Archive for July 2017 | Monthly archive page

Ng Lap Seng a Chinese billionaire who wanted to build a United Nations center in Macau was convicted on Thursday of paying more than $1.7 million in bribes to U.N. ambassadors to get it done.The verdict was returned after a day of deliberations in Manhattan federal court against Ng Lap Seng, one of China’s richest men. Ng was convicted of bribery, conspiracy and money laundering charges. Prosecutors presented evidence that Ng from 2010 to 2015 bribed two U.N. ambassadors, including a U.N. General Assembly president, paying one $50,000 monthly at the scheme’s peak to create a center to serve struggling Southern Hemisphere nations. Defense lawyers contended the payments were ordinary. But the center was never built. Ng looked at jurors as the verdict was announced but otherwise did not display emotion. U.S. District Judge Vernon S. Broderick tightened Ng’s bail conditions, saying he was now “literally under house arrest,” confined under $50 million bail to a luxury Manhattan apartment where he has remained for most months under 24-hour guard since his September 2015 arrest. Prosecutors presented evidence that Ng from 2010 to 2015 bribed two U.N. ambassadors with hundreds of thousands of dollars to support his project to build a U.N. conference center, but defense lawyers contended that Ng only paid money when he was asked to spend it to speed the project along. A prosecutor earlier this week had urged the jury to convict Ng, saying he bribed two United Nations ambassadors so he could build a U.N. facility in China that would be as big as the one in New York, a claim a defense attorney dismissed the case as “a big zero.” The defendant Ng Lap Seng corrupted the United Nations,  are allegedly corrupting the United Nations.  Ng was confined under 24-hour guard in a luxury Manhattan apartment for the last two years for getting money in the United Nations. The 69-year-old Ng paid millions of dollars to two U.N. ambassadors over a five-year period to clear away red tape so he could build a conference center in Macau that would be the “Geneva of Asia,” where tens of thousands of people would spend money at his hotel, a marina, a condominium complex, a heliport and a shopping center. Whistle blowers blamed the ambassadors former U.N. General Assembly President John Ashe and suspended Dominican Republic Ambassador Francis Lorenzo for abusing their relationships with Ng. The defendants are still not guilty and no evidence that Ng had forged with the United Nations and its ambassadors to build a multibillion-dollar facility that would serve developing nations.

An errant US air strike has killed 16 Afghan National Police officers who were fighting the Taliban terrorist and injured two others last July 22, 2017. Helmand provincial police chief Abdul Ghafar Safi said on Saturday that the death toll in Friday’s strike was determined after a site inspection of the compound in Gereshk District. The Pentagon confirmed the air strike on the Security Forces compound happened during a US supported operation against Taliban insurgents in the area, and offered its condolences to the families of the security forces who were killed. Safi told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that the dead were police officers who were operating with the army in the area. He said they had recaptured the post from the Taliban when the airstrike occurred. On Friday, the Helmand Gov. Hayatullah Hayat said it was believed the police officers were not in uniform, which may have resulted in mistakenly identifying them as terrorist. While much of Helmand province is under the control of Taliban, Afghan national security forces have been waging fierce battles to retake territory. Nato and US troops are in Helmand to assist Afghan troops.

An official told The Associated Press that the dead were police officers who were operating with the army in the area. A to local police sources; an Afghan police unit retook a checkpoint captured by the Taliban on Thursday. Due to apparent miscommunication, a US gunship bombed the police unit 30 minutes later. The spokesman to the provincial governor, Omar Zawak, said the number of killed and injured was not yet clear. Helmand’s police chief said 12 members of the Afghan National Security Forces died in the strike. The incident followed a week of intensified US airstrikes in Helmand. The US air campaign in Afghanistan has reached a level not seen since 2012, when there were almost 10 times as many US troops in the country. According to Bill Salvin, spokesman for the coalition forces in Afghanistan, the US has conducted more than 50 airstrikes in the province over the past five days. The deaths in Helmand added to a particularly bloody day for the Afghan police. In the northeastern Badakhshan province, the Taliban killed at least 32 members of the local police and government-aligned uprising groups in a push to capture Tagaq district. Some of the people killed were murdered after the Taliban surrounded a house they were staying in, while the rest were shot in an ambush, said Abdullah Naji Nazari, the head of the provincial council.

