Warren Buffett hasn't sold a single share of Wells Fargo following scandal

Warren Buffett broke his months-long silence on the Wells Fargo fake account scandal by saying the bank made a "terrible mistake" by keeping in place sales goals that "corrupted people."

"It was a dumb incentive system," Buffett told CNN's Poppy Harlow.

 

The legendary investor said "incentives have terrific power" and that Wells Fargo (WFC) created a system that "produced bad behavior."

However, Buffett said he has not sold a single share of the bank since Wells Fargo admitted in September to creating as many as 2 million fake accounts and firing 5,300 of its workers related to the scandal.

Berkshire Hathaway is Wells Fargo's biggest shareholder and Buffett personally owns 2 million shares.

Buffett said he continues to have faith in Wells Fargo as an "incredible institution." It was Buffett's first public comments on Wells Fargo since the fake account scandal rocked the bank.

In the weeks since the news first broke, Wells Fargo's name has been dragged through the mud. The bank's CEO was humiliated and taunted on the floor of both the House and Senate. Members of Congress called Wells Fargo a "criminal enterprise" and Senator Elizabeth Warren's epic takedown of the CEO went viral.

Within days, CEO John Stumpf resigned in disgrace. And the bank is being investigated by the Department of Justice and multiple federal, state and local agencies.

Wells Fargo has since abandoned the unrealistic sales goals that employees blame for the millions of fake accounts. The blind pursuit of these goals led to a "toxic" culture that employees said was rife with bullying, intimidation and even retaliation against whistleblowers

Asked why he's sticking with Wells Fargo despite the controversy swirling around the bank, Buffett said he's sure this is not the only company he's invested in that has problems.

"It's not my job to run those companies," he said.

One of the reasons why there's been so much speculation over whether Buffett would continue to hold on to his Wells Fargo stock was the famous comments Buffett made 25 years ago to Congress. At that time there was a scandal rocking Salomon Brothers, an investment bank Berkshire had invested in, and Buffett was on the board of directors at Salomon.

"Lose money for my firm and I will be understanding; lose a shred of reputation for the firm, and I will be ruthless," Buffett testified before Congress in 1991.

Buffett was already an investing legend by then, but comments like this sealed his own reputation as an investor with values and integrity.

This time, Buffett is sticking by Wells Fargo. That doesn't mean he's shied away from criticizing the response by Wells Fargo and its former CEO.

Buffett described Stumpf as a "very decent man" who "made a hell of a mistake." But Buffett learned of the scandal only after he read media reports.

After seeing Stumpf downplay the situation during a CNBC interview in September, Buffett called him. "I said, 'I don't think you've gotten the gravity of the situation.'"

Asked if he felt misled by Stumpf, Buffett said that he didn't.

"I feel he made a hell of a mistake...and he didn't correct it," Buffett said.

Buffett said he didn't want to draw too much of a parallel between Stumpf's inaction and that of John Gutfreund who was the CEO of Salomon during its scandal.

"John Gutfreund didn't commit the act of Solomon that caused the problem, He sucked his thumb...when he learned about it," Buffett said. "And then it mushroomed, as problems do, out of control. And then, being behind the curve, he didn't know what to do exactly."

Buffett said he did not tell Stumpf to step down. That's because he's not technically allowed to do so. Buffett had agreed to become a "passive" investor in Wells Fargo as part of an agreement with the Federal Reserve when Berkshire boosted its stake to 10%, or 490 million shares. Of course, Buffett did speak with Stumpf, who was chairman of the board at the time.

Buffett disagreed with critics who think Wells Fargo should have hired an outsider for the top job instead of Tim Sloan, a 29-year veteran of the bank, who replaced Stumpf.

"I think Tim Sloan's exactly right," Buffett said, adding that the two met in Omaha over lunch.

However, Buffett acknowledged Sloan has his job cut out for him.

"It takes time to restore trust," Buffett said.

Source:CNN.com

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China's stock market is on fire. That's not a typo

China's stock market is in the midst of a reverse Isaac Newton moment. What goes down, must come back up. Way up actually.

The Shanghai Composite has soared 12% so far in October after its dramatic 34% plunge between June and September.

 

China's turmoil was largely to blame for the global market sell-off this summer, when CNN's Fear and Greed index was flashing "extreme fear" for days.

So you could make the case that the rebound in China is what's helping lift investor sentiment around the world right now.

Japan's Nikkei has gained more than 4% in October. Germany's DAX is up 5%. The S&P 500 has surged nearly 6%.

Related: Jamie Dimon says China has 'huge issues' but investors shouldn't freak out

So is the worst really over in China? It's probably too soon to tell.

But here's a potentially good sign. The rally is being led by big Chinese blue chips, not speculative momentum stocks.

China's top stocks are surging

The U.S.-listed shares of Alibaba (BABA, Tech30) have soared 22%. It's an impressive rebound for Jack Ma's company.

Alibaba is even feeling confident enough to start shopping. The company announced last week it was planning to buy the remaining stake in Youku Tudou (YOKU) -- aka China's YouTube -- that it didn't already own.

Several other large cap Chinese Internet stocks have surged too, including gaming site NetEase (NTES), online travel agency Ctrip (CTRP) and cybersecurity firm Qihoo 360 (QIHU).

Related: CNNMoney's Fear & Greed Index back to 'Neutral' as China stabilizes

But it's not just Chinese tech companies that have rebounded. Energy giants Cnooc (CEO), PetroChina (PTR) and China Petroleum (SNP) are all up about 20% this month.

Financial firms Noah Holding (NOAH) and China Life Insurance (LFC) have rallied sharply. So have shares of Aluminum Corp. of China (ACH), hotel operator China Lodging (HTHT) and Yanzhou Coal Mining (YZC).

Related: China's growth slides to 6.9% ... but tops forecasts

Investment strategists like to see broad-based rallies. It's more troublesome when only a handful of companies in one or two groups is doing well. That's clearly not the case here.

So will the trend continue? It's worth noting that the Shanghai Composite barely budged after the release of China's most recent GDP numbers Monday.

China's economy is slowing ... but that may not be the end of the world

That's encouraging since the numbers were not fantastic. Growth slowed to 6.9% in the third quarter -- the slowest rate since the 2008-2009 financial crisis.

Still, GDP was a bit higher than what economists surveyed by CNNMoney were expecting. At the very least, it has reassured investors that the sky is not falling.

Related: China's slowdown is killing thousands of steel jobs

That may be enough to keep the rally going. China doesn't have to prove that it has a plan to accelerate growth again. That's unrealistic. It simply needs to stop the bleeding.

"The key question, of course, is when China will be able to say that it has 'stopped the rot' in terms of slowing economic momentum," wrote David Kelly, chief global strategist with JPMorgan Funds, in a report Monday.

One way to 'stop the rot' is to send signals that more stimulus is on the way.

It's widely expected that China's government and central bank will do more to keep the economy and stock market from slowing much further.

Another bad news is good news rally?

So the October rebound may be a case of bad news being interpreted as good news by investors. Economic weakness = more easy money policies.

This line of thinking appears to be fueling stocks in Europe too, where hopes are running high that the ECB may buy more bonds due to concerns about deflation.

And a weak jobs report in the U.S. earlier this month has some investors thinking that the Federal Reserve could now hold off on a rate hike until next spring.

But investors will eventually want to see more proof that China is stabilizing. Economists at Barclays are still worried about how China's economy will fare next year, calling it a "bumpy road in China's transition."

"We continue to see three major headwinds: excess capacity in many industries, oversupply in the housing market, and high debt burdens," the economists wrote in a report Monday.

Related: China has a bigger middle class than America

It's also not clear just how healthy the Chinese consumer is either.

Big casino companies like Wynn Resorts (WYNN), MGM Resorts (MGM) and Las Vegas Sands (LVS) are having a miserable time trying to make money in Macau.

Fast food giant Yum! Brands (YUM) is continuing to face problems with KFC and Pizza Hut in China. It's so bad that the company announced plans to spin off its China operations on Tuesday.

Luxury retailers Hugo Boss (BOSSY) and Burberry (BBRYF) both recently reported dismal results from China.

And the world's most valuable company, Apple (AAPL, Tech30), has lagged the broader market this month partly due to concerns about iPhone demand in China.

Source:CNN.com

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Two vets died with no family to mourn them. 400 strangers made sure that didn't happen

Two vets died with no family to mourn them. 400 strangers made sure that didn't happen

About 400 people showed up for funerals for two Vietnam vets who had no family or next of kin.
 

(CNN)They left this world with no family or close friends around to mourn them. Still, they weren't laid to rest alone.

Funeral services were held Thursday in Corpus Christi, Texas, for two Vietnam War vets. When Army veteran Clifford Ray Dudley and Marine Lance Cpl. Dennis Ray Ashley both died recently, no next of kin or family could be found.
So the Coastal Bend State Veterans Cemetery put out a call to the public, seeking people who would attend the funerals, with full military honors, for the two men. An estimated 400 people, all strangers to Dudley and Ashley, showed up to pay tribute.

Two vets died with no family to mourn them. 400 strangers made sure that didn't happen

About 400 people showed up for funerals for two Vietnam vets who had no family or next of kin.
 

(CNN)They left this world with no family or close friends around to mourn them. Still, they weren't laid to rest alone.

Funeral services were held Thursday in Corpus Christi, Texas, for two Vietnam War vets. When Army veteran Clifford Ray Dudley and Marine Lance Cpl. Dennis Ray Ashley both died recently, no next of kin or family could be found.
So the Coastal Bend State Veterans Cemetery put out a call to the public, seeking people who would attend the funerals, with full military honors, for the two men. An estimated 400 people, all strangers to Dudley and Ashley, showed up to pay tribute.
 
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Robert Vaughn dead: American actor passes away at 83

CNN)Robert Vaughn, who played a slick spy on TV's "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.," died Friday, his manager, Matthew Sullivan, told CNN. He was 83.

Vaughn had been ill with acute leukemia and was receiving treatment in recent months.
A New York native, Vaughn was born to parents who were already in show business.
His mother, Marcella Vaughn, was an actress on stage and his father, Walter Vaughn, was a radio actor. His parents divorced when he was young.
As a teen Vaughn moved to Los Angeles to live with his mother and obtained a degree in theater from Los Angeles City College in 1956.
He was drafted into the military and served as a drill instructor in the Army.
Vaughn dived into acting after his military service ended and in 1960, his role as Chet in the film "The Young Philadelphians" earned him a best supporting actor Academy Award nomination.
More roles followed in films like "The Magnificent Seven" and in TV series including "The Dick Van Dyke Show."
But it was his performance as a suave spy in "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.," which defined Vaughn as a star.
"I said 'It's James Bond on television,' and [co-creator Norman Felton] said 'That's it,'" Vaughn recalled in an interview with the Television Academy about how he got the role. "He said, 'But don't say that. [James Bond] creator Ian Fleming and I are friends and that might cause problems.'"
Vaughn continued working throughout his life in films like "Superman III" and "The Towering Inferno" and, more recently, in TV shows including "Murder She Wrote" and "Law & Order."
He is survived by his wife, Linda, and two children, Cassidy and Caitlin Vaughn.
Source:CNN.com
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Turning Points: Together in sickness, married in health

(CNN)Leeanne Hester was seeing a patient when she suddenly felt like she was going to pass out and had to excuse herself from the room. The 23-year-old was working a part-time job at a primary care physician's office while close to finishing earning her master's degree in public health at George Washington University in the early summer of 2013.

For months, she had dealt with an unbearable level of fatigue that shadowed her every day, until she was exhausted all of time. Then there was a sick feeling in her stomach that wouldn't go away and unexplained weight loss. But this light-headed episode was enough to finally make her see a doctor.
Everything had been falling into place. Soon, she would finish school. Her boyfriend, Jimmy Mako, would be joining her in Virginia in the fall. They had met while she was an undergraduate student trainer at Wittenberg University in Ohio and he was on a physical therapy rotation in the athletic department. Now, they were talking more and more about their future together.
After a colonoscopy, Hester was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. But what she wouldn't know for several months is that she had been misdiagnosed. Her situation was much more dire.

A rare case

Between the summer and fall of 2013, she followed up with her doctors and learned that her blood counts weren't recovering, which meant the illness wasn't Crohn's. She credits her education, especially in public health, for helping her to advocate for herself.
"I cannot emphasize how important it is to advocate for yourself in our health care system," she said. "I didn't shy away from asking questions and pushing for answers, because I knew something wasn't right with my body. I even had to call and remind one of my specialists that I needed to schedule a followup appointment. Had I waited even a month or two, it may have been too late."
Following her instincts, Hester scheduled a bone marrow biopsy for early December. After so many specialists, she didn't expect it to reveal anything.
But on December 3, she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a rare and aggressive blood cancer, and told to start chemotherapy immediately. The cancer can kill within four to six weeks without treatment, Hester said.
"It was extremely overwhelming and shocking to be told that I had cancer," Hester said. "It was the last thing I expected. But I knew all along that something was going on. You know your body."
Three days later, Hester was admitted to the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center in her hometown of Columbus. For a week straight, she received a constant drip of chemotherapy. She was hospitalized for treatment for a month, and she would go back in the following months for two more rounds.
Meanwhile, after finishing his physical therapy contract in the Washington, D.C., area, Mako packed up her things and moved to Columbus to be closer to her. He never missed a day visiting her in the hospital.
"You know a man really loves you when he shaves your head for you when your hair is falling out, and he still tells you you're beautiful, kisses you and holds your hands through it all," Hester said.
At the James, Hester was finally able to receive some answers about her misdiagnosis.
"Her case was unusual but not challenging," said Dr. Rebecca Klisovic, her lead doctor at the James. "She faced a few months of confusion because she was a little bit anemic when she was diagnosed with Crohn's. But when her anemia got worse, then we looked closer at that."
Acute myeloid leukemia is an uncommon cancer, especially for people Hester's age, with three to five cases per 100,000 people in the United States and Europe per year, Klisovic said. But Hester's case was even more rare: She had two mutations associated with her leukemia. One was low-risk, but the other, FLT3, was high-risk. One-third of acute myeloid leukemia patients have this mutation, which increases the chances of a relapse.
Klisovic recommended that Hester be placed on the waiting list for a bone marrow transplant. Given the fact that she was young and healthy outside of having the cancer, she would be able to handle the rigors of the procedure.
Without a transplant, Hester might have lived for five more years at best. But because a bone marrow transplant is essentially like transplanting an immune system, it would help stave off a relapse.
Family members are ideal bone marrow donors, but Hester's younger sister, Lindsay, wasn't a match. In March 2014, her doctors narrowed the list to four candidates through the National Marrow Donor Program. Three responded, and one, a 22-year-old man in Israel named Evgeny Galinsky, was a perfect match.
In May, Hester received the transplant, which is comparable to a blood transfusion. She was placed in isolation because the pre-transplant process had involved essentially killing off the T cells of her own immune system so her body would accept the new marrow. When he came to visit, Mako had to wear a mask.
She struggled with graft versus host disease, in which the new immune system attacks organs. Not unlike an allergic reaction, she had skin and joint issues in response. Hester also suffered from gastrointestinal infections, some of the worst Klisovic had seen. But she was able to overcome it all.
Her doctors will continue to keep an eye on her, as the risk of a relapse is greatest in the first two years after treatment, but they don't anticipate any further problems.
In December 2014, Mako took her on a long weekend trip to Chicago. That Sunday, they went out for a nice dinner before taking an evening walk past the sculpture known as the "Bean" and on to a fountain. There, he bent down on one knee and proposed.
"The emotional and physical rigors of cancer definitely made us a lot closer and strengthened our bond," Hester said. "It forced us, as it would most people, to really address those tough issues in life at a young age; it made us more vulnerable and honest with each other. It took away all the frills of love and made us really look at our commitment to one another and especially, in my opinion, his commitment to me. It truly revealed the depth of our love for each other. I think we've got that whole 'in sickness and in health' thing down."

A 'life-saving donation'

Per the rules of the transplant center, Hester had to wait a year before learning the identity of her donor. She wrote him a letter and sent it to his address in Israel. It turned out that he was part of a helicopter squadron with the Israel Defense Forces.
When Israeli soldiers are enlisted, they can provide a cheek swab to become part of the bone marrow registry partnership through the transplant center Ezer Mizion.
"I thanked him for his life-saving donation, which gave me a chance to experience all life's events, including marriage to Jimmy and the privilege of growing old," Hester said.
Two months later, she received an email from Galinsky. He was happy to learn that she was recovering and that she had even reached out. Before her letter, he had no way of knowing whom his donation had helped, but he said he believed that all lives were worth saving.
They exchanged more correspondence, and she began to develop a portrait of Galinsky: a humble and kind young man who used emojis when he was joking and liked to ride motorcycles with his friends. They talked about their hobbies and shared stories and photos of their families.
In April, Galinsky came to the wedding, a small ceremony in a historical church in Ohio. Hester said it was surreal to meet him in person, after only ever exchanging emails, but she wouldn't have had it any other way.
"We were both very grateful to have Evgeny be a part of our wedding celebration, which probably wouldn't have been possible without his donation," Hester said. "Having him there really felt like it gave a wholeness to the day, because the wedding not only marked a new chapter for me and Jimmy as being husband and wife, but also that we could move forward with me being healthy and hope for the future."
She is continuing to do well more than a year after the transplant and returned to work six months ago. Now, the happy couple is enjoying married life, and Hester (now Mako) hopes she can use her experience to help others.
"Cancer is really ugly and hard," she said, "but the love and resilience that people show through the suffering is really beautiful."
Source:CNN.com
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The homes left behind by ISIS

(CNN)Where there is danger, where there is death, there is also responsibility.

For Magnus Wennman, it is that responsibility and drive to tell a story that has catapulted him from war zone to war zone and conflict to conflict.
In the past 20 years, the Swedish photographer has seen his share of blood and violence. But the plight of the Iraqi people -- and those ensconced in the middle of the battle for Mosul -- has taken the meaning of warfare to a new level.
"I would say this is probably the worst situation I've seen," Wennman said.
"There is no filter, no one can feel safe, and there are no safe areas. This conflict is so brutal. (ISIS militants) are not concerned if it's civilians, journalists or anyone -- they are all the enemy. It's a very, very scary situation."
Wennman, working for Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, was embedded with Kurdish Peshmerga troops on the opening day of the assault on Mosul. He was allowed to enter a number of villages that had been inhabited by ISIS troops before they were driven out by coalition forces.
He was guided past hundreds of booby traps and improvised explosive devices to homes that had housed ISIS fighters and a huge collection of bomb-making equipment.
"Everything was pretty much destroyed because of the battle the day before," he said.
"In my opinion, the people who were living there didn't really prepare for a life there. There was bomb-making equipment everywhere. It seemed that the people who had lived there were just preparing for war."
Wennman had visited Iraq a month earlier to chart the journey of refugees who were fleeing the violence. He returned to tell a story, which he says has become "the most important of the year."
His "Where the Children Sleep" series, in which he documented the struggles of Syrian refugees, touched hearts across the world and was universally lauded.
He has witnessed a number of harrowing sights and at times wrestled with the emotional side of his work, as he did during his most recent trip to Iraq.
"I think in one way you have to protect yourself from feelings," he said, "and you do that with the help of your camera and profession. But sometimes it's really hard.
"If you don't protect yourself, you're not able to work. It's something you just have to deal with."
Now back in Sweden, Wennman hopes that his photos will prick the public consciousness.
"I want those looking to remember that it's not a big group of people who are being targeted," he said.
"It's millions of different people. They could all be you and me."
Source:CNN.com
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Daredevils race classic planes across Africa

(CNN)In 1928, Irish pilot Lady Sophie Marie Heath made history with the first solo flight across the length of Africa, an 8,000-mile journey from Cairo to Cape Town.

Africa was a hotspot for pioneers during the early years of aviation, and this rich history is to receive an update.
On November 11, a fleet of 15 vintage aircraft will take off from the Greek island of Crete for an epic race across 10 countries, over 35 days, to a finish line in Cape Town. Each pilot will fly a single-engine biplane produced before 1939.
"This has never been done with this number of biplanes over this duration of time over this sort of distance," says Sam Rutherford of Prepare2Go, the logistics company organizing the Vintage Air Rally. "There could be a good reason for that! We are about to find out."
From the pyramids of Giza to Victoria Falls, the rally promises spectacular moments for the pilots.
For participating nations, the rewards could last longer.

