Democrats ready for Gorsuch battle on Capitol Hill

Within minutes of President Donald Trump's selection of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, Democrats who will lead the fight in the Senate delivered scathing assessments -- but held fire on perhaps the most important question facing them: whether they will filibuster the nomination.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer immediately said he had "serious doubts" about Gorsuch and hinted at a Democratic filibuster, saying the nominee would need to the support of 60 senators to be confirmed, but stopped short of committing to the tactic.
"Make no mistake, Senate Democrats will not simply allow but require an exhaustive, robust, and comprehensive debate on Judge Gorsuch's fitness to be a Supreme Court Justice," Schumer said Tuesday night.
On the surface, Senate Democrats stuck to a firm but somewhat noncommittal message that hinted at the behind-the-scenes debate at the Capitol over whether Democrats will filibuster.
If they choose to hold up his nomination unless he can win 60 votes, Democrats risk spurring Republicans to use the "nuclear option" to rewrite the rules to only require 51 votes for confirmation.
Republicans hold a 52-48 majority in the Senate, meaning they would still need to find the support of eight Democrats without the nuclear option.
It's possible moderate Democrats facing tough re-election battles could be plucked away by Republicans to support Gorsuch. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a North Dakota Democrat, and Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, issued muted statements Tuesday night.
"I look forward to meeting with Judge Gorsuch, examining his record, and making a determination of whether to provide my consent. Just as I have all along, I urge my colleagues to put partisan politics aside and allow the vetting process to proceed," Manchin said.
And Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine who votes with Democrats, hesitated to go after Gorsuch, saying he wants the nominee to go through a thorough vetting before making a decision.
Democrats, meanwhile, are already facing intense pressure from a liberal base fired up after Trump's inauguration, the immigration ban and a perception that some senators, including Schumer, have been soft on Trump's Cabinet picks.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, a veteran liberal from San Francisco, laid out her opposition in stark terms at a CNN town hall Tuesday night.
"If you breathe air, drink water or eat food, take medicine or in any other way interact with the courts, this is a very bad decision -- well outside the mainstream of American legal thought," Pelosi said.
Top Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, who will spend the coming months vetting (and potentially blocking) Gorsuch announced "deep concerns" with his selection.
"I have deep, serious concerns about Judge Gorsuch," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat. "An extreme ideologue on the court will threaten privacy rights including women's health care, worker and consumer protections, and public health and safety."
And Sen. Patrick Leahy, the former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee who shepherded President Barack Obama's two nominees on to the high court, sought to hang Trump's immigration ban around Gorsuch's neck immediately.
"In light of the unconstitutional actions of our new President in just his first week, the Senate owes the American people a thorough and unsparing examination of this nomination," Leahy said.
Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz hinted at the idea of cracking open the "nuclear option" if Democrats when asked how Republicans should respond to a filibuster.
"The Democrats will not succeed in filibustering Judge Gorsuch," Cruz told CNN's Jim Acosta.
source CNN
Read more

Super Bowl LI will be the first we can watch in virtual reality

This may be the 51st Super Bowl, but it's the first to be broadcast in virtual reality.

The whole game won't be in VR, but Fox and its VR partner LiveLike will feature 20 game highlights in the new format.


Fans can watch using the Fox Sports VR app, either with a headset or just straight from a smartphone


During the game, four of the top plays in each quarter will be shown in VR. Those clips will be available in nearly real time but fans can also watch them after the fact. There will also be clips produced in advance.

Six cameras in Houston's NRG Stadium will show the action and fans can toggle between them to get different perspectives. There will be two cameras from the 50-yard press box, two cameras on carts and two in the end zones.

Related: Fox nixes Super Bowl ad with 'controversial' wall

LiveLike and Fox Sports previously worked together on VR broadcasts of college football games and the MLS Cup. This is the first time the two have partnered on an NFL game.

"I can't imagine a better way for us to potentially introduce millions of people to VR than literally the biggest entertainment event on the planet," said Miheer Walavalkar, LiveLike's co-founder.

The matchup between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons will kick off on Fox at 6:30 pm ET.


Read more

Trump administration to allow 872 refugees into U.S. this week

The Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday it will allow 872 refugees to enter the country after they were initially barred from flying to the U.S. under President Trump’s executive order on immigration.

Homeland Security began detaining immigrants arriving at U.S. airports immediately after Trump signed his order Friday evening. The order temporarily suspended the U.S. refugee program and barred entry to most people coming from seven majority Muslim countries — Libya, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen.

By Saturday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said it was detaining 109 people affected by the ban. DHS officials say all those people were cleared — either allowed to enter the country or returned to their home countries — by Sunday night. But civil rights groups and immigration advocates say people remained in custody at U.S. airports through Monday.

On Tuesday, Kevin McAleenan, acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), said more than 500,000 foreigners flew into the country in the 72 hours following Trump’s order. He said CBP agents granted waivers to 1,060 green card holders from the countries affected by Trump’s order, allowing them to enter the country after additional screening.

McAleenan said 75 waivers were granted to other visa holders, including people who had special visas intended for translators who have worked with the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan. But he said 721 travelers were stopped from boarding planes in foreign countries headed for the U.S.

McAleenan said some of those people were prevented from boarding U.S.-bound flights because airlines "over-interpreted" CBP orders. He and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly insisted the department was allowed to review drafts of Trump's order ahead of time and were prepared to immediately issue new guidance to its port officers once it was signed.

Kelly denied reports of "chaos" at U.S. airports, arguing that things were running smoothly inside the international inspection areas even as immigrants were detained and thousands of people protested at terminals around the country.

"Our officers who were at the counters … the only chaos they saw was what was taking part at other parts of the airports," Kelly said. "They knew what they were doing."

Kelly said they will continue implementing Trump’s order, but stressed that they are abiding by emergency rulings issued by federal judges over the weekend. “We are and will continue to be in compliance with judicial orders,” Kelly said.

He added that the executive order "is not a ban on Muslims."


Read more

Somali-born UK athlete worried over Trump's discriminatory order, Nike backs him

Somali-born British Olympic athlete Mo Farah says the recent travel ban imposed by the United States President Donald Trump was borne out of ignorance and prejudice.

33-year-old Farah is a full British national, he moved to the UK at the age of eight. He was based there till he relocated the US where he has lived since 2011.

‘‘On 1st January this year, Her Majesty The Queen made me a Knight of the Realm. On 27th January, President Donald Trump seems to have made me an alien.

Mo is relieved that he will be able to return to his family once his current training camp concludes. However, as he said in his earlier statement, he still fundamentally disagrees with this incredibly divisive and discriminatory policy.

‘‘I am a British citizen who has lived in America for the past six years – working hard, contributing to society, paying my taxes and bringing up our four children in the place they now call home. Now, me and many others like me are being told that we may not be welcome,’‘ his post on Facebook read.

President Trump late last week signed an executive order that banned nationals from seven Muslim countries. Three African countries and four in the Middle East were affected by the order which was to take immediate effect.

The affected countries were Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Iran, Iraq, Yemen and Syria. ‘‘It’s deeply troubling that I will have to tell my children that Daddy might not be able to come home – to explain why the President has introduced a policy that comes from a place of ignorance and prejudice,’‘ his post added.

A federal judge has meanwhile issued a temporary halt to deportation of visa holders or refugees stranded at airports. There were protests at airports across the US against the executive order even though Trump has since defended the move.

The UK Foreign Office clarified that British nationals would be exempt from the order. Afterwards a spokesman for the Olympic champion said he was relieved but stood by his earlier post which had been shared over 240,000 times.

“Mo is relieved that he will be able to return to his family once his current training camp concludes. However, as he said in his earlier statement, he still fundamentally disagrees with this incredibly divisive and discriminatory policy,” the spokesman said.


Read more

Egypt reached the Africa Cup of Nations final after beating Burkina Faso 4-3 in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw.

Veteran goalkeeper Essam El Hadary proved Egypt's hero, saving Bertrand Traore's spot-kick to secure victory.

In normal time Mohamed Salah opened the scoring for Egypt when he curled a superb shot into the top left corner.

Burkina Faso became the first side to score against Egypt this tournament when Aristide Bance chested down Charles Kabore's cross and volleyed in.

The Burkinabe, who were the more adventurous and ambitious side throughout normal play, took an immediate advantage in the shootout.

Goalkeeper Herve Koffi, only 20 years old, magnificently pushed Abdallah El Said's spot-kick on to the post.

But he later turned from hero to villain when he stepped up to take his side's fourth penalty and was unable to beat El Hadary - who at 24 years his senior is the oldest Nations Cup player in history.

El Hadary's experience - he now has a chance to win his fifth African title - proved vital as he then saved Bertrand Traore's effort to send Burkina Faso home.


Read more

Beyoncé Pregnant With Baby No. 2?! See Her Cryptic Beach

The happy couple, who married in a top-secret wedding ceremony in New York City in April 2008, are also the parents of 5-year-old daughter Blue Ivy. Beyoncé famously announced her first pregnancy at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards.


"Being pregnant was very much like falling in love," Queen Bey said in her 2013 HBO documentary Life Is But a Dream. "You are so open. You are so overjoyed. There's no words that can express having a baby growing inside of you, so of course you want to scream it out and tell everyone."

Beyoncé's mom, Tina Knowles Lawson, also took to Instagram on Wednesday to congratulate the expectant parents. "WOW I don't have to keep the secret anymore," she wrote. "I am soooo happy God is so good twin blessings."


Last year, the pop superstar made headlines when she released her acclaimed visual album Lemonade, which showcased the betrayal of a romantic partner, prompting fans to speculate that Jay Z, 47, had been unfaithful with the so-called "Becky with the good hair." At the end of the hourlong film, the couple seemingly made amends as Beyoncé sang, "True love breathes salvation back into me / With every tear came redemption / And my torturer became my remedy."


Read more

Tom Brady leads biggest comeback in Super Bowl history, sets multiple records

HOUSTON -- After leading his team to the greatest comeback win in the greatest Super Bowl ever played, it seems like now is the time that we can all agree on one thing: Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback in NFL history


On the NFL's biggest stage, the Patriots quarterback showed off his greatness by leading New England to a 34-28 overtime win over the Falcons in Super Bowl LI.

Not only was the 25-point comeback the biggest in Super Bowl history, but it was also the biggest comeback win of Brady's career. Before Sunday, the biggest deficit Brady had overcome to win a game was 24 points, but that changed against the Falcons.

To put the Patriots' comeback in perspective, the previous Super Bowl record for largest comeback was just 10 points. Brady and the Patriots had to overcome a four-score deficit to complete their miraculous comeback against the Falcons.

When you're down 28-3 in the second half, you need perfect play from your quarterback, and that's exactly what the Patriots got from Brady. The ageless wonder finished 43 of 62 for 466 yards and smashed several Super Bowl records in the win.

Brady's completion total broke his own record of 37, which he set in Super Bowl XLIX. Brady's 62 passing attempts broke Jim Kelly's previous record of 58, which is a mark that had stood since Super Bowl XXVI.

Also, let's not forget about that yardage total: Brady's mark of 466 yards smashed Kurt Warner's old record of 414 yards, which was set against the Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV.

Of course, there were also some records that Brady couldn't break -- because he already had them.

The quarterback's two touchdown passes against the Falcons gave him 15 for his career in the Super Bowl, which is four more than second-place Joe Montana.

Going into Super Bowl LI, Brady held the record for most career passes, most career completions and most career passing yards.

By tacking on 43 completions, 62 pass attempts and 466 passing yards to those records, Brady probably put those records far out of reach.

Basically, someone needs to convince Roger Goodell that starting next year, the Super Bowl record book should probably just have a picture of Brady on it.

Read more

Trump admin wanted to curtail former AG's Russia testimony, lawyer alleges

The Republican chair of the House Intelligence Committee postponed a hearing featuring former acting Attorney General Sally Yates after her lawyer advised the Trump administration that she was planning to testify about internal discussions about Donald Trump's former national security adviser, Mike Flynn, and his communications with a Russian diplomat, ABC News has learned.

Any claim that those internal discussions are still confidential "has been waived as a result of the multiple public comments of current senior White House officials," David O'Neil, an attorney for Yates, wrote in a letter to the White House on Friday — the same day that Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., announced that his committee, which has been investigating Russian meddling in last year's presidential election, would no longer hear planned testimony this week from Yates, former CIA Director John Brennan or former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

The White House has denied taking any action to prevent that testimony.

"I hope she testifies. I look forward to it," White House press secretary Sean Spicer said today. "We had no objection to her going forward ... To suggest in any way, shape or form that we stood in the way of that is 100 percent false."

Flynn resigned from the Trump administration last month after acknowledging that he gave "incomplete information" to Vice President Mike Pence and others about multiple calls with Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak in the days before Trump took office.

Pence repeated the false information when asked about the situation in January, prompting Yates to inform the White House that Flynn may have misled Pence and other senior officials about his communications with Kislyak.





In her testimony slated for today, Yates was expected to offer a firsthand account of her discussions with the White House in January.

On Thursday, O'Neil met with attorneys at the Justice Department to discuss — among other things — whether Yates was barred from testifying about certain details of those discussions. But the next morning, the Justice Department sent a letter to O'Neil, telling him any final determination rests with the White House.

"Such communications are likely covered by the presidential communications privilege and possibly the deliberative process privilege. The president owns those privileges. Therefore, to the extent Ms. Yates needs consent to disclose the details of those communications to HPSCI [House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence], she needs to consult with the White House. She need not obtain separate consent from the Department," a Justice Department official wrote to O'Neil on Friday.

O'Neil then wrote his letter to the White House, insisting any claim of executive privilege had been waived "as a result of the multiple public comments of current senior White House officials describing the January 2017 communications. Nevertheless, I am advising the White House of Ms. Yates' intention to provide information."

The White House never responded to his letter — which he wrote would be taken as a green light for Yates to move forward.

"We didn't respond. We encouraged them to go ahead," Spicer said, adding that the White House never considered invoking executive privilege to block her testimony.

Spicer also insisted that Nunes' decision to call off today's hearing had nothing to do with any pressure from the White House. Nunes himself said that no one directed him to postpone the hearing.

Jack Langer, a spokesman for Nunes, similarly denied any coordination between the committee and White House over Yates' testimony.

"Neither Chairman Nunes nor any Intelligence Committee staff members had any communication with the White House whatsoever about Sally Yates' testifying to the committee," Langer said in a statement. "The only person the committee has spoken to about her appearing before the committee has been her lawyer. The committee asked her to testify on our own accord, and we still intend to have her speak to us."

The Washington Post first reported on the letters between O'Neil and the Trump administration.

Yates, an Obama administration appointee, was fired by Trump on Jan. 30 after she instructed the Justice Department not to defend his controversial executive order limiting travel and immigration from seven countries in Africa and the Middle East.

Nunes and the congressional inquiry he's leading into alleged Russian interference have come under increasing criticism in recent days, after he first claimed he had discovered "concerning" evidence that the Trump campaign was monitored after the election.

Last week, Nunes announced he obtained "dozens of reports" showing the U.S. intelligence community — through its "normal foreign surveillance" — "incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition."

But Nunes cannot say whether Trump or any of the president's associates personally participated in the communications that were intercepted, meaning it's possible that the information he's citing merely refers to foreign officials talking about Trump transition team members.

Nunes has yet to share the information with other members of the House Intelligence Committee or further explain what it shows. He said Tuesday that he will "never" reveal sources or methods to fellow committee members but that he still hopes to share the documents.

On Monday, without identifying his source, Nunes acknowledged he obtained the information while on White House grounds, an admission Democrats said should force him to at least recuse himself from the committee probe tied to Russia.


Read more

Arrest made in Oklahoma home invasion shooting that killed 3

A woman believed to have driven three burglars to an Oklahoma home where they were shot to death during a suspected home invasion has been arrested on murder and robbery warrants but the homeowner's son who shot them has not been arrested while police investigate whether he acted in self-defense under the state's "Stand Your Ground" law.

Wagoner County Deputy Nick Mahoney said Tuesday that Elizabeth Marie Rodriguez, 21, of Oologah was arrested on three first-degree murder and three first-degree burglary warrants and was jailed without bond after going to police and saying she had information about the shooting at a home just east of the Tulsa suburb of Broken Arrow.

"It was determined she had driven these individuals to the house and dropped them off with the intent to burglarize the residence," Mahoney said. He said he did not know whether Rodriguez had an attorney.

Oklahoma law allows a person to be charged with murder if they take part in a crime in which people are killed, even if the person does not take part in the slaying. Oklahoma also is one of 24 states which have laws allowing citizens to shoot someone if they believe the person threatens their safety, according to the National Council of State Legislatures.

Mahoney said the homeowner's 23-year-old son used an AR-15 rifle to shoot the three Monday afternoon after they broke through a glass door in the rear of the home.

Their names were not released, but Mahoney said two of the dead were 16 or 17 years old and the third was 18 or 19. The three were found wearing masks and gloves and dressed in black clothing. Brass knuckles and a knife were found among their possessions, he said.

"It looks like self-defense from the preliminary investigation, but that's all speculative," Mahoney said. "There's some speculation as to whether or not that (Stand Your Ground) law applies in this case, the simple answer is I don't know."

Police sometimes make a recommendation to the prosecutor on whether or not to file charges, but Mahoney said he did not know if investigators will do that in this case.

Mahoney said the homeowner was not in the residence at the time of the shooting and that authorities were called to the home by the son shortly after the shooting.


Read more

Kasai unrest: UN experts found dead in DR Congo

Two UN experts who were missing in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been found dead, officials say.

The bodies of US citizen Michael Sharp and Swedish national Zaida Catalan were discovered in the central Kasai region, a government spokesman said.

They were abducted two weeks ago after going to Kasai to investigate reports of abuses after local rebels took up arms.

Some 40 police officers were found beheaded in the region at the weekend.

Congolese government spokesman Lambert Mende confirmed reports of the discovery to the BBC.

Mr Mende said that the bodies were found in a shallow grave, adding that "the woman was found beheaded, but the body of the man was intact".

Earlier, he said that two bodies "of Caucasian or European type" had been discovered on the road linking Bukonde to Tshimbulu in Central Kasai.

"As far as I know, no other white individuals are missing here," Mr Mende said.

He later told reporters that a police commissioner had returned from Kasai with confirmation of their identities.

"According to a witness, they were ambushed by the famous traditionalist Kamwina Nsapu militia, who behead their victims," he said.

'Words fail me'

Mr Sharp and Ms Catalan were taken, along with four Congolese support staff, into the forest near the village of Ngombe in Kasai.

The Congolese government is fighting a rebel group which operates in the area and is believed to have kidnapped the experts.

The violence in Kasai was sparked by the killing of traditional leader Kamuina Nsapu, who was leading an uprising against President Joseph Kabila.

Before Mr Mende announced the bodies had been identified, John Sharp, Michael's father, expressed his heartbreak on Facebook.

"This is a message I hoped never to write... Dental records and DNA samples will be used to confirm the identities," Mr Sharp wrote.

"All other words fail me."


