Источник Всех Солнц - Source of All Suns


Инопланетяне за спинами всех мировых политиков и всех мировых событий:
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Political Planetary Game between Clones and Aliens - Aliens behind all political clones:
photos, аrticles and videos

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Политические статьи также на Старом сайте (Old Political Articles are on) : Political Articles - Политические Статьи

Политические статьи на русском, их большую часть, я перенесла на новую Страницу :  НОВАЯ РОССИЯ - 2

Нам никакие инопланетные правительства не нужны, мы, люди, можем управлять Планетой и всей Солнечной Системой сами! Так как мы произошли из Источника Всех Солнц и несём Солнечную Энергию в нас, нашим правительством может быть только ИСТОЧНИК ВСЕХ СОЛНЦ - НАШ НАСТОЯЩИЙ ДОМ, и никто больше!

We don't need alien and males goverments or any Earth's government, we can do without them. Because we are Great Sun Beings, who came from the Source of All Suns, our true Government must be the Source of All Suns and noone else!

Инопланетяне за спинами всех мировых политиков на и под Землёй: настоящие лица драконовой английской королевы и её мужа, принца Филип!
Aliens are behind every human government on and inside Earth: pictures of real dragon-english queen and her husband - prince phillip !

Below is an extract from an interesting article on our old site, the link :     Earth's Paranormal Life

"...The Most Powerful Beings Ever Encountered
There is another reason for the "abduction" interactions. It seems, that Humans, are the Most Powerful Beings, some Alien Beings have ever encountered. We have abilities beyond our greatest imaginings. Some Alien Races want to know how and why we have these abilities. They have encountered no other Race of Beings, that have them. A source of some frustration to some of them is the fact, that they cannot ask us about them, because we do not know we have them or how to access them.
A Connection to the Ultimate Power Source (the Source of All Suns, LM)
There is an Energy Source, that runs throughout the Universe and flows through all dimensions. You may call it an Energy Grid, but it is so much more, than that.
It seems, that Humans, are directly plugged into this Grid. Some alien races are not and they don't know how and why we are linked to it. It is said, that we can literally create material out of thin air. That we are capable of moving the blocks of the Egyptian pyramids by sheer force of will, emotion, and Intent....The Universe is a Hologram. The Entire Universe is a holographic projection. It is our Thought Energy, that provides the (laser beam) energy to manifest the holographic image we call Reality. We, each and every one of us, is a holographic plate (film). And just like a holographic plate, each of us contains all the information in the Universe. Because of this, we are literally connected to everything, and, everything is connected to everything. This is not New Age philosophy. It is physics! When religious texts like the Bible and the Koran say you are connected and always return to the Source, they mean it literally and physically, and not just in the spiritual sense.
A Giant Water Fountain
Another example would be a water fountain. Imagine a geyser-like fountain with a plume of water shooting up and then falling back down into the basin. The plume of water has a distinct shape, but it is still connected to all the rest of the water. If you turn the fountain off all the water returns to the basin and there is no way to pick out what drops of water were forming the plume. They are all one. Just as the water returns to the source and no longer has a certain form, so do you, eventually. And like the water, you are One with everyone and everything in the Universe..."

Video. Reptilian Underground Bases. Documentary 2018. They Are Living Below Us. Jul 30, 2018. There is a hidden reptilian empire which consists of alien cultures and lost civilizations,
their presence explains many of the myths of gods walking among humans. The reptoids may have sought out refuge underground after Earth underwent climate changes some 12,000 years ago. There are many accounts through history of lizard people and snake like bipedal's from Sumeria to the Hopi Indians. We will also explore the many accounts at the Dulce underground facility and how this all ties together.

LIQUIDITY CRISIS TO COLLAPSE STOCK MARKET!! US TREASURY WARNS OF BANK RUNS! Dec 26, 2018, Christopher Greene of AMTV reports on the Stock Market Crash 2019.

Stock Market Manipulation Confirmed, Record Holiday Spending, People Oblivious? Dec 27, 2018. Just a day after the president tweets to "buy the dip", the Dow Jones saw it's biggest 1-day climb of all-time, confirming the rumors that the president directed plunge-protection team is backing this market up. Also, the holiday shopping season saw record consumer spending, so it appears that most people are still buying into the strong economy narrative.

Euro falls as 'gilets jaunes' protests hit French economy. 14 December 2018

The euro has fallen against the dollar after disappointing French and German economic surveys dismayed the markets. In France, private sector business activity contracted for the first time in two and a half years as the "gilets jaunes" protests took their toll. In Germany, private sector activity slowed to a four-year low. The surveys pointed to weak fourth-quarter growth in the two biggest eurozone economies. The French reading confounded analysts, with the index hitting depths not seen since November 2014. "Having held up reasonably well throughout the initial months of Q4, latest flash data pointed to an outright contraction in France's private sector for the first time in two-and-a-half years, following the protests which have swept through the country in recent weeks," said Eliot Kerr, an economist at IHS Markit. "If the magnitude of this drop continues in other countries and coming months, the European Central Bank's assessment that the eurozone economy 'risks moving to the downside' will quickly seem outdated, as the risks will already be there. "The ECB president talked yesterday of 'lower growth, not of no growth'. However, a tail risk is forming that eurozone economies will slip into a recession while the ECB interest rates are still sub-zero. "This would be a Japan-like scenario: a prospect which the euro understandably does not take well."

US lifts sanctions on Putin ally's firms. Jan 28, 2019

The US has accused Oleg Deripaska of operating for the Russian government. The Trump administration has lifted sanctions on three firms linked to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, an ally of President Vladimir Putin. Curbs on aluminium giant US Rusal, En+ Group and JSC EuroSibEnergo were lifted after Mr Deripaska ceded control. The oligarch has been linked to the probe into alleged Russian interference in US elections, and Democrats wanted the sanctions to continue. But the Treasury Department said curbs on oligarch himself remained in force. The companies were blacklisted last April when the Trump administration targeted people and businesses it said had profited from a Russian state engaged in "malign activities" around the world.
That included Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, as well as international cyber attacks. But earlier this month, Republicans in the US Senate blocked an effort to continue the sanctions against Rusal, the world's second largest aluminium firm and other Deripaska-linked firms. They and the Trump administration argued the curbs could have an impact on the global aluminium industry. They also said Mr Deripaska had lowered his stakes in the firms so that he no longer controlled them, a sign the sanctions were working. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced sanctions against Deripaska and other powerful Russians last April. There has been pressure on the Trump administration by business groups to lift the sanctions on these three firms. That's because the announcement of the sanctions in April led global aluminium prices to briefly spike, as Rusal is one of the world's biggest suppliers. But when the Treasury Department signalled its intentions in December, US politicians cried foul. They wanted the Trump administration to wait until a special investigation into Russia's interference into the 2016 US Presidential election had finished. Earlier in January, in a significant break, 136 members of President Trump's Republican Party voted with House Democrats on a measure to oppose the lifting of sanctions. Although it was a largely symbolic vote - a similar measure the day before failed to get the necessary 60 votes to pass in the Senate - the large number of party defections was notable.

Total Media Blackout! Paris Is Far Worse Than They Will Tell You! Dec 7, 2018. In this video, Luke takes to the streets of Paris France where there is a feeling in the air something BIG is about to happen. In fact, there seems to be a total media blackout, and the truth is that Paris is far worse than they will tell you!

Putin's Stasi spy ID pass found in Germany. Dec 12, 2018

(Путин всегда был немецким агентом, а КГБ - немецкой организацией в Советском Союзе и в России (штаб в Дрездене), как и все остальные подобные организации в прошлом и в настоящем! ЛМ).

Putin - German Agent

Putin - German Agent, his Stazi Card

KGB Headquaters, Dresden,
Vladimir Putin was 33 when he received this Stasi ID card. A Stasi ID pass used by Vladimir Putin when he was a Soviet spy in former East Germany has been found in the Stasi secret police archive in Dresden. The Russian president has expressed pride in his record as a communist KGB officer in Dresden in the 1980s. His Stasi pass was found during research into the close co-operation between the KGB and Stasi. Mr Putin, then a KGB major, got it in 1985. It got him into Stasi facilities, but he may not have spied for them. In a statement on Tuesday, the Stasi Records Agency (BStU) said that Mr Putin "received the pass so that he could carry out his KGB work in co-operation with the Stasi". Stasi was actually the nickname for East German Ministry of State Security (MfS) agents. It was notorious for its meticulous surveillance of ordinary citizens, many of whom were pressed into spying on each other. "Current research gives no indication that Vladimir Putin worked for the MfS," the BStU statement said. The stamps are proof of Mr Putin's years co-operating with the Stasi in Dresden. Mr Putin signed himself "Wladimir Putin" using German spelling. Mr Putin, born in Leningrad (now St Petersburg), was posted to East Germany in 1985, aged 33. His two daughters were born during that posting. He is now 66.  Mr Putin was a KGB officer in Dresden up to and including December 1989, when the communist East German regime collapsed amid mass pro-democracy protests. His Stasi pass was renewed every three months, as shown by the stamps on it. It is not clear why he left the pass in the Stasi files in Dresden.

This building was the KGB's headquarters in Dresden during the Cold War. He witnessed protesters occupying the Dresden Stasi headquarters, while communist security forces came close to opening fire on them, on 5 December 1989. Jubilant East Berliners had already breached the Berlin Wall in November. Mr Putin was fluent in German at the time and has said he personally calmed the Dresden crowd when they surrounded the KGB building there, warning them that it was Soviet territory. During his KGB service in Dresden Mr Putin was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel. In 1989 he was awarded a bronze medal by communist East Germany - officially the German Democratic Republic (GDR) - "for faithful service to the National People's Army", the Kremlin website says. After returning to Russia, Mr Putin rose to become head of the Federal Security Service (FSB) - main successor to the KGB. He became Russian president in 2000. In June 2017 Mr Putin revealed that his work in the KGB had involved "illegal intelligence-gathering". Speaking on Russian state TV, he said KGB spies were people with "special qualities, special convictions and a special type of character". A once top secret agreement between the KGB and Stasi, seen by the BBC, shows that the KGB had 30 liaison officers in East Germany who worked directly alongside the Stasi. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov shrugged off the emergence of Mr Putin's old Stasi card. "The KGB and the Stasi were partner intelligence agencies so you probably can't rule out an exchange of such identity cards," he said.

In pictures: Secret disguises of the Stasi. 6 September 2013
Berlin-based artist Simon Menner releases photos of disguises used by East Germany's notorious Stasi secret police after years trawling through the agency's archives. East Germany's Ministry for State Security - better known as the Stasi - had a reputation for being one of the most feared intelligence agencies in the world. But a collection of photos unearthed by Berlin-based artist Simon Menner from the agency's archives reveals another side to their undercover work. Mr Menner spent two years trawling through previously confidential and unreleased paperwork for his book Top Secret: Images from the Stasi Archives. In the course of his research he found a series of images documenting the unusual disguises used by Stasi personnel. Mr Menner says that while the disguises today look as if the agents may be attending a fancy dress party, the fact is that the Stasi was one the most effective and repressive intelligence and secret police agencies in the world.
The archive discovered by Mr Menner shows techniques used by Stasi agents to relay secret signals. The agency was founded in 1950, and employed about 274,000 people until it was disbanded in 1989. Mr Menner's collection contains several photographs of Stasi agents receiving fake moustaches and beards. It is estimated that the Stasi maintained greater surveillance over its own people than any secret police force in history. Mr Menner found several photos taken at the birthday party of a senior Stasi official in which guests were told to come disguised as members of demographic groups under Stasi surveillance. They included athletes, peace activists, soccer players and religious figures. Many of the images were found by Mr Manner in a Stasi handbook of disguises produced for training purposes. The goal of the catalogue was to "simplify the selection of a disguise for a specific task when out in the field". The disguises were arranged according to types of professions. There are several images of staged Stasi arrests carried out for training purposes. Dissidents, in some case already serving long prison terms, were sometimes made to re-enact their own arrest for the camera. Most photos of Stasi personnel were not allowed into the public domain. It is estimated that Stasi employed one full-time agent for every 166 East Germans, and roughly one-in-seven East Germans was a Stasi informer.

Vladimir Putin's formative German years. 27 March 2015

Anyone who wants to understand Vladimir Putin today needs to know the story of what happened to him on a dramatic night in East Germany a quarter of a century ago. It is 5 December 1989 in Dresden, a few weeks after the Berlin Wall has fallen. East German communism is dying on its feet, people power seems irresistible. Crowds storm the Dresden headquarters of the Stasi, the East German secret police, who suddenly seem helpless. Then a small group of demonstrators decides to head across the road, to a large house that is the local headquarters of the Soviet secret service, the KGB. "The guard on the gate immediately rushed back into the house," recalls one of the group, Siegfried Dannath. But shortly afterwards "an officer emerged - quite small, agitated. He said to our group, 'Don't try to force your way into this property. My comrades are armed, and they're authorised to use their weapons in an emergency.'" That persuaded the group to withdraw. But the KGB officer knew how dangerous the situation remained. He described later how he rang the headquarters of a Red Army tank unit to ask for protection. The answer he received was a devastating, life-changing shock. "We cannot do anything without orders from Moscow," the voice at the other end replied. "And Moscow is silent." That phrase, "Moscow is silent" has haunted this man ever since. Defiant yet helpless as the 1989 revolution swept over him, he has now himself become "Moscow" - the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin. "I think it's the key to understanding Putin," says his German biographer, Boris Reitschuster. "We would have another Putin and another Russia without his time in East Germany." The experience taught him lessons he has never forgotten, gave him ideas for a model society, and shaped his ambitions for a powerful network and personal wealth. Above all, it left him with a huge anxiety about the frailty of political elites, and how easily they can be overthrown by the people. Putin had arrived in Dresden in the mid-1980s for his first foreign posting as a KGB agent. The German Democratic Republic or GDR - a communist state created out of the Soviet-occupied zone of post-Nazi Germany - was a highly significant outpost of Moscow's power, up close to Western Europe, full of Soviet military and spies.

Putin had wanted to join the KGB since he was a teenager, inspired by popular Soviet stories of secret service bravado in which, he recalled later, "One man's effort could achieve what whole armies could not. One spy could decide the fate of thousands of people." Initially, though, much of his work in Dresden was humdrum. Among documents in the Stasi archives in Dresden is a letter from Putin asking for help from the Stasi boss with the installation of an informer's phone. And there are details too of endless Soviet-East German social gatherings Putin attended, to celebrate ties between the two countries. But if the spy work wasn't that exciting, Putin and his young family could at least enjoy the East German good life. Putin's then wife, Ludmila, later recalled that life in the GDR was very different from life in the USSR. "The streets were clean. They would wash their windows once a week," she said in an interview published in 2000, as part of First Person, a book of interviews with Russia's new and then little-known acting president. The Putins lived in a special block of flats with KGB and Stasi families for neighbours, though Ludmila envied the fact that: "The GDR state security people got higher salaries than our guys, judging from how our German neighbours lived. Of course we tried to economise and save up enough to buy a car." Revisiting old haunts on a visit to Dresden in 2006. East Germany enjoyed higher living standards than the Soviet Union and a former KGB colleague, Vladimir Usoltsev, describes Putin spending hours leafing through Western mail-order catalogues, to keep up with fashions and trends. He also enjoyed the beer - securing a special weekly supply of the local brew, Radeberger - which left him looking rather less trim than he does in the bare-chested sporty images issued by Russian presidential PR today. East Germany differed from the USSR in another way too - it had a number of separate political parties, even though it was still firmly under communist rule, or appeared to be. "He enjoyed very much this little paradise for him," says Boris Reitschuster. East Germany, he says, "is his model of politics especially. He rebuilt some kind of East Germany in Russia now." But in autumn 1989 this paradise became a kind of KGB hell. On the streets of Dresden, Putin observed people power emerging in extraordinary ways. In early October hundreds of East Germans who had claimed political asylum at the West German embassy in Prague were allowed to travel to the West in sealed trains. As they passed through Dresden, huge crowds tried to break through a security cordon to try to board the trains, and make their own escape. Wolfgang Berghofer, Dresden's communist mayor at the time, says there was chaos as security forces began taking on almost the entire local population. Many assumed violence was inevitable.

"A Soviet tank army was stationed in our city," he says. "And its generals said to me clearly: 'If we get the order from Moscow, the tanks will roll.'" After the Berlin Wall opened, on 9 November, the crowds became bolder everywhere - approaching the citadels of Stasi and KGB power in Dresden. The former KGB headquarters in Dresden. The block of flats nearby, where the Putins lived. Vladimir Putin had doubtless assumed too that those senior Soviet officers - men he'd socialised with regularly - would indeed send in the tanks. But no, Moscow under Mikhail Gorbachev "was silent". The Red Army tanks would not be used. "Nobody lifted a finger to protect us." He and his KGB colleagues frantically burned evidence of their intelligence work. "I personally burned a huge amount of material," Putin recalled in First Person. "We burned so much stuff that the furnace burst." Two weeks later there was more trauma for Putin as West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl arrived in the city. He made a speech that left German reunification looking inevitable, and East Germany doomed. Kohl praised Gorbachev, the man in Moscow who'd refused to send in the tanks, and he used patriotic language - words like Vaterland, or fatherland - that had been largely taboo in Germany since the war. Now they prompted an ecstatic response. It's not known whether Putin was in that crowd - but as a KGB agent in Dresden he'd certainly have known all about it. The implosion of East Germany in the following months marked a huge rupture in his and his family's life. "We had the horrible feeling that the country that had almost become our home would no longer exist," said his wife Ludmila.

"My neighbour, who was my friend, cried for a week. It was the collapse of everything - their lives, their careers." One of Putin's key Stasi contacts, Maj Gen Horst Boehm - the man who had helped him install that precious telephone line for an informer - was humiliated by the demonstrating crowds, and committed suicide early in 1990. This warning about what can happen when people power becomes dominant was one Putin could now ponder on the long journey home. "Their German friends give them a 20-year-old washing machine and with this they drive back to Leningrad," says Putin biographer and critic Masha Gessen. "There's a strong sense that he was serving his country and had nothing to show for it." Putin worked for the mayor of St Petersburg (1990-96), then moved to Moscow and rose rapidly to the top. He also arrived back to a country that had been transformed under Mikhail Gorbachev and was itself on the verge of collapse. "He found himself in a country that had changed in ways that he didn't understand and didn't want to accept," as Gessen puts it. His home city, Leningrad, was now becoming St Petersburg again. What would Putin do there?

There was talk, briefly, of taxi-driving. But soon Putin realised he had acquired a much more valuable asset than a second-hand washing machine. In Dresden he'd been part of a network of individuals who might have lost their Soviet roles, but were well placed to prosper personally and politically in the new Russia. In the Stasi archives in Dresden a picture survives of Putin during his Dresden years. He's in a group of senior Soviet and East German military and security figures - a relatively junior figure, off to one side, but already networking among the elite. Prof Karen Dawisha of Miami University, author of Putin's Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia?, says there are people he met in Dresden "who have then gone on… to be part of his inner core". They include Sergey Chemezov, who for years headed Russia's arms export agency and now runs a state programme supporting technology, and Nikolai Tokarev head of the state pipeline company, Transneft. And it's not only former Russian colleagues who've stayed close to Putin. Take Matthias Warnig - a former Stasi officer, believed to have spent time in Dresden when Putin was there - who is now managing director of Nordstream, the pipeline taking gas directly from Russia to Germany across the Baltic Sea. That pipeline symbolised what was seen, until recently, as Germany's new special relationship with Russia - though the Ukraine crisis has at the very least put that relationship on hold. Putin-watchers believe events such as the uprising on Kiev's Maidan Square, have revived bad memories - above all, of that night in Dresden in December 1989. "Now when you have crowds in Kiev in 2004, in Moscow in 2011 or in Kiev in 2013 and 2014, I think he remembers this time in Dresden," says Boris Reitschuster. "And all these old fears come up inside him." Inside him too may be a memory of how change can be shaped not only by force, or by weakness - but also by emotion. In 1989 he saw in Dresden how patriotic feeling, combined with a yearning for democracy, proved so much more powerful than communist ideology. So when wondering what Vladimir Putin will do next, it's well worth remembering what he's lived through already. One thing seems sure. While Vladimir Putin holds power in the Kremlin, Moscow is unlikely to be silent.

Vladimir Putin: Russia's action man president. 27 February 2018

President Putin sometimes humiliates senior officials on state TV. Russian President Vladimir Putin, a judo black belt, appears to symbolise two of the martial art's key qualities - guile and aggression. His swift military interventions in both Ukraine, annexing Crimea in March 2014, and Syria, bombing anti-government rebels in a move that bolstered Syrian government forces, stunned many observers. Mr Putin, 65, has made no secret of his determination to reassert Russian power after years of perceived humiliation by the US and its Nato allies. US prosecutors accuse a longstanding Putin ally - oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin - of orchestrating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election to favour Donald Trump. The alleged meddling - mainly on social media - prompted the US to impose more sanctions on officials close to Mr Putin. Since March 2014 the EU and US have expanded sanctions on key Russian officials and firms over Russia's military role in Ukraine. The sanctions blocked Western travel and financial services for many of Mr Putin's aides. President Trump chatted with Mr Putin at an economic summit in Vietnam in November 2017. President Trump has expressed admiration for Mr Putin and said he wants to improve ties with Russia. But the US-Russia frost is called a new Cold War by some; the mutual distrust runs deep. And Russia is no longer a "strategic partner" of the EU. The West accuses Mr Putin of helping the pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine with heavy weapons and troops. He admits only that Russian "volunteers" have gone there to help the rebels. Mr Putin fumes over what he calls the "coup" which forced Ukraine's then-President Viktor Yanukovych to flee to Russia in February 2014. Before that crisis he called the collapse of the Soviet Union "the biggest geopolitical catastrophe of the [20th] Century". He bitterly resents Nato's expansion up to Russia's borders. Tough childhood
He grew up in a tough, communal housing block in Leningrad - now St Petersburg - and got into fights with local boys who were often bigger and stronger. That drove him to take up judo. In 2000 a 10-year-old Japanese girl floored Mr Putin in Tokyo. According to the Kremlin website, Mr Putin wanted to work in Soviet intelligence "even before he finished school". "Fifty years ago the Leningrad street taught me a rule: if a fight is inevitable you have to throw the first punch," Mr Putin said in October 2015. It was better to fight "terrorists" in Syria, he explained, than to wait for them to strike in Russia. Caucasus hotspots
He also used the crude language of a street fighter when defending his military onslaught against separatist rebels in Chechnya, vowing to wipe them out "even in the toilet". The mainly Muslim North Caucasus republic was left devastated by heavy fighting in 1999-2000, in which thousands of civilians died. Georgia was another Caucasus flashpoint for Mr Putin. In 2008 his forces routed the Georgian army and took over two breakaway regions - Abkhazia and South Ossetia. It was a very personal clash with Georgia's then pro-Nato President, Mikheil Saakashvili. And it showed Mr Putin's readiness to undermine pro-Western leaders in former Soviet states. Vladimir Putin: From spy to president:
Born 7 October 1952 in Leningrad (now St Petersburg)
Studies law and joins KGB after university
Serves as a spy in communist East Germany - some ex-KGB comrades later get top state posts in Putin era
1990s - top aide to St Petersburg mayor Anatoly Sobchak, who previously taught him law
Enters Boris Yeltsin's Kremlin in 1997, made chief of Federal Security Service (the FSB - main successor of the KGB), then prime minister
New Year's Eve, 1999 - Yeltsin quits and names him acting president
Easily wins presidential election in March 2000
Wins a second term in 2004
Is barred from running for a third successive term by the Russian constitution, but instead becomes prime minister
Wins a third presidential term in 2012
Putin still in fashion 15 years on. Vladimir Putin's formative German year. Church lends weight to Putin patriotism. Putin, power and poison: Russia’s elite FSB spy club. Mr Putin appears to relish his macho image, helped by election stunts like flying into Chechnya in a fighter jet in 2000 and appearing at a Russian bikers' festival by the Black Sea in 2011. The Night Wolves bikers' gang played a prominent role in whipping up patriotic fervour during Russia's takeover of Crimea in 2014. Back to nature in Siberia: Mr Putin has cultivated a macho image which appeals to many Russians. In 2011 Mr Putin joined nationalist bikers - called the Night Wolves - for a Black Sea festival. Mr Putin was filmed in August 2015 enjoying a gym session with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. March 2013: Mr Putin plays in the snow with his dogs outside Moscow. But Mr Putin has also shown a gentler side on Russian state media, cuddling his dogs and helping to care for endangered Amur tigers. Billionaire friends
He is a proud former officer of the Soviet secret police, the KGB, with an entourage largely drawn from that old Soviet security elite. They are a fabulously wealthy elite and Mr Putin himself is believed to have a huge fortune. He keeps his family and financial affairs well shielded from publicity. The Panama Papers leaks in 2016 exposed a murky network of offshore companies owned by a longstanding friend of Mr Putin - concert cellist Sergei Roldugin. Mr Putin and his wife of Lyudmila got divorced in 2013 after nearly 30 years of marriage. She described him as a workaholic. Family fitness: Mr Putin's younger daughter, Katerina Tikhonova, dances acrobatic rock 'n' roll. According to a Reuters news agency investigation, Mr Putin's younger daughter, Katerina, is thriving in academia, has a top administrative job at Moscow State University and performs in acrobatic rock 'n' roll competitions. The elder Putin daughter, Maria, is also an academic, specialising in endocrinology. Reuters found that several other powerful figures close to Mr Putin - often ex-KGB - also have successful children in lucrative management jobs. Russia's best-known anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny calls it a "neo-feudal system" that looks after a small, privileged class. The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi was a lavish showcase for the Putin era: it cost Russia an estimated $51bn (£34bn) - the highest price tag for any Olympics. He is passionate about ice hockey, like judo - and state TV has shown his skills on the ice. Vladimir Putin's popularity was still strong after 15 years. Liberals pushed out
Despite his long rule, President Putin's approval ratings are still high, Russian media report - the kind of popularity that most Western leaders can only dream of. Mr Putin's brand of patriotism dominates Russia's media, skewing coverage in his favour, so those ratings do not give the whole picture. But dissenters do struggle to be heard. He was re-elected president in 2012 for a third, six-year term in the Kremlin. Even in the previous four years, as prime minister under President Dmitry Medvedev, he was clearly holding the levers of power. In his first two terms as president, Mr Putin was buoyed by healthy income from oil and gas - Russia's main exports. Living standards for most Russians improved. There was a new sense of stability and national pride. But the price, in the opinion of many, was the erosion of Russia's fledgling democracy. Since the 2008 global financial crisis Mr Putin has struggled with an anaemic economy, hit by recession and more recently a plunge in the price of oil. Russia lost many foreign investors and billions of dollars in capital flight. In the run-up to his re-election, Russia was gripped by the biggest anti-government protests since Soviet times. Protest leaders have been jailed or otherwise marginalised - including the most prominent opposition leader, Alexei Navalny. He made a name for himself by exposing rampant corruption, labelling Mr Putin's United Russia as "the party of crooks and thieves". Mr Putin is regularly filmed attending Orthodox Church ceremonies. Human rights concerns. Mr Putin's third term has been marked by conservative Russian nationalism. It has strong echoes of tsarist absolutism, encouraged by the Orthodox Church. The Church supported a ban on groups spreading gay "propaganda" among teenagers. Soon after becoming president Mr Putin set about marginalising liberals, often replacing them with more hardline allies or neutrals seen as little more than yes-men. Yeltsin favourites such as Boris Berezovsky and Vladimir Gusinsky - businessmen who grew rich in the chaos of the first privatisations - ended up as fugitives living in exile abroad. International concern about human rights in Russia grew with the jailing of oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, once one of the world's richest billionaires, and of anti-Putin activists from the punk group Pussy Riot. Mr Putin's relations with the UK soured over the 2006 radioactive poisoning of anti-Putin campaigner Alexander Litvinenko in London. Agents of the Russian state were accused of murdering him. It was seen as yet more proof of Russia's new assertiveness on the world stage.

'Agent' Putin returns to Dresden, 12 October 2006

President Putin was a KGB agent in Dresden during the 1980s. In a hundred-year-old villa on the edge of Dresden, manager of the local community centre Kerstin Wechter gives me a tour of the building. This is no ordinary community centre. "See those holes in the door frames?" Kerstin says. "They used to be packed with bugging devices". We go into the yard and Kerstin opens an outside door. "This is where the Soviet guards used to sit" she says, pointing to some broken chairs. Agent Putin
House No.4 on Angelikastrasse was once the Soviet KGB's Dresden HQ. It was a building where Soviet secret agents used to spy on each other, as well as on the West. And among the officers based here in the 1980s was Agent Vladimir Putin. This week Mr Putin returned to Dresden - not as a spy, but as president of Russia. Despite his past as a KGB officer, Kerstin says she is pleased by the visit. "Mr Putin's heart beats for Germany," she tells me.  Not everyone agrees. Russian 'vampire'
On the streets of Dresden I meet human rights campaigners. They are holding a giant portrait of Vladimir Putin, depicting the Russian president as a vampire, sinking his teeth into Russian democracy. President Putin and Chancellor Merkel. Germany is Russia's most important EU trading partner. They are calling on the German government to put criticism of Putin's Russia, ahead of co-operation. "Step by step, Vladimir Putin is abolishing democracy and freedom of the press," says Tilman Zulch, who is leading the protest. "If our country, our businessmen have no intention to change the situation and co-operate with Russia just for profit, that's not enough". Trading partners
But Germany is co-operating with the Kremlin. It is Russia's biggest trading partner in the EU; Germany gets more than a third of its gas from Russia and the two countries are working together to build a pipeline that will bring more Russian gas to Western Europe under the Baltic Sea. Agent Putin lived in an apartment block at 101 Radebergerstrasse. True, Mr Putin's relations with Chancellor Angela Merkel do not seem as cosy as they were with the previous German leader Gerhard Schroeder. Unlike Mr Schroeder, Mrs Merkel has voiced some criticism of Russia - but not loud enough to cloud the Russian-German relationship. Foreign policy expert Alexander Rahr believes there is no point criticising Russia - the Kremlin will not listen anyway. "Harsh criticism didn't work towards China, it won't work with Russia," Alexander Rahr believes. "It might have worked in the 1990s, but now Russia is different, stronger and more confident. We need a partnership of patience towards Russia. The more we try to force changes on Russia, the more Russia will take a very defensive attitude to the West." As a spy in Dresden, Vladimir Putin witnessed Russia's weakest moment - the collapse of its empire which had extended right across Eastern Europe. Today he is the leader of an increasingly powerful and wealthy country which is in no mood to be lectured by the West.


Military Just Unleashed 'PAIN RAY' Weapon On Illegals - Instantly Solves The Problem,  Nov 13, 2018. Military Just Unleashed 'PAIN RAY' Weapon On Illegals - Instantly Solves The Problem. As the most reliable and balanced news aggregation service in the world, RWN offers the following information published by the Telegraph: The US army says its new ‘pain ray’ hurts but does no lasting damage. Its critics would beg to differ. ‘It was as if some invisible jet impinged upon them… I saw them staggering and falling, and their supporters turning to run.” Since the first appearance of the “heat-ray” in H G Wells’s The War of the Worlds, ray guns have been a staple feature of science fiction: the classic sign of overwhelming technological superiority. But they are no longer fiction. Last month, Lt Col John Dorrian admitted that the US military’s brand-new Active Denial System (ADS) had been shipped to Afghanistan, the first time it has been present in an active theatre of war. Acco...

Marines to Arrest 60000 US Leaders, Nov 17, 2018. (60000 лидеров США должны арестовать! ЛМ).
(arrests might happen, but it's to take those leaders to safety, nevertheless the video is too religious! LM)

What was behind South Africa's MP brawl? 6.11.2018

Fighting broke out in parliament on TuesdayImage caption: Fighting broke out in parliament on Tuesday. A spectacular $130m (£100m) "heist" at a bank in South Africa has provoked a furious political storm, revealing how deeply corruption is now entrenched in local government and beyond, the BBC's Andrew Harding reports. The losses at VBS are relatively small compared to some of the more outlandish corruption scandals already buffeting South Africa. However, the story of the bank's alleged looting and destruction involves such a wide cast of villains and victims that it has the makings of an era-defining outrage. "Corrupt and rotten to the core," concluded Terry Motau, the lawyer appointed by the central bank to investigate VBS. In parliament on Tuesday, the chief whip of the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), John Steenhuisen, accused members EFF members of being "VBS looters". EFF lawmakers reacted angrily, calling him a "white racist". A brawl quickly followed.

'Men don't want to hear the word equality': Houses of Parliament - 8 Nov 2018

A Nigerian female politician has lambasted her male counterparts in a speech at a special meeting in the British parliament. Aishatu Dukku, who is a member of the Nigeria's House of Representatives for a constituency in the north of Nigeria, told the gathering of women politicians from around the world that there is "not a level playing ground" when it comes to getting involved in politics. She said that there are only 21 women out of 360 members of the House of Representatives. "For us in Nigeria you cannot mention the word equality, the men do not want to hear it," she added. Ms Dukku is the first woman to represent her constituency in the north-east of the country and she said she broke the taboo of women being involved in politics only with the support of her husband and father.

1MDB: Ex-Goldman bankers and Jho Low face US charges. 2.11.2018

Jho Low (right) is seen with Wolf of Wall Street star Leonardo DiCaprio in 2013. Two former Goldman Sachs bankers and Malaysian financier Jho Low have been hit with US criminal charges in connection with one of the world's biggest financial scandals. The Department of Justice alleges the men participated in a scheme that stole billions of dollars from Malaysia's development fund, 1MDB. One former Goldman banker pleaded guilty, the department said. The other banker has been arrested, while Mr Low remains at large. Mr Low, who prosecutors say had ties to government officials and acted as an informal advisor to the 1MDB fund, maintains his innocence, according to a statement issued by his legal team. He has previously denied charges filed in Malaysia, adding that it would be "impossible" for him to receive a fair trial there. "Mr. Low simply asks that the public keep an open mind regarding this case until all of the evidence comes to light, which he believes will vindicate him," the statement said. Goldman, which worked to raise money for the 1MDB fund, said on Thursday that it "continues to co-operate with all authorities investigating this matter".
How did we get here? These are the first US criminal charges to surface in the 1MDB scandal. Authorities say billions of dollars were embezzled from the state fund to buy art, property, a private jet - and even to help finance the Wolf of Wall Street film starring Leonardo DiCaprio. The scandal has prompted investigations around the world and played a role in the election defeat earlier this year of Malaysia's former prime minister, Najib Razak, who is accused of pocketing $700m (£517m) from the fund he set up. He has since been charged with corruption, abuse of power and criminal breach of trust in Malaysia. His wife, Rosmah Mansor, has been charged with money laundering. Both deny any wrongdoing.

Japan's Nikkei index slides amid US uncertainty. 25 December 2018

Japan's main stock market index has plunged, reflecting traders' worries following a slide on Wall Street. Investors have been concerned about President Trump's dispute with the US central bank chief and another government shutdown. US stocks had their worst Christmas Eve on record. The Dow Jones index of 30 leading companies fell more than 650 points on Monday, and is on track for its worst December since 1931, during the Great Depression. What triggered the falls? The Asian markets are believed to be largely reacting to movement in the US and an ensuing shares sell-off by concerned investors. US-China trade tensions are a factor, as well as reports that President Donald Trump has discussed firing the chairman of the US central bank, Jerome Powell. The US government has also entered partial shutdown, after Congress refused to fund President Trump's planned US-Mexico border wall.

(Jewish) Arron Banks faces Brexit referendum spending probe. 2.11.2018

The National Crime Agency is investigating Arron Banks and his Leave.EU campaign for alleged offences committed at the 2016 EU referendum. Mr Banks and another senior campaign figure, Liz Bilney, were referred to the agency by the Electoral Commission. The watchdog said it suspected Mr Banks was not the "true source" of loans to the campaign and the money had come "from impermissible sources". Mr Banks denied any wrongdoing and said he welcomed the police investigation...Under UK law, loans and donations to registered campaigners can only come from permissible sources, which essentially excludes overseas or foreign funding. The law was introduced by the Labour government in 2000 after a series of scandals involving overseas donors accused of trying to influence British laws and elections. Leave.EU's chief executive Liz Bilney said all of the money had come from Mr Banks and he was the "ultimate beneficial owner" of the companies that had loaned it...Who is Arron Banks? The Bristol-based insurance tycoon, who was born in Cheshire, was a Lloyd's underwriter before starting his own firms. The twice married father-of-five has been a close friend and supporter of Nigel Farage. Mr Banks was a Conservative supporter until 2014 when he defected to UKIP, giving them £1m. He is said to be one of the biggest political donors in UK history, thought to have given up to £9.6m to Leave.EU - which he co-founded - and UKIP. Leave.EU, which was backed by then UKIP leader Mr Farage, lost out to Vote Leave in the battle to become the official Leave campaign in the 2016 EU referendum. His Leave.EU campaign targeted its message at voters angry about EU immigration

Reserve Bank of India: What is the conflict with the government? 1 November 2018

India's rupee currency has been falling for the past few months. "It is a very messy situation. If the bank chief quits, it will shake the confidence of markets, the rupee will plunge further and investors will take money out from India. Nothing good will come out of this episode," says Vivek Dehejia, an economist who teaches at Canada's Carleton University.

Apple falls below $1trillion despite revenue and profit rise. 2.11.2018

Apple briefly lost its $1tn valuation on Thursday when its shares fell 7% in after-hours trading despite posting record results. The tech giant's strategy of charging more for its phones has paid off, with revenues jumping in the last three months despite relatively flat sales. Revenues rose 20% to $62.9bn year-on-year, and profits rose 31% to $14.1bn. But a warning of possible weaker sales in coming months sparked a share price slide after official trading ended. The sell-off accelerated after Apple said it would stop disclosing the number of units sold. Apple executives defended their decision, arguing that the figures are no longer good indicators of the firm's financial health. The total number of smartphones sold by all makers globally declined for the first time in 2017.

France vs Croatia Fans Reaction World Cup 2018 Final | France vs Croatia Fans Reaction World. Cup Jul 15, 2018. final match between France vs Croatia in Russia.

90,000 fans celebrate France's 2018 Fifa World cup Championship. Jul 15, 2018. French football team won the World Cup 2018 FIFA in Russia. Paris, France celebrate the 2018 World Cup. Tens of thousands of French fans in Russia and their hometown celebrate the flag after the 2018 World Cup old team championship. France won the 4- 2 against Croatia at the Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, officially became the 2018 World Cup champion.


Video: World Cup 2018: England fans to behave after disorder. England fans have been asked to "consider their actions" after disorder in Nottingham city centre on Saturday. A 27-year-old man was arrested and later released on conditional bail after a number of people damaged a taxi in Market Square. There were also several other arrests for public order offences across the city. Insp Simon Allardice said: "The vast majority of people enjoyed Saturday's celebrations safely and these incidents relate to a select number of people who took things too far." He urged fans to behave during Wednesday's semi-final against Croatia. "We want people to enjoy this momentous occasion but safely and with respect for others," he said. 10 Jul 2018
https://www.bbc.com/news/av/uk-england-nottinghamshire  (Aug. 2018 update- this link now fails to connect to its website! In Russian: Адрес видео или сайта не работает больше!)

Excited Croatia fans throw beer over BBC reporter. Excited crowds of Croatian football fans in Zagreb give BBC reporter Gavin Lee a beer shower following their best ever performance at a World Cup. 16 Jul 2018

World Cup 2018: French optimism resurgent. 15 July 2018 - video

Fans celebrate as France wins World Cup 2018. Sport proves nothing. Everyone knows that. Winning the World Cup doesn't mean that France is poised for a surge of self-confidence, resulting in higher economic growth and contentedness for all. Nor does it mean that social divisions are suddenly healed. In 1998 France won the Mondiale for the first time, and pundits prematurely proclaimed the emergence of a new multi-colour nation. No-one is so naïve this time round. Victory does not even have any particular message for the health of French football. True, the system has produced a prodigious new generation of players - many like the young superstar Kylian Mbappé born in the high-immigration suburbs or banlieues. And by general consensus, Didier Deschamps as manager has been a soft-spoken triumph. Mbappe will be the best in world - the pundits' view Is Russia the real winner?
Young Russians see lives changed by feel-good World Cup. But let's face it: any one of half a dozen countries could have won the World Cup. In the end victory is also down to luck and timing, and whether a ball twists inside or outside a goalpost. Have these footballers restored pride to the streets of France? It was France that got the breaks. But as everyone knows, that proves nothing. And yet…Tonight, as the country swarms out of the bars and on to the streets to celebrate, those are precisely the three prime emotions: confidence, unity and footballing pride. For a quarter of a century France has been losing its self-confidence. And then in the last year - since the election of President Emmanuel Macron - there came a turnaround. Well of optimism.
President Macron's election has, perhaps, helped kick-start French change. It would be silly to attribute this to Mr Macron alone - he is certainly not a universally popular figure. Perhaps better to see the president as personifying a change in society as a whole, as a younger, more adaptable generation takes the reins. Whatever the case, no-one can mistake an air of cautious optimism about France today that is as welcome as it is unusual. Quite possibly this is aided by comparison with other countries - say the UK - that seem to the French to be on a downward curve. But pleasure at the misfortune of others is still pleasure - and for the first time in years, people in France appear to feel (relatively-speaking) good about themselves. Added to this is a new sense of unaggressive, but unembarrassed patriotism in France, that probably owes a lot to the terrorist attacks of the last three years. The tricolour flies from the windows of homes; enlistment for the armed forces is up; the far-right no longer pretends to a monopoly on the symbols of the nation. Rallying the nation.
Will this rallying around an ethnically diverse football team extend to French society at large? In football, the country has found it easy to rally behind a team, that projects both ethnic diversity and frank patriotic fervour. Kylian Mbappé - child of Cameroonian-Algerian parents - told Le Monde, that all he wanted to do was "embody France, represent France and give my all for France". Striker Antoine Griezmann made a similar outburst at a news conference on Friday, telling journalists that "we should be proud to be French. Life in France is good! We eat well. We have a beautiful country and a beautiful national team". Long gone, in other words, are the days of surly silences during the singing of the Marseillaise. Indeed, victory in Russia draws a final line under a dark period of French football, whose low point was the notorious "strike-on-the-bus" in South Africa eight years ago. It has been a long steady fightback under Deschamps, but today the national side is securely back at the top. In the last six World Cups, France has played three times in the final, and won twice. That is no mean achievement, and a tribute to the way the nation nurtures and keeps its talent. The banlieue wonderboys may leave for rich clubs in England and Spain, but they come back home when it counts.

French President Macron dabs with French players. The players and the president were celebrating in the changing room after France's World Cup win. 16 Jul 2018. World Cup: France welcomed by hundreds of thousands of supporters.

World Cup 2018: Why the tournament in Russia was statistically the best. 17 July 2018

French fans go crazy for World Cup winners. Crowds of fans lined the Champs-Elysées in central Paris to give the French World Cup winners a heroes' welcome. French president Emmanuel Macron also celebrated with the team.

France's World Cup team given heroes' welcome in Paris. 17 July 2018

The French World Cup winners were welcomed home by jubilant fans along the Champs-Elysées. France's victorious football team has paraded the World Cup before hundreds of thousands of fans in Paris. Jubilant crowds lined the capital's main artery, the Champs-Elysées, to greet the team's open-top bus. Jets saluted the players and the coach overhead, trailing smoke in French red, white and blue. The team was then honoured with an official reception by President Emmanuel Macron. France beat Croatia 4-2 in the final in Moscow on Sunday. It is France's second World Cup win, following their triumph in 1998. Mr Macron's office announced that the players and their coach would receive the country's highest accolade - the Légion d'Honneur. France's Hugo Lloris holds the World Cup trophy after landing in Paris. Captain Hugo Lloris and coach Didier Deschamps were the first to emerge from the plane after landing earlier on Monday, raising the competition's golden trophy to the cheering crowds of fans, who had gathered to greet them. Nine jets from the Patrouille de France, the French air force's aerobatic unit, executed an honorary flyover of the team on the Champs-Elysées
One of the players, Raphaël Varane, tweeted this video from the parade: Later, Mr Macron and his wife, Brigitte, joined the players in a rendition of the French national anthem on the presidential palace steps. Mr Macron thanked the footballers for "having made us proud". "Never forget where you come from: all the clubs across France that trained you," he told them in the palace's gardens. Brigitte Macron holds the World Cup trophy with player Paul Pogba. Some 3,000 people were invited to the presidential reception, including 1,000 youths from football clubs around the country such as Bondy, the Paris suburb where 19-year-old forward Kylian Mbappé first started his career, "in order that they can welcome the Blues". In amongst the joyful displays of national pride, there have also been reports of female fans being sexually harassed. One Twitter user collated reports by other users of the type of harassment they faced during the celebrations on Sunday night, ranging from forced kisses to inappropriate touching. In pictures: France wins the World Cup. World Cup 2018: Air of optimism sweeps France. The bizarre end to the 2018 World Cup. Fans partied across France overnight, but celebrations in some cities were also marred by violence. Police fired tear gas as sporadic clashes broke out in Paris, Lyon, Strasbourg and Rouen.
Dozens of youths broke into a shop on the Champs-Elysées and stole wine and champagne. But the national mood was one of joy, and Paris transport company RATP said it was celebrating the success of Les Bleus by renaming some stations after the victors. They include Victor Hugo Lloris, after the team's captain and goalkeeper, and Deschamps-Elysées, in honour of the coach. The colours of the French flag was plastered over the city. Antoine Griezmann's face was plastered all over the Arc de Triomphe after he scored in the final on Sunday. France players showed off their new trophy in an open-top bus parade down the Champs Elysees. Thousands of supporters were out to celebrate the victory. Croatia also had a celebratory homecoming after their best finish in a World Cup. Thousands gathered in Bana Jelacica Square in Zagreb on Monday to welcome the side home. Croatia players stood on the top of the open-top bus as they made their way to a reception in their honour. Croatia's players, including Golden Ball winner Luka Modric, celebrate with fans. Thousands of fans gathered to greet the losing finalists. The French team is being recognised as one of the most multicultural teams in the competition - 15 out of the 23 players in the national squad can trace their heritage back to Africa, mainly from French colonies. Kylian Mbappe, the youngest footballer since Pele to score in a World Cup final, has parents from Cameroon and Algeria. Many people on social media were keen to point out that despite their African roots, the men were "first and foremost French", while others blasted Beydouns for using sport to score political points.

World Cup 2018: Bizarre trophy presentation caps superb tournament. 15 July 2018

World Cup 2018: The World Cup final that had everything. The World Cup is over for another four years and the tournament's grand finale didn't disappoint. France won the biggest prize in football for the second time by overcoming Croatia 4-2 in a thrilling final in Moscow. But once the final whistle had gone, the chaos of the presentation ceremony got under way... eventually. It took more than 20 minutes after the end of the match for the trophy to emerge from the tunnel, leaving the teams to stand awkwardly on the pitch awaiting the ceremony. Having already had a pitch invasion earlier in the match, the Russian organisers were clearly taking no chances with security. Former Germany captain Philipp Lahm carried the iconic trophy onto the pitch and the formalities were able to proceed. Russia president Vladimir Putin, France president Emmanuel Macron and Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, the Croatia president, arrived onto the field with the rest of the presentation party. And with that, the storm that had been threatening to break the whole match erupted. Soggy celebrations: Rain fails to dampen France's trophy lift. Putin didn't seem perturbed - probably because he had a man holding an umbrella over his head the whole time, while his French and Croatian counterparts were getting soaked. Neither Macron nor Grabar-Kitarovic appeared to mind. They were busy embracing each player individually - regardless of nationality - and they seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves.

Jun 6, 2018. Тhe Entire Swedish National Guard Was Just Mobilized, For The First Time Since 1975. A few weeks back, the government of Sweden sent out a booklet to every household in the country urging citizens to prepare for war or other crises. A few months back, they told citizens that they should be prepared to last for at least a week without any help from the government. Last night, in the most unsettling move yet, they mobilized the entire Swedish Home Guard for an “unannounced preparedness exercise.” All 40 battalions have been activated, effective immediately.

SWEDEN Mobilizes ALL Reservists, first time in 40 years - What Do They See Coming?? WW3? Jun 7, 2018

Sweden battles wildfires from Arctic Circle to Baltic Sea. 18 July 2018

Sweden's Mobilization : Lessons for Preppers! Jun 9, 2018

SWEDEN Mobilizes ALL Reservists, first time in 40 years - What Do They See Coming?? WW3? Jun 7, 2018

Bilderberg 2018 Final Day Report Harassed Mid Interview For Typical And Fitting Ending. Jun 10, 2018 - Why such unbelievable High Tech and Artificial Intelligence Push at this meeting?

Bilderberg 2018 - Globalists In Full PANIC MODE. Jun 6, 2018

Something Unprecedented Is Happening at 66 Bilderberg Meeting. Jun 8, 2018. Больше, чем когда-либо членов Бильдерберг встретились вместе с членом Ватикана, что никогда не было, чтобы обсудить Третью Мировую Войну (последнюю на Земле)! Основные главы правительств стран и их министры Обороны, и многие другие. Америка-НАТО начало военные учения в 3х прибалтийских республиках и Польше (их представители тоже были на этой Встрече) как раз перед этой Встречей, которая только что закончилась! Россия - один из основных обсуждаемых вопросов. Собираются пригнать 30 баталлионов, 30 военных кораблей и 30 squadrons самолётов в течении 30 дней! 

Nicaragua: From revolution to crisis. 19 July 2018

Photos taken during the 1979 Nicaraguan revolution and during recent unrest highlight some similarities. BBC Mundo's Arturo Wallace in the capital Managua explains what we can learn from them. Three months into a wave of protests which has engulfed Nicaragua, some in the Central American country are saying that it is on the brink of a new revolution. They draw comparisons to the Sandinista Revolution which has been marked every year on 19 July since the 1979 overthrow of dictator Anastasio Somoza. Back then, Daniel Ortega (right) was one of the commanders of the Sandinista guerrilla movement that overthrew Anastasio Somoza (left), whose family had ruled Nicaragua for more than 40 years with an iron fist, killing opposition leaders and violently crushing any dissent. Now it is the former Sandinista commander who is being accused of using lethal force against those who oppose him and what they say are his attempts to establish a dynasty of his own. Local NGOs say that more than 350 people have been killed since the start of the anti-government protests on 18 April. While members of the security forces are among those who have been killed, human rights organisations say that most of the victims have been unarmed civilians shot dead by the security forces and armed supporters of the 72-year-old president. Anti-government protesters have erected barricades which closely resemble those used during the revolution to protect themselves. But the government says the blockades hamper trade and the free circulation of people and have launched "Operation Clean-up" to rid the streets of them. Riot police have moved into opposition strongholds and recaptured some of them. The masks that once were a symbol of the urban guerrilla fighters have also made a return. Just as in the Sandinista revolution, students are once again leading the revolt. They have even revived some of the old revolutionary slogans and songs, but this time they are not being sung by Ortega and his comrades, but by those opposing them. President Ortega accuses the protesters of trying to stage a coup d'etat. Unlike the Sandinista rebels, most of today's protesters are armed with home-made weapons.

Russia World Cup: How Pussy Riot managed to burst into final. 21 July 2018

Croatia defender Dejan Lovren (L) grabbed pitch invader Pyotr Verzilov. A Pussy Riot activist who ran onto the pitch during the World Cup final says the stunt worked because of Russian deference for authority. Pyotr Verzilov said it was easy for him and three female activists to buy police uniforms, used in order to slip past security at the Croatia-v-France match in Moscow on 15 July.
"No one stopped us," he told BBC Russian, when interviewed at a prison north of the capital. "I know the Russian psychology: a police uniform is sacred. Nobody will ask for your permit or accreditation. "I pretended to be yelling into my phone - 'Nikolayich, where do you want me to look for them?!' - and I gestured to the steward to let me through the gate. He opened it." Pussy Riot invaded the pitch in front of President Putin and other dignitaries. Pussy Riot - a feminist punk group opposed to President Vladimir Putin - said the "performance art" was intended to draw attention to human rights abuses in Russia. The four activists have been given 15-day prison terms and a three-year ban on attending sports events. Their pitch invasion in the second half lasted about 25 seconds - they stopped play but were quickly hustled off by stewards. France went on to win 4-2. The activists (L-R): Verzilov, Nikulshina, Pakhtusova, Kurachyova. Activists Veronika Nikulshina, Olga Kurachyova and Olga Pakhtusova are being held in a jail in the south of Moscow. "We were speaking for Russia," Verzilov told the BBC. "Throughout the World Cup, which I really enjoyed, there wasn't a word of political criticism [against the government]. "I categorically disagree with Western countries who call for a boycott of Russian sporting events. But to avoid criticising what's going on in Russia today is wrong." President Putin was delighted with a successful World Cup. President Putin however saw the World Cup as a great achievement for Russia. On 18 July he told a Moscow forum that visitors had praised Russia's facilities and "hospitality and friendliness". "The improved squares and streets of our cities have become points of attraction, friendship and communication for tourists," he said. And at his swearing-in as president in May he said openness was vital for Russia's future. He called for "a free society that is open to all new and cutting-edge advances, while rejecting injustice, ignorance, crass conservatism and bureaucratic red tape". Pussy Riot's protest took four weeks of planning, Verzilov said, although they had got hold of tickets for the final six months ago. "We bought several tickets on the Fifa website, and supporters of Pussy Riot in other countries obtained tickets for us too," he said. "We sat in ordinary seats, we weren't in the VIP zone." Getting hold of police uniforms had been easy, Verzilov said. When police officers demanded to know where he had got them, he said, he answered the same way that President Putin had, when he was asked about Russian troops in Crimea. Mr Putin repeatedly denied any Russian military role in the takeover of Ukraine's Crimea region in March 2014, but did admit it months later.
Verzilov said: "I told them that Putin himself said you can pick up any military uniform you like these days, that it was easy to do and that it would set you back about 5,000 roubles [£61; $79]."
Policeman's trim
To look the part, he said, he had had to shave for the first time in three years. "I told my barber I needed to look like a police officer." One of the women protesters wore a wig, because she normally has pink hair, he said. They had rehearsed by running around a local football pitch. One of the pitch invaders high-fived France's Kylian Mbappé. The four had gone to the match in ordinary clothes, carrying the police uniforms in rucksacks. Nobody asked about the clothes at the bag check, going into the stadium. At half-time the group changed into their police uniforms in the toilets. Shortly after that they leapt into the world's spotlight. One of the women high-fived the young French star Kylian Mbappé. But Croatia defender Dejan Lovren grabbed Verzilov in anger. Later a video clip emerged on social media, in which a police officer berated Verzilov and Nikulshina. He accused them of bringing shame on Russia and said Fifa would impose a heavy fine for their protest. Pussy Riot's motive was to get political prisoners released, stop the arrests of people at political rallies, or for posting "likes" on social media, and end trumped-up cases against dissidents in Russia, Verzilov told the BBC. Pussy Riot first drew international attention when they performed an anti-Putin punk song in Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in 2012, wearing colourful balaclavas. Three women were jailed in labour camps for that "blasphemy".

Rock star Serj Tankian on Armenia's 'unique revolution'. Nikol Pashinyan, the opposition MP who led weeks of protests, has become Armenia's new prime minister. Armenian-American rock star Serj Tankian has hailed the peaceful revolt and celebrated with Mr Pashinyan. 9 May 2018.

Armenia protest leader Pashinyan wins PM vote. 8 May 2018

Serj Tankian hails Nikol Pashinyan and Armenia's peaceful uprising. Opposition politician Nikol Pashinyan spearheaded weeks of protests in Armenia that brought an end to 10 years of rule by Serzh Sargsyan. Now he has persuaded a parliament dominated by Mr Sargsyan's own party to back him as prime minister, only a week after he lost an initial vote. After MPs voted again on Tuesday, thousands of supporters cheered in Republic Square in the capital Yerevan. Rock star Serj Tankian of the band System of a Down was among the crowds. Mr Pashinyan, who led what has become known as Armenia's "Velvet Revolution", promised MPs that human rights would be protected, and that corruption and election-rigging would end. "All people are equal before the law. There will be no people enjoying privileges in Armenia. That's it. Full stop," he said. Supporters of Mr Pashinyan gathered in Republic Square in the centre of Yerevan to await the vote result. A landlocked nation of 2.9 million people, Armenia is dependent on Russia for its security and has a Russian military base on its territory. Armenia's peaceful uprising against single-party rule - and the way its political leaders responded - is seen as unprecedented for a former Soviet state. Russia has not intervened in the recent political events and Mr Pashinyan told MPs that relations with Moscow would be a priority, particularly military co-operation. Russian President Vladimir Putin immediately welcomed Mr Pashinyan's success, looking forward to continuing "friendly relations". Armenia is part of Russia's collective security organisation as well as its Eurasian economic union. Armenia is also involved in a long-lasting conflict with Azerbaijan over the mountainous territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave with an ethnic Armenian majority that lies inside Azerbaijan's borders. What happens next?
Mr Pashinyan won the vote by 59 votes to 42 and has promised snap elections as soon as he is happy conditions are right for a legitimate vote to take place. Nikol Pashinyan is a former journalist who was jailed over unrest that followed Serzh Sargsyan's rise to power in 2008. He has said he has no intention to cling to power but he will first have to persuade the same parliament to approve his cabinet. Party colleagues of Mr Pashinyan spoke in parliament on Tuesday of a "historic day". Lena Nazaryan told MPs that the revolution was a culmination of two decades of despair and struggle. "The police are now free," she said. "School teachers are free, local administrations are free." Standing beside Mr Pashinyan the night before the vote, Serj Tankian - the lead singer of American-Armenian heavy metal band System of a Down - praised the protesters in Armenian before leading them in a traditional song. His group's songs have been played regularly at rallies since the protests began on 13 April. Tankian watched the vote in parliament before celebrating with the crowds in Republic Square, where he hailed a "New Armenia". After 10 years in power Mr Sargsyan left Armenia's presidency last month only to be elected prime minister by a parliament controlled by his Republican party. Mr Sargsyan's move was seen by critics as a way of clinging to office. Under a 2015 referendum marred by irregularities, Armenia shifted powers from the presidency to parliament. Mr Pashinyan, who had begun a protest march to Yerevan ahead of the president's switch to prime minster, arrived in the capital to lead daily protests. On 22 April he held a brief meeting with Mr Sargsyan but was then detained when the talks collapsed. The following day, he was freed and Mr Sargsyan resigned as prime minister, six days after he had been elected. On 1 May, a parliament dominated by the ruling Republican party rejected Mr Pashinyan as prime minister, even though he was the only candidate. A general strike across Armenia took place the following day, and eventually Republican MPs agreed they would back him in an 8 May vote.

US pressures Iran with new sanctions over 'malign activity'. Iranian Revolutionary Guards. 7 May 2018

US Treasury-Secretary, a Jew - Steven Mnuchin

(To comprehend this article you need to be an alien - ЧТОБЫ ПОНЯТЬ ЭТУ СТАТЬЮ НУЖНО БЫТЬ ИНОПЛАНЕТЯНАМИ, ВРОДЕ ЕВРЕЕВ! LM). 
Treasury Secretary, a Jew - Steven Mnuchin, said the US was "intent" on cutting revenue for Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps. The US has imposed sanctions on six people and three companies it says have ties to Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the penalties targeted those who had funnelled millions of dollars to the group, funding its "malign activity". Iran's central bank was also accused of helping the IRGC to access US dollars. The Treasury Department did not name the sanctioned individuals, but said they were all Iranian. The move - which was carried out in conjunction with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) - prohibits US individuals and entities from doing business with them. EU hurt as US flexes sanctions muscles. "The Iranian regime and its Central Bank have abused access to entities in the UAE to acquire US dollars to fund the (IRGC's) malign activities, including to fund and arm its regional proxy groups," Mr Mnuchin said in a statement. "We are intent on cutting off IRGC revenue streams wherever their source and whatever their destination," he added. Iranian Revolutionary Guards at a military parade in Tehran. The IRGC was set up in 1979 to defend Iran's Islamic system and is a major military, political and economic force in the country. The sanctions specifically target its overseas operations arm, the Quds Force. President Donald Trump has labelled the group a "corrupt terror force and militia" and, in October, he hit them with sanctions. The latest penalties come just two days after Mr Trump pulled the US out of the Iran nuclear deal and pledged to ramp up pressure on Tehran. The 2015 agreement curbed Iran's nuclear activities in return for the lifting of UN, US and EU sanctions. Mr Trump's decision to abandon the deal was described as a "mistake" by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei...The IDF said fighter jets struck 70 military targets belonging to Iran inside Syria, causing significant damage. Targets included intelligence sites, military posts and weapons storage warehouses. Russia, Germany and France called on both countries to exercise restraint, but the US said Iran bore "full responsibility for the consequences of its reckless actions" and that Israel had a right to defend itself.

Video: SPECIAL REPORT: Active shooter at YouTube's California headquarters. Apr 3, 2018. Police are responding to an active shooter at the YouTube headquarters in California's Bay Area, authorities say, cautioning people to stay away.

Commonwealth meeting: Leaders to discuss who will succeed Queen as head - Apr 20, 2018

The Queen has endorsed Prince Charles to take over her role as head of the Commonwealth. Commonwealth leaders will meet behind closed doors later to discuss whether the Prince of Wales should succeed his mother as head of the 53-nation body. On Thursday the Queen endorsed Prince Charles as future leader at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) at Buckingham Palace. She said it was her "sincere wish" that he takes over "one day". But the role is not hereditary and will not pass automatically to the Prince of Wales on the Queen's death. The leaders are expected to approve the move when they meet at Windsor Castle, but there has been no confirmation on whether there will be an announcement following the meeting. BBC diplomatic correspondent James Landale said there had been some suggestions that the position should be rotated around member states. Meanwhile, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has cut short his attendance at the summit in London to deal with violent protests at home. Clashes have taken place in North West province where protesters are demanding jobs, housing and an end to corruption. 'No other options' for Commonwealth head?
Commonwealth: Seven things you might not know. Opening the summit on Thursday, the Queen said: "It is my sincere wish that the Commonwealth will continue to offer stability and continuity for future generations, and will decide that one day the Prince of Wales should carry on the important work started by my father in 1949." Some Commonwealth members were never part of the British Empire. The body's out going chair-in-office, Maltese prime minister Joseph Muscat, told delegates: "We are certain that, when he will be called upon to do so, he will provide solid and passionate leadership for our Commonwealth." Prime Minister Theresa May and Canadian PM Justin Trudeau have given their backing to Prince Charles. Other issues under discussion at the two-day summit include ocean conservation, cyber security, and trade between the countries. The leaders gathered in the Buckingham Palace ballroom on Thursday. The ceremony is being attended by 46 Commonwealth heads of government, out of the 53 member states, with the remaining attendees being foreign ministers. The Commonwealth represents about 2.4bn people, but critics say the organisation is so disparate that it struggles to know what it is for, BBC royal correspondent Jonny Dymond said. What is CHOGM? The Queen usually attends CHOGM or is represented by Prince Charles. The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting - or CHOGM - usually takes place every two years. It is attended by presidents and prime ministers from across the 53 member nations - as well as their family members, lobbyists and journalists. This year it is held in London and the previous meeting - in 2015 - took place in Valletta, Malta. The latest CHOGM was due to take place in 2017 on the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu - but Cyclone Pam devastated the country two years earlier At the end of two days of deliberations, the leaders usually agree a communique on a major issue."

'I know my soul is scarred'. In 1986, Winnie Mandela told the BBC how she met Nelson, and how their struggle left her "scarred". 2 April 2018

Why Soweto's history matters so much. Two School Reporters explain some of the history of Soweto, which is not only their hometown but also that of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former South African President Nelson Mandela. 24 February 2017.

Nelson Mandela: Why some young South Africans think he 'sold out'. One hundred years after the birth of Nelson Mandela, racial inequality in South Africa is still a major issue. Some young people have begun to reassess his legacy, calling him a “sell-out”. The BBC went to Nelson Mandela Bridge in central Johannesburg to ask young South Africans for their views of the anti-apartheid icon. 18 July 2018

Cuba's Raúl Castro hands over power to Miguel Díaz-Canel. 19 April 2018

Miguel Díaz-Canel had been widely expected to take over from Raúl Castro. Miguel Díaz-Canel has been sworn in as Cuba's new president, replacing Raúl Castro who took over from his ailing brother Fidel in 2006. It is the first time since the revolution in 1959 that a Castro is not at the helm of the government. Mr Díaz-Canel had been serving as first vice-president for the past five years. Even though Mr Díaz-Canel was born after the revolution, he is a staunch ally of Raúl Castro and is not expected to make any radical changes. There was "no room in Cuba for those who strive for the restoration of capitalism" he said in his inaugural address. 'The Revolution continues its course'. He was elected by the members of the National Assembly, all 605 of whom were voted in in March after standing unopposed. Mr Castro is expected to continue wielding considerable political influence in his role as the leader of Cuba's ruling Communist Party. 'Political continuity': Will Grant, BBC Cuba correspondent
Cuba's new President, Miguel Díaz-Canel, entered the chamber alongside the outgoing president, Raúl Castro. The moment captured the image of political continuity the Cuban government has been keen to stress: an ordered handover of power from one generation to the next. There was a small surprise, a single dissenting vote to Díaz-Canel's nomination as president, as he was confirmed by just 99.83% of the vote. Still, he had the one and only ballot he really needed: Raúl Castro's. In his inaugural speech, Mr Díaz-Canel said that his mandate was "to ensure the continuity of the Cuban revolution at a key historic moment" and assured the members of the National Assembly that "the revolution continues its course". He said that Cuba's foreign policy would remain "unaltered" and that any "necessary changes" would be decided by the Cuban people. A large part of his speech was dedicated to praising his predecessor in office, to whom he said: "Cuba needs you." This prompted the more than 600 National Assembly members to rise to their feet and give the 86-year-old former leader a standing ovation. Any changes Mr Díaz-Canel will bring in are likely to be gradual, slow-paced and in keeping with the reforms Raúl Castro introduced since he first took over power from his brother, Fidel. Key reforms under Raúl Castro:
2008: New agricultural strategy is launched, promising to grant a million hectares of land to private farmers
2010: Loosening of rules governing business activities, allowing Cubans to set up their own small private businesses
2011: Opening up of the housing market, allowing Cubans to buy and sell their homes
2013: First wi-fi zones created as part of a push to make the internet more accessible for Cubans
2014: US-Cuban thaw announced leading to the restoration of full diplomatic relations between the former foes
The new leader will have to consider how to overcome the problems caused by the economic collapse of Cuba's ally, Venezuela, and what kind of relationship the Caribbean island wants with the US under Donald Trump. Cubans will judge the new leader on whether their lives improve
Last year, the new American president reimposed certain travel and trade restrictions eased by the Obama administration but did not reverse key diplomatic and commercial ties. Four takeaways from Trump's Cuba policy. But what most Cubans will judge the new leader on is whether their day-to-day lives improve.  

Beyoncé Caught Shapeshifting In Front Of Celebs. Feb 5, 2018. Beyoncé’s legions of fans were dealt a devastating blow when the Single Ladies singer was caught shapeshifting into a reptilian at Serena Williams’ wedding ceremony.

This Will CHANGE EVERYTHING You KNOW! Mind Control Facility! ( Feb 19, 2018)

You Will Wish You Watched This Before You Started Using Social Media | The Twisted Truth. Apr 20, 2018. This might be one of the most important videos I've edited in 2018.  After everything that has been going on with the privacy crisis and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg going to Washington to speak with members of Congress, I felt that this video was timely. I think social media can be good but we must be careful with how we use it.

Mark Zuckerberg Is Not Human. Oct 29, 2017

Congresswoman Won't Let Mark Zuckerberg WEASAL His Way Out Of Her Question About Tracking People!  Apr 11, 2018

ATV-1 reentry

Video: Do nations really need a government? Looking at how countries, or less defined areas, can function without an elected government. How Belgium, Germany, Iraq, Somalia, US and Antarctica cope. It's been a year since the devolved government in Northern Ireland collapsed, leaving most of its functions to be carried out by civil servants under the supervision of Westminster. Daily Politics reporter Elizabeth Glinka looks into how that is not the only example of countries, or less defined areas, functioning without an elected government. 16 Jan 2018

US shutdown: Senate bill on verge of collapse amid rancour. Jan 20, 2018

US government shutdown: How did we get here again? 18 January 2018

Outsider observers would be forgiven for being a little mystified at news that the US is - yet again - days away from a potential government shutdown. What is going on?

US Democrats accept compromise to end government shutdown, 22nd January 2018

There have been four government shutdowns since 1990. In the last one, more than 800,000 government workers were put on temporary leave.Democrat Chuck Schumer said it was time to get back to work. US - The US Senate on Monday reached a deal to re-open the federal government, with Democrats accepting a compromise spending bill to end days of partisan bickering that forced hundreds of thousands of government employees to stay home without pay. The impasse, the first of its kind since 2013, cast a huge shadow over the first anniversary on Saturday of President Donald Trump's inauguration. The Senate was poised to pass the compromise, but the shutdown will only end formally once the House of Representatives approves the measure keeping the government funded until February 8 - which it is expected to do.
As the Senate convened for the day, the chamber's top Democrat Chuck Schumer announced that members of his party would vote with ruling Republicans to end the shutdown on day three, after a weekend of frustrating talks on Capitol Hill. "After several discussions, offers, counteroffers, the Republican leader and I have come to an arrangement," Schumer said on the Senate floor, referring to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.  "We will vote today to reopen the government." But he warned McConnell that he expected Republicans to make good on a pledge to address Democrat concerns over the Deferred Action on Child Arrivals (DACA) programme that shields immigrants brought to the country as children from deportation, but expires on March 5. There are an estimated 700,000 "Dreamers" whose fates are up in the air.  "If he does not, of course, and I expect he will, he will have breached the trust of not only the Democratic senators, but members of his own party as well," Schumer saidPresident Donald Trump accused Democrats of shutting down the government to win concessions on immigration. Dealmaker on sidelines
Hopes that the shutdown, which began at midnight Friday, could be limited to the weekend were raised when a bipartisan group huddled for hours on Sunday trying to end the standoff, but they ultimately failed to reach a deal. Then as Monday began, Trump goaded Democrats from the sidelines, accusing them of shutting down the government to win concessions on immigration, in service of "their far left base."
"They do not want to do it but are powerless," he tweeted, referring to Schumer and other Democratic leaders. But Schumer said on the Senate floor it was time to get back to work, and lashed out at Trump.
"The great deal-making president sat on the sidelines," he said. The bill needed 60 votes to advance in the 100-member Senate, meaning Republicans - who have a one-seat majority - could not maneuver on their own.  Over the weekend, Trump encouraged the Senate's Republican leaders to invoke the "nuclear option" - a procedural maneuver to change the chamber's rules to allow passage of a budget by a simple majority of 51 votes to end the shutdown. But, Senate leaders have been wary of such a move in the past, as it could come back to haunt them the next time Democrats hold a majority.There have been four government shutdowns since 1990. In the last one, more than 800,000 government workers were put on temporary leave.

US shutdown extended as crunch vote delayed, 22nd January 2018

 Highlighting the deep political polarization, crowds estimated in the hundreds of thousands marched through major US cities on Saturday against the president and his policies and express support for women's rights. They gathered again on Sunday in Las Vegas, Nevada, chanting: "Power to the polls." At the heart of the dispute is the issue of undocumented immigration.US lawmakers failed to reach an agreement Sunday on ending a government shutdown before the start of the working week as they postponed a crunch vote in the Senate despite marathon negotiations. Although leaders of President Donald Trump's Republican party and the opposition Democrats said progress had been made in a weekend of talks, they pushed back a vote scheduled for 1:00 am (0600 GMT) Monday for another 11 hours. The delay means the shutdown -- which cast a huge shadow over the first anniversary of Trump's inauguration as president on Saturday  -- will force hundreds of thousands of federal government workers to stay at home without pay when they would normally report for duty on Monday morning. After a special weekend session of Congress which had seen bitter recriminations traded by both parties, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged to address Democrat concerns over key issues such as immigration reform in a speech to the chamber late Sunday. The top Democratic Senator, Chuck Schumer responded by saying he was "happy to continue my discussion with the majority leader about reopening the government" but added that the parties were "yet to reach an agreement on a path forward." McConnell then called for Congress to reconvene for another vote on a stop-gap funding measure at noon, a proposal which was nodded through. Hopes that the shutdown, which began at midnight on Friday, could be limited to the weekend had been raised in the afternoon when a bipartisan group huddled for hours on trying to end the standoff but they ultimately failed to resolve all their differences. Trump early Sunday encouraged the Senate's Republican leaders to invoke the "nuclear option" -- a procedural maneuver to change the chamber's rules to allow passage of a budget by a simple majority of 51 votes to end the shutdown. But Senate leaders have been wary of such a move in the past, as it could come back to haunt them the next time the other party holds a majority. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Trump had spoken during the day with McConnell and Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn. She did not mention Trump's speaking with any Democrats but said White House director of legislative affairs Marc Short had been in touch with members of both parties and updated the president. "We are continuing to work hard towards reopening the government," she said. Essential services continue At the heart of the dispute is the issue of undocumented immigration. Democrats have accused Republicans of poisoning chances of a deal and pandering to Trump's populist base by refusing to back a program that protects an estimated 700,000 "Dreamers" -- undocumented immigrants who arrived as children -- from deportation. Essential federal services and military activity are continuing, but even active-duty troops will not be paid until a deal is reached to reopen the US government. There have been four government shutdowns since 1990. In the last one, in 2013, more than 800,000 government workers were put on temporary leave. "We're just in a holding pattern. We just have to wait and see. It's scary," Noelle Joll, 50, a furloughed US government employee, told AFP in Washington. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, said that state funding would pay for the reopening Monday of the Statue of Liberty, which was among facilities affected by the shutdown. Anti-Trump protests. Republicans have just a one-seat majority in the Senate, and therefore have to lure some Democrats to their side to get a 60-vote supermajority to bring the stop-gap funding motion forward.

Queen Elizabeth Lets Down Her Guard in First-Ever TV Sit-Down Interview. Jan 13, 2018. This year marks the 65th anniversary of Elizabeth II's coronation, and now the English monarch is sharing her memories from that crowning moment.

Labour anti-Semitism: Jewish groups are calling on party to tackle it. "Enough is enough," Jewish groups have said in a letter accusing Jeremy Corbyn of failing to tackle anti-Semitism. Jonathan Goldstein, chairman of the the Jewish Leadership Council, told the Today programme there was no "safe space" for Jewish people within the party and is calling for change to show they mean business. The Labour leader has said he is "sincerely sorry" for the pain caused by "pockets of anti-Semitism" in the Labour Party. 26 Mar 2018. 'Corbyn must confront anti-Semitism'. The president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews calls for action rather than more words from the Labour leader. 

Russia sanctions: Shares in Deripaska-controlled firms crash. 9 Apr 2018

The US has accused Oleg Deripaska of operating for the Russian government. Shares in firms controlled by Oleg Deripaska have plunged after the US imposed sanctions on seven Russian oligarchs and their companies on Friday. Shares in the Russian aluminium giant Rusal nearly halved on the Hong Kong stock exchange on Monday. EN+, another firm controlled by Mr Deripaska, dived by 25% in London. The sanctions follow a diplomatic crisis sparked by the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury. The US has accused Mr Deripaska of operating for the Russian government. Other magnates hit by sanctions include Alexei Miller, director of state-owned energy giant Gazprom. Russia has vowed that there will be a "tough response" to the new sanctions. The US sanctions affect the seven oligarchs, 12 companies they own or control, as well as 17 senior Russian government officials. The Russian individuals and companies were targeted for profiting from a Russian state engaged in "malign activities" around the world.

Russia war games: Biggest since Cold War 'justified'. 29 Aug 2018

A Russian howitzer: Military modernisation is a priority for President Putin. Russia plans to hold massive war games involving 300,000 personnel next month - its biggest military manoeuvres since a Cold War drill in 1981. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Vostok-2018 drills were justified given "aggressive and unfriendly" attitudes towards his country. Units from China and Mongolia will also take part in the exercises at military ranges in central and eastern Russia. The manoeuvres come at a time of rising tension between Nato and Russia. Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said 36,000 tanks, armoured personnel carriers and armoured infantry vehicles would take part in Vostok-2018, from 11 to 15 September, along with more than 1,000 aircraft. Vostok is Russian for east. All of Russia's airborne units and two of its naval fleets will also take part in the drills across Siberia and the Russian Far East. Mr Shoigu compared the Vostok-2018 exercises to Soviet manoeuvres in 1981, which involved a pretend attack on Nato. He said: "In some ways they will repeat aspects of Zapad-81, but in other ways the scale will be bigger." Mr Peskov said the involvement of Chinese units showed Russia and Beijing were co-operating in all areas. The scale of Vostok-2018 is equivalent to the forces deployed in one of the big World War Two battles. A smaller-scale Russia-Belarus exercise was held in western regions last year. President Vladimir Putin has made military modernisation - including new nuclear missiles - a priority. Russia's armed forces are reckoned to have about one million personnel in total. How and why will China be involved?
The Chinese defence ministry put out a fairly dry statement talking of deepening military co-operation and "enhancing both sides' capabilities to jointly respond to various security threats". But it did say the exercises would "not target any third party". The ministry also confirmed the extent of the Chinese involvement - "3,200 troops, more than 900 pieces of military hardware as well as 30 fixed-wing aircrafts and helicopters" - and confirmed the location - the Tsugol training range in Russia's Trans-Baikal region. Some of the forces have already arrived. Details of the Mongolian involvement are unclear. The scale and scope of Vostok-2018 is unprecedented for modern Russia, but no surprise. The giant drill is clearly meant as a show of strength by Vladimir Putin and his military, a demonstration that - despite Western sanctions, including against the defence sector - the country remains defiant...bla-bla-bla

US punishes key Putin allies over worldwide 'malign activity'. 6 April 2018

It is the most aggressive move against Russia taken by President Trump's administration. The US has imposed sanctions on seven Russian oligarchs and 17 senior government officials, accusing them of "malign activity around the globe". Twelve companies owned by the oligarchs, the state arms exporter and a bank are also sanctioned. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the penalties targeted those profiting from Russia's "corrupt system". The move was a response to Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, he said. The sanctions are also being imposed because of the actions taken by the Kremlin in Crimea, eastern Ukraine and Syria, Mr Mnuchin said in a statement on Friday. He accused the Russian government of "malicious" cyber-activities and said the sanctions would target "those who benefit from the Putin regime".
"The Russian government operates for the disproportionate benefit of oligarchs," he added. It is the most aggressive action taken by the Trump administration thus far against Moscow. Last month the US imposed sanctions on 19 Russians, accusing them of interference in the 2016 election and alleged cyber-attacks. The US has also expelled dozens of Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning of a former Russian spy in the UK. Who's been targeted?
Among those targeted is Oleg Deripaska, a billionaire aluminium magnate and Putin associate with ties to President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Also on the list is Suleiman Kerimov, who is one of Russia's richest men. His family controls Russia's largest gold producer, Polyus, and he has an estimated net worth of $6.3bn (£4.7bn). In November, Mr Kerimov was placed under formal investigation in France on suspicion of tax evasion.
Jew - Suleiman Kerimov is one of Russia's richest men.
Alexander Torshin, a senior Russian official with reported ties to the National Rifle Association of America (NRA), has been blacklisted. Mr Putin's bodyguard, his son-in-law, the head of Russia's national security council, and former prime minister Viktor Zubkov are also sanctioned. Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport, one of the companies targeted, said the sanctions were designed to force Russia out of the global arms market. Any assets they have under US jurisdiction have been frozen and US nationals are forbidden from doing business with them. "This is unfair competition in its purest form," a spokeswoman told Reuters news agency. Raising the stakes. This is the most aggressive move against Russia taken by the Trump administration: targeting Vladimir Putin's inner circle. The name most familiar to Britons will be Oleg Deripaska, a billionaire who was at the centre of a political scandal ten years ago when he entertained Labour's Peter Mandelson and the Conservative shadow chancellor George Osborne on his super yacht. Of more interest here in the US are his connections to Paul Manafort, Mr Trump's former campaign manager. Congress passed a law last summer calling for such measures and has criticised the Trump administration for taking so long to act. But senior officials insist that they have been planning the moves for some time. These sanctions were already in the works before the nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in the UK, so are not a direct response to it. But they add to the rising diplomatic tensions between the West and Russia over that incident, and contrast sharply with President Trump's consistently softer approach to Mr Putin. Earlier this week, Mr Trump felt compelled to insist he was being tough on Russia but said he still hoped a good relationship with its leader was possible. That seems even less likely now. All you need to know about the Trump-Russia investigation. What does Russia say?
Russia has vowed that there will be a "tough response" to the new sanctions. "We will not leave the current and any new anti-Russian attack without a tough response," the foreign ministry said in a statement. "We would like to advise Washington to drop, as soon as possible, the illusions that they can talk to us in the language of sanctions". Earlier on Friday, the Russian embassy in Washington said the sanctions were a mistake. "We are told that these measures are not aimed against the Russian people, but they are," the embassy said in a post on its Facebook page.It described the sanctions as "a new blow to Russo-American relations."

Illuminati Shutting Down America - A Video You Need To See (2018 - 2019)

Something's NOT Adding Up Here..Feb 15, 2018

Something Unusual Happened On Earth-End of the World Signs!? Feb 18, 2018

Markets edgy on China US trade war fears

Stock markets have been hit by fears that US President Donald Trump's plan for tariffs on up to $60bn of Chinese products could trigger a trade war.

How Venezuelans stave off hunger amidst a food crisis. Food has become so scarce in Venezuela after the economy collapsed that people are getting desperate. The government blames international sanctions for the situation.

