in its diminished form, the group’s media arm remains remarkably prolific, producing on average about 20 unique media products every day, from videos showing executions of hostages to step-by-step instructions for building a bomb, according to an analysis this week by two scholars with the Netherlands-based International Center for Counter-Terrorism in The Hague. The analysis, published by the national security website War on the Rocks, says the volume and quality of the jihadist content is testament to an extensive, sustained investment by an organization that has long recognized the power of the Internet to attract followers and spread ideology.

The group’s senior officials have been deliberately preparing for the loss of the physical caliphate by pouring still more resources into its online network, to “ensure that its ideology will live on even as its territorial sway declines,” the article states.

“They’ve invested strategically in this capability and it’s paying off, in terms of longevity,” said Colin Clarke, a political scientist with the nonprofit Rand Corp., who co-authored the essay with Charlie Winter, a senior research fellow at Kings College London. The crumbling of the group’s physical strongholds means that the propaganda campaign is becoming more important as a way to perpetuate the caliphate as an eternal ideal, and to thus “keep the drumbeat going,” Clarke said in an interview.

The group’s messages have shifted in recent months, experts say, reflecting changing circumstances. The heavy rotation of videos extolling the virtues of life inside the caliphate in 2015 have moved to more warlike missives focused on terrorist attacks against the West, analysts say. Taken as a whole, the messages suggest that the terrorists fully expect to continue to fight, though the nature of the battle will change, said Tara Maller, a former CIA military analyst and now a senior research fellow at New America, a nonpartisan organization that promotes strategies to counter extremist ideology.

“It shows that the ‘virtual’ caliphate is going to continue, and actually seems to be operating at a high level,” Maller said. “So it’s not a surprise that they are continuing to try to inspire attacks overseas.”

The enduring nature of the propaganda campaign should dispel any notion that the defeat of the Islamic State is at hand, now that the group’s Syrian and Iraqi sanctuaries have been significantly undermined through the loss of territory, Maller said.

“We need more than just a military effort, because safe havens also exist online,” she said. “We shouldn’t assume that this group is going away just because we’re beating them up on the battlefield.”

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Spanish Probe Points To Wider Network In Attacks; American Among Dead

BARCELONA, Spain:  Spain was seized Friday with the realization that it had incubated a large-scale terrorist plot, as authorities across Europe engaged in a manhunt following the deadliest attacks to strike the country in more than a decade: two vehicle assaults in Barcelona and a Catalan coastal town.

Investigators believe that at least eight people plotted the attacks, putting them at a level of sophistication comparable to major strikes in Paris and Brussels in recent years. Other more recent attacks in London, Berlin and the southern French city of Nice were perpetrated by individuals operating largely on their own.

Spanish counterterrorism officials were scrambling to untangle the terrorist network.

France announced it was reinforcing its frontier with Spain, a signal of the fears that further violence could spill beyond Spanish borders. Anti-immigrant Central European leaders condemned the migration histories of the suspects, all of whom were believed to be of Moroccan descent.

In a sign that the attack could have been significantly worse, police said that they believed the assailants were planning to use propane and butane canisters in an explosive assault against civilians. Instead, the gas ignited prematurely, destroying a house in Alcanar, about 100 miles southwest of Barcelona that was being used by the suspects. The explosion killed at least two people and injured 16, including police officers and firefighters investigating the site. Hours later, one of the suspects set out for the touristy Las Ramblas area of Barcelona in a white delivery van.

As of Friday evening, authorities had detained three Moroccan men and a Spaniard, but the fate of the main suspect – the driver of the van, who fled on foot after the rampage – was unclear. Police were investigating the possibility that he was among five assailants killed in the second attack early Friday.

Meanwhile, the nation began to mourn the international group of 13 victims who were fatally struck as they strolled in the heart of Barcelona’s tourist district late Thursday afternoon. A 14th victim was killed in the second vehicle rampage in Cambrils, a seaside town about 70 miles southwest of Barcelona.

In Washington, the State Department said Friday that an American was among those killed. The department also said Spanish authorities still have not identified all of the casualties, so the U.S. Consulate in Barcelona is working with them to determine whether any more Americans were killed or injured.

ISIS claimed links to the Barcelona attack, but the level of involvement by the militant faction was unclear.

Spanish intelligence officials were circulating at least four names among their European counterparts on Friday, according to a Spanish intelligence official and a European intelligence official, both of whom spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the situation.

The four men, all holding Moroccan citizenship, ranged in age from 18 to 24. Three were born in the North African country: Said Aallaa, 18; Younes Abouyaaqoub, 22; and Mohamed Hychami, 24. The fourth was identified in a Spanish police document as Moussa Oukabir, 17, but the European intelligence official said Spanish officials had flagged someone with the same family name but a different first name. All lived in or near the Catalan town of Ripoll, close to the French border.

At least three of the men were killed in the attack in Cambrils, the Spanish intelligence official said, without identifying which of the men were believed killed.

Two Spanish security officials said police originally sought Oukabir’s older brother because his identity card was found in the truck used for the attack in Barcelona. The older brother, who is currently in custody, denies any connection to the attack and said his brother may have stolen his identity card, the official said.

“We cannot rule out further attacks,” Maj. Josep Lluis Trapero, a Catalan police official, told reporters in Barcelona.

Authorities were not aware of any previous connection to extremism among the detained men, he said.

All five men involved in the second attack in Cambrils were shot dead after plowing their Audi into people along the corniche at about 1 a.m., Trapero said.

The nationality of the men was sure to raise alarm within European counterterrorism circles. Moroccan networks were also connected to major terrorist attacks in France and Belgium in recent years. Spain has a significant Moroccan population, and there has been a spike in arrivals of migrants from Morocco by sea this year.

Their background also prompted Europe’s anti-migrant politicians to condemn what they said was a connection between migration and terrorism, even though there was no evidence that the men were part of the waves of migration from Africa and the Middle East in recent years.

“It is evident to everyone that there is a correlation between illegal immigration and terrorism,” Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told his country’s MTI news agency. “Europe must protect itself, and the security of the people must be guaranteed.”

In Barcelona, thousands of people gathered at midday Friday in a square at the top of Las Ramblas for a minute of silence, led by Spanish King Felipe VI and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. Afterward, they cheered, held single red roses to the sky and chanted in Catalan: “I am not afraid.”

The whole Las Ramblas neighborhood was eerily quiet in the morning as heavily armed police patrolled on Friday.

Later in the day, tourists and onlookers filled the long boulevard, turning what is ordinarily a vacation hot spot into a site of mourning. Some set out candles to commemorate the victims.

In a series of tweets, President Donald Trump said U.S. agencies were “on alert” and blamed court challenges and opposition from Democrats for making security “very difficult.” He gave no specifics.

“Radical Islamic Terrorism must be stopped by whatever means necessary!” Trump wrote. “The courts must give us back our protective rights. Have to be tough!”

The attacks on Thursday and Friday marked the latest uses of vehicles in terrorist strikes against civilians, following attacks since the middle of 2016 in Britain, France, Germany and Sweden.

