Lebanons cannabis heartland Bekaa hopes for legalization

first_imgYAMMOUNE, Lebanon – In the fields of this quiet village surrounded by mountains, men and women work clearing dirt and dry leaves from around cannabis plants, a major source of livelihoods in this impoverished corner of Lebanon,The fertile Bekaa Valley in eastern Lebanon has long been notorious as one of the world’s major narcotics-growing regions, producing some of the finest quality cannabis, mostly processed into hashish. Today, the country is the third biggest producer in the world after Morocco and Afghanistan, according to the U.N.But the valley’s residents have rarely felt the benefits. Now they are hoping their work will soon become legal after decades of crackdowns and raids.This week, a draft bill was introduced in parliament that would allow cultivation and use of cannabis for medical purposes.The idea has fueled dreams of Lebanon raking in hundreds of millions of dollars in sales and exports, a desperately needed source of income for a country weighed down by low growth, high unemployment and one of the heaviest debt burdens in the world.The legal industry will also create jobs and bring order in the Bekaa, a region notorious for lawlessness, proponents say.“I want to find a solution for what’s going on,” said legislator Antoine Habchi, who sent the bill to parliament. The aim is to “allow farmers to live with dignity.”Habchi, who hails from cannabis-growing part of the Bekaa region, said the bill would bring economic returns and would include provisions to prevent and treat addiction.Under the bill, cultivation would be tightly controlled. Private pharmaceutical companies would provide seeds and seedlings to farmers and during harvest plants would be counted to make sure nothing had been diverted. The size of fields would be regulated.It will likely take months for the bill to go through discussions before it can come to a vote. Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri last week informed U.S. ambassador Elizabeth Richard that the legislature was working on the draft bill. In the past, the United States has provided aid for counter-narcotics efforts in Lebanon, trying to stem the trade.The move is not without controversy.The northern parts of the Bekaa Valley where cannabis is widely grown is under the influence of the militant group Hezbollah, which opposes the use and production of all types of drugs. The group and its allies dominate parliament; it has not said whether it would try to stop the bill.The United States has repeatedly accused Hezbollah of drug trafficking, charges that the group strongly denies.Legalization seems to have gained traction in Lebanon after global consulting firm McKinsey & Co. included it among its suggestions in a government-commissioned study on ways to boost Lebanon’s economy.Still, economists are split on the benefits.Louis Hobeika, an economist at Lebanon’s Notre-Dame University, warned that cannabis profits won’t go to state coffers or citizens but will be devoured by the widespread corruption among the ruling elite.“This is a move that aims to finance the political mafia in Lebanon,” he said.Habchi disagrees, saying farmers and workers would finally have their rights in the trade. Traditionally, drug dealers benefit most, imposing a purchase price on farmers then selling the product for high higher prices.The Bekaa became notorious for the drug trade during the 1975-1990 civil war, producing some $500 million a year in opium and cannabis. After the war, authorities launched crackdowns on the fields and encouraged alternative crops like potatoes, tomatoes and apples.Cannabis planting bloomed once more after Syria’s civil war erupted in 2011 and Lebanese authorities shifted attention to other security concerns.Driving through villages in the Baalbek and Hermel regions in eastern Lebanon, cannabis can be seen planted on the side of roads and in gardens. At some cases, security force’s checkpoints are only a few hundred meters (yards) away. There are more than 40,000 arrest warrants against locals in the Bekaa Valley, many drug-related.Most often, authorities prefer to turn a blind eye.Well armed residents are ready to fend off any force trying to destroy their fields. When security forces move in to destroy fields with bulldozers and trucks, they can come under barrages of automatic weapons fire or even rocket-propelled grenades.On Monday, troops surrounded a compound in the village of Hamoudiyeh run by a notorious drug dealer, Ali Zeyd Ismail, who had dozens of warrants against him. An hours-long battle left eight people dead, including Ismail, who was known as Lebanon’s Escobar after the late top Colombian drug trafficker Pablo Escobar.Hashish is also smuggled out of the country. Hardly a week passes without authorities saying that they busted drugs at the airport or seaports.Legalization could turn that into a legal export market. Several countries in Europe and South America, as well as Australia and Canada allow imports of medical cannabis. Canada and the Netherlands dominate exports. Several U.S. states allow medical or recreational cannabis, but importing is illegal.In the Bekaa, farmers welcome legalization, saying it would bring badly needed jobs.“Let them deal with it the way they deal with tobacco,” said Mayez Shreif, referring to a state-run company that monopolizes tobacco purchases from farmers. He spoke one morning this week as he ate fruit and drank coffee in a garden near cannabis fields.The 65-year-old Shreif has worked for decades at cannabis plantations in Yammoune. The area’s dry weather, its elevation above sea level and its local springs come together to make some of the finest product in the world.Residents have tried planting apples, tomatoes and potatoes, but most often lost money, he said. Growing potatoes costs 15 times as much as cannabis and earns far less. With cannabis, the farmer just puts seeds and water and it grows, he said.In Yammoune, a Syrian who has worked for seven years in cannabis fields said his Lebanese boss pays him $500 a month, seven times the average salary in Syria. He asked that his name not be used for fear of reprisals from authorities.“Hashish keeps me employed for much of the year,” he said.last_img read more