Take off

Rutherford, a pilot himself, was inspired to create the rally when he learned that no similar event had been attempted.
"It was an intriguing mix of adventure, jeopardy, difficulty and competition combined with beautiful aircraft and beautiful places in Africa," he says.
Creating the event has been a collaborative effort, involving national governments, sponsors, charities and suppliers. The greatest logistical challenge was to provide specialist fuel for the antique planes, says Rutherford, which has been imported to several points of the route.
The racers are aviation enthusiasts from across the world from Germany to Botswana and the US. They bring a collection of classic aircraft from the 1920s to1930s, including a restored "gipsy moth" plane used by Robert Redford in the movie "Out of Africa."
"They are very different from modern airplanes," says Alexandra Maingard, who will represent Belgium and France with her husband. "Landings are quite challenging and starting the engine is an issue too -- sometimes you have to roll the propeller by hand."
Safety risks are real with such antique aircraft, Rutherford acknowledges, but they also offer advantages.
"The chance of an engine failure is greater than normal," he says. "But even at full speed the aircraft are barely doing 70 miles per hour, so the forced landing speed is very low...and survivability for the pilot is extremely high."
The rally will stop at many of the continent's most popular attractions such as Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.
 

Lasting benefits

The rally promises a range of benefits for local industries and the environment.
Prepare2go is raising money for UNICEF and endangered vultures, and each team will drop "seed-bombs" from the air to support reforestation of arid land.
Governments also see economic opportunities in the rally, particularly for their tourism industries. Participating nations are making their premium attractions and resources available, notably Egypt, which is allowing pilots to land at the pyramids of Giza for the first time in 80 years.
The rally offers a unique marketing platform, according to Givemore Chidzidzi, chief operating officer of the Zimbabwe Tourist Board.
"This is an opportunity to showcase Zimbabwe as a destination and we hope this will steer tourist traffic," he says. "We will provide services for a world-class event in terms of accommodation, catering and technical support that will show Zimbabwe is ready for business and ready for tourism."
Zimbabwe has chosen to show off Victoria Falls and the city of Bulawayo, while Kenya will display its national parks, and Sudan will host a spectacular air show at Khartoum international airport.
Events will be captured for a global audience through a documentary team, and a flight simulation company will offer gamers the chance to virtually ride in the cockpits.
Tourism ministries hope that this voyage of nostalgia will inspire a new generation to discover the treasures of the continent.
Source:CNN.com
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Before U.S. and Mexico Play, Fans Push for Respect in a Charged Atmosphere

COLUMBUS, Ohio — On Friday night, just before kickoff of a World Cup qualifying match against Mexico, the most ardent fans of the United States men’s national soccer team will unveil a giant graphical display, known as a tifo, at one end of Mapfre Stadium to show their support for the Americans.

Tifos are common before big games — the last time these teams played here, the American tifo was of an enormous eagle above the word “HOME” — and their designs and messages are closely held secrets until they are revealed. But the one that will be revealed Friday will be just a little different from most: It will be missing one of its panels.

The piece, according to one of the tifo’s designers, was removed this week because of the charged political atmosphere that has followed Donald J. Trump’s victory in Tuesday’s presidential election. According to Kevin Glenn, a designer and local chapter vice president of the supporters group known as the American Outlaws, the deleted panel “wasn’t derogatory toward Mexican fans, but it was ribbing, or maybe intimidating,” and given the current climate, “it just didn’t need to be there.”

“It probably wouldn’t have caused any issues,” Glenn said, “but we just don’t want a potential for any blemish on this at all.”

Such restraint is notable within the soccer world — where fans, particularly in Europe and elsewhere, can often be obscene, if not disgraceful, in their en masse behavior — but it is also representative of the unusual feelings around this game, which is the most significant sporting event involving an American national team since Mr. Trump became the president-elect.

Photo

 

Fans of Mexico’s soccer team cheered at the 2015 Concacaf Cup in Pasadena, Calif. The Cup, between the United States and Mexico, determined Concacaf’s entry into the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup. Mexico won, 3-2, after extra time. Credit Mark Ralston/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

That the match is against Mexico — whose citizens Mr. Trump insulted during his campaign and whose northern border Mr. Trump has vowed to separate from the United States with a massive wall — has only furthered the abnormal vibe.

“It’s been very, very intense,” said Manny Zambrano, who was born in Monterrey, Mexico, but has lived in Columbus since he was 9. “Obviously the election took most everyone by surprise.”

Zambrano will be at the match on Friday night supporting Mexico. It is expected that only a few hundred fans out of the more than 20,000 inside Mapfre Stadium will be cheering for the visitors — that is one of the reasons U.S. Soccer has chosen to play this game here — but many other Mexico fans will be part of the pregame tailgates around the venue and will watch the game at nearby bars and restaurants.

Another Mexican supporter, Blanca Garcia, said she and a large group of friends who will attend the game and cheer for Mexico had a meeting this week that quickly turned emotional, as a discussion that was supposed to be about the game kept veering back to politics.

Garcia said her fan group was organizing an elaborate pregame party near the stadium, which will include Mexican musicians, a D.J. and free food during the buildup to the game. Anyone is welcome to come to the gathering, she said, and she expressed hope that there would not be any conflicts between Mexico fans and those arriving to cheer the United States.

“Honestly, from the talks we had yesterday — people are scared,” she said, referring both to the game and to the future under Mr. Trump. “They’re scared in a way that they don’t want to be disrespected, don’t want to be cut down. They don’t want to be disrespected and have to sit back and not do anything or say anything.”

Ms. Garcia added that, for her, like many Americans, the results of the election had prompted a re-examination of what she thought she knew about the leanings of others within her community. While some might assume that all the members of her group would have opposed Mr. Trump’s election, she said that actually was not the case. That led to some frank exchanges this week.

“I felt like I was definitely angry with some of the things I was hearing them say,” Garcia said, noting that one friend, whose parents are Mexicans with permanent residency in the United States, was outspoken in supporting Mr. Trump and his plan to build a wall. “He thinks there are a lot of people here that shouldn’t be here,” she said. “We have people in our group that are undocumented, who want desperately to stay and aren’t doing anything, so it was very awkward.”

Brock Hemphill, the president of the American Outlaws chapter here and a veteran of earlier U.S.-Mexico meetings here, said the group’s organizers had taken steps to ensure that the atmosphere at the stadium was rowdy but respectful. The Outlaws plan to sing a verse from a Woody Guthrie folk song, “This Land Is Your Land,” before the game, and the group will place monitors wearing yellow badges in each of the sections.

There had been online talk among some fans, Hemphill said, about possibly chanting, “Build that wall!” and other taunts at Mexico fans, but “we’re going to shut anything like that down immediately.”

Photo

 

A fan of the United States team at the Rose Bowl in 2015 before the game against Mexico. Credit Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

On Thursday, at the Outlaws’ traditional night-before party, Mexican fans mingled easily with American fans at a bar. Several players from the United States team, which has players from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds, said they expected the crowd at the game to be inclusive — yet still passionate.

“People want to politicize this game, but I don’t think there is a need for that,” Alejandro Bedoya, a New Jersey-born midfielder of Colombian descent, said.

The coaches for the teams — both of whom immigrated to the United States — struck a similar tone, though Javier Hernández, Mexico’s star forward, said he understood the passion that some Mexican fans, in particular, might feel about the game coming so soon after the election.

“There are moments that are not so nice for some people, and it wasn’t the best for Latinos and all of us,” Hernández said in an interview with Univision this week. “Sadly, that was the decision that the country took. If our game can give them some joy and take away the sadness they are going through, well, good then.”

Of course, that sentiment seems to presuppose certain leanings for a large demographic group as well, and postelection results have indicated that such blanket suppositions are misguided. That is why, Garcia said, her group of pro-Mexico fans ultimately decided to do its best to table any political talk and, for a few hours at least, just focus on the game.

“It’s been so powerful, but we’re putting aside what happened on Tuesday and trying not to make things bad at the game,” she said.

Then she hesitated. “Or, at least, not make things worse.”

Source:NY times

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As Ratings Plummet, N.F.L. Considers Reducing Ads and Length of Games

N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell said on Thursday that the league was looking at a variety of ways to shorten game broadcasts, including trimming some advertising, to keep the action moving.

The league has seen its television ratings plunge this season, something that Goodell has said is related to a number of factors, including the intense interest in the presidential election, as well as shifts in the way fans have been watching games.

Though television ratings are down by double digits so far this season, Goodell said that N.F.L. ratings had risen 27 percent in the past decade even as ratings for prime-time television had fallen 36 percent. Speaking on Thursday at the annual DealBook conference hosted by The New York Times, he called this year’s decline “cyclical.”

Goodell noted, though, that the pace of games could also be a factor in the ratings decline. Fans have complained for years that games are too long, and they frequently express annoyance at the number of commercial breaks and video reviews. Last season, the average length of regular-season games, from kickoff to final whistle, was 3 hours 8 minutes, six minutes longer than in 2008.

Goodell said the league was considering a number of potential solutions to improve the pace of games, including running fewer advertisements and changing when they run. The league is also looking at ways to speed up video reviews by its officials as well as the time it takes referees to announce penalties on the field.

“We want to take as much what we call dead time, non-action out of the game, so that we can make the game more exciting,” Goodell said.

The league has expanded the number of games it plays on Thursday nights and overseas, leading some to speculate that the N.F.L. may be reducing interest in the game. Goodell said he was mindful of that possibility.

“Every game counts, so that makes our inventory incredibly valuable,” he said, adding that the league has to be careful not to saturate the market.

Goodell said he was aware of a surge of complaints that officials were botching calls on the field. He said the league was looking at how best to use technology to improve officiating without slowing down the game. “I was at Giants Stadium in the parking lot last weekend, and I got a lot of feedback from fans,” he said.

Goodell was uncertain how the election of Donald J. Trump who brought a lawsuit against the league three decades ago — would affect the N.F.L. He noted that Trump favored less regulation, but he said that the primary concern for the league was its ability to reach fans through the media and technology. It was unclear what changes, if any, a Trump administration might make that would affect those industries.

Source:NY times

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Green Party files for Wisconsin recount, audit

Washington (CNN)Green Party officials filed Friday for a recount in Wisconsin, following reports of voting discrepancies, and were seeking a deeper investigation into the election results, which handed the state to Donald Trump two weeks ago.

Wisconsin Green Party co-chairman George Martin said that they were seeking a "reconciliation of paper records" -- a request that would go one step further than a simple recount, spurring, he said, an investigation into the integrity of the state's voting system.
"This is a process, a first step to examine whether our electoral democracy is working," Martin said.
The announcement came as Green Party candidate Jill Stein's Thanksgiving fundraising blitz passed $5 million. The money is well beyond the $2 million mark the Green Party initially set, and Wisconsin party officials said that any additional money not used for the recount would be used to train Green Party candidates for local office. The goal as of Friday was to raise $7 million.
"We don't know, and we think the forensic computer experts have raised serious questions. What we do know is that this was a hack-riddled election, we saw hacks into voter databases, into party databases, into individual email accounts. We know that there were attempts made broadly on state voter databases and we know that we have an election system that relies a computer system that is wide open to hacks," Stein told CNN's John Berman Thursday. "It's extremely vulnerable, Americans deserve to have confidence in our vote."
Late Friday afternoon, the Wisconsin Elections Board said it had received the petition from Stein and the Green Party and "is preparing to move forward with a statewide recount of votes."
"We have assembled an internal team to direct the recount, we have been in close consultation with our county clerk partners, and have arranged for legal representation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice," Wisconsin Elections Board Administrator Michael Haas said. "We plan to hold a teleconference meeting for county clerks next week and anticipate the recount will begin late in the week after the Stein campaign has paid the recount fee, which we are still calculating."
Hacking experts alerted the Clinton campaign earlier this week it was possible, based on voter low turnouts in some counties with electronic voting, that voting systems might have been hacked. But nobody has presented any evidence yet that they were tampered with.
Even if Stein and others succeed in winning recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, it's unclear they would be enough to swing the election from Trump to Hillary Clinton, with Trump holding leads as big as more than 60,000 votes in Pennsylvania. When Florida officials launched their recount in 2000, the margin was just 537 votes.
The Clinton campaign has stayed out of the recount debate, which sprouted up over the Thanksgiving holiday, even though it was a conference call that election hacking experts had with her campaign staff which led to the drive.
The Trump campaign and his top advisers have dismissed the effort. Former Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway tweeted on Thanksgiving that their opponents were being sore losers.
"Look who 'can't accept the election results' Hillary Clinton Supporters Call for Vote Recount in Battleground States," Conway wrote.
Source: CNN.com
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Gun sales boom on Black Friday

Shoppers flocked to gun stores on Black Friday, the biggest day of the year for gun sales.

The Black Friday weapon sales are not driven by the Christmas spirit since gun laws in many states prohibit buying guns for someone else. The sales are driven by sharp discounts.

Not far from New York City, hundreds of shoppers packed into RTSP, a gun shop and firing range in Randolph, New Jersey, lured by Black Friday discounts of 5% to 10% for guns, ammunition and accessories.

Dr. Joseph Feldman, a surgeon from neighboring Montville, was buying a $500 Sig Sauer scope for his R.E.P.R. semiautomatic rifle from the manufacturer LWRCI, one of four AR-15s that he owns. He was also buying ammunition for the AR-15s and had his eye on a Henry, a vintage-style lever action rifle manufactured in nearby Bayonne.

"I like to have lots of ammo on hand," he said.

Feldman, 56, estimated that purchasing these scope, ammo and the Henry rifle on Black Friday, with his gun range member discounts, would save him about $500.

Related: Why the AR-15 is the mass shooter's go-to weapon

The store was crowded with gun owners waiting for a turn at the indoor range, their firearms locked in carrying cases, as required by state law.

This turnout was in spite of the fact that Hillary Clinton -- the gun industry's biggest boogieman with her gun control policies -- failed to win the White House.

Rick Friedman, co-owner of RTSP said he'd stocked eight to 12 months' worth of guns and ammo, anticipating a frenzied demand if Clinton had won.

"We were gearing up for a much different result," he said. "[But] if you're in this industry you're obviously very happy about the result."

Friedman figured that he'd take longer to sell off the inventory now that NRA-endorsed Donald Trump is headed for the White House.

Related: Gun stocks plunge after Trump wins

Ryan Reyes, manager of LI Outdoorsman, a gun store in Rockville Centre on Long Island, New York, said sales were driven by "the politics up until right before the election."

But on Black Friday, he said customers were lured by discounts of 10% to 50%. He had sold 15 guns on Black Friday instead of the usual two or three, before the day was even over.

"It's just crazy in here with all the discounts," he said. "We've been getting calls all week about the discounts, and it was a slow week."

Source:CNN.com

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Donald Trump's Cabinet picks: What we've learned so far

Washington (CNN)President-elect Donald Trump has begun assembling his administration -- the country's first indication of how he will govern from the White House.

Trump is not expected to name any additional Cabinet picks over the holiday weekend, but has made some preliminary selections in the few weeks since the election.
Declared intended nominees include Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions for attorney general, Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo for CIA director, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley for ambassador to the UN, and Republican donor and school choice activist Betsy DeVos for education secretary. Trump has also named retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn his national security adviser in the White House, a position that doesn't need Senate confirmation.
There are also leading contenders for other roles, including billionaire investor Wilbur Ross for commerce secretary, Chicago Cubs co-owner and Republican donor Todd Ricketts for deputy commerce secretary, Trump fundraiser and finance executive Steve Mnuchin, retired Gen. James Mattis for defense secretary and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson to lead Housing and Urban Development. Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney is also in the running to be secretary of state, as is former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Here are five things we've learned from Trump's selections and top choices.

Former rivals welcome

While he was known to engage in bitter fights with his critics during the campaign, Trump has signaled that he's willing to welcome one-time sparring partners into the fold.
The announcement of Haley to Trump's administration was a surprise. Haley endorsed Trump's former opponent, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, during the presidential primary, and spoke out forcefully against Trump until he became the nominee. While Haley said she would vote for Trump as the nominee, in public she wasn't a strong booster of his White House bid.
Trump is also said to be seriously considering nominating Romney, who never endorsed Trump before the election, saying over the summer he wouldn't serve in a Trump administration and warning of the potential for "trickle-down racism."
Ricketts is also likely to be named to a deputy post in the Commerce Department. His wealthy family heavily invested in efforts to stop Trump's path to the nomination, though they changed course and spent hefty sums in Trump's favor late in the election.

Rewarding GOP donors and loyalists

Much like past presidents, Trump has moved to reward the party's donor base with plum posts in the administration.
DeVos is a billionaire Republican donor who has been active on school choice issues as well as promoting charter schools. She chairs the American Federation for Children, which promotes charter school education, and also served on the board of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a group led by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, which promoted both school choice and the Common Core education standards, though DeVos has said since being named that she does not support Common Core. During the 2016 primary, she gave to a super PAC supporting Rubio.
Ricketts, his parents and brother are also sizable Republican donors, creating a super PAC to support Trump in the latter part of the campaign, and Ross is a big-pocketed donor who gave generously to the Republican National Committee this cycle.
Trump has also leaned heavily on his loyalists throughout the campaign to build his incoming administration. Some of his first selections were Sessions and Flynn, two men who endorsed Trump and began advising him very early in his campaign.
Other Trump surrogates and supporters under consideration for Cabinet positions include Carson, Giuliani, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, though Gingrich has said he prefers a senior planning role over a Cabinet post.
It's a pattern being repeated in Trump's budding White House team, where he has already tapped RNC Chairman Reince Priebus as chief of staff and campaign executive Steve Bannon as a senior adviser. Other campaign staffers are expected to get White House staff positions, if they want them, as well.

Not all white men

While Trump's first few picks, including Sessions, Flynn and Pompeo plus his White House team, were all white men, Trump has since moved to add more diversity to his Cabinet.
DeVos and Haley are both women, and Haley is the daughter of Indian immigrants to the United States. If Carson decides to serve in the administration -- the retired neurosurgeon says an offer is on the table -- he would also bring diversity to the Cabinet as an African-American.
Trump has faced criticism throughout his candidacy and since the election for being perceived as stoking racist and anti-immigrant sentiments in the US. His election has been lauded by anti-Semitic and racist groups, including a gathering of white supremacists in Washington, DC, which was recorded giving the Nazi salute during a speech hailing Trump.
The President-elect has said he does not embrace their support, however, and has pledged to work as President for different groups of Americans.

Dissenting views

Trump is said to be weighing Giuliani or Romney for secretary of state, which is causing dissent within his own ranks. Romney remains popular with Republicans and both Trump and Romney spoke positively of a meeting the two had over the weekend.
But other Trump supporters like Gingrich and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee have spoken out against Romney as a possible selection.
On Thursday, Trump's campaign manager and close adviser Kellyanne Conway tweeted two messages interpreted as digs at Romney.
"Receiving deluge of social media & private comms re: Romney Some Trump loyalists warn against Romney as sec of state," she tweeted, with a link to a Politico article about discontent with the 2012 nominee.
"Kissinger & Schultz as Secs of State flew around the world less, counseled POTUS close to home more. And were loyal. Good checklist," she followed.
A lack of foreign policy experience is a criticism of both Romney and Giuliani as candidates for the post.
Conway told CNN that she was not trying to send a message to Trump, but did say there was concern about Romney.
"I am struck by the intensity and volume of resistance (to Romney) from the grassroots; words like 'betrayal.' I communicate with PEOTUS and VPEOTUS privately and regularly so this is not an attempt to do so publicly as some (who missed the election completely) are suggesting," Conway said in a message to CNN.

Pulling from in and out of The Beltway

So far, Trump has made good on what his pre-election transition team said in DC meetings with industry and policy specialists: His Cabinet has drawn from inside and outside of Washington.
Pompeo, Flynn and Sessions are all well-known in Washington, as would be Mattis, with Pompeo and Sessions being sitting members of Congress.
But Trump has also drawn from state politics, pulling Haley from the South Carolina Governor's Mansion and DeVos from Michigan, where she was previously a state party chairwoman in addition to her activism.
If the President-elect follows through on Ricketts, Mnuchin and Ross, as well, he would be drawing from the private sector, especially the world of finance and investing.
Trump ran on an outsider campaign, pledging to "drain the swamp" in Washington, though his transition team has been staffed with many current DC policy staffers and former lobbyists. Members of the transition team were asked to terminate their lobbying registrations to stay on staff after Vice President-elect Mike Pence took over the team.
Source:CNN.com
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Slaughter of innocents continues in battle for Mosul

Mosul, Iraq (CNN)Omar Ali stands outside his home in eastern Mosul weeping. The young father's sense of relief after being liberated from ISIS has been replaced by a feeling of unbearable loss.

Only a day earlier his 18-month-old daughter Amira was there on the pavement in the Zahraa neighborhood playing with relatives when a mortar round landed nearby. Shrapnel tore through the air and the child's skull. Amira was killed instantly. Her two cousins were seriously injured.
"Look world, this is my daughter," Omar Ali cries. "What did she do wrong? She's gone. She was just playing. She's gone from me and she's my only child."
He holds a photograph of Amira dressed in a black sweater with white hearts, her cherub face looking up rather than at the camera.
She is young and innocent like so many of the dozens of civilian victims the street-to-street battle for Mosul produces every single day.