Spain’s civil protection agency said 120 people were injured in the attack in Barcelona, and an additional six in Cambrils. There were casualties among people of at least 34 nationalities, underscoring the international draw of the cosmopolitan Las Ramblas area, which has long stood at the heart of the city. France’s Foreign Ministry said 26 of its citizens were injured, 11 of them seriously.

Residents of Barcelona said they had long feared an attack on their bustling city.

“This is a huge city, and somehow we were always expecting something like this, but of course you’re never prepared,” said Cristina Nadal, 44, an aide for the Catalan government, who came to the moment of silence on Friday.

The crowd was “exactly what we wanted to show – that although the terrorists want to beat us, we can show to the world that we can still stand strong,” she said.

Two longtime Muslim residents of Barcelona said they were furious about the violence.

“What Islam teaches us is that killing one person is like killing all of humanity,” said Nagma Jawed, 40, who moved to the city 20 years ago from her native India and runs a textile shop in the city.

“First of all, we are human beings. Our religion comes after that,” said Jawed, who was wearing a headscarf on Friday as she stood in the square with her husband for the mourning ceremony.

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California Man On Delayed Honeymoon Among Barcelona Victims

Jared Tucker had gone to find a restroom when he was struck down by the van (File)

WASHINGTON:  A 43-year-old California man on a delayed honeymoon was among the 13 people killed when a van plowed through a popular pedestrian area in the Spanish city of Barcelona, his family said on Friday.

Jared Tucker and his wife had gone to Barcelona to celebrate their first anniversary in the form of a belated honeymoon. Walking in the area of the famous Las Ramblas boulevard on Thursday, he had gone to find a restroom when he was struck down by the van, his wife Heidi Nunes Tucker told KGO television in San Francisco.

“Pray for Jared and his family, pray for Barcelona, but most importantly pray that we can some day rid ourselves of the hate that takes our loved ones before their time,” Tucker’s family wrote in a statement posted on the Gofundme fundraising website.

Relatives started the fundraising effort to assist his family with living and educational expenses. Tucker lived in East Bay suburbs of San Francisco and is also survived by three daughters, KGO reported.

Earlier in the day, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson confirmed that an American citizen had been killed, but gave no other details.

The rampage through one of Spain’s most popular tourist areas was the latest of a string of attacks across Europe in the past 13 months in which militants have used vehicles as weapons – a crude but deadly tactic that is near-impossible to prevent and has now killed nearly 130 people in France, Germany, Britain, Sweden and Spain.

Suspected terrorists have been behind the previous attacks. ISIS said the perpetrators of the latest one had been responding to its call to target countries involved in a U.S.-led coalition against the Sunni militant group.

The driver of the van may still be alive and at large, Spanish police said on Friday, denying earlier reports he had been killed. Five would-be attackers were shot dead by police in a seaside town.

© Thomson Reuters 2017

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Schwarzenegger Tells Trump What He Should Have Said After Charlottesville

Arnold Schwarzenegger offers a suggestion for what Donald Trump should have said for Charlottesville.

Arnold Schwarzenegger counts himself among those who were deeply disappointed by President Donald Trump’s statement that “both sides” were to blame for the violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. And in a new video, the former Republican governor of California offers a pointed suggestion for what Trump should have said instead.

“The only way to beat the loud and angry voices of hate is to meet them with louder and more reasonable voices. And that includes you, President Trump,” Schwarzenegger says in the video, posted to ATTN’s Facebook page Thursday. “In fact, as president of this great country, you have a moral responsibility to send an unequivocal message that you don’t stand for hate and racism.”

Schwarzenegger then offers an example of what that message might sound like: “‘As President of the United States, and as a Republican, I reject the support of white supremacists,'” he says. “‘The country that defeated Hitler’s armies is no place for Nazi flags. The party of Lincoln won’t stand with those who carry the battle flags of the failed Confederacy.'”

Trump drew widespread criticism for his response to the deadly chaos in Charlottesville, where a car driven by a reported white nationalist plowed into a crowd, killing 32-year-old counterprotester Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others.

“What about the alt-left that came charging at the – as you say, the alt-right?” Trump said at a news conference at Trump Tower in New York on Tuesday. “Do they have any semblance of guilt? What about the fact they came charging with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do.”

Of course, Trump surely isn’t likely to take advice from the “Terminator” star – the two have been embroiled in a public feud for months, since Schwarzenegger took over Trump’s role as host of NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice.” Trump blamed Schwarzenegger for the show’s dwindling ratings, going to far as to ask for prayers on Schwarzenegger’s behalf during the National Prayer Breakfast: “I just want to pray for Arnold, if we can, for those ratings,” Trump said at the time. Schwarzenegger fired back when he abruptly quit “Celebrity Apprentice” in March, stating that the reality show’s ratings plummeted because of its continued association with Trump.

And even in his newest video – clearly intended to offer an earnest message to Trump, and a scathing condemnation of Nazis – Schwarzenegger couldn’t resist taking one more jab at the commander in chief. After delivering his suggested speech into the camera, Schwarzenegger leans down, and a small Donald Trump bobblehead suddenly comes into view.

“Was that difficult?” Schwarzenegger asks the solemn-faced toy. Then he laughs: “See, I told you!”

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Rex Tillerson Condemns Racism, Calls For National Reconciliation

Rex Tillerson promised to work toward making the government more racially diverse

WASHINGTON:  U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson issued a forceful condemnation of “bigotry in all its forms” on Friday and called for national reconciliation as he promised to work toward making the government more racially diverse.

His remarks, to State Department interns and fellows, dozens of whom were recruited through programs targeting minority candidates, followed the backlash from political and business leaders over President Donald Trump’s response to Saturday’s white nationalist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Tillerson invoked the 1865 second inaugural address by Abraham Lincoln, the president who freed the slaves and presided over the Civil War against rebellious pro-slavery Confederate Southern States.

As the war drew to a close, Lincoln asked the nation to bind up its wounds from the conflict, Tillerson noted.

“We, too, today should seek to bind up the wounds,” Tillerson said. “We must pursue reconciliation, understanding and respect regardless of skin colour, ethnicity or religious or political views.”

Though Tillerson acknowledged First Amendment protections for free speech, he said those who embrace hate speech “poison our public discourse and they damage the very country that they claim to love.”

He added: “Racism is evil; it is antithetical to America’s values. It’s antithetical to the American idea.”

Tillerson did not mention Trump’s comments on the Charlottesville violence, which erupted as white nationalists protested the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

The president has said anti-racism counter-protesters shared blame for the violence. He has also decried the removal in numerous cities of “beautiful” Confederate monuments.

Tillerson, who was chief executive of oil giant Exxon Mobil Corp  before becoming secretary of state this year, said one of America’s defining characteristics “is the promise of the opportunity for advancement regardless of your skin colour, how much money your parents make or where you came from.”

He announced a new State Department policy in which at least one candidate for any opening for an ambassador post must be a minority, noting that currently only about 12 percent of U.S. senior foreign service officers are non-white.

