Kenya Gives Girls Free Sanitary Pads To Boost School Attendance

Kenya has promised free sanitary pads to all schoolgirls. (Representational)

Nairobi:  Kenya has promised free sanitary pads to all schoolgirls to encourage them to go to school, rather than stay at home. Every schoolgirl is Kenya is entitled to “free, sufficient and quality sanitary towels” and a safe place to dispose of them, according to the law introduced this week.”We are treating the access to sanitary pads as a basic human right,” government spokesman Eric Kiraithe told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“We are improving the sanitation and healthcare of our schoolgirls, which will boost their class attendance.”

Menstruation is still taboo in many countries around the world, where it’s often considered embarrassing or shameful.

One in 10 African girls miss school during their periods, the UN children’s agency UNICEF estimates, which means they fall behind in their studies and often drop out of school.

“This will give girls confidence to attend class on any day of the month, consequently improving their academic performance,” said Albanous Gituru, director of Shining Hope for Communities, a girls’ school in Nairobi’s Kibera slum.

Girls can miss up to 15 days of school each term because they cannot afford sanitary products, he said.

In neighbouring Uganda, researchers from Oxford University found absenteeism from school was 17 percent higher among girls who had no access to sanitary towels or information about puberty.

When 10 percent more girls go to school, a country’s GDP increases by an average of 3 percent. Each additional year of secondary schooling leads to a 15-25 percent increase in a girl’s potential income, say gender equality campaigners.

The policy will cost Kenya 500 million shillings ($4.8 million) a year, Kiraithe said, expanding on a 2011 programme giving pads to girls from poor families.

© Thomson Reuters 2017

Source link

Big hitters

Image copyright

Image caption

The teams have been playing warm up matches, including one between England and Sri Lanka

The Women’s Cricket World Cup takes to fields across England this weekend, looking to bowl over youngsters and women, not to mention businesses, with their event.

As well as seeking to encourage more girls and boys to take up the sport, organisers also want more females to follow cricket, while convincing young sportswomen there is a worthwhile career for them in the game.

Ironically, for what is the most financially lucrative women’s world cup to date, making huge amounts of money from the event is not the main priority.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Holders Australia will be chasing a record seventh title

And there is a lot of cash around the eight-team tournament – with record prize money of $2m (£1.57m), healthy ticket sales, and big name International Cricket Council (ICC) global sponsors such as Nissan, Emirates, Hublot and Moneygram backing the event.

Rather, it is hoped that the money being spent now on the 28-day, 31-match, tournament, will be a catalyst that piques the interest of potential commercial sponsors in both the UK and elsewhere.

‘Looking for relevance’

“What strikes me is that we have been presented with this huge potential for growth in so many areas, sporting and financial,” Clare Connor, head of England Women’s Cricket and a former national team captain, tells me.

“We have got a sport, cricket, that is looking for relevance. People are asking ‘how can we help take cricket into a new era?’

Image copyright

Image caption

Clare Connor holds a number of high profile roles in women’s cricket

“One way is to engage with young women and girls. We have to maximise these opportunities during the World Cup.”

Ms Connor, who is also chair of the women’s committee at cricket’s governing body the ICC, said that irrespective of who wins, the world cup offers a chance to grow the sport in lots of creative ways.

Soft ball programme

One way is through the ECB’s All Stars Cricket, aimed at providing children aged five to eight with a memorable first experience of the sport. The nationwide entry-level participation programme aims to get 50,000 girls and boys – and their families – excited by the game over the summer.

“We also have a soft ball initiative specifically for women.” says Ms Connor, with a number of festivals being held during the World Cup.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

The All Stars programme is aimed at young girls and boys

As well as boosting participation, getting more women to follow women’s cricket is a major goal.

“At the moment it is a fallacy to think women watch women’s cricket. More males than females are cricket fans,” the 40-year-old says.

“Cricket is not currently as relevant to women as it is to men, but the World Cup gives us an opportunity to change that.”

She said that the majority of tickets, some 80%, had been sold to fans of England Cricket, and that she expected a high majority of them to be to men.

‘Altered audiences’

“But work by our marketing team does show there is a growing interest in watching by women,” she adds. “That is why a lot of our marketing of the All Stars children’s programme is targeted at mums, we are looking to engage them in the whole experience.”

She said a new city-based eight-team Twenty20 tournament, due to start in 2020, was the ideal way to attract a new female audience.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Half of the fans at the Women’s Big Bash in Australia are females

“We have been looking at Australia and the Women’s Big Bash, where 50% of spectators are women. They have totally altered the make up of their audience, and that is something we would look to emulate.”

The tournament was brought forward so more matches sat in school term time. Just less than half of the matches are taking place on weekdays which presents an opportunity for local schools to witness tournament action live.

Meanwhile, Ms Connor says tickets for World Cup games have been priced to allow an affordable family day out. England’s opening game against India is sold out, and 15,000 tickets have been sold for the final at Lord’s.

Image copyright
Getty Images

England cricket player Anya Shrubsole on forging a cricket career

The 25-year-old is the daughter of Ian Shrubsole, a former Minor Counties cricketer in the 1990s. At 13 she was the first girl to join the Somerset Academy.

“I remember from the age of three or four my dad playing, and going out onto the pitch at the interval, throwing a ball around. That is my first memory of cricket. I then really got into it when I was at school.

“Back then, when I was growing up and coming through as a player there was an element of financial reward, but not enough to live off it. The money you received wasn’t enough, you couldn’t have afforded a mortgage.

“However, that wasn’t something that was a real issue for me, I wanted to be as good as I could be.

“But I graduated at the same time that cricket turned professional. So I have never had the worry of trying to find a job alongside playing cricket.

“In means that in terms of staying in cricket, it is now a viable career option for young women whereas previously it wasn’t. You make a living out of women’s cricket, like you can with women’s football. Before that you would have needed a separate job alongside.

“It is an immense honour to represent your country, One of the strengths of women’s sport is that they are playing for the real love of the game.

“I think we are role models for youngsters. I am guilty sometimes of not thinking that I am, but anyone who plays international sport is a role model.

“The game is still in quite a developmental stage, and I am hopeful we will have a young audience growing up alongside the sport.”

‘Challenger sport’

On ticket pricing, the ICC worked with a specialist agency to look at various ticket prices both at the venues (so including men’s and women’s cricket domestic and international), cricket as a whole, and also looked at other women’s sports events in this country.

“We are not going to make a great deal of money out of it,” says Ms Connor.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Clare Connor represented England from 1995 until retiring from international cricket in 2006

But she adds: “We are hoping that eventually the event becomes a commercial money spinner.

“For example, we hope that companies see there is an opportunity there to get involved in women’s cricket, like Kia did a few years ago, when they became the official car of the England women’s team.

“They saw the women’s game as a real area of growth. As a challenger brand they were keen to work with women’s cricket which they saw as a challenger sport.”


Other positives for the women’s game are the widespread media coverage being given to the World Cup. In addition to the scheduled 10 fixtures to be broadcast live on TV, the remaining 21 World Cup matches will be streamed live.

There will be radio commentary and video highlights on BBC radio and sport website.

Meanwhile, the ICC has committed to equal prize money for women and men’s cricket by 2032.

“There will be a strategic plan to ensure that the game can deliver equal prize money in 15 years time,” says Ms Connor.

“The women’s game has only been under the ICC’s auspices since 2005. If you think of the developments since then, it is a sport transformed. The World Cup will continue that transformation.”

Source link

Trump Sent A Very Smart Tweet Before The Post's Latest Russia Scoop

Trump tweeted almost 24 hours before The Post’s report on Russia went online

President Donald Trump’s most ardent supporters in the media and elsewhere appear to have a dilemma on their hands.

The Washington Post on Friday reported that former president Barack Obama was informed by the CIA last August that Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered a cyber-campaign to disrupt the U.S. presidential race but took little action to deter further interference in the months leading up to the November election. The Post’s article cited criticism of Obama by former members of his administration, including one who said, “I feel like we sort of choked.”

Ordinarily a report of this nature would thrill Trump loyalists, who relish opportunities to cast Obama as having been weak and indecisive, especially on foreign policy matters.

Yet embracing The Post story would seem to require acknowledging an underlying premise – that Russia did, in fact, meddle in the election. Trump himself has refused to fully endorse the consensus view of U.S. intelligence agencies. And some of his biggest boosters have completely rejected it, ostensibly because conceding that Russia worked to elect Trump might diminish the president’s victory.

“There was no hacking by the Russians,” Rush Limbaugh told his radio listeners this month. “Now, the [Democratic National Committee] to this day wants you to think it’s the Russians that got ’em. But there was no proven hacking. There hasn’t been any proven Russian hacking of anything, folks! That’s the whole thing! There’s no evidence for any underlying information that is providing the fuel for this ridiculous, silly soap opera.”

Fox News host Sean Hannity has been pushing an elaborate conspiracy theory that involves the CIA framing Russia for cyberattacks. “The CIA can actually blame Russia for an attack on an American because they’ll put their fingerprints all over the attack,” Hannity said on his radio show in March. “Meanwhile, it came from within.”

Friday’s report by The Post’s Greg Miller, Ellen Nakashima and Adam Entous creates a binary choice: Deny Russian hacking or blame Obama for failing to stop it. There is no way for these two positions to coexist, right?

Well . . .

By the way, if Russia was working so hard on the 2016 Election, it all took place during the Obama Admin. Why didn’t they stop them?

– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2017

Note that Trump sent this tweet almost 24 hours before The Post’s report went online. The Post had sought comment from the White House, as well as the CIA, the FBI, the National Security Agency and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

It is impossible to know for sure what was going on in the president’s head when he sent the tweet, but it sure looks like he was priming his base for the impending scoop. And, in classic Trump fashion, he appears to have been trying to reconcile contradictory ideas. He presented Russian meddling as a lingering uncertainty – a matter of “if.” Yet he also pinned the blame for any meddling that might have happened on Obama.

Translation: The facts don’t matter. Whether Russia was framed or Obama choked, it’s all good for Trump.

This is a template argument for the president’s backers, and he provided it even before publication of The Post’s report.

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

Source link

Tesco is raising store staff pay by 10.5% over two years

Image copyright
Getty Images

Hourly pay rates for Tesco store staff will rise by 10.5% over the next two years, the supermarket has said.

But pay remains lower than at Aldi and Lidl and overtime pay on Sundays and Bank Holidays is being cut.

Currently Tesco workers are paid £7.62 an hour, which will rise to £8.42 an hour by November 2018.

The pay rise will put Tesco workers’ pay above the £7.90 level that the National Living Wage is expected to reach by 2018.

The National Living Wage is the effective minimum wage for adults aged 25 and over, and is currently £7.50.

Those under the age of 25 are entitled to a lower minimum wage rate, whilst workers in London receive a premium.

Statutory minimum pay rates will continue to rise until at least 2020, according to recent government Budgets, and companies are planning for those changes, as well as striving to remain competitive with rivals in order to recruit and retain staff.

Wage growth in the UK has been slow in recent years, but inflation has risen and other supermarkets have increased the wages they pay.

Improved maternity pay

Aldi recently announced a rise in hourly pay to £8.53 an hour; Lidl’s website says it pays store staff £8.45 an hour.

Tesco said it would increase hourly pay in three stages: to £8.02 in November 2017, then to £8.18 in July 2018 and to £8.42 in November 2018.

“This reward package sees our biggest investment in store pay for a decade, and gives colleagues a sustainable pay deal that rewards them for everything they do, while allowing us to also attract new talent,” said Tesco UK chief executive, Matt Davies.

The retailer said maternity pay terms had also been improved. But extra pay for Sundays and bank holidays will be reduced from time-and-a-half to time-and-a-quarter after July 2018.

“This is designed to meet the government legislative requirement around the minimum wage.

“As expected, most of the businesses who have had to face up to this rise have had to reduce premiums and other perks that employees benefitted from in order to meet the core wage rises,” said retail analyst Steve Dresser.