The fight to save lives

Two kilometers away in a dusty lot behind an abandoned house turned clinic, a team of Iraqi military medics fights to save the lives of injured people who can get there.
Every day they see the terrible consequences of mortars fired into neighborhoods like Zahraa, where Amira lost her short life.
Distraught father Omar Ali holds a picture of his daughter Amira who was killed by an ISIS mortar.
 
It's a bloody, seemingly endless production line. The wounded are delivered, patched up quickly and loaded into ambulances for transport to hospitals.
"ISIS now has no course of action but to target children and civilians, because they are the easiest to attack," says Lt. Khaleel Amer, head of the triage center. "The mortar rounds have left so many civilians wounded or dead."
A wounded child is treated at a military triage center in Mosul  before being transferred to a hospital nearby.
 
The terror group's tactic of desperation as nearly 100,000 fighters advance toward Mosul is to simply lob mortars indiscriminately toward government-controlled areas.
One family arrives in the back of a Humvee belonging to the Iraqi Counter-Terror Force. Eight wounded men stumble out on their own or are gently lifted by the soldiers.
One man with leg injuries plants a kiss of gratitude on the cheek of the uniformed medic carrying him in his arms.
Suddenly an unharmed man yells: "Everything is gone because of ISIS! God damn ISIS and those who brought them upon us!"
He breaks down in tears, too distraught to give his name, and continues to tell the story of how his 21-year-old son was killed.
"A mortar fell just in front of the door. We came and he was just a piece of meat. Four or five of my neighbors were standing with him. And they are all dead."
The bodies of civilians are loaded onto a truck for transfer to burial sites.
 
What's left of his son is wrapped in a dark green blanket in the back of the Humvee.
Just across the street, parents struggle to carry their belongings and children wave white flags as they stream into a processing center for refugees
They are among the 68,000 people the United Nations estimates have been displaced by the fighting, just a fraction of Mosul's population.
"It was a terrifying night," one mother says as she gathers her children. "As soon as there was daylight we packed our belongings and left. Thank God we are safe."
Source:CNN.com
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Africa

Uganda is shutting down schools funded by Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates

(CNN)A legal tug-of-war between Ugandan authorities and a for-profit international chain of schools has led to the education provider being ordered to shut down in a matter of weeks, leaving the lives of thousands of pupils in limbo.

Uganda's High Court has described the Bridge International Academies (BIA) -- which is funded by the likes of Microsoft's Bill Gates and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg -- as unsanitary and unqualified, and has ordered it to close its doors in December because it ignored Uganda's national standards and put the "life and safety" of its 12,000 young students on the line.
The Director of Education Standards for the Ministry, Huzaifa Mutazindwa, told CNN that the nursery and primary schools were not licensed, the teachers weren't qualified and that there was no record of its curriculum being approved.
"The Ministry does not know what is being taught in these schools which is a point of concern to (the) government," Mutazindwa said.
The low-cost education provider, which has 63 campuses across Uganda, is allowed to remain open until December 8 to allow students to sit for exams and finish third term. This was after BIA secured an interim court order that restrained the government from closing its schools until its main case for stay could be heard in court.
For its part, BIA — which runs more than 400 nursery and primary schools across Africa — has continuously denied the allegations that have been made by the government.
"There's a lot of miscommunication and a lot of very serious, unfounded allegations. We would like to be given the opportunity to explain ourselves ... The Ministry has been unwilling to give us an audience to set the record straight," Uganda's BIA director, Andrew White, told CNN.
In a statement, BIA addressed eight allegations that have been made about its operations. It said it teaches the Ugandan curriculum, all schools have good sanitation facilities and that the majority of their teachers are certified and registered. Those who aren't certified and registered, it said, are attending in-service training.
Pupils from Bridge International Academies protest after Uganda's High Court ordered the closure of its low-cost private schools.
 
When asked why the allegations were made if they weren't true, White said: "We definitely feel like a lot of pressure has been applied to have a particular view of Bridge that is a negative one."
He suggested that the opposition against BIA was because the campuses competed against local state-run and private schools.
"I don't think the government is threatened by Bridge, but I think lobby groups are trying to make the government and ministry feel like they should be," White said.

A private institution 'profiting from the poor'

President of the Global Campaign for Education (GCE), Camilla Croso, told CNN that the quality of their schools is "totally inadequate and unacceptable."
"They are profit making enormously," she said. "It's very indecent because they are looking at poor people as a profitable market."
"It really is incompatible to have human rights and profit making because you are motivated and act in completely different ways."
Almost 20% of Uganda's population live below the poverty line, according to The World Bank.
 
Salima Namusobya, the Executive Director for the Initiative for Society and Economic Rights (ISER), also agreed with the closure and told CNN that BIA's intentions were insincere.
"(BIA) has come into the country and not discussed with the regulators and set up a massive project," she said, adding that privatization of education goes against human rights principles -- particularly if it targets the poor.
"I think there's some level of arrogance that comes with this and I really think they're for the profit and not to assist the children."

'Standardized' and 'scripted' education

Critics allege that BIA's education methods are not transparent, and that their approach is standardized and scripted.
"You can't call it an education that Bridge is offering," Croso said.
"You have technology -- like tablets -- often standing in place of teachers and you have very scripted classes that tell the teachers exactly what to do and when -- so you don't have any sort of autonomy and you can't improvise."
She said teachers needed to understand the topics so they could panel it.
"Education has nothing to do with that (standardization) -- it's about debating, thinking and discussions."
Croso said that instead, society should demand that governments "step into their responsibility" to ensure it is putting resources into quality education.
Critics say Bridge International Academies are indecently profiting from the poor in Uganda, who live in slums like this.
 
Namusobya from ISER said she believes BIA causes segregation between the poor and rich.
She said in government-run schools every child is treated equally, but BIA's model only targets the poor.
"(They are) only going to interact with themselves... When will they get to interact with other children?
"It's like you're saying that these children, because they are poor, they deserve to be in bad infrastructure, they deserve to sit in classes on their own and maybe one day they'll catch up with the rich."

There's no 'adequate choice of education' in Uganda

In response to the criticism it's received, BIA argues that it provides alternative education for students who would other be forced to study in state-run schools and notes that it only charges $6 a month.
"The existence of Bridge is in response to hundreds of thousands of parents who as of today don't have an adequate choice of education for their children," White said.
"The reason Bridge exists is to try and help the government address this by providing innovative and cost effective solutions."

When I transferred (my two grandchildren) to Bridge, in less than one term they had made huge improvements. They can now read and write well on their own.

Daifa Maimuna, a grandparent from BIA's Adalafu Academy

While $6 a month seems like a minute amount to some, NGOs have argued that it's a substantial amount to charge those in poverty.
But White said BIA provides an "effective and affordable service" that parents want for their children.
"The poor are individual actors who can make informed decisions on how to spend their hard earned money," he said.
"Parents have seen in the short time that their children have been with Bridge that they are incredibly engaged. Parents for the first time see their kids wanting to go to school and they have children who are actively doing their homework every day."
While BIA has not yet evaluated the performance of their children in Uganda, in Kenya BIA found that is students "outperform their peers in public schools in basic literacy and reading."
"We have a track record for academic success ... The model is very similar in Uganda and we expect in 2017 they will also excel." White said.
Bridge International Academies have said their classes are "extremely interactive" and their teachers provide their pupils with the "highest possible education."
 
He said BIA uses technology to help its teachers provide a "holistic" education.
"Bridge does not believe technology can replace a teacher ... We've spent millions of dollars to ensure our teachers have the resources and skills to make sure they can provide our pupils with the highest possible education."

When I transferred (my two grandchildren) to Bridge, in less than one term they had made huge improvements. They can now read and write well on their own.

Daifa Maimuna, a grandparent from BIA's Adalafu Academy

He said if those lobbying against the organization "came and engaged" with their teaching and learning they "would see that it is extremely interactive" where teachers engaged with their pupils and worked equally as hard on the strong and weak performers.
Co-Founder of BIA, Shannon May, also explained to CNN how its school fees and donations were invested into the academies.
"All school fees are spent on operating and supporting the academies," she said.
"In addition, Bridge has invested over $100m in education and technology research and development, capital expenses for schools, and to cover operating expenses that are greater than the fees we charge."
But Croso from GCE said that regardless, for BIA and any other private organization to benefit Ugandan education, they need to work within the country's law.
"BIA stands out and this is an opportunity to learn from the mistakes," she said.
While the debate continues in Uganda until the final hearing in December, White from BIA said it was "affirming" to see how committed parents were to BIA in the short time they had children in their classes.
"What we're doing in Uganda is positive. We can see the impact it's having and we want to continue to do whatever we can and whatever is in our power to make sure that continues."
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Teenage girls to launch Africa's first private space satellite

(CNN)They may be teenagers, but 17-year-old Brittany Bull and 16-year-old Sesam Mngqengqiswa have grand ambitions -- to launch Africa's first private satellite into space.

They are part of a team of high school girls from Cape Town, South Africa, who have designed and built payloads for a satellite that will orbit over the earth's poles scanning Africa's surface.
Once in space, the satellite will collect information on agriculture, and food security within the continent.

Using the data transmitted, "we can try to determine and predict the problems Africa will be facing in the future", explains Bull, a student at Pelican Park High School.

"Where our food is growing, where we can plant more trees and vegetation and also how we can monitor remote areas," she says. "We have a lot of forest fires and floods but we don't always get out there in time."
Information received twice a day will go towards disaster prevention.
It's part of a project by South Africa's Meta Economic Development Organization (MEDO) working with Morehead State University in the US.
South Africa's program aims to encourage girls into STEM, particularly astronomy. Less than 10% of young women are interested in STEM subjects.
 

Ambitious first

The girls (14 in total) are being trained by satellite engineers from Cape Peninsula University of Technology, in a bid to encourage more African women into STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics).
Scheduled to launch in May 2017, if successful it will make MEDO the first private company in Africa to build a satellite and send it into orbit.
"We expect to receive a good signal, which will allow us to receive reliable data," declares an enthusiastic Mngqengqiswa, of Philippi High School. "In South Africa we have experienced some of the worst floods and droughts and it has really affected the farmers very badly."
By 2020 80% of jobs will be related to STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics), MEDO predicts, but currently only 14% of  the STEM workforce globally are women.
 
An El Niño induced drought led to a shortfall of 9.3 million tons in southern Africa's April 2016 maize production, according to a UN report.
South Africa is expected to import between 3 million and 4 million tonnes of maize to meet its shortfall this year.
"It has caused our economy to drop ... This is a way of looking at how we can boost our economy," says the young Mngqengqiswa.

Inspiring girls

The girls' satellite will have a detailed vantage point of South Africa's drought crisis which led to a shortfall of 9.3 million tons in southern Africa's April 2016 maize production.
 
Initial trials involved the girls programming and launching small CricketSat satellites using high-altitude weather balloons, before eventually helping to configure the satellite payloads.
Small format satellites are low cost ways of gathering data on the planet quickly. Tests so far have involved collecting thermal imaging data which is then interpreted for early flood or drought detection.
"It's a new field for us [in Africa] but I think with it we would be able to make positive changes to our economy," says Mngqengqiswa.
Ultimately, it is hoped the project will include girls from Namibia, Malawi, Kenya, and Rwanda.
Mngqengqiswa comes from a single parent household. Her mother is a domestic worker. By becoming a space engineer or astronaut, the teenager hopes to make her mother proud.
"Discovering space and seeing the Earth's atmosphere, it's not something many black Africans have been able to do, or do not get the opportunity to look at," says Mngqengqiswa.
The schoolgirl is right; in half a century of space travel, no black African has journeyed to outer space. "I want to see these things for myself," says Mngqengqiswa, "I want to be able to experience these things."
Her team mate, Bull agrees, "I want to show to fellow girls that we don't need to sit around or limit ourselves. Any career is possible -- even aerospace."
Source:CNN.com
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Nicole Kidman on adoption, giving birth and surrogacy: 'I am a mother because I love being a mother'

(CNN)Nicole Kidman wants to keep adoption "very much a part of our conversation," and her latest role in "Lion" is doing exactly that.

Kidman adopted two children with ex-husband Tom Cruise and has two biological children with husband Keith Urban. She told CNN that her desire to have a family stemmed from her own "maternal instincts," which have been a "driving force" in her life since she was a young girl.
"I think because I've experienced motherhood in so many different ways," she said. "I've experienced adoption, birthing a child and I've experienced surrogacy. I'm like when it comes to it, I just wanna be a mama."
"I suppose my maternal instincts and drive has always been there since I was little ... and that's a huge driving force of who I am, which is why I probably played it out in so many different ways. I am a mother because I love being a mother."
Nicole Kidman stars with Dev Patel in "Lion."
 
Kidman plays Sue Brierley in the true story of an Australian woman who adopts a 5-year-old boy from India after he is separated from his family. The boy, Saroo, grows up, decides to search for his biological family and uses Google Earth to find them.
"As Sue said, there are so many facets to adoption," Kidman said. "There's women that adopt because that's what they've come to. There's women that adopt because that's the vision that they had, which was Sue. There's women that adopt because suddenly something happens in the family. Like in my family, my mother's cousin became her sister because her mother adopted her because her family passed away. So there are so many different ways in which adoption plays out, and I'm just glad to show one side of it."
For Kidman, the film, also starring Dev Patel and Rooney Mara, holds a very special place in her heart.
"I've made films that make philosophical statements or examinations of the human condition and all, but this for me is a film very much about life and about connection and the strengths of mothers," she said.
"Lion" hits theaters Friday.
Source:CNN.com
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Florence Henderson was 'America's mom'

(CNN)Despite having a career which spanned more than half a century, Florence Henderson was most known for her role as Carol Brady.

And the prodigious actress was more than okay with that.
"For me 'The Brady Bunch' is just a part of the fabric of my career, but for a lot of people, that's it," Henderson said in a 2011 interview. "I kept performing through 'The Brady Bunch' and still do. It doesn't bother me. If I hadn't been allowed to do that it may have."
That blurred line between Florence Henderson and Carol Brady is the reason there has been an outpouring of grief over Henderson's death on Thursday from heart failure.
One person tweeted "Florence Henderson? Great, now 2016 killed our mom. :("
Henderson was so good at portraying the sunny, loving Mrs. Brady that it was easy to forget her role on the show was a character -- and one which broke ground.
The "Brady Bunch" offered America -- and pop culture -- its first blended TV family. It was a story about widow and widower with three children each, who create a new family together. Carol and Mike Brady were also the first TV couple shown in bed together.
It was a role Henderson was almost too busy to take.
She was on the road when she got the call to audition for Paramount for the series. And shooting "Song of Norway" when the pilot was sold.
Henderson told the Television Academy in 2014 that it helped she was also the mother of four young children at the time. She also said the show was hard work and the cast embraced it.
"We believed every word we said," Henderson recalled. "I don't think you can parody something unless it has been done incredibly truthfully."
Viewers believed it too, which is why she became so beloved.
It's also why fans were stunned when Henderson revealed personal info, including the fact that as an octogenarian, she had a "friend with benefits."
Carol Brady, having sex? Shocking!
While appearing on "Today" last year, Henderson said she didn't "get the memo" that she was supposed to be slowing down with age. She continued to work out with a trainer and enjoy the company of a male friend.
Source:CNN.com
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FBI closes Brad Pitt child abuse investigation

(CNN)The FBI has closed an investigation into child abuse allegations against Brad Pitt involving one of his children, an FBI spokeswoman said.

Pitt has six children with actress Angelina Jolie, who filed for divorce in September.
The accusation stemmed from an incident on a private plane, giving the FBI jurisdiction. The incident occurred one day before Jolie filed for divorce.
A source familiar with the situation told CNN in early November that the Los Angeles County Department of Child and Family Services cleared Pitt of wrongdoing after allegations surfaced involving one of his children.
The FBI's Los Angeles bureau confirmed on Tuesday that the investigation had been closed.
"In response to allegations made following a flight within the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States which landed in Los Angeles carrying Mr. Brad Pitt and his children, the FBI has conducted a review of the circumstances and will not pursue further investigation. No charges have been filed in this matter," FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said in a statement.
A representative for Pitt had no comment.
Jolie is seeking sole physical custody of the couple's children. Pitt has requested joint custody.

For the time being, the children are staying in their mother's custody and have "therapeutic visits" with their father, Jolie's representatives said previously.

Source:CNN.com

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Prayers for Kanye West

(CNN)News that Kanye West has been hospitalized resulted in an outpouring of well wishes for the rapper.

West entered UCLA Medical Center Monday after abruptly canceling the remaining dates for his Saint Pablo concert tour.
A source close to West's family told CNN that the rapper is being treated for "exhaustion."
His admittance came after several days of making headlines for his behavior including rants and refunds to concertgoers after he ended a show early.
Fans and fellow celebrities expressed concern for West and his mental state on social media.
"He's not just an artist but he's a father, a son a husband and above human," actor Marlon Wayans tweeted after soliciting prayers for West. "Get well soon."
The outspoken artist has had plenty to say lately, including his thoughts on politics, which he had taken to sharing with his concert attendees.
West recently sat down with design magazine Surface and talked about everything from education to why he refuses to ever compromise and his view of Utopia.
"I don't think people are going to talk in the future," he said. "They're going to communicate through eye contact, body language, emojis, signs. Imagine that. If everyone was forced to learn sign language."
He also said he believes in "empowering people."
"I don't want to give you anything as definitive as 'always do this,'" West said. "It's about finding a balance between being the person who knows the most and the person who's the most naïve."
Source:Cnn.com
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Kevin Martin Retires: Latest Details, Comments and Reaction

Veteran guard Kevin Martin has retired after 12 NBA seasons. 

Martin made the announcement in an ad that appeared in the Zanesville Times Recorder on Thursday, which read in part:

Thank you, thank you, thank you. There's not a more perfect day for me to express those feelings. There are so many ways to announce your after professional career plans. My family and close friends have known since June of the direction I wanted my life to go. Those were the toughest conversations that I have ever had but with the ultimate support I knew I was making the right decision. 

Martin last appeared in an NBA game on May 12 in Game 6 of the Western Conference Semifinals as a member of the San Antonio Spurs. He grabbed two rebounds in just under six minutes. 

The 33-year-old Martin played for five teams during his NBA career. The Sacramento Kings originally selected him 26th overall in 2004, and he spent five-and-a-half years with the franchise before it traded him to the Houston Rockets in 2010. 

In three seasons with the Rockets, Martin had the most successful stretch of his career, averaging 21.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. Following his stint in Houston, he also spent time with the Oklahoma City Thunder and Minnesota Timberwolves before joining the Spurs in March. 

Prior to debuting in the Association, Martin emerged as a dynamic talent during his college career at Western Carolina. During his junior season in 2003-04, he averaged 24.9 points per game and notched 44 against Georgia. 

Martin never emerged as a superstar in the NBA, but he was a valuable role player who carved out a terrific career for more than a decade because of his ability to score. He's hanging up his basketball shoes without much fanfare but has a lot to look back on fondly.

Source:CNN.com

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U.S. Officials Defend Integrity of Vote, Despite Hacking Fears

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration said on Friday that despite Russian attempts to undermine the presidential election, it has concluded that the results “accurately reflect the will of the American people.”

The statement came as liberal opponents of Donald J. Trump, some citing fears of vote hacking, are seeking recounts in three states — Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — where his margin of victory was extremely thin.

A drive by Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, for recounts in those states had brought in more than $5 million by midday on Friday, her campaign said, and had increased its goal to $7 million. She filed for a recount in Wisconsin on Friday, about an hour before the deadline.

In its statement, the administration said, “The Kremlin probably expected that publicity surrounding the disclosures that followed the Russian government-directed compromises of emails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations, would raise questions about the integrity of the election process that could have undermined the legitimacy of the president-elect.”

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That was a reference to the breach of the Democratic National Committee’s email system, and the leak of emails from figures like John D. Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman.

“Nevertheless, we stand behind our election results, which accurately reflect the will of the American people,” it added.

Supporters of Mrs. Clinton have enthusiastically backed the notion of challenging the results in the three states as a last-ditch effort to reverse Mr. Trump’s clear majority in the Electoral College. They have seized on suggestions by some computer scientists that the states, which were crucial to Mr. Trump’s victory, need to manually review paper ballots to ensure the election was not hacked.

The campaign, uniting around the hashtag #AuditTheVote, has picked up momentum among grass-roots activists still mourning Mr. Trump’s victory. But the pleas for recounts have gained no support from the Clinton campaign, which has concluded that it is highly unlikely to change the outcome.