Did the British Empire resist women’s suffrage in India? 22 Feb 2018

Indian village women hold up their voting cards as they await their turn to vote at a polling station in Majitha. The US took 144 years to give equal voting rights to women. Suffragettes in UK took nearly a century to win the vote. Women won the vote in some cantons of Switzerland as recently as 1974. But Indian women got the right to vote the year their country was born. Ornit Shani, author of an excellently researched new book on how India received universal adult franchise in 1947, says the move was a "staggering achievement for a post-colonial nation" in the midst of a bloody partition that killed up to a million people and displaced 18 million others. In independent India, the number of voters leapt more than five-fold to 173 million people - nearly half of the total population - and included 80 million women. Some 85% of them had never voted before. (Unfortunately, 2.8 million women voters had to be excluded from the rolls because they failed to disclose their names.) But, as Dr Shani's book, How India Became Democratic: Citizenship at the Making of the Universal Franchise, shows women's suffrage, unlike under colonial rule was not questioned. The female protesters against giving women the vote. British officials had unfailingly argued that the universal franchise was a "bad fit for India," says Dr Shani. Elections in colonial India were exercises in restricted democracy with a limited number of voters casting their ballots in seats allotted along religious, community and professional lines. In the beginning, Mahatma Gandhi did not support women gaining the vote, and urged them to help men fight the colonial rulers. But, as historian Geraldine Forbes writes, Indian women's organisations fought hard to demand voting rights for women. In 1921, Bombay (now Mumbai) and Madras (now Chennai) became the first provinces to give the limited vote to women. Between 1923 and 1930, seven other provinces allowed women franchise. A woman in a queue to vote, turns her face to the wall as men face the camera in 1967. British officials had argued that the universal franchise was a "bad fit for India". The House of Commons ignored demands for voting rights by a number of Indian - and British - women's organisations, writes Dr Forbes, in her engaging book, Women in Modern India. Women who lived in the purdah (female seclusion) appeared to be a convenient excuse for this denial. "Obviously, the British promise to safeguard the rights of minorities meant only male minorities. In the case of women, the majority were denied rights because the minority lived in seclusion," writes Dr Forbes. Colonial administrators and legislators - both Indian and British - resisted moves to expand the franchise. Opponents of the vote, according to Dr Forbes, "talked of women's inferiority and incompetence in public affairs". Some said giving women the vote would result in the neglect of husbands and children; "one gentleman even argued that political activity rendered women incapable of breast feeding," she writes. Women in burkas are on their way to vote during the Indian elections in 1967. In independent India, the number of voters included 80 million women. A suffragette, Mrinalini Sen, wrote in 1920 that although women were subject to "all the laws and rules of the land exercised by the British government" and had to pay taxes if they owned property, they could not vote. "It was as if the British were telling women not to go to the courts for justice but rather seek it at home," she said. Under the The Government of India Act, 1935 - the last colonial legal framework for India - suffrage was extended to a little more than 30 million people or about a fifth of the adult population. A small number of them were women. The government of the province of Bihar and Orissa (the two states made up a single province at the time) attempted to reduce the number of voters and take away voting rights from women. The government, writes Dr Shani, also believed that a "woman's name should be removed from the electoral roll if she is divorced, or if her husband dies or loses his property".
But when officials came across a matriarchal community - as they did in the Khasi hills in India's northeast - where women held property in their names, they saw this as a "pretext for an exception". Provinces also made their own rules over enrolling women. In Madras, a woman could qualify to be a voter only if she was a pensioned widow or the mother of an officer or soldier or her husband was a tax-payer, implying that he owned property. An Indian woman has her finger inked by an election worker before voting in 2014. In 1948, many women refused to give their names. So a woman's eligibility to vote largely depended on her husband - and his qualifications and his social position. "The notion of conferring the right to vote and bringing women genuinely into the electoral roll was beyond the purview of the bureaucratic colonial imagination," says Dr Shani. "It was also consistent with the colonial government's lack of faith in India's illiterate masses and their negative attitudes." Things changed when independent India decided to give the universal right to vote to its people. Work on preparing the draft electoral roll began in November 1947. By the time India had her own constitution in January 1950, the "notion of electoral democracy were already grounded," says Dr Shani. But there were problems when the preparation of the draft electoral roll began in 1948. Indian women wait in a queue to cast their ballot at a polling station in Uttar Pradesh in 2014. Officials in some provinces said the recording of women's names presented difficulties. Many women refused to give their names, introducing themselves as the wife, daughter or widow of a man. The government made it clear that this was not permissible, and that women had to register as individuals. Contrary to the earlier colonial practices, the government had made it clear that women had to be registered as individual voters and not as relations of others. The government began media publicity to encourage women to register by their names. Women's organisations also appealed to women to register as voters so that they could send their representatives to safeguard their interests. A candidate who contested a parliamentary seat in the first elections - held between October 1951 and February 1952 - in a rural Madras reported that "rural voters, men and women, waited patiently for hours and cast their ballots. Veiled Muslim women, he reported, had exclusive booths to themselves." This was a major triumph. Of course, the fight continues. A bill to reserve 33% of the seats in the lower house of India's parliament for women has been stuck since 1996 in the face of stiff opposition. Even though more women are voting than before and sometimes even outnumbering men, this is not translating into parliamentary seats for women. A 2017 UN report ranked India 148 among 190 countries for the number of women in its parliament - they accounted for just 64 seats in the 542-member lower house.

India's politicians aren't listening to women. 16 April 2014

India women voters. Female voter turnout has been steadily rising in India. Despite having a female prime minister as long ago as 1966, women in India have historically remained marginal in politics. But female voter turnout has been steadily rising while male voter participation has remained unchanged over the past 50 years, a trend observers say can't be ignored as India holds its 16th general election. The difference in voter turnout in general elections among men and women has narrowed drastically from 16.7% in 1962 to 4.4% in 2009. Meanwhile, the last time Indians voted in local polls in 2013 across five states, not only did female turnout reach new heights; in three states - Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Mizoram - more women voted than men, repeating a trend already seen in many other states in recent years. Political analysts say there are a number of reasons behind this, including greater empowerment among women.
"Women in India are told what to wear, what to cook, what to say, how to behave, where to go. But with voting, there is a very clear sense that this is one instance that they're able to register their own opinion," said Mukulika Banerjee, an anthropologist at the London School of Economics and author of the book, Why India Votes. High female turnout is predicted to continue, with observers saying it could have an impact on the outcome of the nine-phase election which began on 7 April and ends on 12 May.
Many surveys suggest slow economic growth and high inflation are among the top concerns. India women leaders. Mayawati, Mamata Banerjee and Jayalalithaa Jayaram are powerful regional leaders. This, analysts say, might lead many women to switch support from the ruling Congress - a party they have tended to back since Indira Gandhi became India's first and only female prime minister - to the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party or smaller, regional parties. "In many Indian households, it is the women - not the men - who are most acquainted with household expenditure and who interact with commodity markets. This economic disaffection combined with rising turnout could play into the opposition's hands," said Milan Vaishnav, a political scientist at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington DC-based think tank. 'Change agents'. A study carried out by Mudit Kapoor and Shamika Ravi from the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad also reveals that when women vote in large numbers, it can mean bad news. Analysing two local elections held in 2005 in the eastern state of Bihar, the pair found that a rise in female voter turnout negatively effected the probability of re-election for a political party, while high male voter participation increased the chances of a party retaining power. "Women are change agents," Ms Ravi said. "In our Bihar study, we found because more women came out and voted - in response to that you saw for the first six, seven months of Janata Dal (United) and BJP rule [the winning coalition in the state], mostly women-centred policies being implemented." Since the early 1990s, a third of seats in the country's village councils have been reserved for women politicians and in some states it's half. This too has caused an upsurge in female voter turnout, say analysts, with research suggesting things like female education and maternal health are more likely to be addressed in villages led by women compared with those headed by men. Yet at the national level there's no affirmative action despite a bill passed by the upper house of parliament, or Rajya Sabha, in 2010 which has so far failed to be put to the vote. This means out of a total of 543 seats in the Lok Sabha, the lower house, just under 11% were filled by women in the 2009 polls. That's an increase of over 6% from the first general election of 1952, but far lower than today's global average of 22%.
The pattern appears set to continue. More women have voted than men in many Indian states. Political parties have yet to finalise their list of candidates for this year's election, but from those already declared until 8 April, just 49 (12%) of Congress's 419 candidates announced so far are women, while 37 (9%) are women on the BJP nominees list, which so far consists of 415 names. "No party gives adequate tickets to women, so that is a good indicator to suggest most of the political parties have ignored women in electoral politics," said Sanjay Kumar from the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), a Delhi-based think tank. "They still think that women candidates are not able to win elections." Some of the country's most powerful politicians are women, with some of the spotlight currently on Jayalalithaa Jayaram in Tamil Nadu, Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal and Mayawati in Uttar Pradesh - three regional leaders who could play an important role in the formation of the next government if neither the Congress or the BJP win an outright majority. All three are seen as feisty, but none has been able to consistently rely on female voters. They have largely ignored women's issues, according to Shiv Visvanathan, one of India's leading sociologists. Instead, he says, they have governed knowing that "they are women in a man's world". Manifesto promises. During campaigning over the past several weeks, top prime ministerial contenders Rahul Gandhi of Congress and Narendra Modi of the BJP have sprinkled their rally speeches and TV appearances with mentions of how they plan to improve women's safety. Both parties say in their election manifestos that they support having 33% of seats in the Lok Sabha and state-level parliaments reserved for women, which also features in a six-point "womanifesto" issued by women's groups which the Congress party has endorsed. Congress in its manifesto also says it will provide sanitary napkins to adolescent girls for free and will increase the number of women-only police stations, while the BJP has promised to reduce the gender gap in the judiciary and introduce self defence classes in school. But many believe there isn't yet any genuine outreach to women. "Appeals to women voters have always been more of...," said Rajeshwari Deshpande, professor at the University of Pune's department of politics and public administration. "It's likely to stay that way for some time." That may be so - but with women voting in ever greater numbers, many think Indian politicians will have to start listening.

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BREAKING!! Oprah’s House Just Got HIT!

CES 2018: Power cut at major Las Vegas tech show - 11 January 2018

Much of the Las Vegas venue lost power. The giant consumer electronics show CES has suffered a power cut, plunging part of the event into darkness. The Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC)'s central hall went dark at around 11:20 local time. It took two hours before the organisers were able to say that the electricity supply had been restored.
In the meantime, attendees had been evacuated from the affected space, which hosts booths for LG, Samsung and Sony among others. BBC reporters at the scene said that security guards had also prevented people from entering the LVCC's North Hall, where car-makers including Toyota, Nissan and Ford have exhibits.The Consumer Technology Association, which runs the event, has thanked visitors for their patience. But some have expressed frustration at having missed meetings. 'Beautiful day'. The power failure followed heavy rain on Tuesday, which had forced Google to shut one of its booths located in the LVCC's car park. CES attendees. CES exhibitors and other attendees have had to wait outside while the problem is dealt with. It had been the city's first rainfall in 116 days, and had marked the wettest January day on record for the area, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal newspaper. One LVCC employee, who asked not to be named, said that the water had affected the "trunk lines", that carry power to the venue. The CTA later issued the following statement, which was released in conjunction with the utility firm NV Energy and the Las Vegas Visitor and Convention Authority. "A preliminary assessment indicates that condensation from heavy rainfall caused a flashover on one of the facility's transformers," it said. "We are grateful to NV Energy for their swift assistance, to our customers and their clients for their patience and to the staff for ensuring the safety and security of all attendees and exhibitors." CES blackout. Attendees had to rely on light emitted by their electronic devices before they were evacuated. Unbelievably, the power has failed in the central hall for CES2018. All the attendees are being asked to go out into the hallway. Power outage 2018 . Now THAT'S interesting! Las Vegas. At an electronics show, electricity is key. As I write this, the cause of the blackout is not known. But Vegas was pelted with rain this week, and this city just cannot handle it. Roads have flooded, hotels are leaking - including into this reporter's room - and now, potentially, this. Embarrassing for a city that prides itself on being the best equipped for enormous shows like CES. Patience is being tested here. This show isn't just about playing with gadgets, it's about big business. Cancelled meetings might mean deals aren't done. I saw one delegate get irate (angry) when he was told he could not go into the main hall for his meeting. "You ain't meeting in the dark, buddy!" the show floor worker told him. With every passing minute, this power cut is costing a lot of people a lot of money.

Oprah Winfrey: From TV host to president? After Oprah Winfrey's passionate speech at this year's Golden Globes, some have suggested she might run for the White House. President Trump has even reacted to talk of Oprah 2020. Here are some things you may not know about the talk show host.

EXCLUSIVE: Hillary Clinton’s House Set On FIRE! Look Who Did It! Jan 4, 2018. Hillary Clinton has gotten away with some pretty major things for years and it’s time for her to pay the price for it and it looks like that’s happening now. Her world is literally burning down around her and it couldn’t happen to a better person. It’s been a particularly bad week for Hillary Clinton. She got this week that her nemesis President Donald Trump was seeking her immediate arrest and now it appears that karma has just come for her in a major way. And lastly what happened! The house of Bill and Hillary got fire! According to AMERICA’S FREEDOM FIGHTERS, “Authorities say that a fire broke out Wednesday at the property owned by Bill and Hillary Clinton in Chappaqua, N.Y.”

BREAKING!! Trump Is ARRESTING Her! FINALLY!! Jan 3, 2018.  President Donald Trump called for the imprisonment of former Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin Tuesday morning,” The Daily Caller reported. “Trump referenced Abedin’s use of an un-secure Yahoo email address — as first reported by The Daily Caller News Foundation — and also called for an investigation into former FBI director James Comey Sunday.”

Meryl Streep says Oprah Winfrey has 'the voice of a leader' - 12 Jan 2018
(вместо того чтоб ломать миры и лететь выше, их головы заняты созданием новых иллюзий - фильмов! ЛМ)

Streep said Oprah (right) had "set the bar pretty high". Actress Meryl Streep has said Oprah Winfrey has "the voice of a leader", as speculation swirls that the chat show queen may mount a presidential bid. Referring to Oprah's speech at this weekend's Golden Globes, Streep told the BBC's Andrew Marr: "That is how you rouse people. That is how you lead." And the actress said she had heard that Oprah "is really considering" running. She "certainly set the bar pretty high for anybody else who decides to run" for president in 2020, Streep added. "No-one can speak in less lofty terms and adhere to principle and passion in a political campaign, because we've seen that it's possible," she said. Streep was in the audience when Winfrey gave her address at Sunday's award ceremony, which was dominated by the fallout from Hollywood's sex abuse scandals. She received a rapturous reception for telling the audience "a new day is on the horizon". Tom Hanks: 'Oprah is one of a kind'. Streep was talking to Marr to promote her new film The Post. The full interview will be aired on Marr's BBC One programme on Sunday. She was speaking alongside her co-star Tom Hanks and director Steven Spielberg, who both expressed similar sentiments about Oprah's appeal. "Oprah's had 35 years experience of building bridges and creating conversations between disparate people who don't agree... on her syndicated television show," Spielberg said. "For me, those are credentials for qualification." Hanks said: "I believe Oprah wakes up in the morning and both personally and professionally wonders what she can do specifically in order to make the world a better place." Apparently referring to President Trump, Hanks continued: "We have proven, I think, just within the last few years, that if you want to be president of the United States, guess what, there's a way that that can happen." Oprah hasn't spoken about the speculation, but the possibility that she might consider running has prompted a response from the White House's current occupant. "I like Oprah but I don't think she's going to run," President Trump said earlier this week, adding that it would be "a lot of fun" to go up against her. Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks at The Post's European premiere in London.
Speaking at a press conference a day after The Post's European premiere, Streep also spoke about the Time's Up campaign, which was endorsed by many attendees at the Golden Globes. Described as a "unified call for change from women in entertainment for women everywhere", the project aims to raise money to combat sexual harassment in the film industry and other workplaces. "Somebody said it's like an airplane being put together while we're going down the runway to take off," Streep said of the campaign. "It's a moving thing and that's good, because it needs to fly. It's a growing thing and the most heartening thing is that it doesn't feel like a one-off. It hasn't gone away and I don't think it will. I don't think we will go backwards." Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep play a newspaper editor and publisher in Spielberg's film. Released in the UK on Friday 19 January, The Post tells the real-life story of Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee and proprietor Kay Graham, who published the classified Pentagon Papers in 1971. The film was nominated for six Golden Globes but failed to win any prizes at the first major film awards ceremony of the year. The Post was also snubbed by Bafta earlier this week - something that Streep feigned mock outrage about during Thursday's press conference in central London. "Sadly we haven't been invited to the Baftas so I can't talk to that," she replied when asked whether attendees at next month's event should emulate those at the Golden Globes and wear black in solidarity with victims of sexual abuse. 'A great Rubicon'
Hanks, who plays Bradlee, said Sunday's ceremony was evidence that "a great Rubicon" had been crossed in terms of gender equality. "What is going to come about, I think, is that more women are going to be awarded their positions based on their merits and the quality of their work," the Forrest Gump star said on Thursday. Hanks also suggested that the film industry should emulate television, where the proportion of female directors, female writers and female-led projects is considerably higher. "Television kicks [the] movies' ass when it comes to diversity in the workplace," he said. "Women are much better represented in that medium than they are in motion pictures."

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Time's Up: Women launch campaign to fight sexual harassment - 2 Jan 2018

Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman is just one of the many women supporting the campaign. More than 300 actresses, writers and directors have launched a project to help fight sexual harassment in the film industry and other workplaces. The initiative, which is called Time's Up, was announced via a full-page advert printed in the New York Times. The Hollywood project is described as a "unified call for change from women in entertainment for women everywhere". It comes in the wake of sexual abuse allegations by high-profile actresses against film producer Harvey Weinstein. Legal funding. In a "solidarity letter" published on its website, Time's Up says the "struggle for women to break in, to rise up the ranks and to simply be heard" must end, adding: "Time's up on this impenetrable monopoly." The letter, which is aimed at "every woman... who has had to fend off sexual advances", goes on to say that such harassment can often continue because "perpetrators and employers never face any consequences". The campaign, which is backed by hundreds of actresses including Natalie Portman, Reese Witherspoon, Cate Blanchett, Eva Longoria and Emma Stone, has already raised more than $13m (£9.6m) of its $15m target. The money raised will be used to fund legal support for both female and male victims of sexual harassment at work. The project is aimed primarily at those who are unable to meet the payments to defend themselves, such as agricultural or factory workers, caretakers and waitresses. It also calls for "gender inequality and the imbalance of power" to be addressed, stressing the need for more women to gain positions of authority and parity of pay. In December, Time magazine named "the Silence Breakers" - women and men who spoke out against sexual abuse and harassment - as its "Person of the Year" for 2017. Last year also saw the rise of the #MeToo hashtag, which inspired a global movement of women and men to share their stories of sexual abuse and harassment. The term gained momentum after actress Alyssa Milano took to Twitter to ask victims of sexual assault to come forward in a show of solidarity. Between October and December 2017, the hashtag was used on Twitter and Facebook more than six million times.

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Did the British Empire resist women’s suffrage in India? 22 Feb 2018

Indian village women hold up their voting cards as they await their turn to vote at a polling station in Majitha. The US took 144 years to give equal voting rights to women. Suffragettes in UK took nearly a century to win the vote. Women won the vote in some cantons of Switzerland as recently as 1974. But Indian women got the right to vote the year their country was born.
Ornit Shani, author of an excellently researched new book on how India received universal adult franchise in 1947, says the move was a "staggering achievement for a post-colonial nation" in the midst of a bloody partition that killed up to a million people and displaced 18 million others. In independent India, the number of voters leapt more than five-fold to 173 million people - nearly half of the total population - and included 80 million women. Some 85% of them had never voted before. (Unfortunately, 2.8 million women voters had to be excluded from the rolls because they failed to disclose their names.) But, as Dr Shani's book, How India Became Democratic: Citizenship at the Making of the Universal Franchise, shows women's suffrage, unlike under colonial rule was not questioned. The female protesters against giving women the vote. British officials had unfailingly argued that the universal franchise was a "bad fit for India," says Dr Shani. Elections in colonial India were exercises in restricted democracy with a limited number of voters casting their ballots in seats allotted along religious, community and professional lines. In the beginning, Mahatma Gandhi did not support women gaining the vote, and urged them to help men fight the colonial rulers. But, as historian Geraldine Forbes writes, Indian women's organisations fought hard to demand voting rights for women. In 1921, Bombay (now Mumbai) and Madras (now Chennai) became the first provinces to give the limited vote to women. Between 1923 and 1930, seven other provinces allowed women franchise. A woman in a queue to vote, turns her face to the wall as men face the camera in 1967. British officials had argued that the universal franchise was a "bad fit for India". The House of Commons ignored demands for voting rights by a number of Indian - and British - women's organisations, writes Dr Forbes, in her engaging book, Women in Modern India. Women who lived in the purdah (female seclusion) appeared to be a convenient excuse for this denial. "Obviously, the British promise to safeguard the rights of minorities meant only male minorities. In the case of women, the majority were denied rights because the minority lived in seclusion," writes Dr Forbes. Colonial administrators and legislators - both Indian and British - resisted moves to expand the franchise. Opponents of the vote, according to Dr Forbes, "talked of women's inferiority and incompetence in public affairs". Some said giving women the vote would result in the neglect of husbands and children; "one gentleman even argued that political activity rendered women incapable of breast feeding," she writes. Women in burkas are on their way to vote during the Indian elections in 1967. In independent India, the number of voters included 80 million women.
A suffragette, Mrinalini Sen, wrote in 1920 that although women were subject to "all the laws and rules of the land exercised by the British government" and had to pay taxes if they owned property, they could not vote. "It was as if the British were telling women not to go to the courts for justice but rather seek it at home," she said. Under the The Government of India Act, 1935 - the last colonial legal framework for India - suffrage was extended to a little more than 30 million people or about a fifth of the adult population. A small number of them were women. The government of the province of Bihar and Orissa (the two states made up a single province at the time) attempted to reduce the number of voters and take away voting rights from women. The government, writes Dr Shani, also believed that a "woman's name should be removed from the electoral roll if she is divorced, or if her husband dies or loses his property".
But when officials came across a matriarchal community - as they did in the Khasi hills in India's northeast - where women held property in their names, they saw this as a "pretext for an exception". Provinces also made their own rules over enrolling women. In Madras, a woman could qualify to be a voter only if she was a pensioned widow or the mother of an officer or soldier or her husband was a tax-payer, implying that he owned property. An Indian woman has her finger inked by an election worker before voting in 2014. In 1948, many women refused to give their names. So a woman's eligibility to vote largely depended on her husband - and his qualifications and his social position. "The notion of conferring the right to vote and bringing women genuinely into the electoral roll was beyond the purview of the bureaucratic colonial imagination," says Dr Shani. "It was also consistent with the colonial government's lack of faith in India's illiterate masses and their negative attitudes." Things changed when independent India decided to give the universal right to vote to its people. Work on preparing the draft electoral roll began in November 1947. By the time India had her own constitution in January 1950, the "notion of electoral democracy were already grounded," says Dr Shani. But there were problems when the preparation of the draft electoral roll began in 1948. Indian women wait in a queue to cast their ballot at a polling station in Uttar Pradesh in 2014. Officials in some provinces said the recording of women's names presented difficulties. Many women refused to give their names, introducing themselves as the wife, daughter or widow of a man. The government made it clear that this was not permissible, and that women had to register as individuals. Contrary to the earlier colonial practices, the government had made it clear that women had to be registered as individual voters and not as relations of others. The government began media publicity to encourage women to register by their names. Women's organisations also appealed to women to register as voters so that they could send their representatives to safeguard their interests. A candidate who contested a parliamentary seat in the first elections - held between October 1951 and February 1952 - in a rural Madras reported that "rural voters, men and women, waited patiently for hours and cast their ballots. Veiled Muslim women, he reported, had exclusive booths to themselves." This was a major triumph. Of course, the fight continues. A bill to reserve 33% of the seats in the lower house of India's parliament for women has been stuck since 1996 in the face of stiff opposition. Even though more women are voting than before and sometimes even outnumbering men, this is not translating into parliamentary seats for women. A 2017 UN report ranked India 148 among 190 countries for the number of women in its parliament - they accounted for just 64 seats in the 542-member lower house.

India's politicians aren't listening to women. 16 April 2014

India women voters. Female voter turnout has been steadily rising in India. Despite having a female prime minister as long ago as 1966, women in India have historically remained marginal in politics. But female voter turnout has been steadily rising while male voter participation has remained unchanged over the past 50 years, a trend observers say can't be ignored as India holds its 16th general election. The difference in voter turnout in general elections among men and women has narrowed drastically from 16.7% in 1962 to 4.4% in 2009. Meanwhile, the last time Indians voted in local polls in 2013 across five states, not only did female turnout reach new heights; in three states - Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Mizoram - more women voted than men, repeating a trend already seen in many other states in recent years. Political analysts say there are a number of reasons behind this, including greater empowerment among women.
"Women in India are told what to wear, what to cook, what to say, how to behave, where to go. But with voting, there is a very clear sense that this is one instance that they're able to register their own opinion," said Mukulika Banerjee, an anthropologist at the London School of Economics and author of the book, Why India Votes. High female turnout is predicted to continue, with observers saying it could have an impact on the outcome of the nine-phase election which began on 7 April and ends on 12 May.
Many surveys suggest slow economic growth and high inflation are among the top concerns. India women leaders. Mayawati, Mamata Banerjee and Jayalalithaa Jayaram are powerful regional leaders. This, analysts say, might lead many women to switch support from the ruling Congress - a party they have tended to back since Indira Gandhi became India's first and only female prime minister - to the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party or smaller, regional parties. "In many Indian households, it is the women - not the men - who are most acquainted with household expenditure and who interact with commodity markets. This economic disaffection combined with rising turnout could play into the opposition's hands," said Milan Vaishnav, a political scientist at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington DC-based think tank. 'Change agents'. A study carried out by Mudit Kapoor and Shamika Ravi from the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad also reveals that when women vote in large numbers, it can mean bad news. Analysing two local elections held in 2005 in the eastern state of Bihar, the pair found that a rise in female voter turnout negatively effected the probability of re-election for a political party, while high male voter participation increased the chances of a party retaining power. "Women are change agents," Ms Ravi said. "In our Bihar study, we found because more women came out and voted - in response to that you saw for the first six, seven months of Janata Dal (United) and BJP rule [the winning coalition in the state], mostly women-centred policies being implemented." Since the early 1990s, a third of seats in the country's village councils have been reserved for women politicians and in some states it's half. This too has caused an upsurge in female voter turnout, say analysts, with research suggesting things like female education and maternal health are more likely to be addressed in villages led by women compared with those headed by men. Yet at the national level there's no affirmative action despite a bill passed by the upper house of parliament, or Rajya Sabha, in 2010 which has so far failed to be put to the vote. This means out of a total of 543 seats in the Lok Sabha, the lower house, just under 11% were filled by women in the 2009 polls. That's an increase of over 6% from the first general election of 1952, but far lower than today's global average of 22%. The pattern appears set to continue. More women have voted than men in many Indian states. Political parties have yet to finalise their list of candidates for this year's election, but from those already declared until 8 April, just 49 (12%) of Congress's 419 candidates announced so far are women, while 37 (9%) are women on the BJP nominees list, which so far consists of 415 names. "No party gives adequate tickets to women, so that is a good indicator to suggest most of the political parties have ignored women in electoral politics," said Sanjay Kumar from the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), a Delhi-based think tank. "They still think that women candidates are not able to win elections." Some of the country's most powerful politicians are women, with some of the spotlight currently on Jayalalithaa Jayaram in Tamil Nadu, Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal and Mayawati in Uttar Pradesh - three regional leaders who could play an important role in the formation of the next government if neither the Congress or the BJP win an outright majority. All three are seen as feisty, but none has been able to consistently rely on female voters. They have largely ignored women's issues, according to Shiv Visvanathan, one of India's leading sociologists. Instead, he says, they have governed knowing that "they are women in a man's world". Manifesto promises. During campaigning over the past several weeks, top prime ministerial contenders Rahul Gandhi of Congress and Narendra Modi of the BJP have sprinkled their rally speeches and TV appearances with mentions of how they plan to improve women's safety. Both parties say in their election manifestos that they support having 33% of seats in the Lok Sabha and state-level parliaments reserved for women, which also features in a six-point "womanifesto" issued by women's groups which the Congress party has endorsed. Congress in its manifesto also says it will provide sanitary napkins to adolescent girls for free and will increase the number of women-only police stations, while the BJP has promised to reduce the gender gap in the judiciary and introduce self defence classes in school. But many believe there isn't yet any genuine outreach to women. "Appeals to women voters have always been more of...," said Rajeshwari Deshpande, professor at the University of Pune's department of politics and public administration. "It's likely to stay that way for some time." That may be so - but with women voting in ever greater numbers, many think Indian politicians will have to start listening.

Ford executive leaves over inappropriate behaviour (another sex scandal! LM). 22 Feb 2018

The head of Ford's US operations is leaving the company immediately following an internal investigation into inappropriate behaviour. The carmaker said its inquiry had concluded that some of Raj Nair's conduct had been "inconsistent with the company's code of conduct". Ford did not specify why the investigation was started nor what it uncovered. Mr Nair said in a statement that "I sincerely regret" certain behaviour. Ford President and Chief Executive Jim Hackett said in a statement: "We made this decision after a thorough review and careful consideration. Ford is deeply committed to providing and nurturing a safe and respectful culture and we expect our leaders to fully uphold these values." Mr Nair had been President of Ford North America since 1 July. He was previously head of global product development and chief technical officer. He apologised, without elaborating on the reasons for his going. "I sincerely regret that there have been instances where I have not exhibited leadership behaviours consistent with the principles that the company and I have always espoused," Mr Nair said, added: "I continue to have the utmost faith in the people of Ford Motor Company and wish them continued success in the future." A spokesman for the US's second biggest carmaker said the company would not be commenting on the nature of Mr Nair's departure. 'Rising star'. In August, Ford agreed a multi-million-dollar settlement after an investigation into sex and race harassment at two factories in Chicago. The inquiry was conducted by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which said female and African-American employees had been subjected to sexual and racial harassment and found the carmaker retaliated against employees who complained about the harassment or discrimination. In an open letter about the matter, Mr Hackett wrote "there is absolutely no room for harassment at Ford Motor Company.... We don't want you here, and we will move you out for engaging in any behaviour like this." Michelle Krebs, an analyst at Autotrader, said the departure of Mr Nair, a "rising star" who had been with the carmaker for 30 years, comes at a "particularly bad time" for Ford. She told the Reuters news agency: "Investors and analysts have been unhappy with the seeming lack of a clear direction for Ford, especially in terms of future mobility services. "The stock price has fallen. The pressure is on Jim Hackett, anointed CEO last spring, to lay out a clear road ahead for Ford."

Twitter suspends Britain First leaders

18 December 2017
Twitter has suspended the accounts of two leaders of a British far-right group shortly after revising its rules on hate speech. Paul Golding, Britain First's leader, and Jayda Fransen, his deputy, can no longer tweet and their past posts no longer appear. The organisation's official Twitter page has suffered the same fate. It appears that three of Ms Fransen's posts that President Trump retweeted have gone from his feed as a result. The messages had featured anti-Muslim videos and proved highly controversial when the American leader shared them in November. British Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman said it had been "wrong for the president to have done this". Ms Fransen and Mr Golding were arrested earlier this week over separate behaviour relating to Northern Ireland. Restricted swastikas. Twitter announced in October that it planned to take a tougher stance against hate symbols as well as those who posted messages that glorified or condoned violence. It has now said that those who express an affiliation with groups that use or celebrate violence to achieve their aims will be permanently suspended. Hateful imagery - such as the Nazi swastika - can still be posted, but will initially be hidden behind a "sensitive media" warning, that visitors must disable to proceed. However, such content will no longer be allowed on a person's profile page. Those that featured examples will be asked to remove them. Repeat violators will be banned. The company said the move would "reduce the amount of abusive behaviour and hateful conduct" on the network. "If an account's profile information includes a violent threat or multiple slurs, epithets, racist or sexist tropes, incites fear, or reduces someone to less than human, it will be permanently suspended," it explained. "We plan to develop internal tools to help us identify violating accounts to supplement user reports." Twitter has promised a more robust system to appeal against decisions, but said that it was still in development. US bans. The company is not commenting about the action it is taking against individual accounts citing "privacy and security reasons". That has left it to others to play detective and report who else has been suspended. Many are using the hashtag #twitterpurge to do so. US accounts that appear to have fallen foul of the new rules include: Jared Taylor, head of American Renaissance, a website that champions "racial difference". Michael Hill and Hunter Wallace - leader and public relations chief, respectively, of the League of the South, which is described as a "hate group" by civil rights campaigners at the Southern Poverty Law Center the American Nazi Party, which had tweeted it was "inevitable that we will be banned" at the weekend the Traditionalist Worker Party, a white supremacist group End Time Paradigm, an account that specialised in anti-Semitic content. Several other members of the so-called alt-right have tweeted that fans should sign up to Gab.ai - a social network that pitches itself as a free speech alternative to Twitter - if they too are suspended. Generation Identity, a pan-European nationalist group that opened a British branch last month, has also had its UK and Ireland Twitter account suspended.

Austria far right: Freedom Party wins key posts in new government

17 Dec 2107
Sebastian Kurz and Heinz-Christian Strache shake hands and smile for the cameras at their joint press conference in Vienna. Sebastian Kurz (R) has agreed a coalition deal with far-right party leader Heinz-Christian Strache. The far-right Freedom Party has secured the key posts of foreign, interior and defence in Austria's new coalition government for its nominees. Governing with the conservative People's Party, the move makes Austria the only country in Western Europe to have a far-right party in power. Austria's president approved the new coalition on Saturday, two months after inconclusive elections. People's Party leader Sebastian Kurz, 31, will be Austria's new chancellor. He will become the world's youngest head of government. What propels young leaders to power?
Introducing the new government, and the 180-page document setting out its agenda, Mr Kurz said the two parties had agreed "on a clear pro-European outlook".
Although it is the junior coalition partner, the anti-immigration Freedom Party has secured several key posts in the new cabinet. Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache will be vice-chancellor. His party colleagues will run the interior, defence and health and social security ministries. The new foreign minister will be Middle East expert and writer Karin Kneissl, who is not a Freedom Party member but was nominated by the party. Mr Kurz's People Party won 32% of the vote in October's elections, securing the largest number of seats (62) in the 183-seat national council. The Freedom Party came third, securing 26% of the vote and 51 seats. At the request of Austria's president, the posts of justice minister and interior minister would not be held by the same party, Mr Kurz said. The chancellor-designate was quick to retweet congratulations from his fellow youthful conservative prime minister, Ireland's Leo Varadkar. Unlike most of Europe's populist parties, the Freedom Party, a major player in Austria for years, has managed to translate its success at the ballot box into real political power.

China public executions over drugs alarm web users - 19 Dec 2017

Armed police stand behind a group of people waiting to hear criminal sentences. Thousands watched 12 people receive criminal sentences in a local stadium and 10 were sentenced "immediately" to death. Chinese social media users are debating the practice in one city of publicly sentencing death row inmates and parading them in the lead-up to their deaths.
Lufeng, a city in southern Guangdong province, is increasingly publicising criminal verdicts, in what appears to be a bid to stamp out its reputation as a hotbed for synthetic drug production. This week, a court in the city invited members of the public to watch 12 convicts be sentenced at a local sports stadium. It was attended by thousands.
Popular news website The Paper says that following their verdicts and with the approval of the court, the 10 who were given death sentences for drug offences "were escorted immediately to the place of execution and terminated". Much of the crystal meth produced in Lufeng is trafficked to Australia and areas of East Asia. Some online spectators argue that the method, although ugly, is necessary, given the city's reputation. Lufeng has been keen to stamp out its reputation as a hot bed for the production of ketamine and crystal methamphetamine, many of which is trafficked into areas of East Asia and Asia Pacific. Since 2014, Lufeng has been known as "the city of ice" owing to the notorious large-scale production of synthetic drugs in the region. One of its villages, Boshe, has also been dubbed "the Breaking Bad village" by the international press. And it has done little to shake this reputation. In March, the China National Narcotics Control Commission told media that China's seizure of synthetic drugs including methamphetamine and ketamine has "surged by 106 per cent year on year in 2016". The official Xinhua News Agency said in November this year that the region is "plagued with rampant drug production and trafficking. Over a third of meth consumed in China originates from Boshe and neighbouring villages", it says, and adds that a startling "one in five families is directly involved in drug production". It notes that the police had solved over 13,000 drugs cases and seized 10 tonnes of drugs between January and October of this year in the region alone.

Fire rips through Cameroon parliament, Africa

17 November 2017
Cameroon main parliament building engulfed in flames. Fire fighters overwhelmed by the flames. The building is still on fire. The fire broke out at night (9:50pm Cameroon time). An investigation is under way after the main parliament building in Cameroon's capital Yaoundé was badly damaged by a fire which ripped through four floors. Firefighters put out the blaze before it could reach the debating chamber. But the main opposition party's offices were destroyed. There is no word on any casualties or on the cause of the blaze. Communication Minister Issa Tchiroma said the fire was probably accidental, but an investigation would determine the cause. The main opposition Social Democratic Front (SDF) party said: "We have been in parliament for 22 years, and all documentation - soft or hard - has been consumed".

Germany's Merkel suffers blow as FDP pulls out of coalition talks - 20 Nov 2017

Talks on forming a coalition government in Germany have collapsed, leaving Angela Merkel facing her biggest challenge in 12 years as chancellor. The free-market liberal FDP pulled out after four weeks of talks with Mrs Merkel's CDU/CSU bloc and the Greens. FDP leader Christian Lindner said there was "no basis of trust" between them. What happens next is unclear, but Mrs Merkel is due to meet President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who has the power to call elections. The German stock market slipped slightly on the news that the talks had collapsed. Mrs Merkel said she regretted the collapse, adding she would meet the German president later on Monday to formally tell him negotiations had failed.
Her bloc won September's poll, but many voters deserted the mainstream parties. "As chancellor, I will do everything to ensure that this country is well managed in the difficult weeks to come," she said. What went wrong in the talks? It is not quite clear. The parties involved in the talks are reported to be deeply divided over tax, asylum and environmental policies... 

Nissan faces $220m hit from Japanese recall (means - destruction, LM)
3 Oct 2017
Nissan will recall 1.2 million vehicles in Japan after regulators said safety checks did not meet domestic requirements.

Fight breaks out in Turkey parliament. MPs from the ruling AK Party clashed with Republican's People Party members when an MP tried to film a voting session. 12 January 2017

Punches thrown in S Africa parliament. Punches are thrown as some South African MPs disrupt President Zuma's State of the Nation address. 9 February 2017

Parliamentary punch-ups in Uganda...and elsewhere. There have been two days of brawling in the Ugandan parliament over plans to amend the constitution to allow President Yoweri Museveni to stand in the next election. But Ugandan MPs are not alone in getting physical in the chamber. BBC Africa looks at the recent history of parliamentary punch-ups across the continent and further afield. 27 Sep 2017

Taiwan's parliament resumes brawl. After a huge brawl on Thursday last week, fighting has resumed in Taiwan's parliament.
18 July 2017

Video - Weinstein questions awkward on red carpet. As sexual harassment allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein continue to mount, the BBC's Laura Bicker hits the red carpet and meets some up-and-coming actresses. 14 Oct 2017

100 Women: 'I transitioned and lost my male privilege' - video
"Male privilege" is the concept that men have certain advantages within society for no other reason than the fact they are men. Tech entrepreneur Dr Vivienne Ming, who is transgender, discovered this in her thirties when she transitioned. In her role as chief scientist at a tech industry recruitment firm she has also calculated the value of this advantage.

Video : Modern day slavery: Man describes London trafficking. Cases of slavery have risen substantially in recent years with 461 cases reported to police in 2016. A man who was trafficked from China to London for construction work describes what life was like as a modern day slave. 13 Oct 2017

Ivanka Trump Gets Booed Defending Her Father's Record On Women

What Princess Diana said about Trump after he 'bombarded her with flowers'. Sep 15, 2017. 'He gives me the creeps': What Princess Diana said about Donald Trump after he 'bombarded her with flowers when her marriage broke up'

The Huge Secret That Princess Diana Knew (Official Version). Jan 27, 2017. By: David Icke – From the book “The Biggest Secret”

Angela Merkel's quiet power
Angela Merkel has led Germany since 2005. She has endured a global financial crisis, turmoil over migration policy, and the disruption caused by Brexit. But she is tipped to win a fourth term as chancellor. Is she now the world's most powerful person?

From torture victim to human rights student

18 October 2017
Noura Al Jizawi has come to study in Toronto after escaping Syria's civil war. Noura Al Jizawi has survived more than a decade of extreme risk. Now she's going back to her interrupted life as a student. Growing up in Homs in Syria, the 29 year old has been a student activist, experienced imprisonment and exile and has been a leader in Syria's opposition. Now eight months pregnant, she has gone back to her studies, beginning a master's degree at the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs. Noura's first awareness of human rights - and of their absence - came early: "I remember when I was just a kid, I was angry because we couldn't choose our notebooks. Missing persons.
"We could have only one type of notebook - one with a photo of Assad's father on it." She soon learned that other, much worse things were wrong with her country. "Many of the students, a couple of years older than me, were mentioning their missing fathers. I became aware we had missing persons in Syria. While I was growing up, I remember hearing mothers supporting each other... they were the mothers of missing persons. Those guys were the detainees arrested by Assad's father in the 1980s. Some of them are still until this moment missing … there were no bodies, there was nothing, just silence." Activism and arrests.
Noura came up against the regime as an undergraduate at the University of Homs - and reading books such as George Orwell's Animal Farm chimed deeply with her own experience.
Noura's increasing activism, her work as a blogger, publishing imaginative allegorical fiction, and her readiness to speak out, led to two early arrests. Nevertheless she continued this dangerous work, accessing forbidden websites to distribute anti-regime articles, disseminating ideas of democracy and non-violent protest. "We never believed there would be a real revolution in our lifetimes," she said. And then, in December 2010, the Arab Spring began in Tunisia, and spread rapidly, arriving in Syria with a demonstration in Damascus in March 2011. "For me it was like a dream. We have a revolution." Noura was still in Homs, but was in touch with activists around the country, and abroad. She became an organiser of demonstrations and an advocate for the rapidly rising numbers of detainees. Social media.
In the response that followed, many of her friends were killed, many others imprisoned and tortured. "To be honest we were not shocked, we knew too well that this regime would not allow people to demand their rights. They were more shocked, she said, by the lack of any effective response from the international community. We were saying, back in the 70s and 80s, when there were great massacres in Syria, there was no internet, there no media channels. But we thought, now we have the social media channels, hopefully this would protect us. But it did not protect us." Noura's young life has been against a background of war. Noura moved from city to city, organising, motivating, dodging the authorities - until in May 2012, she was ordered off a bus in Damascus by armed men and bundled into a car. "It was not an arrest, it was abduction, a kidnapping," she said.
Tortured in prison.
Noura emerged seven months later. During that time she was detained in some of Syria's most notorious prisons, and said she had been tortured with electric shocks and beatings. She plays this down, saying that so many have endured - and are still enduring - far worse. For her the hardest experience to bear was hearing the sounds of her fellow-prisoners being tortured. Her captors realised this psychological torture would be more effective in her case - but still she remained silent. Noura explained how she survived: "I was not afraid for myself, I didn't care about myself... I cared only about the revolution… I cared about the people who were still continuing this revolution outside. We were still a non-violent movement on the ground... and I kept thinking about them... I wanted to make sure that in the questioning I would not speak about any one of those activists. I would pray to my body not to break down." Noura was released late in 2012, and believes that an international campaign played a part in this: "For sure, all of those activities protected me. That is why we need this advocacy, all the time, for all detainees and for missing persons." For Noura, the torment continued, as her younger sister, Alaa, had also been imprisoned and was suffering even worse: "They tortured her harder than me, many times, because of me. Alaa was released in a terrible physical state; the family decided they had to leave Syria, and fled to Turkey to get urgent medical treatment. She was my only reason to leave Syria," said Noura. "Otherwise I would still be there."
Geneva talks on Syria. Noura became a representative in peace talks in Geneva. In four years of exile in Turkey, she joined the coalition of Syrian opposition forces, (SNC) and became its vice-president in 2014, as well as being elected to sit on its negotiation panel in Geneva. She joined because she realised this much-criticised group of mainly male, middle-aged "hotel revolutionaries" needed "the blood of youth" and also a strong female voice. Geneva was a real challenge for Noura: "I felt I had to be calm and clever, I had do everything I could do, to interact." She worked hard to get an agreement to break the two-year siege of Homs. Many of its surviving citizens were dying of starvation.
'Scholars at risk'
Noura resigned from the coalition in 2016, but continued working for an NGO she had created, Start Point, which provides advocacy and psychological support to Syrian women who have suffered torture and sexual violence in detention. She had also met her husband in Turkey, another Syrian activist in exile, who was one of a network of cyber-security experts working for the Munk School's Citizen Lab; hence the Toronto connection. Noura came to Canada as one of 24 international students with scholarships in the university's "scholars at risk" programme. With her daughter due to be born next month, Noura is aware of how this might change her activism. But she's determined not to give up the fight. She sees the master's degree as another step to help her continue her work to bring democracy to Syria.

100 Women: Meet Susi Pudjiastuti, the Indonesian minister blowing up boats

5 Oct 2017
President Joko Widodo said he needed 'a crazy person' in order to make a breakthrough in the fight against illegal fishing.
Indonesia has never had a political figure like Susi Pudjiastuti.
The minister of maritime affairs is a tattooed high school dropout turned self-made businesswomen, and is leading a tough crackdown on illegal and unsustainable fishing. Hundreds of boats have been blown up on her orders. When President Joko Widodo was asked why he appointed her back in 2014, he said he needed "a crazy person in order to make a breakthrough". Now, her outspoken style has turned her into something of a pop culture icon. And landed her on this year's BBC 100 Women list. All this in a country home to the world's largest Muslim population and which, in general, thinks poorly of its politicians. Susi Pudjiastuti. Ms Pudjiastuti has been painted as Superwoman on a public mural, depicted as a half mermaid-half warrior and as a manga comic action figure. Her carefully crafted social media image, meanwhile, is shaking up Indonesia's normally conservative political style. "I don't try to adjust myself to the political mainstream way of doing things, I wouldn't be successful if I try to be someone else," she says, giving her signature throaty laugh. It hasn't been easy but now I see it as an advantage. I decided early on that I had to be open, open, open. I didn't change myself because I thought the current would be too strong against me and I would be swallowed up."
One of seven fishing boats is blown up by the Indonesian government in Batam, Kepulauan Riau province on February 22, 2016. Indonesia sank 27 impounded foreign boats on February 22, a minister said, as the world's largest archipelago nation stepped up a campaign against illegal fishing in its waters. Susi Pudjiastuti says blowing up fishing boats is a 'shock and awe tactic. Videos of her dancing to the Beatles on board a navy vessel after an inspection or sipping coffee on a paddle board in the middle of the sea have all gone viral and polls show she is widely liked. But each time there is talk of a cabinet reshuffle there are rumours that President Jokowi is under pressure to dump her. Critics say her policies are not well thought out. When the BBC calls to interview her, she has just come back in from the sea and is late for our interview.
"Sorry I fell asleep from the ocean today. I was at sea, swimming and paddling," she says. "I have to steal a day to run away from everything. The ocean is the best place for that."

Charting China's 'great purge' under Xi

23. 11. 2017
Not since the days of Mao Zedong (right) has a campaign on the scale of Mr Xi's been seen. Since becoming China's leader in 2012, Xi Jinping has overseen a vast and ruthless anti-corruption drive, in which more than a million officials have been disciplined. A BBC study has found that more than 170 ministers and deputy minister-level officials have been sacked and many jailed under Mr Xi, accused of charges such as corruption, misconduct and violation of party discipline. It has been described by some as a massive internal purge of opponents, on a scale not seen since the days of Mao Zedong, in whose Cultural Revolution many top officials were purged. How extensive is the campaign?
The most noticeable departure from tradition has been the breaking with many unwritten party conventions since Mao's time. The prosecution of so many national-level officials has been notable - in recent decades prominent figures would usually have been quietly retired. But in the last five years, 35 members (full and alternate) of the Chinese Communist party's most powerful body, the Central Committee, have been disciplined. That is as many as in all the years between 1949 and 2012. Zhou Yongkang is the most senior official felled so far. Until he retired in 2012 he was the third most powerful politician in China. In 2015 he was jailed for life for bribery, abuse of power and disclosing state secrets. Abruptly removed from his post in July, Sun Zhengcai is the most senior serving official to be caught by President Xi's purge. Only the fourth sitting politburo member to ever be expelled from the Party. Xu Caihou was among highest-ranking military until he retired in 2013. He was investigated as part of a "cash for ranks" probe and ultimately expelled from the party and prosecuted. He died of cancer in 2015. Guo Boxiong served alongside Xu. In July 2016 he became the highest-ranking military official prosecuted, since the end of the revolution in 1949. He was sentenced to life in prison for bribery. Ling Jihua was a trusted adviser of Hu Jintao, but was swiftly demoted under Xi. After a scandal, that began when his son died "in a state of undress" in a Ferrari crash, he was jailed for life for bribery in 2016. Nearly 70% of the party's ruling Central Committee members will be replaced with new faces at the current congress although in the majority of cases alleged corruption or other transgressions will not be the reason - age will be.
An unwritten party rule currently sets the retirement age at 68. Who has been targeted?
Based on official data, a staggering 1.34 million officials at high and low levels - the so-called "tigers and flies" - have been brought down by corruption and disciplinary charges during President Xi's first five years in office. No walk of life has been spared - those felled range from village chiefs and factory managers to government ministers and generals. The so-called "great purge" goes right to the very top of government - the biggest scalp so far was once the third most senior leader in China, Zhou Yongkang.
He had been in charge of the vast internal security apparatus until he retired. Sun Zhengcai, who was sacked as Chongqing party secretary, was only the fourth sitting politburo member ever to be expelled from the Communist Party. Promoted before Xi Jinping took office, Mr Sun, 54, was the politburo's youngest member and had been tipped for the very top. Zhou Yongkang is the most senior official felled so far. Until he retired in 2012 he was the third most powerful politician in China. In 2015 he was jailed for life for bribery, abuse of power and disclosing state secrets. Abruptly removed from his post in July, Sun Zhengcai is the most senior serving official to be caught by President Xi's purge. Only the fourth sitting politburo member to ever be expelled from the Party. Xu Caihou was among highest-ranking military until he retired in 2013. He was investigated as part of a "cash for ranks" probe and ultimately expelled from the party and prosecuted. No area has been more radically restructured under President Xi than the military, which he swiftly set about comprehensively reorganising and modernising. More than 60 generals have been investigated and sacked in the drive to introduce a Western-style joint command and promote young officers to top positions. Even as the delegates started to gather in Beijing for the current party congress, the pace of the campaign showed no signs of slowing down. Two top generals, Fang Fenghui and Zhang Yang, disappeared from public view as recently as last month, and a series of new high-level investigations have been announced.
The five-yearly congress in Beijing is expected to see the president remain as party chief and bring in a new leadership team, helping to entrench his already considerable power.
If things go to plan for President Xi, he should be able to get many of his loyalists into key positions. Since he took office a number of his allies have been promoted. Here are some of the biggest gainers. Li Zhanshu was party chief in a county neighbouring Mr Xi's early in their careers. In 2015 he visited Moscow as Mr Xi's "special representative". Has played a leading role in maintaining strong relations with Russia. Chen Min'er is one of the "New Zhijiang Army", the group of now senior CPC figures, who worked under Mr Xi when he was party secretary in Zhejiang. Chen replaced the disgraced Sun Zhengcai in Chongqing. Another of the so-called "New Zhijiang Army" is Cai Qi. Before being summoned to the capital his popular blog had more than 10m social media followers. Said to be President Xi's top foreign policy aide, Wang Huning has been labelled "China's Kissinger" by a leading South Korean newspaper. He also advised former presidents Hu and Jiang. President Xi described his key economic adviser Liu He as "very important to me" when introducing him to President Obama's National Security Adviser in 2013. Mr Liu has an MA in public administration from Harvard. Who ends up in the party's Politburo Standing Committee, China's top decision-making body which currently has seven seats, will show exactly how powerful he has become. Its members - and those of the 25-seat Politburo - will be revealed on 25 October once the congress ends. But analysts say Mr Xi, along with anti-corruption chief Wang Qishan, a key ally, has used the clean-up campaign to help shape who China's new leaders will be. The country's Communist Party has for decades ruled by consensus, but analysts say President Xi is rewriting party rules and concentrating power in his own hands. Critics accuse him of encouraging a cult of personality. They point to the fact that most of the top officials who have been disciplined have been supporters of his opponents, or former presidents Jiang Zemin or Hu Jintao. President Xi's supporters say the anti-corruption drive is needed to restore the ruling party's credibility as the president pursues his dream of a more prosperous and powerful China which will soon overtake the US as the world's largest economy.

Grace Mugabe asks for diplomatic immunity in South Africa case - video

17 Aug 2017
Grace Mugabe with her husband Robert attend a rally of his ruling ZANU (PF) in Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe 29/07/2017. Grace Mugabe is the second wife of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. Zimbabwe's government has sought diplomatic immunity for President Robert Mugabe's wife in the assault case against her in South Africa, South Africa's police ministry has said. Grace Mugabe was still in South Africa, it added, contradicting earlier reports that she had returned to Zimbabwe. A 20-year-old South African model has accused Mrs Mugabe of assaulting her at a hotel in Johannesburg on Sunday. Police expected Mrs Mugabe, 52, to turn herself in on Tuesday, but she did not. Zimbabwe's government had invoked "diplomatic immunity cover" for her, the ministry said in a statement. However, South Africa still wanted to make sure that she was "processed through the legal system", the ministry added. Discussions were taking place with Mrs Mugabe's lawyers and the Zimbabwean High Commission over the issue, it said. Appearing before a parliamentary committee earlier, South Africa's acting police chief Lesetja Mothiba said that Mrs Mugabe "must go to court". Grace Mugabe is accused of assaulting a woman. She has not commented since police began investigating her over the alleged assault. South Africa's government risks a public backlash if it lets Mrs Mugabe go scot-free. This happened in 2015, when it failed to execute an international arrest warrant for Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir who was wanted by the International Criminal Court. South Africa's government argued that he qualified for diplomatic immunity, but the country's judges disagreed. The government was then strongly criticised for undermining the rule of law. It seems that the government wants to avoid a similar backlash and is therefore insisting that Mrs Mugabe must appear in court. But by taking such an approach it risks a diplomatic row with Zimbabwe's government - a staunch ally whom it has resolutely defended over the years despite international criticism of President Robert Mugabe's human rights record.
So the two governments are bound to be in talks to resolve the crisis over Mrs Mugabe. One option being mentioned in the South African media is that Mrs Mugabe should plead guilty during a short court appearance, and pay a fine. But it is unclear whether Mr and Mrs Mugabe - known for their uncompromising nature - will agree to this, especially after Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF party said in a tweet on Tuesday that the first lady was "attacked", contradicting the version of her accuser. Zimbabwe's main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said the first lady was a "total disgrace and a complete national embarrassment". "She has to be brought to order and indeed she has to appreciate that she is not a law unto herself," it added in a statement. Confusion surrounded the case, with South Africa's Police Minister Fikile Mbalula saying at one point on Tuesday that Mrs Mugabe had handed herself over to police and would appear in court. She did not appear and police later said she had agreed to turn herself in but then failed to do so. Police opened a case of assault against Mrs Mugabe after the model, Gabriella Engels, accused her of hitting her over the head with an extension cord. The alleged assault took place after Mrs Mugabe found her with the first lady's two sons, Robert and Chatunga, in a hotel room in Sandton, a wealthy suburb north of Johannesburg, on Sunday evening.
Mrs Mugabe's sons, who are both in their 20s, live in South Africa. The first lady was in South Africa to be treated for an ankle injury when the alleged assault took place, Zimbabwean media reported. Ms Engels released an image of a head injury online. Gabriella Engels says she was beaten with an extension cord. "When Grace entered I had no idea who she was," she told South African broadcaster News24. "She walked in with an extension cord and just started beating me with it. She flipped and just kept beating me with the plug. Over and over. I had no idea what was going on. I was surprised. I needed to crawl out of the room before I could run away. "There was blood everywhere," she added. "Over my arms, in my hair, everywhere." She registered a "case of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm", police said. Who is Grace Mugabe?
Grace Mugabe addressing her maiden political rally in Chinhoyi October 2, 2014. Began an affair with Robert Mugabe, 41 years her senior, while working as a typist in state house
Mr Mugabe later said his first wife Sally, who was terminally ill at the time, knew and approved of the relationship. Married Mr Mugabe, her second husband, in 1996 in an extravagant ceremony. They have three children. Nicknamed "Gucci Grace" by her critics, who accuse her of lavish spending. Along with her husband, is subject to EU and US sanctions, including travel bans. Praised by supporters for her charitable work and founding of an orphanage. Received a PhD in September 2014, a month after being nominated to take over the leadership of the Zanu-PF women's league.

Canada forgets to mention Jewish people at Holocaust memorial

5 Oct 2017
Prime Minister Trudeau attends the opening of the National Holocaust Monument. A plaque has been removed from Canada's Holocaust memorial because it neglected to mention Jewish people..."Today we reaffirm our unshakeable commitment to fight anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia and discrimination in all its forms, and we pay tribute to those who experienced the worst of humanity. We can honour them by fighting hatred with love, and seeking always to see ourselves in each other," Mr Trudeau said at the unveiling. Until then, Canada had been the only Allied power to not have a national Holocaust memorial. Earlier this year, US President Donald Trump was admonished for failing to use the word Jew on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Why you shouldn't imitate Bill Gates if you want to be rich

22 September 2017
Bill Gates is a lot luckier than you might realise. He may be a very talented man who worked his way up from college dropout to the top spot on the list of the world’s richest people. But his extreme success perhaps tells us more about the importance of circumstances beyond his control than it does about how skill and perseverance are rewarded. We often fall for the idea that the exceptional performers are the most skilled or talented. But this is flawed. Exceptional performances tend to occur in exceptional circumstances. For example, Gates’s upper-class background and private education enabled him to gain extra programming experience when less than 0.01% of his generation then had access to computers. His mother’s social connection with IBM’s chairman enabled him to gain a contract from the then-leading PC company that was crucial for establishing his software empire. This is important because most customers who used IBM computers were forced to learn how to use Microsoft’s software that came along with it. This created an inertia in Microsoft’s favour. The next software these customers chose was more likely to be Microsoft’s, not because their software was necessarily the best, but because most people were too busy to learn how to use anything else. Microsoft’s success and market share may differ from the rest by several orders of magnitude but the difference was really enabled by Gate’s early fortune, reinforced by a strong success-breeds-success dynamic...

Tiger fur-lined robes... what do Saudi gifts to Trump mean?

14 September 2017
President Donald Trump receives the Order of Abdulaziz al-Saud medal from Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud at the Saudi Royal Court in Riyadh. When Winston Churchill went to see King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud in February 1945, he soon realised that the £100 ($134) worth of perfume he brought was no match for the robe, jewelled sword, dagger and diamond rings he received in return. Despite the fiscal squeeze of World War Two, the British prime minister returned home and promptly ordered one of the first Rolls-Royce cars produced after the war to be sent to the king seven months later. World leaders today may not hand out planes or luxury cars, but a recent State Department document detailing 83 items US President Donald Trump received during his May visit to Saudi Arabia underscores the long-held practice of extravagant gift-giving in the Gulf kingdom.
What did Trump receive? During his first foreign visit as president, Mr Trump attended an Arab Islamic Summit in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, where King Salman bestowed to him a stockpile of gifts including multiple swords, daggers, leather ammo holders and holsters, beaded and gold-embroidered dresses, dozens of Shemagh head scarves and other traditional Arab garments, leather sandals, perfumes and artwork. The list of items, obtained by the Daily Beast through a Freedom of Information Act request to the State Department, appears to glimpse the gilded world and diamond-encrusted indulgence of Saudi culture. But in fact, the gifts are not so luxurious after all, says Ali Shihabi, executive director of the Arabia Foundation. "In the old days Gulf governments used to give extravagant gifts," says Mr Shihabi. "Expensive watches, pieces of jewelery, things like that." Gifts now are more emblematic of local culture, highlighting crafts and artefacts from the region, he says. Ellen Wald, an American Middle East expert and author of the forthcoming book, Saudi, Inc, says the gifts are actually quite traditional and appear to reflect the type of trip and the size of the entourage of people who accompanied Mr Trump to Riyadh. Members of the American delegation to Saudi Arabia in 2008 received similar items such as robes and jewelled daggers, she says. Six weirdest gifts countries have given each other. Can he keep them?

Looking after the youth voice at China's Congress

 24 Oct 2017
There are very few delegates at the Communist Party Congress under the age of 35. We meet one of the exceptions, Xu Chuan. He tells the BBC's Stephen McDonell he feels pressure as an attendee – and a lot of curiosity. Xi Jinping 'most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong'. Chinese President and General Secretary of the Communist Party of China Xi Jinping raises hand to take a vote during the closing ceremony of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) at the Great Hall of the People (GHOP) in Beijing, China, 24 October 2017. China's ruling Communist Party has voted to enshrine Xi Jinping's name and ideology in its constitution, elevating him to the level of founder Mao Zedong. The unanimous vote to incorporate "Xi Jinping Thought" happened at the end of the Communist Party congress, China's most important political meeting.
Mr Xi has steadily increased his grip on power since becoming leader in 2012. This move means that any challenge to Mr Xi will now be seen as a threat to Communist Party rule.
More than 2,000 delegates gathered in Beijing's Great Hall of the People for the final approval process to enshrine "Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era" into the Communist Party constitution of China. At the end of the process, delegates were asked if they had any objections, to which they responded with loud cries of "none", reported journalists at the scene. Previous Chinese Communist Party leaders have had their ideologies incorporated into the party's constitution or thinking, but none, besides founder Mao Zedong, have had their philosophy described as "thought", which is at the top of the ideological hierarchy. Only Mao and Deng Xiaoping have had their names attached to their ideologies - and Deng's name was only added to the constitution after his death. The change to the constitution puts Xi Jinping (left) on par with party founder Mao Zedong (right). But schoolchildren, college students and staff at state factories will now have to join 90 million Communist Party members in studying "Xi Jinping Thought" on the new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics. The expression "new era" is the party's way of saying this is the third chapter of modern China. If the first was Chairman Mao uniting a country devastated by civil war, and the second was getting rich under Deng Xiaoping, this new era is about even more unity and wealth at the same time as making China disciplined at home and strong abroad. Enshrining all of this under Xi Jinping's name in the party constitution means rivals cannot now challenge China's strongman without threatening Communist Party rule. At first glance, "Xi Jinping Thought" may seem like vague rhetoric, but it describes the communist ideals Mr Xi has continuously espoused throughout his rule. Graphic showing five highlights of Mr Xi's five years in office. Its 14 main principles emphasise the Communist Party's role in governing every aspect of the country, and also include: A call for "complete and deep reform" and "new developing ideas". A promise of "harmonious living between man and nature" - this is a call for improved environmental conservation, and could refer to the stated aim to have the bulk of China's energy needs supplied by renewables. An emphasis on "absolute authority of the party over the people's army" - which comes amid what analysts call the largest turnover of senior military officials in modern Chinese history
An emphasis on the importance of "'one country two systems" and reunification with the motherland - a clear reference to Hong Kong and Taiwan. What else has been happening?
More than 2,000 delegates have spent the week-long congress confirming picks for provincial party chiefs, governors and heads of some state-owned enterprises. On Tuesday, they finalised the make-up of top bodies such as the Central Committee and the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. How a student counsellor sees the Communist Party Congress
What happens next?
On Wednesday, the new Central Committee will decide who gets to be in the higher-level Politburo. Though delegates get some say, in reality the elections are guided by the party's top leadership where at each stage voters pick from pre-selected candidates. Also on Wednesday, the party will reveal the new members of its pinnacle body, the Politburo Standing Committee. Mr Xi is widely expected to remain as party leader, while prominent Xi ally and anti-corruption chief Wang Qishan has stepped down and will not be in the next formation of the committee. Those in the Standing Committee will be especially scrutinised. Analysts say its make-up may give signs of how long Mr Xi plans to stay on at the top of the party - he is expected to remain at the helm until at least 2022 - or any possible successors. Mr Xi's term ruling China has been marked by significant development, a push for modernisation and increasing assertiveness on the world stage. However, it has also seen growing authoritarianism, censorship and a crackdown on human rights.

China congress: How authorities censor your thoughts

16 Oct 2017
What can and can't you say in China? If you control public communication you can control the way people think and how they behave. That's what Xi Jinping's government is counting on. And it is never more true, than at the time of major political gatherings. The Communist Party Congress, held every five years, is set to begin next week: an event, which will culminate in the revelation of the new leadership team behind General Secretary Xi. So the censors here are poised to restrict with one hand and disseminate with the other.
What they're looking out for are key words and expressions popping up in social media. Anything signalling an intention to protest or ridiculing the country's senior political figures will be blocked and potentially see a user reported to the authorities. For example, a message featuring the name of this country's ever-more powerful leader and his sometimes-used nickname "Winnie the Pooh" will simply not go through to group discussions on the messaging app WeChat. Funny stickers featuring Mr Xi or previous Chinese leaders also can't be sent to chat groups. China has all the appearances of an increasingly open society: flashy new cities with Hollywood movies advertised on bus stops; digital currency taken up like nowhere else; cool kids getting around on hire bikes zooming through a gleaming modern existence. And yet, since Mr Xi came to power five years ago, public discourse has been increasingly censored to try and control everything from political thought to sexual activity. Olympic freedom
In the lead up to the Olympic Games in 2008, it felt as if freedom of expression was ever on the rise here. New laws allowed foreign reporters to travel around the country without specific permission from local governments. It's hard to believe it, but Google searches were not blocked then. Investigative journalism from local Chinese publications - like the Southern Weekend newspaper and Caijing magazine - was becoming as good as anywhere in the world. I remember being at a function, where a group of journalists were speaking to one of the foreign affairs ministry spokespeople. We had some concern or other, and he was reassuring us, that everything would be all right. "Don't worry," he said, smiling as he pushed an imaginary truck gear into position. "In China we only have one gear, and it's forward." It sometimes doesn't feel like that now. Just as China has its Great Wall, so does it also have a powerful internet firewall to block "undesirable" sites. "You can't control the internet," is something people would say in those years - part mantra, part celebration of a new global reality. But Chinese officials have worked out that actually, you can. Rather than connecting to the internet, this country has something more like an intranet within the boundaries of the Great Firewall of China. Sites like Amnesty International, Facebook, and Twitter are unreachable for most Chinese, unless they have use of a virtual private network (VPN), which effectively punts their computer over the Great Firewall. So, with the congress approaching, there's been an assault on VPN use. The government has ordered Apple to remove all VPNs from its Chinese app store. The company has decided in favour of not being kicked out of this enormous market and is doing what Beijing wants. Years ago Google was given a similar ultimatum: allow Chinese officials to censor search results or you're gone. Google didn't cave in, and was blocked.
WeChat is widely used in China. China's most effective censorship tool is also the country's most widespread method of communication. Pretty much everybody here uses the phone app WeChat. It has text messaging, group chats, photo sharing, location searching and electronic payments. How social media is different in China. During periods of political sensitivity - like now - key words will trigger the blocking or monitoring of a post. If sensitive enough, they could even lead to state security knocking on your door.
New regulations also make a person, who sets up a group chat responsible for what's said amongst the group. As you can imagine, the administrators of football team chats might be feeling a little nervous about the content of late night posts from drunken players. Some will wonder how this is all possible as the app is not owned by the government, but run by the hugely-powerful Chinese company Tencent. Well, under new regulations from the Cyber Administration of China, private entities, which run these platforms are required to not only enforce content restrictions, but also report those who violate them to the "relevant authorities". For many Chinese people - even those overseas - WeChat has also become their main news feed. If you restrict this content you can close out certain news coverage. Potential challengers to WeChat's virtual monopoly are also being reined in. WhatsApp is not 100% within the domain of the Chinese state. So, at times in recent weeks, its use has been impossible to reach without a VPN. China disrupts WhatsApp messaging service. It is not clear whether the disruption of WhatsApp is a temporary measure to coincide with the congress or yet another restriction that's here to stay. Tight grip on the press. Mr Xi visited state broadcaster CCTV's imposing headquarters in Beijing last year. It is no secret that every Chinese newspaper and television station is under the complete control of the Communist Party. And yet last year, when Mr Xi visited the People's Daily newspaper, Xinhua wire service and state broadcaster CCTV, he still demanded the absolute loyalty of reporters, who should follow the Party's leadership in "politics, thought and action". But, just in case some journalists didn't get the memo, a set of rules have been sent around governing coverage of this year's congress, requiring all interviews with experts or scholars to be approved by the outlet's "work unit leadership" and the central propaganda department. However, China's censorship and propaganda model is also going beyond sensitive political matters. Online bookstores must now work under a rating system from the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, which includes the promotion of "moral values". Popular blogs focusing on celebrity scandals and the intrigues of the rich and famous have been forced to close. To talk about such matters has been deemed to be not in keeping with "core socialist values".
No naughty dramas. For a time, cheap online video dramas were pushing out the boundaries of what could be viewed here. There was a gay sitcom, for example. But digital platforms have been ordered to stop showing hundreds of foreign shows, and their locally produced material is expected to follow the same restrictions as television. As it is, on Chinese TV you rarely see anything approaching a passionate kiss. Two years ago a TV drama was forced to reframe and zoom in on its shots, so as to crop out the generous cleavage of its 7th Century maidens, in order to remain on air. Many in China feel the authorities have gone too far in censoring The Empress of China, as John Sudworth reports. Thus goes the creeping imposition of a state-sanctioned morality under Mr Xi's administration. Last month, TV dramas were given notice of a new set of rules governing their content.
They should "enhance people's cultural taste" and "strengthen spiritual civilisation". Directors are supposed to come up with engaging characters beyond the realms of lewd behaviour, extra-marital affairs, gambling, drugs, homosexuality and other forms of "immoral" behaviour. The notice suggested eulogising the Communist Party of China, the country, the people and also national heroes. And one figure is emerging via the propaganda machine to stand head and shoulders above all others. The cult of Xi?
As the censors shut down dissent, the party is urging a way of thinking about all that's good in China and tracing it back to a single source - Xi Jinping. An exhibition focusing on the recent achievements of the Chinese government has opened in Beijing. Vast rooms are dedicated to science, transport, the military, the economy, sport, ethnic minorities, and they are all dominated by massive photos of Xi Jinping. There must be hundreds of them. Songs have been written celebrating Chinese President Xi Jinping, one even has an accompanying dance routine. The English language newspaper China Daily has been rolling out a series of front page stories - one every day - about the "impact of" a visit from Mr Xi on various villages, towns and cities after the General Secretary passed on his advice. "He asked people to protect the lake", "President Xi proposed moving people in the villages to the new settlement", "Xi emphasised the importance of afforestation", et cetera. Some here are joking that this type of reporting is not all that far from what you might expect in the North Korean press describing its own god-like leaders. When Chinese officials make speeches now, they refer to this or that aspect of what they're up to "with Xi Jinping at the core". Xi Jinping's growing power in China. China's Xi named commander in chief. How China guards the Xi creation myth. It goes without saying that you cannot question "the core" without this nation's considerable censorship apparatus crashing down upon you. But, short of such an obvious breach, the rules regarding what can and can't be said, broadcast, forwarded, analysed are thought to be kept deliberately vague. In this way, everyone is on their toes and the authorities can shut down what they like at any time without having to give a reason. Editors, cartoonists, reporters, directors, bloggers, comedians, administrators running social media platforms and ordinary Chinese citizens posting to their friends are all staying well clear of certain subjects just in case it lands them in hot water. In short: Chinese censorship works, and plenty of other governments around the world are looking on with admiration.

China party congress: The rising stars of China's Communist Party

8 October 2017
China's National People's Congress. The Politburo Standing Committee is set to welcome new members. China's Communist Party will unveil its next generation of elite leaders when it meets, starting on 18 October, for a congress, that is held every five years. Except for President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, five of the seven members of the party's top body, the Politburo Standing Committee (PSC), are set to retire later this year. Given the opaque nature of Chinese politics, it is tricky to say, who will fill the vacancies - though it is certain, that they will likely be those close to Mr Xi. The BBC takes a look at the men widely expected to take over the reins of China's ruling party.
Chen Min'er - Xi 'confidant'
Guizhou Communist Party boss Chen Miner. Chen Min'er, 56, was appointed Chongqing municipality party chief on 15 July, replacing Sun Zhengcai, who is being investigated for corruption. He spent his early political life working in his native Zhejiang province, where he developed close ties with Mr Xi, while working under him from 2002 to 2007 in his tenure at the province's propaganda department. Describing him as Mr Xi's "trusted confidant", Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post noted, that his promotion "cemented his credentials as a contender to join the upper echelon of the party" at the congress.
Hu Chunhua - Guangdong party chief. Before becoming the head of Guangdong, an economically strong province in southern China, Hu Chunhua worked in Tibet, Hebei and Inner Mongolia in various capacities. He also became the first secretary of the Communist Youth League, the party's youth wing, in 2006. Mr Hu, 54, was elevated to the Politburo in 2012, becoming one of the youngest members of the 25-member grouping, which ranks just below the PSC. Known as "little Hu", the Guangdong boss is reportedly backed by former Chinese leader, Hu Jintao. He is part of the so-called "sixth generation" of leaders born in the 1960s and, along with Chen Min'er, is regarded as a potential successor to Mr Xi, independent Hong Kong media report.
Li Zhanshu - Xi's 'powerful ally'. Li Zhanshu attends the opening of the third session of the 12th National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on 5 March 2015. Li Zhanshu is the director of the General Office of the Communist Party's Central Committee and, as the top presidential aide, handles Mr Xi's daily activities.
The 67-year-old often accompanies Mr Xi on domestic and foreign tours, the latest being the Chinese leader's state visit to Russia in July. Mr Li is said to be a skilled administrator, having held regional posts in Hebei and Shaanxi province. He was elevated to the Politburo in 2012. He is also said to be Mr Xi's most powerful ally after anti-corruption chief Wang Qishan, and has been a close friend of the president since the early 1980s.
Wang Huning - 'China's Kissinger' is the Director of the Central Policy Research Office and, like Li Zhanshu, is part of Mr Xi's entourage during overseas visits. The 61-year-old former Fudan University scholar has extensive policymaking experience, having advised former presidents Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao. Said to be Mr Xi's top foreign policy aide, he has been labelled "China's Kissinger" by South Korean daily The Hankyoreh. Independent Hong Kong daily Ming Pao says, that Mr Wang has a good chance of joining the PSC as he is close to Xi, although it adds: "He is a low-key person and it is said, that he is not interested in getting promoted."
Wang Yang - vice-premier. Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang. Wang Yang is currently one of four vice-premiers in the existing government and is a two-term Politburo member.
The veteran politician was previously the party chief of Guangdong province from 2007 to 2012, and is a key figure behind Mr Xi's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative. Like Hu Chunhua, Mr Wang comes from the "Youth League faction" of the party, and is seen as one of the top contestants for a PSC seat, Hong Kong media note. There are also growing indications that Mr Wang could replace Li Keqiang as the premier, in what would be a break from the two-term tradition for China's top leaders.
Han Zheng - Shanghai chief. Mr Han is currently a member of the political bureau of the party's high-ranking Central Committee, and served as the mayor and deputy party secretary of Shanghai previously. Some believe he may replace Wang Qishan as the head of the powerful anti-corruption body the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. If he is promoted, it would "prove that persistence pays off, with the 63-year-old not even counted among potential dark horses a decade ago when political analysts were compiling lists of rising political stars on the mainland", the South China Morning Post says. Shanghai has been the launch pad for several former leaders, including Mr Xi, who served as the city's party chief before joining the PSC in 2007. Other contenders
Li Hongzhong, party chief of the port city of Tianjin
Chen Quanguo, party chief of the restive region of Xinjiang
Zhao Leji, head of the powerful Organisation Department, which oversees the promotion of officials
Liu He, director of China's Office of the Central Leading Group on Financial and Economic Affairs.
All these men may be jostling for limited spaces - a number of media sources report that Mr Xi may cut down the size of the PSC from the current seven members to five.

North Korea: Kim Jong-un promotes sister to politburo

8 October 2017
Kim Jong-un centre seen with his younger sister Kim Yo-jong at a nursing home for the elderly in a picture provided by Korean Central News Agency on 6 March 2017. Kim Yo-jong
(circled) has often appeared alongside her brother. North Korea's Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un has given his sister more power by promoting her to the nation's top decision-making body. Kim Yo-jong, the youngest daughter of late leader Kim Jong-il, will be replacing her aunt as a member of the Workers Party's Politburo. Ms Kim, 30, was referred to as a senior party official three years ago. The Kim family has ruled North Korea since the country was established following the Second World War in 1948. Ms Kim, who has frequently appeared alongside her brother in public and is thought to have been responsible for his public image, was already influential as vice-director of the propaganda and agitation department. She is blacklisted by the US over alleged links to human rights abuses in North Korea. Her promotion was announced by Mr Kim at a party meeting on Saturday as part of a reshuffle involving dozens of other top officials. When Ms Kim was given a key post at the country's rare ruling party congress last year, it was widely expected, that she would take up an important role in the country's core leadership. Who is Kim Yo-jong?
Among other announcements made on Saturday was the decision to promote Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho - who last month referred to US President Donald Trump, as "President Evil" at a UN meeting - to a full vote-carrying member of the Politburo. Mr Ri has recently accused Mr Trump of declaring war on North Korea and said, that if the president continues with his "dangerous" rhetoric, the US will become an "inevitable" target for missile strikes. The promotions come as a defiant Mr Kim once again made it clear, that North Korea's nuclear weapons programme would continue despite sanctions and threats. His comments were made hours before Mr Trump tweeted, that "only one thing will work" in dealing with Pyongyang following years of dialogue, that the US president said had failed to deliver results. KimJongUnNorthKorea.jpg

Tony Abbott: Australian ex-PM was 'too drunk' to make vote

25 August 2017
Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott walk through parliament in 2015. Malcolm Turnbull (left) replaced Tony Abbott as prime minister in 2015. Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull has chided his predecessor, Tony Abbott, for once missing parliament because he had been "too drunk". Mr Abbott has revealed he failed to make a key vote in 2009, while a shadow minister, after drinking too much wine the night before. Rumours had swirled over why Mr Abbott missed the vote on a stimulus bill during the global financial crisis.
Mr Turnbull, then opposition leader, described the incident as unacceptable. "There was nothing we could do," Mr Turnbull told radio station 3AW on Friday. "As Tony acknowledged, the whips [fellow MPs] tried to rouse him to get him down into the chamber to vote, but they were unable to move him." Mr Turnbull said Mr Abbott's absence was "not acceptable or admirable in any way" and the vote had been important. Coming clean
Mr Abbott only revealed the truth behind his absence in an upcoming episode of a television series about parliamentary life. In an excerpt released on Friday, Mr Abbott admitted he and two party colleagues had consumed "quite a few bottles of wine. I think all of us were in a mellow and reflective mood so the reflections went on for longer and later than they should have, and the impact was rather greater than it should have been," Mr Abbott told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. "I lay down and next thing I knew it was morning."
Abbott 'trolled' by sister over marriage vote. It meant Mr Abbott did not vote on an economic stimulus bill, which was part of Australia's response to the global financial crisis. Wayne Swan, who was government treasurer in 2009, criticised Mr Abbott following his disclosure. "Of course, now we know the truth - he slept through some of the most important votes in the Australian parliament in over 50 or 60 years," he said on Friday.

Massive Equifax data breach hits 143 million
8 September 2017
About 143 million US customers of credit report giant Equifax may have had information compromised in a cyber security breach, the company has disclosed. Equifax said cyber-criminals accessed data such as Social Security numbers, birth dates and addresses during the incident. Some UK and Canadian customers were also affected. The firm's core consumer and commercial credit databases were not accessed. Equifax said hackers accessed the information between mid-May and the end of July, when the company discovered the breach. Malicious hackers won access to its systems by exploiting a "website application vulnerability", it said but provided no further details. The hackers accessed credit card numbers for about 209,000 consumers, among other information. Equifax chief executive Richard Smith said the incident was "disappointing" and "one that strikes at the heart of who we are and what we do. I apologise to consumers and our business customers for the concern and frustration this causes," said Richard Smith, Equifax chairman and chief executive. We pride ourselves on being a leader in managing and protecting data, and we are conducting a thorough review of our overall security operations." It said it was working with law enforcement agencies to investigate and had hired a cyber-security firm to analyse what happened. The FBI is also believed to be monitoring the situation. The company said it would work with regulators in the US, UK and Canada on next steps. It is also offering free credit monitoring and identity theft protection for a year. Equifax said it had set up a website, through which consumers can check if their data has been caught up in the breach. Many people trying to visit the site reported via social media that they had problems reaching it and that security software flagged it as potentially dangerous. The UK's Information Commissioner (ICO) said reports about the data breach and the potential involvement of UK citizens gave it "cause for concern". It said it was in contact with Equifax to find out how many British people were affected and the kinds of data that had been compromised. "We will be advising Equifax to alert affected UK customers at the earliest opportunity," said the ICO in a statement. Data on 200 million US voters went astray in a massive data breach earlier this year. The breach is one of the largest ever reported in the US and, said experts, could have a significant impact on any Americans affected by it. "On a scale of 1 to 10, this is a 10," said Avivah Litan, a Gartner analyst who monitors ID theft and fraud. "It affects the whole credit reporting system in the United States because nobody can recover it, everyone uses the same data." Security expert Brian Krebs said Equifax was just one of several credit agencies that had been hit by hackers in recent years. "The credit bureaus have for the most part shown themselves to be terrible stewards of very sensitive data," wrote Mr Krebs. "and are long overdue for more oversight from regulators and lawmakers." Credit rating firm Equifax holds data on more than 820 million consumers as well as information on 91 million businesses.

As Trump attacks U.S. law enforcement, another top official quits. Video. 10 Feb 2018

The U.S. Justice Department's third-ranking official, Rachel Brand, will resign and take a senior job at Walmart Inc , with sources familiar with her decision saying on Friday that she had grown increasingly uncomfortable with President Donald Trump's attacks on her department and the FBI. The department said Brand will be leaving her post in the coming weeks. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, himself repeatedly criticized by Trump, praised her “critical role in helping us accomplish our goals as a department.”
Brand, 44, was next in line of succession to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for oversight of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential collusion between Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Russia and whether the Republican president has unlawfully sought to obstruct the ongoing probe. She became the latest senior law enforcement official to either resign or be fired since Trump took office in January 2017, a list that includes a Federal Bureau of Investigation director and deputy director, and an acting attorney general. Trump also ousted all remaining U.S. attorneys, the chief federal prosecutors in each state, who had served under Trump’s Democratic predecessor Barack Obama. Brand’s resignation is different in that she was hand-picked for the job by Trump, assuming her post just five days after Mueller’s appointment in May 2017.
News of Brand’s departure came a week after Trump approved the release of a previously classified memo written by Republican lawmakers that portrayed the Russia investigation, initially handled by the FBI and now headed by Mueller, as a product of political bias against Trump at the FBI and Justice Department. After just nine months on the job, Brand had become more and more uneasy with Trump’s escalating attacks on the Justice Department and the FBI, which she and other law enforcement professionals feared was beginning to undermine the rule of law, according to sources familiar with her thinking. In a statement, Brand defended her department, saying, “The men and women of the Department of Justice impress me every day.” The attacks have escalated in recent weeks as Republicans in Congress have criticized the handling by the Justice Department, FBI and the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court of warrants for surveillance of a Trump campaign advisor, Carter Page, who had ties to Russia. Trump called the matter “a disgrace.”
In a statement, Walmart said Brand will join the company as executive vice president for global governance and corporate secretary. “We are fortunate to have a leader of Rachel Brand’s stature join the company,” President and CEO Doug McMillon said. ‘BLOCK OUT THE TURMOIL’
Mary McCord, who served as acting head of the Justice Department’s National Security Division from October 2016 until April 2017 and helped oversee the FBI investigation into the collusion matter, said Brand’s resignation would further shake morale at the department. “When the associate attorney general steps down after just nine months in the midst of a barrage of attacks on the department from the White House and Capitol Hill, it is another blow to the career women and men of the department who have been doing their jobs diligently while trying to block out the turmoil around them,” said McCord, now a visiting professor at Georgetown University’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection. The department is also facing a major backlog on leadership positions that still need confirmation by the U.S. Senate. Rosenstein oversees Mueller’s investigation because Sessions recused himself from the matter last year. Trump also has criticized Sessions for recusing himself. Brand on Friday lauded Sessions’ “commitment to the rule of law.” Rosenstein is the only official with legal authority to fire Mueller, and it is widely believed he would resign if ordered to do so without good cause. If Rosenstein resigned, that authority would have fallen to Brand under the department’s succession line. With her gone, the next person in line is Solicitor General Noel Francisco.
Any permanent replacement for Brand would have to be confirmed by the Senate and would likely face tough questioning about their willingness to preserve the Russia probe’s independence. Trump could use a 1998 law on executive branch vacancies to appoint a temporary replacement of his choice, as long as that person was an experienced Justice Department employee or another administration official already confirmed by the Senate. Trump fired then-FBI Director James Comey, who was leading the agency’s Russia investigation, in May 2017, saying he took the action because of “this Russia thing.” The FBI’s deputy director, Andrew McCabe, stepped down in January after Trump repeatedly criticized him on Twitter. McCabe’s wife previously ran as a Democrat for a seat in Virginia’s state Senate and received donations from then-Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, a close ally of Hillary Clinton and former president Bill Clinton. Brand oversees the Justice Department’s civil, antitrust, tax and environmental and natural resources divisions. She played a crucial role in helping push for Congress to reauthorize the National Security Agency’s warrantless internet surveillance program after it faced opposition from some privacy-minded lawmakers in both parties. The measure passed, and Trump signed it into law in January. A Justice Department official said that Jesse Panuccio, the Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General, will temporarily take over Brand’s job until a replacement is named. He previously served as acting associate attorney general until Brand was confirmed and sworn in.