Hassan II Mosque Among the Worlds Most Beautiful Mosques Telegraph

Rabat – Daily British newspaper the Telegraph has ranked the Grand Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca and the Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakech among the world’s most beautiful mosques.The Grand Hassan II Mosque, named after the late King of Morocco Hassan II, is ranked seventh out of twenty-five mosques seen by the British newspaper as the world’s most beautiful.“The Grande Mosquee Hassan II proudly supports the world’s tallest minaret, at 210 metres,” said the newspaper in its description of the mosque. “The World’s third largest mosque, it is the only such building in Morocco that non-Muslims can enter. It stands proud on the seafront in Casablanca, and the seabed is visible through the glass floor in the hall,” the Telegraph added.The Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakech landed in the 25th spot. The mosque, which stands near the Djemaa El-Fna Square in the center of the Red City, is one of the “most intricate and impressively decorated minarets in Sunni Islam,” according to the British newspaper.Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Isfahan, Iran is ranked 1st as the most beautiful mosque in the world. Built in the early 17th century under the reign of Shah Abbas I, the mosque does not have a courtyard or minaret. It was initially intended for the exclusive use of the Shah’s entourage and his spouses.It is followed closely by Nassir al Molk Mosque in Shiraz, Iran, the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey, Aya Sofya, Turkey, Blue Mosque in Cairo, Egypt, Ibn Tulun Mosque, Egypt, Al Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem and Al Haram Mosque in Saudi Arabia.Al-Masjid an-Nabawi, the second holiest site in Islam in Medina, Saudi Arabia rounded up the top ten.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission read more

Lowcarbon economy makes good business sense Ban Kimoon tells investors

“You are here today because you recognize climate change as an opportunity as well as a threat,” Mr. Ban told the large gathering at UN Headquarters in New York which brought together 450 participants, who together control $10-15 trillion in investment capital. “You understand that the shift to a low-carbon economy opens new revenue streams and creates new markets.”He urged the investors to lead efforts to finance the technological innovation necessary for a shift to a green economy.“The carbon market makes good business sense – it has doubled in size to $60 billion in the past year alone – and it makes good moral sense,” the Secretary-General, who has made climate change one of his top priorities since taking office last January, said at a dinner held last night.The Investor Summit on Climate Risk, which was organized by the UN Fund for International Partnerships (UNFIP), the UN Foundation (UN Foundation) and Ceres, a network of investors and public interest groups that promotes green issues, aimed to provide a high-level forum for investment leaders to discuss the scale and urgency of climate change risks.Attendees included leading institutional investors, financial services firms and United States state treasurers.Alex Sink, the Chief Financial Officer of Florida, told reporters that his state is “at risk from climate change,” but voiced his determination to tackle the issue.“There is a financial imperative and it grew out of an environmental concern,” he noted.The Treasurer of California underscored the strong links between environmental sustainability and profitability.“We have to be clean, green and sustainable,” Bill Lockyer said at the same press briefing.Yesterday, a three-day General Assembly event on climate change wrapped up with the body’s President Srgjan Kerim emphasizing the importance of global partnerships and the need to define a clear global strategy to stemming the impacts of global warming. 14 February 2008Transitioning to a low-carbon economy will not only help to combat climate change, but also promises to bring huge returns for investors, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told global business leaders. read more

Historic amount of agreement among ministers on striking new interprovincial freetrade deal

TORONTO — Federal, provincial and territorial trade ministers said Tuesday discussions to create a new internal trade deal are about halfway finished and there is a “historic” amount of agreement between them.[np_storybar title=”Western premiers call for creation of Canada Free Trade zone, complete overhaul of internal trade” link=”http://news.nationalpost.com/full-comment/western-premiers-call-for-creation-of-canada-free-trade-zone-complete-overhaul-of-internal-trade”%5DCanada’s western premiers have sent a joint letter to their provincial counterparts calling for them to help create a domestic free trade zone by knocking down internal trade barriers estimated to cost the country $50-billion a year.Read on [/np_storybar]The ministers met in Toronto to talk about renewing the 20-year-old Agreement on Internal Trade.Industry Minister James Moore says it’s “completely backwards” to have less economic freedom within Canada than the country has agreed to with the rest of the world.He says there is agreement among the ministers to make sure Canada is as open interprovincially as it is to Europe and the United States on trade, labour mobility and the movement of goods and services.Ontario Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid says they are well on their way to reaching an agreement by March and the ministers will meet at least once more before that.Duguid says the ministers also heard today from members of the business community, who said there are myriad regulations across the provinces that get in the way of commerce.Renewed push for Canadian free-trade zone to be revealed by Ottawa, provinces on TuesdayU.S. investors are key to Canada’s economic developmentThe Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses wants a comprehensive, national trade agreement to eliminate what it calls “artificial barriers” that prevent the movement of goods, services and labour within Canada.It wants changes so when a product or service complies with rules in one province, it will be acceptable to all provinces, and an assumption that cross-border trade between provinces is permitted unless stated otherwise.The CFIB also wants to see a faster and more direct approach to solving disputes about interprovincial trade. read more