 

A South African child born with HIV has surprised experts by appearing to be effectively cured of the AIDS virus after just a year of treatment followed by eight and a half years drug-free. The child, whose identity is being protected, was given a burst of treatment shortly after birth. They have since been off drugs for eight-and-a-half years without symptoms or signs of active virus. The family is said to be “really delighted”. Most people need treatment every day to prevent HIV destroying the immune system and causing Aids. Understanding how the child is protected could lead to new drugs or a vaccine for stopping HIV. The child caught the infection from their mother around the time of birth in 2007. They had very high levels of HIV in the blood. Early antiretroviral therapy was not standard practice at the time, but was given to the child from nine weeks old as part of a clinical trial. Levels of the virus became undetectable, treatment was stopped after 40 weeks and unlike anybody else on the study – the virus has not returned. Early therapy which attacks the virus before it has a chance to fully establish itself has been implicated in child “cure” cases twice before. Patients with HIV would normally need to stay on antiretroviral (ART) drugs for the rest of their lives to keep AIDS at bay. But this child, still off treatment and now almost 10 years old, has no signs of the disease.

This and other recent, isolated cases of remission have given additional hope to the 37 million people worldwide infected with the virus that causes AIDS. Yet experts urged caution, saying the case is extremely rare does not suggest a simple path to a cure. “It’s a case that raises more questions than it necessarily answers,” said Linda-Gail Bekker, president of the International AIDS Society (IAS), which is holding a conference in Paris this week. “It does raise the interesting notion that maybe treatment isn’t for life. (But) it’s clearly a rare phenomenon.” The baby contracted HIV from its mother. Treatment with ART started when it was almost nine weeks old but was interrupted at 40 weeks when the virus had been suppressed, and the child was monitored regularly for any signs of relapse. “At age 9.5 years, the child was clinically asymptomatic,” the researchers said. Sharon Lewin, an HIV expert at the University of Melbourne and co-chair of the IAS’s HIV Cure and Cancer forum, said the case threw up possible insights into how the human immune system can controls HIV replication when treatment is interrupted. Yet in terms of the scientific search for a cure for HIV and AIDS, she told Reuters, it appeared only to confirm previous reports of similarly rare cases. The HIV/AIDS pandemic has killed around 35 million people worldwide since it began in the 1980s.

Bolivia’s President Evo Morales has been highlighting his government’s independence from international money lending organizations and their detrimental impact the nation. Morales has said Bolivia’s past dependence on the agencies was so great that the International Monetary Fund had an office in government headquarters and even participated in their meetings. Bolivia is now in the process of becoming a member of the Southern Common Market, Mercosur and Morales attended the group’s summit in Argentina last week. Bolivia’s popular uprising known as the The Cochabamba Water War in 2000 against United States-based Bechtel Corporation over water privatization and the associated World Bank policies shed light on some of the debt issues facing the region. Some of Bolivia’s largest resistance struggles in the last 60 years have targeted the economic policies carried out by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Most of the protests focused on opposing privatization policies and austerity measures, including cuts to public services, privatization decrees, wage reductions, as well the weakening of labor rights. Since 2006, a year after Morales came to power, social spending on health, education, and poverty programs has increased by over 45 percent. Morales administration to Bolivia made enormous transformations in the Andean nation. The figures speak for themselves: the nationalization of hydrocarbons, poverty reduction from 60% to less than 40%, a decrease in the rate of illiteracy from 13% to 3%, the tripling the GDP with an average growth of 5% annually, the quadrupling of the minimum wage, the increasing of state coverage on all fronts, and the development of infrastructure in communications, transportation, energy and industry. And above all, stability, an unusual word in the troubled political history Bolivia, of which today, with the economic slowdown experienced by many countries in the region, is a real privilege. Most of the poorest neighborhoods were not hooked up to the network, so state subsidies to the water utility went mainly to industries and middle-class neighborhoods; the poor paid far more for water of dubious purity from trucks and handcarts. In the World Bank’s view, it was a city that was crying out for water privatization.” Some of Bolivia’s largest resistance struggles in the last 60 years have targeted the economic policies carried out by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Most of the protests focused on opposing privatization policies and austerity measures, including cuts to public services, privatization decrees, wage reductions, as well the weakening of labor rights. Since 2006, a year after Morales came to power, social spending on health, education, and poverty programs has increased by over 45 percent.