World markets: Damage assessment

Stock Market Collapse, 2018

LONDON (Reuters) - It has been a brutal week for world markets: More than $6 trillion in stock market capitalization lost in a selloff, the biggest one-day spike in the market’s “fear gauge”, and burned investors who bet on a period of extended calm. A trader reacts near the end of the day on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Here are eight charts aimed at showing the extent of the damage, giving an end-of-week snapshot of markets, and helping assess the outlook.
STOCKS SAVAGED. As the above graphic shows, the selloff has battered Asian stocks the most. Since the selloff began on Feb. 2, stocks have lost more than $6 trillion in market capitalization worldwide, and the MSCI World Index has erased all of its year-to-date gains. EXPLOSION CONTAINED. J.P. Morgan’s Global Bond Index has fallen to its lowest in four years. Both moves have also sparked a debate over whether a bull market in bonds is coming to an end.  

Australians have long been known for their relaxed attitude – but it’s not just due to the favourable climate.

12 June 2017
On a late Wednesday arvo in North Sydney, my entire office knocked off work early to play a game of barefoot bowls in the summer sun. This is a relaxed, Aussie version of traditional lawn bowls, so when it was the boss’ round to buy drinks, he just called in a sub. While Dave was at the bar (not Mr or Sir; just ‘Dave’), his game was openly mocked by 20-something colleagues with their suit trousers rolled up, a joke that only grew louder when he returned with a tray full of cold beers and joined in on the jest. We may have been at the second oldest bowls club in New South Wales, but there were no stiff white jackets. Just bare feet and beers. Everyone was called ‘mate’. Every second word was abbreviated. Australians are known for their relaxed and casual attitude to life. This kind of scene is nothing out of the ordinary. Australians have long been known for having a relaxed and casual attitude to life – everywhere from this Sydney bowls clubs to the barstools of Outback pubs to the surf beaches of Victoria. According to Dr Tanya King, senior lecturer in anthropology from Victoria’s Deakin University, “it’s Australians’ egalitarianism, sense of humour and informal language that are most commonly cited as examples of this attitude”. An egalitarian spirit was worn as a badge of honour. These traits are nothing new – they can be seen in the irreverent wit and sardonic prose of famous late 1800s Australian bush poets and writers Banjo Paterson and Henry Lawson. They were obvious in 1977 when ex-Australian cricketer Dennis Lillee greeted the Queen with a ‘G'day, how ya goin'?’. They were on show in 2012 as former prime minister Bob Hawke chugged a beer on camera. And they could be clearly seen at my post-work bonding session. But I wanted to know where these aspects of Australian culture stem from? What is it that makes Australians so laid back – or at least seem that way? According to Dr King, this sense of ‘mateship’ – of everyone being equal – is rooted in the history of the country’s white settlement. “Egalitarianism stems from the way that the nation was built,” she said, explaining that in Australia’s founding era in the late 1700s, convict settlers were often cruelly treated and deprived of their basic human rights by governors and other authority figures. The convict class, who were mostly working-class Brits and Irish, was unable to aspire to civic positions that were reserved for immigrants who were not of convict stock, with the latter arguing that if convicts gained equal rights it would be ‘rewarding criminality’. Because of this, an egalitarian spirit was worn as a badge of honour by many convict settlers. They may not have had power, education or wealth, but they had a shared belief in equality. Dr King believes Australia’s sense of ‘mateship’ is rooted in the history of settlement. Interestingly, migrants coming to Australia since the 1850s from less egalitarian societies such as Britain, Ireland and China, may have also played a part in creating this national characteristic. “People come over here to get a fresh start and to get away from intensely stratified class system in the UK and other parts of the world,” Dr King said. People come over here to get a fresh start. Australia’s egalitarian ethos persisted through and beyond the 19th Century and has become a defining feature of the culture today. It’s why, at dinner in one of Sydney’s plethora of restaurants, the bill is often split evenly, regardless of differences in wealth (which is uncommon in many countries). It’s also what makes it acceptable to greet the Queen with a ‘g’day’; while the British might have been shocked and appalled by this, most Australians lauded Lillee as a true Aussie. There are times, however, when this fierce sense of equality has a less-desirable result. ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’, a tendency to discredit or disparage those who have achieved notable wealth or prominence in public life, means Australians sometimes portray a more laidback attitude than is truthful, as those who try too hard are frequently mocked. Earlier this year on Late Night with Seth Meyers, Australian TV personality Ruby Rose hinted at this after the host called her famous, saying: “I’ll get in so much trouble if you say that. They don’t like hearing that back home.” On a road trip from Sydney to Melbourne, driving along the Pacific Highway past coastal towns such as Wollongong, Narooma and Mallacoota, I was struck by another well-known Australian trait. Laying on the beach in Pambula, I overheard some bare-chested local fishermen speaking in the kind of slang you must be Australian to understand, as they passed around ‘arvo tinnies’ (afternoon tins of beer) and talked about that bloke who got a little too ‘aggro’ (aggressive) at the pub last night. The informal way Australians use language, using ‘ockerisms’ (an ocker is an uncultured Australian) and abbreviations, is also believed to stem from convict times – in The Australian Language, philologist Sidney Baker writes that ‘no other class would have a better flair for concocting new terms to fit in with their new conditions in life’. Cockney rhyming slang brought over by the British working class was shortened even further – so ‘have a Captains Cook’ (have a look), became ‘ava captains’. This same practice was used to economise ordinary clauses. Words like ‘good day’ became ‘g'day’, afternoon is ‘arvo’, journalist is ‘journo’ and barbecue is ‘barbie’. Dr Tanja Luckins, lecturer in Australian Studies at Melbourne’s Deakin University, believes this type of language is indicative of our casualness. “Australians tend not to want to formalise stuff,” she said. At dinner in Sydney the bill is often split evenly regardless of differences in wealth. The tough conditions of settler times also played a part in Australians’ dry, self-deprecating and sarcastic sense of humour. While in many countries it’s considered poor taste to find humour in difficult circumstances, Australians tend to look at the lighter side. On the same road trip, as I hit the state line and entered Victoria, I drove past some blackened trees, the remnants of a recent bushfire. A road sign warning drivers about wildlife was half-melted and bent, but the silhouette of a hopping kangaroo was still distinct. Behind the figure, someone had drawn flames making it look as though the animal’s tail was on fire – perhaps a reference to the famously altered lyrics of an Australian kids’ song in which a kookaburra’s tail catches fire as it sits on a telephone wire. I couldn’t help but laugh – it was a brilliant reminder of the country’s ‘nothing fazes us’ and anti-authoritarian attitude, something that Dr King later described as “part of our effort to disrupt the status quo” – perhaps a darker side to the character trait that shows every joke may not be as laidback as it seems on the surface. And one thing you can’t help but notice when driving around Australia – even more so in the west than on my national park-strewn course from Sydney to Melbourne – is the country’s copious amounts of space. This, according to Dr Luckins, along with an abundance of leisure time plus favourable climate, all contribute to Australians’ relaxed attitude. Australia was the first place in the world to introduce the eight-hour work day. “We can trace our generous leisure time back to the 1850s,” she said. “Victoria was the first place in the world to introduce the eight-hour day: eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, and eight hours for recreation.” And although the work-life balance may not be as good nowadays (2007 Australian Bureau of Statistics data showed a third of Australians work ‘unsocial’ hours), it’s still a nation that makes the most of its leisure time. Arriving in Melbourne on a late weekday afternoon, the suburbs were dotted with fathers and sons playing cricket in the street (using the wheelie bin as stumps), while in the city’s Botanical Gardens, groups of friends enjoyed an after-work barbie and beers in the sun. Feeling relaxed and at ease myself, it would be simple to say the stereotype is entirely true – that Australians are laidback and don’t just seem that way. But, as Dr King said, it’s actually a bit of both. “Like our sense of humour, there’s a little more to that label than it first seems.” Australians make the most of their leisure time.

Cyber-attack: Europol says it was unprecedented in scale  - 3 videos

13 May 2017
The ransomware has been identified as WannaCry - here shown in a safe environment on a security researcher's computer. A cyber-attack that hit organisations worldwide including the UK's National Health Service was "unprecedented", Europe's police agency says. Europol also warned a "complex international investigation" was required "to identify the culprits". Ransomware encrypted data on at least 75,000 computers in 99 countries on Friday. Payments were demanded for access to be restored. European countries, including Russia, were among the worst hit. Although the spread of the malware - known as WannaCry and variants of that name - appears to have slowed, the threat is not yet over. Europol said its cyber-crime team, EC3, was working closely with affected countries to "mitigate the threat and assist victims". NHS cyber attack: "My heart surgery was cancelled".
In the UK, a total of 48 National Health trusts were hit by Friday's cyber-attack, of which all but six are now back to normal, according to the Home Secretary Amber Rudd. The attack left hospitals and doctors unable to access patient data, and led to the cancellation of operations and medical appointments. Who else has been affected by the attack? Some reports say Russia has seen more infections than any other country. Banks, the state-owned railways and a mobile phone network were hit. Russia's interior ministry said 1,000 of its computers had been infected but the virus was swiftly dealt with and no sensitive data was compromised. In Germany, the federal railway operator said electronic boards had been disrupted; people tweeted photos of a ticket machine. France's carmaker Renault was forced to stop production at a number of sites. Other targets have included:
Large Spanish firms - such as telecoms giant Telefonica, and utilities Iberdrola and Gas Natural. Portugal Telecom, a university computer lab in Italy, a local authority in Sweden. The US delivery company FedEx. Schools in China, and hospitals in Indonesia and South Korea. Coincidentally, finance ministers from the G7 group of leading industrial countries had been meeting on Friday to discuss the threat of cyber-attacks. They pledged to work more closely on spotting vulnerabilities and assessing security measures.
How did it happen and who is behind it? The malware spread quickly on Friday, with medical staff in the UK reportedly seeing computers go down "one by one". NHS staff shared screenshots of the WannaCry programme, which demanded a payment of $300 (£230) in virtual currency Bitcoin to unlock the files for each computer. The infections seem to be deployed via a worm - a program that spreads by itself between computers. Most other malicious programs rely on humans to spread by tricking them into clicking on an attachment harbouring the attack code. By contrast, once WannaCry is inside an organisation it will hunt down vulnerable machines and infect them too. The BBC's Rory Cellan Jones explains how Bitcoin works. It is not clear who is behind the attack, but the tools used to carry it out are believed to have been developed by the US National Security Agency (NSA) to exploit a weakness found in Microsoft's Windows system. This exploit - known as EternalBlue - was stolen by a group of hackers known as The Shadow Brokers, who made it freely available in April, saying it was a "protest" about US President Donald Trump. A patch for the vulnerability was released by Microsoft in March, which would have automatically protected those computers with Windows Update enabled. What is ransomware? Microsoft said on Friday it would roll out the update to users of older operating systems "that no longer receive mainstream support", such Windows XP (which the NHS still largely uses), Windows 8 and Windows Server 2003. The number of infections seems to be slowing after a "kill switch" appears to have been accidentally triggered by a UK-based cyber-security researcher tweeting as MalwareTechBlog. But in a BBC interview, he warned that it was only a temporary fix. "It is very important that people patch their systems now because there will be another one coming and it will not be stoppable by us," he said. How a computer expert managed to slow the spread of WannaCryptor. 'Accidental hero' - by Chris Foxx, technology reporter. The security researcher known online as MalwareTech was analysing the code behind the malware on Friday night when he made his discovery. He first noticed that the malware was trying to contact an unusual web address but this address was not connected to a website, because nobody had registered it. So, every time the malware tried to contact the mysterious website, it failed - and then set about doing its damage. MalwareTech decided to spend £8.50 ($11) and claim the web address. By owning the web address, he could also access analytical data. But he later realised that registering the web address had also stopped the malware trying to spread itself. "It was actually partly accidental," he told the BBC. Read more articles:'I was the victim of a ransom attack'

Global cyber-attack: Security blogger halts ransomware 'by accident'

13 May 2017
LISTEN: How 'Malware Tech' became an 'accidental hero'. A UK security researcher has told the BBC how he "accidentally" halted the spread of the malicious ransomware that has affected hundreds of organisations, including the UK's NHS. The 22-year-old man, known by the pseudonym MalwareTech, had taken a week off work, but decided to investigate the ransomware after hearing about the global cyber-attack. He managed to bring the spread to a halt when he found what appeared to be a "kill switch" in the rogue software's code.
"It was actually partly accidental," he told the BBC, after spending the night investigating. "I have not slept a wink." Although his discovery did not repair the damage done by the ransomware, it did stop it spreading to new computers, and he has been hailed an "accidental hero". "I would say that's correct," he told the BBC. "The attention has been slightly overwhelming. The boss gave me another week off to make up for this train-wreck of a vacation." What exactly did he discover? The researcher first noticed that the malware was trying to contact a specific web address every time it infected a new computer. But the web address it was trying to contact - a long jumble of letters - had not been registered. MalwareTech decided to register it, and bought it for $10.69 (£8). Owning it would let him see where computers were accessing it from, and give him an idea of how widespread the ransomware was. Owning the web address let MalwareTech monitor where infections were happening. By doing so, he unexpectedly triggered part of the ransomware's code that told it to stop spreading. This type of code is known as a "kill switch", which some attackers use to halt the spread of their software if things get out of hand.
He tested his discovery and was delighted when he managed to trigger the ransomware on demand. "Now you probably can't picture a grown man jumping around with the excitement of having just been 'ransomwared', but this was me," he said in a blog post. MalwareTech now thinks the code was originally designed to thwart researchers trying to investigate the ransomware, but it backfired by letting them remotely disable it. Does this mean the ransomware is defeated? While the registration of the web address appears to have stopped one strain of the ransomware spreading from device-to-device, it does not repair computers that are already infected. Security experts have also warned that new variants of the malware that ignore the "kill switch" will appear. "This variant shouldn't be spreading any further, however there'll almost certainly be copycats," said security researcher Troy Hunt in a blog post. MalwareTech warned: "We have stopped this one, but there will be another one coming and it will not be stoppable by us. "There's a lot of money in this, there is no reason for them to stop. It's not much effort for them to change the code and start over."

Next cyber-attack could be imminent, warn experts

14 May 2017
A programmer decrypting source code of the WannaCry ransomware. Another major cyber-attack could be imminent after Friday's global hit that infected more than 125,000 computer systems, security experts have warned. A UK security researcher known as MalwareTech, who helped to limit the ransomware attack, warned of "another one coming... quite likely on Monday". The virus, which took control of users' files, spread to 100 countries, including Spain, France and Russia. In England, 48 NHS trusts fell victim, as did 13 NHS bodies in Scotland. Some hospitals were forced to cancel procedures and appointments, as ambulances were directed to neighbouring hospitals free from the computer virus. UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd said on Saturday that all but six NHS trusts' systems had been restored, but that "there's always more" that could be done to protect against computer viruses. 'No reason to stop'. After taking computers over, the virus displayed messages demanding a payment of $300 (£230) in virtual currency Bitcoin to unlock files and return them to the user. BBC analysis of three accounts linked with the global attack suggests the hackers have already been paid £22,080. MalwareTech, who wants to remain anonymous, was hailed as an "accidental hero" after registering a domain name to track the spread of the virus, which actually ended up halting it. Blogger halts ransomware 'by accident'
The ransomware causing chaos. Analysis: How it started. The 22-year-old told the BBC: "It's very important that people patch their systems now. "We have stopped this one, but there will be another one coming and it will not be stoppable by us. "There's a lot of money in this. There's no reason for them to stop. It's not really much effort for them to change the code and then start over. So there's a good chance they are going to do it... maybe not this weekend, but quite likely on Monday morning." Countries hit in initial hours of cyber-attack. Fellow security researcher Darien Huss, from tech firm Proofpoint, echoed MalwareTech's view. "I highly suspect that, with the amount of coverage that this incident is getting, there are probably already people that are working to incorporate the exploit that was used for spreading," he said. Investigators are working to track down those responsible for the ransomware used on Friday, known as Wanna Decryptor or WannaCry. 'Bring them to justice'. The virus exploits a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows software, first identified by the US National Security Agency, experts have said. Europol described the cyber-attack as "unprecedented" and said its cyber-crime team was working with affected countries to "mitigate the threat and assist victims". Oliver Gower, of the UK's National Crime Agency, added: "Cyber criminals may believe they are anonymous, but we will use all the tools at our disposal to bring them to justice." Update not applied. In the UK, critics said the government had known about the threat of a cyber-attack for some time, but hospitals had not made the right upgrades to protect themselves. A security update - or patch - was released by Microsoft in March to protect against the virus, but it appears many organisations had not applied it or were using an older version of the operating system no longer supported - namely Windows XP. Kingsley Manning, a former chairman of NHS Digital, claimed that several hundred thousand computers were still running the out-of-date operating system. Home Secretary Amber Rudd said most of the NHS was now "working normally". Mr Manning told BBC Radio 4's PM programme: "Some trusts took the advice that was offered to them very seriously and acted on it and some of them may not have done. If you're sitting in a hard-pressed hospital in the middle of England, it is difficult to see that as a greater priority than dealing with outpatients or A&E." NHS Digital said that 4.7% of devices within the NHS use Windows XP, with the figure continuing to decrease. The Liberal Democrats and Labour have both demanded an inquiry into the cyber-attack.

The day a mysterious cyber-attack crippled Ukraine

4 July 2017
This time last week, an online attack brought chaos to Ukraine’s banks, hospitals and government, before spreading worldwide. The evidence suggests that money was not the aim – the real intention was disguised. Could it be a sign of something more serious to come? On the morning of Tuesday, 27 June, Oleh Derevianko, the head of Kiev-based cybersecurity firm Information Security Systems Partners (ISSP), was at Bessarabska market, a popular food market in the heart of downtown. Derevianko was picking up a few things before heading out for the 300km drive to his parents’ village. Wednesday was constitution day in Ukraine, a national holiday, and he’d be using the mid-week break to spend a couple days with his kids. The kids usually spend two months of their summer holidays at their grandparents’ village home, so this was a rare chance for some summer fun together.
Alongside Derevianko, millions of Ukrainians, as well as businesses and government offices across the country would be off the clock tomorrow. The day had begun with violence – at 8:15, a car-bomb killed a colonel in Ukraine’s military intelligence – but in this part of the world, executions are beginning to become a regular occurrence. It was, for Ukraine, an unremarkable day. One week on, it is still not entirely clear why it happened, or who was behind it. At around 11:00, Derevianko’s phone rang. It was a representative of a large telecommunications company that services Ukraine’s state-owned Oschadbank, one of the largest financial institutions of Ukraine and one of three ‘systemically important’ banks. It has 3,650 branches and 2,850 ATMs throughout the country. Although they were not an ISSP client, they needed help urgently: they were under attack. “I passed the task to my team,” says Derevianko in an interview at the ISSP office during a scorching hot day in Kiev, “and I just continued on my way to the village. Attacks have been happening here all the time, so I wasn’t worried enough to change plans.” The attack affected the shipping company Maersk . Derevianko and the rest of the country had no idea about what was coming. A cyber-attack would ripple through the region, striking Ukraine’s banks, power grid, postal service, government ministries, media organisations, the main airport in Kiev, nationwide mobile providers and even the Chernobyl power plant. “By 13:00 or 14:00, it was 100% clear that we were under an ongoing and massive attack everywhere,” says Volodymyr Omelyan, Ukraine’s Minister of Infrastructure. It then spread worldwide – and the fallout is still being felt. Global cyber-attack causes turmoil.
The most curious thing about the event? One week on, it is still not entirely clear why it happened, or who was behind it. So, how did the attack play out in Ukraine, and what is known about the motive? The attack spreads. Around the time that Derevianko was passing the Oschadbank call onto his team, early signs of the attack were appearing elsewhere.
At 10:30, the first alert arrived at the situation centre of the National Security and Defence Council (NSDC), located just minutes from the banks of the Dniepr river. Thirty minutes later, a cybersecurity expert was rushing the news to the head of the NSDC, Oleksander Turchynov. By 13:00 or 14:00, it was 100% clear that we were under an ongoing and massive attack everywhere. Turchynov – who served as Ukraine’s acting president after the ousting of former President Viktor Yanukovych – gave the command to run the response protocol approved by the National Coordination Center for Cybersecurity. “In my cabinet, there is equipment allowing us to video conference with all the heads of security services of the country,” Turchynov tells BBC Future. Included in the video conference were the heads of the State Service for Special Communications and Information Protection, the Cyberpolice, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), and NSDC staff. Meanwhile nearby, Roman Boyarchuk, the head of the Center for Cyber Protection had been instructing a special team, the Computer Emergency Response Team of Ukraine (Cert-UA), to figure out everything they could about the attack. Within a few hours, Boyarchuk says, they understood the whole country was affected. On the road. As Derevianko drove along to his parents’ village home, his phone rang again, and then again. As his staff relayed the details of the attack to him, Derevianko immediately realised that his vacation was over. Pulling over at the nearest roadside rest stop, he grabbed his laptop and sat down to work. When Derevianko’s team began sending him the samples gathered from Oschadbank, what he saw disturbed him. “We immediately noticed some signs that this was not a ransomware attack,” he says. An employee of Ukraine's Cyberpolice Department leaves the building in Kiev on 29 June 2017. Ransomware is designed by criminals to infect systems and then demand a payment to unlock them. Think of the WannaCry attack that infected computers worldwide earlier this year – including the UK’s National Health Service. “At first, I thought it was an APT (Advanced Persistent Threat) but soon I realised that we needed a new term to describe what was happening,” says Derevianko. He only left the roadside stop in the evening to continue on to his parents’ home, albeit only for a few minutes. “I kissed my parents, my kids and headed to a hotel around 10km [six miles] from the village.” The hotel was the only place to get a working internet connection and so from there, Derevianko worked long into the night. The next day, ISSP came up with the term “Massive Coordinated Cyber Invasion” to describe what they were seeing. They felt it was necessary to distinguish Tuesday’s chaos from the bevy of previous attacks against Ukraine in 2015 and 2016.
The reason it was so different, and even scary, says Derevianko, is that it seems a lot of what happened during the attack was automated, intended to deceive and distract its victims, and thereby disrupt the response. Lesley Carhart, a security researcher with nearly a decade specialising in digital forensics and incident response, adds that the strategy far outweighed the technical sophistication of the attack. “Every method of exploitation that the attack used to spread was preventable by well-documented means,” Carhart tells BBC Future. “What was devastatingly brilliant was the strategy behind the attackers' application and targeting.” Ransomware infects computers and then demands a sum of money to unlock them. It was able to intercept passwords, to capture administrative privileges, to delete logs, to encrypt, to wipe and perhaps most importantly, believes Derevianko, it was able to recognise specific “hashes” on machines and networks and seemingly leave them alone. In short, it was more surgical than typical malware in what it attacked, he claims. The last part troubles Derevianko the most. “The initial organisations that were hit, even in the networks where we saw most of the computers wiped out… there would be some machines that survived,” he says. “This immunity is strange. How did they survive, but more importantly, why?” At the moment, it’s not clear. From ransomware to nation state attack? As Ukrainians coped with the initial chaos, cybersecurity experts in Europe and then America slowly began to realise that the attack was outside the norm – and could reach beyond Ukraine’s borders. One of those was The Grugq, a well-regarded veteran information security researcher, who uses a pseudonym. “I saw someone retweet the Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister’s photo of his computer screen,” The Grugq tells BBC Future. “After that went by I saw a tweet elsewhere about the car bomb assassination. And that got me somewhat on the ‘things are happening in Ukraine’ track.” Ukraine's Vice Prime Minister tweeted a government screen during the attack. In Toronto, Kevin Magee, global security strategist at Gigamon, got his first alert as he was stepping out the door to get to work. By 10:30 EST, during a meeting with security colleagues in the city’s financial district, Magee says one of the men checked his phone and looked up rather annoyed, saying, “yep… another Petya alert”. Ransomware malware going by the name of Petya has been known to exist since 2016. This wasn’t Petya though – it was a modified, souped-up version. The British advertising giant WPP's website went down following the attack.
None of Magee’s colleagues were taking it seriously yet at that point, he tells BBC Future. “It wasn’t yet getting much attention from anyone," he says. “That was likely just due to simple alert fatigue that most security professionals are beginning to suffer from.” But 30 minutes later, their phones started exploding. The people in the room began stepping out to take the calls but they didn’t seem to be coming back. The attack targeting Ukraine had made its way across the Atlantic. “One after another, they just started to melt away and disappear and it became obvious that something was up,” says Magee. “I snuck a look at my own phone under the table and my inbox was already full of questions as well as updates and Twitter was completely lit up too. [It] was obviously becoming a bit of a big deal.” At that point, the attack targeting Ukraine had made its way across the Atlantic, to the Washington DC office of DLA Piper. A whiteboard at the office’s entrance read “DO NOT turn on your computers” (below). Seeing that message indicated to Magee that this attack was on a different level. Also in Washington DC was Beau Woods of the the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative, in the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security. BBC Future spoke to Woods, and Jonathan Nichols, a former US military IT expert, as the attack was unfolding. “By the end of the day, we’ll know a lot more,” Woods told BBC Future at that time, “but I could see multiple scenarios. It could be the group that spread Petya, or it could be someone else modifying what they used.
And it could be that Ukraine was ground zero and it spread from there, or it maybe that Ukraine was just the first place it hit and gained publicity.” The next day, the picture was becoming clearer for them both. “There's still a lot to wait for before I feel good about attribution,” said Nichols on 28 June, “but I'm fairly confident the combination of crappy ransomware with government mandated software suggests that the purpose wasn't financial.” Woods agreed. “I'm less convinced that this is actual ransomware, it looks disguised as clumsy ransomware,” he said. Later that day, Russia-based Kaspersky Labs and well known cybersecurity expert Matt Suiche both concluded in heavily circulated blog posts that the appearance of ransomware was a disguise, verifying what Derevianko from ISSP had told BBC Future the day before. “Our analysis indicates the main purpose of the attack was not financial gain but widespread destruction,” a Kaspersky spokesperson said. In other words, the aim was to create chaos, attacking Ukranian digital infrastructure, making it harder for businesses to operate and crippling government services. The attack even affected the monitoring systems at Chernobyl. In a webinar, Juan Andres Guerrero-Saade, from Kaspersky’s global research & analysis team, and Matt Suiche, from Comae Technologies, said that they have labelled the attack as destruction instead of ransomware.
“Normally that wouldn't be the consideration with something considered ransomware, because with ransomware, you are blocking access to files for financial motives, and while this appeared to be ransomware, we think it fits better into the category of destruction.” Suiche later messaged BBC Future adding that the attack was ‘entirely’ targeted against Ukraine. As details and confirmations emerged, Woods messaged BBC Future to ask: “If money wasn’t the motive, then what was?” Continuing impact. On 28 June, the fallout of the attack became clearer. Maersk, a global shipping giant, confirmed on Twitter that they had been hit by the attack rendering many services "not operationally effective". Maersk, along with several other multinational corporations affected by the attack, declined a request for interview. Oschadbank – the state-owned bank who had first alerted Derevianko – closed its 3,000+ physical branches for days, but their online banking is functional. Andrey Begunov, the Chief Information Officer of PUMB, a large financial institution owned by Ukrainian billionaire Rinat Akhmetov, says that in his 23 years within the banking and IT sectors of Ukraine, this was the worst situation he’s ever seen. His bank wasn’t even hit, but the chaos he saw amongst competing banks who had been hit was enough to shock him. Even as far as the US, a health network with 3,500 employees spread across two hospitals, 60 doctors’ offices and 18 community facilities was brought down by the attack. The downtime forced patients to delay procedures. A Ukrainian ATM belonging to Privat Bank reads 'Sorry for technical reasons, cash is not possible'. In Ukraine, the country’s Minister of Health, Ulana Suprun, told BBC Future that her office was taken back in time about 30 years. “We’re working by pen and paper again,” she says.  “There are so many things we can’t do because we’re down,” says Suprun. For example, her ministry centralises the distribution of medicine across the vast territory of Ukraine’s 24 regions. When hospitals in those regions run low on medications for patients, they contact the ministry to source medicine. Either the ministry has them, or they locate them in other regions and send them to the region in need. “But we can’t relay those messages right now, except for by phone, so imagine how crippling that is to us,” says an exasperated Suprun. “What used to require one email, copied to the 24 regions now requires 24 separate phone calls before we can find the drugs. Ukrainians can’t get medical documents because our internal system is down. I can’t pull up statistics for a meeting I have this week about Aids.
I couldn’t even tell you which hospitals went down because they can’t reach us.” Derevianko from ISSP knows of at least one hospital went down during the attack. It was the one in which he was scheduled to have a minor surgery last week. He tells BBC Future that the computers were down when he arrived for intake, so the hospital was back to pen and paper. In over 25 interviews BBC Future conducted during the week after the attack, cybersecurity experts seemed to come to a consensus about two things. First, this attack was not about the money, and secondly, it was targeted against Ukraine. And these two conclusions produced a bevy of other questions within the community.
For starters, does the seemingly intentionally destructive nature of the attack constitute the use of a cyberweapon? For some, like Magee, it very obviously did. “I don’t think you can call it anything else. I think it’s the equivalent of a test, and I think someone is building and testing an arsenal, wrapping them as ransomware, and distracting people from what’s really going on.” Others were far less sure. “If you’re a nation state and you want to target your enemies, why send warning shots and be very noisy about it?”, asks Brian Honan, an independent information security consultant based in Ireland. “That doesn’t seem sensible. If you wanted to cause damage, you'd do it quietly, in a stealthy way until you need to pull the trigger.” But Nicholas Weaver, a longtime cybersecurity veteran specialising in worms (malware that autonomously replicates itself to spread to other computers) believes it was devastating as a weapon. “You're launching your attack against anyone who does business in Ukraine,” says Weaver, “If your goal is to damage Ukrainian business relationships and business interests, I’m hard pressed to think of a better worm. This is significant damage in one sweep.” Oschadbank, one of the largest banks in Ukraine, was forced to shut its branches. So could the motive have been political, and therefore, was it created, sponsored or organised at the level of a nation state?
On 2 July, BBC News reported on a statement by Ukraine’s security service, who claimed to find proof that Russia was behind it. Moscow denied any involvement, calling the allegations “unfounded”. If a nation state was involved, and it was a cyberweapon, we may be entering new territory in geopolitics. Where does it fit into conventional notions of warfare and espionage? Is it an act of war? And if it was an act of war that denied healthcare and services to civilians, does that constitute a war crime? “These are questions we need to ask,” says Beau Woods. “Soldiers don’t shoot at the Red Cross on the battlefield because it’s a one-way ticket to the Hague, and civilian healthcare is one of the most off-limits things we have. I’m not a lawyer, but it seems there’s been a very legal line that’s been crossed. For decades and centuries we’ve treated healthcare as a moral right… Hospitals are sacrosanct. It must trigger a reaction.” To actually carry out the full operation, you’ve got management, back office support, healthcare, financials. You’re talking a team of 10 people. Regarding the question of attribution to a nation state actor, cybersecurity experts interviewed by BBC Future believed the size of the group required to conduct such an attack would be between 10-20 individuals. Some believed it could be as few as two or three developers, but at least several more individuals would be required to set up and test the attack, and the months they would need would necessitate some sort of HR team as well. “To actually carry out the full operation,” says Robert M Lee of cybersecurity firm Dragos, “you’ve got management, back office support, healthcare, financials. You’re talking a team of 10 people. But just the malware design and execution, up to five.” Although attribution to any single actor is too early, the notion that it was cyber criminals seems to be teetering. If the attack was not financially motivated, then what could motivate, and who could resource a startup-sized contingent of actors to pull off such an attack. “I'm not allergic to the idea that this is nation state anymore,” Sean Sullivan of cyber security firm F-Secure tells BBC Future. “There are compelling details to continue analysing this as a nation state attack. I don't think this theory is garbage.” For Derevianko, this attack is just the inevitable continuation of something he warned senior Ukrainian officials about three years ago. “In 2014, I talked to so many people in high levels of government saying that we need to start preparing professionals capable of reacting to really advanced cyber-attacks,” he says.” If Derevianko is right, then, there could be more days like 27 June to come for Ukraine – and if so, the fall-out from these unpredictable infections will spread out into the rest of the world too.

Russell Brand: Society is collapsing

25 October 2017
Brand's latest book deals with his own addictions to drugs, alcohol, sex and fame. Addiction and mental health may not be the kinds of issues you'd normally expect to be addressed at a stand-up comedy gig. But Russell Brand has never been your conventional comedian - and it's precisely these subjects that he's tackling in his new book and at one of his upcoming London shows. "Society is collapsing," the comedian tells the BBC, "and people are starting to recognise that the reason they feel like they're mentally ill is that they're living in a system that's not designed to suit the human spirit. "People are realising 'Hold on a minute, is it natural to work 12 hours a day? Is it natural that I live in an environment that is designed for human beings from one perspective but not from a holistic perspective?' Breathing dirty air, eating dirty food, thinking dirty thoughts. So really what this is, is a time of transition.The 42-year-old's latest book - Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions - is released this month, and sees him discussing his own addictions, namely drugs, alcohol, sex and fame. But, he says, the book isn't just for people who have had chemical addictions, and argues that pretty much all of us have some kind of vice.

The UK's 'most influential' black person Gina Miller, the campaigner who won a Brexit legal challenge against the government, has been named as the country’s most influential black person - 24 October 2017. Election Blind Dates: Gina Miller and Godfrey Bloom get heated over salmon sarnies. 7 June 2017. 'Parliament alone is sovereign', Gina Miller welcomes the Supreme Court's Brexit ruling - that Parliament must vote on Article 50. 24 January 2017.

Lagos evictions: '30,000 left homeless'

Elizabeth Medjiten, a 79 years old woman stands amidst the rubble of the place where she was born and had lived all her life. Elizabeth Medjiten, 79, says she lost her home and possessions in forced evictions in November 2016 and March 2017. Eleven people are said to have been killed and 30,000 left homeless over the past year following forced evictions in waterfront communities in Lagos State, Amnesty International reports. The rights groups says that residents fled gunfire and burning homes, while others are said to have drowned in the mayhem. It says that state security forces attacked residents who were reluctant to move. Residents allege the evictions were carried out in violation of court orders. It comes a year after residents of the Otodo-Gbame community were evicted from the shores of the commercial capital, Lagos. Kpose Roberts stands with his children, at his flour and pepper mill in Otodo-Gbame. They are surrounded by the rubble of what was once their community, following demolitions and forced evictions of March 2017. This man says he fled Otodo-Gbame during a violent forced eviction in April. In response to the report, a spokesperson for the Lagos State Government told the BBC that the allegations are inaccurate and exaggerated. He said the violence was caused by inter-ethnic clashes and not as a result of a government-led demolition. Nigeria is party to international and regional human rights treaties that ban it from carrying out forced evictions. Former residents of the communities are planning a protest tomorrow to mark the anniversary of their eviction. A section of Ilubirin community, with the ongoing government construction project in the background. The government is developing this area into luxury real estate. Waterfront slums are being cleared to make way for luxury developments

14 November 2017
Zimbabwe army chief 'spineless'. The main opposition party in Zimbabwe, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), has dismissed army chief General Constantino Chiwenga as "spineless". It follows General Chiwenga's threat to stage a coup if the governing Zanu-PF party does not stop purging its ranks of senior officials who have incurred the wrath of President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace, the privately owned NewZimbabwe.com news site reports.
MDC spokesman Kuraoune Chihwaye was quoted as saying:He is spineless to stop Grace from insulting former freedom fighters."
General Constantino Chiwenga Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (R) and Valerio Sibanda Commander of the Zimbabwe National Army (2L) address a media conference held at the Zimbabwean Army Headquarters on November 13, 2017 in Harare. The army chief (R) was flanked by his top commanders when he threatened a coup. Last week, Mr Mugabe sacked Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa - his comrade from the 1970s war for independence - and Zanu-PF expelled him after accusing him of disloyalty. His expulsion was seen as an attempt to pave the way for Mrs Mugabe to be elected vice-president at the Zanu-PF conference next month, putting her in pole position to succeed her 93-year-old husband when he retires or dies. NewZimbabwe.com quoted a spokesman for the smaller People's Democratic Party (PDP), Jackson Mafume, as saying General Chiwenga was complcit in allowing the biblical "Delilah [Mrs Mugabe] to capture their Samson [Mr Mugabe]." He added: And having lost his dreadlocks, he [the president] is about to bring the house down on everyone in it."
Robert Mugabe (R) is congratulated by First Lady Grace Mugabe after he unveiled a plaque at the country"s main international airport in Harare, Zimbabwe, renamed after him on November 9, 2017. Grace Mugabe, a former typist at State House, is more than 40 years younger than her husband. At a press conference at his headquarters yesterday, General Chiwenga said the removal of people who were involved in the independence struggle, like Mr Mnangagwa, would not be tolerated. He added:
We must remind those behind the current treacherous shenanigans that when it comes to matters of protecting our revolution, the military will not hesitate to step in."
Mr Mnangagwa, who fled into exile after his dismissal, is a former defence and justice minister who has been in government since Zimbabwe's independence in 1980.

Zimbabwe latest: How can you tell if a coup is happening?

15 November 2017
Maj Gen Sibusiso Moyo read out a statement on national TV early on Wednesday. Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has been detained by the country's military, who have seized control of the national broadcaster, ZBC. Soldiers and army vehicles are on the streets of the capital, Harare, where gunfire and artillery were heard on Wednesday.
Is it a coup? The military insists not - but it certainly has a lot of the hallmarks. The signs that a coup is under way have always been the same across the world and across the decades. Here are the key things to watch out for when a takeover is on the cards. Nobody ever says it's a coup. Firstly, be aware that almost nobody mounting a coup ever says that's what they're doing. Zimbabwe's envoy to South Africa, Isaac Moyo, explicitly said there was no coup as the government was "intact" with no "military takeover".
"We are only targeting criminals around [President Mugabe] who are... causing social and economic suffering," Mr Moyo said on state TV. "As soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy." The "situation" probably looks more alarming to those on the wrong side of the military action, however.
This kind of semantic wriggling is common in attempted coups. In restive Venezuela, which has seen violent anti-government protests since the spring, military officers launched an unsuccessful uprising against President Nicolas Maduro in August. Venezuela's rebel Army officers called their move "a legitimate rebellion". "This is not a coup but a civil and military action to re-establish constitutional order," said the group's leader, Juan Caguaripano. Venezuela's ruling Socialist Party disagreed, and deputy leader Diosdado Cabello branded it a "terrorist attack" on Twitter. Where's the head of state?
When checking for a likely coup, look at where the head of state is. President Mugabe is being held in Harare under house arrest, according to the office of South Africa's President Jacob Zuma. He reportedly said in a phone call that he was fine. There is no confirmation of the fate of his powerful wife, 52-year-old Grace Mugabe, who has been vying to be her husband's successor. However, an MP from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, Eddie Cross, told the BBC she had fled Zimbabwe for Namibia on Tuesday night.
Detaining the target of the uprising is a vital stage in proceedings. As the BBC's diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus observes, the failure of Turkey's attempted coup in July 2016 stemmed from the plotters' inability to immobilise President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The rise of Grace Mugabe. A brief guide to Turkey's coup. Foreign embassies can become a place of refuge for ousted or imperilled leaders. When President George Bush Senior invaded Panama in 1989, repressive strongman General Manuel Noriega holed himself up in the Vatican's embassy in Panama City. General Manuel Antonio Noriega speaks 20 May 1988 in Panama City during the presentation of colours to the San Miguel Arcangel de San Miguelito volunteer battalion. When US troops rolled into Panama, General Manuel Noriega made for the Vatican embassy. And sometimes, the head of state will show up in an entirely different country. In Honduras in 2009, troops deposed President Manuel Zelaya and forced him onto a plane. When he arrived in Costa Rica, he said he had been kidnapped in his pyjamas. Almost three months later he made a surprise return - and installed himself in Honduras's Brazilian embassy. People (and gunfire) on the streets
Waves of popular protest are a key coup signifier. Protesters will often call for a return to democracy and the fall of a repressive regime, only for the military to move in and take power. In Egypt, President Hosni Mubarak was forced out by mass protests during the Arab Spring of 2010-11, which also swept across Libya, Tunisia, Yemen and Syria. The turning point came when the Egyptian army announced that it would not use force against the demonstrating crowds. Mr Mubarak stood down, and a military administration stepped into the breach. Egyptian anti-government demonstrators shout slogans against President Hosni Mubarak at Cairo's Tahrir Square on February 10, 2011. As Turkey's failed coup unfolded in July 2016, civilians actually took to the streets in support of the threatened president. When bridges over the Bosphorus strait in Istanbul were blocked by renegade troops, the public joined pro-Erdogan soldiers to confront them. There has been a lack of public protest in Zimbabwe, where tensions were triggered by Mr Mugabe sacking his political deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, in favour of his wife, Grace. The streets are said to be calm, but armoured military vehicles are patrolling the capital. Foreign powers warn their nationals. Even if not sheltering an endangered leader, embassies on the ground have a duty to keep their nationals safe, so they'll start offering guidance.
In Zimbabwe, the UK Foreign Office has advised Britons "currently in Harare to remain safely at home or in their accommodation until the situation becomes clearer". The US embassy tweeted that it would be closed on Wednesday "due to ongoing uncertainty". Getting the message out is important, so rebels often try to seize state or private media to use as their mouthpiece. In Zimbabwe, the military has successfully overrun the headquarters of the state TV station, ZBC. Taking to the airwaves is no guarantee of success, however. In Turkey in 2016, the doomed army faction used a state broadcaster to claim it had seized power to protect democracy from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In fact, the revolt was suppressed. Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan pictured on 13 November, 2017. Taking over state media didn't guarantee success for the coup against Turkey's President Erdogan. Zambia in 1997 saw an even less successful effort, with an attempted coup that lasted just three hours. At 6 one morning, a man calling himself Captain Solo announced on state radio that he had taken over the country, that the heads of the army and police were dismissed, and that President Frederick Chiluba had until 9am to surrender or be killed. But at 10am the president went on air to say six people had been arrested, and thanked his troops for "a job well done". Borders, bridges and airports close
To impose control over a country - or even just its capital city - it helps to close the borders, and seal bridges and other infrastructure that allow people in and out.
In September 2015, presidential guards who led a coup in Burkina Faso ordered the sealing of land and air borders, as well as a night-time curfew. Perhaps the most striking lesson in airport control comes from Pakistan in 1999, when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif tried to sack powerful army chief General Pervez Musharraf, and a battle for supremacy began. Gen Musharraf was in Sri Lanka when he got word that Mr Sharif planned to move against him, and made an airborne dash from Colombo airport to Karachi. Air traffic control refused permission for the plane and its 200 passengers to land, and the pilot was ordered to divert it, first to Oman, then to India. The general ordered the pilot to keep circling Karachi, even though fuel was running dangerously low. The plane was brought safely down only when pro-Musharraf soldiers surrounded the airport's control tower. The general was whisked to safety, and claimed control of Pakistan hours later.

Zimbabwe crisis: Army says it is 'targeting criminals', not Mugabe

A military officer read out a statement on national TV early on Wednesday. Zimbabwe's military has read out a statement after taking over the national broadcaster, ZBC, saying it has taken action to "target criminals". However, it said this was not "a military takeover of government" and President Robert Mugabe was safe. Heavy gunfire and artillery were heard in northern suburbs of the capital, Harare, early on Wednesday. Zimbabwe's envoy to South Africa, Isaac Moyo, earlier dismissed talk of a coup, saying the government was "intact". The statement read out by the military came hours after soldiers overran the headquarters of ZBC. An officer in uniform said: "We wish to assure the nation that his excellency the president... and his family are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed." The statement added: "We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes... that are causing social and economic suffering in the country. As soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy." The statement did not name those targeted but a source quoted by Reuters said finance minister Ignatius Chombo was among those detained. It is not clear who is leading the military action. Soldiers stand beside military vehicles just outside Harare, Zimbabwe, 14 November 2017. Armoured vehicles were seen taking up positions on roads outside Harare on Tuesday. The UK Foreign Office advised Britons "currently in Harare to remain safely at home or in their accommodation until the situation becomes clearer".
The US embassy in Harare tweeted that it would be closed on Wednesday "due to ongoing uncertainty". It also advised US citizens in Zimbabwe to "shelter in place" until further notice. The latest events came hours after Zimbabwe's ruling party accused the country's army chief of "treasonable conduct" after he warned of possible military intervention. General Constantino Chiwenga had challenged 93-year-old President Mugabe after he sacked the vice-president. Due to ongoing uncertainty in Zimbabwe, the U.S. Embassy in Harare will be minimally staffed and closed to the public on November 15.  Embassy personnel will continue to monitor the situation closely. Gen Chiwenga said the army was prepared to act to end purges within Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party. Tensions were raised further on Tuesday when armoured vehicles were seen taking up positions on roads outside Harare, although their purpose was unclear. Some staff at ZBC were manhandled when soldiers took over their offices in Harare late on Tuesday evening, sources told Reuters. Workers were told that they "should not worry", a source added, and that soldiers were only there to protect the site. The BBC's Shingai Nyoka, in Harare, said the sounds of heavy gunfire and artillery had been heard in northern suburbs where a number of government officials, including the president, live. Gunfire was heard near Mr Mugabe's residence in the suburb of Borrowdale early on Wednesday, a witness told AFP news agency. Zimbabwe Army General Constantino Chiwenga addresses a media conference on November 13, 2017. Mr Mugabe sacked Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week, amid a row over succession. Mr Mnangagwa had previously been seen as an heir to the president, but First Lady Grace Mugabe is now the clear front-runner. The rivalry between Mrs Mugabe and Mr Mnangagwa has split Zanu-PF. Last month, Mrs Mugabe warned of a possible coup plot, saying allies of Mr Mnangagwa were threatening the lives of those who didn't support him. The Zanu-PF party said Gen Chiwenga's comments were "calculated to disturb national peace... [and] incite insurrection". The party said it would never succumb to military threats, and that it "reaffirms the primacy of politics over the gun". The leader of Zanu-PF's youth wing, Kudzai Chipanga, said the general did not have the full support of the entire military. "It is our country and future at stake and we will not let any individual military man interfere with the leader of the party and legitimately voted president of this country," he told reporters on Tuesday. The youth wing is a strong supporter of Grace Mugabe. Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe addressing party members and supporters with Grace Mugabe (R) November 8, 2017. Grace Mugabe is seen as a potential successor to her elderly husband. Gen Chiwenga's warning of possible military intervention came on Monday at a news conference at army headquarters where he was surrounded by senior army officers. He said the "purging" within Zanu-PF was "clearly targeting members of the party with a liberation background", referring to the country's struggle for freedom from white minority rule. We must remind those behind the current treacherous shenanigans that when it comes to matters of protecting our revolution, the military will not hesitate to step in," he said. Mr Mnangagwa is one such veteran of the 1970s war which ended white minority rule.

 Stoke and Liverpool £1 homes: Are schemes a success?

6 August 2014
Keys exchanged for £1. Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson handed the keys to Jayalal Madde in exchange for £1. It's 18 months since Liverpool launched its £1 homes scheme, so why has no-one moved in while bargain-hungry homeowners in Stoke-on-Trent are rushing to buy the same reasonably-priced roosts? Liverpool City Council launched its pilot scheme to buy a house for £1 in a blaze of publicity. The council offered the chance to buy one of 20 empty homes for the small sum if the new owners pledged to refurbish them and stay for at least five years. But almost a year since the first buyer was handed the keys to his new house in Granby, he has still not moved in. Meanwhile, a similar scheme in Stoke-on-Trent is almost complete, with 31 out of 35 homes occupied. The £3m project in the Cobridge area, funded by the government's Empty Homes Scheme, mainly involves two-bedroom terraced properties. There, the council lent buyers the £30,000 needed for renovations and used their own contractors to do the work. "I know the state these homes are often left in," explained project manager Zainul Pirmohamed. "We couldn't expect 31 people who are novices to try and tackle that. And thank goodness we did it this way. Once we've gone back to brick, the amount of extra work we have found has been phenomenal. We've been able to tackle those issues, we've got a big specialist pool of staff. These people who are buying haven't got the money to throw towards it, so we knew they would not have been able to do it. Why are £1 homes in Rutland Street, in Hanley, Stoke (top), more popular than homes in Cairns Street, in Liverpool (bottom)? Liverpool's homes for £1 scheme was launched with a huge fanfare last year. And rightly so. A great way of helping people get on the property ladder and at the same time revitalise neglected neighbourhoods. The devil (and delay) appears to have been in the detail. I wonder if the council repeats the scheme in future whether it would be a better idea to follow Stoke's lead - lending the refurbishment money to the buyers and then carrying out the work with their own contractors, rather than leaving first time buyers with the daunting prospect of a massive restoration project which could go well over budget? Gavin Pierpont is happy he will be mortgage-free in 10 year's time. It also means the homeowners will have repaid the loan in 10 years, a thought that delights Gavin Pierpont. "I'll be mortgage-free by the time I'm 36," he said. "Not renting and mortgage-free, a bonus on all fronts." Contractors have finished his new house and it just needs decorating. "It's bare plaster but it's all ready for painting, it's just getting round to doing it until its move-inable. It's up to me to just make it a home." His neighbour Rachel Nieto is set to move in with her boyfriend Chris and said borrowing from the council worked for them. "We wanted to move in together but it's quite hard to get a deposit, this just seemed like a really good opportunity to be able to do it," she said. Liverpool's pilot scheme is part of a plan to bring 179 empty homes back into use in the Granby, Picton and Arnside Road areas of the city. Properties have been empty for many years and have been stripped of pipe work, fixtures and fittings. New homeowners have to show the council how they will fund the estimated £35,000 renovation costs - within a 12-month deadline - a possible reason why only five families have exchanged contracts so far. Ann O'Byrne, Liverpool's cabinet member for housing, said they were "absolutely overwhelmed" when nearly 3,000 people expressed their interest, of which 600 met the criteria to grab a £1 house. But she added "once they'd seen the level of work involved, they just thought it was too much for them," and many dropped out. Married father-of-two Jayalal Madde, is the first new homeowner, currently renovating his house on Cairns Street in Granby. Following delays with insurance companies, he is now hoping to move in within a couple of months. "We had delays but my wife and daughters are very excited to move in," he said. Liverpool City Council has admitted it has not been an easy ride, but stressed the scheme is a pilot and lessons are being learned. A further £6m has been promised to bring another 1,000 empty properties back into use across the city. Ms O'Byrne said: "It did take longer than we expected, but we've learned from that and we're making much more progress. "We'll be looking at how we actually do some of that structural work to enable people to come in and do more of the cosmetic work to bring the properties back into use. "We're trying different models to encourage people to get on to the property ladder and just have a go."

Empty homes spike in London commuter belt

24 November 2017
Sam and Rachael Kamau revamped a once-dilapidated four-bedroom terrace they bought for £1 under a scheme to bring empty homes into use. London's commuter belt has seen a spike in the number of homes left long-term empty despite a downward trend across the UK since 2010. Fourteen of 20 local authorities that saw the largest percentage increases in vacant homes from 2015 to 2016 are in the South East, analysis shows. "Buy-to-leave" investors were active in those areas, experts said. The government gave councils new powers to charge a 100% council tax premium on empty homes in Wednesday's budget. From 2010 to 2016, the number of long-term empty homes - defined as unfurnished and unoccupied for more than six months - fell from around 300,000 to 200,000. However, analysing official data from the Department for Communities and Local Government, the BBC's Shared Data Unit found wide regional variations. Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors residential chairman, said there was evidence of the "buy-to-leave" phenomenon in the commuter belt. This sees investors leave property empty while the land's value increases. He said: "Buy-to-leave generates considerable negative publicity, but it constitutes a relatively small part of our 'broken' housing market. "It is often forgotten that many of the foreign investors in the firing line for leaving these homes empty are the very people helping to finance developments, which include many affordable units and which may not otherwise be built." Property agent Henry Pryor said: "For those investors who are only interested in capital appreciation, rather than rental yield, the South East is all the more attractive. The only place where it makes sense is where there is rapidly-increasing land value and that's happening more than anywhere else in London and the South East because the sheer amount of demand is outstripping supply," said Dave Smith, of the National Housing Federation. In 2016 one in 10 English councils had recorded the highest number of long-term empty properties per square kilometre for five years. What is being done? Since April 2013 English councils have had powers to charge an extra 50% council tax premium for homes that have been empty for two years or longer. The November 2017 Budget allowed councils to double council tax on empty homes. Helen Williams, from the Empty Homes charity, said the announcement "recognised the importance of taking action, however it is unlikely to be a sufficient enough deterrent for some wealthy investor buyers". She said: "A more thorough review of what would stop people from buying properties to leave empty, or hardly ever used, is needed. "The announcement also did not address the blight of the high level of empty homes in lower house price neighbourhoods, often linked to the poor standard of housing in those places." Mr Pryor said: "Most wealthy individuals able to have the luxury of keeping these homes will see the extra premium as the cost of doing business in the UK, not really a tax. For them it's pocket change." "Housing in this country has become a commodity and an investment rather than a basic necessity. Where we have landlords incentivised to provide housing [like housing associations] we have lower rates of empty homes and we can chip away at this phenomenon," said Mr Smith. "We bought our house for £1"- Sam and Rachael Kamau revamped a once dilapidated four-bedroom terrace. Councils in Stoke-on-Trent and in Liverpool have sold former property for £1. Nurses Sam and Rachael Kamau had previously not been able to buy their own property before they qualified for Liverpool's scheme, under which they have promised not to sell for five years. Mother-of-two Mrs Kamau said: "We'd been renting for a long, long time and we didn't have a clue about how to restore a house. The journey has been a real rollercoaster. It's been very tiring because we both work and we came every single day since we got the keys. "Even by March, we could only walk in the middle of the hallway because there were no floorboards but when that was done and the new windows went in we felt like we'd turned the corner. Then it started to feel like a house. Not yet a home, but a house and that was a big moment." What the councils say. Harrow Council said it had seen a sharp rise in new developments and the jump in six-month empty homes was due to the lag between these new properties being completed and being occupied. Watford Borough Council said vacant homes made up 1.5% of all the homes in the area due to its "buoyant housing market". A regeneration project in Tamworth saw residents temporarily moved from 136 council homes, which led to them being empty "for a period of time", its borough council said. Canterbury City Council said its most recent count - not yet published by the government - saw it reduce the number of vacant homes by 26% on its 2016 figure. "We estimate that only 20% of the total are truly empty, when you take out those that are up for sale, being refurbished, in probate or not suitable for residential letting due to their location," a spokesman said. It has an empty homes officer tasked with bringing properties back into use. Runnymede Borough Council said the government's statistics represented a "snapshot" in time and therefore included "blips", adding that long-term empties in the borough had since been reduced to their lowest number there since 2004. Across the UK. In Scotland, 22 out of 32 councils saw a percentage increase in the number of long-term empty homes in 2016, with Aberdeenshire seeing an increase of 20%. Bob Fraser, senior partner at law firm and estate agents Aberdein Considine, said a fall in the price of oil and gas was behind the rise. "The property market follows the fortunes of the oil and gas industry, it always has," Mr Fraser said. "People who would wish to sell properties are unable to sell due to lending, or they can't because of negative equity. Some people opt to leave matters until the property market recovers. "The largest fall of 20% has been the upper end of the market. The market was very buoyant and was one of the most expensive in Scotland and outside the South East." In Northern Ireland, five out of 11 councils saw an increase between 2016 and 2017. Northern Ireland's Land and Property Services was able to provide figures up until 31 March 2017. In Wales, eight out of 22 council areas saw the largest number of vacant homes for six years. A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government responding to the data for England said: "We have given councils powers to bring empty homes back into use, and the number is now at its lowest since records began and has fallen by a third since 2010."

More than 11,000 UK homes empty for 10 years - 2 Jan 2018

More than 11,000 homes across the UK have been empty for 10 years or more, research by the Liberal Democrats has found. The figures, from 276 local councils, show there are more than 216,000 homes across the country which have been empty for six months or more. Lib Dem leader Vince Cable called it a "national scandal", at a time when "the homelessness crisis is worsening". The number of empty homes is down a third since 2010, the government said. Durham had the most empty homes (6,500) followed by Leeds (5,724), Bradford (4,144), Cornwall (3,273) and Liverpool (3,093). Couple on how £1 house in Stoke-on-Trent changed their lives. 'Blight' of 23,000 properties in Wales
The data - obtained through a Freedom of Information request - also reveals only one in 13 councils is making use of Empty Dwelling Management Orders. EDMOs allow councils in England and Wales to take over residential properties that have been empty for six months or more. Just 19 of the 247 councils in England and Wales that responded (the powers do not apply in Scotland) had used an EDMO in the past five years. Councils did return 23,000 empty homes back into use. Homeless man sleeps on the streets in London.  Meanwhile homelessness in the UK is getting worse. In December, a committee of MPs found more than 78,000 families were living in temporary accommodation in England. The number of people sleeping on the streets had increased by 134% since 2011. Mr Cable has called on the government to review the current system "which is clearly not working". "Councils need to be given the powers and resources to bring empty homes back into use," he said. "This must form part of a wider package to tackle the housing crisis, including building more homes on unused public sector land and clamping down on land-banking." The Department for Communities and Local Government pointed out that powers had been given to councils to bring empty homes back into use. "At the same time, we're implementing the major changes to law and investing over £1bn to 2020 to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping," a spokesman added.

Proof Nasa is fake as f*** documentary. Jan 4, 2016

NASA hoax ISS Actornaut Chris Cassidy accidentaly admits they are filming in the USA BUSTED. Aug 17, 2013. After an innocuous question from a student about his high school days Chris offers some unscripted information about where they are filming which makes the jovial space case seem pretty stressed out for a minute knowing he has said something truly stupid ( 0:56 )  "...ACROSS THE UNITED STATES FROM WHERE WE ARE TALKING TO YOU RIGHT NOW..." OOPS!  Once in a fake moon the truth does slip out of their pie holes.  Please visit cluesforum.info for more information on the ISS phoney mission to CGI land.  SIDE NOTE:  find a hair band for blondie that is an operational hazard. To all you haters and NASA fan bots, is this proof of anything? Certainly not!  There is more than enough proof already for anyone who has more interest in thinking than blowing their dusty professor for a novelty degree in intellectual photocopying.   The world is not what YOU think it is.  It is what WE think, thus the importance of illusion in todays society. The only real space to be explored is INSIDE and requires zero lies and secrets or tonka toy starships to navigate. For all of you following the skies with your telescopes I have no doubt you are seeing something if you have a good view - Send me your original photos Id love to see it too!


School closures in Northern Ireland. 17 Jan 2018.

Chechnya leader labels human rights activists 'foreign agents'. Video - 29 Jan 2018

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov is questioned by Sarah Rainsford on the region's human rights record. Ramzan Kadyrov arrived in the Caucasus mountains to rows of people applauding him furiously. The leader of Chechnya had come for the official opening of the republic's first ski resort. As he's notoriously hard to get near to, that's where I'd come too - to question him on his human rights record. That includes recent reports that gay men in Chechnya were detained and tortured. The multi-million-dollar ski project is still far from finished, with only one short slope built. Organisers had to truck in snow for the grand ceremony too, arriving moments before Ramzan Kadyrov's jeep roared up. But those were not details to spoil his party. For the Chechen leader, the Veduchi resort is highly symbolic. For years, these mountains were the stronghold of Islamic extremists. Before that, they were the base of separatists fighting to break away from Russia. Ramzan Kadyrov was one of them - until he switched sides to battle the Islamists. Now, fiercely loyal to President Vladimir Putin, he's largely left to run this Russian republic by his own rules. That's brought allegations of abuse at the hands of his security forces, with claims of extrajudicial killing and illegal detentions. It's why the US has now added Ramzan Kadyrov to a sanctions list. Touring the facilities that Chechnya hopes can lure foreign tourists one day, Mr Kadyrov wanted to shrug off all such talk. Ramzan Kadyrov and three others sit in a chairlift of the ski resort. Mr Kadyrov arrives at the slope with his entourage. "You know who protects human rights here," he told me first, with a barking laugh. His awkward entourage laughed along with him. I'd caught up with him as he jumped off the ski lift after its inaugural run. At the top of the slopes, he insisted that "not one person" in the republic commits human rights violations. "That's all an invention by foreign agents who are paid a few kopecks" he told me. "So-called human rights activists make up all sorts of nonsense for money." But last year, I met several Chechen men who gave horrific accounts of what happened to them. One - who asked me to call him Ruslan - described being beaten and electrocuted, and held in a basement for over a week. 'Ruslan', a gay man who says he fled: "It's the extermination of gay men". In deeply conservative Chechnya, he said it was punishment for being gay. We spoke in a safe house after Ruslan had fled, one of dozens with similar stories. Many are now abroad, but those helping them say they're still hearing from new victims. And now activists investigating abuses are being threatened themselves. Last month, the head of the Chechen division of a human rights group - Memorial - was arrested. Oyub Titiyev is facing up to 10 years in prison after police discovered marijuana in his car. Shortly after his detention, Mr Titiyev wrote an open letter to Vladimir Putin insisting that the drugs were planted. "If I somehow confess my guilt… it will mean I have been forced through physical coercion or blackmail," he wrote. Chechen 'gay purge' victim speaks of torture. 'They want to exterminate us', says Chechen gay man. Canada grants asylum to LGBT Chechens. The Memorial team had been checking reports of extrajudicial killings. A group of men went missing after being taken away by security forces. It's thought they were suspected of links to extremists - but there were no charges, so nobody knows. Memorial's research confirmed that 27 people had disappeared. A senior member of Memorial, Oleg Orlov told me they had confirmed the detentions and when they occurred. "We tried to follow up with legal procedures but the relatives were threatened and terrified. Perhaps that's the work that annoyed the authorities." Just over a week after Oyub Titiyev was arrested, the group's office in neighbouring Ingushetia was torched. A car was set alight in Dagestan, and staff received threats. "It's clear that after that anything could happen," Mr Orlov says, pointing out that Memorial is the last independent human rights groups still operating in Chechnya. "It's very dangerous to work in Chechnya now." A large street sign reads: "I (heart symbol) Grozny, in front of a church, with skyscrapers seen in the background. A sign in Grozny, the Chechen capital, mirrors tourist slogans of other cities. Ramzan Kadyrov doesn't hide his contempt for human rights groups. "Let them work somewhere else!" he told me, waving an arm for emphasis. "All those who defend human rights groups and the gays we supposedly have in the Chechen Republic are foreign agents. "They've sold out their country, their people, their religion!" As for Oyub Titiyev, the Chechen leader dismisses him as just another "drug addict" being detained. When I try asking about claims of torture, Mr Kadyrov's security guards decide that's enough, and pull our camera away. The Chechen strongman had come for a celebration, after all. As darkness replaced the fog, there was live music and dancing on stage - then motorbike stunt riders flying through the sky over bright orange bursts of fire. But human rights activists say events like this are just veneer. The mountains have been reclaimed from militants, but Chechnya is now ruled by fear. Now Memorial itself is being forced to consider its future in the republic. "With no human rights groups left, people will have no protection," Oleg Orlov warns. "Anything at all could be done to them and there would be no-one to complain to. No-one to tell."

Saudi Arabia elites released after paying corruption settlements. 27 January 2018

Some of Saudi Arabia's most powerful men detained in November in an anti-corruption purge have been released. Among those set free are Waleed al-Ibrahim, the head of MBC television network, and Khalid al-Tuwaijiri, a former chief of the royal court. They have paid substantial financial settlements, reports say - though the amounts have not been made public. More than 200 princes, politicians, and wealthy businessmen were detained in the crackdown. Since then, they have been held in the Ritz Carlton hotel in Riyadh, which is due to reopen on 14 February. The settlements are likely to have been costly. The Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh is holding about 200 members of the Saudi elite. Life inside Saudi Arabia's 'five-star prison'. Who is Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed? Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, who was released at the end of November, paid more than $1bn (£750m).
Media reports suggest that Mr al-Ibrahim's deal may have included his controlling share in MBC - the largest media company in the Middle East. The anti-corruption drive was instigated by Prince Mohammed bin Salman - who has been accused of using the investigation to remove opponents and consolidate his power. In the aftermath of the purge, Saudi Arabia's attorney general said at least $100bn (£76bn) had been misused through systemic corruption and embezzlement going back decades. The detentions - and the expensive settlements - are being characterised by the state as an attempt to recover those funds. Many more of those detained remain in the Ritz Carlton under guard, until it reopens for Valentine's Day in mid-February. Those who do not reach settlements before then are expected to be sent to prison to await trial. Meanwhile, one of the highest-profile detainees, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, told Reuters news agency on Saturday that he expected to be cleared of wrongdoing and "released from custody within days". The billionaire - who is one of the country's richest people - said he expected to keep full control of his investment firm.

Steve Wynn: US casino mogul quits as Republican finance chair. 28 January 2018

Mr Wynn, who is also a Republican official, attends an event at the White House. Steve Wynn is a major figure in the casino world. US casino mogul Steve Wynn has resigned as finance chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC) amid sexual harassment allegations. A Wall Street Journal report on Friday alleged that the 76-year-old billionaire harassed massage therapists and forced one staff member to have sex with him. Mr Wynn has denied wrongdoing, calling the stories "preposterous". RNC chair Ronna McDaniel told US media she had accepted his resignation. Mr Wynn has blamed his ex-wife, whom he is fighting in court, for the "slander". "The instigation of these accusations is the continued work of my ex-wife Elaine Wynn, with whom I am involved in a terrible and nasty lawsuit," the billionaire said in a statement that his public relations team sent to the BBC on Friday. What he is accused of. According to the Wall Street Journal, which said it had interviewed dozens of people who worked with Mr Wynn, he is accused of engaging in a pattern of abuse in which he often harassed massage therapists while alone in his private office. The gambling industry giant paid $7.5m (£5.2m) to one manicurist who alleged she had been forced into sex by Mr Wynn, the paper claims citing court documents. Why the US has so many sexual harassment cases in the US? Female employees would fake appointments in order to avoid seeing him, or enlist others to pretend to be their assistants in order to avoid being alone with him. Some would even hide in bathrooms or closets if they heard he was coming to their salon, the paper claimed. Democrats attack Republican 'silence'. Mr Wynn is also a Republican Party donor and fundraiser. After harassment allegations were made against Hollywood executive producer Harvey Weinstein last year, Ms McDaniel and other leading Republicans called for the Democratic Party to return his donations. Now some Democrats are asking if the same rules should apply regarding allegations against Mr Wynn. The Democratic National Committee has attacked the RNC for remaining silent. In an October statement, Ms McDaniel wrote: "If Democrats and the DNC truly stand up for women like they say they do, then returning this dirty money should be a no brainer." Steve Wynn and second wife, Andrea Hissom, at President Trump's inauguration. Who is Steve Wynn? The son of an East Coast bingo parlour operator, he is now worth an estimated $3.5bn, according to Forbes magazine. He made his fortune in construction and operation of major Las Vegas casinos, including the Golden Nugget, The Mirage, Treasure Island and the Bellagio, all of which he later sold to MGM Grand Inc. He has been locked in legal battles with his ex-wife, Elaine Wynn, for more than seven years. The pair co-founded Wynn Resorts. He famously accidentally elbowed a hole in the middle of his Picasso painting when preparing to sell it for a record $139m (£74m) in 2016

Tammy Duckworth: The mum making history in the US Senate. 27 January 2018

Tammy Duckworth speaks during day one of the Democratic National Convention in 2012.  Tammy Duckworth is used to being a trailblazer. A double amputee, she was the first disabled woman elected to the US Congress. Born in Bangkok to a Thai mother and American father, she was also among the first Asian-American women in Congress. And now, as confirmed in a gleeful tweet this weeThe mum making history in the US Senatek, she will be the first woman to have a baby while serving in the US Senate. It was "about damn time", the 49-year-old said. "I can't believe it took until 2018." On the day Donald Trump defied the odds to defeat Hillary Clinton in November 2016, Tammy Duckworth made her own journey - soundly defeating the Republican incumbent to become the junior senator for Illinois, the position held by Barack Obama when he won the presidency. Her election came four days shy of the anniversary of the event that shaped her later life. "I'm here because of the miracles that occurred 12 years ago this Saturday - above and in a dusty field in Iraq," she said in her victory speech. Among the people she thanked were her former military comrades: the men who saved her life after the helicopter she was co-piloting over Iraq was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade. You may find some of the following details distressing. Duckworth was a captain with the Illinois National Guard when she was called up to serve in Iraq. It was a war she disagreed with, but she fully accepted the responsibility to go there and fight. She did not have to go to Iraq. She was no longer in charge of her former unit when they were called to serve, but she asked to go with them. "You don't want anyone to face danger and you not face the same danger," she told an episode of The Axe Files podcast in December 2016. "You have to face the same risk." After a day of routine missions in November 2004, she and her crew were asked to pick up some soldiers from Taji, about 20 miles north of Baghdad. When they got there, the soldiers had already left. The crew decided to return to their base in Balad, about 30 miles further north, and Duckworth handed control of the Black Hawk helicopter to her co-pilot Dan Milberg. During the journey, as they flew low over palm trees to avoid detection, she heard the "tap, tap, tap" of gunfire against the helicopter. She leaned forward to get the GPS co-ordinates to report where the helicopter had been shot. "Right then, bam, the fireball happened in my lap with an RPG [rocket-propelled grenade] going off," she told The Axe Files. "It took off most of the back of my right arm because I had that forward. It blew off my right leg, it basically evaporated. My left leg was kicked up into an instrument. The force of that sheared it almost off, it was hanging on a little bit." Duckworth drifted in and out of consciousness. Every time she became conscious again, she would try to operate the pedals to control the helicopter, but struggled to understand why she couldn't. She did not realise she no longer had feet. Dan Milberg landed the helicopter and carried Duckworth out. Her crew had assumed she was dead, but by nevertheless moving her quickly from the helicopter to get aid, they saved her life. Duckworth woke up about 11 days later, in pain and angry. She had lost both legs and most of the use of her right arm.
In later years, she adapted a playful attitude to her amputation - wearing a T-shirt saying "Dude, where's my leg?" and addressing the Democratic National Convention with one prosthetic leg painted in camouflage, the other in the American flag. In hospital though, one of her first thoughts was revenge against her attacker. "I wanted to hunt him down," she told The Axe Files. In the end she underwent countless operations and spent 13 months in hospital, much of it at the Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington DC.
The hospital, packed with soldiers injured in Iraq and Afghanistan, became what she called "an amputee petting zoo" for politicians seeking photo opportunities. It was perhaps inevitable that Duckworth had ended up joining the military, even if she had initially resisted, having hoped to join the diplomatic service instead. Generations of her family had served in the military, going as far back as the American Revolution. Her father Frank fought in World War Two and the Vietnam War. My mom is an immigrant and my dad and his family have served this nation in uniform since the Revolution. A fierce patriot, Frank Duckworth was a Marine and served as a signal officer in Vietnam. But he found himself confronted and spat at when he returned to the US in between tours as the movement against the Vietnam War gathered strength. He preferred to stay in south-east Asia in between tours, and met Lamai Sompornpairin, who had grown up sewing hats in a Thai factory and was then working in her parents' grocery shop. The couple, with baby Tammy in tow, stayed in the region after the war while Frank worked for the UN Development Programme and different corporations. Tammy spoke nothing but Thai until she was eight years old. The Khmer Rouge guerilla soldiers wearing black uniforms (C), drive 17 April 1975 atop jeeps. Some of Duckworth's earliest memories involve the Khmer Rouge seizing control in Cambodia
Her experiences with conflict began at a young age, as the Marxist Khmer Rouge regime took power in Cambodia. She has said some of her earliest childhood memories are of being in Phnom Penh, watching bombs going off. She said her parents told her to think of them as fireworks, so she would not be scared. The latter period of her time in Asia, living in Indonesia and Singapore, gave her pride in being American, and in seeing how people abroad viewed her country. Yet the Duckworths later fell on hard times as Frank Duckworth lost his job. Despite his reluctance to return to a country he felt had rejected him, he had no choice but to go back to the US. At several points, Tammy Duckworth's story echoes that of President Obama, the man who called her "a tough lady, but with a big heart" as she ran for his old Senate seat. Both have acknowledged how their mixed-race origins helped form their identities. Both grew up in Indonesia at around the same time, and both left Asia to live in Hawaii. While Duckworth said the move to a multicultural state like Hawaii was the perfect way for her to assimilate into US life, it was a hard transition for her father. The family depended on food stamps to survive. In 2013, she reflected on her teenage years while speaking in Congress against possible cuts to food stamps. "They were there for me, so I could worry about school and not about my empty stomach." Often, Duckworth and her brother Thomas could eat only if their father had found enough coins left in telephone kiosks. When she found work after school, she was the only member of her family to have a job. Tammy Duckworth with the National Guard in 1990. Her father, who died in 2005, went on to find work at a chicken factory, and Duckworth was able through grants and loans to make her way to three universities. In the end, it was her classmates who convinced her that she could achieve her eventual aim of being an ambassador by joining the military first. "What I didn't expect was to fall in love with the camaraderie and sense of purpose that the military instills in you," Duckworth wrote in Politico in 2015. "The thing is, when we were exhausted and miserable, my fellow cadets and I were exhausted and miserable together." Among the other cadets was her future husband, Bryan Bowlsbey. It wasn't immediately obvious the two were destined for marriage. He made a comment that I felt was derogatory about the role of women in the Army," she told the C-Span news network in 2005, "but he came over and apologised very nicely and then helped me clean my M16." It would be far from the last time Duckworth would face a derogatory comment, but it would be the only time she would marry the man who made it. Duckworth's political career took off as her rehabilitation from her injuries was continuing. It was an invitation by Illinois Democrat senator Dick Durbin to attend the 2005 State of the Union address that first ignited her interest. Duckworth had already become an unofficial adviser to younger veterans within Walter Reed hospital, leading Mr Durbin to suggest she should consider running for office. She ran as a candidate for Congress in Illinois in 2006, barely two years after the attack in Iraq. But she lost the race to Republican Peter Roskam by only 5,000 votes. "I sat in a bathtub and cried for three days," she said.
Over the following years, she continued her duties with the National Guard and as director of the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs, where she launched a hotline for suicidal veterans and helped improve access to healthcare payments and work for veterans. In 2008, newly elected President Obama appointed her as an assistant secretary to the federal Department of Veterans' Affairs. Then in 2012, she ran for Congress again in another Illinois district - this time against an opponent who openly disparaged her military record. Joe Walsh was hardly the most popular candidate when he ran against Duckworth in Illinois' eighth district. When the Republican incumbent was sued by his ex-wife over missed child support payments, and when he shouted at a constituent, his chances became even slimmer. Then when he attacked the service carried out by Duckworth, by this point a recipient of the Purple Heart medal for those injured in service, his fate was perhaps sealed. "I'm running against a woman who, my God, that's all she talks about," he said at a town hall meeting. "Our true heroes, it's the last thing in the world they talk about." Duckworth ended up winning 54.7% of the vote, compared with Walsh's 45.3%. She held on the seat two years later. A month later, at the age of 46 and after several unsuccessful courses of IVF treatment, she gave birth to her first child, Abigail. Barack Obama (L) embraces Iraqi war veteran and Illinois State Director of Veterans Affairs, Tammy Duckworth (R), - November 2008. Duckworth often reflects back on the day her helicopter was struck, and acknowledges how her time in the military has helped shape the politician she is today. "That day, and so many others when I served, illustrated the two most important lessons the military taught me," she wrote in Politico magazine. "Never leave anyone behind - not on the battlefield and not in our country. And never put a service member in harm's way without understanding the cost." But as Duckworth's first race for the Senate was entering its final stretch in October 2016, the Chicago Tribune pointed out that her much-vaunted record on helping veterans had been mixed. After a decade in public service, the newspaper said, "several" of her initiatives to help Illinois veterans "fell flat", her post in the federal veterans' affairs body "mostly focused on public relations" and her two terms in Congress were "marked by only a few legislative successes".
Duckworth has defended her record, but even one of her headline pieces of policy - a bill she sponsored requiring airports to provide spaces for breastfeeding mothers - has yet to become law. As a senator, her record will now face even more scrutiny. She reached the Senate after another bruising election campaign in 2016, one that saw her opponent Mark Kirk belittle her family's military history. U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) participates in a reenacted swearing-in with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. Tammy Duckworth, next to daughter Abigail, mother Lamai and husband Bryan, is sworn in as a senator by then Vice-President Joe Biden. She started her time as a senator optimistically, expressing hope that she and fellow Democrats could work with President Trump. "I am going to start off assuming that he loves this country as much as I love this country," she told The Axe Files podcast just before taking office. "If you start off from that point, I think you can learn to work with anyone." It has not worked out that way. Instead, Duckworth has positioned herself as one of the most persistent and vocal critics of the president, on issues relating to the military and immigration in particular. Last weekend, as Trump attacked Democrats for not helping pass a funding bill that he said was "holding our military hostage", Duckworth attacked him from the Senate floor - noting how he had repeatedly avoided service in Vietnam because of a reported bone spur in his foot. "I will not be lectured about what our military needs by a five-deferment draft dodger," she said. "And I have a message for Cadet Bone Spurs: If you cared about our military, you'd stop baiting Kim Jong-un into a war that could put 85,000 American troops and millions of innocent civilians in danger." Duckworth has been especially critical of Trump over North Korea, warning last month that he and the defence community were gearing up for war. Amid her criticism of the president, the rumblings of a Tammy Duckworth run for the Democratic nomination for the 2020 presidential race have already started. While she has not acknowledged any interest in running - at least not yet - Duckworth is surely aware that one significant political 'first' has still not been achieved: the first female president.

French prison guards in nationwide strike after attacks. 22 January 2018

Guards take part in a protest at Fresnes prison near Paris after an assault on officers. A series of attacks against prison guards by inmates at institutions across France has led to a nationwide strike in the country. Unions have vowed a "total blockade" of prisons on Monday as their dispute with the government over safety improvements and wage rises enters its second week. France's Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet said she would meet union leaders to try to end the crisis. Last week, unions rejected government proposals to end the strikes. Guards at prisons across the country, including the high-security institutions Fleury-Mérogis and Fresnes prison outside Paris, are on Monday taking part in protests supported by France's CGT union, the Force Ouvrière (FO) union and the Ufap-Unsa Justice union. France's justice ministry has urged union representatives to "resume dialogue immediately", adding that it was the responsibility of all sides to ensure that prisons were functioning. The strike comes after a number of guards were injured in scuffles at several prisons. Tyres are placed in the street as prison guards block access to Fresnes prison on 16 January 2018. Prison officers are blocking streets outside prisons in a call for tighter security. Last week, three officers were assaulted in an attack at Fresnes prison, which is situated south of Paris. On Sunday, two prison guards required hospital treatment after they were attacked at a detention centre at Longuenesse prison, near Calais, according to prison officials. "This is once again an attack on the staff, we cannot stand it anymore," spokesman for the Ufap-Unsa union, Yannick Lefebvre, said, adding: "It's a daily thing." Currently, the prison service employs 28,000 guards in 188 establishments holding about 78,000 prisoners, according to AFP news agency.