Source link

Is Trump Right That Mexico Is The Second-Deadliest Country In The World?

Donald Trump tweeted that Mexico was second deadliest country in the world

With another flurry of his Twitter fingers, President Donald Trump got Mexico gnashing its teeth.

On Thursday night, Trump tweeted that “Mexico was just ranked the second deadliest country in the world, after only Syria. Drug trade largely the cause. We will BUILD THE WALL!”

The Mexican Foreign Ministry said hold up, no. Although the country has a “significant violence problem, Mexico is not the second most violent country in the world,” the office said in a statement.

So who’s right?

The unsatisfyingly squishy answer: It’s hard to know. The second-deadliest claim is actually more than a month old. A British think tank called the International Institute for Strategic Studies published a report in May arguing that Mexico’s total homicide count last year of 23,000 deaths was surpassed only by Syria (50,000).

That report was rejected by the Mexican government, which cast doubt on the methodology and pointed out that in Mexico, the homicide rate (deaths per 100,000 people), which is the usual way to rank deadly countries, was far below even other Latin American countries.

“Mexico is far from being one of the most violent countries in the world,” the Mexican government pointed out at the time, citing United Nations statistics, even though the latest figures are a few years old. The most recent U.N. stats put Mexico’s homicide rate at about 20 murders per 100,000 people, far below several other Latin American countries, including Honduras, at 90 murders per 100,000 residents.

Several security experts in Mexico considered the think tank study a bit sensationalist. Alejandro Hope, a top security analyst here, described it as “idiotic.”

Mexico has undoubtedly been extremely violent over the past decade, with an estimated 200,000 dead in the drug war. And the number of killings has risen sharply in the past two years, approaching record highs. Mexican newspapers reported that May 2017 was deadlier than any month since such statistics started being tabulated – even bloodier than at the height of the drug war.

But the problem goes beyond how you count. When you reach the upper ranks of the world’s most violent countries, torn by insurgencies and civil wars, the accuracy of statistics often goes out the window. War zones are notoriously difficult places to compile an accurate tally of deaths. How many people died last year in South Sudan’s civil war? It’s hard to know. During the peak years of the U.S. involvement in the Iraq War, the casualty estimates sometimes varied by hundreds of thousands of people.

Getting a straight answer is also hard given how politically delicate the murder rate is. In countries such as Honduras and El Salvador, which have suffered severe gang violence for years, day-to-day fluctuations in the homicide rate get reported like football scores, a way of pinning success or failure on the countries’ governments.

Mexico is highly bureaucratic but also keeps official information closely guarded. Corruption is rife and distrust of government runs high. Given all this, counting murders is fraught. Different federal agencies have different statistics and murders are broken down into different types.

One of the best recent studies on Mexican violence, by researchers at the University of San Diego, found that no other country in the Western Hemisphere has seen such a large increase in its homicide rate or in absolute number of homicides over the past two decades as Mexico.

No one can deny Mexico is plagued by terrible violence right now – regardless of their opinion on Trump’s wall.

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

Source link

Router hack risk not limited to Virgin Media

Image caption

Virgin Media’s Super Hub 2 had a weak default password

A weakness that left thousands of Virgin Media routers vulnerable to attack also affects devices by other providers, security experts warn.

Virgin Media’s Super Hub 2 was criticised for using short default passwords that could easily be cracked by attackers.

But experts say the underlying problem also affects older routers provided by BT, Sky, TalkTalk and others.

They recommend users change their router password from the default.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionHow safe is your router?

“It’s a bit unfair that Virgin Media has been singled out here. They made a mistake – but so have many other internet service providers,” said Ken Munro from security firm Pen Test Partners.

“This problem has been known about for years, yet still ISPs issue routers with weak passwords and consumers don’t know that they should change them.”

The weakness in Virgin Media’s Super Hub 2 was highlighted in an investigation by consumer group Which?

The company has since advised customers using default network and router passwords to update them immediately.

Why were the routers vulnerable?

Many routers are distributed with a default wi-fi password already set up.

Some use a long password with mixture of upper and lower-case letters, numbers and sometimes symbols.

But others use short passwords with a limited selection of characters, and many follow a pattern than can be identified by attackers.

The Virgin Media Super Hub 2 used passwords that were just eight characters long, and used only lower-case letters.

That gives cyber-criminals a framework to help them crack passwords quickly, using a dedicated computer.

“Because the default wi-fi password formats are known, it’s not difficult to crack them,” said Mr Munro.

Once an attacker has access to your wi-fi network, they can seek out further vulnerabilities.

Image caption

Default passwords that follow patterns are easier to crack

Mr Munro said the problem was well-known, but the Which? investigation had reignited discussion.

“It has popped up again because attention has been drawn to the fact that very few people change their wi-fi password from the one written on the router,” he told the BBC.

Experts recommend that people change the default wi-fi password and router’s admin password, using long and complex passwords to make life more difficult for attackers.

Source link

North Korea Says US Student's Death A 'Mystery To Us As Well'

Otto Warmbier was brought back to US last week in a coma with brain damage. (AFP)

Seoul:  North Korea said today the death of US university student Otto Warmbier soon after his return home was a mystery and dismissed accusations that he had died because of torture and beating during his captivity as “groundless”.

The North’s foreign ministry spokesman also said in comments carried by the official KCNA agency that Warmbier was “a victim of the policy of strategic patience” of former US President Barack Obama whose government never requested his release.

“The fact that Warmbier died suddenly in less than a week just after his return to the US in his normal state of health indicators is a mystery to us as well,” the spokesman was quoted by KCNA as saying.

Warmbier, 22, was arrested in the reclusive country while visiting as a tourist. He was sentenced to 15 years of hard labour for trying to steal an item bearing a propaganda slogan from his hotel, North Korea state media said.

He was brought back to the United States last week in a coma with brain damage, in what doctors described as state of “unresponsive wakefulness”, and died on Monday.

His death heightened the conflict between the North and the United States already aggravated by North Korea’s defiant missile launches and two nuclear tests since early last year as part of its effort to build a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of hitting the US mainland.

US President Donald Trump blamed “the brutality of the North Korean regime” for Warmbier’s death and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who had advocated dialogue with the North, said Pyongyang had a “heavy responsibility” in the events leading up to the American’s death.

The North’s spokesman said such accusations are part of a smear campaign to slander the country that had given “medical treatments and care with all sincerity” to a person who was “clearly a criminal”.

US doctors who had travelled to the North last week to evacuate Warmbier had recognized that the North had “provided him with medical treatment and brought him back alive whose heart was nearly stopped,” the unnamed ministry spokesman said.

“Although Warmbier was a criminal who committed a hostile act against the DPRK, we accepted the repeated requests of the present US administration and, in consideration of his bad health, sent him back home on humanitarian grounds,” the spokesman said.

DPRK is short for the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The exact cause of Warmbier’s death remains unclear. Officials at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where he was treated after his return from the North, declined to provide details, and his family asked the Hamilton County Coroner on Tuesday not to perform an autopsy.

Thousands of friends and family members gathered at Wyoming High School in suburban Cincinnati on Thursday for a memorial service for Warmbier, who graduated from the school as salutatorian in 2013.

The United States has demanded North Korea release three other US citizens it holds in detention: missionary Kim Dong Chul and academics Tony Kim and Kim Hak Song.

Warmbier was freed after the US State Department’s special envoy on North Korea, Joseph Yun, travelled to Pyongyang and demanded the student’s release on humanitarian grounds, capping a flurry of diplomatic contacts, a US official has said.

The North previously released American detainees it had accused and convicted of crimes against the state on the occasion of high-level visits by US officials.

© Thomson Reuters 2017

Source link

Iran Nuclear Chief Ali Akbar Salehi Urges West To Save Historic Deal

Iran’s nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi called for engagement from all parties.

London:  Iran’s nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi is urging the West to change course in the Middle East in order to save the historic atomic deal, saying “the moment of truth has arrived”.

The accord, reached between Tehran and world powers in Vienna in July 2015, saw Iran drastically curb its nuclear activities. In return, nuclear-related Western and UN sanctions were lifted.

But writing in Friday’s Guardian newspaper, Mr Salehi, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation, said negotiating agreements with Western powers had been a ‘mixed experience’ for Tehran.

“Often, following some hard won engagement, some Western nations, whether distracted by shortsighted political motivations or the lucrative inducements of other regional actors, walk away and allow the whole situation to return to the status quo ante,” he said.

Mr Salehi was writing against the background of increasing US Iran tensions since President Donald Trump came to power.

He said the nuclear deal could be saved but it would take concerted action and a clarification of Western security policy in the Middle East.

“For example, US arms sales to some traditional regional clients in the Middle East, and ostentatious, lavish arms purchases by the same regional actors just because of the abundance of oil wealth, are provocative,” he said.

“This is especially the case if the national defence efforts of Iran  which are partly induced by this process  are simultaneously opposed and undermined. It would be unrealistic to expect Iran to remain indifferent to the destabilising impact of such conduct.”

Trump has vowed to ‘dismantle’ the ‘disastrous’ nuclear deal and has ratcheted up US sanctions, calling for Iran to be isolated and throwing his weight behind Tehran’s arch rival Saudi Arabia.

Last month, on his first foreign trip, Trump visited Saudi Arabia and promised its leaders access to $110 billion in weapons and training.

Mr Salehi called for engagement from all parties.

“We have, so far, taken a number of solid steps towards a constructive engagement aiming at common goals and objectives. Those steps could be strengthened further by genuine reciprocal gestures and actions. The moment of truth has arrived,” he said.

Source link

Tech Tent: Uber at a crossroads

  • Stream or download the latest Tech Tent podcast
  • Listen to previous episodes on the BBC website
  • Listen live every Friday at 15:00 GMT on the BBC World Service

On the Tech Tent podcast this week, we explore the stunning resignation of Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick. We also hear why Indian IT workers are suffering mass lay-offs – and we ask whether virtual reality could have a more serious purpose beyond games and entertainment.

Uber loses its head

After last week’s news that Uber founder and chief executive Travis Kalanick was taking a leave of absence from the company, some observers might have assumed that would be the end of the turmoil for Uber’s management – at least for now.

But this week the company announced Mr Kalanick was stepping down from his role altogether – though he will remain on the company’s board.

The move came after a series of scandals over the the way Uber bosses treated female employees and customers.

Matters came to a head recently when a female ex-employee wrote a blog post detailing how managers failed to act on her complaints about sexism at work. That resulted in an investigation by the former US Attorney General Eric Holder, which recommended ways in which the company could change its culture and be run better.

Image copyright
Getty Images

On the podcast, we speak to Silicon Valley tech journalist Sarah Lacy, who, with her team, was among the first to report on Uber’s attitudes to women. She says it is the first time in three years that she can wake up without worrying whether she or her family will face some sort of retaliation from Uber.

But she says it may be ambitious to think Uber can change its culture unless it hires a totally different type of senior manager.

“It is hard to believe there is going to be a huge cultural reset here, and it is hard to believe that a company that is entirely staffed by people hired under that regime are suddenly going to do a big cultural re-shift,” she says.

India’s IT workers out of work

In recent years, India’s IT sector has been a poster-child for the country’s rapid economic growth. By providing outsourced IT services to brands across the world, the multibillion dollar industry helped create millions of jobs for Indians.

But the industry is now facing a slowdown because of a trend by Western companies to bring some IT jobs home, and the inroads being made by automation. Some of the jobs that used to be done by Indian workers can now be handled by software. These changes have led to drastic cuts, and there are fears there could more layoffs in the coming months and years.

The BBC’s Sameer Hashmi travelled to Bangalore – regarded as India’s Silicon Valley – to meet workers and managers.

He met 49-year old Pankaj Rao, who, after working in a prestigious IT job for a decade, was dismissed along with his entire team. He is now frantically sending his resume to prospective employers.

“My father, my wife, my children, all are worried what will happen tomorrow,” he says.

But Atul Kanwar, the chief technology officer at the IT giant Tech Mahindra, says it’s likely that all jobs that involve repetitive tasks will be automated.