Read more

Ivory Coast's former first lady Simone Gbagbo jailed

Ivory Coast's former first lady, Simone Gbagbo, has been sentenced to 20 years in jail for her role in the violence that followed the 2010 elections.

Gbagbo, 65, had been charged with undermining state security.

Her husband, former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, is awaiting trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

More than 3,000 people died in the violence that followed the presidential poll after the ex-leader refused to accept defeat to Alassane Ouattara.

She and her husband were arrested in 2011 after troops stormed a bunker where the pair had taken refuge in the main city, Abidjan.

And it was in the same city where Gbagbo - once called the "Iron Lady" and known for her fiery speeches - faced trial. She was also accused of disturbing public order and organising armed gangs.

'Ashamed of Ivorian justice'

She denied witness accounts that accused her of personally distributing arms to the death squads that operated in Abidjan during the five-month conflict.

Image copyright AFP

Image caption More than 3,000 people died in the fighting that followed the disputed 2010 elections

Image copyright Reuters

Image caption The Gbagbos were eventually captured in April 2011 after an assault supported by UN and French troops

The court unanimously sentenced her to 20 years, which is the sentence for undermining state security.

The prosecution had only asked for 10 years - but this had only been for the charge of disturbing public order.

The BBC's Ali Bamba in Abidjan says the verdict was delivered in the early hours of Tuesday morning after eight hours of deliberation by the jury.

The former first lady remained calm, as she had been throughout the trial, almost as if she knew what was coming, he says.

I forgive because, if we don't forgive, this country will burn

Simone Gbagbo

Her daughter from a previous marriage, Marie Antoinette Singleton, told the BBC's Newsday programme that the sentence was unfair and a sign of "political justice".

"Why would you want to double it? It's not about justice; it's about getting rid of political adversaries.

"If we say that something wrong happened, it happened on both sides. Nobody looked into bringing all responsible parties to trial," she said.

Simone Gbagbo's lawyer said they would appeal.

"I was expecting Simone to be acquitted," Rodrigue Dadje told the BBC French service.

"There is no proof of her involvement at a personal level… I am ashamed for the Ivorian justice system."


The former first lady was on trial with 82 other supporters of her husband - 15 of whom were acquitted.

Two former military allies also received 20-year jail terms: Gen Bruno Dogbo Ble, once head of the Republic Guard, and the ex-navy chief Adm Vagba Faussignaux.

The other accused got lesser sentences.

Before her sentencing, Simone Gbagbo had said that she forgave the prosecution, despite the humiliation she had suffered during the trial.

"I forgive because, if we don't forgive, this country will burn," she said.

Both sides were accused of atrocities in the conflict that followed the 2010 poll.

But our correspondent says despite a promise from President Alassane Ouattara that both sides would face justice, no-one in the president's camp has been charged.

Laurent Gbagbo, is facing four charges at the ICC in The Hague, including murder, rape and persecution.

The ICC had issued an arrest warrant for Simone Gbagbo too, but this was dismissed by the Ivorian government.

Read more

John Dumelo Hot Over Missing State Cars

National Security operatives have swung into action to retrieve the V8 Toyota Land Cruiser in possession of popular movie actor John Dumelo.

The operatives caught the actor, who was part of the failed campaign to get John Mahama elected for a second time as president, with a vehicle belonging to the state, and retrieved one of them from a spraying shop at Abelemkpe, Accra, recently.

The second V8, ash in colour, which John Dumelo allegedly claimed was in possession of his girlfriend, is currently being pursued by the operatives, DAILY GUIDE learnt at the weekend.

Total Denial
When news broke that one of the two V8 Toyota Land Cruisers classified as missing from the pool of state vehicles had been retrieved from John Dumelo at an auto mechanic’s shop, he allegedly took to Facebook, a social media platform, to rubbish the publication, claiming that he bought the vehicle impounded by the state.

He posted, “I have not granted any interview both private or public to which I mentioned the name of the first lady for buying me a V8,” although DAILY GUIDE insists that it contacted him on Thursday via telephone and he said, “I wouldn’t like to comment about it.”

He continued, “I bought the vehicle myself; I never said it anywhere that Madam Lordina bought it for me. I have in my entire NDC life met her Excellency only once at a public event. Treat any publication that tries to link my purchase of a V8 to the former first lady as trash.”

Cynical Reaction
“Did I work at the flagstaff house or hold any political appointment that entitled me to a state car? And I’m sure some people within the NDC are rejoicing because of this false news,” he reacted cynically before signing off with “Keep rejoicing…”

The vehicle retrieved at the spraying shop, with chassis number JTMHVOJ2F4159829, 2015 model with full option, had been dismantled and was going through re-modeling, including re-spraying – with parts allegedly imported from Dubai.

When the operatives invited him to the garage, he reportedly panicked before surrendering the expensive vehicle without any protest. The car was subsequently driven to the Office of the President Annex, close to the State House.

The operatives, upon a tip-off, swooped on the garage a couple of weeks ago and got hold of the auto mechanic who told them that the vehicle belonged to John Dumelo.

He was then telephoned to come to the garage and upon arrival, Dumelo reportedly said initially that he bought the V8 from a car dealer – Svani Company Limited – and claimed he was yet to complete the payment.

The operatives then keyed the chassis number into a centralized computer system but the results showed that the vehicle was registered in the name of the National Security Secretariat, which is a property of the Government of Ghana.

Sensing he was getting into trouble, he’s reported to have quickly changed his story, claiming that it was the former first lady, Lordina Mahama, who had given the V8 to him.

The security operatives immediately decided to cross-check from the former first lady to ascertain the facts but the actor (Dumelo) reportedly pleaded with them to stop and just take the vehicle away.

The operatives’ checks at Svani Motors along the Spintex Road indicated that the company imported the vehicle for the National Security Council Secretariat and that it (company) is one of the several auto dealers used by the government to import vehicles for the state.

Free Cars
DAILY GUIDE sources say John Dumelo got two V8s from the erstwhile NDC government, with his girlfriend driving one of them.

When he was asked to direct the operatives to the whereabouts of the other vehicle, he allegedly pleaded with them to allow him to travel to London and come back to produce it, saying by then the girlfriend would have returned from a trip she had made with the ash V8 Land Cruiser.


As at press time yesterday, the second vehicle had not been returned but Dumelo is claiming that he purchased the seized vehicle registered GE 8118 –16.

source:daily guide ghana

Read more

Celtics star Isaiah Thomas' sister Chyna killed in car accident

oston Celtics star Isaiah Thomas’ sister died in a car crash early Saturday.

Chyna Thomas, 22, was killed on I-5 in Washington state around 5 a.m. when her car veered off the road, according to KIRO7. She died at the scene of the accident.

A witness told the police that Chyna Thomas was driving her 1998 Toyota Camry “normally” but all of a sudden the vehicle began moving “very casually” onto the shoulder of the main highway.

Chyna Thomas’ car drifted nearly 50 feet before hitting a barrier on the side of the roadway and landing on a metal poll.

Authorities believe she may have fallen asleep at the wheel,according to Q13FOX.


Isaiah Thomas’ Boston Celtics are set to play the Chicago Bulls in their first playoff game on Sunday in Boston.

Isaiah Thomas’ Boston Celtics are set to play the Chicago Bulls in their first playoff game on Sunday in Boston.

(Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)



“That vaulted the vehicle head-on into the sign post,” State Patrol spokesman Trooper Nick King said.

According to the state patrol, Chyna Thomas was not wearing a seat belt.

Isaiah Thomas, who played college basketball at the University of Washington, is expected to play in the Boston Celtics’ postseason opener against the Chicago Bulls on Sunday.

He was notified of his sister’s death following the Celtics’ afternoon practice,according to ESPN. Celtics teammate Avery Bradley, who is also from Washington state, pulled Isaiah Thomas away from an interview with a reporter and into a trainer’s room to tell him.

“We are terribly saddened by the tragic loss of Chyna Thomas,” the Celtics said in a statement. “The thoughts & prayers of the entire organization are with Isaiah & his family.”

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver also released a statement on her death.

“The NBA family mourns the tragic passing of Chyna Thomas and we send our deepest condolences to Isaiah, his family and the Celtics organization during this difficult time,” he said.


People from around the NBA took to Twitter to send their regards to Isaiah Thomas and his family.



Read more

'Turn yourself in,' authorities plead in road rage killing

(CNN)Bianca Nikol Roberson had just left a mall where she'd been shopping for new clothes for college.

Her car and a red pickup truck tussled on the road and now she's dead in what police are calling a road rage incident.
"A man in the red pickup truck pulled out a gun and shot her in the head, killing her," said Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan.

Police: Suspect's actions 'just unconscionable"

oberson, in her green 2009 Chevrolet Malibu, and the suspect in the pickup truck were traveling along Route 100 in West Goshen, Pennsylvania, just west of Philadelphia on Wednesday evening.

The officers who initially believed they were responding to a serious car accident quickly realized Roberson had suffered a gunshot wound to the head, West Goshen Police said in a statement.
"They were jostling for a position or whatever. And unfortunately this gentleman took it to a degree that was just unconscionable," West Goshen Police Chief Joe Gleason said to CNN affiliate WPVI .
After the cars collided, Roberson's car left the roadway and hit a tree.
Witnesses describe the driver of the red pickup as "a white male, 30 to 40 years of age, blonde hair and a medium build."
Police released a still photograph of the two vehicles driving side-by-side down the road.
"She was a good girl, honor roll student, looking forward to going to college," her father, Rodney Roberson, said to WPVI.
Family members said Roberson had been shopping with her mom and grandmother before the crash occurred. They say she was headed to Jacksonville University in just a few weeks.
"She's so young. And to go through something like that by herself, she had to have been pretty scared," said her brother, Dontae Alburg.
Roberson's father called on the suspect to come forward.
"If you don't even think it was your fault, and have a conscience, come forward and give us some closure and explain in your own words what happened," he pleaded.
District Attorney Hogan agrees. Speaking directly to the suspect, he said, "Turn yourself in now. Every second you are out there, you are only making this worse for yourself and worse for this young lady's family."
Read more

Defiant Trump resumes attacks on 'Morning Joe' hosts, despite bipartisan criticism

(CNN)A defiant President Donald Trump resumed his attacks on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski on Saturday morning, calling Scarborough "crazy" and Brzezinski "dumb as a rock," despite days of bipartisan criticism over his initial attacks on the pair earlier this week.

"Crazy Joe Scarborough and dumb as a rock Mika are not bad people, but their low rated show is dominated by their NBC bosses. Too bad!" Trump tweeted Saturday morning.

"I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don't watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came... to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year's Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!" Trump wrote in a series of tweets.
On Friday, Scarborough and Brzezinski responded to Trump's attacks with an opinion piece in The Washington Post titled "Donald Trump is not well."
"America's leaders and allies are asking themselves yet again whether this man is fit to be president," they wrote. "We have our doubts, but we are both certain that the man is not mentally equipped to continue watching our show, 'Morning Joe.'"
During their Friday "Morning Joe" broadcast, Scarborough and Brzezinski also accused Trump and his White House of using the possibility of a hit piece in the National Enquirer to threaten them and change their news coverage, to which Trump responded on Twitter by calling that accusation "FAKE NEWS. He called me to stop a National Enquirer article. I said no! Bad show."
A White House official suggested to CNN that nothing untoward occurred, saying Scarborough called Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, about the Enquirer story before it was published. The official said Kushner told Scarborough to call the President. The official denied there was ever any offer from Kushner of a quid pro quo -- in other words, softer coverage in exchange for spiking the Enquirer story.
The White House did not return a request for comment on Trump's latest tweet on Saturday.
Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended Trump's initial attack at Thursday's White House press briefing, saying, "Look, the American people elected a fighter. They didn't elect somebody to sit back and do nothing." She added that Trump "fights fire with fire."
Sanders also said on Fox News that Trump was responding to liberal bullying when he tweeted about the MSNBC host.
"I don't think that the President's ever been someone who gets attacked and doesn't push back," she told the network Thursday. "There have been an outrageous number of personal attacks not just to him but people around him."
First lady Melania Trump also stood by her husband's remarks about the hosts.
"As the first lady has stated publicly in the past, when her husband gets attacked, he will punch back 10 times harder," the first lady's communications director, Stephanie Grisham, said in a statement to CNN on Thursday.

When asked about Trump's initial tweets during a House Republican news conference Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan responded, "Obviously I don't see that as an appropriate comment".

He added: "What we're trying to do around here is improve the tone, the civility of the debate. And this obviously doesn't help do that."
Other Republican lawmakers reacted by making public pleas to the President to stop the personal attacks.
South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham also tweeted Thursday: "Mr. President, your tweet was beneath the office and represents what is wrong with American politics, not the greatness of America."
Meanwhile, Democrats have capitalized on the feud, intensifying their attacks on the President and questioning his ability to lead. Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, for example, urged his colleagues to get behind a bill that could potentially oust the President if he was mentally or physically unfit. Source: CNN
Read more

Cuts threaten rural hospitals 'hanging on by their fingernails'

(CNN)One Monday in 2013, Dr. Alluri Raju learned that the only hospital in rural Richland, Georgia, would close on Wednesday. But there were still patients in hospital beds and surgeries scheduled for Wednesday.

Raju pleaded with the hospital's owner to keep it open a few more days.

Ultimately, the hospital closed that Friday, leaving the rural town without a hospital for miles. Raju, who had been the hospital's chief of staff, is now the only doctor left in the town a two-hour drive south of Atlanta.

"I was very devastated when the hospital was closed," Raju said. "I was so attached to it. I practiced there for 33 years."
Nationwide, about 80 rural hospitals have closed since 2010, according to the Chartis Center for Rural Health. Another 673 rural hospitals are in danger of shutting their doors. Many providers worry that the newly proposed health care legislation -- and in particular its proposed cuts to Medicaid -- could push a number of hospitals over the edge.
"These hospitals are hanging on by their fingernails," said Maggie Elehwany, vice president of government affairs for the National Rural Health Association, a nonprofit health research and advocacy group. "If you leave this legislation as is, it's a death sentence for individuals in rural America."
Nearly two-thirds of the lowest performing hospitals are in states that didn't expand Medicaid, according to a previous Chartis report. One case-in-point: the state of Georgia, which did not expand Medicaid and where over half of the state's 73 rural hospitals are in danger of closing. Six have closed since 2010.
Raju knew that Richland's Stewart-Webster Hospital was "financially strained." Even for those patients covered by Medicaid, low reimbursement rates did not make a big enough dent. But Raju did not turn away any patients, even if they couldn't pay, he said.
Rural hospitals take a financial hit when they provide care to uninsured patients who can't afford it, said Elehwany. By insuring poorer patients, the Affordable Care Act hoped to remedy that. Despite its positive impacts, she said, it wasn't the magic bullet rural communities had hoped for.
"We strongly support the goals of the ACA," Elehwany said. "Everybody admits there's a few problems with the ACA, and unfortunately ... they seem to be magnified in rural America."
Some of these problems, she said, stem from high-deductible plans with rising premiums, as well as few choices on the private exchanges. This may make insurance out of reach for an aging rural population, who are poorer and sicker on average than their urban counterparts, and who bear the brunt of the opioid epidemic, according to experts.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican from West Virginia, came out against the Senate health care bill this week for these reasons.
"As drafted, this bill will not ensure access to affordable health care in West Virginia, does not do enough to combat the opioid epidemic that is devastating my state, cuts traditional Medicaid too deeply, and harms rural health care providers," Capito said in a statement.
Other Republican senators have argued that the health care bill could strengthen Medicaid, with Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican from North Carolina, saying in a statement last week that the bill provides additional funding to community health centers "to ensure they can continue to provide access to care in rural and hard to reach places."
The Senate bill could cut revenues to rural providers by $1.3 billion each year, according to the Chartis Center and its partner iVantage Health Analytics. Roughly 34,000 jobs are also at risk, according to the analysis.
Raju, who sees 20 to 25 patients a day in his office, is not optimistic that hospital doors will reopen in Richland.
"I'm very doubtful it's going to happen, but we're not going to give up. We'll keep trying," he said.
That leaves his patients in what is known as a "medical desert." A long drive to the nearest hospital -- 45 minutes or more -- could be the difference between life and death, he said.
"Time is essential," he said. "We're going to lose some patients on the way because they cannot get the care in a reasonable amount of time."
But that doesn't deter Raju, who has been a staple in Richland for nearly four decades.
"I grew up in a rural area in India, and I always liked the small town," he said. "I've been here too long. I just can't go."
Source: CNN
Read more

Emilia Clarke is ready to bring Khaleesi's story to an end on 'Game of Thrones'

(CNN)HBO might be looking at a myriad of ways to continue the "Game of Thrones" phenomenon after the series completes its eighth and final season, but Emilia Clake is ready to bring Khaleesi's story to a proper end.

"I mean, I have no doubt there'll be prequels and sequels and who knows what else. But I am doing one more season," Clarke tells Rolling Stone in a new profile. "And then that'll be it."
HBO confirmed last summer that the hit series would come to a close after Season 8, which is scheduled to air next year.
Saying goodbye won't be easy, though. Clarke began on the series when she was just 23, and acknowledges the role has been a formative one.
"It makes me emotional to think about," she told the magazine. "It's my beginning, middle and end -- the single thing that has changed me most as an adult."
Clarke -- a master secret keeper between her "Thrones" and Han Solo "Star Wars" prequel duties -- didn't have much she could tease about the upcoming seventh season, which premieres July 16, but offered up this: "It's a really interesting season in terms of some loose ends that have been tied, some really satisfying plot points, some things where you're like, 'Oh, my God. I forgot about that!'"
Source CNN
Read more

28 people hurt in Arkansas club shooting, police say

(CNN)Twenty-eight people were wounded early Saturday as gunfire rang out during a concert at a nightclub in Little Rock, Arkansas, police said.

All but three were shot and the others suffered related injuries at the Power Ultra Lounge in the Arkansas capital.
Two people are listed in critical condition, Police Chief Kenton Buckner said Saturday afternoon, and the others had non-life-threatening injuries.. Victims ranged in age from 16 to 35, he said.
Officials believe the shooting is related to gang activity, Buckner said.
"We do not believe this was an act of terror," he said. "Some sort of dispute ensued."
Police have no motive for the shooting, and no arrests have been made. Buckner said they have not identified any suspects and police are still interviewing witnesses and victims.
College student Khalid Stewart said he was visiting the club when the shooting took place.
"It was during the performance and very unexpected," he said in a Twitter message to CNN. "After the first few shots everybody was laying down. It was more than just a few shots had to be at least be 50 shots and I'm not exaggerating."
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will be assisting the Little Rock police with an investigation into the shooting, officials said.
Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola said Saturday the city plans to shut down the Power Ultra Lounge.
"This activity downtown is going to cease," he said. "We're going to be extra-vigilant."
The club has two levels, with a restaurant on the first and a lounge on the second, according to a description on its Facebook page.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson issued a statement following the shooting, expressing sympathy for the victims and vowing action.
"Little Rock's crime problem appears to be intensifying. Every few days it seems a high-profile shooting dominates the news, culminating with this morning's event," Hutchinson said in a statement.
"We are still gathering facts, but it is clear that we need to have a comprehensive enforcement strategy in place that helps take the violent threats off the streets."
Stewart said it was chaotic inside the club because people didn't know where the shots were coming from.
"People didn't know whether to run or stay down cause you couldn't see where he was. You could just hear the gun shots. As soon as you saw people trying to run you see them run right back in," he wrote.
"It was crazy."
Read more

Jay-Z apologizes to Beyoncé in one of his 'best songs'

(CNN)Jay-Z dropped his new album "4:44" at midnight on Friday and sent the Internet into a frenzy.