Italian mafia: How crime families went global. 28 January 2018

Police arrested Carmine Spada (C), alleged boss of a mafia clan, near Rome this month. Italian police have carried out a spate of anti-mafia raids, arresting dozens of suspects near Naples, Rome and Agrigento in Sicily. Illegal drugs, arms trafficking, extortion, contract killings, political bribery, prostitution, art thefts... the list of crimes is long. So who are the Italian mafia? Sicilian Mafia - Cosa Nostra. The Sicilian gangs established the model for other mafias. They meted out local justice in the 1800s, then grew in power and sophistication. Cosa Nostra means "our thing" - it is the original Mafia, with a capital M, based on family clans. It is famous for the "omertà" - a code of silence demanding extreme loyalty. Turncoats risk torture and death, or punishment of their relatives. Even today they settle some business disputes and retrieve stolen goods in Sicily, undermining the slow-moving Italian courts. But many despise them for the "pizzo" - protection money - that they extort from businesses. Cosa Nostra earned notoriety in the US, where it became the Italian "Mob", feuding and racketeering in Chicago, New York and some other cities. It accumulated power by controlling illicit alcohol in the 1920s Prohibition era. America's FBI says the US crime syndicate is largely separate from the clans in Italy. Heroin trafficking remains a core business for Cosa Nostra. Say "mafia" now and many people will think of Marlon Brando in The Godfather. The Sicilian word actually implies "manly", and the label is often applied loosely - and inaccurately - to organised crime gangs. Some Italian mafia clans operate globally, competing with similarly ruthless "mafia" gangs from Russia, China, Albania and several other countries. Sometimes gangs co-ordinate their crimes and share out the loot. Cosa Nostra infiltrated local and national politics not only in Italy but also in the US. The Christian Science Monitor and others documented the Mafia's power in Italian society in the 1980s. But not all big Italian corruption cases involve the Mafia. Rome's "Mafia Capital" trial exposed huge municipal corruption, but not "mafia association". Today Cosa Nostra and the three other main Italian mafia groups - the Camorra, 'Ndrangheta and Sacra Corona Unita - have an estimated 25,000 members in total, with 250,000 affiliates worldwide, the FBI says. Cosa Nostra was essentially at war with the Italian state during the reign of "godfather" Salvatore "Toto" Riina. An obelisk marks the spot where prosecutor Falcone's motorcade was attacked in 1992. In May 1992, Riina's men detonated a bomb that killed prosecutor Giovanni Falcone, his wife and three bodyguards just outside Palermo. Two months later they killed his replacement Paolo Borsellino and five bodyguards in Palermo, with a car bomb. Riina died in prison in November 2017, aged 87, while serving 26 life sentences for murder. This Mafia villa near Corleone in Sicily was seized and turned into a hotel. Cosa Nostra has muscled into some EU-funded projects in Sicily, intimidating local contractors. A BBC investigation in 2010 found that wind farms were among the businesses targeted. Sicilian society has fought back. An anti-Mafia group called Libera Terra runs new businesses, including hotels, with cash and property seized from the Mafia. Prof Federico Varese, an Oxford University expert on the Mafia, says Cosa Nostra is now extorting "pizzo" from some state-funded migrant shelters in Sicily. But some migrant gangs are competing with the Mafia, in local prostitution for example, he told the BBC. Italian police have also put the Mafia under "huge pressure" in Sicily, Prof Varese said. Naples mafia - Camorra. An estimated 4,500 people are in the Camorra clans in Naples and Caserta, just north of the port city. Their main business is drugs - they are often extremely brutal. They also extort money from construction firms, toxic waste disposal and garment businesses. Their targets include Chinese-run sweatshops making copies of Italian fashions. Dilapidated tower blocks in Scampia are a known Camorra stronghold. Vicious Camorra feuding was documented by Italian undercover reporter Roberto Saviano, whose 2006 book Gomorrah became a bestseller. Saviano has police bodyguards and lives a life of secrecy after receiving Camorra death threats. In an interview with US public broadcaster PBS, Saviano said the Camorra and 'Ndrangheta were less hierarchical than Cosa Nostra and more powerful, with younger leaders and "much more blood". They are also less involved in politics than Cosa Nostra, he said. Camorra drugs crime has spread to Spain, but the syndicate remains rooted in poor suburbs of Naples, such as Scampia and Secondigliano. Bodyguards protect writer Saviano (centre), seen here at a film festival in 2013. Mafia violence in Ostia, a poor suburb of Rome, has also been linked to the Camorra. Italians were outraged when a Spada clan member there was filmed headbutting a TV journalist. Women in the tight-knit Camorra family clans often play important roles as messengers and accountants, paying clan members, Prof Varese says. Calabrian mafia - 'Ndrangheta. Calabria, the "toe" of the Italian boot, lies near Sicily and the 'Ndrangheta was originally an offshoot of Cosa Nostra. The name comes from the Greek "andragathia", meaning courage or loyalty. The FBI estimates 'Ndrangheta membership at about 6,000. They are based in one of Italy's poorest regions. Arrest of wanted 'Ndrangheta boss Pasquale Condello in Feb 2008. Pasquale Condello, a boss of the 'Ndrangheta, was arrested in Calabria in 2008. The group specialises in cocaine trafficking, and Prof Varese says it has direct links to crime gangs in Mexico and Colombia. It is reckoned to control as much as 80% of Europe's cocaine trade. It is also entrenched in the crime scene in and around Turin in northern Italy. 'Ndrangheta brutality was demonstrated in the German city of Duisburg in 2007, where six Italian men linked to the crime syndicate were shot dead, their bodies left in vehicles near an Italian restaurant. The 'Ndrangheta is also accused of siphoning off state funds intended for destitute migrants in Calabria. Exploring the mafia's underground world. Puglia mafia - Sacra Corona Unita. The smallest of Italy's main mafia syndicates, Sacra Corona Unita ("United Sacred Crown") is based in Puglia, in the far south-east. The FBI says it has about 2,000 members and specialises in smuggling cigarettes, arms, drugs and people. Puglia is a natural gateway for smuggling from the Balkans. Puglia clans are believed to have strong links to Eastern European crime gangs.

There have been 11 US school shootings this year. Is it time to arm teachers? 28 January 2018

Teachers take part in the Faster active shooter training in Colorado in 2017. Two schoolchildren died on Tuesday and 14 others suffered bullet wounds when a classmate opened fire outside a school in Benton, Kentucky. It was the third US school shooting in 48 hours and the 11th in the three weeks since the start of the year. The victims were Bailey Holt and Preston Cope, both 15. A 15-year-old boy was arrested and charged with the attack. The story fell somewhere into the middle of the day's news agenda. "Americans have accepted these common atrocities as part of life here," wrote one commenter on the New York Times website. "Another day, another shooting spree, and no political will to do anything about it." But there is political will building behind a certain sort of gun legislation — reforms that aim to increase, rather than decrease, the number of firearms in schools and other public buildings, and arm teachers and school staff as a means of defence. Hours after the shooting in Kentucky, Republican State Senator Steve West rushed to file a bill that would allow Kentucky schools to have armed school marshals patrol the site. His bill joins another in the state which seeks to loosen gun restrictions around college campuses. Mr West's bill received cross-party support from state Democratic Senator Ray Jones. "We need armed officers in every school in Kentucky," he said. "That is a small price to pay if it saves one child's life." The bill joins a raft of state legislation in recent years designed at putting more guns in schools. Most recently, the Michigan State Senate passed a bill in November which would allow teachers at primary, middle and high schools to carry a concealed handgun in class. Similar bills have been filed this year in Florida, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, South Carolina and West Virginia. If successful, those states would join at least nine that already allow some form of concealed carry in high schools. Each school shooting prompts fresh calls for more guns, and opponents say lobby groups like the National Rifle Association (NRA) are putting significant resources behind trying to make them a success. Good guys, bad guys
Efforts to arm teachers and school staff were jumpstarted in the wake of the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook elementary in Connecticut, in which 20 children and six teachers died. Facing a public outcry at the massacre, and renewed calls for gun control, the NRA pushed heavily in the opposite direction. "The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun," said the NRA's Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre a week after the shooting, and the catchphrase morphed into a key legislative priority for the NRA — removing safe zones and getting "good guys" with guns into schools and public buildings. The lobby group published a report calling for armed officers or staff in every school in America, and in 2013, the year after Sandy Hook, seven states enacted laws permitting teachers or school staff to carry guns. Teachers are given training on a gun range, as well as in tactical situations. "Over the past two or three years we've seen an explosion of legislative proposals to force schools to permit guns or to arm teachers," said Adam Skaggs, chief counsel at the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. "And it's not just pushing the idea that people need guns in schools to be safe, it's the idea that people need guns everywhere - city streets, public parks, even government buildings." But advocates say these kinds of reforms are the only meaningful way to protect schoolchildren. They point in particular to more rural schools, where an emergency response from police may take too long in the context of an active shooter incident, and argue that gun-free zones are creating "soft targets". The Sandy Hook shooting prompted a wave of protest against the NRA. In Kentucky, home to Tuesday's shooting, Republican Tim Moore has introduced bills in 2017 and 2018 in an effort to reduce restrictions around guns on school and college campuses. "Whenever in our country people with evil intent seek to harm others, including innocent children, they will seek locations where they know there's going to be minimal chance of resistance," he said in a telephone interview.
"Allowing law abiding citizens who are properly trained, properly vetted, with a thorough background check and criminal check … that is a deterrent." 'Mindset development'
School shootings erupted into the public consciousness in April 1999, when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold murdered 12 students and one teacher at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. That massacre has since been eclipsed by shootings at Virginia Tech college (33 dead), Sandy Hook elementary school (25 dead), and 203 other shooting incidents in or around schools. According to an FBI study of 160 active shooter incidents between 2000 and 2013, nearly a quarter (24.4%) occurred in educational settings, and more of half of those were at junior or secondary schools. Fourteen years after Columbine, and eight miles down the road, Littleton suffered another shooting. Karl Pierson, 18, went to Arapahoe High School in December 2013 with two guns and shot 17-year-old Clare Davis in the head, before killing himself in the school's library. One of the first police officers on the scene that day was Swat team member Quinn Cunningham. Still a serving officer, he now trains teachers to carry firearms and respond to active shooter situations. A parent embraces her child after a shooting at Arapahoe High School, Colorado in 2013. The three-day "Faster" training courses - funded by the Ohio-based Buckeye Firearms Foundation - include a day of "mindset development" - which involves preparing teachers for the possibility that they will have to shoot dead one of their own students.  Mr Cunningham, 44, asks the teachers to close their eyes and imagine the student entering the classroom with a gun. In reality, a teacher might have just a split-second to assess the situation and respond. This is the most difficult and emotional part of the training, and reduces some of the participants to tears. "But if we can have them win in their minds first, against that student, then when it comes to the actual incident they will prevail," Mr Cunningham said. Five members of staff from Fleming High School in north-east Colorado volunteered last year for the training, which takes place in the summer break to keep students in the dark about who's involved. One teacher who took part, who asked to remain anonymous, said she decided to picture her favourite student during the preparation exercises, in an effort to harden herself to the worst possible eventuality. "Teachers aren't really supposed to have favourites but you know, you have the ones that are close to you," she said. "But if that student made the poor decision to endanger everyone, I'm going to have to do something about it." The school now has posters at every entrance stating that some of its teachers are armed. The students spent "about a week or two" trying to work out who was carrying guns, before giving up and moving on, the teacher said. Her wardrobe changed "quite a bit" to accommodate a handgun, she said. "But not much. It's just dressing to fit the gun." The five volunteers at Fleming High - one woman and four men - were subjected to background checks and a voice stress analysis, similar to a lie detector test, said school superintendent Steve McCracken. All five passed and now carry guns in the school. "At the end of the day, no one in our school or community is in favour of having guns, but if a bad guy comes to the school we are now able to take care of it," he said. Training on the range in Colorado. "We do not have a local police department in our little town, and the sheriff's office could be at least 15 to 20 minutes away on a good day. The main reason for this is to close that gap." A couple of staff members vocally opposed the presence of guns and one of the teachers later left the school, but the general reaction from staff and the community was supportive, he said. In a 2013 poll by the National Education Association, only 22% of teachers said they approved of the idea of arming staff, while 68% of teachers said they were opposed. In another survey the same year, 72% of teachers said they would not want to carry a gun even if the law allowed. 'Playing Rambo'
In Michigan, when the state senate passed legislation in November that extended concealed carry to high schools, churches, day care centres, and sporting events, former teacher-turned-Democratic state senator Jim Ananich was among a vocal minority who opposed the bill. He said he thought the "overwhelming majority" of his former colleagues would be against the idea. "Trying to play Rambo just doesn't fit with the reality of what happens in a stressful situation," he said. "Untrained individuals are much more likely to shoot a bystander, a police officer, or a child." The three days of training administered by Faster - and the legal minimum standard in Michigan of just eight hours for armed teachers - was not nearly enough, he said. "Pursuing the NRA philosophy that you can put guns into the hands of teachers and untrained individuals, and expect them to make decisions that law enforcement or military are supposed to make, is backwards and it's dangerous." Faster offers three days of training, which some argue is inadequate. Those fighting to keep guns out of schools say arming teachers is a bad solution to the wrong problem, particularly in states that lack laws around securing firearms in the home. According to the Giffords Law Centre, 27 states and the District of Columbia have some sort of Child Access Prevention (CAP) laws, which dictate how securely guns should be stored in the home. The CAP laws in Kentucky, where the shooter reportedly took a gun from this parents' closet, are among the weakest of all those states. Parents or guardians will only break the law if they knowingly provide a gun to a child convicted of a violent crime or likely to commit a crime. "If we want to talk about preventing school shootings, we should be talking about stopping kids getting their hands on guns in the first place, those are the laws we should be looking at," said Mr Skaggs, of the Giffords Law Centre. On the ground, groups like the Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus are fighting state-by-state against the NRA, its state-level affiliates and other gun-advocacy groups to defeat pro-gun schools legislation. "We - the collective gun violence prevention community - are defeating most of the bills right now, but the intensity on the other side is there," said Andy Pelosi, director of Keep Guns off Campus. "The NRA has its fingerprints all over this issue now, they want to push guns everywhere," he said. The NRA did not respond to a request for comment. In Kentucky, Governor Matt Bevin made it clear at a press conference on Friday that he did not see gun control as the answer. Mr Bevin, who speaks regularly at NRA events, urged citizens to "wake up" and realise school shootings were a "cultural problem", not a gun issue. "We can't celebrate death in video games, celebrate death in TV shows, celebrate death in movies, celebrate death in musical lyrics and remove any sense of morality and sense of higher authority and then expect things like this are not going to happen," he said.

Video: How your supermarket could manipulate you for your own good. Supermarkets have always played tricks on your mind. Can they help you to eat better? Supermarket design is not neutral. Food retailers know how to make you lean towards certain choices and products. But, can they apply the same skills to make people buy healthier food? Psychologists, marketing experts and some stores have tested this idea. Check out the video to see how it went, and read then read this feature for more insight. 26 January 2018

US market meltdown explained. The worst day in US financial history since the financial crisis – explained in 90 seconds. 6 Feb 2018

US stock plunge sparks global sell-off. 6 Feb 2018

US stocks suffered their worst falls in more than six years on Monday in a sell-off sparked by concerns of higher interest rates...

Asia markets join global stock plunge. 6 Feb 2018
Wall Street's worst day since the crisis – explained in 90 seconds. Asian markets plunged on Tuesday as investors dumped stocks following the biggest US market fall for six years

Ex-Carillion boss sorry for firm's collapse. 6 Feb 2018

Former Carillion chief executive Keith Cochrane has told MPs that he is "truly sorry" about the company's collapse. The construction giant, which provided services for schools, prisons and hospitals, went into liquidation in the middle of January. Mr Cochrane told the Work and Pensions Committee: "It was the worst possible outcome. This was a business worth fighting for. "That's what I sought to do during my time as chief executive." However, Mr Cochrane only took charge in July of last year. The previous chief executive Richard Howson ran the company for six years before stepping down after a profit warning.

European shares tumble in new sell off. 6 Feb 2018 - video

Wall Street's worst day since the crisis – explained in 90 seconds. European markets have followed Asian markets lower on Tuesday as investors continued to dump shares. London, Frankfurt and Paris all fell sharply at the open with losses of up to 3%, before recovering some ground. The decline was the largest in percentage terms for the Dow since August 2011, when markets dropped in the aftermath of "Black Monday" - the day Standard & Poor's downgraded its credit rating of the US. "It is effectively no change for normal investors, in that you have ridden a wave on the way up, so now is not the time to cash in," said Rebecca O'Keefe, head of investment at Interactive Investor..."This is unwelcome news, but it is fundamentally a not unexpected reaction to the euphoria that saw markets rise so fast." Will this have long term impact? Analysts say that in the short term, investors should be prepared for choppier stock markets, but doubt whether there will be a prolonged period of selling.

Homebase owners may close up to 40 stores. 5 February 2018

Up to 40 Homebase stores could be closed by its Australian owner, putting up to 2,000 jobs at risk. Wesfarmers paid £340m for the DIY chain in early 2016 and has been rebranding the stores under the Bunnings name. But after a "disappointing" performance the Australian firm has put Homebase under review and expects it to lose £97m in the first half of 2018. UK retailers are struggling in the face of rising inflation and fragile consumer confidence. Several store chains have announced job cuts recently, including supermarket giants Tesco, Sainsbury's and Asda. Homebase's rival, B&Q, last week said it was cutting 200 jobs at its head office in Hampshire as part of a cost-cutting drive. Homebase bought by Australia's Wesfarmers. Wesfarmers said it had written down the value of the Homebase chain by £454m as a result of its poor trading. "The Homebase acquisition has been below our expectations which is obviously disappointing," Wesfarmers managing director Rob Scott said. 'Crazy price'. Richard Hyman, retail analyst at RAH Advisory, said: "The DIY sector benefits from a reasonably buoyant housing market, which we haven't had for some time." However, this was very well known to Wesfarmers, who paid a "crazy price" for Homebase, he said. But Mr Hyman said that Wesfarmers' strategy of improving service levels and cutting down on promotions was introduced too quickly, although it could still work in the long term. Wesfarmers admitted it has found the UK market "very different and more fragmented" than Australia, according to Hugh Dive, chief investment officer at Atlas Funds Management. Wesfarmers' shares fell by up to 5% in Australian trading. However, shares in Kingfisher, which owns rival DIY chain B&Q, rose 3%. Analysts said B&Q could benefit, if Homebase closes significant numbers of stores. Another quoted rival, Travis Perkins, which owns Wickes, saw a modest 0.5% rise. Homebase has 250 stores across the UK and employs 12,000 people. Wesfarmers will announce the result of its review in June, so staff will have to wait until then to find out which stores are to close. However, the Australian firm said it had been encouraged by the performance of stores that had begun trading under the Bunnings name.

Commonwealth in secret succession plans. 13 February 2018

The Queen at the Mayflower Primary School in Poplar, east London, 2017. The Commonwealth has secretly begun considering who might succeed the Queen as its head, the BBC has learned. The issue is hugely sensitive because the role is not hereditary and will not pass automatically to the Prince of Wales on the Queen's death. The Commonwealth has set up a "high level group" to look at the way the international organisation is governed. This group is meeting later, officially to review how the Commonwealth is run by its secretariat and governors. It said the issue of the succession of the head of the Commonwealth was not part of the group's mandate, but described the day-long discussions as "open". However, senior sources added that the gathering in London would also consider what happens when the Queen, who turns 92 in April, dies. One said: "I imagine the question of the succession, however distasteful it may naturally be, will come up." The agenda for the summit, seen by the BBC, says there will be a discussion of "wider governance considerations" which insiders say is code for the succession. The group is expected to report to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London in April, which is likely to be the last that the 91-year-old monarch will attend. The group said it was independent of the London-based Commonwealth Secretariat, and would report only to the heads of Commonwealth governments. The Queen congratulating winners of the Commonwealth Youth Awards in 2016. A second source said the issue of the succession is expected to be discussed by Commonwealth leaders on the margins of the summit, particularly when they meet without officials "on retreat" at Windsor Castle. The Queen was proclaimed Head of the Commonwealth at her coronation in 1953, when she was head of state in seven of its eight members. Although the Queen took over from her father George VI, it is not an hereditary position that will pass automatically to her son - who will be head of state in only 15 of the 53 member nations that now make up the Commonwealth. What is the Commonwealth?
It is a loose association of former British colonies, plus some other nations. It was founded in 1931. There are 53 member countries. Its secretariat (headquarters) is based in London. About 2.4bn people live in Commonwealth countries. Any decision about the future would have to be made by the Commonwealth heads of government at the time of the Queen's death. But there is no formal process for choosing her successor. While many Commonwealth figures presume there will be no realistic alternative to Prince Charles, there has in the past been talk of electing a ceremonial leader to improve the organisation's democratic credentials. Prince Charles and President Mahinda Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka. Prince Charles is considered the obvious successor to the Queen as head of the Commonwealth. One source said the issue to be decided was whether a one-off decision should be taken to appoint Prince Charles to the position, or whether a new process should be agreed to ensure that it is always the British monarch who automatically becomes head of the Commonwealth. "There are various formulas being played with," the source said. "Should it always be the heir to the throne or Prince Charles himself? Is it the person or the position?" The high level group, which is made up of seven senior former ministers from the Commonwealth, will meet at the body's London headquarters at Marlborough House. The group, which has its own staff and budget, is independent of the Commonwealth Secretariat. It will look at how the secretariat is run and funded, how a new secretary general is chosen and the balance of power between the Commonwealth's governors and executive committee. According to documents seen by the BBC, the high level group will not just confine itself to bureaucratic changes. The agenda for the meeting says: "Discussions will take into consideration the issues raised in the first session and also the wider governance considerations of the Commonwealth." The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh in Melbourne, 1977. The Queen has been the head of the Commonwealth since her coronation in 1953. In that time she has travelled across the constituent countries, including Australia in 1977. The Queen has been working in private to try to ensure that Prince Charles does succeed her, sending senior officials around the world to lobby Commonwealth leaders. At the last CHOGM in Malta in 2015, the Queen told them that she could not "wish to have been better supported and represented in the Commonwealth than by the Prince of Wales who continues to give so much to it with great distinction". The Prince of Wales represented the Queen at the CHOGM in Sri Lanka in 2013. A whole section of his website is devoted to the Commonwealth, noting that he has visited 41 out of 53 countries and has been a "proud supporter" for more than four decades.

Denmark's Prince Henrik, who wanted to be king, dies at 83. 14 Feb 2018

Queen Margrethe married Prince Henrik in 1967. Prince Henrik of Denmark, the husband of Queen Margrethe who was famous for his public unhappiness at never being named king, has died at the age of 83. The controversial French-born prince had returned to Fredensborg Castle, north of Copenhagen, after being in hospital with a lung infection. His flamboyant style was both loved and criticised by Danes. Frustrated with his royal title, he announced in 2017 that he did not want to be buried next to his wife. The queen, 77, is said to have accepted her husband's decision, which broke a 459-year-old tradition of burying royal spouses together. She already has a specially-built sarcophagus in a cathedral west of Copenhagen where the remains of Danish royals are buried. In this file photo taken on July 8, 2006, Prince consort of Denmark Henrik holds a hawk "Phoenix 2" as falconer trainer Frank Skaarup Hansen of Sonderup laughs, before the official opening ceremony of the European Hunting Horn championship held in Horsens, Jutland. Prince Henrik spoke with a thick French accent, and was known for his love of food, wine and poetry. The prince, who was diagnosed with dementia last year, died "peacefully in his sleep" at the castle, the Royal House announced. Queen Margrethe and their two sons were at his side. No plans for his funeral have been announced. Prince Henrik was born Henri Marie Jean André de Laborde de Monpezat in 1934, and married the then-crown princess Margrethe in 1967. She became queen in 1972 and over the years Prince Henrik made no secret that he was unhappy at being denied the title of king. Queen Margrethe of Denmark opening the dancing with her husband, Prince Henrik of Denmark, at the Anglo-Danish Society"s Jubilee dinner on 7 May 1974. Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik at the Anglo-Danish Society's Jubilee dinner in London in 1974. Many Danes disliked him for that, seeing it as a sign of an arrogant man hungry for recognition. In Denmark, a princess traditionally becomes queen when her husband takes the throne, but a man does not become king if his wife becomes queen. But in recent years, many youngsters thought his manner represented a break from the norms of cultural uniformity in Danish society.  In 2016, he retired from official duties, renouncing the title of Prince Consort. In the time since, he was often in France at his private vineyard. In this file photo taken on October 24, 2015 Danish Queen Margrethe II (L) and Prince Consort Henrik (R) visit the Prambanan temple during their visit to Yogyakarta, Indonesia, in 2015. He spoke with a thick French accent and was known for his love of food, wine and poetry. Prince Henrik and Queen Margrethe have two sons - Crown Prince Frederick and Prince Joachim. Crown Prince Frederick returned from the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea last week to be with his ailing father.

Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu: Commando turned PM - 13 February 2018

Benjamin Netanyahu will pass a political landmark to become Israel's longest-serving prime minister, if he stays in office beyond September this year. This would be a remarkable achievement for a politician who was branded by critics as too inexperienced when he was narrowly elected for the first time in 1996. As he nears the record-breaking marker though, Mr Netanyahu may have to fight for his political survival, as police investigate a series of corruption allegations against him. A shrewd political operator, he has dismissed the claims as a witch-hunt engineered by his opponents. For years, Benjamin Netanyahu has portrayed himself as the person who can best keep Israel safe in the "tough neighbourhood" of the Middle East. He has taken a hard line towards the Palestinians, putting Israel's security concerns at the top of any discussion of peace. When asked recently by a London think-tank how he would want to be remembered, he said as "the protector of Israel. The one who created the means to be sure of the country's future."
Military record
Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu was born in Tel Aviv in 1949. In 1963 his family moved to the US when his father Benzion, the historian and Zionist activist, was offered an academic post. Benjamin Netanyahu photographed while serving in the Sayeret Matkal commando unit in the 1970s. Mr Netanyahu was a captain of the elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit
At the age of 18, Benjamin Netanyahu returned to Israel, where he spent five distinguished years in the army, serving as a captain in an elite commando unit, the Sayeret Matkal. He took part in a raid on Beirut's airport in 1968 and fought in the 1973 Middle East war. After his military service ended, Mr Netanyahu went back to the US, where he earned bachelor's and master's degrees at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In 1976, Mr Netanyahu's brother, Jonathan, was killed leading a raid to rescue hostages from a hijacked airliner in Entebbe, Uganda. His death had a profound impact on the Netanyahu family, and his name became legendary in Israel. Mr Netanyahu set up an anti-terrorism institute in his brother's memory and in 1982 became Israel's deputy chief of mission in Washington. Overnight, Mr Netanyahu's public life was launched. An articulate English speaker with a distinctive American accent, he became a familiar face on US television and an effective advocate of the Israeli cause. Mr Netanyahu was appointed Israel's permanent representative at the UN in New York in 1984. Limited withdrawal. Only in 1988, when he returned to Israel, did he become involved in domestic politics, winning a seat in the Knesset (parliament) and becoming deputy foreign minister. Politically, Benjamin Netanyahu positioned himself to the right of previous leaders of the Likud party. After Likud lost the 1992 general election, he became party chairman. In 1996, he became Israel's first directly elected prime minister after an early election following the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. Mr Netanyahu is on course to become Israel's longest-serving prime minister. Mr Netanyahu was also Israel's youngest prime minister and the first to be born after the state was founded in 1948. His first term was brief but dramatic, beset by divisions in his coalition. Despite having fiercely criticised the Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinians, in 1997 Mr Netanyahu signed a deal handing over 80% of Hebron to Palestinian Authority control and signed the Wye River Memorandum in 1998 outlining further withdrawals from the West Bank. Mr Netanyahu survived rather than prospered, and lost office in 1999 after he called elections 17 months early. He was defeated by Labour leader Ehud Barak, Mr Netanyahu's former commander, who promised to push for a permanent peace deal and withdraw from southern Lebanon. Mr Netanyahu resigned as a member of the Knesset and chairman of Likud following the election loss. He was succeeded as Likud leader by Ariel Sharon.
Political revival. Life and times
1949 - born in Tel Aviv
1967-73 - serves as soldier commando captain
1984 - becomes ambassador to UN
1988 - enters Knesset and government
1996 - becomes prime minister
1999 - loses election
2002-03 - serves as foreign minister
2003-05 - serves as finance minister; resigns over withdrawal from Gaza
Dec 2005 - wins back leadership of Likud party
2009 - returns as prime minister
2013 - re-elected as prime minister
2015 - wins fourth term
After Mr Sharon was elected prime minister in 2001, Mr Netanyahu returned to government, first as foreign minister and then as finance minister. In 2005, he resigned in protest at the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. His chance came again in 2005, when Mr Sharon - just before a massive stroke that left him in a coma - split from Likud and set up a new centrist party, Kadima. Mr Netanyahu won the Likud leadership and was elected prime minister for the second time in March 2009. His government was criticised by some in the international community for not renewing a partial freeze on Jewish settlement-building and possibly avoiding a collapse in peace talks with the Palestinians in late 2010. He publicly accepted the concept of a demilitarised Palestinian state, but insisted the Palestinians accept Israel as a "Jewish state" in turn and make reciprocal concessions. In 2015 he distanced himself from accepting the prospect of a state, dismissing it as irrelevant given the rise of militant Islam across the Middle East. US relations
In late 2012 he called early elections, and weeks after parliament was dissolved Mr Netanyahu ordered a major offensive against militants in Gaza after an escalation of rocket-fire into Israel. He called off the operation without sending in ground troops, with all the risks that would entail, and the eight-day operation was widely regarded in Israel as a success. However, after a relative lull, cross-border violence flared again and after a surge of rocket attacks in July 2014, Mr Netanyahu launched another offensive on Gaza with the stated aim of restoring long-term quiet for Israel. Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump (25/01/18). Mr Netanyahu has found renewed political support from the US under Donald Trump. The 50-day war left more than 2,100 Palestinians dead, most of them civilians, according to UN and Palestinian officials. On the Israeli side, 67 soldiers and six civilians were killed. Although during the conflict Israel had the support of the United States, its closest ally, relations between Mr Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama were difficult. They reached a low point when Mr Netanyahu addressed Congress in March 2015, warning against a "bad deal" arising out of US negotiations with Iran over its nuclear programme. The Obama administration severely rebuked the visit as interfering and damaging. Mr Netanyahu has taken a hard line towards Iran, repeatedly warning of the danger to the international community of leaving it with the capacity to develop nuclear weapons. He has called for much tougher sanctions against Iran, seeing it as the number one threat to Israel, and indicated his willingness to use force to stop Iran's nuclear programme if all else fails. The advent of the Trump presidency aligned Israel and the US more closely, and within a year Donald Trump announced his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The move sparked fury across the Arab world - which supports the Palestinians' claim to the eastern half occupied by Israel since the 1967 Middle East war - but it handed Mr Netanyahu a major political and diplomatic coup.

Israel PM Netanyahu defiant in face of bribery allegations FEB 14, 2018

The attorney general's office could take months to decide if Netanyahu should face charges. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has hit back after police said he should be charged over alleged bribery cases. Speaking on Israeli television, he branded the allegations "baseless" and pledged to continue as leader. Mr Netanyahu said he was certain that the truth would be revealed. His comments follow a police statement that said there was enough evidence to indict him for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in two separate cases. But Mr Netanyahu said the allegations "will end with nothing". "I will continue to lead Israel responsibly and faithfully for as long as you, the citizens of Israel, choose me to lead you," he said soon after the allegations came to light on Tuesday. The 68-year-old is in his second stint as prime minister, and has served in the role for a total of 12 years. The attorney general's office could take months to decide if Mr Netanyahu should face charges. "Over the years, I have been the subject of at least 15 inquiries and investigations," he said in his TV address. "Some have ended with thunderous police recommendations like those of tonight. All of those attempts resulted in nothing, and this time again they will come to nothing." What are the allegations?
One case centres on an allegation that Mr Netanyahu asked the publisher of an Israeli newspaper, Yediot Aharonot, for positive coverage in exchange for help in reining in a rival publication. Police said the editor of Yediot Aharonot, Arnon Mozes, should also face charges. Mr Mozes's lawyer said he had a good defence, and that after further examination of the evidence "it will become clear that he did not commit a criminal offence". The second allegation centres on a claim that Mr Netanyahu received gifts worth at least a million shekels ($283,000; £204,000) from Hollywood mogul Arnon Milchan and other supporters. The Jerusalem Post says the gifts included champagne and cigars, and were given in exchange for help getting Mr Milchan a US visa. Mr Milchan, the producer of films including Fight Club, Gone Girl and The Revenant, should face bribery charges, police said. Actor Leonardo DiCaprio, winner of Best Actor for 'The Revenant', Producer Arnon Milchan and Director Steven Spielberg. The police statement said that Mr Netanyahu, after receiving gifts, pushed for the Milchan Law, which would have ensured that Israelis who return to live in Israel from abroad were exempt from paying taxes for 10 years. The proposal was eventually blocked by the finance ministry. Mr Milchan's lawyer said the police recommendation "ignored basic facts". His client and Mr Netanyahu were long-time friends, he said, and "in this context, gifts were given to the Netanyahu family from time to time, without any business interest". Police say Mr Netanyahu is also suspected of fraud and breach of trust in a case involving Australian billionaire James Packer. Israel's Channel 10 reported in December that Mr Packer told investigators he gave the prime minister and his wife Sara gifts. A spokesman for Mr Packer told Reuters "there is no allegation of wrongdoing" on the part of his client, and both Israeli and Australian police had "confirmed he was interviewed as a witness, not a suspect". Israeli media say Mr Netanyahu has been questioned by investigators at least seven times. What has the reaction been?
Israel's centre-left opposition alliance, the Zionist Union, called on Mr Netanyahu to resign. "The state of Israel needs a leader whose hands are clean and who is solely devoted to the affairs of the country," the group's Eyal Ben-Reuven told The Times of Israel. Ilan Gilon, of the left-wing Meretz party, said the allegations cast a "heavy shadow" over the prime minister. But members of Mr Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party have been quick to defend him. Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said the police statement was a "despicable move" designed to "carry out a government coup against the will of the voter". Despite the heated debate within Israel, international reaction has been more muted. A spokeswoman for the US State department emphasised Washington's strong relationship with Mr Netanyahu and insisted the issue was an internal matter. What happens now?
A final decision on whether Mr Netanyahu should face charges will come down to the attorney general's office. A decision could take months to reach. Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said any prime minister who has been charged should not be obliged to resign. Mr Netanyahu heads a fragile coalition, but on television, he appeared confident the allegations would not spur new elections.

Israeli police question PM Netanyahu in corruption probe. 2 January 2017

A defiant Mr Netanyahu mocked his accusers ahead of the questioning. Israeli police have questioned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as part of an inquiry into corruption allegations. He was asked about "receiving benefits from business people", justice ministry officials said without giving details. Ahead of the investigators' arrival at his residence on Monday, Mr Netanyahu restated that he was innocent. He warned the media and political rivals that they should "hold off partying", adding: "Nothing will happen, because there is nothing." Mr Netanyahu was questioned at his Jerusalem residence for about three hours, the Jerusalem Post newspaper says. The prime minister is accused of accepting "improper gifts" worth thousands of dollars from domestic and international businessmen, the newspaper reported. This file photo taken on June 23, 2016 shows Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara attending the 2016 Genesis Prize ceremony. Mr Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, have faced scrutiny several times over the years
Mr Netanyahu told his Likud party legislators earlier on Monday: "We hear all the media reports. We see and hear the festive spirit and atmosphere in television studios and in the corridors of the opposition. I want to tell them to wait for the celebrations. Do not rush... You will continue to inflate hot air balloons and we will continue to lead the state of Israel." Opponents of Mr Netanyahu have called for an investigation into his affairs following a series of scandals in recent months - none of which has resulted in charges. Allegations against Benjamin Netanyahu.
Nov 2016: Investigation opens into the purchase of new submarines from Germany, after it was claimed that Mr Netanyahu's lawyer represented the company during negotiations.
June 2016: Attorney General orders probe after French fraudster Arnaud Mimran claims he donated hundreds of thousands of euros to Mr Netanyahu's 2009 campaign - something the prime minister denies.
July 2015: Mr Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, are accused of charging the government for the services of a contractor who did private work for them; charges are later dropped.
May 2013: Mr Netanyahu is accused of wasting public money after it emerges $127,000 (£102,000) was spent on a customised private bedroom for a single flight to the UK. After Mr Netanyahu's first term as prime minister two decades ago, police recommended that he and Sara face criminal charges for keeping official gifts that should have been handed over to the state; charges are later dropped. Netanyahu denies wrongdoing ahead of investigation.

Oxfam International chair held over Guatemala graft scandal. 13 February 2018

Former finance minister and current chairman of Oxfam International Juan Alberto Fuentes arrives to court escorted by policemen after being detained as part of a local corruption investigation, in Guatemala City, Guatemala February 13, 2018. Juan Alberto Fuentes was Guatemala's finance minister before he became chairman of Oxfam International. The chairman of the charity Oxfam International, Juan Alberto Fuentes, has been arrested in Guatemala. He was detained as part of an investigation into a corruption scandal dating back to his time as Guatemala's finance minister. No charges have been brought so far. While his arrest is not related to his role at Oxfam, it will heap further pressure on the charity, which is still reeling from revelations that its staff hired prostitutes in Haiti. 'Entirely open'. Oxfam International's executive director Winnie Byanyima said that Mr Fuentes had been "entirely open with his Oxfam board". "He has assured us that he has co-operated fully with the investigation in the confidence he did not knowingly transgress rules or procedures," Ms Byanyima said. It comes as Oxfam faces scrutiny over a scandal in Haiti in 2011, where senior aid workers - including the country director Roland Van Hauwermeiren - allegedly paid for sex. Some of the claims say the women may have been underage. The scandal has forced the resignation of the organisation's deputy chief executive, Penny Lawrence, and shaken public confidence in both Oxfam and other charities. How will it affect Oxfam? Deputy resigns over how sex claims were handled. Oxfam boss says charity is ashamed. Actress quits Oxfam over Haiti sex claims. In Guatemala, Mr Fuentes is among 10 top former government officials arrested on Tuesday, including former President Álvaro Colom. Álvaro Colom was president from 2008 until 2012. The ex-officials are being investigated in connection with a public bus system, which was developed during Mr Colom's government between 2008 and 2012. No details have been given of the charges those arrested may face. The investigation is being led by the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). The commission is a United Nations body created in 2006 designed to strengthen the country's rule of law. Ex-leaders in the spotlight. Apart from Mr Colom, those arrested are the former ministers of finance, interior, education, defence, employment, economy, health, culture and the environment. How Guatemalans began daring to say what they think. Attorney General Thelma Aldana said that her office was investigating the purchase by Álvaro Colom's government of more than 3,000 buses in 2009. Ms Aldana says that only 455 of the buses ever arrived in Guatemala. Mr Colom is the second former president to be investigated over corruption by CICIG in the past months. His successor in office, Otto Pérez Molina, who governed from 2012 to 2015, is due to stand trial for his alleged role in a huge corruption scheme involving Guatemala's customs service. CICIG also said current President Jimmy Morales should be investigated because of alleged funding irregularities in his 2015 election campaign. In response, President Morales said the CICIG's head had been interfering in Guatemala's domestic affairs and ordered his deportation, but the order was overturned by the country's highest court.

Paraguay players accuse football club's ex-boss of abuse. 13 February 2018

Antonio González defended himself in a video, saying the relationship had been consensual. The ex-president of a fourth division football club in Paraguay has been accused of sexually abusing players, which he denies. At least two players have come forward to say they were abused by Antonio González, who until recently ran Rubio Ñu club in the city of Luque. The allegations against Mr González were made after an intimate photo of him with a player emerged. A prosecutor is investigating the allegations. Prosecutor Teresa Martínez also ordered a search of the club's premises during which investigators found pornographic material. Allegations widen. The scandal first came to light when a photo was posted anonymously on Facebook showing Mr González lying next to 26-year-old player Bernardo Gabriel Caballero. Football abuse: One year on are young players safer?
Football child sex abuse claims: What has happened so far? Almost 300 football abuse crimes recorded in Scotland. Following the photo's publication, Mr González said he had had a two-year relationship with Mr Caballero. In a video he posted on Facebook, he accused Mr Caballero of wanting to leave him for another man and tore up his contract while calling him names and telling him "you can forget about playing football". Mr Caballero has since alleged that their relationship was not consensual. He said that Mr González had told him he would not be allowed to play for the club unless he had sexual relations with him. "I know there were other players who had relations with him," the player said. "It was normal and I have proof that other lads went through the same thing." On Monday, a second player, Fermín Morinigo, went to the authorities and made allegations of abuse against Mr González. Physical abuse allegations. "It wasn't just harassment, there was physical abuse if you refused to do as he asked," Mr Morinigo's lawyer, Reinaldo Acosta, said.
Mr Acosta said that Mr González had threatened to harm his client and his family if he ever told anyone about it. The lawyer alleged that the physical abuse against his client had started when the player was only 17 years old. The local football association said its records showed that Mr González was no longer listed as the club's president although he was still listed as manager of another club, Marte Atlético. A spokesman for the association said Mr González had passed on the job of president of Rubio Ñu to his nephew "after a disagreement" with football authorities. It is not clear when he ceased being the president and the videos he recorded show him speaking in front of Rubio Ñu banners.

Why I've decided to come out at the age of 91. 14 Feb 2018

‘I’m enjoying becoming a gay icon at 91’. "I really do enjoy the fact that at my age, I can be totally free with people. I think I'm a little bit in danger of becoming a gay icon!" Barbara Hosking has come out at the age of 91, as she reflects on a remarkable life in the corridors of power. As a senior civil servant she worked for two prime ministers, Edward Heath and Harold Wilson, as well as a television executive. She battled sexism throughout her career, fighting for equal pay and even to be in the room during some meetings. Speaking to BBC Radio 5 live's Emma Barnett Show she explained why she never told her family about her sexuality. "My parents wouldn't have understood and they would have been shocked. They loved me very much, but my father was very old-fashioned and conventional. My mother would have probably thought it was a difficult, unhappy choice for me to make. Actually I've been very happy. I've had a full life." Ms Hosking has been in a relationship for 20 years, and chose to come out while writing her memoirs: Exceeding My Brief: Memoirs of a Disobedient Civil Servant. "Men had this great liberating moment when the law changed and they were no longer in danger of being imprisoned or, in earlier days, of being killed. Women have never had that, but it has been extremely difficult because you could be ostracised very easily." Ms Hosking moved to London from Cornwall at the age of 21 to pursue a career in journalism. Instead, she joined the Labour Party press office and went on to work for the civil service as a press officer to prime ministers Edward Heath and Harold Wilson. Despite her Labour background - she once considered running as an MP - Ms Hosking has some sympathy for Theresa May's current predicament. "She would be a marvellous 'good weather' prime minister with a big majority, but she doesn't have the equipment to cope with what is happening now. It's a dreadful position for any prime minister to be in, with a divided cabinet and divided MPs behind her. It's sad because she's got lots of good qualities, but she lacks the killer instinct for doing something. It may be that she looks around and feels she can't." She believes potential Conservative leadership rivals are "watching her suffer and watching her cope because they don't want to go in at this stage". Barbara Hosking at her 90th birthday party. As someone who once discovered that her deputy was being paid more than she was, Ms Hosking says she's dismayed that women are still battling for equal pay. "I find it shocking. What's so difficult about equal pay? It's not happening in a lot of places. Don't tell me that it's accidental that in senior jobs in the BBC, the women are always getting less pay. Is this an accident? It can't be. And it can be solved."'The talk of Brussels'
She also fears that Labour's failure to elect a female leader is a symptom of a misogyny problem which the party "has never lost". Despite all this, Ms Hosking believes women "have more freedom to choose to be themselves than at any point in history". She remembers women being invited to leave the room following a high-level dinner in Brussels. "I said 'I'm very sorry I must go back. I'm with my minister, I'm his private secretary'. They said: 'You can't do that, the ladies retire so the men can discuss'. I said: 'He won't be able to get on without me, I've done all the work on this!' They said I would be the talk of Brussels the following day." Barbara also once ran a mine in Tanzania, where she encountered creatures like this spitting cobra. She's hopeful that the #metoo movement will be a turning point for how women are treated: "It may change the culture, but that's a very difficult thing to do. "Usually in the past it's been something you put up with and you got on with it. You slapped them on the hand or gave them a good push.  I suppose you could even knee them if it came to it!" She talks too of her sadness over Brexit, having been with Edward Heath when he signed the Treaty of Rome: "I am a total Remainer. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. We have done worse than that. People wanted change. It was an easy whipping boy to blame immigration, or to blame Europe, as if we weren't part of Europe." And Ms Hosking revealed the secret of her longevity - a daily dose of red wine. "I drink claret. Two glasses a day. My doctor knows it and says it's OK!"

Harassment in politics: Why is the Welsh Assembly not talking more about it? 12 February 2018

Back in November all the party leaders in the National Assembly for Wales came together to announce new rules about tackling inappropriate behaviour. In a joint statement they said they would "work together to clarify and strengthen our procedures to ensure that individuals feel more empowered to report allegations of inappropriate behaviour, and that such allegations are investigated thoroughly and fairly - for all involved". It came in the midst of allegations of sexual harassment in Westminster and in Cardiff Bay. But whereas in Parliament they have now come up with a new set of rules about how MPs should behave, in the assembly it will be several months until AMs will have to abide by the new so-called respect and dignity policy. In the meantime there is already a code of conduct by which they have to abide. In Cardiff Bay there seems to be much less discussion about this issue than is the case in Westminster, and I think there are two reasons for this. Fears of attack on social media are one reason there may be less discussion about harrassment in Cardiff Bay, Arwyn Jones writes. Firstly, there is, clearly, a sensitivity due to the death of Carl Sargeant a few days after he insisted he would clear his name following allegations of "unwanted attention, inappropriate touching or groping" by women. The handling of those allegations by Carwyn Jones is the subject of a QC-led inquiry and has led to the greatest challenge of his time as leader. But, at the same time, I have been told that women who have supported the right of other women to make complaints against politicians in Cardiff Bay have faced "a barrage of attacks" on social media and no longer feel it's possible to discuss the subject. One told me that she "was desperate for women's voices to be heard, but it's just not possible" because of the "attack and vitriol on social media". New assembly plan for misbehaving politicians. Harassment in politics 'gone on too long'. No 'natural justice' for Carl Sargeant. Secondly there is a separate issue regarding accusations of bullying against a former Plaid Cymru AM, Neil McEvoy. It took nearly ten months for the party to decide whether or not to take action over eleven complaints against Mr McEvoy. Neil McEvoy sought the details of complaints against him from Plaid Cymru - something the party later apologised for. Frustrated at the slow pace, and keen to clear his name, Mr McEvoy sought to get the details of the complaints and complainants from the party, some of which he later published at a press conference to claim a vendetta against him. Plaid later apologised after saying it had given the details to Mr McEvoy "in error". Following the incident some of the women who had complained said "it may now be more difficult for women to be confident in raising such matters". The assembly standards committee is looking into the "existing procedures around complaints to ensure they are appropriate and clear so that individuals feel able to come forward with confidence about any concerns regarding inappropriate behaviour." It is still taking evidence and is not expected to publish its findings for a while, the idea being that they want the new rules to be robust and, as one source on the committee told me: "Better to do it right than do it quickly". 'Cautious optimism'
In the meantime the assembly's standards commissioner - former High Court Judge Sir Roderick Evans - has been asked to look at how the guidelines of the political parties can be aligned to the assembly's new respect and dignity policy. He has met with some of the party leaders and, from what I gather the discussions seem to be going well. One source told me there's cautious optimism that things are moving in the right direction and that they are happy that Sir Roderick seems to be taking a big interest in the subject. From a Labour point of view I understand the party follows the UK Labour guidelines on dealing with harassment, and so Sir Roderick is dealing with both Welsh and UK-wide officials. All these changes will, it is hoped, make it easier for women to complain about harassment, but there is a greater fear that the current climate makes it difficult for those women to talk about the issue openly.

South Africa's Zuma crisis: Gupta home raided by police. 14 Feb 2018

Atul Gupta (centre) shakes hands with President Jacob Zuma (right) in 2012. Their relationship has come under scrutiny in recent years. South Africa's elite police unit has raided the home of a controversial business family linked to President Jacob Zuma, as pressure increases on him to stand down. Officials say three people were arrested as part of an investigation into the wealthy, Indian-born Guptas. They have been accused of using their close friendship with Mr Zuma to wield enormous political influence. Meanwhile, Mr Zuma's party has given him until the end of the day to resign. His links to the Guptas are one of the reasons he is being forced to resign before the 2019 general election. The Guptas and Mr Zuma deny all allegations of wrongdoing. Finance minister warns Zuma he could be voted out. How the Guptas' brand turned toxic in South Africa. Long read: The many trials of Jacob Zuma. Pressure has been slowly increasing on Mr Zuma to stand down in recent weeks. He was expected to respond to a formal request from the African National Congress (ANC) to step down at some point on Wednesday. However, the situation has escalated, with ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu saying a motion of no-confidence in the president will be heard on Thursday. Parliament will then elect Cyril Ramaphosa as the new president, potentially also tomorrow if the chief justice is available to swear him in. Mr Ramaphosa was elected ANC president in December, replacing Mr Zuma. Why was the Gupta's house raided? According to a statement released by the Hawks - the police's elite high-priority crimes unit - the raids were carried out in connection with the Vrede farm investigation. Three people were arrested during the raid, with two more expected to hand themselves in. According to local media, one of those arrested was a Gupta family member. Watch: President Zuma's son on his relationship with the Guptas. That investigation relates to the Estina dairy farm near Vrede, in the Free State, a project which was originally meant to help poor black farmers but from which the Gupta family are alleged to have pocketed millions of dollars, allegations they deny. A tranche of leaked emails released last year alleged that some of the money ended up paying for the family's lavish wedding at Sun City, South Africa's upmarket holiday resort. In January, the Hawks raided the offices of the Free State Premier, Ace Magashule, looking for documents linked to the project. Mr Magashule was elected secretary-general of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in December. Members of the Hawks special police unit stand guard outside Gupta home. The family's walled Johannesburg compound was subject to an early morning search by elite police. The chief whip of the opposition Democratic Alliance John Steenhuisen told the BBC the arrests he thought the timing of today's raid was particularly interesting, given . "I think the arrests this morning were a warning shot fired across the bows of Mr Zuma's camp to say that 'Look if you don't step down and resign, this could well be happening to you,'" he said. Just who are the Gupta family?
The embattled Gupta family own a range of business interests in South Africa, including computing, mining, air travel, energy, technology and media. The three brothers, Atul, Rajesh and Ajay, moved to the country in 1993 from India, just as white-minority rule was ending. They are known friends of President Zuma - and his son, daughter and one of the president's wives worked for the family's firms. The brothers have been accused of wielding enormous political influence in South Africa, with critics alleging that they have tried to "capture the state" to advance their own business interests. Early this morning, as the plush suburb of Saxonwold was waking up - gardeners walking dogs, children being taken to school in 4x4s - armed police arrived at the enormous, high-walled, Gupta compound opposite the lion enclosure of Johannesburg Zoo, sealing off a section of the road, and venturing inside. Soon afterwards, two luxury vehicles were seen driving out of the gates escorted by police in separate cars. The Hawks - the elite high-priority crimes unit - confirmed that this was an operation to arrest suspects, rather than to raid properties. A blue police helicopter swung over the property, as local people voiced satisfaction about the police action. "It's very emotional for all South Africans. This is about getting South Africa right again," said Tessa Turvey. "This is real meaningful change. I certainly don't think it would have happened if Zuma was still president of the ANC," said a man, walking his dogs. What are the other allegations against the Guptas? Former Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas made a public allegation in 2016 that he was offered 600m rand ($50m; £36m) by the Gupta family to be the next finance minister - as long as he did their bidding. It was followed by a damning report by a South African government ombudsman that accused the Guptas and President Zuma of colluding to win government contracts. The public backlash worsened in 2017 when more than 100,000 emails were leaked which appeared to show the extent of the family's influence. It suggested a complex web of government contracts, as well as alleged kickbacks and money laundering. It prompted marches and public protests against the family and President Zuma, dubbed the "Zuptas".

South Africa: ANC decides Zuma must go 'urgently'. 13 February 2018, Johannesburg

South African president, Jacob Zuma, arrives for the formal opening of parliament in Cape Town in 2015. Jacob Zuma has been president of South Africa since 2009. South Africa's governing African National Congress (ANC) has formally asked President Jacob Zuma to resign for the sake of the country. But despite the ANC's top leadership deciding to "recall" him "urgently", the scandal-hit Mr Zuma was still in power on Tuesday. He is expected to respond to the request on Wednesday, an official said. He had already told them he was willing to stand down in the next three to six months, the official added. Mr Zuma, who has been in power since 2009, has been dogged by corruption allegations. Six reasons why Zuma is under pressure. The many trials of Jacob Zuma. But he has so far resisted increasing pressure to quit since December, when his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, replaced him as leader of the ANC. Wednesday's cabinet meeting, usually chaired by Mr Zuma, has been postponed because of "developments taking place in the ruling party", a government statement said. 'No guillotine'. Ace Magashule, the ANC's secretary-general, told reporters the party's National Executive Committee (NEC) decided the removal should be "treated with urgency". "The NEC has noted South Africa is going through a period of uncertainty and anxiety as a result of unresolved matter of transition," he said. Mr Magashule said the country needed to build on the "renewed hope" felt after the election of Mr Ramaphosa as ANC leader. "It is obvious we want Comrade Ramaphosa to come in as the president of South Africa," he added. ANC seeks 'amicable' Zuma resolution. He said the president was expected to respond to the NEC's decision on Wednesday, although they had given him no deadline. "When we recall our deployee, we expect our deployee to do as asked," Mr Magashule said. ANC NEC member Lindiwe Zulu told the BBC the party will give Mr Zuma an opportunity to respond to its request. "There is no guillotine here. He is a comrade," she said. South Africa's opposition parties have already expressed reservations about the ANC's confidence that Mr Zuma will step down. "The only way to remove Jacob Zuma as president of our country is for parliament to do so through a motion of no confidence," the Democratic Alliance (DA) tweeted. It called the motion brought by another opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), to be brought forward from 22 February so parliament can "remove Jacob Zuma". Although it was hardly an unexpected announcement, there was still a sense of disbelief among the waiting journalists as Mr Magashule announced the NEC has asked Mr Zuma to step down. After such a long wait, we had half expected the ANC to say they had given him more time, or reached some sort of compromise.
But surprise gave way to bemusement as Mr Magashule side-stepped repeated requests for clarification on what the ANC will do if President Zuma refuses to resign by Wednesday. As for whether the ANC would support an opposition motion of no confidence, Mr Magashule said he did not know. But when asked what Mr Zuma said when he was told of the NEC's decision, Mr Magashule choice of words were pointed: the president had said he was "a disciplined member of the ANC". It was a term repeated several times during the briefing. In other words, as far as the ANC is concerned - it is done. What has Mr Zuma done wrong? Mr Zuma's presidency has been overshadowed by allegations of corruption which he has always vehemently denied. In 2016, South Africa's highest court ruled that Mr Zuma had violated the constitution when he failed to repay government money spent on his private home. Last year the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled that he must face 18 counts of corruption, fraud, racketeering and money-laundering relating to a 1999 arms deal. More recently, Mr Zuma's links to the wealthy India-born Gupta family, who are alleged to have influenced the government, have caused his popularity to plummet. Both Mr Zuma and the Guptas deny the allegations. Is Mr Zuma legally obliged to quit? The formal request to resign is difficult to resist, but he is not legally obliged to do so and could technically carry on as president despite losing the support of his party. However, should he continue to defy his party, he would be expected to face a confidence vote in parliament. Mr Zuma has survived other such votes but he is not expected to pull it off again. A confidence vote would be considered a humiliating process for him and the party. In terms of the constitution, it will require the entire cabinet to resign and for the parliamentary speaker to serve as acting president until MPs elect a new president. Supporters of ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa chant slogans outside party headquarter in Johannesburg, on February 5, 2018. Why is this happening now? The ANC was badly rattled by its performance at the 2016 local elections when it won its lowest share of the vote since coming to power under the late Nelson Mandela in 1994. On Monday, opposition parties called for an early election."Anyone from the ANC that wants to lead this country, must get their mandate from the people of South Africa," DA leader Mmusi Maimane told reporters.

World chess body accounts closed over president's Syria sanctions. 14 Feb 2018

World Chess Federation President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov has been under US sanctions since 2015. The World Chess Federation (FIDE) says its Swiss bank accounts have been closed after its president was accused of facilitating transactions on behalf of the Syrian government. Russian millionaire Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was added to a US Treasury Department sanctions list in 2015 for his alleged dealings with the Assad government. He denies wrongdoing, and stepped back from FIDE to try to resolve the issue. But FIDE says Swiss bank UBS closed its accounts as he is still sanctioned. A letter from the Lausanne-based FIDE's treasurer, Adrian Siegel, acknowledged the issue was "a serious problem" that had "severely damaged" the organisation's business dealings. "After more than two years of Kirsan Ilyumzhinow's [sic] presence on the sanction list... UBS has announced that they will immediately close our accounts," the letter published online reads. "It was only a question of time until we face this serious problem." The letter adds: "We have to look for a new bank connection. In the process of this change we anticipate some problems." Mr Ilyumzhinov is yet to comment on FIDE's letter. He is still listed as the organisation's president on its website. In March 2017, Mr Ilyumzhinov was quoted by Russia's Tass news agency as saying that FIDE, the governing body of international chess competitions, was trying to "oust" him after a statement on it's website said he had resigned. "I think there is an American hand in this, and I think it's called a set-up," he said.  Mr Ilyumzhinov, a former businessman and politician, has long been viewed as an eccentric character. He was president of the Republic of Kalmykia, a small Buddhist region of Russia which lies on the shores of the Caspian Sea, for 17 years. He once claimed on television to have met aliens on board a spaceship. As head of the World Chess Federation since 1995, he has spent tens of millions of dollars turning the impoverished republic into a mecca for chess players - building an entire village to host international tournaments. But in November 2015, the US Treasury Department placed him on a sanctions list for "materially assisting and acting for or on behalf of the Government of Syria". The list also includes a middleman accused of facilitating Syrian government oil purchases from the Islamic State group. The World Chess Federation says Mr Ilyumzhinov "has unsuccessfully tried several times to be removed from this list and at the moment there is no hint at all that there will be a change". They say he told the organisation on "various occasions that he will be removed from the sanction list in the very near future", which is why the bank allowed their accounts to remain open until now. UBS told The Telegraph newspaper that it does not comment "on whether individuals or organizations are clients of UBS", but that it follows "all laws and regulations that are applicable to us".

Video: Robots Hassling Homeless People. Dec 15, 2017

A nonprofit organization in San Fransisco started using “bot cops” to disperse homeless people near their property. Cenk Uygur, Ana Kasparian and Aida Rodriguez, the hosts of The Young Turks, break it down. Tell us what you think in the comment section below. "Is it worse if a robot instead of a human is used to deter the homeless from setting up camp outside places of business? One such bot cop recently took over the outside of the San Francisco SPCA, an animal advocacy and pet adoption clinic in the city’s Mission district, to deter homeless people from hanging out there — causing some people to get very upset. Silicon Valley game developer and Congressional candidate Brianna Wu tweeted yesterday her dismay at the move, saying, “I’m sorry for being so frank but this absolutely disgusts me as someone that experienced homelessness.”

US Veterans chief Jew-Shulkin 'improperly' took Wimbledon tickets. 14 February 2018

Mr Shulkin disputes the inspector general's findings. US Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin improperly accepted Wimbledon tennis tickets and used tax dollars to fund a European trip, a report finds. A report by the agency's inspector general also accused Mr Shulkin's top aide of doctoring an email to justify government-funded travel for his wife. Mr Shulkin has refuted the charges. One US congressman has called for him to resign over "corruption and abuses". Five Trump cabinet officials have faced ethics probes related to travel costs. The Veteran Affairs (VA) administration's internal inspector general, Michael Missal, released a report on Wednesday finding that the secretary had received tickets to the Wimbledon women's final tennis match in July from an organiser for the Invictus Games - a sports tournament for wounded veterans founded by Prince Harry. VA officials had told ethics advisers that the tickets were a gift of a personal friend, and thus allowed under government rules. But the inspector found that Victoria Gosling, an adviser to the Invictus Games, could not recall Mr Shulkin's wife's first name when later asked by investigators. He has also previously told the Washington Post that he had purchased the Wimbledon tickets. Jews: Mr Shulkin and his wife Merle Bari. Mr Missal also claims that Mr Shulkin's chief of staff doctored an email from an aide coordinating the trip to make it appear as though Mr Shulkin was receiving an award from the Danish government. The email was allegedly doctored by Viveca Wright Simpson, the VA's third-most-senior official, in order to justify using taxpayer money to pay for Mr Shulkin's wife, Merle Bari, to travel to Europe for a nine-day trip. Mrs Shulkin's flight cost $4,300 (£3,100) the report found. US Congressman Mike Coffman called on Mr Shulkin to resign following the report. Mr Missal also claims that a top VA aide made "extensive use of official time" to organise leisure activities for the secretary and his wife, and essentially acted as his "personal travel concierge. This was time that should have been spent conducting official VA business", the inspector wrote in the 84-page report. "Although the [inspector general's office] cannot determine the value VA gained from the Secretary and his delegation's three and a half days of meetings in Copenhagen and London at a cost of at least $122,334, the investigation revealed serious derelictions by VA personnel," the watchdog found. US treasury secretary's wife Louise Linton is 'super-duper' sorry. The people (jews) around President Trump. In a response to the report, dated 12 February, Mr Shulkin said the inspector's finding were "overall and entirely inaccurate".
"Your staff's conduct related to this investigation reeks of an agenda," he said.
"Your portrayal of this trip is overall and entirely inaccurate."
He is the latest Trump official to face allegations of improper expenses for their official travel. Others include:
Tom Price resigned as Health and Human Services secretary in September 2017 amid a row over more than $400,000 in tax dollars spent on charter and luxury flights. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was criticised by his agency's inspector general for not properly documenting his travel on private planes with his wifeTreasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin faced an investigation after he was accused of spending more than $800,000 in tax dollars on military aircraft for leisure purposes. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt is currently being probed for his use of private planes and luxury airliners

Five things you need to know about a Jew-Steve Mnuchin. 30 November 2016

Jew Steve Mnuchin: Who is Trump's new treasury secretary? President-elect Donald Trump swore he'd shake up Washington and he's wasting no time.
His latest pick is former jewish Goldman Sachs banker Steven Mnuchin as his treasury secretary, where he will be responsible for government borrowing, assisting in the overhaul of the tax code and preparing financial sanctions against other countries. The appointment still needs to be approved by the Senate. It's an unusual - and somewhat controversial - choice, given candidate Trump's criticism of Wall Street. Here are five things you need to know about Steven Mnuchin. 1. He will be the third Goldman Sachs veteran to hold the Treasury job in recent years. Steven Mnuchin will follow in the footsteps of fellow Goldman alumni Robert Rubin (under Bill Clinton) and Henry Paulson under (George W Bush) in the Treasury job. Mr Mnuchin spent 17 years early in his career at the investment bank, where he oversaw trading of mortgage-backed bonds and rose from partner to chief information officer. Goldman chief executive Lloyd Blankfein described Mr Mnuchin - who served as Jew Mr Trump's national finance chairman - as "a very smart guy". "When I was running the fixed-income division, he was a high-flyer," Mr Blankfein said recently. Mr Mnuchin left Goldman in 2002 and two years later founded the hedge fund Dune Capital Management. Mr Mnuchin follows in the footsteps of Robert Rubin and Henry Paulson.
2. He's acted in a Hollywood film and produced several more. The future US treasury secretary coming to a screen near you? Yes, it's true. He plays a banker in Warren Beatty's new film Rules Don't Apply. Besides working in finance, Mr Mnuchin has longstanding ties to Hollywood. He teamed up with producer-director Brett Ratner and Australian businessman James Packer to form RatPac Dune Entertainment. Together they produced some of Hollywood's most successful movies, including Avatar and Mad Max: Fury Road. Recent projects include Sully and The Accountant. He was briefly co-chairman of Relativity Media before it went bankrupt. Rules Don't Apply: starring Warren Beatty... and Jew Steve Mnuchin.
3. He bought a bank, whose behaviour was later described as 'repugnant'. Mr Mnuchin returned to banking during the financial crisis, gathering a group of investors including hedge fund bigwigs George Soros and John Paulson, private equity investor Christopher Flowers and computer mogul Michael Dell to buy failed mortgage lender IndyMac. The bank, renamed OneWest Bank, returned to financial health but it became known for quickly seizing the homes of borrowers who fell behind on their mortgage payments. In 2009, a New York judge called OneWest's behaviour "harsh, repugnant, shocking and repulsive'' in trying to foreclose on a New York family. OneWest said it "respectfully disagreed" with the court. Two years later, protesters marched on Mr Mnuchin's Los Angeles mansion accusing OneWest Bank of aggressive foreclosure practices. It was sold to CIT Group in 2015 in a lucrative deal. Mr Mnuchin was part of the group that bought failed lender IndyMac and revived it as OneWest.
4. He was sued over Madoff fraud profit. Like his new boss, Steven Mnuchin grew up in a wealthy family. His father, a Jew Robert Mnuchin, was a banker-turned-
upscale art dealer and his Jewish mother was a vice president of the International Directors' Council of the Solomon Guggenheim Museum. When she died in 2005, she made Steven and his brother Alan the beneficiaries and executors of her estate. Within a few months, they withdrew $3.2m from her account with Bernard Madoff Securities. Three years later Madoff was arrested and the two were sued by the trustee trying to recover money for victims of Madoff's Ponzi scheme. The suit was dropped because of time restrictions. Bernard Madoff's arrest led to a lawsuit for Steve Mnuchin and his brother. (geedy jews, LM)
5. He was once sued by Donald Trump. Donald Trump could soon be in a position of having sued his own treasury secretary. Mr Mnuchin's Dune Capital was among a group of lenders, including Deutsche Bank, who provided loans for the construction of a Trump skyscraper in Chicago. Mr Trump sued the lenders during the credit crunch to extend the terms of the loan. The suit was later settled. Mr Trump and Mr Mnuchin have also previously worked together on a hotel in Hawaii.

Jew Mr Mnuchin's wife Louise Linton: The photo, the hashtags and the sarcasm. 22 August 2017

The now private post by Louise Linton has caused quite a storm on social media. It's commonplace to post photos of trips and special occasions on social media, but as the actress Louise Linton found out, people didn't respond well to the hashtags she used in one of her posts. Ms Linton, an Edinburgh-born actress who is married to the US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, posted on her Instagram account a photo of her and her husband disembarking a US Air Force jet in Kentucky, adding various hashtags of the designer labels she was wearing. The post has since been made private, along with Louise Linton's Twitter account. A Treasury Department official told the New York Times the Mnuchins reimbursed the government for the trip and that Ms Linton was not compensated by any of the labels she promoted with hashtags. But it was not just the hashtags that created a storm - it was also her response to one person in particular that struck many. Writer Ali Yashar's post caught the Instagram comments in Ms Linton's post before it was blocked: Jenni Miller commented on Ms Linton's post: "Glad we could pay for your little getaway. #deplorable." To which Louise Linton responded:
"Did you think this was a personal trip? Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband? Either as an individual earner in taxes or in self sacrifice to your country?" She went on to say Ms Miller was "adorably out of touch" and thanked her for the "passive aggressive nasty comment." Ms Linton then called her mad but said: "Deep down you're really nice and so am I." Ms Linton has since changed her public Instagram account to a private one, but not before her remarks were posted thousands of times on Twitter. Her post received some criticism, including one tweet - that has an offensive word - from former UK MP Louise Mensch, and others from former director of US Office of Government Ethics, Walter Shaub who adds: "The little people your wife mocks are paying the bills with blood, sweat and tears." Walter Shaub: Hey @stevenmnuchin the government's not your playground. The little people your wife mocks are paying the bills with blood, sweat & tears. Some have been calling her out on her "sacrifices", as seen in this tweet by Alice Potenza whose partner fought in the Gulf War. Having trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts before moving to the US, appearing in films such as Lions for Lambs and Cabin Fever, Ms Linton is used to the limelight. This is also not the first time she has courted controversy. In July 2016, she published a memoir of her experiences volunteering in Zambia during her gap year, which provoked a huge online backlash as reviews and comments accused her of being patronising and inaccurate.

A Stormy (Daniels) situation: A porn star scandal Trump can't shake. 14 February 2018

Call it the October surprise that didn't happen - and a presidential scandal that hasn't caught fire. Yet. 
a Jew Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's personal lawyer and all-around fixer, set up a private company that made a $130,000 (£94,000) payment - out of Mr Cohen's personal funds - to adult film actress Stormy Daniels on 17 October, 2016 - just weeks before Mr Trump's shocking general election victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton.
To place that in the timeline of major presidential election events, that was just 10 days after the infamous Access Hollywood tape in which Mr Trump boasted of making unwanted sexual advances on women made headlines, and 11 days before James Comey's equally infamous letter re-opening the investigation into Mrs Clinton's email server. According to the Wall Street Journal, which broke the story last month, the payment was made to Ms Daniels in exchange for her agreement not to discuss a year-long extramarital affair she had with Mr Trump that began in 2006. Ms Daniels had been in communication with media outlets in the weeks before the 2016 presidential election, but those contacts ceased after the Cohen payment was made. Cohen has said the president "vehemently denies" any romantic involvement with the adult film star, while the White House called the WSJ story "old, recycled reports, which were published and strongly denied prior to the election". Would a Trump porn-star sex scandal have made a difference in the election? Counter-factuals about the 2016 election are a fool's game. What's of more immediate interest is why the Wall Street Journal report hasn't made a bigger splash in the US media and among the public at large. And it's not just a stodgy financial newspaper's reporting, either. If a good sex scandal needs salacious details, this one has the abundance, due to an extensive 2011 interview Daniels (her real name is Stephanie Clifford) gave to In Touch magazine, which was published in full on Friday. According to the report, Daniels discusses in detail how she allegedly met Mr Trump (at a golf tournament), their various dalliances (a first date in his hotel room, where he met her in his pyjamas), his television-watching habits and his obsession with and overwhelming fear of sharks (he allegedly said he wished the species would die). Jew Michael Cohen reportedly set up a Delaware corporation that made a $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels in October 2016. Back in 2016, multiple news outlets were apparently pursuing the story. Slate editor Jacob Weisberg has recounted his communications with Daniels, who he said had alleged the romantic involvement with Mr Trump. "Daniels said she had some corroborating evidence, including the phone numbers of Trump's long-time personal assistant Rhona Graff and his bodyguard Keith Schiller, with whom she said she would arrange rendezvous," Weisberg writes. "While she did not share those numbers with me, I did speak to three of Daniels' friends, all of whom said they knew about the affair at the time, and all of whom confirmed the outlines of her story." Weisberg says Daniels cut off communications with him around the time the Wall Street Journal reports she received payment from Cohen. CNN has also reported that Fox News was investigating the alleged Trump-Daniels affair in October 2016, including securing an on-the-record interview with Daniels' business manager repeating the claims, but the network spiked the story. Fast-forward a year and a few months, and the story - and the journalistic digging around it - is finally seeing the light of day. And yet the reports have been buried beneath coverage of a possible federal government shutdown, back-and-forths over the exact expletive the president used to describe impoverished nations and the president's mental and physical health. Why? Perhaps it's scandal fatigue for a public figure who has been a tabloid fixture for decades. "If you think the media haven't created a new set of rules for Trump, here's a thought experiment," writes Judd Legum of the liberal media watchdog group ThinkProgress. "Imagine the coverage if it was reported in 2013 that Obama paid a porn star 130K to keep quiet about an extramarital affair." That prospect has conservative columnist Tim Carney, of the Washington Examiner, somewhat despondent. "It's a sign that our culture has been debased that people are shrugging off this latest story about Trump's infidelity," he writes. "Specifically: Trump has debased us. We're worse because of him." That may be changing, however, now that the New York Times has followed up on the Wall Street Journal's story and received a statement from Mr Cohen confirming the payment but denying any wrongdoing. If the payment had been made out of campaign funds and not, as he says, from his personal account, it could constitute a violation of election law. Reports of the alleged affair itself, which other media organisations have repeated, are more than a decade old. A story about possible attempts to cover up a salacious story just before an election, however, could wound a White House that is already on its heels.

Stormy Daniels 'free to tell her story' after Trump lawyer statement

The newspaper says Mr Cohen declined to answer why the "private transaction" was made. An adult film star who has been embroiled in allegations of an affair with President Donald Trump is free to tell her story, her manager has said. Stormy Daniels is no longer bound by a non-disclosure contract after Mr Trump's lawyer admitted he paid her, manager Gina Rodriguez says. Mr Trump's personal lawyer confirmed in a statement to media he privately paid Ms Daniels $130,000 (£95,000) in 2016. Ms Rodriguez says that acknowledgement allows her client to speak freely. Porn actress Stormy Daniels alleged in 2011 that she had an affair with Mr Trump in 2006. "Everything is off now, and Stormy is going to tell her story," Ms Rodriguez told the Associated Press on Wednesday. Her statement comes after Trump lawyer Michael Cohen told the New York Times he paid Ms Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. "Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly," Mr Cohen told the New York Times. He said he told the Federal Election Commission the same after a watchdog group filed a complaint about the payment, claiming that it had served as an "in-kind" political contribution to Mr Trump's campaign. An X-rated cover-up? Donald Trump's lawyer and all-around fixer Michael Cohen has said he doesn't plan "further comment" on his six-figure payment to Stormy Daniels. His statements, however, raise more questions than they answer. While he said the money came from his "personal funds" and was not reimbursed directly or indirectly by the Trump Organization or the Trump campaign, that leaves open the possibility that he was compensated by other parties - including Mr Trump himself. Why, in his generosity, would Mr Cohen give $130,000 to Ms Daniels? The Wall Street Journal has reported that it was in exchange for a non-disclosure agreement about a decade-old affair between Mr Trump and Ms Daniels. Circumstantial evidence - that Ms Daniels had been in contact with media outlets prior to the transfer and has since gone silent - lends credence to this line. Even though the alleged affair is long since past, a story about possible hush money and an attempted cover-up just weeks before the presidential election is much more dangerous for a White House already on its heels. And if it turns out there's more to the money trail than has been disclosed, an embarrassing situation could quickly morph into a criminal inquiry. A Stormy (Daniels) situation: A porn star scandal Trump can't shake. "The payment to Ms Clifford was lawful, and was not a campaign contribution or a campaign expenditure by anyone," Mr Cohen said. The lawyer has previously said Mr Trump "vehemently denies" it occurred. The revelations on Wednesday follow US media reports that the porn actress known as Ms Daniels was paid to sign an agreement stopping her discussing an alleged affair. She first said she had a relationship with Mr Trump in a 2011 interview. In a 2011 interview with InTouch magazine, the actress said she began a sexual relationship with Mr Trump in 2006, shortly after Melania Trump gave birth to his son Barron. The reports re-emerged in January when the Wall Street Journal reported that she was paid to sign a non-disclosure agreement in the run up to the 2016 election, which prevented her from discussing the alleged liaison. Ms Clifford was believed to be in discussion with US media about a television appearance to discuss Mr Trump at the time, the report said. Responding to questions from CNN about why the payment was made, Mr Cohen said: "Just because something isn't true doesn't mean that it can't cause you harm or damage. I will always protect Mr Trump," Mr Cohen added. On 30 January, Ms Daniels' publicist released a statement in her name denying having an affair with Mr Trump. But many - including Ms Daniels herself - were quick to note that the signature attached to that denial did not bear much resemblance to another copy of her autograph which had been attached to an earlier statement. That denial had been released by Mr Cohen on 10 January. Ms Daniels hosted a Super Bowl party last month. She has since made several public appearances on television and at strip clubs, but has remained tight-lipped when asked directly about Mr Trump in interviews. Minutes after Mr Trump's first formal State of the Union address to Congress, she gave an interview to late night comedian Jimmy Kimmel. In it, she refused to directly answer whether she had signed a non-disclosure agreement, or if she had "ever made love to someone whose name rhymes with Lonald Lump".

Barnaby Joyce: Australia PM bans ministers from sex with staff - 14 February 2018

Barnaby Joyce will take one week of leave, Malcolm Turnbull says. Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull has said he will prohibit sex between ministers and their staff, after it was revealed his deputy had an affair with a former staffer. In a press briefing, he condemned Barnaby Joyce for a "shocking error of judgement". Mr Joyce will take a leave of absence from Monday amid scrutiny over whether he breached ministerial standards. Both Mr Joyce and Mr Turnbull deny that any rules, as defined, were broken. But the prime minister said he would overhaul the "truly deficient" ministerial code of conduct. "Ministers must behave accordingly. They must not have sexual relations with their staff - that's it," he told reporters. Mr Turnbull earlier told parliament that Mr Joyce would not fill his post as acting leader next week when the prime minister travels to the US. The scandal has dominated Australian politics since last Wednesday when Mr Joyce's affair with media adviser Vikki Campion was publicly revealed. How the Barnaby Joyce scandal unfolded. Mr Turnbull said Mr Joyce would be on leave for a week from Monday. Opposition parties called on him to resign. The high-profile conservative had only returned to parliament in December after briefly losing his job over his New Zealand dual citizenship. 'World of woe'. Mr Turnbull said his deputy had caused "terrible hurt and humiliation" to his estranged wife, Natalie Joyce, their four daughters, and Ms Campion. Barnaby made a shocking error of judgement in having an affair with a young woman working in his office," he said. "In doing so he has set off a world of woe for those women, and appalled all of us. Our hearts go out to them." Malcolm Turnbull said the new rules covered those "married and single". On Tuesday, Mr Joyce publicly apologised to all six for what he called a "searing personal experience". Mr Turnbull said such behaviour was not acceptable "today, in 2018", and ministers must oversee respectful workplaces. Joyce takes cover. It's unlike Barnaby Joyce to step away from the front line. He's a hardened battler who normally revels in the noisy confrontation of politics. Mr Joyce is the man who took on Johnny Depp, a man he called a "dipstick", and won; the politician who survived the citizenship row and was re-elected with an increased majority. The man in the Akubra hat was riding high until his extramarital affair was exposed and he lost authority within his own party. With the storm around him showing no sign of slowing, Mr Joyce will hope his impromptu holiday can somehow calm matters. But his opponents are unlikely to stop sniping, just because he's taken cover. On Thursday, the Senate passed a motion calling on Mr Joyce to resign - although it has no power to force such a move. Mr Joyce has faced questions over the timing of two unadvertised jobs within his party that were taken up by Ms Campion last year. Under the code of conduct, Mr Turnbull must approve any ministerial department job given to the partner of a frontbencher. No permission was sought for Ms Campion. However, both Mr Joyce and Mr Turnbull maintain that Ms Campion was not the deputy prime minister's partner at the time. Mr Joyce was due to step in as acting prime minister while Mr Turnbull is on his trip to the US, in line with usual convention. The role will instead be taken up by Mathias Cormann, the government's leader in the Senate.

102-year-old woman says 'men are control freaks' - video

Women still face a fight for equality 100 years after some were given the vote for the first time, a 102-year-old woman has told the BBC.
Speaking to the Victoria Derbyshire programme to mark the anniversary, Greta Brandler said that most men were control freaks who were spoilt rotten when they were young. 06 Feb 2018

Jacob Zuma resigns: What next for South Africa? 14 February 2018

President Jacob Zuma has bowed to the inevitable after months of pressure. After years of attempts to remove him, and months of speculation, Jacob Zuma has been forced to step down as president of South Africa. Mr Zuma had been in a vulnerable position since the end of his final term as head of the ruling ANC in December last year, when his rival Cyril Ramaphosa was chosen to lead the party. The allegations of corruption around Mr Zuma were unrelenting. Particularly damaging were the ongoing claims that a wealthy family from India - the Guptas - had gained lucrative state contracts and exerted undue influence on government appointments because of a corrupt relationship with the president. While the Guptas and Mr Zuma consistently denied the claims, the stories of what is known as "state capture" kept coming. Mr Zuma is also facing the possible reinstatement of 18 charges of corruption, fraud, and money laundering stemming from a 1990s arms deal.

TIKAD - The Future Soldier - Duke Robotics Inc Invest

Vladimir Putin 'set to announce ALIENS are here on Earth'. Feb 9, 2018. RUSSIAN president Vladimir Putin will be the world leader to announce aliens have already made contact with Earth, a UFO expert has claimed.

Putin says: ‘Pope Francis Is Not A Man Of God’. Must-See ! Aug 3, 2017. President Putin has slammed Pope Francis for “pushing a political ideology instead of running a church”, and warned that the leader of the Catholic Church “is not a man of God.”

SHOCKER! Pope Calls Jesus and the Bible a LIE! Nov 3, 2014

Barnaby Joyce: Australia PM's remarks 'inept', deputy says. 16 Feb 2018

Malcolm Turnbull and Barnaby Joyce at a press conference in 2016
Australian Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce has sharply criticised the nation's leader, Malcolm Turnbull, in an escalation of tensions that have rocked the government. On Thursday, Mr Turnbull admonished Mr Joyce for making a "shocking error" over his affair with a former staffer - saying it had set off a "world of woe". It prompted the PM to officially ban sex between ministers and their staff. Mr Joyce said Mr Turnbull's remarks were "inept" and "unnecessary. In many instances, they caused further harm," said Mr Joyce, who leads junior coalition party the Nationals. 'Coalition in crisis'. Labor said the Liberal-Nationals coalition was "in crisis". The conservative parties have formed every non-Labor government since World War Two. Mr Joyce said he would try to repair his relationship with Mr Turnbull, but again stared down calls to resign. Mr Turnbull has repeatedly said Mr Joyce's future is a decision for the Nationals, most of whom have publicly backed their leader. Mr Joyce's relationship with his former media adviser, Vikki Campion, has raised several politically damaging questions since it was revealed last week. The scandal threatening Australia's deputy PM. Whatever happened to the bromance? Hywel Griffith, BBC News Sydney correspondent. It's just two months since Barnaby Joyce and Malcolm Turnbull posed in matching plaid shirts as they celebrated "getting the band back together" after Mr Joyce's by-election victory. It looks like the band has struck some musical differences. Mr Joyce clearly didn't like being openly castigated by the PM over his extramarital affair, and so has gone on the attack. As the leaders of different parties within a coalition, you would expect a little friction from time to time. But by engaging in some very public name-calling, the pair have given the opposition plenty of ammunition for the days and weeks ahead. On Thursday, Mr Turnbull said Mr Joyce's affair had caused "terrible hurt and humiliation" to his estranged wife Natalie Joyce, their four daughters and Ms Campion. Mr Joyce said on Friday: "I would not wish on friend nor foe the hurt, the scrutiny, the intense intrusion into your life that I have gone through [in] this process." Mr Joyce says the PM's criticism of his affair was unnecessary. Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten said the government was "eating itself alive", and called on Mr Turnbull to sack Mr Joyce immediately. "When the two most senior leaders of the government hate each other and are criticising each other, the people of Australia's interests are not being served," Mr Shorten said. Mr Turnbull technically has the power to sack Mr Joyce, but such a move would be politically untenable, said Australian Broadcasting Corp election analyst Antony Green. "It's very difficult for the prime minister to sack him without breaking the coalition agreement," he said. The coalition has only a one-seat majority in the House of Representatives. Mr Joyce has faced scrutiny over the timing of two jobs offered to Ms Campion within the Nationals last year, and whether he sought a gift of free housing from a businessman. Mr Joyce denies ministerial standards were broken in either case. He will take a week of leave from Monday, meaning he will not be acting prime minister when Mr Turnbull conducts a visit to the US.Mr Joyce had only returned to parliament in December after briefly losing his job over his New Zealand dual citizenship.

Energy switching trial to cut 50,000 bills. 12 February 2018

A special switching deal to help people reduce their energy bills is to be offered to about 50,000 households. The regulator Ofgem will run a trial - to be launched in the next few weeks - which could offer savings of up to £300 a year for each customer. It will be based on the idea of "collective" switching, where large numbers of consumers swap supplier in one go. Eligible customers will have been on a standard tariff for over three years. Energy bills to rise for those on price cap. About 57% of households are currently on such tariffs, which are the most expensive. Despite previous incentives to switch to cheaper fixed-term deals, many people have been reluctant to do so. Ofgem said it had already chosen one of the big six energy suppliers to run the trial, but it has not revealed which one. It will also appoint a consumer partner to help with the switch - possibly a switching site, or a consumer group. Ofgem said it would be easier for customers to take part in the trial than in typical collective switching deals. That is because they will not need to enter the details of their existing tariff. What is collective switching? A number of organisations, including switching sites, newspapers and even local authorities, have helped groups of several thousand people move supplier in one go. The economies of scale enable them to negotiate lower prices. It is claimed that some groups have saved more than £350 a year for each member by switching collectively. However, critics say the deals on offer are not necessarily the cheapest on the market. Fresh campaign. The government announced at the weekend that it was considering sharing information with energy suppliers, to let them know which households claim state benefits. This would enable such households to have their bills capped by Ofgem, alongside 5 million other vulnerable customers, who are now on the "safeguard" tariff. At the same time, Ofgem is launching a new trial to persuade customers on expensive standard variable tariffs to change supplier. As many as 250,000 households will be sent two letters or emails from their energy firm, telling them about three cheaper deals they could benefit from. This will include tariffs from rival suppliers. A similar trial last year resulted in a trebling of switching rates. In 2017, 18% of consumers switched their electricity suppliers and 19% switched their gas suppliers, the highest rates for nearly a decade. The government is pressing ahead with plans to cap the bills of 11 million consumers who remain on standard variable tariffs.