“Automation is all-pervasive,” he says. “It used to be a situation of doing it at the lowest end but now automation is for any repetitive task.” He advises workers: “Make sure that over time you are not doing a repetitive task.”

A virtual trip to space

So far, the focus for virtual reality has been on games and entertainment. But could its so-called “killer application” be in the workplace, for training staff, for example?

Zoe Kleinman visited the IBM research labs in Hursley, Hampshire, where she tried out a VR simulation.

From inside an English country house she paid a virtual visit to the International Space Station, where she floated around and even popped out through a hatch into Space to explore outside the craft.

Gwillam Newton, emerging-tech specialist at IBM, tells Zoe how the company is pitching the technology as a way for companies, such as airlines, to train aircrew without leaving the ground.

“Places where it’s hard to go and train people or are expensive, the idea is that you create a few virtual reality rigs like this, and people can explore virtual reality in a safe and cost-effective manner.”

Source link

Tourist Bus Hits Paris Bridge, At Least 4 Injured: Source

The bus crashed into the Alexandre III bridge

Paris:  A double decker tourist bus became stuck under a central Paris bridge on Friday, injuring at least four passengers, firefighters said.

The bus crashed into the Alexandre III bridge, a tourist magnet due to its ornate structure and views over the Eiffel Tower and River Seine. The Paris fire service said one of the injured was seriously hurt.

The crash came during a large scale event on the Seine to promote the French capital’s bid for the 2024 Olympics, with a floating running track installed across the river just next to the bridge.

A police source said the bus was not travelling along its usual route, having been diverted because of the Olympic event.

The Big Bus Tours company, which offers sightseeing trips around Paris on open top buses, confirmed to AFP that one of its vehicles had been involved in the accident, without giving further details.

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

Source link

France's Emmanuel Macron, Eastern Europeans Try To Mend Fences

Emmanuel Macron took over from Socialist President Francois Hollande.

Brussels:  French President Emmanuel Macron and four eastern European Union leaders sought to smooth relations on Friday after publicly trading barbs over jobs and democratic values. Macron, in power for little more than a month, has vowed to protect French workers from what he sees as “social dumping”, in which companies employ cheaper labour, and unfair competition from the poorer eastern European states.Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic say they should be allowed to compete on lower prices – just as more developed western EU nations compete on quality products and know-how – to catch up after decades of communist stagnation.

Along with looming negotiations on the EU’s next multi-year joint budget that runs from 2021, this dispute is shaping up as one of the most contentious issues facing the bloc, exacerbating an east-west rift as it seeks unity to tackle Brexit.

But meeting on the sidelines of an EU summit, Macron and the leaders of the east European states – known together as the Visegrad four – agreed to set up an expert-level group to try to narrow differences over rules for so-called “posted workers”.

“At the Visegrad meeting this morning we established which issues we disagree on and where we will continue to talk to better understand each other’s constraints,” Macron told a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday.

“There are issues where I’d like to advance together, the posted workers directive being one… I believe we need a profound reform of the balance. I will do it with respect for our partners.”

EU states are divided on rules under which, say, a Bulgarian truck driver or a Lithuanian bricklayer can work in France for a limited time for the eastern European wage, usually below the minimum level guaranteed in the west.

“I pointed out to Emmanuel Macron today how low wages are in the Czech Republic compared to France, and that French firms can also do more to raise (their) wages,” Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said.

“We will start with the directive on posted workers.” 

A diplomatic source said the five leaders had agreed to meet again in September. 


The Visegrad four have also clashed with France on the treatment of refugees and migrants from outside the EU, and were infuriated by Macron’s open criticism of the track record of Warsaw and Budapest on democracy and rule of law.

But Macron received strong support from Merkel, Europe’s most powerful leader, who said on Friday she believed they were obliged to speak out when common EU values were being damaged.

Macron has previously said he would seek sanctions on Poland, whose nationalist-minded government has angered the EU with moves to impose stricter state control over judges and public media and with its refusal to take in any refugees.

Earlier this week Macron told the Visegrad four not to treat the EU as a “supermarket” and said they would face consequences if they failed to respect EU rules and values. He drew scorn from Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who put Macron’s comments down to his relative youth. The French leader is 39.

On Friday Orban struck a more conciliatory note. 

“As far as I can see, we identified the issues where pragmatic cooperation and agreement can be achieved on the basis of mutual respect,” he told reporters.

© Thomson Reuters 2017

Source link

Over 2 Dozen Killed In Multiple Blasts In Pakistan

A soldier covers a body after a blast in Quetta, Pakistan. (Reuters)

Peshawar:  Multiple blasts killed at least 26 people and wounded dozens in two Pakistani cities on the last Friday of Ramadan, Islam’s holiest month, as officials warned the toll could rise. Authorities said 13 people were killed and 124 wounded when twin blasts tore through a market in Parachinar, capital of Kurram district, a mainly Shia area of Pakistan’s tribal belt.Local official Nasrullah Khan told AFP that the first blast detonated as the market was crowded with shoppers preparing for the Eid ul-Fitr festival marking the end of Ramadan.

“When people rushed to the site… to rescue the wounded, a second blast took place,” he said, adding that he could not give further details of the attack but that officials fear the toll will increase.

Sabir Hussain, the medical superintendent at Parachinar’s main hospital, said it had received 13 bodies and 124 wounded. 

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called for security to be increased across the country as he condemned the attack, saying that no Muslim could ever imagine committing such a “horrific” act.

Pakistan has seen a dramatic improvement in security in the last two years, but groups such as the umbrella Pakistani Taliban and other outfits still retain the ability to carry out attacks.

Local lawmaker Sajid Hussain Turi, the owner of the market, said bazaars in Parachinar had been barricaded off and vehicles banned from the area after multiple attacks have hit the city this year. 

Parachinar was the location of the first major militant attack in Pakistan in 2017, a bomb in a market which killed 24 people in January and was claimed by the Pakistani Taliban. In March, a second Taliban attack killed a further 22 people.

There was no immediate claim in Friday’s attack.

Kurram, one of Pakistan’s seven semi-autonomous tribal districts, is known for sectarian clashes between Sunnis and Shiites, who make up roughly 20 per cent of Pakistan’s population of 200 million.

Improved security?

The twin blasts in Parachinar followed a bombing earlier in the day in southwestern Quetta, capital of the insurgency-wracked Balochistan province, which killed at least 13 people.

Investigators said the attack targeted police. It was claimed by both the local affiliate of ISIS and by Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), an offshoot of the Pakistani Taliban, according to the SITE monitoring group.

There was no immediate explanation for the dual claims. ISIS-Khorasan Province, the Middle Eastern group’s affiliate in Afghanistan and Pakistan, has been known to work with the myriad of Pakistani terrorist groups in previous attacks, including with JuA. 

Officials at the city’s Civil Hospital said at least 13 people were killed and around 20 injured, mostly by shrapnel. Police officials said nine policemen were among the dead. 

At the hospital in Quetta, worried children stood by the bloodstained cots of wounded relatives, and Pakistani soldiers visited injured colleagues.

Stunned survivors could give few details about the attack. “I was sitting on a chair. There was an explosion. I got injured and fell down,” said one victim, Gulzar Ahmad. 

Pakistan has waged a long war with militancy, but security has markedly improved in the country since its deadliest-ever terror attack, an assault on a school in northwestern Peshawar in which Taliban gunmen left more than 150 people dead, most of them children.

Source link

Facebook Launches Plan To Combat Online Extremism

Facebook to educate charities and other organisations to fight online extremism.

London:  US social media giant Facebook launched a campaign in Britain on Friday to counter the spread of online extremism following warnings from Prime Minister Theresa May after four terror attacks in three months.

Facebook said it would seek to educate charities and other organisations on how to fight hate speech, in the wake of recent terror attacks in Belgium, Britain and France.

The Online Civil Courage Initiative (OCCI) will act as a forum for charities and other nonprofit organisations to share their experiences of extremism and develop “best practices” to tackle the issue, both on and offline.

There are already OCCI schemes in France and Germany.

Earlier this year, Group of Seven (G7) leaders had urged online giants like Facebook and Google to do more to curb extremist content online.

“The fight is moving from the battlefield to the internet,” May said at the time.

Partners in the new initiative include the Jo Cox Foundation, which was established in memory of the British member of parliament who was assassinated last year by a man with links to neo-Nazi organisations.

Other partner organisations include anti-hate groups from the Jewish and Muslim communities.

“There is no place for hate or violence on Facebook,” the company’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said Friday.

“We use technology like AI (artificial intelligence) to find and remove terrorist propaganda, and we have teams of counterterrorism experts and reviewers around the world working to keep extremist content off our platform.

“Partnerships with others — including tech companies, civil society, researchers and governments — are also a crucial piece of the puzzle.”

“We know we have more to do, but through our platform, our partners and our community we will continue to learn to keep violence and extremism off Facebook.”

The announcement Friday comes a week after Facebook launched a series of counter-terrorism measures in the wake of the recent terror attacks in Manchester and London.

In a separate announcement Friday, the British government rolled out new rules to crack down on terrorist and criminal financing.

Businesses like banks, estate agents and accounting and payment firms will have to carry out “stringent and targeted checks” to make sure that money “is from a legitimate source and will not be used to fund terror acts”, the Treasury said in a statement.

© Agence France-Presse

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

Source link

Video Captures Apparent Road Rage Chain Reaction Crash In California

The Sedan driver apparently loses control and smashes the car into the center divider

Tim Morrison and Chris Taber were driving to work along the 14 Freeway in Santa Clarita, California, early Wednesday when they saw a motorcyclist and a silver sedan blaze past them, according to KTLA TV.

On the video, which one of the men then started to shoot with his cellphone, you can hear a gasp as the two watch the horror unfolding in front of them in what police believe was a possible road rage episode that miraculously killed no one but left one motorist injured.

The motorcyclist and the silver sedan veer together into the southbound carpool lane of the highway. As they do, the motorcyclist appears to attempt to kick the sedan with his right leg.

The sedan veers to the left in response, sideswiping the motorcycle.

But then the sedan driver swerves back across the lane to the right and then wildly to the left. Apparently out of control, it smashes into the center divider.

Sparks or flames shoot up from the left front wheel of the sedan, which then spins back across the lanes of traffic into a white pickup, which flips over.

“Okay stop,” says one of the drivers of the car where the cellphone is filming. “Call 9-1-1 Chris,” said Tim Morrison.

The motorcycle driver takes off and has yet to be apprehended.

California Highway Patrol officer Josh Greengard told ABC7 that the motorcyclist left the scene and “that is technically a hit and run, but we’re trying to get his side of the story. . . . We’re trying to see if it was an intentional veer to the left or a reaction veer to the left.”

Greengard said the driver of the truck suffered “moderate” injuries.

Source link

Putin Denied Meddling In The US Election. CIA Caught Him Doing Just That

President Vladimir Putin has denied Russia’s involvement in hacking during the US election of 2016.

Washington:  Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly – and often tauntingly – denied that his government interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential race. Earlier this month he said that the cyber campaign might have been the work of “patriotically minded” Russian hackers he likened to “artists” who take to canvases to express their moods and political views.New details reported Friday by The Washington Post reveal the extent to which the Russian meddling bore Putin’s own signature and brushstrokes.

U.S. intelligence officials have been pointing at Putin since October, when the Obama administration released a statement declaring that the stream of embarrassing emails and other material being posted online by WikiLeaks and other sites were tied to Russian hacking efforts that “only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized.”

A broader U.S. intelligence report released in early January went further, identifying Putin by name and concluding that one of the operation’s aims was to help elect Donald Trump.

The latest revelations center on a critical piece of evidence that led U.S. intelligence agencies to that conclusion. In particular, the CIA had obtained intelligence from sources inside the Russian government by early August that captured the Russian leader’s specific instructions to subordinates on the operation’s objectives: disparage and seek to defeat the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton while helping to deliver the White House to Trump.