“The State Department must redouble our efforts to increase diversity at the highest ranks of the department, including at the ambassador level,” Tillerson said. As the arm of government representing the United States abroad, the department should be a “clear display of America’s values and our people, not just in our mission but in the composition of our work force,” he added.

Statistics published by the State Department show that as of the end of June, 88 percent of senior foreign service officers – the high-ranking diplomats from which the country’s ambassadors are drawn – are white and 4 percent are black. One-third of senior foreign service officers are women, and 7 percent of the agency’s civil service members are Hispanic.

To remedy the lack of diversity, Tillerson said he had told committees that nominate ambassadorial candidates at least one candidate for each opening must be a member of a minority group.

To recruit a more diverse young talent pool, Tillerson also said the State Department needs to look beyond elite universities, and should more aggressively recruit at the dozens of historically black colleges in the United States.

“America’s best and brightest are not just from the Ivy League, but they’re from a lot of other places in the country: Laredo, Texas; Detroit, Michigan; Roanoke, Virginia,” he said.

© Thomson Reuters 2017

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During The Solar Eclipse, Animals Will Be Confused

Woc Colburn said it’s useful to learn impact of sunlight, versus other cues, has on animal behavior.

Margarita Woc Colburn’s childhood memories of a July 1991 total solar eclipse in Central America are of a social gathering for excited adult relatives who spent hours waiting for an event that was over in minutes.

But the future veterinarian’s gaze was drawn earthward.

“I was looking down on a valley in Guatemala, and I just remember the flock of birds, this massive thing going down to the trees getting ready for nesting, just like what you see at night,” Woc Colburn said, describing a short span when the moon completely obscured the sun. “Then, it felt like a new day. Birds came out and were singing.”

Today she is an associate veterinarian and researcher at the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere – which is in the path of totality. During Monday’s total solar eclipse, Woc Colburn’s primary concern once again will be on the animals she has made her life’s work. She predicts birds are likely to provide the greatest spectacle this time around, too.

“We might see something similar with the starlings,” she said. “I’m interested to see whether they go to roost. It will get very noisy if they do.”

Woc Colburn thinks additional bird species and other zoo animals such as lemurs, clouded leopards and kangaroos may also begin to exhibit nighttime habits when totality hits, whether that’s waking up, going to sleep or lining up for a feeding.

It’s all speculation however, which is something Woc Colburn finds quite surprising.

There is scant research on animal behavior during solar eclipses, owing primarily to the rarity of such events and the difficulty of recording enough observations. That’s poised to change.

“Sometimes you have great research ideas and just need people to do the observations,” Woc Colburn said. “That’s not going to be a problem Monday.”

Observers nationwide, including visitors to the Nashville Zoo, are being encouraged to join an ambitious and unprecedented attempt at crowdsourced scientific research by using the California Academy of Sciences’ iNaturalist app to document animal reactions.

Nashville researchers also plan to scrape social media postings that tag the zoo. Spokesman Jim Bartoo said researchers will accept any analog observations that are submitted.

“We’re expecting everyone to be in the 21st century,” he joked, “but if they take handwritten notes and can call us from a landline later, we will welcome that as well.”

At a minimum, Bartoo said the zoo will make the data collected Monday available to other researchers. Decisions on when, how and if the observations will be further used or published won’t be made until they are gathered and analyzed.

Bartoo predicts the zoo’s southern white rhinos may have a particularly interesting reaction, possibly lining up to go inside to eat, which is their routine at the end of the day. And how will they react if they aren’t fed, or when totality ends and it appears to be the middle of the day again.

The zoo is located in a mostly residential area 20 minutes southeast of downtown and is preparing for as many as 15,000 visitors.

Eclipse watchers are bracing for a major bummer should clouds obscure their view. While Woc Colburn agrees that would be a serious letdown, she also noted that clouds shouldn’t affect how animals react, so those who choose to spend the eclipse at the zoo won’t be wholly deprived of a unique experience.

Woc Colburn said it will be interesting and potentially useful to learn how much of an impact sunlight, versus other cues, has on animal behavior.

“I would have thought by now we would know more,” she said. “It will be worth noting if they have a very negative reaction. We can share that with other zoos and places, and they might take note and take certain precautions. But I’m not really expecting anything besides the ordinary nighttime routine.

“I think you’ll have more human reactions than animal reactions.”

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Finnish Police 'Quite Certain' About Attacker's Identity: Report

Police carried out rescue operations at Turju Market square in Finaland after the stabbing rampage

TURKU, Finland:  Finnish police raided an apartment in eastern Turku and said it was “quite certain” it had identified the attacker who killed two people and wounded eight during a stabbing rampage on Friday, local media reported.

The raid occurred just before 10 p.m. (1900 GMT), after police located a suspected vehicle, a white Fiat Ducato, whose owner lived in a building located in Turku’s Varissuo suburb, Finnish newspaper Ilta-Sanomat reported.

A number of people were arrested during the night, as the Nordic country investigated their possible link to the attacker of a now “quite certain identity”, Finnish news agency SST said.

“We are investigating what their role is in this. Whether they had something to do with this act, or if they were just involved with this person (the suspect)”, detective superintendent Markus Laine was quoted saying of those arrested.

It was unclear if any of the arrests happened in the raided apartment.

On Friday afternoon, a knife-wielding man went on a stabbing rampage at a market square in Turku, before being shot and arrested, police said shortly after the attack.

It was uncertain if the police were looking for more suspects related to the attack or if more raids would follow during the night. Police warned people to stay away from the city and reinforced security nationwide.

Patrols and surveillance increased after the stabbings, in case more attackers were involved. People were allowed to return to the city centre a few hours later.

Varissuo suburb, Turku’s largest, is home to a large immigrant population and is located about 7 kilometres away from the market square where the attack took place.

© Thomson Reuters 2017

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Ukraine Plant Sucked Into North Korea Missile Row Has Fallen On Hard Time

DNIPRO, Ukraine:  The wall around the Yuzhmash rocket factory in east Ukraine is in places overgrown with weeds, a sign of hard times at a plant which a new study says could be the source of engines that power North Korean missiles.

Workers at the plant have had their hours cut and wages are in arrears, but Yuzhmash denies the study’s finding that unhappy employees could have been induced to steal engine technology and sell it to illicit arms dealers who passed it on to Pyongyang.

The study by a former U.S. rocket scientist, published by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), concluded that missile engines used by Pyongyang derive from designs linked to only a few former Soviet factories. It based its findings mainly on photographs taken by North Korea.

A Reuters reporter who visited Yuzhmash in the city of Dnipro this week found staff struggling to make ends meet and facilities falling into disrepair. The only visible security cameras and guards around the plant were at the main entrances.

“At the moment we’re working a one-day week,” said Valery Vasiliev, head of the trade union at Yuzhmash.

The average wage is around $160 a month but even that is not always paid on time, he said.

“Now there are some small wage arrears — a bit more than 40 million hryvnias ($1.4 million). We’re paying it off bit by bit. There are still debts for May and June,” Vasiliev said.