Energy watchdog 'should use its powers' on price cap. 1 November 2017

Ofgem should use its powers to impose a wider cap on energy bills more quickly, Business Secretary Greg Clark has said. The watchdog has warned it could be sued by gas and electricity firms if it capped standard variable tariffs without the backing of new legislation. Ministers published a draft law last month which would put further limits on this type of household energy bill. But Mr Clark said he would prefer the energy regulator to act now "so we could get on with it immediately". The business secretary could not guarantee that a new cap would be in place by winter 2018 if it required parliamentary approval. About 12 million households are on some form of default tariff, which can cost hundreds of pounds a year more than the cheapest deals. There is already a cap in place for customers on pre-payment meters, which is being extended to include another one million low income households from February. Under the government's draft bill, Ofgem would set the terms of a new broader cap on standard variable tariffs, which would initially last until 2020. But Mr Clark would like Ofgem to act before legislation is passed. "I've been very clear that I would much prefer them to make use of the powers they have," Mr Clark told MPs on the business select committee. He said policy changes were often at risk from potential legal challenges, but added that public bodies can also defend themselves against such action. "I would be very disappointed if there were a legal challenge by some of the energy companies," he added. Legal challenge. Rachel Reeves, the chair of the business select committee, noted that Ofgem had said it would not set its own price cap for default tariffs "because energy companies would not rule out a legal challenge". As a result the government has said it will go ahead with the Draft Domestic Gas and Electricity (Tariffs Cap) Bill. However, it is unlikely such a cap would come into effect in time for this winter. Asked if it would be in place by Winter 2018, Mr Clark said he could not give any guarantees until the draft legislation was given a slot in parliament. But he hoped that with cross-party support for a cap, the bill would be passed "as soon as possible". Who benefits this winter? One million households who get the Warm Home Discount will see an energy price cap from February - an extension of the cap already in place for prepayment meter customers. This will also apply to another two million vulnerable households the following winter. What is a standard variable tariff? When customers' fixed-term deals end they usually automatically move to this tariff, which applies to 12 million households. Ofgem says the price difference between the average standard variable tariff default deal and the cheapest rate in the market recently hit more than £300. What does the government want to do? It has revived a plan to cap these variable tariffs, overseen by Ofgem, but the regulator says this will not happen until new legislation has been passed by Parliament. It is unclear just how long this will take.What happens in the meantime? Some suppliers are moving towards abandoning variable tariffs. Ofgem has also changed the rules to allow suppliers to automatically switch customers onto another fixed deal. Customers are still likely to be better off by searching and switching themselves.

Scottish Power loses 120,000 customers. 7 November 2017

Scottish Power has lost 120,000 customers over the past year, according to its latest set of results. The energy giant had 5.22 million gas and electricity customers at the end of the third quarter - down from 5.34 million in the same period last year. Profits also slumped for its generation and supply business, following a drop in demand. Domestic electricity demand fell year-on-year by 6.8%, while gas demand was down by 6.6%. Scottish Power, which is owned by Iberdrola of Spain, attributed the falls to milder weather in 2017. 'Less output'. Earnings for the division before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were down year-on-year by more than 75%, at £46.5m. The company's retail business saw earnings down by £92.9m, while its generation business posted a profits fall of £47.7m as a result of "less output and lower margins on ancillary services". Earnings were also down slightly for its energy networks division, which the group said was in line with expectations. However, there was better news for its renewables arm, which saw EBITDA rise by 34.7% year-on-year, to £211.6m. Scottish Power said total wind power production had increased by 34% so far this year, with a 37% uplift in onshore wind alone during the third quarter, compared with a year ago. Chief corporate officer Keith Anderson said: "In retail, we have more customers on fairer deals than any other 'big six' suppliers and we are the only bigger company to have increased its market share since 2011.
"We believe that putting our existing customers before new customers is the best way to compete in this marketplace. That is why we work hard to reward our customers' loyalty by getting them onto better deals. "Our view remains that the proposed price cap will not to help to engage those customers who could still find a better deal. "It will be bad for consumers, energy companies big and small, as well as investor confidence."

Scottish Power retail profits hit as customer numbers fall. 21 February 2018

Scottish Power has reported losing about 200,000 customer accounts during last year, as it faced tougher competition. The energy firm said customer numbers fell from 5.3 million to 5.1 million. The reduction contributed to a 51% drop in earnings from its retail supply division, to £98m. Electricity generation earnings fell by 36%, to £23m, following the closure of coal-burning plants, including Longannet in Fife. However, earnings at its UK renewables division were up 44%, to £316m, as it plugged in new wind farms and output increased 32%. Gas supply was down, due to tighter margins and warmer weather in 2017. Investment plans. The company's Spanish owner, Iberdrola, announced investment plans that tilt its focus towards Brazil and the United States, with less emphasis on the UK. Its chairman, Ignacio Galan, said the British energy market remained a core investment destination, "despite recent political and regulatory uncertainty". He added: "Scottish Power will deliver around 6.1 billion euros of investment in green and smart infrastructure over the next five years. "We will focus on increasing our renewable energy capacity, enhanced grid networks and smart technology for customers. Keith Anderson, the UK subsidiary's chief corporate officer, said: "We now have more than 2 gigawatts of wind power capacity, and the £2.5bn East Anglia ONE offshore windfarm is well into construction. "Over £600m was also invested in to our networks business last year, as we continue to deliver smart and efficient grids capable of supporting the UK's future energy needs." Iberdrola announced net operating profit down 7% to 7.3 billion euros for 2017, mostly due to poor hydro production in Spain.
Its share price dropped 3% in early trading.

British Gas owner Centrica to cut 4,000 jobs after 'weak' year. 21 February 2018

The energy supplier, which has operations in North America and Ireland as well as its main UK market, said group profits fell 17% to £1.25bn. Chief executive Iain Conn said the firm had a "weak" second half of 2017, and it was not helped by political and regulatory intervention in the UK.
The firm's British Gas business shed 9% of its UK domestic customers in 2017. Centrica said the job losses, which are part of an extended cost-cutting programme, would fall mainly in its UK energy supply business. Investment in technology and the simplification of core business processes would result in cost savings of £1.25bn per year by 2020, the firm said. It expects to also create around 1,000 additional roles. Mr Conn told the BBC the job losses were in part due to "intense" competition and partly due to customers "moving to digital". He said the probable introduction of a price cap in the UK was another reason for the job losses. "There is a link between our cost efficiency programme and preparing for any price cap in the UK. We've got to be competitive and this measure means we've got to drive more efficiency." Government cap. Mr Conn said that the prospect of the price cap had also hit the company's shares. Centrica's shares have lost more than half of their value over the past year as politicians focused on ways to limit the cost of energy to ordinary consumers. Around 12 million UK households are charged some form of default tariff for their energy, which can cost hundreds of pounds more per year than the cheapest deals on offer. The government is planning to cap the standard variable tariffs. Despite the fall in profits for Centrica Group as a whole, British Gas, which supplies energy to UK homes and businesses, saw profits rise 3% to £572m. Since some UK customers have more than one account, Centrica said the loss of 750,000 customers amounted to a loss of 10% of British Gas domestic accounts. However, the company said 70% of those accounts were loss-making.British Gas now supplies 7.8 million customers with their domestic energy.

Video: How meat is recycled and sold to the poor. Ever wonder what happens to restaurant leftovers? In the Philippine capital, Manila, meat is recycled from landfill tips, washed and re-cooked. It's called "pagpag" and it's eaten by the poorest people who can't afford to buy fresh meat. 23 Feb 2018.

The Horrible Plight of Hong Kong's Poor

Australia royal commission inquiry into banking begins - 12 Feb 2018

Australia's banks have faced a series of misconduct scandals since the 2008 financial crisis. A landmark inquiry into wrongdoing among Australia's banks and financial services has begun. The royal commission - the country's top form of public inquiry - will investigate alleged and established misconduct in the sector. Australia's banks, which are among the most profitable in the world, have been accused of customer exploitation and corporate fraud among other scandals. The inquiry held its first hearing in Melbourne on Monday. Commissioner Kenneth Hayne said the inquiry would examine misleading and deceptive behaviour in the industry and conduct which fell "below community standards and expectations". He said while Australia had "one of the strongest and most stable" financial service sectors in the world, there had been many established examples of misconduct, raising questions about cultural and governance practices. Bank admits failures in laundering case. Australian customers take on the banks. Commonwealth Bank 'to compensate customers'.  Along with banking, the inquiry will look at superannuation - or pension contributions - insurance and wealth management industries. However the focus is expected to be on the major lenders, which have been accused of putting profits ahead of customers. The first round of public hearings, to begin next month, will focus on inappropriate lending practices across mortgages, credit cards and car loans. The inquiry will have the power to examine documents and compel witnesses to appear before hearings. It also has the ability to recommend criminal prosecutions and legislative changes. Last year the Australian government said the royal commission was a "regrettable but necessary" action to restore public trust in the system. "The only way we can give all Australians a greater degree of assurance is a royal commission into misconduct into the financial services industry," Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said. The financial services sector is the largest contributor to the Australian economy, accounting for 9% of its value.

Venezuelans rush to the border as Colombia tightens controls

Thousands of Venezuelans are trying to enter Colombia through the border crossing of Cucuta on the Simon Bolivar international bridge. Thousands of Venezuelans cross into Colombia daily, escaping an economic crisis at home. Thousands of Venezuelans have rushed to border crossings with Colombia after Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced a tightening of controls. Only those who have registered for a special border card or can produce a passport will be able to cross. They fear it will become more difficult for them to enter Colombia once the measures are fully implemented. Thousands of Venezuelans cross into Colombia daily to look for temporary work or to buy essential goods. Most of them return home, but the Colombian government expects many more to stay permanently as Venezuela's economic crisis worsens. Venezuela has suffered for years from high inflation and the chronic shortage of food and medicines. Colombia says Venezuelan immigration increased by more than 100% in 2017. Brazil has also expressed concerns, with thousands of Venezuelans are living in precarious accommodation in the border state of Roraima. Venezuelans will go to the polls on 22 April to vote for president. Nicolás Maduro, who has been in office since 2013, is running for a second six-year term. He says the crisis has been caused by economic sabotage sponsored by the US. The Venezuelan opposition is weakened and is yet to choose a candidate. It blames the policies of the Socialist Party, in power since 1999, for the collapse of the oil-rich country's economy.

London City Airport shut as WW2 bomb found in Thames - 12 Feb 2018

The device was discovered during planned works at the airport. London City Airport has been closed after a World War Two bomb was found in the River Thames nearby. Flights have been cancelled, with passengers advised not to travel to the airport and to contact their airline. The bomb was discovered at about 05:00 GMT on Sunday at George V Dock during pre-planned work at the airport in east London, the Met Police said. Specialist officers and the Royal Navy confirmed the device was explosive and the airport was shut at 22:00.
The Met said it was working with the Royal Navy to remove the device. "At 22:00 an operational decision was made with the Royal Navy to implement a 214-metre exclusion zone to ensure that the ordnance can be safely dealt with whilst limiting any risk to the public," a spokesman said. A police cordon was in place near the airport. Airlines using London City Airport include British Airways, Flybe, KLM and Lufthansa, with flights to domestic and European city destinations. Its largest operator, British Airways, has cancelled the majority of Monday's departures and arrivals. Flybe and CityJet have cancelled most morning flights and are warning disruption is likely throughout the day. Docklands Light Railway services between the airport and Woolwich Arsenal have been suspended and some roads near to the airport are closed. Following the discovery of a World War Two ordnance in King George V Dock as part of planned development works, a 214m exclusion zone has been implemented as a precaution by the Met Police. As a result, London City Airport is currently closed. Last year more than 4.5 million passengers used London City Airport. A £400m expansion was given the go-ahead by ministers in July 2016, which includes extending the terminal.

Australian customers take on the banks, Sydney, 13 January 2017

(My advice to everyone, who suffered financial losses, as I did, is to ruin not just world financial systems, but all these holographic worlds in your brains first! Do it with emotion every day and don't provide your energy - your thoughts/emotions/actions - back into these illusionary worlds anymore! Then you'll be a winner, you will ruin them! LM)
Brett Fallon (left) with One Nation leader Pauline Hanson (right) at bank rally in Canberra. In 2013, Brett Fallon doused himself in petrol and stepped into an open fire. The former landowner had blamed one of Australia's biggest banks for destroying his business and grinding him into suicidal despair. He survived, but only just. "I thought, 'Bugger it, I can't beat these bastards.' I decided to terminate matters by tipping 15 litres of petrol over my head and walking into an open fireplace. "I was in a coma for close to seven months, I received 40 or 50 skin grafts, I've had a multitude of operations and fingers amputated," he tells me. "When I came out of the hospital and tried to get some clarity into my matters of banking I found that wall of silence still existed." Mr Fallon has claimed his overdraft was cancelled by ANZ Bank and he was charged punitive rates of interest on other loans. The bank says it has tried to assist Mr Fallon. In a statement, an ANZ spokesman said: "Since 2007… ANZ sought to work with Mr Fallon, including by providing him with a significant period of time to sell properties to reduce his debt." But Mr Fallon is not alone. Reckless advice by rogue financial planners, overcharging and a lack of accountability have made highly profitable banks in Australia deeply unpopular. Avalanche of criticism
The government wants to make it easier for disgruntled customers to seek redress through a new "low-cost, speedy tribunal", while the opposition believes that a powerful Royal Commission is the only way to forensically investigate the nation's biggest banks. The industry has responded to an avalanche of criticism, and has pledged to regain the community's trust. For Tanya Hargraves it is an empty promise. The 65-year-old graphic designer and publisher, who lives on the outskirts of Canberra, is the victim of alleged predatory lending. She told the BBC that she was convinced by her bank to take out a A$1.6m (US$1.9m; £935,000) property loan, but she soon realised her mistake as she began to fall behind with her repayments. She alleges Commonwealth Bank staff were unwilling to help as her life unravelled, and a property portfolio disappeared. "They have left me destitute. They have stolen A$535,000 of my money. It is straight out theft. It happens so much in this country, it is wrong," she says. "You can't fight [the banks] because you don't have the finances. Most of the lawyers… don't want to take on such a large organisation. There is no mercy. They don't care," she adds. The Commonwealth Bank has denied any inappropriate behaviour and said the case had been subject to an independent review by the Financial Ombudsman Service, which found the bank had given "genuine consideration to the applicant's requests for assistance with her financial difficulty". 'Trust gap'
In October, the bosses of Australia's big four banks were called to appear before the House of Representatives Economics Committee in Canberra. The tone was one of contrition.
"In recent years it is clear a trust gap has opened up and we as an industry and as individual banks need to work harder to close that gap," Brian Hartzer, chief executive of Westpac Bank, told MPs. Westpac chief Brian Hartzer admits the industry needs to work harder to regain customers' trust. The Australian Bankers' Association (ABA) later insisted the sector would strive to become more accountable and transparent. "Consumers are demanding action now, and we are responding," said ABA chief executive Steven Munchenberg.
"The industry is making major changes that address concerns about how bank staff are rewarded, the protection of whistleblowers, the handling of customer complaints and dealing with poor conduct. We are doing this with independent oversight." Bank bashing is an Australian pastime that has its roots in the nation's fierce anti-authoritarian streak and its mistrust of large organisations, and its politicians. "In the last couple of decades banks, particularly the big banks, have been re-identified as somehow the source of capitalist problems in Australia," explains Chris Berg, a senior fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs, a free market think-tank. Catherine Stuart says her family were forced to leave their property. Angry customers currently have various avenues of redress: the Financial Ombudsman Service, the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal and the Credit and Investments Ombudsman Scheme. They handle thousands of complaints each year, but a panel of experts is looking at whether those three dispute resolution measures can be replaced by a single super-agency to make the process easier and quicker. 'Absolutely horrendous'
In Charleville, 680km west of Brisbane, farmer Catherine Stuart is taking her grievances to Australia's Federal Court. She had problems with her lender, Rabobank, and her A$3m debt and has alleged a restriction of trade. Mrs Stuart says her family were forced to leave their property in 2014. "[The court case] is very, very complicated and many farmers are going through the same thing. We certainly need a banking inquiry or something to get to the bottom of this," she told the BBC. "It is horrendous, absolutely horrendous. The effects on the family are just indescribable. The unconscionable behaviour of these financiers has a lot to answer for." Rabobank Australia and New Zealand has denied any wrongdoing. "We worked patiently and supportively with them (Catherine Stuart and her family) for more than four years as they attempted to resolve their financial difficulties. It is only when all reasonable avenues… have been exhausted that the bank moves to recovery action." Brett Fallon has now built a new life for himself. Australia's big four banks make billions of dollars in profits each year. But like them or loathe them, the majority of Australians have a financial stake in them with many superannuation - or pension funds - invested in the likes of Westpac and ANZ. Brett Fallon's contempt for the banks still rages but he is slowly recovering from his self-inflicted wounds, running a campsite for tourists near the Whitsunday Islands in Queensland. "I look after backpackers from all over the world. They have been a godsend to me these young people. I've created a wonderful new life for myself," he says.

Meltdown and Spectre: All Mac devices affected says Apple - 5 Jan 2018

Apple has said that all iPhones, iPads and Mac computers are affected by two major flaws in computer chips. It emerged this week that tech companies have been racing to fix the Meltdown and Spectre bugs, that could allow hackers to steal data. Apple said it had already released some patches but there was no evidence that the vulnerability had been exploited. But it advised only downloading software from trusted sources to avoid "malicious" apps. Mac users have often believed that their devices and operating systems are less vulnerable to security issues than, for example Android phones or computers running Microsoft systems. But the Meltdown and Spectre flaws are found in all modern computer processing units - or microchips - made by Intel and ARM, and together the firms supply almost the entire global computer market. "All Mac systems and iOS devices are affected, but there are no known exploits impacting customers at this time," Apple said in blog post on the issue. "These issues apply to all modern processors and affect nearly all computing devices and operating systems." Apple said that it had already released "mitigations" against Meltdown in its latest iPhones and iPad operating system update - iOS 11.2 and the macOS 10.12.2 for its MacBooks and iMacs. Meltdown does not affect the Apple Watch, it said, as the bug was an issue with Intel processors which are not contained in that device. Patches against Spectre, in the form of an update to web browser Safari, will be released "in the coming days".

A huge secret structure of military aliens found in Australia - February 23, 2018 (UFO - НЛО). We see a very high huge structure. Is this a secret project? Or has it landed a giant UFO? The landing of a giant UFO? What do you think about it?

Deutsche Bank MELTDOWN as Central Banks Unable to Bail Out WORLD’S BIGGEST Derivatives Portfolio! Feb 19, 2018

China Just BAILED OUT One of the BIGGEST Companies In China! Then Literally Turned Off It’s VIX! Feb 22, 2018

Charity boss Justin Forsyth resigns from Unicef. 23 Feb 2018

Ex-Save the Children chief executive Justin Forsyth has resigned from Unicef saying he does not want coverage of his past to "damage" the charities.
Mr Forsyth faced three complaints of inappropriate behaviour towards female staff before leaving Save the Children, the BBC reported this week.
He was accused of sending inappropriate texts and commenting on what young female staff were wearing. He said he "apologised unreservedly" to the three workers at the time. Mr Forsyth said the reason for his resignation as Unicef's deputy director was not because of what he described as the mistakes he made in his former role at Save the Children. "They were dealt with through a proper process many years ago," he said in a statement. "There is no doubt in my mind that some of the coverage around me is not just to (rightly) hold me to account, but also to attempt to do serious damage to our cause and the case for aid." Meanwhile, Haiti has suspended Oxfam GB operations in the country, as it investigates claims of sexual misconduct by staff in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake. 'Shocking'
Conservative MP Pauline Latham, a member of the House of Commons' International Development committee, welcomed Mr Forsyth's resignation. "But what I'm more concerned about is the fact he has been able to work for as long as he did," she told the BBC. "It is shocking. The more I hear about it the more shocked I am. It's terrible for the UK charity sector. It will take a lot of getting over." Brie O'Keefe, former employee at Save the Children, said a number of employees were aware of Mr Forsyth's behaviour but were afraid of the consequences of speaking out for the charity. She told the BBC's Newsnight: "One of the things that kept many of us from speaking out earlier was a desire to protect the organisation that we loved." She said Mr Forsyth had been brought in to "shake things up" at the charity but it had resulted in "certain toxic leadership behaviours" being tolerated, including temper tantrums, yelling and disrespectful behaviour, and that those who raised concerns would be sidelined from projects. Ms O'Keefe welcomed Mr Forsyth's apology for the "incidences he created" but added: "He hasn't taken any responsibility for the culture he fostered at Save the Children." A statement from Unicef said it was grateful to Mr Forsyth for his work over the past two years. An investigation by BBC Radio 4's PM programme found that the complaints against Mr Forsyth included women receiving a series of inappropriate texts and comments on how they looked, what they were wearing and how he felt about them. If they did not respond, Mr Forsyth would follow up his messages with an email, asking if they had seen the text. If they still did not respond, he would ask someone to send them to him for a "quick word". No formal sanction
Save the Children said it had commissioned "a root and branch review of the organisational culture" at the charity "addressing any behavioural challenges among senior leadership". The charity said concerns were raised about "inappropriate behaviour and comments" by Mr Forsyth in 2015. It said two trustees carried out separate investigations into a total of three complaints made by female employees, but there was no finding of misconduct against Mr Forsyth or any formal sanction against him. "Both reviews resulted in unreserved apologies from the CEO. All the parties agreed to this and the former CEO apologised to the women in question. At that time the matters were closed." Speaking earlier this week, a spokesman for Unicef said the charity had not been aware of any of the complaints against Mr Forsyth at the time of his recruitment in 2016. "There have been no such complaints concerning Mr Forsyth at Unicef," he added. The allegations come after Brendan Cox - the husband of murdered MP Jo Cox - quit two charities he set up in memory of his wife amid allegations of inappropriate behaviour. The Charity Commission said it had "extensive regulatory engagement" with Save the Children after allegations of misconduct and inappropriate behaviour were made against Mr Cox and Mr Forsyth between 2015 and 2016.

Barnaby Joyce: Australia's Scandal-hit deputy PM to resign. 23 February 2018

Barnaby Joyce says he will resign as Australia's deputy prime minister following a politically damaging saga that began with his affair with a former staffer. Mr Joyce said he would step down on Monday as leader of the Nationals, the junior government partner. He had previously resisted calls to quit amid intense scrutiny over his ministerial conduct. The scandal has dominated Australian politics for more than two weeks. He described his decision on Friday as a "circuit-breaker" for his family and new partner, with whom he is expecting a baby in April. Barnaby Joyce: Fall of an 'authentic' leader
The scandal that unseated Australia's deputy PM. "This current cacophony of issues has to be put aside," he told reporters. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull issued a statement shortly after thanking Mr Joyce for being "a fierce advocate for rural and regional Australia". On Monday morning I will step down as the Leader of @The_Nationals and Deputy Prime Minister of Australia. I would like to thank everyone for offering their support to me, especially the people of New England. Why has Mr Joyce's affair dominated headlines? Rumours of an affair started to spread after Mr Joyce and Vikki Campion, his former media adviser, were photographed together at a bar in Sydney in February 2017. In April, Mr Joyce's estranged wife Natalie reportedly confronted Ms Campion about the rumours. In the following months, Mr Joyce was described by his Nationals colleagues as becoming "a mess". Mr Joyce finally admitted to the affair with Ms Campion earlier this month but initially refused to resign, insisting that "private matters remain private". Mr Joyce has repeatedly denied breaching ministerial standards. In an interview with Australia's Fairfax Media newspaper on Wednesday, the couple called for scrutiny of their relationship to stop, appealing to the media and the public to "move on". Mr Joyce also said he was concerned and "deeply annoyed" at the thought that their child might be perceived as "somehow less worthy than other children". He has previously apologised to Natalie, their four daughters and Ms Campion for the public manner in which the scandal has played out. He has described the breakdown of his marriage as one of "the greatest failures of my life", while Mrs Joyce described the situation as "devastating". On Friday, Mr Joyce said he hoped his decision would help his family. "This has got to stop. It's not fair on them," he said. Why did Joyce come under political pressure? The revelation of the affair led to questions over whether Mr Joyce had misused his position in parliament to conduct his relationship with Ms Campion. He said he faced a "litany of allegations" in the weeks after a newspaper exposed the affair. Political opponents also questioned him after two unadvertised jobs within his party were taken up by Ms Campion last year, and over whether he sought a gift of free housing from a businessman. He has repeatedly denied breaching ministerial standards. Malcolm Turnbull banned sex between ministers and staff following the Joyce scandalю Last week, he sparred publicly with Mr Turnbull after the PM criticised his "shocking error of judgement" and declared that ministers would be banned from having sex with their staff. The prime minister ordered his deputy, who later accused him of being "inept", to take leave in order to concentrate on his personal life. Mr Joyce said Mr Turnbull's comments had "caused further harm" but insisted the pair could still work together. Meanwhile, Mr Joyce also vigorously denied a sexual harassment complaint that was made against him by another woman. Australia PM's comments "inept", deputy says. So who is Barnaby Joyce? Mr Joyce has built a prominent profile during a parliamentary career that began in 2004. The outspoken politician is perhaps best-known for once threatening to kill Johnny Depp's dogs over a quarantine violation, and for briefly losing his job over his New Zealand dual citizenship last year. A leading conservative, he represented rural voters as leader of the National party. Fighting a barrage of bad headlines, Barnaby Joyce knew his position had become untenable. Sometimes strenuous denials and combative rebuttals just aren't enough to win back the news agenda. More importantly, they didn't succeed in maintaining the trust and credibility he has enjoyed for most of his career. Although Mr Joyce is known as a battler who enjoys a big personal vote, support amongst his colleagues had started to ebb away. And so, rather than face the potential humiliation of a leadership contest, Mr Joyce took matters into his own hands and put himself on the backbench.

China seizes control of insurance giant Anbang. 23 February 2018

Wu Xiaohui was considered one of China's most politically connected men. Beijing has cracked down on insurance and financial giant Anbang, taking control of the conglomerate and prosecuting the firm's head. Wu Xiaohui, who was already detained by authorities last June, is to face prosecution for "economic crimes". In an unusual move, Anbang Insurance Group will now be taken over by China's insurance regulator for one year. The firm is known for its aggressive international acquisitions, including New York's Waldorf Astoria hotel. Chinese authorities have been cracking down on the financial industry to guard against excessive borrowing and risk. A warning shot. "Clearly it is designed to be a warning shot to firms engaged in particular types of financial engineering and leveraged acquisitions (as Anbang was)," Tom Rafferty of the Economist Intelligence Unit told the BBC. "The government has made clear reducing financial risk is one of its main policy priorities." Anbang bought the Waldorf-Astoria for close to $2bn. Anbang, which started out as a car insurance firm with state-owned backers, is recognised as one of China's richest and most opaque conglomerates. "The motivation in Anbang's case probably is not just about delivering a warning shot, however, but probably some also real concerns that the company was heading for insolvency and the impact this would have on retail investors that purchased products from the company," Mr Rafferty said. In addition to selling insurance products, it owns a portfolio of international properties and global brands. Politically connected. Mr Wu, who married the grand-daughter of former leader, Deng Xiaoping, was long thought to be one of the most politically-connected men in China. Waldorf hotel sold to Chinese firm. Chinese insurance billionaire 'detained'. Kushners end talks with Chinese firm. After his detention last year, the company said in a statement that his duties as chairman would be managed by other senior executives. On Friday, the China Insurance Regulatory Commission said he had been removed from his position altogether. The government regulator said Anbang's business would continue and that its external liabilities would not be affected. It said the company's current operations remained stable but that illegal operations may "seriously endanger" its solvency abilities. It said its actions were aimed at keeping the firm operating as usual and to protect the rights and interests of consumers.
Last year, a company owned by the family of US President Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, ended talks with Anbang over a major redevelopment project in New York City.The potential deal had raised questions about a conflict of interest, given Mr Kushner's role at the White House.

Wu Xiaohui: China 'detains' Anbang Insurance chairman. 14 June 2017

Wu Xiaohui was long thought to be one of China's most politically-connected businessmen. The head of Chinese insurance and financial giant Anbang is reported to have been detained by the authorities. The company, one of the country's richest and most powerful, said Wu Xiaohui was stepping aside as chairman. It gave few details but said he was no longer able to fulfil his duties for "personal reasons". Chinese business magazine Caijing had reported that Mr Wu was detained by authorities last week, but later deleted its article. An official source told the BBC that Mr Wu had been taken away from the Anbang Office Building on 8 June by police who arrived in two cars. It is not clear where Mr Wu is now. If Mr Wu's detention is confirmed by the authorities, he would be the highest-profile target of the government's attempt to re-establish state control of the financial industry, and target corruption. Anbang is known for a number of high profile international acquisitions, like the purchase of New York's Waldorf Astoria hotel in 2015. Anbang - Chinese insurance giant, $242bn. Value of assets managed, $60m Starting capital in 2004, 9.12bn Current capital, 1.95bn Acquisition of New York's Waldorf Astoria Hotel. The company, which manages some 1.65tn yuan (£190bn; $242bn) worth of assets, said in a statement that the chairman's duties would be managed by other senior executives. Anbang did not comment on the report by Caijing that he had been detained. Earlier, Anbang had denied a report by the Financial Times that Mr Wu had been stopped from travelling abroad. Is Anbang what it seems? Analysis by Celia Hatton, BBC News. In the past few years, high-level officials have often been detained for corruption in China. Found guilty of taking bribes, they're handed lengthy prison sentences and ushered out of public view. The Wu Xiaohui case is very different. Mr Wu masterminded the explosive rise of his company in just over a decade by selling relatively risky investment products - not traditional insurance policies. Still smarting about the collapse of Shanghai's stock market in 2012, Chinese regulators had warned about Anbang's "wealth management products". Another respected magazine, Caixin, published unusually frank exposes on Anbang in April. Like the New York Times before it, Caixin probed Anbang's murky ownership structure and whether it had enough money in the bank to carry out large overseas acquisitions. The articles addressed some of the greatest mysteries swirling around China: who really owns Anbang and who made way for its almost impossible rise from a tiny car insurance company to a global behemoth?
If Wu Xiaohui and Anbang aren't what they seem, the entire Chinese economy, including many ordinary people with Anbang products, could be in for a fall. Anbang had recently been in talks with a real estate company part-owned by Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior White House adviser, Jared Kushner.
The two sides were reportedly negotiating a deal to redevelop one of Kushner Companies' Manhattan buildings. Anbang bought the Waldorf-Astoria for close to $2bn. The possible deal had raised media speculation over a potential conflict of interest and was called off by "mutual agreement" without any reasons given.
Wu Xiaohui had long been considered one of the most politically connected men in China, having married the granddaughter of former leader Deng Xiaoping.
His company has in recent years been among the biggest players of Chinese firms pursuing high-profile overseas acquisitions and investments. In 2016, Anbang paid private equity firm Blackstone $6.5bn for the ownership of Strategic Hotels & Resorts, a portfolio of upmarket hotels and resorts. That purchase added 16 luxury properties across the US to Anbang's holdings, including the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay, and the Four Seasons hotels in Silicon Valley and Washington.

The mystery of a Chinese tycoon's disappearance. 1 February 2017

Mr Xiao's disappearance was widely covered by Hong Kong newspapers on Wednesday. In 2015 five Hong Kong booksellers disappeared and later resurfaced in mainland China in the hands of Chinese authorities. Now, there are concerns that Chinese tycoon Xiao Jianhua, who has not been seen since last week, has met a similar fate. The first murmur came from overseas. Mingjing News, a New York-based site that specialises in Chinese politics, reported that an unnamed Chinese billionaire had been arrested in Hong Kong and taken to mainland China last Friday evening by Chinese police and state security officials. The next day, Hong Kong police received a request to investigate the whereabouts of the missing businessman. Local police began their investigation and found that the subject of their enquiry had indeed re-entered mainland China on Friday, the same day he was detained. A day later, on 29 January, however, a family member asked the police to close the case, saying the missing person had been in touch and was "safe". By Monday, all of Hong Kong was wondering, who was the billionaire? What was his crime? Where was he? And had Chinese agents been operating on Hong Kong soil with impunity?
US-based news site Bowen Press soon named the tycoon as Xiao Jianhua, one of China's richest people, with a $6bn (£4.8bn) fortune, according to Hurun Report, a ranking of wealthy Chinese people. Mr Xiao, who is in his mid-40s, was known to have been a student leader at the prestigious Peking University. His business ventures were mainly in the financial services sector. The Hong Kong booksellers case. The five booksellers were: 1. Lui Bo, 2. Cheung Jiping, 3. Gui Minhai, 4. Lam Wing Kee, and 5. Lee Bo. Between October and December 2015 five men linked to the Hong Kong publisher Mighty House, known for selling books critical of China's leaders, went missing. It later emerged that they were being held in mainland China by authorities. Lui Bo, Cheung Jiping, Gui Minhai and Lam Wing Kee later appeared on television confessing to selling "unauthorised books". Gui also confessed to an old drink driving conviction. Lee Bo appeared in a separate interview denying he was abducted and saying he had been helping investigations. All, except for Gui, have since returned to Hong Kong. Most have kept a low profile except Lam Wing Kee, who said last year that he had been kidnapped and forced to make the confession. In 2014, the China-born tycoon denied that he moved to Hong Kong to avoid a Chinese government corruption investigation. He was said to have been last seen on Friday at the Four Seasons Hotel in Hong Kong, where he was understood to be living. The Four Seasons is one of Hong Kong's top hotels. The mystery deepened when Mr Xiao's company, the Beijing-based Tomorrow Holdings, apparently issued a statement on its official account on messaging app Wechat. "I, Xiao Jianhua, am overseas receiving medical treatment," said the announcement, according to Hong Kong media. "Everything is fine. It's business as usual at Tomorrow," said the statement. The message seems to contradict the Hong Kong police report that Mr Xiao had returned to China. On Tuesday, the company issued yet another statement, reportedly saying Mr Xiao was a patriot and a Communist Party stalwart. It claimed he had not been kidnapped. In fact, the statement said Mr Xiao, who was born in China, was also a Canadian citizen and a permanent Hong Kong resident, and that he enjoyed the legal protection of both. It promised Mr Xiao would finish his treatment and meet the media soon. Strangely though, both statements soon vanished. The company's account on WeChat seemed to be removed. And the company website is currently inaccessible. Tuesday's statement later came out as a front-page advertisement on Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao on Wednesday
The Canadian government has told BBC News that it was aware of the case, and that consular officials were gathering more information. With so many questions and so few answers, rumours are swirling that Mr Xiao's disappearance had something to do with China's continuing anti-corruption campaign. Or was he possibly involved with a faction in the Chinese government that opposed President Xi Jinping? There have been reports that he acted as a sort of banker to China's elite. But it should be noted that in one of the now-deleted statements, he felt he had to say that he had "never supported any opposition forces and organisations". If he was indeed abducted from Hong Kong, was it a violation of the '"one country, two systems" policy that was meant to keep the territory legally separate from China until 2047? So far, there are no answers. Hong Kong police have said that, despite the request from family members, they are continuing to investigate the case.

China's fledgling hip-hop culture faces official crackdown. 24 January 2018

PG One was the first of China's A-list rappers to fall from grace. Last summer, a reality show called The Rap of China took the country by storm. The show brought hip-hop music from the underground into the limelight and made it a multi-million dollar business. Several of the top contestants shot to stardom.
In the past few weeks, however, things took a surprising turn and the buzzing hip-hop scene was quickly muzzled. It all started with PG One, one of the two rappers who won The Rap of China. He was accused of having an affair with a married celebrity. The accusation, which was never substantiated, snowballed into a case not only against PG One, but against hip-hop music in general. 'Vulgar and low taste'
State media led the crusade against PG One, calling his lyrics sexist and decadent. The influential Communist Youth League criticised one of his old songs, Christmas Eve, for promoting drug use with lyrics about "white powder walking on the board". China Women's News accused PG One of misogyny over his use of obscene language to describe women. The incident also seems to have triggered a crackdown on the entire music genre. A memo surfaced last week after a meeting of the state authority which oversees press and television and has almost total control over what can appear on air. The memo said programmes could no longer feature any hip-hop content or artists. All programmes shall adhere to the "four notes" when it comes to inviting on-air guests, the memo says. "Do not use celebrities with low moral values; do not use those who are vulgar and of low taste; do not use those whose thoughts and style are not refined; and do not use those who are involved in scandals." As the memo circulated online, the other winner of The Rap of China, GAI, suddenly left the reality show he was appearing in, which was called I Am a Singer. A few leaked screen grabs of chats with GAI's management team seem to suggest that he quit because of "pressure from above". GAI's agent, Zhang Xiaotao, told the BBC that the team had no response as to why GAI quit, but that he had never heard of any hip-hop ban. VAVA is another artist who got pulled off air. Another TV show, Happy Camp, suddenly removed VAVA - the most popular female rapper who rose to fame from The Rap of China - from their latest episode. No-one knows exactly why she was removed but in what seems like a quick-fix solution, Happy Camp republished their promotional video after erasing VAVA. She was awkwardly cropped out of all their shots. 'It's what hip-hop is'. As the state issues more stringent rules on what the public can and cannot see, many rappers, including GAI who used to be a "gangsta" style rapper, have changed their approach to participate in mainstream state TV programmes. They have, in interviews, spoken about the "positive energy" of music and socialist "core values" that the Chinese authorities promote. For many hip-hop fans in China, this sort of government reaction to the rapid popularity of the genre was an inevitable consequence of cosying up to the authorities. "I knew this would happen sooner or later. Hip-hop culture does not fit into the socialism 'core values'," one social media user wrote. Another said that lyrics about white powder, money, girls, sex and violence were "what hip-hop is". "It's for people who love it. Criticising its 'dark spots' is like criticising peppers for being spicy," they said. GAI allegedly quit the show because of "pressure from above". Faced with immense pressure, rapper PG One took all of his songs offline and blamed his lyrics on influence from the "black music". "I will add more positive energy in my music works and serve as a better model for my fans", says PG One on his official Weibo account. Many other rappers, however, did not agree with how PG One linked his demise to the influence of "black music" and have accused him of racism and insincerity. So is this the end of the rap music explosion in China?
MC Webber, one of China's most respected underground rapper, does not think so. He says the mainstream current hip-hop scene was not real hip-hop anyway. He calls what's come out of The Rap of China "Xi Ha", a term that's translated from "hip-hop" but was mostly used in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Al Rocco, a rapper based in Shanghai who also participated in The Rap of China, says he is not worried about the future of hip-hop. "The government, they don't understand the culture yet, so they are scared," he told the BBC. "We have a different system here and it's just evolving now. He told the BBC that one of his recent shows in Chongqing got unexpectedly cancelled following the hip-hop ban. "They've always asked to check my lyrics, but I feel like it's much tighter now," says Al Rocco.
Of course censorship and official disapproval is nothing new to the hip-hop scene. In the US, where rap music originated, there was a public and official backlash in the late 1980s against what some considered to be a violent and obscene culture portrayed in hip-hop. NWA made it from suspects to mainstream
NWA, for example, received letters from the FBI accusing them of promoting violence against the police for their famous and famously explicit anthem against police brutality and racial profiling. But the reaction against them also helped throw the subculture into mainstream. While there's far less scope for Chinese hip-hop artists to flourish in the face of government restrictions, rappers from the original underground scene say they're not going anywhere. One underground rapper, who runs his show business, told the BBC anonymously that it was a shame the whole industry had to bear the consequence of one man's mistake.
But he insisted "the sky hasn't collapsed" on rap entirely and it would continue to evolve. Before The Rap of China, he says, "we were just as happy, only with less money".

Why China's proposal was long expected. 25 February 2018

China's Communist Party has proposed scrapping presidential term limits, a move that would allow the current leader, Xi Jinping, to stay in power. It is the culmination of a long shift in Chinese politics, says BBC World Service Asia Pacific editor Celia Hatton. This is the announcement many have been expecting.
China's President, Xi Jinping, has become a dominant figure in Chinese politics, commanding the loyalty of the ruling party's factions, the military and the business elite, and making him the most powerful leader since the country's revolutionary founder, Mao Zedong. Mr Xi's photo is regularly plastered on billboards across the country and his authorised nickname, "Papa Xi", appears in official songs. Last week, an estimated 800 million tuned in to watch China's annual Lunar New Year gala on television, which promoted Mr Xi's "New Era of Chinese Thought" throughout. For decades, the Communist Party has dominated life in China. Now, Xi Jinping has stepped into that spotlight, outshining the Party that promoted him to the top spot. In the past, the Communist Party stayed firmly in control, but the man at the top of the Party was in command for a limited amount of time. One leader would dutifully hand power to another after serving a decade in power.
Xi Jinping disrupted that system from the early days of his time in office. He quickly instituted an anti-corruption campaign that disciplined more than a million Party officials for graft - usually for accepting bribes or misspending government money. The same campaign conveniently eliminated Mr Xi's political rivals and silenced any doubters into submission. Mr Xi has also shown a clear political vision since his first days in office, promoting huge national projects like the One Belt One Road initiative to build new global trade routes and announcing grand plans for China to erase poverty by 2020.There has long been speculation that he might push to stay on as president. Mr Xi is so powerful that it was difficult to imagine who could rise to succeed him in five years. The leadership has been laying the groundwork for this announcement: at a key Party meeting last October, Mr Xi defied tradition and failed to nominate an obvious successor.

End of Saudi women driving ban reflects deep changes in society. 27 September 2017

Previous Saudi rulers had said women could not drive because "society was against it". The decision to allow women to drive in Saudi Arabia is a rare good-news headline from the Middle East. King Salman has said it is to take effect from June 2018; the delay seems intended to get conservatives accustomed to a highly visible social change and deal with the practicalities of training female driving instructors and traffic police. Why has this change happened now, after so long? It is partly the result of top-down factors, as a new crown prince ushers in a new style of politics. It also reflects changes coming from deep within a society that may be highly religious, but is also very young and faces a new economic future. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is the architect of Saudi Arabia's modernisation plan. Credit for this decision will be given to the new Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman. At 32, he styles himself as a moderniser. Letting women drive does more to change Saudi Arabia's image than any other single policy announcement could, and will also burnish his personal image as an agent of change. But it is not just an issue of a leader with a different attitude to women. For years, most senior Saudi princes, including the late King Abdullah, were assumed to have no personal or ideological problem with women driving. The reason they gave for not letting women drive was that "society was against it". In fact, social attitudes are divided over whether women should drive - and over a host of other issues to do with religion and society. This is not a division between young and old, or men and women, but between different visions for national and Islamic identity. The new generation of women includes both liberals and conservatives. The ban on women driving was not a case of the Saudi government suddenly being democratic about its social regulations. Rather, it was a concession to a particular section of society: the influential, socially conservative religious clerics. The Saud family has always governed with the support of clerics, but some of them have also been critics of the government. The driving ban was an attempt to appease this important constituency and dissuade them from being a potential source of opposition. Ending it signals that the clerics no longer have the same role to play in Saudi policy. The old model of ruling was to rely on oil and clerics. Prince Mohammed is trying to build a new model based on nationalism, economic development and the sense that the Saud family provide the security and stability missing in too many other Arab states. The restrictions on driving are a major inconvenience with virtually no public transport. But there are still risks of a backlash against him, especially given the state of the economy, which is suffering from the drop in oil prices since 2014. And partly for that reason, Prince Mohammed's focus on economic and social liberalisation is not accompanied with political liberalisation. Quite the opposite: several influential clerics and writers have been arrested in recent weeks in a sweeping crackdown, seemingly triggered by accusations that they sympathised with Qatar. The fact, that even high-profile clerics can be arrested means most Islamists and conservatives will be less likely to speak out - whether over the driving ban, foreign policy or economic austerity. What can Saudi women still not do? 'We did it' - How social media greeted the news Saudi Arabia's women activists have campaigned for years to be allowed to drive. A civil disobedience campaign in the 1990s saw many women arrested at a time when the government was fearful of Islamist opposition. During the Arab Spring, a new #Women2Drive campaign rose up through social media with activists like Manal al-Sharif. She filmed herself driving a car and posted it on YouTube. Afterwards, she was arrested, briefly detained, then sacked, harassed and subjected to death threats before she left Saudi Arabia. Saudi women's driving activist Manal al-Sharif: 'I cried'. Brave women's driving activists were the tip of the iceberg. There is a broader mega-trend of Saudi women's economic empowerment, rooted in years of investment in women's education under King Abdullah, including scholarships to study around the world. The new generation of women includes both liberals and conservatives, but they are growing up with different economic expectations. Education enables new opportunities, while at the same time, the rising cost of living and public sector austerity means many middle-class families need both parents to work in order to maintain their living standards. Working outside the home requires transport, and Saudi Arabia has virtually no public transport. The absurdities of having to pay men to drive you to work were recently highlighted in the film Wajda, the directed by a Saudi woman. So for many women, it is simply a practical issue. Conservative men may still try to forbid their wives and daughters from driving. But the law will have a mixed impact as conservative husbands and fathers will still try to forbid their wives and daughters from driving. Currently, the guardianship system and patriarchal culture mean that women's opportunities and choices depend heavily on those of the men in their family. This is why the role of Saudi women is much more diverse and heterogeneous than is commonly assumed. Women with liberal families might study abroad and become a CEO, while another woman could be prevented from leaving the house altogether. For this reason, Saudi women activists are increasingly focused on tackling the guardianship system as the next step. Manal al-Sharif tweeted on Tuesday: "Women2Drive done IamMyOwnGuardian in progress."

Saudi Arabia allows women to join military. 26 February 2018

Saudi Arabia has for the first time opened applications for women to join its military. Women have until Thursday to apply for positions with the rank of soldier in the provinces of Riyadh, Mecca, al-Qassim and Medina. The roles do not appear to involve combat, but will instead give women the opportunity to work in security. A list of 12 requirements says hopefuls must be Saudi citizens, aged between 25 and 35, and have a high-school diploma.
The women and their male guardians - usually a husband, father, brother or son - must also have a place of residence in the same province as the job's location. Does Saudi robot citizen have more rights than women? End of Saudi women driving ban reflects deep changes in society. The decision to recruit female soldiers is one of many reforms enhancing women's rights introduced in recent months in the conservative Muslim kingdom. King Salman has decreed that women will be permitted to drive from June, while women spectators were allowed to attend football matches from last month. However, human rights activists say Saudi Arabia's discriminatory male guardianship system remains intact despite government pledges to abolish it. Under the system, adult women must obtain permission to travel, marry or leave prison. They may be required to provide consent to work or access healthcare. Women are also separated from unrelated men and must wear full-length robes known as "abayas" in public, as well as headscarves if they are Muslims.

Saudi king replaces military chiefs in shake-up. Feb 27, 2018

Who is out? Who is in? The service of the chief of staff, General Abdul Rahman bin Saleh al-Bunyan, is among those "terminated", said the SPA.
Various military figures have already been promoted to replace those sacked. A series of political appointments were announced at the same time, including the rare appointment of a female deputy minister of labour and social development, Tamadar bint Yousef al-Ramah. Prince Turki bin Talal was appointed new deputy governor of the south-west Asir province. He is the brother of billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who was detained in the anti-corruption drive and released two months later.

Czech Republic: Refugee row. Feb 23, 2018. Prague is facing an EU legal suit for refusing to accept asylum seekers under the bloc's system to relieve other member states hit most by immigration…

Jared Kushner’s Companies Have Been Subpoenaed By The IRS. Feb 19, 2018. According to a new report in Bloomberg, the companies owned by Jared Kushner and his family have been subpoenaed by the IRS for information regarding their lenders and investments. While details about the investigation are relatively scarce, one thing that is known is that this has nothing to do with the special prosecutor’s investigation into the Trump administration, so Kushner now has a whole new world of problems to deal with. Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins discusses this. Jared Kushner and his family, the companies, the real estate ventures that they own, have been subpoenaed by the IRS for documents relating to their investments, and their investors, and the loans that they have received. Now, this was originally reported by Bloomberg and unfortunately it was kind of short on specifics as to what exactly the IRS is trying to find in Jared Kushner, and his family, and his company's history, but we do know that the subpoenas are asking for information all the way back from the year 2010, which means potentially for seven, eight years now, Kushner and his family, through their companies, have been involved in some unsavory dealings in terms of getting money, lending money, borrowing money, and what have you. One thing the Bloomberg article did point out is that this investigation into Kushner has absolutely no connection whatsoever to the Robert Mueller special prosecutor's investigation into the Trump.  Administration, which means, ladies and gentlemen, right now Jared Kushner is technically involved in two completely separate investigations into potential criminal conduct. You know, Jared Kushner, a guy who has a security clearance in spite of the fact that he hasn't been officially given a security clearance or passed a background check, shouldn't be in the White House whatsoever. I mean, all of the potential signs that are available show us that he should probably be headed to prison, or at least trying to find the best lawyers in this country to defend him, because that's what he's going to need. When you're involved in two separate investigations, one involving potential treason, the other involving potential fraud of some kind with your financial dealings, you're probably not, as Trump would say, the best people. You know, Kushner, to his credit, has been very successful in life. Most of it, almost all of it actually, from his parents and from marrying into money, but there's only so long that you can continue to skirt the law. There's only so long you can do these shady things in public, or private, excuse me, before they become public. That's what Jared Kushner is finding out.
We also learned this past week that he and Ivanka's personal debt since they came to the White House has increased by $155 million. Something's not right here. Something's not adding up with the Kushner family finances, and that is exactly what the IRS is hoping to find out from this investigation, and hopefully, at the end of all this, whether it's the Mueller investigation or the IRS investigation, we can get Jared Kushner and his potential threat to national security completely out of the White House.

Jared Kushner in a struggle with John Kelly over Kushner's Access to classified information. Feb 21, 2018

Kushner-Kelly rift widens over security clearances. Feb 22, 2018

Analyst REVEALS Jared Kushner May Face The SAME Fate as Paul Manafort. The editor-at-large for CNBC debunked the latest defenses coming from the White House during a Saturday appearance with Alex Witt on MSNBC. “What do the recent developments tell you about how [Robert] Mueller is putting all the pieces together in this puzzle?” Witt asked John Harwood. “Well Alex, we don’t know as a legal matter about collusion, but what we do know is that you had a campaign chairman who had been indirectly on Russia’s payroll through his work for Yanukovych in Ukraine. We know that the Trump organization itself has said that it was dependent on Russian money itself before the campaign started. We’ve got the National Security Adviser to the president having pled guilty and cooperating, and we have a president who has declined to implement sanctions that Congress passed against Russia, who has consistently declined to criticize Russia,” Harwood noted. “And we know that Russian hacking helped him win the election.” Feb 24, 2018

"A Billion in DEBT": Mueller PROBES Jared Kushner SHADY Financial Business. Special counsel Robert Mueller's interest in Jared Kushner has expanded beyond his contacts with Russia and now includes his efforts to secure financing for his company from foreign investors during the presidential transition, according to people familiar with the inquiry. This is the first indication that Mueller is exploring Kushner's discussions with potential non-Russian foreign investors, including in China. Feb 20, 2018.

Jared Kushner loses access to top-level security briefings. Feb 28, 2018

Mr Kushner will no longer receive a daily secret intelligence report. President Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner has had his White House security clearance downgraded, US media are reporting. Mr Kushner, a senior adviser to the president, had been receiving top-level security briefings. However, background checks into Mr Kushner had still not been completed, so he had interim clearance only. He and other White House aides who have yet to receive permanent clearance will not now get top-level briefings. Mr Kushner, who is married to Mr Trump's daughter Ivanka, had access to the President's Daily Brief, a secret intelligence report. What is the latest?
The moves were confirmed by Mr Kushner's lawyer to Politico, and by two unnamed officials to the Reuters news agency. Politico reported that the 37-year-old was informed of the decision on Friday. Politico quoted Mr Kushner's lawyer Abbe Lowell as saying that it would "not affect Mr Kushner's ability to continue to do the very important work he has been assigned by the president". A spokesperson for Mr Kushner told the BBC in a statement: "Those involved in the process again have confirmed that there are dozens of people at Mr Kushner's level whose process is delayed, that it is not uncommon for these clearance reviews to take this long in a new administration, and that the current backlogs are now being addressed." It comes as the White House moves to impose greater discipline on access to secrets. General John Kelly, Mr Trump's chief of staff, said earlier this month that he would be limiting the number of people with top-level security clearance. It emerged that the president's former staff secretary, Rob Porter, had been able to work with interim security clearance despite allegations of domestic abuse. The son-in-law with Donald Trump's ear. The news of the change in Mr Kushner's status followed the announcement hours earlier that his spokesman Josh Raffel was to leave the White House. Meanwhile, the Washington Post reported that Mr Kushner's contacts with certain foreign government officials have raised concerns with the White House. The newspaper, citing current and former US officials familiar with intelligence reports on the matter, reported that officials in the United Arab Emirates, China, Israel and Mexico have privately discussed ways in which they could take advantage of Mr Kushner and his business arrangements. What is the context?
Mr Kushner was given a wide brief in his role as a White House adviser despite a lack of political experience. He was tasked with brokering a Middle East peace deal and liaising with Mexico. But he had faced problems with his background checks as he sought to obtain permanent security clearance. Who are the people around the president?
The wealthy New York real estate developer had to refile the national security questionnaire required of all prospective White House employees after making a number of omissions. Last October, the head of the National Background Investigations Bureau told Congress he has "never seen that level of mistakes" on any security clearance application. Wings clipped. Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington. Jared Kushner, who according to the Washington Post had requested more information from the intelligence community than any White House employee not on the National Security Council, has had his wings clipped - at least for now. The administration may insist that Mr Kushner can continue to work on his sweeping portfolio of duties unhindered. His lawyer, Abbe Lowell, may say that this is a normal process and there are no concerns. The reality, however, is that this is an embarrassing development for the presidential son-in-law. He no longer has access to the presidential daily briefing. And, when dealing with foreign officials, he won't have the most sensitive information about their interests and actions. The problem for the White House could extend beyond just Mr Kushner, however. According to an NBC News report, as of November more than 130 administration employees were working under temporary security clearances, including Ivanka Trump and White House counsel Don McGahn. Mr Kushner may be the first, and one of the most influential, individuals to be revealed to have had a security downgrade - but he may not be the last. Jared Kushner has a long list of things to do. And last week, it was reported that a senior Justice Department official had told the White House that their investigations would further delay Mr Kushner's security clearance. The information was reportedly passed on to the White House by Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who is overseeing the special counsel investigating possible links between the Trump campaign and Russia. Two weeks ago, US Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said that presidential aides with interim security clearances should have only "limited" access to secret information.


Takata airbag scandal: Australia recalls 2.3 million cars. 28 Feb 2018

It is the biggest compulsory recall in Australia's history, authorities said. The Australian government has ordered a compulsory recall of 2.3 million cars due to faulty Takata airbags. Exploding airbags have been linked to at least 23 deaths worldwide, including one in Australia, the government said. The move adds to a global recall of more than 100 million vehicles - the biggest in automotive history. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said it was also the largest ever compulsory recall of a product in the nation, and the first to hit cars. Voluntary recalls conducted previously had not done enough to protect drivers, said Assistant Minister to the Treasurer Michael Sukkar. "It is the safety of all Australians which is the first priority of this government," he said on Wednesday. Mr Sukkar ordered manufacturers to replace dangerous units within two years. Factoring in previous recalls, about four million cars - comprising two in seven Australian vehicles - had been affected, he said. Why recalls have been necessary - a report from 2016. It follows a recommendation from the ACCC, the nation's consumer watchdog, which investigated allegations that carmakers had been refitting faulty airbags with identical devices. The airbags contain a defect which can cause ageing units to expand too quickly and spray metal shrapnel into cars, harming drivers and passengers. Japanese manufacturer Takata and its US arm, TK Holdings, filed for bankruptcy last year. The company is facing billions of dollars in penalties worldwide. Last week, TK Holdings reached a settlement with 44 US state attorneys-general.

Takata fined $1bn in US over exploding airbag scandal. 13 January 2017

About 100 million airbags made by Takata have been recalled globally. Japanese car parts maker Takata has agreed to pay $1bn (£820m) in penalties in the US for concealing dangerous defects in its exploding airbags. The firm also pleaded guilty to a single criminal charge, the company and the US Justice Department said. Takata will pay a $25m fine, $125m to people injured by the airbags and $850m to carmakers that used them. The faulty airbags have been linked to at least a dozen deaths and more than 100 injuries worldwide. Most major carmakers have been affected by the fault, with about 100 million Takata airbags recalled globally.
'Falsified test data'. The company's chief executive, Shigehisa Takada, said: "Takata deeply regrets the circumstances that have led to this situation and remains fully committed to being part of the solution." Takata has previously acknowledged some of its airbag inflators expanded with too much force and sprayed metal shrapnel into cars. "For more than a decade, Takata repeatedly and systematically falsified critical test data related to the safety of its products, putting profits and production schedules ahead of safety," said Andrew Weissmann, head of the Justice Department's fraud section. "I offer my deepest sympathies to the families and friends of those who died and to those who were injured as a result of the Takata Corporation's failure to fulfil its obligation to ensure the safety of its airbag systems," said Calvin L Scovel, inspector general of the US Department of Transportation. Three former Takata executives were also charged by the US authorities on Friday for their part in the scandal. The charges for conspiracy and wire fraud were filed against Shinichi Tanaka, Hideo Nakajima and Tsuneo Chikaraishi. All three were long-serving executives at Takata until 2015. Arrest warrants have also been issued for the three executives, although a spokeswoman for the US Attorney's Office in Detroit said it was unclear where the defendants were. They do not have a date to appear in court. Earlier on Friday Takata shares closed almost 17% higher in Tokyo on reports of the settlement with US regulators. It has not disclosed the total cost of the global recall, but reports have suggested it is working on a restructuring deal and potential bankruptcy protection.

Toys R Us and Maplin face collapse with 5,500 jobs at risk. Feb 28, 2018

Toys R Us in the UK and electronics chain Maplin are on the brink of collapse, putting 5,500 jobs at risk. The struggling retailers - two of the UK's best known chains - are understood to have put administrators on standby after failing to secure a rescue deal. Maplin - owned by Rutland Partners - had put the business up for sale, but talks with a potential buyer are understood to have broken down. Toys R Us was also seeking a possible sale but has failed to secure a buyer. Toys R Us staves off collapse after talks Maplin in talks with potential buyers. The toy chain in the UK - whose US owner filed for bankruptcy protection last September - is facing an imminent deadline for a £15m VAT bill which it will not be able to pay without selling the business. It had managed to stave off collapse in December by agreeing a rescue plan to allow it to restructure its operations, including the closure of at least 26 stores planned for this Spring. But with poor sales continuing into the new year and the VAT bill looming, the only route left for the firm to continue trading was to find a buyer which is now understood to be unlikely. Maplin was reported to be in talks with Edinburgh Woolen Mill over a sale. Meanwhile, Maplin had been in talks with Edinburgh Woollen Mill, the clothing company that owns Peacocks, Country Casuals and several other retailers, over a possible sale, according to Sky News. The move came after insurers cut credit cover last year because of Maplin's falling profits. The breakdown of the sale talks means that administration is now the most likely outcome for the firm. High Street problems. Toys R Us and Maplin are the latest of a string of well known retailers to run into into financial problems in recent months. Bed retailer Warren Evans is reported to be seeking a buyer to stave off administration, while clothing chain New Look and department store chain House of Fraser are seeking financial support from landlords and other creditors. Meanwhile, Asian-inspired High Street fashion brand East and High Street furniture chains Feather & Black and Multiyork have all recently fallen into administration. Toys R Us is understood to have made a loss for seven out of the past eight years of trading. Toys R Us in the UK has blamed its problems on its "warehouse-style stores". It opened these in the 1980s and 1990s, but it said in December that they had become "too big and expensive to run in the current retail environment". The UK business is understood to have made a loss for seven out of the past eight years of trading. Retail analyst Kate Hardcastle, from Insight With Passion, said both Toys R Us and Maplin had cut staffing to try to cut costs, which had led to poor service in the shops. She said for Toys R Us the problem was particularly acute because it sold mainly branded goods. "Therefore to succeed you need to offer some kind of differentiating factor - either a good discount or an experience that makes visiting the stores worthwhile. "Toys R Us didn't move with the times. It didn't do discounts or retail theatre," she says. Maplin has 200 stores and 2,500 staff in the UK, while Toys R Us employs around 3,000 workers in its 106 stores.

Prezzo set to close 100 restaurants in rescue attempt. 28 February 2018

Italian restaurant chain Prezzo is preparing to close around 100 of its 300 stores in an attempt to rescue the business, the BBC understands. The chain - which is owned by private equity firm TPG Capital - employs around 4,500 people. Prezzo is also expected to completely close its TexMex chain Chimichanga, which has 33 restaurants in the UK. The closures would form part of a deal to renegotiate debts owed by the company to its landlords. Specialist restructuring firm AlixPartners is understood to be drafting a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) - a step short of going into administration - on the company's behalf. The CVA would allow Prezzo to continue trading without being pursued for the money it owes. What’s eating the restaurant trade? Jamie Oliver closes flagship restaurant. The situation means that hundreds of jobs are hanging in the balance, but the firm is expected to redeploy staff if it can. Prezzo was bought by TPG in 2014 for just over £300m. It is the latest of a string of High Street firms to run into difficulties. Earlier the UK arm of toy retailer Toys R Us and electronics chain Maplin both collapsed into administration. Burger chain Byron and Jamie's Italian have both had to undergo similar restructurings this year, agreeing rescue plans with their lenders and landlords, and closing restaurants. Barbecoa, a smaller business owned by Jamie Oliver, went into administration earlier this month. Analysts have said fears over the strength of the UK economy have meant consumers have cut back on discretionary spending. Last year, consumer spending fell for the first time since 2012, according to payments processor Visa. Wages have also been rising at a slower pace than inflation, leaving consumers worse off. The restaurant sector has also faced higher costs for the ingredients it buys overseas due to the drop in the pound since the UK voted to leave the European Union.

China Anbang crackdown: Who might be next? 27 February 2018

Airlines, football clubs, five-star hotels and film studios. China's biggest conglomerates have been snapping up businesses around the world, including some in fairly sexy sectors. Despite growing so big and borrowing so much, they were seen as untouchable because of their political connections. That was until the middle of last year when, after seemingly unrestrained growth, Beijing suddenly turned up the heat on some of those giants. And then last week, some real action. Beijing cracked down on one of those firms - taking control of insurance and financial giant Anbang, and prosecuting the firm's head. This, analysts suggest, could indicate more intervention is on the way. HNA owns Hainan Airlines. Extending Xi rule 'would be a farce'. Charting China's 'great purge' under Xi. Who might be next? The move against Anbang was called a "warning shot" by the Economist Intelligence Unit. But it is just one of the businesses which became known as "grey rhinos" - large, visible problems in an economy which are often ignored, until they start moving fast and trampling everything in their wake. And next in Beijing's crosshairs, analysts predict, is likely to be HNA, which has been described as the biggest company you've probably never heard of. Investing an estimated $40bn (£28.7bn) in the past three years, it differs from Anbang having primarily bought into "real businesses" rather than being built mainly around complex financial structures. It owns China's Hainan Airlines, airport services firm Swissport, airline caterer Gate Gourmet, holds a major stake in Deutsche Bank, has a 25% share in the Hilton hotel group, and owns Carlson Hotels, which runs the Radisson chain. While there's no suggestion it's in financial difficulties, expect Beijing to lean on HNA to get rid of "most if not all of its financial sector holdings", says Michael Hirson of analysts Eurasia Group. Earlier this month, HNA said it had reduced its stake in Deutsche Bank from 9.9% to 9.2%. While most of Anbang's investors were individuals putting cash into things such as insurance policies, HNA's backers are mainly institutions. On the one hand, this would mean its collapse would be far less politically sensitive. The common man or woman on the street rarely sheds tears when financial giants get their fingers burned. But Eurasia Group says we should not expect a too punitive approach from the government. "Beijing is reluctant to impose major losses on bondholders, which would make it more expensive for many other Chinese corporates to obtain external financing," Mr Hirson said. Significant bankruptcies would also carry political risks. HNA hasn't commented. But speaking last year to the BBC, chief executive Adam Tan was sanguine about plans by Beijing to tighten restrictions on Chinese businesses spending money abroad. He predicted HNA would still get support from Chinese banks, and could count on international banks as well because of its large presence outside of China. It seems unlikely he will feel so secure today. Dalian Wanda controls the AMC cinema chain. What about Dalian Wanda?
Of all the Chinese firms facing a crackdown, Dalian Wanda has the highest profile overseas, partly because of the sort of investments it made. Run by Wang Jianlin, among the country's richest men, it grew into one of the country's most prominent property developers.And it invested overseas too, most noticeably in Hollywood - controlling the AMC cinema chain as well as Legendary Entertainment, co-producer of hit films such as Godzilla and The Dark Knight Rises. But Mr Wang, once considered a Beijing favourite, fell foul of the establishment, with lenders told to pull out their backing. And after the warnings came he was quick to offload businesses, including theme parks and hotels in one of China's biggest property deals as it focused on its core shopping mall and cinema businesses. A subsequent rejigging of the deal just added to the picture of chaos. Earlier it had pulled out of a $1bn bid for Dick Clark Productions - the owner of the Golden Globe TV and film awards - with China's clampdown on overseas investments blamed. Michael Hirson of Eurasia Group described the asset selling as "aggressive moves" to "de-risk". They were, he added, "a painful decision for Wang but one that now looks very astute". Football club Wolverhampton Wanderers is one of Fosun's overseas investments. Who else is in the spotlight?
The other big player put on the watch list in mid-2017 was Fosun. It has investments in the English football club Wolverhampton Wanderers, leisure group Club Med, travel firm Thomas Cook and entertainments business Cirque de Soleil. And unlike the others, is still buying abroad. Just last week, it said it had completed a deal to become the majority shareholder in Lanvin, France's oldest surviving couture label. Though by its standards, the investment of about $120m is fairly small. Both Wanda and Fosun "appear to be on more solid political ground", according to Mr Hirson. What does this mean for Chinese overseas investment? The clampdown is very much aimed at the large conglomerates buying into a huge range of sectors. Most other firms are able to keep investing. But there has been a fall from the peak years of 2015 and 2016. The number of Chinese deals in the US and Europe fell by almost 25% in 2017 from the previous year, Dealogic said. And the rhetoric against Chinese investment in the US from the Trump administration - as seen in the collapse of some major deals - means this trend is likely to continue. Just this week, Germany said it would be watching closely after Geely snapped up nearly 10% of Mercedes-Benz owner Daimler.
Why was Anbang targeted?
To recap from last week, Anbang firm was known for its aggressive international acquisitions, including New York's Waldorf Astoria hotel. But Chinese authorities have been cracking down on the financial industry to guard against excessive borrowing and risk. The firm's head Wu Xiaohui, who was already detained by authorities last June, is to face prosecution for "economic crimes". Analysts at Eurasia Group described it as "both a takedown and a bailout". "Beijing's approach reveals President Xi Jinping's approach to cracking down on conglomerates - punish wrong-doing by executives while sending a reassuring message to the markets," said Eurasia Group's Michael Hirson. Anbang bought the Waldorf-Astoria for close to $2bn. China could have nationalised Anbang instead (as, for example, happened during the UK banking crisis in 2008 with Royal Bank of Scotland). Or it might have forced its sale to another company (continuing the UK analogy, look at how HBOS was sold to Lloyds Banking Group). Instead it put it under the stewardship of China's insurance regulator for one year. This, notes Mr Hirson was a "relatively transparent and investor-friendly" approach, allowing the regulators to sell-off Anbang assets and bring in funds while keeping it out of state ownership.

Russia MP: 'I don't feel people up. Well, OK, just a little'

Leonid Slutsky is a member of the Duma and the conservative Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR). A BBC journalist has alleged that she was sexually harassed by the senior Russian politician Leonid Slutsky. BBC Russian Service's Farida Rustamova is the third journalist to openly accuse him of improper behaviour. The Duma deputy denied the accusations and has threatened to take the women to court for defamation. Russia has not seen the same backlash against sexual harassment as the US and Western Europe have seen in the wake of high profile scandals. 'Lost for words'. Ms Rustamova recorded audio of the incident, which took place a year ago. The recording is in the BBC's possession, but it has decided not to publish it. On 24 March 2017, Farida Rustamova visited Leonid Slutsky at his parliamentary office to get a comment about the then French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen's visit to Russia. Farida Rustamova was one of the anonymous sources who initially made accusations against Slutsky. Now she has decided to speak openly. During the conversation, Mr Slutsky unexpectedly changed the subject and asked if she would like to leave the BBC to work for him. When Ms Rustamova refused, he complained: "You're trying to get away from me, you don't want to kiss me, you've hurt my feelings." In the recording, Ms Rustamova can be heard explaining that she has a boyfriend that she hopes to marry. "Great, you'll be his wife, and my mistress," Mr Slutsky says. Our correspondent says the politician then approached her and, in her words, began "running his hand, the flat of his palm, up against my nether region". Sexual harassment in Russia. Russia does not have laws that cover sexual harassment. Victim blaming is very strong in Russia; even rape victims are often told they "brought it upon themselves". Awareness is on the rise thanks to social media. In 2016 a campaign around a hashtag that translated as "I am not afraid to tell" spread across Russian Facebook. Women and men of all ages and backgrounds openly wrote about their encounters with sexual violence. Activists are now talking about the need for modern sexual education for teenagers. Lawyers are looking at introducing the idea of consent into the law. "I didn't understand what had happened," Ms Rustamova says. "I was just lost for words, muttering funny noises, I just went numb. I blurted out something about not coming to him again, that he had felt me up." Judging by his response, which was also caught on the recording, Mr Slutsky did not agree with her description of events. "I don't feel people up. Well, OK, just a little. 'Feel people up' is an ugly expression," he said.
The BBC has asked Mr Slutsky to comment on the events of 24 March 2017, but he has not responded. Ms Rustamova joins two journalists - TV channel RTVI deputy editor Yekaterina Kotrikadze and TV Rain producer Daria Zhuk - who have both, in the last two weeks, accused deputy Leonid Slutsky of sexual impropriety. Deputy editor-in-chief of the RTVI channel, Ekaterina Kotrikadze, was the first person to openly make allegations against Mr Slutsky. Mr Slutsky acknowledged the scandal after President Putin's state address last week, suggesting it was a political plot. "They've made them write about this," he told BBC correspondents. "People are unhappy that the authority of the foreign affairs committee, including the committee chairperson, has increased. "This is a typical example, I'm afraid, of made-to-order journalism that, instead of diminishing our authority, has probably strengthened it." The State Duma - Russia's lower house - has emphasised that the Mr Slutsky's guilt has not been proven and encouraged alleged victims to file a report with the parliament's ethics committee. Ms Rustamova is currently preparing her statement to the State Duma MPs' ethics committee. She says that Leonid Slutsky has made no attempt to apologise to her over the past year. Russian law does not cover sexual harassment. Moreover, according to Oksana Pushkin, a deputy at the State Duma, the law that prohibits coercive actions of a sexual nature (article 133 of Russia's Penal Code) "does not, in reality, work".

Trump tariffs: President says EU makes business 'impossible'. 7 March 2018

Mr Trump held a press conference with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven on Tuesday
US President Donald Trump has said European Union trade rules make it "impossible" for American firms to do business with the bloc.
Defending his tariff plans as he hosted the Swedish PM at the White House, Mr Trump said other countries had "taken advantage of" the US for decades.
Shortly afterwards it was announced that White House economic adviser Gary Cohn, who opposes tariffs, would quit.
The EU has drawn up a $3.5bn (£2.5bn) hit list of retaliatory tariffs.
Motorbikes, whiskey and T-shirts are on the bloc's list of 100 American products, the BBC understands. The US president's proposed global duties on steel and aluminium have raised the prospect of a tit-for-tat trade war. Trump: 'Everybody wants to work in the White House'
"The European Union has been particularly tough on the United States," Mr Trump said at Tuesday's joint press conference with the Swedish prime minister.
"They make it almost impossible for us to do business with them," Mr Trump complained.
Mr Trump said if the EU retaliated, the US would impose a 25% tax on European cars.
But the US president also said America would levy tariffs in a "loving, loving way".
"They'll like us better and they'll respect us more," he said about US trade partners who object to the plan. Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Trade
Mr Trump repeated his belief that the US would win any trade war, since it was running such a large trade deficit.
"When we're behind on every single country, trade wars aren't so bad," he told reporters at the White House.
Mr Trump's decision to raise import taxes on steel to 25% and aluminium to 10% prompted strong reactions around the world last week.
Swedish PM Stefan Lofven said: "I am convinced that increased tariffs will hurt us all in the long run."
Mr Lofven is the first European leader to visit the White House since the tariffs were announced last week. Members of Mr Trump's Republican party have voicing disquiet at his proposal. Just before Mr Trump spoke, Senate leader Mitch McConnell said: "There is a lot of concern among Republican senators that this could sort of metastasise into sort of a larger trade war." Earlier on Tuesday, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said the tariffs were too broad. He urged Mr Trump "to be more surgical" when selecting which countries to target "so we do not have unintended consequences". Congressman Mark Meadows, who chairs the ultraconservative Freedom Caucus, said most lawmakers had told him they did not support the president's decision. Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said his country was planning its own tariffs on US goods. He said they would issue them in a way that is most politically damaging to Mr Trump."We would have to target our response at the things they export that are most politically sensitive and hit exactly those goods," he told Mexican broadcaster Televisa.

Gary Cohn: Key Trump economic policy adviser resigns. 7 March 2018

Gary Cohn was director of the National Economic Council under President Trump. US President Donald Trump's top economic adviser Gary Cohn is resigning, the White House has said. It is the latest in a series of high-profile departures from President Trump's team. There has been speculation that Mr Cohn, a supporter of free trade, was angered by Mr Trump's plans to impose tariffs on aluminium and steel imports. In a statement released by the White House, Mr Cohn said it had been "an honour to serve my country". The 57-year-old former president of the Goldman Sachs bank helped Mr Trump push through his sweeping tax reforms late last year. However, the two were not believed to be close. In August 2017, Mr Cohn criticised Mr Trump over his reaction to a far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, saying the administration "can and must do better". He was reported to have drafted a resignation letter after the event. "It has been an honour to serve my country and enact pro-growth economic policies to benefit the American people, in particular the passage of historic tax reform," Mr Cohn said in his statement.
"I am grateful to the president for giving me this opportunity and wish him and the administration great success in the future." Gary Cohn was a bit of a stranger in a strange land. He was a Democrat in a Republican White House; an economic globalist working for a president who campaigned on economic nationalism. Now, it seems, Donald Trump's protectionist bent has pushed the top administration economic adviser to the exit.
This was not an unexpected development. By many accounts, there had been a contentious White House fight over whether to impose sweeping sanctions on US steel and aluminium imports - a tug-of-war that was settled, precipitously, by the president himself last week.
There were the rumours that Mr Cohn was only sticking around to see last year's tax bill over the finish line, after his extreme discomfort following the president's warm words about some of the white nationalist marchers involved in violent clashes in Charlottesville last August.
Mr Cohn was reportedly viewed by many Trump loyalists in the White House as an unwelcome interloper. Some on the outside, particularly in the financial world, welcomed him as a moderating influence - along with son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka.
Now the former is leaving and the latter two seem greatly weakened. All this could mark sharp new direction in White House policy.
The White House said Mr Cohn's exact departure date had yet to be determined.
"For several weeks Gary had been discussing with the president that it was nearing time for him to transition out," an official said. Trump: 'Everybody wants to work in the White House'
In a statement, Mr Trump described his outgoing economics adviser as "a rare talent".
"Gary... did a superb job in driving our agenda, helping to deliver historic tax cuts and reforms and unleashing the American economy once again," he said .
"He is a rare talent and I thank him for his dedicated service to the American people."
Mr Trump later tweeted that he would pick Mr Cohn's replacement "soon".
"Many people wanting the job - will choose wisely!" he added.
Possible candidates mooted by US media include White House adviser Peter Navarro and Larry Kudlow, a conservative commentator and 2016 campaign adviser.
Earlier on Tuesday, President Trump tweeted that there was no chaos at the White House but there were "still... some people that I want to change". The new Fake News narrative is that there is CHAOS in the White House. Wrong! People will always come & go, and I want strong dialogue before making a final decision. I still have some people that I want to change (always seeking perfection). There is no Chaos, only great Energy! The White House has seen a string of senior figures leave since Mr Trump took office.
Last week, one of his closest aides, Hope Hicks, resigned. She was the fourth person to have served as the president's communications chief.It came a day after she had testified in front of the House Intelligence Committee investigating possible Trump campaign ties to Russia, but White House sources said this was not the reason.

Ex Co-op Bank boss Paul Flowers banned after sex and drugs emails - Mar 6, 2018

The former chairman of the Co-operative Bank, Paul Flowers, has been banned from the financial services industry by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Mr Flowers was chairman of the bank at the time of its near collapse in 2013 when it revealed a £1.5bn black hole in its accounts.
The FCA found he had used his work email for sexually explicit messages, and to discuss illegal drugs. He left amid concerns about expenses and in 2014 admitted drug possession. Using the email and phone provided by the Co-op for such communication was in breach of its workplace guidelines and Mr Flowers continued such usage despite having been warned not to previously. 'Trust and influence'
The FCA said he had "demonstrated a lack of fitness and propriety required to work in financial services" and consumers would lose faith in the industry if he was allowed to continue in it. Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA, said: "The role of chair occupies a unique place of trust and influence. The chair is pivotal in setting expectations of a company's culture, values and behaviours. "Mr Flowers failed in his duty to lead by example and to meet the high standards of integrity and probity demanded by the role. These high standards are what the financial services industry and the wider community rightly expect of its senior individuals." The FCA said its investigation had taken so long partly because of its need to be thorough, but also because, in this case, it had to wait until other investigations into the collapse of the bank itself and the conduct of other executives were well under way. In 2016, the Bank of England's Prudential Regulation Authority banned two former Co-operative Bank executives from holding senior banking positions. It also fined them.Co-operative Bank merged with the Britannia building society in 2009. The deal was later held responsible for the near collapse of the bank.

Italy election: Populist surge prompts political deadlock - Mar 5, 2018

No single party has won a majority, early figures suggest. Italy is on course for a hung parliament after voters backed right-wing and populist parties, projections based on partial results suggest. The Eurosceptic, anti-establishment Five Star Movement has won the lion's share of the vote. But ex-PM Silvio Berlusconi's right-wing coalition, which includes the far-right League, looks set to win the most seats in the lower house of parliament. Forming a government may now take weeks of negotiation and coalition-building. Alternatively, fresh elections could be held in a bid to produce a more decisive result - though there is no guarantee that would happen. Provisional results show Five Star garnering 31.6% of the vote, while the League received 18.2% of the vote and Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia 13.8%. Matteo Renzi's ruling Democratic Party (DP) only got 19.1% of the vote, which La Repubblica newspaper says is a psychological blow to the party, as it has failed to win more than a fifth of the votes. Broadly, support for the League came from votes in the north, while Five Star saw its strongest show of support in the south of the country. What does the result mean?
Though no party will be able to rule alone based on the early poll figures, the surge of support for populist outfits has been compared with Brexit and the election of Donald Trump in the US. Mr Berlusconi's coalition, which includes his Forza Italia (Go Italy!) party, plus anti-immigrant League and the far-right Brothers of Italy, is tipped to get 248-268 seats - below the 316 needed for a majority. But Five Star, which has insisted on going it alone without forming a coalition, is expected to emerge as the largest single party in Italy's lower house, with 216-236 seats. Founded in 2009 by comedian Beppe Grillo, who denounced cronyism in Italian politics, Five Star is now led by Luigi Di Maio, 31. It has captured new voters in the poorer regions of southern Italy, feeding off anger over institutional corruption, economic hardship and immigration. The Five Star Movement led by Luigi Di Maio is opposed to austerity policies and wants to scrap a law on compulsory vaccinations. Italian voters appear to have abandoned Mr Renzi's DP because of dissatisfaction over these issues, and its centre-left coalition is projected to come a distant third, with an estimated 107-127 seats. Final confirmed results are not expected for several hours. Voters punished the centre-left government in Italy as they have punished the centre left in so many European countries of late Italian Elections. BBC Europe editor Katya Adler tweeted that it is "theoretically possible for the EU's nightmare result to come true: a coalition between the 'populist Eurosceptics': Five Star and Lega [the League party]". Voting for Italy's Senate, the upper house of parliament, also favoured populists and parties of the right. Five Star performed better than anticipated, with figures based on early vote-counting suggesting it will take the most seats - around 102-122 - but miss out on a majority. In Italy, the public vote is merely the first stage in a very long process of picking a new government - which is why party leaders here do not jump in front of the cameras in the hours after the polls close. We still don't know who the winner will be. But in this opening act, Five Star has gained a certain advantage. Its message clearly resonated with young people searching for jobs, and with voters in the poorer south of the country. Matteo Renzi's Democratic Party is among the losers in this election. The movement made a big point of running alone in this election. By contrast, other major parties teamed up into electoral alliances. But the feature which gave the party its strength - its independence - may now become its weakness. In order to form a government, Five Star must find coalition partners. Its inexperience in working with others may be a disadvantage in the practical business of coalition-building. So, which way will Five Star seek to turn? There is some speculation that the movement may seek a coalition with the anti-immigration League party, which appears to have performed better than its own alliance partners in this election. Five Star and the League have each criticised Italy's relationship with the European Union, although neither campaigns to leave the bloc. A potential alliance between the two would be viewed with some degree of worry in Brussels. Berlusconi's party outshone by allies. Mr Berlusconi, 81, cannot hold public office himself until next year because of a tax fraud conviction. And in a personal blow for him, Forza Italia looks likely to have been outdone by its ally, the League. "My first words: THANK YOU," tweeted League leader Matteo Salvini as projections rolled in. Matteo Salvini's League party appears to have significantly increased its vote share. Four-time prime minister Mr Berlusconi has backed European Parliament President Antonio Tajani as his choice to lead the country. However, it is possible Mr Salvini - who has promised to deport hundreds of thousands of migrants and spoken of the "danger" of Islam - will now be eyeing the job. How was the turnout? Officials estimated voter turnout at more than 58% on Sunday evening, with several hours of voting still to go. Long queues were seen at voting centres around the country, with residents in Rome asked to turn up well before polls closed at 23:00 (22:00 GMT) to make sure they had time to cast their ballots. The delays are thought to have been caused by a new voting system and new in-depth, anti-fraud checks. Mr Berlusconi was ambushed by a topless protester from a feminist activist group as he voted. In Palermo, Sicily, 200,000 ballots had to be reprinted because of errors, which led to a delay in some polls opening. What are the key issues? Immigration
More than 600,000 migrants have made the treacherous journey from Libya across the Mediterranean to reach Italy since 2013. The huge number of arrivals has upset many Italians - with politicians, including from the mainstream, toughening their rhetoric as a result. Mr Berlusconi has called the presence of illegal migrants a "social time-bomb" and pledges mass deportations. The campaign has seen violent clashes between far-right supporters and anti-fascist protesters.
Immigration dominates Italian election. Italy's economy has started to expand once again. But nearly 10 years on from the global financial crisis, Italy's gross domestic product - or total economic output - remains 5.7% lower than pre-crisis levels. In 2016, some 18 million people were at risk of poverty, and unemployment is at 11%.Economic policy has been a key battleground, but observers say they have heard more from parties about pensioners than youths, which could be due to young voters' high vote abstention rates.

