Drug Bust : 2 killed, 1 wounded

Crime, international News, SEcurity

Two suspected drug users were killed and the other was wounded amidst the ‘shootout’ at Barangay Duljo Fatima, Sitio Panaghiusa St. Cebu City.

Joseph 44, and Romeo Oralde were killed and wounded Israel Patunob, 37 was rushed to the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center.

Philippine National Police Drug Enforcement Group (PNP-DEG), Regional Intelligence Division (RID), Police Regional Drug Enforcement (PDEU)-7 conducted a drug bust operation and confiscated 5.9 million of shabu, scientifically known as methamphetamine hydrochloride and 2 pistols were recovered.

Read More: In SunStar



EU Leaders Endorses Iran Nuclear Deal

international News, Middle East

The leaders of Britain, France and Germany reaffirmed their support for the current nuclear deal with Iran. The issue is due to come to a head, again, in May when President Trump decides whether to maintain the treaty.

The parties to the Iran nuclear deal sit around a large negotiating table at UN headquarters in New York in 2017.

The leaders of Britain France and Germany reaffirmed their support for the existing nuclear deal with Iran, which is “the best way of neutralizing the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran,” according to a statement released Sunday by the prime minister’s office in London.

Prime Minister Theresa May spoke by phone with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel over the weekend, and the three leaders agreed that the best way forward was to maintain the existing agreement, which was signed in 2015.

Watch video06:19

‘The Day’ Interview – Merkel heads to Washington

But US President Donald Trump has repeatedly threatened to scupper the deal and his next chance to do so would be in May. With an eye towards that, the European leaders also agreed to work towards achieving additional “important elements.”

“Our priority as an international community remained preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon,” said the statement from 10 Downing Street, referring to the three European leaders.

“They agreed that there were important elements that the deal does not cover but which we need to address — including ballistic missiles, what happens when the deal expires, and Iran’s destabilizing regional activity,” it continued.

Watch video01:57

European Parliament debates Iran nuclear deal

“They committed to continue working closely together and with the US on how to tackle the range of challenges that Iran poses — including those issues that a new deal might cover.”

A “four pillars” solution

The current deal, formally titled the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was signed by the previous US president, Barack Obama, after prolonged multi-party negotiations involving the five permanent members of the UN security council — the US, Britain, France, Russia, China — and Germany, the European Union and Iran.

Read moreUS pursues Iran sanctions

Both Merkel and Macron met with Trump in Washington this past week, seemingly working in tandem as they tried to persuade Trump to see the current deal as a stepping stone to a longer-term, broader accord, featuring a “four pillars” solution.

Watch video03:16

German ambassador warns against unraveling Iran deal

The first column is the current nuclear treaty with Iran. The others would target Tehran’s nuclear activities after 2025, when so-called sunset clauses kick in, enhance global leverage against Iran’s regional influence and try to curb its ballistic missile program.

US National Security Advisor John Bolton said on TV Sunday Trump had not yet made up his mind about whether or not to scrap the accord.

“He has made no decision on the nuclear deal, whether to stay in or get out,” Bolton told Fox News.

Read moreIran questions new nuclear demands

Macron speaks to Iran

Macron later spoke with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and agreed to work together to preserve the deal, according an Elysee statement.

They spoke for more than an hour, with Macron proposing the discussions be broadened to cover “three additional, indispensable subjects,” his office said.

It refered to Tehran’s ballistic missile programs, its nuclear activities beyond 2025 and “the main regional crises” in the Middle East.

aw,bik/rc (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

Mahathir’s rides red tide into Langkawi hoping nostalgia will trump ruling party

international News, Politics

Horford shows how indispensable he is, but now he has to deal with The Process


BOSTON – His long work week finally complete, Al Horford elected to take the long way home.

Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens fetched Horford with 41.8 seconds remaining in Saturday’s Game 7 win over the Milwaukee Bucks but after a 26-point, 8-rebound performance that only confirmed the notion that Horford was the MVP of the series, the big man showed a rare bit of emotion during a slow stroll back to the Boston bench.

With fans inside TD Garden serenading him with a standing ovation, Horford took in the moment before repeatedly pumping his right fist near midcourt. Finally, he gave one more gigantic arm swing in celebration of a gritty first-round victory.

A series of handshakes and hugs followed with teammates and coaches before Horford reached the end of the bench and, a wide smile on his face, turned to watch Boston’s younger players close out a 112-96 triumph.

“It’s an emotional game,” said Horford. “These are the kind of moments that you play for. And, for me, that time there was just me enjoying, with the players and with the fans that were there, and it’s just emotional. I’m happy that we came out on top.”

A short while before his victory strut, Horford had given a similarly emphatic hand gesture to signify the series was over, this as Boston pushed its lead as high as 19 in the final quarter. Around that time, Boston fans chanted, “We want Philly!” while readying for the Eastern Conference semifinal series between Atlantic Division rivals that tips here Monday.

Having vanquished the Greek Freak – though Horford made sure to gush about the job rookie Semi Ojeleye did in helping to defend Giannis Antetokounmpo over the final three games of the series – Horford now pivots to find a Process-trusting frontcourt ofBen Simmons and Joel Embiid waiting for him.

Which is to say, things don’t get any easier for Horford and his frontcourt brethren. For all the headaches Antetokounmpo presented – and there were plenty – Boston bigs only had to otherwise worry about Thon Maker andTyler Zeller after John Henson didn’t return after Game 2 of the series.

Horford often matched up on the versatile Simmons during the regular season and could routinely get that assignment again, when not asked to close the lid on Embiid’s offensive toolbox.

“[The Sixers] are playing great. They have a great team, a great coach,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “I think everybody talks about Embiid and Simmons – and rightfully so. But I think the skill that they have added to their team and their other young guys getting better and obviously [J.J.] Redick’s presence have just opened everything up.

“They are a bear to play against. You can tell from the last series. I think Brett [Brown] is terrific, and on down the line, they are terrific.”

Fortunately for Boston, Horford has been terrific and the stabilizing force for a team decimated by injuries. He’s the only upright All-Star the Celtics have asGordon Hayward recovers from a fractured ankle and Kyrie Irving mends from knee surgery.

“I think that the best way to phrase it with Al is he provides stability for all of us,” said Stevens. “Whenever you have lost other guys to injury, when people aren’t available when things aren’t going your way, he has likely been through it, and he provides a very calming influence to the younger players.”

Horford beams with pride when discussing Boston’s younger players, including the leaps displayed by Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier, or the late-series emergence of rookie Jayson Tatum.

The Celtics are going to need all of them against the 76ers.

But, maybe more than anything, they’re going to need Horford to continue to be spectacular at both ends of the court.

“Al makes the right play, does the right thing. That’s what a five-time All-Star is supposed to do,” said Jaylen Brown. “[Horford] continues to play the game the right way and, when times get tough we lean on him a little bit. And tonight, Game 7, biggest game of the year, he showed out.”

Among the 26 high-volume offensive players with at least 100 posteason possessions finished, Horford ranks fourth in at 1.124 points per play, per Synergy Sports data. He’s one spot behind Anthony Davis (1.133) and one spot ahead of LeBron James (1.12). Decent company.

The knock on Horford has always been that he lacks offensive aggressiveness for a max-salary player. Horford’s first instinct will always be to pass first, but he showed Saturday that he’s capable of being ultra assertive in a must-win game. While Antetokounmpo struggled to consistently find good looks, Horford muscled his way around the basket. Only four of his 17 shot attempts came outside the painted area, and Horford was 11-of-13 on the paint attempts for a career postseason-best 22 paint points.

Overall, Horford made 13-of-17 field goals for a Boston team that shot 53.6 percent from the field in Game 7.

Horford seemed to relish the accomplishment of beating a scrappy Bucks team despite all the youth on Boston’s roster. He’s excited about the more distant future when his All-Star teammates will be back but he’s also excited about the right now – which starts Monday against Philadelphia.

“This experience is unlike any other,” said Horford. “Being in the playoffs, the type of pressure and intensity, this type of experience will shape [Boston’s younger players’] careers in the NBA because they see the level of commitment and the way that you have to play. It’s going to make them better players.

“It’s all for the best for our group.”

Breaking Sports News

via http://www.espn.com – TOPhttp://www.espn.com

April 28, 2018 at 11:25PM


Man’s body discovered on banks of River Isla in Keith as cops swoop on scene

Crime, international News

https://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/?p=2565729. THE body of a man, believed to be in his twenties, has been found near a river in Keith. Cops have confirmed the grim discovery was made at around 7.20pm on April 25 on the banks of the River Isla in Keith. A section of the River Isla near the town centre of Keith Officers are still on the scene but they don’t believe there are any suspicious circumstances

.A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Police Scotland can confirm that officers are currently in attendance at a location by the River Isla in Keith following the discovery of the body of a man in his 20’s on the riverbank. “Police were called at 7.20pm on Wednesday 25 April 2018 by a member of the public following the discovery. “The death is currently being treated as unexplained but there are no apparent suspicious circumstances.