One former CIA official likened the intelligence to the “holy grail,” a rare window directly into the plans and intentions of Putin, a former KGB operative who takes extraordinary precautions to protect himself from foreign surveillance. The intelligence was as raw as it was compelling, and it took other U.S. spy agencies months to reach consensus that Putin not only directed the interference but worked to defeat Clinton, a politician he disliked and suspected of fomenting internal Russian opposition. 

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

Source link

Johnny Asks 'When Was The Last Time An Actor Assassinated A President?'

Johnny Depp at the premiere of Pirates Of The Caribbean 5 in Shanghai. (Image courtesy: AFP)

Washington: Johnny Depp was Glastonbury Festival’s inaugural guest at its new Cineramageddon drive-in movie theater in Britain Thursday night, and he certainly gave the place a memorable launch. While introducing a screening of his 2004 movie “The Libertine,” he made inflammatory statements about President Donald Trump.

“I think he needs help and there are a lot of wonderful dark, dark places he could go,” Depp said, according to the Guardian.

He then asked the crowd, “When was the last time an actor assassinated the president?”

The answer is John Wilkes Booth, who shot Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre in 1865.

“It is just a question – I’m not insinuating anything,” he assured the crowd. “By the way, this is going to be in the press. It will be horrible. I like that you are all a part of it.”

He also claimed that he wasn’t referring to himself, since he’s not really an actor. “I lie for a living,” he clarified. “However, it has been a while and maybe it is time.”

This isn’t the first time Depp has aired his feelings about Trump; he played the then-candidate in Funny or Die’s “The Art of the Deal: The Movie” in early 2016. But that was mere parody – not something the Secret Service might need to investigate.

When asked about the incident, a representative from the Secret Service responded that it’s “aware of the comment in question. For security reasons, we cannot discuss specifically nor in general terms the means and methods of how we perform our protective responsibilities.”

Depp has been the subject of plenty of bad press in the last year. First there was the very public implosion of his short marriage to Amber Heard, who claimed the actor had physically abused her. Photos of her bruised face circulated around the Internet. The pair reached a $7 million settlement at the end of last year.

Meanwhile, Depp sued his business managers, who in turn countersued, going public with some very unsavory accusations about the actor, saying that he has compulsive spending disorder and had squandered hundreds of millions of dollars with an outrageously extravagant lifestyle that included spending $30,000 every month on wine. According to a Hollywood Reporter story about Depp’s recent troubles, he was also difficult on the set of “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” where he routinely showed up late for work, leaving the cast and crew waiting around for hours.

And now there are his statements at Glastonbury. If Kathy Griffin’s experience joking about Trump’s death – by holding up a fake severed head that resembled the president – is any indication, there could be some serious blowback. Griffin ended up making a tearful apology but still lost her New Year’s Eve gig with CNN.

Depp knows how to apologize, at least. He had to very publicly do so when he and Heard illegally smuggled their dogs into Australia. The formal, videotaped apology the pair made was stilted and stiff but at least seemed genuine. Later, Depp told Jimmy Kimmel that there had been a few takes of the mea culpa, since it was hard for him to keep his composure. So much for saying sorry. But Depp said it himself: He lies for a living.

© 2017, The Washington Post

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

Source link

'City That Never Sleeps' Wants To Dial Down The Volume

New York:  Car horns, sirens, drilling, jet overflights and restaurants where diners have to yell to be heard New York is one of the loudest cities in the world.

But America’s most populous metropolis, known as ‘The City That Never Sleeps,’ has launched a unique experiment seeking to provide New York with the technology to dial down the volume and address noise pollution.

The five year, $4.6 million project the brainchild of researchers at New York University, working in concert with city residents and city hall is using machine learning technology and sensors to build a sound library.

The idea is to record the full panoply of noises in the city of 8.5 million residents and use artificial intelligence so that machines can recognize sounds automatically, ultimately giving authorities a way to mitigate noise levels.

“It is like living in the middle of a soccer stadium sometimes,” says Gregory Orr, a filmmaker from Los Angeles who has lived in New York for 19 years.

“Even the squirrels have to chirp louder in the city in order to be heard over the din,” he jokes.

Juan Bello, head of the ‘Sounds of NYC’ project and associate professor of music technology at NYU, says noise is ‘consistently the number one civil complaint’ to the city’s 311 telephone hotline for non-emergency services, instituted in 2003.

Researchers installed the first sensor boxes, which transmit data through wifi, on New York University buildings in Greenwich Village.

They’re now installing sensors across Manhattan and Brooklyn at spots selected for their diverse sounds. By the end of the year, there should be 100 in place.

“There are plenty of studies that show that noise has a tremendous impact on health, both short term and long term,” says Bello, citing heart conditions, hearing loss and hypertension, which then have a significant economic impact.

Canyons of sound

Educational performance is also shown to suffer among children subjected to high noise levels.

In Manhattan, Bello says the effects are amplified by skyscrapers, which form ‘canyons of sound’ and make everything louder.

“A lot of the sounds that you get in New York would not be so loud in other places, because of the specifics of the topology of the city,” he tells AFP.

That was the concept from which the project was born, and it is being financed by the National Science Foundation.

The sensors are programmed to record no more than 10 consecutive seconds to avoid eavesdropping on conservations and posing confidentiality problems.

Researchers hope to index thousands of sounds which, with the help of New Yorkers, will be carefully annotated and help computers identify the source of nuisance sound immediately.

It would then be over to the city to do what it can to limit it.

The problem is clear. But the solutions might still be some way off.

How, for example, do you deal with something as short-lived and unpredictable as honking?

“We have to get more creative,” says Bello.

Today, it can take authorities five or six days to deal with a noise complaint, and requires the intervention of one of 50 specialist inspectors, says Bello. After so long, the problem has often disappeared.

Perfect laboratory

Those who call the police on noisy neighbors can be given short shrift by officers who have more pressing priorities.

Arline Bronzaft, environmental psychologist and professor emerita at City University of New York, has spent years speaking out about the harmful effects of noise and need for better controls.

Delighted that the project is taking place, she says noise levels affect how New Yorkers behave.

“Some of the reason people walk fast is to get away from the noise and New Yorkers talk loud because we are competing with sounds,” she tells AFP.

For a long time, officials minimized the consequences of noise pollution, accusing people of exaggerating  a bit like how the tobacco industry spent decades refusing to acknowledge the risks of smoking on your health.

But today she credits authorities with being ‘cognizant of the problem.’

The first results gathered by Bello’s team tend to confirm that the problem is under reported, that there are more noise violations than the 311 log seems to suggest, at least for sounds linked to construction.

New York may not be the only loud city in the world, but Bello calls it ‘a perfect laboratory’ to test solutions that can be adopted and transferred “to many other places in the US and around the world.”

“That’s ultimately the objective,” he says. “We will generate a core set of technologies that can be applied to this problem anywhere.”

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

Source link

China's 'straddling bus' hits its final roadblock

Image copyright
Photo by Imaginechina/REX/Shutterstock

It seemed like a glimpse into the city of tomorrow – but China’s “straddling bus” was riddled by doubts early on and now is headed for the scrap yard.

The futuristic idea was a bus that would drive above traffic, allowing other commuter cars to pass underneath.

The project was announced last summer to much acclaim but soon ran into feasibility and investment problems.

Many of China’s cities suffer from chronic traffic congestion so there’s a strong hunger for ingenious solutions.

The project faced strong headwinds from the very beginning and according to Chinese media, the test site is now being demolished entirely.

Reports are saying that workers have already begun dismantling and removing the test track in Qinhuangdao.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

The TEB was to zoom above traffic, elevated 2 meters above the daily gridlock

The idea of a traffic-straddling bus first appeared in China in 2010, but it didn’t make much impact until the model was presented at the 2016 Beijing International High-Tech Expo.

The so-called Transit Elevated Bus was touted as a revolution in public ground transportation, able to glide over traffic, literally lifting commuters from the daily grind of being stuck in their cars for hours.

Yet only a few days after its much-lauded test-run in Qinhuangdao city, Hebei province, all test-runs had been halted and doubts began to emerge.

Many doubted the vehicle would be able to manage curves or fit under footbridges in Beijing, and critics have asked how it will turn corners, whether it is strong enough to bear its own and passengers’ weight and how long its battery would last.

There was also confusion about whether the project had ever been approved by the local authorities and there was even suspicion it could be an investment scam.

But the widespread interest in the idea did show that there’s an appetite for ideas that could help big cities out of the grip of the daily traffic gridlock – even if this one appears to have hit a final roadblock.

Source link

If Baghdadi Death Confirmed, Next ISIS Leader To Be Saddam-Era Officer

Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi awarded himself the title of caliph in 2014.

Baghdad:  If ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is confirmed dead, he is likely to be succeeded by one of his top two lieutenants, both of whom were army officers under late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Experts on Islamist groups see no clear successor but regard Iyad al-Obaidi and Ayad al-Jumaili as the leading contenders, though neither would be likely to assume Baghdadi’s title of “caliph” or overall commander of Muslims.

Russia’s defence ministry said last week Baghdadi may have been killed in an air strike in Syria and Interfax news agency quoted a senior Russian parliamentarian on Friday as saying the likelihood that he had been killed was close to 100 percent.

But armed groups fighting in the region and U.S. officials say they have no evidence he is dead and many regional officials are sceptical about the reports of his death.

Obaidi, who is in his 50s, has been serving as war minister. Jumaili, who is in his late 40s, is head of the group’s Amniya security agency. In April Iraqi state TV said Jumaili had been killed, but that was not confirmed.

Both joined the Sunni Salafist insurgency in Iraq in 2003, following the U.S.-led invasion which Saddam and empowered Iraq’s Shi’ite majority.

They have been Baghdadi’s top aides since airstrikes in 2016 killed his then deputy Abu Ali al-Anbari, his Chechen war minister Abu Omar al-Shishani and his Syrian chief propagandist, Abu Mohammad al-Adnani.

“Jumaili recognises Obaidi as his senior but there is no clear successor and, depending on conditions, it can be either of the two (who succeeds Baghdadi),” said Hisham al-Hashimi, who advises several Middle East governments on ISIS affairs.

Baghdadi awarded himself the title of caliph — the chief Muslim civil and religious ruler, regarded as the successor of the Prophet Mohammad — in 2014. Obaidi or Jumaili would be unlikely to become caliph because they lack religious standing and ISIS has lost much of its territory.

“They don’t belong to the Prophet Mohammed’s lineage. The group has no longer ‘a land to rule’ or ‘Ardh al-Tamkeen’. And none is well versed in Islamic theology,” said Fadhel Abu Ragheef, another Iraqi expert on the extremist group.

“A caliph has to have an Ardh al-Tamkeen, which he rules in accordance with Islamic law. Failing that, the successor will just be recognised as the emir,” said Hashimi.

Emir is Arabic for prince, and is a title that jihadists often use to describe their leaders.

By contrast, Baghdadi, born as Ibrahim Awad al-Samarrai’ in 1971, comes from a family of preachers and studied Islamic law in Baghdad.

The appointment of the new leader would require the approval of an eight-member shoura council, an advisory body to the caliph. Nut its members would be unlikely to meet for security reasons so would make their opinion known through couriers.

Six members of the council are Iraqis, one Jordanian and one Saudi, and all are veterans of the Sunni salafist insurgency. A ninth member, a Bahraini, was killed in an air strike in late May.

© Thomson Reuters 2017

Source link

Deadly London Tower Blaze Began In Hotpoint Fridge Freezer: Report

The fire killed at least 79 people at a London tower block. (Reuters)

London:  A fire that killed at least 79 people at a London tower block started in a Hotpoint fridge freezer, and the outside cladding engulfed by the blaze has since been shown to fail all safety tests, London police said today.

Detective Superintendent Fiona McCormack said that in view of the heavy death toll, police were considering manslaughter charges over the disaster.

She said the Hotpoint model, FF175BP, involved was not subject to recall and the manufacturer was doing further tests.