Cambridge Analytica: Warrant sought to inspect company - video

Alexander Nix, CEO of Cambridge Analytica was filmed by undercover reporters for Channel 4 News. The UK's Information Commissioner says she will seek a warrant to look at the databases and servers used by British firm Cambridge Analytica. The London-based company is accused of using the personal data of 50 million Facebook members to influence the US presidential election in 2016. Its executives have also been filmed by Channel 4 News suggesting it could use honey traps and potentially bribery to discredit politicians. The company denies any wrongdoing. Fresh allegations. On Monday, Channel 4 News broadcast hidden camera footage in which Cambridge Analytica chief executive Alexander Nix appears to suggest tactics his company could use to discredit politicians online. In the footage, asked what "deep digging" could be done, Mr Nix told an undercover reporter: "Oh, we do a lot more than that." He suggested one way to target an individual was to "offer them a deal that's too good to be true and make sure that's video recorded". He also said he could "send some girls around to the candidate's house..." adding that Ukrainian girls "are very beautiful, I find that works very well". Mr Nix continued: "I'm just giving you examples of what can be done and what has been done." Channel 4 News said its reporter had posed as a fixer for a wealthy client hoping to get a political candidate elected in Sri Lanka. However, Cambridge Analytica said the report had "grossly misrepresented" the conversations caught on camera. "In playing along with this line of conversation, and partly to spare our 'client' from embarrassment, we entertained a series of ludicrous hypothetical scenarios," the company said in a statement. "Cambridge Analytica does not condone or engage in entrapment, bribes or so-called 'honeytraps'," it said. Mr Nix spoke to BBC Newsnight before the Channel 4 report was aired on Monday night. He declined to be interviewed after the undercover footage was broadcast. Mr Nix told the BBC's Newsnight programme that he regarded the report as a "misrepresentation of the facts" and said he felt the firm had been "deliberately entrapped". UK Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham is investigating Cambridge Analytica over claims it used personal data to influence the US presidential election. Christopher Wylie, who worked with the company, claimed it amassed the data of millions of people through a personality quiz on Facebook that was created by an academic. Investigation.
Ms Denham demanded access to the firm's databases and servers after it missed her Monday deadline. "I'm not accepting their response so therefore I'll be applying to the court for a warrant," she told Channel 4. She said she wanted to understand how data was "processed or deleted by Cambridge Analytica". But Labour's shadow digital economy minister Liam Byrne said he feared the Information Commissioner lacked the legal power to apply for a digital search warrant "quickly and quietly". Instead, she has "told the world she's going to court", giving Cambridge Analytica and others a headstart in hiding or disguising data and records that might be needed for the investigation, he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. 'Violation'. Cambridge Analytica insists it followed the correct procedures in obtaining and using data, but it was suspended from Facebook last week. Facebook, meanwhile, will hold an open meeting with its employees later to discuss the matter, tech news website The Verge is reporting. Facebook said it has hired its own digital forensic team to audit Cambridge Analytica. "This is part of a comprehensive internal and external review that we are conducting to determine the accuracy of the claims that the Facebook data in question still exists," the firm said. Facebook's value falls $37bn amid backlash. Zuckerberg pressed to face breach concerns. "If this data still exists, it would be a grave violation of Facebook's policies and an unacceptable violation of trust and the commitments these groups made." Facebook said Aleksandr Kogan, the creator of the personality app from which the data had been harvested, had agreed to be audited, but Mr Wylie - who made the claims about the way the data was gathered and used - had declined. How to protect your data on Facebook. There are a few things to be aware of if you want to restrict who has access to your data. Keep an eye on apps, especially those which require you to log in using your Facebook account - they often have a very wide range of permissions and many are specifically designed to pick up your data. Use an ad blocker to limit advertising. Look at your Facebook security settings and make sure you are aware of what is enabled. Check the individual app settings to see whether you have given them permission to view your friends as well as yourself. You can download a copy of the data Facebook holds on you, although it is not comprehensive. There is a download button at the bottom of the General Account Settings tab. However bear in mind that your data may be less secure sitting on your laptop than it is on Facebook's servers, if your device is hacked. You can of course, simply leave Facebook, but the campaign group Privacy International warns that privacy concerns extend beyond the social network. "The current focus is on protecting your data being exploited by third parties, but your data is being exploited all the time," said a spokeswoman."Many apps on your phone will have permission to access location data, your entire phone book and so on. It is just the tip of the iceberg."

Cambridge Analytica: The story so far. 20 March 2018. Video

It's a sensational story containing allegations of sleaze, psychological manipulation and data misuse that has provoked an internationally furious response. Tech giant Facebook and data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica are at the centre of a dispute over the harvesting and use of personal data - and whether it was used to influence the outcome of the US 2016 presidential election or the UK Brexit referendum. Both firms deny any wrongdoing. How has Cambridge Analytica been accused of sleazy tactics?
Channel 4 News sent an undercover reporter to meet executives from data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica. The firm had been credited with helping Donald Trump to presidential victory. The reporter posed as a Sri Lankan businessman wanting to influence a local election. Cambridge Analytica boss Alexander Nix was apparently filmed giving examples of how his firm could discredit political rivals by arranging various smear campaigns, including setting up encounters with prostitutes and staging situations in which apparent bribery could be caught on camera. Alexander Nix, CEO, Cambridge Analytica: "These sort of tactics are very effective". The firm denies all the claims and says the documentary was "edited and scripted to grossly represent the nature of those conversations". It claims the conversations were led by the reporters. "I must emphatically state that Cambridge Analytica does not condone or engage in entrapment, bribes or so-called 'honeytraps', and nor does it use untrue material for any purpose," said Mr Nix. What was Facebook's role?
In 2014 a quiz on Facebook invited users to find out their personality type. It was developed by University of Cambridge academic Aleksandr Kogan (the university has no connections with Cambridge Analytica). As was common with apps and games at that time, it was designed to harvest not only the user data of the person taking part in the quiz, but also the data of their friends. Facebook has since changed the amount of data developers can scrape in this way. Christopher Wylie, who worked with Cambridge Analytica, alleges that because 270,000 people took the quiz, the data of some 50 million users, mainly in the US, was harvested without their explicit consent via their friend networks. Mr Wylie claims the data was sold to Cambridge Analytica, which then used it to psychologically profile people and deliver pro-Trump material to them. Cambridge Analytica denies any of it was used as part of the services it provided to the Trump campaign. Is this against Facebook's terms? The data was gathered using Facebook's infrastructure at that time, and many other developers had taken advantage of it - but the data was not authorised for them to share with others. The other key point is that even the people directly taking part in the personality quiz would have had no idea that they were potentially sharing their data with Donald Trump's election campaign. Facebook say when they learned their rules had been breached, they removed the app and demanded assurances that the information had been deleted. Cambridge Analytica claims that it never used the data, and deleted it when Facebook told it to. Both Facebook and the UK Information Commissioner want to find out whether it was properly destroyed, as Mr Wylie claims it was not. What has the official response been? There are calls for Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to testify before Congress. US senators have called on Mark Zuckerberg to testify before Congress about how Facebook will protect users. The head of the European Parliament said it would investigate to see if the data was misused. A spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said she was "very concerned" about the revelations. How can you protect your data? There are a few things to be aware of if you want to restrict who has access to your data. Keep an eye on apps, especially those which require you to log in using your Facebook account - they often have a very wide range of permissions and many are specifically designed to pick up your data. Use an ad blocker to limit advertising. Look at your Facebook security settings and make sure you are aware of what is enabled. Check the individual app settings to see whether you have given them permission to view your friends as well as yourself. You can download a copy of the data Facebook holds on you, although it is not comprehensive. There is a download button at the bottom of the General Account Settings tab. However bear in mind that your data may be less secure sitting on your laptop than it is on Facebook's servers, if your device is hacked. You can of course, simply leave Facebook, but the campaign group Privacy International warns that privacy concerns extend beyond the social network. "The current focus is on protecting your data being exploited by third parties, but your data is being exploited all the time," said a spokeswoman.
"Many apps on your phone will have permission to access location data, your entire phone book and so on. It is just the tip of the iceberg."

Facebook data - as scandalous as MPs’ expenses? 19 March 2018

Data about Facebook users is gathered and shared all the time say industry experts. The gathering storm over how millions of Facebook profiles were apparently exploited for political purposes raises all sorts of questions about how our data is used. But already some in the data and marketing industries are pouring cold water on the story which the Guardian's Carole Cadwalladr has pursued with such admirable vigour. "Nothing very new here," they say with a world-weary sigh. "This sort of thing has been going on for years." But that surely is the point - we are finally waking up to a murky world where there is little regulation, and companies can trade our personal information without a care. Some in the data industry agree. "It's a bit like the MPs expenses scandal," says Nick Halstead, an entrepreneur who has started several data analytics businesses. He believes, that just as MPs had a rude awakening when they were caught out doing what was accepted practice for years, so data firms and the social media giants will have to change their ways. He says the method used by an academic who ran a personality quiz to gather Facebook data and then allegedly passed it to Cambridge Analytica is a familiar one: "I can name you 10 companies that have hundreds of millions of Facebook profiles using similar methods." He says these firms are not doing anything illegal, and although they should not be passing on the data to others, they often do. Mr Halstead thinks a recent change in Facebook's rules for external developers which made it harder for them to simply scrape data from users' public profiles, may be a sign that the company knows there is a problem.
It might have another as the public row over the data has hit Facebook shares which were down about 5% as politicians, pundits and regulators queued to demand more information. Privacy please. For Stephanie Hare, a tech expert who has worked in the data field, the Cambridge Analytica story raises big questions over a lack of accountability: "What is really striking here is the absence of any oversight." Nobody, she points out - not the social network, nor the data company or the academic researcher - seems to have thought that it was their job to ask if data had been improperly shared, and if so to ensure it was deleted. She thinks there is going to need to be some kind of regulatory oversight to make sure the rules are followed. Much has been made of the fact that users who sign up to the kind of personality quiz used in this case have to explicitly give permission for their data to be accessed. But Stephanie Hare says it is unfair to put the burden on people with busy lives to read through the fine print. And she feels that Facebook's settings should be set to maximise privacy by default. "It's our jobs as technologists to design systems that are safe," she says. "I don't get on an aeroplane as a passenger and make my own safety checks." I spent this morning giving a talk at a school in South Wales about the power of social media platforms to spread fake news. I took some time to explain just how much power Facebook puts in the hands of advertisers - and political parties - to target their messages very precisely at, say, 15-25 year olds in Pontypridd who like motor racing. My audience, all keen users of social media, seemed surprised to learn that Facebook owned Instagram and WhatsApp, and Google owned YouTube, meaning that just two giant companies could exert huge influence over the information they received and how they thought. I also warned them against signing up to quizzes on Facebook and elsewhere. But we are now asking a lot of this generation, demanding that they examine every news story to be certain of its sources, and making them read through arcane privacy statements everywhere they go online.Perhaps it is time for the grownups to give them an online world which is safer by default.

Tens of thousands protest over killed woman-politician. Tens of thousands of people in Rio de Janeiro and other cities across Brazil have taken to the streets to mourn a murdered politician who had campaigned against police brutality. Marielle Franco, a 38-year-old Rio city councillor, was viewed by many as a champion of women's rights. Ms Franco and her driver were both shot dead while in her car on Wednesday. 16 Mar 2018

Brazil: Big rallies held after Rio politician is shot dead. 16 March 2018

Crowds demand justice for murdered activist. Tens of thousands of people in Rio de Janeiro and other cities across Brazil have taken to the streets to mourn a murdered politician who had campaigned against police brutality. Marielle Franco, a 38-year-old Rio city councillor, was viewed by many as a champion of women's rights. Ms Franco and her driver were both shot dead while in her car on Wednesday. Brazilian President Michel Temer called her murder an attack on democracy and the rule of law. 'Barbaric crime'
Public Security Minister Raul Jungmann has said the federal government will use all resources available to find her killers. Marielle Franco was born in Favela da Mare, one of Rio's most violent shanty towns. "I'm here at the request of President Temer," he said at a press conference. "I would like to tell the friends of relatives of Marielle that we will find those responsible and punish them for this barbaric crime," Mr Jungmann added. "Justice will be done." Ms Franco was returning from an event encouraging black women's empowerment in central Rio when a car drew alongside hers and nine shots rang out. Marielle Franco's murder shocked the nation. She and her driver, Anderson Pedro Gomes, were both killed, and her press officer, who was sitting in the back seat of the car, was injured. Police officials said it appeared Ms Franco had been deliberately targeted. She was shot four times in the head, and three bullets hit Mr Gomes. Ms Franco was elected to the city council in 2016 and presided over the women's commission. She was a councillor for the left-wing Socialism and Liberty Party. Last month, she was chosen to be the speaker of the commission overseeing the deployment of federal security forces into Rio's favelas. Rio military deployment stirs controversy. President Temer deployed the military in the state of Rio in February after a spike in violent crime during carnival. Marielle Franco was buried before dusk at Rio's Caju Cemetery. The measure was approved by Brazil's Congress but has stirred controversy with some residents complaining about harassment. Ms Franco, who grew up in Mare, a favela complex in the north of the city, has been an outspoken critic of the move to deploy the army and the federal police force. An education disrupted by violence. On Tuesday, she posted on Twitter about the killing in the Manguinhos favela of a 23-year-old man, which the youth's family blamed on the military police. "Another killing of a youth which could end up on the PM [military police] tally. Matheus Melo was leaving church. How many more will have to die before this war ends?" she asked. In another tweet she expressed her solidarity with the people of the favela of Acari. "What is happening now in Acari is absurd!" she posted. "The 41st battalion of the military police is known as the battalion of death. Enough of trampling all over the population! Enough of killing our youth!" she wrote, adding a picture with the words "We're all Acari, stop killing us!" The UN Human Rights Office in Geneva condemned the "deeply shocking murder of a well-known human rights defender" and called for a "thorough, transparent and independent" investigation to be carried out as soon as possible. Amnesty International urged that the investigation be rigorous and focus on "the context, motive and responsibility" for the killing.

Tasmania elects majority of women in Australia state first. 16 March 2018

Tasmania's opposition leader Rebecca White (left) and her deputy, Michelle O'Byrne. Tasmania has become the first state in Australian history to elect a majority of female MPs to its legislature. The state, Australia's smallest, held its election on 3 March, but counting was not finalised until this week. The Australian Capital Territory (ACT), which is not a state, also elected a female-majority legislature in 2016. Thirteen women and 12 men were elected to Tasmania's lower House of Assembly. Local politicians said the milestone was "overwhelmingly exciting". "It demonstrates to young women that a political future and leadership roles are attainable," Michelle O'Byrne, deputy leader of the opposition Labor party, told the BBC. The Tasmania and ACT legislatures have a higher proportion of women than Australia's federal parliament, where almost 70% of parliamentarians are men. The World Economic Forum's 2017 Global Gender Gap Index found that women comprised 28% of parliamentarians worldwide. Australia was ranked 35th in terms of female representation, the World Economic Forum said. Ms O'Byrne said affirmative action policies had played a part in seven of her party's 10 seats being occupied by women. "It does show that if you want to change the make-up of parliament, then putting in the rules also helps change the culture that encourages women to be involved in politics," she said. Why don't more women want to be MPs? Australian election analyst Kevin Bonham said only nine women were elected at Tasmania's previous election in 2014. Tasmania's conservative Liberal government, led by Will Hodgman, was returned in the latest election.

Russia election: Vladimir Putin wins by big margin. 19 March 2018

Vladimir Putin thanked the crowd in a victory speech in Moscow. Vladimir Putin will lead Russia for another six years, after securing an expected victory in Sunday's presidential election. Mr Putin, who has ruled the country as either president or prime minister since 1999, got more than 76% of the vote, official results show. The main opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, was barred from the race. Addressing a rally in Moscow, Mr Putin said voters had "recognised the achievements of the last few years". Speaking to reporters after the results were announced, he laughed off a question about running again in another six years. "What you are saying is a bit funny. Do you think that I will stay here until I'm 100 years old? No!" he said. Vladimir Putin: Russia's action man president. 'Better than Trump': What young Russians think of Putin. The scale of victory - which had been widely predicted - appears to be a marked increase in his share of the vote from 2012, when he won 64%. Mr Putin's nearest competitor, millionaire communist Pavel Grudinin, received about 12%. The race also included Ksenia Sobchak, a former reality TV host, and veteran nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky - they got less than 2% and about 6% respectively. Mr Putin's campaign team said it was an "incredible victory". "The percentage that we have just seen speaks for itself. It's a mandate which Putin needs for future decisions, and he has a lot of them to make," a spokesman told Russia's Interfax. In some areas, free food and discounts in local shops were on offer near polling stations. Video recordings from polling stations showed irregularities in a number of towns and cities across Russia. Several showed election officials stuffing boxes with ballot papers. Mr Navalny was excluded from the election because of an embezzlement conviction that he said was manufactured by the Kremlin. In his first reaction to the news, Mr Navalny indicated he had been unable to contain his anger. "Now is the season of Lent. I took it upon myself never to get angry and not to raise my voice. Oh well, I'll try again next year," he tweeted. During polling day, independent election monitoring group Golos reported hundreds of irregularities, including: Voting papers found in some ballot boxes before polls opened. Observers were barred from entering some polling stations. Some people were bussed in amid suspicion of forced voting. Webcams at polling stations were obstructed by balloons and other obstacles. Videos taken from the election commission's live stream of polling stations also appeared to show some instances of officials stuffing ballots into boxes. In Dagestan, one election official said he was prevented from doing his job by a crowd of men who blocked the ballot box. But Ella Pamfilova, head of the Central Electoral Commission, said no serious violations had been registered yet. After his victory was all but confirmed, Mr Putin addressed the crowds at a planned rally. "We have analysed and monitored everything we could, everything that has arrived. Thank goodness, it's all rather modest so far," she told a commission meeting while speaking about violations. She had earlier said that anyone involved in violations would be caught. Sunday's vote was also the first in Crimea since Russia seized the region from Ukraine. Mr Putin was scheduled to speak at a rally scheduled for the fourth anniversary of the annexation - the same day as the election. The annexation was bitterly contested by Kiev and ratcheted up tensions between Russia and the West. Russians living in Ukraine were unable to take part in Sunday's vote because access to Russian diplomatic missions was blocked by the Kiev government.

Stephen Hawking dies aged 76. 14 March 2018
Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76, his family has said.

Blogger claims "no proof" gas chambers killed Jewish people - 7 March 2018

Alison Chabloz had claimed the prosecution was an attempt to limit her free speech. A blogger accused of broadcasting anti-Semitic songs has told a court there was "no proof" gas chambers were used to kill Jewish people in World War Two. Alison Chabloz, 53, from Glossop, Derbyshire, wrote and performed three songs about Nazi persecution, including one about young diarist Anne Frank. She described Auschwitz as a "theme park" in one song broadcast on Youtube. Appearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court, she defended some of her work as "satire" and "art". Live updates from the East Midlands. At the resumption of her trial, Ms Chabloz told the court she did not understand the term "Holocaust denier" and preferred the phrase "Holocaust revisionist". During her defence, she said: "My view is that the figures, the six million figures, the alleged homicidal gas chambers, there is no proof of either of these 'non facts' as I would say." Alison Chabloz previously told the court she wanted put across her "political, artistic, creative point". Ms Chabloz denies two counts of sending by a public communications network an offensive, indecent or menacing message or material in relation to two of the three songs. She also denies two alternative counts of "causing" offensive material to be sent by a public communications network, after her performance was posted on her blog. Ms Chabloz denies a fifth charge in relation to a third song which describes the Holocaust as a "damn fine tale". She claimed many Jewish people found her songs funny and that no-one was forced to listen to them. The trial continues and a decision is expected in May.

Pressure mounts on Jew - Zuckerberg to face data breach concerns. 19 March 2018.

Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg is facing intensified calls to appear in person at investigations into the social network's conduct. His company has been accused of failing to properly inform users that their profile information may have been obtained and kept by Cambridge Analytica, a data firm widely-credited with helping Donald Trump win the 2016 US presidential election.
Facebook said on Friday it had blocked Cambridge Analytica from Facebook while it investigated claims the London-based firm did not, as promised, delete data that was allegedly obtained using methods that were in violation of Facebook's policies. Both Cambridge Analytica and Facebook deny any wrongdoing.
Despite pledging that in 2018 he would "fix" his company, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has managed to avoid engaging with the site's growing number of critics - instead sending lawyers or policy bosses to various committee hearings.
The 33-year-old's recent remarks on some of Facebook's controversies have been communicated in the relatively safe space of a blog post or video message published on his Facebook page. Facebook and Trump data firm 'misled' MPs. US to investigate Trump campaign data firm. Tech Tent: Facebook and Google take action. With the building row over how Facebook data may have been used to fuel highly-targeted political propaganda, several influential figures on both side of the Atlantic this weekend said it was time for Mr Zuckerberg to step up to publicly defend - or at least justify - his creation.
Some called for investigations into whether Mr Zuckerberg's company may have violated laws governing disclosure of a data breach - and also rules on properly obtaining a user's consent to collect personal information.
"This is a major breach that must be investigated," demanded Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.
"It’s clear these platforms can’t police themselves. I've called for more transparency and accountability for online political ads. They say 'trust us'."
She added: "Mark Zuckerberg needs to testify before Senate Judiciary."
'High on themselves'
That sentiment was backed by Adam Schiff, the highest-ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, which is already investigating social media manipulation in the run up to the 2016 presidential election.
"I think it would be beneficial to have him come testify before the appropriate oversight committees," he told the Washington Post.
"And not just Mark but the other CEOs of the other major companies that operate in this space."
On Sunday morning TV, Florida senator and former presidential hopeful Marco Rubio told NBC's Meet the Press he felt technology companies acted as if they are "above" regulations. Eight reasons Facebook has peaked. Social networks 'too slow' on changes. Facebook broke German privacy laws. "Their growth has been a lot faster than perhaps their ability to mature institutionally from within on some of these challenges that they're facing," he said.
"I think another part about it is sometimes these companies grow so fast and get so much good press, they get up high on themselves that they start to think that perhaps they're above sort of the rules that apply to everybody else." There are a lot of big problems that the big tech companies need to be better at fixing. We have collectively been too optimistic about what we build and our impact on the world. Believe it or not, a lot of the people at these companies, from the interns to the CEOs, agree. The man in charge of Britain's investigation into Russian meddling in the democratic process said he too wanted to press Mr Zuckerberg on the issue.
"I will be writing to Mark Zuckerberg asking that either he or another senior executive from the company appear to give evidence in front of the committee as part our inquiry," said Damian Collins MP.
"It is not acceptable that they have previously sent witnesses who seek to avoid asking difficult questions by claiming not to know the answers."
Media captionIn the age of big data, is our democracy open to manipulation?
Mr Collins also said he would be recalling Cambridge Analytica chief executive Alexander Nix to parliament to answer more questions.
"It seems clear that he has deliberately misled the committee and parliament," Mr. Collins said.
Cambridge Analytica and Mr Nix have denied any wrongdoing. Deleted tweets
In an attempt to get out ahead of a story in the New York Times and Observer newspapers, Facebook made an announcement late Friday night, California time, that it was blocking Cambridge Analytica from using Facebook while it investigated claims the inappropriately-obtained data had not been deleted as promised.
This was followed by remarks from Alex Stamos, the firm's chief security officer, who wrote and then deleted a series of tweets. He objected to the word "breach" being used to describe how data from as many as 50 million peoples' user profiles may have been obtained without explicit user consent.
"I have deleted my tweets on Cambridge Analytica," he later wrote.
"Not because they were factually incorrect but because I should have done a better job weighing in."
Christopher Wylie, a Canadian data analytics expert who worked with Cambridge Analytica, revealed how it and its partners harvested data belonging to mostly US voters. Over the weekend, he announced he had been suspended from Facebook. On top of its initial statement, Facebook on Sunday said it was conducting a "comprehensive internal and external review" into whether the data, gathered via an app created by Global Science Research (GSR), still existed.
GSR was set up by University of Cambridge associate professor Aleksandr Kogan and his colleague Joseph Chancellor. According to the Guardian, Mr Chancellor was given a job at Facebook as a researcher just months after GSR carried out the data-gathering exercise that Facebook now says violated its policies. Facebook has not commented on the calls for Mr Zuckerberg to appear in front of the several committees expressing a desire to hear from him.
But one analyst warned that this controversy is a direct threat to Facebook's business model, and therefore Mr Zuckerberg will be expected to put investors at ease, sooner rather than later.
"This has potential to grow into something a lot more onerous," said Daniel Ives from GBH Insight."So he has to get ahead of this storm before it turns into a hurricane."

Spy poisoning: Russia escalates spy row with new expulsions. 31 March 2018

Russia is closing the US consulate in St Petersburg as part of its retaliatory measures. Russia has announced further measures against UK diplomats while at the same time declaring tit-for-tat expulsions of officials from 23 other countries. It has told the British ambassador to cut staffing to the size of the Russian mission in the UK. Moscow has rejected UK accusations that it is behind the nerve agent attack on an ex-spy and his daughter in the UK. However, some 150 Russians have since been expelled by mainly Western countries. Russia initially hit back at the UK, but then announced 60 US expulsions. On Friday it called in a string of foreign ambassadors with news that their own countries' measures were being matched. Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia collapsed in Salisbury, England, on 4 March. Mr Skripal remains in a critical but stable condition. Yulia's condition is said to be improving. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Thursday issued a warning over "a situation that is similar, to a large extent, to what we lived during the Cold War". Russia singles out UK again. British diplomats left Moscow a week ago, but ambassador Laurie Bristow was summoned back to the foreign ministry for additional punishment.
It's not immediately obvious what it means in practice, but it's clear that Russia sees Britain as the ringleader of an international conspiracy which resulted in the biggest mass expulsion of Russian diplomats in history.
Britain's "provocative and unjustified actions", the ministry said, had "inspired the unfounded expulsion of Russian diplomats".
It's a backhanded compliment to Prime Minister Theresa May, who has successfully corralled a wider international coalition than anyone would have thought possible a month ago.
Russia has railed against the British government over its efforts to internationalise what officials here call "the so-called Skripal affair". The solidarity expressed by so many countries has been dismissed as a result of financial and political pressure, orchestrated in tandem with the US.
Which other countries are involved?
Twenty-nine countries have expelled 145 Russian officials in solidarity with the UK - and Nato has also ordered 10 Russians out of its mission in Belgium.
The US expelled the largest single number - 60 diplomats - and closed the Russian consulate general in Seattle.
Russia reciprocated on Thursday declaring 58 US diplomats in Moscow and two in the city of Yekaterinburg to be "personae non gratae". It also announced the closure of the US consulate in St Petersburg. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia would respond "in kind". The US said it had been expecting the move and warned it may take further action.
On Friday, ambassadors from Albania, Australia, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden and Ukraine were told to send home staff from their missions - corresponding to the same number of Russians their countries had expelled.
A statement by the Russian foreign ministry also said that Russia "reserves the right to take retaliatory measures" against Belgium, Hungary, Georgia and Montenegro - countries that had joined the co-ordinated action against Russia "at the last moment".
What is Russia's argument?
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has blamed "harsh pressure from the United States and Britain under the pretext of the so-called Skripal case".
He reiterated Russian calls for consular access to Yulia Skripal - a Russian citizen.
Russia, he said, was also seeking a meeting with leaders of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to "establish the truth". On Friday, in addition to the new Western expulsions, UK Ambassador Laurie Bristow was handed a protest note that said Britain's "provocative actions" had led to the decision by other governments to expel Russians.
It is not clear how many more British officials will have to leave. Before the expulsion of the 23 Russians, the UK's Foreign Office listed 60 Russian officials working in the UK.
Another four are posted at the Russian consulate general in Edinburgh.
UK National Security Adviser Mark Sedwill has said expulsions by Western countries are aimed at rooting out covert Russian intelligence networks.
In another development, Russian media reported that British police had boarded a plane belonging to the Russian airline Aeroflot at London's Heathrow Airport on Friday to carry out a search.
An unnamed source quoted by the Interfax news agency said the Russian airliner had arrived from Moscow and, after passengers had disembarked, police ordered the crew off so that the plane could be searched. The pilots refused to leave, the source said, but the search went ahead.
The UK Foreign Office told the BBC that customs officers had boarded a plane in London, but gave no further details.
Russia's foreign ministry spokeswoman called it "the next provocation", following the fallout from the Skripal affair.
What do we know about the nerve agent?
Britain says the chemical used in the attack was part of a group of nerve agents developed by the Soviet Union known as Novichok.
OPCW has sent a team to the UK to investigate samples of the agent Britain says was used.
The results are expected to take a minimum of two weeks, the government says.Police say the Skripals first came into contact with the nerve agent at Mr Skripal's home in Salisbury, with the highest concentration found on the front door.

Australia. James Packer: Billionaire quits Crown Resorts over mental health

James Packer has resigned from casino operator Crown Resorts Limited. Australian billionaire James Packer has resigned as a director of his casino empire Crown Resorts Limited. The businessman is "suffering from mental health issues", a spokesman for his private investment company said. Mr Packer, 50, rejoined the board of Crown in August after stepping down in 2015 as chairman and director. The Australia-listed company thanked Mr Packer, one of the nation's richest people, in a brief statement on Wednesday. "We have appreciated James' contribution to the board and respect his decision to step down from his role as director at this time," executive chairman John Alexander said. A spokesman for Mr Packer's Consortium Press Holdings, Crown's largest shareholder, said the magnate "intends to step back from all commitments". Earlier this month, Mr Packer sold more than A$100m ($76m; £55m) worth of Crown shares. He retains a dominant stake of about 47% in the company, which owns casinos in Australia and London. He had only rejoined Crown's board last year after the company exited its Macau and US investments, and switched its focus back to Australia. It followed the jailing of 16 Crown employees in China for illegally promoting gambling. Crown denies slot machine 'tampering'. His resignation comes after a tumultuous period for the billionaire, who was caught up in a scandal involving Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month. Israel's Channel 10 reported in December that Mr Packer told investigators he gave the prime minister and his wife Sara gifts. Mr Packer's high-profile split from singer Mariah Carey in 2016 also gained wide public attention, as did his street brawl with an Australian TV executive in 2014. Australia police fine Packer over brawl. Mr Packer is Australia's eighth-richest person with an estimated fortune of A$4bn ($3.1bn; £2.2bn), according to Forbes.

Jewish groups attack Jeremy Corbyn over anti-Semitism. 26 Mar 2018

"Enough is enough," Jewish groups have said in a letter accusing Jeremy Corbyn of failing to tackle anti-Semitism. The Labour leader has said he is "sincerely sorry" for the pain caused by "pockets of anti-Semitism" in the Labour Party. Mr Corbyn said he would be meeting representatives of the Jewish community to "rebuild" confidence in his party. However, the organisations behind the open letter are planning a protest outside Parliament later. The letter - drawn up by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council - said there has been a "repeated institutional failure" to properly address anti-Semitism.
Full text: Jewish leaders' letter
How the Labour anti-Semitism saga unfolded. What's the difference between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism? Corbyn sorry over Labour anti-Semitism. It accuses Mr Corbyn of being unable to "seriously contemplate anti-Semitism, because he is so ideologically fixed within a far-left world view that is instinctively hostile to mainstream Jewish communities". The organisations refer to Mr Corbyn's apparently supportive message to the creator of an allegedly anti-Semitic mural in 2012 and his attendance at "pro-Hezbollah rallies". They say the Labour leader has "sided with anti-Semites" either because of "the far left's obsessive hatred of Zionism" or "a conspiratorial worldview in which mainstream Jewish communities are believed to be a hostile entity, a class enemy". The letter says those who push anti-Semitic material view Mr Corbyn as "their figurehead" and that he is "the only person with the standing to demand that all of this stops." What is extraordinary about this letter is not just the raw anger - but the fact that they directly blame Jeremy Corbyn and his brand of politics for allowing anti-Semitism to get a hold in the Labour Party. They accuse him of a far-left world view which they say is instinctively hostile to mainstream Jewish communities. What they mean by that is a view of Israel as a sort of neo-colonialist, Imperialist power, associated with the US, oppressing Palestinians, and it is that sort of politics that has allowed anti-Semitic views to gain a hold. But Mr Corbyn's supporters believe claims of anti-Semitism are ridiculous and absurd, given the leader's anti-racism record - they say those making the accusations are using it to attack him. The letter will be delivered to a meeting of Labour MPs and peers, although the Labour leader is not expected to attend. A protest will then be held outside the Houses of Parliament, which will see a number of Labour MPs - including Liz Kendall, John Woodcock and Ian Austin - join members of the Jewish community. At the same time, a counter-demonstration by pro-Corbyn Jewish Labour members is due to be staged nearby. In a statement, the Jewish Voice for Labour group said it was "appalled" by the Board of Deputies' letter. "They do not represent us or the great majority of Jews in the party who share Jeremy Corbyn's vision for social justice and fairness. Jeremy's consistent commitment to anti-racism is all the more needed now." Jonathan Arkush says Jeremy Corbyn 'needs to take action' against anti-Semitism. In a statement released on Sunday evening, Mr Corbyn said: "I want to be clear that I will not tolerate any form of anti-Semitism that exists in and around our movement. "We must stamp this out from our party and movement. We recognise that anti-Semitism has occurred in pockets within the Labour Party, causing pain and hurt to our Jewish community in the Labour Party and the rest of the country. I am sincerely sorry for the pain which has been caused." Mr Corbyn said he and the party - which has "deep roots in the Jewish community" - were now campaigning to "increase support and confidence in Labour" among Jewish people in Britain and he would meet members of the community in the coming days to "rebuild confidence". What caused the row?
In October 2012, street artist Mear One posted a picture of his mural in east London called "Freedom of Humanity" on Facebook - which depicted businessmen, some of them the artist says are Jewish, counting money on a board game that is balanced on the backs of hunched-over men. The artist wrote: "Tomorrow they want to buff my mural. Freedom of expression. London calling. Public Art." Mr Corbyn replied: "Why? You are in good company. Rockefeller destroyed Diego [Rivera's] mural because it includes a picture of Lenin." More recently, Labour MP Luciana Berger sought clarification from the leader's office on the 2012 comments. Mr Corbyn said he regretted not looking more closely at the image, which he called "deeply disturbing". He added: "I am opposed to the production of anti-Semitic material of any kind, and the defence of free speech cannot be used as a justification for the promotion of anti-Semitism in any form." Mear One - whose real name is Kalen Ockerman - has denied being anti-Semitic, saying the mural was about "class and privilege". Jonathan Goldstein, chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council, said the community had had enough of being ignored by Mr Corbyn. He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "This is the first time in my lifetime the Jewish community has felt the need to take to the streets to campaign against the leader of a major political party. "Rightly or wrongly, Jeremy Corbyn is now the figurehead for an anti-Semitic political culture based upon obsessive hatred of Israel, conspiracy theories and fake news, and that is doing great harm, not just to the Labour Party, but to Britain in a wider sense." Labour MP Louise Ellman, former chairwoman of the Labour Jewish movement, said: "It's taken Jeremy far too long to admit how wrong he has been in failing to deal with anti-Semitism in the Labour Party." She told BBC Breakfast the Labour leader now had "to act and he's got to root out the anti-Semitism that is within the Labour Party". "It's just heartbreaking to see it but he has got to do something about it now. Words won't be enough," she added. In 2016 an inquiry into anti-Semitism in the Labour party, led by Shami Chakrabarti, said the party was not overrun by racism but there was "too much clear evidence... of ignorant attitudes".It followed the suspension of MP Naz Shah and ex-London mayor Ken Livingstone amid anti-Semitism claims.

Container ships collide in Karachi. A container ship scraped against another as the first vessel tried to berth in the Pakistani port of Karachi, sending containers plunging into the water. 20 Mar 2018

Prezzo set to close 100 restaurants in rescue attempt. 28 February 2018

Italian restaurant chain Prezzo is preparing to close about a third of its outlets in an attempt to rescue the business, the BBC understands. The chain, which is owned by private equity firm TPG Capital, employs about 4,500 people. Prezzo is also expected to completely close its TexMex chain Chimichanga, which has 33 restaurants in the UK. The move to close 100 of its 300 stores would form part of a deal to cut rent costs in the future. Specialist restructuring firm AlixPartners is understood to be drafting a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) - a step short of going into administration - on the company's behalf. The CVA aims to make Prezzo viable and allow the company to continue trading. Jamie Oliver closes flagship restaurant. The situation means that hundreds of jobs are under threat, but the firm may redeploy some staff. Prezzo was bought by TPG in 2014 for just over £300m. It is the latest of a string of High Street firms to run into difficulties. The UK arm of toy retailer Toys R Us and electronics chain Maplin both collapsed into administration this week. Burger chain Byron and Jamie's Italian have both had to undergo similar restructurings this year, agreeing rescue plans with their lenders and landlords, and closing restaurants. Barbecoa, a smaller chain also owned by Jamie Oliver, went into administration earlier this month. Analysts have said fears over the strength of the UK economy have meant consumers have cut back on discretionary spending. Last year, consumer spending fell for the first time since 2012, according to payments processor Visa. Wages have also been rising at a slower pace than inflation, leaving consumers worse off. The restaurant sector has also faced higher costs for the ingredients it buys overseas due to the drop in the pound since the UK voted to leave the European Union.

New Look to axe 1,000 jobs and 60 stores. 21 March 2018

New Look will close 60 UK stores and cut 1,000 jobs after creditors approved a restructuring plan for the retailer. The stores will close within 12 months and some staff may be redeployed. The turnaround plan will cut the fashion chain's rents by between 15% to 55% across its remaining 393 stores. Executive chairman Alistair McGeorge said it was a "tough decision" to seek a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) but was necessary to restore the chain to profitability. "It is clear we need to reduce our fixed cost base. We are therefore pleased to have gained the support of our creditors to address our over-rented store estate," he said. "The CVA is one of a number of necessary actions we are taking to get the company back on track." The outcome of today's meeting was never in much doubt. Landlords aren't happy, but felt they had little alternative to agree. New Look says it was paying over the odds on many of its stores. But landlords feel they're the ones having to take a huge financial hit because of management failures. It will be interesting to see how many will now use the break clauses allowed as part of this CVA to bring in new tenants willing to pay more rent. One landlord I spoke to has already received expressions of interest. Today's move will buy New Look some crucial breathing space but is it just a sticking plaster for a business that's facing a toxic mix of problems. The restructuring is part of Mr McGeorge's strategy to reduce costs and refocus the brand on its core 25 to 45-year-old customers. New Look is just the latest High Street brand facing a survival-of-the-fittest battle with rising costs and consumer spending that has been squeezed by inflation and stagnant wages. On top of that New Look overstretched itself with nearly 600 stores across the UK, an unsustainable weight of debt, and a faltering strategy to attract younger consumers. Mr McGeorge, who ran New Look between 2012 and 2014, was brought back in November as the firm's sales tumbled. He cancelled a plan to move the company's headquarters to Kings Cross and decided it should change tack. Rather than stocking items aimed at younger, more fashion-conscious consumers, he thought it should refocus on selling cheaper, "back-to-basic" items with broader appeal. But New Look's biggest problem will remain the "obscene" number of shops its still runs with the associated costs, says Charlotte Pearce, analyst at Globaldata. "A 10% cut isn't enough," she says. "I don't know any other retailer that has such a huge store base."
When Mr McGeorge left New Look in 2014 the brand had 2.6% of the UK clothing market. Since then its fallen to below 2%. An agreement from landlords to renegotiate rents is a start. "It's a step in the right direction. It just doesn't go far enough," Ms Pearce says. "They need to keep rationalising and cut the store base in the long run. That's how retail is going. It's about getting the right stores in the right locations." New Look. Founded 1969 with first store in Taunton, Somerset. 594 outlets in UK. 213 outlets in Europe, China and the rest of Asia. Bought by private investment vehicle Brait in 2015. Brait also owns a stake in Iceland and Virgin Active Gym. UK like-for-like sales fell 10% in 39 weeks to 23 December 2017. But New Look faces other challenges in the form of rising costs. Richard Lim, at the consultancy Retail Economics says the fall in the value of sterling, rising wage costs and business rates have contributed to the pressure on retailers. While some online brands successfully attracted younger consumers to their sites, New Look's online sales were sharply lower last year. And on the High Street where they were supposed to hold sway, they faltered. Mr Lim says the obvious comparison is with Primark, which still manages to draw customers into its physical stores without any online presence at all: "New Look hasn't been able to reach out in the way Primark has, or keep up with the more nimble online retailers like Asos and Boohoo."

Six reasons behind the High Street crisis. 1 March 2018

Britain's High Streets are in crisis. This week toy store chain Toys r Us collapsed into administration, along with the electronics retailer Maplin. The restaurant chains Jamie's Italian and Prezzo have announced closures, while fashion chain New Look and department store group House of Fraser are seeking to shore up their finances. Experts say retailers are battling a "perfect storm" of pressures and they expect more closures in 2018. 1. Squeezed incomes. A big factor has been a fall in discretionary spending, spurred by rising shop prices and weak wage growth. A near 15% fall in the pound since the Brexit vote has pushed inflation over 3% - way above the Bank of England's 2% target. This has made imported goods more expensive, with those costs passed on to consumers. Couple that with the fact that wages have been rising at a slower pace than inflation - and shoppers have less disposable income to spend in stores and restaurants. By volume, retail sales have continued to grow but at a much slower rate - falling from from 4.7% in 2016 to 1.9% last year. "It has been a real issue for high street retailers and accelerated the decline of some," says Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. "The sector was already suffering from structural problems, such as the rise in online shopping and high business rates. But the burst in inflation since the EU referendum has squeezed incomes in real terms, leading to much weaker growth in sales than retailers had anticipated." 2. The shift to online shopping
Online giants such as Amazon have had a huge impact on the high street as more consumers see online shopping as cheaper and easier than going to the shops.
And while overall retail sales growth is weak, online sales continue to shoot up. Amazon's fulfilment centre in Peterborough
Paul Martin, head of UK retail at KPMG, says: "With the overall market not growing, it is all about market share, and 20% of that market is held by online players. If you don't have the right online offering, again, you will struggle." That is pushing retailers to try to reinvent their stores, with the likes of John Lewis and Debenhams now holding more in-store events and "experiences" to lure shoppers in. If shops fail to do either "value, convenience, or experience" well, they will struggle, Mr Martin says. 3. Changing tastes
Toys R Us fell short in all three areas, according to Simon Thomas of Moorfields Advisory, the toy chain's administrators. He says it was "unlikely" the retailer can be saved because its business model "isn't what consumers really want now. We've got very large stores which are fairly impersonal. People are looking now to have a better shopping experience, and we were unable to deliver that." Mr Thomas adds: "On top of all that we have the online problem … people can go into our shop, look at something, then look at an alternative and buy it at a cheaper price." 4. Rising overheads
Inflation is not the only cost pressure retailers face. The National Minimum Wage and new National Living Wage for over-25s go up each year, pushing up payroll costs. Trade body the British Retail Consortium estimates that the National Living Wage costs the industry between £1.5bn and £3bn a year. Business rates - which are due to rise again in April - are a burden too, it says. Retailers will pay an additional £2bn over the next three years compared to the last three years, a spokesperson says. "Business rates are deterring investment in local communities, causing shop closures and job losses in hard-pressed communities and preventing retailers from delivering what their customers want in an efficient and cost-effective way." Burger chain Byron has had to close outlets.
5. Too many shops
With trading conditions tight, retailers cannot afford to have underperforming outlets. And yet many companies over-expanded during the good years, leaving them dangerously exposed. According to reports this week, New Look is set to close as many as 60 of its 600 UK stores as it continues to battle massive debts.
Burger chain Byron said last month it would close as many as 20 outlets as part of a rescue plan approved by its lenders and landlords. At the time, boss Simon Cope said the firm wanted to focus on a smaller number of profitable restaurants. Richard Perks, director of retail research at Mintel, says: "In business you either go forward or backwards - but how do you go forwards? The natural thing is to open stores. People convince themselves they need to and then it goes pear-shaped. "But there's a lot more to being a successful retailer than your store count - having too many stores wouldn't kill you if you got everything else right."
6. Too much debt
As a consequence of overexpansion, many retailers are shouldering "high debt burdens", says KPMG's Mr Martin. Just before its collapse, Toys R Us UK faced a looming VAT debt payment deadline of £15m. It would have been unable to pay it without a cash injection from an outside investor. Mr Martin says 2018 will continue to be difficult for retailers, but it's not all doom and gloom. "There will be winners and there will be losers. But if you're not good at online, if you're not really rigid about your cost structure, there will be more challenges to face going forward and no doubt we will see further casualties."

Time owner plans sale and 1,000 layoffs. 22 Mar 2018

The US media company that bought Time Inc just weeks ago is looking to sell some of the firm's most well-known magazines and plans to cut 1,000 jobs.
Meredith said the moves, which include exploring sale of Time's namesake publication, are part of a plan to save $400m-$500m over two years. Since closing on its $1.8bn (£1.3bn) purchase of Time in January, Meredith has already sold Time Inc UK and Golf. The Iowa company has also cut hundreds of positions.
Meredith is owner of titles such as Better Homes & Gardens and Family Circle and says that its brands reach 175 million Americans every month, including 80% of "millennial women". Meredith boss Tom Harty said the titles intended for sale - Time, Sports Illustrated, Money and Fortune - have different target audiences and advertising bases, and would do better with a different owner. "We are pleased with the inbound interest we have received, and we are confident these brands will be positioned for growth with an owner that shares Meredith's respect for editorial integrity and independence," he said. Meredith said it is looking to boost advertising and circulation at Time's other titles. The company said the layoffs are driven by plans to consolidate certain operations in Iowa, which has lower costs. The firm has already announced 200 cuts and expects 1,000 more over 10 months. Its purchase of Time - a transaction valued at $2.8bn including debt - was backed by Republican donors the Koch brothers.In March Time Inc UK said music magazine NME would no longer run as a weekly edition.

North Korea sanctions: UN blacklists shipping firms. 31 March 2018

The move is aimed at restricting the smuggling of commodities such as oil and coal. The UN Security Council has blacklisted 27 ships, 21 shipping companies and one individual for aiding North Korea in its effort to evade sanctions. The measures were proposed by the US last month as part of a crackdown on the maritime smuggling of North Korean commodities such as oil and coal. Sanctioned oil tankers and cargo vessels are banned from ports worldwide and businesses face an asset freeze. It is the UN's largest ever package of designated penalties against Pyongyang. North Korea is already under a range of international and US sanctions over its nuclear programme and missile tests. The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said the latest measures were a "clear sign that the international community was united" in its efforts to increase pressure on the North Korean regime. The reclusive nation has been subjected to numerous rounds of international sanctions since 2006, which has cut off most of its exports and capped its imports of oil. Diplomats believe that the imposed sanctions have been key to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's decision to pause missile and nuclear tests and begin talks. The latest restrictions are directed not just at North Korea's shipping operations but Chinese companies trading with Pyongyang. The list includes 16 companies based in North Korea, five registered in Hong Kong, two on the Chinese mainland, two in Taiwan, one in Panama and one in Singapore.

Mauritania court gives toughest sentence for slave owners. 31 March 2018

Activists have long demanded an end to slavery in Mauritania. Two slave owners in Mauritania have been jailed in a country where slavery remains widespread but convictions rare, activists say. The sentences of 10 and 20 years are said to be the toughest-ever for the crime in the West African country. Slavery was outlawed in 1981 but 1% of the population are still living in bondage, human rights groups say. Black people of certain ethnic groups are often enslaved as domestic workers by lighter-skinned Mauritanians. The country has jailed more anti-slavery activists than slave owners, rights groups say. Mauritania country profile. The court in the north-western town of Nouadhibou gave a 20-year prison sentence to Hamoudi Ould Saleck. His father - who died before the trial ended - received the same sentence posthumously. Both were accused of "reducing to slavery" a family, two of whom were children. A woman, Revea Mint Mohamed, was jailed for 10 years for keeping three slaves - one of whom was a 29-year-old who had been kept since she was a small girl. Both cases had been brought by former slaves. Mauritania anti-slavery activist Biram Ould Dah Ould Abeid (C) was arrested in 2016 during an anti-slavery protest. Mauritania criminalised slavery in 2015. In past cases, slave-owners were sentenced to two to five years. Rights group Amnesty International welcomed the convictions. It estimates that 43,000 people were still living in slavery in Mauritania. It said that the courts had received 47 cases for investigation involving 53 suspects. However prominent Mauritanian anti-slavery activist Biram Ould Dah Abeid cast doubt on the reports that Hamoudi Ould Saleck had actually been arrested, and called the case "a show trial by the government to stop criticism from the international community". Earlier this year, the African Union urged Mauritania to issue harsher sentences for the crime.

Lebanon is drowning in its own waste. 28 March 2018 - videos

Lebanon has been in a rubbish crisis since 2015. Three years on, how are local groups paving a path for a cleaner – and healthier – future? We’re about five metres away from the Mediterranean Sea. To my right, the Zouk Mosbeh power plant pumps out plumes of thick grey smoke into an otherwise bright blue sky. The Jounieh Valley towers behind me over the coastline, a metropolis full of hotels and entertainment venues just outside of Beirut. To my left, I can see some sort of resort in the distance. But all I can smell – and all I can see around me – is rubbish. This beach has already been cleaned up 16 times, and had been cleaned less than a week before I stepped onto it with Joslin Kehdy, the founder of Recycle Lebanon, which arranges the clean-ups. Plastic is turning up on beaches around the world, but the difference in Lebanon is that rubbish is also being directly dumped into the sea and coastal landfills – spelling disaster for the shoreline’s ecosystem and public health. Recycle Lebanon's Joslin Kehdy says we should all be giving a helping hand towards ridding the country of its waste crisis. Lebanon’s waste crisis began in 2015 when a huge landfill site closed and government authorities failed to implement a contingency plan in time to replace it; dumping and burning waste on the streets became widespread. The campaign group Human Rights Watch calls it "a national health crisis". How will we deal with all of the world’s rubbish? Lebanon rubbish: Storms dump rubbish along coast. But it’s also forced environmental organisations to find surprising and much-needed solutions in the face of slow political change – and they’re proving that a country that’s only the size of Connecticut might be one of Earth’s best playgrounds for environmental innovation. See how rubbish is affecting Beirut's beaches with this video.
Kehdy tells me that calling her organisation Recycle Lebanon was a pun. It’s not just about introducing recycling initiatives; it’s about forming a new path for a country tackling corruption, which she and other activists believe fuels the waste crisis. The traditionally centralised waste management system in the country has very little sorting capabilities, meaning that the money isn’t in recycling, it’s in generating lots of waste, they argue.
In a list of 180 countries, the 2017 Corruptions Perceptions Index, produced by the NGO Transparency International, ranked Lebanon as the 143rd "least corrupt nation" out of 175 countries – in other words, there are only 32 countries where corruption is worse. According to its website: “Lebanon’s confessional power-sharing arrangement” – that’s the delicate governmental balance it’s forged between the country’s many sects – “fuels patronage networks and clientelism, which undermines further the country’s governance system.” When the rubbish crisis first started, it stimulated a civil movement; protestors rallied outside the Lebanese government and declared “You Stink!” Gradually this evolved into initiatives like Beirut Madinati, a new political party, and the Waste Management Coalition which is currently campaigning against the government’s proposals to purchase incinerators. Beach rubbish . Workers clean the beach of the coastal town of Zouk Mosbeh. “The issue with incinerators is that it doesn’t suit our type of waste,” says Kehdy. “Around 70% of our waste is organic. It’s too wet to be processed in incineration." Secondly – as with most waste management methods – incineration also requires strict sorting at source. It looks like literally everything is thrown into the sea. More than 2,000 people have taken part in beach clean-ups with Recycle Lebanon, proving that there’s an appetite for citizens and businesses to get involved. They’re totally zero-waste, too; even the face masks that people wear are re-usable and the filters recyclable. “We set up zero-waste clean-ups with signs so people can learn about the type of waste, the process behind it, where it gets recycled and how they can change the type of products they’re consuming.”
Walking up and down this beach, it’s clear how much general living habits here influence the sort of waste that turns up. We lose count of the small, single-use plastic espresso cups. Having lived in Lebanon, I know how the Lebanese like their coffee – fast and furious. You’ll finish one little cup, throw it into the bin and have someone pour you another. There’s no conversation about re-usable coffee cups that many countries in the West are having now. There are plastic bottles full of water, the tips of hookah pipes, toys and so many single-use plastic bags. I’m also surprised by the amount of medical waste, clothes and astro-turf. It looks like literally everything is thrown into the sea. A lot of the rejectable waste that Kehdy can’t do much with gets sent to an organisation called Cedar Environmental, run by Ziad Abichaker. As well as providing composting facilities for Lebanon’s organic waste they have built Material Recovery Facilities around the country which recover as much as possible from thrown away materials. Abichaker has even set up glass bottle bins around Beirut and brings the thrown away glass to Sarafand, a small town in South Lebanon where the glass is formed into different shapes by glassblowers, upholding a tradition that’s existed in the country since Phoenician times. A glassblower using recycled class. Recycled glass is giving new life to glassblowing in Lebanon, a traditional craft that's been going since Phoenician times. For the objects that can easily be recycled by people, Kehdy is opening a centre in Beirut called Ecosouk to provide a space where the rubbish from the clean-ups can be sorted and processed. It will be a centralised hub where Beirut’s locals can find out for themselves what they can do – and where they can take their recycling. There will even be an open data source for people to access online and find out what green initiatives are happening in their municipality.
We’re on our way to the Ecosouk when our taxi driver throws some paper out of the window. Kehdy is, to say the least, not best pleased. I ask her how that makes her feel when she’s dedicating her life to changing Lebanese behaviour around sustainability.
“It’s okay, because even if he threw it out the window, and even if he threw it in his bin, it’s going into the sea. Maybe a few years ago we could have been shouting at him, telling him that’s wrong. But now the system is so broken that the government’s dumping the garbage into the sea. How are you going to get someone to not throw it out the window?”
One organisation hoping to prompt behavioural change – or ‘nudging’ – is Recycle Beirut, a company that works with businesses like restaurants and schools as well as local residents. You ring them up, they come and collect your recycling and take it to their factory to sort and process it. They hire Syrian refugees in an attempt to solve both the garbage and refugee crises Lebanon is trying to deal with.
“We believe in doing a social job in addition to an environmental job,” says Sam Kazak, one of the co-founders. “What we are doing is we’re trying to create as many jobs as possible for refugees and for all vulnerable people in general. Most of our workers are Syrian and Palestinian refugees. They don’t have any problem working in this industry.” Two women sorting at source. Recycle Beirut hires Syrian refugees to help relieve Lebanon's humanitarian crisis at the same time as solving its rubbish problem.  But there’s one problem – refugees often struggle to obtain work permits. “We try to get work permits for our Syrian drivers but it’s not working. So every time the police stop our trucks they give us a fine and they impound the truck for a few days. And every time the truck gets impounded, many tons of garbage go to the wrong place. Burning, landfilling, dumping in the sea.” He says “these people want to live in garbage” and, similar to Joslin’s Recycle Lebanon pun, I sense that Sam isn’t just talking about the rubbish on the kerb. When I’m back in Beirut after my trip to Zouk Mosbeh – my trainers unhappily covered in mud and garbage, not sand, from the beach – I head to the American University of Beirut. Since my last trip to Lebanon it’s become smoke-free; anyone reading this who is also accustomed with smoking in the Middle East might be similarly flummoxed as to how a university managed to stop its students and teachers smoking on campus. There are also new recycling bins dotted around the buildings. It’s a rubbish-free haven in a rubbish-filled city. In the chemistry department I find Dr Najat Saliba who, back in 2015, wrote a letter to the rest of the faculties about solving the waste problem. Everyone replied and, she says, “this is how I became the spearhead for what we call the AUB taskforce to try to do something about what’s happening, or to help the government look into possible solutions”. A woman walking through Beirut's river of rubbish. When the waste crisis began in 2015 it wasn't long until a river of rubbish began to snake around Beirut's suburbs. She is the director of the university’s Nature Conservation Center as well as a professor of analytical chemistry and has led the university’s research into Lebanese air quality. Her team has already proved that those who live near garbage piles or open burning sites (or indeed both) are more likely to suffer from respiratory problems. She’s yet to publish data from a new study that connects garbage piles in the streets with higher levels of bacteria and fungi in the air that’s breathed in. Now, she’s concerned that bringing in incinerators will add to the air pollution.
“The problem in Lebanon is that we don’t have labs that are equipped, or can do the quality assurance, and make sure that the fumes that are coming from the incinerators are safe. And I’m sorry to say that based on the practices of what we’ve seen so far we don’t believe that the government can follow up on assuring the quality control is going to be respected and up to the standards that Europeans follow.”
In a workshop that AUB presented about Lebanese air quality, one of Saliba’s colleagues visualised what would happen in one of the areas that the government, hypothetically, would like to place an incinerator. “What we found is that the fume is going to cover the whole of the Beirut area. Most of the residents in Beirut would be affected by the materials released by these incinerators.”
It looks like it will take years for Lebanon to clean up its act. Saliba shows me out of her office and into a nearby lab that analyses air quality. The scientists working hard there are not Lebanese; just like Recycle Beirut’s, the plush campus at AUB is staffed by Syrians and Palestinians.
“I believe in this country,” insists Saliba. “This country will pick up, will change. It has started to change with the Waste Management Coalition who are trying very hard to reverse the clock. It will happen. We will have cleaner air.“Call me a dreamer! But I would like to dream that way.”

Volkswagen's car 'graveyard' in California. Volkswagen has spent more than $7.4 billion (£5.2 bn) to buy back around 350,000 diesel vehicles after the emissions scandal. They're being stored at sites across the US. 30 Mar 2018

Where is Jew - Mark Zuckerberg?

Founder and CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg has been summoned to appear before UK MPs. This might be the biggest crisis Facebook has faced since its founding, and the company's initial response has not helped. The proposed departure of the company's data security chief, Alex Stamos, has spread anxiety through the company internationally, and it is being reported that this opened up already significant divisions within the company about just how transparent it should be. The leadership question goes higher, however, to Mark Zuckerberg. When it was first suggested that Russia may have used the platform to interfere in the 2016 election, Zuckerberg initially described that as a "pretty crazy idea". Months later he recanted, and announced a raft of measures to address the viral spread of disinformation. This time, following the dogged and undercover reporting of Channel 4 News, The Observer and The New York Times, Facebook has responded with the bold assertion that tens of millions of people having their data scraped and passed on to a third party does not constitute a data breach. US consumer watchdog 'probes Facebook'. Both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica deny any wrongdoing or breaking the law, therein lies the rub. If this indeed isn't a data breach; if it doesn't strike these companies as a cause for alarm; and if what has happened is legal, then that might be the very reason that Facebook's users, all two billion of them - should be worried. Message to sell
Facebook has grown dizzyingly rich by operating what is in effect a mass surveillance tool. Most users have no idea just how much social media companies know about them. The business model that has made Facebook very rich is based on the quality of that data. Facebook uses that data to sell your attention to advertisers. Advertisers use smart messaging to influence behaviour, and try to get us to buy their products. As Hugo Rifkind wrote in The Times, what has happened now is that Facebook, the biggest and most powerful social media platform, has gone from selling mere products to selling politics, too. Political operatives, whether they be from democracies or not, also want to use smart messaging to influence behaviour, in order to get us to vote for a particular candidate, or to undermine a consensus and degrade the truth.
A smart corporate response from Facebook would grant that the remarkable innovations and technology that have created its news feed, an often addictive and for now free product, are now being exploited for goals that are not always socially desirable. Instead the company's instinct was to alight on a technicality, and say this was no data breach, despite the fact that it suspended the accounts of Cambridge Analytica and its whistleblower, Chris Wylie. Now at last the company is stepping into gear, calling a meeting of all staff to address concerns and answer questions. Several different investigations on both sides of the Atlantic are now underway. Mark Zuckerberg may not want to appear before the DCMS Select Committee, but he will have to make a public pronouncement soon enough. Blog posts alone won't do. Open and connected?
It must never be forgotten that, with all the zeal that has become customary in the world of superstar tech firms, Facebook executives talk about their company in missionary terms. We're on a mission, they say, to make the world more open and connected. There is a tension, then, between the liberal inclinations of some Facebook staff - though of course the company as a whole is politically neutral - and the fact that a British company on whose board Steve Bannon sits may have used the platform to help President Trump gain office. Of course, Cambridge Analytica's power could be wildly over-stated, and we don't yet know sufficient detail on Russian misbehaviour on the platform. There is a tension between the globalist outlook of a company that hires supremely clever graduates from around the world, and the more nationalist tendencies of the current White House administration. And there is a tension between the self-declared mission to champion openness, and the fact that Mark Zuckerberg, for reasons still unclear, seemed to be unavailable for comment as lawmakers demanded to hear from him. At some point, these tensions become unbearable. A month ago ago, I said Facebook may have peaked, in influence if not in wealth. I wonder if Alex Stamos's departure will persuade some staff there of this thesis.

Winnie Mandela: Tributes paid to "Mother of the Nation". South African Cyril Ramaphosa and Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu are among those who have paid tribute to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who has died, aged 81. The anti-apartheid campaigner, and former wife of South Africa's first black president, Nelson Mandela, was known by many as the "Mother of the Nation". Energy Minister Jeff Radebe described her as a "colossus who strode the political landscape". 3 April 2018

French SNCF rail strike to defy Macron labour reforms. 3 Mar 2018

(and again alien number of letters: SNCF and TGV, known only aliens and which make people confused! LM)
TGV high-speed services will be among those hit. Train drivers and other workers at the French state railway SNCF have begun a major strike that is expected to paralyse rail travel across France. Staff began three months of rolling stoppages on Monday evening as trade unions push back against President Emmanuel Macron's labour reforms. It is expected to be the biggest wave of industrial unrest since Mr Macron's election last May. The waste collection, electricity and energy sectors also expect strikes. On 22 March, tens of thousands of teachers, nurses and other workers joined rail staff on strike - a sign of widespread opposition to Mr Macron's plans for state sector liberalisation. SNCF workers enjoy generous conditions, including automatic annual pay rises, early retirement, 28 days of paid annual leave and protection from dismissal. Their close relatives are also entitled to free rail tickets. The Macron government wants to phase out the special SNCF contracts, proposing to put new hires on contracts like those that apply elsewhere in industry. The aim is to open up the state railways to competition from 2023, in line with EU requirements. SNCF is struggling with big debts. How many services will be affected?
A senior SNCF manager, Alain Krakovitch, told Le Parisien newspaper that only 12% of high-speed TGV trains would operate on Tuesday, and the low-cost Ouigo service would be at a standstill. Only one in five regional trains would be running, AFP reported. But international services would be only marginally affected, Mr Krakovitch said, with about 75% of Eurostar trains running and about 90% of Thalys services to Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. The railway unions plan to strike two days out of every five until the end of June. Employees of Air France, who are demanding a 6% pay rise, have already begun industrial action. However most flights are not being affected. What is at stake for the unions?
The strikes will be a major test of the French trade unions' clout. Just over 11% of the French workforce is unionised - one of the lowest levels in the EU - but the unions traditionally punch above their weight, economically and politically. The BBC's Lucy Williamson in Paris says many union members see Mr Macron as the man who wants to break the power of the unions. Strikes in September failed to stop Mr Macron passing laws that make it easier for firms to hire and fire.

Entire contents of Heathrow Terminal 1 to be sold off. 5 April 2018

You could be the lucky owner of this sign... and everything else inside Heathrow Airport's Terminal 1. Items from baggage carousels to check-in desks are going under the hammer as the entire contents of Heathrow Airport's Terminal 1 is sold. Security scanners from the terminal, which was closed down in 2015, are also being auctioned off. Other things up for grabs include 15 escalators, 1950s artwork and more than 2,000 security cameras. Auction firm CA Global Partners hopes to fetch a six-figure sum when the items go under the hammer on April 21. Everything inside Heathrow Terminal 1 is being auctioned or sold across a series of dates. Fifteen escalators, 110 check-in desks and 2,000 security cameras are being sold. Daniel Gray, from CA Global Partners, said "a sale comprising the entire contents and infrastructure of an entire major airport terminal is unprecedented". He added that art by Stefan Knapp and "iconic" signage will attract collectors, while the various chairs on offer might appeal to bars and nightclubs. Artwork displayed in glass panels throughout the terminal will also be up for grabs. Hotel forgives guest for seagull invasion. At its peak, more than nine million passengers a year passed through Terminal 1. The auction firm hopes some items might be bought by bars or nightclubs. Signs for arrivals, departures and even the toilets could be yours

Russia's bitter taste of capitalism. Chaos and hardship hit Russia with the rapid market reforms in early 1992, weeks after the collapse of the USSR. One of the architects of this "shock therapy", the economy minister Andrei Nechaev, has been speaking to Witness. 4 Apr 2018

Moscow's dirty secret. The crisis of rubbish landfill in the Moscow region has led the authorities in one town to declare “high alert” and hand out gas masks and respirators to local people. The Russian capital has no recycling programme and its expanding rubbish landfills are causing health problems to residents of many towns.
5 Mar 2018

How the Facebook data scandal unfolded. Facebook has said it now believes up to 87 million people's data was improperly shared with the political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica. Here's what we know so far about how the controversy occurred. 5 Mar 2018

3 Minutes that PROVE All Media is Controlled by ONE Power ! Dec 13, 2015. One Script. One purpose. One ruling power. A quick look at how far and wide this brainwashing goes...Tell-LIE-vision - There's a reason why they call it 'programming'. Mainstream Media Is Scripted To Keep You Distracted.

Video. Sinclair's script for stations. Mar 31, 2018

As it happened: Zuckerberg takes blame. 10 Apr 2018

Facebook: Cambridge Analytica data had private messages.  11 Apr 2018

Facebook has blocked Cambridge Analytica from further access to its data. Facebook has confirmed that private messages were included in data involved in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The social network said that about 0.5% of the 305,000 people who installed a personal data-harvesting app had given permission for it to access their Facebook inboxes. However, many more would have been affected as the haul would have included conversations with others. It is not clear whether the messages were given to Cambridge Analytica. The political consultancy has yet to comment on the latest development. Zuckerberg testifies: Seven things to look out for. Facebook reveals Mark Zuckerberg's US Congress testimony. Warning sent to Facebook users. "Prior to 2015, Facebook's platform policy allowed developers to request permission to access inbox content but only if the person explicitly gave consent for this to happen," a spokeswoman for the US tech firm told the BBC. "According to our records, only a very small number of people - approximately 1,500 - explicitly opted into sharing this information with Kogan's app. The feature was turned off in 2015." On Monday, Cambridge Analytica issued a fresh statement, restating that it had licensed "legally obtained" data from Global Science Research director Aleksandr Kogan, adding that "hundreds of data firms have utilised Facebook data in a similar fashion". Warning notices
The latest revelation emerged after Facebook began sending notices to users it had indentified as being among the 87 million people whose data had been potentially shared with Cambridge Analytica. Facebook is sending messages to members it believes could have had data shared with Cambridge Analytica. That figure includes both those who took Mr Kogan's test as well as their friends, whose personal records the app also had access to. Cambridge Analytica has said it only obtained data on about 30 million US citizens. Facebook's alerts included the warning: "A small number of people who logged into This Is Your Digital Life also shared their own... messages from you." Carole Cadwalladr - the Observer journalist whose investigation helped plunge Facebook into the current crisis - was among the first to pick up on the implication. This is new & important. @chrisinsilico said that he had seen a table produced by Kogan that included private messages. But we had to be circumspect about this. Now confirmed by @facebook. https://twitter.com/carolecadwalla/status/983686073539874816 …
The BBC understands that Facebook does not believe that any of the 1,500 users involved had also given access to their SMS texts, despite the fact that there used to be ways to group all one's messages together in one place. The latest revelation came hours before Facebook's chief executive Mark Zuckerberg was due to testify before the US Senate Commerce and Judiciary committees in Washington. He is also due to be questioned by the House Congressional Testimony on Wednesday. Ahead of his appearance, Facebook announced it would begin paying bounties to those who reported misuses of members' data by app developers. "This programme will reward people with first-hand knowledge and proof of cases where a Facebook platform app collects and transfers people's data to another party to be sold, stolen or used for scams or political influence," it said. Just spoke to Facebook about its new data abuse bounty programme:
- There's no upper limit, though expect "big" revelations to get around $40,000, as per bug bounty programme
- Recipients of the bounty are free to go to the press once it is resolved - Apr 11, 2018

Facebook: Mark Zuckerberg and US senators inspire endless memes. 11 April 2018

Mark Zuckerberg appeared in front of US senators on Tuesday and at times looked like he'd rather be anywhere else. And, of course, it was something that was picked up on by social media. The Facebook CEO's at-times awkwardness saw him being compared to Star Trek's Data - an android who struggles with human behaviour and emotions. The senators, who were grilling Mark about Facebook's role in the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, also opened themselves up to ridicule - with some pretty unbelievable questions. Plenty of the jokes about the hearing had to do with The Social Network - the 2010 film which told the story of Facebook's creation. The billionaire's sometimes awkward appearance in front of the senators didn't go unnoticed. The Facebook founder was under a lot of scrutiny - check out all these photographers - so feeling some pressure is understandable. It made people think about just how lucky some of them are. But it wasn't just Mark Zuckerberg that people were paying attention to. Many noted that the Facebook boss was living through a lot of people's "worst nightmare" live on TV. At one stage, Mark was asked whether Facebook could see "emails" sent over WhatsApp - while Senator Orrin Hatch asked how Facebook can "sustain a business model in which users don't pay for your service?". "Senator, we run ads," was the Facebook boss' response. But the senators gave as good as they got - which saw Illinois' Dick Durbin receiving lots of love for his question to the CEO. "Mr Zuckerberg, would you be comfortable sharing with us the name of the hotel you stayed in last night?" he asked. When Mark said "no", he replied: "I think that may be what this is all about. Your right to privacy." It was a rare moment when the senators, who had an average age of 62 according to Vox, weren't being mocked. It was no doubt a stressful day for Mark Zuckerberg, but it wasn't all terrible for the CEO. By the time of the hearing's first break, Facebook's share price had risen by 5% - adding £3bn to his net worth.

Mark Zuckerberg to appear before Congress. Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg is in Washington this week to testify before Congress. His appearance marks the first time the 33-year-old has himself appeared personally to answer questions about his company. He is expected to field questions about how Facebook handled personal data. Dave Lee, our technology reporter, explains more. 10 Apr 2018

Armenia leader intervenes in protest against predecessor. 22 Apr 2018

Debenhams sales hit by 'Beast from the East'
Debenhams has reported another slide in profits and sales after freezing weather in late February temporarily closed 100 stores in the UK. The retailer said like-for-like sales fell by 2.2% in the 26 weeks to 3 March, while profit sank 84% to £13.5m. The retailer also lowered expectations for annual profits and said chief financial officer Matt Smith had resigned to join rival Selfridges. Trading 'not easy'. Debenhams said profits for the full year would now be at the lower end of brokers' forecasts of £50m to £61m, compared with £95.2m for the previous year. While Debenhams was affected by the extreme cold brought in by the so-called Beast from the East weather pattern, the retailer had already been struggling. It issued in a profit warning in January after disappointing Christmas trading, and in February the company said it planned to cut 320 store management jobs in an attempt to cut costs. Chief executive Sergio Bucher said it had "not been an easy first half" and that the retailer was concentrating on its Debenhams Redesigned strategy, which aimed to mitigate difficult trading conditions.

Sears closed for good. Jan 15, 2018. Pensions are not paid anymore. The department store chain had been in business in Canada since 1953.

10 Billion Dollar Companies That Are Secretly Going Bankrupt

Berlin set for mass evacuation as WW2 bomb is defused - Apr 20, 2018

The bomb was found by workers on a construction site in Heidestrasse
A large-scale evacuation is to take place in Berlin on Friday morning to allow experts to defuse a World War Two bomb. Buildings will be cleared from 09:00 (07:00 GMT) in an 800m (2,625ft) radius from the construction site where the bomb was discovered. The zone includes government ministries, a hospital and the city's central railway station. Thousands of unexploded bombs from the 1939-45 war are found every year. Police say there is no immediate danger from the 1,100lb (500kg) British bomb, which was found on Heidestrasse last Wednesday. How much of a threat are unexploded bombs? The area to be cleared includes Berlin Hauptbahnhof - the central railway station - an army hospital, the economy and transport ministries and the embassies of Indonesia and Uzbekistan, according to police quoted by AFP news agency. The zone to be evacuated includes Berlin's Hauptbahnhof. It is understood the operation to defuse the device will take place around midday. Rail company Deutsche Bahn and other transport operators have warned of large-scale disruption for trains, trams and buses in the area. Flights to and from Tegel airport - about 7km (4.5 miles) away - will not be affected, authorities said on Thursday, although planes coming in to land will avoid flying over the site. Tegel, which is Berlin's busiest airport, was briefly closed last August after the discovery of a Russian World War Two bomb. Last September, patients at hospitals in Frankfurt were evacuated to allow the controlled explosion of another huge wartime bomb. Other WW2 bombs discovered in Germany:
May 2017: 50,000 people were evacuated from Hannover while three British-made bombs were defused
December 2016: More than 50,000 evacuated in Augsburg over 1.8-tonne British explosive
May 2015: 20,000 people in Cologne forced to leave their homes after a one-tonne bomb was discovered
January 2012: A construction worker was killed when his digger hit an unexploded bomb in Euskirchen
December 2011: 45,000 people were evacuated from Koblenz - half the total population - after two bombs were found in the riverbed of the Rhine
June 2010: Three members of a bomb disposal squad were killed in Göttingen during an operation to defuse a bomb found on a building site

Australia bank inquiry ousts first executive amid fee scandal  - Apr 20, 2018

AMP is a leading financial services firm in Australia. The head of Australia's largest wealth manager has resigned after the company admitted lying to regulators for more than a decade. AMP chief executive Craig Meller quit after an inquiry heard the business had routinely charged fees to customers for services that were not delivered. Australia is holding a royal commission - its top form of public inquiry - into misconduct in financial institutions. Mr Meller is the first executive to be ousted amid the inquiry. Earlier this week the hearing was told that AMP had repeatedly misled the nation's corporate watchdog, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (Asic), over its collection of fees. AMP has "unreservedly apologised" for the practice. The royal commission was ordered by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last year following a series of scandals involving financial misconduct. Why is Australia investigating its banks. In announcing his resignation, Mr Meller said he was "personally devastated" by what had been exposed. "I do not condone [the misconduct] or the misleading statements made to Asic," he said. "However, as they occurred during my tenure as CEO, I believe that stepping down as CEO is an appropriate measure to begin the work that needs to be done to restore public and regulatory trust in AMP." The Commonwealth Bank of Australia has also admitted to charging fees for undelivered services. On Thursday, the bank said the misconduct had extended to clients it knew were deceased. Evidence of misconduct presented in public hearings this week has drawn condemnation from the nation's politicians and sparked growing public outrage. Why didn’t bank execs resign when they first found out their companies were shysters  robbing dead people and had lied to ASIC? Not years later when exposed at royal commission? What we’ve learned so far from the banking royal commission has been shocking and shameful. The government has proposed new 10-year jail terms for bankers and other financial executives who violate misconduct laws.

Lloyds Banking Group to close 49 branches

Lloyds Banking Group has announced that 49 branches will be closed. Those closures, along with reorganisation elsewhere at the bank, will affect 1,230 jobs. Lloyds says it is creating 925 jobs and existing staff will be redeployed "wherever possible". Of the 49 banks earmarked for closure eight belong to the Halifax network and the other 41 are Lloyds branches. After those cuts the group will have 1,750 branches in total. You can find a list of the banks due to close here. Like other banks Lloyds has been reducing the size of its network as customers have switched to online and telephone banking. When chief executive Antonio Horta Osorio took over in 2011 Lloyds Banking Group had almost 2,900 outlets, of which more than 600 were spun-off in 2013 under the TSB brand name. Lloyds hails landmark year. In October 2014 Lloyds announced 400 branch closures as part of a three year plan and last November another 49 were scheduled to be shut. Lloyds says the banks affected in the latest round of closures all have a Post Office "within short walking distance", where banking services will be available. Even after the latest closures, Lloyds says it will still have the biggest branch network. "The changes in roles are in line with our plan to adapt to and meet the changing needs of our customers," the bank said in a statement. "Today's announcement involves making difficult decisions, and we are committed to working through these changes in a careful and sensitive way," it added. However, Federation of Small Business national chairman Mike Cherry said the bank's decision to accelerate its bank branch closure programme would "come as a real blow" to small businesses in the local communities affected. "Equally, bank branches are vital to encouraging high street footfall. Cash is still the preferred payment method for thousands of shoppers. "Reduced access to free to use cash machines is bad for our already embattled high streets and bad for local growth," he added.

Nicaragua president scraps pension cuts after deadly riots. 23 Apr 2018

Retail woes force hundreds of store closures. Apr 24, 2018

Almost one in five shops in Doncaster is empty. Nearly 650 shops and restaurants, run by a handful of major chains, have shut since the start of 2018 or are at risk of closure. Maplin and Toys R Us sites account for half that total, according to analysis by BBC 5 Live's Wake Up to Money. Both chains fell into administration on the same day in February. The remaining Toys R Us stores will close on Tuesday, when the American chain finally disappears from the UK's retail parks and high streets. Administrators for Maplin are keeping its 217 shops open, but they are "under review" while a buyer is sought. The BBC's analysis shows that cities have borne the brunt of these retail insolvencies, but towns as far apart as Inverness and St Austell have also been affected. Many already have a high shop vacancy rate. Five things to do with empty retail space. Six shops defying the High Street downturn. Doncaster is one of 14 towns where four shops have been affected: two Toys R Us outlets are closing down, while New Look store and a Maplin shop are at risk. It still has many major national chains, but according to research from PwC and the Local Data Company the town had a net loss of 13 shops last year - nearly 5% of the total. Almost one in five shops in Doncaster are vacant, although the council says only 11% lack tenants. Abs Chaudhry, who runs the X-ited clothes shop on Printing Office Street, said business rates are a big issue. "Shopkeepers cannot afford the rates. There's that many shops empty that the landlords will even say 'take that shop on for free'," he said. "But how can you take a shop on when your rates are £20,000? The council's not bothered because they just collect for central government." Mr Chaudhry claimed a decision to move a bus station to the Frenchgate shopping centre significantly reduced footfall on his side of town. Fran Bishop's shop in Doncaster is bucking the trend. But a short walk away Fran Bishop said she was doing well after moving from a prime unit to the Waterdale, a 1960s precinct being revamped by the developer St Modwen. "We've doubled turnover year-on-year so we are bucking the trend. We're doing things to push customers into the store. We do Facebook Live videos ... we're pulling people in and we have customers all over the country," she said. "We used to be opposite McDonald's but that was £17,000 a year for half the size. We moved up here because it was a regeneration area so we got a three-month rent period which has allowed us to build up the footfall. It's a bigger retail space and has no business rates." Doncaster Council is hoping to make the town more of a leisure destination with a new cinema, more events and a revamped Wool Market that could be home to bars and restaurants. Peter Dale, the council's regeneration and environment director, said: "Doncaster is adapting to the challenges of online shopping and trying to offer something that digital retailers cannot." Bryan Roberts, a retail analyst at TCC Global, said some retail failures had been self-inflicted as firms fail to adapt to changing consumer behaviour. "There are lots of nimble retailers out there. There've also been cost pressures like the minimum wage, and business rates - particularly those on the high street." A brace of other businesses have sought to ease their financial pressures through a company voluntary arrangement, another form of insolvency. Carpetright and New Look are planning to close stores in this way, and the restaurant chains Jamie's Italian, Prezzo and Byron Burger are also using the process to shut sites. Separately, Marks & Spencer is in the middle of a store closure plan and will shut six by the end of April, while a further seven will close later this year.