“There has been a police presence in the area and police activity will continue.” Anyone with information should contact Police Scotland on 101 quoting reference 3376 of 25 April 2018. We pay for your stories and videos! Do you have a story or video for The Scottish Sun? Email us at scoop@thesun.co.uk or call 0141 420 5200

South Carolina Volunteer Officer Shoots Motorist

Crime, international News, sports


A South Carolina volunteer officer has raised concerns about his duty after shooting at a Black motorist during a traffic stop.

According to Post And Courier, an unnamed volunteer police officer fired his gun on Saturday night March 24, during a ride along with an officer of the Florence police department.

In firing his gun he injured the motorist for which investigators have no explanation why.

However, volunteer officers have raised a question of concern in the community.

Volunteer officers or constables do not receive the same law enforcement training at the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. Even so, some of them are allowed to carry guns and make arrests. Even though the state certifies them, the courses they take are offered by technical colleges.

Learning about the incident in his district, caused state representative Terry Alexander to question the role of constables.

“I’m still trying to get an understanding of their authority, their training…and who has oversight over what they’re doing,” explained Alexander. “The city officer wasn’t in harm’s way, so why did the constable shoot?”

That’s the answer that everyone wants to know now. It’s the answer that the State Law Enforcement Division is investigating as well as the Florence Police Department.

The victim was taken to a local hospital where his condition is unknown. Although Thom Berry, a spokesperson from the State Law Enforcement Division, has said the man is expected to live.

The Latest:

(Source: Post And Courier)

(Photo Credit: ThinkStock Images)

Nobel-Awarding Swedish Academyb Under Probe by the Swedish financial crimes unit

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STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – The financial crimes unit of the Swedish police said on Friday it had started an investigation into the Swedish Academy, the institution that picks the winners of the Nobel Literature prize.


FILE PHOTO: A general view of the Swedish Academy’s annual meeting at the Old Stock Exchange building in Stockholm, Sweden  REUTERS/File Photo

The prestigious Academy has become embroiled in allegations of sexual misconduct by the husband of one of its members and the admission that the names of some prize-winners – the subject of intense speculation and on which many people place bets with betting firms – were leaked in advance.

Photographer Jean-Claude Arnault, the husband of poet and Academy member Katarina Frostenson, has denied the allegations of sexual misconduct, made by several women. He has also denied being the source of the leaked names.


“Chief Prosecutor Jan Tibbling of the Swedish Economic Crime Authority has started a preliminary investigation related to financial crime … connected with the Swedish Academy,” the financial crime unit said in a statement.

Tibbling said he would not give further information on which crimes were being investigated nor the persons or people who were involved.

The Swedish Academy could not immediately be reached by telephone or email for comment. Arnault’s lawyer could also not immediately be reached for comment.

The workings of the normally secretive institution have come under intense scrutiny in recent weeks as a result of the allegations and a bitter and very public split among its members about how to handle them.


The Swedish Academy offices in Stockholm, where members of the committee are debating the 2018 Nobel prize in literature. Photograph: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images

The head of the Academy and several of its members have stepped down. Sweden’s King Carl Gustaf – the patron of the institution founded by his forbear Gustav III in 1786 – has had to step in and promise to reform its arcane statutes.

Until now, Academy members have been appointed for life and resignations have been extremely rare. Even when members step down, they have not been able to formally leave.

The Nobel Foundation Board, which administers the money left by dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel to fund the awards that bear his name, has criticised the Swedish Academy for potentially tarnishing the reputation of the Nobel Prize.

REuter: Reporting by Simon Johnson and Johan Sennero; Editing by Gareth Jones

Israeli forces fire bullets, tear gas at border protesters, wound 200

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GAZA (Reuters) – Israeli soldiers fired bullets and tear gas at thousands of Palestinian protesters at the Gaza-Israel border on Friday, wounding nearly 200 people, hours after the United Nations human rights chief criticised Israel for using “excessive force”.

Israeli troops have killed 38 Palestinians and wounded more than 5,000 others since Gaza residents began staging protests along the border fence on March 30 to demand the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

On Friday, Israeli ground troops, holed up behind fortifications on their side of the 40km (25-mile) border fence, fired live ammunition and tear gas at protesters at five locations on the Gazan side.

The Gaza health ministry said 60 were wounded by gun fire, including a Palestinian journalist who was hit with a bullet in his foot.

Dozens more, including four medics, were treated for gas inhalation, as Israeli forces showered the area with tear gas canisters from behind their fortifications.

Protesters hurled stones and rolled burning tyres towards the fence, and some attached cans of burning petrol to kites and flew them into Israeli territory.


Others cleared away barbed wire coils which Israeli troops had placed in Gazan territory overnight in a bid to create a buffer zone between protesters and the fence.

The protests come at a time of growing frustration for Palestinians as prospects for an independent Palestinian state look poor. Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been stalled for several years and Israeli settlements in the occupied territories have expanded.

In a statement released earlier on Friday, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein called the loss of life was “deplorable” and that a “staggering number of injuries” had been caused by live ammunition.

Israel’s foreign ministry had no immediate comment but the government has consistently said that it is protecting its borders and that its troops are following rules of engagement.


Named the ‘Great March of Return’, the protest action revives a longstanding demand for the right of return of Palestinian refugees to towns and villages which their families fled from, or were driven out of, when the state of Israel was created in 1948.

More than 2 million Palestinians are packed into the narrow coastal enclave. Israel withdrew its troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005 but maintains tight control of its land and sea borders. Egypt also restricts movement in and out of Gaza on its border.

Writing by Ori Lewis, Editing by Stephen Farrell and Raissa Kasolowsky

Those against Buhari’s re-election behind attacks in the country – Lai Mohammed Briefs International Media

2019 Elections, APC, Boko Haram, international News, News

Lai Mohammed, the Nigerian minister of information and culture, has commended the efforts of  the Buhari administration in pushing back insurgency in Nigeria. – He eqully gave this administration kudos in its economy development and diversification efforts,

buuuu President Buhari says he may have been part of the herdsmen/farmers clashes if he did not go to school Lai Mohammed, the minister of information and culture, has blamed those opposed to the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari of being behind the attacks in parts of the country. The minister made the allegation in the US when speaking on the achievements of the Buhari administration.

“Most of the attacks we receive today are from people who have morbid fear of the President coming back in 2019,” he said. President Buhari is due in the US at the weekend for a meeting with President Donald Trump on April 30 in Washington DC, The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports. Mohammed, since his arrival, has been actively engaged with the media and some think-tanks. He said the Buhari’s administration has a lot of success stories, which needed to be told.

The minister was first in Washington, DC and later in New York, where he explained that Buhari’s administration has done very well and recorded so many achievements in less than three years. He said: “I’ve been to VOA – Voice of America, Washington Post, Washington Times; I’ve been to Al Jazeera. I’ve met a couple of think-tanks, the Atlantic Council and also the Foreign Relations Council. “In New York here, today, I’ve met with Reuters. I’ve met with Wall Street Journal. Today, I’m meeting with CNN and also the New York Times and probably the AP. “The whole idea is to give the government’s perspectives and narratives on the development and progress the government has made.”

Mohammed said he was able to explain that the administration has done very well in pushing back insurgency especially given what the situation was as at May 2015. He said at that time, about 20 out of 37 local governments in Borno alone was under the effective occupation of Boko Haram and about two in Yobe, and about four in Adamawa. “Today not one single inch of land is occupied by Boko Haram,” he said.

Mohammed said he drew attention to the fact that before 2015, Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, was not safe as the Boko Haram breached security more than five times. “But between 2015 and today, every one lives with his two eyes closed in Abuja. So we discussed extensively the achievements of this administration in the area of fighting insecurity.” “Generally I was able to give a good account of what we’ve done in the economy,” he said adding, “the figures are there to see what we’ve done”. The minister said: “We were in recession, within two quarters we came out of recession, largely because of the Economic and Recovery Growth Plan of the government. “And today, we’ve been able to double our foreign exchange from about 23.6 billion dollars in 2015 to about 47 billion dollars.“We’ve in one year been able to climb 24 steps in the ladder of World Bank ranking of Ease of Doing Business. “Our (Nigerian) Stock Exchange has been rated as one of the six best performing in the world and return on investment was as high as 43 per cent.“And in the area of the economy again, we’ve been able to push down inflation for 11 consecutive months from 18 per cent to now about 13.5 per cent”.