“We now have expert evidence that the fire was not started deliberately,” McCormack told reporters in London.

Britain ordered an immediate technical examination of the Hotpoint fridge model to establish whether further action needed to be taken, but said there was no need for owners to switch off their appliances.

Whirlpool Corp, the world’s largest maker of home appliances, owns the Hotpoint brand in the Europe and Asia Pacific regions. In the United States, the brand now belongs to Haier, following the Chinese group’s purchase of General Electric Co’s appliance business.

A spokesman for Whirlpool could not be immediately reached out of US business hours.

Police said both the insulation and tiles used in cladding at the 24-storey Grenfell Tower block failed all post-fire safety tests.

“Preliminary tests show the insulation samples collected from Grenfell tower combusted soon after the test started,” McCormack said.

Such were their concerns after the tests that the information was immediately shared with government to disseminate more widely.

“Given the deaths of so many people we are considering manslaughter as well as criminal offences and breaches of legislation and regulations,” McCormack said.

The blaze, Britain’s worst since World War Two, has heaped pressure on Prime Minister Theresa May, already fighting for her political survival after her party lost its parliamentary majority in a snap election on June 8.

When speaking about the 79 people dead or missing, presumed dead, McCormack said: “I fear that there are more.”

© Thomson Reuters 2017

Source link

North Korea Accuses US Of 'Smear Campaign' Over Otto Warmbier Death

Otto Warmbier had spent more than a year in detention in the secretive state in North Korea.

Seoul, South Korea:  North Korea on Friday accused the US of waging a ‘smear campaign’ over the death of a student who was sent back home in a coma, denying he was tortured or abused.

President Donald Trump has slammed the treatment of 22 year old American Otto Warmbier, who spent more than a year in detention in the secretive state, as ‘a total disgrace’.

“The smear campaign against (North Korea) staged in the US compels us to make firm determination that… we should further sharpen the blade of law”, the foreign ministry spokesman said according to state media.

“The US should ponder over the consequences to be entailed from its reckless and rash act,” he said in an apparent warning over the fate of three other US citizens currently being held in the country.

The spokesman said that Warmbier was provided with proper medical treatment, and questioned why he died so soon after returning to the US.

“The fact that Warmbier died suddenly in less than a week just after his return to the US in his normal state of health indicators is a mystery to us as well,” he said.

Warmbier had been on a tourist trip to North Korea when he was detained and sentenced to hard labour early last year for allegedly stealing a political poster from a North Korean hotel.

Doctors said the University of Virginia student had suffered severe brain damage while in North Korean detention. He died on Monday at a Cincinnati hospital and was buried on Thursday. His family declined an autopsy.

‘Heart nearly stopped’

The foreign ministry official denied that Warmbier was abused while in custody, condemning “groundless public opinion now circulating in the US that he died of torture and beating during his reform through labour.”

He said that North Korean medics had ‘brought him back alive’ after his ‘heart was nearly stopped’ but did not give any further details as to why he fell ill.

The US doctors had also said that Warmbier’s severe brain injury was most likely given his young age  to have been caused by cardiopulmonary arrest cutting the blood supply to the brain.

In the first official reaction to his death, a spokesman for the National Reconciliation Council earlier Friday said that Warmbier was treated according to ‘international standards’.

“Those who have absolutely no idea about how well we treated Warmbier under humanitarian conditions dare to utter ‘mistreatment’ and ‘torture’,” he said according to the official KCNA news agency.

Warmbier’s fate has sparked strong condemnation in Washington, and inflamed already high tensions stoked by Pyongyang’s atomic tests and missile launches.

On Wednesday, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said that US patience with Pyongyang was running out.

“To see a young man go over there healthy and, (after) a minor act of mischief, come home dead basically… this goes beyond any kind of understanding of law and order, of humanity, of responsibility toward any human being,” he said.

The North’s foreign ministry spokesman put the blame for Warmbier’s death on the previous US administration of Barack Obama which it said had ‘not even once’ made an official request for his release.

“Warmbier is a victim of policy of ‘strategic patience’ of Obama who was engrossed in utmost hostility” against North Korea and refused to hold any dialogue, he said.

The spokesman said that Warmbier was released on humanitarian grounds after repeated requests from the current administration but that it had been repaid with criticism that represented a ‘frontal challenge.’

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

Source link

EU prepares to move two agencies from London

Image copyright

Image caption

Both agencies are currently headquartered in Canary Wharf in London

EU leaders have officially launched the competition between member states to decide which will host two London-based EU agencies, responsible for medicines and banking.

The relocation must take place by the Brexit deadline – 30 March 2019.

Some countries are bidding to host both the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and European Banking Authority (EBA).

It means hundreds of jobs moving from London, along with significant revenue from hotel stays and conferences.

The deciding vote will take place in November.

The EU 27 agreed on the selection process on Thursday night, after UK Prime Minister Theresa May had left the Brussels summit.

The 27 are determined that the UK will pay the relocation bill, as Brexit was a UK decision.

The EMA’s total number of staff in 2015 was 890, while the EBA’s was 189. Both are headquartered in Canary Wharf.

The EMA had 36,000 visitors in 2015, and 30,000 hotel nights were booked, the European Council said.

What do the agencies do?


  • Monitors the safety and quality of medicines EU-wide and issues scientific advice
  • Provides a single route for evaluating medicines, avoiding duplication by member states
  • Helps innovation by collaborating with medicine manufacturers


  • Works to harmonise European banking rules and supervisory practices
  • Assesses risks and vulnerabilities in EU banking sector
  • Mediates in cross-border disputes between financial authorities

The national rivalry over hosting the agencies will be closely watched. It could reveal some wider tensions over Brexit, so it will be an early test of EU unity in the tough Brexit negotiations.

In 2001 Italy’s then Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi mocked Finland’s bid to host the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

“There is absolutely no comparison between culatello (speciality ham) from Parma and smoked reindeer,” Mr Berlusconi was quoted as saying.

Italy’s bid beat Finland’s, and the EFSA opened in Parma in 2005.

First the European Commission will assess the competing bids and make its recommendations.

In November each of the EU foreign ministers will vote in order of preference – three points for the preferred bid, two points for the second-favourite and one point for the third.

Accessibility and efficient infrastructure are the top two agreed criteria. But the EU also wants the new hosts to have good “European-oriented” schooling and job opportunities for the families of agency staff.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Vienna is among the cities vying to host the EBA and its employees

Germany’s Spiegel news website joked that the voting would be rather like the Eurovision Song Contest.

“That’s why the Germans fear equally wretched results,” Spiegel said – even though Frankfurt, as HQ of the European Central Bank, would be a logical host for the EBA.

A flavour of this new EU “beauty contest” was provided by Austria.

Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said his country “is already a terrific location for many international organisations.

“We have wonderful general conditions in Vienna, and that’s why I consider that we are a very attractive location.”

The EU is keen to locate some of its agencies in the newer member states of Central and Eastern Europe – it has stated that as an aim.

But their rejection of the EU asylum policy – notably refusing to take in refugees currently in Italy and Greece – may count against them.

Source link

Snapchat map update raises child safety worries

Image copyright

Image caption

Snap Map lets people track their friends

An update to Snapchat that shows publicly posted images on a searchable map has raised safety concerns among parents.

Snap Map lets people search for places such as schools and see videos and pictures posted by children inside.

It also lets people locate their “friends” on a map that is accurate enough to determine where people live.

Snap, the company behind Snapchat, stressed to the BBC that location sharing was an opt-in feature.

Exact location

Snap Map was launched on Wednesday and was promoted as a “new way to explore the world”.

Video clips and photos that members have posted publicly can be discovered on the map, while members who have chosen to share their location can also be seen on the map by those they have added as “friends”.

A member’s friends list might include strangers as well as people they actually know.

A message to parents posted by St Peter’s Academy in Staffordshire warned that the location-sharing feature lets people “locate exactly where you are, which building you are in and exact whereabouts within the building”.

One parent described the update as “dangerous” while another said she could not find the setting to disable it.

People have expressed concern online that the app could be used for stalking or working out exactly where somebody lives.

“If you zoom right in on this new Snapchat map thing it literally tells you where everyone lives? Like exact addresses – bit creepy no?” wrote one user called Leanne.

“This new Snapchat update is awful. An invitation for stalkers, kidnappers, burglars and relationship trust issues,” suggested Jade.

Snap told the BBC that accurate location information was necessary to allow friends to use the service to meet, for example at a restaurant or crowded festival.

It said points of interest on the map, such as schools, were provided by third-party mapping service Mapbox.

How to switch off Snap Map location sharing

  • When in photo-taking mode, pinch the screen to open Snap Map
  • Touch the settings cog in the top right corner of the screen
  • Tap “Ghost Mode” to switch off location sharing
  • Photos and videos posted to Snapchat’s public ‘Our Story’ will still be discoverable on the map

Source link

8 Emirati Princesses Convicted For Human Trafficking, Mistreating Staff

The accused Emirati princesses did not appear in Brussels criminal court throughout the proceedings.

Brussels:  Eight Emirati princesses were convicted of human trafficking by a Belgian court on Friday and were given suspended jail terms and fines in a case stemming from their treatment of servants at a Brussels luxury hotel nearly 10 years ago, their lawyer said.

The Brussels criminal court handed the eight women from Abu Dhabi’s ruling al-Nahyan family 15-month suspended sentences for human trafficking and degrading treatment, the lawyer, Stephen Monod, said.

He said the defence was pleased the case was finally resolved after nearly a decade.

“Belgian justice has appropriately assessed this case which has generated many misconceptions,” he said in a statement.

The defendants were acquitted of the more serious charge of inhuman treatment but also ordered to pay a fine of 165,000 euros ($184,000), with half the sum suspended.

The eight accused did not appear in court throughout the proceedings.

The case was brought after a servant of the family slipped out of the hotel where the women stayed for several months in 2007 and 2008 and complained to Belgian police.

© Thomson Reuters 2017

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

Source link

Solar Energy Powers Clean Water, Business Opportunities For Refugees

Dar Es Salaam:  Sadick Thenest remembers how his 8-year-old daughter had a narrow brush with death two years ago, when she contracted cholera after drinking contaminated water.

“She was so gaunt, weak and had terrible diarrhoea,” said the refugee from Burundi. “A slight delay in rushing her to hospital would have meant something else – but with God’s grace she survived.”

The father of four, aged 35, is among thousands of refugees grappling with frequent outbreaks of waterborne diseases in the crowded Nyarugusu camp in western Tanzania, due to poor sanitation.

“Living in a refugee camp is a constant struggle. You either stick to health rules or contract diseases,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.

The health risks in Nyarugusu camp – home to around 100,000 refugees, mainly from Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo – have grown due to an influx of people this year, amid spikes in the political instability afflicting both countries.

But Thenest, who came to the camp two years ago at the height of political tensions in Burundi, has learned how to protect his family from bouts of diarrhoeal diseases – a major cause of death in children under five.

“I always ensure that my children use clean and safe water,” he said. “I have instructed them to wash their hands with soap after using a toilet.”

Thenest, who works as a technician with international engineering charity Water Mission, said the health situation in the camp is improving as more people get access to clean water from a recently installed solar-powered water treatment facility.

“The plant produces thousands of litres every day – women no longer go far to fetch water,” he said.

As part of a broader initiative to help refugees access clean energy and sanitation, Water Mission is installing more such plants in three refugee camps in western Tanzania.

The $5.3 million project, funded by the Denmark-based Poul Due Jensen Foundation, is expected to provide safe water for some 250,000 refugees in Nyarugusu, Nduta and Mtendeli camps.

Benjamin Filskov, Water Mission’s country director, said “huge” investment in solar technologies by the organisation would help communities access clean and safe water, and contribute towards achieving the world’s development goals.

“We will document saved lives and ensure general public health, as a result of safe water,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

According to Water Mission, the Tanzania project aims to pump 100 percent of the water using solar power, with diesel generators as back up.

A recent shipment of 780 solar panels to Tanzania will produce 226,000 watts of power and provide a continuous supply of safe water to keep children in good health, it said in a statement.