Serzh Sargsyan: Armenian PM resigns after days of protests (Chaned one man-president for another one is not an achievement! LM). 24 April 2018

Serzh Sargsyan 
Serzh Sargsyan: Armenian PM resigns after days of protests. Supporters mob Armenian protest leader Nikol Pashinyan after PM resigns. There were scenes of jubilation in the Armenian capital Yerevan after protests forced the resignation of Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan. Opposition supporters accused Mr Sargsyan, who was made prime minister last week after serving 10 years as president, of clinging to power. "The street movement is against my tenure. I am fulfilling your demand," Mr Sargsyan said in a statement. Former prime minister Karen Karapetyan has taken over as acting PM. President Armen Sarkissian accepted Mr Sargsyan's and the government's resignation. Mr Sargsyan's announcement came soon after opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan was released from detention. Mr Pashinyan had been arrested on Sunday after he called for Mr Sargsyan's resignation during televised talks. As well as Mr Pashinyan, two other opposition politicians and some 200 demonstrators were held. Demonstrators rallied again in the capital Yerevan on Monday. In his statement published on his website, Mr Sargsyan said he was "addressing all citizens of the Republic of Armenia... for the last time as leader of the country." "Nikol Pashinyan was right. I was wrong," he said. "The situation has several solutions, but I will not take any of them... I am leaving office of the country's leader, of prime minister." His spokesman, Hovhannes Nikoghosyan, told the BBC that Mr Sargsyan was behaving responsibly and fulfilling the demands of the street movement which opposed his appointment as prime minister. "I think his resignation is a clear demonstration of a democracy in force. It's not that every demonstration in every corner of the world leads to the resignation of the authorities," Mr Nikoghosyan said. Tens of thousands of people took to the streets to protest. Protesters chanted "Nikol, Nikol" in the streets on Monday, the 11th straight day of protests. They were joined by hundreds of uniformed soldiers, despite warnings from the defence ministry that any soldiers protesting would be harshly punished. Mr Pashinyan congratulated the people on their "victory" following the resignation. "You have won, proud citizens of the Republic of Armenia. And no-one can seize this victory from you. I congratulate you, victorious people," he wrote on Facebook. Mr Sargsyan had faced criticism in Armenia over his close ties to the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, who has also moved between roles as president and prime minister to maintain his grip on power. Mr Putin's spokesman said on Monday that Moscow was closely watching events in Yerevan. "We are very attentively observing what is happening in Armenia," Dmitry Peskov told journalists, calling the country "extremely important" for Russia. Asked if Russia would intervene, Mr Peskov said the matter was "exclusively an internal affair" and Russian action would be "absolutely inappropriate". At the scene. Jubilation filled the Republic Square in Yerevan as people cracked open bottles of champagne, dancing in the fountain, hugging and waving flags. "This is what victory feels like," said Lena, wrapped in the Armenian tricolour. "This is a day to live for, this is the day to be here to witness history!" said her husband Armen. When Mr Pashinyan arrived at Republic Square after being released, the people chanted his name and "Victory!". Shortly after, news broke that Mr Sargsyan had resigned and it was as if a firework of joy had exploded in the square. Many here say it is a victory for the whole nation, that the people stood up for democracy and won. And it came on the eve of April 24, which Armenians worldwide mark as Remembrance Day for the victims of mass killings of Armenians at the turn of the 20th century in Ottoman Turkey. The events in Armenia are significant, because they demonstrate that in a post-Soviet country change is possible through a peaceful, organic, grassroots movement. The fact that the Armenian authorities showed restraint and did not use excessive force against the demonstrators is also an achievement. But it's important to remember that the new acting prime minister is an old ally of Mr Sargsyan. Only the leadership has changed. Why were there protests?
In 2015, Armenians voted in a referendum to shift the country from a presidential to a parliamentary system, stripping powers from the president and giving them to the prime minister. The vote was marred by allegations of ballot rigging and claims Mr Sargsyan wanted to simply switch office after his presidency ended. The ex-president had formally stated he would "not aspire" to the prime ministerial position, but on Tuesday last week the country's parliament officially confirmed Mr Sargsyan in the post. Protesters poured into the streets in the days beforehand to try to stop the parliament from passing the measure, and clashed with police. On the day of the confirmation, Mr Pashinyan said the demonstrations constituted a "non-violent velvet revolution".Who is Serzh Sargsyan? Mr Sargsyan has been criticised for his close ties to Russia. Mr Sargsyan served two consecutive terms as president of Armenia, starting in 2008 and ending on 9 April this year. His initial election in 2008 prompted deadly clashes between the state and opposition supporters. At least eight people died. He won a second five-year term in 2013. Several of his opponents dropped out of the race and one candidate was shot in a suspected assassination attempt. Mr Sargsyan was also accused of failing to address continuing tensions with Azerbaijan and Turkey, as well as widespread poverty at home.

Rotten durian causes Melbourne university evacuation  29 Apr 2018

More than 500 students and teachers were evacuated from a university in Melbourne, Australia, as a result of a smell initially suspected to be gas. But it turned out the "gas" that students smelt at a Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology library was a rotting durian found in a cupboard. Firefighters said the smell had moved through the building via the air conditioning system. The building has now been reopened, Melbourne's Metropolitan Fire Brigade said in a statement.

Islamic State assassin: How I killed more than 100 people - 4 May 2018

Syria has been at war for seven long, deadly years. President Bashar al-Assad's government is fighting both rebel groups and the jihadists of Islamic State. The northern city of Raqqa has been a key battleground for many factions in the conflict. This is the story of how one peaceful protester there got sucked into the spiralling bloodshed, and became a killer. Khaled did not simply wake up in Raqqa to the smell of death and dust, and decide to become an assassin. He was sent a special invitation. Six men were ordered to report to an airfield in Aleppo, in north-western Syria, where a French trainer would teach them to kill with pistols, silenced weapons, and sniper rifles. They learned to murder methodically, taking prisoners as their victims. "Our practice targets were detained soldiers from the regime," he says. "They put them in a difficult place so you need a sniper to hit them. Or they send out a group of detainees and ask you to target one without hitting the others. "Most of the time assassinations are done from a motorbike. You need another person to ride the bike and you sit behind him. You ride next to the target's car - then you shoot him and he cannot escape."
Khaled - not his real name - learned how to follow people. How to "buy" targets he could not reach through those close to them. How to distract a convoy of cars, so a fellow assassin can pick off their mark. It was a bloody, inhuman education. But in mid-2013, soon after the Syrian army retreated from Raqqa, it suited the leaders of Ahrar al-Sham - a hardline Islamist group striving to rule the northern city and eliminate its rivals. Black jihadist flags appeared all over Raqqa as IS tightened its grip. Khaled was one of the group's commanders, in charge of Raqqa's security office. And yet, he told the BBC, when the Syrian revolution drew its first breaths in 2011 he was a man of peace, "a bit religious, but not too strict", with a job organising pilgrimages. "It was an amazing feeling of freedom mixed with fear of the regime," he says, recalling the first day he joined the anti-government protests. Why is there a war in Syria? Khaled says his most barbaric abuser was a guard at the Criminal Security Department who forced him to kneel before a picture of President Assad, saying: "Your god will die, and he will not die. God dies, and Assad endures. His shift was every other day, and when it came I knew I would be tortured. He used to hang me from my arms with chains to the ceiling. He would force me to strip, then put me on 'the flying carpet' and whip my back. He would tell me: 'I hate you, I hate you, I want  you to die. I hope you die at my hands.' "I left his prison paralysed, and when they moved me to the Central Prison inmates were crying when they saw me. They brought me in on a stretcher. "I decided that if God saved me I would kill him wherever he goes. Even if he went to Damascus, I would kill him." Khaled was detained after someone recognised him in film footage from anti-government protests. When he was freed from prison, Khaled took up arms against the government. He says he "helped" 35 Syrian army soldiers to defect from the 17th Reserve Division, which was stationed in the country's north-east. Some of them he kidnapped, selling their possessions to make money for guns. Sometimes, he says, he joined forces with attractive women to lure "notorious individuals who hurt protesters" with offers of marriage. He spared their lives, but forced them to make defection videos so they could never again serve President Assad. For his first hostage, the ransom was set at 15 Kalashnikovs, or their value in cash. One man received no such mercy: the guard who tormented Khaled. "I asked people about [the guard] who worked at the Criminal Security Department until I found him. We followed him home, and took him. "He told me something that I reminded him of later. When I was in prison, he told me: 'If you leave this prison alive and you manage to capture me, do not have mercy on me' - and that's what I did. "I took him to a farm near the Central Prison which was a liberated area. I cut off his hand with a butcher's knife. I pulled out his tongue and cut it with scissors. And still I wasn't satisfied. "I killed him when he begged for it. I came for revenge, so I wasn't afraid. Khaled bartered his more fortunate captives for Kalashnikov rifles. "Despite all the torture methods I used with him, I don't feel regret or sorrow. On the contrary; if he came back to life again right now I would do the same. "If there had been an authority to complain to, to say he beats and humiliates prisoners, I wouldn't have done this to him. But there was no-one to complain to and no state to stop him." Khaled had lost his faith in the revolution. His focus became the daily battle for his own survival. And he would soon find an even darker role in Syria's savage conflict - as an assassin for the jihadist group Islamic State (IS). 'I showed IS a friendly face... then killed them'. Friendship or betrayal, quarrels about tactics, and swings in the balance of power: these caused many of Syria's rebels to switch between factions, sometimes repeatedly. Against that backdrop, Khaled left the Islamists of Ahrar al-Sham who had trained him as a killer, and joined al-Nusra Front, then the official affiliate of al-Qaeda in Syria. By early 2014, IS - which he and other fighters once mocked as a no-account outfit with paltry numbers - had driven rebel factions out of Raqqa. The city would become the de facto capital of IS's "caliphate".

Bible Ban: UK students vote to eject Holy book out of dorms May 18, 2015

Video : Life in a prison with 5,500 other inmates. Thousands of those caught up in the Philippines war on drugs end up in Manila City Jail where they often spend years waiting for their day in court. Dennis Garcia, accused of two counts of robbery, has spent 16 years waiting for his trial. He tells the BBC's Howard Johnson what life inside the jail is like.

MASSIVE FIREBALL AT UK JEWlSH GATHERING. May 2, 2018. Thirty injured in explosion at Jewish celebration in London as mobile phone sparks fireball. UP to 30 people have been injured in an explosion during a Jewish celebration - sparked by a mobile phone. Hundreds gathered in Stamford Hill, London for Lag BaOmer - an annual event that incorporates bonfires. Dramatic footage shows a fire about to be lit, as revellers sing in the background just metres away.
Suddenly there is a massive explosion as flames erupt over the entire.

Thirty injured in explosion at Jewish celebration in London as mobile phone sparks fireball

Zimbabwe opposition MDC 'will expel Chinese investors'. 2 May 2018
Nelson Chamisa, 40, said the new government did not care about ordinary workers. A Zimbabwean opposition leader has vowed to expel Chinese investors if he wins elections due in July. "They are busy asset-stripping the resources of the country," Nelson Chamisa said at a May Day rally in the capital, Harare. The presidential polls will be the first since the resignation of long-serving ruler Robert Mugabe last year. China is Zimbabwe's fourth largest trading partner and its largest source of investment. Why China matters to Zimbabwe's leaders. President Emmerson Mnangagwa, whose nickname is "Ngwena" meaning "the Crocodile" in the Shona language, will contest the election on the ticket of the ruling Zanu-PF party. He is a strong advocate of a "Look East" policy, but has also been wooing Western investors since taking office in November. More on Zimbabwe after Mugabe: Mugabe and me.
"I have seen the deals that Ngwena has entered into with China and others, they are busy asset-stripping the resources of the country," Mr Chamisa said at the rally."I have said beginning September when I assume office I will call the Chinese and tell them the deals they signed are unacceptable and they should return to their country." China has stakes worth many billions of dollars in everything from agriculture to construction. According to the state-run Herald newspaper, it has helped with an extension to the hydro-power station at Kariba dam and repairing water works for Harare and surrounding towns. China has also provided funding for various airport expansions, a thermal power station and the construction of a new parliament building, the paper says. Mr Chamisa, 40, became the MDC's leader after Morgan Tsvangirai, a fierce opponent of Zanu-PF, died of colon cancer. But his leadership is being challenged by a rival faction led by former Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe.

Armenia: Six things you may not know. 2 May 2018
Armenians have been making headlines by shutting down cities with major protests. How much do you know about this landlocked former Soviet republic in the southern Caucasus? Here are six facts to get you started.
1. More Armenians live outside the republic than in it. The country's population is around three million but millions more live abroad. There are big diasporas in the United States, Russia and France. Many recent Armenian migrants go to Russia for its proximity and because many speak Russian.
2. Mount Ararat ‎is considered a national symbol. Even though it is in Turkey...The snow-capped mountain (5,165m; 16,945ft) dominates the horizon in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, and is named in the Bible as the place Noah's Ark grounded after the flood.
3. It is one of the earliest Christian civilisations. Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianity as its official religion in the early 4th Century and its Church is completely autonomous from other Christian Churches of the world.
4. Learning chess is compulsory. Since 2011, all children in Armenia from six to eight years old have had compulsory chess lessons. The country has produced numerous grandmasters and it currently has more than 3,000 qualified trained chess teachers in its schools.


Russia Internet Freedom:  12,300 people rally in Moscow against Telegram ban. 30 April 2018
"I'm for a free internet" says a placard at the rally..."

Russia internet freedom:  12,300 people rally in Moscow against Telegram ban. 30 April 2018 - FreedomForInternet1May2018Moscow12300Rally.jpg
"I'm for a free internet" says a placard at the rally. More than 7,000 people have rallied in Moscow to defend internet freedom and condemn a Russian official block on the encrypted messaging app Telegram. Protesters' placards decried the state telecoms watchdog, Rozkomnadzor. On 16 April it began denying access to Telegram, but its action also hit Google, Amazon and some other net addresses used by Telegram in Russia. The block came after Telegram had refused to hand over its encryption keys to Russia's FSB spy service. Russian intelligence chiefs say they need access to messages sent by terrorists and criminals. The crackdown has hurt some businesses and one entrepreneur, Alexander Vikharev, is suing Roskomnadzor, BBC Russian reports. Participants threw paper planes - a symbol of Telegram. Police estimated the crowd to be about 7,500, but an activist organisation called White Counter put the figure at 12,300. "We won't be silent!" and "Russia will be free!" protesters shouted. The central Moscow rally was organised by the Russian Libertarian Party. A previous pro-Telegram rally took place on 22 April. Under President Vladimir Putin the Russian state has taken control of the major TV channels and other mainstream media, so opposition voices are mainly confined to social media. The participants filled a wide avenue in central Moscow. Russia's best-known opposition activist, Alexei Navalny, addressed the crowd. He has mobilised thousands of activists previously through social media, having made his name as an anti-corruption blogger. "Our country is destitute, it's a really poor country, where nobody has any prospects. The only sector that has developed in recent years by itself - without the state, or subsidies, or favours - is the internet. And those people say 'You're behaving badly on your internet, so we'll gobble it up'. I won't tolerate that," he said. The inventor of Telegram's Messenger app, Pavel Durov, praised the protesters via VKontakte, the Russian version of Facebook. "Thousands of young and progressive people are now protesting in defence of internet freedom in Moscow - this is unprecedented," he wrote. "Your energy is changing the world."

Jim Rogers Deutsche Bank is Broke, Derivatives Collapse Coming  Apr 25, 2018. The Shift Begins: Deutsche Bank Fires Hundreds of US Bankers, Nasdaq to Open Crypto Market.Apr 26, 2018. As part of its latest disastrous earnings, which saw trading revenues tumble by 17% as new CEO Christian Sewing took over, we reported that Deutsche Bank announced a sweeping restructuring plan, abandoning its long-running ambitions to be a top global securities firm, scaling back U.S. rates sales and trading, reducing the corporate finance business in the U.S. and Asia, and reviewing its global equities business with a view toward cutting it back, the bank said in a statement. The measures will lead to a “significant reduction” in the 97,130-person workforce this year, Deutsche Bank said. We translated it more simply: massive layoffs. Predictably, the German bank wasted no time, and according to Reuters and Bloomberg, the purge began overnight when Deutsche fired 300 U.S.-based investment bankers on Wednesday with another 100 pink slips expected over the next 24 hours.

Why Are 800,000 People Fleeing New York and California??? Has a Mass Exodus Begun? Apr 28, 2018

First Wave of Migrant Caravan Hits US Border In California. Apr 22, 2018. The first wave of the migrant caravan has hit the US border, with a group of about 50 seeking asylum at the Tijuana crossing into California. The group of 50 Central American migrants who set out from southern Mexico in late March arrived in Tijuana, Mexico on Wednesday, after splintering off from the original caravan of 1,500. 'Since yesterday, some began to cross into the United States to turn themselves in from Tijuana and request asylum. We understand more of (the migrants) will do the same,' said Jose Maria Garcia, director of Juventud 2000, an organization dedicated to assisting migrants.

Migrants VS European Youth in French Alps  Apr 25, 2018. Blocking Illegal Migrants In The French Alps

Is Roseanne Barr back under MK Ultra Mind Control?  Apr 26, 2018. Does marijuana break MK Ultras Mind Control Program? Roseanne Barr thinks so, but she may have fallen back into the hands of the evil elite! Not long ago, Roseanne made some shocking statements, alluding that Hollywood and the entertainment industry is dominated by MK Ultra. MK Ultra was the name for a previously classified research program through the CIA’s scientific intelligence division. It was the CIA’s program of research in behavioral modification and perception manipulation of human beings. Roseanne has suggested that Hollywood is a tool used in the manipulation of human consciousness, used as a tool for behavior modification and perception control in human beings.

Syria DEW Attack; Two Suns; and More Sun Simulators Documented

Breaking LIVE: "Massive Explosion In Syria" Russia Says (USA Or Israel Did It), 30 Apr 2018

BREAKING: Huge Explosions in Syria; Unknown Aircraft Apr 29, 2018

Niger universities stop feeding striking students. Africa, Dakar

It can be a challenge being a student in Niger. Niger's government is getting tough with striking students in order to get them to go back to their desks by closing down university canteens. The West African nation's 23,000 university students have had their studies disrupted for two years because of strikes in response to the non-payment of their grants. The tension has worsened this year. Five students were expelled from the University of Niamey after a teacher was assaulted in February. Now government spokesman Assoumana Malam Issa has told the BBC the authorities will not continue to feed and lodge students who are disrupting the education system: We can't continue to support them amid such disruption. We're not just going to close the canteens but we're going to close down all campuses in Niger where learning has stopped."

Australia's Commonwealth Bank lost data of 20m accounts 3 May 2018

Australia's Commonwealth Bank has admitted losing the bank records of almost 20 million people. Names, addresses, account numbers and statements were stored on two magnetic tapes which were meant to be destroyed by a subcontractor in 2016. But despite not receiving evidence the tapes had actually been destroyed, the bank did not tell customers there was a potential problem. The breach is the latest scandal involving Australia's largest lender.
Commonwealth Bank 'to compensate customers'. Bank admits failures in laundering case. In a filing to the Australian Stock Exchange, the bank said it could not confirm that the tapes containing 15 years of data had been destroyed securely. But it said "an independent forensic investigation" by accounting firm KPMG had "determined the most likely scenario was the tapes had been disposed of." It added "the tapes did not contain passwords, PINs or other data which could be used to enable account fraud". And it stressed there had been no evidence that customer information had been compromised, with monitoring mechanisms remaining in place. Buzzfeed first reported news of the lost tapes, claiming they were supposed to be destroyed by Fuji Xerox after the decommissioning of a data centre. 'Unacceptable'. The Commonwealth Bank's acting head of retail banking, Angus Sullivan, described the incident as "unacceptable" and has apologised for any "inconvenience and worry" the incident may have caused customers. Why is Australia investigating its banks?
Australian customers take on the banks. The privacy breach comes at a time when Australian banks are under intense scrutiny from a landmark banking inquiry. Last month, the inquiry heard that the Commonwealth bank collected fees from customers it knew had died. In one case, an adviser collected fees from a former client for more than a decade. Australia's Treasurer Scott Morrison has warned that financial executives could face strong penalties, including jail sentences, from evidence brought up at the inquiry.

Sisu: The Finnish art of inner strength. 7 May 2018

(Good article, only our emotions are not coming from guts/intestines, as written in this article, but from our Sunny Spirits! I also wonder if any Finns with Sisu fought against Germany' domination during WW2 in 1941-1945, like Russians did ? LM)
The concept of sisu has no direct translation, encompassing extreme perseverance and dignity in the face of adversity. But can it be learnt?
“Sisu will get you even through granite,” my Finnish mother-in-law used to say. If you look at the enormous grey outcrops of granite scattered since the ice age through the Finnish countryside and forests, you’ll realise that getting through them is not just difficult, it is pretty well impossible.
‘Sisu’ in Finnish means strength, perseverance in a task that for some may seem crazy to undertake, almost hopeless. My mother-in-law experienced the bombings of the Winter War (1939-1940) when Finland was attacked by the much superior Soviet army but managed to mount a resistance to remain independent. The New York Times ran an article in 1940 with the headline “Sisu: A Word that Explains Finland”. The word originates from ‘sisus’, which literally means ‘guts’ or ‘the intestines’ in Finnish. So, what is this almost mythical quality that appears to be so Finnish? “It is a special thing that is reserved for especially challenging moments. When we feel that we came to the end point of our preconceived capacities. You could say that sisu is energy, determination in the face of adversities that are more demanding than usual,” says Emilia Lahti, a researcher of sisu from Aalto University in Helsinki. Lahti’s route to a fascination with sisu is through survival and success after a physically and psychologically abusive relationship, and she has also become a social campaigner and promoter of sisu. “We all have these moments when we all need to reach beyond what we think we are capable of. At the end of physical, emotional and psychological endurance. And then we have some kind of force that allows us to continue even when we thought we couldn’t,” says Lahti. For Finns, that ‘second wind’ of inner strength is sisu. Finnish troops were far outnumbered by the Soviet troops in the Winter War, which was fought from 1939 to 1940. What’s in a word? The history of the concept may help us understand its continuing resonance in Finnish culture today. The word originates from ‘sisus’, which literally means ‘guts’ or ‘the intestines’ in Finnish. In 1745, Daniel Juslenius, a Finnish bishop, defined ‘sisucunda’ in his dictionary as the location in the human body where strong emotions come from. Sisu could be seen as a social glue that helped define the nation after Finland gained independence from Russia. “With Lutheran philosophy this word came to denote more of a bad quality, that you are somebody really bad at taking orders, a misfit,” says Lahti. But the idea of sisu came to be embraced by Finnish intellectuals as a particularly Finnish quality during the period the new nation was built. Finland became independent from Russia in 1918, and sisu can be seen as a ‘social glue’ that helped define the nation. “In the 20s they needed to find some characterisation for Finns as an independent nation. So sisu was a very good positive thing. It gave us a feeling that there is something positive about us. It gave us the reason why we have survived as a nation in the cold. It was a young nation looking for those positive sorts of images of itself. All this strengthened the idea that there was something special in the Finns,” Rauno Lahtinen, cultural historian from Turku University points out. Veikka Gustafsson on the summit of Gasherbrum I (8,080m) in Pakistan. He says he admires the Balti people for their sisu. Finnish history during the last 100 years has reinforced the notion of sisu as a particularly Finnish trait. Following Winter War, Finland honourably paid in full its reparations to the Soviet Union, despite the great hardship this imposed on the nation, so avoiding further threats to its independence. Sisu captured the sentiment of the country’s honourable survival. Veikka Gustafsson not only named a mountain after Sisu; his five-year-old son is also called Sisu. The word is also frequently used to explain Finland’s sporting achievements and feats of physical endurance. Veikka Gustafsson became a national symbol of sisu in the 1990s, when he became the first Finn to climb Mount Everest in 1993. By 2009 he had climbed all 14 of the world’s 8,000m peaks (eight-thousanders, as they are called) without supplementary oxygen. This made him the ninth climber in the world to have achieved this. He also climbed peaks in Antarctica, naming one of them ‘Mount Sisu’. Gustaffson not only named a mountain after Sisu; his five-year-old son is also called Sisu, and for a while (not any more) he became the face of a popular Finnish sweet called “sisu pastils”. Having become the embodiment of sisu, who does Gustaffson admire as having sisu? “If I think of the Sherpa people in Nepal, they have lots and lots of sisu. And I think the Balti people who were helping us in the expeditions in Pakistan. They also have lots and lots of sisu,” he says. A mountaineer’s guide to sisu. Veikka Gustafsson became a national symbol of sisu in the 1990s, when he became the first Finn to climb Mount Everest. Here are his tips. Get used to pushing yourself a little bit further. I always say, if the water is not frozen, you can always go swimming. In the beginning, it does not seem very nice. But after a while you get used to it. You can push yourself into the icy water; afterwards you feel wonderful. If you make a decision, stick with it no matter what. When you face difficulties, think of how earlier generations coped with them. If you are uncomfortable, treat it as an experience.
For all the sweetness of sisu pastils, sisu has its downsides. Even Gustafsson admits that Finnish sisu also denotes an element of stubbornness, “I do my own thing. If you have sisu, you don’t just endure adversity but you endure what Emilia Lahti calls ‘silent relentlessness’,” he says. Sisu can also make it difficult to admit weakness. “It’s hard to ask for help. You risk losing face if you admit weakness. That’s a challenge in a culture that holds sisu in high reverence’, Emilia Lahti tells me. If you persevere for too long, results could be damaging. “You might end with burnout if you try too hard.” You can also cause harm to others with too much sisu, she warns. “It’s almost too easy to impose this merciless attitude on other people as well. And it’s very hard to be around people like that.” Young people are not even proud of being Finnish or of having sisu, they often think things are better abroad – Aino Niemi. She stresses the importance of combining sisu with compassion both to yourself and to others. In the meantime, the role of sisu as a social glue in Finland seems to be diminishing. Its appeal to younger generations is falling. Aino Niemi, a 23-year old Finn, agrees that sisu has become something of a platitude. “For example, when Finland wins the ice hockey World Championship then we are proud that we have sisu,” she says. “But most of the time sisu is not important, young people are not even proud of being Finnish or of having sisu, they often think things are better abroad.” Nordic export - Lahti is keen to stress that many other cultures have comparable concepts: the Japanese ‘ganbaru’, which means going tenaciously through rough times. There is also the ‘stiff upper lip’ that the British have been proud of for centuries. But it is sisu, in particular, that seems to have captured the imagination abroad. This may be due, in part, to the idea that Nordic countries hold the secret of personal fulfilment. Before sisu, the world came to admire another Nordic export, the Danish (and Norwegian) idea of ‘hygge’, which means comfortable cosiness and conviviality, and Swedish ‘lagom’, which is all about balance and moderation and simplicity. As I write this, another Finnish pastime is threatening to edge sisu out of the limelight. It’s ‘kalsarikännit’, which means ‘getting drunk in your underwear at home’. A new emoji has already appeared for this concept. Many want to believe that these Finnish ways of doing things could make us happy and independent, as some Finns are. In reality it’s the investment needed in education and social provision that makes people feel more fulfilled in their lives. Sisu clearly isn’t the only explanation for Finnish success, but Gustafsson is adamant that the country would not be the same without it. “If it had not been for sisu, I would have been speaking Russian to you,” he tells me – a reminder of the Soviet attack in 1939 when Finland managed to preserve its independence. Wherever you live, that same spirit of resilience is still worth remembering today, says Gustafsson: “The biggest obstacles are between our ears, what we tell ourselves.”

New York Attorney General - жидяра - Jew Eric Schneiderman quits amid abuse reports

Eric Schneiderman is one of America's top lawyers and has been a vocal supporter of women's rights. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has resigned following allegations of assault by four women. The resignation came after The New Yorker magazine published a report quoting the women who accused Mr Schneiderman of hitting them. Two identified themselves as former girlfriends of his. Mr Scheiderman - who contests the allegations - has been a vocal supporter of the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment. "In the privacy of intimate relationships, I have engaged in role-playing and other consensual sexual activity," he said in an initial statement on Monday. "I have not assaulted anyone. I have never engaged in non-consensual sex, which is a line I would not cross." He later said he "strongly contests" the allegations but would step down. "While these allegations are unrelated to my professional conduct or the operations of the office, they will effectively prevent me from leading the office's work at this critical time," he said.
How 'MeToo' is exposing the scale of sexual abuse. Is #meToo changing Hollywood? Why women fear a backlash over #MeToo. How the Weinstein scandal unfolded. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had called for Mr Scheiderman's resignation, following the reports. "No one is above the law, including New York's top legal officer," he said. "I do not believe it is possible for Eric Scheiderman to continue to serve as attorney general." Mr Cuomo said he would ask a prosecutor to investigate the allegations. Two women - Michelle Manning Barish and Tanya Selvaratnam - told The New Yorker that Mr Scheiderman had repeatedly hit them, often after drinking heavily. Both women also said he had threatened to kill them if they ended the relationship. "After the most difficult month of my life - I spoke up," Ms Manning Barish wrote on Twitter after the allegations were published. "For my daughter and for all women. I could not remain silent and encourage other women to be brave as me." As New York state's chief prosecutor, Mr Scheiderman brought legal action against film mogul Harvey Weinstein in February after dozens of allegations of sexual abuse were made against him. The lawsuit alleged that Mr Weinstein abused female employees and made verbal threats to kill staff members. After announcing the lawsuit, he spoke out in a tweet against sexual harassment and intimidation. Every New Yorker has a right to a workplace free of sexual harassment, intimidation, and fear. If you have been the victim of misconduct, or a witness to it, contact my office.

Venezuela fire: Relatives want answers after 68 die. 29 March 2018

Police used tear gas to disperse crowds desperate for news of loved ones. Relatives of 68 people who died when a fire broke out at a police station in the Venezuelan city of Valencia have demanded answers as to what happened. The blaze reportedly started after prisoners set fire to mattresses in an attempt to break out on Wednesday. The United Nations has called on the Venezuelan authorities to carry out a speedy investigation and to provide reparations to victims' families. The fire is one of the deadliest incidents in Venezuela's prisons. The office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a statement that "where applicable" those responsible should be brought to justice. On Wednesday, anguished relatives had gathered in front of the police station demanding information about their loved ones. They were dispersed by police firing tear gas. Chief prosecutor Tarek William Saab said 66 men and two women, who had been visiting the cells overnight, were killed in the blaze. He also said that an investigation would be launched "immediately". Venezuela's worst prison tragedies: August 2017: A riot in police holding cells leaves 37 dead in Amazonas state. March 2017: 14 bodies are found in a mass grave in a jail in Guarico state. September 2015: A blaze in a prison in Tocuyito prison kills 17. January 2013: More than 60 inmates are killed in a prison riot in Barquisimeto. What happened at the police station? The circumstances surrounding the fire have not been officially confirmed. The association Una Ventana a la Libertad (A Window on Freedom), which monitors jail conditions, said its reports showed a police officer had been shot in the leg by a detainee and that shortly afterwards mattresses in cells were set ablaze and the fire quickly spread. Mr Santander did confirm one police officer had been shot. Rescuers reportedly broke through walls to try to free those trapped by the blaze. Nearly all of those who died were inmates but at least two women who were visiting at the time were also killed, Mr Saab said. Some of the victims burned to death, others died of smoke inhalation. What has the response been? What's the state of Venezuela's penal system?
Angry relatives gathered outside the detention centre and clashed with police as they sought information about loved ones. Relatives complained they had been given no information. Aida Parra, who said she had last seen her son the day before, told the Associated Press news agency: "I don't know if my son is dead or alive. They haven't told me anything." Dora Blanco told local media: "I am a desperate mother. My son has been here a week. They have not given any information." The government has set up an inquiry. Carabobo state governor Rafael Lacava expressed his condolences, adding: "A serious and profound investigation has been initiated to find the causes and those responsible for these regrettable events." Facilities are notoriously overcrowded, with violence and deadly riots common. The country has struggled to accommodate its prisoners amid an ongoing economic crisis, leading to the use of temporary facilities such as the one in Valencia. 'De facto prisons'. Many police stations in Venezuela are being used as de facto prisons. Their holding cells were built for 30 to 40 people but often hundreds are crammed inside awaiting trial or transfer to a proper jail. Detainees can sometimes spend years there. When I visited such a police station several months ago in Caracas, I saw dozens of men sharing a very small cell. Their relatives came twice a day to deliver them some food which the prisoners shared among themselves. Carlos Nieto of Una Ventana a la Libertad says that about 45,000 people are currently locked up in 500 police stations across the country. He says that a disaster like the one that happened in Valencia could "happen anytime, anywhere and [the next one] could even be worse". Inmates are supposed to be held for only 48 hours in police holding cells. Una Ventana a la Libertad says some police facilities are overfilled at five times their capacity. The organisation says that 65 people died last year in temporary cells due to violence, disease or malnutrition.Last month inmates at a different prison in Carabobo took a number of prisoners and guards hostage in another riot.

Venezuela political prisoners 'revolt' at Caracas jail. 17 May 2018

Relatives gathered outside the headquarters of the secret service, where inmates have staged an uprising. Relatives of political prisoners held in one of Venezuela's most notorious prisons say the inmates have staged an uprising. Inmates held at El Helicoide, the headquarters of Venezuela's secret service, say they took over part of its cell blocks. They say they did so after a political prisoner was beaten. More than 300 political prisoners are being held in Venezuela, according to pressure group Foro Penal. Swollen face. There is no official information about what happened at the Helicoide, the massive former shopping centre in central Caracas which houses Venezuela's secret service (Sebin). The prison is inside the headquarters of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service. But people with close links to the political prisoners held there said the uprising had started after Gregory Sanabria was beaten up, allegedly by a non-political prisoner. Venezuela 'political prisoners' held hostage in jail riot. Venezuela prison 'massacre' kills 37.
Venezuela fire: Relatives want answers after 68 die. The Sebin cells hold more than 300 inmates, with political prisoners and people accused of ordinary crimes locked up alongside each other. Many of the jailed opposition leaders have been accused of incitement to violence and vandalism, which the government argues are not politically motivated. Photos on social media show the swollen face of Mr Sanabria, a student held in El Helicoide pending trial ever since he took part in mass anti-government protest in 2014. Patricia Ceballos's husband Daniel is inside the jail. According to Patricia Ceballos, whose husband Daniel is one of the political prisoners inside El Helicoide, the beating triggered a protest which was met with tear gas by the National Guard and riot police. Mr Ceballos, the former opposition mayor of the western city of San Cristóbal, said the inmates had taken control of parts of the jail. Venezuela opposition leader Daniel Ceballos sent to prison again. "We're demanding that all political prisoner be freed, all of us who have been held here, kidnapped for years without justice or due process," he told CNN via telephone from inside the jail. 'I need help'. Joshua Holt, a US citizen held at the jail for two years pending trial, pleaded for help in a video message sent as the uprising was apparently going on. Mr Holt, a former Mormon missionary from Utah, travelled to Caracas in June 2016 to marry his Venezuelan girlfriend. While waiting for their US visas, Mr Holt and his wife were detained in her family's house in Caracas and accused of hiding weapons. Mr Holt said he was fearing for his life. "They're outside, they're trying to break in, they're saying they're going to kill me," the 26-year-old said as shouts could be heard. In a second video he addressed his compatriots directly, asking them to help free him. The US embassy in Caracas tweeted that it was "very worried about the rebellion. Joshua Holt and other US citizens are in danger," it said in a tweet in Spanish. "The Venezuelan government is directly responsible for their security and we will hold them responsible if anything happens to them." Political prisoners have long been complaining about the conditions they are held in and pressure groups inside Venezuela as well as abroad have called on the government of President Nicolás Maduro to free them but so far this has had little impact.

RBS bank agrees $4.9bn civil penalty to end US probe. May 10, 2018
Royal Bank of Scotland has agreed a $4.9bn (£3.6bn) penalty with US regulators to end a long-running probe into its actions in the lead-up to the financial crisis..

Israel. Gaza violence: Fresh protests expected after deadly clashes, 15 May 2018 - video

Fresh protests against Israel are expected in the Palestinian territories, a day after Israeli troops killed 55 people, 3000 wounded in Gaza. Israel said some 40,000 Palestinians had taken part in "violent riots" at 13 locations along the Gaza Strip security fence...

Police called after black Yale student fell asleep in common room. 11 May 2018

(Most white students these days are aliens in disguise and another thing! Newly-arriving negative civilizations need a Portal and a negative atmosphere to land on Earth. Such cases create a lot of negative human emotions - negative atmosphere in many places, not just at Yale Uni, which already has many Portals, same as other Universities! New negative civilizations move right into the Portals of those places! LM).
Lolade Siyonbola was taking a break from writing an essay when police were called. It seems the story has been told a hundred times before. A white person sees a person of colour doing something they disagree with. They call the police. The videos of the police encounter show up on social media and soon it appears on news outlets across the world. Lolade Siyonbola is a black postgraduate student at Yale University. She shares a common room with other students that live in the same hall of residence. On 8 May, a white student living in the Ivy League university's hall of graduate studies saw Lolade napping on a sofa in the shared room. She called the police. "I had a paper I was working on in the common room," Lolade told the BBC. "I was working on it for much of the day, and I was exhausted so I thought I'd have a nap. "This is normal, you know? People sleep there all the time.
"At 01:45 [local time], I hear someone come into the room. Then the lights come on. I hear someone say 'you're not supposed to be here'. The force with which she was saying it was very loud. She was yelling. She said she could see me clearly from the doorway. I'm just waking up, thinking 'what is happening'? She said 'I'm a resident here, you're not supposed to be sleeping here, you're not supposed to be here, I'm calling the police'." Police officers ask Lolade questions in her Facebook Live video for over 15 minutes. 'This is what happens in America'. Lolade had seen this happen before, so she instinctively knew what to do. She downloaded Facebook onto her phone.
"I installed it to record what I knew was going to happen," she said. "I always said to myself if I had a police encounter I'd record it on Facebook Live. For my safety, I thought that might be the wisest thing - to keep a record of it. I wanted to take any precaution I could." As of Thursday, the video of the police encounter has been viewed more than a million times, with many comments on the video criticising the police response. "I was just frustrated," Lolade said as she recalled the police reaction. "I thought, 'why am I being detained? Why am I being harassed?' "I thought it was absolutely preposterous I was having this conversation with the police when all I was doing was sleeping. "From my perspective and from the perspective of many others who watched the video, they didn't do the right thing. "They were not sure that I should be there, because I'm a black woman at Yale. "Even though I'm there with my laptop open writing a paper. Their bias is what determined how they proceeded. "This is what happens in America. White people think they have licence to use the police as a weapon against people of colour. Police think they need to monitor people of colour. "It's very common." I'm not going to justify my existence here. Lolade Siyonbola. 'It lacked compassion and lacked awareness'. When Yale officials were contacted for comment, they provided a statement which was sent to all postgraduate students at the university. "Incidents like that of last night remind us of the continued work needed to make Yale a truly inclusive place," read a statement from Lynn Cooley, Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. "I am committed to redoubling our efforts to build a supportive community... an essential part of that effort must be a commitment to mutual respect and an open dialogue." But Lolade was not convinced by the response, calling it "very unfortunate". The unique fear of driving while black. The perils of travelling as a young black woman. "I thought it was very vague," she said. "It lacked compassion and lacked a full awareness of what was happening. "There was another message I've seen. It was very specific about what was happening about racial bias, it was much better." She was referring to a statement from Kimberley M Goff-Crews, Yale University's Vice President for Student Life. "We still have so much more to do," said Ms Goff-Crews. "Dean Cooley and I will hold listening sessions with students in the coming days and months. "We remain committed to quickly and appropriately addressing issues of racism and bias on campus." Lolade is currently in Nigeria, visiting her father in Lagos for a family celebration. 'The very fibre of these institutions needs to change'. Despite the international press attention that her Facebook videos have received, Lolade says she has avoided reading what has been written about her. "It's been very overwhelming," she said. "I'm very grateful for the attention it's been getting. "But I really shot the video for my own protection and my safety. This is just what happens to black people in America every day.
"If Yale wants to be a truly inclusive place, the very fibre of these institutions needs to change. I just think this is just a part of a much bigger problem that speaks to who America is as a country."

Ikea pulls out of flagship Lancashire store in Cuerden. 18 May 2018

Ikea served notice to Lancashire County Council saying they no longer wanted to be part of the development. The leader of Lancashire County Council is seeking urgent talks with Ikea after it pulled out of a proposed flagship store of a multimillion-pound scheme. The Swedish furniture giant had started groundworks for the store, which was due to open in 2020 at the £36m Cuerden Strategic Site in South Ribble. Geoff Driver admitted the move put the whole project in jeopardy, but said the site is "still a massive opportunity". Ikea served notice on Thursday, saying the site was "no longer viable".
The store was due to create 350 jobs. Ikea had been due to be one of five large retail units alongside six restaurants, hundreds of houses and almost 2,000 car parking spaces on a 160 acre (0.65 sq km) site near Bamber Bridge. After announcing it no longer wanted to be part of the scheme its property manager, Richard Rands, said: "Our decision is due to increased development costs and delays outside of Ikea's control which no longer make this location viable. The Cuerden development development site includes shops, restaurants and hundreds of houses. "We will continue to look for new sites and opportunities in this area as part of our commitment to expansion in the UK." The store was due to be Ikea's first in Lancashire and, according to the company, the second biggest in the UK. The nearest Ikea outlets are currently in Manchester and Warrington. They will be hoping that other retailers - including the likes of Marks and Spencer, who have signed up to be a part of the development at Cuerden - don't follow suit and pull out. We have already heard senior figures calling on Ikea to reconsider their decision. I wouldn't be surprised if we even see them being offered incentives to make a U-turn.
However, as it stands, the main objective for the developers will be finding a suitable replacement anchor store for the site as quickly as possible.
The leader of South Ribble Borough Council, councillor Mary Green, said: "While I would strongly urge Ikea to continue with their plans for the site, there remains a really strong demand for commercial space in South Ribble, given the excellent links to the motorway networks. "We will be working incredibly hard with Lancashire County Council and our partners in order to continue to bring the Cuerden site forward." Campaign group Limit Cuerden tweeted it was "clearly bad news about lack of jobs", but added it was "hugely relieved about the traffic. Would have caused gridlock in South Ribble with ill-thought traffic plan".

Commonwealth Games: Fifty athletes in Australia 'illegally'. 21 May 2018

Cameroon's Arcangeline Fouodji Sonkbou is one of dozens of competitors and officials who went missing. Around 50 competitors have remained in Australia illegally after going missing during this year's Commonwealth Games, a government official has said. Nearly 200 others hold bridging visas and are applying for refugee status. Australia has warned it will deport those who stay in the country illegally, after dozens of competitors - including many from Africa - disappeared from the competition. The numbers are a dramatic increase on other international sporting events. Malisa Golightly, from the department of home affairs, told a Senate committee on Monday that the government had "had no contact" with the missing athletes, but added: "We know they haven't left." She said that around 190 of the 205 athletes and officials in the country legally are seeking protection visas. The remaining number are applying for business or other visas. Australian media had speculated that anywhere between 20 and 100 athletes had absconded during the Golden Coast Games, which ended on 15 April. They included eight members of Cameroon's delegation, as well as participants from Uganda, Sierra Leone and Rwanda.
Why some Commonwealth Games athletes overstay their visas. Other athletes have disappeared during major international sporting events, although not on this scale. During the London 2012 Olympics, for example, 21 athletes and coaches vanished and many have still not been found. More than 80 also filed for asylum in the same period. And when Australia last held the Commonwealth Games, in 2006, more than 40 athletes and officials overstayed or sought asylum.

The Latest: Cuba says crash survivor dies; toll now at 111

Thessaloniki mayor Yiannis Boutaris beaten up. 20 May 2018

Nationalists were angry that the mayor (far left) was attending a remembrance event. The mayor of Greece's second-largest city Thessaloniki has been treated in hospital after being beaten up by about a dozen people, officials say. Yiannis Boutaris, 75, was kicked in the head and legs and beaten with bottles by a group of nationalists angry over his appearance at a remembrance event. The mayor, who is known for his anti-nationalist views, was attending a ceremony to mark the killing of ethnic Greeks by Turks in World War One. A dozen people approached Mr Boutaris demanding he leave a flag-lowering ceremony in Thessaloniki on Saturday to mark what is known in Greece as the "Pontic Genocide", Thessaloniki city council president Calypso Goula said. Ms Goula, who was also attending the event, described seeing several men throw bottles at Mr Boutaris and kicking the mayor in the head and legs after he had fallen down. "It was a nightmare," Mr Boutaris was quoted by the Greek Reporter website as saying. "There were several people that attacked me. They were hitting me everywhere." The mayor's aides helped to get him away from the attackers, and take him to hospital where he was reportedly kept in overnight. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, in a statement, called the attackers "far-right bullies who have to face the consequences of their actions".
Greece's ruling left-wing Syriza party described it as a "fascist attempt to target and intimidate" the mayor. The main opposition party, New Democracy, also condemned the attack and called on the perpetrators to be "arrested immediately".

India's Karnataka swears in chief minister amid furore. 17 May 2018

(до того запутанная политическая фигня в этой статье и в Индии, без пол-бутылки не разберёшься! Явно писал alien. ЛМ)
BS Yeddyurappa was sworn in as chief minister on Thursday. BS Yeddyurappa from India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been sworn in as the new chief minister of the southern state of Karnataka. The move has sparked criticism from the opposition which says that the BJP does not have the required number of seats. Although the BJP emerged as the single largest party, it fell short of a majority. But it was invited to form the government by the state governor. Opposition parties have challenged his decision in the Supreme Court. The judges, who met early on Thursday to hear the case, are expected to decide on the validity of the swearing-in on Friday morning. The main opposition Congress party has staked a claim to form the government. It is the second largest party and it has declared an alliance with a regional party, Janata Dal (S), which won enough seats to give their coalition a slim majority in the new assembly. The two parties had asked the governor, Vajubhai Vala, to allow their coalition to prove its majority. But Mr Vala invited Mr Yeddyurappa to form the government on Wednesday evening and gave him 15 days to prove his majority on the floor of the house. Correspondents say the BJP could try to woo rebels in Congress and Janata Dal to give it a majority. The BJP won 104 of the 222 seats that went to polls at the weekend, but fell short of a majority by eight seats. The Congress won 78 seats while the Janata Dal (S) finished third with 37 seats - the combined total would just about push them past the 112 majority mark needed to form a government. Analysts believe losing Karnataka would be a major blow for Congress which rules only three of India's 29 states. The BJP and its allies are in power in 21.

The Indian lawmakers being guarded in 'secret locations'. So who won the election? Nobody - that's the problem. 18 May 2018

(Правительства в Индии давно уже нет - There is no government in India now and it's not a problem! LM)
Many lawmakers were last seen in this bus. India's Supreme Court has intervened after an election in the southern state of Karnataka led to a political crisis. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which won the most seats in the recently concluded poll, rushed to swear in a chief minister although it did not have the numbers for a majority. This led to a stand-off with two opposition parties who cobbled together an alliance that gave them the numbers.
The state governor had allowed the BJP 15 days to prove their majority. But amid massive outcry, the Supreme Court overruled him, and reduced the 15-day window to 24 hours. The BJP now have until 1600 (1030 GMT) on Saturday to try and win over eight members from the opposition alliance to form the government. The opposition parties have responded by hiding away their newly-elected lawmakers, and Indians are captivated by the drama that is unfolding on their television screens. Here is a quick guide to what has been happening so far: So who won the election? Nobody - that's the problem.
The BJP emerged as the single largest party, but it fell short of a majority by eight seats. Even as the election results were being announced on Tuesday evening, the Congress rushed to ally itself with a regional party, Janata Dal (Secular) or JD (S). Within hours, they had declared an alliance. Together, they have enough seats to give their coalition a slim majority in the new assembly. But Karnataka's governor Vajubhai Vala invited the BJP to form the government and even allowed their candidate, BS Yeddyurappa, to be sworn-in as chief minister. His controversial decision has led to a major standoff, with many saying it is a violation of the constitution. This is where it gets confusing. There is no clear course of action for what must be done in the case of a hung assembly. In some instances, the single largest party has been invited to form the government, with the condition that it must then prove its majority on the floor of the house. But there have also been instances when coalitions that have the required number of seats have been invited instead. This is what happened after recent elections in in the states of Goa and Manipur - the Congress had emerged as the single-largest party in both polls, but had fallen short of a majority. So there are precedents that can be used to support both points of view. What happens next? That depends on whether the BJP can prove its majority on Saturday. Opposition parties approached the Supreme Court after the governor invited the BJP to form the government on Wednesday evening. The BJP emerged as the single largest party but fell short of a majority. They asked the court to stop Mr Yeddyurappa from being sworn-in as chief minister but the court refused. Friday morning's ruling however, is being seen as a setback for the BJP. So where are the lawmakers from both parties now? It's hard to say. Television news has shown lawmakers from the Congress and JD (S) being herded into luxury Volvo buses and taken to remote resorts - allegedly to keep them from being "bribed" by the BJP. H.D. Kumaraswamy, a leader of the JD (S), accused the BJP of having offered $15m each to as many as 32 lawmakers. Rumours are also flying fast. Some reports have said Congress lawmakers have flown to the southern city of Hyderabad, while JD (S) has flown its lawmakers to a city in the neighbouring state of Kerala; news flashes have said the parties had tried chartering planes to fly lawmakers to "secret" locations but these flights were allegedly cancelled by government officials. There have also been unconfirmed reports of some lawmakers who have gone "missing". Is this normal? Surprisingly, yes. Parties that are just shy of a majority are routinely accused of bribing lawmakers with large sums of money and making them switch allegiances. Allegations and rumours about this are so common that they have become the butt of jokes. One Twitter user asked Amazon for "help ASAP" with what he described as "some shopping issues" - he wanted the "best deal" to buy seven lawmakers as a "gift" for BJP party president Amit Shah. Over the years, lawmakers have become notorious for what Indians call "resort politics" - that is, they literally gather in resorts where they allegedly attempt buying off lawmakers from rival parties while watching over their own party members so they are not persuaded to jump ship. Most Indian cities have hotels and resorts that have earned a place in local history as the alleged venues of such deals. One of the reasons this happens is the large number of regional parties, which results in hung assemblies. So parties scrape together coalitions to muster enough support for a majority in the house.

How Venezuela's crisis developed and worsened. 21 May 2018

Nicolás Maduro has won a second six-year term in office. President Nicolás Maduro has been elected to a second six-year term in office amid allegations by the international community and Venezuela's opposition that the polls were neither free nor fair. His victory comes amid a deep economic crisis which has been driving hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans from the South American country. What has caused the crisis and deep divisions that are plaguing Venezuela? What's at the root of Venezuela's economic crisis? Venezuela is rich in oil. It has the largest proven oil reserves in the world. But it is arguably precisely this wealth that is also at the root of many of its economic problems. Venezuela's state-run oil company PDVSA was once a cash cow for the government. Venezuela's oil revenues account for about 95% of its export earnings. This means that when oil prices were high, a lot of money was flowing into the coffers of the Venezuelan government. When socialist President Hugo Chávez was in power, from February 1999 until his death in March 2013, he used some of that money to finance generous social programmes to reduce inequality and poverty. Two million homes have been created through a socialist government programme called Misión Vivienda (Housing Mission), according to official figures. But when oil prices dropped sharply in 2014, the government was suddenly faced with a gaping hole in its finances and had to cut back on some of its most popular programmes. Is its overreliance on oil Venezuela's only problem? No, many of the policies introduced by Hugo Chávez also backfired. In order to make basic goods more affordable to the poor, his administration introduced price controls - capping the money people pay for such staples as flour, cooking oil and toiletries. Shortages are so bad some families are struggling to feed themselves. But this meant that many companies no longer found it profitable to produce these items, driving them out of business. This, combined with a lack of foreign currency to import the staples, led to shortages. Venezuela pill shortage triggers rise in teenage pregnancies. Venezuelan hospitals at breakage point. How people live in cash-strapped Venezuela. The Chávez administration had decided in 2003 to take control of the foreign currency exchange. Since then, Venezuelans wanting to exchange the local currency, the bolívar, for dollars have had to apply to a government-run currency agency. Only those deemed to have valid reasons to buy dollars, for example to import goods, have been allowed to change their bolivares at a fixed rate set by the government. With many Venezuelans unable to freely buy dollars, the black market flourished and inflation rose. How did inflation spiral out of control? Venezuela's annual inflation rate is currently the world's highest and there seems to be no respite in sight. Venezuelan cash crisis: How a coffee costs wads of banknotes. Venezuela's Central Bank has not published inflation figures since 2015 but economist Steve Hanke from Johns Hopkins University calculated it rose to almost 18,000% in April. Hyperinflation has been driven up by the government's willingness to print extra money and its readiness to regularly increase the minimum wage in an effort to regain some of its popularity with Venezuela's poor. The government is also increasingly struggling to get credit after it defaulted on some of its government bonds. With creditors less likely to take the risk of investing in Venezuela, the government has again taken to printing more money, further undermining its value and stoking inflation. So how did President Maduro get elected in 2013 and re-elected now? Before Hugo Chávez died of cancer in 2013, he had handpicked Nicolás Maduro as his successor.
Venezuela's leader Nicolás Maduro divides opinion. Mr Maduro led the country while President Maduro was receiving treatment in Cuba. Hugo Chávez died of cancer in 2013. Shortly after President Chávez's death, Mr Maduro narrowly beat the opposition candidate Henrique Capriles on a promise to continue Mr Chavez's policies. But Mr Maduro has proven less popular than his predecessor and divisions between those who still support his United Socialist Party (PSUV) and those who cannot wait for a change of government have been growing. There is still a loyal core of people who support the party and who say Venezuela's problems are caused not by the government but by imperialist forces such as the US. They are above all those who directly benefited from the government's social programmes and who argue that, despite the shortages, they are still better off now than before the PSUV came to power in 1999. President Maduro has a hard core of loyal supporters. There are also many former supporters of the party who have become disillusioned but who say they were swayed by the promise of benefits if they did vote for President Maduro again. Others, government employees among them, alleged they had been coerced to vote for Mr Maduro by threats that they could otherwise lose their jobs. Mr Maduro's chances were also boosted by the lack of a popular opposition candidate to confront him.
The opposition MUD coalition decided to boycott the election, alleging that previous polls had been rigged. Only one candidate, Henri Falcón, ignored the boycott but was widely labelled a "traitor" for doing so. With turnout at a historical low, he fell far short of Mr Maduro's 68% of the vote, something Mr Falcón alleged was due to fraud. Any light on the horizon?
Oil prices have been rising and should inject much-needed cash into the government's coffers. But a lack of investment in its infrastructure means state-owned oil company PDVSA's output has dwindled, making it harder for it to recover. Add to that the fact that hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have left the country, causing a massive brain drain, and prospects are not looking very bright. Why mums-to-be are fleeing Venezuela. Widespread allegations of corruption and the government's hostile attitude towards private businesses have also alienated potential foreign investors. A number of countries have already said they will not recognise the new government, among them Brazil, Canada, Chile and Panama. But what could really put the screws on the Venezuelan government would be US sanctions on Venezuela's oil industry. With the US calling the elections a "sham", they may not be far off.

Venezuelans contemplate their future after Maduro's win. 22 May 2018

Venezuelans of all ages are leaving the country. The scene at Caracas bus stations tell you all you need to know about what people think of politics here. Every day, families are packing up their lives in search of some kind of future abroad. Claudia Blanco hugs her parents tightly. Goodbyes are never easy, but if you do not know when the next hello will be, it is all the more painful. After dropping her off at the bus station, her parents drive off, their eyes red from crying. Ms Blanco is a 29-year-old nurse. She left Venezuela for Panama two years ago with her husband Víctor but came back to get her younger sister Coraima who has just graduated as an industrial engineer. New life awaits. The three are on their way to the Colombian border. From there, they will travel on to Chile. They think with a strong economy, they will have more luck finding work there. Victor, Claudia and Coraima are leaving Venezuela for what they hope will be a better life in Chile. "Our family understands," Claudia says, between tears. "They support us 100%. They know it's better to leave because there's no future for us here." Venezuela pill shortage triggers rise in teenage pregnancies. Venezuelan hospitals at breakage point. How people live in cash-strapped Venezuela. Her husband Víctor is angry about Sunday's presidential election which saw the incumbent president, Nicolás Maduro, elected to another six-year term amid allegations of fraud by the opposition. "It was a farce," he says. Víctor says that Venezuela's economic crisis and the shortages of staple goods have affected directly him and Claudia. "We can't have a baby because we can't afford nappies or milk - we've delayed our future because of the situation here." Destination unknown. Across the road, Chreison Berros and his cousin Arturo are sitting reading the paper with their bags beside them. Chreison and Arturo are heading to Colombia. They say that they do not know where they will go but neither do they care: they just want to head to the border but all the tickets are sold out. I ask Chreison how he feels about President Maduro's victory. "Mr Maduro won and now we're leaving, how do you think I feel?" He has left his mother, wife and three children behind to see if he can find work in Cúcuta, a city just across the Colombian border and the entry point for hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans leaving their country. "The hardest part of this for me is not being able to hug my three kids - seeing pictures just isn't the same," he says. María Becerra has been working outside the bus station for years. She has a little stand with four telephones that she rents out to people who need to make a call. María Becerra says she has never seen so many people looking to leave the country. She says she has never seen so many people coming to the terminal. "This isn't Narnia, this is Venezuela," she says. "People wait for three, four, five days to get hold of a ticket. They sleep in the streets. I wish a country would come along and take them [the government] out in one go. If you kill the dog, the rabies stops." Demise of an oil giant. While it is estimated that 5,000 Venezuelans are leaving every day, many more do not even have that option. In a country where vast oil wealth once flowed, many people are trying to eke out a living from what is left. The muddy grey waters of the River Guaire run through Caracas and in them, an increasing number of people searching for treasures. Douglas Guevara sifts through the silt looking for anything valuable he can sell. Douglas Guevara has been working in this river for 14 years. "When I started, there were about six people, now with the crisis, there are 100," he says. With the head of a broom, he scoops up handfuls of rubble from the river bed. It is thin pickings though. There are lots of coins among the material he has got in his hand. They used to be worth something but with hyperinflation of more than 13,000%, they are probably worth less than the sediment itself. Douglas is on the lookout for silver and gold instead. Another boy points out an earring backing he has found. It is a piece of metal that could change his day. On a good day, Mr Guevara can earn as much as 1m bolivares. But what sounds like a fortune is only worth $1.30 on the black market. Bleak future
With no change in government, the downward slide into greater economic and social misery is only expected to quicken and those at the bottom of the pile will suffer the most. Groups of boys survive on the streets of Caracas by begging for food I meet a group of boys waiting outside a pharmacy in the neighbourhood of Las Mercedes. The youngest is just seven years old. When dusk falls, their work begins, begging for something to eat. "Lots of people used to come in their cars to drop off food," says eight-year old José Ángel. He is wearing a baseball cap, shorts and t-shirt and has not had a wash for days. "With the crisis, fewer people can afford to be generous," he explains. Every month their little group is joined by new boys, 10-year-old Rafael tells me. They are all friends but there are invisible boundaries here and straying across one can be dangerous. Just a few weeks ago, one of their group was killed when he strayed into the Chacao neighbourhood. He was beaten to death. He was just 11 years old. For a boy of his age, Rafael knows a lot about politics. "People are going hungry and Mr Maduro doesn't help them," he says. "People just vote for him for the benefits they get," he says referring to the socialist government's programmes which provide housing to the poor, among other things. But how long those benefits will last, with international pressure and sanctions building up, is hard to guess.What is certain though is that these little boys never had much of a future, and it is looking far less hopeful now.

Zuckerberg's European Parliament testimony criticised. 23 May 2018

Mr Zuckerberg stayed beyond the allotted 75 minutes but did not answer all questions put to him. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has apologised to EU lawmakers for the company's role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal and for allowing fake news to proliferate on its platform. Mr Zuckerberg apologised for Facebook's tools being used "for harm". But his testimony did not please all MEPs at the meeting, some of whom felt he had dodged their questions.
One leading UK politician later said the session at the European Parliament had been a "missed opportunity". "Unfortunately the format of questioning allowed Mr Zuckerberg to cherry-pick his responses and not respond to each individual point," said Damian Collins, chair of the UK Parliament's Digital Culture Media and Sport Committee. The format was very different from that of Mr Zuckerberg's testimony to US lawmakers in April. Mr Zuckerberg met European Parliament President Antonio Tajani before the Q&A session. While the US politicians took turns to cross-examine the Facebook chief in a series of back-and-forth exchanges, the leaders of the European Parliament's various political groups each asked several questions apiece. The tech chief had to wait until they were all delivered before responding. Mr Zuckerberg spent 22 minutes going through the huge number of questions put to him during the session and was able to pick and choose which to give answers to. Several of the politicians expressed frustration at this, and one accused Mr Zuckerberg of having "asked for this format for a reason". A spokesman for Facebook later contacted the BBC to say it had not chosen the structure. This was subsequently confirmed by the parliament's president, Antonio Tajani. In a follow-up press conference, Mr Tajani added that the MEPs had been aware Mr Zuckerberg's time was limited yet had decided to use up much of the allotted period speaking themselves. He also drew attention to the fact that the chief executive had agreed to provide follow-up written answers. Unaddressed topics
Mr Zuckerberg did not address questions about whether Facebook was a monopoly and how it plans to use data from its WhatsApp division. Nor did he directly answer questions about shadow profiles or whether non-Facebook users' data should be collected. Guy Verhofstadt had threatened not to attend when the event was set to be restricted from public view. Several of the MEPs had also voiced scepticism about the business. Guy Verhofstadt MEP had asked Mr Zuckerberg if he wanted to be remembered as "the genius who created a digital monster", which the Facebook boss did not answer. British MEP and leading Brexiteer Nigel Farage expressed his view that Facebook was not a politically neutral platform, asking whether the social network "wilfully discriminated" against right-of-centre commentators. Mr Zuckerberg did respond to this point, saying Facebook had "never made a decision about what content was allowed on the basis of political orientation". Tackling other questions, he also said he expected to find other apps that had misused customer data and pointed out that an internal investigation into thousands of third-party developers to see if there similar cases to the Cambridge Analytica scandal would take "many months". So far, he said, Facebook had suspended more than 200 apps. The European Parliament has been left wanting more. The format of the meeting meant that rather than tackle specific concerns - particularly about the tracking of non-Facebook users - Mr Zuckerberg was able to group the questions into broad areas. That meant he could give broad answers. Reading any blog from the company published in the past three months would give you much the same information as we heard today.
This clearly angered several MEPs, who expressed frustration over what they saw as insufficient responses to their concerns. Then again, how detailed can you be when you have been given less than half an hour to answer huge, almost existential, questions?
Facebook is under close examination, but maybe so too should be the way politicians question these incredibly powerful figures. If you're following along, here's a scorecard for Mr Zuckerberg's "tough" committee appearances: Congress achieved little, Europe even less.'Committed to Europe'. The meeting between Mr Zuckerberg and the European Parliament's political group leaders had originally been planned to be held in private. But that sparked a wave of criticism resulting it being livestreamed via the web. One popular topic among the MEPs was an imminent shake-up of data privacy rules. Nigel Farage challenged Facebook's claims to impartiality. Facebook recently transferred 1.5 billion of its international users from the jurisdiction of its European headquarters, in Ireland, to that of its US headquarters, with some speculating this was to avoid costly legal action resulting from breaches of the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The sweeping changes to data laws will give consumers much more control over how their personal details are used. Several of the MEPs challenged Mr Zuckerberg over whether he was truly committed to obeying the regulation. WATCH: What is GDPR? He responded that he expected Facebook would be fully compliant with the law by the time it came into force on Friday. He added that the app had already presented European members with the revised settings required and "a large percentage" of the users had already reviewed them. UK MPs are keen to pose their own questions to Mr Zuckerberg about the Cambridge Analytica scandal but the Facebook founder has so far declined to make a trip to the UK.

Sweden sends out leaflets on how to prepare for war. 22 May 2018

The leaflet suggests having candles and tea lights at the ready in case the electricity supply fails. Salmon balls, tea lights and wet wipes. These are just some of the things Sweden has advised every household to stock up on in the case of war. Its government has sent leaflets to 4.7 million households explaining how to best prepare for various major crises. These include terror and cyber-attacks, natural disasters, serious accidents and military conflicts. Those who prepare improve "the ability of the country as a whole to cope with a major strain", the booklet reads. "Think about how you and people around you will be able to cope with a situation in which society's normal services are not working as they usually do," it adds. The leaflet, which is entitled If Crisis or War Comes, has been distributed amid concerns over Russia's military activities and the rise of terrorism and fake news.
Under a section called "home preparedness tips", there is an eclectic list of some of the key items it says every household should have access to.
It stresses the importance of having non-perishable food "that requires little water or can be eaten without preparation", such as: Bread with a long shelf-life (eg tortillas and crackers). The leaflet advises households to stock up on foods with a long shelf life, such as rice and jam
The leaflet also warns that, in a major crisis, the electricity supply may fail meaning your home will quickly become cold. "Gather together in one room, hang blankets over the windows, cover the floor with rugs and build a den under a table to keep warm," it advises. If there is no electricity, it says people should prepare to keep warm and stay informed when communications systems are no longer working. Households can do so by having: Woollen clothes, Sleeping bags, Candles and tea lights, A radio powered by batteries, solar cells or winding, A list of important telephone numbers, A mobile phone charger that works in the car. Similar instructions were distributed during World War Two, but printing ceased in the 1980s, according to local media. The leaflet also includes advice on how to spot propaganda, find a bomb shelter and get clean water. Pages from the leaflet explaining Sweden's air raid warning system and public shelters. How have other countries prepared? Numerous governments have issued advice on how to best prepare for a major crisis or even war in recent years. In 2016, Germany advised people to stockpile food and water for use in a national emergency. It suggested storing enough food to last for 10 days as well as five days' worth of water. It was the first time since the Cold War the German government had issued this kind of advice, and some opposition MPs accused it of scaremongering. Also in 2016, Lithuania told its citizens what to do in the event of a Russian invasion. Its booklet included guides to spotting Russian tanks as well as surviving in the wild. Moscow's relations with its Baltic neighbours have deteriorated since 2014, when it annexed Crimea from Ukraine. In recent years, Sweden has increased its military spending, citing the deteriorating security situation in Europe, particularly in light of Russia's role in the conflict in Ukraine. In 2016, it restored a troop presence on the strategic Baltic island of Gotland amid concerns over military drills by Moscow, and has debated whether to move closer to the Nato military alliance. It also reintroduced military conscription last year.

Mark&Spencer to close 100 stores by 2022. 22 May 2018
Marks and Spencer plans to close 100 stores by 2022, accelerating a reorganisation that it says is "vital" for the retailer's future. Of the 100 stores, 21 have already been shut and M&S has now revealed the location of 14 further sites to close. Under its plan, M&S wants to move a third of its sales online and plans to have fewer, larger clothing and homeware stores in better locations. The latest closures will affect a total of 872 employees. "Closing stores isn't easy but it is vital for the future of M&S," said Sacha Berendji, its retail operations director. He said that where stores have already closed, "encouraging" numbers of consumers were now shopping at nearby stores. The company has just over 1,000 UK stores. The 14 M&S stores affected are: Bayswater, Fleetwood (outlet store) and Newton Abbot (outlet store), which are all due to close by the end of July 2018. Darlington, East Kilbride, Falkirk, Kettering, Newmarket, New Mersey Speke, Northampton, Stockton and Walsall, which are proposed for closure. Since M&S first announced its closure programme in November 2016, 18 stores have shut and three have been relocated. The 18 closures were in Andover, Basildon, Birkenhead, Bournemouth, Bridlington, London Covent Garden, Dover, Durham, Fareham, Forestfach, Keighley, Portsmouth, London Putney, Redditch, Slough, Stockport, Warrington and Wokingham. M&S store closures are always big news, especially for the towns where the shops have been reassuring fixtures on the high street for decades. This latest wave of closures will feel like a body blow to locations that are already under pressure. But the hard truth is that M&S has more stores than it needs, given our changing shopping habits. Many experts believe that closing a large swathe of stores is a tough but necessary step. One key question is: will those lost fashion and home sales be recaptured online or in the fewer but better physical locations in the future?
M&S says there are encouraging signs from towns such as Warrington where it closed a town centre store, but shoppers have since flocked to its new outlet in a retail park. But this business still has a massive task in reviving its fortunes and tomorrow's annual results will be further proof of that.
Retail veteran Archie Norman, who took over as M&S chairman last year, said the retailer has been "drifting" and promised to speed up changes.
Those changes included scaling back ambitions for its Simply Food chain. It had intended to open 40 stores this financial year, but has cut that number to 25. "M&S is repositioning itself for the new retail world," said Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at stockbrokers Hargreaves Lansdown. "Having a huge store estate is no longer the powerful retail force that it once was." Retail crisis forces hundreds of closures. Six reasons behind the High Street crisis. The retailer is trying to spur growth after disappointing trading over the Christmas period. In the three months to 30 December, M&S said like-for-like sales fell at its food business, where sales had been rising, as well as at its clothing and homeware division. Investors will be looking for evidence of improvement in the company's annual results on Wednesday. Analysts are expecting pre-tax profits of £573m, which would be down from £613m in the previous financial year. M&S shares were down 2.6% at 292p in afternoon trading on Tuesday. They had been worth almost 400p a year ago.
Maureen Hinton, from analytics firm GlobalData, said M&S was "perilously close" to losing its top spot in the UK clothing market to Primark.
GlobalData has forecast that its clothing market share will be 7.6% this year - almost halving in two decades - despite opening more stores selling clothing, homewares and food under the one roof.'To make its space more productive M&S has to produce a compelling offer showcased in an inspiring environment," Ms Hinton said."Closing stores will make its space more productive and help to improve profitability, but it still has not solved its fundamental problem: top-line growth."

Bodycam shows moment police arrived at Trump resort shooting. Florida police have released video of officers arriving at the scene of the shooting at President Donald Trump's golf resort near Miami. The incident on Friday led to the gunman, identified as 42-year-old Jonathan Oddi, being shot in the legs before his arrest. 22 May 2018

Goldstein Investigation: City Sells Off Yacht For Fraction Of What It Cost Taxpayers. Jan 6, 2016. Tis is a story of how the city turned a $4.1 million yacht into a $100,000 boat. David Goldstein investigates.

Denmark ANOMALY "Can't Be Explained". May 29, 2018

"HUMAN-Eating" Robots Secretly Deployed? May 16, 2018

SCARY CONNECTION To Underground Booms? May 27, 2018.

The Real Reason Subway Is Disappearing Across The Country  May 30, 2018

Chelsea football club owner's visa expired three weeks ago. The BBC's home affairs correspondent Daniel Sandford says Roman Abramovich's private plane left the UK on 1 April and has since been in Moscow, Monaco, Switzerland and New York but not back to the UK. He says the delay in renewing Mr Abramovich's visa could be linked to tensions between London and Moscow in the aftermath of the Sergei Skripal poisoning. Equally, he says it could be down to "unexpected red tape". 21 May 2018

Australian minister Greg Hunt accused of misogyny - 31 May 2018

Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt has apologised for using "strong language". An Australian government minister has apologised for swearing repeatedly at the mayor of a Northern Territory town. Health Minister Greg Hunt said he was wrong to use "strong language" during a private conversation with Katherine Mayor Fay Miller in December. Ms Miller also accused him of wagging his finger in her face. She called his manner "misogynist", an assertion to which Mr Hunt has not responded. The pair had been discussing funding arrangements for a local health scare. During the conversation, Ms Miller said Mr Hunt's tone changed after she had asked him for more federal resources. "I turned on a switch of some sort because he relocated his chair, pointing towards me," she told reporters on Thursday. She said Mr Hunt then swore at her and told her to "get over it". "And then [he said] more sentences with rude words in them. I did not move because I was absolutely gobsmacked." She added that the minister "sat back a little in his chair and said, 'I've heard you're feisty'." Mr Hunt, sometimes discussed as a future leadership aspirant, said he "sincerely" regretted his language. He said his apology should have come sooner. "It was my fault and my responsibility," Mr Hunt told reporters on Thursday. "I accept that and I think it is important for me to both repeat that I have apologised to the mayor but to repeat that apology publicly." His apology came before Ms Miller accused him of misogyny.
'Misogyny' and Australian politics
In 2012, then Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard famously accused her opposition counterpart, Tony Abbott, of misogyny in a speech in parliament.
It prompted the nation's leading dictionary to update its definition of the word from "hatred of women" to ''entrenched prejudice against women''.
"We decided that we had the basic definition, hatred of women, but that's not how misogyny has been used for about the last 20, 30 years, particularly in feminist language," Macquarie Dictionary editor Sue Butler said at the time. What Julia Gillard did for Australia and sexism. The topic of the conversation between Mr Hunt and Ms Miller had been a recent leak of chemicals at an army base near Katherine. The contamination, caused by toxic firefighting foam, sparked fears that water supplies in the town of about 11,000 people may have been compromised. The Australian government set aside A$5.7m (£3.2m; $4.3m) in December for a community support package.

Australia alert after ship loses 83 containers. 2 June 2018

The Taiwanese-owned ship got into difficulty in a heavy swell in the Tasman Sea on Thursday. Maritime authorities in Australia have issued an alert after 83 shipping containers fell from a vessel off the coast of New South Wales. Sanitary products, surgical masks and nappies have begun washing up on beaches north of Sydney. There are concerns the items could prove dangerous to whales and other animals if they swallow them. The containers tumbled off a Taiwanese-owned ship in a heavy swell in the Tasman Sea on Thursday. Video showed some containers split open and hanging from the ship. Thirty were damaged. Are ships more polluting than Germany? Some partly submerged containers pose a threat to leisure boats and commercial shipping. "They're 40-ft containers, they sit about a foot or two off the water. Even in the best of conditions they're difficult to spot, but at night and in a swell, almost impossible," Roads and Maritime Services executive director Angus Mitchell said. The vessel, Liberia-registered YM Efficiency, was en route from Taiwan to Port Botany when it encountered the five-metre swell.

Commonwealth Bank offers to pay record fine in laundering case. 4 June 2018
Australia's Commonwealth Bank has faced a series of scandals. Australia's Commonwealth Bank has said it will pay a $700m (£400m; $530m) fine for breaching anti-money laundering and counter-terror financing laws. The scandal relates to 53,000 suspect transactions that the bank did not immediately report to authorities. Last year, Australia's financial intelligence agency accused the lender of "serious and systemic" law breaches. If a court approves the fine, it will be the largest civil penalty in Australian corporate history. The bank, Australia's largest lender, said it would also cover A$2.5m in legal fees accrued by investigators. "While not deliberate, we fully appreciate the seriousness of the mistakes we made," chief executive Matt Comyn said on Monday. Australia's scandal-plagued financial sector is at the centre of a national inquiry into misconduct. Undeclared deposits. Commonwealth Bank and intelligence agency Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (Austrac) agreed to the fine following court-ordered mediation. Most of the breaches related to the bank's deposit machines, which could accept up to A$20,000 in cash at a time, anonymously if the person depositing was not a Commonwealth customer. The bank failed to meet deadlines for reporting transactions over the legal threshold of A$10,000, according to Austrac. Commonwealth Bank said the breaches were due to a coding error, which meant the machines failed to automatically report the transactions. Why is Australia investigating its banks? Commonwealth Bank charged fees to dead clients. Banking giants in 'criminal cartel'. On Monday, Austrac said the settlement agreement showed that such breaches would not be tolerated. "This [corporate behaviour] has real impacts on the everyday lives of Australians and puts the community at risk by increasing opportunities for terrorists to support attacks here and overseas, and enabling organised crime groups to peddle drugs to our families and friends," said chief executive Nicole Rose. Both parties will now return to the Federal Court of Australia to seek formal approval. Scandal-hit sector. Australia's banking and financial services sector has been rocked by a series of scandals over the last decade. In December, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull established a royal commission inquiry to investigate the scale of wrongdoing. Among allegations to hit Commonwealth Bank, the inquiry heard that the lender had collected fees from customers it knew had died. In May, the bank also admitted to losing the bank records of almost 20 million people. The lender has also been investigated over whether it adequately informed shareholders about all potential liabilities related to the anti-money laundering case. Former chief executive Ian Narev brought forward his retirement last year as the bank faced pressure over the scandal.

David Morgan June 4, 2018 The Market Crash Begins. Economic Collapse Of America 2018.

George Soros Warns of Economic Collapse. May 29,2018

The Turkish Lira Is CRASHING! - What Does This Mean For Turkey? May 27, 2018. Josh Sigurdson talks with author and economic analyst John Sneisen about the terrible state of the Turkish Lira. As the Lira is about 17% weaker than it was at the beginning of the year, Erdogan and Turkey's central bank is raising interest rates. The late liquidity window rate has been hiked to 16.5% at a recent emergency meeting. The Lira has fallen to a record low after falling 5.2%. Turkey's central bank is attempting to do some "monetary tightening" but this is quite futile. This was bound to happen. All fiat currency eventually reverts to its true value of zero. It always has, it always will, going back to 1024AD in China. The monetary tightening is simply more centralization piled on top of already extreme centralization. It will postpone the crash all while making it worse. As John mentions, it appears that Erdogan is hoping for a new Ottoman Empire. Of course we can't lay off blame on the west and the combination of other NATO countries entangled in foreign affairs, but central planning is central planning and it will always end up in a crisis.

PANIC At Deutsche Bank As Shares Hit ALL TIME LOW - Bank WILL Crash! Jun 2, 2018. Josh Sigurdson talks with author and economic analyst John Sneisen about the most recent crisis at Deutsche Bank. The bank just had to lay off 10,000 employees. That's 1 in 10 employees! Under the current "restructuring plan" at Deutsche Bank, the S&P just downgraded the bank's credit rating to BBB+ from A-. The Federal Reserve put Deutsche Bank's U.S. operations on the secret probation list. Well now, Deutsche Bank's share price has hit an all time low! The bank fell 7.2%! This is just a week after we at WAM reported on the crashing share price of Deutsche Bank, it just won't stop falling! Interestingly, this also comes a few days after we reported that all major banks are in the red year to date after JP Morgan finally broke their artificial bull market. All of the banks are insolvent. None of them recovered in 2008. The cash to deposit ratio illustrates that. It's up to individuals to understand money, understand that if your money's in the bank, it's not yours, it's the bank's. It's up to individuals to prepare themselves and of course be self sustainable. Decentralizing and looking outside of the banking system and government will provide security and wealth without the servitude and debt.

Gerald Celente June 3, 2018 The Market Crash Begins. Economic Collapse Of America 2018. Jun 2, 2018

Visa says service returning to normal. 1 June 2018
A Sainsbury's store in Vauxhall, London, is not taking card payments. Visa says its service is "close to normal" again following a system failure which left customers across Europe unable to make some purchases. The company apologised and said it had no reason to believe the hardware failure was down to "any unauthorised access or malicious event". Its statement came five hours after it had initially acknowledged the problem. Shoppers had reported being stuck in queues as Visa transactions were unable to be processed. Payment processing through Visa's systems accounts for £1 in £3 of all UK spending, the company said. Customer choice under threat at Britain's banks. Visa considers cashless scheme for UK. Why cash is king: Five situations where cards don't cut it. Jay Curtis, from Swansea, had two cards declined in B&Q when he tried to pay for £240 worth of goods. "My card just wouldn't go through," the 32-year-old told the BBC. "I didn't have cash on me so I had to drive all the way home." Labour MP Angela Rayner seems to be among those affected, tweeting that she had to leave her local petrol station without paying. Elle Gibbs-Murray, from Bridgend, said she was stuck in traffic on the Severn Bridge for 45 minutes as drivers were unable to pay the toll by card. Adam is one of many unable to use their Visa payment card. Adam, from Manchester, is a on a canal boat holiday with his girlfriend, Rach, and he was unable to use his card. The 26-year-old said: "We have spent all day boating to moor up at a riverside pub in Kidlington for a birthday meal only to find the visa payments are not working. Having only £20 between us we have had to opt for a birthday drink instead. "[There is] no cash point for miles around and no car as we are on the canal boat." In Berlin's Alexanderplatz, customers at Primark complained of having to queue for 20 minutes to pay and staff there could not explain the reasons why transactions were failing. Deborah says she was embarrassed she couldn't pay for her meal. Deborah Elder, from Glasgow, was unable to pay her restaurant bill while she was waiting at Frankfurt airport to fly back to Toulouse. She said: "I was so embarrassed. I gave the waiter the 14 euros I had left. "I'm worried I won't be able to get home when I land in Toulouse as I have no cash for a taxi." Supermarket Tesco said chip and pin payments were not affected, but contactless payments were. Sainsbury's also said it had experienced problems. We are aware some customers are experiencing Visa debit card issues. This is impacting multiple banks across Europe. We will update when we know more. Cash withdrawals can be made at any BOI ATM. Consumer advocacy group Which? advised people to keep evidence of extra expenses incurred in order to claim them back in the future. "Visa and the banks need to ensure no-one is left out of pocket due to this outage," said Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home products and services.A Visa spokesman said the system failure had "impacted customers across Europe" and the company apologised for falling "well short" of its reliability goal.

Venezuela frees 40 jailed activists and politicians. 3 June 2018
Former San Cristobal mayor Daniel Ceballos was among those freed. The Venezuelan government has released another 40 opposition politicians and activists, bringing to 79 the number of people freed in the past two days. Communication Minister Jorge Rodriguez said the government was reviewing other dissidents' cases. He said it was a goodwill gesture to help ease tensions. The announcement comes after the re-election of President Nicolas Maduro to a new six-year term last month. The opposition boycotted the poll. Many countries did not recognise the result. Fourteen countries including Argentina, Brazil and Canada recalled their ambassadors from Caracas in protest. The Venezuelans who've had enough. Those released on Friday and Saturday include politicians, the son of a dissident former general, a former army general who took to the roof of his house with an assault rifle in defiance of an arrest warrant and the former mayor of the city of San Cristobal. Many had taken part in protests against Mr Maduro in 2014 and again in 2017; about 170 people died in clashes. Many of those released had taken part in protests against Mr Maduro. Opposition leader Julio Borges tweeted that they "should never have been in prison". "There is nothing to thank the dictatorship for," he added. All those freed have all been banned from using social media or travelling abroad. The opposition says about 300 people remain in jail on charges that they say are designed to stifle dissent. Among those considered political prisoners by the opposition is one of Mr Maduro's best known critics, Leopoldo Lopez. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison after being found guilty of incitement to violence during protests in 2014. Last year he was placed under house arrest for "health reasons" and was one of two people barred from standing against Mr Maduro in last month's election. The US has said Mr Maduro is a "dictator" and has imposed sanctions on Venezuela. Mr Maduro says his opponents are waging an "economic war" against him. Venezuela is five years into an economic crisis, suffering from hyperinflation and severe shortages in food and medicine.

France: Tension rises as migrants brave the Alps. Jun 1, 2018. Over a nearly two year period, more than 3,500 migrants have ventured into the mountains to seek asylum in France.…

Petrol prices in record monthly rise, says RAC - 5 June 2018

Petrol prices rose by 6p a litre in May - the biggest monthly increase since the RAC began tracking prices 18 years ago. Average petrol prices hit 129.4p a litre, while average diesel prices also rose by 6p to 132.3p a litre. The RAC said a "punitive combination" of higher crude oil prices and a weaker pound was to blame for the increases. It pointed out that oil prices broke through the $80-a-barrel mark twice in May - a three-and-a-half year high. As well as the higher global market price of crude, the pound's current weakness against the US dollar also makes petrol more expensive as oil is traded in dollars. The RAC said the average prices of both petrol and diesel had risen every single day since 22 April, adding 8p a litre in the process. The motoring body said this was the longest sustained price increase since March 2015. Today's figures on the price of filling up the family car reveal that upward pressure on prices is still very much with us. The re-imposition of US sanctions on Iran - the world's fifth largest oil producer - saw the oil price rise by 3% in May. At the same time, sterling weakened by 2%, making oil imports (priced in dollars) more expensive. For consumers other prices are also rising - higher energy bills, for example, have just started biting. And the sugar tax will add to the cost of many soft drinks. Two economic indicators tend to weigh on the confidence of many consumers. The price of fuel and the price of housing. The first is going up and the second is coming down. Which will raise a few alarm bells, not just among economists, but among politicians as well.

'Feeling the pinch'

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams described May as "a hellish month for motorists. The rising oil price together with a weaker pound is a punitive combination for anyone who drives regularly," he said. "For many people, there is little alternative to the car for the majority of journeys they have to make, so it is therefore very difficult to avoid feeling the pinch of rising pump prices." Mr Williams said that the oil price had since cooled a little, suggesting that the constant increases in the cost of petrol might have stopped for the time being. He also said there was talk that the next Opec meeting in Vienna on 22 June might result in a change of policy for the oil cartel, which has been restricting supply to bolster prices."If a decision is taken to increase supply, it may provide some much-needed relief for motorists at the pumps in the UK," he added.