In the area of diversification, Mohammed said the anchor-borrower programme was a big success adding, it has added additional almost six million rice farmers and cut down on importation of rice from 644,000 metric tonnes 24 metric tonnes. “We’ve increased the number of Integrated Rice Processing Mills from 13 to 21 and 10 new ones were just approved on Wednesday by the Federal Executive Council and our diversification programme is working very well. The latest figure showed that apart from agriculture, mines, metal ore, electricity, gas, creative industry, are all reading positively. “We discussed also the issue of corruption and how this government is fighting corruption and how it is important for us to remain focus”.

NAN reports that Mohammed, while in New York, also visited the Nigeria House where he briefed senior officials of the Consulate and was received by Nigeria’s Consul-General, Tanko Suleiman and other officials of the Consulate. Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has stated that had he not gone to school, he night have been one of those involved in the clashes between herdsmen and farmers, Punch reports. The president made the comment at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Stadium, Bauchi, on Thursday, April 26, during his two-day visit to the state. SW gathers that the president urged Bauchi residents to allow their children go to school, as he addressed the thousands who thronged the stadium to welcome him on his first visit to the state since 2015. 

North Korea’s Kim Jong Lin and South Korea’s Moon Meet For the First Time

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(Provided by Wochit News)

GOYANG, South Korea — With a single step over a weathered, cracked slab of concrete, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made history Friday by crossing over the world’s most heavily armed border to greet South Korean President Moon Jae-in for talks on North Korea’s nuclear weapons. Kim then invited Moon to cross briefly back into the north with him before they returned to the southern side.

Those small steps must be seen in the context of the last year — when the United States, its ally South Korea and the North seemed at times to be on the verge of nuclear war as the North unleashed a torrent of weapons tests — but also in light of the long, destructive history of the rival Koreas, who fought one of the 20th century’s bloodiest conflicts and even today occupy a divided peninsula that’s still technically in a state of war.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, shakes hands with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone Friday, April 27, 2018. Kim made history Friday by crossing over the world's most heavily armed border to greet his rival, Moon, for talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons. (Korea Summit Press Pool via AP)© The Associated Press North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, shakes hands with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone Friday, April 27, 2018. Kim…

“I feel like I’m firing a flare at the starting line in the moment of (the two Koreas) writing a new history in North-South relations, peace and prosperity,” Kim told Moon as they sat at a table, which had been built so that exactly 2018 millimeters separated them, to begin their closed-door talks. Moon responded that there were high expectations that they produce an agreement that will be a “big gift to the entire Korean nation and every peace-loving person in the world.”

Beyond the carefully choreographed greeting, however, it’s still not clear whether the leaders can make any progress in talks on the nuclear issue, which has bedevilled U.S. and South Korean officials for decades. North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests last year likely put it on the threshold of becoming a legitimate nuclear power. North Korea claims it has already risen to that level.

Kim and Moon in their talks vowed to have more meetings, according to Moon’s spokesman, Yoon Young-chan, with Kim joking that he would make sure not to interrupt Moon’s sleep anymore, a reference to the North’s drumbeat of early morning missile tests last year. Kim also referred to a South Korean island that North Korea attacked with artillery in 2010, killing four, saying the residents of Yeonpyeong Island who have been living in fear of North Korean artillery have high hopes the summit will help heal past scars. Kim said he’d visit Seoul’s presidential Blue House if invited.Earlier, both leaders smiled broadly as Moon grasped Kim’s hand and led him along a blindingly red carpet into South Korean territory, where schoolchildren gave Kim flowers and an honor guard stood at attention for inspection, a military band playing traditional Korean folk songs beloved by both Koreas and the South Korean equivalent of “Hail to the Chief.” It’s the first time a North Korean leader has crossed over to the southern side of the Demilitarized Zone since the Korean War ended in 1953.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, second from right, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, second from left, attend during a summit at Peace House of the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, South Korea, Friday, April 27, 2018. North Korean leader Kim made history by crossing over the world's most heavily armed border to greet South Korean President Moon for talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons. At right is Kim's sister Kim Yo Jong. (Korea Summit Press Pool via AP)© The Associated Press North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, second from right, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, second from left, attends during a summit at Peace House of the border village of…

Kim’s news agency said that the leader would “open-heartedly” discuss with Moon “all the issues arising in improving inter-Korean relations and achieving peace, prosperity and reunification of the Korean peninsula” in a “historic” summit.

The greeting of the two leaders was planned to the last detail. Thousands of journalists were kept in a huge conference centre well away from the summit, except for a small group of tightly controlled pool reporters at the border. Moon stood near the Koreas’ dividing line, moving forward the moment he glimpsed Kim, dressed in dark, Mao-style suit, appearing in front of a building on the northern side. They shook hands with the borderline between them. Moon then invited Kim to cross into the South, and, after he did so, Kim grasped Moon’s hand and led him to the North and then back into the South. They took a ceremonial photo facing the North and then another photo facing the South.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in walk together at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone Friday, April 27, 2018. Kim made history Friday by crossing over the world's most heavily armed border to greet his rival, Moon, for talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons. (Korea Summit Press Pool via AP)© The Associated Press North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in walk together at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone Friday, April 27, 2018. Kim…

Two fifth-grade students from the Daesongdong Elementary School, the only South Korean school within the DMZ, greeted the leaders and gave Kim flowers. Kim and Moon then saluted an honour guard and military band, and Moon introduced Kim to South Korean government officials. Kim returned the favour, introducing Moon to the North Korean officials accompanying him. They then took a photo inside the Peace House, where the summit was to take place, in front of a painting of South Korea’s Bukhan Mountain, which towers over the South Korean Blue House presidential mansion. Kim’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, was by his side throughout the ceremony, handing him a pen to sign a guestbook, taking the schoolchildren’s flowers from his hand and scribbling notes at the start of the talks with Moon.

Nuclear weapons will top the agenda, and Friday’s summit will be the clearest sign yet of whether it’s possible to peacefully negotiate those weapons away from a country that has spent decades doggedly building its bombs despite crippling sanctions and near-constant international opprobrium.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in inspect honor guard as Kim crossed the border into South Korea for their historic face-to-face talks, in Panmunjom Friday, April 27, 2018. Their discussions will be expected to focus on whether the North can be persuaded to give up its nuclear bombs. (Korea Summit Press Pool via AP)© The Associated Press North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in inspect honour guard as Kim crossed the border into South Korea for their historic face-to-face talks, in…

Expectations are generally low, given that past so-called breakthroughs on North Korea’s weapons have collapsed amid acrimonious charges of cheating and bad faith. Sceptics of engagement have long said that the North often turns to interminable rounds of diplomacy meant to ease the pain of sanctions — giving it time to perfect its weapons and win aid for unfulfilled nuclear promises.

Advocates of engagement, however, say the only way to get a deal is to do what the Koreas tried Friday: Sit down and see what’s possible.

The White House said in a statement that it is “hopeful that talks will achieve progress toward a future of peace and prosperity for the entire Korean Peninsula. … (and) looks forward to continuing robust discussions in preparation for the planned meeting between President Donald J. Trump and Kim Jong Un in the coming weeks.”

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signs a guest book watched by South Korean President Moon Jae-in, left, inside the Peace House at the Peace House at the border village of Panmunjom in Demilitarized Zone Friday, April 27, 2018. Their discussions will be expected to focus on whether the North can be persuaded to give up its nuclear bombs. (Korea Summit Press Pool via AP)© The Associated Press North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signs a guest book watched by South Korean President Moon Jae-in, left, inside the Peace House at the Peace House at the border village of…

Moon, a liberal whose election last year ended a decade of conservative rule in Seoul, will be looking to make some headway on the North’s nuclear program in advance of a planned summit in several weeks between Kim and Trump.

Kim, the third member of his family to rule his nation with absolute power, is eager, both in this meeting and in the Trump talks, to talk about the nearly 30,000 heavily armed U.S. troops stationed in South Korea and the lack of a formal peace treaty ending the Korea War — two factors, the North says, that make nuclear weapons necessary.

North Korea may also be looking to use the talks with Moon to set up the Trump summit, which it may see as a way to legitimize its declared status as a nuclear power.

One possible outcome Friday, aside from a rise in general goodwill between the countries, could be a proposal for a North Korean freeze of its weapons ahead of later denuclearization.

Seoul and Washington will be pushing for any freeze to be accompanied by rigorous and unfettered outside inspections of the North’s nuclear facilities since past deals have crumbled because of North Korea’s unwillingness to open up to snooping foreigners.

South Korea has acknowledged that the most difficult sticking point between the Koreas has been North Korea’s level of denuclearization commitment. Kim has reportedly said that he wouldn’t need nuclear weapons if his government’s security could be guaranteed external threats were removed.