I was in the presence of a coward Victims of Saskatoon massage

Fillo argued for a sentence of six and a half years, saying the most aggravating factor is that Donlevy was in a position of trust.“What you did to me changed me,” one of the women said directly to Donlevy as she read her victim impact statement, describing a continued fear of intimacy, even with her husband.Another woman told court she was so terrified of seeing Donlevy in public that she stopped going for runs. Ten years later, she said she finally has her life back.“The only reason I was assaulted is because I was in the presence of a coward,” she said.One woman commended all of the victims who came forward. Some of the women apologized for not disclosing their assaults when they happened, saying they were scared and confused. Many said they found the strength to report after learning Donlevy had been charged with other assaults.He was first charged in 2016 after two women reported he had touched them inappropriately in 2013 and 2016, during separate massage appointments at his home business, MD Muscle Therapy. The women came forward after reading online posts about similar allegations against him.Several allegations were made to police after the charges were announced, and Donlevy was charged with 10 more counts of sexual assault. He was also charged with an additional two counts of sexual assault unrelated to his massage therapy work, and received a three-year sentence on one of those charges. He is appealing the conviction.The Crown asked that Donlevy serve the proposed prison sentence consecutive to his current sentence, and that he be placed on the national sex offender registry for life. She then detailed the assaults.Donlevy’s offencesIn 2009, Donlevy, a student, agreed to provide a free massage treatment to a friend of his family who was suffering from scoliosis. She said Donlevy forcefully inserted his fingers inside her. After she slapped him, he said to her, “I thought you were into this,” and begged her not to call police. The woman told her mother, who advised her to stay quiet because of the family friendship.Also in 2009, Donlevy repeatedly grabbed another woman’s breasts and vagina during a massage, court heard. When she told him to stop, he accused her of being a “bitch” and sensitive.In 2016, he gave another woman with scoliosis what he described as a “pelvic exam” that involved rubbing her vagina. He told her to loosen up because she was “too tense” for what he wanted to do, court heard. He then grabbed her breasts and laughed. Court heard he later asked the woman to promote his business and to be his “personal project,” saying he wouldn’t charge her for the appointments. She did not respond.Donlevy told a woman with a sore back that she needed to take off her pants during a session in 2016 in order for him to treat the issue. He said it was because of the way certain muscles were connected, and tried massaging the woman’s inner thighs. When she pushed her legs together, he tried to open them, court heard. Donlevy also groped her breasts, which he said were getting in the way.He met another victim at a First Aid course in 2009 and offered her a free massage because he was a student. He penetrated her with his fingers, apologized, then continued to make sexual comments, court heard. Donlevy later messaged the woman, asking her to meet at his firehall for a massage.At the time, Donlevy was transitioning into massage therapy from his job as a firefighter. Fillo said he was a “robust individual” compared to his victims — a former body builder and member of the armed forces.A woman with a severe shoulder injury went to see him in 2015 and 2016 after he described himself as the most effective massage therapist in Saskatoon. She said he squeezed her breasts until they hurt and pushed her underwear aside so he could touch her vagina.Donlevy’s assaults have also stigmatized male therapists, hurting their livelihood, the reputation of the Massage Therapist Association of Saskatchewan (MTAS), of which Donlevy belonged, and the profession as a whole, MTAS executive director Lori Green said in court.Defence lawyer Alan McIntyre asked to make his sentencing argument at a later date in order to call Donlevy’s psychologist to testify about a letter with some contested aspects.The hearing has been adjourned until Nov. 25.Related Warning: Graphic contentMost of the six women Mark McMahon Donlevy sexually assaulted had debilitating injuries and were enticed by the free massage services offered by a man they believed specialized in alleviating pain.The former registered massage therapist preyed on women who were in vulnerable positions — women who were partially dressed, lying on a massage table in his home clinic, Crown prosecutor Sheryl Fillo said during her sentencing submissions in Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench on Monday.Donlevy, 50, pleaded guilty in July to sexually assaulting three women in 2009, one woman in 2015 and two more in 2016, all during massage therapy sessions. The Crown agreed to stay six other sexual assault charges upon the conclusion of sentencing. Matt Olson / Saskatoon StarPhoenix / Saskatoon Mark Donlevy enters Saskatoon’s Court of Queen’s Bench on Sept. 7, 2018 Sentencing day arrives for former massage therapist Mark Donlevy on sexual assault charges Mark Donlevy pleads guilty to sexually assaulting six female massage clients Complete coverage: Mark Donlevy read more