In Michigan, Ms. Stein must wait for a Monday meeting of the state’s Board of Canvassers to certify the results of the Nov. 8 balloting before filing for a recount. In Pennsylvania, where paper ballots are used only in some areas, election officials said that the deadline to petition for a recount had passed, but that a candidate could challenge the result in court before a Monday deadline.

The recount efforts have generated pushback by experts who said it would be enormously difficult to hack voting machines on a large scale. The administration, in its statement, confirmed reports from the Department of Homeland Security and intelligence officials that they did not see “any increased level of malicious cyberactivity aimed at disrupting our electoral process on Election Day.”

The administration said it remained “confident in the overall integrity of electoral infrastructure, a confidence that was borne out.” It added: “As a result, we believe our elections were free and fair from a cybersecurity perspective.”

Photo

 

Emails of John D. Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, were leaked after Russian government-directed hacking. Credit Sam Hodgson for The New York Times

However, intelligence officials are still investigating the impact of a broader Russian “information warfare” campaign, in which fake news about Mrs. Clinton, and about United States-Russia relations, appeared intended to influence voters. Many of those false reports originated from RT News and Sputnik, two state-funded Russian sites.

Those fake-news reports were widely circulated on social media, independent studies, including one set for release soon, have shown, sometimes in an organized fashion by groups that appear to have had common ownership. Individuals, conservative talk-show hosts and activists recirculated them, often not knowing, or apparently not caring, about the accuracy of the reports.

A study published just before the election on warontherocks.com, written by Andrew Weisburd, Clinton Watts and J. M. Berger, documented efforts by “trolls” to attack the reputations of those who challenged Russia’s activities in Syria, and to spread rumors about Mrs. Clinton’s health. The study said that an effort to track 7,000 social media accounts over two and a half years indicated that support for Mr. Trump “isn’t the end of Russia’s social media and hacking campaign in America, but merely the beginning.”

But the misinformation effort is far from black-and-white. Many people who spread false news have no connections to any foreign power, including a man in Austin, Tex., who posted a Twitter message saying that paid protesters were being bused to an anti-Trump demonstration there. Though the report quickly went viral, the buses, it turned out, were there for a corporate conference.

Other examples, including one studied by a group called Propaganda or Not and first cited by The Washington Post, appear to have more concrete connections to Russia. In late August, stories suggesting that Mrs. Clinton might have Parkinson’s disease were circulated on trupundit.com, which often runs pro-Russian material. It clearly twisted an email sent by one of Mrs. Clinton’s top aides about a drug called Provigil that is used to treat sleepiness. It has also been prescribed to patients with sleepiness as a side effect from several different ailments, the email added, including “Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis.”

That single reference was enough to create a fake story suggesting that Mrs. Clinton was being treated for Parkinson’s.

The allegation was quickly shot down by several news organizations. It made little difference: Propaganda or Not, made up of former national security, intelligence and other professionals, and some workers at Google and other technology firms, concluded that it was reproduced tens of thousands of times, sometimes by botnets, and viewed millions of times.

But it is not known whether that news was circulated under Russian government direction, or simply by Russian sympathizers, or Mrs. Clinton’s opponents.

The barrage of online efforts to influence the election this year has prompted broader concerns that similar attempts, directed by the Kremlin or its surrogates, could now be focused on elections next year in Germany and France. The goal, intelligence officials and outside experts fear, is to undermine the cohesiveness of the Western alliance, particularly NATO members, by calling into question the validity of democratic elections.

“We simply don’t know what the effects of the ‘fake news’ and other disinformation was,” said Jason Healey, an expert on cyberconflict at Columbia University. “If they were able to influence in favor of Trump by one or two percentage points in some places, they will be encouraged to try again for the French and the Germans.”

The efforts have also prompted debate inside Facebook and other social media firms about their responsibility to filter out false news. But doing so is a complex task, akin to editing a news operation, and it comes with complex political calculations: Once social media firms begin editing here to American standards, they will be under pressure from authoritarian regimes to do the same to their standards.

In its statement, the administration focused chiefly on the threat of Russian manipulation of the vote on Election Day, not on the proliferation of propaganda and fake news.

Ms. Stein, of the Green Party, acknowledged on Thursday in an interview with the PBS “NewsHour” that it was unlikely that recounts could change the results. Still, she said that “this was an election in which we saw hacking all over the place,” and that “at the same time, we have a voting system which has been proven to basically be wide open to hackers.”

Source:NY times

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Hillary Clinton Supporters Call for Vote Recount in Battleground States

Hillary Clinton’s lead in the popular vote is growing. She is roughly 30,000 votes behind Donald J. Trump in the key swing states of Michigan and Wisconsin — a combined gap that is narrowing. Her impassioned supporters are now urging her to challenge the results in those two states and Pennsylvania, grasping at the last straws to reverse Mr. Trump’s decisive majority in the Electoral College.

In recent days, they have seized on a report by a respected computer scientist and other experts suggesting that Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, the keys to Mr. Trump’s Electoral College victory, need to manually review paper ballots to assure the election was not hacked.

“Were this year’s deviations from pre-election polls the results of a cyberattack?” J. Alex Halderman, a computer science professor at the University of Michigan who has studied the vulnerabilities of election systems at length, wrote on Medium on Wednesday as the calls based on his conclusions mounted. “Probably not.”

More likely, he wrote, pre-election polls were “systematically wrong.” But the only way to resolve the lingering questions would be to examine “paper ballots and voting equipment in critical states,” he wrote.

Tellingly, the pleas for recounts have gained no support from the Clinton campaign, which has concluded, along with outside experts, that it is highly unlikely the outcome would change even after an expensive and time-consuming review of ballots.

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Recent Comments

Michael F

12 hours ago

Any suggestion of this when Obama won would be labeled racist. What do we call it now?

shawn

12 hours ago

OK, here's our chance. Let's put our money where our mouths are: https://jillstein.nationbuilder.com/recountOr, maybe we should just sit...

Juan Valdlz

12 hours ago

What difference at this point does it make?

  • See All Comments

But that has not quieted Mrs. Clinton’s supporters, who see the inequity of her growing lead in the national popular vote, which is now more than two million votes, or 1.5 percent of all ballots cast, according to the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, which regularly updates its count as states continue to tally and to certify votes.

Since there is currently no effort to review the paper ballots — which exist in Michigan and Wisconsin, but only in parts of Pennsylvania — conspiracy theories about the 2016 election may live on for years. After United States intelligence agencies accused Russia of trying to influence the election by stealing and publishing emails from the Democratic National Committee and a range of other institutions and prominent individuals, the United States went on high alert to determine if there was any attempt to sabotage the vote count. So far, no one in the Obama administration has indicated that there is any such evidence.

In the three battleground states, Mrs. Clinton is behind by 1.2 percent or less, and the final results have not yet been certified.

Uniting around the social media hashtag #AuditTheVote, the campaign-after-the-campaign has picked up momentum among grass-roots activists still mourning Mr. Trump’s victory and who echo, paradoxically, his pre-election complaint that the vote was “rigged.”

“Based on the information of the intelligence community that Russia was actively trying to screw around with our election, I thought why not take the time and question this,” said Michelle Zuckerman-Parker, an engineer in Pittsburgh, who on Wednesday planned to petition her county election board for a recount of the Nov. 8 vote.

That view spread quickly on social media on Tuesday evening when New York magazine published an article about Professor Halderman and others who had contacted the remnants of the Clinton campaign. It also generated pushback by experts who said that even though it was theoretically possible to hack voting machines, it would be enormously difficult — because it would have to be highly targeted in key precincts and conducted on a scale required to assure Mr. Trump’s victory.

“Left-wing conspiracy theories of vote rigging” are “pathetic,” Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report said on Twitter.

Time may have already run out. Pennsylvania allows individual voters to petition for a recount, but the deadline was Sunday, said Wanda Murren, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of State. A candidate can also contest an election in court, and the deadline is Monday.

Michigan and Wisconsin have not reached their deadlines for seeking a recount, but they will in days. So far, Mrs. Clinton has not requested any action, said Reid Magney, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

Until the publication of Professor Halderman’s work, Clinton supporters had few reasons to hope. He did not offer them much: He noted that while the voting machines used in those states are not connected to the internet during the election, they are programmed before the election. The data is usually transferred on a USB stick or other data card.

“If attackers can modify that software by infecting the machines with malware, they can cause the machines to give any answer whatsoever,” Professor Halderman wrote.

The problem, as Bruce Schneier, a security expert who has written often on the issue, noted in an interview, is that the usual triggers for a recount — a very close margin between two candidates — make little sense in a world of state-sponsored computer hackings. A truly sophisticated hacking would result in a wider margin of victory that would not set off an automatic recount.

Mrs. Clinton would have to triumph in all three states to win the Electoral College. The electors will meet in December to formally choose the president. And there, Mr. Trump is ahead by 290 votes to Mrs. Clinton’s 232, with Michigan still officially uncalled.

As of Wednesday, Mr. Trump’s lead in Michigan had shrunk to 10,704 votes, or 0.2 percent, according to the National Popular Vote Tracker maintained by the Cook Political Report.

Mr. Trump’s lead in Wisconsin has narrowed to 22,525 votes, or 0.8 percent. In Pennsylvania, his lead slightly grew on Wednesday, to 70,010, or 1.2 percent.

The Clinton campaign did not respond to requests for comment. Other Democrats said it was time to move on.

“I’m not sure it’s possible to undo the results, and all the people are focusing their energy on opposing the worst ideas of this administration at this point, not the legitimacy of the results,” said Daniel Doubet, an organizer for Keystone Progress, a liberal group in Pennsylvania.

Those pushing for a recount say they are trying to pick up the fight for a tired and demoralized candidate and her staff.

“The Democratic Party and the Hillary campaign are exhausted, and they’re really hurting, and they may not have the clarity,” said Ms. Zuckerman-Parker, who briefly volunteered for the Clinton campaign.

On social media, supporters pleaded with the campaign to act. “Please @HillaryClinton @timkaine call for #AuditTheVote,” wrote Writerchick on Twitter, appealing to Mrs. Clinton and her running mate, Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia. “We are all working so hard for you, make the call, the nation is depending on you.”

By poring over local election results online, the Audit the Vote crowd uncovered what appeared to be anomalies in the counting. Helen Manich of National Harbor, Md., for one, noticed that Sauk County, Wis., reported that 31,838 ballots were cast overall, but the total votes for presidential candidates numbered 34,323.

Such glitches are not uncommon, election experts said. They are usually ironed out in the process of certifying results. Although those certifications might change the results by several hundred or several thousand votes, they are highly unlikely to move tens of thousands.

To shift the Electoral College, Mrs. Clinton would not only have to reverse her current deficits in Wisconsin and Michigan but also in Pennsylvania, which experts say is highly unlikely.

There is widespread confusion on social media about how recounts are generated. A flood of Twitter users have urged Clinton supporters to call the United States Department of Justice, even though it is states that certify election results.

Ms. Zuckerman-Parker was furiously trying to organize voters around the states to file petitions demanding a recount this week.

“It’s like this fever approach happening in the last few hours,” Melissa Lang of Allegheny County, Pa., said on Tuesday, describing her efforts to reach out to voters across the state using social media.

But Ms. Murren, the Pennsylvania State Department spokeswoman, said the deadline for such petitions had come and gone.

“Our staff is not aware of any petitions for precinct-level recounts in the presidential race,” she said.

Source:NY times.com

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Dallas Cowboys Top Washington Redskins for Their 10th Straight Win

Dak Prescott accounted for two touchdowns, his fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliott ran for two more, and the Dallas Cowboys extended their franchise regular-season record with a 10th straight victory, beating the Washington Redskins, 31-26, on Thursday.

Prescott tied Don Meredith’s 50-year-old club record for quarterbacks with his fifth rushing touchdown, and the N.F.L.-leading Cowboys won despite 449 yards passing and three touchdowns from Kirk Cousins, the first Redskins quarterback to post two 400-yard games in a season.

Dallas Coach Jason Garrett praised Prescott’s play.

“Over and over and over again, at critical moments, he came up with a big play, whether it was a third down, down in the red zone, again and again and again he just played winning football for us,” Garrett said.

The Redskins, the defending division champions, were swept by their N.F.C. East rival Dallas and fell three and a half games behind the Cowboys with five games left after their seventh Thanksgiving loss to them in eight tries.

The 21-year-old Elliott, the N.F.L.’s rushing leader, had 97 yards, giving him 1,199 for the season.

The Cowboys’ eight-game streak of at least 400 yards on offense ended, as they finished with 353. But Dallas answered with touchdowns when the Redskins pulled within a score on Cousins’s 5-yard pass to Jordan Reed and again on his 67-yard throw to DeSean Jackson, who had 118 yards receiving.

After Cousins’s second scoring toss to Reed, an 8-yarder with 1 minute 53 seconds remaining, Dustin Hopkins’s onside kick went out of bounds and the Cowboys ran out the clock.

Reed had 10 catches for 95 yards after missing most of the first half with an injury to his left shoulder, sustained when he leapt for a pass over his head in the end zone.

Cousins, who was 41 of 53, finished 8 yards shy of his career high.

Prescott was 17 of 24 for 195 yards and one touchdown. He had eight carries for 39 yards, including a career-long 18-yarder.

LIONS 16, VIKINGS 13 Matt Prater kicked a 40-yard field goal as time expired after Darius Slay’s interception with 30 seconds left, lifting host Detroit over Minnesota and into sole possession of first place in the N.F.C. North.

The Lions have won six of seven, including two against the Vikings this month, despite having trailed in the fourth quarter of every game this season.

They extended their N.F.L. record of having their first 11 games decided by 7 points or fewer.

Minnesota has lost five of six, plummeting out of first place after surging to the top of the division by winning its first five games.

The Vikings could have played for overtime on their last drive, but Coach Mike Zimmer allowed Sam Bradford to throw. Slay made him regret it, setting up Prater’s winning kick.

Prater made a game-tying 58-yard field goal at the end of regulation earlier this month at Minnesota, and Detroit won in overtime.

If the two teams finish the regular season tied atop the division, Detroit would win the tiebreaker.

STEELERS 28, COLTS 7 Ben Roethlisberger threw touchdown passes of 25, 33 and 22 yards to Antonio Brown, connecting in the first, second and fourth quarters, as Pittsburgh won at Indianapolis.

Le’veon Bell opened the scoring for the Steelers with a 5-yard run, and Roethlisberger and Brown hooked up for their first touchdown with about a minute left in the opening quarter, giving Pittsburgh a 14-0 lead.

Donte Moncrief scored the Colts’ only touchdown about three minutes later, on a 5-yard pass from Scott Tolzien, who started in place of the injured Andrew Luck.

Tolzien was 22 of 36 for 205 yards, with two interceptions.

Roethlisberger was 14 of 20 for 221 yards, as the Steelers took over first place in the A.F.C. North.

Source:NY times

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Harnessing the Immune System to Fight Cancer

Steve Cara expected to sail through the routine medical tests required to increase his life insurance in October 2014. But the results were devastating. He had lung cancer, at age 53. It had begun to spread, and doctors told him it was inoperable.

A few years ago, they would have suggested chemotherapy. Instead, his oncologist, Dr. Matthew D. Hellmann of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, recommended an experimental treatment: immunotherapy. Rather than attacking the cancer directly, as chemo does, immunotherapy tries to rally the patient’s own immune system to fight the disease.

Uncertain, Mr. Cara sought a second opinion. A doctor at another major hospital read his scans and pathology report, then asked what Dr. Hellmann had advised. When the doctor heard the answer, Mr. Cara recalled, “he closed up the folder, handed it back to me and said, ‘Run back there as fast as you can.’”

Many others are racing down the same path. Harnessing the immune system to fight cancer, long a medical dream, is becoming a reality. Remarkable stories of tumors melting away and terminal illnesses going into remissions that last years — backed by solid data — have led to an explosion of interest and billions of dollars of investments in the rapidly growing field of immunotherapy. Pharmaceutical companies, philanthropists and the federal government’s “cancer moonshot” program are pouring money into developing treatments. Medical conferences on the topic are packed.

All this has brought new optimism to cancer doctors — a sense that they have begun tapping into a force of nature, the medical equivalent of splitting the atom.

“This is a fundamental change in the way that we think about cancer therapy,” said Dr. Jedd Wolchok, chief of melanoma and immunotherapeutics services at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

Hundreds of clinical trials involving immunotherapy, alone or combined with other treatments, are underway for nearly every type of cancer. “People are asking, waiting, pleading to get into these trials,” said Dr. Arlene Siefker-Radtke, an oncologist at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, who specializes in bladder cancer.

The immune system — a network of cells, tissues and biochemicals that they secrete — defends the body against viruses, bacteria and other invaders. But cancer often finds ways to hide from the immune system or block its ability to fight. Immunotherapy tries to help the immune system recognize cancer as a threat, and attack it.

Doctors tried a primitive version of immunotherapy against cancer more than 100 years ago. It sometimes worked remarkably well, but often did not, and they did not understand why. Eventually, radiation and chemotherapy eclipsed it.

Researchers are now focused on two promising types of immunotherapy. One creates a new, individualized treatment for each patient by removing some of the person’s immune cells, altering them genetically to kill cancer and then infusing them back into the bloodstream. This treatment has produced long remissions in a few hundred children and adults with deadly forms of leukemia or lymphoma for whom standard treatments had failed.

The second approach, far more widely used and the one Mr. Cara tried, involves mass-produced drugs that do not have to be tailored to each patient. The drugs free immune cells to fight cancer by blocking a mechanism — called a checkpoint — that cancer uses to shut down the immune system.

These drugs, called checkpoint inhibitors, have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat advanced melanoma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma and cancers of the lung, kidney and bladder. More drugs in this class are in the pipeline. Patients are clamoring for checkpoint drugs, including one, Keytruda, known to many as “that Jimmy Carter drug” which, combined with surgery and radiation, has left the former president with no sign of recurrence even though melanoma had spread to his liver and brain.

Checkpoint inhibitors have become an important option for people like Mr. Cara, with advanced lung cancer.

“We can say in all honesty to patients, that while we can’t tell them we can cure metastatic lung cancer right now, we can tell them there’s real hope that they can live for years, and for a lot of patients many years, which really is a complete game-changer,” said Dr. John V. Heymach, a lung cancer specialist and chairman of thoracic/head and neck medical oncology at M.D. Anderson.

Yet for all the promise and excitement, the fact is that so far, immunotherapy has worked in only a minority of patients, and researchers are struggling to find out why. They know they have their hands on an extraordinarily powerful tool, but they cannot fully understand or control it yet.

One Patient’s Story

Mr. Cara, an apparel industry executive from Bridgewater, N.J., had non-small-cell lung cancer, the most common form of the disease. The diagnosis shattered what had been an idyllic life: a happy marriage, sons in college, a successful career, a beautiful home, regular vacations, plenty of golf.

In December 2014, he began treatment with two checkpoint inhibitors. They cost about $150,000 a year, but as a study subject he did not have to pay.

These medicines work on killer T-cells, white blood cells that are often described as the soldiers of the immune system. T-cells are so fierce that they have built-in brakes — the so-called checkpoints — to shut them down and keep them from attacking normal tissue, which could result in autoimmune disorders like Crohn’s disease, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. One checkpoint stops T-cells from multiplying; another weakens them and shortens their life span.

As the name suggests, checkpoint inhibitors block the checkpoints, so cancer cannot use them to turn off the immune system.

Mr. Cara took drugs to inhibit both types of checkpoints. Every two weeks, he had intravenous infusions of Yervoy and Opdivo, both made by Bristol-Myers Squibb. He had no problems at first, just a bit of fatigue the day after the infusion. He rarely missed work.

But turning the wrath of the immune system against cancer can be a risky endeavor: Sometimes the patient’s own body gets caught in the crossfire. About two months into the treatment, Mr. Cara broke out in a rash all over his arms, back and chest. It became so severe that he had to go off the drugs. A steroid cream cleared it up and he was able to resume treatment — but with only one drug, Opdivo. Doctors stopped the other in hopes of minimizing the side effects.

heckpoint inhibitors can take months to begin working, and sometimes cause inflammation that, on scans early in treatment, can make it look like the tumor is growing. But Mr. Cara’s first scans, in March 2015, were stunning.

His tumor had shrunk by a third.

By August, more than half of the tumor had vanished. The rash came back, however, and worsened. Steroids worked again, but in October a far more alarming side effect set in: breathing trouble.

Doctors diagnosed pneumonitis, a lung inflammation caused by an attack from the immune system — a known risk of checkpoint drugs. Continuing the treatment posed too great a danger.