Yuzhmash used to be part of a state-run conglomerate that built rockets for the Soviet space and defence programmes.

When the Cold War ended, it became a Ukrainian state enterprise. Its workforce shrank but it limped on, producing space rockets, mostly in partnership with the Russian plants it had worked with in the Soviet era.

After Russia annexed the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014, and a conflict began between government forces and separatists in east Ukraine, those ties were disrupted.


Yuzhmash General Director Sergei Voit told workers in January that annual revenue had fallen to a quarter of what it was before the conflict.

He listed problems including “worn-out manufacturing capacity, a hugely difficult situation with personnel … arrears on wages, power bills and debt repayments.”

The plant’s chief economist, Dmitriy Nikon, told Reuters that new 
contracts were being signed with customers, the factory’s finances had stabilised and there were plans to raise salaries by the end of the year.

“It’s still tough but nevertheless I think the worst of the crisis is over,” he said.

Nikon said that on average staff work three days a week, not just one, and earned an average of around $230 per month.

Defending security at the plant, Nikon said the perimeter and areas inside it were guarded, and staff had to surrender sensitive documents after each shift.

“We have not had a single instance of a finished product or a document going missing,” Nikon said.

A machine-worker who said he had worked at Yuzhmash for 36 years, but did not want to be identified because he feared repercussions, complained however of a lack of investment.

“The workers aren’t happy but there’s not much we can do. The young people have all left, but what can someone like me do?” he said. “They say the pay might get better soon because of new orders, but it can’t really get worse… They still owe us (unpaid wages).”


Technology from Ukraine has attracted the interest of North Korea in the past. In 2012, two North Koreans were sentenced by a Ukrainian court to eight years in jail after approaching an employee at a firm affiliated to Yuzhmash seeking secret rocket propulsion documents.

The engine which is the subject of the new study is around two metres tall and one metre across. Yuzhmash’s sister company Yuzhnoye, which handles design, said the engines used by North Korea did not match anything the plant had ever produced.

The factory no longer has the capacity to manufacture the RD-250 engines referred to in the IISS report, it said, and all RD-250 engines fit for flight use that it produced had left the factory and been shipped to legitimate clients.

Some U.S. intelligence officials also dispute the findings of the study.

Ukraine is a signatory to an international pact called the Missile Technology Control Regime but the pact has no external verification mechanism.

Ukrainian officials have said the components mentioned in the IISS study were more likely to have come from Russia. Moscow denies this.

© Thomson Reuters 2017

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Barcelona Van Attacker May Still Be Alive, On The Run: Police

BARCELONA:  The driver of the van that ploughed into crowds in Barcelona, killing 13 people, may still be alive and at large, Spanish police said on Friday, denying earlier media reports that he had been shot dead in a Catalan seaside resort.

Josep Lluis Trapero, police chief in Spain’s northeastern region of Catalonia, said he could not confirm the driver was one of five men killed.

“It is still a possibility but, unlike four hours ago, it is losing weight,” he told regional TV.

The driver abandoned the van and fled on Thursday after speeding along a section of Las Ramblas, the most famous boulevard in Barcelona, leaving a trail of dead and injured among the crowds of tourists and local residents thronging the street.

It was the latest of a string of attacks across Europe in the past 13 months in which militants have used vehicles as weapons – a crude but deadly tactic that is near-impossible to prevent and has now killed nearly 130 people in France, Germany, Britain, Sweden and Spain.

Suspected terrorists have been behind the previous attacks. ISIS said the perpetrators of the latest one had been responding to its call to target countries involved in a U.S.-led coalition against the group.

Hours after the van rampage, police shot dead five people in the Catalan resort of Cambrils, 120 km (75 miles) down the coast from Barcelona, after they drove their car at pedestrians and police officers.

The five assailants had an axe and knives in their car and wore fake explosive belts, police said. A single police officer shot four of the men, Trapero said.

A Spanish woman was killed in the Cambrils incident, while several other civilians and a police officer were injured.

Trapero had earlier said the investigation was focussing on a house in Alcanar, southwest of Barcelona, which was razed by an explosion shortly before midnight on Wednesday.

Police believe the house was being used to plan one or several large-scale attacks in Barcelona, possibly using a large number of butane gas canisters stored there.

However, the apparently accidental explosion at the house forced the conspirators to scale down their plans and to hurriedly carry out more “rudimentary” attacks, Trapero said.


Police have arrested four people in connection with the attacks – three Moroccans and a citizen of Spain’s North African enclave of Melilla, Trapero said. They were aged between 21 and 34, and none had a history of terrorism-related activities.

Another three people have been identified but are still at large. Spanish media said two of them may have been killed by the blast in Alcanar while one man of Moroccan origin was still sought by the police.

Police in France are looking for the driver of a white Renault Kangoo van that may have been used by people involved in the Barcelona attack, a French police source told Reuters.


It was the deadliest attack in Spain since March 2004, when Islamist terrorists placed bombs on commuter trains in Madrid, killing 191 people.

Of 126 people injured in Barcelona and Cambrils, 65 were still in hospital and 17 were in a critical condition. The dead and injured came from 34 countries, ranging from France and Germany to Pakistan and the Philippines.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said an American citizen was confirmed dead, and Spanish media said several children were killed.

As Spain began three days of mourning, people returned to Las Ramblas, laying flowers and lighting candles in memory of the victims. Rajoy and Spain’s King Felipe visited Barcelona’s main square nearby to observe a minute’s silence.

Defiant crowds later chanted “I am not afraid” in Catalan.

Foreign leaders voiced condemnation and sympathy, including French President Emmanuel Macron, whose nation has suffered some of Europe’s deadliest recent attacks.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, speaking after media reports that some Germans were among those killed, said Islamist terrorism “can never defeat us” and vowed to press ahead with campaigning for a general election in Germany in September.

King Mohammed VI of Morocco sent his condolences to Spain.

U.S. President Donald Trump, speaking by phone with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Friday, pledged the full support of the United States in investigating the attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils and bringing the perpetrators to justice.

In a message to the cardinal of Barcelona, Pope Francis said the attack was “an act of blind violence that is a grave offence to the Creator”.

Polish Interior Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said the attack showed the European Union’s system of migrant relocation was wrong. “It is dangerous. Europe should wake up,” he said. “We are dealing here with a clash of civilisations.”

© Thomson Reuters 2017

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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Steve Bannon, Who Helped Elect Donald Trump, Out As His Chief Strategist

WASHINGTON:  President Donald Trump on Friday dismissed his embattled chief strategist Stephen Bannon, an architect of his 2016 general election victory, in a major White House shake-up that follows a week of racial unrest, according to multiple administration officials.

Trump had been under mounting pressure to dispense with Bannon, who many officials view as a political Svengali but who has drawn scorn as a leading internal force encouraging and amplifying the president’s most controversial nationalist impulses.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said in a Friday afternoon statement to reporters: “White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve’s last day. We are grateful for his service and wish him the best.”