Chester Bennington, the mercurial lead singer of celebrated Nu-metal band Linkin Park has been found dead at his home in California after apparently taking his own life. The 41-year-old was discovered inside his residence in the Palos Verdes Estates in Los Angeles. At about 9 a.m. on Thursday, police responded to a call of a dead body in a Palos Verdes Estates (a suburb south of Los Angeles) home, the location of Bennington’s private residence, law enforcement said in a statement. He appeared to have died by suicide from hanging. The Los Angeles’ coroner office confirmed that originally reported that Bennington had taken his own life. Bennington struggled with drugs and alcohol for years. He had said in the past he had considered committing suicide because he had been abused as a child by an older male. The band most recently released album “One More Light” earlier this year, as well as a music video for “Talking to Myself” earlier Thursday morning. Bennington has struggled with alcohol and drug problems throughout his life. A native of Phoenix, Arizona, Bennington had a troubled childhood marred by sexual abuse from an older male friend and drug abuse; his parents divorced when he was 11. He began performing in his teens and in the late 1990s was introduced to several members of the band that would become Linkin Park by Zombie Music Publishing executive Jeff Blue. The union was successful although the group struggled to find a record deal. Blue signed them after he joined Warner Bros. Records as an A&R executive, and they released their debut album, “Hybrid Theory,” in 2000, and the group went on to become one of the most successful rock bands of the decade. “Hybrid Theory” was certified diamond (10 million copies) by the RIAA, and the ensuing albums “Meteora” (2003) and “Minutes to Midnight” (2007) reached multiplatinum sales as well. In 2004 the group recorded a “mashup EP” called “Collision Course” with rapper Jay Z. n his tribute letter to Chris Cornell, Bennington wrote in part: “You have inspired me in many ways you could never have known. Your talent was pure and unrivalled. Your voice was joy and pain, anger and forgiveness, love and heartache all wrapped up into one. I suppose that’s what we all are. You helped me understand that.”

Ram Nath Kovind, lawyer, former MP and governor, was elected India’s next President on Thursday. The government-backed candidate, a Dalit leader, won nearly 66 per cent of the votes cast by an electoral college of MPs and state lawmakers on Monday. He will be sworn in on July 25. The 71-year-old said at his home in Delhi, where a crowd burst crackers and distributed sweets in celebration. Though he won by a comfortable margin, his rival Meira Kumar ended up with the best haul for an opposition candidate in recent times. He won and secured 2930 votes with a value of 7,02,044 and Ms Kumar managed 1,844 votes with a value of 3,67,314. Mr Kovind served a reminder in his speech after winning the election. Referring to the daylong rain in Delhi, he shared memories of a kuchcha mud hut and waiting for the rain to end. “Today there are many Ram Nath Kovinds who are getting wet in the rain, working hard in the fields for one square meal,” he said. Ms Kumar, a former speaker backed by a 17-member bloc of opposition parties, said she was not upset. “We have fought a principled fight… we are fighting for values that most people of the country believe in,” she said. Mr Kovind, who resigned as Bihar Governor the day his name was announced for the presidential race, has been a BJP MP and is deeply associated with the party’s ideological mentor RSS or Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) broke ranks with the opposition to support Mr Kovind. This came as a big blow to the opposition that had picked the Presidential elections as an occasion to forge an anti-BJP bloc ahead of the 2019 general elections. The presidential poll on Monday saw nearly 99 per cent voting, the highest ever, according to the returning officer. Polling was held simultaneously at 32 polling stations one in Parliament House and one each in 29 state assemblies and two union territories with assemblies. The Constitution provides a largely ceremonial role for the President, with the Prime Minister and his cabinet colleagues holding executive power.  But the President has a key role during political crises, such as when a general election is inconclusive, by deciding which party is in the best position to form a government.

It was another good day for the major banks, following yesterday’s announcement by APRA on minimum capital requirements. Australian shares closed higher for the second day in a row.

Today’s scoreboard:

ASX 200: 5,761.50 +29.37 (+0.51%) All Ordinaries: 5,805.70 +26.33 (+0.46%) AUD/USD: 0.7920 -0.0036 (-0.45%) The Australian dollar reached a high this morning above US79.8 cents before finding resistance following the release of the June employment report this morning. Although the jobs report met expectations, mild selling of the AUD has continued this afternoon as UK markets open and the AUD is currently tracking back towards US79 cents. The benchmark S & P/ASX200 index was up 0.5 per cent at noon (AEST), with the energy sector up 1.4 per cent and financials 1.2 per cent stronger. The broader All Ordinaries index was up 27.5 points, or 0.5 per cent, at 5,806.9 points. Higher commodity prices and weakness in the US dollar were keeping the Australian dollar at its two year highs, trading at US79.60 cents at noon (AEST). The energy producers were boosted by a rise in oil prices, and Santos was the best performer after also improving its full year sales and production forecasts, up 7.5 per cent to $32.50. The big four banks continue to rise after the release yesterday of softer- than-expected new capital rules by the prudential regulator. ANZ was the best of the four, up 2.5 per cent, and Commonwealth Bank had posted the most modest gain, of 0.6 per cent. Myer was one of the weakest stocks on the market, plunging 8.3 per cent to 74.75 cents after announcing a $45.6 million hit from writing off its stake in Topshop’s Australian franchisee and impairing the value of its struggling sass & bide brand. Infant formula maker Bellamy’s Australia was down 8.9 per cent to $6.10 after its shares emerged from a two-week hiatus related to its offer of refunds for a $60.4 million capital raising to fund the purchase of a canning facility.