Whatever the Koreas announce Friday, the spectacle of Kim being feted on South Korean soil was striking.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in walk together at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone Friday, April 27, 2018. Kim made history Friday by crossing over the world's most heavily armed border to greet his rival, Moon, for talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons. (Korea Summit Press Pool via AP)

Kim and Moon enjoyed each other’s company in the jointly controlled village of Panmunjom near the spot where a defecting North Korean soldier fled south last year in a hail of bullets fired by his former comrades, and not too far where North Korean soldiers axe-murdered two U.S. soldiers in 1976.  (Associated Press)


Proud Prince William plays down Prince Albert website gaffe insisting royal baby name is undecided — Metro

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Prince William and Kate Middleton have still not revealed the name of their third child (Picture: PA)Prince William has played down the growing rumours that he and Kate Middleton have named their son Albert. On Thursday, eagle-eyed royal fans spotted a page on the royal family website that appears to have been made especially for…

via Proud Prince William plays down Prince Albert website gaffe insisting royal baby name is undecided — Metro   

Prince William and Kate Middleton have still not revealed the name of their third child (Picture: PA)

Prince William has played down the growing rumours that he and Kate Middleton have named their son Albert.

On Thursday, eagle-eyed royal fans spotted a page on the royal family website that appears to have been made especially for a Prince Albert.

It led to frenzied excitement that the so-called gaffe meant Albert was definitely the name the couple had chosen for their son.

But Wills shrugged this off on Thursday night, insisting he and Kate are still ‘working on’ their son’s name.

Ronny Jackson Withdraws As VA Secretary Nominee

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WASHINGTON (CNN) – Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson has withdrawn as President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, he said in a statement Thursday morning.

His nomination was hampered by a flurry of allegations about Jackson’s professional conduct.

In a statement announcing his withdrawal, Jackson slammed allegations of improper behavior leveled against him as “completely false and fabricated.”

“If they had any merit, I would not have been selected, promoted and entrusted to serve in such a sensitive and important role as physician to three presidents over the past 12 years,” Jackson said. “Going into this process, I expected tough questions about how to best care for our veterans, but I did not expect to have to dignify baseless and anonymous attacks on my character and integrity.”

Jackson said he was motivated to withdraw from consideration because the allegations against him “have become a distraction” for Trump and his agenda.

“Unfortunately, because of how Washington works, these false allegations have become a distraction for this President and the important issue we must be addressing — how we give the best care to our nation’s heroes,” Jackson said. “While I will forever be grateful for the trust and confidence President Trump has placed in me by giving me this opportunity, I am regretfully withdrawing my nomination to be Secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs.”

Speaking on “Fox & Friends” Thursday morning, Trump said Jackson’s withdrawal was not unexpected.

“I even told him a day or two ago I saw where this was going,” Trump said.

Allegations mounted

On Wednesday evening, the release of a two-page document written by Democratic staff on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee that included a list of allegations from the committee’s conversations with nearly two dozen of Jackson’s former and current colleagues made Jackson’s chances at survival more uncertain.

According to the summary released by Senate Democrats — the contents of which remain under investigation by lawmakers and have not yet been substantiated — Jackson was allegedly “abusive” to his colleagues, loosely handled prescription pain medications and was periodically intoxicated, even once wrecking a government vehicle while drunk.

Jackson has not responded to the allegations in their totality, but told reporters on Wednesday that he did not wreck the government car and had indicated at the time that he planned to continue in the nominating process.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee had raised concerns this week about allegations involving Jackson, the White House physician, and had started to review the allegations in an effort to determine whether they were sufficient to upend his nomination.

Jackson had been expected to appear on Capitol Hill on Wednesday for a confirmation hearing, but that hearing was postponed indefinitely as members were assessing allegations about the White House physician’s behavior.

Whistleblowers who spoke to the panel described a “toxic” work environment under Jackson’s leadership and questionable behavior, including excessive drinking, CNN has reported.

On Wednesday, before the allegations from the Democratic staff of the veterans’ panel became public, the White House mounted a robust defense of Jackson, with White House press secretary Sarah Sanders telling reporters he had an “impeccable” record. Sanders suggested that Jackson’s current position as the White House physician meant that he had been more thoroughly vetted than other Cabinet nominees.

At one point on Wednesday, Trump raised the prospect of going into the briefing room himself to stick up for Jackson, to say that he is a good guy and had his support. But several senior administration officials, including Sanders, advised against that move.

But later Wednesday, after the allegations included in that Democratic document were released, Trump himself began to wonder out loud whether Jackson should step aside “before things get worse” and White House aides were preparing for that possibility, officials told CNN.

More upheaval for Trump’s Cabinet

Jackson’s withdrawal marks the most recent setback for Trump’s Cabinet, which has had a high rate of turnover. A number of Cabinet officials have faced criticism and scrutiny over their spending habits and ethical judgement, including Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson. Jackson also isn’t the first nominee to withdraw. Andrew Puzder pulled his name from consideration last year to become labor secretary after facing intense opposition to his nomination.

Trump had defended Jackson even after the allegations against him surfaced.

On Tuesday, the President called Jackson “one of the finest people I have ever met.” Trump said he was not aware of the specifics of the allegations and added that it was up to Jackson to decide whether to press forward. “It’s totally his decision,” the President said, adding, “I don’t want to put a man through a process like this. It’s too ugly and disgusting.”

But Trump also acknowledged that Jackson lacks a background in running a government agency.

“There’s a lack of experience,” he said.

A surprise nominee

When Trump announced his intent to nominate Jackson in March, the decision came as a surprise on Capitol Hill, where members on both sides of the aisle raised questions about whether Jackson was qualified to lead the sprawling Department of Veterans Affairs. While Jackson served as White House physician under three presidents, his policy views were relatively unknown and some lawmakers expressed concern over whether he had the managerial experience necessary to steer the department.

Trump announced his intention to nominate Jackson as a replacement for David Shulkin, in a presidential tweet last month. Shulkin became embroiled in controversy of his own after the VA inspector general released a damaging report accusing him and other department personnel of “serious derelictions,” but was also locked in a policy-based power struggle with members of his staff and political appointees. Trump later said he was dissatisfied with the “speed with which our veterans were taken care of” under Shulkin’s leadership.

A graduate of Texas A&M University, Jackson started active-duty naval service in 1995, according to his official US Navy biography. He was chosen to serve as White House physician in 2006 during the administration of George W. Bush, and later served as the physician for then-President Barack Obama.

In January, Jackson made headlines after declaring he had “no concerns” about Trump’s cognitive ability after the President underwent a neurological screening. Jackson’s performance during that extended news conference played a part in Trump’s decision to nominate him to lead the VA, a White House official told CNN.

Tuesday, the Senate committee’s top Democrat, Montana’s Jon Tester, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that around 20 people had raised concerns to the committee about Jackson, and according to those people, Jackson would hand out prescriptions “like candy.”

Tester described reports to the committee that alleged that on overseas trips, Jackson would “go down the aisle way of the airplane and say, ‘All right, who wants to go to sleep?’ And hand out the prescription drugs like they were candy … and put them to sleep and then give them the drugs to wake them back up again.”

“These are called controlled substances for a reason,” Tester said on “Anderson Cooper 360.”

The White House doctor also faced allegations of being drunk while overseas with then-President Barack Obama.

“If you are drunk and something happens with the President, it’s very difficult to go in and treat the President,” Tester said. “That’s what multiple people told us, this was the case on several different trips.”

Other concerns about Jackson included allegations of a toxic work environment, the senator confirmed.

“We were told time and time again the people above him he treated like gold, the people below him, he belittled, screamed at them, really created a very toxic environment to the point where the people who worked around him felt like they had to walk on eggshells because of his lack of respect for his job,” Tester said.

In a letter to Trump sent Tuesday, the senators requested information “regarding allegations or incidents” involving Jackson dating to 2006, the year he was tapped to become White House physician.

One source on the committee told CNN prior to Jackson’s withdrawal that lawmakers were also requesting information from the FBI, including Jackson’s background check. Tester later said the FBI background investigation into Jackson was “clean.”

Congressional sources also told CNN that committee aides had been in touch with individuals associated with additional allegations about prescriptions handled by the White House Medical Unit, which oversees the medical care of the president and administration aides.

While campaigning for the presidency, Trump pledged to make improvements at the Veterans Affairs Department, including reducing wait times for care, upgrading technology and taking steps to facilitate access to private care.

Since his dismissal, Shulkin has warned against privatizing veterans’ health care. In a statement released in early April, the VA shot down the idea, saying “there is no effort underway to privatize” veterans’ care and that “to suggest otherwise is completely false.”

The-CNN-Wire ™ & © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

‘Cocaine cowboy’ gets 11 years in prison after 26 years as fugitive

Crime, international News, News

Gustavo Falcon is seen in an undated photo. A quarter-century after he vanished, the man dubbed the last of Miami's "cocaine cowboys" has been sentenced to 11 years in prison for a drug trafficking conviction.

A fugitive dubbed the last of Miami’s “cocaine cowboys” was sentenced Wednesday to 11 years in prison after being a fugitive for 26 years.

Gustavo Falcon, 56, aka “Taby,” played a key role in one of the biggest drug trafficking operations of the violent 1980s smuggling era, authorities said.