Some White House officials also said Friday they expect some of Bannon’s allies inside the administration to exit with him. Bannon works closely with a number of White House officials, including national security aide Sebastian Gorka and assistant Julia Hahn.

Bannon, the former executive chairman of Breitbart News – a fiery, hard-right news site that has gone to war with the Republican establishment – had been expecting to be cut loose from the White House, people close to him said. One of them explained that Bannon was resigned to that fate and is determined to continue to advocate for Trump’s agenda on the outside.

“No matter what happens, Steve is a honey badger,” said this person, who like others interviewed spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation. “Steve’s in a good place. He doesn’t care. He’s going to support the president and push the agenda, whether he’s on the inside or the outside.”

Bannon has told associates in recent days that if he were to leave the White House, the conservative populist movement that lifted Trump in last year’s campaign would be at risk. One person close to him said the coalition would amount to “Democrats, bankers, and hawks.” Bannon also has predicted that Trump would eventually turn back to him and others who share the president’s nationalist instincts, especially on trade.

John Kelly, the retired four-star Marine Corps general brought in late last month as White House chief of staff, has been contemplating dramatic changes to West Wing staffing that included firing Bannon, a right-wing populist who helped guide the president to victory in the final months of last year’s campaign.

The decision to fire Bannon was made by Kelly, officials said. It came after almost exactly three weeks on the job as chief of staff, a position in which he was given unilateral power to overhaul the West Wing staff to staunch warring factions, aides and advisers going rogue, and repeated leaks to the news media.

“This was without question one man’s decision: Kelly. One hundred percent,” one senior White House official said. “It’s been building for a while.”

This past week, as mainstream Republicans lambasted Trump for his handling of last week’s deadly white supremacist demonstration in Charlottesville, Va., many on the White House staff led a drum beat for the president to dismiss Bannon and any other aides who have connections of any kind to the white nationalist movement, this official said.

“The fevered pitch was basically outrage from dozens on the staff that anybody who’s ever had a part of that has to be purged immediately,” this official said.

Kelly has no personal animus toward Bannon, said people familiar with his thinking, but was especially frustrated with Bannon’s tendency to try to influence policy and personal matters not in his portfolio, as well as a negative media campaign he and his allies waged against national security adviser H.R. McMaster.

The president, meanwhile, had been upset about Bannon’s participation in a book by a Bloomberg News reporter Joshua Green, “Devil’s Bargain” – particularly the shared photo billing on the cover between Trump and his chief strategist.

This week, at a moment when even his allies and confidants agreed his job security was as precarious as it has ever been, Bannon further imperiled his own standing by giving an interview to the liberal American Prospect magazine, in which he sniped by name at his enemies within the White House including Gary Cohn, the National Economic Council director, and publicly contradicted the administration’s stance on North Korea.

Bannon confidants said he believed his conversation with the magazine was off the record, but the damage was done. Kelly, said two people familiar with his thinking, was most frustrated by his comments on North Korea, explaining that, as a general, he understands the human toll and the prospect of war with a hostile nation is not merely an intellectual exercise for him.

As Bannon waited to hear his fate in recent days, he was keeping in close touch with billionaire ally Robert Mercer and other longtime friends and benefactors in conservative politics and the right-wing media community, expressing a desire to stay in the White House while also musing about what his future could be outside of the federal government.

Associates said Bannon may partner on a new venture with the Mercer family, conservative mega-donors who served as his patrons in an array of enterprises before he joined the Trump campaign. One strong possibility: a new media entity.

“They have a very strong working relationship together, and I would be shocked if we don’t hear of a major initiative involving Steve and the Mercers in the next 30 and 60 days,” said a person familiar with the family’s views, who requested anonymity to describe the thinking of the Mercers. “They don’t walk in lockstep in terms of their views, but they like the fact that Steve gets results and they think money put into ventures he’s involved in is money well spent.”

Hedge fund executive Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah collaborated with Bannon on at least five ventures between 2011 and 2016, including Breitbart, which Bannon ran. He also served as vice president and secretary of the Mercer-funded Cambridge Analytica, a data science company that worked for Trump’s campaign.

Bannon earned at least $917,000 in 2016, drawing at least $545,000 of that from four Mercer-backed ventures, according to a personal financial disclosure he filed in late March. At the time, he estimated that his assets were worth between $11.8 million and $53.8 million. Among his holdings: three rental properties and a strategic consulting firm he said was worth between $5 million and $25 million. The filing also showed that Bannon had significant cash reserves, reporting at least $1.1 million in three different U.S. bank accounts.

Much of Bannon’s time in recent days was spent in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House grounds, as the West Wing is under renovation, where he has a spacious corner office on the first floor that is piled with books he is reading and files on trade policy and immigration policy.

Bannon closely monitored media coverage of both him and Trump on television, thumbing his phone associates text or email him new articles. Whenever he read articles about rivals such as Cohn reportedly being critical of the president’s conduct, he fumed that they were undermining him as he was trying to enact what Trump promised his base voters.

Bannon has told people that he called The American Prospect simply to talk China policy, an example of how he has often acted as an in-house professor of sorts for Trumpism inside the White House. But when coverage of the candid interview exploded, he began to say that it was partly strategic, and most people close to him aren’t exactly sure what to believe about why and how that phone call unfolded.

Inside Trump’s circle, there have been two camps: those who argued he should fight to stay and be a political warrior for Trump’s nationalist instincts and those who believe his battles with the “globalists,” as he calls the more moderate wing of the White House, had reached their nadir. Bannon seemed to veer between those two sides in conversations with friends and allies,

As Bannon has come under scrutiny, so have his allies inside. Senior policy adviser Stephen Miller has a large footprint already and is seen as safe, but Bannon’s close allies Gorka and Hahn – both of whom worked at Breitbart – are seen as more vulnerable to changes. They have asserted themselves in talks with colleagues as Trump allies first, Bannon allies second.

Bannon has been under fire before, most prominently in early April, when Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, was pushing for his ouster; the president himself dinged him in the New York Post, and a Bannon friend likened him to a terminally ill patient who had been moved to hospice care.

“The guy is a survivor, and there’s no way he could be at the center of this for so long, and as controversial as he’s been and as outspoken as he’s been on every major debate – win, lose or draw – without being a savvy operator,” said one person familiar with the situation. “I certainly don’t think that he is just totally done.”

The potential for Bannon to wreak havoc and mischief on the White House from the outside is among the reasons Trump had been skittish about firing his chief strategist. And Bannon himself had used wartime metaphors to signal to friends and confidants that he would continue to pursue his nationalist, populist agenda if he leaves his government perch.

“I think the thing the president will need to get used to is Steve may from time to time call the president to account to his fealty or lack of fealty to the president’s agenda and that could get complicated politically,” said one outside White House adviser close to Bannon. “But I don’t think Steve is going to totally abandon the president or be totally disloyal, unless the president allows himself to be overtaken by the liberal Democrats, in which case every Republican will call him to account.”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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Why finding large women's shoe sizes can be a problem

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Finding women’s shoes that fit can be a challenge if you take a larger size

The UK footwear chain Jones Bootmaker was saved from administration earlier this year but its new owners are still closing a number of its stores – which is a setback for women with larger feet and few options.