Mr. Cara stopped the infusions, but the months of treatment seemed to have transformed his cancer to stage 2 from stage 4, meaning that it was now operable. This spring surgeons removed about a third of his right lung, and discovered that the cancer was actually gone.

“No cancer was seen in any of the tissue they took out,” Dr. Hellmann said. “‘One hundred percent treatment effect,’” he read from the pathology report. “It was pretty cool.”

Immunotherapy had apparently wiped out the disease. “It’s amazing. Unbelievable,” Mr. Cara said.

As of now, he needs no further treatment, but he will be monitored regularly. He is back to work, and golf.

“He’s had the best possible response,” Dr. Hellmann said. “I hope that remains permanent. Only time will tell, and I think he’s conscious of that.”

Mr. Cara acknowledged, “Is there something in the back of me that says this thing never goes away, it could come back any time? Sure. But it’s not the main thing I think. I’m young, I’m strong, I’m healthy, my pathology report came back clean.”

He considered framing that pathology report.

But, he said, “I don’t want to jinx myself.”

Drugs Help Some, but Not Others

When checkpoint inhibitors work, they can really work, producing long remissions that start to look like cures and that persist even after treatment stops. Twenty percent to 40 percent of patients, sometimes more, have good responses. But for many patients, the drugs do not work at all. For others, they work for a while and then stop.

The vexing question, and the focus of research, is, why?

One theory is that additional checkpoints, not yet discovered, may play a role. The hunt is on to find them, and then make new drugs to act on them.

Despite the gaps in knowledge, checkpoint inhibitors are coming into widespread use and are being tried in advanced types of cancer for which standard chemotherapy offers little hope.

One example is anal cancer, a painful disease that carries a stigma because it is often linked to the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus or HPV, which also causes cervical cancer.

Lee, 59, who asked that her last name be withheld to protect her privacy, found out in 2014 that she had the disease, and that it had spread to her liver.

“I was told I’d be dead in 12 to 18 months with treatment, six months with no treatment,” she said.

Chemotherapy and radiation at a hospital near Dallas brought a remission that lasted only a few months. The cancer spread to her lungs.

Bedridden and in severe pain, she entered an immunotherapy trial at M.D. Anderson. In May 2015 she began receiving Opdivo every two weeks. The tumors in her liver and lungs have shrunk by about 70 percent. She is back at work.

While the drugs initially were given only to people with advanced disease, especially those who had little to lose because chemotherapy had stopped working, Dr. Heymach of M.D. Anderson predicted that soon some patients — including some with earlier stages of lung cancer — will receive checkpoint inhibitors as their first treatment.

Immunotherapy is also enabling doctors to help patients in unexpected ways.

Until recently, surgeons were reluctant to operate on people with advanced cancer because they knew from experience that it would not lengthen the patient’s life. But checkpoint inhibitors are changing that. For instance, some patients have taken checkpoint inhibitors for an advanced cancer that had spread around the body, and wound up with only one stubborn tumor left. They then have had it surgically removed and have gone years without a relapse.

“Time has slowed down to the point where you can pay attention to individual tumors, since you’re not running to put out the fire of wholesale systemic progression,” Dr. Wolchok said.

If there is a potential downside to the advances, Dr. Hellmann said, it is that the buzz about immunotherapy has led some patients to think chemotherapy is passé.

“Immunotherapy represents a hugely important new tool, but chemotherapy can work too and has been the backbone of the way we’ve treated patients with lung cancer,” he said. “Immunotherapy is not a replacement for that. It’s a new weapon.”

One of his patients, a 60-year-old man with lung cancer that had spread to his brain, was eager to try immunotherapy instead of chemotherapy. After having radiation treatment for one brain tumor, he began treatment with two checkpoint inhibitors.

But they did not work. So his doctors switched to chemotherapy. “He’s had a tremendous response,” Dr. Hellmann said.

He said it was impossible to tell whether the immunotherapy could have had some delayed effect and worked synergistically with the chemotherapy. Clinical trials are now trying to resolve that question.

But the potential for dangerous side effects cannot be overemphasized, doctors say. A 2010 article in a medical journal reported that a few melanoma patients had died from adverse effects of Yervoy.

In addition to causing lung inflammation, checkpoint inhibitors can lead to rheumatoid arthritis and colitis, a severe inflammation of the intestine — the result of an attack by the revved-up immune system that over-the-counter remedies cannot treat. Patients need steroids like prednisone to quell these attacks. Fortunately — and mysteriously, Dr. Wolchok said — the steroids can halt the gut trouble without stopping the immune fight against the cancer. But if patients delay telling doctors about diarrhea, Dr. Wolchok warned, “they could die” from colitis.

Checkpoint inhibitors can also slow down vital glands — pituitary, adrenal or thyroid — creating a permanent need for hormone treatment. Mr. Cara, for instance, now needs thyroid medication, almost certainly as a result of his treatment. Doctors have reported that a patient with a kidney transplant rejected it after taking a checkpoint inhibitor to treat cancer, apparently because the drug spurred his immune system to attack the organ.

Another of Dr. Hellmann’s lung-cancer patients, Joanne Sabol, 65, had to quit a checkpoint inhibitor because of severe colitis. But she had taken it for about two years, and it shrank a large abdominal tumor by 78 percent. Patients like her are in uncharted territory, and doctors are trying to decide whether to operate to remove what is left of her tumor.

“I have aggressive cancer, but I’m not giving in to it,” Ms. Sabol said. “It’s going to be a big battle with me.”

Coley’s Toxins

Dr. William B. Coley, an American surgeon born in 1862, is widely considered the father of cancer immunotherapy. But he practiced a crude form of it, without understanding how it worked.

Distressed by the painful death of a young woman he had treated for a sarcoma, a bone cancer, in 1891, Dr. Coley began to study the records of other sarcoma patients in New York, according to Dr. David. B. Levine, a medical historian and orthopedic surgeon.

One case leapt out at him: a patient who had several unsuccessful operations to remove a huge sarcoma from his face, and wound up with a severe infection, then called erysipelas, caused by Streptococcal bacteria. The patient was not expected to survive, but he did — and the cancer disappeared.

Dr. Coley found other cases in which cancer went away after erysipelas. Not much was known about the immune system, and he suspected, mistakenly, that the bacteria were somehow destroying the tumors. Researchers today think the infection set off an intense immune response that killed both the germs and the cancer.

Dr. Coley was not alone in believing that bacteria could fight cancer. In a letter to a colleague in 1890, the Russian physician and playwright Anton Chekhov wrote of erysipelas: “It has long been noted that the growth of malignant tumors halts for a time when this disease is present.”

Dr. Coley began to inject terminally ill cancer patients with Streptococcal bacteria in the 1890s. His first patient, a drug addict with an advanced sarcoma, was expected to die within weeks, but the disease went into remission and he lived eight years.

Dr. Coley treated other patients, with mixed results. Some tumors regressed, but sometimes the bacteria caused infections that went out of control. Dr. Coley developed an extract of heat-killed bacteria that came to be called Coley’s mixed toxins, and he treated hundreds of patients over several decades. Many became quite ill, with shaking chills and raging fevers. But some were cured.

Parke-Davis and Company began producing Coley’s toxins in 1899, and continued for 30 years. Various hospitals in Europe and the United States, including the Mayo Clinic, used the toxins, but the results were not consistent.

Early in the 20th century, radiation treatment came into use. Its results were more predictable, and the cancer establishment began turning away from Coley’s toxins. Dr. Coley’s own institution, Memorial Hospital (now Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center) instituted a policy in 1915 stating that inpatients had to be given radiation, not the toxins. Some other hospitals continued using them, but interest gradually waned. Dr. Coley died in 1936.

Chemotherapy, developed after World War II, was another blow to his methods. And in 1965, the American Cancer Society added Coley’s toxins to its list of “unproven” treatments. (The toxins were later taken off the list.)

After Dr. Coley’s death, his daughter, Helen Coley Nauts, studied some 800 case records that he had left behind, and became convinced that he was onto something important. She tried to rekindle interest in his work, but she was thwarted by doctors who opposed it, including some with high rank at Sloan Kettering. However, in 1953 she founded the Cancer Research Institute in New York, a nonprofit that has become a significant supporter of research on the interplay between cancer and the immune system. The group awarded more than $29.4 million in scientific grants in 2015, and its advisory board includes Dr. Wolchok and the scientist credited with developing the first checkpoint inhibitor, James P. Allison.

Source:NY Times

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Jogging the Brain

The holiday season is a good time for a reminder that alcohol can do bad things to the brain. Studies on animals suggest that it reduces the number of neurons in the hippocampus, the brain’s memory center, and weakens mitochondria there. Because mitochondria help produce energy within cells, their impairment can damage or kill brain cells. But two new animal studies offer some succor: Aerobic exercise, it turns out, may meliorate some of the impacts of heavy drinking on the brain.

Both studies were presented earlier this month at the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego. The first, conducted by physiologists at the University of Louisville, involved adult male mice. Every day for 12 weeks — the equivalent of several human years — groups of mice received either injections of alcohol or salt water. Half the animals in each group were then put through daily treadmill workouts. These exercise sessions were short but intense: roughly two-tenths of a mile run at a strenuous pace.

The second study focused on binge drinking. Researchers from the University of Houston inserted tubes into the stomachs of female rats to provide consistent doses of either alcohol or nonalcoholic liquid every Monday night for 11 weeks. Half the rats in each of these two groups were then kept idle in their cages for the rest of the week, while the other half ran on wheels for up to two hours, three days a week.

In each study, the brains of the rodents that exercised after receiving alcohol were substantially different from those of their sedentary counterparts. The inactive mice had weakened mitochondria in many neurons; the runners had hardy mitochondria. The sedentary rats given alcohol had almost 20 percent fewer neurons in their hippocampi than the control animals. The rats who were made to work out, though, had as many neurons as the controls, even if they were given alcohol.

“It’s well known that running increases neurogenesis” — that is, the creation of new brain cells — according to J.L. Leasure, the associate professor of psychology at the University of Houston who oversaw the rat study. So it seems likely that running stabilized the total number of brain cells in the bingeing rats, she says, even if some neurons died as a side effect of alcohol consumption. Exercise is also known to improve mitochondrial health in the brain.

This does not mean working out is a license to be a lush, Leasure says, adding that alcohol probably has other undesirable effects within the brain that are not countered by exercise. Nor has research shown how much or what types of exercise provide the best protection — or even whether animal studies like these translate to people. There is also your liver to consider, along with other bodily consequences. Still, if you overdo it this holiday season, Leasure says, going for a run is “probably wise.”

Source:NY Times

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Black Friday Shopping: Tales From the Front Lines

The unofficial start of the holiday shopping season began on Thursday, when many national retailers opened their doors and offered major sales. It kicked into high gear on Friday, when many more stores entered the fray. We’re capturing the experience with reporters and photographers around the country, showing what it looks and feels like at American shopping malls, retailers and discount stores. You’ll also find:

■ Stories of shoppers and what brought them out to the stores.

■ Shopping deals from The Wirecutter, a product review and recommendation site owned by The New York Times Company.

■ Shopping by the numbers: history and facts about Black Friday, as the day after Thanksgiving is often called.

A Mix of Old and New

After working the overnight shift at Old Navy on 34th Street in Manhattan, Walter Reinoso hit the Foot Locker store at Union Square to get a pair of Air Jordan 3S True Blues he had been waiting for. His approach mixed the modern (ordering online) with the past (showing up in a store to get them).

“They originally came out in 1988 and are really hard to find. I had to reserve them on the app. I haven’t bought a pair of Jordans in a very long time. This silhouette is iconic,” Mr. Reinoso said while proudly holding up the size 9½ midtops. “I like that these are the original colors: white, red and blue. I got them for $249. They are usually much more.”

Describing himself as a shoe enthusiast rather than a guy with a shoe fetish, Mr. Reinoso, 19, of East New York, Brooklyn, along with his friend, Cindy Ortiz, 18, of Bushwick, Brooklyn, were heading to the store Dover Market to check out more footwear, preferably pairs of Vans and Converse. Mr. Reinoso had some more cash to spend — $300 in his pocket — but said he would rather not spend it all. “I don’t want to,” he said, “but may be tempted.”

— RUTH BASHINSKY

The process, and subsequent bonding experience, of getting a tattoo can create a lasting impression on customers.

“Black Friday, for us, is more than an exciting retail day, it’s more of a way of giving back to our clients,” Mr. Smith said. “The unique thing about getting a tattoo, when you share that with someone as an artist, is that they are with you forever.”

Mr. Smith’s first appointment of the day, Ryan Wills, has his Black Friday mapped out. After scouring electronics stores for audio car-system deals and crashing a few big-box stores for door buster sales, Mr. Wills plans to spend a few Black Friday hours in the black padded chair at Tatt Life to finish his extensive “Deadpool”-inspired canvas.

“I follow Tatt Life Studios on Facebook and couldn’t resist the chance to get my leg piece finished,” Mr. Wills, a 27-year-old mechanic, said. “I have several Marvel tattoos on my body including an Iron Man piece as well as a ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ collage, both done by Smitty.”

— KIMBERLEY MCGEE

Sierra Sproul, a 24-year-old kindergarten teacher in Austin, Tex., had a special incentive to take advantage of Black Friday discounts at her local boot retailer: her coming Western-themed wedding on April 8.

“I’m very excited,” she said, beaming as she and her mother wrapped up a purchase of brown floral Corral-brand boots (which came to $199 after a 20 percent discount).

In all, the pair spent more than $500 at Cavender’s Boot City in north Austin after adding a $180 hat and $159 boots for her fiancé, Shane McPherson, whom Ms. Sproul lovingly described as “very country.”

She and her mother said they had purposely waited for Black Friday to offset wedding costs with hefty discounts.

“If we can get boots for a percentage off, that’s good because they don’t go on sale very often,” Ms. Sproul said.

Many of the other customers in the store were looking at western items as likely Christmas gifts, according to Robert Garcia, the store’s manager.

Source:NY Times

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Craig Sager, colorful Turner Sports reporter, dies at 65

Posted: Dec 15, 2016 3:28 PM CST Updated: Dec 15, 2016 3:28 PM CST
 
 
 
 
Craig Sager, the longtime Turner Sports sideline reporter best known for his colorful -- and at times fluorescent -- wardrobe, has passed away after battling acute myeloid leukemia, the network said. He was 65. Craig Sager, the longtime Turner Sports sideline reporter best known for his colorful -- and at times fluorescent -- wardrobe, has passed away after battling acute myeloid leukemia, the network said. He was 65.
 
Craig Sager, the longtime Turner Sports sideline reporter best known for his colorful -- and at times fluorescent -- wardrobe, has passed away after battling acute myeloid leukemia, the network said. He was 65. Craig Sager, the longtime Turner Sports sideline reporter best known for his colorful -- and at times fluorescent -- wardrobe, has passed away after battling acute myeloid leukemia, the network said. He was 65.
 
Craig Sager, the longtime Turner Sports sideline reporter best known for his colorful -- and at times fluorescent -- wardrobe, has passed away after battling acute myeloid leukemia, the network said. He was 65. Craig Sager, the longtime Turner Sports sideline reporter best known for his colorful -- and at times fluorescent -- wardrobe, has passed away after battling acute myeloid leukemia, the network said. He was 65.
 
Craig Sager, the longtime Turner Sports sideline reporter best known for his colorful -- and at times fluorescent -- wardrobe, has passed away after battling acute myeloid leukemia, the network said. He was 65. Craig Sager, the longtime Turner Sports sideline reporter best known for his colorful -- and at times fluorescent -- wardrobe, has passed away after battling acute myeloid leukemia, the network said. He was 65.
 
Craig Sager, the longtime Turner Sports sideline reporter best known for his colorful -- and at times fluorescent -- wardrobe, has passed away after battling acute myeloid leukemia, the network said. He was 65. Craig Sager, the longtime Turner Sports sideline reporter best known for his colorful -- and at times fluorescent -- wardrobe, has passed away after battling acute myeloid leukemia, the network said. He was 65.
By Jill Martin CNN

(CNN) -- The suits and ties were so loud, at times they were screaming. But Craig Sager wore them so well.

Sager, the longtime Turner Sports sideline reporter best known for his colorful -- and at times fluorescent -- wardrobe, has passed away after battling acute myeloid leukemia. He was 65.

Sager died just days after he was inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame.

He is survived by his wife, Stacy, and five children: Kacy, Craig Jr., Krista, Riley and Ryan.

 

"Craig Sager was a beloved member of the Turner family for more than three decades and he has been a true inspiration to all of us. There will never be another Craig Sager. His incredible talent, tireless work ethic and commitment to his craft took him all over the world covering sports," Turner President David Levy said in a statement.

"While he will be remembered fondly for his colorful attire and the TNT sideline interviews he conducted with NBA coaches and players, it's the determination, grace and will to live he displayed during his battle with cancer that will be his lasting impact. Our thoughts and prayers are with Craig's wife, Stacy, and the entire Sager family during this difficult time. We will forever be Sager Strong."

If someone didn't know Sager by name, they likely knew him by his wardrobe.

With his bold, colorful and sometimes downright crazy combinations, seemingly nothing was off limits for Sager. He donned velvet, plaid, checkered, bright pink or deep purple. He wore ties with polka dots and flowers. The list of his sartorial flourishes was endless.

Charles Barkley once said that Sager looked like a pimp. During an interview, Kevin Garnett told Sager to go home and burn the suit -- including the shoes and socks -- he was wearing.

"There's not any part I can keep?" Sager asked.

"Nope," Garnett said. "Nothing."

Sager's approach at life matched his attire. It was all about elevating every moment.

But he also was known for something else. He spent more than 20 years as an NBA courtside reporter, and he was good at his job.

"He's going to get the right question to the right person, and you can't get around it," former NBA player and current Turner Sports studio analyst Kenny Smith said. "No matter who you are, what stature you are in the NBA, from rookie to perennial All-Star, he's going to make you answer the question."

Colorful start to his career

Incredibly, Sager's life had more color than his suits.

Born in 1951 in Batavia, Illinois, Sager was the Willie the Wildcat football mascot when he attended nearby Northwestern. After graduation, he went to Tampa in 1974 to apply for a job as a weatherman at a small station. To stick out at the audition, Sager purchased a blue, white and yellow seersucker suit from a Goodwill store. Sager got the job, but he was told to get rid of the suit. It clashed on TV.

That same year, Sager started working in sports. On April 8, 1974, when Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth's all-time home run record, there was Sager, who was working for an Atlanta Braves affiliate radio station in Sarasota, Florida, for $95 a week, among the people mobbing Aaron when he reached home plate.

His interviews with Aaron are in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

"I don't like to think I peaked at 22, but it would be hard to top a memory like that," Sager said.

But there was more. A lot more.

In 1977, Sager slept in a stall next to Seattle Slew before the horse won the Triple Crown.

When Morganna Roberts, the entertainer known as Morganna the Kissing Bandit, was arrested for running onto the field at the MLB All-Star Game in 1979, Sager bailed her out. In return, she gave him her supersized bra.

While he was broadcasting Kansas City Royals games in 1981, Sager got a call from Ted Turner. Turner had recently launched CNN, and he wanted Sager to broadcast shows on baseball and basketball. Sager accepted and became CNN Employee No. 343.

Sager started doing sideline reporting for TNT in 1990. It was then that the colorful jackets and suits became his hallmark. He tried not to wear the same jacket-and-tie combination twice. He also owned more than 100 pairs of dress shoes.

"It's not just the style. The color scheme is dangerous," San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich once told HBO's Real Sports. "You have to be very careful -- as you look at him, it can't be too quick. It's got to be slow, so your eyes can adjust."

Popovich is notorious for loathing on-court interviews during games, saying it takes him away from his team. But when it's Sager "that makes it livable," he said.

Leukemia diagnosis

Over the years Sager covered almost everything in sports, from college basketball and football to baseball's World Series and the summer Olympics.

But life for him changed on April 10, 2014.

Sager was working a San Antonio Spurs-Dallas Mavericks game in Dallas that night. But the reporter, who was known for being fit, didn't feel right. He was unusually tired. After the game, Sager flagged down the Mavericks team doctor, who gave him a check-up and told him to go to the emergency room immediately.

The eventual diagnosis: acute myeloid leukemia.

Sager received a bone marrow transplant from his son, Craig Sager, Jr. During his father's absence, Sager Jr. took to the sidelines during the NBA playoffs to honor his dad.

"I gotta tell ya, you did a great job but I'd rather have your dad standing here," Popovich said. "Craig, we miss you. You've been an important part of all of this for a long time. We want your fanny back on the court."

Sager missed 11 months before returning to broadcasting. When he worked a Spurs game again, Popovich once again showed his softer side.

"I can honestly tell you, this is the first time I've enjoyed doing this ridiculous interview we're required to do," Popovich said to Sager while on the air. "It's 'cause you're here and you're back with us. Welcome back, baby."