With rising use of renewable energy, refugee communities in Africa and the Middle East are increasingly embracing solar power to help build their economic resilience, reduce deforestation and prevent violence against women and girls.

From Dadaab in Kenya, to Darfur in western Sudan and Azraq in Jordan, solar power is being deployed to provide affordable and sustainable energy solutions for tens of thousands of displaced people.

In semi-arid eastern Kenya, Africa’s largest solar-powered borehole – equipped with 278 solar panels – is providing 16,000 refugees in Dadaab camp with a daily average of about 280,000 litres of water, which they use for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene, according to the European Commission.

In Azraq, a 2-megawatt solar farm that started operating in May – the world’s first in a refugee camp – has enabled the U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, to provide free, clean electricity to 20,000 Syrian refugees, covering the energy needs of two villages connected to the national grid.

Refugee families can now run a fridge, TV, fans and lights in their shelters, and recharge their phones, which is crucial for maintaining contact with loved ones abroad, the agency said.

Yet while access to clean energy for refugees and their host communities is a global priority for UNHCR, analysts say millions of displaced people still lack access to sustainable, cheap energy sources because of a lack of funding.


At Kakuma refugee camp in northwest Kenya, residents receive 10 kg of firewood for cooking every eight weeks, but for most, it is not enough, said Anna Okello, a research analyst with Practical Action Consulting International who works in the camp.

The need to gather extra firewood often results in personal security problems as adolescent girls and women face sexual harassment when they go out to collect it, she said.

Clean energy sources like solar can deliver benefits to refugees by enhancing safety, security, health and livelihoods, she added.

“If reliance on firewood can be lessened through solar cooking, this will have a direct impact on the development and protection of women in the camp,” she said.

For example, it frees up time otherwise spent on firewood collection or cleaning sooty pots, she explained.

A lack of electric power has caused other problems for Kakuma’s nearly 180,000 inhabitants.

“I don’t dare go to the toilet alone at night because it’s too dark,” said Aisha Ilanda, 31, from Congo.

Providing solar street lamps and lanterns and energy-efficient cooking stoves can greatly improve the lives of refugees and contribute to their protection, Okello said.

Introducing solar technology to Kakuma could also help build economic resilience among refugees who make up a vibrant community exploiting new business opportunities such as charging mobile phones and operating money transfer services like M-Pesa.

“Access to solar energy would help these businesses stay open longer; street lighting could make the streets safer; and solar lights can provide a safe learning space inside homes,” said Okello.

“The sun is plentiful in Africa – it’s free, it does not pollute and will never run out of power,” she added.

© Thomson Reuters 2017

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

Source link

Tubelight: Foreign Media On Salman Khan's New Film

Bollywood bad boy Salman Khan’s latest movie opened in Indian cinemas Friday but film analysts are sceptical it will have the same box office success as his previous Eid blockbusters. It is something of a tradition in the Hindi film industry for Khan to star in the big release of the Eid holiday to mark the end of Ramadan, which this year is expected to fall on Monday. Last year’s Sultan broke opening weekend records and currently sits fifth in the all-time list of highest-grossing Hindi language films worldwide, two places behind his 2015 Eid release Bajrangi Bhaijaan. However this year’s Tubelight, a drama set during the 1962 India-China war, is unlikely to do quite as well, according to movie critic and Bollywood trade analyst Taran Adarsh.

“#Tubelight rests on a thin plot… Screenplay lacks the power to enthral and mesmerise… Emotions plenty, but few moments stand out…” he wrote on Twitter.

Adarsh added that it would still have an “awesome” weekend at the box office due to Monday’s holiday and Khan’s star power, but doubted it would eventually make three billion rupees ($46 million) internationally, the benchmark for a major hit.


Tubelight, an adaptation of 2015 American movie Little Boy, is Khan’s fourth straight Eid release and his seventh since 2010.

“For audiences Salman Khan is synonymous with Eid and for distributors Eid is synonymous with Salman Khan,” trade analyst Akshaye Rathi told AFP.

Khan — never far from controversy — enjoys a cult-like status in star-obsessed India, particularly among young men who regularly stand outside his house in Mumbai hoping to catch a glimpse of the superstar.

The 51-year-old body-building actor has successfully shaken off numerous scandals during his career to become one of Bollywood’s most bankable stars.

He sparked uproar shortly before Sultan hit screens by saying his heavy training schedule for the film, in which he played an ageing wrestler, left him feeling “like a raped woman”. The movie made around 5.8 billion rupees globally.

In 2015 Khan was cleared of killing a homeless man in a hit-and-run more than a decade earlier. That decision is now being challenged in the Supreme Court.

Indian authorities are also challenging a court’s decision to acquit him over the illegal use of firearms to kill endangered antelopes in 1998.

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

Source link

Uber Checking If Bribes Paid For Delhi Rape Survivor's Medical Records

The investigation is ongoing on whether Uber improperly obtained the records (File Photo)

San Francisco/ New Delhi:  Uber Technologies Inc has hired a law firm to investigate how it obtained the medical records of a Delhi woman executive who was raped by an Uber driver in 2014. The review will focus in part on accusations from some current and former employees that bribes were involved, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The law firm O’Melveny & Myers LLP, which is in the early stages of the probe, was hired by the ride service after employees gave contradictory accounts of how Uber obtained the medical records, one of the people said.

The firm is also exploring whether former Chief Executive Travis Kalanick knew how Uber came into possession of the records, the person added.

Kalanick through a spokesman declined to comment. Uber also declined to comment, and O’Melveny & Myers did not respond to a request for comment. Members of Uber’s board were briefed about the investigation in recent days, shortly before five major Uber investors sent a letter to Kalanick to demand his resignation, said the person. The probe was likely one reason the board turned against Kalanick, who stepped down on Tuesday, the first person said.

The investigation is ongoing and has not reached any conclusions on whether Uber improperly obtained the records. Reuters has no evidence that bribery occurred.

The rape survivor from Delhi sued Uber last week, accusing the ride service operator of improperly obtaining and sharing her medical records. The suit said that shortly after the rape occurred, former Uber Asia chief Eric Alexander “met with Delhi police and intentionally obtained plaintiff’s confidential medical records.”

Alexander, through spokeswoman Heather Wilson, denied paying any bribes and said that the files containing the victim’s records had been obtained through appropriate, legal methods.

A Delhi police spokesman did not answer multiple phone calls from Reuters to seek comment. The rapist was convicted in 2015.

According to a person familiar with conversations between Kalanick and Alexander, the two executives had discussed obtaining the victim’s records because they suspected the rape might have been fabricated by Uber rival Ola to damage the company.

Another person said Alexander showed the medical files to colleagues in New Delhi more than once.

Wilson denied that Alexander had discussed or shared the records with colleagues. She said that Alexander believed the victim was raped and never expressed the view that it was a set up. Uber fired Alexander earlier this month.

Kalanick, 40, announced late on Tuesday that he was resigning as chief executive, though he would remain on the board of Uber. He said he had accepted “the investors’ request to step aside so that Uber can go back to building rather than be distracted with another fight.”

Confidence in Kalanick had been strained this year by claims of sexual harassment in the company and a lawsuit accusing Uber of benefiting from trade secrets stolen from self-driving car technology from Alphabet Inc’s Waymo.

(Reporting by Joseph Menn and Heather Somerville in San Francisco, and Aditya Kalra in New Delhi; Additional reporting by Dan Levine; Writing by Peter Henderson; Editing by Tiffany Wu and Edward Tobin)

© Thomson Reuters 2017

Source link

Troubled Toshiba flags deeper losses

Image copyright
Getty Images

Ailing electronics giant Toshiba has said its losses for 2016 may be greater than it had previously forecast.

It now predicts a net loss of 995bn yen (£7bn) for the year to March, up from its earlier estimate of 950bn yen.

The firm was demoted to the second tier of the Tokyo Exchange after confirming its liabilities outweighed its assets.

It also got regulatory approval to delay filing its annual earnings again, this time until 10 August, after a previous deadline extension to 30 June.

Failure to gain an extension would have put the troubled company’s stock exchange listing in further jeopardy.

Chip sale

In April, Toshiba said its future may be in doubt after facing a series of difficulties.

An accounting scandal that was uncovered in 2015 led to the resignation of the chief executive and several senior managers. The company was found to have inflated the previous seven years’ profits by $1.2bn.

The firm was dealt another blow in January when it became clear its US nuclear unit, Westinghouse, was in financial trouble.

Toshibas’s dire financial position has forced it to try to sell off its highly prized chip unit.

The company has named a consortium of Bain Capital and Japanese government investors as the preferred bidder for the business

But US-based Western Digital, which jointly runs Toshiba’s main chip operations in Japan, has filed a request with the International Court of Arbitration to stop the sale going ahead.

Toshiba is the world’s second-largest chip manufacturer. Its products are used in data centres and consumer goods worldwide, including iPhones and iPads.

Source link

Turkey Has No Plans To Reassess Military Base In Qatar: Reports

Defence Minister Fikri Isik said he had not yet seen a request for the closure of the Qatar base.

Istanbul:  Turkey rejected a call from four Arab states on Friday to shut down its military base in Qatar, saying the base was a guarantor of security in the Gulf and demands for its closure represented interference in its ties with Doha.

Defence Minister Fikri Isik told Turkish broadcaster NTV that he had not yet seen a request for the closure of the base, but made clear Ankara had no plans to review a 2014 agreement with Qatar which led to it being set up.

He was speaking after an official from one of the four Arab states boycotting Qatar over alleged support for terrorism said they had sent Doha a list of 13 demands including closing down the military installation.

“If there is such a demand, it will mean interference in bilateral ties,” Isik said, suggesting instead that Turkey might continue to bolster its presence in Qatar.

Five armoured vehicles and 23 military personnel arrived in Doha on Thursday in a deployment Turkey’s armed forces said was part of a military training and cooperation deal. Some 88 Turkish soldiers were already in Qatar, according to the Hurriyet newspaper.

The newspaper said a joint exercise by Turkish and Qatari forces was expected following the Islamic Eid al-Fitr holiday which starts on Sunday, and the number of Turkish soldiers sent to the Gulf state could eventually reach 1,000. An air force contingent was also envisaged, it said.

“The strengthening of the Turkish base would be a positive step in terms of the Gulf’s security,” Isik said. “Re-evaluating the base agreement with Qatar is not on our agenda.”

Turkey, which has long tried to play the role of regional mediator, is also wary of upsetting its other allies in the Gulf, including Saudi Arabia, and Isik said Ankara had hoped that tensions over Qatar could be resolved without a crisis.

Isik said Turkey’s presence in Qatar should be seen as a benefit for the whole Gulf. “The base in Qatar is both a Turkish base and one that will preserve the security of Qatar and the region,” he said.

Turkey’s military support for Qatar has been matched by stepped up commercial links.

Customs and Trade Minister Bulent Tufenkci said Turkish exports to Qatar have tripled since the four Arab countries began boycotting the Gulf state earlier this month.

“Since June 5 exports to Qatar have amounted to $32.5 million. Of this $12.5 million is food. This figure is three times the normal level,” Tufenkci told reporters at a Ramadan fast-breaking dinner on Thursday evening.

Turkey has sent more than 100 cargo planes of supplies to Qatar but Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci has said it was not sustainable to maintain supplies through an air lift.

© Thomson Reuters 2017

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

Source link

FTSE 100 slides as pound rises

Image copyright

The pound climbed back above $1.27 but the FTSE 100 share index was on track for its third week of losses in a row.

Shortly after midday the FTSE 100 was down 29.88 points at 7,409.41.

Meanwhile sterling rose 0.4% against the dollar to $1.2732, and climbed 0.2% against the euro to 1.1401 euros.

The FTSE 100 often falls when the pound rises because many firms in the index operate abroad. A stronger pound means overseas earnings are worth less when changed back into sterling.

Comments from brokers were behind some of the bigger share movements. BAE Systems fell 1.8% after JP Morgan cut its rating on the company to “neutral”.