EU Japan have agreement in principle on free trade deal

In this Saturday, July 1, 2017, photo, a customer looks at various types of imported cheese sold at a department store in Tokyo. Japan’s foreign minister is preparing to head to Brussels to seek a breakthrough in talks on a free trade agreement with the European Union. Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said over the weekend that he was hopeful the two sides would resolve remaining differences, mainly over trade in cheese and autos, before Friday’s summit of the Group of 20 industrial nations. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara) by Raf Casert, The Associated Press Posted Jul 5, 2017 7:11 am MDT Last Updated Jul 5, 2017 at 11:00 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email EU, Japan have ‘agreement in principle’ on free trade deal BRUSSELS – The European Union and Japan have agreed “in principle” on a free trade deal that will affect an overwhelming majority of commerce between the two economic giants and will be officially endorsed at a summit of their leaders Thursday.EU Council President Donald Tusk and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will meet Thursday and will be able to shake hands on the landmark deal, which took four years of negotiations.EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said in a Tweet that “We’ve reached political agreement” and “now recommend to leaders to confirm this” at their short summit.The timing of the announcement is important, coming just before a summit of world leaders in Hamburg, Germany. U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to express his discontent with free trade and his desire to renegotiate some deals.Both the EU and Japan have stressed that their pact is intended as a rejection of the kind of protectionism Trump advocates.For Abe, it shows Japan remains an important partner in global trade, especially after Trump pulled the plug on a trade deal with Pacific nations. For the EU, it shows that it remains a champion of free trade even if free trade negotiations with the United States are in a rut.A senior EU official, who spoke only on condition of anonymity ahead of Thursday’s summit, said that the deal with the Japanese “means we have agreed on almost everything of importance to either side.”Now, legal scrubbing and translations are expected to take several months before the agreement can be formally completed and put to approval to national authorities in the EU and Japan.The 28-nation EU exports some 86 billion euros in goods and services to Japan every year yet still faces high tariffs and other obstacles in reaching the lucrative market.A deal would require tweaks to Japan’s protections for its dairy farmers, whose home market is protected by tariffs of up to 40 per cent on processed cheese, wine, pasta and chocolate.The EU official said that the EU food agriculture sector was expected to be “the big winner” out of the negotiations.Japan is specifically looking for removing import tariffs on cars and car parts. read more

Afghanistan UN condemns latest terrorist attacks against civilians and diplomats

The UN mission in the country said that the attacks killed more than 40 people, mainly civilians and including five diplomats from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Many others were injured, including the Kandahar Governor and the visiting UAE Ambassador.“Indiscriminate attacks against civilians, including diplomatic envoys, are violations of human rights and international humanitarian law and cannot be justified,” said Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General, in a statement issued overnight, in which the United Nations extended its deepest condolences to the families of the victims and wished a speedy recovery to those injured while expressing its solidarity with the people and Governments of Afghanistan and of the UAE.According to a press release issued by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), as many as 13 civilians were killed in an explosion at the residence of the Kandahar Provincial Governor while he was hosting a dinner event for visiting diplomats and dignitaries. No group claimed responsibility for the attack.UNAMA also said that a Taliban suicide attacker detonated his vest outside the Parliamentary Administration Compound in the Daruluman area of Kabul. Shortly afterwards, the Taliban detonated a vehicle packed with explosives on the main road near the compound, impacting a civilian bus, parliamentary staff, bystanders, security guards and those responding to the first attack.The attacks in the capital killed at least 35 people and injured more than 50. While authorities confirmed two National Directorate of Security (NDS) officials were killed and four injured, preliminary information indicates the majority of the casualties were civilians. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, stating that they were targeting the NDS. The Taliban also acknowledged that they had deliberately timed the second blast to take place as first responders attended to persons caught in the initial explosion.“Such unprincipled, unlawful and deplorable attacks cause immense human suffering and make the peace that Afghans need and deserve even more difficult to achieve,” said Pernille Kardel, the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan. “Those responsible for these attacks must be held accountable,” said Ms. Kardel, who is also acting head of UNAMA. read more

Ohio State mens tennis takes 2 against ranked opponents keeps 181match home

Senior Peter Kobelt serves the ball during a match against Texas A&M Feb. 9 at the Varsity Tennis Center. OSU won, 4-3.Credit: Alice Bacani / BuckeyeTV news directorNot even a pair of top 20 programs could solve the riddle that is the Ohio State men’s tennis program when it plays at home.The No. 5 Buckeyes (9-0) dispatched No. 17 Kentucky 4-0 Friday and No. 8 Texas A&M 4-3 Sunday at the Varsity Indoor Tennis Center over the weekend, making it 181 consecutive home victories for OSU. Coach Ty Tucker said his team could have been a bit overrated entering the season, but after the two wins, they could have proved they belong among the nation’s best.A big crowd was on hand Sunday as the Aggies came to town. OSU dropped the first doubles match of the day as redshirt-sophomore Chris Diaz and redshirt-freshman Ralf Steinbach fell 6-1 to Aggie juniors Jeremy Efferding and Jordan Szabo. OSU redshirt-junior Hunter Callahan and freshman Herkko Pollanen defeated sophomores Harrison Adams and Shane Visant 6-3 to even things up, but senior Peter Kobelt and redshirt-junior Kevin Metka lost in a tiebreak 6-5 (7-5) to the Aggie duo of senior Junior Ore and junior Jackson Withrow.It was the first time OSU had dropped the doubles point all season, but the Buckeyes fought through the adversity in singles play. Needing to win four matches, Kobelt, Metka, Callahan and Steinbach each took the first set of their matches to spark the Buckeyes’ rally.Kobelt got the Buckeyes on the board first with a 6-4, 6-3 upset over Adams. Metka kept things rolling with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Withrow.The Aggies then took two straight matches of their own next as Vinsant beat Pollanen 6-2, 6-4 and Efferding downed Diaz 6-1, 6-5 (8-6).Steinbach won 6-5 (13-11), 6-4 after firing a big serve to force an error from Ore. They quickly shook hands and ran to court six where Callahan was serving for match point against freshman Max Lunkin. After a rally, Callahan smashed an overhead and threw his hands up in celebration as he realized Lunkin’s return was sailing out of play and he clinched the match with a 6-5 (7-3), 6-3 win.“When you play powerhouses, you have to come to the table,” Tucker said. “It’s frightening out there when you have one chance to hold serve and you’re (team’s) down 3-2, but Steinbach and Callahan did.”The team stormed onto the court and joined in a big congratulatory hug after their biggest victory of the season.“It feels amazing, beating a team like this,” Steinbach said after the win. “We didn’t want to be the guys to end the (winning) streak. It’s a great feeling and we’ve all worked hard for this.”A crowd of more than 100 was on hand to see the Buckeyes take on the Wildcats in the first real test of the season.In doubles, Diaz and Steinbach dropped their set to Kentucky freshman Nils Ellefsen and senior Ryuji Hirooka, 6-4. Callahan and Pollanen evened things up, though, defeating senior Alejandro Gomez and sophomore Beck Pennington 6-5 (7-5).The doubles point came down to Kobelt and Metka against senior Tom Jomby and sophomore Kevin Lai. With the Wildcats playing for set point, Kobelt calmly stepped up and fired two huge serves to turn the tables. With the Buckeyes now playing for set point, Kobelt’s massive forehand return caused an error by the Wildcats, giving OSU the doubles point, 6-5 (8-6).“That’s what you play for. When you get up to the line, there’s no point in being nervous,” Kobelt said. “I just wanted to play my best at the biggest moment. That’s what a senior is supposed to do.”The team began to relax from there and singles play went much smoother as OSU won the first set on five of six courts. Steinbach was the first off winning 6-1, 6-2 against Lai. Metka finished right after winning his match 6-1, 6-3.It was Kobelt, again, sealing it for the Buckeyes downing Jomby 6-1, 3-6, 6-1. He won the match with an ace right down the middle that Jomby didn’t even attempt chasing after.The Buckeyes are next scheduled to play in the National Indoors Team Tournament in Houston Friday. read more