The rapper is calling his title track, "4:44" off the album one of the "best songs" he's ever written.
"'4:44' is a song that I wrote, and it's the crux of the album, just right in the middle of the album. And I woke up, literally, at 4:44 in the morning, 4:44 AM, to write this song," he told iHeartRadio's The Beat in an exclusive interview. "So it became the title of the album and everything. It's the title track because it's such a powerful song, and I just believe one of the best songs I've ever written."
Fans are questioning whether "4:44" is a response to his wife's 2016 visual album "Lemonade" in which she seemingly called him out on nearly every track, sparking rumors of infidelity.
Here are some of the most intriguing moments from "4:44."

About that elevator fight

It was the fight seen around the world. The rapper, Bey and his sister-in-law, Solange Knowles, were leaving The Standard Hotel in 2014 following the Met Ball. Solange was caught in leaked surveillance footage kicking the rapper, but for years the cause of the scuffle was unknown. In Jay's song "Kill Jay Z" he addresses that night. "You egged Solange on, knowin' all along all you had to say you was wrong / You almost went Eric Benét, let the baddest girl in the world get away / I didn't even know what else to say. Never go Eric Benét / I don't even know what you woulda done, in the future, other playing football with your son."

Jay-Z mea culpa?

In his title track "4:44" the rapper seems to address Beyoncé's hints from "Lemonade" that the couple hit a rocky patch in their marriage. "And if my children knew, I don't even know what I would do / If they ain't look at me the same, I would prolly die with all the shame / You did what with who? What good is a ménage à trois when you have a soulmate, you risked that for Blue?"
In addition to name-dropping his first born Blue, he mentions his newborn twins in his apology to Bey.
"I apologize often womanize / Took for my child to be born / See through a woman's eyes / Took for these natural twins to believe in miracles / Took me too long for this song / I don't deserve you."

Firing back at Kanye West?

Kanye West famously called out Jay-Z while on stage at one of his concerts last year for not being there for him during tough times, and Jay appears to be fire back in his track "Kill Jay Z."
"You gave him 20 million without thinking/He gave you 20 minutes on stage, was he thinking?/wrong with everybody?' is what you sayin', But if everybody's crazy, you're the one that's insane."
After several months of teasing the album with mysterious subway ads and teaser video clips, Jay-Z on Friday released "4:44" exclusively to TIDAL and Sprint customers. iHeartMedia will also play the album across 160 stations until Saturday.
On social media, reaction sparked a Twitter "moment" with humorous memes and GIFs.
Jay-Z will kickoff a concert tour tied to the album later this summer.
Read more

Angry New Jersey residents shut out of parks, state offices because of budget impasse

WOODLAND PARK, N.J. — New Jersey residents awoke Saturday to the first day of a state government shutdown, a day many had planned to use to either kick start the Fourth of July holiday at a park or run some errands at state offices.

The shutdown scuttled those plans. 

A dispute between Gov. Chris Christie, a deeply unpopular governor in the final months of his second term, and the Democratic leader in the state Assembly, Vincent Prieto, has blocked the Legislature from passing a state budget. Their fight is over a plan to overhaul control of the state’s largest health insurer, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, a non-profit that operates under special state laws. 

With no new spending plan, Christie ordered all non-essential state services halted at midnight Friday. That meant no state parks, no chance to renew a driver’s license and no work for nearly all state employees.

hree cyclists huddled in a small patch of grass figuring out what to do and where to ride after the officer at the entrance informed them that the park was closed because of the shutdown

One cyclist, Neville L’Green, said he thought it was ironic that the government shutdown occurred on Fourth of July weekend.

“My thought is the reason they’ve shut down is they haven’t got a budget,” L’Green said, leaning on his bike. “So they’ve shut down on the weekend that generates the most money for the state. So that’s pretty stupid.”

L’Green said that he usually uses the park a few times a week during the summer. 

Wendy Schoeler, who moved to Jersey City two months ago, said she would go on runs regularly at the riverside park.

“I guess Chris Christie is the problem, right?” Schoeler said. “I don’t know, it just seems like really bad timing. Fourth of July weekend. You don’t want to be in the park? And we can’t go to the beaches now, apparently.”

A flier featuring Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto outside

A flier featuring Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto outside the governor's office in Trenton. (Photo: Dustin Racioppi/


Although many of the beaches in the state are municipal property, some beaches, like Island Beach State Park, are state-owned and are closed.

Along with providing expansive green space, the park also gives visitors on the New Jersey side access to Ellis Island. The historic landmark brings local visitors, as well as some from far away.

“This is one of Jersey City’s biggest attractions,” said Jake Hornstein. “We just saw a car with Canadian license plates. Just to see it”

For many, the weekends are the only time they can make it to local department of motor vehicle offices. 

At a Motor Vehicle Commission office in Lodi, some cars were being turned away by a police officer patrolling the lot. Others made it as far as the front door, where they were greeted by locked doors with the sign blaming Prieto.


“We gotta get rid of these guys,” said Tim Kosturko, as he got back into his van. “We’re paying these people. We’re paying for this motor vehicle (office). What the hell’s going on here.”

Many people who came to renew their license were wondering what would happen if they were pulled over with an expired license.

“We need it,” said Norma Villasanta of Garfield. “What are you going to do? The police are going to stop you, ticket you and send you to court.”

The Lodi office is one of the only offices in the area that has a driving test course. Carrying his driver’s permit, which he had received Friday, Julian Henao was there to complete the process and run through the course. Henao, 17, had come from Wallington.

When told he’d have to wait until a budget was approved, Henao sighed.

“You’re kidding.”

Gov. Chris Christie addresses the Legislature Saturday

Gov. Chris Christie addresses the Legislature Saturday afternoon during the government shutdown, which he ordered Friday night after reaching an impasse in budget negotiations with Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto. (Photo: Chris Pedota/

Source: USA Today

Read more

Michael Bublé makes first appearance since son's cancer diagnosis

ichael Bublé spoke in public Wednesday for the first time since announcing his three-year-old son Noah’s cancer diagnosis in November.

The British Columbia-born Canadian singer appeared in Ottawa to accept a medal for the 2017 Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards, wire service The Canadian Press reported.

“I stand here truly humbled that I have been allowed to be one of your musical representatives, and that you would choose to bestow this honor upon me during what has been an emotional and difficult time for my family,” Buble said.

His son has been receiving treatment in Los Angeles. In April, Buble’s wife Luisana Lopilato said, “Thank God, my son is well.”

Buble did not give any updates on his son’s illness Wednesday, but he did speak about his family.

“My entire life has been inspired by how my family has made me feel,” he said. “There are no words to describe how I feel about you. Sometimes ‘I love you’ just isn’t enough because what I feel is so much more.”

Source:USA today

Read more

Warriors, Steph Curry agree to 5-year, $201M deal that's richest in NBA history

Steph Curry agreed to terms with the Golden State Warriors on what amounts to the richest deal in NBA history, according to his agent Jeff Austin of Octagon.

The five-year deal is worth $201 million dollars with no options.

Curry was finally able to cash in after playing on one of the most team-friendly contracts in the NBA. He had previously been on a four-year, $44 million dollar contract.

urry, a two-time champion, is the first player to agree on a deal worth more than $200 million. 

The two-time MVP averaged 25.3 points, 6.6 assists and 4.5 rebounds this past season. He also led the NBA with 324 made three-pointers throughout the regular season as the Warriors eventually won the title. 


Read more

Dom Dwyer scores in his international debut as US beats Ghana 2-1

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Dom Dwyer scored in his international debut, joining Sydney Leroux to become the first husband-and-wife couple with goals for the United States, and the Americans beat Ghana 2-1 on Saturday in an exhibition ahead of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

A 26-year-old English forward who gained American citizenship in March, Dwyer put the Americans ahead in the 19th minute with an acrobatic volley.

Brad Guzan saved Asamoah Gyan's penalty kick in first-half stoppage time, and Kellyn Acosta added his first international goal in the 52nd minute on a low free kick from just outside the penalty area that went through the wall and in on a bounce past goalkeeper Richard Ofori.

Gyan scored for the Black Stars in the 60th minute with a free kick that beat Guzan and went in just under the crossbar. Ofori made an outstanding stop in the 66th to deny Alejandro Bedoya's back-post header from Jordan Morris' cross.

U.S. coach Bruce Arena changed eight starters from his lineup in the June 11 World Cup qualifier at Mexico, retaining only Guzan, Acosta and Paul Arriola. Seven American starters entered with fewer than 10 international appearances

There also were debuts for a pair of midfielders. Kelyn Rowe started and Kenny Saief, who played twice for Israel before switching his affiliation to the U.S. last month, entered in the 71st. The U.S. improved has four wins and four draws in eight matches since Arena replaced Jurgen Klinsmann in November. Arena's first stint as U.S. coach ended after eight years in 2006 when Ghana eliminated the U.S. in the World Cup's Group stage.

Most Europe-based players are on vacation ahead of preseason training, and Arena chose youth over experience in many instances for his Gold Cup roster, wanting to evaluate the deeper reaches of his player pool. The U.S. opens the Gold Cup against Panama on July 8 at Nashville, Tennessee; then play Martinique on July 12 at Tampa, Florida; and Nicaragua on July 15 at Cleveland.

Wearing new uniforms with red and blue horizontal stripes, the Americans played their first exhibition against a team they met in each of the last three World Cups. Ghana eliminated the Americans in 2006 and 2010, and the U.S. beat the Black Stars in its 2014 opener.

Dwyer, who has played for Sporting Kansas City since 2012, has been married since January 2015 to Leroux, a 26-year-old forward who was born in Canada but has 35 goals in 75 international appearances for the U.S. and was part of the team that won the 2015 World Cup. They are only the fourth husband and wife who both played for the U.S., joining Jim Gabarra and Carin Jennings, Claudio Reyna and Danielle Egan, and Zach Loyd and Casey Nogueira. Egan's only goal was in 1993, four years before she married Reyna.

"I'm insanely proud of him and so happy for the overall win for the MNT," Leroux said. "I love the fact that we both came to the USA from other countries and get to chase our dreams together wearing the crest that means so much to us. When he scored, it's really hard to describe the feeling. Just chills. I know this is only the beginning for him."

Dwyer and Leroux announced on Valentine's Day 2015 that they had married a month earlier. She wears No. 2 and he No. 14. Leroux and son Cassius watched the game on television with Becky Sauerbrunn, her Kansas City teammate, and Sauerbrunn posted video of Leroux holding the infant to Twitter, taken in the aftermath of the goal.

"This was taken after we screamed and ran around and scared Cassius. He's calm now," Sauerbrunn tweeted.

Dwyer was dynamic atop a 4-5-1 formation. He broke in alone in the 14th minute but did not get much pace on his angled shot. Played in three minutes later by Rowe, he could not get off a shot from near the penalty spot as he was marked by a pair of defenders.

Jorge Villafana started the action toward the opening goal when he dribbled from a flank past defenders and laid the ball back to Joe Corona, who made his first U.S. appearance in two years. Corona's shot hit Villafana and bounced up to Dwyer, who volleyed in with his left foot from 8 yards, then did a backward somersault.

Dwyer broke in alone again when he was sent tumbling by a studs-up tackle from Ofori, who was given only a yellow card by referee Ismael Ornejo of El Salvador.

Guzan dived left to bat away Gyan's penalty kick in the third minute of first-half stoppage time after Villafana was given a yellow card for pulling down David Accam.


Source:USA Today

Read more

Cardinal’s sex abuse charges raise questions about pope’s record

ATICAN CITY — As the Vatican reeled from news that one of its top officials was taking a leave to fight historical sex abuse charges in Australia, the spotlight quickly turned to Pope Francis, with his critics slamming him for failing to do enough to tackle the vexing issue.

Cardinal George Pell, the most senior figure in church history to face child sex abuse charges, is the Vatican’s financial czar and a trusted adviser to the pope.

Pell, 76, is facing “multiple charges in respect of historic sexual offenses,” said police in the Australian state of Victoria.

“I am looking forward to my day in court,” Pell told a packed media conference Thursday. “I am innocent of these charges. They are false.”

His controversial case has unleashed a wave of criticism from survivor groups and commentators who say the pope has not done enough to root out predators and protect children.

“There is a deep disconnect between the pope’s words and his actions,” said Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of the advocacy group Bishop Accountability.

Barrett Doyle was critical of the pope for keeping Pell in his post until now, despite knowledge of the allegations against him.

“The pope is not a reformer when it comes to the crisis,” she said. “He apologizes often and uses buzz phrases like ‘zero tolerance.’ But underneath he remains the minimizer and the defender of accused priests.”

Robert Mickens, an American editor for the French Catholic magazine La Croix, said it was significant that Pell had stepped aside but he criticized the pope’s record on clerical abuse.

“Whether Pell specifically asked for a leave from his Vatican duties to return for the trial, or whether the pope ordered him to do so, the effect is the same. And it is a development from the past,” Mickens said, when the church would have defended Vatican churchmen.

But Mickens said Francis has never made the church’s sexual abuse crisis a priority of his administration.

“It took him more than a year after his election as bishop of Rome before he even mentioned it,” said Mickens, a longtime Vatican commentator. “I think a major reason for that is his experience as a bishop in Latin America, where the issue has not been dealt with openly or effectively.”

After his election, Francis established a Vatican panel for the protection of minors to change church practices and increase awareness about abuse and education in the church.

But survivor Peter Saunders was forced to take a leave of absence from the panel after scathing criticism of Pell. Irish survivor Marie Collins resigned in disgust in March over what she called “shameful” obstruction within the Vatican.

The charges against one of his closest advisors and the architect of his economic and administrative reforms of the Holy See is not only embarrassing for the pope but brings the church abuse scandal to his door.

Paddy Agnew, an Irish commentator who has followed the Vatican for 30 years, said Francis’ record on rooting out predators is mixed.

Agnew said Francis acted quickly to remove Polish Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, who was accused of sex crimes against minors in the Dominican Republic. Wesolowski died in 2015 before he was tried for child pornography.

“On the other hand, sex abuse survivors and lobbyists argue that Francis has been shamefully irresponsible in defending Chilean Bishop Juan Barros,” said Agnew.

Barros has been accused of covering up clerical abuse in Chile in the 1980s and 1990s.

There is no doubt there has been some change under Francis. He has spoken out many times against clerical sexual abuse and late last year he urged bishops around the world to adopt a “zero tolerance” policy.

“I would like us to renew our complete commitment to ensuring that these atrocities will no longer take place in our midst,” he said in a letter to them.

This month, the pope defrocked an Italian priest, Mauro Inzoli, who was convicted of child sex crimes by an Italian court a year ago.

But Francis’ predecessor, Benedict XVI, had initially defrocked Inzoli in 2012 after he was first accused of abusing minors. Francis reversed that decision in 2014, ordering the priest to stay away from children before finally coming to the conclusion that the priest could no longer continue in his duties.

The U.S.-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests has urged the pope to send Pell home as soon as possible and hoped the Australian investigation would inspire other countries to do more.

“Sexual abuse thrives when it is allowed to flourish in secrecy,” said SNAP spokeswoman Joelle Casteix in a statement.

In the past, the Vatican, as a sovereign state in the heart of Rome, offered officials immunity from prosecution.

In the early 1980s, it refused an Italian request to hand over Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, an American who was wanted for questioning about the fraudulent bankruptcy of a private Italian bank.

And Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston escaped potential prosecution when he moved to Rome after the sex abuse scandal erupted in his diocese in 2002.

Pell, it appears, was not offered that option.

Source: USA Today

Read more

A winning formula: When small businesses give back

hird-generation entrepreneur Ciara Stockeland, 38 — the daughter and granddaughter of window salesmen — always knew she wanted to own a small business. When her pop-up overstock jeans shop in Fargo, N.D., took off about a decade ago, morphing into a storefront called MODE, she didn’t want to stop at just one store. By franchising, she could expand her brand to other communities and enable others to own small businesses, too.

From the get-go, she wanted to make it easy for franchisees not just to be successful, but also to give back. So she came up with a number of ways to weave community engagement into the very fabric of the four MODE stores, in North Dakota and Iowa. Stores regularly organize denim drives to collect jeans for the needy, hold sales where 20 percent goes to a local charity, send staff to volunteer for local nonprofits, and sell merchandise to benefit an international water charity.

“When you give back, it reminds you that small businesses are what make cities and American culture so vibrant,” Stockeland said. “There’s something fantastic about that.” Stockeland’s model of socially responsible business is just one example of the many ways small business owners embed themselves in their communities. Some are leaders in local chambers of commerce and business associations. Others stage neighborhood events such as concerts and gallery nights. And according to the Allstate/USA Today Small Business Barometer, almost half of small business owners contribute to local charities or do community service close to home.

“Everything that’s good for the community is good for your business,” said Steve Blume, 62, owner of an Allstate Insurance agency in Bellevue, Tenn., and director of membership for his area’s chamber of commerce. “It’s the responsibility of every business to be a part of the community and contribute to it.”

All together

At Jirani’s Coffee House in Manassas, Va., co-owners Ken and Detra Moorman, both age 46, have a vision that goes far beyond serving java. After all, they named their one-year-old business after the Swahili word for “neighbor” or “neighborhood.”


It’s all part of the plan to host book launches and open mics, set aside space for a family reading room, and let local bakers and caterers use the kitchen to prep food for their own small businesses.

“We wanted to create a space for people to gather and connect and build relationships,” Ken Moorman said.

Coffee is not the only thing that brings people together. Dave Roggeman, 41, owner of screen-printing, embroidery and design company INDYINK in Denver, Colo., uses art as the draw. The company hosts monthly art exhibitions at its 84 South retail space, giving local artists — professional and amateur — a venue to showcase their work. INDYINK sells the artwork at affordable prices, taking a lower commission from artists than traditional galleries might.

“The art shows are a way for us to be a part of the community,” said Roggeman. He supports the artists in other ways, too, for example by commissioning some to do custom designs for his products.

Down in Opelika, Ala., Jimmy Wright, 55 — owner of Wright’s Market since 1997 — is passionate about zeroing in on the specific needs of people in his town and surrounding rural areas. His 15-passenger van transports shoppers to and from the store for free. And last year he founded a nonprofit to help revitalize two neighborhoods in the city of 29,000 people and improve access to medical care.