Broadcasting company ITV was the biggest riser in the FTSE 100, up 2.3%, as Morgan Stanley raised its rating to “overweight”.

In the FTSE 250, shares in Domino’s Pizza fell 3.5% after analysts at Berenberg cut their rating on the company to “hold”.

Source link

Russia Warships And Submarine Fire Cruise Missiles At Syria: Reports

Missiles have been fired in the mediterranean by 2 Russian warships and a submarine.

Moscow:  2 Russian warships and a submarine in the Mediterranean have fired missiles at ISIS targets in Syria, the defence ministry said Friday. It said that Turkish and Israeli military “were informed in a timely manner of the missile launches through communication channels,” but it did not mention the United States.Russia suspended its communication channel with the US about military operations in Syria from Monday after a US jet shot down a Syrian warplane on Sunday, with Moscow accusing Washington of failing to issue a warning.

The defence ministry said in a statement that Russia’s Admiral Essen and Admiral Grigorovich warships and the Krasnodar submarine in the eastern Mediterranean fired six Kalibr missiles at command centres and weapons stores in Syria’s Hama region.

“As a result of the surprise mass missile strike, command points were destroyed and also large stores of weapons and ammunition of the ISIS terrorists in the area of Aqirbat in the Hama province,” it said.

The ministry added that Russian planes then carried out aerial strikes that “destroyed the remainder of the ISIS fighters and their facilities.”

The most recent such strikes were announced by the ministry on May 31, aimed at targets around Palmyra.

The defence ministry on Friday said that ISIS this week has been moving forces into Hama province under cover of night and using large buildings there as command points and weapons stores. It said this was part of attempts to move out from Raqa towards Palmyra


© Agence France-Presse

Source link

Google scrubs medical records from search

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Information about plastic surgery procedures was stolen in a hack attack

Medical records of private individuals will no longer be findable via a Google search, reports Bloomberg.

The news organisation noticed that the search giant had added the data type to its list of information automatically removed from search results.

Now Google will make sure “confidential” medical information cannot be found when people search.

The change comes after some medical data was put online accidentally and hackers stole some records.

Fake news filter

In May, people from the UK, Denmark, Germany and Norway who had had plastic surgery at a Lithuanian clinic got a ransom demand from hackers who stole pictures and other data from the health firm.

In December last year, an Indian laboratory wrongly uploaded records of 43,000 patients who had had blood tests for many different conditions including HIV.

Over the last 12 months, hackers have targeted health organisations, including hospitals, and data taken from them has often appeared for sale online.

A Google spokeswoman told Bloomberg that the changes only affected the lists of results people got when they carried out a search.

The types of information Google removes from its search corpus has been tweaked several times recently. Credit card details, pirated content and revenge porn have all been added to the list of excluded categories.

In addition Google, along with many other web firms, has filtered results following criticism about the legitimacy it lends misleading articles or fake news stories.

Source link

'Fair' Or 'Vague'? EU Sizes Up Theresa May's Brexit Rights Offer

Theresa May says that no families will be split apart and no one will have to leave UK.

Brussels:  Theresa May said her offer to fellow EU leaders to guarantee the rights of their compatriots living in Britain after Brexit was “very fair and very serious” but her peers sounded sceptical, with Belgium’s leader calling it “particularly vague”.

“I want to reassure all those EU citizens who are in the UK, who have made their lives and homes in the UK, that no one will have to leave. We won’t be seeing families split apart,” May said on arrival for the second day of a regular European Union summit in Brussels on Friday.

“Last night I was pleased to be able to set out what is a very fair and a very serious offer for EU citizens who are living in the United Kingdom,” she said, adding that she would issue detailed proposals on Monday and seek reciprocal rights for about a million Britons living on the continent.

More detail was what most of the other 27 said they wanted, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who called it a “good start” but made clear that her focus was on the EU’s future without Britain.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel called it a “particularly vague proposal” and described it using a Flemish expression for a dubious gift.

“We don’t want a cat in the bag,” he said. “We want the rights of EU citizens to be permanently guaranteed.”

In particular, the EU 27 want their citizens to be able to enforce their rights in Britain through the European Court of Justice, something May has flatly ruled out.

They also dispute her attempt to limit those rights potentially to people already living in Britain before she triggered Brexit three months ago.

Given the floor for 10 minutes at the end of a Brussels summit dinner, May outlined five principles, notably that no EU citizen resident in Britain at a cut-off date would be deported. There are roughly 3 million living there now.

May said those EU citizens who had lived in Britain for five years could stay for life. Those there for less would be allowed to stay until they reach the five-year threshold for “settled status”. Red tape for permanent residency would be cut and there would be a two-year grace period to avoid “cliff edge” misfortunes.

“It is a first good step which we appreciate,” said Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern. “Many details are left open. A lot of European citizens are concerned and not covered by May’s proposal. There is a long, long way to go for negotiations.”

Brussels has been dismissive of May’s call for sweeping and quick guarantees for expats and says only detailed legal texts can reassure people and take complex, multinational family situations into account.

Leaders had agreed with summit chair Donald Tusk not to open discussions with May and she left early on Thursday evening, leaving the other 27 to discuss other Brexit issues without her.

They were briefed by Michel Barnier, who launched the Brexit negotiations for them on Monday, and discussed the move of two EU agencies from London after Britain quits.

Weakened by an election she did not need to call, May has watered down her government’s programme to try to get it through parliament and set a softer tone in her approach to Brexit.

Yet her aims have held – she wants a clean break from the bloc, leaving the lucrative single market and customs union and so reducing immigration and ending EU courts’ jurisdiction.

(Additional reporting by Alastair Macdonald, Robin Emmott, Jan Strupczewski, Elizabeth Miles, Charlotte Steenackers, Philip Blenkinsop, Gabriela Baczynska, Tom Koerkemeier, Andreas Rinke, Jean-Baptiste Vey, Peter Maushagen and Alissa de Carbonnel in Brussels; Writing by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Noah Barkin)

© Thomson Reuters 2017

Source link

ECB bids for more euro clearing oversight

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

London is the world leader for clearing all types of currency-denominated derivatives

The European Central Bank has put forward a proposal to boost its oversight over euro clearing.

The legal amendment would give it a “significantly enhanced” role in regulating the lucrative market.

London currently processes most of the trade in this financial sector, providing thousands of jobs.

The ECB’s proposal comes shortly after the European Commission published a draft law to give it the power to move euro clearing business out of London.

Clearing is where a third party organisation acts as a middleman for buyers and sellers of financial contracts tied to the underlying value of a share, index, currency or bond.

Trillions of euros are handled through clearing houses every year, mostly through London.

The ECB said the amendment would give it “clear legal competence” in the area of central clearing, which is currently dominated by London firms.

Under the proposal, the ECB and its national central banks would monitor risks that could affect monetary policy, the operation of payment systems and the stability of the euro.

Daniel Hodson of the Financial Services Negotiation Forum told the BBC that at the moment the ECB did not have sovereignty over euro clearing in London, as its UK regulator – the Bank of England – is responsible.

However, there are “substantial” arrangements in place with the ECB that are “very similar” to those in place with US regulators for dollar clearing, he said.

“There is no economic reason for changing this well-developed and thought out established framework, adapted as appropriate post-Brexit,” he said.

“There is a strong argument that to try to move substantial amounts of London based euro clearing business into the eurozone would actually create more systemic risk than it would offset,” he added.

The move comes after the European Commission put forward reforms that would impose stricter supervision of the euro derivatives market and could force operators to leave London as a result of Brexit.

At the moment London is the world leader for clearing all types of currency-denominated derivatives including the euro.

Source link

Disgraced South Korean Leader's Friend Choi Soon Sil Jailed For 3 Years

Choi not guilty, telling the court that she never asked for special treatment for her daughter.(AFP)

Seoul, South Korea:  The woman at the centre of South Korea’s corruption scandal, Choi Soon Sil, was handed a three year jail term for bribery Friday in the first of a string of criminal cases against a figure dubbed the ‘Female Rasputin’.

The scandal involving Choi and her longtime friend, disgraced ex president Park Geun Hye who was ousted in March, has rocked the political and business elite.

Choi was found guilty of abusing her ties with the president to force professors at Seoul’s Ewha Woman’s University to admit her daughter to the prestigious school and attempting to bribe teachers into giving good grades.

The Seoul Central District Court handed down a three year sentence on charges of bribery and obstruction, less than the seven year term the prosecution had demanded.

Choi pleaded not guilty, telling the court that she never asked for special treatment for her daughter, Chung Yoo Ra.

But the judges said that Choi had abused her influence to get her daughter into the school and awarded good grades, despite a poor attendance record.

A state probe revealed that the school had admitted Chung at the expense of better qualified candidates  a revelation which touched a raw nerve in education obsessed South Korea.

“She committed too much wrongdoing to consider the actions were out of love as a mother who wants the best for her child,” the court said.

A former Ewha University dean and the university’s former head of admissions  who were both found guilty of complying with Choi’s requests  were both handed two years and 18 months in jail.

Seven other people involved in the scandal were given prison terms or suspended sentences.

Chung’s university position and her high school diploma have already been revoked, following an official probe which found her high school attendance and test grades had been forged.

 Funded by Samsung?

Choi also faces charges that she accepted millions of dollars in bribes from Samsung, South Korea’s largest conglomerate, to finance her daughter’s equestrian training and luxurious lifestyle in Europe.

She is also charged with forcing business companies to donate tens of millions of dollars to two dubious foundations she controlled.

Park is also on trial over the claims.

Choi and Park could face decades in jail if convicted on the charges of extortion and abuse of power.

The 20 year old daughter, an Asian Games equestrian gold medalist, fled to Europe last year but was extradited from Denmark in April to face possible charges for her role in the scandal.

Prosecutors have twice sought to arrest her over her role in the scandal, arguing that Samsung had sponsored her equestrian training.

She initially denied any knowledge, but later admitted under questioning that she was aware that Samsung were bankrolling her.

Samsung’s heir Lee Jae Yong, who has also been arrested and is currently on trial, has denied asking for policy favours when he met Park, arguing that Samsung was a victim of blackmail by the ex president and Choi.

Choi wielded huge influence over the then president and was a key figure in the influence peddling scandal that sparked huge street protests that led to Park’s ousting.

Park allegedly leaked confidential documents to her friend, and allowed her to meddle in state affairs  including the appointments of senior officials.

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

Source link

Qatar Seen Rejecting List Of Severe Demands To End Gulf Crisis

The Saudi alliance severed diplomatic and transport links with Qatar on June 5.

Saudi Arabia and its allies presented Qatar with a list of steep demands to end the crisis that has roiled the Gulf for almost three weeks, as diplomats predicted the tiny Gulf state would likely refuse to comply.

The 13 requirements include shutting the Al-Jazeera TV network, cutting back diplomatic ties with Iran, severing relations with the Muslim Brotherhood and ending Turkey’s military presence in Qatar, according to two western diplomats in the region familiar with the document, who asked not to be named because they’re not authorized to speak publicly. Kuwait, which is mediating the dispute, handed the list to the Qatari government, they said.

Pressure had been mounting on the Saudi-led bloc, which includes Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, to finalize what it wants from Qatar to end the crisis, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on June 21 he hoped the demands “will be reasonable and actionable.” One of the diplomats said the list clearly falls short of that, while the other said it was meant to be the basis of secret negotiations rather than being published.

“The demands are severe and and show resolve and determination when it comes to what’s at stake,” said Sami Nader, head of the Beirut-based Levant Institute for Strategic Affairs. “This is a bargaining position to start talks. That is why they upped the stakes.”

The list of demands was first reported by the Associated Press.

The Saudi alliance severed diplomatic and transport links with Qatar on June 5, accusing their fellow Gulf Cooperation Council member of supporting terrorism. The move split families apart, disrupted trade, and threatens to alter long-standing geopolitical alliances. Qatar, which views the action as an illegal siege, has denied the charges.