Sager and Popovich embraced, with Sager saying he had been "in the hospital for months hoping to do this again."

Popovich -- in the best way possible -- then lovingly brought it back to business.

"Now ask me a couple of inane questions," the coach said.

Round 2

But it didn't last. In March 2015, the cancer returned, and Sager underwent a second bone marrow transplant, once again through his son Craig Jr.

A year later, this March, Sager said on HBO's "Real Sports" that he was no longer in remission.

"I've already had two stem cell transplants," Sager said. "Very rarely does somebody have a third, so I have to maintain my strength so I can go through this."

Sager showed his resolve, saying he was "still kicking, still fighting."

"I haven't won the battle," he said. "It's not over yet. But I haven't lost it either. There have been some victories and some setbacks, but I still have to fight it, and I still have a lot of work to do."

And work he did.

Sager continued to work for Turner Sports, including the historic national championship game between Villanova and North Carolina that aired on TBS. At that game, Sager, who was receiving treatment at the time, scored an interview that no one ever gets: Michael Jordan.

"It's always good to see you," Jordan said to Sager.

In July, while accepting the Jimmy V Perseverance Award at the ESPY's, Sager gave a moving speech about his cancer battle, stressing he would "never give up."

"I will continue to keep fighting sucking the marrow out of life as life sucks the marrow out of me," Sager said, wearing a yellow shirt, a floral jacket, and black sparkly tie. "I will live my life full of love and full of fun. It's the only way I know how."

Round 3

On August 31, with the help of an anonymous donor, Sager underwent his third bone marrow and stem cell transplant in a three-year span. Having three transplants is extremely rare, but Sager hoped the third time would be the charm.

By his side was Barkley, there against doctor's orders, as he recently had hip replacement surgery and wasn't cleared to travel.

 

'A genuine person'

Sager was so much more than the man in the colorful suits. He loved his job. He loved his family.

And colleagues, players, coaches and fans loved him back.

"He's just been such a genuine person who really does love the NBA and he loves the game," Popovich said to HBO's Real Sports. "And it comes through. And you know that even though he does what he does ... fashion-wise, it's part of the shtick. But his questions are always sensible, they're answerable and he does it with fun. He does it with humor."

 

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Ghana will soon become a one-party state – Sammy Awuku

The National Youth Organiser of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Sammy Awuku has predicted that Ghana would in the near future will become a one-party state if the NPP becomes a ‘united’ party.

NPP flagbearer, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo finally secured the presidency after a third time, beating the incumbent, President John Mahama with 53.85 percent of valid votes cast.

President Mahama who ran on the ticket of the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC), secured 44.40 of valid votes cast.

The NPP also won 169 Parliamentary seats as against the NDC’s 104 seats. It also won six regions including swing regions of Greater Accra, Eastern and Western Regions.

The NPP is currently contesting the results of eleven parliamentary seats in the Brong Ahafo and Western Regions.

One of the main campaign messages of the NDC in the run up to the December polls was that the NPP was a disintegrated political party.

President John Mahama of the NDC constantly claimed that now President-elect, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo lacked the capacity to unite the country as he was leading a party which had suspended its elected National Chairman and General Secretary.

The President told chiefs in the Eastern Region that Nana Addo would destool chiefs who criticize him when he ascends the highest office of the land since he does not accept dissenting opinions.

The NPP, Sammy Awuku said recorded this ‘impressive result’ despite claims by the NDC that the NPP is not a united party.

“And this leaves me to wonder, if a divided party can win 170 (169) seats with 53.8% presidential, then if we become united, Ghana will be a one-party state," Sammy Awuku said on Peace FM's Kokrokoo Programme on Friday.

Giving reasons for the loss of the NDC, the NPP Youth Leader said the party engaged in excessive propaganda during the electioneering campaign including preying on the health of the NPP flagbearer, Nana Akufo-Addo.

“The NDC just went for the same template Goodluck Jonathan and his party used against Buhari in Nigeria…they called him sick man and ISIS candidate but still Nigerians said they like him and that was the same thing Ghanaians said to the NDC that they still liked Nana Addo…,” he said.

He further thanked the youth of the country for being vigilant on Election Day and also sacrificing their time to campaign for the NPP.

source-ghanaweb

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South Africa's President Jacob Zuma was forced to run for cover after a tent in which he was giving a speech collapsed.

Strong winds and rain tore through the marquee, where Mr Zuma was addressing a crowd for Reconciliation Day.

A video posted on social media by local reporters showed people scrambling for safety as the tent blew upwards and the president was rushed off stage.

There were no immediate reports of injuries during the storm, in Gopane in South Africa's North West province.

SOURCE BBC

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Berlin Truck Attack Suspect Anis Amri Shot Dead in Milan: Officials

 

  • Anis Amri, the Tunisian-born suspect in the Berlin truck rampage that killed 12, was shot dead early Friday.
  • Italian officials say he was "killed on the spot" during the chance encounter with police on the outskirts of Milan.
  • One Italian police officer was wounded in the encounter, although his injuries were not life-threatening, officials said.

ROME — The suspect in the Berlin truck rampage was killed in a early-hour shootout after a chance encounter with police on the outskirts of Milan, according to Italian officials.

Italy's Interior Interior Minister Marco Minniti described how cops noticed a "man who walked suspiciously" at around 3 a.m. in Milan's Sesto San Giovanni neighborhood.

"When he was stopped, the man shot the policemen with a gun. The police shot back," Minniti told reporters at a press conference in Rome. One officer was wounded in the firefight.

 

Anis Amri German police via AP

 

The suspect, who police identified as Tunisian national Anis Amri, was "killed on the spot," said Minniti. The man killed was "without a shadow of doubt" the Berlin Christmas market attacker, he added.

German officials later confirmed that the man shot in Italy was Tunisian-born Amri.

The 24-year-old had been at the center of an international manhunt after authorities found his personal documents inside the vehicle that plowed through the Christmas market on Monday. Twelve people were killed and almost 50 others injured in the attack that has since been claimed by ISIS.

Minniti praised the young policeman who was wounded in the incident and whose injuries are not life threatening.

"I thanked him for his bravery and professionalism shown," he said. "I thanked him on behalf of the head of police, of the Interior Ministry, and wished him a swift recovery."

Image:

 

The man killed in Milan was "without a shadow of doubt" the Berlin Christmas market attacker, Italian officials stated Friday. Daniele Bennati / AP

 

Minniti added: "I told him that thanks to him, Italians will be able to have a happier holiday. All of Italy should be proud of him."

Complicated picture

A complicated picture has emerged of Amri in the days since the attack. He is thought to have arrived in Europe aged 19 and was jailed in Italy between 2012 and 2015 after reportedly setting fire to a school.

Italian prison officials told NBC News Friday that Amri had a "violent and unruly attitude" and was frequently moved between jails, but showed few signs of religious fundamentalism.

Italian authorities reportedly tried to repatriate Amri shortly after he was released from prison but Tunisia resisted these attempts.

He arrived in Germany in 2015, according to officials there, and was monitored as a potential risk by various authorities.

Related: Truck Suspect Trod Familiar Path to Terror

Yet surveillance by German officials produced "no leads" that suggested Amri was a threat to state security. The snooping operation against him was ended in September this year.

Amri maintained contact with his family back in Tunisia throughout this time, even sending presents in the days before the Berlin attack.

"He was going to return back to [Tunisia's capital] Tunis in January of 2017," Amri's younger sister Hamida told NBC News Thursday. "It is impossible that he killed those innocents. But if he was the one, he should be punished."

 
 

Berlin truck attack: Suspect Anis Amri eludes massive manhunt 2:10

Other family members said Amri was far from religious while the German prosecutor's office said earlier this week that he was a small-time drug dealer who was once involved in a bar fight in Berlin.

"I am in shock after hearing the news in the media," said Nour Houdi, the suspect's mother. "My son is completely removed from religion. He used to drink alcohol."

"He [emigrated] to improve his situation and that of our family. He used to send messages to his brothers from the prison and used to call them after he left prison by Facebook and phone.

"The last communication was last Saturday. He sent a phone to his younger sister and some chocolate," Houdi added.

 

source :NBC NEWS

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Man Surrenders in Little Rock 'Road Rage' Shooting That Killed Boy, 3

An Arkansas man was charged with capital murder late Thursday in the fatal shooting of a 3-year-old boy last weekend — described as a case of "road rage" over a delay at a stop sign.

The suspect — identified as 33-year-old Gary Holmes — surrendered to police Thursday night after he was wanted on a warrant, Little Rock police Lt. Steve McClanahan told NBC News.

Image: Mug shot of Gary Holmes, an Arkansas man accused of killing 3 year-old boy.

 

Gary Holmes, 33, of Little Rock, Arkansas, is accused of killing a 3-year-old boy. Provided by the Pulaski County Sheriff PIO via KARK

 

McClanahan would not release further information, but the Pulaski County Sheriff's Office confirmed the capital murder charge against Holmes as well as two counts of terroristic acts stemming from Saturday's incident.

Related: Child, 3, Killed in Arkansas 'Road Rage' Shooting: Police

Toddler Acen King was shot while his grandmother, Kim King-Macon, was driving during a shopping trip Saturday afternoon. The gunman was apparently angry that King-Macon "wasn't moving fast enough at a stop sign," McClanahan said at the time.

The shooting prompted the city of Little Rock and the FBI to offer $40,000 in reward money for information leading to the shooter.

 
 

DEC. 19: 911 Call Released as Police Search for Gunman in Arkansas Road Rage 1:41

In a 911 call released Monday by police, King-Macon described her version of events: "I was at the stop sign and the guy blew a horn at me and I blew it back, and he shot, but I thought it was in the air. He shot at the car!"

King-Macon had driven to a JCPenney, but only realized what happened to her grandson after she found him slumped over in the back of the car. Police were called to the shopping center at around 6:20 p.m. CT (7:20 p.m. ET).

"Acen has been shot, oh my God!" the anguished grandmother screamed to a 911 dispatcher.

The boy was rushed to a hospital where he died, authorities said.

 

Acen King Courtesy Pastor Terrance "Scotty" Long

 

At the time, police said they were looking for an older model black Chevrolet Impala and a tall African-American man. McClanahan has said investigators believe the grandmother is "completely innocent" in the incident. She was not hurt.

Holmes of Little Rock was booked into the Pulaski County jail just before 11 p.m. Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Harris for the Eastern District of Arkansas confirmed Holmes surrendered to police and has been charged in state court with murder.

A court date was set for Dec. 29,

Holmes has been arrested previously, including for aggravated battery and robbery in 2002 and domestic battery in 2013, according to KARK.

SOURCE :NBC

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What we know about the Fort Lauderdale airport shooting suspect

CNN)Esteban Santiago returned from a tour in Iraq a changed man, his aunt said Saturday. He talked about the destruction he witnessed. About the killing of children. Visions that haunted him.

"His mind was not right," the aunt, Maria Ruiz Rivera, told CNN in a phone interview from her home in New Jersey. "He seemed normal at times, but other times he seemed lost. He changed."
Santiago is suspected of killing five people Friday at Florida's Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said.
Here is what we know about the suspected shooter:
• His family started to notice changes in Santiago after his return in 2011 from a National Guard deployment in Iraq, his aunt said.
• "He changed after Iraq. He talked about all the destruction and the killing of children. He had visions all the time," said Ruiz, speaking in Spanish during the interview.
• "Who would have imagined that he could do something like this?" she said. "I don't say that because we're family. I say it because he wasn't like that."
• Ruiz said she lost contact with Santiago several months ago. "He stopped calling," she said. "He wouldn't respond to my messages. I would call and text. He seemed distant."
• He visited the FBI's Anchorage, Alaska, office a few months ago and told authorities that an intelligence agency was telling him to watch ISIS videos, according to law enforcement officials.
• The officials said Santiago's associates were concerned because he said he was hearing voices; they had accompanied him to the FBI office in Anchorage.
• On Friday, Santiago flew into Florida on a Delta Air Lines flight from Alaska via Minnesota, officials said. He had declared his handgun in a firearms carrying case, law enforcement sources told CNN.
• Upon arriving at the Fort Lauderdale airport, he picked up the carrying case at baggage claim, took out the gun and started firing, according to law enforcement sources.
• One source said Santiago went to the bathroom to get the gun out of the case and emerged shooting.
• Santiago likely acted alone, Israel said.
Photos: Fort Lauderdale airport shooting
Photos: Fort Lauderdale airport shooting
Photos: Fort Lauderdale airport shooting
Photos: Fort Lauderdale airport shooting
Photos: Fort Lauderdale airport shooting
Photos: Fort Lauderdale airport shooting

People run out on the tarmac in the aftermath of the shooting Friday, January 6, at the airport in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/06/us/fort-lauderdale-airport-incident/index.html" target="_blank">Five people were killed and eight others were wounded</a>, officials said.

• The FBI is investigating every angle and has not ruled out terrorism, according to officials.
• Santiago is in federal custody and will likely appear Monday in court in Broward County, officials said.
• According to his booking information, Santiago, 26, is being held without bond on a murder charge.
• Santiago had purchased two handguns -- a 9 mm Glock and a Glock .40-caliber -- in the past, according to a law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation. It is unknown whether either of these pistols were used in Friday's attack.
• Santiago's criminal record in Alaska includes three offenses: having no proof of insurance in 2015, a taillight violation in 2015 and a criminal mischief charge, causing property damage of more than $50, in 2016.
He served in the Puerto Rico National Guard and the Alaska Army National Guard.
• He joined the Puerto Rico National Guard in December 2007, said Lt. Col. Candis Olmstead of the Alaska Army National Guard.
• Santiago was deployed to Iraq with the Puerto Rico National Guard from April 2010 to February 2011, Olmstead said.
• Santiago received the Iraq Campaign Medal with a campaign star, a combat-related honor, CNN's Barbara Starr reported.
• He served in the US Army Reserve before joining the Alaska Army National Guard in November 2014, Olmstead said.
Santiago was later given a general discharge from the Alaska Army National Guard in August for unsatisfactory performance.
• Santiago was not on the radar for possible terrorism ties, according to a law enforcement official and a Department of Homeland Security official.
• Santiago had no significant foreign travel that was ever flagged, another official said.
• The FBI looked into Santiago's background and saw his military history but found no information to indicate radicalization, officials said. The FBI asked local police to take him to the hospital for a mental health evaluation. Santiago voluntarily checked himself in.
• Santiago lived in Alaska and was employed by an Anchorage security company, a law enforcement official said.
Source:CNN.com
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This store is selling gold-plated Trump iPhones to the super rich

What gift do you get for the person who has everything?

This year, one option is an iPhone 7 encased in solid gold, encrusted with diamonds and bearing the face of Donald Trump.

 

Priced around $151,000, it's just one example of the mind-blowing bling sold by Goldgenie, a store in the United Arab Emirates where the super rich do their shopping.

"There are very wealthy, high-net-worth individuals all over the world and sometimes its very difficult to buy gifts for them because they have everything," said Frank Fernando, Goldgenie's managing director.

All the opulent objects on sale at his store in Sharjah, a city near Dubai, are either solid gold, gold plated or diamond encrusted. But the idea for the golden Trump iPhone came from a customer only recently.

A Chinese woman walked into the store last month and requested that Goldgenie put together the glitzy device emblazoned with the president-elect's features, Fernando said, declining to identify the woman by name. He said he believes her family wants to give it to the U.S. president-elect after his inauguration next month.

If they do, the phone would fit well with the famously golden decor at Trump's penthouse apartment in New York City.

Since selling that first Trump iPhone, Goldgenie has received a further nine orders for gold-plated ones bearing his face.

The billionaire president-elect is proving to be good business for the store, which opened earlier this year. But the phones are far from the most expensive item on sale.

A gold-plated racing bike will set you back about $350,000.

gold plated racing bike

 

Goldgenie started out in London back in 1989. The company's business concept was simple: gold plate virtually any item its customers wanted.

Fernando says his staff members will even take their special gold-plating machine to wealthy individuals' homes in order to cover their entire bathrooms in the precious metal.

The company picked the UAE as the place to open its first retail store because of the strong demand from the Gulf region.

"We have many visits from the royal families," Fernando said. "They visit us in London and they don't just buy one phone. They buy five, ten phones to give as gifts. We needed to come here to show ourselves to all the people in the Arab states."

Goldgenie isn't satisfied with just the one retail outlet, though.

The brand is opening a store in neighboring Qatar early next year and is in discussions to set up another in Saudi Arabia, Fernando said.

And it's aiming to take its ostentatious offerings farther afield with plans for stores in Malaysia and Spain.

Source:CNN.com

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Apple cuts Tim Cook's pay 15% for missing sales goals

Apple's sales slump is taking a bite out of Tim Cook's paycheck.

The iPhone maker cut Cook's pay by 15% last year to $8.7 million, according to a filing released on Friday.

 

Apple (AAPL, Tech30) specifically cited the company's failure to meet its performance goals for both sales and profits. Shrinking iPhone sales last year caused Apple to suffer its first annual revenue decline in 15 years.

Now Apple's board is holding its CEO and other leaders accountable for the stumbles.

While Cook's salary rose to $3 million from $2 million last year, his cash bonus took a hit. Apple awarded Cook and other executives 89.5% of their target, instead of the maximum amount like in recent years.

That meant Cook's cash bonus fell to $5.4 million in 2016, down from $8 million the year before. All told, Cook's total compensation was $8.7 million last year, compared with $10.3 million in 2015.

But don't feel too bad for Cook, whose real fortune is linked to his vast holdings of Apple stock.

Last year, Cook completed five years as CEO and nearly 1.3 million of his previously restricted Apple shares vested. The shares were worth about $136 million.

As in previous years, Cook's 2016 pay was below that of his top lieutenants. All five senior executives below him, whose salary is made public, made just under $23 million in 2016. That includes Luca Maestri, Apple's chief financial officer, as well as retail boss Angela Ahrendts.

Apple's rare sales slump is directly linked to the loss of momentum for the iPhone, which generates the majority of the tech icon's sales.

Sales of iPhones have declined in each of the past three quarters, slipping to 45.5 million in the September quarter. The problem is that Apple has faced steep competition from Samsung and other smartphone makes and the newest iPhones haven't featured enough upgrades to lure customers.

Apple's stock ended 2016 with a healthy gain of 10%. That compares with a 13% gain for the Dow and 9.5% for the S&P 500. The popular stock received a boost in early September thanks to the Galaxy Note 7 disaster, which forced Samsung to discontinue the phone.

Apple will reveal just how much it benefited from Samsung's pain when the company reports quarterly numbers on January 31.

Source:CNN.com

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These big companies had a terrible 2016

 
 
 
U.S. economy gains 156,000 jobs in December

It's been a tumultuous year on many fronts.

In the business world, some big names have gone through particularly grueling times in 2016.

 

Here are the ones that we think had a year they'd rather forget:

Yahoo

Yahoo started the year by axing 15% of its workforce. The struggling tech firm then admitted it had previously suffered not one but two massive data breaches, affecting more than a billion users.

"Yahoo has now won the gold medal and the silver medal for the worst hacks in history," said online security consultant Hemu Nigam. The attacks have even cast doubt over Verizon's (VZ, Tech30) planned acquisition of Yahoo (YHOO, Tech30).

Stock hit: Shares are down 14% from the high they reached in September before the first hack was disclosed.

Samsung

The year blew up in spectacular fashion for the South Korean electronics giant. Its problems began when it had to recall millions of Galaxy Note 7 smartphones after the high-end devices started bursting into flames. It then screwed up the recall by offering replacement Note 7 phones it said were safe but actually turned out to be prone to catching fire as well.

Samsung eventually had to kill the phone off altogether, costing it billions in profits and compounding the damage to its reputation. It was also forced to recall almost 3 million washing machines because they could explode.

Stock hit: Samsung (SSNLF) shares took a hit from the Note 7 debacle but have since rallied to reach a record high, helped by the company's announcement that it will consider overhauling its complicated structure.

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo shocked Americans in September by firing 5,300 employees who had secretly created as many as 2 million unauthorized accounts. CEO John Stumpf was pilloried at congressional hearings and eventually had to step down.

The bank's reputation has been sullied as former employees have come forward with horror stories about a pressure-cooker work environment that they say rewarded unethical practices.

Stock hit: Wells Fargo (WFC) shares plunged more than 12% in the weeks after the phony accounts scandal erupted. But they've risen sharply following Donald Trump's victory in the U.S. presidential election.