“I’ve always lived by the philosophy that our goal was that our business would do well so then we could do good in our communities,” Wright said.

Standing out

Volunteering and promoting social issues can provide a lot of bottom-line value to companies, large or small, said Jenny Lawson, executive director of the Corporate Institute at Points of Light, a national nonprofit that promotes volunteerism across the U.S.

“Connecting your brand to social issues raises the visibility of your brand and sets you apart from other brands in the community,” she said. In addition, lending employees out for skills-based pro bono services, she said, can boost employee satisfaction and engagement and provide skills-building opportunities.

When Katie Dix, 52, along with her sister, husband and brother-in-law, opened a neighborhood ice cream shop on a tucked-away street in Mt. Prospect, Ill., the health inspector predicted her business wouldn’t succeed.

To prove him wrong and differentiate her store, Capannari Ice Cream, from corporate chains, “I knew I had to be a part of the community and let people know who we are,” Dix said.

To that end, Dix throws and supports dozens of charity events each year, including “The Coolest School,” in which 14 area schools compete to sell the most ice cream and walk away with a share of their earnings.

But even more important than bringing people into the store, Dix says, is the way the events create loyalty among customers and bolster the idea of Capannari as a neighborhood stalwart.

Stockeland, of retailer MODE, said her giveback program reinforces the company culture she’s establishing as she seeks new franchisees.

“We’ve found in visiting with prospective franchisees that the people who are going to align culturally with our brand want to be part of something bigger,” she said.

Balancing act

Giving of oneself and of one’s business brings challenges of limited time, money and staffing. But small business owners rise above those obstacles using their love and commitment to their communities as the driving force.

“Being part of the community gives me and my business that human quality that’s so important,” said Alison Doner, 37, owner of an Allstate Insurance agency in Cincinnati. She regularly volunteers with her local Rotary International Club and a children’s charity, and at any community service event Allstate hosts in the area — on top of giving her customers every minute of her working day.

Lynn Le, 28 — co-owner of Society Nine, a Portland, Ore., sports gear company that sells women’s boxing apparel — and her Boston-based partner manage their charitable commitments by focusing on nonprofits that champion the fighting spirit in women. Beneficiaries have included an organization that offers free self-defense classes to women in Oregon and other states and a Boston nonprofit that holds charity boxing events to raise money to fight cancer.

By aligning the ways they give back with their business mission, Le said, they’re able to make sure, “people register exactly what it is we’re all about.”

For small business owners, waking up every morning and loving what they do is a dream come true. And serving the community is a big reason why they feel it’s worth it.

Jirani's Ken Moorman says that the existence of a thriving coffee shop in Manassas was a dream for lots of people — something the community had desperately needed.

“For me, it’s about how we contribute to the place we live, work and play in. How do we make it better through giving back and helping others,” he said. “Ultimately, that’s what it’s about.”

Source USA today

Read more

Start-up investor Dave McClure steps down after sexual harassment complaint

SAN FRANCISCO — Prominent technology investor Dave McClure has been demoted by the start-up incubator he co-founded for engaging in "inappropriate interactions with women in the tech community," 500 Startups said in a statement late Friday.

McClure stepped down as CEO and was replaced by Christine Tsai, who now directs the management team and runs day-to-day operations.

"I sincerely apologize for the choices he made and the pain and stress they’ve caused people. But apologies aren’t enough without meaningful actions and change. Because of this, we made the decision a few months ago to change the leadership structure at 500," Tsai said in a blog post.

McClure's role is now limited to "fulfilling his obligations to our investors as a general partner," Tsai said. "In addition, he’s been attending counseling to work on changing his perspectives and preventing his previous unacceptable behavior."

McClure declined to comment for this article. He retweeted the 500 Startups statement.

His demotion was spurred by a complaint in November 2016 by entrepreneur Sarah Kunst.

In 2014, when Kunst was discussing a possible job at 500 Startups, McClure sent her a Twitter message during a conference they were attending. The message sent at 4 am said in part: "I was getting confused figuring out whether to hire you or hit on you."

Kunst, 31, who now runs the fitness start-up Proday, said she rebuffed McClure, an alumnus of PayPal who has invested in hundreds of tech companies. In November 2016, she contacted a friend, one of McClure's colleagues, about the incident. 500 Startups then cut off communications with her, she said.

In an interview with USA TODAY, Kunst said the experience was "sadly all too common in the tech and investing community."

She confided in friends and wrestled with speaking publicly about it, ultimately deciding to speak with the New York Times so she could protect other women.

"I knew I had to tell them my experiences and hopefully spare them what happened to me," she said.

The venture capital world in Silicon Valley is facing heavy scrutiny after six women accused Binary Capital partner Justin Caldbeck of making unwanted sexual advances, with several saying the misconduct took place when they sought funding or guidance on their businesses. The explosive allegations have brought the venture capital firm Caldbeck co-founded to the brink of collapse.

Source USA Today

Read more

Steve Case: 'Third wave' of Internet will help Middle America business

AN FRANCISCO — Steve Case, who helped foment the Internet age as AOL's co-founder, has crisscrossed the country the last few years championing a new revolution: the third wave of the Internet.

Just as the technology boom lifted the economies of Silicon Valley, New York and other coastal cities, its latest iteration will benefit the Midwest and other pockets of the U.S. as health care, energy, agriculture, education and other industries become ripe for disruption.

Such is the thesis of his 3-year-old initiative, Rise of the Rest. In an interview with USA TODAY, Case discussed the rise of tech start-up ecosystems in America's heartland.

Q: What got you launched on this mission?

A: I was working more on the policy side. And then a little over three years ago, we decided to hit the road and do these Rise of the Rest bus tours. We have done five so far and we are planning our next one in October

I concluded that while advocating for policies that are pro-innovation, pro-entrepreneurship, pro-start-up, it's something I continue to do, but there also was a role to play I felt in terms of trying to be a catalyst within some of these cities and helping to build more of a network effect and network density in these cities and shine a spotlight on what's happening with entrepreneurs in these cities to attract more media and attract more investor attention.

Each city is different but there are dynamics kicking in across all of them that are encouraging and ultimately will result in more start-ups in more places and will ultimately level the playing field so everybody everywhere really does feel like they have a shot at the American dream and so we are creating economic growth and jobs everywhere not just in a few places.

Q: What is it about Midwest cities that makes them uniquely attractive to entrepreneurs and investors?


A: I'd say some general reasons. There are a lot of people who have a connection to these cities: they grew up there, went to school there, have some affinity and they'd rather live there and raise their families there. There are also some financial considerations. Money raised goes a lot further.

As for city specific reasons, each of these cities has an interesting history and some of that history and some of that perspective and some of that culture and some of that DNA is increasingly helpful as we shift to the third wave of the Internet, which is less about the software and the apps and more about integrating technology and the Internet in important aspects of our lives and disrupting big sectors of the economy. I think partnerships are going to become more important and being closer to some of the big companies, many of which are in the middle of the country, is important.

Source:USA Today

Read more

4 ways to tap your retirement funds earlier than normally allowed

Money you sock away for your retirement in qualified plans is generally tied up until you're age 59 1/2. Here are four approaches to get at that money sooner.

Qualified retirement accounts can offer great tax advantages for people saving for retirement. Those advantages work incredibly well if you use them to save for several decades and then retire at age 59 1/2 or later, but if you need to tap your money early, the benefits can evaporate. For instance, while qualifying Roth IRA withdrawals are completely tax-free, early withdrawals of earnings from a Roth IRA can result in both taxes and penalties on those withdrawals.

Still, there are strategies you can use to tap into your retirement money before age 59 1/2. These four techniques will let you tap your retirement money early, gaining access to your cash if you need it before that traditional age.

No. 1: Separate from your employer at age 55 or later

While the standard age to tap retirement accounts without penalty is age 59 1/2, there's an exception if you separate from service from your employer in the year you turn 55 or later. If you do, you can take withdrawals from your employer-sponsored retirement plan without facing the early withdrawal penalty. If you are able to take advantage of that rule, there are three key things to know.

First, the ability to tap that money early without penalty works only for employer-sponsored plans. If you roll the money into your IRA first, you lose that benefit. Second, if you've worked for more than one employer, it applies only to the specific plans of any employer you separated from in that year you reached age 55 or later. Third, the age 55 rule applies only to the early withdrawal penalty, not to any taxes you might otherwise face.

No. 2: Take substantially equal periodic payments

A pile of gold coins on one side of a level, a clock on the other. Imagary of "time is money"

 (Photo: Getty Images)


Another way to take money from your retirement accounts before age 59 1/2 is to set up a withdrawal plan from your retirement accounts known as a "Substantially Equal Periodic Payments" (SEPP) plan.  The primary advantage of these plans is that you can set them up well before a traditional retirement age to avoid the 10% penalty on early withdrawals. The key disadvantage is that once you start one, you must continue it for at least five years or until you turn 59 1/2, whichever is longer.

That combination of factors makes the SEPP program attractive for people with significant amounts of money in their traditional retirement accounts who want to retire really early. It does add risk to those who are just looking for a short-term infusion of cash to tide themselves over through a temporary period of unemployment. If you start a SEPP plan and then later get a job, you're still tied to the SEPP until the last of five years or age 59 1/2 comes around, even if you no longer need the money.

If you do set up a SEPP plan, you have three payment plans to choose from:


  • Required Minimum Distribution: Under this method, you start taking withdrawals as if you were subject to the required minimum distribution rules that generally start at age 70 1/2. Your withdrawals will change each year based on your advancing age and the balance in your account, and it generally results in the lowest annual distribution.
  • Fixed Amortization Method: Under this method, you calculate a fixed annual payment based on amortizing your account balance at the start of the plan, your or your beneficiaries' life expectancies, and prevailing interest rates.
  • Fixed Annuitization Method: Under this method, you calculate a fixed annual payment based on if you were annuitizing your retirement account balance, using your life expectancy and prevailing interest rates.

The second and third methods generally result in higher payments in the beginning of the SEPP, though the Required Minimum Distribution method can get higher if your account balance increases. If you choose the Fixed Amortization or Fixed Annuitization method and later decide that you're at risk of prematurely depleting your account, you're allowed to switch to the Required Minimum Distribution method.

No. 3: Tap your Roth IRA Contributions

The words "IRA", "Traditional", and "Roth" on a piece of paper. "Roth" is circled in red

 (Photo: Getty Images)


If you're able to plan ahead for an early retirement, your Roth IRA can be an incredibly flexible source of funding for you. Money you directly contribute to your Roth IRA can be withdrawn at any time for any reason, without tax or penalty. Money you get into your Roth IRA through a rollover or conversion from another retirement account can be tapped penalty-free after it's been in the plan for at least five years.  These rules only hold true for your contributions -- not any growth that money may see.

The flexibility comes from the fact that you can take any amount out of your Roth IRA up to the total you've contributed that qualifies for the penalty free withdrawal. So if you don't need the money, you can let it keep compounding for you, penalty and potentially tax free. The downside is that if you're going to rely on converted contributions for a long term early retirement, you'll need to start converting at least five years in advance to get at the money penalty free.

No. 4: Just accept the 10% penalty

If none of the other three methods appeal to you, you can always just take the money directly out of your retirement accounts early and pay the 10% federal penalty on top of any income taxes you owe. If the money you need to tap from your retirement accounts early is small enough -- such as to cover for short-term job loss instead of for early retirement -- it may be the lesser of evils to just pay the penalty.

While it's not ideal to pay Uncle Sam any more than you absolutely have to, it may ultimately be a lower-cost option when compared to a plan that may trap you into withdrawals over several years.

Plan ahead to rule your early retirement

Regardless of the method you choose, each and every one of these approaches requires you to have money in your retirement accounts in order to withdraw it. The more you plan ahead for your retirement, the more you'll likely have in those accounts, and the easier it will be to have enough in the plan to cover the costs of an early retirement. So get started now, and improve your chances of being able to start the retirement you're looking for earlier than you otherwise might have.

Source: USA Today

Read more

NASA unveils plan to test asteroid defense technique

(CNN)Humanity could face one less doomsday scenario if NASA has its way.

On Friday, the space agency announced plans to redirect the course of a small asteroid approaching Earth, as part of the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), according to a NASA press release.
The release notes that asteroids hit Earth nearly every day, but most are small enough to burn up in the atmosphere.
But the DART project -- a joint effort between NASA and the John Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland -- is for the asteroids that are too big to break up -- those that could have severe consequences for the Earth if they hit.
"DART would be NASA's first mission to demonstrate what's known as the kinetic impactor technique -- striking the asteroid to shift its orbit -- to defend against a potential future asteroid impact," said Lindley Johnson, NASA's planetary defense officer in Washington, in the press release.
"This approval step advances the project toward an historic test with a non-threatening small asteroid."
he target of the test is an asteroid system called Didymos, the release said. Didymos -- Greek for "twin" -- is a binary asteroid system, made up of one asteroid, Didymos A, and a smaller one, Didymos B, which orbits its larger neighbor.
In October 2022, as Didymos makes an approach near Earth, NASA will launch a refrigerator-sized spacecraft towards the asteroids, aimed at Didymos B, the release said. When the DART spacecraft and the asteroid collide, the spacecraft will be traveling at a staggering 3.7 miles per second.
"The kinetic impact technique works by changing the speed of a threatening asteroid by a small fraction of its total velocity," the release says, "but by doing it well before the predicted impact so that this small nudge will add up over time to a big shift of the asteroid's path away from Earth."
Back home, scientists will study the impact and the effect is has on Didymos B's orbit around Didymos A, to determine whether this technique is a feasible method for saving the planet from asteroids that could otherwise have devastating impacts.
"DART is a critical step in demonstrating we can protect our planet from a future asteroid impact," said Andy Cheng, one of the leaders of the Johns Hopkins team. "With DART, we can show how to protect Earth from an asteroid strike with a kinetic impactor by knocking the hazardous object into a different flight path that would threaten the planet."
The announcement coincided with International Asteroid Day, which commemorates the largest recorded asteroid impact in Earth's history, when in 1908 a meteorite hit Russia's Podkamennaya Tunguska River in a remote forest, leveling trees and knocking over people in a town 40 miles away.
Source: CNN
Read more

'Acts of heroism' shine amid the horror of New York hospital shooting

(CNN)They wasted little time in keeping patients safe when a disgruntled former employee opened fire Friday at Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center in New York.

Hospital staffers rushed to shelter the patients inside rooms and barricade the doors.
First responders moved to catch the gunman, put out a fire and end the threat.
And nurses and physicians risked danger to find and treat gunshot victims and move them to safety.
Man hides in hospital room during shooting



Man hides in hospital room during shooting 00:38
When it was over, two people, including the suspect, were dead and six others wounded. The gunman, Dr. Henry Bello, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, law enforcement officials said. He killed a physician, whom police identified as Tracy Sin Yee Tam, 32. Of the six injured, one was in critical condition, and the others were stable Saturday.
The violence could have been worse if not for the life-saving efforts of first responders and hospital employees, officials said.
"Our hospital staff responded heroically in addressing this situation," hospital spokesman Errol Schneer said.
"Many of our staff risked their own lives to save patients, and the fact that we had only one injury to a patient is truly a testament to the work that our staff did in protecting the patients at all costs."
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio paid tribute to the first responders, nurses, doctors and staff who risked their lives.
"This was a horrific situation unfolding in a place that people associate with care and comfort, a situation that came out of nowhere, but even in the midst of this horror there were many, many acts of heroism," de Blasio said.
Here are a few of those acts:

Barricaded doors

When staff members heard about the "code silver" emergency warning, they rushed into patient rooms to help them take shelter from the gunman.
Hospital staff is trained to care for patients first in shooting situations, said Patricia Cahill, the hospital's chief nursing officer.
"Those nurses took whoever they could and they put them in bathrooms with them, they huddled together and they held, they barricaded the door, they got in the safest place they could," she said.
Ruth Velazquez, an HIV counselor, said employees are ready for situations such as this.
"We locked every single door in that place, every single door was locked, and we put the patients there, we made sure that our main concern was the patients," she said.
Patients who were physically able also helped out. Krystal Rivera, 23, said she was with her hospital roommate, a visitor and a nurse when they heard gunshots.
"I barricaded the door with an IV machine, two chairs and my whole bed," Rivera said.
For hospital employee Gonzalo Corazo, keeping patients safe was his initial reaction to the emergency, he told CNN affiliate WABC-TV.
"That's when I panicked, and then all of sudden my first instinct was the patients, taking care of the patients," Corazo said.
De Blasio said that "doctors and nurses, all the personnel, responded with extraordinary bravery, with cool professionalism. They protected each other, they protected their patients even amidst this horrible situation."
Wearing a white lab coat, the suspected shooter was able to enter the hospital and go to the 16th floor, where he used to work. Once there, he began shooting an AM-15 weapon.
During the shooting, the hospital's fire alarm system went off, apparently because the suspect tried to set himself on fire, said James O'Neill, the New York police commissioner.
Both police and firefighters quickly responded to the scene, and they eventually found the suspect dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on the 17th floor, O'Neill said.
"There were many things amidst this pain to be proud of today, and God bless our first responders," de Blasio said. "They put the safety of their fellow New Yorkers first, as they always do."
Sridhar Chilimuri, the hospital's physician in chief, praised the speed and professionalism of the New York police, who came into a scene of "total chaos" and established some order.
"We don't work with them every day, but it just seemed to work like a team," Chilimuri said.

Moving the patients

Once first responders put out the fire and gave the all-clear, hospital staff rushed to treat the gunshot victims on the 16th and 17th floors.
As senior officials in the hospital, Chilimuri, Cahill and others went up to the 17th floor and pulled two patients out of the dangerous scene, "literally over dead bodies and blood and gore all over," the physician in chief said.
Staffers began moving those who were seriously injured from floor to floor, picking up doctors along the way to treat the victims' gunshot wounds.
"We had trauma surgeons already in the building, we have neurosurgeons in the building, we have hand surgeons in the building, so that obviously helped us expedite the process very quickly," Chilimuri said.
"There were physicians actively working with nursing staff on every floor, so as each patient came off we took them directly to the emergency room so we could work on them quite quickly."
The speed of their efforts "absolutely" helped save lives, Chilimuri said.
"This happening in a hospital, which is well-prepared for it, we think will end up with good outcomes at the end," he said.
Ambulance EMT Robert Maldonado, who was sheltered in a locked room, told CNN affiliate WABC-TV that he and a partner heard someone yell for EMTs. They jumped out of the room and immediately helped a doctor with a gunshot wound in his stomach.
"He was in a lot of pain obviously," Maldonado to the station.
"We carried him nine floors. The police department helped carry, I helped put pressure on the wound, the entrance and exit wound, and the police department, they all just grabbed his legs, grabbed his arms."
Staff also removed patients from the 16th and 17th floors to more established safe areas. They moved between 40 to 50 patients in less than 10 minutes, Chilimuri said.
Even security guards helped with patients and assisted nurses and doctors, going "way above and beyond the call of duty," said Schneer, the hospital spokesman.
Read more

Military diet: 3-day diet or dud?