And I should know; as Jones is one of the few High Street staples to offer a larger than average range of big sizes, my local branch was the first port of call to accommodate my own size nines.

Now it lies empty, the latest instalment in a troubled footwear history that sentenced me to boy’s lace-ups at school and overhanging toes in any sandal since.

With independent shops rarely stocking shoes above size seven and larger brand outlets offering merely one or two options – if I’m lucky – finding suitable shoes remains the Holy Grail.

Since the 1970s, the average shoe size of men and women in the UK has increased by two sizes, from a size eight to 10 and four to six, respectively, according to research from the College of Podiatry.

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The footwear industry is not keeping up with changing demands, says Dr Jill Halstead-Rastrick

“When size five was average the industry would think providing two sizes above to a seven was just about the fringe of adequate for women, but now that it’s a six, we should be seeing far more eights and even nines as standard,” says the college’s Dr Jill Halstead-Rastrick.

She believes the footwear industry is not moving with the times to accommodate a nation that is taller and heavier and so by evolutionary logic, has larger feet, and warns this is an issue that could be a time bomb for the next generation.

“Increased weight splays the feet and we are seeing a lot of adults wearing shoes that are too narrow or small. This is only going to become more of a problem as we continue to grow in stature – we need a wider variety of larger sizes.”

It’s a familiar narrative to Laura West of the Society of Shoe Fitters.

She estimates around 30% of inquiries she receives are from girls aged around 12 unable to find school shoes above a size eight, and who having to wear boys shoes as a result. Irrespective of any aesthetics this is having serious repercussions for girls’ foot health, she argues.

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The lack of proper shoe sizes can lead to hip, knee and ankle and neck problems later in life

“Boys’ shoes will fit differently, and ill-fitting footwear does change [girls] physiology.

“If feet hurt you shift your weight unnaturally when you walk and this wears out other joints and tendons leading to hip, knee and ankle and neck problems later on.”

West believes the problem stems from the demise of British manufacturing in the 1980s, when many UK brands shifted production overseas to cut costs. This has meant less research into foot development and a deeper disconnect between the manufacturer and consumer needs, she says.

“When we produced shoes here we could run short production lines including larger sizes at little extra cost, but in an overseas factory you have to order in far greater numbers, which becomes cost prohibitive.

“Independent shops can’t compete with low cost imports – and they would have been the ones to feedback the inability to supply certain items like larger sizes to their manufacturers’ representatives.

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The extra cost in making larger shoe sizes has also discouraged some manufacturers

“Now consumers trawl from High Street chain to supermarket and the staff have little involvement; it is self-service mass market approach and an ‘if we’ve got it you can have it – if not tough’ mentality, so manufacturers don’t have a clue.”

A focus on fashion over quality has compounded the problem for many UK women’s shoe makers. By contrast the men’s market has benefitted from higher-priced items such as Goodyear welted shoes which enjoy a healthy export trade to Europe, Asia and US.

“The price commanded for them makes UK production profitable,” says British Footwear Association chief executive John Saunders.

By contrast “most UK women’s shoemakers were operating in the volume to mid-tier market,” he says, and were hit hard in the late 20th Century by increasing Asian competition, retailers demanding a greater share of profits and consumers turning to cheaper shoes.

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Switching UK shoe production to Asia has led to smaller shoe sizes, says Naomi Braithwaite

China now accounts for about 65% of shoes made worldwide, and with this production coming from a country where the average female shoe size is a UK three-and-half, this virtual monopoly has hit shoes sizes.

Former luxury shoe buyer Naomi Braithwaite, now a fashion marketing and branding lecturer at Nottingham Trent University, recalls how standard sizes of shoes at the company she worked for reduced after it switched production from Italy to China.

“Sample sizes were based on Chinese feet which are smaller boned and narrower. As well as this, many of the designers at the luxury end simply didn’t like to see their shoes in bigger sizes as they didn’t think they looked as beautiful as the more petite sizes.”

The additional cost involved in producing larger sizes to cover the extra material and increased shipment weight is another deterrent for a somewhat already reluctant industry, she concedes.

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Retailer Long Tall Sally says women’s size 10 shoes now account for 30% of footwear sales

It’s a gap in the market that Long Tall Sally, a specialist in fashion and footwear for tall women, has successfully exploited. Its shoe range starts at size seven and goes up to 13.

Making shoes above a size eight costs the firm about £5 extra a pair because of the extra material, and it also uses a bespoke ‘last’ – a three-dimensional foot shaped mould on which each shoe is made.

Yet it seems to be paying off with footwear growing from a 5% to 15% share of the total business. Size 10 is now its most popular size, representing 30% of footwear sales.

“Demand for larger size women’s shoes has risen steadily,” says Long Tall Sally’s shoe buyer, Chris O’Shea.

The other option if you’ve larger feet, is to buy German.

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Technology could allow personalised fittings – without the prohibitive prices of handmade shoes

“Germany is very much an exception – it has always had much better selection in larger size footwear and what they do well is shoes with quality, comfort and longevity'” says O’Shea.

While Germany still outsources production to Asia, many of its footwear brands retain head office, marketing and design in the country – with a consistent focus on function and quality over fashion.

It’s why Dr Halstead-Rastrick often directs patients to German brands. But she says the industry could better use technology to provide more personalised fittings without the prohibitive prices that handmade shoes usually command.

“You can even scan and measure feet via a phone app now, so surely we can’t be that far off a situation where we can send our measurements to companies and say, this is the shape of my foot can you make me something?”

Here’s hoping change is afoot.

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One in 10 adults owns second home, says think tank

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The number of landlords has risen significantly since 2002

As many as 5.2 million UK adults – or one in 10 – have bought or inherited a second home, according to research.

Think tank the Resolution Foundation said the number of multiple home owners grew by 30% between 2002 and 2014.

That figure includes buy-to-let landlords – counted as one owner even if they have multiple properties – as well as those who own separate properties to live in themselves.

At the other end of the scale, four in 10 adults own no property at all.

The foundation said the number of people without property had also risen over the 12-year period.

As a result, the study concluded that there was a growing gap between those who have property wealth and those who do not.

The government is already ploughing £60m a year into rural and coastal communities that are most affected by second home ownership, such as Cornwall and Cumbria.

The money – raised from the Stamp Duty surcharge – supports first-time buyers.

Baby boomers

Those most likely to own a second home are baby-boomers, currently aged between 52 and 71. They also typically live in the south of England.

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Cornwall has many second-home owners

“Contrary to the popular narrative, these second-home owners are rarely your typical middle-income worker shoring up savings, or ordinary retirees boosting pension income,” said Laura Gardiner, senior policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation.

“They tend to be baby boomers who are very wealthy indeed relative to their peers, living in the south and east of England.”

Those born since 1981 own just 3% of second homes, according to the report.