Deutsche Bank

Hangovers from the financial crisis are still lingering for many big financial firms, and Deutsche Bank's has proved particularly painful this year. Already struggling with weak profits and demoralizing job cuts, Germany's biggest lender was hit in September by a U.S. demand for $14 billion to settle claims it packaged up toxic mortgages in the lead-up to the financial crisis.

deutsche bank clouds

 

That sparked concerns among investors that Deutsche Bank -- described as the single biggest source of risk in the global banking system -- didn't have the funds to pay such a hefty bill.

The worries have since eased somewhat and Deutsche Bank said last week it had reached a $7.2 billion deal with U.S. authorities over the toxic mortgage claims.

Stock hit: During the worst of the fears over Deutsche Bank's (DB) finances in September, the lender's shares hit their lowest level in more than 20 years. They've rebounded significantly since then but are still down more than 20% since the start of the year.

Theranos

This year witnessed the spectacular fall from grace of Theranos, one of Silicon Valley's most celebrated startups. Cracks started to appear in the biotech firm's credibility late last year when a Wall Street Journal investigation called into question the company's scientific claims and blood testing methods. CEO Elizabeth Holmes, who founded Theranos when she was just 19, angrily denied the report's allegations.

Theranos and Holmes have since suffered a series of humiliating setbacks, including investigations by multiple U.S. government agencies. Theranos was dumped by Walgreens after having to correct thousands of blood test results. And Holmes has been banned from owning or operating a laboratory for two years. In October, the company said it was cutting hundreds of jobs as it shuttered labs.

Stock hit: As an unlisted startup, Theranos doesn't have a public share price. But in one gauge of how much its valuation has suffered, Forbes slashed Holmes' net worth this year from $4.5 billion to "nothing."

Twitter

Twitter started 2016 with a plummeting stock price and the admission that it was losing users at the end of last year. Hopes that the company might find a way out of its predicament by being bought by a bigger player went up in smoke in October.

wounded twitter bird

 

Twitter responded by announcing it was cutting hundreds of jobs and killing its video app, Vine (which was later given a small reprieve). The fumbles continued into the final months of the year with the company briefly suspending co-founder Jack Dorsey's account and losing more top executives.

Stock hit: Twitter (TWTR, Tech30) shares have been on a roller-coaster ride this year on the speculation it could get bought, but they're now down 20% since the the year began.

Mylan

Mylan became embroiled in scandal this summer after it emerged that the maker of the EpiPen had hiked the price of the lifesaving allergy treatment a stunning 15 times since 2009. By jacking the price up by 400% in seven years, the drugmaker and its CEO, Heather Bresch, came to symbolize corporate greed.

Mylan blamed the U.S. health care system for the situation and introduced a voucher program to help cut costs.

epipen price history

 

But Bresch faced tough questions from lawmakers who accused her and other executives of getting "filthy rich" at the expense of people who needed the vital treatment.

In October, Mylan agreed to pay $465 million to the U.S. government to settle claims that it falsely classified the EpiPen in order to overcharge Medicaid for it.

Stock hit: Mylan (MYL) shares have sunk more than 30% since the start of the year.

Monte dei Paschi di Siena

In the 544 years it's been in business, Italy's Monte dei Paschi is unlikely to have had many quite as grim as 2016. Saddled with €28 billion ($29.3 billion) in bad debts, the world's oldest operating bank was judged in July to be the weakest major lender in Europe.

The bank tried desperately to solve its problems itself, but its attempt to raise €5 billion ($5.2 billion) from private investors failed. That forced it to turn to the Italian government last week for a bailout.

Stock hit: Monte dei Paschi (BMDPF) shares have nosedived 88% since the start of the year and have been suspended following the bailout announcement.

Source:Cnn.com

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Janet Jackson welcomes a son

Janet Jackson has given birth to a baby boy, according to a representative for the pop superstar.

Jackson, 50, and her husband, Wissam Al Mana, welcomed their first child, named Eissa, on Tuesday.
"Janet had a stress-free healthy delivery and is resting comfortably," said the rep for the singer.
In April, Jackson announced that she was postponing her tour amid speculation that she was pregnant.
"I thought it was important that you be the first to know," she said in a video circulated to fans via social media. "My husband and I are planning our family, so I'm going to have to delay the tour."
Jackson then went under the radar, though she was spotted shopping in September and appeared to be pregnant in photos published by "Entertainment Tonight."
The singer publicly confirmed the she was expecting in an interview with People in October.
"We thank God for our blessing," she told the publication.
Jackson married Qatari businessman Al Mana in 2012.
Source:CNN.com
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Cleveland Cavaliers trade with Atlanta Hawks for sharp-shooter Kyle Korver

Shooting guard Kyle Korver will soon be in a Cleveland Cavaliers uniform.

The Atlanta Hawks sent Korver, a three-point specialist, to the Cavs for Mike Dunleavy, Mo Williams and a 2019 first-round draft pick. The two teams, who reached a tentative agreement on the terms of the deal on Thursday, completed the trade call on Saturday.

This gives Cleveland – already one of the best three-point shooting teams in the league – another long-distance threat and adds depth to an injury-depleted roster. Though Korver had a slow start to the 2016-17 season and was moved from the starting lineup to the bench, he is shooting 40.9% on threes, including 43.3% in 11 games as a reserve.

“We are extremely pleased to be able to add a player and person the caliber of Kyle Korver to our Cavs family,” Cavaliers GM David Griffin said in a statement. “Among the most prolific and dynamic three-point shooters in NBA history, a selfless, and team first competitor, Kyle brings all of the elements of Cavs DNA that we covet on and off the floor. We look forward to welcoming Kyle, his wife, Juliet and their three children to Northeast Ohio and are certain our fans will embrace them with open arms.”

Since becoming a reserve, Korver has also increased his scoring from 8.5 points per game as a starter to 11.5 points per game in the same amount of minutes. His rebounding and assists averages are also up since he was replaced in the starting lineup. Cavs coach Tyronn Lue plans to use Korver as a reserve.

By trading two players and getting one back, Cleveland also opened a roster spot, giving them the flexibility to add another player. LeBron James made it clear on Friday that he wants another point guard on the roster.

Griffin, who has done an excellent job making additions to a team above the luxury tax, might also be on the lookout for wing defender.

Putting Korver on the floor with James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin and Love and Channing Frye gives Cleveland even more offensive firepower. The Cavs are second in the league in three-point shooting percentage (39.1%) and second in made threes per game (12.9).

Korver is in the final season of a four-year, $24 million contract.

In his 15th season, Dunleavy has averaged 11.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists with Golden State, Indiana, Milwaukee, Chicago and Cleveland.

Williams, a 13-year veteran, has appeared in 818 career games with Utah, Milwaukee, Cleveland, L.A. Clippers, Utah, Portland, Minnesota and Charlotte, averaging 13.9 points, 4.9 assists and 2.8 rebounds.

The 2019 first-round draft pick headed the Hawks is top-10 protected in 2019 and 2020.

Source:USA Today.com

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Penn State abuse scandal costs approach a quarter-billion

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Penn State's costs related to the Jerry Sandusky scandal are approaching a quarter-billion dollars and growing, five years after the former assistant football coach's arrest on child molestation charges.

The scandal's overall cost to the school has reached at least $237 million, including a recent $12 million verdict in the whistleblower and defamation case brought by former assistant coach Mike McQueary, whose testimony helped convict Sandusky in 2012.

The university has settled with 33 people over allegations they were sexually abused by Sandusky, and has made total payments to them of $93 million.

The total also covers the $48 million "fine" levied by the NCAA that is funding anti-child-abuse efforts in Pennsylvania, $27 million in lawyer fees to defend lawsuits, nearly $14 million that includes the legal defense of three former administrators facing criminal charges for their handling of Sandusky complaints and $5.3 million for crisis communications and other consultants.

The school's latest financial statement said insurers have covered $30 million in costs, while other insurance claims remain pending.

The school also was hit in November with a $2.4 million fine from a federal investigation, started immediately after Sandusky was arrested, that concluded the university repeatedly violated campus crime reporting requirements.

A look at where some of the other pending Sandusky-related matters stand:

ADMINISTRATORS' CRIMINAL CASE

A senior judge sitting in Harrisburg is considering a request by three former high-ranking Penn State administrators to throw out their criminal charges, following an oral argument that was held in Harrisburg in October.

Former Penn State President Graham Spanier, former Athletic Director Tim Curley and former Vice President Gary Schultz are accused of not responding properly to McQueary's 2001 complaint that Sandusky was sexually abusing a boy in a team shower. They are also accused of putting children in danger.

The attorney general's office wants to add a new count, of conspiracy to commit endangering the welfare of children, against all three defendants. Judge John Boccabella has not indicated when he might rule.

The three men have consistently maintained their innocence.

SANDUSKY'S APPEAL

Sandusky is serving a 30- to 60-year sentence in Greene State Prison on a 45-count conviction for sexual abuse of 10 boys, and he is currently pursuing an appeal in county court near State College.

In November, the judge handling that appeal — Judge John Cleland, who was also the trial judge — took himself off the case after Sandusky's lawyers raised objections to Cleland's role in a December 2011 meeting in a hotel the night before Sandusky waived a preliminary hearing.

Cleland's sternly worded order included a footnote saying his review of the 34 issues raised by Sandusky found none of them had merit.

The state court system is working on appointing a new judge, but that decision has not been made.

SPANIER V. PENN STATE

Penn State countersued Spanier last month, saying he violated his employment agreement by not disclosing what he knew about Sandusky before Sandusky's 2011 arrest. The school is seeking repayment of millions of dollars it has paid him over the past five years.

Spanier's lawsuit claims the school violated an agreement made when he was pushed out of the top job — days after Sandusky was charged — by making public comments that were critical of him and not living up to promises regarding office space, teaching opportunities and payment of legal costs.

SPANIER V. FREEH

A judge has scheduled a hearing later this month in a lawsuit by Spanier against former FBI Director Louis Freeh and his law firm, who were paid by Penn State to produce a 2012 report into how Spanier and other top administrators handled the Sandusky matter.

Judge Robert Eby will hear oral argument in Freeh's preliminary objections to the lawsuit. Spanier is seeking damages for the reputational and economic harm he alleges resulted from the report.

PATERNO V. NCAA

The family of former Penn State head coach Joe Paterno is suing the NCAA, saying it damaged the Paterno estate's commercial interests by relying on conclusions about Paterno in the Freeh report. Two former Paterno assistants, son Jay Paterno and Bill Kenney, are also suing, saying they have not been able to find comparable work because of the Freeh report. The most recent action in that case involved a dispute over subpoenas. Paterno died in 2012.

Source: USA Today.com

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South Korea speeds up creation of Kim Jong Un 'decapitation unit'

Seoul (CNN)South Korea is ratcheting up its rhetoric against Pyongyang with a new threat: Come at us, and we'll cut off the head of the snake.

The country is speeding up plans to set up what some call a "decapitation unit," a brigade specifically tasked with targeting North Korea's "wartime command," including leader Kim Jong Un, according to a South Korea Defense Ministry official.
The unit will be activated in the "event of war," the official said. Technically, South Korea and North Korea are still at war; they signed an armistice in 1953 but not a treaty.
The brigade was initially supposed to be ready in 2019, but the Defense Ministry now says it'll be established "by this year."
The move comes after a series of provocations by Pyongyang, including broadcasting images of Kim leading a combat drill targeting the South Korea's presidential residence, the Blue House.
The South Korean Defense Ministry says it believes North Korea will stage more nuclear and missile tests in 2017, despite sanctions and pressure from the international community.
Kim promised as much in his New Year's speech when he said that the country was close to testing an intercontinental ballistic missile.
It's a worrying development for Seoul, though many analysts say the country's missiles aren't yet developed enough to deliver a nuclear warhead.

South Korea speeds up creation of Kim Jong Un 'decapitation unit'

Story highlights

  • The unit was initially scheduled to be completed by 2019
  • It's a response to provocations by the North, Defense Ministry says
  • But it's a mistake, an analyst tells CNN
 

Seoul (CNN)South Korea is ratcheting up its rhetoric against Pyongyang with a new threat: Come at us, and we'll cut off the head of the snake.

The country is speeding up plans to set up what some call a "decapitation unit," a brigade specifically tasked with targeting North Korea's "wartime command," including leader Kim Jong Un, according to a South Korea Defense Ministry official.
The unit will be activated in the "event of war," the official said. Technically, South Korea and North Korea are still at war; they signed an armistice in 1953 but not a treaty.
The brigade was initially supposed to be ready in 2019, but the Defense Ministry now says it'll be established "by this year."
The move comes after a series of provocations by Pyongyang, including broadcasting images of Kim leading a combat drill targeting the South Korea's presidential residence, the Blue House.
N. Korean military drills target S. Korea
 
n korea simulate attack hancocks_00002519
 

 

 

 
 

 

 
N. Korean military drills target S. Korea 01:54
The South Korean Defense Ministry says it believes North Korea will stage more nuclear and missile tests in 2017, despite sanctions and pressure from the international community.
Kim promised as much in his New Year's speech when he said that the country was close to testing an intercontinental ballistic missile.
It's a worrying development for Seoul, though many analysts say the country's missiles aren't yet developed enough to deliver a nuclear warhead.
 
It has been rumored for some time that South Korea has so-called "decapitation units," said Professor Choi Jong-kun from Yonsei University.
He said by making what would seem like a sensitive military tactic public, South Korea is sending a message to the North.
"It's a signal game," Choi said. But he also says it's a mistake.
"We do not have the leadership yet," he said. "We need to essentially maintain a defensive posture while essentially maintaining a low profile."
South Korea's in the midst of a leadership crisis after President Park Geun-hye's impeachment.
Many in the South Korean left believe that the Defense Ministry -- which is made up of more hawkish elements -- shouldn't be making important tactical decisions while the government is in turmoil.
"The pattern has been such that the Ministry of Defense tends to be more aggressive, they tend to be much more in control of South Korea's national Korea's policy," he said.
"Often times, their decisions and announcements tend to be much overblown."
Source:CNN.com
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Spotlight on Ghana

Could waves become the next big renewable energy source?

CNN)The force of crashing waves can generate huge amounts of energy.

But there's a catch: how do you develop technology that can withstand the sea's harsh environment with minimum disruption to the ecosystem?
One Israeli-based company, Yam Pro Energy -- believes it can offer the ideal solution and is set to build a wave-energy plant on the coastline of Accra, Ghana's capital city.

Could waves become the next big renewable energy source?

 

Story highlights

  • Israel-based company will build a wave energy power plant on Ghana's coastline
  • Energy can be harvested from the pressure of crashing waves
 

(CNN)The force of crashing waves can generate huge amounts of energy.

But there's a catch: how do you develop technology that can withstand the sea's harsh environment with minimum disruption to the ecosystem?
One Israeli-based company, Yam Pro Energy -- believes it can offer the ideal solution and is set to build a wave-energy plant on the coastline of Accra, Ghana's capital city.
 
Wave technology is an endeavor that has recently been trying to catch up with the likes of solar and wind energy.
It exploits a resource -- the oceans -- that covers 71 per cent of our planet, it's environmentally friendly, mostly cost-free once set up and it could be revolutionary to coastal countries.
"There's so many wave power companies and as many different devices, so finding one that actually works best is trial and error," said Mark Jacobson, who is a Stanford University professor and director at The Solutions Project, a company which aims to help the world move to 100% renewable energy.
However, Yam Pro Energy says its innovative technology is the "best choice in renewable energy systems."
 
The machinery will utilize the crashing waves to harvest hydraulic pressure and turn it into electricity.
"It was easy," laughed Yam Pro Energy's CEO, Zeev Peretz. "We negotiated (with Ghana) for many years, but in the end we succeeded."
"The demand (for energy) is very big and I think it will help people (improve) their life."
"Floaters" will be connected to wave breakers on the coastline and will bob up and down as waves crash in.
Peretz said their technology was much more efficient than other renewable energy sources because it can generate 65% of energy per year, compared to solar panels and wind turbines which generate between 22-24%.

"The rest is heat and just waste," Peretz said

The advantages of wave power, the company argues, is that their machines do not emit pollution, waves are more predictable than other renewable sources and despite the original set up being costly, the running and maintenance costs are low.
"If the waves are too high we are given forecasts days ahead which helps to analyze the situation," Peretz said.
While construction in Accra won't begin until well into 2017, Yam Pro Energy has already secured the coastline to build its power station. It has also teamed up with local partners, secured its power purchase agreement (PPA) from the local electrical company and has been given space on the grid so it can sell the energy produced.
Peretz said 10,000 households will benefit from the project.

No impact on wildlife?

According to Emanuele Taibi, an island energy analyst from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the biggest challenge with wave power is proving it can withstand the sea's harsh environments.
"There are quite a lot of prototypes and they're doing quite well, but (for an investor), the main point is over 20 years -- how will the machine perform?"
Peretz said Yam Pro Energy had taken this into consideration and that it will conduct maintenance frequently.
Compared to other devices -- like buoys -- which can become destroyed and sink in rough seas, Yam Pro Energy's patent is more efficient, it says.
"We don't have to send scuba divers or boats out. All the maintenance is from the land, so we just put floaters up and you (can) do whatever you need to do (then) put them back down."
The company prides itself on providing renewable energy that's clean and affordable in an environmentally responsible way. But Greenpeace's UK Chief Scientist and Policy Director, Doug Parr told CNN that while it supported wave power, checks needed to be in place to ensure the technology doesn't impact wildlife.
"No source of power has zero impact on the environment," he said, adding that assessments need to be made to "judge whether the clean energy benefits are justified."

Future predictions

Jacobson, from The Solutions Project, supported the development of wave technology in Ghana, but said that its growth won't be as rapid as solar and wind. "While there's a reasonable resource of wave power to exploit, if you're comparing it to other technologies it's just not going to be penetrating as much," he said.
Instead, it will compliment other renewable energy technologies. "It's definitely worthwhile doing ... We should invest (in it) as much as we can."
The Solutions Project predicts that if Ghana can transition to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2050, wave energy will account for 1.4 per cent of it.
And while that may seem small, Jacobson insisted it wasn't. "The amount of energy worldwide is enormous. So something that is large is actually small in comparison to the power demand worldwide."
He said there was "no downside" in transitioning into a world which only uses renewable energy.
"These countries can become more energy independent. There's less risk of conflict, less terrorism because there's fewer centralized plants and you solve the climate problem simultaneously."
IRENA's Taibi was more optimistic. He said that while the growth of wave power has been gradual, it was only "a matter of time" before it became the "sixth pillar" of renewable energy that will become commercialized.
"The good news is there's quite a lot of innovation coming from different approaches to the same resource."
Source:CNN.com
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Croton nuts: Africa's new biofuel that literally grows on trees

(CNN)The history of biofuel production in Africa is marked with expensive and damaging failures.

The much-hyped jatropha crop saw millions of dollars and vast tracts of land squandered, while the production of palm oil has been widely criticized for association with environmental damage and human rights abuses.
But there is a new hope for the field. The Croton megalocarpus tree is common throughout much of East and Central Africa, and until now it has been used for little more than firewood.
The nuts of the tree have been shown to contain high concentrations of oil and protein, and they are now being used to produce a fuel that could serve as a clean alternative to diesel.
With an abundant supply of croton nuts available at minimal cost, a new industry is emerging with sky-high ambitions.
The Croton megalocarpus tree is common throughout much of East and Central Africa
 

Low-hanging fruit

In 2012, serial entrepreneur Alan Paul established Eco Fuels Kenya (EFK) to explore the potential of croton, following early research that suggested promise. His company is now the driving the movement to bring croton biofuel to the mainstream.
The business took a low-key approach at first, in contrast to high-budget flops such as jatropha.
"(Paul) said we can grow organically by sourcing what is already there from one of the most common trees," says EFK Managing Director Myles Katz. "We can buy nuts from farmers so they get an income and we have a business model that does not require $10 million of funding and a big plantation to get off the ground."
EFK put out radio ads to attract local entrepreneurs into partnerships, who assembled teams of smallholders to supply the nuts. When suppliers realized their previously useless trees had become an easy and reliable source of income, the network rapidly expanded.
This has enabled EFK to double production each year, says Katz, up to 1,000 tons of nuts this year from 500 tons in 2015. The company is now in a position to scale up the operation, without having planted a single tree.
Filtering croton oil
 

New products

Producing croton nut oil is a low-tech, low-energy process compared with traditional fuel manufacturing.
"It is comparable to any other nut or oil pressing facility," says Katz. "We modify the equipment to work on croton nuts but essentially we are buying machines used with walnuts or macadamia nuts."
Much of the fuel is sold to local businesses that run generators, such as tourist camps.
The company has also branched into selling by-products of the nuts, including seedcake from the pressed nut as poultry feed, and organic fertilizer from the shells. This offers insurance at a time investors remain wary of biofuels, says Katz.
"The 'unknown' (element) is hard for investors," he says. "We are not an oil-only business, and we can stand on different parts of the business at different times."
Producing fertilizer in EFK's factory in Nanyuki, Central Kenya.
 