Qatar’s foreign minister on June 19 said his country wouldn’t bargain away what it sees as its sovereign rights and called on the Saudi alliance to conduct negotiations in a “civilized way,” after first lifting the blockade. He said Qataris were united behind their emir, and called Al-Jazeera and foreign policy as internal affairs not open to negotiation.

The boycotting nations demanded that Qatar stop all funding for individuals, groups or organizations that have been designated as terrorists by Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, the U.S. and other countries, and hand over any individuals wanted in these countries.

Qatar gas wealth enabled it to develop foreign policies that came to irritate its neighbors. It backed the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Hamas in the Gaza Strip and armed factions opposed by the UAE or Saudi Arabia in Libya and Syria. Gas also paid for Al-Jazeera, which at various times has embarrassed or angered most Middle Eastern governments.

The channel has supported dissidents against Arab dictators. Over the years, it enraged Saudi, Emirati and Egyptian leaders who have often stopped its transmissions and kicked out its staff.

“Qatar may not fully comply with the list, but it has to take these demands into consideration and finally make a move toward reviewing its foreign policy and the editorial line of the main media outlet, Al-Jazeera,” Nader said.

The details of the demands emerged just over a day after Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has led the effort to isolate Qatar, was named as heir to throne, adding to his already sweeping powers.

The move suggests a harder foreign policy line for the key U.S. ally in a region fraught with instability.

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

Source link

S Jaishankar To Call On Rex Tillerson Ahead Of PM Modi-Trump Meeting

S Jaishankar is also scheduled to meet Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan.

Washington:  Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar will call on US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to give final touches to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first meeting with President Donald Trump which the State Department said would strengthen bilateral ties in areas like counter-terrorism.

Mr Jaishankar is also scheduled to meet Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan.

The Jaishankar-Tillerson meeting is likely to give final touches to the PM Modi-Donald Trump meeting at the White House on Monday.

Mr Jaishankar, a former Indian ambassador to the US, has been playing a leading role in shaping the India-US relationship under the Modi government.

“We’re looking forward to strengthening ties between the United States and India,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters at her daily news conference.

“We have a lot of areas of mutual cooperation, fighting terrorism, we have a lot of people-to-people ties, strong people-to-people ties; so we’re looking forward to that visit,” she said.

After Mr Trump won the presidential elections last November, the two leaders have spoken over phone three times, the last being Donald Trump’s congratulatory phone call after the BJP won the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.

PM Modi will meet US President Donald Trump on June 26. He will hold talks with Mr Trump on a range of issues, including terrorism and India’s concerns over possible changes in H-1B visa rules.

India has time and again raised the issue of H-1B with the US authorities and asked them to liberalise the visa regime as Indian companies contribute significantly to the American economy.

The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialised fields. The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year.

Apart from ways to enhance trade and business cooperation, PM Modi and Mr Trump are expected to discuss defence ties.

Source link

Myanmar Releases Nearly 70 More Child Soldiers: Reports

The state’s army has released almost 850 children from its ranks since 2012 (Representational)

Yangon, Myanmar:  Myanmar’s military released 67 child soldiers on Friday, its first discharge this year as part of a slow process to end decades of forced recruitment of underage fighters that began under the former junta.

There are no concrete figures on how many children are still among the estimated 500,000 troops that serve in Myanmar’s military or the ethnic rebel armies it battles in the country’s border regions.

The state’s army has released almost 850 children and young people from its ranks since signing a pact with the United Nations in 2012, the year after the former junta ceded power ending a brutal 50 year reign.

Recruitment of underage fighters has also slowed while Myanmar’s young civilian government is working to help underage recruits reintegrate into society.

“It is much more difficult to recruit a child today than it was four years ago,” said Bertrand Bainvel, UNICEF’s Myanmar representative, citing the military’s efforts to strengthen age checks and centralise recruitment.

But experts say children remain at risk as new underage recruits continue to trickle into the military and ethnic armed groups waging insurgencies against the state.

Recruiters from the army and their middlemen still scour public spaces like parks and stations in major cities like Yangon and Mandalay looking for vulnerable boys they can tempt or force into service.

Many are sent to conflict areas such as the northeastern states of Kachin and Shan, where the army is fighting several rebel groups who also use child soldiers.

UNICEF has been stepping up efforts to negotiate with those groups but none have officially started releasing underage fighters.

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

Source link

Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi's Death Near 100 Percent Certain: Report

Russia’s defence ministry said it believed it may have killed Baghdadi. (Reuters)

Moscow:  The likelihood that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been killed is close to 100 percent, Interfax news agency quoted the head of the defence committee in Russia’s upper parliamentary house as saying today.

Russia’s defence ministry said a week ago it believed it may have killed Baghdadi when one of its air strikes hit a gathering of senior ISIS commanders on the outskirts of the Syrian city of Raqqa.

But armed groups fighting in the region and US officials say they have no evidence that Baghdadi was killed, and many regional officials have said they are sceptical about the information from Moscow.

Committee head Viktor Ozerov was quoted as saying the defence ministry would not have released information about Baghdadi’s death if it believed it could be later proved incorrect.

“I think this information is close to 100 percent,” Interfax quoted Ozerov as saying. “The fact that ISIS has still not shown him anywhere also adds to our confidence that al-Baghdadi has been killed.”

Baghdadi has frequently been reported killed or wounded since he declared a caliphate from a mosque in Mosul in 2014, after leading his fighters on a sweep through northern Iraq.

His death would be one of the biggest blows yet to the terrorist group, which is trying to defend its shrinking territory in Syria and Iraq against forces backed by regional and global powers.


© Thomson Reuters 2017

Source link

WannaCry helps speeding drivers dodge fines in Australia

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Peak hour traffic in Melbourne as the morning fog makes way for sunrise

Hackers behind the infamous WannaCry virus have inadvertently helped lead-footed Australian drivers avoid costly speeding fines.

Fifty five traffic cameras, most in inner-city Melbourne, were infected by the ransomware.

A maintenance worker unknowingly uploaded the malware to the camera network using a USB stick on 6 June.

Victorian Police have cancelled 590 speeding and red-light fines despite the belief they were correctly issued.

“I cancelled the fines because I think it’s important the public has 100% confidence in the system,” Acting Deputy Commissioner Ross Guenther said.

Police detected the virus last week after noticing that cameras were rebooting more often than usual.

The virus infected organisations in 150 countries in May.

Among those affected were the UK’s National Health Service, US logistics giant FedEx and Russia’s interior ministry.

Source link

France Dismisses Call For New Calais Migrant Centre, Sees More Police

The minister, Gerard Collomb, visited the port city today. (Reuters)

Paris:  France’s interior minister rejected calls from charities for a new migrant reception centre in the northern port of Calais, where hundreds who have fled war and poverty are again roaming the streets in search of food and shelter.

The minister, Gerard Collomb, visited the port city today and earlier said extra police would be drafted into the area.

French authorities sent in bulldozers last year to clear a migrant camp known as the Jungle, where thousands of migrants hoping to cross the Channel to Britain lived in squalid conditions. Many of them were sent to lodgings around France.

Collomb took a firm line during a visit, saying a new centre would recreate the situation that existed before the Jungle camp, considered a public health risk, was demolished.

“We don’t want to create a gathering point where numbers would swell back up to 7,000 over time. That would not be tolerable, for the migrants, the residents of Calais and for economic life,” he told reporters on arrival.

Aid agencies say about 400-600 migrants are once again gathered and sleeping rough on streets.

Before it was demolished, the Jungle camp had become a symbol of Europe’s difficulty in dealing with the migrant crisis. Charities had warned the Socialist government at the time that migrants would return.

Newly elected President Emmanuel Macron and his centrist government have come under pressure from the human rights watchdog which has described conditions facing migrants in Calais as “inhuman”.

“Refugees make up 0.25 percent of Europe’s population. Can we really not look after them ?” Jacques Toubon, head of the national human rights watchdog, said on RTL radio.

“These people are equal in dignity, equal in their rights … and France’s legal obligation is to accord them basic human rights.”

Macron has instructed local officials to treat migrants more humanely, government spokesman Christophe Castaner said, and he has also asked Collomb to see to it that asylum requests are processed within six months.

Collomb told the regional Nord Littoral newspaper that he was sending additional mobile police units to the Calais area.

Earlier this month, two French charities accused police of using excessive force against migrants and preventing aid groups from distributing meals.

Many migrants set on crossing the short stretch of sea from Calais to Britain, try to do so by slipping inside the cargo holds of large trucks bound for English shores.

© Thomson Reuters 2017

Source link

Burger King Pledges To End Deforestation By 2030, Scientists Sceptical

Burger King has pledged to eliminate deforestation from its supply chains by 2030.

Rio De Janeiro:  The owner of Burger King has pledged to eliminate deforestation from its supply chains by 2030 but scientists say the company is not moving fast enough to stop its hamburgers from destroying rainforests and the communities who depend on them.

Restaurant Brands International, one of the world’s largest fast-food restaurant operators, has been criticised by activists for buying soy and beef from newly deforested land in Brazil and other South American countries.

It its first sustainability report, the firm, which also owns Tim Hortons and Popeyes, committed to making sure its suppliers stopped clearing primary forests or disturbing lands with a high conservation value by 2030.

“It is our intention to report regularly on our progress towards eliminating deforestation,” Restaurant Brands International said in its report released on Thursday.

The company also pledged to respect the land rights of communities who live in areas where its suppliers cultivate soy, cattle and other farm products to make sure local people grant informed consent concerning development on their land.

“As a company with global operations and a complex supply chain, we know we have a key role to play in promoting sustainable business practices,” company spokesman Patrick McGrade said in a statement.

Campaigners, however, say the promised changes are too slow and do not go far enough.

The Union of Concerned Scientists, a US-based advocacy group, said the company’s environmental pledges are “embarrassingly weak”.

The firm should commit to ending deforestation in its supply chain by 2020 in line with other large restaurant chains rather than 2030, Sharan Smith, the group’s spokeswoman said.

“When it comes to protecting forests, Burger King means fast food and slow action,” Glenn Hurowitz from the US-based campaign group Mighty Earth said in a statement.

Over the past 13 years, 271 million acres of rainforest has been destroyed around the world to make room for products like Burger King’s Whopper sandwiches, Hurowitz said.

“Burger King is sending a message that it’s okay… to keep revving up the bulldozers.”

Restaurant Brands International did not respond to interview requests from the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Deforestation accounts for about 10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions which contribute to climate change, the Union of Concerned Scientists said.

© Thomson Reuters 2017

Source link

North Korea Denies Torturing US Student Otto Warmbier: Report

The casket carrying Otto Warmbier’s remains being carried out of Wyoming High School .(AFP)

Seoul, South Korea:  North Korea on Friday denied it had tortured Otto Warmbier, the US student who died after being released in a coma from the North.

“Our relevant agencies treat all criminals… thoroughly in accordance with domestic laws and international standards,” a spokesman of the National Reconciliation Council was quoted as saying by Pyongyang’s KCNA news agency.

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

Source link

2 Die In German Storm As Transport Disrupted

A 50-year-old man was killed and an 83-year-old woman was killed. (Representational)

Berlin:  Two people were killed in a storm that swept across northern Germany on Thursday, felling trees and disrupting rail and air traffic.

A 50-year-old man was killed when his car was hit by a falling tree in a village south of Lueneburg, and an 83-year-old woman was killed when her car collided with a fallen tree on a highway near the city of Hanover.

The storm continued to rage through much of Thursday night over Berlin.

Disruption to rail services lasted till today, with national rail operator Deutsche Bahn warning of delays between Hanover and Hamburg, Hamm and Bielefeld, and Berlin and Dresden.

Berlin’s Tegel and Schoenefeld airports said on Twitter that air traffic was back to normal after the storm caused problems on Thursday.

The German Meteorological Service reported heavy storms across the country on Thursday, packing torrential rain, hail and winds of up to 120 kilometres (75 miles) per hour.


© Thomson Reuters 2017

Source link