Stamp duty

Since April 2016 those buying second homes have been subject to higher rates of Stamp Duty in England and Wales, and higher Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) in Scotland.

In addition, landlords are no longer able to claim tax relief on all their mortgage payments. This change is being phased in between April 2017 and 2020.

It is not yet known to what extent such changes have led landlords to sell up.

Despite those clamp-downs, the Resolution Foundation would like the government to do more to end the property wealth gap.

“Policy makers should consider what more can be done to ensure that home ownership doesn’t become the preserve of the wealthy for generations to come,” said Ms Gardiner.

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Vladimir Putin Appoints Nikolay Kudashev As Russia's New Envoy To India

President Putin appoints Nikolay Kudashev after the previous ambassador Alexander Kadakin died

New Delhi:  Russian President Vladimir Putin today appointed career diplomat Nikolay Kudashev as Russia’s new ambassador to India, the country’s embassy said.

Mr Kudashev, a specialist in South East Asia, is currently the Deputy Director General Secretariat of the Ministry of foreign Affairs of Russia.

“President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin by the executive order appointed Nikolay Kudashev as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the Republic of India,” the Russian Embassy said in a statement.

The appointment of Mr Kudashev comes nearly seven months after the death of Russia’s previous ambassador to India Alexander Kadakin.

Mr Kadakin, a fluent Hindi-speaking career diplomat considered a great friend of India, passed away on January 26 at a hospital after a brief illness. He was 67.

Mr Kudashev was the Russian Ambassador to Micronesia and the Marshall Islands in 2014-2015.

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McDonald's could face first UK strikes

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Global fast-food giant McDonald’s could face its first UK worker strikes

Fast-food company McDonald’s could face its first staff strike in the UK, after workers at two stores backed a call for industrial action.

Employees at McDonald’s restaurants in Cambridge and Crayford, near London, voted overwhelmingly for a strike.

The Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) said staff wanted secure working hours and a £10 per hour wage.

A spokesman for McDonald’s said the fast-food company “works hard to ensure teams are treated fairly”.

“We can confirm that, following a ballot process, the BFAWU have indicated that a small number of our employees representing less that 0.01% of our workforce are intending to strike in two of our restaurants.”

“As per the terms of the ballot, the dispute is solely related to our internal grievance procedures.”

Rebecca Long-Bailey, Labour’s Shadow Secretary for Business, Environment and Industrial Strategy, said: “The strike at McDonald’s is motivated by working people coming together to fight for decent pay and working conditions.”

The company in April announced that staff would be offered a choice of flexible or fixed contracts with minimum guaranteed hours.

McDonald’s, employs around 85,000 staff in the UK and one million worldwide.

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How much will you give me for my false teeth?

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If pawning the family silver signals a desperate need for cash, then what does handing over your own teeth say about your financial situation?

A set of gold false teeth was one of the more unlikely items offered to pawnbroker Nathan Finch.

“It wasn’t the most pleasant of transactions but we did the loan,” he says.

Jewellery is most common pledge as security for a loan, but during 30 years in the pawnbroking trade he says he has witnessed some more creative propositions from customers.

“Everything from designer handbags to Mont Blanc pens, and a lot of signed memorabilia; we even had people offer a racehorse and a fishing trawler,” says Mr Finch, managing director of Pickwick Pawnbrokers.

“You never know what is going to come through the door. It can be a very small diamond ring in someone’s hand or it can be a great statue under their arm.”

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Media captionA pawnbroker reveals some of the unusual items in his vault

Through the thick, alarmed doors, in the cramped vault under his High Street pawnbroking shop, Mr Finch pulls out works of art, designer handbags, and even a Louis Vuitton dog collar.

His experience is not unique. Across the UK, various pawnbrokers are specialists in Rolex watches, luxury cars or antiques.

So why does anyone in possession of an Aston Martin or an expensive timepiece need to walk into a pawnbrokers’ shop to seek a loan?

“The typical reason that a customer might use a pawnbroker is almost exclusively cashflow. It is not that they don’t have assets, or that they don’t have wealth, it is just that they don’t have that money at that particular time.

“It could be school fees, it could be extra spending money for a holiday, it could be a crisis loan, like getting your car back on the road. It is a cycle of the need being driven by a crisis or some luxury spending.”

Research suggests that day-to-day spending, and a need to pay utility bills are high on the list of customers’ need for quick cash.

“Pawnbrokers tend to get people through a short-term cashflow issue and then the item is redeemed. I am happy and they are happy,” says Mr Finch.

How does pawnbroking work?

  • Customer “pledges” an item, such as a gold ring for a set period of time, usually six months
  • Pawnbroker gives 50% to 60% of the item’s value as a cash loan
  • Customer pays 7% to 8% interest every month
  • An item can be redeemed during the loan period by paying back the original loan and any interest up to that point
  • If the customer cannot repay the loan at the end of the deal the pawnbroker sells the item and returns any surplus to the customer

More information is available from the National Pawnbrokers Association. Consumer advice on pawnbroking is available from Citizens Advice and the Money Advice Service

This happiness may, of course, be short-lived. Failing to pay back the loan, and the interest charged on top, means saying goodbye to the valuable possessions.

Even if the item is redeemed – and in most cases it is – then using a pawnbroker can be a relatively expensive way to borrow, says the Money Advice Service.

“You can usually only borrow a percentage of the value of the item you want to pawn. So if, for example, you have some jewellery worth £200 you might only be able to borrow £100.”

Interest is typically higher than a standard bank loan but normally less than a payday lender. But unlike those loans, anyone with a poor credit history can access pawnbroking services as long as they have an item to pledge.

The Money Advice Service suggests people who want to pawn should shop around for the best deal, and also:

  • Choose a company that is a member of the National Pawnbrokers’ Association, which has a code of conduct for members
  • Ensure the company is regulated by the FCA
  • Understand the value of the item you are pawning
  • Be aware that a complaint can be raised with the lender and, if unresolved, to the Financial Ombudsman Service

There were only 44 new cases dealt with by the Financial Ombudsman about pawnbroking in the last financial year – and only 30% were upheld in the complainants’ favour. In the three months from April, fewer than 30 cases were recorded, registered as a blank on the ombudsman’s latest data.

That suggests either a high level of satisfaction among customers or a lack of awareness of the ombudsman – or both.

It certainly compares favourably to the wider consumer credit market, which saw complaints rise by 89% in the year to April, following a 40% rise in the year before that.

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The industry has a rich history, as this image of a Georgian pawnbroker shows

Complaints have not mushroomed but nor has the industry. While the unsecured credit market – including overdrafts and credit cards – has grown rapidly in the last few years, prompting fears about a consumer debt bubble, the pawnbroking sector remains relatively niche.

Just 4% of the adult population use a pawnbroker, according to Ray Perry, chief executive of the National Pawnbrokers’ Association (NPA).

Customers are more likely to be women than men (it is a 60/40 split), aged 25 to 40-years-old and in a job.

Stricter regulation has thinned the number of pawnbrokers. All businesses with a licence to offer credit to consumers have had to be reauthorised by the regulator – the Financial Conduct Authority. The process was long and intense, and many pulled out of the industry as a result.