He was part of a gang that smuggled 75 tons of cocaine into the U.S. and made an estimated $2 billion during a time popularized by the “Miami Vice” TV show.

“That’s a lot of cocaine,” U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno said at Falcon’s sentencing hearing. “It’s so serious. He himself knows how serious it is.”

Falcon pleaded guilty in February to a single cocaine distribution conspiracy charge.

He was captured last April, living under the alias “Luis Andre Rice,” in Kissimmee, Fla., with his wife, Amelia, aka “Maria Ava Rice,” the Miami New Times reported.

U.S. Marshals arrested Falcon while he was on a bike ride with Amelia in the quiet town about 13 miles southeast of Disney World.

In an apologetic letter to the judge, Falcon said he fled because he didn’t want to lose contact with his wife and two children, who are now grown.

“I convinced myself that it was better to leave with my wife and children,” he wrote. “I was afraid that if I went to prison for a long time, my wife would move on, and my children would grow up without a father.”

Falcon’s attorney, Howard Srebnick, said that Falcon’s time as a fugitive forced him to live in seclusion, home-school his children and live a “very mundane, modest lifestyle.”

“He lived as a hunted man for 27 years [sic],” said Srebnick, who sought a nine-year sentence for Falcon, the New Times reported.


“I’m not proud of being on the run for 26 years,” Falcon told the federal judge in Miami, the newspaper reported. “That’s no way to live. I paid for it every day for 26 years.”

The judge said Falcon did not deserve any benefit for the restrictions he faced while hiding from the law.

“It’s very hard for me to consider a downward sentence for someone who enjoyed a quarter-century free with his family,” Moreno said, sentencing Falcon to 11 years, which is still less than what prosecutors had reportedly asked for.

“You still have to pay for it,” the judge said.

Falcon disappeared in 1991, when he was indicted along with his older brother Augusto “Willie” Falcon, Salvatore “Sal” Magluta and many others.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Clark said Falcon was the “right-hand man” to his older brother. His jobs included keeping transaction ledgers, collecting millions of dollars in cocaine profits, finding stash houses for drugs and organizing tractor-trailer loads of drugs to be shipped from Southern California to Florida.

“It was probably the most prolific smuggling operation we have found here in South Florida,” Clark said.

Falcon, who was born in Cuba, is the 10th and final defendant to face justice in the case.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Rape lawsuit against Russell Simmons has been dropped

Crime, international News, News

An aspiring documentary filmmaker, Jennifer Jarosik, who accused Russell Simmons of rape has asked the court today to dismiss the lawsuit.

Jennifer Jarosik filed a civil suit in U.S. District Court in January, accusing Russell Simmons, founder of Def Jam Recordings of rape and sexual battery when she approached Simmons seeking help in producing and financing a film.

Russell Simmons Jennifer Jarosik $5million rape lawsuit dropped lailasnews

The woman alleged Simmons befriended her, invited her to his Los Angeles home under the pretext of discussing the film project, and then assaulted and raped her.

Her lawsuit had sought $5 million in damages.

Russell Simmons, in his court filing, replied that he and Jarosik had known each other for a decade, and that she would make unsolicited requests for his help on various entertainment projects — including a documentary, reality television shows and children’s books.

He offered encouragement, offered to donate a few thousand dollars to one project, and asked a friend who was a documentary filmmaker to help out with her documentary.

The long-time entertainment figure said that on the occasions when they had sex, it was consensual.

Both Simmons and Jarosik asked that the case be dismissed, suggesting some settlement had been reached.

Simmons, however, still faces another $10 million lawsuit for raping an unnamed accuser. Russell has denied all of the many sexual-misconduct claims made against him.

High-profile Indian guru, Asaram Bapu sentenced to life for raping 16-year-old girl- Abati

international News, News
High-profile Indian guru, Asaram Bapu sentenced to life for raping 16-year-old girl

A high-profile spiritual guru in India with a huge following has been handed a life sentence for raping a teenage girl in 2013.

The verdict against 77-year-old Asaram Bapu was read out on Wednesday inside the prison where he is being held in Jodhpur in Rajasthan state because of fears that his followers might resort to violence.

Security was tight around the prison complex and in states where the guru has a large following.

The trial was the latest in a series of high-profile rape cases in India that have fuelled public protests and raised questions about how police handle the attacks and treat the victims.

Last August, another popular and flamboyant Indian spiritual guru, Dr. Saint Gurmeet Singh Ram Rahim Insan, was sentenced to 20 years in prison on charges of raping two female followers.

Responding to widespread outrage over the recent rape and killings of young girls and other attacks on children, India’s government last week approved the death penalty for people convicted of raping children under age 12.

Judge Madhusudhan Sharma announced the prison term for Bapu and sentenced two of his associates to 20 years in prison each for helping him in the crime.

The judge convicted Bapu on charges of criminal conspiracy, wrongful confinement and rape.

Bapu has denied the charges, and a spokesman, Neelam Dubey, said he would appeal the verdict in a higher court.

The girl in her complaint to police in 2013 accused Bapu of raping her when she visited his retreat in Jodhpur with her mother. She was 16 at the time. The girl’s family said they had been followers of Bapu for more than a decade.

Bapu has been in prison since his arrest in 2013. He ran more than 230 ashrams with residential schools with millions of followers across India and abroad, including the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Uganda and Kenya.

Religious sects wield considerable political clout in India. Bapu is also on trial along with his son Narayan Sai in a separate case in which two sisters have accused the two men of sexual assault.

Model kidnapped and ‘auctioned as sex slave’ released ‘because she is a mother’- Jen Mills

Crime, international News, News

bri.jpgItalian police staged how they believe the kidnap took place (Picture: Polizia Di Stato/ Twitter) A group who ‘snatched and drugged a British model to be sold as a sex slave’ boasted they let her go because she was a mother, Italian police said. The woman, 20, was lured to Milan for a photoshoot, but when she arrived at a fake studio in the city she was attacked by two men and forced to take ketamine, it is claimed. She was stuffed into a car boot and driven miles away, handcuffed to a chest of drawers and ‘put up for sale on an online auction site for more than £230,000’ according to police. But the organised crime group known as Black Death said it was a ‘mistake’ to abduct her because she had a young child which was against their policies. Police confirm Brit model was kidnapped to be sold online


UK model recounts abduction in a suitcase in Italy – The National

THE Duchess of Cambridge has given birth to a baby boy – Sun

Celebrity Gists, international News, News

THE Duchess of Cambridge has given birth to a baby boy.

Kate Middleton and husband Prince William welcomed their third child, weighing in at 8lbs, 7oz, at 11.01am today.


It is understood that William may bring Prince George and Princess Charlotte to see their new brother at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, later this afternoon.

The Royal family are said to be delighted with the news, with the Queen informed of the fifth-in-line to the throne’s arrival earlier today.

In a statement, Kensington Palace said: “Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge was safely delivered of a son at 1101hrs.

“The baby weighs 8lbs 7oz.

“The Duke of Cambridge was present for the birth. Her Royal Highness and her child are both doing well.”


The town crier shared the exciting news outside the hospital


The official notice of the baby’s birth being set up at Buckingham Palace

kate 2

The official notice of the baby’s birth being set up at Buckingham Palace

kate 4kate3

Armenian police arrest more amid ongoing protests — © blogfactory

international News, News

Police in Armenia have arrested scores of opposition supporters amid ongoing protests and sit-ins in the capital, Yerevan, against the parliament’s election of former President Serzh Sargsyan as prime minister. Hundreds of opposition supporters took to the streets of Yerevan, waving national flags and carrying placards reading, “Sarkisian is a dictator.” Meanwhile, some demonstrators tried […]


Hundreds of opposition supporters took to the streets of Yerevan, waving national flags and carrying placards reading, “Sarkisian is a dictator.”

Meanwhile, some demonstrators tried to block roads in response to repeated calls by the leader of the protests, opposition lawmaker Nikol Pashinyan, to paralyze traffic.

According to police, dozens of people were arrested.

There is an ongoing campaign of “civil disobedience” meant to show public opposition to Sargsyan’s efforts to cling to power in a new parliamentary system of government. The former military officer ruled Armenia under a presidential system for 10 years.

The peak of the protests was on Tuesday, when some 40,000 people demonstrated in the capital after the parliament elected Sargsyan as the new prime minister. Under controversial amendments to the constitution passed in 2015, governing powers will be transferred from the presidency to the premier.

The spokesman for Sarkisian’s ruling Republican Party said the newly elected premier would not quit.

“We respect citizens’ right to freedom of assembly but we rule out the possibility of the prime minister resigning,” Eduard Sharmazanov told reporters late Thursday.

Armenian opposition supporters demonstrate during a rally in central Yerevan on April 20, 2018 against the election of former President Serzh Sarkisian’s as prime minister. (Photo by AFP)

Human Rights Watch has denounced the “arbitrary arrests” of protesters.