(CNN)Looking for an easy diet to lose a quick few pounds? If you're searching on the Internet, chances are you've stumbled on something called the "military diet."

It's also known as the Navy diet, the Army diet and sometimes the ice cream diet, because in addition to hot dogs and tuna fish, you get to eat ice cream on all three days of the program.
Smells fishy, right? Well, hold your nose. It's about to get really stinky.

What is the military diet?

The military diet is a variation of the ever-popular three-day diet, a crash plan of "fill-in-the-blank" foods to eat if you want to lose weight fast. These diets typically claim that you can lose about 10 pounds in three days to a week if you follow their blueprint to the letter. The meal plans are usually extremely basic and calorie-restrictive, because let's face it, that's how you lose weight.
But are these diets healthy? Will the weight stay off?
"With this type of low-calorie, lower-carbohydrate diet, you are losing mostly water and potentially some muscle," said registered dietitian Elaine Magee, author of "Tell Me What to Eat If I Have Diabetes." "Water weight drops quickly as the body's glycogen stores decline, which happens when you restrict carbs and calories. Weight will come back when you begin to eat normally again."
Could it be that the military diet is different? Here's a breakdown of what's prescribed on days one to three of the military diet, with calories calculated via the US Department of Agriculture's calorie-calculating tool, Supertracker.
Breakfast is a cup of caffeinated coffee or tea, one slice of toast with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter and half a grapefruit. That's 308 calories.
Lunch is another cup of coffee or tea, a bare-bones slice of toast (whole-wheat is best, they rightly say) and a half-cup of tuna. This meal is tiny, only 139 calories.
Dinner is 3 ounces of any meat (that's about the size of a playing card), a cup of green beans, half of a banana and a small apple (not a large apple, even though the calorie difference is minuscule), but wait: You get a whole cup of vanilla ice cream! If you choose steak instead of a lean chicken breast as your entree, this meal equals 619 calories.
But even with the steak and the cup of full-fat ice cream, the day adds up to a mere 1,066 calories. No snacks allowed.
"If you're used to eating 2,000 to 2,500 calories a day, such a drastic drop will be hard to do," said registered dietitian Lisa Drayer, who writes about nutrition for CNN. "You're going to be tired and irritable, with difficulty concentrating. It will be hard to exercise, and I would think you'll be quite hungry as well."
Here's day two's repast. It adds up to only 1,193 calories, even if you pick some higher-fat options.
Breakfast is another dry piece of toast, one egg cooked however you like and half of a banana. Let's say you fry your egg in oil. That's 223 calories.
Lunch is a hard-boiled egg, five saltine crackers and a cup of cottage cheese. If you choose full-fat cottage cheese, the total is 340 calories.
Dinner is half of a banana, a half-cup of carrots, a full cup of broccoli, two hot dogs (that's right!) and another treat: a half-cup of vanilla ice cream. The meal totals 630 calories (if you eat a full-fat pork or beef dog).
How does this fare fair?
"I never recommend hot dogs or any processed meats," Drayer said, "because they are associated with a higher risk for cancer."
"Ice cream is not a good use of the meager calories," she added. "You could have 3 cups of salad and only eat 100 calories, or other nutritious foods that will be satisfying and hold back the hunger."
Day three is the most restrictive, only 762 calories.
Breakfast is a slice of cheddar cheese with five saltines and a small apple. That's 232 calories.
Lunch is grim: one dry slice of toast and an egg. Even if you fry the egg in oil again, that's a total of 170 calories.
Dinner is 460 calories and a stomach-turning combination of half a banana, a full cup of tuna and another cup of ice cream. Maybe they think that by now, you're so hungry, you'll be willing to eat those foods together.
The websites promoting the military diet say that eating certain food combinations will boost your metabolism.
"There is no truth behind claims that the food combinations in the first few days will increase your metabolism and burn fat," Magee said.
"There's no research I know of behind those claims," Drayer agreed.
And what about the rest of the week?
You round out your week by eating what you like, so long as it's less than 1,500 calories a day. Then you can start on the three-day restrictions again.
Best of all, no exercise -- zero, zip, nada -- is said to be needed on this diet.
"Yet another fad diet that won't lead to healthy or sustainable weight loss!" Magee said with passion, adding that exercise is "key to lasting weight loss."
She also feels there are potential physical and emotional ramifications to diets that restrict and deprive you to this extent.
"It can lead to weight cycling, a quick loss and regain of weight, that can weaken your immune system, mess with your metabolic rate and increase the risk of other health problems, such as gallstones and heart trouble," Magee said.

Why is it called the military diet?

Why would such a fad diet be associated with the military? According to various articles, bloggers, YouTubers and message board posts, it was designed by nutritionists in the US military to drop pounds off recruits who otherwise wouldn't measure up.
"What? In my 30 years working with the military, I've never heard of it," said certified nutrition specialist Patricia Deuster, professor at the Uniformed Services University and author of the first US Navy SEAL Nutrition guide.
"We did not develop this. We do not use it. It has absolutely no resemblance to the real military diet. Even our rations are healthier and more nutritionally sound," Deuster said. "It looks like they just took the name 'military' and added it to the diet and capitalized on it."
An Internet search shows that this very diet -- down to the hot dogs and ice cream -- is also known as the American Heart Association diet, the Cleveland Clinic diet, the Mayo Clinic diet, the Kaiser diet and the Birmingham Hospital diet. What do they have to say?
"The Birmingham Hospital Diet did not originate with the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and we do not support or recommend it," university public relations manager Bob Shepard said. "This diet has absolutely no connection to UAB Hospital other than the often repeated but false Internet rumors."
"It is unfortunate our name has been associated with this diet," the Cleveland Clinic said in a statement. "We have never endorsed this meal plan, and it does not meet the standards for what we would consider a healthy diet for heart health or overall well-being."
"The American Heart Association is not -- and never has been -- associated with this diet."
"This didn't come from us, despite the use of the word Kaiser. Kaiser Permanente supports a balanced diet, rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains."
"None of these diets, including the three-day diet, was developed at or ever associated with Mayo Clinic," said Dr. Donald Hensrud, director of the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program and medical editor of the real Mayo Clinic Diet. "It is likely the originators tried to capitalize on Mayo Clinic's brand recognition as a way of promoting these diets."

Where did this diet come from?

If you search the Internet for the military diet, you'll probably end up on the top result: There, you'll find the detailed diet, with pictures and tips on how to make it work for you. There are substitutions, frequently asked questions, a blog, a calorie count, a link to like them on Facebook and a review that fights back against nutritionists who debunk the diet.
Oh, and there are lots of ads.
But nowhere on the page is there an author, an expert, a nutritional guru. No one takes ownership of this information or gives you any credentials to prove their expertise.
"That's a red flag," Drayer said. "Any helpful diet plan should be created or supported by a credible person or resource or organization. If something is out there without any author or inventor, anyone can say anything and not know how the body works."
Trying to track down the owners of three of the most popular military diet sites proved to be a dead end. Emails and calls to listed numbers got no responses.

How diet misinformation spreads

"Due to our democratic process, we have a wide-open information environment in the US," said Brian Southwell, editor of a new book on fake news called "Misinformation and Mass Audiences." "There's no careful censoring of false information."
Add to that the fact that science still doesn't have the "perfect" solution for weight loss and maintenance, he said, and you've got an area that is ripe for exploitation.
"These dieting sites have a catchy name, the promise of lineage to established institutions, and that is what tends to spread across the Internet, instead of a peer-reviewed study," said Southwell, who directs the Science in the Public Sphere program at the nonprofit research group RTI International. "And just like direct mail, if you get 5% of people to click through, you can make a huge profit. It doesn't cost much to unleash stuff online."
Drayer agreed. "I think a lot of people just want to know the next dieting magic bullet, quick fix, and they just go for these fad things."
But why are so many of us fooled in the first place?
The failure of some people's "BS detectors" when they encounter fake information can be explained, Southwell said, by what science now knows about how the brain processes data. Instead of sorting the good from bad as the information arrives, the brain accepts it all, "and then in another part of the brain, it's tagged as true or false."
"It leaves open this window of opportunity," he explained, "so people believe just long enough and then get tired, distracted, and what happens? They get sucked in. They might be skeptical at first but fail to do the research and think, 'well, maybe this will work. This might be my solution.' "
The fact that so many of us share our discoveries with friends and loved ones on social accounts fuels the misinformation fire. Southwell calls it "social contagion."
"It's like the dynamics of infectious disease. You've spread the disease before you've even come down with it, " he explained. "You find it, you share, you read more and find out that it's not effective, or you try it out and you're disappointed. But the genie is out of the bottle already."
According to Southwell, that's exactly what many of these sites are counting on.
"It doesn't matter if it ultimately gets debunked, because it's going to take a while for it to reach the same numbers of people as the original rumor or fake diet," he explained. "And the debunking is not as sexy as the original diet lure.
"In the meantime, you might see the spread of unhealthy dieting behavior, and for some people with certain diseases or conditions, that can cause real harm," Southwell said, such as heart disease or diabetes. "But it can't be traced back. Who is culpable for that?"

Healthy ways to lose fast?

Let's face it. We still want a quick way to lose 5 or 10 pounds fast, just in time for that special occasion. Is it possible to do so in a healthy way?
"I will prescribe a modified three-day diet just to jump-start weight loss," Drayer said. "I typically recommend increasing your water intake and eliminating all starchy carbs like breads, pasta, cereal and rice, as well as sweets and treats for one week. Doing this not only cuts calories, but you also shed some extra water too, which can be motivating as the numbers on the scale go down."
For those who drink their calories, Drayer recommends slashing sugary beverages such as sodas, flavored lattes, fruit juices and smoothies, "as the calories from these beverages can really add up."
Join the conversation

See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

Magee prefers to trick the body into losing weight, to avoid what she calls a starvation backlash.
"When you decrease your calories so severely as they do in the three-day military diet, your body tends to go into conservation mode and actually burns fewer calories," she said, "because it thinks you are entering a potato famine or similar, and it wants to survive.
"I think it's better to trick your body into burning calories by decreasing the calories you eat a little, increasing exercise to burn more calories, to create a daily deficit of about 250 calories a day," she explains. "It's slower but more sustained weight loss, and you are more likely to lose body fat rather than muscle tissue and water."
Regardless of what method you try, said Drayer, remember that any diet should be cleared by your nutritionist or doctor before you begin. And when it comes to the three-day military diet, she concluded: "I can't imagine any doctor or expert endorsing the military diet as healthy or beneficial in any way."
Read more

10 ways to make fast food healthier for your kids

(CNN)If you're a busy parent, chances are you've been in the company of hungry children, desperate to find the nearest place to eat and refuel.

Although fast food can make for a quick and appealing pit stop, meals can be high in calories, sugars and sodium.
But that doesn't mean fast food can't have its place in a child's diet.
"When we look at fast food, it's one meal in the course of a child's day or week. Families need to find that place in the middle where they can fit fast food in reasonable and healthful ways so their children can learn how to fit it into their own lives down the road," said Jill Castle, a registered dietitian and childhood nutrition expert.
Here are tips, tricks and strategies for dining at fast food restaurants with your kids:
Never leave home without snacks. "If possible, stop at a grocery store or stock up on healthy snacks in advance, such as cut-up fruit, cheese sticks and yogurt, which will cost less than anything on a fast food menu and fill everyone up while they're waiting for their food to be served," said Victoria Stein Feltman, a registered dietitian and co-founder of Apple to Zucchini, a healthy eating resource for parents and families.
Choose age-appropriate sizes for meals. A kids meal is often a good choice, especially because portions are typically smaller. "Beyond opting out for any super-size options, the regular-sized portions at fast food restaurants tend to be large and too big for kids," said Nicole Silber, a New York-based registered dietitian and pediatric nutritionist.
Encourage fruit over fries. "Adding fruits, vegetables and dairy foods help to round out the meal and make it balanced," said Castle, who is also the author of "Fearless Feeding: How to Raise Healthy Eaters from High Chair to High School."
In the United States, for example, McDonald's Happy Meals now include either seasonal fruit (such as apple slices or an orange) or a low-fat dairy option. The Happy Meal still comes with a kid size fries, but you can opt for a fruit or yogurt in its place. Other healthy side options found in fast food restaurants include side salads, and carrot and celery sticks.
Share a meal with your child. This not only downsizes portions, it helps introduce fast foods to your child, such as a grilled chicken sandwich. Indulgences can be shared, too. "Parents might also consider sharing less-healthy sides (such as French fries or onion rings) and desserts (such as milkshakes and ice cream sundaes), and supplementing with fresh fruit and vegetables," Feltman said.
Pass on the soda. Nutritionists agree that the healthiest beverage options include unflavored milk or water. Juice can be an option, though the amount should be limite,d according to new juice guidelines for children: no more than 4 ounces per day for toddlers age 1 to 3 years, and 4 to 6 ounces day for children age 4 through 6. For children 7 to 18 years of age, juice intake should be limited to 8 ounces per day.
Establish your expectations beforehand. If you don't want your child ordering fries or you want them to have fruit or vegetables, let them know ahead of time. "A simple thing that parents can do to help their kids make healthy choices is to have a dialogue and ordering plan before going in. This can be done on the drive over to the restaurant. Managing a child's expectations can be half of the battle and can reduce a child's frustration and possible tantrum at the time of ordering," Silber said.
It's also important for parents to think though what can come up in terms of a request. If parents have a problem with some of the options available, they may want to steer clear of the chain in the first place. "If you're taking your child to a fast food restaurant that serves hamburgers, it's likely your child will be excited to have a hamburger," Castle said. "You need to understand that you are entering into this zone -- and if you are not comfortable with the options, you may need to reconsider going."
Decide on dessert -- in advance. "Have that decision (about dessert) made before you go so you're not trying to make it on the fly," Castle said. And if dessert is an option, don't police it. "If dessert is going to be part of the meal, let it be part of the meal -- but don't place eating performance criteria on it ... like 'you have to eat the whole hamburger before you can eat the ice cream.' " Doing this makes the ice cream a much more valuable part of the meal, according to Castle.
Insist that they sit. "I encourage all families to have their children sit down and eat their meal together," Castle said. "Some of the fast food restaurants have jungle gyms, and kids may choose to run around instead of eating. ... They may grab a fry and go back and forth, but it's important that the parents carve out a rule to have children sit down to eat at a table, with the people who are there with them. They can sit before playing or play first, but at a certain point, they should sit down to eat."
Teach teens healthy habits. It's true that a teenager can afford more calories than an adult, especially if they are in a growth spurt. Still, encouraging healthy choices among teens can be tricky, since they are often making food decisions on their own.
Choose age-appropriate sizes for meals. A kids meal is often a good choice, especially because portions are typically smaller. "Beyond opting out for any super-size options, the regular-sized portions at fast food restaurants tend to be large and too big for kids," said Nicole Silber, a New York-based registered dietitian and pediatric nutritionist.
Encourage fruit over fries. "Adding fruits, vegetables and dairy foods help to round out the meal and make it balanced," said Castle, who is also the author of "Fearless Feeding: How to Raise Healthy Eaters from High Chair to High School."
In the United States, for example, McDonald's Happy Meals now include either seasonal fruit (such as apple slices or an orange) or a low-fat dairy option. The Happy Meal still comes with a kid size fries, but you can opt for a fruit or yogurt in its place. Other healthy side options found in fast food restaurants include side salads, and carrot and celery sticks.
Share a meal with your child. This not only downsizes portions, it helps introduce fast foods to your child, such as a grilled chicken sandwich. Indulgences can be shared, too. "Parents might also consider sharing less-healthy sides (such as French fries or onion rings) and desserts (such as milkshakes and ice cream sundaes), and supplementing with fresh fruit and vegetables," Feltman said.
Pass on the soda. Nutritionists agree that the healthiest beverage options include unflavored milk or water. Juice can be an option, though the amount should be limite,d according to new juice guidelines for children: no more than 4 ounces per day for toddlers age 1 to 3 years, and 4 to 6 ounces day for children age 4 through 6. For children 7 to 18 years of age, juice intake should be limited to 8 ounces per day.
Establish your expectations beforehand. If you don't want your child ordering fries or you want them to have fruit or vegetables, let them know ahead of time. "A simple thing that parents can do to help their kids make healthy choices is to have a dialogue and ordering plan before going in. This can be done on the drive over to the restaurant. Managing a child's expectations can be half of the battle and can reduce a child's frustration and possible tantrum at the time of ordering," Silber said.
It's also important for parents to think though what can come up in terms of a request. If parents have a problem with some of the options available, they may want to steer clear of the chain in the first place. "If you're taking your child to a fast food restaurant that serves hamburgers, it's likely your child will be excited to have a hamburger," Castle said. "You need to understand that you are entering into this zone -- and if you are not comfortable with the options, you may need to reconsider going."
Decide on dessert -- in advance. "Have that decision (about dessert) made before you go so you're not trying to make it on the fly," Castle said. And if dessert is an option, don't police it. "If dessert is going to be part of the meal, let it be part of the meal -- but don't place eating performance criteria on it ... like 'you have to eat the whole hamburger before you can eat the ice cream.' " Doing this makes the ice cream a much more valuable part of the meal, according to Castle.
Insist that they sit. "I encourage all families to have their children sit down and eat their meal together," Castle said. "Some of the fast food restaurants have jungle gyms, and kids may choose to run around instead of eating. ... They may grab a fry and go back and forth, but it's important that the parents carve out a rule to have children sit down to eat at a table, with the people who are there with them. They can sit before playing or play first, but at a certain point, they should sit down to eat."
Teach teens healthy habits. It's true that a teenager can afford more calories than an adult, especially if they are in a growth spurt. Still, encouraging healthy choices among teens can be tricky, since they are often making food decisions on their own.
Read more

Apple cider vinegar: What the experts say

(CNN)Apple cider vinegar is one of the most popular natural health products around, with claims for everything from sanitizing toothbrushes to whittling waistlines.

But how much of its popularity is based on hype? Could you be wasting your time or -- even worse -- harming your health?
Here are 10 of the top ways people are using apple cider vinegar and what the science says.


What's the most popular use for apple cider vinegar? If a simple internet search is any measure, it involves diabetes.
Dietitian Carol Johnston has been studying the effects of the main component of any vinegar, acetic acid, on diabetic blood glucose levels since 2004. She's conducted 10 small randomly controlled studies and published six papers on the subject.
Her studies indicate vinegar can help lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes; in those who are prediabetic, also called insulin-resistant; and even in healthy control subjects. The improvement was slight for all but those at risk for diabetes, she says.
"In pre-diabetics, it was too good to be true," says Johnston, who is also associate director of the Arizona State University's School of Nutrition and Health. "It fell a good bit and stayed that way. It may be this is the group that could benefit the most."
But this antiglycemic response can be induced by any sort of vinegar, she says: red and white wine vinegars, pomegranate vinegar or even white distilled vinegar. She suggests adding it to salads, as in the Mediterranean diet, or diluting it in water and drinking it before a meal.
"Basically, what acetic acid is doing is blocking the absorption of starch," Johnston says. "If my study subjects eat a starch and add vinegar, glucose will go down. But if they drink sugar water and add vinegar, nothing happens. So if you're having bacon and eggs, don't bother. It only helps if you are consuming a starch."
If you choose to use apple cider vinegar, be sure to tell your doctor, says nutritionist Lisa Drayer.
"If you're taking a diabetes drug, the vinegar could amplify the effects of your meds," she warns, "and your doctor might want to adjust your dosage."
Most important, if you're expecting vinegar to significantly alter or prevent diabetes, science suggests you reconsider.
Johnston notes that there is no evidence, in her studies or others, to establish that connection.
"I simply determine if your glucose level goes up and down," she says. "If I was to show that vinegar slows progression to diabetes, then I would need hundreds of people and millions of dollars to do the studies, because diabetes has a lot of causes, including genetics."