Shop closures hit UK's smaller retail centres hardest. 5 June 2018

The 800,000 sq ft Westgate Oxford was the biggest shopping centre to open in the UK last year. Smaller shopping centres bore the brunt of store closures last year, according to a study of vacancies in the retail and leisure sectors. Centres ranked 300 or lower in the Local Data Company's (LDC) index saw vacancies rise from 19.7% to 19.9%. In contrast, vacancies fell in the UK's top 50 shopping centres, underlining a significant polarisation, the LDC said. The report also found that niche restaurants are booming, with vegan, Jamaican and South American expanding. The LDC found that the overall vacancy rate last year rose for the first time since it started measuring it. But this was only a marginal 0.2% rise, giving an annual rate of 11.2% - the same as in 2016. It meant that headlines about the "death of the High Street" may be overdone, according to LDC's senior relationship manager, Lucy Stainton. "This increase in vacancy is perhaps more marginal than might have been expected given some of the current rhetoric," she said. However, the report points out that there have been significant closures and restructuring this year, including Maplin, Carpetright and Toys 'R' Us that will be included in this year's numbers. Retail parks remain the most desirable location, with occupation rates rising by 0.85% in 2017. However, the closures at chains such as Carpetright and Toys 'R' Us means that growth could be reversed this year. More than 600 barber shops and beauty salons opened last year. Yorkshire and the Humber, Greater London and Scotland were the areas where vacancy rates increased most, while the West Midlands saw the fewest closures. The report also found:
The loss of so-called service retail units - banks, estate agents, travel agents - overtook the loss of convenience shops, reversing the trend in 2016
Areas that had the highest openings of independent businesses included Tooting (south London), Aberdeen, Liverpool, Newcastle, Great Yarmouth and Folkestone. Barbers and beauty salons saw the biggest openings by sector, with 624 new outlets in 2017. There were 747 pub closures and 711 bank branch closures. Brand names that saw growth in the number of outlets were Lloyds Pharmacy (116), Betfred (135), Subway (62), Cooperative Funeralcare (59) and Greggs (51). One area that seemed to do particularly well last year was niche restaurants. The number of vegan outlets rose 61.5%, at the expense of vegetarian restaurants, which fell 70%, according to the LDC. The number of Jamaican, Brazilian and Argentinian restaurants also increased.
Since 2012, more than 2,000 barbers have opened their doors, plus 1,235 more coffee shops and 2,000 vaping shops. These are sub-sectors that cannot be replicated online, Ms Stainton said. She added: "There is no denying that retail is going through an unprecedented era of change, but as our latest research highlights, it's crucial to get underneath the overarching trends to understand the detail beneath this, giving us a glimpse of our future high street."

UK. Londonderry homes evacuated in security alert. 4 June 2018

A number of homes were evacuated during the security alert. A number of residents evacuated from their homes in Londonderry due to a security alert have been allowed to return. The alert began around 2230 BST on Sunday after a suspicious object was found in the front garden of a house in Fergleen Park in the Galliagh area of the city. It was examined by Army bomb experts and made safe by a controlled explosion. The device was later declared a hoax.
Residents were allowed to return to their homes shortly after 0300 BST on Monday. The Police Service of Northern Ireland urged anyone with information to come forward. "I would like to thank the local community for their patience as officers worked through the night to ensure their safety," Inspector McManus said. "I would also appeal to anyone who saw anything suspicious in the area or who has any information which could assist with our enquiries to call police," he added. Army bomb disposal experts have taken the "suspicious object" for further examination.

Stan Chart exec quits after 'inappropriate' behaviour. 8 June 2018

The head of compliance at Standard Chartered has stepped down after an internal investigation found his behaviour to be inappropriate. Neil Barry's "managerial style, behaviour and language" towards staff was "not in line with our valued behaviours," an internal memo said. The bank said Mr Barry's behaviour was not bad enough for him to be sacked. Bank boss Bill Winters has been focusing on the bank's compliance after US money-laundering issues.
Mr Barry was placed on leave in March after complaints were made through the bank's internal whistleblower mechanism, "Speak Ups".
"As a result of the investigation, we went through a full and fair disciplinary process," the bank said. Leaving the bank
The probe found Mr Barry's behaviour was "not in line with our valued behaviours, although it fell short of warranting his dismissal."
Mr Barry "expressed his regret if any of his interactions with his colleagues caused upset or offence - that was never his intention," a memo sent to staff said. "He has also acknowledged that as a senior leader he must role-model the highest standards of behaviour." Mr Barry will now pursue other opportunities, the memo said. When Mr Barry was suspended, former FCA regulator Tracey McDermott became acting head of compliance at the bank. She will continue in that role, as well as being the bank's head of public policy and marketing.Standard Chartered chief executive Bill Winters has been trying to improve the bank's compliance image after a series of issues including breaking US sanctions and money-laundering regulations.

BILDERBERG 2018 ITALY DAY 4 HD Jun 11, 2018
It's the final day of Bilderberg 2018 and what better way to end than with a shitload of Bilderbergers

What’s the Vatican Doing At Bilderberg, DETAINED 2X’s. Jun 7, 2018. In this video, Luke Rudkowski of WeAreChange gives you the latest breaking news on Cardinal Pietro Parolin the secretary of state for the Vatican appearing at the secret society Bilderberg Group 2018 meeting in Turin Italy. Dan Dicks of Press For Truth discuss our efforts to confront Bilderberg members.

ALERT: Very LAST Bilderberg-er Meeting EVER!!! Jun 6, 2018. As the old system dies off over the rest of this year the criminal Cabal of Elite will all have to say their final Goodbyes...FAREWELL TO ALL!

BILDERBERG 2018: Kissinger & Von der Leyen gesichtet! Polizei kontrolliert Journalisten

'No mosques in Germany!' Mass rally against Muslim houses of worship in Thuringia. May 20, 2016. The construction of a small mosque, the first in the German state of Thuringia, created controversy after the Alternative for Germany party labeled it a 'land grab project' and announced a massive anti-Islam rally involving the far-right PEGIDA movement.

China: Putin and Xi Jinping try out brand new high-speed train. Jun 8, 2018. Russian President Vladimir Putin assessed the high-speed "Fuxing bullet" train from Beijing to Tianjin on Friday, accompanied by his Chinese counterpart and host Xi Jinping. The 'Fuxing Bullet' took barely 30 minutes to travel all the way through until Tianjin, which is 120km (75 miles) away from Beijing. Having arrived in Tianjin Putin and Xi headed to watch a friendly match between the junior hockey teams of Russia and China. On June 8, Putin arrived on an official visit to China which will be followed by his participation in the 2-day Shanghai Cooperation Summit in Qingdao.

Unbelievable reception of Vladimir Putin in Turkey Apr 4, 2018

Putin Visit To China Reflects Strengthening Of Sino Russia Ties Amid US Pressure

Italy migrants: Interior minister's claims about immigration - 11 June 2018

Verdict: Thousands of new migrants have arrived in Italy in recent years, which is the main destination for migrants reaching Europe from Africa. It's difficult to know how many of them are refugees because asylum applications can take years to resolve. Italy's interior minister and leader of the right-wing League party Matteo Salvini has been talking a lot about illegal immigration. The new coalition government wants to deport half a million undocumented migrants currently living in Italy. Mr Salvini said on Twitter on 4 June "the landing and taking in of hundreds of thousands of 'non-refugees' cannot continue to be an exclusively Italian issue". He said he wants more help from the EU to deal with the flow of people. About 120,000 arrived by sea in 2017 - double the number in Greece and Spain combined. But the number of arrivals in Italy has not been high only in recent years, but for at least a decade. When the refugee crisis peaked in 2015, with more than a million arriving in the EU, all eyes were on Greece where more than 800,000 people arrived. In that same year, Italy received 154,000 people. In the 10 years before that peak, a total of more than 260,000 arrived in Italy, according to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Matteo Salvini, Italy's new interior minister
In 2016, the EU and Turkey reached a deal which stopped the flow of people, many of them Syrian refugees, into Greece. The number of migrants fell by 97% shortly after the introduction of the deal. But it did not stop the arrivals from Africa into Italy via the Mediterranean. An agreement struck in 2017 by the EU, Italy and Libya to train Libyan authorities to intercept boats carrying migrants has reduced the number of arrivals. Since then thousands of migrants have been detained in the North African country. So far in 2018, Italy, Greece and Spain all received a similar number of migrants - between 11,000 and 13,000, according to the UNHCR. How many are refugees? Another League party official, Massimiliano Da Federiga, has questioned how many migrants are refugees. He said that the people arriving in Italy are not escaping war, they are "chasing a Western dream. These are empirical facts." Refugee applications take time to process so it isn't always easy to know how many of the thousands of new arrivals will have their asylum applications approved. Asylum is granted to people based on different criteria, including those fleeing war and other forms of persecution. People leaving countries that are not at war may still have a legitimate reason to claim refugee status. Assessment is made on a case-by-case basis upon arrival. Out of the 80,000 applications made in Italy in 2017, 40% were successful. Most migrants came from Nigeria, followed by Guinea and Ivory Coast. The top 10 countries of origin were all African apart from Bangladesh. Here's the full list: Nigeria, Guinea, Ivory Coastm, Bangladesh, Mali, Eritrea, Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco, Senegal, Gambia.

Panic, Crises In Italy: Dealers Pull Bids As Bonds, Stocks and Euro Tumble. May 29, 2018. With UK traders returning from vacation, Italy woke up to a sheer selling panic as yesterday's "modest" selloff mutated into a full-blown liquidation avalanche, lead by a furious repricing of the BTP curve, where 2Y yields exploded another 170 bps higher on the day rising to 2.60% from negative just a few days ago...

This Just Happened In Mexico, Moments After People Celebrate Russian World Cup (2018). Jun 18, 2018

Pogba and more: World Cup haircuts to watch. The World Cup is a showcase for a footballer's skills, but it is also a chance to show off new hairstyles. Nikky Okyere trims a lot of famous footballers, including several who are competing at the tournament in Russia. He spoke to BBC Africa's Victoria Uwonkonda about who he thinks will have the snappiest haircut.

England made a winning start at the 2018 World Cup as Harry Kane scored twice to give Gareth Southgate's side a 2-1 victory over Tunisia in Volgograd.

Careless England must wise up. Kane rescues wasteful England. England's first-half display contained much to admire but it was a sign of their wastefulness in front of goal that it took the injury-time intervention from Kane to seal victory. Harry Kane's stoppage-time winner ensured England started their World Cup campaign with victory after Tunisia threatened to snatch a point in Volgograd. 19 June 2018

Being black in Russia. Less than 1% of Russia's 144 million people are black. What is life like for them? 28 May 2018

Nigerian football fans embrace Russia. Hundreds of Nigerian fans have arrived in Moscow ahead of the their country's match against Croatia. 16 June 2018.

Footage shows Moscow crash driver flee scene. The driver of a Moscow taxi who injured several people when his car veered into pedestrians says he fled the scene because he feared he might be killed by an angry crowd. He says he mistakenly hit the accelerator because of tiredness after a 20-hour shift. Moscow crash driver 'feared mob lynching'. 17 Jun 2018

Footage shows Moscow crash driver flee scene. The driver of a Moscow taxi who injured several people when his car veered into pedestrians says he fled the scene because he feared he might be killed by an angry crowd. He says he mistakenly hit the accelerator, because of tiredness after a 20-hour shift. 17 Jun 2018 (Low Astrals are to blame, they are acting on people! LM)

Yemen war: Battle rages over Hudaydah airport. 17 June 2018

The Yemeni pro-government offensive on Hudaydah began on Wednesday. Pro-government forces in Yemen, backed by a Saudi-led coalition, have launched air strikes on the airport that serves the key port city of Hudaydah. They have also been fighting Houthi rebels on the ground with mortar fire. The pro-
government forces said they had taken control of the airport on Saturday, but the rebels denied this. Meanwhile the UN envoy to Yemen is holding a second day of talks in the capital Sanaa, aimed at securing a rebel withdrawal from Hudaydah. Martin Griffiths is believed to have put forward a plan guaranteeing the safety of Houthi fighters if they pull out, leaving the harbour to be operated by the UN. The only major port controlled by the Houthis, Hudaydah is seen as a lifeline for millions of Yemenis at risk of famine. The Houthis' Saba news agency said the coalition had carried out five air strikes on the city. Saudi-owned al-Arabiya TV also said the airport had been hit. The Houthis are demanding an end to the air strikes. The Hudaydah offensive, which is being directed by the United Arab Emirates, began on Wednesday. AFP news agency quotes medical and military sources as saying at least 139 fighters - most of them rebels - have been killed. Houthi news sources say more than 50 pro-government forces have been killed. The government has said it will not attack the port and will seek to preserve key infrastructure. Meanwhile UAE military sources say a major force made up of Yemeni, UAE and Sudanese troops is on standby in Eritrea to take part in a final effort to capture Hudaydah. Yemeni forces backed by a Saudi-led coalition of Gulf states began their assault on Wednesday. Yemen has been devastated by a conflict that escalated in early 2015, when the Houthis seized control of much of the west of the country, including the capital Sanaa, and forced President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi to flee abroad. Alarmed by the rise of a group they saw as an Iranian proxy, Saudi Arabia and eight other Arab states intervened in an attempt to restore Mr Hadi's government. Who is fighting whom?
Almost 10,000 people - two-thirds of them civilians - have been killed and 55,000 others injured in the fighting, according to the United Nations. The conflict and a partial blockade by the coalition have also left 22 million people in need of humanitarian aid, created the world's largest food emergency, and led to a cholera outbreak that is thought to have killed 2,290 people. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has said it expects tens of thousands of people to flee Hudaydah in the coming days. Those who plan to stay have been stocking up on food and fuel in anticipation of a siege, it says. In addition to being one of Yemen's most densely populated areas, with an estimated population of 600,000, Hudaydah is the single most important point of entry in Yemen for the food and basic supplies needed to prevent a famine.The UN has warned that in a worst-case scenario, the battle for the city could cost up to 250,000 lives, as well as cut off aid supplies to millions of people elsewhere.

The Interview Oprah DOESN'T Want YOU to See (first half of this video is all right, but the rest is a boring jewish religious propaganda. LM.) Jun 12, 2018

Oprah Denies Jesus Christ. Nov 1, 2010.

Why I never got married: Oprah confesses. Jan 23, 2012. Talk show queen and media mogul Oprah Winfrey speaks in a session moderated by NDTV's Barkha Dutt about her India trip, how Mumbai traffic seemed straight out of a video game, and more at the Jaipur Literature Festival.

HMP Woodhill has 'staggering' rate of self-inflicted deaths. 19 June 2018

Inspectors found a "decidedly mixed" picture at HMP Woodhill. A prison where 20 men have taken their lives since 2011 has a "staggering" death rate and is still failing vulnerable inmates, a report has said. Inspectors at HMP Woodhill in Milton Keynes also said there were "chronic and substantial" staff shortages. The chief inspector of prisons warned it risked undermining the work that had been done to improve the care of those at risk of self harm. The HM Inspectorate of Prisons said the prison was "still not safe enough". The report said Woodhill had "deteriorated significantly" in this area since the previous inspection in 2015. In the past seven years 20 inmates at HMP Woodhill have killed themselves - more than another other prison in England and Wales. HMP Woodhill holds just over 600 men, mainly remand prisoners and those serving short sentences, alongside a small number of category A high-security prisoners. In 2017, it was the prison with the highest suicide rate in England and Wales. The report said: "At the time we inspected, eight prisoners had taken their own lives since our previous inspection in 2015 and, staggeringly, 19 prisoners had taken their own lives at the establishment since 2011. "Tragically, a few months after this inspection another prisoner was reported to have taken his own life." At the time of the unannounced visit in February, there were 55 officer vacancies and 20% of officers had less than 12 months' experience. Inspectors found a "decidedly mixed" picture - the assessment of respect for prisoners and rehabilitation and resettlement work were both "reasonably good." Safety and purposeful activity were both assessed as poor, the lowest assessment, and had deteriorated since 2015, with nearly a third of prisoners saying they felt unsafe. HM chief inspector of prisons Peter Clarke said incidents of self-harm "remained high" and although there had been improvements to the way prisoners at risk of self-harm were assessed and supported, "not all planned improvements had been sustained". Mr Clarke said "chronic staff shortages and inexperience" underpinned nearly all of the concerns raised, adding that a "disappointingly small number of recommendations from our previous inspection had been achieved". Chief executive of HM Prison and Probation Service, Michael Spurr, said the prison manages a complex and vulnerable population" and "remains focused on safety and supporting vulnerable men". He said new recruits would increase staff numbers in the coming months.

Stock markets fall amid trade fears. 19 June 2018

Stock markets have fallen amid fears of a further deterioration in US-Chinese trade relations. Tensions in Germany's coalition government over migration policy added to investors' uncertainty. Wall Street's Dow Jones and S&P 500 were 0.4% and 0.2% down...Earlier, Frankfurt's Dax fell 1.4%, while Paris' Cac fell 0.9%, and Madrid shares slipped 0.8%...It followed a fall on Asian stock markets after US President Donald Trump's decision on Friday to impose 25% tariffs on $50bn worth of Chinese goods. China retaliated, saying it would impose an additional 25% tariff on more than 600 US products worth $50bn. There were no signs of the trade row easing on Monday, with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calling China's trade practices "predatory economics 101". In remarks to the Detroit Economic Club, he said statements by Beijing in recent weeks that it was moving to open its economy were "a joke". Earlier, Japan's Nikkei had closed 0.8% lower on Monday, while South Korean shares fell 1.1% and other Asian markets also declined. However, stock markets in China and Hong Kong were closed for a public holiday. "Tensions between the US and China are escalating, and we are not any closer to an agreement being reached. With neither side willing to back down, investors are caught in the middle," said David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets. Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley FBR in New York, said: "The trade war is definitely on the front burner right now, and will continue to be in the absence of news catalysts and unless something substantially changes." European investors are also wary of political factors in Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel has clashed with leaders of her coalition ally in Bavaria, the CSU, over her refugee policy. "With the US-China trade war already creating an uncomfortable trading atmosphere, the brewing political tension between long-time allies the CDU and CSU in Germany has caused some bloody losses in the eurozone," said Connor Campbell, financial analyst at SpreadEx. Sterling continued to struggle, trading against the dollar at $1.3241 - close to the seven-month low of $1.3205 hit late last month. The pound has fallen 8% since mid-April as traders become less confident that the Bank of England will follow the US Federal Reserve by raising interest rates in August.
Oil prices gained ground after earlier falls, with Brent crude up more than $1 to $74.50 a barrel despite suggestions that Opec would increase production later this year. Countries in the oil-producing cartel led by Saudi Arabia - along with other big producers including Russia - will meet in Vienna later this week. Both countries want to boost output. Commerzbank commodities analyst Carsten Fritsch said: "That production will be increased in the second half of the year is considered certain - the only question is by how much."

On board the migrant ship Aquarius. The rescue ship Aquarius, holding 629 people, was rejected by Italy's new right-wing prime minister, prompting a diplomatic scramble to avoid a humanitarian disaster. Now on its way to Valencia, Spain, the passengers wait in cramped conditions. 15 Jun 2018

Audi chief Rupert Stadler arrested in diesel emissions probe. 18 June 2018

The chief executive of German carmaker Audi, Rupert Stadler, has been arrested in connection with an investigation into the diesel emissions scandal.
A spokesman for Volkswagen, which owns Audi, confirmed he was being held. Munich prosecutors said they had acted because of a risk that Mr Stadler might seek to suppress evidence. The scandal erupted three years ago, when it emerged that cars had been fitted with devices designed to cheat emissions tests. The devices were initially found in VW's cars, but its Audi subsidiary has also been embroiled in the scandal. Last month, it admitted that another 60,000 A6 and A7 models with diesel engines have emission software issues. That is on top of the 850,000 recalled last year by Audi, of which only some have been found to require modification. Audi admits more diesel emission problems. How VW tried to cover up the emissions scandal. Munich prosecutors said Mr Stadler would be questioned by Wednesday, once he had spoken to his lawyers. According to German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, VW's supervisory board has nominated Bram Schot to be the interim chief executive at Audi following the arrest of Mr Stadler.
However, Audi's supervisory board has yet to sign off on the nomination, the paper said. The so-called dieselgate emissions scandal first came to light in September 2015. Volkswagen admitted that nearly 600,000 cars sold in the US were fitted with "defeat devices" designed to circumvent emissions tests. The carmaker said it had installed software in 11 million diesel cars worldwide that could tell when they were being tested and cut their emissions.On the open road, untested, the level of emissions would in practice be far higher - up to 40 times as bad as recorded under laboratory conditions.

Cambodia Prince Ranariddh injured and wife killed in car crash. 17 June 2018

Prince Norodom Ranariddh and his wife Ouk Phalla were due to meet political supporters. A Cambodian prince and former prime minister has been injured and his wife killed in a head-on car collision in the south-west of the country. A taxi hit the vehicle Prince Norodom Ranariddh, 74, and Ouk Phalla, 39, were travelling in, officials say. The couple were taken to a local hospital in the Preah Sihanouk province, but Ms Phalla died a few hours later.
They were travelling to meet political supporters when the crash happened. Prince Ranariddh, the half-brother of King Norodom Sihamoni, leads a political party that is contesting next month's controversial general elections. Last year, the country's main opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), was dissolved and its leader was charged with treason. Prime Minister Hun Sen has ruled the country for 33 years and has long been accused of using the courts and security forces to intimidate opponents and crush dissent. Prince Ranariddh served jointly with Mr Hun Sen as Cambodia's prime minister from 1993 to 1997, when he was ousted in a coup led by the current prime minister. The prince made a political comeback in 2015 after reconciling with Mr Hun Sen.

Did Mexican World Cup fans' celebrations shake the earth? 18 June 2018

(Mexican football fans caused an artificial earthquake in Mexico during Mexico-Germany match! Мексиканские болельщики вызвали искусственно небольшое землетрясение в Мексике во время победы Мексиканцев в матче Германия-Мексика во время ЧМ-2018 в России! LM)

Quake-inducing jumps? Mexican football fans could hardly contain their joy when Hirving Lozano scored a goal against Germany in Mexico's opening game of the World Cup. Supporters of the team jumped into the air when the ball hit the net in the 35th minute. But did their jubilant stomping really cause an earthquake as some media have reported? A tweet from Mexico's Institute of Geological and Atmospheric Investigations would suggest so.
The tweet by the institute, which monitors seismic activity, reads: "Artificial quake in Mexico City due to celebration of goal by the Mexican team in the game against Germany during the 2018 World Cup in Russia." The image highlights the moment of the goal with a red rectangle on the seismogram. This shows localised shaking near the seismometer. The tweet then points readers to a more detailed blog post (in Spanish). What really happened?
The institute confirms that two of its seismometers local to celebrating fans picked up ground movement immediately after the winning goal against the defending champions. "During the game, the Mexican team managed to score 35 minutes and seven seconds in, at this moment our monitoring systems detected a seismic movement with an acceleration of 37m/s2 picked up by at least two sensors inside Mexico City. These were very probably produced by the massive celebrations," the blog reads. Hirving Lozano could not believe he scored the winning goalю The Institute of Geological and Atmospheric Investigations then goes on to clarify that "such events are not at all big". It points out that only very sensitive equipment located near celebrating crowds would pick up such activity. One of the main sites where fans gathered, Mexico City's Angel of Independence statue, is not far from one of the seismometers which registered the movement. Was it a quake or not?
On its blog, the Institute of Geological and Atmospheric Investigations makes it clear that such events cannot be felt by the general population.
"These [events] can't be measured in magnitudes, which is why they are not called quakes, or if they are, they have to be accompanied by the word 'artificial' to show clearly that it is not a geological event," the blog explains. How wild were the celebrations?
Fans jumped for joy at the Angel of Independence statue. Thousands more gathered at the Zócalo, Mexico City's main square. Has something like this happened before? Yes, a 1988 college American football game between Louisiana State University and Auburn was dubbed "Earthquake Game" after an LSU touchdown in the last minutes of the game caused fans in Tiger Stadium to erupt in such celebrations, that it was picked up by a seismometer in the university's geosciences complex. A blip coinciding with the winning touchdown could be seen on the seismograph. More recently, Leicester City fans caused a tremor when they celebrated a last-minute goal against Norwich in 2016. Leicester City fans caused 'earthquake' after last minute winner.
As in Mexico City and at Louisiana State University, it was picked up by a seismometer installed near celebrating fans.

World Cup 2018: Fifa investigates 'homophobic chanting' by Mexico fans - Mexico fans in Russia

Mexico's Hirving Lozano scored the only goal of the opening Group F game. Fifa is investigating alleged homophobic chants by Mexico fans during the 1-0 World Cup win over defending champions Germany on Sunday. Sunday's chants seemed to be directed at Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. The Mexican Football Federation (FMF) was fined nine times for supporters' homophobic chanting during the qualifying campaign.
It has repeatedly asked fans to refrain from using the slurs. Javier Ruiz Galindo, head of the National House of Mexico for fans in Moscow, said the chant could be perceived in "many ways". "It's not necessarily meant to insult somebody," he said. "We have been asked many times not to do it so we should be respectful," he told the BBC. In November, the FMF won an appeal against two Fifa fines for the chant - which features the Spanish word for a male prostitute - but were warned "harsher sanctions" would be imposed if it was repeated. Football's anti-discrimination organisation the Fare Network says the word "has a more general heterosexist connotation, and particularly in a football context is used as a pejorative and homophobic chant, referring to gay men and a derogatory way". Every World Cup match has three anti-discrimination observers in the stands, monitoring the behaviour of fans.

Saudi women are finally in the driver’s seat, but not of their own lives. Jun 22, 2018. Saudi Arabia has banned women from driving since the 1950s, and is the only country in the world to do so. But this Sunday that prohibition ends. Nick Schifrin looks at the state of women's rights in the kingdom, and the long and winding road to allow females behind the wheel.

Saudi women can now drive - but activists jailed. Jun 24, 2018. As women in Saudi Arabia celebrate their right to drive from today, some of the women who campaigned hardest to get them there will not be allowed to join them.

Saudi women take to streets as driving ban lifted in Saudi Arabi. Jun 24, 2018. Decades-old ban on women from driving in Saudi Arabia has finally comes to an end. Women now take to the streets of Saudi Arabia and are happy spending the night driving.

Why Whites Are Leaving Africa - Fight for Abortions - Past 5 Days

The Newsroom - Tea Party is the American Taliban. For a fictional show (based on actual events), this is the truest news story you have ever seen.
Aug 27, 2012

The Newsroom - Opening Scene (Wow!). The opening scene to the Pilot Episode of The Newsroom.  Airs Sundays at 10pm on HBO. Jul 6, 2012

End of Dubai? Apocalyptic Haboob Sand Storm Terra-forming United Arab Emirates Into Mars. Jun 16, 2018. View From Space: Giant Sand Storm Terraforming Earth. Apocalyptic Aftermath Of Haboob Storm!

MEXICO FANS REACT TO SOUTH KOREA GERMANY SCORE! LIVE REACTION IN LA! Jun 28, 2018. Mexico falls in love with South Korea! SWEDEN WIN 3-0. GERMANY DEFEATED! FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia can't get crazier! Mexico advances to the round of 16.

South Korea vs Germany (2-0) Korea Fans React & Celebration After Germany Loss to Korea. Jun 27, 2018. South Korea beat Germany 2-0. Korean fans can watch the reaction and the happiness of the people who are lucky. Germany eliminated in incrdible turn of events. South Korea strike twice in stoppage time to record famous win. The Korean scorers who celebrated the Germans celebrated. He bowed to the Korean World Cup, which defeated Germany for the first time in history. However, they are very happy with the achievement they achieved. Sweden top the group ahead of Mexico, where a 1-0 win would have taken Germany through. Поражение Германии и реакция Южной Кореи.

Germany out of the World Cup 2018; ft. Angry German Fans Reaction (South Korea 2-0 Germany). Jun 27, 2018The reaction was taking place in Commerzbank Arena (Frankfurt, Germany). Germany is out around the injury time of the match, and full of angry reactions from Germans. Fans starting to leave after the first goal, and everything went downhill from there.

When a video surfaced showing Brazilian football fans singing a vulgar chant in Portuguese with a Russian woman, there was uproar in Brazil, but little reaction in Russia itself. The woman, who apparently speaks no Portuguese, is seen smiling and trying to sing along with Brazilian fans, not realising, that the chant is about part of her anatomy. An online petition in Russia calling on authorities to prosecute those involved has attracted some 2,500 signatures. Some of those involved in the chant have already been identified in the Brazilian press. Alyona Popova complains, that Russian laws appear to encourage foreign citizens to "feel at liberty to treat Russian Women as bodies". At present there is no legislation regarding harassment in Russia, although attempts to table a bill were made after the Slutsky scandal. "We should fight for a new image for Women in the media. Instead, they use every opportunity to promote the wrong image," says Ms Popova.

World Cup 2018: Is football still sexist? 26 June 2018
It's 2018, so no-one objects to women knowing stuff about football, talking about it, or just watching a game, right? Well, some incidents in this World Cup have left people wondering how much has actually changed in the beautiful game and whether women are being treated unfairly. On Tuesday Getty images published a photo gallery of "the hottest fans at the World Cup" featuring exclusively young women. The post attracted criticism from social media users for being outdated. Twitter account Women in Football asked, "times are changing so why don't you?" The post was later removed by Getty, who said that it was a "regrettable error in judgement" and that the photographic agency would be launching an internal investigation.
Female sports commentators in particular have been patronised, criticised and even harassed on camera by social media, passing fans and pundits alike.
Brazilian sports reporter Julia Guimareas was reporting live from Yekaterinburg, Russia when she was forced to dodge a kiss by a passerby.
"Don't do this. Never do this again. It's not right," she shouted after him, forcing him to apologise. A tweet congratulating Ms Guimareas for standing up to harassment was liked 64,000 times. Australian SBS World Cup presenter Lucy Zelic has been attacked by online trolls for making a point of pronouncing players' names correctly, as they would be in their home country. After she was branded "annoying" and "insufferable", Zelic's co-host Craig Foster hit back at critics on Monday, explaining that their programme aimed to respect diverse linguistic traditions and cultures. It's been a World Cup of firsts for women, which has raised the profile of female sports commentators. BBC journalist Vicki Sparks became the first woman to commentate live on a televised World Cup match in the UK last week, while US networks Fox and Telemundu both reported that they featured the first women to commentate live on World Cup games in North America. But not everyone was a fan of the change. Ex-footballer Jason Cundy, who was not invited to commentate in this World Cup, has come under fire for saying that women's voices are too high-pitched for football punditry. Women finally allowed in Iranian football stadium. Russian media call women football fans 'husband-hunters'. In Pictures: Photographing football's female fans. Some observers have criticised the return of the 'babe cam' - the practice of TV cameras lingering slightly too long on young women in stadium stands - and Twitter accounts that rate the attractiveness of female fans. Hello friends, what’s this World Cup about? Objectifying women or football? I’m confused. All updates on my newsfeed are of beautiful women from around the globe with very toned stomachs. I'm sick of tired of this #WorldCup objectifying female football fans. When women get mentioned in this world cup it's all about their looks and how much skin they're showing....Kinda like the image below from a Twitter page asking its followers to rate these women. Meanwhile, in China, ordinary women can't even watch a game in peace without being accused online of being 'fake fans'. Jokes mocking women football fans have been circulating, suggesting that they don't really understand football and that they are watching the World Cup only to impress their boyfriends, to seek attention, or to check out handsome and muscular footballers. One blogger, Shi Shusi, commenting on a report that more women than men travelled to Russia for the World Cup, wrote on social media platform Weibo, "A feast for fake football fans has begun." One cartoon has been shared that scorns women's lack of knowledge about the World Cup and football in general. A cartoon circulated online in China mocking women for lack of football knowledge (Chinese-English translation by BBC News). But female football fans are fighting back. One blog compared strong performance of China women's football team with their male counterparts who failed to qualify for the World Cup. Another wrote: "I don't understand football NOT because I'm a woman, but because I just don't care about the game. Stop making everything about gender difference." So, if you're feeling a bit conflicted when you see a woman on TV talking about football, remember the wise words of BBC Sports reporter, Dan Walker: "Get over it. We can all enjoy the World Cup." Dan Walker. Women love football. Women play football. Women can analyse football. You can still love, play & analyse football.  It doesn’t mean - as a bloke - you have to be threatened by their knowledge, presence or expertise. Get over it. We can all enjoy the #WorldCup.


Victory of Croatia! АRGЕNТINА 0–3 СR0АТIА – НIGНLIGНТS & GОАLS RЕSUМЕN & GОLЕS. Jun 21, 2О18

FEMA CAMPS They're planning to kill everyone and heres how WAKE UP! May 13, 2017


Update on missing Americans after the flood #fema camps. Feb 11, 2018

TRUMP DETENTION CENTERS LISTED ALONGSIDE NAZI CONCENTRATION CAMPS ON WIKIPEDIA. 20 June 2018. The Wikipedia entry "List of concentration and internment camps" has seen the addition of the Trump administration's child detention centers which are being used to house immigrant children. The extensive list includes concentration camps used by the Nazi regime. "As part of the 2018 Trump administration family separation policy, nearly 2,000 immigrant children have been taken from their parents and placed in 'detention centers,'" the Wikipedia entry currently reads under a section titled 'Separation of immigrant children.' "These centers have been described by those in opposition to the policy as 'concentration camps.' The centers had previously been cited by Texas officials for more than 150 health violations," the entry reads. “Several government officials disputed accusations of detention centers being concentration camps. Both White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Attorney General Jeff Sessions defended the policy by citing the Bible,” the Wikipedia page continued. “Sessions specifically cited Romans 13, saying, ‘I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes.’”

West Point graduate who wore Che Guevara T-shirt discharged. 19 June 2018

Mr Rapone had been serving as an open communist in the US army 10th Mountain Division. A West Point cadet who wore a Che Guevara T-shirt to his graduation has been drummed out of the US military. Spenser Rapone, 26, quit on Monday with an other-than-honourable discharge over his "unbecoming" conduct at the famed military academy in New York state. The military began investigating Mr Rapone after he shared pro-communist photos taken during his graduation. He will probably never be allowed to re-enlist or receive veteran's benefits. Following his discharge, an unapologetic Mr Rapone shared a photo of himself making an obscene gesture towards a Fort Drum entrance sign, captioned, "one final salute". Mr Rapone had been commissioned as a second lieutenant in the 10th Mountain Division. Last October, he tweeted several controversial photos of himself at his May 2016 West Point graduation. In one, he showed the words "communism will win" written on his cap. In another, he revealed under his uniform a T-shirt of Argentine Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara. Mr Rapone was quickly dubbed the "commie cadet". His photos sparked outrage in the military and an official investigation into his social media. His Twitter feed is chock-full of communist memes and quotes, as well as disparaging remarks about US officials. On Tuesday, the army said its investigation had concluded. "Due to privacy act restrictions, we are limited in what information we can provide," spokeswoman Lt Col Nina Hill told reporters. "We can confirm, however, that the Army conducted a full investigation and that appropriate action was taken." In an interview with the Press, the 26-year-old communist said he considered himself "a revolutionary socialist". Mr Rapone is scheduled to speak at the Socialism 2018 conference in Chicago next month.

World Cup 2018: Fifa issues £7,615 fine for 'homophobic chanting' by Mexico fans. 21 June 2018

Mexico fans in Russia. Mexico's fans have denied the chant is meant in an offensive or insulting way. 2018 Fifa World Cup on the BBC. Host: Russia Dates: 14 June - 15 July. The Mexican Football Federation has been fined 10,000 Swiss francs (£7,615) after its fans sang homophobic chants. The chants came during Mexico's World Cup win over Germany on Sunday. Football's world governing body Fifa said it had also warned Mexico's federation, the FMF, it could face "additional sanctions" if there are "repeated infringements" - though a similar warning was made in November. "Fifa has a zero-tolerance approach to discrimination," a spokesperson said. A Fifa disciplinary panel has also sanctioned the Serbian Football Association with a 10,000 Swiss franc fine for the "display of an offensive and political banner by Serbian fans" during their match against Costa Rica. The FMF has repeatedly asked Mexican fans to refrain from using the chant, which features the Spanish word for a male prostitute. It is usually sung when the opposition goalkeeper is taking a goal kick. Last year the FMF successfully appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) against two larger Fifa fines for the same offence. Cas agreed that the chant was not intended to "offend or discriminate" and downgraded the fines to a warning.
However, it also said the chant could still be "considered discriminatory or insulting and should not be tolerated in football stadiums". It said should the offence take place in the future, "harsher sanctions" should be imposed.

Celebrating England supporter flung from car bonnet. The exuberance of one fan celebrating England's victory in their opening World Cup match led to him flying off a car bonnet. He was caught on camera climbing on to the car outside a pub in Plymouth after Harry Kane scored the last-gasp winning goal against Tunisia in Volgograd. A Devon and Cornwall Police spokesman said "in the region of 100 supporters piled out onto Union Street" to celebrate, which was mostly "good natured". The spokesman added the force was not investigating the incident, but would be working with door staff and pubs in the area to stop future incidents. 19 Jun 2018

Nigerian football fans embrace Russia. Hundreds of Nigerian fans have arrived in Moscow ahead of the their country's match against Croatia. 16 June 2018

Australia's Telstra to slash 8,000 jobs in cost-cutting drive. 20 June 2018
Telstra has come under increasing pressure to address its falling share price. Telstra, Australia's biggest telecoms company, plans to cut 8,000 jobs - a quarter of its workforce - in a bid to slash costs. The struggling firm plans to axe one in four executive and management positions over the next three to four years. It is the latest in a string of job cuts made by Telstra in recent years. The company, which also plans to sell assets worth A$2bn (£1.1bn, $1.5bn) by 2020, warned that profits would fall for the year to June 2019. Shares in Telstra closed 4.8% lower at $2.77 in Sydney on Wednesday. As competition in Australia's telecoms sector intensifies, Telstra has been under increasing pressure to improve its mobile and broadband offerings and arrest declines in its shares. 'More than half' face broadband problems. The company also said it would separate its infrastructure business and could spin it off in the future.  Chief executive Andy Penn defended the job cuts and other announcements, arguing that competition from the likes of Optus and Vodafone demanded a "bolder stance". "We have to do this ... as an industry we're at a tipping point," he said. "We understand the impact this will have on our employees and once we make decisions on specific changes, we are committed to talking to impacted staff first and ensuring we support them through this period." Michael McCarthy at CMC Markets said the restructuring plan may not be enough to please investors in Telstra, whose share price has almost halved in the past year. "Some investors think the Telstra patient needs radical surgery, and could view today's measures as Band-Aids," he said.

World Cup 2018: Russian media mock 'husband-hunters'

This Russian supporter watches her national team beat Egypt. The Russian arm of the fast-food chain Burger King has apologised after offering women a reward of 3m roubles (£36,000; $47,000) and free Whopper burgers for life if they got pregnant with a World Cup player's baby. "Women who manage to get the best football genes will promote the Russian team's success for generations to come," the advert said. The promotion caused public outrage in the competition's host nation, forcing the company to delete it. "This is a direct reflection of the level our society is at towards women," said one feminist community on the messaging app Telegram. In advertising and in the media, Russian women are being portrayed as sexual predators hunting their prey. Articles in the pro-Kremlin media describe the way they "bait foreign fans" and chat them up. "Love tricks: Russian beauties catch foreign fans," said Moskovskiy Komsomolets newspaper; while the Championat sport website told of "How Russian beauties snare foreigners". In one YouTube video, a state TV host says that "hundreds or thousands of vamps have flocked to Moscow" in the hope of meeting foreign football fans. Sports website Championat has also been publishing a daily roundup of "top World Cup beauties", and some prominent bloggers have followed suit. A now-deleted post on social network Vkontake offered money and free burgers for World Cup babies. Sexism in Russia
This kind of rhetoric is hardly new in post-communist Russia where feminist voices are little heard. Gender-role debates get short shrift on Russian TV, and if programmes come across anything remotely feminist, it is often dismissed as Western propaganda trying to undermine Russian traditional values. And yet there doesn't seem to be much push-back from Russian women. Women's rights activist Alyona Popova told the BBC that there was a lack of assertiveness among Russian women. "If men are shouting from every corner, that a woman is just a body, and find excuses to justify sexual harassment, and blame victims of domestic abuse for what happened, then women start thinking that this is the norm," she said. Ms Popova referred to a recent sexual harassment scandal involving high-profile Russian MP Leonid Slutsky-Blutsky, who was accused by several journalists of sexual misconduct. Despite the public outrage, the MP managed to retain his post after parliament's ethics commission cleared him of all allegations. When a video surfaced showing Brazilian football fans singing a vulgar chant in Portuguese with a Russian woman, there was uproar in Brazil, but little reaction in Russia itself. The woman, who apparently speaks no Portuguese, is seen smiling and trying to sing along with Brazilian fans, not realising, that the chant is about part of her anatomy. "I guess she thinks they're promising to take her overseas. Fail," joked one popular Telegram account. An online petition in Russia calling on authorities to prosecute those involved has attracted some 2,500 signatures. Some of those involved in the chant have already been identified in the Brazilian press. Alyona Popova complains, that Russian laws appear to encourage foreign citizens to "feel at liberty to treat Russian women as bodies". At present there is no legislation regarding harassment in Russia, although attempts to table a bill were made after the Slutsky scandal. "We should fight for a new image for Women in the media. Instead, they use every opportunity to promote the wrong image," says Ms Popova.

World Cup 2018: The Indian who cycled to Russia to meet Messi. 21 June 2018

Clifin Francis was sitting at home in southern India when a friend asked if he was going to the World Cup. "Of course," he replied. "I might even travel to Russia to watch the extravaganza." That was in August - but he had no idea how he would afford the air tickets from Kerala where he lives. Mr Francis is a freelance maths teacher and earns $40 (£30) a day. "I realised I wouldn't have enough money to travel to Russia and stay for a month. Then I asked myself - what could be the cheapest way of travelling? Bicycle was the answer." Friends didn't believe him, but by then he'd made up his mind. On 23 February, he started on an epic journey that took him by air to Dubai, and then ferry to Iran. From there the Russian capital is still more than 4,200km (2,600 miles) away by bike. The prize at the end - a chance to see his hero, Argentina's Lionel Messi, arguably the best footballer in the world. "I love cycling and I am crazy about football. I simply combined two of my passions," Mr Francis told the BBC. He had planned to travel via Pakistan but had to drop the idea because of tense relations with India. 'Football and films'. "The change in plan cost me a lot. I could not take my bike to Dubai and had to buy a new one there which cost $700. It wasn't the best one for long-distance travels but that's all I could afford," he said. But he forgot this temporary setback as soon as he entered the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas on 11 March. "It's the most beautiful country in the world and the people are so welcoming. I spent 45 days in the country, but stayed in a hotel only for two days," he said. Mr Francis had only $10 a day to spend but says everywhere he went in Iran, people invited him to stay in their houses and offered him food. "My perception about Iran has changed. I realised that you shouldn't form an opinion about a country based on its geopolitics," he said. He vividly remembers the dramatic landscapes. "Cycling became less painful because of the beautiful Iranian countryside. I would definitely go back. They made me promise that I would cheer for the Iranian team in Russia. They also love Bollywood and that helped me break the ice with people in many places," he said. "It's so true that football and films unite the world." Cycling made him thinner. Next stop was Azerbaijan, where the border police had trouble verifying his travel documents - because he'd "lost a lot of weight from constant cycling. I didn't look like my picture in the passport. The police took more than eight hours to verify my details, but they were nice to me." Mr Francis couldn't afford hotels in Azerbaijan and mostly pitched his tent in parks. "People were nice here as well but they took time to open up to a stranger. I found some Indians living in the capital Baku and stayed with them for a while." Stuck in 'no man's land'
When Mr Francis reached Georgia, however, he was turned back and had to change plan again, about halfway to Moscow. "I had all the documents but still don't know why I was refused entry. That left me in a precarious situation because I had a single-entry visa for Azerbaijan," he said. Mr Francis was stuck in "no man's land" between Georgia and Azerbaijan for a day. He was eventually given an urgent visa by Azerbaijan to re-enter. "I then had to find another route to get into Russia. Somebody told me that Azerbaijan shared a land border with the Dagestan region of Russia," he said. "I went there without realising that it was not considered safe. But I had no option of turning back and I entered Dagestan on 5 June." Language was a big problem because people hardly spoke English in Dagestan, he added. "People were so surprised to see an Indian on a bicycle entering their area. Again, I used the universal language of football and films to make people open up to me." Mr Francis has now made it as far as Tambov, a city about 460km south of Moscow by road. He needs to be in the capital by 26 June for the France v Denmark match. "It's the only game I managed to get tickets for." Lionel Messi may be gifted - but he'll want to forget the penalty he missed against Iceland. But I support Argentina and Lionel Messi is my favourite - I worship him. It's my dream to meet him and ask him to sign my bicycle." Clifin Francis hopes his journey will inspire people about football and fitness. "I want to see India play in the World Cup some day. And that will only happen when more children take up football in India." he said.
"I am also hoping that people will take up cycling after reading my story. "Cycling takes you back to the primitive necessities of life. What you need at the end of the day is a shower, nice place to pitch your tent and good food and you are happy."I would be happy if my journey ends up inspiring even one child to play football in India."

UK. Gosport hospital deaths: Prescribed painkillers 'shortened 456 lives' from 1989 to 2000. Jun 20, 2018

Hundreds of lives were cut short due to prescribed opioids at Gosport War Memorial Hospital. More than 450 patients died after being given powerful painkillers inappropriately at Gosport War Memorial Hospital, a report has found. An independent panel said, taking into account missing records, a further 200 patients may have suffered a similar fate. The report found there was a "disregard for human life" of a large number of patients from 1989 to 2000.

Italy's far-right government tells rescue ships not to help thousands of refugees in peril at sea. 25 июня 2018

Move follows refusal to allow aid boats to dock in Italian ports. Italy’s far-right government told aid ships in the Mediterranean Sea not to rescue thousands of refugees in peril on Sunday – despite receiving six separate distress calls from unseaworthy boats. Officials said the vessels – carrying people from North Africa to Europe – were all in Libyan waters and, therefore, Libyan responsibility. The Spanish aid group, Proactiva Open Arms, which had ships in the area, said it had been specifically told not to help. Matteo Salvini, Italy’s interior minister, said in a tweet: "It's right that the Libyan authorities intervene, as they've been doing for days, without having the NGOs interrupt them and disturb them." The latest revelation follows a fortnight in which Italy has refused permission for aid ships carrying rescued refugees to dock in its ports. One, the Aquarius with 630 people on board, had to reroute to Spain. Another, Lifeline holding 240 people, remained at sea over the weekend. Mr Salvini has said such refugees would only see his country “on a postcard”. Italy has said it is seeing a constant stream of people coming illegally from Africa, and has threatened to withhold payments to the EU unless a more even way of dispersing refugees is agreed. In a blog entitled The Migrant Hypocrisy Sinks Europe, the Five Star Movement party, which is part of the ruling coalition, wrote: “It's time for Europe to find itself again in the principles that everyone preaches, but few sincerely practice." In a separate development, a summit of 16 European Union nations discussed the perceived refugee crisis in Brussels on Sunday – but failed to come to any agreements. Following talks Spain's socialist prime minister Pedro Sanchez said that while the conversation had been "frank and open… we don't have any concrete consequences or conclusions".

Kissinger was born Heinz Alfred Kissinger in Fürth, Bavaria, Germany, in 1923 during the Weimar Republic, to a family of German Jews. ... In 1938, when Kissinger was 15 years old, fleeing Nazi persecution, his family briefly emigrated to London, England, before arriving in New York on September 5. Diplomat Henry Kissinger was U.S. secretary of state under Richard Nixon, winning the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize for the Vietnam War accords.
Who Is Henry Kissinger?
Born on May 27, 1923, in Fürth, Germany, Henry Kissinger became a Harvard professor before assuming leadership in U.S. foreign policy. He was appointed secretary of state in 1973 by President Richard Nixon and co-won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in the Vietnam War's Paris accords. He was later critiqued for some of his covert actions at home and abroad. Kissinger is also a prolific author.
Henry Kissinger - Net Worth: Between January 2017 and January 2018, Kissinger reportedly pulled in $58 million, making him, by far, the highest paid politician in the world. His estimated net worth is said to be $185 million, according to the publication People With Money. Wives:
Kissinger married philanthropist Nancy Maginnes in 1974. He has two children with his former wife, Ann Fleischer, whom he divorced in 1964.
On August 20, 1938, Kissinger's family set sail for New York City by way of London. His family was extremely poor upon arrival in the United States, and Kissinger immediately went to work in a shaving brush factory to supplement his family's income. At the same time, Kissinger enrolled at New York's George Washington High School, where he learned English with remarkable speed and excelled in all of his classes. One of his teachers later recalled of Kissinger, "He was the most serious and mature of the German refugee students, and I think those students were more serious than our own." Kissinger graduated from high school in 1940 and continued on to the City College of New York, where he studied to become an accountant.
Harvard University
In 1943, Kissinger became a naturalized American citizen and, soon after, he was drafted into the army to fight in World War II. Thus, just five years after he left, Kissinger found himself back in his homeland of Germany, fighting the very Nazi regime from which he had once fled. He served first as a rifleman in France and then as a G-2 intelligence officer in Germany. Over the course of the war, Kissinger abandoned his plan to become an accountant and instead decided that he wanted to become an academic with a focus on political history. In 1947, upon his return to the United States, he was admitted to Harvard University to complete his undergraduate coursework. Kissinger's senior thesis, completed in 1950, was a 383-page tome that tackled a vast subject matter: the meaning of history. It became Harvard lore that his daunting manuscript which, unrefined but brilliant, prompted the university to impose a rule limiting the length of future theses; however, according to Walter Issacson’s 1992 biography, this “Kissinger Rule” is most likely a myth. Upon graduating summa cum laude in 1950, Kissinger decided to remain at Harvard to pursue a Ph.D. in the Department of Government. His 1954 dissertation, A World Restored: Metternich, Castlereagh, and the Problems of Peace, 1812-1822, examined the efforts of Austrian diplomat Klemens von Metternich to reestablish a legitimate international order in Europe in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars. Metternich proved a profound influence on Kissinger's own later conduct of foreign policy, most notably in his firm belief that even a deeply flawed world order was preferable to revolution and chaos. After receiving his doctorate in 1954, Kissinger accepted an offer to stay at Harvard as a member of the faculty in the Department of Government. Kissinger first achieved widespread fame in academic circles with his 1957 book Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy, opposing President Dwight Eisenhower's policy of holding out the threat of massive retaliation to ward off Soviet aggression. Instead, Kissinger proposed a "flexible" response model, arguing that a limited war fought with conventional forces and tactical nuclear weapons was, in fact, winnable. He served as a member of the Harvard faculty from 1954-69, earning tenure in 1959.
Washington Career
Kissinger always kept one eye outside academia on policymaking in Washington, D.C. From 1961-68, in addition to teaching at Harvard, he served as a special advisor to Presidents John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson on matters of foreign policy. Then in 1969, Kissinger finally left Harvard when incoming President Richard Nixon appointed him as national security advisor. Serving in that role from 1969-75, and then as secretary of state from 1973-77, Kissinger would prove one of the most dominant, influential and controversial statesmen in American history.
Vietnam War
The great foreign policy trial of Kissinger's career was the Vietnam War. By the time he became national security advisor in 1969, the Vietnam War had become enormously costly, deadly and unpopular. Seeking to achieve "peace with honor," Kissinger combined diplomatic initiatives and troop withdrawals with devastating bombing campaigns on North Vietnam, designed to improve the American bargaining position and maintain the country's credibility with its international allies and enemies.
Winning the Nobel Peace Prize
On January 27, 1973, Kissinger and his North Vietnamese negotiating partner, Le Duc Tho, finally signed a ceasefire agreement to end direct American involvement in the conflict. Both men were honored with the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize, although Duc declined, leaving Kissinger the sole recipient of the award. Nevertheless, Kissinger's handling of the Vietnam War was highly controversial. His "peace with honor" strategy prolonged the war for four years, from 1969-73, during which 22,000 American troops and countless Vietnamese died. Furthermore, he initiated a secret bombing campaign in Cambodia that ravaged the country and helped the genocidal Khmer Rouge take power there.
Chinese-American Relations, Yom Kippur War
In addition to ending the Vietnam War, Kissinger also accomplished a host of other foreign policy achievements. In 1971, he made two secret trips to the People's Republic of China, paving the way for President Nixon's historic visit in 1972 and the normalization of Chinese-American relations in 1979. Kissinger was also instrumental in bringing about the early 1970s détente between the United States and the Soviet Union. In 1972, he negotiated the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I) and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, helping to ease tensions between the two Cold War superpowers. When détente was threatened by the October 1973 Yom Kippur War between Israel, an American ally, and Egypt, a Soviet ally, Kissinger proved crucial in leading diplomatic efforts to prevent the war from escalating into a global confrontation.
Advising Presidents Reagan and Bush
Kissinger stepped down as secretary of state at the conclusion of the Gerald Ford administration in 1977, but he continued to play a major role in American foreign policy. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan appointed him to chair the National Bipartisan Commission on Central America, and from 1984-90, under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, he served on the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. Kissinger founded the international consulting firm Kissinger Associates in 1982, and he serves as a board member and trustee to numerous companies and foundations. Additionally, he has authored several books and countless articles on American foreign policy and diplomatic history.
Foreign Policy Legacy
Henry Kissinger stands out as the dominant American statesman and foreign policymaker of the late 20th century. With his intellectual prowess and tough, skillful negotiating style, Kissinger ended the Vietnam War and greatly improved American relations with its two primary Cold War enemies, China and the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, Kissinger's ruthlessly pragmatic, sometimes Machiavellian tactics have earned him as many critics as admirers. The writer Christopher Hitchens, for example, has castigated Kissinger for bombing Cambodia, endorsing the Indonesian occupation of East Timor and orchestrating the overthrow of Chilean President Salvador Allende. Regardless of whether they praise or despise him, commentators agree that the current international order is the product of Kissinger's policies. As Kissinger himself put it, "Only rarely in history do statesmen find an environment in which all factors are so malleable; before us, I thought, was the chance to shape events, to build a new world, harnessing the energy and dreams of the American people and mankind's hopes." Early Life
Henry Kissinger was born Heinz Alfred Kissinger on May 27, 1923, in Fürth, a city in the Bavaria region of Germany. Kissinger's mother, Paula Stern, came from a relatively wealthy and prominent family, and his father, Louis Kissinger, was a teacher. Kissinger grew up in an Orthodox Jewish household, and during his youth he spent two hours each day diligently studying the Bible and the Talmud. The interwar Germany of Kissinger's youth was still reeling from its defeat in World War I and the humiliating and debilitating terms of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles. Such national emasculation gave rise to the intense German nationalism of Nazism, in which many Germans increasingly maltreated Germany's Jewish population. Kissinger excelled at the local Jewish school and dreamed of attending the Gymnasium, a prestigious state-run high school. However, by the time he was old enough to apply, the school had stopped accepting Jews. Sensing the impending tragedy of the Holocaust, his family decided to flee Germany for the United States in 1938, when Kissinger was 15 years old.

US ambassador to Estonia resigns 'over Trump comments'. 30 June 2018

James D Melville is a career diplomat who has held senior posts in several European countries. The US ambassador to Estonia is resigning, reportedly in frustration at remarks made by President Donald Trump about America's European allies. James D Melville said Mr Trump's comments on Nato and the EU had brought forward his decision to retire, Foreign Policy magazine reports. The magazine was quoting from a private Facebook post by the envoy.
Mr Trump accuses Europeans of unfairly expecting America to shoulder the costs of the Nato alliance. He has also imposed trade tariffs on some EU industries. Other US diplomats left their posts early in recent months:
In January, US ambassador to Panama John Feeley resigned saying he was no longer able to serve under President Trump. A month earlier, Elizabeth Shackelford resigned from her post in Nairobi where she had worked for the US mission to Somalia, saying she was quitting because the US had abandoned human rights as a priority, Foreign Policy reports. In the private Facebook post seen by Foreign Policy, Mr Melville reportedly told friends: "For the president to say the EU was 'set up to take advantage of the United States, to attack our piggy bank', or that 'Nato is as bad as Nafta [the North American Free Trade Agreement]' is not only factually wrong, but proves to me that it's time to go." Mr Melville is a career diplomat and took up his position as ambassador in Estonia in 2015 after being nominated by then President Barack Obama. He had previously held senior diplomatic posts in several European countries and speaks Russian, German and French, according to his biography on the US state department website. Nato has stepped up exercises in the Baltic states in recent years. A state department spokesperson confirmed Mr Melville's intention to resign on 29 July. President Trump reiterated his criticism of fellow Nato members on Friday while on a flight from Washington to his private golf club in New Jersey. He told reporters on board Air Force One that countries including Germany, Spain and France had to increase their financial contributions to the bloc.
It's not fair what they've done to the United States," he said. "The United States is paying much more disproportionately to anyone else." His remarks come less than two weeks before a Nato summit in Brussels.

Banks told to reveal tech meltdown plans. 6 July 2018
UK banks have been told to explain how they would cope with a technology failure or cyber-attack. The Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority have given financial firms three months to detail how they would respond if their systems failed. Some TSB customers were left unable to access online banking for more than a month following a botched systems upgrade in April. Banks could be ordered to take action if their plans are judged to be poor. The Bank of England and FCA have emphasised that senior management at banks will be held accountable for prolonged disruption to services. The two organisations have launched a consultation seeking the views of customers as well as banks, insurers and other financial institutions. The regulators have warned that upgrading computer systems to match services provided by newer financial start-ups could lead to service disruption. In certain conditions, they have suggested that two days is an acceptable limit for disruption to service. "Operational disruption can impact financial stability, threaten the viability of individual firms and financial market infrastructures, or cause harm to consumers," said FCA chief executive Andrew Bailey and the Bank of England's Jon Cunliffe, in a statement. If the contingency plans put forward by banks and other financial institutions are judged to be unsuitable, they could be ordered to make their systems more resilient.

MP Danielle Rowley says she's on her period and highlights 'unaffordable' products. After apologising for arriving late in the Commons, Labour's Danielle Rowley tells MPs she is on her period as she highlights the cost of sanitary products. She says the average £500 annual cost is unaffordable for many women. Women's Minister Victoria Atkins says the government will be removing VAT from sanitary products after it leaves the EU. 28 Jun 2018.

Russia Fans Celebrate Like CRAZY In Moscow After Win Over Spain - Russia 2018 World Cup, Jul 1, 2018

England v Panama - Fans Celebrate England Goal At Isle Of Wight Festival - Russia World Cup 2018 ENGLAND FANS SINGING IN RUSSIA!!! | World Cup 2018 CHANTS! Jun 24, 2018. Еngland Fans Party on Streets of London Bridge After Belgium Game - World Cup 2018

Russia Fans Celebrate Penalty Shootout Win Over Spain - Russia 2018 World Cup Jul 1, 2018

TO MOSCOW, WE'RE ON OUR WAY!!!!" | Russia World Cup 2018 Vlog Colombia vs England will take place in Moscow and this video includes the beginning of my journey across Russia to make this match! Jun 30, 2018


Videos English Russia : “Can you believe it? We won!” Some Funny Photos from Russia. Red Square now. Some climb the Kremlin towers! You are the Top! Anapa, Russia, Summer 2018. Cosmonauts watched game too. Russian fan asks cop if can drink alcohol on street:“You Russian? You can’t!” Fan:“Foreigners can?” Cop:“Foreigners can.” Russian safari. Scientist from Saransk, Russia hosts a mayor of Colombia city Florida Blanca who got lost and confused two Russian cities (together with his wife). Russian railway:The cost of the service - soul (I don't know who could translate this russian sign into english this funny way, but it really means 200 rubbles for a shower in this toilet! LM)! “My children met four Mexican women near our house. Their booked hotel wasn’t working, so they were left on the street. We invited them, fed them, found them a new hotel. That’s fine!” Mexican and Russian police. Russia South plan to settle 15,000 white South Africans. Dr. Slebus going to visit place to see if it fits. Sharliz Teron (photo) one of most famous South Africans.

England Fans Celebrate 6-1 Win over Panama. In Nizhny Novgorod - Russia World Cup 2018 Jun 24, 2018

New Italian Minister Salvini Wants Russia As Partner Against EU's Plan to Flood Europe With Aliens. Jun 24, 2018

FEMA Orders 16,000 Guillotine Blades From Mexico. Mar 18, 2018.

Pakistan election: More than 100 die in bomb attacks on poll rallies. 13 July 2018

It is the deadliest militant attack in Pakistan since 2014. A suicide bomber has killed at least 128 people at a campaign rally in south-western Pakistan - the deadliest attack in the country since 2014. A local candidate was among the dead in the Mastung town, police say. So-called Islamic State (IS) claimed the attack. Earlier, a bomb attack on a similar rally in the northern town of Bannu killed four people. The attacks come ahead of general elections on 25 July. Meanwhile, former PM Nawaz Sharif was arrested after flying home from the UK. Sharif and his daughter Maryam were taken into custody by officials from the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) after landing in the northern city of Lahore. They were then put on a chartered plane bound for Pakistan's capital Islamabad. They were later transferred to a local prison.
The three-term PM was ousted last year after a corruption investigation. Last week he was sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison. He has accused Pakistan's powerful security establishment of conspiring against him ahead of the elections. What is known about Friday's attacks? More than 150 people were injured in Mastung, officials say. The bomb was detonated inside a crowded compound in Mastung. Among those killed was Baluchistan provincial assembly candidate Siraj Raisani, his family said. He was a candidate for the Balochistan Awami party. Local officials say the attacker detonated a bomb inside a crowded compound where the campaign rally was being held. "Human remains and red bloody pieces of flesh were littered everywhere in the compound," local journalist Attah Ullah was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency. "Injured people were crying in pain and fear," the journalist said. IS militants later used their news outlet to claim the group carried out the attack. IS has carried out a number of attacks in the region bordering Afghanistan in recent years. However, security has improved since the military managed to clear large swathes of territory. Friday's bombing was the deadliest attack since militants from the Pakistani Taliban assaulted an army-run school in Peshawar in December 2014, killing 141 people, 132 of them children. Earlier in the day, a campaign convoy of another candidate was attacked in Bannu. Akram Khan Durrani, who represents the MMA party, was unhurt, officials say. No group has so far claimed responsibility for that attack. These attacks are unexpected as they come amid claims by the army that militants have been cleared from Pakistan's western regions on the Afghan border, which have become a sanctuary for the Taliban. A war of nerves between Pakistan's military and Sharif. Pakistan's general election. Voters will elect candidates for the 342-seat Pakistan National Assembly. The main parties are Nawaz Sharif's PML-N, former cricketer Imran Khan's PTI and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari's PPP. It will mark the second time that one civilian government has handed power to another after serving a full term. The run-up to the vote has been marred by what observers say is a crackdown on political activists, journalists and critics of the powerful military. More than 371,000 troops will be deployed to protect the election and ensure it is "free and fair", the army says.

World Cup 2018: Nearly 900 check-in for Russia flights. 10 July 2018

Airport staff set aside an area of Heathrow to get fans in the mood for the World Cup semi-final. Hundreds of World Cup football fans have raced to Heathrow Airport to check-in for last-minute flights to Russia. England take on Croatia at the Luznihki Stadium in Moscow on Wednesday night in the World Cup semi-final. One England fan told the BBC he spent £7,000 on tickets for the semi-final and flights. British Airways said 860 passengers had booked onto flights to Moscow and St Petersburg, amid a "party atmosphere". The airline put on bigger planes for the two routes in order to cope with the demand for seats. Part of the airport was transformed to get fans in the mood for the semi-final. Extra champagne was loaded onto the four flights to Russia. Much larger Boeing 777 planes, which can carry about 390 passengers, replaced the normal domestic-sized planes which tend to carry 140 passengers on the routes to the Russian cities. British Airways said "searches for flights to Russia went up by 2000%" after England beat Sweden in the quarter-finals. England fans in mad dash to Moscow. One fan, Charlie, 15, said his schoolfriends "did not know" he had managed to get tickets to go. He said: "I think it is coming home, and England are going to win 2-1 in extra time." Another fan, Steve, said he "had been through five hours of sheer hell" to get his hands on match tickets which cost him $750 in a re-sale. Three flights to Moscow and one to St Petersburg are set to leave Heathrow over the course of the da. Lots of England fans young and old have rushed by me towards the planes taking them to Russia. Just like any other day, there are some who have made the flights with seconds to spare - which is just as well as there are no more seats left. For those here early, they were given a free navy waistcoat to mark Gareth Southgate's touchline look. It is certainly a fun atmosphere, some fans I have spoken to feel this is the opportunity of a lifetime had have spent a lot of money to follow England.

Disturbances in Belfast and Londonderry on Eleventh Night. Firefighters have been attacked, petrol bombs thrown and cars set alight during disturbances across Northern Ireland. Most of the trouble was centred on Londonderry, east Belfast and parts of County Down as traditional Eleventh Night bonfires were lit in loyalist areas.
The fire service said there was a 23% increase in bonfire related incidents compared to last year. 12 July 2018

Sir Christopher Meyer attacked at Tube station. 12 July 2018
Sir Christopher Meyer was the British ambassador to the US between 1997 and 2003. An ex-British ambassador to the US, Sir Christopher Meyer, is in hospital after being attacked at an underground station in London. His wife, Lady Catherine Meyer, said he was changing Tube lines at Victoria Station on Wednesday afternoon when he was set upon. She said he may have a broken nose and his eye was swollen "like a balloon". Police said two teenagers had been arrested on suspicion of assault occasioning grievous bodily harm. A 16-year-old boy from Hillingdon and a 15-year-old girl from Croydon have been released under investigation while enquiries continue. Describing her husband's condition Lady Meyer said: "He is not allowed to eat or drink. "He's a strong lad and his spirits are not bad. He has a patch over his left eye which has thankfully stopped bleeding." He is waiting to hear whether or not he would be operated on for injuries to his hand and face, she added. Lady Meyer said: "I am a wife who is angry that her husband has been beaten badly. "As you get older it's harder to recover from this sort of thing." She added: "I think we really need to stop this, if you can't walk in London because of fear of being attacked brutally. "99% [of people] are kind and nice, but 1% are nasty. "We need to look at the facts and start doing something more aggressive against this type of violence... we need to be tougher." British Transport Police urged any witnesses to the incident to call them on 0800 40 50 40 or text 61016, with the reference 334 of 11 July.

World Cup 2018: Croatia fans ecstatic after ousting England. Croatia beat England 2-1 to reach World Cup final

Croatia v England 2:1 - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ - Match 62. Jul 11, 2018. Mario Mandzukic is the hero for Croatia as his country qualify for their first ever FIFA World Cup final, after they come from behind to defeat England.

England Fans React: Cry & Tears to World Cup 2018 Final Croatia's Win

Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa. Biography
Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa /ˈkreɪdoʊ ˈmʊtwə/ (born 21 July 1921) is a Zulu sangoma (traditional healer) from South Africa. He is known as an author of books on stories mixing traditional Zulu folklore, extraterrestrial encounters and his own personal encounters. His most recent work is a graphic novel called the Tree of Life Trilogy based on his writings of his most famous book, Indaba my Children. Credo calls himself a sanusi (common spelling isanuse) which is a type of Zulu diviner or sangoma. The term stems from a more historic time and is not widely used today, even in a traditional setting. Credo currently lives with his wife, Virginia, in Kuruman where they run a hospice clinic.
Early life
His father was a widower with three surviving children when he met his mother. His father was a builder and a Christian and his mother was a young Zulu girl. Caught between Catholic missionaries on one hand, and a stubborn old Zulu warrior, Credo Mutwa's maternal grandfather, his parents had no choice but to separate. Credo was born out of wedlock, which caused a great scandal in the village and his mother was thrown out by her father. Later he was taken in by one of his aunts. He was subsequently raised by his father's brother and was taken to the South Coast of Natal (present day KwaZulu-Natal), near the northern bank of the Mkomazi River. He did not attend school until he was 14 years old. In 1935 his father found a building job in the old Transvaal province and the whole family relocated to where he was building.
After falling severely ill, he was taken back to KwaZulu-Natal by his uncle. Where Christian doctors had failed, his grandfather, a man whom his father despised as a heathen and demon worshipper, helped him back to health. At this point Credo began to question many of the things about his people the missionaries would have them believe. "Were we Africans really a race of primitives who possessed no knowledge at all before the white man came to Africa?" he asked himself. His grandfather instilled in him the belief that his illness was a sacred calling, that he was to become a sangoma, a healer. He underwent thwasa (sangoma training and initiation) with his grandfather and mother's sister, a young sangoma named Mynah. Kwa-Khaya Lendaba cultural village. Initiation area of the Kwa-Khaya Lendaba Cultural village in Soweto.
In 1974, Credo obtained a piece of land on the Oppenheimer gardens in Soweto in order to create an African cultural village. He created many sculptures and populated the village with huts and symbols, that he claimed was secret African mythology. The village was primary designed for tourism to promote African culture and was generally ignored by the Sowetan locals, partly due to the unfamiliarity of the mythology, that was being represented. Credo believed that the great unrest in Johannesburg and the popularisation of communism in the black struggle drew Africans away from their traditional roots. Unlike most political activists, he actually supported a separation between white and black in order to preserve black traditional tribal customs and way of life. In 1976, students partially burnt down the cultural village after he was misquoted on Afrikaans radio, as they saw the village promoting tribalism and separate development. Parts of the village was burnt again in the mid 80's during a strike against the West Rand city council. Following the murder of his son by black political activists and the second burning of his village, Credo moved away from Soweto and developed a cultural tourist village in Lotlamoreng, Mahikeng, (known at that time as Bophuthatswana). Here he supervised the building of small cultural villages, each representing the traditional cultures of the main South African tribal peoples. The Kwa-Khaya Lendaba cultural village in Soweto is currently being restored and is still open to the public free of charge. Tour guides are available from the caretaker of the village. Prophetic Sculptures.
Although many of the sculptures at Kwa-Khaya Lendaba were unfamiliar to the Africans they were meant to represent, a number of them have been said to be prophetic in nature. Most notably, was claims of predicting the coming of HIV/AIDS to South Africa. Claims of his other predictions include the destruction of World Trade Centres in the September 11 attacks, Chris Hani’s assassination and the ousting of president Thabo Mbeki, among others. Traditional treatments of HIV/AIDS.
Credo has been an active and vocal advocate in the use of traditional African medicines for the treatment of HIV/AIDS, cancer and tuberculosis. He created a trust called the Vulinda Trust in 1999 to preserve traditional knowledge and to promote the use of these traditional medicines. The primary focus of his research has been on a South African plant called unwele in Zulu (Sutherlandia frutescens). Unwele is traditionally used as a well being tonic, however has demonstrated anticancer activity through in vitro studies. Research of the efficacy of Sutherlandia frutescens in the treatment of HIV/AIDS is ongoing and phase IIb trials are being conducted at the South African Herbal Science and Medicine Institute (SAHSMI).

Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa. Biography
Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa was born on 21 July 1921 in Zululand, Natal (now kwaZulu-Natal). His father’s first wife with whom he had three children died of influenza.
Mutwa’s parents met in 1920. At the time his father was a builder belonging to the Christian faith, while his mother (a young Zulu girl) practiced the ancient religion of the Zulu people. The missionaries forbade his father to marry his mother unless she converted to Christianity. Her father (Mutwa’s maternal grandfather), however, was a hardened warrior who had fought against the British and, in turn, forbade her to become a Christian. Caught between two irreconcilable belief systems, the couple had no choice but to separate, even though Mutwa’s mother was already pregnant. During that time it was still a great shame to have a child born out of wedlock. When the pregnancy was discovered, a scandal broke loose and his mother was chased out of his grandfather’s house. One of her aunts took her in and the child was born in her own village. After a while, her father forgave Mutwa’s mother and they were allowed to return to his homestead – on condition that she will never see his father again. 
When he was a year old, a younger brother of Mutwa’s father came to ask his grandfather permission to take him away. He was taken to his father’s home in the south of Natal on the bank of the Umkumazi River. While growing up he discovered that he had prophetic powers, as well as an artistic inclination evident in his drawings and sculptures. His stepmother did not like this and tried to suppress his artistic talent. His father’s profession as a builder meant that they never stayed long in any one place.  In 1935 he found a major building job which took the family to the Transvaal (now Gauteng) and at the age of 14 Mutwa started to attend school. He attended different schools off and on and in 1937 was violently attacked by a gang of mineworkers, which caused him to be ill for a long time. When White doctors failed to cure him, his uncle came and took him back to his mother’s village where his grandfather brought him back to health. He began questioning his Catholic upbringing with those who had taught him that people like his grandfather were ungodly savages and heathens. At this point his grandfather told him that his illness was in fact a sacred illness that beckoned him to become a “shaman” or healer. He was initiated and became a Sangoma. When his father and stepmother heard about this, he was told never to set foot in their house again. Mutwa’s travels began right after this. Having no home to go back to, he left for Swaziland and developed a love for travel for it gave him an opportunity to gain knowledge and to search for the truth about his people. During 1946 and 1948 he travelled with Catholic priests and in 1958 with the owner of the curio shop where he had been working since 1954. He gained experience that only those who walk the path of an African healer could experience. He listened to stories told by storytellers that dated back to the remotest of times. Gradually he came under the impression that Africa was changing and that the culture of his people would soon be forgotten. Mutwa sought a way to preserve this disappearing culture and friends advised him to write books about it. After several failed attempts to find money from banks and donor organisations, he finally succeeded in 1975 to establish a living museum right in the heart of Soweto, Kwa-Khaya Lendaba. He was severely criticised by many Black people who misunderstood his intentions and accused him of "glamorising the Soweto ghetto".  In the 1976 youth uprising parts of the cultural village was burnt down by militant youths. During a strike in 1980, striking workers burnt down parts of Kwa-Khaya Lendaba. He left the area soon after this incident. Mutwa was revered for his predictions of world events, including the destruction of New York’s World Trade Centre in 2001, the 1976 June 16 uprising, HIV, Chris Hani’s assassination, load shedding and the ousting of President Thabo Mbeki. By the age of 91, Mutwa was living in Kuruman and had all but completely disappeared from the public eye. During his lifetime he has written several books: “Indaba, my children” (1960), “Song of the Stars: The Lore of a Zulu Shaman” (1996), “Zulu Shaman: Dreams, Prophecies, and Mysteries” (2003) and “Woman of Four Paths: The Strange Story of a Black Woman in South Africa” (2007).

Four intriguing lines in Mueller indictment. 13 July 2018 (and again American Jews are in charge of public opinion! LM)


Call it the Friday the 13th surprise. In painstaking detail, Robert Mueller's special counsel team laid out what it alleges was a concerted effort by the Russian military to hack the Democratic National Committee and senior-level Clinton campaign officials and disseminate private documents in order to disrupt and influence the 2016 US presidential election. The Russians also attempted to infiltrate local election systems and software, although Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein says that there is no evidence that they "altered the vote count or changed any election result". The Trump White House has picked up on this line, issuing a statement reiterating that there have been no allegations of "knowing involvement by anyone on the campaign" or that the hacking "affected the election result". That isn't what Mr Rosenstein and the special counsel's court filings concluded, however. The deputy attorney general said it was "not our responsibility" to assess to what extent Russian involvement influenced the 2016 election bla bla bla...

World Cup 2018: Swedes reject racism after group stage win. 28 June 2018


Annika Strandhall, Sweden's sports minister, showed her support for Jimmy Durmaz by wearing his shirt to parliament. As Sweden thumped Mexico 3-0 to top their group and qualify for the World Cup's knockout stages, Swedes took to social media to celebrate the victory and reject racism. A last-gasp 2-1 defeat to Germany in their previous fixture had left Sweden's hopes of progression in doubt. Winger Jimmy Durmaz, born in Sweden to Assyrian parents, who emigrated from Turkey, was racially abused in the aftermath of that game. But on Wednesday a hashtag, which translates as #WeAreSweden, was used thousands of times on Twitter, as Swedes celebrated their victory - and rejected the racism, which had followed defeat. "When you threaten me, when you can call me a terrorist, then you have gone far beyond the border," Durmaz said in a statement on Sunday. "I am proud to play in the Swedish national team and I will never let any racists destroy that pride. We must avoid all forms of racism."
On Wednesday morning, before the Mexico game, Sweden's sports minister, Annika Strandhall, posted a picture of herself wearing a Sweden shirt bearing Durmaz's name and number. The image was widely shared and liked across Facebook and Twitter. Others shared their own messages of support for Durmaz. Social media user Bosse Zakrisson, who had won his shirt after a competition launched by former Tottenham and Sweden defender Erik Edman, also posted a picture of himself wearing Durmaz's name and number on his back. "The whole team delivers," he wrote. "Everyone works together. No-one should be thrown under the bus. Teamwork. Team sports. Go Sweden." And that afternoon, as an own goal from Mexico defender Edson Alvarez put Sweden three-up with little more than 15 minutes to play, their fans began to celebrate in earnest. "Such joy all over Sweden in every house and apartment," stand-up comedian and TV personality Ozz Nujen wrote. "We lose together and we win together. This one's for you Jimmy Durmaz," wrote another. Sweden's World Cup continues on Tuesday, when they face Switzerland in the last 16. Women finally allowed in Iranian football stadium.

World Cup 2018: Women finally allowed in Iranian football stadium. 21 June 2018

fpGirlsMascaradingAsMenFootballFansIran.jpg  MPTayyebehSiavashiIran2018.jpg  WorldCup2018WomenFansIran.jpg  IranianGovernment.jpg

Delighted women shared photos of themselves inside Tehran's Azadi stadium. To the sound of horns, chanting and laughing, women were finally allowed inside football stadiums in Iran on Wednesday, fulfilling lifelong dreams of watching a game. The last time women were able to attend a football match in Iran was in 1979, but on Wednesday female fans entered the Azadi stadium in Tehran to watch their team play Spain in the 2018 World Cup. Following the match the Azadi stadium said "there will be no problem" for women hoping to watch a screening of Iran's upcoming match, against Portugal on Monday. Selfies taken by women inside the grounds circulated on social media and the Iranian football team tweeted a photo of a young woman in the stands holding the national flag. Five women had previously been inside the Azadi stadium, in May - but they were wearing beards and wigs to disguise themselves as men. Although there is no official ban on women entering sports venues in the conservative country, the religious establishment has refused to relax restrictions and police usually prevent women attending. Women have previously been punished for attending matches, including in March when 35 women were detained for trying to attend a football game. After it was announced on Wednesday morning that women and families could watch the Iran-Spain match, women queued outside the Azadi stadium with their tickets. But they found that security forces were blocking the entrance claiming that the plan had been cancelled due to "infrastructure issues". Russian MP: Avoid sex with foreign men during World Cup. Fans started to chant in protest and some staged a sit-in, saying they would not leave until they were allowed in. Videos of the protests circulated on social media and hashtag #Azadi_cancellation trended on Twitter, with nearly 2,000 posts in an hour. After a special order by the Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani-Fazli, fans were let in an hour before kick-off. Women shared their delight online at being allowed inside for the first time in their lives. Reformist MP Tayyebeh Siavashi tweeted a photo of herself in the stands, writing that women and men should be allowed to be happy together. The monumental moment didn't escape the attention of Spain's captain Sergio Ramos. Although his team won the match, he tweeted that the victory belonged to Iranian women. In Russia, Iranian women who travelled to watch the game live also celebrated attending their first match. Although women are expected to be able to attend further World Cup screenings next week, many believe it less likely that permission will be extended for the upcoming Iranian Premier League.

Croatia Lost but it's President Kolinda Won Hearts,FIFA WC Last moments  Jul 15, 2018

Macron celebrates with Croatian president, then ‘dabs’ with Mendy. Jul 16, 2018

Presidents of Croatia and France kiss not on protocol World Cup final. Jul 16, 2018

President of croatia crying. Jul 16, 2018. President of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović cry after the Fifa world cup final 2018. she smile many time even the loos they country but tiers came overtake the smile finally, but she giving her best and warm wishes for every one .

France Fans Celebrate to World Cup 2018 Victory | France v Croatia (4-2) Jul 15, 2018


New Zealand. Hospitals running on skeleton staff as nurses strike across the country. Jul 11, 2018. The 24 hour strike over pay and work conditions began at 7am today.

World Cup celebrations turn violent. Police used water to disperse crowds when violence erupted after France's win over Croatia. 16 July 2018

Eritrea President Isaias Afwerki 'both charismatic and brutal'. 13 July 2018 - video

President Isaias Afwerki (left) welcomed Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to Asmara. Saturday's visit of Eritrea's President Isaias Afwerki to Addis Ababa, the capital of its neighbour Ethiopia, is a remarkable turnaround for the 72-year-old independence leader who has been isolated diplomatically and seen as secretive and paranoid. A few weeks ago, Ethiopia and Eritrea were enemies, as they had been for the past two decades, yet now they are behaving as if they are the best of friends. Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is set to reciprocate the welcome he received in Eritrea's capital, Asmara, last Sunday. There, the two men embraced warmly and declared an end to the state of war. This is a new phase in the president's relationship with Ethiopia, which has largely defined his life. As a young leader, Isaias Afwerki was hailed as a new type of African president He was born in 1946 in Asmara, which was, at the time, under British administration. In 1962 it was annexed by Ethiopia. In 1965 he went to Addis Ababa to study engineering at Haile Selassie University but left a year later to join the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF), which was fighting for independence. Mr Isaias was among the first group of fighters to travel to China in 1967 for military and ideological training. On his return he, along with others, agitated for change within the ELF but then went on to form a new party, the Eritrean People's Liberation Front. 'Renaissance leader'
After a decades-long David-and-Goliath struggle, Eritrea held a referendum on independence in 1993, which was approved by 99% of voters. Mr Isaias remains the only president the country has known. In the early years he was hailed as a new type of African president. Then-US President Bill Clinton referred to him as a "renaissance African leader". At an Organisation of African Unity summit in Cairo in 1993, he blasted fellow heads of state for staying in power for too long and rejected a cult of personality. In Ethiopia, there used to be portraits of Marxist military ruler Mengistu Hailemariam on display everywhere and on coming to power, Mr Isaias made a conscious effort to reject this approach. Nevertheless he was greatly revered in Eritrea. He appeared austere, serious and scary from a distance, but some who met him had a different impression. They speak about a helpful and supportive man who had a good sense of humour and made people laugh. His reputation has since undergone a transformation. He has never been elected, has stopped any attempts to hold an election and in a 2009 confidential message from the US ambassador in Eritrea, he was described as an "unhinged dictator". Ambassador Ronald K McMullen wrote, in a document released in a tranche of Wikileaks cables, that President Isaias was "cruel and defiant". In the same year, the African Union urged the United Nations to sanction Eritrea over its alleged support of Islamist militants in Somalia. A charge that Eritrea denied. The leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea greeted each other warmly. Some see his 2001 jailing of prominent leaders of the independence movement, who had been critical of his presidency, as a turning point. The detention of journalists and anyone who appeared