“One should not underestimate the challenges Armenia’s police are facing in maintaining law and order, but the ongoing protests are no justification to arbitrarily detain people,” the HRW said in a statement.

Armenia’s new President Armen Sarkisian was sworn in last week but he has much less power under the new governance system.

Sargsyan had a relatively difficult time ruling Armenia over the past 10 years due to economic hardships hampering his government’s efforts to improve welfare for Armenia’s 2.9 million people as well as renewed military clashes with Azerbaijan, an ally of the West in the South Caucasus, over the thorny issue of Karabakh.

Sargsyan has faced similar protests in the past. Some 10 people died and hundreds were injured in clashes that erupted after he was elected president in 2008.


via Armenian police arrest more amid ongoing protests — © blogfactory

Oil dips as U.S. drilling tempers otherwise bullish sentiment

International Finance, international News, News, Oil, Petroleum Products
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Illustration photo of crude oil being dispensed into a bottle© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Illustration photo of crude oil being dispensed into a bottle

By Henning Gloystein

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices dipped on Monday as a rising U.S. rig count implied further increases in output, marking one of the few factors tamping back crude in an otherwise bullish environment.

Brent crude futures were at $73.91 per barrel at 0630 GMT, down 15 cents, or 0.2 percent from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down 18 cents, or 0.3 percent, at $68.22 a barrel.

“We expect for oil prices to recede slightly today as market anticipates on the prospect of rising production in the U.S.,” Singapore-based Phillip Futures said on Monday.

U.S. drillers added five rigs drilling for new production in the week ended April 20, bringing the total to 820, the highest since March 2015, according Baker Hughes energy services firm.

The rising rig numbers point to further increases in U.S. crude production, which is already up by a quarter since mid-2016 to a record 10.54 million barrels per day (bpd).

Only Russia produces more, at almost 11 million bpd.

Despite slipping on Monday, overall the oil market remains well supported, especially by strong demand in Asia.

Brent is up by 20 percent from its 2018 low in February.

Prices are also being supported by supply cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) that were introduced in 2017 to prop up the market.

“Added price pressure comes from U.S. sanctions against the key oil exporting nations of Venezuela, Russia and Iran,” said J.P. Morgan Asset Management Global Market Strategist Kerry Craig. He was referring to action the U.S. government has taken on Russian companies and individuals, as well as on potential new measures against struggling Venezuela and especially OPEC-member Iran.

“Stay long oil,” J.P. Morgan said in a separate note.

The United States has until May 12 to decide whether it will leave the Iran nuclear deal and instead impose new sanctions against Tehran, including potentially on its oil exports, which would further tighten global supplies.

The U.S. trade action against Russia and, potentially, against Iran has resulted in a slump in Russia’s ruble and Iran’s rial.

This means costs for any imported goods become more expensive for its citizens or companies, but it has also pushed up the value of Russia’s and Iran’s oil sales as all of their production costs are in the local currencies, while foreign sales are largely made in the U.S. dollar.

The generally elevated oil prices have also sparked a spat between U.S. President Donald Trump and producer cartel OPEC.

Trump on Friday accused OPEC of “artificially” boosting oil prices, threatening on Twitter that this “will not be accepted”, drawing rebukes from several of the world’s top oil exporters within OPEC.


EIB and African Development Bank to support private sector investment in Nigeria with Development Bank of Nigeria backing

Africa, International Finance, international News, News, World Bank

EIB and African Development Bank to support private sector investment in Nigeria with Development Bank of Nigeria backing

The European Investment Bank and the African Development Bank have agreed to support the creation of the new Development Bank of Nigeria to strengthen lending for business and agriculture investment in the country. The European Investment Bank has finalized a US $20-million equity stake in the new financing institution, alongside US $50-million equity participation from the African Development Bank.

The Development Bank of Nigeria has been created by the Federal Government of Nigeria to address financing challenges hindering private sector investment in the country. The Bank is called to play an important and catalytic role in providing funding and risk sharing facilities to micro, small and medium enterprises as well as small corporates.

“The Development Bank of Nigeria will overcome the funding gap in the micro-, small- and medium-scale enterprises space and help businesses unlock opportunities across Nigeria. DBN’s ambition is strengthened by the financial and technical support of international partners, including the European Investment Bank and African Development Bank. The new institution builds on international experience and uses a business model that has demonstrated proven success to enhance private-sector investment across Africa and around the world where other financing options are inadequate or absent,” said Tony Okpanachi, Managing Director of the Development Bank of Nigeria.

“Private sector businesses are critical to the development of the Nigerian economy as they possess huge potential for employment generation and output diversification. Nevertheless, there has been under-performance of these businesses and this has undermined their contribution to economic growth. Among the issues affecting their performance, the shortage of finance, particularly investment finance, occupies a very central position. The Development Bank of Nigeria is expected to contribute to mobilizing significant long-term financing to an important yet underserved sector with high development potential,” said Stefan Nalletamby, Director of the Financial Sector Development Department at the African Development Bank.

“New private sector investment is crucial to create jobs and enable businesses to expand and limited access to long-term financing holds back economic growth. The European Investment Bank is pleased to support the new Development Bank of Nigeria to strengthen private-sector investment in Africa’s largest economy. We look forward to continued close cooperation with Nigerian and international partners to ensure that once fully operational the new Development Bank of Nigeria can help harness the country’s economic potential,” said Ambroise Fayolle, Vice-President of the European Investment Bank (EIB).

Addressing the investment gap holding back private-sector investment

At present, new investment essential for companies to expand and create jobs is hindered by limited access to commercial banks. It is estimated by the Development Bank of Nigeria that only 5% of the 37 million entrepreneurs and small businesses in Nigeria that contribute to 50% of GDP can access credit in the financial system.

Building on broad international support

Other international financial institutions including the World Bank, Germany’s KfW and the French Agence française de développement (AFD) will also support the new bank alongside backing from the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Original source: AfDB
Published on 19 April 2018

Here’s one thing North Korea can do to show it’s serious about de-nuking

international News, News, Politics

Here’s one thing North Korea can do to show it’s serious about de-nuking – By Jamie Tarabay, CNN 

People watch a TV screen showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's New Year's speech, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018.© Ahn Young-joon/AP Photo People watch a TV screen showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s New Year’s speech, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018.

North Korea is “livening up the mood” with regards to its talk on denuclearization, but doing very little beyond that, say experts who’ve long watched the isolated regime wrestle with its nuclear ambitions and international censure.

And further, they say, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is positioning himself as an amenable leader open to negotiation as he readies for Friday’s summit with South Korea and a forthcoming historic meeting with US President Donald Trump.

On Saturday Kim Jong Un asserted that his regime no longer needed to test its weapons capabilities and that it would be abandoning a test site in the north that had been the location of several nuclear tests.

“It’s just propaganda, the statements have ambiguous meanings,” said Chang-Hoon Shin, senior research fellow with the Korea Institute for Maritime Strategy. He said the test site at Punggye-ri in North Hamyong province would more likely be shut down because of the environmental impact sustained to the mountains there. When North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test last September deep underground, the explosion created a magnitude 6.3 tremor.

“We can say the Punggye-ri site was of no use anymore, so I think North Korea can make use of that situation by declaring they will shut down past sites, but it doesn’t have any meaning,” Shin told CNN.

“It can liven up the mood and make it favorable for the talks, but I don’t think it’s enough because it’s not technically a move towards denuclearization at all.”

If North Korea was really serious, Shin said, it would re-apply to the Non-Proliferation Treaty or accede to international norms under the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. And there’s been no indication it wants to do that.

No ‘popping champagne bottles’ yet

The announcement has done little more than solidify prospects the Trump-Kim summit will go ahead, said Catherine Dill, a research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

“I think that this certainly improves the odds for a Trump-Kim summit actually occurring, but it may complicate the longer term picture,” Dill told CNN.

“A careful reading of the announcement shows that North Korea is walking a fine line in exactly what they are conceding at this point: an end to testing does not automatically result in the verifiable dismantlement of the nuclear and missile programs. Verification of testing alone would be quite complex, and the verification of dismantlement would take years of careful negotiation and implementation,” she said.

“I think that while this particular concession by North Korea appeals to Trump’s vanity, it has improved dramatically the prospects for the summit,” she added.

Abraham Denmark, director of the Asia Program at the Wilson Center, agreed.

“This is posturing, it’s still not committing North Korea to anything. They actually committed to no testing before — as recently as 2012 — and that lasted about a week. So it’s a good thing, but I’m not popping any champagne bottles at this point,” he told CNN.

In 2012, the North Korean regime agreed to halt its nuclear testing in exchange for food aid from the United States, the so-called Leap Day agreement. But the deal fell apart after North Korea launched a rocket into orbit several months after the deal was signed. The North Koreans said the rocket was sending a satellite into orbit, but the US, South Korea and Japan claimed that was a cover for a long-range ballistic missile test.