Weight loss

Weight loss, or dieting, is another popular use for apple cider vinegar and there is some evidence that it can help.
The most cited study was done with 175 heavy but otherwise healthy Japanese subjects. The 12-week treatment produced lower body weight, body mass index, visceral fat, waist measurements and triglyceride levels. Sounds great, right?
"People didn't really lose that much weight," Drayer says. "Only 2 to 4 pounds in three months over a placebo. That's only a third of a pound a week."
Johnston agrees the study showed "a very, very modest weight loss.'
"In fact, I would say most people who are on a diet for 12 weeks and only lose a couple of pounds aren't going to be very happy," she adds.
If you are using apple cider or other vinegars as one part of an overall plan, combining it with a healthy diet, portion control and exercise, it might help, Drayer says. She suggested using balsamic vinegar on salads, in a 4:1 ratio with oil, or adding it to sauces for poultry and fish.
The best way to consume apple cider vinegar is on your salad, experts say.
"If you were doing all the other things to lose weight, it might give you a slight edge," Drayer says. "Also, if you're drinking it in water, that's good, as water makes you feel full."
"Sometimes, people get really excited to try something new, and then their other behaviors change, too," she adds. "So if this helps people be more careful overall, that's a good thing."

Teeth cleaning and whitening

"Some people like to use it to remove stains and whiten their teeth," according to one of many online articles touting apple cider vinegar for this purpose: "To try this, rub a small amount of apple cider vinegar onto your teeth with a cotton swab."
"I let out an audible gasp when I read about this!" says Chicago dentist and American Dental Association spokeswoman Alice Boghosian. "It made me cringe, to be honest with you. What are people doing?"
"You're putting acid on your teeth," Boghosian continues, "the last thing you'd want to do to promote oral health. What would be a healthier option is to brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes, with a whitening toothpaste with the ADA seal. That shows it's been tested to do what it's supposed to do."
Other articles promote rinsing your mouth with apple cider vinegar, soaking dentures with a diluted mixture or using it to clean a toothbrush.
"You just have to rinse off your toothbrush, get all the toothpaste out, and let it air out. That's all you have to do," Boghosian says. "Cleaning dentures or rinsing with vinegar is not a good idea. It too could put your teeth at risk. And just think how it might affect the metal on partial dentures."
A pH of 7 is neutral, explains Boghosian; anything less is acid. She said many of today's popular apple cider vinegars are in the 2 to 3 range -- about the same as stomach acid.
"Anything acidic which contacts your teeth will wear out the enamel, the protective coating, and that will cause cavities," Boghosian adds. "So, this is totally, completely wrong, unless you want to be paying more visits to your dentist."

Skin, hair and nails

Commonly suggested uses for apple cider vinegar across the internet include it's use as a treatment for skin infections and acne, fighting lice and dandruff, as a natural wart remover and as an anti-aging treatment.
"It will dry out a pimple, but it's not an anti-aging method," says dermatologist Dr. Marie Jhin, a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Dermatology. "It might fade dark spots, or maybe you could use it as a skin toner, if you dilute it a great deal. But I wouldn't recommend it. We have much more effective and safe methods today than this."
One use she can agree with: "I do love it for bites, especially mosquito bites. It's a very underutilized home remedy. If you have a lot of bites, put two cups in a full tub of water and soak. It will help with itching," she says.
"It can also help with sunburn, although there are so many other good remedies," Jhin adds. "We don't usually suggest that to patients."
Apple cider vinegar might help with dandruff, says Jihn, because the acidity could increase the sloughing of the skin on the scalp, and it does have some antifungal properties.
But don't turn to it to get rid of head lice. One study found the use of vinegar to be the least effective method among several natural solutions; only petroleum jelly killed adult louse, but it did next to nothing to fight the eggs.
Another use Jhin recommends: "I love vinegar for paronychia, an infection under the cuticle that a lot of people get," Jhin says. She suggests mixing one-fourth cup of vinegar with three-fourths cup of water and soaking nails.
But what about warts and other home uses?
"Warts are caused by a virus, so there's no cure," Jihn explains. "You can dab a diluted version of apple cider vinegar on a wart with a Q-tip, and it's going to help remove dead skin, which is what we do in the office by paring it down, cutting it out or burning it with liquid nitrogen. But it's not going to be as fast or effective as what we do in the office."
American Academy of Dermatology spokesman Dr. Michael Lin, director of the Advanced Dermatology and Skin Cancer Institute in Beverly Hills, has a more negative perspective on home use.
"I've had quite a few patients harmed by apple cider vinegar," Lin explains. "One terrible example was a man trying to treat genital warts. When he came into the office, the entire area was raw, burned by the vinegar.
"I don't know if he was using it full-strength, but whatever he was doing it was too strong," he continues. "He probably has permanent scarring from that natural home treatment."
Lin says he feels more comfortable recommending distilled white vinegar, as it is created to a standardized formulation of 5% acidity.
"With apple cider vinegar, you don't know what strength you're getting," Lin says. "It's depends on the brand, and even among batches within a brand, you could get different concentrations of acidity."
"If you do choose to use apple cider vinegar, try to buy a name brand that clearly labels the acidity level. And whatever you do, don't use it full-strength."
He suggests a 1:10 ratio.

All-purpose cleaner

Because of apple cider vinegar's antimicrobial properties, it is often suggested as a natural cleanser for the home.
The acid is effective against mold, but according to the Pesticide Research Institute, an environmental consulting firm, so are salt, lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, tea tree oil and baking soda.
Many of those also smell better.
Apple cider vinegar is biodegradable, and because of its low pH, it's great against alkaline grime such as hard water and mineral deposits, as well as soap scum.
But it won't cut grease. Why not? Just think of a simple oil and vinegar salad dressing. After mixing, the oil and vinegar quickly separate because oil is nonpolar, while vinegar and water are polar, meaning they are not attracted to each other.
Will apple cider or other vinegars sanitize or disinfect your home? Probably not enough to make you feel germ-free.
This 1997 study showed that undiluted vinegar had some effect on E. coli and salmonella, but a study conducted in 2000 showed no real impact against E. coli or S. aureus, the common staphylococcus bacteria responsible for most skin and soft tissue infections.
That 2000 study also showed vinegars to be quite effective against the waterborne bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa, mostly found in hospitals and untreated hot tubs. It was also effective against Salmonella choleraesuis, a rare pig-borne version of salmonella.
If you do choose to use a vinegar to clean your home, never mix it with bleach or ammonia, because it will create toxic chlorine or chloramine gases.

Food preservatives

Used for centuries to preserve everything from pickles to pig's feet, vinegar is now becoming popular as a natural preservative in processed meat and poultry items as well.
Most home pickling uses 5% distilled white vinegar because it doesn't affect the color of the vegetables or fruits, but apple cider vinegar is a popular choice due to its mellow, fruity flavor. Do know, however, that it will turn most fruits and veggies dark.
Another popular use for apple cider, and other vinegars, is as a food wash to reduce bacteria or viruses on the surface of fruits and vegetables. Studies have had varying results, often depending on the type of fruit or vegetable and the amount of time spent in the vinegar solution.
Apple cider and other vinegars is used by some as a food wash to reduce the number of bacteria or virus on fruits or vegetables.
After listing a number of studies and results, the US Food and Drug Administration sums it up: "Vinegar and lemon juice have potential as inexpensive, simple household sanitizers; however, possible negative sensory effects [color, odor] when used on produce would be a disadvantage."

Cough and sore throat

The use of vinegar medicinally starts with the father of modern medicine, Hippocrates. He would mix it with honey and use it for chronic coughs and sore throats, and the suggestion continues today across the internet.
Many parents might think this is a natural and safe option for their children. The American Academy of Pediatrics doesn't have an official stance on the use of apple cider or other vinegars as a health aid, but spokeswoman Dr. Jennifer Shu urges caution.
"I would just think that the vinegar would irritate the throat even more," says Shu, an Atlanta pediatrician and author of "Food Fights". "But diluting it and mixing it with other ingredients such as salt or honey might decrease any pain that the vinegar might cause."
The University of Arizona's Johnston cautions against trying any vinegar straight, due to the risk of inhaling the liquid and damaging the lungs.
"Vinegar has that strong smell and puckering taste, so if you take a breath, you could inhale it into your lungs as you swallow," she says. "It can burn the lungs a little, because it is an acid."
"It can also burn your esophagus," says Dr. Andrew Freeman, director of cardiovascular prevention at National Jewish Health in Denver, Colorado. "And if you're predisposed to reflux, ulcers or stomach problems, it could certainly make those worse."

Heart disease and cancer

If you're a rat worried about heart disease, put apple cider and other vinegars on your shopping list.
Studies show the vinegar can reduce blood pressure, triglycerides and total cholesterol in rodents fed a high-fat, cholesterol-rich diet. But similar studies have not been conducted in humans.
Freeman, who serves on the American College of Cardiology's prevention board, says there could be some benefit due to its antioxidant properties, like other heart-healthy fruits and vegetables, such as broccoli and blueberries.
"The data is not particularly strong or overwhelming, but vascular health may be enhanced," Freeman says. "What's best to avoid heart disease is to exercise and eat a low-fat, plant-based diet."
Freeman further recommends using apple cider or other vinegars on salads, to maximize the benefits and reduce any reactions to the acidity.
What about cancer? Japanese scientists have inhibited the growth of human leukemia and other cancer cells in Petri dishes by exposing them to sugar cane vinegar and Japanese rice vinegar. Other studies showed a reduction in tumors and a prolonged life by adding rice vinegars to drinking water and food in rats and mice respectively.
Studies in humans are nonexistent.
So, does apple cider vinegar measure up to its positive internet reputation? If you consider that almost any other vinegar will produce the same benefits, not so much.
There are also some serious downsides, if used full strength and inappropriately. As the experts suggest, make sure you check with your doctor before giving it a try.
"When do you a search for apple cider vinegar you see so many claims, and people will try it, searching for that natural cure-all," says Drayer.

"Whether any of those claims are based on science is another matter".

Source CNN

Read more

One-month sugar detox: A nutritionist explains how and why

(CNN)If you've read about the latest wellness trends, you may have entertained the idea of a diet detox.

But whether you've considered juicing, fasting or cleansing in an effort to lose weight or improve your well-being, you're probably aware that drastically cutting out foods is not effective as a long-term lifestyle approach to healthy eating.
In fact, strict detoxing can cause issues including fatigue, dizziness and low blood sugar.
But there is one kind of sustainable detox that is worthwhile, according to some experts. Reducing sugar in your diet can help you drop pounds, improve your health and even give you more radiant skin.
"Sugar makes you fat, ugly and old," said Brooke Alpert, a registered dietitian and co-author of "The Sugar Detox: Lose the Sugar, Lose the Weight -- Look and Feel Great." "What we've discovered in the last couple of years is that sugar is keeping us overweight. It's also a leading cause of heart disease; it negatively affects skin, and it leads to premature aging."

Sugar addiction

Here's more bad news: We can't stop consuming sugar. "People have a real dependency -- a real addiction to sugar," Alpert said. "We have sugar, we feel good from it, we get (the feeling of) an upper, and then we crash and need to reach for more."
About 10% of the US population are true sugar addicts, according to Robert Lustig, professor of pediatrics and member of the Institute for Health Policy Studies at the University of California, San Francisco. What's more, research suggests that sugar induces rewards and cravings that are similar in magnitude to those induced by addictive drugs.
One of the biggest concerns is the amount of added sugars in our diets, which are often hidden in foods. Although ice cream cake is an obvious source of sugar, other foods that may not even taste sweet -- such as salad dressings, tomato sauces and breads -- can be loaded with the white stuff.
"People don't realize that seemingly healthy foods are loaded with sugar -- and so we're basically eating sugar all day long, from morning till night," Alpert said.

How to sugar detox: Going cold turkey for three days

The good news is that even if you're not a true sugar "addict," by eliminating sugar from your diet, you can quickly lose unwanted pounds, feel better and have a more radiant appearance.
"There is no one person who wouldn't benefit by eliminating added sugars from their diets," Lustig said.
Children can benefit, too. Lustig's research revealed that when obese children eliminated added sugars from their diets for just nine days, every aspect of their metabolic health improved -- despite no changes in body weight or total calories consumed.
But going cold turkey is what works best, at least in the beginning.
"Early on in my practice, when I would notice that people had real addiction to sugar, we'd start trying to wean them of sugar or limit their intake or eat in moderation ... but the word 'moderation' is so clichéd and not effective," Alpert said. "It was just ineffective to ask people to eat less of something when they're struggling with this bad habit. You wouldn't ask an alcoholic to just drink two beers.
"What was so successful in getting my clients to kick their sugar habit was to go cold turkey. When they would go cold turkey, I wasn't their favorite person -- but the number one positive effect was that it recalibrated their palate," she said. "They could now taste natural sugars in fruits, vegetables and dairy that they used to be so dulled to."
So for the first three days on a sugar detox, Alpert recommends no added sugars -- but also no fruits, no starchy vegetables (such as corn, peas, sweet potatoes and butternut squash), no dairy, no grains and no alcohol. "You're basically eating protein, vegetables and healthy fats."
For example, breakfast can include three eggs, any style; lunch can include up to 6 ounces of poultry, fish or tofu and a green salad, and dinner is basically a larger version of lunch, though steamed vegetables such as broccoli, kale and spinach can be eaten in place of salad. Snacks include an ounce of nuts and sliced peppers with hummus. Beverages include water, unsweetened tea and black coffee.
Though they don't contribute calories, artificial sweeteners are not allowed on the plan, either. "These little pretty colored packets pack such a punch of sweetness, and that's how our palates get dulled and immune and less reactive to what sweetness really is," Alpert said.
Consuming artificial sweeteners causes "you not only (to) store more fat," Lustig explained, "you also end up overeating later on to compensate for the increased energy storage."

How to sugar detox: When an apple tastes like candy

Once the first three days of the sugar detox are completed, you can add an apple.
"By the fourth day, an apple tastes like candy," Alpert said. "The onions are sweet! Almonds are sweet! Once you take sugar away from your diet cold turkey, your palate recalibrates, and you start tasting natural sugars again."
Starting with day four, you can add one apple and one dairy food each day. Dairy, such as yogurt or cheese, should be full-fat and unsweetened. "Fat, fiber and protein slow the absorption of sugar, so taking out fat from dairy will make you absorb sugar faster," Alpert said.
You can also add some higher-sugar vegetables such as carrots and snow peas, as well as a daily serving of high-fiber crackers. Three glasses of red wine in that first week can be added, too.
During week two, you can add a serving of antioxidant-rich berries and an extra serving of dairy. You can also add back starchy vegetables such as yams and winter squash.
For week three, you can add grains such as barley, quinoa and oatmeal, and even some more fruit including grapes and clementines. You can also have another glass of red wine during the week and an ounce of dark chocolate each day.
"Week three should be quite livable," Alpert said.
Week four is the home stretch, when you can enjoy two starches per day, including bread and rice, in addition to high-fiber crackers. Wine goes up to five glasses per week.
"You can have a sandwich in week four, which just makes things easier," Alpert said. "I want people living. Week four is the way to do it."
Week four defines the maintenance part of the plan -- though intentional indulgences are allowed, such as ice cream or a piece of cake at a birthday party. "Because the addictive behavior is gone, having ice cream once or twice will not send you back to square one," Alpert said. Additionally, no fruit is off-limits once you've completed the 31 days.
"The whole purpose is to give people control and ownership and a place for these foods in our life," Alpert said.

Benefits and cautions with slashing sugar

Detoxing from sugar can help you lose weight quickly. "We had over 80 testers from all over the country, and they lost anywhere between 5 to 20 pounds during the 31 days, depending on their weight or sugar addiction," Alpert said. "Many also noticed that a lot of the weight was lost from their midsection. Belts got looser!"
Participants also reported brighter eyes, clearer skin and fewer dark circles. They also had more energy and fewer mood swings.
"I have lost approximately 40 pounds following the sugar detox," said Diane, who preferred not to share her last name. She has been on the plan for approximately two years.
"I thought I was educated on weight loss, but like many, I was miseducated, and by reducing fat, I was really just adding sugar. With the elimination of sugar, including artificial sweeteners, it is incredible how sweet foods tastes."
Diane added back some healthy fats into her diet, which keeps her feeling satisfied. And her sugar cravings disappeared. "This is probably the longest I have remained on a plan, and I don't feel like this will change. It just feels natural and normal."
There are challenges and medical considerations before starting, though. Since the first few days of a sugar detox can be challenging, it's important to pick three days during which your schedule will be supportive.
"Depending on how intense your addiction is, you can experience withdrawal symptoms, such as brain fog, crankiness and fatigue," Alpert said. Lustig found that the children in his study experienced anxiety and irritability during the first five days of eliminating sugar and caffeine, though it eventually subsided.
"If you feel bad, stop and have a piece of fruit. But if you can push through and stay well-hydrated, you can really break your cycle of sugar addiction," Alpert said.
It's important to note that the plan may not be appropriate for diabetics, extreme athletes or anyone taking medication to control blood sugar. It is also not recommended for pregnant women.
Finally, before starting a sugar detox, enlist the help of friends and/or family members for support. "You need people around you to help you be successful," Lustig said. "The whole family has to do it together."
Read more


Ogoni 9 widow Esther Kiobel lands day in court against oil giant Shell

CNN)The widow of one of the nine environmental campaigners who were executed by the Nigerian military government has won a 22-year battle to bring oil giant Shell to court.

Esther Kiobel filed a civil suit early Wednesday in the Netherlands where Shell is registered and has its headquarters, her lawyer told CNN.
According to the writ, seen by CNN, Kiobel accuses Shell of complicity in the unlawful arrest and detention of her husband, Dr. Barinem Kiobel; the violation of his personal integrity and the violation of his right to a fair trial.
Kiobel first filed a case in New York against Shell in 2002 alleging complicity in the execution of the nine human rights activists.
However, in 2013, the US Supreme Court ruled that the United States did not have jurisdiction to try the case.