The NPA had more than 200 members beforehand, now it has 150. The combined loan book of their 1,200 retail stores is £700m, having peaked at about £850m, although the falling price of gold has played a part in this reduction.


Nathan Finch also points to challenges facing the industry from the new technology and convenience used by money-lending competitors.

“A lot of young people do not want to bring in an item. A lot of business and financing is done on apps nowadays.

“Pawnbrokers are developing technology to be able to try to keep up with that. The initial deposit of the item will always be physical, but the way in which we can transfer money and communicate with customers is modernising.

“I think we shall compete with lenders for another 3,000 years.”

He says “another” 3,000 years, because the history of pawnbroking stretches back three millennia.

The Chinese were pawning their goods back then for shipbuilding, the cost of war, and exploration.

Modern pawnbroking began in northern Italy in the middle ages, with the split of the Medici and their family crest between the bankers and the pawnbrokers, with the latter taking the three balls sign – a symbol that survives to this day.

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When a man took an upskirt photograph of Gina Martin at a music festival last month, she went straight to the police. But she was amazed to discover that there is no specific law against “upskirting” in most of the UK – only in Scotland. After the police closed her case, Gina began a petition to get it reopened, and now she is lobbying for a change in the law.

Martin’s article about her experience struck a chord with many of you. We asked readers to tell us if they had been the victim of upskirting, and whether the perpetrator was punished. Here are some of your stories – names have been changed.

“I was at the bus stop”

It happened four years ago, when I was 17. It was a warm spring day and I was wearing a floral dress. I was waiting for the bus to go to college at 09:00 in the morning on a busy main road.

A man walked up to the bus stop and came and sat down next to me, and then started moving closer towards me. I was aware something wasn’t quite right, but every time I turned around he pretended to be looking out towards the road where the bus was coming from.

You don’t always have the confidence to say something, so I stood up and walked away.

But when I turned around to look at him he was holding up his mobile phone. It was a video of my bum – he had been trying to video up my dress. He was showing me, as if he was proud of it, and he was touching himself at the same time.

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My initial reaction was: “That needs to be deleted, I need to get hold of that phone.” I got angry.

I said: “Give me that now, you need to delete that.” And he ran off. I chased him but he was too fast. Then it dawned on me what had just happened – the seriousness of it, and the intrusion of my personal space. I was very upset.

A man who had been driving past in a van stopped and came over. Traffic was slow and he said he’d got a good look at the man running off. The police came and took a statement and I went home – I didn’t make it into college that day.

The police asked for the outfit that I was wearing on that day, and I went in to make a formal statement at the station. A female officer interviewed me, but I felt like it wasn’t serious enough, and that I shouldn’t be there.

When I was asked to identify the man from pictures I really struggled – none of them looked like the image I had in my head. I thought: “What if I don’t recognise him and then he does it again?”

I was told afterwards that the witness had picked a different person to me. I don’t know if he was arrested.

I still live here but I’ve never gone back to that bus stop. I found different routes to college. I’m still incredibly cautious of people when I’m on my own. People tell you not to walk home alone at night – but this happened in broad daylight, so should we just never go anywhere on our own? That’s ridiculous. But that’s how it made me feel.

I can’t believe that upskirting doesn’t fall into some sort of category like sexual harassment or sexual assault. It’s a violation of personal space – they shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it just because we don’t have a law against it.

Debbie, 21

“My pupils upskirted me”

I teach in a secondary school. A few years ago I was called to a meeting together with some of my female colleagues and we were told that some pupils were being kept out of class because they had been caught using phone cameras to look up teachers’ skirts.

They’d been working as a team – one pupil would call the teacher over to ask a question, and while she was leaning over the table or otherwise engaged in answering that question somebody else would kick the phone across the floor while it was filming – then they were taking stills from the film and uploading them on the internet.

It was horrific and quite upsetting – as you can imagine we had a thousand questions, like: “Can you see anything in these pictures?” But we were not allowed to see them. I don’t think you could, because most of us wear tights, but the point is that these 13-year-old kids thought that that was an acceptable thing to do.

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The boys were kept out of school for a couple of weeks, and when they came back we were expected to carry on teaching them.

I wasn’t remotely happy with the way the school handled it. I felt like I’d been a victim of a crime, and my main problem was that I didn’t feel it had been recognised in that way, and I wasn’t dealt with in the way that a victim would be. It wasn’t taken as seriously as if someone had stolen my handbag.

For me it’s the little things – I haven’t been able to dress the same. I feel I have to put trousers on rather than a skirt. I’m paranoid about pupils with their phones or when they are asking questions – the trust is gone.

I think it affects your day-to-day job and you need to talk to pupils about that so that you’re comfortable going back into the classroom.

Olivia, 31

“I found upskirt pictures on my partner’s phone”

We were watching a film on his laptop – his phone was plugged in and when the film finished I saw hundreds of inappropriate pictures of different women.

I said: “What’s that?” And he immediately jumped over to the laptop and spun it around so I couldn’t see.

He said: “Oh it’s just some old pictures. I’ll delete them.”

I wasn’t sure how to react, especially as this was my first ever relationship. I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

But a year later, I found a lot more pictures on his phone. I could tell that they were from our local town centre and from his gym, and that he’d obviously taken them himself. I was absolutely horrified.

Eventually I got the confidence to leave him. It has caused me to have years of therapy, and I find it hard to trust my current partner.

Alice, 21

“My daughter was the victim of an upskirter “

It was about three years ago and my two daughters went to the shopping centre – they were aged 18 and 15 and it was a particularly hot day.

A man happened to notice that someone was following them and he suddenly saw the other chap go up to them and, without them noticing, take photographs up their skirt and shorts. He was very upset to see this and he called for security.

They apprehended this man and looked on his phone and realised he had taken several photographs up different women’s skirts.

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The police arrived and were very concerned because they thought that my 15-year-old daughter had had a photograph taken of her. As it turned there wasn’t a picture of her, but there was of my 18-year-old.

The difficulty was that the police couldn’t really find much that they could charge him with because she was an adult and it was in a public place. First of all they wanted to charge him with voyeurism but apparently that can only happen if you’re in your own home and someone’s taking a picture through your window. So in the end I think they charged him with something like public nuisance.

He pleaded guilty and got a fine, and my daughter got compensation. So that was it really. The police took it so seriously, but they just didn’t have anything that they could charge him with.

It’s happened to me as well. I had a photograph taken up my skirt on the Piccadilly line. I probably didn’t sit down in a particularly lady-like way. I was reading the newspaper and the woman next to me nudged me and said: “The man opposite’s just taken a photograph up your skirt.”

I was quite annoyed, so I took a photograph of him and as soon as I got to the station I gave it to the British Transport Police. They again were brilliant, they really took time and trouble to try and trace that man, but unfortunately they couldn’t.

The police do take this seriously but the laws haven’t yet caught up with technology.

Amanda, 55

As told to Vibeke Venema

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