Lack of concrete measures

If North Korea is so confident in its weapons capacity and wants to join the nuclear club, then it should abide by conventions adhered to by other nuclear states, Shin notes.

“In order not to be deceived by North Korea again, concrete measures and gestures must be shown by Pyongyang,” he told CNN. “Talking of denuclearization gives a certain illusion, but there must be certain measures like returning to the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency]. I argue that returning to those organizations are the minimum standard for verifying their real intention or will of denuclearizing.”

North Korea pulled out of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty in January 2003, declaring at the time that it pledged to limit its nuclear activities to “peaceful purposes.” It had announced in 1993 that it would withdraw from the treaty then, but suspended decision to enter into talks with the US.

By choosing to focus on direct talks with the US, Shin says North Korea is bypassing the scrutiny and verification process it would have to accept under UN auspices.

“If you look at the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, the resolutions always ask North Korea to return to the IAEA and the NPT, so North Korea knows very well, it’s trying to avoid such situations, it wants to discuss denuclearization directly with the US rather than in the context of international norms,” Shin said.

“If North Korea can lift US sanctions first, then the UN sanctions aren’t as significant.”

A deal for a deal’s sake

The announcement follows diplomatic outreach including a visit by Kim to Beijing, his first foreign visit as leader, to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping. China has yet to comment on Saturday’s events.

Meanwhile, President Trump responded positively to the news out of Pyongyang, tweeting about it twice on Friday night. The news that North Korea was suspending its tests and closing down a site, he said, was “very good news for North Korea and the World – big progress! Look forward to our Summit.”

But at least one American ally in the region was circumspect.

“The only thing that is important is whether or not it will lead to the completely verified and irreversible abolition of nuclear and missiles,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters. “We would like to keep a close eye on it.”

His defense minister was even more direct, calling the announcement “insufficient.”

Speaking in Washington, DC, Itsunori Onodera told reporters that the move was “not satisfactory” for Japan “as the disposal of middle and short-range missile and of nuclear weapons was not mentioned.”

He added that Japan will continue its policy of “maximum pressure” until “North Korea gives up WMDs [weapons of mass destruction] and nuclear missiles completely.”

Japan’s fear is that in a bid to get a win, Trump will be satisfied with a commitment from North Korea that would abandon nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles, but not press to include short and medium-range weapons that are able to target Japan.

“So far, White House officials have been saying that the US is not going to give anything until North Korea completely denuclearizes, it’s setting a very hard line on negotiations,” said Denmark.

“But as we’ve seen in the past the President doesn’t necessarily follow through on the advice of his people and so it’s impossible to know what’s going to happen when he gets in a room and sits down with Kim. Even if they come to an agreement, the president has demonstrated a penchant in his life of pulling out of agreements so sticking to an agreement is going to be very difficult,” he said.


Aborted Fetus And Pill Bottle In 19th Century New York Outhouse Reveal History Of Family Planning

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(Source: www.forbes.com)

David Tuttle / Historical ArchaeologyThe archaeological discovery of presumably aborted fetuses in outhouses in New York along with pill bottles and historical records have led researchers to conclude that many 19th century American women had family-planning concerns similar to those of 21st century women.

Writing in this month’s Historical Archaeology journal, archaeologist Andrea Zlotucha Kozub of the Public Archaeology Facility at Binghamton University details her discovery of fetal remains and associated artifacts in two upstate New York domestic outhouses. Although potential aborted fetuses have been previously found in an outhouse associated with a 19th century brothel in Manhattan, Kozub’s study is the first to find this sort of evidence from middle-class houses.

“Ladies of the night may have had the recurring need for abortion,” Kozub writes, “but historical documents show that housewives, particularly those from the White, Protestant middle class, regularly used abortion as a form of contraception.” However, she notes that defining abortion in the 19th century is made difficult by the fact that the word was used to describe both naturally occurring and induced miscarriages.

In the 19th century, the growing fetus was not recognized as an entity separate from its mother’s body until she felt ‘quickening’ or the movement of the baby inside her, which tends to occur anytime between 16-25 weeks’ gestation. Most women of the time believed that “a pregnancy did not exist until there was a quickening, and a child did not exist until it was born alive,” Kozub explains. So inducing an abortion before quickening was a “don’t ask, don’t tell” situation, but abortions occurring after quickening were considered a criminal act by the doctor or other practitioner who caused the abortion.

In the 1840s, abortion was commercialized and rates of the practice soared, but at the same time a new movement arose ostensibly concerned with the welfare of embryos and fetuses. While some doctors performed abortions, others sought to apply their Hippocratic Oath to the unborn fetuses and worked to outlaw abortion completely. One particular physician, Dr. Horatio Storer, started an anti-abortion crusade in 1857, dismissing the dangers of childbirth and health complications of pregnancy and introducing propaganda that laid out complications and side effects of abortion that were speculative and non-medical. Adding to this movement, Pope Pius IX’s 1869 decree that fetal ensoulment occurs at contraception rather than at quickening meant that abortion became an offense for which a woman could be excommunicated from the Catholic church.

Ypsilanti Commercial newspaper (1868)

“Despite these prohibitions,” Kozub explains, “women continued to have abortions. The exact rates of induced abortion were estimated to be very high, perhaps as many as one in five pregnancies.” Part of this was likely women’s attitude towards a pregnancy that had not yet led to quickening. For some, the event of miscarriage was a welcome relief from unwanted pregnancy, historical records suggest, and “these women did not perceive their embryos and pre-quickened fetuses as ‘babies’ to be mourned.” Doctors who sought to outlaw abortion in the mid-19th century therefore turned to “an emotional war of words designed to shame these women into bearing children,” Kozub says. “By mid-century, it was clear that the majority of abortion seekers were married women engaged in family planning.” Until Kozub’s new analysis, however, no archaeological evidence of abortion had been found in a domestic context in New York before.

A house on Canal Street in Binghamton, New York, was the site of archaeological investigation by the Public Archaeology Facility in the 2010s. Historical records identify the family, which Kozub has chosen to pseudonymize as the Mortons to preserve the privacy of potential descendants in the area. Through intensive documentary research, Kozub found that Mrs. Morton bore three children between 1871 and 1875. The Mortons’ outhouse contained a wealth of information about their daily lives, including a lot of trash related to the children and childrearing. However, the outhouse also yielded 18 bones from a 30- to 32-week-old fetus.

Discovery of fetal bones is not uncommon on archaeological sites, as miscarriages were at least as frequent in antiquity as they are today. Kozub, however, interprets the bones as a potential aborted fetus because of a pharmaceutical bottle discovered in the trash pit that had contained “Clarke’s Female Pills.” This mail-order drug contained savin, an herb that was a known abortifacient, and “may be considered circumstantial evidence for the death of this particular fetus.”

Whether the fetus was from Mrs. Morton or from one of the family’s two live-in servants is unknown, but Kozub thinks that “the combined evidence of the discarded nursing bottles and Mrs. Morton’s abrupt cessation of childbearing both point to family planning, for which abortion would have been both consistent and historically valid.” The fetal remains in the outhouse context seem to be “an act of concealment, underscoring the criminal aspect of the abortion,” since the fetus “was expelled well after quickening.” Had the fetus been miscarried, the Mortons would likely have buried it rather than disposing of its body in the family outhouse.

The second potential abortion that Kozub found was from an archaeological site in Niagara Falls. 17 bones from a fetus approximately 30 weeks’ gestation were found in an outhouse associated with a rental house that was occupied in the 1850s. Census records suggest that Mr. Chester, a lawyer, lived there around that time with his wife and three daughters (one teen, two preteen) and a female teenage servant. Unlike the Binghamton case, the Niagara Falls outhouse does not include enough artifacts or context to suggest whether the fetus had belonged to Mrs. Chester, the eldest daughter, or the servant. Additionally, because this was a rental property, it is equally possible that some other tenant than the Chester family was responsible.

“The Binghamton and Niagara Falls sites,” Kozub writes, “share a greater historical context demonstrating middle-class use of abortion for family planning in the 19th century. Concealment in the outhouse is suggestive of maternal indifference and/or a consciousness of criminal activity, both of which are consistent with abortion.” Historical records from the period rarely note what happened to stillborn or aborted fetuses, but occasional police and coroners’ records mention the discovery of ‘infanticide victims’ in outhouses.

“Kozub’s research contributes to a growing understanding of women’s agency in their family lives in the 19th century,” bioarchaeologist Meredith Berman Ellis of Florida Atlantic University tells me. “We get from her study a picture of the intersection of private choices and public pressures, of the reality of living as a woman and potential mother in the new middling class in the 19th century in upstate New York.”