The 1995 execution of Nigerian playwright Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other human rights activists (including Kiobel's husband) campaigning against environmental degradation of their native Ogoni land caused worldwide condemnation.
Saro-Wiwa came into conflict with the ruling junta when he campaigned for the Ogoni people living in Nigeria's oil basin in the South.
The popular playwright criticized Sani Abacha's military government and the powerful oil industry, charging that it had polluted and destroyed the region's land and wildlife.
The men would later come to be known as the Ogoni 9 following their executions.
Saro-Wiwa and the eight others put to death were charged with murdering four men. They were convicted and sentenced to death at a special tribunal. Throughout, Saro-Wiwa maintained that he was being framed for criticizing Abacha's regime.
Abacha ignored pleas for clemency for the men from world leaders including then US President Bill Clinton.
Nigeria was promptly kicked out of the Commonwealth of nations -- an organization made up of 52 countries that were part of the British Empire -- following the executions.
In 2009, Shell paid out $15.5 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the now late son of the deceased Ken Saro-Wiwa Jr. and others including the deceased's brother.
The suit had accused the global oil conglomerate of complicity in the imprisonment, rights violation and ultimately, death of Ken Saro-Wiwa and the eight others.
The case took 13 years to reach settlement and Shell denied wrongdoing but said it was making the payment on humanitarian grounds according to a statement published in the New York Times.

Long struggle

Kiobel was not a plaintiff in that suit. She and three other widows have been assisted in their long-running struggle by human rights group, Amnesty International -- a first for the organization.
"It is one of our more remarkable cases. It is very difficult to find lawyers and courts willing to take these cases," says Audrey Gaughran, acting Senior Director of Research, Amnesty International, in a phone interview with CNN.
Gaughran remains hopeful that with the evidence gathered over the years and the location of the case, the judgment will be in the claimants' favor.
"We think Mrs. Kiobel has a strong case... we believe that Shell is complicit in the execution of her husband, Ken Saro-Wiwa and the other men who were executed in 1995. We are optimistic that the court will ultimately see the same argument."

Positive outcome

Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) of Nigeria Limited, through its spokesperson, Precious Okolobo said in an email to CNN:
"SPDC did not collude with the authorities to suppress community unrest and in no way encouraged or advocated any act of violence in Nigeria.
"The executions of Ken Saro-Wiwa and his fellow Ogonis in 1995 were tragic events that were carried out by the military government in power at the time.
"We were shocked and saddened when we heard the news of the executions. SPDC appealed to the Nigerian government to grant clemency. To our deep regret, that appeal, and the appeals made by many others within and outside Nigeria, went unheard."
Kiobel's lawyer, Channa Samkalden is circumspect about a positive outcome.
"It will be a difficult case, but it is also a very important one. The evidence shows how deeply involved Shell was in the activities leading to the death of the 'Ogoni 9.'
"The fact that a court will assess that evidence and hold Shell to account will already bring some satisfaction," she said in an email interview.
Read more

Work begins on the tallest skyscraper in Africa

(CNN)The mighty peaks of Kilimanjaro and Kenya are the highest points in Africa, towering over the East Coast nations.

The mountains will soon be sharing a skyline with a man-made behemoth named simply: "The Pinnacle."
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta recently laid the foundation stone for what will be the tallest building in Africa in the Upper Hill neighborhood of Nairobi. Construction is underway at the development site, and slated for completion by December 2019.
The ambitious project will see twin glass-facade towers rise above the city, the larger standing at 300 meters tall, far surpassing the continent's current leader -- Johannesburg's 223-meter Carlton Centre.
The $200m project will be completed by the end of 2019.

Heavyweight backing

The Pinnacle has heavyweight backing in the shape of Dubai-based investors Hass Petroleum and White Lotus Group, which are ploughing around $200 million into the project.
The contract to build the towers has been awarded to China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC), which is among the world's largest construction firms and has delivered a string of major projects including the African Union headquarters in Ethiopia and the Beijing National Aquatics Centre.
The complex will house a 255-room Hilton Hotel, the luxury chain's third in Kenya and 50th in Africa. The towers will also include elite residences, business and leisure facilities, and a helipad on the roof of the taller tower.
Stakeholders are confident that the development has found the right location.
"Whatever happens in other parts of the world can happen in Africa as well," says Abdinassir Hassan, chairman of Hass Petroleum and managing director of the project. "Nairobi is a hub for East and Central Africa. Why would we go anywhere else?"
Hassan says there is already a clamor for properties on the site, and that this will be "the first of several developments in Kenya" for his company.
Hilton executives are also bullish, noting in a statement that the Upper Hill area is now home to offices of major international businesses and organizations including Cisco Systems and the World Bank.
"The striking new-build property...will be well placed to meet this growing demand in one of Nairobi's most exciting and colorful areas," said Patrick Fitzgibbon, senior vice president for development, EMEA, Hilton Worldwide.
The 223-meter Carlton Center in Johannesburg, South Africa, will lose its place as the continent's tallest building.

Slowing down?

Kenya's economy has performed steadily in recent years, with healthy GDP growth of 5.9% in 2016 according to the World Bank.
A thriving property market has underpinned this growth, particularly in Nairobi. But there are indications of a slowdown that could affect a luxury development such as Pinnacle.
Prime residential rents declined in 2016, according to a report from real estate firm Knight Frank, and prime retail rents stagnated.
"This is the first time I've seen any kind of market slowdown in Kenya," says Knight Frank Kenya Managing Director Ben Woodhams, who is also serving as a letting agent for Pinnacle.
Woodhams cites a perfect storm of contributing factors, including high interest rates that have hit borrowing and liquidity, as well as the withdrawal of oil companies from Kenya, and the uncertainty of an election year. But in the longer term he sees reasons for optimism.
"We're seeing global corporations that traditionally run Sub-Saharan Africa from Johannesburg putting regional headquarters into Nairobi...and that's a story I expect to hear more and more," he says. "An ambitious project like Pinnacle is ideal for maintaining that interest, and by the time the project comes to fruition Nairobi could be a very different place."
Whether such optimism is justified remains to be seen. But there can be little doubt that Africa's tallest tower will raise Nairobi's profile higher on the world stage.
Read more

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.
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 technology will be built on Ghana's coastline in Accra.
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.
The "floaters" can be pulled up out of the water if maintenance needs to be done or if the conditions are too rough.
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
Read more

North Korea fires missile into waters off Japan

(CNN)North Korea has fired an unidentified ballistic missile Tuesday from North Pyong'an Province that flew into waters east of the Korean Peninsula, according to a press release from South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The projectile may have landed in Japan's Exclusive Economic Zone, which extends 200 nautical miles from its coastline, Takahiro Hirano, Public Affairs Officer from Japan's Ministry of Defense told CNN.
The launch comes just after US President Donald Trump spoke to the leaders of both China and Japan, two important regional actors in the ongoing standoff with Pyongyang over its nuclear ambitions.
The White House said that Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping discussed a range of issues of mutual interest, including North Korea.
This would be the eleventh missile test conducted by North Korea this year.
Developing story - more to come.
Read more

Venus Williams left tearful by car crash questions

(CNN)Facing questions from the media at Wimbledon about her involvement in a fatal car accident, a tearful Venus Williams said what has happened has been "devastating."

The 37-year-old Williams comfortably beat Belgian No. 1 Elise Mertens on Court 1 Monday -- winning 7-6 (9-7), 6-4 -- but was lost for words when asked about the crash.
A police report says that Venus Williams is responsible for the car accident earlier this month in Florida, which caused injuries to a 78-year-old man who later died.
The Palm Beach Gardens Police report states the accident occurred on June 9 in Palm Beach Gardens and the victim, Jerome Barson, was a passenger in a car that was driven by his wife, Linda Barson.
The victim's family has since filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Williams, alleging negligence.

After beating Mertens, Williams was repeatedly asked about the incident by the media and eventually became so emotional she began to cry.

"There are really no words to describe, like, how devastating and -- yeah. I'm completely speechless. It's just ..." Williams said.
The five-time Wimbledon singles champion held her head for several moments and asked to leave the room before returning, still visibly shaken, to finish the interview session several minutes later.
Read more

US conducts Somalia airstrike targeting al-Shabab

CNN)The US conducted a targeted airstrike Sunday against a regional commander of the al-Shabab militant group, al Qaeda's affiliate in Somalia, according to two US defense officials.

The officials confirmed that this is the second airstrike to take place in Somalia since President Donald Trump granted military commanders in Africa Command new authorities to conduct airstrikes in support of African Union and Somali troops fighting al-Shabab.
The new authorities were bestowed in March.
A spokesperson for the Pentagon confirmed the strike on Monday.
"US forces conducted a kinetic strike operation against al-Shabab," US Army Maj. Audricia Harris told CNN.
While Harris said that the military is "currently assessing the results of the operation," officials told CNN that the commander, Ahmed Osoble, is initially believed to have been killed.
The strike took place in the Banadir region of southern Somalia, one official said.
Osoble was described as a "regional commander" of al-Shabab, with one official saying he was responsible for gathering intelligence on US forces in Somalia.
"US forces remain committed to supporting the federal government of Somalia, the Somali National Army and our AMISOM partners in defeating al-Shabab," Harris added, referring to the African Union mission there.
Al-Shabab is considered al Qaeda's third largest affiliate. The group has claimed responsibility for a number of attacks in Somalia and the wider region.
The counterterrorism strikes come as US military leaders see new opportunities to work with Somalia's newly elected president, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, a dual US-Somali citizen who has embarked on a series of aggressive military reforms amid an ongoing al-Shabab bombing campaign that has repeatedly struck the capital, Mogadishu.
About 40 US soldiers arrived in Somalia in April to help train the Somali National Army. They joined about 50 counterterrorism military Special Operations Forces advisers who have been advising local forces battling al-Shabab since 2013.
One of those advisers, US Navy SEAL Senior Chief Kyle Milliken, was killed while accompanying local troops on a counterterrorism raid during an operation in May. He was the first US service member killed in action in Somalia since 1993, when two Black Hawk helicopters were shot down and 18 American soldiers were killed in the Battle for Mogadishu.

Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, who oversees US troops in Africa, told reporters in April that the US seeks to help Somali security forces gain the ability to provide for their own security by 2021.

Source: CNN

Read more

How did a $12million bridge collapse in Kenya just weeks after inspection?

(CNN)It was an embarrassing collapse for Kenya's ruling party.

Just two weeks after an "inspection" by President Uhuru Kenyatta, a $12 million Chinese-built Sigiri bridge in Western Kenya collapsed before it was completed.
Built by the Chinese Overseas Construction and Engineering Company in Busia County, the bridge connects a region that has historically lacked government investment and development. Around a dozen people died on the river after a boat capsized while attempting to cross in 2014.
President Kenyatta's Jubileee Coalition has made infrastructure development a key pillar of its reelection strategy ahead of the coming presidential election.

How did a $12million bridge collapse in Kenya just weeks after inspection?

$12 million Chinese-built Sigiri bridge in Western Kenya collapsed before it was completed. President Uhuru Kenyatta inspected the project two weeks before the collapse.

Story highlights

  • President Uhuru Kenyatta recently inspected the $12 million Sigiri bridge
  • It was built in the West Kenya region that has been ignored by successive administrations
  • President Kenyatta's Jubilee Coalition is prioritizing infrastructure ahead of August presidential election.

(CNN)It was an embarrassing collapse for Kenya's ruling party.

Just two weeks after an "inspection" by President Uhuru Kenyatta, a $12 million Chinese-built Sigiri bridge in Western Kenya collapsed before it was completed.
Built by the Chinese Overseas Construction and Engineering Company in Busia County, the bridge connects a region that has historically lacked government investment and development. Around a dozen people died on the river after a boat capsized while attempting to cross in 2014.
President Kenyatta's Jubileee Coalition has made infrastructure development a key pillar of its reelection strategy ahead of the coming presidential election.
On June 14, he made a campaign stop at the Sigiri bridge construction site and spoke to crowds gathered along the river.
He promised the bridge would bring development that the region had been denied for decades.
"There is a big difference between those who will sell to you propaganda and people who will sell to you real agenda for change," President Uhuru Kenyatta said in a statement posted on the Presidency website.
The bridge connects a region that has historically lacked government investment and development.

Infrastructure promises

Kenya's national elections are scheduled for August 8, and President Kenyatta's main opposition is veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga
The Kenyan government has relied heavily on Chinese-built and Chinese-financed projects to achieve the president's infrastructure campaign promises.
Last month, the president launched the Madaraka Express, the country's largest investment since independence.
The $3.8 billion railway, financed by China's Eximbank, travels from the port city of Mombasa to Nairobi, and is planned to cross Kenya and connect it to several other east African Countries.
The railway's high price tag has raised eyebrows, it cost more than double per kilometer than the Chinese-built railway connecting Addis Ababa to Djibouti. Kenya Railways has attributed the extra cost to a more complicated geography.
Odinga blamed the recent accident on the government rushing the Sigiri project for political purposes. He referred to "tenderpreneurs", government officials that commission projects for financial gain.
"In the past, we have had substandard works done on public projects, usually roads and bridges, which as compromised the lifespan on such projects and denied us value for money," Odinga said.
Read more

Suicide attacker kills at least 20 in Damascus

(CNN)A suicide bomber blew himself up in central Damascus on Sunday, killing at least 20 people, according to the Syrian foreign ministry.

Dozens more were injured, including children, the ministry said in a letter to the UN Security Council, according to state media.
Syria's Health Minister Nizar Yazigi said injuries ranged from minor to severe, state media reported.
Charred vehicles are seen at the site of a suicide bomb attack in the Syrian capital's eastern Tahrir Square district.
Authorities had been pursuing three cars and were able to intercept two and destroy them, state media said.
As they closed in on the third car near the city's Al-Tahrir Square, the suicide bomber on board detonated it.

Syrian men look at a cordoned off area at the site of a suicide bomb attack in the capital Damascus' eastern Tahrir Square district.

Read more

Why African students are ditching the US for China

(CNN)The surge in the number of African students in China is remarkable. In less than 15 years the African student body has grown 26-fold -- from just under 2,000 in 2003 to almost 50,000 in 2015.

According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, the US and UK host around 40,000 African students a year. China surpassed this number in 2014, making it the second most popular destination for African students studying abroad, after France which hosts just over 95,000 students.
For years, these numbers have remained untranslated in the online archives of the Chinese Ministry of Education. But a recent initiative by Michigan State University researchers to translate them introduces the reports to a wider audience.
Not only have these reports revealed the growth in China-Africa ties. They also make it possible to compare China's international education trends in a global context.

China's targeted focus

Chinese universities are filled with international students from around the world, including Asia, the Americas, Europe and Oceania. The proportion of Asian international students still dwarfs the number of Africans, who make up 13% of the student body.
But this number, which is up from 2% in 2003, is growing every year, and much faster than other regions. Proportionally more African students are coming to China each year than students from anywhere else in the world.
This dramatic increase in students from Africa can be explained in part by the Chinese government's targeted focus on African human resource and education development. Starting in 2000, China's Forum on China-Africa Cooperation summits have promised financial and political support for African education at home and abroad in China.
Since 2006, China has set scholarship targets to aid African students coming to China for study. For example, at the most recent 2015 summit, China pledged to provide 30,000 scholarships to African students by 2018.
though China stopped publishing regional scholarship data in 2008, our data analysis using the 2003-2008 data to generate scholarship estimates suggests that this target is on the way to being met. China seems to be upholding the pledges made towards African education.

Mutual Benefit - in education and business

For the Chinese government, providing education to Africans is an extension of China's soft power -- cultivating the next generation of African scholars and elites. The experience that these students get in China can translate into a willingness to work with China and view China's internal or external policies favorably in the future.
But what do African students gain in return? China-Africa scholars have found that students head to China for many reasons. Some simply go to pursue an education that is affordable, even without a scholarship, while others go for the chance to develop business connections or learn the language of a country presumed to be a rising power.
Based on several surveys, most students tend to be enrolled in Chinese-language courses or engineering degrees. The preference for engineering may be due to the fact that many engineering programs offered by Chinese universities for international students are taught in English.
The quality of education has received mixed reviews. Some studies have shown that African students are generally satisfied with their Chinese education, as long as they can overcome the language barriers. Others found that even if students were not impressed with their education, they appreciated the trade and business opportunities that a Chinese education made available to them back home.

The next generation

It's difficult to know exactly which African countries are sending the most students to China. These details are not kept by the Chinese Ministry of Education. But the statistics from Tsinghua University provide an insight. In the 2015-2016 academic year, the majority of the university's 111 African students came from Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Morocco, Eritrea, and Cameroon -- slightly favouring East Africa.
frican students in France overwhelmingly come from francophone West Africa. If Tsinghua's profile holds true for the larger African student body in China, it means China is an increasingly important player in the education of countries outside of West Africa.
Due to Chinese visa rules, most international students cannot stay in China after their education is complete. This prevents brain-drain and means that China is educating a generation of African students who -- unlike their counterparts in France, the US or UK -- are more likely to return home and bring their new education and skills with them.
It's still too early to tell how these new dynamics might be shaping geopolitics on the continent.
Read more

Rob Kardashian's X-rated online rant against Blac Chyna could be a crime

Rob Kardashian's latest X-rated social-media rant could end up costing him more than just the usual online contempt — it could be considered a crime in California.

Kardashian, the reality-TV personality best known as the brother in the Kardashian-Jenner clan, attacked his estranged ex-fiancée, Blac Chyna, on Wednesday in an especially repulsive way on Instagram and Twitter, posting pictures of her naked breasts, backside and genitals and accusing her in profane terms of sleeping with another man in "the same bed Chyna and I made our baby in."

To scores of horrified readers, it smacked of revenge porn — the crime of posting intimate pictures or videos by a disgruntled spouse or lover without the other party's consent and with the intent to inflict serious emotional distress.

Invasion of privacy laws have long been on the books, but California is one of 38 states and the District of Columbia that have recently passed laws designed to combat revenge porn, a crime of the Internet Age. California's law, Penal Code 647(j)(4) PC, took effect in September 2014.

The crime is a misdemeanor and is punishable by six months in prison and a $1,000 fine. Also, regardless of whether a local district attorney prosecutes a defendant in a case — in Kardashian's case, that would likely be the DA in busy Los Angeles County — an accuser can also bring a civil suit for monetary damages under the revenge-porn law.

"Attempting to slut-shame the mother of his child is truly sick behavior, as the law recognizes," says Lisa Bloom, the women's rights lawyer who represented Mischa Barton in her recent successful civil suit against an ex to prevent revenge-porn images of her from being released. "I encourage Ms. Chyna to stand up for her rights as a woman to control which images of her own body will be made public."

But prosecuting revenge porn under the law can be challenging, says Mitch Jackson, a California trial attorney and expert on social media and cyber bullying, because multiple elements must be proven for a conviction.

Did the defendant take pictures or videos of the victim's intimate body parts with the mutual understanding that they will be kept confidential? Were those images distributed and was the victim identifiable? Did it cause serious emotional distress and was there intent? And did the victim, in fact, suffer distress?


"It appears straightforward, but in reality it can be difficult to prove all four elements," Jackson says. "There is something wrong with anybody sharing pictures without permission, true, but with this misdemeanor you have to show intent."