Grenfell soil tests reveal huge numbers of cancer forming toxins

“I think my research will show there are a number of added toxicants that need to be measured, but it’s important to emphasise that this work has not yet been completed – and we still need to carry out a lot of analysis before we can be completely sure of the implications.”PHE said it was aware that Stec had carried out “some soil research” and that it would “take the results into consideration” after the research had been published. It added that it had commissioned “independent air quality monitoring around the Grenfell Tower site that has shown the risk to people’s physical health from air pollution and chemical hazards to be consistently low”.It also said that contaminants could have come from elsewhere, such as past use of coal fires, and may not necessarily link to the Grenfell blaze.Grenfell coroner Dr Fiona Wilcox has called for survivors and firefighters to have long term health screening. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Grenfell survivors and people living nearby must be screened for long-term health implications after “huge concentrations” of cancer forming toxins were found in dust and soil nearby.Professor Anna Stec, who has been carrying out a range of tests from burned debris that fell from the tower, found high levels of potential carcinogens and hydrogen cyanide in the surrounding area.Prof Stec, who was an expert witness at the inquiry into the deaths of 72 people, has been briefing Public Health England (PHE), the Department of Health, the police and Kensington and Chelsea council urging them to test survivors, rescue workers and nearby residents, the Guardian reported. These include taking blood and saliva samples.Health chiefs are understood to be waiting until her full results are to be published next year. PHE themselves have been monitoring air quality near to the tower.Prof Stec, an expert in fire chemistry and toxicology at the University of Central Lancashire who has taken samples from up to a mile away, told the Guardian: “As a result of this work, I already have datasets that indicate a number of toxins that have not yet been measured by PHE, who have already looked into air quality. read more

Moscow spinning new web of spies in Britain after UK dismantles unit

Authorities are increasingly concerned by attempts by the SVR, Russia’s foreign intelligence agency, to re-establish a foothold in Britain. Officials are confident that the GRU, the agency responsible for the attempted assassination of Colonel Sergei Skripal, has been effectively neutralised. Russia’s foreign intelligence service is trying to set up a new spy network in Britain after the military unit behind the Salisbury nerve agent attack was dismantled in the UK, according to well placed sources. That follows a detailed counter-terrorism and intelligence-led investigation into the use of weapons grade, Novichok nerve agent that exposed the GRU’s network of agents in the UK and across Europe…. read more

The FBI is having problems hiring hackers who dont smoke weed

first_imgTHE FBI MAY have to loosen up its no-tolerance policy on smoking marijuana after its cheif admitted it causing problems when hiring cyber-security experts.FBI Director James Comey said the agency is “grappling with the question right now” on how to amend the agency’s marijuana policy, which excludes anyone who has smoked the drug in the previous three years.The current policy has caused problems in improving an area that’s becoming more important for the agency.“I have to hire a great work force to compete with those cyber criminals and some of those kids want to smoke weed on the way to the interview,” Comey told the White Collar Crime Institute, an annual conference held at the New York City Bar Association.US congress had authorised the FBI to add 2,000 new recruits this year, with many of them assigned to cyber security, a growing problem for the agency.Recently, the US charged five Chinese military officials with hacking into its companies to gain trade secrets. According to the indictment, hackers targeted the US nuclear power, metals and solar products industries and are accused of stealing trade secrets and economic espionage.Read: Police and FBI arrest 100 hackers over BlackShades malware case >Read: Google knocks Apple off the top spot to become the world’s most valuable brand >last_img read more