 

The LaWS, an acronym for Laser Weapons System, is not science fiction. It is not experimental. It is deployed on board the USS Ponce amphibious transport ship. It was deployed last July 18, 2017 Tuesday. U.S. Navy Tests World’s First Laser Weapons System the U.S. Navy recently tested the world’s first-ever active laser weapons system, which is now deployed and ready for war. The system has special materials that release photons, and, at the speed of light, it silently hits an object, burning it to a temperature of thousands of degrees.

With just a few milliseconds the drone’s wing lit up, heated to a temperature of thousands of degrees, lethally damaging the aircraft and sending it hurtling down to the sea. Each strike travels 50,000 times the speed of an incoming ICBM. It operates in an invisible part of the electromagnetic spectrum so you don’t see the beam, it doesn’t make any sound, it’s completely silent and it’s incredibly effective at what it does. The $40 million system requires electrical power and a three-man team. Its cost per use is also quite impressive for such a revolutionary new weapon: approximately $1 per shot.

The laser can aim that at any particular spot on a target, and disable and destroy as necessary. The system, whose strikes are silent and invisible, is currently active at sea. It is primarily intended to take on drones, aircraft, and small vessels that could be used in an attack from countries such as Iran and North Korea. According to an official one of the weapon’s biggest strengths is its versatility. And the laser is intended primarily to disable or destroy aircraft and small boats. The Navy is developing more powerful, second-generation systems which would bring more significant targets into its crosshairs: missiles.

Until now those missions remain classified for military purposes. When interviewed the Commander and its crew are aware of the potential capabilities of the laser weapon. According to experts the weapon was so precise that could lessen the collateral damage in warzones. LaWS begins with an advantage no other weapon ever invented comes even close to matching. It moves, by definition, at the speed of light. For comparison, that is 50,000 times the speed of an incoming ICBM.

 

 

A powerful earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.4 has struck the Bering Sea between American and Russian islands, seismologists say. Tsunami alerts have been issued for parts of Alaska and Russia’s Far East. The earthquake occur at 1:34 a.m. on Tuesday (2334 GMT on Monday) some 125 miles (200 km) from the city of Nikolskoye on Bering island off the Kamchatka Peninsula.

 

The epicenter was west of Attu, the westernmost and largest island in the Near Islands group of Alaska`s remote Aleutian Islands. The U.S. Pacific Tsunami Warning Center had warned earlier that “hazardous tsunami waves were possible for coasts within 300 km (186 miles) of the earthquake epicenter.” But it later said that based on all available data the tsunami threat from this earthquake had passed. According to reports the earthquake initially reported as a magnitude 7.7 before being revised down to 7.4 and finally upgraded to 7.8, a major quake normally capable of causing widespread and heavy damage when striking on or near land.

The quake was followed by numerous aftershocks, including several above magnitude 5.0.   The US Geological Survey (USGS) reported the quake’s epicenter as being 335.5km north-west of Attu in Alaska, population zero, and 547.7km south-east of Klyuchi in Russia’s far east, population 10,000.  A tsunami warning has been issued for Alaska’s Aleutian Islands after a powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit the Bering Sea between the US and Russia.

 

A fight broke out between fans of rivals US Ouakam and Stade de Mbour and police fired tear gas to break it up. The resulting confusion triggered the stampede. The stampede happened last Saturday July 16, 2017. A fight broke out between fans of rivals US Ouakam and Stade de Mbour and police fired tear gas to break it up. At 2-1 during extra time, US Ouakam supporters began throwing stones at Stade de Mbour fans, causing spectators to begin vacating their seats in a rush,The resulting confusion triggered the stampede. Police fired tear gas at clashing supporters from both teams who were throwing projectiles, and panic spread in the stadium leading to a crush. According to the reports, at least eight people were killed and more than 50 were hurt after a stadium wall collapse and stampede at a soccer match in the Senegalese capital. Part of a wall supporting bleachers seating fans from both sides then collapsed as police started firing tear gas. The government spokesman Seydou  Gueye condemned the violence, adding that authorities moved the wounded to hospitals around Dakar this Sunday. The investigation in the incident was still undergoing. The government also announced a ban on sports and cultural activities during the legislative campaign period leading to parliamentary elections on July 30. The death of dozens of people at a religious retreat in April when a fire ripped through makeshift shelters and the government was blamed by their poor reaction and response to the incidents. The government also announced that punishments will be serving as a warning for the people. This will take action as they warned the person to avoid quarreling  those results to stampedes and brutal fights that leads to the death of many people. Deadly stampedes at soccer matches have been common in Africa, where safety standards are low. At least 17 people died and scores were injured in a stampede in a match in Angola in February, when hundreds of supporters stormed the stadium.