And another wrinkle, he says: Did the victim truly suffer distress? TMZ reported that Chyna signaled she "liked" the pictures on Kardashian's Instagram page. That could not be verified because Instagram took down the page for violating its community guidelines, hours after Kardashian posted the pictures. (He then posted the pictures on Twitter, which also bans revenge porn; the tweets were taken down by evening.)

But if it's true that Chyna approved, then "this makes it tough to pursue criminally," Jackson says.

In revenge porn cases, Jackson says, the pictures or videos almost always were created with mutual consent. It's when one party releases those pictures or videos without the other's consent that the crime occurs.

Thus, Jackson says, it matters whether a celebrity victim secretly consented to the distribution of the pictures or videos as a means to build a brand. It's been known to happen, for instance, with sex tapes that are leaked, thus leading to later fame and fortune for the alleged victim.

Jackson thinks California's law isn't strong enough in its consequences, and he is among those pushing the legislature to tweak it.

"When it comes to social media, the law (in general) is 10 years behind the times," Jackson says. "These kinds of cases help raise awareness that the consequences of this law are not severe enough. We're finding that old laws need to be tweaked and new laws need to be enacted to serve as a deterrent so that other people don’t do the same thing."

Meanwhile, what do his Kardashian-Jenner relatives have to say about all of this? Nothing. Instead, his mother, Kris Jenner, tweeted a picture of Rob's half-sister, Kendall Jenner, walking the runway at the Fendi show in Paris.


Read more

Millions of student loans could be headed for a shakeup in coming months

As Courtney Minor began a master's program in vocal performance, she made sure to heed some well-known advice: Stick to federal government student loans.

In completing the two-year program at Longy School of Music of Bard College in Boston in 2009, Minor racked up $60,000 in debt using six different loans, which required her to pay a total of $800 a month for 10 years following her graduation.

Her decision to avoid private companies’ loans turned out to be a smart move. Federal loans come with a variety of benefits — such as the ability to defer payment or adjust monthly bills based on income — that are rarely available with private loans. And having gone through periods of unemployment and part-time jobs, Minor, now a mother of two, has used the benefits to lower her monthly payments to $500.


Her loans — and those of millions of other students — could be in for a big shakeup in the coming months as President Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress set out to remake the complex business, potentially eliminating benefits and protections that borrowers like Minor depend on.  

Lobbyists for private lenders and loan servicing companies are emboldened by the Trump administration, which reflexively disdains regulations and favors market-based solutions. Alarmed by Trump’s agenda, consumer advocates and student groups also are gearing up to fight any efforts to change the government’s role and student debtors’ rights

Source:USA today

Read more

Nick Young agrees to deal with defending champion Golden State Warriors

Just a little more than a year removed from telling the world that he hated Golden State Warriors fans, Nick Young has decided to join the Warriors.

Young has agreed to a one-year, $5.2 million contract, his agent Mark Bartelstein told USA TODAY Sports' Sam Amick

Young became a free agent when he declined the player option in his contract for next season with the Los Angeles Lakers. That deal would have paid him more than $5.6 million.

He said in April he was about 60% sure he would leave the Lakers because he wanted to be part of a playoff team. He certainly got his wish.

Signing guys like Young is one of the reasons Kevin Durant took less money to sign his two-year deal with the Warriors, and he and Draymond Green had been recruiting Young to join them.

Young is a Los Angeles native and realized a childhood dream by joining the Lakers, but the 10-year NBA veteran's tenure has coincided with the worst four-year stretch in the 16-time NBA champions' history.

Then Young struggled on the court during the 2015-16 season and endured upheaval in his personal life because of a video scandal with then-rookie D'Angelo Russell -- that at times took attention away from Kobe Bryant's farewell tour. Young enjoyed a career revival last season under new coach Luke Walton.

Young averaged 13.2 points and 2.3 rebounds with the Lakers last season and a career-high .588 true shooting percentage, hitting 66.5% of his shots from three-point range, making 40.4% of them. 

Young's signing is the latest in a crazy free agency frenzy and a big-spending offseason for the defending champs. Two-time MVP Stephen Curry recently agreed to a record $201 million, five-year contract; NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant agreed to a two-year deal for approximately $53 million; 2015 Finals MVP Andre Iguodala got a three-year contract with $48 million guaranteed; fellow key reserves Shaun Livingston for $24 million and three years, and David West on a one-year contract for the veteran minimum $2.3 million.

Also knowns as "Swaggy P", Young has done his share of trash talk. With the news of his deal, Durant returned the favor, taunting him for celebrating what turned out to be a missed three-pointer

Source:USA Today


Read more

Manny Pacquiao trainer: You can't be a fighter and a senator

Whether Manny Pacquiao fights again or not, his trainer of 16 years, Freddie Roach, believes that being a fighter and a senator simply doesn’t work if you want to be at the top of your game in both.

That was never been more obvious than last weekend in Brisbane, Australia, when Pacquiao, the first term Senator and only eight-division champion in boxing history, lost his WBO welterweight title to unheralded Jeff Horn by unanimous decision, an outcome few thought was even possible.

Roach, a seven-time trainer of the year, told USA TODAY Sports Tuesday that Pacquiao’s loss, though highly controversial, might be traced back to their training camp, which was held in the Philippines. The senate was in session during the first half of camp.

“Being a congressman, it seemed like Manny really wasn’t pressed or challenged by it,” Roach said. “But being a senator, he’s like a whole different person. It takes a lot of his time, and the thing is, the first half of training camp wasn’t the best because he was being a senator, and sometimes they’d let him out at three o’clock and sometimes they let him out at nine o’clock. Sometimes 10 o’clock. And then we have to train after he gets off work. Being a great fighter and being a great person in politics, it’s just very, very difficult to do both, I feel.”

Roach said after the stunning loss to Horn, “I told Manny, give it a week, we’ll sit down and talk and see what’s next.” He said he did not urge Pacquiao, who will be 39 in December, to retire.

“I said either we retire or fight a rematch at this point,” he said. “Which decision? We should take some time and watch the fight on tape, and then I’ll have a long talk with Manny about what’s the best place to go: To fight (Horn) in a rematch, or possibly retire, or go on to bigger and better guys. Those are his options.”

Roach, who knows Pacquiao probably better than anyone except for Pacquiao’s wife Jinkee and lifelong friend Buboy Fernandez, was asked if he knows what the future Hall of Famer is thinking right now. “I think what’s on his mind is what we talked about, having two jobs and you can’t really do both. I hope that sunk in to him so he thinks about it. But right now, more realistically, is either a rematch with (Horn) or nothing. That’s it. That’s pretty much my thoughts, and I don’t think we ought to go after any other world champions right now. I would like a rematch and then if he wins that, it’s over. But is that possible? Can you retire off a win?”

Roach, a former fighter, said it’s much tougher to retire off a win than a loss.

Which brings us back to Horn, who was much bigger than Pacquiao during the fight, and was very dirty, said Roach. “He had a very dirty style. Headlocks, pushing a guy down, using his elbows, head butts, and the referee didn’t say nothing about nothing. The only thing (referee Mark Nelson) said to me was ‘Freddie, when a southpaw fights a righty it’s going to happen.’ I said, ‘not when he leads with his head. Those are intentional head butts.’

The head butts caused two gashes on Pacquiao’s hairline that took 17 stitches to close, and they affected Pacquiao during the fight.

“He doesn’t get a lot of cuts, and when he does cut he panics a little bit,” Roach said. “In between rounds when the referee was talking to him, Manny wanted to have the ring doctor look at them. “For a fighter to say that, he knows where he’s at and he wants to know how bad the cut is. The doctor OK’d it, so Manny fought on pretty well. He’s never done well when he’s had those issues, you know, blood in the face. It affects everyone differently.”

Roach said Pacquiao also might have over-trained.

“His work ethic is still very, very good, and he trains very hard, but he probably trains too hard. He tries to do what he did when he was younger, and you can’t do that. It’s part of life getting old. . . . He’s got to realize he’s 38 years old now and not 28,” the trainer said.

“Basically, he’s a senator, a fighter and father. He has a wife and kids. So the last thing I want to see is for Manny to get hurt. That’s why I lean toward retirement or one more fight with Horn. I think Manny got robbed. He definitely won the fight.”

Roach also addressed Top Rank promoter Bob Arum’s complaints that Pacquiao’s handlers were too overconfident coming into the fight and his corner was out of control during the fight.

“It’s hard when Buboy (Fernandez) is yelling, and (cutman) Miguel (Diaz) is telling me he has to get in the middle to work on the cuts,” said Roach. “And to get my message across to Manny what he should be doing is very difficult. Miguel is getting older and he has trouble getting in and out of the ring, and Buboy gets excited. Control in that corner has always been a little difficult.”

Roach wonders if Horn will give Pacquiao a rematch, and if so, “does he give us a rematch in America? Does he give us a rematch in The Philippines? Does he give us a rematch (in Australia) again?”

If Pacquiao has any notions about moving on and fighting undefeated 140-pound champion Terence Crawford or someone like that, “Manny would have to make a decision,” said Roach. “Either be a senator or boxer. Pick one or the other and that’s it. You can’t do both officially. It’s almost impossible.

“I’ve had a great run with Manny. It’s been a great ride. If he retires or fights one more time, we’ll see. But I want to watch the (Horn) fight very closely and break it down and see where that brings me. And I’ll give Manny a call and we’ll talk. We’re really good friends.”

Source:USA Today

Read more

True Religion seeks a revival with bankruptcy filing

Jeans designer and retailer True Religion is seeking a revival through Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, having fallen to its knees amid the retail sector's crisis and the rise of "athleisure wear."

The retailer and manufacturer filed for court protection from its creditors early Wednesday in a federal court in Delaware. True Religion plans to close at least 27 of its approximately 140 stores, according to a court filing and USA TODAY research.

Snagged by similar trends that ensnared teen retailers American Apparel, Aeropostale and Pacific Sunwear, True Religion said it had failed to adapt to the industrywide shift to online sales and the decline of trendy denim.

The company, which also sells and designs other apparel, said it had won support from a majority of its top-tier secured creditors for a debt-cutting plan and secured a bankruptcy loan that would need authorization from a federal bankruptcy judge.

“After a careful review, we are taking an important step to reduce our debt, reinvigorate True Religion’s iconic brand and position the company for future growth and success,” True Religion CEO John Ermatinger said in a statement.

Founded in 2002 by Jeff Lubell, Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based True Religion has more than 1,900 employees. It also sells its products in about 500 locations in North America and South America, including Nordstrom, Bloomingdales and Saks Fifth Avenue.

True Religion requested court permission to reject about 30 store leases, meaning those stores are likely set to close.

The company went private in 2013 in a deal arranged by investment firm TowerBrook Capital Partners, which owns the retailer.

True Religion said its business had been undermined by discounts at other retailers, online competition and the athleisure trend, in which yoga pants have become a substitute for jeans.

The company closed 20 stores in 2016, cut 25% of its corporate workforce and sought to bolster its digital operations, but those moves were insufficient.

Source:USA today

Read more

Hobby Lobby to pay $3 million fine, forfeit smuggled ancient artifacts

(CNN)It wasn't Hobby Lobby's scrapbook supplies, their seasonal decorations or their generous selection of fabrics that got the attention of the Department of Justice. It was the ancient clay artifacts from modern-day Iraq.

The DOJ said the company smuggled the artifacts into the United States, and the arts and crafts chain on Wednesday agreed to a settlement with the US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York.
According to court documents, Hobby Lobby agreed to forfeit thousands of Iraqi artifacts and pay a $3 million fine to resolve the civil action the Justice Department brought against the company.
Ancient cuneiform tablets and clay bullae from modern-day Iraq were smuggled into the United States through the United Arab Emirates and Israel, Justice officials said. With Hobby Lobby's consent they were falsely labeled as "ceramics" and "samples" and illegally shipped to Hobby Lobby stores and two corporate offices, according to the DOJ.
Cuneiform is an ancient system of writing on clay tablets that was used in Mesopotamia, according to the DOJ, and clay bullae are balls of clay on which seals have been imprinted.
"In 2009, Hobby Lobby began acquiring a variety of historical Bibles and other artifacts. Developing a collection of historically and religiously important books and artifacts about the Bible is consistent with the company's mission and passion for the Bible," said a Hobby Lobby statement.
"We should have exercised more oversight and carefully questioned how the acquisitions were handled," Hobby Lobby President Steve Green said in the statement. "Hobby Lobby has cooperated with the government throughout its investigation, and with the announcement of today's settlement agreement, is pleased the matter has been resolved."
Green and a consultant traveled to the United Arab Emirates in July 2010 to inspect the artifacts for sale, the DOJ said.
"The protection of cultural heritage is a mission that Homeland Security Investigations and its partner US Customs and Border Protection take very seriously as we recognize that while some may put a price on these artifacts, the people of Iraq consider them priceless," said Angel Melendez, special agent in charge, who led the investigation with the United States Attorney's Office.
Read more

New York police officer fatally shot in 'unprovoked attack'

New York (CNN)A New York police officer of 12 years and mother of three was fatally shot early Wednesday as she sat in a command vehicle in the Bronx, authorities said.

Miosotis Familia, 48, was shot in the head shortly after midnight while she and her partner were in a marked police truck. She was taken to St. Barnabas Hospital, where she died, the New York Police Department said.
Familia was "assassinated in an unprovoked attack on cops" when a suspect shot through the window of the officer's vehicle, said James O'Neill, the New York police commissioner.
Police encountered a male suspect, Alexander Bonds, 34, running about one block from the scene. The suspect drew a gun as officers confronted him, and he was shot and killed by police, O'Neill said.
A silver revolver was recovered at the scene, police said. The gun was stolen more than four years ago in Charleston, West Virginia, an NYPD source familiar with the investigation told CNN. The gun had two used cartridges in it and two live rounds, the source said.
Dispatch audio of the moments after Familia was shot reveal her partner frantically calling for help.
"Shots fired!" the officer's partner says. "Give me a f****** bus!"
Familia worked in the 46th Precinct, which tweeted out a photo of the officer.

Suspect's background

The suspect, also known as John Bonds, was arrested in Syracuse in July 2005 for robbery in the first degree, the Onondaga County district attorney said.
Alexander Bonds, also known as John Bonds, in a 2013 correctional photo.
Bonds received an eight-year sentence, with five years of post-release supervision, and was transferred to Elmira state prison in 2006, according to a statement from the district attorney.
He also had a criminal record for sale of a controlled substance in New York state, Thomas Mailey, spokesman for the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, said.
He went to prison in March 2004 for illegal drug sales, but was out by January 2005, when he was arrested in the Bronx for entering the subway without paying a fare, Bronx District attorney spokeswoman Patrice O'Shaughnessy said.

'Pain and heartbreak'

Familia had three children, the New York City Patrolmen's Benevolent Association said.
"Fully knowing the dangers that she faced, she suited up in uniform every day and stood tall against those who threaten and terrorize the good folks of the Bronx," the union said in a statement.
A friend, Isabel Roman, said Familia had 12-year-old twins and a 20-year-old child.
"She was a very jovial, happy person," Roman said.
Carlos Corporan, Familia's brother-in-law, said she was an excellent woman and the family was "completely devastated."
In a statement, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Familia was "murdered in a cowardly, unprovoked attack," and he alluded to other recent ambush-style attacks on police such as those in Dallas and Iowa.
"This murder in cold blood is a tragedy, and sadly it is the latest in a troubling series of attacks on police officers over the past two years," Sessions said.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio praised Familia and the actions of officers who responded to the shooting.
"She was on duty, serving this city, protecting people, doing what she believed in and doing the job she loved," de Blasio told reporters. "After this sudden and shocking attack, her fellow officers came to her aid immediately."

New York police officer fatally shot in 'unprovoked attack'

Story highlights

  • Officer Miosotis Familia shot in the head while in marked vehicle in the Bronx, authorities say
  • Police says gun on suspect was stolen in West Virginia four years ago

New York (CNN)A New York police officer of 12 years and mother of three was fatally shot early Wednesday as she sat in a command vehicle in the Bronx, authorities said.

Miosotis Familia, 48, was shot in the head shortly after midnight while she and her partner were in a marked police truck. She was taken to St. Barnabas Hospital, where she died, the New York Police Department said.
Familia was "assassinated in an unprovoked attack on cops" when a suspect shot through the window of the officer's vehicle, said James O'Neill, the New York police commissioner.
Police encountered a male suspect, Alexander Bonds, 34, running about one block from the scene. The suspect drew a gun as officers confronted him, and he was shot and killed by police, O'Neill said.
A silver revolver was recovered at the scene, police said. The gun was stolen more than four years ago in Charleston, West Virginia, an NYPD source familiar with the investigation told CNN. The gun had two used cartridges in it and two live rounds, the source said.
Dispatch audio of the moments after Familia was shot reveal her partner frantically calling for help.
"Shots fired!" the officer's partner says. "Give me a f****** bus!"
Familia worked in the 46th Precinct, which tweeted out a photo of the officer.
An apparent bystander also was struck by a bullet during the encounter, police said. The person, who was not identified, is in stable condition at a hospital.

Suspect's background

The suspect, also known as John Bonds, was arrested in Syracuse in July 2005 for robbery in the first degree, the Onondaga County district attorney said.
Alexander Bonds, also known as John Bonds, in a 2013 correctional photo.
Bonds received an eight-year sentence, with five years of post-release supervision, and was transferred to Elmira state prison in 2006, according to a statement from the district attorney.
He also had a criminal record for sale of a controlled substance in New York state, Thomas Mailey, spokesman for the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, said.
He went to prison in March 2004 for illegal drug sales, but was out by January 2005, when he was arrested in the Bronx for entering the subway without paying a fare, Bronx District attorney spokeswoman Patrice O'Shaughnessy said.

'Pain and heartbreak'

Familia had three children, the New York City Patrolmen's Benevolent Association said.
"Fully knowing the dangers that she faced, she suited up in uniform every day and stood tall against those who threaten and terrorize the good folks of the Bronx," the union said in a statement.
A friend, Isabel Roman, said Familia had 12-year-old twins and a 20-year-old child.
"She was a very jovial, happy person," Roman said.
Carlos Corporan, Familia's brother-in-law, said she was an excellent woman and the family was "completely devastated."
In a statement, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Familia was "murdered in a cowardly, unprovoked attack," and he alluded to other recent ambush-style attacks on police such as those in Dallas and Iowa.
"This murder in cold blood is a tragedy, and sadly it is the latest in a troubling series of attacks on police officers over the past two years," Sessions said.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio praised Familia and the actions of officers who responded to the shooting.
"She was on duty, serving this city, protecting people, doing what she believed in and doing the job she loved," de Blasio told reporters. "After this sudden and shocking attack, her fellow officers came to her aid immediately."
US Sen. Chuck Schumer called the shooting "terrible news," and Gov. Andrew Cuomo said all New Yorkers "share in the pain and heartbreak caused by her death."
Read more