Evidence of abortion from archaeological sites in the United States is still scanty, in spite of the historical suggestion that numerous pregnancies were terminated in this way. Because of the small size of fetal bones, they are often missed during excavation, and they can easily be mistaken for domesticated animal remains, as both of the cases in Kozub’s analysis initially were.

“The discovery of a fetus in an outhouse allows us to examine the bookends of life – birth and death – in a new way, as this research adds an unexpected dimension to our understanding of Victorian mothers,” Kozub tells me. “While I’m obviously not the first historian to discuss 19th century abortion and family planning, these discoveries are physical evidence of a practice that might seem incompatible with our sentimental views of Victorian motherhood.”

In the end, Kozub notes, her analysis shows that “Mrs. Morton and the unknown woman in Niagara Falls were women who had a difficult choice to make and who made it at the most difficult hour.”

More Info: www.forbes.com

Biya regime investigates illegal ivory, Pangolin scales bound for China

international News, News
Cameroon Concord News

Doctor Who Illegally Prescribed Prince Painkillers Before Overdose Pays $30,000 Settlement

international News, Music, News, personality
Michael Ochs Archives—This content is subject to copyright. By AMY FORLITI / AP

(MINNEAPOLIS) — A Minnesota doctor accused of illegally prescribing an opioid painkiller for Prince a week before the musician died from a fentanyl overdose has agreed to pay $30,000 to settle a federal civil violation, according to documents made public Thursday.

The settlement between the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Dr. Michael Todd Schulenberg comes as state prosecutors prepared to announce Thursday morning whether they’ll file any criminal charges stemming from their two-year investigation into Prince’s death.

Schulenberg is not currently a target of any criminal investigation, federal prosecutors said in a letter to his attorney. His attorney, Amy Conners, released a statement Thursday saying “there have been no allegations made by the Government that Dr. Schulenberg had any role in Prince’s death.”

Prince was 57 when he was found alone and unresponsive in an elevator at his Paisley Park estate on April 21, 2016. An autopsy found he died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50 times more powerful than heroin. State and federal authorities have been investigating the source of the fentanyl for nearly two years, and no one has been criminally charged.

But federal prosecutors and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration alleged Schulenberg, a family physician who saw Prince twice before he died, violated the Controlled Substances Act when he wrote a prescription in the name of someone else on April 14, 2016.

The settlement, dated Monday, does not name Prince or make any references to the Prince investigation — but search warrants previously released say Schulenberg told authorities he prescribed oxycodone to Prince on April 14 and put it under the name of Prince’s bodyguard and close friend, Kirk Johnson, “for Prince’s privacy.” Schulenberg’s attorney disputed that, saying Schulenberg did not prescribe opiates to any patient with the intent that they go to Prince.

“After he learned of Prince’s addiction, he immediately worked to refer Prince to a treatment facility and to transfer care to a chemical dependency specialist,” Conners said.

She said Schulenberg decided to settle to avoid the expense, delay, and unknown outcome of litigation, and that “he made no admission of facts nor liability and denies any such liability.”

Oxycodone, the generic name for the active ingredient in OxyContin, was not listed as a cause of Prince’s death. But it is part of a family of painkillers driving the nation’s overdose and addiction epidemic, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 2 million Americans abused or were addicted to prescription opioids, including oxycodone, in 2014.

A laboratory report obtained by The Associated Press notes that one of the pills found in a prescription bottle in Paisley Park that bore Johnson’s name tested positive for oxycodone.

Under the settlement, Schulenberg has 30 days to pay $30,000 to the U.S. government. He also agreed to stricter requirements for logging and reporting his prescriptions of controlled substances for two years. Among them, he must keep detailed logs of all controlled substances he prescribes, allow the DEA to inspect the logs and other records without prior notice, and allow the DEA access to his prescribing history on demand.

It’s illegal for a doctor to write a prescription for someone under another person’s name. Anyone convicted of doing so could lose their DEA registration — meaning they could no longer prescribe controlled substances — and could face discipline from their state medical board.

The settlement says the DEA won’t revoke Schulenberg’s registration, unless he does not comply. It’s unclear whether the state medical board will take action. His license is currently active and he has no disciplinary action against him.

A confidential toxicology report obtained by The Associated Press in March showed high concentrations of fentanyl in the singer’s blood, liver and stomach. The concentration of fentanyl in Prince’s blood alone was 67.8 micrograms per liter, which outside experts called “exceedingly high.”

Prince did not have a prescription for fentanyl. Search warrants unsealed about a year after he died showed that authorities searched his home, cellphone records of associates and his email accounts to try to determine how he got the drug. Authorities found numerous pills in various containers stashed around Prince’s home, including some counterfeit pills that contained fentanyl.

While many who knew Prince over the years said he had a reputation for clean living, some said he also struggled with pain after years of performing at an intense level. Documents unsealed last year paint a picture of a man struggling with an addiction to prescription opioids and withdrawal, and they also show there were efforts to get him help.

Associates at Paisley Park told investigators that Prince was recently “going through withdrawals, which are believed to be the result of the abuse of prescription medication,” according to an affidavit.

Just six days before he died, Prince passed out on a plane, and an emergency stop was made in Moline, Illinois. The musician had to be revived with two doses of a drug that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose.

The day before his death, Paisley Park staffers contacted California addiction specialist Dr. Howard Kornfeld as they were trying to get Prince help. Kornfeld sent his son, Andrew, to Minnesota that night, and the younger Kornfeld was among those who found Prince’s body. Andrew Kornfeld was carrying buprenorphine, a medication that can be used to help treat opioid addiction.

LG’s 2018 OLED TVs sport new processor, promise smoother motion

Homes, international News
(Source: www.techgoondu.com)

LG is shipping its latest 2018 OLED TVs in Singapore this month, with each sporting a new processor that enables richer colours, sharper images and smoother motion.

The top-end lineup is led by the wallpaper-like W8. If the paper-thin design with a depth of just 2.57mm looks familiar, that is because it’s an update to last year’s W7 that set the standard for a money-no-object TV.

The 2018 version comes with the usual breakout box cum speaker that is connected via a flat cable which can be hidden in the wall. Image quality-wise, it has been souped up with LG’s fancily-named Alpha 9 processor.

What the chip does, according to the Korean electronics firm, is to reduce the noise that is common on a video. Instead of a usual two-step noise reduction process, the chip helps the new TVs undergo a four-step process now to make images clearer.

The chip also works hard to process high frame rates of up to 120 frames per second, so that motion appears smoother than before.

In a demo for Singapore media today, LG executives showed how the new processor reduces judder, a common problem that appears in shots where the camera moves with the action.

Of course, you can always turn on “movie mode” and have the image become smoother but less sharp. Some users might even prefer to avoid an image where everything is in focus, which some call the “soap opera” effect, so your mileage might vary.

Still, what LG has done with the Alpha 9 is clear with a side-by-side demo today with an older TV, from an unnamed rival OLED TV maker. It showed not just stuttering motion but also buzzing when you had thin lines tightly packed together on screen.

Good news is, the new chip is also available in LG’s two other new OLED TV models this year. The E8 comes with features that are available across the line, such as support for various HDR (high dynamic range) formats, which promise improved contrast, brighter images and a wider colour palette.

However, the E8 looks more like a conventional TV than the W8. It is still extremely thin but it has its main systems built in at the bottom, instead of using a separate box.

Then there’s the C8, which also sports most of the features of its more expensive siblings, such as HDR and the Alpha 9 processor. However, it comes with a 2.2 channel, 20-watt speaker system instead of the more powerful 4.2-channel, 60-watt one you get on the more expensive models.

The C8 is the entry point this year for an LG OLED TV, which as you might know by now, is the superior TV technology (despite what Samsung says about its similarly-named but inferiorQLED TVs).

OLED TVs provide unrivalled blacks and smooth motion that even top-end LED TVs, such as Samsung’s QLED range, cannot match. The technology, pushed by LG for a few years now, has been taken up by Panasonic and Sony as well.

Yet, despite the competition, LG seems confident enough not to drop prices for its entry-level C8 OLED TVs, compared to last year.

They now start from S$4,699 for a 55-incher and S$7,299 for a 65-incher, going up to a grandS$19,999 for a 77-incher (for those lucky enough to have a home larger than the average Singapore apartment).

Meanwhile, the mid-end E8 will go for S$7,999 for the 55-inch version and S$10,999 for the 65-incher.

Got even more money in the bank to splurge on a TV? The W8 should be a welcome addition at home at S$11,699 for the 65-incher and S$34,999 for the 77-incher.

You must be nuts – or very rich – to blow S$35,000 for a TV, right? Apparently, there were people buying up the top-end W series last year, according to market sources, and not all of them live in Sentosa Cove, either.

No wonder LG is happy to show off its new 2018 OLED TVs while keeping prices fairly stable. People are coming round to the fact that OLED is the way to go if they take video quality seriously.

More Info: www.techgoondu.com

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