Grand plans, local roots

Having local networks of suppliers and agents is key to the EFK business model, and a critical challenge for the company is to maintain these networks while expanding across the country and beyond.
"We have a completely local approach," says Katz. "Everything we source, process and sell should be within 100 kilometers of the factory."
The company plans to maintain this approach while creating up to five new factories in Kenya and several more in neighboring countries such as Tanzania in the coming years.
EFK is also planning a first foray into an "orchard model" of planting its own trees on a 500-acre plot in 2017, that will allow the company to test and push the limits of croton capacity.
"There is an interesting topic of crop efficiency," says Katz. "An indigenous tree with access to normal rainfall might produce 100 kilograms of nuts a year. But the optimum trees will produce over 300 kilograms...The 'orchard model' can change outcomes dramatically."
Croton trees on village road in rural Kenya. Few farmers are aware the crop has value.
 

Ripe for success

Croton can succeed where other biofuels have failed, according to Dr. Gerald Kafuku, principal research officer of the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology, who has published several papers on the properties of croton oil.
"I can say that croton is one of the most promising sources of biofuel," he says. "It can give advantages in the form of biodiesel or straight oil, and as a 'carbon sink' for afforestation."
Kafuku believes that only a lack of funding for research and development is holding croton back from the mainstream. He adds that the region urgently needs such solutions.
"East Africa is among the areas where there is significant environmental degradation," he says. "New biofuels such as croton can add to the alternative sources of renewable energy as well as providing for more planting of trees."
Croton can also avoid the ethical pitfalls of other biofuels by benefiting local communities, according to Rodrigo Ciannella, head of the biofuels program at the World Agroforestry Centre.
"(Croton) is providing value from a natural resource that is already abundant in the country and is largely wasted," he says. "Farmers are already benefiting from receiving additional income...and they could get even more by having access to other components of the value chain such as fertilizer."
With global demand for biofuels set to increase steadily, Katz believes it is a matter of time before oil giants enter the croton market and the nut becomes a major industry that can rival fossil fuels.
"I like to tell people that croton will be a coffee or tea type of value chain," he says. "There will be lots of competitors and regional processing all over East Africa."
Source:CNN.com
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$150 homes revive ancient techniques to fight climate crisis

(CNN)Millions of households in the Sahel region of West Africa live under a growing threat.

Deforestation and climate change have decimated the available supply of wood that is used for traditional roof construction, forcing many to use imported sheet metal.
This is both prohibitively expensive and unsuited to the climate, entrenching poverty and making homes that boil in summer and freeze in winter.
One creative enterprise is reaching back over 3,000 years for a solution, borrowing an architectural technique from the ancient Nubian civilization of latter-day Sudan to offer superior homes at minimal cost.
The NGO La Voute Nubienne (Nubian Vault) is training an army of masons to build homes from the earth, and the ancient innovation is having a profound impact.

For all seasons

The Nubian technique uses bricks and mortar produced from local earth, laid over a foundation of rocks. A home can be produced in 15 days, and the method is versatile enough to produce a range of buildings from mosques to farmhouses.
La Voute Nubienne is working in five West African countries; Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, Benin and Ghana, where around 20,000 people now live in the Nubian homes.
"We have proved our concept is viable and works for the population," says Thomas Granier, a French builder who co-founded the NGO with Burkinabe partner Séri Youlou. "There are half a billion Africans living under corrugated iron roofing and our target is to provide a strong alternative."
The earth homes offer more than expediency, as they are well adapted to the local climate.
"Nubian Vault buildings provide excellent thermal insulation, making the buildings cool during the day and warm during the night," says Nick Nuttall, spokesperson for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

A roof, a skill, a market

La Voute Nubienne believe that long term success depends on building a sustainable market, as expressed in their motto: "A roof, a skill, a market."
The NGO has trained over 500 masons, according to Granier. This new workforce can respond to increasing demand, as well as training a new generation to sustain the practice.
One-third of the new construction market is now fully autonomous, and the proportion is rising.
"When we have deployed enough capacity this won't belong to us, it will belong to the community," says Granier. "The target is push this alternative until we don't have to and it pushes itself."
The market model does not make the homes unaffordable. Granier estimates the cost of a basic building at $150, although in many cases the owner will supply some of their own labor, or barter goods for part of the mason's fee.
But despite the informal nature of the industry it is making significant contributions to the local economies, valued at over $2 million by the NGO, and this figure is set to rise.
The Nubian vault program aims to stimulate the local economy. It has trained over 500 masons and generated over $2 million.
 

Macro impact

La Voute Nubienne is now aiming to build the workforce and dramatically scale up construction.
The fledgling industry currently enjoys growth of around 30% each year, says Grenier, and he wants to reach 50%.
"With 20 points more we could house one million people by 2030," he says. "If we do that we can have a real macro impact on local economies and habitation standards."
The NGO is intensively lobbying potential government and development partners to drive the business forward and reach new markets -- and new countries. With steady growth the industry could generate over $70 million by 2030, the group projects.
Such growth could also have significant benefits for the climate, potentially slowing the deterioration that has threatened so many homes.
"Nubian Vault uses only locally available materials with a very low carbon footprint," says Nuttall of the UNFCCC. "As no wood or straw is required in this building technique, the project helps reduce deforestation. None of the buildings need to be manufactured or transported long distance, which means it also saves a lot of CO2."
With low costs, economic boosts and climate gains, the ancient Nubian technique appears built to last.
Source:CNN.com
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Keurig and AB InBev team up on in-home booze maker

Keurig and Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) are teaming up to build an in-home booze brewer.

The companies said Friday that they're launching a joint venture. The plan is to create an appliance that can churn out "beer, spirits, cocktails and mixers" at home, according to a press release.

 

The companies are still researching the product, so there isn't even a prototype yet, much less any other details. But an Anheuser-Busch partnership may mean that it can create home-brewed versions of beers such as Budweiser and Corona.

Keurig is best known for its single-cup coffee maker. But the new appliance will use the technology from its now-defunct cold beverage maker, the Keurig Kold, which was supposed to compete with SodaStream (SODA).

Keurig desperately needs a hit product. It was acquired in 2015 for $13.9 billion by JAB Holding, which is privately held, after the company's stock price slid 70% in one year thanks to a massive sales slump.

The Kold, Keurig's latest product launch, was a major flop. The company stopped making them in June last year after just 10 months of production, and even doled out refunds to customers who purchased the product, which retailed for a whopping $370.

SodaStream also beat Keurig to the punch with making in-home beer brewers. The company began selling the SodaStream Beer Bar in a couple of European markets last May, and it's introducing the product to more countries throughout 2017.

Source:CNN.com

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Iceberg the size of Delaware to break off from Antarctica

(CNN)A large sheet of ice is set to break away from Antarctica and scientists say it will be one of the largest breaks of its kind recorded.

Larsen C -- a sprawling sheet of ice in western Antarctica -- is currently attached to its parent shelf by 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) of ice, according to UK-based research team Project MIDAS.
Once it splits, the crack will produce an iceberg around 5,000 square kilometers (1,930 square miles) -- approximately the size of the state of Delaware.
In August, researchers at MIDAS reported that a crack in Larsen C grew 22 kilometers (13.7 miles) in six months' time. In December the rift accelerated -- clocking an additional 18 kilometers (11 miles) of further movement through colder glacial ice within a month.
Although this isn't the first time the Antarctic has seen icebergs produced in this way, Larsen C's split will significantly change the landscape of the continent.
"When it calves, the Larsen C Ice Shelf will lose more than 10% of its area to leave the ice front at its most retreated position ever recorded; this event will fundamentally change the landscape of the Antarctic Peninsula," lead researcher Professor Adrian Luckman said in a statement posted to the MIDAS website.
Martin O'Leary, a researcher at MIDAS, told CNN the huge iceberg could render the remaining sheet of ice unstable -- causing sea levels to rise and to overall changes to the Antarctic's landscape.
"I think in terms of the impact that the iceberg has on the ocean, it's a very spectacular event but its not going to be a huge thing in itself -- the iceberg is big but the oceans are a lot bigger," O'Leary added.
In 2002, Larsen C's neighboring ice shelf, Larsen B, violently broke off from its parent, shattering into millions of pieces -- accelerating a mass of broken ice into the Antarctic current.
Before Larsen B collapsed, it demonstrated a pattern similar to Larsen C. In 1995, another ice shelf, Larsen A, also broke off from the same ice mass.
Since then, researchers at MIDAS have been tracking Larsen C with a close eye.
O'Leary said that Larsen A and B's breaks were "unequivocally climate change-related," but so far researchers aren't linking global warming to Larsen C's split.
The team says the break in Larsen C has likely been caused by natural geographic patterns marked in their research for decades.
"We don't think there is a strong link to change climate change in terms of the provocation of the crack in question ... but we couldn't work that out," O'Leary said.
Source:CNN.com
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Eat Mediterranean diet for a healthier and younger brain, studies say

(CNN)As we age, our brains naturally shrink and our risk of having a stroke, dementia or Alzheimer's rise, and almost everyone experiences some kind of memory loss.

Scientists know that people who exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, avoid smoking and keep mentally stimulated generally have healthier brains than people who aren't as careful about diet and exercise.
 
Now, a new study seems to confirm that eating an easy-to-follow Mediterranean diet can have lasting benefits for brain health. The study was published Wednesday in the journal Neurology.
For the study, researchers analyzed the diets of about 400 adults, 73 to 76 years old, in Scotland over a three-year period. During this same time, the researchers took MRI scans of the participants to analyze their overall brain volume and thickness of the brain's cortex.
The researchers found that those who closely followed a Mediterranean-like diet were less likely to lose brain volume as they aged, compared with those who didn't follow such a diet.
However, more research is needed to determine an association between a Mediterranean diet and a specific effect on risk for degenerative brain diseases, such as dementia.
A 2015 study from the journal Neurology also suggests that a Mediterranean diet (which includes wine!) may help make your brain about five years younger.
Researchers figured this out by looking at the brains of 674 people with an average age of 80. They asked these elderly people to fill out food surveys about what they ate in the past year, and researchers scanned their brains. The group that ate a Mediterranean diet had heavier brains with more gray and white matter.
"The previous study only measured brain volume at a single time point, whereas we had longitudinal measurements: two measurements three years apart," said Michelle Luciano, a lecturer of psychology at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and lead author of the latest study.
"The previous study was therefore not looking at brain volume change over time but differences in brain volumes at a single time point," she said. "We also looked at two components of the diet, meat consumption and fish consumption, and neither of these had an individual effect on brain volume loss. It might be that the diet as a whole is beneficial, and it is the combination of the foods and nutrients that protects against, for example, vascular disease and inflammation, which can cause brain atrophy," or volume loss.
The Mediterranean diet is relatively simple to follow. It involves eating meals made up mostly of plants: vegetables, fruit, beans and cereals. You can eat fish and poultry at least twice a week. You don't have to keep away from carbs; in fact, you should have three servings of those a day, particularly of the whole grain variety.
A glass of wine a day is perfectly fine, too. What you do typically have to limit is the amount of meat, dairy and saturated fat you eat. Cook more with olive oil, as opposed to butter.
In the 2015 study, a higher consumption of fish was associated with keeping your brain young. But if you don't really like fish, scientists at Harvard and Rush University in Chicago created the MIND diet, a combination of the Mediterranean and DASH diets that may be a little bit easier to follow, as it requires you to eat less fish and fruit.
People who ate a diet close to the MIND diet saw a 53% lower risk of developing Alzheimer's. Even people who ate the MIND diet "most" (as opposed to "all") of the time saw a 35% reduced chance of developing the disease. This is considered a significant result.
This latest Mediterranean diet research builds on other evidence that the diet is likely the way to go. It has also been shown as a key to helping you live longer. It helps you manage your weight better and can lower your risk for cancer, and cardiovascular diseases.
Bottom line: you'll likely be physically and mentally healthier long into old age if you stick with this diet.
Source:CNN.com
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Usain Bolt stripped of Olympic gold after teammate fails drug test

The athlete is no longer a 'triple triple' Olympic champion after a relay teammate from the 2008 Games was found guilty of doping.

18:35, UK, Wednesday 25 January 2017

Michael Frater (l), Usain Bolt, Nesta Carter and Asafa Powell (r) receive their relay gold medals at Beijing

Image Caption: Michael Frater (l), Usain Bolt, Nesta Carter and Asafa Powell (r) receive their relay gold medals at Beijing

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Usain Bolt has been stripped of his relay gold medal from the 2008 Olympics following the doping case of teammate Nesta Carter.

It means the Jamaican sprinter, who won a historic total of nine golds at three Games, is no longer a 'triple triple' Olympic champion.

The decision came after Carter was found to have tested positive for banned substance methylhexaneamine, following a re-analysis of a sample.

The athlete, along with Bolt, Michael Frater and Asafa Powell, made up the quartet which won the 4x100m in Beijing in 2008.

Carter's was one of 454 selected doping samples re-tested by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) last year.

The relay title in Beijing completed the first of Bolt's three gold medal sweeps in the 100m, 200m and relay at three consecutive Olympics.

Usain Bolt

Image Caption: Bolt with his nine golds from three Olympics

Trinidad and Tobago is in line to get the gold medal from 2008, Japan could be upgraded to silver, and fourth-place finisher Brazil could get the bronze.

Methylhexaneamine is an energy-boosting ingredient in many dietary supplements and several Jamaican athletes have failed tests for it before, including five sprinters in 2009.

According to the IOC ruling, Carter noted he was taking supplements in 2008 "advised in this respect by his coach, Mr Stephen Francis".

The verdict added: "The athlete explained that he had given several samples for doping controls whilst he was taking Cell Tech and Nitro Tech before the 2008 Olympic Games and he had never tested positive for a prohibited substance.

"He therefore did not believe that these supplements could contain prohibited substances. He did not understand how methylhexaneamine could have been found in 2016."

Carter can appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

source:sky sports

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Mass hanging as Kuwait government executes seven people

Seven people have been hanged at Kuwait's central prison, the country's state news agency has said.

Five men and two women from five nations were hanged for offences including murder, kidnapping and rape, KUNA reported.

Former nanny Jakatia Pawa was hanged despite "all efforts to preserve her life, including diplomatic means and appeals for compassion", according to a Philippines government spokesman.

Ms Pawa was convicted in 2008 of killing her employer's daughter.

Her brother, Philippines Air Force colonel Gary Pawa, said his sister called in the early hours of Wednesday, crying as she informed him of her scheduled execution.

Sheikh Faisal Al Abdullah Al Sabah.    Pic: Khaleej Times online

Image Caption: Sheikh Faisal Al Abdullah Al Sabah. Pic: Khaleej Times online

Ms Pawa asked her brother to take care of her two children, he said.

Migrant workers such as Ms Pawa are over-represented in death penalty and execution statistics across the Persian Gulf, where they frequently suffer from a lack of legal representation and may be deprived of a court translator.

A prince in the ruling Al-Sabah family was also hanged, in what appeared to be the first execution of a member of the royal family in the Gulf state.

Sheikh Faisal Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah was sentenced to death in 2010 for shooting dead his nephew. He worked as a captain in the Kuwaiti army at the time of the murder.

Also executed was Nasra al-Enezi. She was convicted of setting fire to a wedding tent the previous year after her husband took a second wife.

Reprive deputy director Harriet McCulloch

Image Caption: Reprieve's Harriet McCulloch says the UK must help stop executions in the Gulf

The blaze killed more than 40 women and children inside.

The killings are part of a ramping up of executions in the Persian Gulf, where Bahrain recently broke a seven year "pause" of executions with the killing by firing squad of three men.

Executions in Saudi Arabia were also "significantly higher" in 2015 and 2016, according to death penalty campaign group Reprieve.

The group says it is "alarmed" that Kuwait plans to make sixteen-year-olds eligible for execution.

"We are witnessing a disastrous resurgence in executions throughout the Gulf," Reprieve deputy director Harriet McCulloch said.

"Those executed [across the region] include young people who were children when they were arrested, political protesters, and people who were tortured into bogus 'confessions'."

Ms McCullouch added influential governments such as the UK must call on the region's governments to halt executions.

"This sweeping and illegal use of the death penalty has nothing to do with justice or the rule of law," she said.

source:sky news

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AFCON 2017: Egypt beat Ghana to top Group D

The Pharaoh's of Egypt handed the Black Stars of Ghana their first loss of AFCON 2017 on Wednesday at the Stade de Port Gentil.

The result sends Egypt through to the next stage as winners of Group D earning them a quarter-final with Morocco in Port Gentil.

The Stars who finished second in Group D will now head to the Stade d'Oyen to play giant-killers DR Congo. AS Roma winger Mohamed Salah gave his side the lead from an exquisite free kick that left Ghana goalie Razak Brimah rooted to the spot.

Salah capitalised on an infringement on Egyptian forward Abdalla El Said by Jonathan Mensah to rifle home powerfully in the 11th minute.

The Stars were dealt what may prove to be a massive blow to their 2017 AFCON chances when skipper Asamoah Gyan pulled up short after a sprint.

Avram Grant decided to substitute his captain Gyan as a precautionary measure. Aston Villa man Jordan Ayew replaced him with four minutes to end the first half.

Ghana goalkeeper who has been a steady presence so far at this year's AFCON was back to his nervy ways moments later when a costly error almost gifted the Egyptians their second goal.

The Egyptians sat back after the break and were content to hit their industrious Ghanaian opponents on the break who dominated possession but were unable to penetrate the stubborn Egyptian defence.

Jordan Ayew came close to grabbing the equaliser in the 89th minute but his fierce drive was parried by Essam El Hadary. The other Group D clash ended in a 1-1 draw between Mali and Uganda.

source:ghanaweb.com

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Trump fires acting AG after she declines to defend travel ban

President Donald Trump fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates Monday night for "refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States," the White House said.

"(Yates) has betrayed the Department of Justice," the White House statement said.
Dana Boente, US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, has been named new acting attorney general, the White House said.
Boente was sworn in at 9 p.m. ET, per an administration official.
The dramatic move came soon after CNN reported Yates told Justice Department lawyers not to make legal arguments defending Trump's executive order on immigration and refugees.
Who might Trump pick for Supreme Court?
 
Who might Trump pick for Supreme Court?
 

 

 

 
 

 

 
Who might Trump pick for Supreme Court? 02:47
The move set up a clash between the White House and Yates, who was appointed by President Barack Obama and was set to serve until Sen. Jeff Sessions, Trump's nominee for attorney general, is confirmed.
"My responsibility is to ensure that the position of the Department of Justice is not only legally defensible, but is informed by our best view of what the law is after consideration of all the facts," she said in a letter. "In addition, I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution's solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right."
Trump's executive order, signed Friday, bars citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for the next 90 days, suspends the admission of all refugees for 120 days and indefinitely suspends the Syrian refugee program. Yates' decision came amid a flood of protests against the executive order nationwide and after four federal judges ruled against Trump's order, staying its impact on people who were detained at US airports over the weekend.
Trump tweeted his response shortly after the news broke, saying Democrats have stymied Sessions' confirmation, enabling Yates.
"The Democrats are delaying my cabinet picks for purely political reasons. They have nothing going but to obstruct. Now have an Obama A.G.," he said.
"At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful," Yates wrote.
Yates' decision was always likely to be extremely short-lived as Sessions is scheduled for a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.
White House policy director Stephen Miller, who helped craft the executive order, called Yates' decision "a further demonstration of how politicized our legal system has become."
"It's sad that our politics have become so politicized, that you have people refusing to enforce our laws," Miller said Monday night on MSNBC.
Miller also defended the executive order's legality, insisting that the Immigration and Nationality Act gives the President "the ability to exclude any class of would-be visitors or immigrants to our country based on our national security interests."
But the decision didn't face the same criticism from Rep. Pete Sessions, a top House Republican, who said Yates' decision was likely similar "to an evaluation that we made."
"And that was it did not appear to be specific in nature," Sessions said referring to the executive order. "So it may be a matter of clarity it may be a matter of illegality to him, it may be a matter of several things. It did not look as complete and succinct as what I think I would've wanted."
Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, praised Yates for standing up "on principle."
"In all my years as a member of Congress, which now is 21, I've met so many very principled people who truly believe in the Constitution and doing what is right," Cumming said. "There comes a time when people, no matter who may be their boss, they stand upon their principles, so at the end of the day they can look them selves in the mirror and say 'I synchronized my conduct with my conscience.' And Yates is such a person."
Currently, there are cases filed in at least five states including Virginia, New York, Massachusetts, Washington and California that are challenging Trump's order.
The decision effectively grounds the executive order for the next few days until Sessions is sworn in.
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