Best wishes on this wonderful journey as you build your new lives

first_imgWait; wasn’t Sakis Rouvas already married to Katia Zygouli? Your guess is as good as mine. Apparently not; hence, the glorious wedding ceremony, which resulted in Greek media being flooded with photos of the happy couple, the popstar and the model, surrounded by their cherubic spawn (all four of them) and bookended by their best man, oil and media oligarch Vardis Vardinogiannis, and his wife, Marianna, Greece’s beacon of philanthropy. The last observation was meant as a joke, but the truth is that, due to her work for children with cancer alone, Ms Marianna (as she is known) would be eligible for the position of ‘life-time parallel Minister of Health’. As for Sakis, given that in the past years he has gone from popstar to casual interpreter of Mikis Theodorakis, to also casual actor of ancient drama, to political activist campaigning against the government in the 2015 referendum, he might as well run for politics. Stranger things have happened. For instance, a hate-spewing, racist, homophobic, anti-Semite, nationalist rising to one of the highest ranks in politics. Such is the case of Dimitris Kammenos, MP of ‘Independent Greeks’, the far-right party which is part of the coalition-in-power, who was appointed by Greek parliament as one of the deputy Speakers of the House. Quick civics lesson. The hierarchy in Greek politics goes like this: President of the Republic (position held by Prokopis Pavlopoulos, a constitutional law proffessor and former Nea Dimokratia minister), Prime Minister (our boy Alexis Tsipras) and Speaker of the House of Representatives (Tsipras’ comrade, Nikos Voutsis). Even in a parliament consisting of 300 largely incompetent MPs, a lot of them outright corrupt – and quite a few Nazi thugs under criminal investigation – Kammenos remains one of the least qualified for the job. But who cares? It’s summer in Greece. And there are so many much more important issues. Such as the Survivor final, attracting a viewership of 78.7 per cent. Which probably says everything that one should want to know about Greece. But no, there is more. The same week that commercial free-to-air TV was eating Survivor dust, the public broadcaster, not viewed by anyone, but documentary junkies and arthouse moviebuffs (a deplorable minority, that is), unveiled a monument situated in the open space in front of its headquarters. It’s a sculpture, dedicated to the memory of the people who lost their lives after the abrupt closing of the company in 2013. It was an authoritarian move from the Samaras government, which aimed to strike a blow to the Union of ERT employees, who were on a long strike. It was also a way for the government to get rid of a few thousand public servants, as per the wishes of the country’s creditors. It all backfired. And it continues to backfire in every direction possible. When the head of the broadcaster – songwriter Dionisis Tsaknis – unveiled the scupture, created by internationally acclaimed sculptor Kiriakos Rokkos, he was confronted by former MP (voted first with the far-right Independent Greeks and subsequently with the far-left Syriza), Rachel Makri, who was one of the politicians fighting for the ERT to reopen. She accused him of exploiting the struggles of the workers, in pretty much the same way that Syriza betrayed its voters, conceding to the lenders’ demands. She was met with fierce reaction by the ERT chairman, furiously shouthing at her to ‘shut up’. When she finally did and left, along with her children and the flowers she was carrying, he went on with his emotional speech. As far as political debate goes, this was as Greek as it can get. Especially considering that it coincided with the two year anniversary of the terribly worded referendum which was in fact let’s be honest – about whether Greeks want to remain in the Eurozone, or go back to the drachma (or any other currency, for that matter). Greece has yet to recover from the toxic polarisation of the time. Nor from the capital controls which were implemented at the time. And those who won the referendum by a sweeping 61.3 per cent, still can’t fathom how they in turn lost, when their decision was disregarded by the same PM who asked them to vote against the creditor’s wishes, only to fully surrender to them and implement even harsher austerity measures. Survivor and other reality TV shows are a joke compared to this reality. As for the other issue of debate, whether the people whose lives were ruined by austerity and unemployment, stress taking a toll on their health, their mental state, let’s not get into it at the moment. It’s not for us to decide whether the former ERT employees who lost their jobs and then suffered strokes, heart attacks, aggressive cancers – or depression leading to suicide – should be commemorated as casualties of the memorandum. Let’s leave this decision for Sakis Rouvas, once he becomes prime minister. Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img read more

Yatil eu entente entre les opérateurs historiques européens

first_imgY’a-t-il eu entente entre les opérateurs historiques européens ?La Commission européenne s’interroge sur une éventuelle entente entre les opérateurs européens historiques de télécommunications. Bruxelles, qui n’a pour l’heure pas ouvert d’enquête officielle, veut déterminer la nature des réunions entre les dirigeants de ces sociétés qui ont eu lieu depuis 2010. La Commission européenne s’interroge sur une possible entente entre les cinq opérateurs télécoms historiques d’Europe. Aucune enquête n’a été officiellement ouverte, mais des demandes d’informations ont été faites auprès de ces sociétés, afin de déterminer si elles ont tenu des réunions au sujet de la stratégie et de la coopération technique, rapporte Reuters. À lire aussiZero Forfait a perdu 2.000 abonnés depuis le lancement de Free MobileFrance Télécom, Deutsche Telekom, Telecom Italia, Telefonica et Vodafone sont soupçonnés de s’être réunis plusieurs fois pour s’accorder sur les positions à adopter contre leurs concurrents. Lors de ces sommets, les groupes ont abordé le problème des géants du web qui sollicitent leurs réseaux avec d’importants volumes de données vidéo, et évoqué l’harmonisation technique de leurs services, comme le paiement par mobile.Citées par l’agence de presse, des sources industrielles affirment que la plus grande transparence a toujours été faite sur ces réunions dont les comptes rendus ont été envoyés aux autorités européennes. Selon Craig Pouncy, du cabinet d’avocats bruxellois Herbert Smith, cette demande d’informations “n’est pas un événement en soi”. Il est possible qu’elle ne mène pas à une enquête plus approfondie, affirme-t-il.Le 14 mars 2012 à 20:15 • Maxime Lambertlast_img read more

Quant laid to rest

first_imgFacebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsAppProvidenciales, 18 Jan 2016 – Over the weekend, the family of Dorick Quant laid him to rest with service at Jericho Baptist church. Quant, who was 55 years old, died in a traffic accident just days before the start of 2016 in a two vehicle collision on Leeward Highway east. Another snorkel trip deadly in Provo; Guest dies Recommended for you Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp Related Items:accident, dorick quant Police update on Friday 13 snorkel death in Provo Tourist man gone missing on dive, body found Saturdaylast_img read more

Property show from Sept 20 to 22

first_imgGuntur: Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India, Guntur will conduct fourth property show at Suhbham Convention Centre here from September 20 to 22. CREDAI general body meeting held here on Sunday took this decision. Addressing media, CREDAI Guntur chapter president Maddi Naga Prasad said that they will set up 55 stalls, including building material useful to the customers. CREDAI Guntur secretary Maddam Srinivasa Reddy said that HDFC, SBI, ICICI banks agreed to sanction loans to the customers. He said apartments would be available from Rs 2,700 per square feet to Rs 6,000 per square feet.last_img read more

10 Jamaat activists arrested in capital

first_img-Police in a drive arrested ten suspected Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami and Islami-Chhatra Shibir men from Bikrampur Garden City in Kadamtali area of the city on Friday night, reports UNB.Kadamtali police station officer-in-charge Abdul Jalil said on secret information that the Jamaat activists were preparing to “carry out subversive activities”, a team of police conducted a drive in the area around 8:30pm and made the arrests from the second floor of a 7-storey building.The police officer claimed that they had gathered there to “plan and possibly carry out some subversive activity – a somewhat archaic term still used here to denote any action aimed at harming, destabilising or even overthrowing the state.The OC claimed that police also recovered explosives and some Jihadi books from the site, but it was not possible to independently verify the recovery.Meanwhile, Jamaat-e-Islami ameer Maqbul Ahmad in a press release denied the police claim saying Jamaat leaders were arrested “unlawfully” while they were holding a regular meeting of the party.Condemning the arrest, the Jamaat chief demanded immediate release of his activists.last_img read more

The 5 Best Alternatives to FaceTime for Android

first_img Google Pixel Phones Talk to 911 For YouAndroid Ransomware Pretends to Be Reddit Porn If you’re not an iPhone owner but still want to get in on the smartphone action that’s totally okay! There are plenty of great Android phones to look forward to. But Apple’s experience in mobile software still gives them the edge in a number of areas, and video chatting is one of them. FaceTime, iOS’s native video app, is a solid program that has been polished to a shine, and it’s quickly becoming a generic verb like Xerox. You don’t video chat someone, you FaceTime them. With an Android phone, though, you can’t.That’s what’s great about the open marketplace of ideas that is the Google Play store, though. If you need an Android alternative to FaceTime, you have not one, but several, to choose from. We took the leading candidates for a test drive to compare them with each other, taking into account price, reliability, restrictions, and features. Here’s our list of the five best alternatives to FaceTime for Android.Google HangoutsThe out-of-the-box alternative to FaceTime isn’t all that bad. Hangouts is Google’s service for both real-time text chat and video. One of the best things about it is that it’s massively cross-platform and linked to your Google ID. Not only does Hangouts work great on every Android phone, you can take it to your desktop — even your Mac desktop. Hangouts replaced Google Talk as the native chat app within Gmail (and Google+, but let’s not talk about that) a few years back, and the team has refined it a lot since then.One thing that’s cool about Hangouts is that it works beyond simple person-to-person connections. The platform supports multiple-person conversations for up to ten people. Google also offers a mobile version for iOS. One advantage that Hangouts has over FaceTime is its data latency management. While Apple recommends only using FaceTime while connected to a wireless Internet connection, Hangouts deals much better with standard cellular data rates. In addition, voice calls to other Hangouts users are completely free.If you have an Android phone (five of which you should check out), you should also have a Google account — it’s the key to all of the company’s awesome services, including Hangouts. Keeping your address book in order lets you merge all of your message streams into one easy-to-follow feed. The only complaint that we had is that there are occasionally unexplained glitches and bugs during calls, but they were rare.SkypeWhen you think about video chat services, Skype is the gray-haired grandfather that still manages to hang on. First released in 2003, the system shared a back end with music-sharing system Kazaa (remember music-sharing systems?). It grew steadily until 2011, when it was acquired by Microsoft to replace Windows Live Messenger. Obviously, that makes it the default messaging client for Windows phones, but the Android versions are quite solid.Early versions of Skype for Android weren’t well-integrated with your mobile device’s address book, making adding contacts a chore. In 2014, the 5.0 update finally brought it into harmony with the Android ecosystem, allowing it to access your existing contents. This simple change rocketed Skype into the upper echelon of Android video chat services.Skype’s video chat services work in a variety of bandwidth situations, and keeps a constant monitor of the quality of the call you are currently on. You are able to score the call afterwards, and depending on what hardware you are using to make the video call, the video can be transmitted in HD.Basic Skype accounts are free and allow you unlimited one-on-one video chat across any supported platform — mobile and desktop alike. Skype used to charge a subscription fee for multi-user video chats, but now group chats are included in the basic service. They do still charge either by the minute or with a monthly subscription for calls to phone users outside of the Skype service.ViberViber started out as a text and audio messaging app, but quickly realized that they would need to add features to compete in a crowded marketplace. First they worked to replicate audio chat like Skype, and then in 2014 introduced video chat functionality. Although they are relatively new to the marketplace, Viber has build their brand into a strong alternative to existing platforms like FaceTime and Skype.One of the best aspects of Viber is the app’s clean and intuitive design. Whereas Skype and Hangouts seem like desktop legacy apps that have been awkwardly transitioned to mobile experiences, Viber was built from the ground up with your phone screen in mind. In 2013, they did introduce a desktop app as well, but the clear focus is still on mobile.The biggest weakness that Viber has in comparison with the other apps on this list is that it has no way of communicating with users outside of its service. Unlike other platforms that utilize SMS protocol, you can’t send messages to contacts who aren’t Viber users from within Viber. And where most people with Android devices have Google accounts by default for Hangouts, it’s not the case here. The service does boast 280 million users around the world, so it’s not just a niche thing.TangoIf you’re looking for a full service replacement for FaceTime for Android, and you have friends willing to jump ship, Tango (not to be confused with Google’s AR Project Tango) might be just what you’re looking for. The app had its initial release in 2009, and unlike the other offerings on this list, Android is Tango’s primary platform — although there are builds for iOS and Windows phones, Google’s OS is its native element. That means that hardware optimization is at its peak, leading to a smoother user experience and better call quality.On a WiFi-only device, you can interact with any of Tango’s 200 million users without needing a cellular connection. The service supports voice calls, video calls, text, and image chat. Accounts are free and the signup process is quick and painless. If you want to try and get your friends onboard with you, Tango will actually let you send text messages and emails to your friends to try and get them to sign up for the service. As long as everyone you want to talk to is using Tango, it’s a solid all-purpose communication tool. Note that, unlike other services, Tango’s video chats are one-on-one only.The makers of Tango are focused on presenting their app as not simply a communication tool, but as a full-fledged social network. That means a public profile and news feed, games, stickers, and other bells and whistles. If you’re looking for something that does video calls like FaceTime but also a whole hell of a lot more, Tango might be your jam.ooVooOne of the latest up-and-comers in the video chat space is ooVoo, which has quickly accumulated a significant user base across multiple platforms. The service launched for Windows PCs in 2007 and branched out to mobile in 2011, first for iOS and then for Android. In 2013, the company made their SDK public, allowing developers to add ooVoo-powered video chatting functionality to their own apps. This was a great move, growing their userbase and getting their technology out in front of the public.OoVoo has one of the most robust group video chat interfaces of any of the apps on this list, effortlessly supporting calls with up to a dozen people. Their audio processing is also excellent, with noise cancellation algorithms working on your signal to prevent too much static from overwhelming voices. Because ooVoo is a fairly light app, its bandwidth requirements are minimal, and it does a good job even with 3G connections, although wireless internet is better.Like Skype, ooVoo lets you place voice calls to other ooVoo users for free. You can also purchase credits to use the app to place voice calls to phone lines. The service is ad-supported, but a Premium upgrade ($2.99 a month) removes them, as well as increases your storage space on the app’s servers to 1,000 minutes. A Premium Mobile account gives you no ads on your phone for just 99 cents a month as well. In our opinion, the ads aren’t intrusive enough to make payment necessary, but it’s nice to support the service if you like it.FaceTime alternatives do existWho needs Apple, anyways? These FaceTime for Android alternatives do everything their video chat app does and more. Developers are constantly improving the experience as well, so you can expect the apps in this feature to see new services and better stability the longer they’re offered. While it’s easy to just stick with Hangouts, there’s certainly a lot to be gained from experimenting with other Android FaceTime alternatives as well, depending on what friends and co-workers are using. We unreservedly recommend the five apps on this list. Stay on targetlast_img read more

appointmentsTravel Counsellors

first_imgappointmentsTravel Counsellors Kaylene Shuttlewood has been appointed to the role of Regional Managing Director of Travel Counsellors’ Australian operation. Kaylene joins the group with over 25 years of international and Australian travel industry experience and was most recently Managing Director for Travelport Australia, New Zealand & Pacific Islands. Kaylene will step into the role following a year’s secondment by Acting Managing Director Fred Van Eijk, who will return to oversee the Travel Counsellors’ Netherlands and Belgium operations and support the Company’s further growth plans in Europe and elsewhere.last_img read more

Tax credits would b

Tax credits would be even for all Americans.

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